Why Dogs Lick Their Asses

Copeland estimates that kosher laws add about 20 to 30 percent to the cost of production. That might sound bad for business. In fact, the owners of Manischewitz told me that kosher law could be the best thing they have going for them.

Alain Bankier, co-president of Manischewitz, said that the capital investment in the company’s state-of-the-art matzo machinery poses a huge barrier to entry for potential competitors.

So rather than being bad for business, all those kosher rules mean Manischwitz won’t have much competition.

Why Matzo Makers Love Regulation

Those crafty matzo makers might be onto something!  When news of this gets around, all kinds of businesses will probably start lobbying congress to write regulations that create barriers to entry for potential competitors.  Ah, NPR.  It’s like they found a heretofore unknown tribe of people in the Amazon that had just discovered fire, and then wrote a story about it, as if the discovery of fire was the news.

The Drive-By Media

I caught this interview the other day on NPR, and this particular question by interviewer Melissa Block jumped out at me (from the transcript):

BLOCK: I wonder, Governor Barbour, if this oil gusher is testing your political philosophy in any way. You and many of your fellow Republicans champion smaller government, less regulation, more freedom for industry. Do you think maybe there is a role looking at what’s happened in the Gulf for robust intervention for regulation?

Now Barbour’s pat response that more regulation doesn’t necessarily mean better regulation, and that equating the two is “suspect,” and, further, that the “market system” will work it all out is suspect itself, considering that the market system is rigged, by the very regulations that are supposed to govern it, in order to shield companies like BP from having to pay the full costs of their reckless behavior.

But nevermind all that.  The thing that occurred to me when I heard this is that you’d never hear NPR, or any other major news outlet, ask a proponent of more regulation whether the oil spill is testing their philosophy.  Can you imagine Melissa Block asking such a question to, say, Chuck Schumer?

BLOCK: I wonder, Senator Schumer, if this oil gusher is testing your political philosophy in any way. You and many of your fellow Democrats champion bigger government and more robust regulation. Do you think maybe there is a role looking at what’s happened in the Gulf for less government intervention?

You can rest assured it will never happen.

Kick Me…Harder

There was a story on NPR this morning about a woman who, in the 1980s, began sending money to the U.S. government in an effort to help pay down the national debt.  She even started an organization the purpose of which was to convince other people to do the same.  My first response to this was: Are you fucking kidding me?!?!  It’s not enough to have part of your salary taken without your consent and used by congressmen to buy votes or create jobs secure campaign contributions by funneling cash to their politically connected friends in the “private sector,” or used to bail out banks, or build more prisons, or to continue to wage endless war on unsuspecting villagers in Afghanistan, etc., etc.  No, what you have to do is give these criminal scumbags more of your money, voluntarily

The article portrayed the woman as a somewhat kooky idealist, fighting a noble though losing battle against the inevitable expansion of government, rather than as a fool or an inveterate sucker.  I have to wonder, though, what if she had been an employee of, say, WalMart, and decided to help the company’s sagging bottom line by volunteering to work overtime and weekends for free?  How would she have been portrayed in that case?    

If you want to give your money away, give it to a charity or some kind of organization that does something useful.  But if you’re just going to give it to the government, you might as well scatter it in the wind, or flush it down the toilet, or set it on fire.

The “Liberal Media” Plumps for War (again)

According to NPR, “experts” are “at odds” over how to deal with Iran’s alleged desire to acquire nukes.  On one side, we have former foreign policy advisor to John McCain and research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Kori Schake, who thinks “military attacks on the Iranian nuclear infrastructure may eventually be necessary”; on the other, we have  self-proclaimed neo-con Michael Rubin, who opposes military attacks because they “would set back regime change” (which would be achieved by “supporting independent trade unions, setting up a clandestine communication system and recruiting defectors”) by causing Iranians to “rally behind their government.” 

“Anyone who says that the Iranian people might rise up and support bombing their country has never been to Iran nor talked to Iranians,” Rubin says.

I had no idea that a desire to not have bombs dropped on their heads by a foreign government is a character trait unique to Iranians.  But then, I’ve never been to Iran or talked to Iranians.  Having been to Iran and talked to some Iranians apparently also makes one uniquely qualified to determine what’s in the best interest(s) of the 70 million or so people who live there:

“We don’t know where the chips will fall if everything collapses,” Rubin says. “But we should at least have a discussion first about where we would like to see Iran, and then walk backwards from that in policy to determine what we can do to sort of push and nudge the Iranian people and any post-Islamic republic government in that direction.”

A third “expert,” Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggests flaccidly that regime change might not work, pointing to Cuba as an example.  If he has any doubts about the efficacy (forget about the morality) of dropping bombs, the article doesn’t mention them.

So here we have NPR, the supposed epitome of all things despicably librul, telling us that the U.S. has only two options for how to deal with Iran: overt war or covert war.  And since the latter “might not happen,” it may just have to be bombs away by default.  Missing from the discussion, of course, is anyone who opposes meddling (of either variety) in yet another Middle Eastern/South Asian country.  Clearly no expert would take such a ridiculous position.

Defending My Freedom to Write This Post

Here’s that WikiLeaks video, aptly titled “Collateral Murder,” that’s making the rounds.  I saw it on Scott Horton’s blog last night, and this morning NPR did a piece on it.  What’s striking about it, aside from the fact that it depicts several real people being mowed down by machine gun fire, is the casual, detached attitude of the soldiers doing the killing, the way they cheer each other on while they’re doing it and the way they talk about the actual human beings on the ground as if they were mere graphic images in a video game.

Of course, NPR, while acknowledging that the video is “troubling, riveting and sad,” did its best to downplay the sheer cold-bloodedness of it by portraying it as the regrettable kind of thing that happens in the “fog of war.”  The piece was also quick to point out, in the opening paragraph, that some weapons were found on the bodies, even though what the soldiers in the helicopter initially thought were guns turned out to be cameras (it’s hard to see when it’s so foggy, you know).

But the most despicable display of excuse-making comes from the soldiers themselves.  After the initial round of shooting, a van drives up to pick up one of the wounded men, and, after some back-and-forth on the radio to get permission to “engage” this deadly threat, the machine gun opens fire.  When ground soldiers arrive on the scene and discover two wounded children in the bullet-riddled van, one of the soldiers on the audio says, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”  To which another responds: “That’s right.”

So there you have it.  Bottomless self-justification.  What exactly constitutes a battle, you ask?  Why, it’s anytime we happen to start shooting, anywhere, for whatever reason.