Naming Evil

by Dave Schuler on September 1, 2014

This strikes me as a step in the right direction:

SOME of Britain’s most influential imams have condemned British Muslims fighting alongside Isis extremists in Iraq and Syria.

They have issued a fatwa, or religious decree, describing them as “heretics”.

The fatwa ”religiously prohibits” would-be British jihadists from joining “oppressive and tyrannical” Isis, also known as Islamic State. The imams order all Muslims to oppose Isis’s “poisonous ideology” , especially when it is promoted within Britain.

The fatwa, the first of its kind issued by British Muslim scholars, follows the elevation of Britain’s terror threat from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.

What is going on in the Middle East is a political and, as a consequence of the history, customs, and culture of the region, religious struggle among Muslims. Many Muslims in the West have understandably wanted to maintain a low profile.

There are categories of evil so vile that they call for condemnation and ISIS certainly falls into one of them. It cannot be allowed to be thought a legitimate expression of political or religious action. What is it that Edmund Burke said?

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Where You Sit

by Dave Schuler on August 31, 2014

I was marginally aware of this but staying in a hotel in the UK has really brought it home for me. In the UK newspapers are aligned with political parties. The Telegraph (AKA “the Torygraph”) is a Conservative newspaper. The Daily Mirror tends to support Labour (although Labour’s fortunes are so weak at present that it’s hard to find its friends). Other newspapers switch back and forth.

My point here is that I can walk down the hall here and get a glimpse into the political views of my fellow-guests by glancing at the newspapers they’ve had delivered to their doors.

There are big differences between here and the States. A large number of dailies appear to be thriving. And most of the major newspapers at least lean a bit to the Conservatives.

What complicates things is that both of our major political parties approximate the UK’s Conservatives. Meanwhile, the big political news here is UKIP.

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Foreign Policy Blogging at OTB

by Dave Schuler on August 31, 2014

I’ve just published a foreign policy-related post at Outside the Beltway:

King Abdullah Warns the West

Is it Europe and America that have more fear from ISIS/ISIL or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

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A Reminder

by Dave Schuler on August 31, 2014

Manufacturing output in the United States has not crashed:
I think that this remark by the author:

As a former auto engineer who saw millions of jobs lost and trillions of dollars washed down the drain, this really delights me. When I was an EDN editor I attended a presentation by Beacon Economics. This outfit was started by Chris Thornberg, the UCLA professor that predicted the 2007 housing crash in 2006. It was at this presentation that I learned that US manufacturing has never crashed, as many people popularly believe. Indeed, in dollar terms the output of US manufacturing has been on a pretty steady upward march.

It is manufacturing employment in the United States that has crashed.

What has declined is US manufacturing employment.

This is because computers and automation and robots have greatly increased the productivity of the American worker.

is incomplete. I do not think you can adequately discuss manufacturing employment in the United States without mentioning trade, monetary, environmental, or tax policy.

Addditionally, I have no problem with our as a society deciding and saying that “we don’t want more dirty, smelly, energy-intensive, polluting manufacturing in the United States”. I think that saying “we don’t want more dirty, smelly, energy-intensive, polluting manufacturing employment in the United States” without providing an alternative is immoral.

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Hitting the Big Time

by Dave Schuler on August 31, 2014

“Additive manufacturing” is the industrial version of what is referred to as “3D printing” at the personal or desktop level. It’s hitting the big time:

General Electric is making a radical departure from the way it has traditionally manufactured things. Its aviation division, the world’s largest supplier of jet engines, is preparing to produce a fuel nozzle for a new aircraft engine by printing the part with lasers rather than casting and welding the metal. The technique, known as additive manufacturing (because it builds an object by adding ultrathin layers of material one by one), could transform how GE designs and makes many of the complex parts that go into everything from gas turbines to ultrasound machines.

I don’t think that the adoption of additive manufacturing will do much for our employment situation (my main concern) but it will help our trade imbalance (a secondary concern) and that in turn may improve our employment situation at least a little.

This is what the Chinese really need to be concerned about: when intellectual property concerns, transportation costs, or just plain issues of control outweigh the very small benefits of China’s low wages for manufacturers. You can’t get any lower than zero and additive manufacturing is a big step in that direction.

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Malice and Incompetence

by Dave Schuler on August 30, 2014

You know, I generally believe that incompetence is a better explanation than malice, particularly when I’m talking about the government. That having been said the bill of particulars against the IRS really makes one wonder.

The only course of action you could take with a department of a private company that had been caught in so many lies, mistakes, actual crimes, and obfuscation would be to dissolve it and start over. The culture there precludes any manager turning it around,

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The End of an Era

by Dave Schuler on August 30, 2014

I both agree and disagree with Henry Kissinger’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on the collapse of the post-war order among states:

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen. The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order. Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.

This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world’s territory. The spread of democracy and participatory governance has become a shared aspiration if not a universal reality; global communications and financial networks operate in real time.

The years from perhaps 1948 to the turn of the century marked a brief moment in human history when one could speak of an incipient global world order composed of an amalgam of American idealism and traditional European concepts of statehood and balance of power. But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.

I agree that a dramatic change is in progress. However rather than a crisis I think it more a revelation that the emperor has no clothes. I agree that the idea of sovereign states has been under assault and I think our tolerance and even furtherance of it has been a strategic error.

I think that the existence of the Ukraine is an example of the weakening of the idea of the state as any construction of an indefensible state is whether that state is Ukraine or Iraq or Pakistan (Pakistan has been called an example of a government without a country). Our use of drones is an example of the weakening of the state. Our treating NGOs as states and ignoring the transgressions of the states that harbor and finance them weakens the state. When we issue threats against another state for that state’s actions within its own borders it may be an expression of our human concern but it’s a violation of that state’s sovereignty and a weakening of the state even if we don’t intend to make our threats good.

I disagree with his assessment of the situation in the South China Sea. I think it’s bad for us and bad for our allies but it’s the inevitable consequence of a rising China and our insistence on weak allies. Perhaps it’s naive of me but I continue to be less concerned about China than Dr. Kissinger appears to be. I think its own internal contradictions which it has yet to be able to confront successfully will prevent it from threatening us to any greater extent than we’re willing to allow it to threaten us.

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A Trip to the Spruce Goose

by Dave Schuler on August 30, 2014

When I was in college I had a roommate who didn’t do laundry weekly or even every other week. He did laundry when he was reaching the limits of his ability to carry his laundry bag. I have never had that many clothes, do not want that many clothes, and will not have that many clothes. I have a week’s worth of clothing.

When I’m at home that’s all well and good but when I’m travelling it means that I may need to do laundry every now and again. I could have had the hotel send my clothes out but I retain the old-fashioned American quality of frugality (even in the extreme) and I simply refuse to pay $200 a week to have my laundry done. On this trip I brought exactly one week’s worth of clothes so that meant that today I needed to make a trip to the rather improbably named “Spruce Goose” launderette. Howard Hughes does not appear to have been involved in any way.

The Goose is located on a tiny sidestreet but, after a few false steps, I managed to find my way there and wash and dry my clothes. Ironing will come later. I do have an ironing board and iron in my room. All told, it cost me about $12 (not counting my time).

What do coin-ops cost in the States these days?

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Cheery News of the Day

August 29, 2014

Well, here’s your cheery news of the day, courtesy of the World Health Organization: The total number of probable and confirmed cases in the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the four affected countries as reported by the respective Ministries of Health of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone is 3069, with 1552 […]

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There Is No Progress in Progressivism

August 29, 2014

In Dennis Safran’s remarks at City Journal on contemporary progressivism, I have finally read something written by somebody who gets the remarkable absurdities of contemporary political nomenclature: As Fred Siegel has noted, contemporary progressivism is an upper-middle-class movement that caters to the social libertarianism of coastal elites, while paying lip service to left-wing economic concerns. […]

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