Just finished it. It’s a must read for anyone with any interest at all in the daily life of marine grunts in Quang Tri province in 1969. When you finish this book you can say you did a tour in Vietnam. You will certainly feel that way.
But there is much more than that to this story. It is about good and evil, and the difficulty and uncertainty of knowing what is good and what is evil. I still think I know the difference, but I know it’s not as easy as I thought.
Update: As of September 25, 2011 there are over 500 reviews at Amazon. 386 of them give it 5 stars.
Here is what I said about this book in a comment at Chicago Boyz:
Now everyone can have a tour of duty as a Marine grunt in Quang Tri Province in 1969, with all that entails. Jungle rot, leeches, incompetent leaders, thirst in a monsoon, man-eating tigers, death everywhere; and all that’s just for starters. Bravo company is ordered by a drunken colonel to build bunkers on a hill called Matterhorn even though it makes no sense; then they are ordered to abandon the bunkers; then the NVA takes them over, digs in and stages artillery attacks; so Bravo company is ordered to re-take Matterhorn only to be ordered to abandon it again. The battle to reclaim Matterhorn is grim. Food and water, ammo and medical supplies can’t get to Bravo company because the weather is socked in and choppers can’t fly. At one point each member of Bravo company is dying of thirst in a monsoon and is down to his last two 30-round M16 magazines. Three short bursts on full auto will empty them. They must hold their fire and engage the gooks in close quarters combat if they are to survive. Finally, a first lieutenant back at VCB (combat base) defies orders, persuades chopper pilots to risk their lives and machinery to save Bravo Company. It’s such a fine heroic moment any reader with a heart will hear the Marine Corps anthem playing in his head.
The ending marks this book in the genre of deep tragedy. Embark on this journey through 566 pages only if you are sure you are up to it. It’s a helluva ride.
Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharp’s Rifles books, says Matterhorn is a great book. He was speaking seriously, not just giving a cover blurb.
Politicians, bureaucrats, journalists and some voters, talk of bipartisanship as if it were the elixir that heals all wounds and turns base metal into gold. Coming to “consensus” with one’s adversaries is said to be necessary to the formulation of good public policy.
Not all are so easily enamored. Margaret Thatcher saw that most of what is called bipartisanship is bunk. She said, “To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” The key to Margaret Thatcher is to remember she strongly believes that limiting the amount of government control over the lives of citizens is not merely an economic or political issue. For her, it is a moral issue as well. It is simply immoral for government to get overly involved in regulating private conduct. The allure of bipartisan legislation presents a clear and present danger to liberty.
There is an apocryphal joke that gets to the heart of bipartisanship. A Russian visiting a U.S. Senate aide shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union addressed this question to the aid: “Please explain the two-party system,” the Russian asked, having no experience with multi-party democracy. “It’s simple,” explained the Senate staff veteran. “We have two parties in America—the stupid party and the evil party. Since I’m a Republican, I’m in the stupid party, and we stupidly battle against the evil of the evil party.”
“But sometimes the two parties get together and do something both stupid and evil. We call that ‘bipartisanship.’ ”
For those who insist on pursuing bipartisanship they should at least read Stephen Hayward’s recipe for how to do it the right way at The American
It’s titled Dump the Bipartisan Mush: Here’s How You Do It for Real He says, “Here’s how serious people transcend ideological differences. And we don’t need no stinkin’ ‘no labels’ badges.”
The “no labels” reference is to the idiotic “no-labels” movement recently attempted by a bunch of liberals seeking to distance themselves from all the words they have corrupted with their loathsome ideas. Both “liberal” and “progressive” usually connote a government that wants to control every nook and cranny of private action, telling us what to eat and how to think. As proof of this, one need only observe the reaction of a liberal to being called a liberal. They hate it and will usually deny it fervently. Conservatives, on the other hand, will proudly proclaim that title. The word “conservative” commands such respect that the Battleground poll by Celinda Lake and David Boaz regularly records nearly 65% percent of respondents self identifying as conservatives, even though many of those are liberals lying through their teeth to the pollster.
I don’t tire of reminding people of William F. Buckley’s definition of a liberal as someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the water temperature. These days liberals want to do much more than that, some of it truly evil, such as the death panels recently re-inserted by stealth regulations into Obamacare.
UPDATE: Jennifer Rubin writes in The Washington Post: So Much For Bipartisanship — A Slew of Recess Appointments. Well, if this were bipartisan it would be both stupid and evil. This way it’s only evil.
Ms. Rubin’s piece is still worth a read.
I have no doubt that this introductory economics textbook for college freshman is one of the best available. It’s 900 pages and a review of the table of contents brought back memories of my own time struggling with Econ 101. That would have been about 40 years ago. This book looks to me that it’s probably much better than the Paul Samuelson book I had. As I remember, it was heavy on the Keynesian perspective, Hayek may as well have not existed and Milton Friedman was hardly mentioned. Fortunately freshmen Econ students were also introduced to Robert Heilbroner and his worldly philosophers.
I don’t remember what that Samuelson book cost but I’m guessing that it was about ten dollars. I base that on my memory of my first year of law school when I was shocked at the price of case books. Twenty dollars! Twice the price of most textbooks for University of Colorado undergraduates in the late sixties and early seventies. The price of those case books and hornbooks made me drive a cab at night while going to law school in the daytime. What would I do now? Cab driving isn’t a job a 23-year old white guy can get anymore. Besides, cab driving wouldn’t begin to pay for the cost of law books these days.
I’m scared to check out the current cost of case books. Especially if they are still twice the cost of introductory economics text books. Professor Mankiw’s Econ 101 textbook costs $202.99 [in the bookstore, $190.87 at Amazon].
I heard a Coffee and Markets podcast the other day that featured Richard Vigilante predicting paper books will be obsolete in 5-10 years, and be entirely replaced by e-books. I wonder what the Kindle edition of Professor Mankiw’s book will cost? Well, if you can get all of your text books on your Kindle or iPad I guess college students will have more room in their backpacks for other stuff.
UPDATE: There’s already a Kindle edition — for $127.86.
Used as a metaphor, a “minefield” is a subject or situation presenting unseen hazards that might “blow up in your face.” A legal minefield might be thought of as a trap for the unwary, entangling one in a legal problem such as a civil suit or a criminal charge. Most people who are law-abiding, and gun owners with CCW permits are statistically a law-abiding group, believe that avoiding a criminal charge is a no-brainer. How can a non-violent person who does not lie, cheat or steal inadvertently run afoul of the criminal law?
The problem is there are too many crimes that are defined as felonies today, and too many felonies that should not be crimes at all. There are federal felonies that most people would think should not be crimes at all because they do not require a guilty state of mind or intention to inflict harm on anyone. There is a spate of new books about this phenomenon, such as Three Felonies a Day, How the Feds Target the Innocent; Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything; and One Nation Under Arrest, How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty.
For gun owners any felony conviction takes away the right to possess firearms for life [U.S.C. §922(g)(1)]. It need not be a violent felony, and it need not be a felony that even meets the classical definition of a “felony” as an act of violence usually involving murder, arson, assault and battery, rape or robbery. It can even be a crime designated a felony in one state and not a crime at all in another state. For example, it was only recently a felony in New Mexico to carry a firearm into any establishment that dispensed alcoholic beverages, even a convenience store that sold beer (the law has now been changed somewhat from the original). But in Colorado it was and is not a crime at all for a CCW permit holder to carry his or her concealed firearm into a bar. Here is a legal minefield. A Colorado CCW holder may have thought the law to be similar in New Mexico and end up with a felony conviction, and loss of the right to possess a firearm for the rest of his or her life.
Gun owners who travel must know the laws of the state they’re in, if they travel with their guns. [the Federal Volkner-McClure Act on the right to travel is of limited protection and is a subject for another day]
The New Mexico/Colorado legal dichotomy is but one example. Others abound. Don’t even think about carrying a firearm into New Jersey. Thinking about it might be a felony.
How about the argument that disparate treatment in different states of what constitutes a felony, especially treating non-violent acts as felonies that are not even crimes in other states, constitutes a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment? Forget it. That argument has been soundly rejected by Federal Courts, such as in United States v. Vongxay, 594 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2010).
Nevertheless, the denial of 2nd Amendment rights to non-violent felons may be an emerging issue. In United States v. Duckett, (9th Circuit, Dec. 10, 2010) one of the judges said this:
Although I join the majority in full, were I not bound by United States v. Vongxay, 594 F.3d 1111 (9th Cir. 2010), I would examine whether, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s dicta in District of Columbia v. Heller, ___ U.S. ___ 128 S.Ct. 2783, 2816-17 (2008), the government has a substantial interest in limiting a non-violent felon’s constitutional right to bear arms. See United States v. Williams, 616 F.3d 685, 693 (7th Cir. 2010) (“[W]e recognize that § 922(g)(1) may be subject to an overbreadth challenge at some point because of its disqualification of all felons, including those who are non-violent.”)
Duckett is a “not for publication” decision meaning it can’t be cited as authority. Don’t you wish you could designate some things you write or say as “not for publication” so you couldn’t be held responsible? For judges, it’s the legal equivalent of “King’s X” which in real life is only for children.
A favorite quote from Hayek:
The task of economics is to show us how little we know about what we imagine we can design
— The Fatal Conceit
This statement by Larry Arnhart is, in my view, a satisfactory reconciliation of the Conservative thought of Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservative social and political philosophy, and the theory of evolution by natural selection formulated by Charles Darwin:
The Left has traditionally assumed that human nature is so malleable, so perfectible, that it can be shaped in almost any direction. Conservatives object, arguing that social order arises not from rational planning but from the spontaneous order of instincts and habits. Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history.
Compare professor Arnhart’s statement with this statement from Burke wherein he describes the emergence of spontaneous legal and political order:
From magna charta to the declaration of right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity (Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. 1792: III 58).
Conservatives who compare Darwin to Marx or blame Darwin’s teaching for modern social ills need to read these statements and tell us where Darwin is wrong. They will have a hard time doing that because their Burkean arguments against central planning in social and economic affairs contradict their anti-Darwin arguments for “intelligent design” in the structures of life itself.
Of course, the contradiction and confusion in Leftist thinking about Darwinian evolution on the one hand and Leftist social and political ideology on the other is gargantuan and central compared to conservative muddling around the edges. That’s because Leftism is an ideology not a philosophy. Ideologies are closed systems immutable to evidence or rational argument.
It’s been a good four days for Mitch McConnell, Conservatives and the Tea Party.
Tax-rate extensions passed.
Omnibus Pork Bill failed.
DREAM Act failed.
Miserable food “safety” bill failed. (Federal Government won’t be regulating bake sales at schools anytime soon.)
UPDATE sunday: Food safety bill brought back and passed unanimously. Ugh. Republicans up to their old tricks, never missing a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. No more bake sales. Federal government not satisfied being in our bedrooms, our bathrooms, and our showers. Now the Federal Govt. will be in our Kitchen too. We need the repeal amendment ASAP.
But on the good news side it looks like the idiotic START treaty, which would cripple our missile defense system while allowing Russia to build more missiles to attack us, is in trouble. it’s a bad, bad treaty that will weaken our defenses and should be scrapped.
DADT repeal passed.
All good (except for DADT repeal) even though the tax compromise is not nearly as good as it could have been if Republicans had been willing to negotiate harder for it. They did their usual and left a lot of money on the table, in my view. They probably could have gotten the tax rates made permanent. The rise in the death tax from zero this year to 35% next year is a huge increase, but the $5 Million exemption will save a lot of small businesses, ranches and farms. If Republicans are smart (if they can stop being dumb, that is) they can use this issue to their advantage in 2012 and force Democrats to vote for making them permanent (and Obama as well if he actually thinks he might get re-elected.)
Michael Barone says, Reid and Pelosi Finally Get Mugged By Public Opinion.
George Will says, The Political Fantasy-Land of the “No-Labels” Movement is an effort by liberals to avoid being called liberals because they have so discredited that word. They are well on the way to discrediting “progressive” as well so they need to avoid any label at all or no one will listen to them. Conservatives, on the other hand, proudly proclaim that label, and polls show that a majority of Americans self-identify themselves as conservatives. So the no-lables crowd need to get rid of that label as well. It won’t work because the labels “consevative” and “liberal” convey useful information. A conservative is someone who believes in limited government, low taxes, and individual liberty. A Liberal is someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the water temperature.
The fact is the powerful and connected — the Bloombergs, the Bollingers, et al — don’t really need strong legal protections. Nobody’s going to take their property anyway. (When’s the last time you heard of a rich guy’s home being condemned?) For those with juice, things seldom get as far as the courts.
The courts are supposed to be there to protect the rest: people without the connections, the ones who depend on the rule of law to keep the predators away.
In the area of eminent domain the courts have abandoned theirhttp://volokh.com/2010/12/17/rich-bully-lee-bollinger-is-getting-his-way/responsibility. The judges have turned their backs on the little guy and become the protectors of the fat cats. They did it by a strained interpretation of the takings clause of the 5th Amendment, finding that taking property for private use is taking property for public use.
Randy Barnett adds this:
So, once again, the constraints on government power, here an “express prohibition” in the Bill of Rights no less, provided by Constitution are weakened or removed, and become part of the “lost Constitution.” The Constitution is the law that governs those who govern us. Those who are governed by the Constitution should not be able to change the laws by which they govern. And yet that is exactly what they continue to do.
To the legal Dons a dog can have five legs — if you call a tail a leg.
Great News — 1,900 Page Omnibus Spending Bill Fails, To Be Replaced by One Page Continuing Resolution to Fund the Government Until the New Congress Arrives — Pomeroy Estate Tax Amendment Fails — Final Tax Compromise Passes
Mitch McConnell pulled this one out of the fire — He got most of the RINO appropriators who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar to reverse course. Without the RINOS Harry Reid threw in the towel. How sweet it is. Elections do have consequences. Tea Party victory celebrations going on now — Hooray!!
If not now, then later, I think the Democrats in Congress will eventually get this. I don’t understand why they want it, or why they are not willing to allow the military to make its own rules on this. They don’t do anything out of principle, it’s always for votes. Gays themselves are not numerous enough to be a large voting block but gays are in the higher socio-economic echelons of society, so maybe this is as much about getting invited to cocktail parties as it is about votes.
DADT is a reasonable policy and is the one practiced everywhere else in polite society so why isn’t it OK in the military? I mean, if you are not gay you know which of your friends are gay but I’d bet a dollar to a donut hole that you don’t discuss their sexual preference with them. You probably like it that way and so do they. And you don’t live with them, not even in an apartment much less in the close quarters that military personnel must share.
I was in the Navy back when it was an automatic undesirable discharge for anyone who was found to be a homosexual. That was too harsh, and it’s no longer the policy. But it’s still awkward and downright gauche to go around proclaiming one’s homosexuality among other men living in close quarters. But, you say, no one is likely to do that. OK, then why does DADT have to be changed?
I say again. No liberal wants to change DADT at fancy cocktail parties. So why do they want to change it on Navy ships or in Marine barracks or in a tank or a foxhole or a jungle or any other place where soldiers, sailors and marines do the hard, dangerous and dirty work of preserving our freedom. Huh?
From the December issue of AEI’s Political Report:
Today three in ten have no confidence that when Washington tackles a problem it will be solved. That is the highest response on the question since it was first asked in 1991.
Only three in ten? Are the other seven in ten hopeless dreamers? And it used to be an even higher number?
We are doomed.
Who knew? Clay Duke, who opened fire on a Florida school board Tuesday, was a left-wing kook railing against “the rich.” He left a post on his Facebook page that he called his “last testament.” In it he blames the wealthy for his troubles. He also linked to a slug of “progressive” websites such as theprogressivemind.info and MediaMatters.org.
Here is his “last testament:”
My Testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V)… no… I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats… same-same… rich… they take turns fleecing us… our few dollars… pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%… the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do, as they like to us…
The media will just have to ignore all this. I mean, you know, if the madman was not a right winger or a tea partier it’s not a story.
I wonder why people who think like Clay Duke don’t just move some place where there are no rich people. Let’s see, Zimbabwe might be such a place, or say, Mexico which would be easier to get to. Better yet, how about Chechnya? Oh, I forgot, there are rich people in those countries. But at least a lot fewer than here. Except for one thing, Clay ole buddy, those rich in those places are actually really really very very rich and , they really do all the things you accuse everyone in American who has more than you of doing.
Clay would have found out one other thing in those countries. Before he was able to get a gun and murder a bunch of school board members he probably would have been shot in the back of the head and dumped in a ditch by the soldiers who protect “the rich” in those countries.
Where Does Pacific Gas & Electric go to get its $333 Million back? That’s the amount it paid to settle the famous (now infamous) Erin Brockovich class-action suit in 1996. The California utility company released a plume of hexavalent chromium 6 from a Hinkley-based natural gas pipeline station that was supposed to be a toxic cancer-causing agent that would sicken thousands and kill many of them. But the California Cancer Registry has now completed three studies that show cancer rates remained unremarkable in and around Hinkley from 1988 to 2008.
The plume was real and it’s still there. In fact, it’s growing. But it’s apparently not giving anyone cancer or making them any sicker than they would be if they lived anywhere else. If Pacific Gas and Electric’s negligence is responsible for the plume it should of course be held accountable and should pay for any damages that occur. But any fool should be able to distinguish between the justice of making a tortfeasor pay for what it did and the injustice of allowing opportunists like Erin Brockovich to get rich and famous by whipping up mass hysteria in order to stick it to the defendant for massive and imaginary wrongs.
This story appears to be playing out just as anyone familiar with mass hysteria and loathing could have predicted because it is so similar to how these things usually go. Remember the hysteria of Love Canal? If you lived there you thought your children were going to glow in the dark. Turns out that the Love Canal community’s sickness rates measured over several years after all the hoopla were also unremarkable.
Mass hysteria is never a good thing and always predicts results that seldom come to pass. A simple truth of life. Likewise the hysteria over Three Mile Island. Nobody died or even got sick and that nuclear power plant hums along today delivering cheap clean energy to thousands of Pennsylvanians.
Of course, there is one example of a real environmental disaster that killed a lot of people. But it was not in the U.S. it was at Chernobyl, in the Soviet Union.
UPDATE: Who really paid the $333 Million settlement in the Erin Brockovich affair? The utility customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, of course. Corporation don’t pay damages or taxes or anything else. Their customers and shareholders do. Do you think the class action would have gone as well for Erin Brockovich if it were more widely understood that she was not holding a nasty corporate malfeasant to account, but was in reality ripping off thousands of other citizens? Who’s the real bad guy here?
Government subsidies now exist for just about everything and everybody. From ethanol to sugar to milk to rich corporate farmers, subsidies abide. But government cannot give any citizen a subsidy without taxing some other citizen since government has no money except what it takes from us in taxes. So here’s an idea. Everyone receiving a subsidy should be required to designate which of their fellow citizens are to be taxed to pay for it, and submit affidavits from them giving their permission to be taxed for the benefit of the one to receive the subsidy.
This would just be a more direct, and honest, way of doing what is already being done, i.e., those wanting a subsidy vote for the politician that promises it to them. The one who pays the bill for it is the forgotten man in the transaction.