Another Reason to Home School Your Kids

A faithful reader passes along the snapshot of a high school world history textbook that notes the “fantastic economic results” of Stalin’s management of the Soviet economy back in the glory days of the successive Five Year plans. No wonder people fall for Elizabeth Warren.

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Here’s the text in case you can’t make out the photo:

These forceful means of making the Soviet Union a modern industrial nation took a great toll on people’s personal lives. Many families and marriages broke up.

Yeah, a widespread system of Gulags, mass executions, deliberate starvation, and purges of your intelligentsia are often quite hard on marriages. To continue:

Stalin’s grim methods, however, also produced fantastic economic results. Although most targets of the first Five-Year Plan fell short, the Soviets made impressive gains. A second plan, launched in 1933, proved equally successful. From 1928 to 1937, industrial production increased more than 25 percent.

I suppose we shouldn’t be too hard on the textbook’s authors, Roger Beck and Linda Black, for merely following some the dimmest bulbs of liberal economics. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s fabulous book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty remind us:

Indeed, the most widely used economics textbook in economics, written by Nobel Prize-winner Paul Samuelson, repeatedly predicted the coming economic dominance of the Soviet Union. In the 1961 edition, Samuelson predicted that Soviet national income would overtake that of the United States possibly by 1984, but probably by 1997. In the 1980 edition there was little change in the analysis, though the two dates were delayed to 2002 and 2012.

Acemoglu and Robinson go on to explain exactly why the Soviet Union realized these industrial production gains, and also why they were one-off changes that couldn’t be sustained:

But in some instances the productivity of labor and capital may be so much higher in one sector or activity, such as heavy industry in the Soviet Union, that even a top-down process under extractive institutions that allocates resources toward that sector can generate growth. . . [O]nce all the very inefficiently used resources had been reallocated to industry, there were few economic gains left to be had by fiat. Then the Soviet system hit a roadblock, with a lack of innovation and poor economic incentives preventing any further progress.

Between 1928 and 1960, Acemoglu and Robinson estimate, Soviet national income grew at 6 percent a year. Even these figures can be doubted. Two Soviet economists, Grigory Khanin and V. Selyunin, argued in 1987 that the Soviet economy peaked and began its decline in the early 1960s. The real long-term growth rate of the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the 1980s had been no better than 3.3 percent a year; the official statistics claimed 7.9 percent growth rate. Regardless of the real rate of growth, Acemoglu and Robinson conclude that “This quick economic growth was not created by technological change, but by reallocating labor and by capital accumulation through the creation of new tools and factories. . . [But] growth first slowed down and then totally collapsed.”

Acemoglu and Robinson further pointed out that one prominent group of Western Sovietologists predicted in 1980 that the Soviet economy would continue to grow at a 3.15 percent annual rate through the year 2000. The projection “does not portray a Soviet economy on the verge of collapse.” Another leading Sovietologist, Seweryn Bialer of Columbia University, wrote in Foreign Affairs that “The Soviet Union is not now nor will it be during the next decade in the throes of a true systemic crisis, for it boasts enormous unused reserves of political and social stability that suffice to endure the deepest difficulties.”

That last sentence kinda sounds like a description of the American Left: enormous unused reserves of nonsense that enable it to endure the deepest political difficulties. Meanwhile, get the Acemoglu and Robinson book if you want a sound treatment of economic growth and development.

Not Islamic either, part quatre

The Obama administration has dragged the Pentagon into its clown show on the Taliban and terrorism. Megyn Kelly devoted a segment to the swap of Bowe Bergdahl for the Taliban Five as well as the proper categorization of the Taliban last night on her FNC Kelly File show (full video below, eleven minutes long). Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby appeared to respond to Kelly’s questions.

As to the Taliban, Kirby asserted: “We consider them an armed insurgency…they aren’t considered a foreign terrorist organization.” What won’t he and his colleagues say? Is resignation not an option? Admiral Kirby faithfully toes the Obama administration line in a degrading cause.

Not Islamic either, part trois

NRO’s Brendan Bordelon reports:

In the latest round of verbal gymnastics over the Taliban, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki refused to categorize the murder of American civilians at Kabul International Airport an act of “terrorism.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack on Friday, which killed three civilian contractors working for the U.S. government and wounded one other. The gunman was reportedly a member of Afghan security forces who turned his weapon on his colleagues before being killed.

“He managed yesterday evening to attain his goal and opened fire with his rifle on a group of American occupiers,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said. The attacker was then “martyred by return fire.”

At Friday’s State Department briefing, Psaki was asked whether the U.S. government categorized the assault as terrorism.

“Obviously any attack that kills contractors – that kills individuals who are working there in harms way — is horrific and a tragedy,” she said. “But I’m not gonna put new labels on it today.”

The Obama administration is engaged in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban as it prepares to withdraw American forces from the region. U.S. policy has long been to avoid negotiations with terrorist groups.

The video below (37 seconds) captures the psickening Ms. Psaki toeing the line.

Out of the Daily Ditch

In a note to his readers Andrew Sullivan has declared that he is packing it in. Having written for one iteration or another of The Daily Dish for 15 years, he says he’s had enough. (It appears that the current iteration of his site is just The Dish.) Sullivan didn’t put a date certain on the retirement of his site — he put it “in the near future” — but I think it’s fair to take his announcement at face value. He seems to have hung it up.

Glenn Reynolds responds (his caps): “IN JOHN CARTER’S WORDS, I STILL LIVE.” Glenn also thinks he’ll be back; Kathy Shaidle fears he might not go away. Pejman Yousefzadeh comments here. Ed Driscoll has more here, John Nolte here.

Sullivan was one of the pioneers of the blog form. Chris Cillizza reflects on what Sullivan’s retirement of The Daily Dish may or may not mean regarding the future of the form.

Once upon a time, Sullivan’s site was worth reading. That time has long since passed. The news that Sullivan was putting his site out to pasture came as a surprise to me only because I was unaware he was still cranking it out.

Sullivan has become a crude and hysterical polemicist. Several years ago I dubbed his site The Daily Ditch. He descended into madness and self-parody, and not just in the case of Sarah Palin. Before there was Sarah Palin, there was George W. Bush. Bush sent Sullivan around the bend.

Sullivan found his perfect reader in Barack Obama. President Obama drew on the deep well of Sullivan’s ignorance in his first press conference:

I was struck by an article that I was reading the other day talking about the fact that the British during World War II, when London was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, “We don’t torture,” when the entire British–all of the British people–were being subjected to unimaginable risk and threat….the reason was that Churchill understood — you start taking shortcuts, over time, that corrodes what’s best in a people. It corrodes the character of a country.

This is laughable, as I sought to demonstrate in “Obama veers into the Daily Ditch.” The Daily Ditch may be gone, but Obama remains mired in it.

Not Islamic either, part deux

When he ran for president in 2008, then-Senator Obama castigated the Bush administration for taking his eye “off the ball.” “The ball” was the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Looking back on the campaign, Obama noted: “I talked frequently during this campaign that we took our eye off the ball when we invaded Iraq. And now it’s done. My job is to withdraw in a responsible way from Iraq and stabilize the situation there. But our real focus has to be on Afghanistan, the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we have to put as much pressure on them as possible.”

Having lost its use as a cudgel with which to beat Bush and Republicans, Obama himself has taken his eye off the ball. He seems to think we are at peace with the Taliban. He no longer even recognizes the Taliban as a terrorist organization.

Obama’s spokesmen are bending themselves into pretzels to keep up appearances. White House spokesman Eric Schultz made himself a laughingstock on Wednesday as he stood up for the Taliban as “an armed insurrection” rather than a terrorist group earlier this week. (He was explaining why our trade of five Taliban terrorists detained in Gitmo for Bowe Bergdahl was A-okay.)

White House spokesman Josh Earnest did it again on Thursday at greater length. See if you can follow this, per RCP:

At today’s briefing Josh Earnest seemed to double down on the rhetoric by tip-toeing around the term ‘terrorist group.” Earnest used phrases like “this description that you have put forward” and “designating them in a way that you have described.”

Earnest did finally say the Taliban “has resorted to terror tactics,” but qualified that they have “principally been focused on Afghanistan.”

“It is important to draw a distinction between the Taliban and al Qaeda,” Earnest told Karl. “The Taliban has resorted to terror tactics, but those terror tactics have principally been focused on Afghanistan.”

Earnest also called the Taliban a “dangerous organization.”

Earnest also drew a distinction between how the U.S. handles the Taliban and how the U.S. views al Qaeda.

“What the president has pursued is a clear strategy for building up a central government in Afghanistan and the Afghan Security Forces so that they can be responsible for security in their own country and take the fight to the Taliban,” Earnest said. “That, however, is different than the strategy that we have pursued against al Qaeda — al Qaeda is a terrorist organization that has aspirations that extend beyond just the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“There are no doubts that both these organizations are dangerous and have drawn our attention,” Earnest added.

“So if I am hearing you correctly you are saying the Taliban engages in ‘tactics akin to terrorism,’ but you don’t actually consider them a terrorist group,” Karl attempted to confirm.

They have a different classification,” Earnest said. “They have a classification that does allow us to pursue financial sanctions against them that have succeeded in limiting their capability that have been effective.”

Earnest again differentiated the two, saying the Taliban “is different than an organization like al Qaeda that has much broader global aspirations to carry out acts of violence and acts of terror against Americans and American interests all around the globe.”

Roll Call’s video of the exchange (below) runs for three minutes.

This is a useful companion to Earnest’s explanation for the administration’s disavowal of the term “radical Islam” to describe the ideology of our terrorist enemies.

Forgive me for repeating myself as I reiterate that the Obama administration has degenerated rapidly into a clown show. It may be a clown show that falls into the killer clown horror genre, but still it’s some kind of a clown show.

The Week in Pictures: Super Bowl Edition

Everybody got their munchies locked and loaded?  I say Seattle by a fair margin, like last year.  New England looks distracted by all the deflated footballs silliness.  Speaking of playing with deflated footballs, Obama . . . oh never mind.  You know where that was going.

Islamic Wheel copy

President Fruit Loop copy

The Interview copy

Netanyahu Cereal copy Obama Fruit Loop copy

attack Netanyhu copy GOP Working Out copy

What Obama Means copy

Progr4essive Ideas copy

Luker Scottwalker copy Clinton Bush regifting copy

Victor the Vegan copy Moore Hypocrit copy Buy Saudi Gas? copy Climate Pronouncements copy College Bubble copy

Blizzard Warning copy The Blizzard copy

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Bear Soft Tacos copy Weight Balance copy Pink Freud copy Lois Lane copy Tom Petty copy Gluten Fre Hooker copy

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Perhaps someone has an old bag of Olestra chips?

Perhaps someone has an old bag of Olestra chips?



And finally. . .

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This day in basketball history — high school basketball goes national

Fifty years ago today, a sold-out Cole Field House at the University of Maryland hosted what is probably the most famous high school basketball game ever played. It featured Lew Alcindor’s Power Memorial of New York City against DeMatha of Hyattsville, Maryland. DeMatha won, 46-43.

The Washington Post has a good article about the game that draws on the recollections of key DeMatha participants. Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), accommodating as ever, declined to be interviewed for the article. Instead, his manager reminded the Post that Power Memorial went on to win its third straight New York City championship in 1965.

Thanks, Kareem. We were starting to think you were overrated in high school.

Here, with a few additions, is what I wrote about the game on its 45th anniversary:

Power Memorial, led by the phenomenal Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), had won 71 consecutive games. Hardly anyone followed high school basketball at a national level in those days, years before ESPN. Yet, Alcindor had managed to become a national legend. His size (almost 7-3 at the time of the DeMatha game), fluidity, and shooting touch had scouts swearing that he would become the game’s greatest center ever. (Some say he accomplished this; in any event, he’s the NBA’s all-time scoring leader).

DeMatha had no superstar and its starting center, Bob Whitmore, was 6-7. Yet there was little doubt (at least at my Maryland high school) that their fab five — Whitmore, Bernie Williams, Sid Catlett, Ernie Austin, and Mickey Wiles — had the potential to beat Power Memorial. In fact, DeMatha had nearly done so the previous year at Cole, falling by a 65-62 margin after Whitmore fouled out (if I remember correctly). Alcindor scored 38 points in that one.

DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten spent the next 12 months gearing up for the rematch. For example, Catlett, who was 6-8, is said to have used a tennis racket during practice to allow the offense to practice against Alcindor-caliber shot blocking.

In case jazz fans are wondering, Catlett is the son of legendary drummer “Big Sid” Catlett. Here’s a nice article about the father (who died in 1951) and son, which casts Jabbar, a jazz devotee, in a favorable light.

This time around, Wootten had Whitmore and Catlett double-team Alcindor. The strategy helped limit the great one to 16 points and DeMatha triumphed 46-43. Catlett (only a sophomore) had 13 points, including seven out of his team’s final nine. Williams contributed 12 points.

The game was covered by Sports Illustrated and the two major weekly news magazines. The coverage brought high school basketball a level of exposure it had never enjoyed before.

The two games also put DeMatha and its young coach on the map. The program would become perhaps the most storied in the country. When Wootten retired in 2002, his teams had amassed 1274 wins (and 192 losses), and he had already been inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame.

Each member of DeMatha’s fab-five would play major college basketbal — Whitmore and Catlett at Notre Dame; Williams at La Salle, Austin at Syracuse, and Wiles at Maryland. Whitmore would have the dubious honor of guarding Alcindor in the annual UCLA-Notre Dame contest. UCLA won each game, but Catlett played for the Notre Dame team that defeated UCLA’s national championship team in 1971, after Alcindor graduated.

Only Bernie Williams had a substantial pro career (two years in the NBA and three in the ABA). But the fab-five is still remembered after all of these years for their landmark victory, a triumph of teamwork over individual prowess.