March 31, 2006

The great free-loader of the world...

Charlene and I were laughing over this: Noam Chomsky, by Peter Schweizer of the National Post (Thanks to Neo-Neocon)

.....One of the most persistent themes in Noam Chomsky's work has been class warfare. The iconic MIT linguist and left-wing activist frequently has lashed out against the "massive use of tax havens to shift the burden to the general population and away from the rich," and criticized the concentration of wealth in "trusts" by the wealthiest 1%. He says the U.S. tax code is rigged with "complicated devices for ensuring that the poor -- like 80% of the population -- pay off the rich."

But trusts can't be all bad. After all, Chomsky, with a net worth north of US$2-million, decided to create one for himself. A few years back he went to Boston's venerable white-shoe law firm, Palmer and Dodge, and, with the help of a tax attorney specializing in "income-tax planning," set up an irrevocable trust to protect his assets from Uncle Sam. He named his tax attorney (every socialist radical needs one!) and a daughter as trustees. To the Diane Chomsky Irrevocable Trust (named for another daughter) he has assigned the copyright of several of his books, including multiple international editions.

Chomsky favours massive income redistribution -- just not the redistribution of his income. No reason to let radical politics get in the way of sound estate planning.

When I challenged Chomsky about his trust, he suddenly started to sound very bourgeois: "I don't apologize for putting aside money for my children and grandchildren," he wrote in one e-mail. Chomsky offered no explanation for why he condemns others who are equally proud of their provision for their children and who try to protect their assets from Uncle Sam. (However, Chomsky did say that his tax shelter is OK because he and his family are "trying to help suffering people.").....

Chomsky is the perfect lefty icon. He's made a career out of bashing America, while enjoying to the full all the freedom and prosperity and rights won at great cost by far better men than he. And bashing capitalism while using it to get rich.

And he wraps himself in a smug mantle of virtue because he is "trying to help suffering people." While all the while doing his best to prevent America and President Bush from actually liberating oppressed peoples and bringing them the same democracy and freedom that he's grown fat on.

Leftists: shabby frauds, all of them...

And there's this:

....Corporate America is one of Chomsky's demons. It's hard to find anything positive he might say about American business. He paints an ominous vision of America suffering under the "unaccountable and deadly rule of corporations." He has called corporations "private tyrannies" and declared that they are "just as totalitarian as Bolshevism and fascism." Capitalism, in his words, is a "grotesque catastrophe."

But a funny thing happened on the way to the retirement portfolio.

Chomsky, for all of his moral dudgeon against American corporations, finds that they make a pretty good investment. When he made investment decisions for his retirement plan at MIT, he chose not to go with a money market fund or even a government bond fund. Instead, he threw the money into blue chips and invested in the TIAA-CREF stock fund. A look at the stock fund portfolio quickly reveals that it invests in all sorts of businesses that Chomsky says he finds abhorrent: oil companies, military contractors, pharmaceuticals, you name it....

Shabby shabby shabby.....parasites. Tapeworms.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 AM

March 30, 2006


This doesn't have any significance, it's just a picture I snapped hastily, and liked. That's St Ignatius Church in the middle The mountain in the background is Mt Tamalpais, across the Golden Gate in Marin County. On my right is the aptly named Buena Vista Park. (Long ago, when I was young, and new to SF, I happened to cut through that park, and thought it peculiar that everyone I saw was male. It eventually dawned on me that it was a gay rendezvous. I have no idea if it still is.)

San Francisco scene

Posted by John Weidner at 10:02 PM

March 29, 2006

What do you call sabotaging your country in time of war?

Amir Taheri writes in OpinionJournal, that many countries are now "waiting Bush out," in hopes that political weakness will undermine and end his push for democratization. It makes ugly reading.

I will repeat what I have written before. Our tradition, in this country, is for the party out of power to support our leadership in time of war. It is tradition, and also an obvious necesity. What the Democrats are doing now---Democrats, news-media, pacifists, academics---is treason. It is a deliberate sabotage of their country in war time, and we can see the results.

And it is treason to the world. The hopes for freedom of hundreds of millions of people are hanging in the balance, and these scoundrels are siding with tyrants and terrorists and murderers...

....It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has shelved his plan, forged under pressure from Washington, to foster a popular front to fight terrorism by lifting restrictions against the country's major political parties and allowing their exiled leaders to return. There is every indication that next year's elections will be choreographed to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, arguably the most pro-American leader in the region, is cautiously shaping his post-Bush strategy by courting Tehran and playing the Pushtun ethnic card against his rivals....

...According to sources in Tehran and Damascus, Mr. Assad had pondered the option of "doing a Gadhafi" by toning down his regime's anti-American posture. Since last February, however, he has revived Syria's militant rhetoric and dismissed those who advocated a rapprochement with Washington. Iran has rewarded him with a set of cut-price oil, soft loans and grants totaling $1.2 billion. In response Syria has increased its support for terrorists going to fight in Iraq and revived its network of agents in Lebanon, in a bid to frustrate that country's democratic ambitions....

And what Democrats are doing (not all of them, but "core" Dems for sure) is treason to their own traditions of supporting democracy and the hopes of the oppressed. And treason to the obvious requirement that great questions be decided with moral seriousness, and not out of spite and fear and personal interest.

The bloody wars of the 20th Century were, for Americans, all Democrat wars. And in every case the Republican Party supported our country, not grudgingly, but with warm-hearted generosity. No enemy of America, not the Kaiser or Hitler or Tojo or Mao or Ho Chi Minh ever thought they could "wait it out," because Republicans might come into power and sell their country out.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:53 AM

March 28, 2006

Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week

This is an -mail I got from Joanne Jacobs, who Charlene and I have met a few times:

Bloggers helped me launch my book, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds (Palgrave Macmillan), with a November blogburst for Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book Day. Sales were strong for the first three months, but they’re slowing down, so I’ve declared Buy Joanne Jacobs’ Book (If You Haven’t Already) Week. I’m not so concerned about spiking the Amazon numbers this time, but March 31 is my birthday and it would be nice to have a birthday spike.

In case you've forgotten, Our School follows the principal, teachers and students at Downtown College Prep, a San Jose charter high school that turns underachievers -- most come from low-income Mexican immigrant families -- into serious students. The charter school’s educational philosophy is: Work your butt off. Students aren’t told they’re wonderful. Teachers tell them they’re capable of improving, which turns out to be true. On California’s Academic Performance Index, which came out last week, Downtown College Prep is a 7 out of 10 compared to all schools, a perfect 10 compared to similar schools. All graduates go on to college; 90 percent remain on track to earn a four-year degree.

While the book discusses the charter school movement as a whole, Our School isn’t written for wonks. Readers tell me it’s a page-turner. So far, it's received excellent reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, New York Post, Rocky Mountain News, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publishers Weekly and others.

The book is in some, but not all, book stores and is available through Amazon

After 19 years as a San Jose Mercury News editorial writer and Knight Ridder columnist, I quit in 2001 to write Our School and to start an education blog,, which averages 1,300 visitors a day.

With all the despair about educating "left behind" kids, I think people need to hear about a school that's making a difference.

Thanks for helping.

-- Joanne Jacobs

One thing Joanne told us that just delighted me, was the story of how her family came to the new world, from (I think it was) Moravia. Farmers from Moravia had emigrated to Canada, and flourished on the abundant farmland. They wrote home that they were very happy, except for one problem--there were no Jews around! There was no one to buy and sell things. So they asked the folks back home to send some Jews, and thus Joanne's family moved to Canada...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:34 PM

We're a beached whale, for sure...

I've been having fun fisking this piece by Martin Jacques in the Guardian. An activity that goes well with the morning coffee. Jaques writes:

...These are the words of Henry Hyde, chairman of the House international relations committee and a Republican congressman, in a recent speech. Hyde argues that such is the overweening power of the US that it may not hear or recognise the signals when its policy goes badly wrong, a thinly veiled reference to Iraq...
Since the policy seems to be going right, we can take this as a purely theoretical point..
...He then takes issue with the idea that the US can export democracy around the world as deeply misguided and potentially dangerous. He argues: "A broad and energetic promotion of democracy in other countries that will not enjoy our long-term and guiding presence may equate not to peace and stability but to revolution ... There is no evidence that we or anyone can guide from afar revolutions we have set in motion. We can more easily destabilise friends and others and give life to chaos and to avowed enemies than ensure outcomes in service of our interests and security."
"Realist" strawman argument. Nobody is claiming we are going to "guide from afar," or "assure outcomes." The idea is to let people guide themselves, in the confidence that--in general, not invariably--they will push for peace and prosperity. Mr Hyde is a counter-example to his own point. He is pushing for less activity in foreign affairs because he thinks it will play with his constituents...

...It is clear that the US occupation of Iraq has been a disaster from almost every angle one can think of, most of all for the Iraqi people, not least for American foreign policy...
(Disaster, huh? Thanks to Orrin for this article--he also links to: Majority of Iraqis Endorse Election and Show Optimism ,and Saddam, Al Qaeda Did Collaborate, Documents Show)

...The unpicking of the imperial logic that led to it has already commenced: Hyde's speech is an example, and so is Francis Fukuyama's new book After the Neocons, a merciless critique of Bush's foreign policy and the school of thought that lay behind it...
The other bloggers are poking fun at Fukuyama, so I won't bother. I think he's terrified to discover that the End of History has actually happened
...The war was a delayed product of the end of the cold war and the triumphalist mentality that imbued the neocons and eventually seduced the US. But triumphalism is a dangerous brew, more suited to intoxication than hard-headed analysis. And so it has proved. The US still has to reap the whirlwind for its stunning feat of imperial overreach...
Yep, dat ol' whirlwin comin' any second now. Of course in the 80's guys like Martin Jacques said that the idea of "winning" the Cold War was folly and overreach, and was going to leave us bankrupt and exhausted and helpless, etc. etc. In fact our taxes and military expenditures are lower than when we fought the Cold War, our economy is the envy of the world, our losses are tiny compared to Cold-War fights like Vietnam and Korea, our military is only "overstretched" (if it is, I don't agree) because we were able to drastically reduce its size because we WON the Cold War...A bit of triumphalism now is what logic would dictate.
In becoming so catastrophically engaged in the Middle East, making the region its overwhelming global priority...
(If we hadn't, the same critics would say we are unfocused, and need to concentrate on one problem at a time) downgraded the importance of everywhere else, taking its eye off the ball in a crucial region such as east Asia, which in the long run will be far more important to the US's strategic interests than the Middle East...
There isn't a lot we can DO for the Far East right now. (I'd liberate North Korea, but that's not in the cards.) And in fact we are doing important things. Our growing friendship with India is a major counterbalance to China. Likewise, on a smaller scale, Mongolia. And we've pulled off the stunning feat of becoming close to India without totally alienating Pakistan! And all our moves are more credible because we are resolute in the ME, though the pacifists are trying hard to undercut this, and generate future wars.
... As such, the Iraqi adventure represented a major misreading of global trends and how they are likely to impact on the US. Hyde is clearly thinking in these terms: "We are well advanced into an unformed era in which new and unfamiliar enemies are gathering forces, where a phalanx of aspiring competitors must inevitably constrain and focus options. In a world where the ratios of strength narrow, the consequences of miscalculation will become progressively more debilitating. The costs of golden theories [by which he means the worldwide promotion of democracy] will be paid for in the base coin of our interests."

WOE IS US! New enemies. (WHO, exactly?) New competitors. (WHO, exactly? Phalanx?) "Ratios of strength narrow?" Where's the evidence? In fact exactly the opposite is happening; economically and militarily our strength is growing relative to the world.

...The promotion of the idea of the war against terror as the central priority of US policy had little to do with the actual threat posed by al-Qaida, which was always hugely exaggerated by the Bush administration, as events over the last four and a half years have shown. Al-Qaida never posed a threat to the US except in terms of the odd terrorist outrage...
The trouble with winning a war against terrorists is that it then looks like there never was a threat. In fact it is the perception that terrorism works that gives rise to terrorists. It is clear now that our withdrawals from Somalia and Lebanon were major factors in raising up hosts of enemies. But if we had stuck it out in those countries, accepting perhaps hundreds of casualties, critics like Martin would have said that we were expending our energies in places where we had no strategic interest.
Hyde alludes to a new "unformed" world and "a phalanx of aspiring competitors". On this he is absolutely right. The world is in the midst of a monumental process of change that, within the next 10 years or so, could leave the US as only the second largest economy in the world after China and commanding, with the rise of China and India, a steadily contracting share of global output. It will no longer be able to boss the world around in the fashion of the neoconservative dream: its power to do so will be constrained by the power of others, notably China, while it will also find it increasingly difficult to fund the military and diplomatic costs of being the world's sole superpower. If the US is already under financial pressure from its twin deficits and the ballooning costs of Iraq, then imagine the difficulties it will find itself in within two decades in a very different kind of world...
In the 1980's they said JAPAN was going to be the monster competitor that was going to humble and constrain us. In fact, China has so many internal problems there's not the slightest possibility it can become either the world's largest economy, or a dominant power like the US. (Actually, there is a possibility. They just need to adopt the same institutions that have made the Anglosphere dominant. Democracy, rule of law, free enterprise, civic society. And I'd add Christianity, as the necessary philosophical underpinning. Of course then their strength would not be a problem.)

I could go on with this for a few more pages, but that would be overreach...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 AM

Medical amazements...

Fascinating article on the new medial skills of our military doctors and nurses. I was struck by the way the Air Force has turned C-17's into flying hospitals...

...On a recent C-17 medical evacuation flight from Balad to Landstuhl, 32 patients rested comfortably, many of them in litters stacked three high on aluminum racks. Among them: burn patients; an amputee; soldiers with broken bones, a shoulder sprain and back injuries; one with a blood disorder; two psychiatric cases; and a servicemember stricken with lung cancer. Two in critical condition were hooked to ventilators.

Like flight attendants, the nurses, medical technicians and doctors circulated throughout the plane, offering water, oxygen and medication to relieve the pain. They also kept a close eye on monitors.

"The civilians are always amazed at how we do this," said Air Force Reserve Maj. Ken Winslow, 49, a flight nurse from Issaquah, Wash.

About 65 hours after he was shot — and after a stop in Germany — Mundo arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington. From there, he headed to Walter Reed....

Other things:

....Made with an extract from shrimp cells, the HemCon bandage creates a tight bond that stopped the bleeding almost instantly. Seconds later, Mundo, 24 — a widower from Colorado Springs and the father of two young girls — was airlifted to the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, 10 miles away. He got there in five minutes....

....A portable heart-lung machine developed in Germany and not yet approved for use by U.S. doctors is helping wounded soldiers breathe.It is small — not much larger than a laptop computer — and connects to blood vessels in the groin to filter out poisonous carbon dioxide while filtering in oxygen. Military doctors in Balad also are using an expensive clotting drug, licensed for use on hemophiliacs, to help stem massive hemorrhaging in troops torn apart by roadside bombs....
Posted by John Weidner at 6:55 AM

March 27, 2006

Good stuff...

OpinionJournal has an exactly-right editorial...

The Bush Doctrine is Alive and Well. 3/26/06

The publication earlier this month of the Bush Administration's National Security Strategy was greeted with a combination of media indifference and contempt. "Bush clings to pre-emptive force," was one news agency's sum-up of the 49-page document.
They sneer because they have noting positive to offer themselves...Just their "taste-buds," which don't like the flavor of anything Bush
Readers of these columns might prefer to draw their own conclusions by actually reading it: What they'll find is a strategy that's admirably specific and, in the issues that matter most, broadly right.

This is especially important at a time when countries such as Iran, Syria and Egypt are betting that the Administration's domestic political weakness and its troubles in Iraq will see them safely through the 2008 election and what they hope will be a more pliant U.S. foreign policy...
"Pliant" = Democrat.
...The document may now give those regimes second thoughts. Crucially, it reaffirms the Administration's first-term support of pre-emption: "When the consequences of an attack with [weapons of mass destruction] are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."
OBVIOUSLY true. But lefties hate it, because the corollary is that we believe in our country and our civilization enough to defend them...

We'll take that to mean that the Bush Doctrine remains alive and well, despite persistent reports that it had been quietly shelved in favor of...well, no one has yet made clear what. Critics of the doctrine have argued that America's intelligence failure and difficulties in Iraq demonstrate the perils of pre-emption. Yet it is precisely because U.S. policy makers will never have perfect information about the capabilities and intentions of our enemies that pre-emption is sometimes needed, particularly when the threats are potentially catastrophic.
Doesn't Bush understand that the correct response to potentially catastrophic threats is appeasement? Or fruitless negotiations and THEN appeasement?
What distinguishes this document, however, is the emphasis it places on "effective democracy": that is, nations in which the institutions of democracy--regular and honest elections; representative and accountable government--serve as the armature of basic political, religious and economic freedoms.
Well, we can see that.
Critics have questioned whether promoting democracy really advances U.S. security interests, pointing to the recent victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections. But leaving aside that the former government of Yasser Arafat was no less bloody-minded, the objections fail to appreciate the ways in which effective democracies tend to counteract the very factors that gave rise to Hamas in the first place: Political participation takes the place of exclusion; the free flow of information and a marketplace of ideas replace "sub-cultures of conspiracy and misinformation," and so on.
No policy looks good if you set the goal-posts to: "perfection by next Wednesday." I predict that pressure from voters will push Hamas towards a more reasonable position---and that none of the critics will notice or accept this as evidence that Bush is right. They will just focus on the next problem.
None of this guarantees that elections will inevitably lead to liberal outcomes. And, yes, there are times and places (Pakistan now) where the diplomatic prod to democracy has to be measured against the help a government is providing against a more urgent enemy (al Qaeda). But the evidence of the past century is that elections usually produce more long-run stability, and they merit a try in the Middle East.
They don't want it even to be tried--it might work...
Equally useful is the strategy's clear-eyed account of the connection between the nature of a regime and its behavior. "Governments that honor their citizens' dignity and desire for freedom tend to uphold responsible conduct toward other nations," the document notes, "while governments that brutalize their people also threaten the peace and stability of other nations."
But they gain the love of leftists and pacifists, and the French...
This is directly relevant to Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are mainly a function of the ideological obsessions of its rulers--and not, as is sometimes argued, of Iran's objective national interests. This means the threat Iran poses is unlikely to change as long as the regime remains the same: The "ultimate goal" of U.S. policy, therefore, is rightly an Iran which "[opens] up its political system and [affords] freedom to its people.
Regime Change is the goal of the Iranian people as much as us.
How this is done is another matter, and nobody is now arguing for changing the regime in Tehran the way it was changed in Baghdad. But we are heartened that the strategy begins with the declaration that "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture" (our emphasis). This puts us in mind of U.S. support for Russian refuseniks in the 1970s, Poland's Solidarity movement in the 1980s, and Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq in the 1990s--all of which have analogs in modern-day Iran.

There is a great deal more in this document that deserves attention, notably the effort to retool the State Department into an engine of "transformational diplomacy," and not, as it usually is, the defender of every given status quo...
Great idea. Hard to do though, transforming a Democrat stronghold into anything that's going to be enthusiastic about democracy.
,,,Best of all is the line that "though tyranny has few advocates, it needs more adversaries." One critique of the President's push for democracy is the idea that the U.S. should not too visibly support the world's democratic dissidents and movements, lest they be tainted by American associations.
"Tainted by American associations." Gee, I wonder who thinks that anything associated with America is "tainted?"
But we suspect that champions of liberty in places such as Egypt, Iran and China take greater courage from an America that states its purposes boldly than one that fears its own shadow. Since when did the love of liberty become the love that dare not speak its name?
Damn good question. OF COURSE champions of liberty take courage when we are strong in their support. Prisoners in the Soviet gulag passed word of Reagan's "evil empire" speech from hand to hand on scraps of paper. It's only lefty slime worms who want us to hang our heads and feel unworthy and reject our traditions of liberty....

Posted by John Weidner at 6:08 PM

Looks like Earthlink is not a company to do business with...

Doctor Weevil had his domain name hijacked! His new address is this. You can read about how it happened here.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:46 AM

March 24, 2006


I just finished this installation today. Big job, about 12' long and 10' high. Turned out pretty well, though it's I what says it. Maybe I'll have some time to blog now...

Bookshelves installed, 3-06
Here's a shot in mid-installation...

I should have brought a taller ladder!

Bookshelves during installation, 3-06
Posted by John Weidner at 8:16 PM

March 23, 2006

I just think this is cool...

It wasn't that long ago that the US military was totally unable to produce UAV's. Billions were spent on super-high-tech jet-propelled monsters that never went into operation. While little Israel modified hobby planes and used them with great effectiveness...

Guess somebody finally got a clue.

Soldier launches a Raven UAV in Iraq

Spc. Charles Farram, 26 of Fort Myers, Fla., assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor, launches a “Raven” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to provide route reconnaissance of the town of Mussayib, Iraq, on Sunday. James J. Lee / Army Times [link to photo]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 PM

March 22, 2006

Coffee break...back to Derbyshire

More hasty thoughts on this...

1. He's oh so stasist.

2. Introducing democracy is not "social engineering," except for the initial set-up. Rather, it's giving people the means to do their own social engineering. And the initial results in Iraq and Afghanistan say that that this is something people take to. They "get it," without an unreasonable amount of teaching and prodding.

3."...THWTHs are more inclined to the old British-imperialist notion that up to a fairly distant point (suttee and thuggee being beyond that point) peoples in foreign parts should be left alone to practice their own disgusting folkways, so long as they did not impinge on our interests..."

Sorry, don't work any more. The world is grown too small. Ignoring distant countries is now equivalent to, in the old Imperialist days, ignoring a distant British county. Yorkshire can't be left to Thuggee...

4. "...We don’t particularly care whether the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds of Iraq put down their arms. We only want them to put down their arms against us. Henry Kissinger .... famously said of the Iran-Iraq War that it was a pity both sides couldn’t lose. One doesn’t want to be accused of inhuman callousness; but I am willing to confess, and believe I speak for a lot of THWTHs (and a lot of other Americans, too) that the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure...."

Trouble is, a lot of the people we are worrying about have emerged from previous wars and slaughters. Afghanistan in particular. Chechnia, or tribal Pakistan...On the other hand, consider that India has about 130 million Muslims. How many of them have you heard of joining al Qaeda? How many of them are in Gitmo? I would contend that democracy is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal.

* Update: "...the spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure." Why not. They're not people, just cartoon characters wearing towels on their heads, with evil smirks, hooked noses, and holding bombs with fizzing fuses..

Posted by John Weidner at 11:52 AM

Quick post...

This is a quickie post (I'm very busy this week) on this, by John Derbyshire...It deserves a lot more working over, I think he's all wrong, but this is a start...

....I suspect that rather a lot of Americans, when they see footage of GIs handing out candy to children in some occupied place, think: “What a good nation we are! Surely the enemy will see our goodness and cast down his arms!” There is no inconsistency in reflecting, when seeing such scenes, that yes, we are a good nation, but that’s not what soldiers are for....

Sorry, John, but this is counter-insurgency warfare, and candy can have clear tactical value. (sometimes literally; I once blogged a story about an American column stopping on a Baghdad street, because a little girl was sitting in the middle of the road. They were very worried that this might be a trap, but, being Americans, they stopped anyway. She was trying to prevent them from driving over an IED! I can't find that post, but read this.)

And counter-insurgency warfare, (and similar frustrating even-lower-level fights below the level of "insurgency) are all you get! Our forces would love to fight our enemies with all the force we possess, but nobody is going to play that game anymore. Even Saddam's army wouldn't stand against us. And we did get some real fights against the insurgents in places like Falluja, but that's over. (The genius of the Iraq Campaign was that it forced people to fight against us. But alas, it never lasts once we show how we can slaughter them with ease.)

War between nation-states is over, and all the efforts of pacifists and the wishful thinking of paleo-hawks and defense contractors won't bring it back again...

Soldiers are "for" whatever fight or danger the world happens to serve up. And is quite likely we never again see our forces committed to battle in entire corps. Possibly in entire divisions. In fact our army is now moving away from divisions as tactical units, and building more independent brigades. (Divisions, corps and armies will still exist as administrative bodies.)

And by the way, that's how it was for most of our history. When Hunter Liggett was trying, as President of the Army War College just before WWI, to teach America something of modern war, he had officers re-fight (without troops) battles of the Civil War. Why? Because that was the last time we had fielded armies, corps, and yes, divisions! No American had maneuverd a division since the Civil War...

* Update: About that story of the little girl sitting in the street. I don't know if a piece of candy helped win her heart, but it's not unlikely. And just consider the cost of supporting a disabled soldier, perhaps for the next 50 years. Guys like Derbyshire think of themselves as hard-headed realists sneering at dreamers, but one little piece of candy may have saved the US treasury tens of millions of dollars, not to mention lives...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:06 AM

March 21, 2006

Too busy to blog today, but...

...I liked this post, about a mysterious delivery of flowers on March 18th...
(Thanks to Hugh Hewitt)

And both Belmont Club and Trent Trelenko point out the obvious (once someone points it out) fact that all the (wishful) talk of civil war in Iraq is a tacit admission that the "insurgency" has failed. And Trelenko makes some grim comparisons with a real civil war, in Bosnia...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:42 AM

March 20, 2006

"We could have been living in a different world"

Mike Plaiss sent a link to this piece by Christopher Hitchins, and wrote, "Skip to the very last line if you want - its beautiful, and sounds like something you may have written..." Well, he's too kind about my writing, to compare it to Hitchins. But the ideas expressed are just right...

.....So, now I come at last to my ideal war. Let us start with President Bush's speech to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002, which I recommend that you read. Contrary to innumerable sneers, he did not speak only about WMD and terrorism, important though those considerations were. He presented an argument for regime change and democracy in Iraq and said, in effect, that the international community had tolerated Saddam's deadly system for far too long. Who could disagree with that? Here's what should have happened. The other member states of the United Nations should have said: Mr. President, in principle you are correct. The list of flouted U.N. resolutions is disgracefully long. Law has been broken, genocide has been committed, other member-states have been invaded, and our own weapons inspectors insulted and coerced and cheated. Let us all collectively decide how to move long-suffering Iraq into the post-Saddam era. We shall need to consider how much to set aside to rebuild the Iraqi economy, how to sponsor free elections, how to recuperate the devastated areas of the marshes and Kurdistan, how to try the war criminals, and how many multinational forces to ready for this task. In the meantime—this is of special importance—all governments will make it unmistakably plain to Saddam Hussein that he can count on nobody to save him. All Iraqi diplomats outside the country, and all officers and officials within it, will receive the single message that it is time for them to switch sides or face the consequences. Then, when we are ready, we shall issue a unanimous ultimatum backed by the threat of overwhelming force. We call on all democratic forces in all countries to prepare to lend a hand to the Iraqi people and assist them in recovering from more than three decades of fascism and war.

Not a huge amount to ask, when you think about it. But what did the president get instead? The threat of unilateral veto from Paris, Moscow, and Beijing. Private assurances to Saddam Hussein from members of the U.N. Security Council. Pharisaic fatuities from the United Nations' secretary-general, who had never had a single problem wheeling and dealing with Baghdad. The refusal to reappoint Rolf Ekeus—the only serious man in the U.N. inspectorate—to the job of invigilation. A tirade of opprobrium, accusing Bush of everything from an oil grab to a vendetta on behalf of his father to a secret subordination to a Jewish cabal. Platforms set up in major cities so that crowds could be harangued by hardened supporters of Milosevic and Saddam, some of them paid out of the oil-for-food bordello.

Well, if everyone else is allowed to rewind the tape and replay it, so can I. We could have been living in a different world, and so could the people of Iraq, and I shall go on keeping score about this until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.

do read it all..

Posted by John Weidner at 2:16 PM

March 18, 2006

70's poison in the national bloodstream...

Byron York has a fascinating piece in NRO on the FISA Court of Review decision called In re: Sealed Case...

In early September 2002, just before the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a group of lawyers gathered in a heavily protected, windowless room in the Department of Justice building in Washington. There were three federal appeals-court judges, Laurence Silberman, Edward Leavy, and Ralph Guy. There was Theodore Olson, the U.S. solicitor general. There was Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general. And there was John Yoo, the Justice official who had closely studied questions of war powers and presidential authority. Rounding out the group were a few other department staffers, one official from the FBI, and David Addington, Vice President Cheney's top lawyer.

The purpose of the meeting was to argue a case whose details remain so classified that they are known by only a few people, but whose outcome, a decision known as
In re: Sealed Case, has become one of the key documents in the hottest argument in Washington today: the fight over what President Bush calls the "terrorist surveillance" of persons with known al-Qaeda connections, and what the president's opponents call "domestic spying."....

I had no idea that after Congress with the Patriot Act had removed "The Wall," the FISA Court had put it back in place! Madness. 70's Lefty madness that keeps coming back, like some Night of the Living Dead. FISA itself was a result of one of the lowest moments in American history, when the fall of Richard Nixon swept a putrid mass of America-hating leftists and pacifists into Congress and the White House. The result, besides FISA, was betrayal of South Vietnam to Communist tyranny and murder, and the abandonment of the hostages to the mercies of Iranian crazies. All of which sent a big fat message to the people who are now our enemies in this war, that we could be attacked with impunity.

There are still millions of Americans to whom the world of 1973 is the baseline of everything. To whom America is the evil tyrant of the world, needing to be brought down by virtuous leftists. And for whom any enemy of America looks good, no matter how murderous and tyrannical. And we are fighting against them as much as against al Qaeda. Ted Olson is as much a soldier in the War as anyone fighting in Iraq.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:41 PM

March 17, 2006

I'm a bit dazed...

The most important software I use is the stupendous program SketchUp, by @last Software. And @Last has just BEEN BOUGHT BY GOOGLE!!

What does it mean? I hope it means good things, although we all of us have had the experience of seeing a cool program bought by a big rich company, and then they do nothing with it and it ends up on the bone pile. But Google's a pretty cool savvy crowd, so hopefully things will work out. @Last has always been run on a shoestring, and hasn't been able to afford certain "frills and extras," like advertising. so this could be great for SketchUp.

SketchUp can be used for many things--I use it to design cabinetry--but mostly it's used by architects. It's awesome for modeling buildings. So maybe the plan is to model every building on earth, and incorporate them all into Google Earth! Then you could take a virtual stroll down any street, enter any (public) building....Links and databases could be associated with places..."walk into" a restaurant, and see the menu, the hours, maybe even make a reservation for a specific table that has a nice view...

Here's a screen shot (at screen resolution, rather fuzzy) of some current work. This one is past the "design" stage, but anything you see is totally plastic, and can be easily manipulated...I can select a face of a rectangle and "pull" it out, or grab one edge and "pull" that, turning it into a trapeziod-thingie. That crown-molding was made by drawing a profile, and then selecting a line for it to "follow."

SketchUp example
And it's a totally 3-dimensional environment. There is no 2-D view. I can rotate the plan with a push of my mouse so I'm looking from underneath, or behind or above...Zoom in or out like flying. Instead of being a "fly on the wall," I'm a fly that flies all the time...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:12 PM

Most conservative President since Nixon...

Orrin Judd gives us some numbers to keep in mind, while discussing this article, Hey, Big Spender Should we have known that President Bush would bust the budget? by Peggy Noonan...

....At any rate, given that Ms Noonan believes, for some reason, that Ronald Reagan was a conservative and George W. Bush isn't, it's perhaps helpful to just compare the two: when Ronald Reagan left office in 1988 he was dunning us 18.1% of GDP to pay for a federal government that spent 21.2% of GDP. In 2004, the last year for which I could find numbers, George W. Bush had lowered our tax burden to 16.3% of GDP-- a level last reached in 1959--to pay for a government that spent 19.8 of GDP.

There doesn't seem to be any coherent reason why a president's conservatism should be judged by how much he spends, but if you're using that as your yardstick then Mr. Reagan was the most liberal president since FDR during WWII and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are the most conservative since Nixon....

I love Peggy, but she's SO Industrial Age.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

March 16, 2006

A roving charter of tyranny...

This is a part of John Hinderaker's post on Justice Ginsburg's speech in South Africa. You ought to read the whole post...

....Ginsburg contrasted our Constitution (unfavorably, I think it's fair to say) with the Constitution of South Africa, which specifically provides for the use of foreign law in interpreting its provisions.

You really should read the entire speech, but its argument is most concisely stated here:
To a large extent, I believe, the critics in Congress and in the media misperceive how and why U.S. courts refer to foreign and international court decisions. We refer to decisions rendered abroad, it bears repetition, not as controlling authorities, but for their indication, in Judge Wald's words, of "common denominators of basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed."
This is, to put it politely, nonsense. In our system of government, the courts are not called on to determine what "basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed" requires. For legal purposes, issues of "basic fairness" were decided when the Constitution was authored and approved by the initial thirteen states, and when the document has been amended over the subsequent centuries.

The real issue here is: what is the Constitution? Justice Scalia has famously noted that the Constitution is a legal document which, like all legal documents, says some things and does not say others. In Justice Ginsburg's view the Constitution is, on the contrary, a roving charter for nine individuals to decide what "basic fairness" requires. It should hardly be necessary to point out that the former understanding, which was universal until quite recently, is a charter of freedom, inasmuch as the people's representatives can vote on amendments. Conversely, the "basic fairness" approach is a form of tyranny in which a small elite can impose its policy preferences on the rest of us....

You can easily see how phony this all is, by imagining what Justice Ginsburg would say if conservative judicial decisions were based on foreign law. Say, decisions restricting abortion. She'd say, "That's not fair! You can't DO that!"

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 AM

March 15, 2006

Dash for the elevator...

I keep smiling as I think of this article, on how the Dems are running for cover from the Feingold Resolution. Literally running! Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of unprincipled scoundrels...

....Next in the Senate TV gallery came Schumer. An aide hung up a poster showing a port. The senator called the ports situation "extremely troubling." The aide hung up a poster of an Exxon cartoon. "Obscene profits," decreed Schumer, equally passionately.

CNN's Henry asked the Feingold question. Schumer ended the news conference.

Outside the Democrats' lunch downstairs, the senators were similarly agile. The number two Democratic leader, Richard Durbin (Ill.), darted out of an elevator and into lunch when he thought nobody was looking.

"I haven't made any judgment," said Jeff Bingaman (N.M.). Two minutes later, he reappeared. "I will support an alternative that would call for an investigation," he amended....

They are running because they, as you might say, "don't have a leg to stand on," and like 'toons, they can keep running off the edge of the cliff as long as they don't stop and look down...

There is not the slightest doubt that the NSA intercepts are legal and constitutional. There's only one interesting question remaining, and that is why Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez only used one of the two possible legal arguments in favor of the intercepts. He argued on the basis of the Hamdi decision. (And also used the historical precedents. Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt all used extensive wiretaps without warrants.) He did NOT make the Constitutional argument, that this is an Executive Branch matter under Article II, and can't be abridged by laws passed by Congress.

I can't wait for the memoirs to come out, to answer this and lots of other questions. This is the first time in my life I've followed national events so closely. In the past, without the Internet, I only got the boiled-down versions from the press, and usually didn't know that there were such mysteries...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:21 PM

Level the playing field...

I e-mailed the previous post to Secretary of State Rice, and suggested that maybe we had better start worrying about future economic and social competition from the Islamic world. She replied that she and the President are way ahead of me on this, and that they have already taken steps to hobble their future growth, and give them the same handicaps we suffer from.

And its TRUE! Look at this, from an article about Condi's trip to Indonesia:

...She also suggested that the United States is sometimes misunderstood, and she stressed "how much the United States respects people who are of Islamic faith."

Before the news conference, Rice visited an Islamic school, where she announced an $8.5 million grant to develop a version of "Sesame Street" for Indonesia...

That'll fix them...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:04 AM

March 14, 2006


This fascinates me:

....It's an enormous success story for a man whose own father had been a carpet weaver, eking out a living in a traditional artisan economy.

Yet Mr Arsalan is not alone.

His native city is full of prospering entrepreneurs like him who are turning this former merchant trading town into a booming manufacturing hub.

Kayseri is one of a handful of cities industrialising at an astonishing rate in Anatolia, Turkey's central province and the country's Islamic heartland. Unlike the big urban centres of Ankara and Istanbul, the population is made up of devout, conservative Muslims.

Restaurants rarely serve alcohol, unmarried men and women don't mix on the streets, and there is little in the way of nightlife. Yet the new entrepreneurialism sweeping across the province is providing an unlikely catalyst for a remarkable religious transformation.

A new form of Turkish Islam is emerging here, one which is pro-business and pro-free market, and it's being called Islamic Calvinism...
(Thanks to O. Judd)

So, maybe sell our Europe Fund, and buy the Turkish Fund, if there is such a thing? If there isn't now, there probably will be soon enough.

This sure doesn't fit a certain sort of stereotype, does it? And while Weber's famous theory was that Calvinism and Protestantism caused the economic predominance of Northern Europe, that is by no means generally accepted. Another possibility is that is was the other way around; that the factors that caused economic growth also led to Protestantism. I recall that Jim Bennett in The Anglosphere Challenge argued that it was the rise of a High Trust Culture in N. Europe that led to the desire for a reformed Christianity...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:33 PM

March 13, 2006

Three Squares a Day for the brain...

Charlene and I have been working our way through N.T. Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God. He's written three volumes (so far) of densely-reasoned and annotated history—splendid meaty satisfying stuff that's giving us a lot to think about. (And an utter OASIS of good sense if you have ever wandered through the strange deserts of modern "Jesus scholarship.") It's too soon to blog about it, and I may likely never be so presumptuous as to even try. But highly recommended.

You can get a bit of the flavor of Wright and his thoughts in this lecture, Decoding The Da Vinci Code...

....In fact, the contemporary myth gets things exactly the wrong way round. It isn’t the case that the canonical New Testament is politically and socially quiescent, colluding with empire, while the Jesus whom we meet in the Nag Hammadi texts and similar documents is politically and socially subversive, so dangerous that he had to be suppressed. It’s the other way round, and this may be among the most telling points we have to recognize for today. You may salve your own conscience by embracing Gnosticism, by telling yourself how very wicked the world is and how you are going to escape it once and for all by following the path of spiritual self-discovery and enlightenment. But if Caesar takes any notice at all, all he will do is sneer at you and go on his way to yet more triumphs of sheer power. And if that happened in the second century, we can be sure it’s precisely what’s happening today. Heidegger and Bultmann couldn’t prevent Hitler; Derrida and Foucault and their numerous disciples can’t do anything to stop the new empires of today. Certainly those who are advocating a new kind of do-it-yourself spirituality, and claiming that Jesus is somehow in or behind it all, cut no ice on the political front.

The challenge comes, therefore, at the level of worldview. Yes, of course the church has often got it wrong, including in its views of women (where it has, basically, failed to see what was there in the New Testament itself). Yes, the Constantinian settlement was deeply ambiguous; but they knew it at the time, and it was only with the high Middle Ages that things went so badly wrong. Yes, Christianity has — especially in the 20th century — pretended that it’s a “faith,” unrelated to history. But its historical roots are rock solid, and the faith that is based on them is not a loose, “whatever-works-for-you” postmodern construct. This faith, and the worldview which it generates, are the heart of the challenge with which I want now to conclude.

3. Conclusion
Let me sum up this lecture in the following way. The Da Vinci Code is a symptom of something much bigger, a lightning rod which has throbbed with the electricity of the postmodern western world.

One of the basic fault lines in the contemporary Western world is the line between neo-Gnosticism on the one hand and the challenge of Jesus on the other. Please note that, despite strenuous attempts to make this line coincide with the current sharp left-right polarization of American culture and politics, it simply doesn’t. Nor, for that matter, does it coincide with the polarizations of British or European culture either. So what is this real, deep polarization which runs through our world?..... (Thanks to
Posted by John Weidner at 12:47 PM

March 12, 2006


As a good illustration of what LIARS those law schools who bar military recruiters are, I recommend this op-ed column by Kieran Lalor, a law student at Pace University:

...How do I know that this bias, rather than "don't ask, don't tell," is the issue? Because of how my school, and others, deal with the people who actually set that policy — our elected representatives.

Under our Constitution, civilians control the military. (Legal scholars generally know this.) Why ban the military from campus when Congress passed "don't ask, don't tell" into law?

Rep. Nita Lowey, whose district includes my school, voted in favor of "don't ask, don't tell" in 1993. In March 2004, she voted to significantly strengthen the Solomon Amendment. That same month, Lowey was welcomed to campus and given the "Pioneer of Justice and Equality for Women and the Law" award.

An Army JAG recruiter who might not even support "don't ask, don't tell," and is powerless to change it, is vilified and barred from campus. Meanwhile, the lawmaker who voted for the legislation is a "pioneer of equality and justice."

The hypocrisy of legal educators who want to ban the military but remain on the federal dole — and use the Constitution as a cloak for their hatred of the military — stands in stark contrast to integrity of the Constitution's defenders, whom many law professors want banned....

They are leftists and liars. Same thing. They hate the American military, and their concern for gays is an utter fraud. Lalor has many examples of anti-military bias he has encountered in his law-school education. Leftists care about gays the same way Lenin cared about workers.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:07 PM

March 11, 2006

Danger or opportunity...

I was writing a response to Scott's comment here, but it turned into something I wanted to post...He mentioned Michelle Malkin.

What's suddenly struck me is how cold she is. I don't remember that she's ever posted anything frivolous and warm-hearted.

I think this issue of Dubai Ports World buying P&O has been very interesting for what it's shown us about people. Very revealing. There are many fault-lines that do not correspond with party lines.

Cold hearts and warm hearts, optimists and pessimists, stasists and dynamists, internationalists versus pull-up-the-drawbridge...

Plus there are the alternatives of seeing the GWOT as a "clash of civilizations," or seeing it as winning friends and helping the oppressed. Or seeing it as either offensive or defensive. Or seeing the world as scary and strange, versus seeing it as fascinating and attractive. Danger or opportunity.

And seeing places like Iran and Iraq as hellish and opaque, or seeing them as future vacation spots once a few short-term problems are fixed! I know where I stand—if we had any money Charlene and I would be on the next plane to Kurdistan or Afghanistan...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:11 PM

This will seem boring to much of the planet...

But we had snow last night in San Francisco. This is the first time I've seen it like this....

Snow in San Francisco

I'm not sure snow is the right word. It was more like soft mushy hail. No flakes, little clumps... But it was a wild storm we had last night, with lots of nearby lightning strikes, and people out with their kids on the streets throwing snowballs, and cars skidding, and Hwy 1 closed north of the GG Bridge due to ice that caused a 30-car pile-up...

I blame Bush! If he had said nice things about the Kyoto Treaty, and done a few Goddess Rosaries, the earth gods would not have been restive.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:38 AM

March 9, 2006

"Our shining city on the hill just had a few bulbs burn out"

Scott writes, about a report that the UAE is very unhappy, and considering taking some business elsewhere (like buying Airbus planes instead of Boeings)...

...Who knows how far they’ll go? I’m sure that these dudes are pissed and are ranting a little bit. Here’s what I do know — I’ll drive 20 miles to avoid ungracious or apathetic assholes, and spend money somewhere it’s wanted and appreciated (and reciprocated.) I just think it’s goddamned stupid to be so xenophobic. The way we’re going to win the war on terrorism is the export of American ideals, and this Fortress America isolationist horseshit is distinctly not one of them. We are the world’s largest economy, and this is a horrifyingly embarassing precedent to set. Our shining city on the hill just had a few of those capitalism bulbs burn out. More like the dipstick congresscritters pulled the fuse to win a couple of extra votes. A curse upon them and their dunderheadedness...

Amen, brother.

I have various thoughts running around my head about this...One is, that it is wrong, in time of war, to bollix up some aspect of our country's war effort, just because you don't like it or agree with it. If you don't like the current strategy or tactics, feel free to disagree, and propose a better plan. BUT, in the meanwhile, we have a war, voted by Congress, and a President and an Executive Branch whose job is to fight it. Once a strategy has been decided on by them, it's our duty to help carry it through. It is our DUTY as citizens. None of us, even Senators, have the right to sabotage our war efforts.

Second, speaking of having a better plan to propose, that's what NONE of those who were opposing Dubai Ports has. NONE of them have based their opposition on a thought-out plan for winning the war. I find that intellectually disgusting. Can they possibly be so ignorant and foolish as not to realize that this issue is bound to interact with hundreds of other issues, and that the only responsible way to move ahead is to have an overall plan, that dictates how we decide individual cases?

Third, I think that Ms Malkin (and others of her kidney) is, though she denies it vociferously, an Islamophobe. She claims that her anti-ports stance is based solely on rational security concerns. But if that were true, she would be eager to modify the damage this will do to our relations with moderate Islamic states. She would propose making this up to the UAE in other ways, and express gratitude for the help they are giving us in the war. She would appreciate their good points, even if they also have bad points. But you will never hear anything like that from her.

Look, I agree that there are horrible pathologies in the Islamic world, and they need to be pointed out, and possible stamped out. But there is a certain sort of person whose eyes light up when they can relate some Muslim horror story. And who never notice any tales of kindness or decency from the same people. But both sides are "the truth."

And again, what is the strategy? If we can't trust the UAE, then presumably we can't trust any part of the Arab world. Can't win friends and allies. At least that's what's implied. So what does Malkin want us to DO, to win the war? She never says. If her complaints are part of a larger picture, we never get to see it. In her obsessive focus on our borders, she sounds like an isolationist. But she never says what she is, or isn't. I call that intellectually shabby.

And I agree with Scott. We will win the Long War by exporting our ideals, and our secrets of success. By being a light unto the nations, and a friend to mankind.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 PM

Stupid party once again...

Dafydd has it right. We're seeing the return of the "Stupid Party"...

Today, several prominent GOP congressmen tried their level best to lose the 2006 election -- an election they could have won by being less... well, stupid.

Fingers in the air, quivering bunny noses sensing a change in the wind, Republican Reps. Peter King (NY), Jerry Lewis (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (IL), and newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) have decided to attach a rider to an appropriations bill funding the troops and Hurricane Katrina victims; the rider is intended to kill the Dubai Ports deal outright, even before the extended investigation completes. No sense wasting time by waiting for actual facts!...

It's not even like they even have the vile excuse of being Islamophobes; this is just political poll-driven bullshit. At least the Democrats here have certain principles that they are expressing, such as hatred of America (whose good ally UAE is) and hatred of our military (who the UAE welcomes in many ways) and unwillingness to fight against terrorism (in any military action against the #1 terror-supporting state, Iran, the friendship of the UAE would be critical--just look at the map) and hatred of capitalism and globalization, and hatred of President Bush...

The Republicans have no excuse!

I'm totally disgusted.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:11 AM

March 8, 2006

"It is not top-down but bottom-up"

My son sent me a link to a good article on India...

....India's growth is messy, chaotic and largely unplanned. It is not top-down but bottom-up. It is happening not because of the government, but largely despite it. India does not have Beijing and Shanghai's gleaming infrastructure, and it does not have a government that rolls out the red carpet for foreign investment—no government in democratic India would have those kinds of powers anyway. But it has vast and growing numbers of entrepreneurs who want to make money. And somehow they find a way to do it, overcoming the obstacles, bypassing the bureaucracy. "The government sleeps at night and the economy grows," says Gurcharan Das, former CEO of Procter Gamble in India.

There are some who argue that India's path has distinct advantages. MIT's Yasheng Huang points out that India's companies use their capital far more efficiently than China's; they benchmark to global standards and are better managed than Chinese firms. Despite being much poorer than China, India has produced dozens of world-class companies like Infosys, Ranbaxy and Reliance. Huang attributes this difference to the fact that India has a real and deep private sector (unlike China's many state-owned and state-funded companies), a clean, well-regulated financial system and the sturdy rule of law. Another example: every year Japan awards the coveted Deming Prizes for managerial innovation, and over the last four years, they have been awarded more often to Indian companies than to firms from any other country, including Japan....
....Americans also find India understandable. They are puzzled and disturbed by impenetrable decision-making elites like the Chinese Politburo or the Iranian Council of Guardians. A quarrelsome democracy that keeps moving backward, forward and sideways—that they know.....

....Most countries have relationships that are almost exclusively between governments. Think of the links between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which exist among a few dozen high officials and have never really gone beyond that. But sometimes bonds develop not merely between states but between societies. Twice before the United States had developed a relationship with a country that was strategic but also much more—with Britain and later with Israel. In both cases, the resulting ties were broad and deep, going well beyond government officials and diplomatic negotiations. The two countries knew each other, understood each other and as a result became natural and almost permanent partners. America has the opportunity to forge such a relationship with India.....

Fascinating stuff. And that bit about India winning the Deming prize more often than any other country is amazing. See also this post by Jim Bennett:

As to where India stands with the Anglosphere, well, that's a work in progress. The key issue at this point is the rate at which English fluency and Anglosphere-linked jobs (IT and call-center) penetrate below the traditional English-speaking elites of India. That appears to be happening at a fast, maybe even exponential rate. At some point before too long (probably between 2015 and 2020) India will have more home users of English than the US; not much longer afterwards, there could be more home users of English in India than the rest of the Anglosphere combined. This (especially given the cheapness of electronic publishing and dissemination) will mean that the bulk of English-language media will be produced in India. (If Bollywood learns how to appeal to US audiences, which it eventually will, that will also be true of visual media as well.) That means that not only will the Anglosphere change India, but India will change the Anglosphere.

Not many people are thinking about what this really means. They should be. Bush's trip to India, and the deal made there today, may end up being the single most consequential act of the Bush presidency.
Posted by John Weidner at 9:36 PM

Worth the price of the book to read one page...

I'm still waiting for my copy of the book, but got a teaser from Orrin Judd

As Fred Barnes details in his very fine book, George W. Bush is so fascinated by and admiring of the strike on Osirak in 1981 that when he visited Israel as a governor he asked if he could meet with the squadron that flew the mission and thanked them personally. Anyone who doesn't get that he'll launch similar strikes against Iran if they continue to develop nuclear weapons just hasn't been paying attention for the past seven years.

Good to know. The Osirak strike, by Israel on the reactor Saddam bought from the French, and intended to use to create nuclear fuel for bombs, was one of the most splendid feats of arms of our time. And it saved us from the nightmare of a nuclear-armed terror-supporting Saddam Hussein. We owe Israel a big debt, and I'm thrilled to read that President Bush knows it, and knew it back when he was just a governor, ignorant, as everyone has heard (ha ha) of foreign affairs...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:55 PM

Hey, all you lefties and pacifists...

Here's a plea from some the of prisoners held so cruelly at Gitmo. I challenge you to take up their cause...

....Inmates have told military tribunals they worry about reprisals from militants who will suspect them of cooperating with U.S. authorities in its war on terror. Others say their own governments may target them for reasons that have nothing to do with why they were taken to Guantanamo Bay in the first place....

....A Uighur told a military tribunal that he feared going back to China so much, he considered trying to convince the panel that he was guilty, according to a hearing transcript.

“If I am sent back to China, they will torture me really bad,” said the man, whose name did not appear in the transcript. “They will use dogs. They will pull out my nails.”

Two of the Uighurs are appealing a federal judge’s rejection of their request to be released in the United States, where a family in the Washington suburbs has offered to take them in.

“Home is China, and in China you disappear into a dungeon and no one ever hears from you again,” said their lawyer, Sabin Willett. “These guys are not a risk to anyone. They should be released here.”...

The liars and frauds who whine endlessly about the detainees at Gitmo will not, you may rest assured, give a damn about these guys. Or any of the others; their concern is purely with attacking Bush and America. And especially, they will not criticize communists, who can torture anybody they like without protests from the post-humanitarian Left.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:58 AM

March 7, 2006


Click here to see the opening credits of The Simpsons...performed live!

Posted by John Weidner at 6:49 PM

riding my hobby-horse...

I'm just a total sucker for those many many articles about how Democrats are trying to figure out who they are, or what their core values are this week. How long can people keep writing them? How long can the emperor walk around with no clothes?

So, this post is just me carving up yet another pumpkin...Nothing new here, you don't need to read it. Just my little hobby, when I'm not building my model of Sutro Tower using toothpicks dipped in orange paint...

Democrats Struggle To Seize Opportunity Amid GOP Troubles, No Unified Message
By Shailagh Murray and Charles Babington, Washington Post Staff Writers, Tuesday, March 7, 2006:

News about GOP political corruption, inept hurricane response and chaos in Iraq has lifted Democrats' hopes of winning control of Congress this fall. But seizing the opportunity has not been easy, as they found when they tried to unveil an agenda of their own.
You think you got problems? The GOP has hardly done anything to capitalize on Democrat political corruption, inept Democrat hurricane response, and the ever-more-obvious LACK of chaos in Iraq...
Democratic leaders had set a goal of issuing their legislative manifesto by November 2005 to give voters a full year to digest their proposals. But some Democrats protested that the release date was too early, so they put it off until January. The new date slipped twice again, and now House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) says the document will be unveiled in "a matter of weeks."
In SF we all know Nancy's one of the sharper blades in the Democrat Drawer, so, manifesto, here we come! Within weeks!

Some Democrats fear that the hesitant handling is symbolic of larger problems facing the party in trying to seize control of the House and Senate after more than a decade of almost unbroken minority status. Lawmakers and strategists have complained about erratic or uncertain leadership and repeated delays in resolving important issues.
Ah, c'mon, who needs leadership. There's nothing new under the sun since 1973.
The conflict goes well beyond Capitol Hill. The failure of congressional leaders to deliver a clear message has left some Democratic governors deeply frustrated and at odds with Washington Democrats over strategy.
So why don't they deliver a clear message themselves? They must have something in mind...
Party leaders, for example, have yet to decide whether Democrats should focus on a sharply negative campaign against President Bush and the Republicans, by jumping on debacles such as the administration's handling of the Dubai port deal -- or stress their own priorities and values.
Such as paying off the Longshoreman's Union by opposing the Dubai Port deal
There is no agreement on whether to try to nationalize the congressional campaign with a blueprint or "contract" with voters, as the Republicans did successfully in 1994, or to keep the races more local in tone. And the party is still divided over the war in Iraq: Some Democrats, including Pelosi, call for a phased withdrawal; many others back a longer-term military and economic commitment.
That's tough. It's gotta be hard, being allied with an erratic guy like Zarqawi.
"It could be a great year for Democrats," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), but the party must present a more moderate face and distinguish itself more clearly from the GOP on issues such as ethics. "The comment I hear is 'I'd really like to vote for you guys, but I can't stand the folks I see on TV,' " Cooper said in a telephone interview from Nashville.
Sorry, what you see is what you get...
On issues such as explaining that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff's work "was a 110 percent Republican operation," Cooper said, "we're not making nearly as much headway as we should." Abramoff has pleaded guilty in a corruption scandal.
Maybe because of those Dems with Abramoff connections? Or maybe all the other Dem scandals?
The Democratic leaders in Congress -- Pelosi and Sen. Harry M. Reid (Nev.) -- are the party's chief strategists and architects of the agenda, which they view as a way to market party ideas on energy, health care, education and other issues. They have held countless meetings to construct the right list, consulting with governors, mayors and just about every Democratic adviser in town.
"Countless meetings!" I'm just awed by how hard they are working to find out what they think. I didn't notice, however, that they are consulting with ordinary non-lunatic Dem voters...
"By the time the election rolls around, people are going to know where Democrats stand," Reid said.
Does that mean ten minutes before the polls close?
But many in the party have their doubts. On Feb. 27, Reid and Pelosi appeared before the Democratic Governors Association. At one point in the conversation, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, noting that the two leaders had talked about a variety of themes and ideas, asked for help. Could they reduce the message to just two or three core ideas that governors could echo in the states?
This is getting funnier and funnier...
According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six -- not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "
How about, "all your money are belong to us?"
Others, including Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) -- who head the Senate and House campaign efforts -- believe the November election will turn mainly on how voters view Republicans. Schumer is leading the Democratic attack on the port deal, excoriating the administration for jeopardizing national security -- a realm in which Republicans have held the advantage with voters.
Ah, national security. A potential Dem strong suit. These gentlemen are, I trust, working on detailed proposals for the other 99% of national security that ISN'T the Dubai Ports deal?
He and Emanuel have sought to delay the agenda's release to allow Democratic attacks to hold the stage with minimum distraction. "When you're in the opposition, you both propose and oppose," Emanuel said. "But fundamentally, this is going to be a referendum on [Republican] stewardship."
In other words, we have nothing to propose...
Also dividing Democratic strategists is the question of what lessons to take from the Republican landslide of 1994, when the GOP won the Senate and picked up 54 House seats, wiping out 40 years of Democratic rule. Some Democrats associate that breakthrough with the House Republicans' "Contract With America," a list of proposals on policy and government.
I would just LOVE to see what a Dem "Contract" would look like. It's not going to happen.
"We should take a page from their book" and have "an overarching theme" similar to the 1994 contract, said Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.).
Overarching about, "If I ran the circus?"
Many of his colleagues agree, but not Reid. "We're not going to do a 'Contract With America,' " Reid said in an interview. He noted that the GOP document received scant attention when it was presented a few weeks before the 1994 election, and political historians say it played a minor role in the outcome. "There's a great mythology about the contract," Reid said.
Smart, Reid. By the way, about those favors you did for Jack Abramoff?"
Even the party's five-word 2006 motto has preoccupied congressional Democrats for months. "We had meetings where senators offered suggestions," Reid said. "We had focus groups. We worked hard on that. . . . It's a long, slow, arduous process."
Gotta have a motto. How about: "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion?" Or: "I left My Heart in San Francisco?"
That slogan -- "Together, America Can Do Better" -- was revived from the 2004 presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry. It was the last line of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's response to President Bush's State of the Union address, and Reid, Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have used it in speeches. But there is an effort afoot to drop the word "together." It tests well in focus groups and audiences, Democratic sources said, but it makes the syntax incorrect.
Painful to read. Hey, how about making the motto more inclusive? Maybe, "All cultures, races and sexual-orientations, together, with European ideas, can can help this vile country do less damage to the Earth?"
Governors privately scoff at the slogan. They also say the message coming from congressional leaders has been too relentlessly negative. "They want to coordinate. They want to collaborate. That's all good," said one Democratic governor who declined to be identified in order to talk candidly about a closed-door meeting. "The question is: Coordinate or collaborate on what? People need to know not just what we're against but what we're for. That's the kind of message the governors are interested in developing at the national level."
"What we're for." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Reid spokesman Jim Manley said congressional Democrats have spent the past year redefining the debates over terrorism and Iraq and have prepared the ground for a shift to a more positive message that will focus on energy, health care and homeland security, all areas in which the governors would concur, he predicted. "We've had an unprecedented level of cooperation," he said.
"Vote Democrat. vote for re-defining debates."
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly added: "At the end of the day, I think everyone will be on board."
Perhaps the Democrats' greatest dilemma is how to respond to the Iraq war. It looms as the biggest question mark over Bush's administration and the Republican lawmakers who have backed him on the conflict almost without question.
"Vote Democrat. We don't all hope America loses the war."
Congressional Democrats have been split over the war since 2002, when many voted to authorize military action. The ground shifted last November when Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), a leading Democratic voice on military matters, called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn as soon as possible. Two weeks later, Pelosi endorsed his stance.
Maybe Congress should hold a vote, so Murtha and Pelosi can vote for withdrawal. Ooops, I forgot.
Although Pelosi said she was not speaking for her caucus, some colleagues complained that she was handing Republicans a gift by enabling them to tag Democrats as soft on terrorism and forcing Democratic candidates to explain whether they agreed with their House leader.
If those Dem candidates don't like it, why don't they try being tough on terrorism?
There is little question that the political landscape looks promising for Democrats. A Feb. 9 poll by the Pew Research Center found that Democrats lead Republicans 50 to 41 percent in a generic ballot.
Did the "generics" have to explain their positions? I didn't think so.
But congressional Democrats have some key deficiencies. For instance, they lack the hard-charging, charismatic figurehead that Gingrich represented for the House GOP in 1994. But the Democrats have an abundance of presidential hopefuls, and their agendas sometimes differ from those of Reid, Schumer, Pelosi and Emanuel.
Can any of them "reduce the message to just two or three core ideas?" I didn't think so.
For instance, Sen. Russell Feingold (Wis.) tried to filibuster the renewal of the USA Patriot Act, a move opposed by most of his Senate colleagues, including Reid. Kerry (Mass.) led an unsuccessful filibuster attempt against Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s confirmation as a Supreme Court justice. The best-known Democrat is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), whose plans for a 2008 presidential bid leave many of her colleagues wary of how her famous but divisive presence might affect them.
That's it? that's the "abundance of presidential hopefuls?"
"There are lots of skeptics," Schumer conceded. But the polls look better and better, he stressed. "There may be some inside-the-Beltway babble, but it's not affecting the voters," said Schumer, who wants the agenda delayed again -- until summer.
No comment....

Posted by John Weidner at 5:37 PM

Worth noting...

Ralph Peters of the NY Post, is in Iraq, and writes:

AMONG the many positive stories you aren't being told about Iraq, the media ignored another big one last week: In the wake of the terrorist bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, it was the Iraqi army that kept the peace in the streets.

It's routinely declared a failure by those who yearn for the new Iraq to fail. But an increasingly capable Iraqi military has been developing while reporters (who never really investigated the issue) wrote it off as hopeless.

What actually happened last week, as the prophets of doom in the media prematurely declared civil war?

* The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.

* Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint - as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.

* Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.

* Forty-seven battalions drawn from all 10 of Iraq's army divisions took part in an operation that, above all, aimed at reassuring the public. The effort worked - from the luxury districts to the slums, the Iraqis were proud of their army.....

If you've studied much military history, you will know that creating an army is extremely difficult. Creating an Arab army that can come close to Western standards, especially US and Israeli standards has never been done. This is actually a huge rebuke to those who think that the Arab world is incapable of change, and are doomed to be our enemies, all of them.

And yes, yes, I know that lots of things can still go wrong. But if I had said a couple of years ago that a major upheaval in Iraq in early 2006 would be dealt with without the need for US intervention, and without any (that I've heard of) failures or mistakes by the Iraqi Army, most people would have called me a crazy dreamer.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:15 AM

Instructions from headquarters...

Mark Kleiman has a blog called "The reality-Based Community, so you know you can expect some stuff that's off in the left field of some other galaxy. But this is particularly ridiculous...

No exodus to the GOP

Jews, it has been said, combine the incomes of Episcopalians with the voting patterns of Puerto Ricans. The Republicans keep hoping, and I keep worrying, that increasing numbers of Jews will start to vote their fears and their capital gains instead of their morals and their religious tradition.

Tom Edsall has some good news on this front: it's not happening, at least for now. Apparently the number of Jews with enough of a goyishe kopf to want to follow Jack Abramoff's lead is encouragingly small.

Update The Solomon Project has some data. It looks as if Jewish women are more Jewish in their voting patterns than Jewish men, and that attending synagogue weekly makes you less Jewish in the voting booth...

What defines a "Jew?" Why, doing things that are Jewish! Let's see, that includes NOT voting Republican, and NOT going to synagogue and....well, hey, what more do you need? That just about covers it!

(Thanks to Pejman)
Posted by John Weidner at 8:08 AM

March 6, 2006

Thank you, supremes...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that universities that get federal funds must allow military recruiters on campus, even if their law schools oppose the Pentagon's policy prohibiting openly [sic] gays and lesbians from serving.

The high court upheld as constitutional a federal law dating back to 1994 that allows the government to withhold money from universities that deny military recruiters the same access to campuses given to other employers.

It's about time. The arguments against obeying the law were always ridiculous. No one's right to Free Speech is harmed by having military on campus. And various people may dislike the US policy on gays in the military, but that's no excuse to break the law. And worse than that, to treat us to their phony moral posturing, and still pocket Uncle Sam's cash!

And of course the "gay" argument was always gross hypocrisy. A lie. The opposition to military recruiters was the exactly the same before the policy, and before anyone was even talking about the subject. And those same colleges are happy to accept generous donations from Saudis, or welcome a former Taliban spokesman as a student. Moslem gay-killers are OK. It's just Americans they hate.

And maybe the most repulsive thing about these guys is that they are freeloaders. They know darn well that America's military is going to protect them no matter what they do. They get to enjoy the peace and freedom bought with the blood of heroes, and then turn around and piss on them, and all the while pretend to be morally superior beings . God how I hate those worms.

It's too much to hope for, but I wish the Feds would cut off all funds to those socialist sinkholes, until they start acting like Americans.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:56 PM

March 5, 2006

Straussians and Moloch-worshippers...

I meant to blog this article a month ago. It's very funny. I Am Not a Straussian. At least, I Don't Think I Am. By Robert Kagan

I JUST WANT TO MAKE clear that I am not a Straussian. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my closest friends are Straussians, and I have long admired the work of Allan Bloom, Harry Jaffa, Harvey Mansfield, and Thomas Pangle--though not, I must say, Leo Strauss himself, since I have never understood a word the political philosopher wrote. I mean not a single word. Nor have I been very good at understanding his disciples, really, and Pangle, from whom I once took two courses, can back me up on this.

I feel the need to set the record straight because I am routinely called a Straussian by students of what is known as neoconservatism, and at the very least this is an insult to true Straussians, who presumably do understand what they're talking about. There isn't room here to list all the places where I have been called a Straussian--a Google search for "Robert Kagan" and "Leo Strauss" turns up 16,500 hits. Suffice to say that the immensely erudite Arthur Schlesinger Jr. has referred to me as a "student" of Strauss and Bloom, as has the columnist William Pfaff, and a half dozen other equally learned folk. A professor somewhere named Anne Norton has written a whole book assuming that I am a Straussian. You may ask why didn't she call me, just to confirm. But that would have been journalism, not scholarship. Then there are the followers of Lyndon LaRouche (see their "Children of Satan" pamphlets), left-wing and right-wing bloggers, as well as Arab, Asian, African, and, of course, European journalists and academics.....

The whole business of demonizing "Straussians" has always been really stupid, but hey...if people go around liberating the oppressed and spreading democracy, they gotta expect to take some flak.

Thanks for the reminding me about Kagan's article to another funny guy, Catholic blogger Jimmy Akin, who recently wrote, in response to someone's question about the morality of watching trashy television:

....It does not matter if you see (or hear or read about) someone doing something immoral as long as you are not tempted to do something immoral as a result.

For example: The Bible recounts stories in which it mentions people who burn their children to the pagan god Moloch.

Now: If you are a recovering Moloch-worshipper and could be tempted to burn your children to Moloch if you read those passages then you should not read them.

But if you are not a recovering Moloch-worshipper--if you are a person with a normal, non-Moloch-worshipping background--then you are very, very, very unlikely to be tempted to burn your children to Moloch (or anybody else) by reading such passages. As a result, they are safe for you. In fact, such passages are likely to actually strengthen your resolve not to be a Moloch-worshipper because of the fact that Moloch-worshippers do disgusting things like burn their children to him.

Same principle goes for everything else: If it tempts you such that you are likely to sin then you should avoid it. If it doesn't, then it's not a problem.....
Posted by John Weidner at 4:20 PM

"Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out."

Bill Quick just posted this piece from back in 2004, in which Glenn Reynolds is quoting the Daily Telegraph's correspondent Toby Harnden. And I'll post it too, because few things have shown more clearly what's really going on:

The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool, fringed with the usual cast of tattooed defence contractors, I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off than they had been under Saddam and I was now — there was no choice about this — going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it.

The moral degeneracy of these sentiments didn’t really hit me until later when I dined at the home of Abu Salah, a father of six who took over as the Daily Telegraph’s chief driver in Baghdad when his predecessor was killed a year ago.

Moral degeneracy is exactly right. Made more puke-worthy because these people often cover their hatred of America (whenever it's so sunk in evil as to not elect Democrats) with fake pacifist or humanitarian malarky.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:26 PM

March 4, 2006

Asking questions...

I recommend this PoliPundit post, What Some Arabs Are Saying, by DJ Drummond. He knows some American Moslems and Arabs personally, and set out to ask them some questions..

...And it is in that mind that I asked my Arab and Muslim acquaintances about the attitude which seems prominent among them, to allow the more radical and militant voices to speak for the whole and give the false impression, if it is indeed false, that Islam and the Arab world hate the West and America in particular, and wish to wage war against us in the name of their religion. As I expected, the general reaction to such a claim was one of angry denial in various degrees, though finding out why there is no effective push-back to the Jihadists is a long and murky process....

I wasn't surprised by what he found. Take a look...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:23 AM

March 3, 2006

Slice n' dice. Just couldn't resist...

This article by Michael Kinsley, What Bush Gets Wrong about Nation-Building, seemed to me like a pumpkin that really needed some carving. It's probably more than anyone wants to read, but fun for me. Kinsley writes:

....But the case against spreading democracy—especially through military force—as a mission of the U.S. government is also pretty self-evident, and lately it's been getting more so. Government, even democratic government, exists for the benefit of its own citizens, not that of foreigners. American blood and treasure should not be spent on democracy for other people. Or, short of that absolute, there are limits to the blood and treasure that the United States should be expected to spend on democracy elsewhere, and the very nature of war makes that cost hard to predict and hard to limit.

When you hear something’s “self evident,” you can expect some malarky. Here it starts by Kinsley just ASSUMING that we have gone to war for the PURPOSE of spreading democracy. That somebody said: “Democracy’s great—let’s start killing people!” Stupid.

We no more did that than we went to war with Germany, Italy and Japan to spread democracy. We encouraged democracy after WWII, for practical reasons—to achieve the long-term result of building allies and prosperous trading partners. Similarly, our war aim now is to WIN THE WAR, and democracy is a TOOL for that. (And of course there was and is a lot of idealism involved in both cases. But it’s idealism harnessed to sensible and useful plans.)

Furthermore, the encouraging discovery that free elections are possible in unexpected places has a discouraging corollary: If tolerance and pluralism and suchlike Western values are not essential preconditions for democratic elections, they are not the necessary result of elections either. By definition, democracy produces a government that the people—or some plurality of the people—want, at least at that moment. But it may not produce the kind of government that we wish they would want, or—more to the point—that we want.

This is a strawman. It’s not being claimed that it will always produce what we desire. Neither will any other strategy that’s been proposed. (And, since this is a war we are talking about, it must be added that even if democracy results in chaos, that in many cases will be an improvement over terror-supporting hostility.)

The present debate over when to use American power in defense of democracies other than our own is at least more wholesome than the previous debate about using force to thwart or overthrow foreign democracies. The argument against tolerating Communist governments elected fair and square used to be that the election that brought them to office would likely be the last. "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people," as Henry Kissinger famously put it in reference to the election of Salvador Allende in Chile. (And we didn't just stand by and watch.)

And the results were very happy. Chile is now a prosperous democracy with a lot of freedom and economic opportunity for its people. If communists had taken over it would be an impoverished police state with a sex-tourism industry, like Cuba.

But today's concern about what we might call "nasty democracy" (defined as election results we don't like) is in some ways more profound and depressing. It is not that a regime will use democracy in the short run to stifle it in the long run (thus emboldening us to destroy democracy in order to save it). The danger is that democracy will reveal the people's true and continuing preference for a society with no place for all the other Western liberal values that our founding document calls "self-evident" (equality, freedom to pursue happiness, and so on). Even worse, these societies may decide to export their distaste for Western values just as we try to export the values themselves—and they may not agonize, Western-style, over the distinction between violent and nonviolent means of persuasion.

They MAY do any number of things. But this ignores the fact that countries have been turning democratic at a rate of about 1.5 a year since WWII. And USUALLY the result is peace and prosperity. It’s worth placing a bet on. (And it’s not like those OTHER policies we have tried in dealing with the terrorism-generating places have been safe bets, or even moderately successful.)

Recent news has left us awash in examples: the triumph of Hamas (religious fanatics dedicated in both theory and practice to the destruction of Israel) in the Palestinian elections; the emergence of a similarly attractive group, the Muslim Brotherhood, as an electoral force in Egypt; and above all the result of the American-sponsored election in Iraq, which seems to be just about the opposite of the lion-and-lamb tranquility that democracy enthusiasts had hoped.

The Palestinians did not have any non-terrorist option to vote for. And Hamas was elected partly for its reputation for not being corrupt. (Likewise, Amadjinabad ran in Iran on a platform of economic reform! His election does not mean the people support his terror policies.) Voters tend to favor bread-and-butter issues, and time will probably push the Palestinian and Egyptian politicians in that direction.

And the Iraqi election results are splendid so far, with much politicking and compromising and wrangling among groups that have never worked together non-violently. That’s GOOD.

The Bush administration denies a report in the New York Times that it is actively trying to undermine the Palestinian election result. And the evidence in the Times story did seem to describe a totally justified withdrawal of support more than anything like an old-fashioned CIA coup...

It’s not going to be a total withdrawal of support. (Or a coup.) It will be carrots and sticks. After 50 years under the tutelage of the UN, the Palestinians will not achieve sanity easily, no matter what we do. But making their own choices via ballot-box may help them along.

…But if these developments gave Bush any pause about his aggressive democratization project, he gave no sign of it Tuesday during his surprise drop-by in Afghanistan. From Bush's description, that legendarily bloodthirsty land has been transformed into something like Minnesota. It's a place where "men and women are respected" and "young girls can go to school" and "people are able to realize their dreams." We shall see.

In speeches you sweeten things up, but what Bush said is true. Not that it’s like Minnesota, but compared with any other time in Afghan history, there's much to rejoice in. What’s happened so far in Afghanistan justifies enthusiasm by President Bush.

In his biography of Margaret Thatcher, the British journalist Hugo Young used the term "inspirational certainty" to describe the strength that some political leaders get from refusing to let anything give them pause or change their minds. Thatcher had it, and so did Ronald Reagan. Bush would like to have it. But on this particular issue, at least, he can't because he actually has changed his mind. In the 2000 election, he opposed what was then called nation-building—and he opposed it for all the self-evident reasons. Now he supports it, for equally self-evident reasons. If the arguments for both sides of some policy question are self-evident, the correct answer must not be. But Bush avoids the trap of complication by taking his self-evident truths sequentially.

That’s the stupidest paragraph I’ve read in months. A British journalist claims that conservatives are incapable of reflection, or even thinking. Surprise. But that doesn’t make it true. Real leaders make decisions and then pursue them with tenacity. But that is not some kind of “opposite” to being able to change your mind, or change tactics, or reflect.

And neither Young nor Kinsley has not the slightest idea whether these leaders, in their private moments, are riven with doubts, or utterly confident. He can’t read their minds. He has no way of knowing whether Bush has avoided complication, or embraced it. This is just silly armchair speculation, in which it is discovered—try to contain your astonishment—that journalists are much wiser and deeper than conservative heads-of-state.

Bush parries any challenge to explain his change of views with the simple assertion that Sept. 11, 2001, changed everything. It's easy to see how that day might have changed his opinion about the urgency of the war on terrorism. But how exactly is it supposed to have changed his opinion about the aggressive pursuit of democracy as a tactic in that war?

He DIDN’T change his mind. He’d previously opposed nation-building that was PEACETIME do-gooding. America was not at war before 9/11. Even if you think nation-building is a useful war tactic, it’s still a perfectly possible to not support it as a peacetime effort. (In fact Bush was reacting against the sort of nation-building practised by Clinton. It was a reasonable position at the time.)

Democracy now stands as the only remaining official rationale for the Gulf War (which the administration insists is a battlefield in the larger war against terrorism). This is grimly amusing, given that George W. Bush's Gulf War is really a continuation of his father's, which was in defense of two feudal monarchies and had nothing to do with democracy.

This is grimly SILLY, since we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, since the evidence of Saddam’s terror-support, always strong, is getting much stronger, since the recently released tapes show that Saddam was by no means finished with WMD’s, including nukes, and since our agression in Iraq has transformed all the other areas of the GWOT, giving us credibility in dealing with a host of other leaders and groups.

We don't want a President Hamlet, publicly rehearsing his doubts as he leads the nation into battle. But the men and women risking their lives for democracy in Iraq deserve at least a tiny sense that the president who sends them there has taken the trouble to consider the evidence and arguments against his policy—and that he knows why he rejects them.

Since the President has ably defended his policies in countless speeches and other debates and forums, it is foolish to suggest that he doesn’t know the arguments against them. In fact, not just foolish, but preposterous. And if you pay any attention to what our soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan say, you discover that they understand Bush’s policy with great clarity, and support it. They “get it.”

Lefties want Bush to “rehearse his doubts” because they can use them as a political weapon against him, not because they give a damn about what our troops “deserve.” But imagine for a moment that Bush publically mentions some doubts about democracy-promotion. Do you really think that Mr Kinsley would be satisfied? Pleased? Happy? Yeah, like sharks are happy when blood’s in the water….

Posted by John Weidner at 9:37 PM

Millions of documents

I have to agree with this editorial in OpinionJournal,

When the 9/11 Commission bullied Congress into creating the Directorate of National Intelligence, we doubted that another layer of bureaucracy on top of the CIA would fix much of anything. Our skepticism has since been largely reinforced--most recently by the DNI's reluctance to release what's contained in the millions of "exploitable" documents and other items captured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These items--collected and examined in Qatar as part of what's known as the Harmony program--appear to contain information highly relevant to the ongoing debate over the war on terror. But nearly three years after Baghdad fell, we see no evidence that much of what deserves to be public will be anytime soon....

The question "what are they trying to hide" is probably not the first one we should ask. Most people in government have the basically leftish view that important things should be left to experts , and the little people should not pry into matters that may upset them, and cause them to vote for people who will upset apple-carts. Even if the material contains no bombshells at all, they instinctively won't want it in the public's hands. that's what we have to fight.

However, the question "what are they trying to hide" is probably the second question we should ask. The answer, probably lots! For instance, this:

....In another disclosure, The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes was told by about a dozen officials that Harmony documents describe in detail how Saddam trained thousands of Islamic radicals in the waning years of his regime. So much for the judgments of many in the intelligence community--including Paul Pillar, the latest ex-spook to go public with his antiwar message--that the secular Saddam would never consort with such religious types....

Ooops, don't want that news to get out.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:44 PM

Crunch nonsense...

I might have missed, if a friend hadn't pointed it out, Jonah Goldberg's critique of Rod Dreher's book Crunchy Cons. I find Dreher's way of thinking ludicrous, and 10-x ludicrous when garbed as conservative thinking. The idea that hippie affectations, such as "organic food" or "natural" fibers constitute virtues always reminds me of the woman in CS Lewis's marvelous Screwtape Letters, who rejects the food offered by her hosts, and demands they make her just a little dry toast, cooked just exactly so. She is a glutton, though she imagines she is just the opposite.

Eating lovingly prepared foods with congenial friends may well be an antidote to the anomie of modern life, but so is sitting in McDonalds reading a good book....

...And then there's this whopper of a statement: "Adam Smith and Karl Marx are two sides of the same coin: they define man as primarily economic man."

Putting aside the grotesque slander to Smith, who was one of the great moral philosophers of the last three centuries, it's simply untrue that the free-market is rooted in materialism or that Smith's intellectual descendants define man in economic terms. Classical liberals root their case for laissez-faire in the autonomy of the individual, the primacy of freedom, the faith that virtue not freely chosen isn't virtuous, and in a deeply religious conception of the individual conscience (another sorely missing voice in Rod's book is Michael Novak, the world's leading authority on the intersection of market economics and Catholicism). Save for a few Randians (heh), the only people who really think the free market is based on a materialist vision in an intellectually serious way are themselves Marxist materialists, in much the same way that the only people who see white racism behind every black problem are people convinced of the primacy of race.

Besides, we don't even get the sort of metaphysical materialism Rod talks about from Marx, or even from economics. We get it from Darwin and Malthus....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

March 2, 2006

um, uh, did I miss anything?

I don't think there is anything to get upset about because Justice Ginsburg fell asleep during a complex oral argument. The case will probably be judged on the briefs; oral arguments are usually supererogatory at the Supreme Ct level.

But boy, do I remember how the lefty farts and the media howled with non-stop scorn and derision when SI Hayakawa fell asleep at some meeting. Which was nothing compared to the shrieks when Reagan was not awakened during the Gulf of Sidra incursion. Art Buchwald titled a whole book While Reagan Slept.

(Actually, Reagan was showing good leadership. The operation was carefully planned, and went exactly according to plan. There would have been no point in the President hovering over it a la LBJ. Real leaders give people responsibility, and then let them act.)

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM


This LA Times article on Harvard fascinated me in one little spot...

....Harry Lewis, a computer science professor and former dean of Harvard College who left under pressure from Summers, said campus politics here had been shifting for decades, as more students from less affluent backgrounds enrolled.

A more diverse group, they are also "eager to prosper and less willing to take risks by rebelling," Lewis said. His upcoming book, "Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education," traces what he considers to be the decline in the quality of education at Harvard. It's left them far more likely to support the power structure, he said.

"The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty," he said. "That's what's happened."....

What's utterly pathetic is that this guy calls "agreeing with your lefty professors" rebelling. And if you don't agree with what you are taught, than you are "afraid to rebel."

It's a perfect example of a "permanent revolution." Like the one you used to see in communist countries, with aged leaders celebrating some long-past overthrow, calling each other "comrade," etc, while resisting all efforts at reform.

The Harvard faculty is stuck, stuck in 1973. They still consider themselves young rebels, when in fact they have become the old and entrenched "power structure." I'll bet a lot of them still listen to Bob Dylan, and Peter Paul and Mary....

Posted by John Weidner at 1:03 PM

March 1, 2006

One more crumb of info...

Since the Arab boycott has been mentioned lately, this, from the Jerusalem Post is interesting:

....Today, however, even the most hardline Arab countries are officially dropping the official primary level of the boycott to join trade organizations and agreements.

The most significant "fall" was of Saudi Arabia, which agreed last September to drop the primary boycott of Israel to join the WTO. On Sunday December 11, the world's biggest oil exporter will become the 149th WTO member. Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also WTO members.

"Today the Arab boycott is all bark and no bite," said Danny Halperin, who founded and headed the Israeli Authority Against Economic Warfare (IAAEW). "We succeeded."

The IAAEW worked closely with the Foreign Ministry to get the US to pass a bill to make it illegal for US companies to cooperate with the boycott. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter signed the anti-Arab boycott bill, marking the dramatic beginning to the boycott's end.

Various historical events weakened the boycott further. Egypt made peace with Israel in 1978. In 1991, Kuwait agreed to rescind its secondary and tertiary boycotts after the US freed it from Iraqi occupation. The 1993 Oslo Accords were the nail in the boycott's coffin. The Arabs said they would not compromise until a full landfor-peace settlement was reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they partially rescinded the boycott anyway.

In 1996 the OAB stopped convening.

Today, trade between the Jewish state and the Arab world remains "undercover," but goes on regularly. (The products cannot be identified as Israeli or they may end up back on the ship.)....
(Thanks to Orrin)
Posted by John Weidner at 6:42 PM

Coupla items...

I was driving this morning and heard Rush make a couple of good points.

One, is that no foreigners are or will be managing our ports!

What they are managing are TERMINALS. (Sometimes you hear them referred to as berths. "Company X runs six berths in Los Angeles.") The whole issue sounds much more scary when you say ports, but that's a sloppy misuse of the language.

He also played a clip of Senator Reid Denouncing us turning over our "ports" to a country that boycotts Israel, etc. (Notice how few mentions of security lately.) BUT THEN Rush read from the transcript of what went right before that statement. "Read," because there was no audio available (I'm sure it's pure accident that that part wasn't recorded) of Senator Reid admitting he had no idea who P&O is!

Posted by John Weidner at 11:01 AM