Video Of A Cat Briefing A New Kitten In The Home

John Stuart Mill and dissent and the value of criticism

History’s most famous weather forecast

via http://pc.blogspot.co.nz/

Walker Art Center in Minneapolis holds an annual Internet Cat Video Festival

The online journal of culture and media held a symposium on the economics of cat videos . Some of the papers are actually very good and quite serious.

Video

America’s greatest 20th century President – Warren Harding?

Harding kept the U.S. out of entangling alliances such as the League of Nations, released his predecessor’s political prisoners, negotiated a separate peace with Germany, and secured the first significant arms control agreement in U.S. history.

Harding was the first President to openly advocate black political, educational, and economic equality in the 20th century.

Harding cut taxes and may be absolutely right response to the 1920-21 US depression. He did next to nothing to quicken the recovery in the conventional sense we know today.

Source: Gene Smiley.

Harding cut the U.S. budget nearly in half between 1920 and 1922. Tax rates were slashed and the national debt was reduced by one-third.

This forgotten depression started in 1920 and was over by the end of 1921. Both the sharpest downturn and the quickest recovery in American history with 12% unemployment in 1920 replaced by full-employment by 1923.

Ronald Reagan, the biggest peacenik of them all!

President Ronald Reagan, ever the optimist, was distraught. He was pacing the living room at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Sunday, Oct. 12, 1986, just minutes after failing to reach an agreement with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. James Kuhn, the president’s aide, recalled that he had never seen Reagan look this way. The president was standing alone, his face forlorn.

Reagan later described the Reykjavik summit as a great success, and in some important ways it was. But in those first hours after it ended, Reagan seemed to have let slip from his grasp a chance to end the nuclear arms race. Everyone was grim. The failure seemed large.


(HarperCollins Publishers/HarperCollins Publishers) – The front cover to “Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours That Ended the Cold War” by Ken Adelman.

Bottom of Form

The summit was one of the most dramatic and spontaneous moments of the Cold War, and historians, memoirists, archivists and playwrights have since returned to the scene, peering through the curtains of Hofdi House in hopes of gaining a better understanding of how Reagan and Gorbachev came so close to eliminating nuclear weapons and then walked away. The allure of the story has been deepened in recent years by the release of official notes taken by each side.

Ken Adelman tackles this history with his views well established and on full display. This book is a paean to Reagan. “A mere blink of history after Reagan stood tall at Reykjavik,” Adelman writes, “the Soviet Union came down, thereby ending decades of danger. My contention is that these events were not merely coincidental.” At Reykjavik, he says of Reagan, “we see a man with surprising depth and dexterity on the critical issues of his day.” According to Adelman: “The Cold War thus ended just as Ronald Reagan had said it would. We won. They lost.” Describing a moment when Reagan appears in Reykjavik to talk with his staff, Adelman says: “I always felt awed to be in the presence of the president. . . . I felt a tingle in the back of my neck.”

Adelman, who was at the summit as director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, recounts the weekend’s roller coaster of expectations and emotions. Reagan went to the summit clueless about what to expect. Gorbachev came prepared with tempting and detailed concessions on reducing strategic and intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Reagan jumped at the offers, having long harbored an aspiration to abolish nuclear weapons. At a key moment on the second day, he let loose with words that had never been spoken at such a summit, proposing to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Gorbachev said yes. “Then let’s do it,” declared Secretary of State George Shultz. But later that day, Gorbachev sprang a trap, saying all his proposals were a package deal and the package included a limit on research for Reagan’s cherished Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a proposed missile defense system that was just at the early research phase. Gorbachev wanted to restrict testing to the laboratory for a decade. Reagan refused, and they had no deal. It fell apart over one word, “laboratory.” But the summit paved the way for later arms-control agreements.

Adelman does not add much new, but his account, written in a breezy manner, contains interesting nuggets. He admits that Reagan’s repeated offer to share SDI with the Soviets was “splendidly naive” and “rather silly.” He also suggests that the U.S. Pershing II intermediate-range missile, deployed in Europe in 1983, was a “lemon.”

During the summit, Adelman wasn’t in the room with Reagan and Gorbachev, but upstairs with the U.S. and Soviet delegations, and he took part in the long, overnight, expert-level negotiations. He depicts confusion and uncertainty. Were they talking about eliminating ballistic missiles, or offensive missiles, or nuclear missiles? Reagan spoke interchangeably about all three. Gorbachev used “nuclear forces” and “offensive weapons” without distinction. Reykjavik was history being not only made, but improvised.

The weakness of Adelman’s account is that he doesn’t do justice to Gorbachev’s radical ambitions. This was a blind spot back in Reagan’s day, too. Soviet disarmament campaigns were considered just another blast of propaganda. “We in the Reagan administration remained skeptical,” Adelman writes, “never for a minute imagining that this time thisRussian leader might actually be serious about seeking fewer weapons.”

But Gorbachev was serious. In January 1986, he called for eliminating all nuclear weapons by the year 2000. When Shultz went to tell Reagan about the news from Moscow, Reagan replied, “Why wait until the end of the century for a world without nuclear weapons?” In April and May, the Chernobyl nuclear accident further deepened Gorbachev’s resolve. He had already faced down demands from his military-industrial complex to build a vast new Soviet missile defense system. He had put a moratorium on nuclear testing. He told aides preparing for the summit that his goal was “liquidation of nuclear weapons.” By the time he got to Reykjavik, Gorbachev was hell-bent on dramatic results. But by Adelman’s account, Gorbachev “merely wanted the standard-fare Nixon-Ford-Carter arms control to move along faster.” A better assessment is that of James Graham Wilson in “The Triumph of Improvisation,” published in February by Cornell University Press; he concludes that Gorbachev was “the indispensible agent of change.”

Reagan clung fiercely to SDI at Reykjavik, even though it was no more than a gauzy dream at that point. Adelman observes correctly, “Reagan wanted so badly to build it and Gorbachev wanted so badly to stop it, that it assumed for them, and practically only for them, a reality it actually lacked.”

But Adelman then resurrects the unpersuasive argument that SDI led the Soviet Union to collapse. “SDI became the straw that broke the Communist camel’s back,” he claims. This is an old chestnut that gives Reagan too much credit. The threat of SDI and superior American technology certainly worried the Kremlin. But the Soviet Union collapsed because of profound internal weaknesses — fault lines that were systemic and that Gorbachev widened in his valiant efforts at reform. That narrative does not console those who want to put Reagan on an ever-higher pedestal, but it is closer to the truth.

David E. Hoffman is a contributing editor to The Washington Post and the author of “The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2010.

REAGAN AT REYKJAVIK

Forty-Eight Hours That Ended
the Cold War

By Ken Adelman

Broadside. 375 pp. $29.99

In the old “Saturday Night Live” skit, Ronald Reagan is portrayed as friendly and obliging when the cameras are rolling, though not quite with-it. But as soon as he is behind closed doors in the Oval Office, the smiling, doddering senior citizen becomes a shrewd, manipulative dynamo in total command of events, revealing the “amiable dunce” to be nothing more than an act.

There are moments like this in Ken Adelman’s “Reagan at Reykjavik,” when the Soviets underestimate Reagan much as the Washington elite did, only to be bested by him later on. Yet Mr. Adelman’s chronicle avoids easy triumphalism, capturing larger-than-life moments at a dramatic mid-1980s summit while also showing the main participants to be all too human.

Reagan at Reykjavik

By Ken Adelman
Broadside, 375 pages, $29.99


Reagan and Gorbachev in 1986. Associated Press

At the moment, tensions between Russia and the United States are at a post-Cold War high, in no small part because of a Russian leadership that came of age during the Soviet era and that now wishes to reclaim some of Moscow’s lost glory. For some, the current crisis—with its moves and countermoves and feints toward negotiation—may evoke memories of Reagan and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, sparring over missiles and mutually assured destruction and then agreeing to sit down and air their disagreements in Iceland’s capital. The meeting, held in mid-October 1986, was initially judged a failure. Everything from the body language of the two leaders to the snide press accounts radiated disappointment.

“The Reykjavik summit is something out of an Agatha Christie thriller,” Mr. Adelman writes. It is a story that he is well-suited to tell. He was in Reykjavik in his role as Reagan’s arms-control director. A gifted writer, Mr. Adelman offers a vivid account that reveals small details (Reagan ate meatloaf for lunch on the flight to Iceland) as well the essentials of the summit’s debating points and accomplishments. Along the way, he never loses track of the big picture: a breakthrough moment in Cold War history that did not look quite so promising at the time.

Reagan was in his second term, his economic program largely vindicated, although Republicans were soon to lose control of the Senate. He was ready to turn his focus to the world stage. Mr. Gorbachev had ascended to the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party the year before, at a time when his fellow commissars were geriatric and failing, a perfect emblem for the sclerotic Soviet economy. He was younger and more vigorous than his predecessors, a man who grasped the need for reform even as he hoped to mend rather than end communism.

It was Mr. Gorbachev who proposed the meeting in Reykjavik. It was supposed to be a prelude to a weightier Washington summit the following year. A cartoon reproduced in Mr. Adelman’s book shows the Soviet leader in a gown asking for a “pre-dance” to “get better acquainted before we really dance.” But before long, at Reykjavik, large reductions in nuclear weapons were on the table; so was Reagan’s desire to abolish nuclear weapons.

The two leaders came very close to a deal, one that would have achieved a 50% reduction in strategic nuclear arsenals and a total elimination of offensive ballistic missiles. A disagreement over confining the Strategic Defense Initiative—a proposed missile-defense program known as “Star Wars”—to the laboratory scuttled everything, and the summit ended with only terse laments for what might have been. The journalist Sam Donaldson described Reykjavik as a “very bad setback for the president,” the end of his “magic.”

Whereas Mr. Gorbachev saw SDI as a mortal threat pointed directly at Red Square, Reagan believed it to be, potentially at least, an almost impenetrable force field that would forever end the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, appropriately shorthanded as “MAD.” He called SDI “the greatest opportunity for peace in the twentieth century,” assuming, as he proposed, that the shield would be shared by the two superpowers.

In truth, Mr. Adelman admits, SDI was neither threat nor savior. Reagan’s “faith in SDI was heartfelt,” Mr. Adelman writes, but at that point in history “SDI wasn’t much more than a presidential aspiration.” Reagan nevertheless told Mr. Gorbachev: “Think of us two, you and me, standing there and telling the world we have SDI, and asking others to join us in getting rid of these terrible nuclear weapons.” Mr. Gorbachev responded icily, “My remarks in reply will be less philosophical.”

The two leaders nevertheless engaged in plenty of philosophical discussion. Mr. Gorbachev scolded Reagan for his earlier talk of an “evil empire.” Reagan pointedly said that Soviet citizens who disagree with their government wind up in jail. Mr. Adelman describes the testy dialogue as “exceeding the Nixon-Khrushchev ‘kitchen cabinet’ debate in the summer of 1959.”

From these exchanges, Mr. Adelman contends, sprang a personal breakthrough between Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev that made their later arms-control success possible—notably, their agreement, in 1987, to eliminate intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. At Reykjavik, they grew to like and respect each other. “Evidence indicates,” Mr. Adelman dryly remarks, “that personal relations count a lot in international politics, as in life.”

Reagan’s position on SDI left the Soviets—who were already spending 30% of their GNP on the military—with few options. The eventual result, Mr. Adelman says, was a safer world. “Anyone who asserts that our current predicament is more precarious than that during the Cold War either didn’t live during the Cold War or wasn’t alert to its dangers.”

For someone who played a role in the story he is telling, Mr. Adelman is fair-minded and empathetic, even to former foes. He writes movingly of the suicide, in 1991, of military adviser Sergei Akhromeyev, who was present at Reykjavik and whose suicide note expressed despair at the U.S.S.R.’s disintegration. “A noble man serving an ignoble cause,” Mr. Adelman writes of his one-time adversary. Of the chimera that caused so much trouble at the summit, he observes: “SDI never worked as Reagan wished. It worked even better.”

—Mr. Antle is editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation and the a

Reagan’s Normandy Speech Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of D-Day 6/6/84

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.

Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

and

There is a profound moral differences between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest

 

Video

Political Calculations: The Major Trends in U.S. Income Inequality Since 1947

via Political Calculations: The Major Trends in U.S. Income Inequality Since 1947.

The great enrichment – Deirdre McCloskey’s 2013 John Bonython lecture on ABC Radio

Capitalism has raised living standards worldwide by a thousand fold. Societies that respect innovation and entrepreneurship can expect more of the same.

In the space of just a couple of hundred years real incomes and living standards have risen dramatically. From peasantry to prosperity – how did it happen ?

According to McCloskey in her 2013 John Bonython lecture presented by the Centre for Independent Studies, it was ideological change, rather than saving or exploitation, that created this prosperous modern world.

McCloskey proclaims  “it’s OK to be in business”  and asks those critical of capitalism to re-think their opposition.

Business and enterprise, she suggests, is altruistic, cooperative and the best way to lift living standards in developing and emerging economies.

In a marvellous speech in India on the origins of economic freedom (and its subsequent fruits), Deirdre McCloskey aptly crystallizes the deeper implications of her work on bourgeois virtues and bourgeois dignity:

The leading Bollywood films changed their heroes from the 1950s to the 1980s from bureaucrats to businesspeople, and their villains from factory owners to policemen, in parallel with a similar shift in the ratio of praise for market-tested improvement and supply in the editorial pages of The Times of India…

Did the change from hatred to admiration of market-tested improvement and supply make possible the Singh Reforms after 1991?

Without some change in ideology Singh would not in a democracy have been able to liberalize the Indian economy…

…After 1991 and Singh much of the culture didn’t change, and probably won’t change much in future.

Economic growth does not need to make people European.

Unlike the British, Indians in 2030 will probably still give offerings to Lakshmi and the  son of Gauri, as they did in 1947 and 1991.

Unlike the Germans, they will still play cricket, rather well.

So it’s not deep “culture.” It’s sociology, rhetoric, ethics, how people talk about each other.

How General Eisenhower planned to take full blame if D-Day FAILED | The Daily Mail

This is the chilling speech Allied supremo General Dwight Eisenhower planned to make had D-Day turned into Doomsday, scribbled down on a note

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Haver area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops.

My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available.

The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.

If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.

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