February 29, 2008
Orrin Judd, on John McCain
...We can argue about whether it's a good or a bad thing, but it pretty undeniably seems to be the case that Maverick dislikes even the usual political back and forth with colleagues he respects, but revels in going after those he holds in contempt. Thus, the gentlemanly tenor of his contest with his main GOP rival, Mike Huckabee, as opposed to the cold-bloodedness with which he dispatched the poseur, Mitt Romney. Because of this dynamic, he'd be fairly unlikely to really pummel Ms Clinton, who he likes, but appears eager to get it on with Senator Obama. The free ride Mr. Obama has received from the press and his fellow Democrats will serve him ill in this regard, as he's utterly unprepared to deal with criticism...
One of the really evil ideas of our time is that it is wrong to criticize someone who is black, or of another favored minority. In fact, this notion is racist.
Most Democrats are racists. That is, they hold blacks to a lower standard, they do not treat them as equals.
And they have institutionalized their racism, so that the entire country tiptoes around any criticism of certain minority groups. I certainly feel it; I would hesitate here to criticize certain minority groups, lest lame-brains pounce on me and say I'm "filled with hatred," or similar garbage.
So McCain will be doing the country a big favor if he really tears into Obama. And then, when he's accused of "racism," he should forthrightly confront the issue, and say that the double standard is the real racism.
February 28, 2008
Re-posting a quote, from 2004...
One nice thing about this war is that younger folk have had a chance to see why we despised the Left so much during Vietnam, as they treat bad news for America as good news for them.
-- Orrin Judd
The wicked man fleeth, when no man pursueth...
Senator Barack Obama debated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night and said his biggest mistake was voting with a unanimous Senate to help save Terri Schiavo. Terri is the disabled Florida woman whose husband won the legal right to starve her to death...
...During the Tuesday debate, Obama said he should have stood up against the life-saving legislation...
This seems strange to me. Maybe I missed something, but I haven't heard that Obama is taking any flack for his Schaivo vote. Hillary isn't saying, "You voted to save Schaivo. You've betrayed a woman's right to choose. Of course here it was a man who got to chose, but it's the principle of the thing!" So why bring the issue up? Is it some kind of Left-wing litmus test?
One would think that, politically, he would just want to let the issue slide. Surely he stands to lose votes over this, at least in the general election?
Maybe it comes from the heart. I've rather suspected, that, to the lefty nihilist, abortion and euthanasia are sacraments.
February 26, 2008
More Republican dirty tricks...
David Freddoso, at The Corner:
Senate Republicans just voted for cloture on the bill to withdraw from Iraq. Cloture was acheived in a 70-24 vote.
Why did they vote that way? So that they could debate it. This is not unlike what happened when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) attempted to impeach Vice President Cheney. The Republicans there voted to have the debate (although they were stymied by the House Majority).
Majority leader Reid (D-Nev.), who filed for cloture, complains now that the Republicans are engaged in delaying tactics. Why isn't he welcoming a chance to have an up-or-down vote on ending our involvement in Iraq?
It's good to see us Republicans taking advantage of the evil witlessness of Democrats!
Making bricks without straw...
This is very interesting. By Major John Tammes, in Iraq...
Last night we had a bit of a surprise. We were paid a visit by Sergeant Major of the (Iraqi) Army Adel. He has possibly the hardest job I can imagine; build the NCO corps of the new Iraqi Army. The old Iraqi Army paid no heed to it's NCOs, it was a very Officer-centric/Soviet model force. So SGMA Adel has to fight not only to get his NCO corp built from almost scratch, he has to overcome an old and entrenched cultural problem. Training, doctrine, logistics and organization are all problems that he is facing. Oh, and all this during a war. I don't envy him his job one little bit.
SGMA Adel is probably the best of the old Iraqi Army's NCOs, and he joined the new Iraqi security forces as soon as possible in 2003. It is clear that he wants to serve his country and her army....
Arab military culture with an admixture of Soviet military culture. What a witches brew! Most people haven't a clue what makes armies work, and so they have no idea what an astonishing and audacious project the United States (and the Iraqi government) has undertaken, nurturing what we hope will be the first functional arab army in modern times. What's that old Seabees saying, "The difficult we do right away, the impossible takes a little longer?"
That useless dork Obama is prating about change (having never actually, like, done anything in his life that changed anything) and meanwhile the Bush administration is actually changing the world in numerous ways, and getting no credit from our fake press and fake liberals.
And the things that Bush is doing are liberal projects. At least as "liberal" was defined when I was young. They are Trumanesque. It continues to astonish me that (my one contribution to human knowledge as a blogger) "liberals" are not liberals anymore---they have become nihilists....
February 25, 2008
The Religious Right is what Lefties call believing Christians during an election year. Believers are generally loathed by the glitterati, but there's votes in them thar hills, and every four years, in order to score higher in the southern states, the Democratic leadership makes tardy and risibly lame attempts at church-going. It always backfires. The news footage of Hillary leaving church with her white-gloved hand clutching a prayer-book is as convincing as the famous shot of the senior George Bush tossing back a beer in that Jersey City tavern. To fake an interest, you need a trace of familiarity with your subject....(There's more. Fun.)
Too true. Obama has a huge advantage here, because he can tap into the whole "Christianity equals the Civil Rights Movement equals liberal Democrats" thing. It's a fake, but it always plays well. Blacks have a pass on the derision that liberals heap on Christians. It's allowed, as a sort of charming folk-custom among the colorful simple folk. White liberals can patronize their darkies, much as they might go watch whirling dervishes or Hindoo fakirs. It's understood that this faith stuff has nothing to do with the elites.
Things are much harder for Lefty white guys. I always remember Al Gore saying that we do such-and-such "In my faith tradition." Clang! He gave away the game right there. Fake, fake, got no rhythm. I bet Bush senior gave away his little game of being one of the guys, by politely sipping his schooner of beer, and leaving half of it unconsumed. He should have downed it with a smile, and wiped the foam off his lip with the back of his hand. And maybe asked for a shot to go with it...
February 23, 2008
I'm tagging along with Charlene to a Federalist Society conference at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Awesome! I had no idea. I had vaguely imagined a library, with various historical documents and mementos in some glass cases. But it's a knock-out museum, located on a hilltop with sweeping views. (I guess there is library-like stuff somewhere, with scholars toiling over documents, but that's not evident to the visitor.) We had a great time. I recommend it highly, should you ever happen to be in the LA area.
Here's a train I'd like to ride....
The green-domed Baghdad Central station. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz
Reuters: [Link] The service between Baghdad and Basra resumed with little fanfare in December after a hiatus of 18 months. Few dared use it at first, but word has spread of a safe and cheap journey, and railway officials are scrambling for funds for more carriages.
"There's been a great acceptance of the service ... People do not feel anxious. They're coming with their families," said Abdul-Ameen Mahmoud, the railway company's head of passenger transport.
The Iraqi General Railways Company halted the service in 2006 after killings, bombings and kidnappings intensified in the infamous "Triangle of Death", an area south of the capital through which the line passes.
Built by imperial German and British engineers in the first two decades of the 20th century in a race between Berlin and London to control the region, Iraq's railways were once a vital link between Europe and the Middle East....
I think the President should make another trip to Iraq. Oh, say, maybe in.........October. And ride the train from Baghdad to Basra. Just to show America which party wins wars....
iPods in the Battle Zone...
This is pretty neat. iPods carried by our troops to use as phrase-books, and repositories of all the information they need for a mission....
...The creator of the VCommunicator software -- Orlando-based Vcom3D -- originally designed it to teach soldiers basic Iraqi Arabic phrases. However, now troops are finding new tactical applications for the device, said Ernie Bright, product manager at Vcom3D.
Troops also are uploading maps and other images and content onto the video iPods to assist them at vehide checkpoints and door-to-door searches, said Bright.
If soldiers are looking for a particular individual, they can load a photo of their target and correlate it to Arabic script that asks, "Do you recognize this person?"
Troops also can store sound clips and other pertinent information that they need to conduct mission briefs for small units, said Bright.
The most recent version of the Vcommunicator comes on the new iPod nano, which troops are strapping to their wrists or wearing on lanyards around their necks.
The nano units are much faster, much smaller and more user-friendly, said Youmans. "That's one of the benefits of using commercial off-the-shelf -- the technology advances really quickly," he told National Defense in a phone interview.
The nano variants were completed in time for the 4th Brigade's deployment last fall, he said.
The devices also come in languages that are suitable for operations in Afghanistan. In October, during a training exercise at Fort Polk, La., soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division tested iPod nanos programmed with the Dari and Pashto languages. Youmans said he expects the unit will request the devices for future deployments....
That off-the-shelf technology thing is very true. Can you imagine the Army ordering the creation of a Mil Spec equivalent? Spending a billion dollars developing something the size of a brick, and available by 2014? They could call it the Aquila-Pod!
That's one of the good things about an actual shooting war; it concentrates the mind. People solve problems—they just ruthlessly go ahead and solve them, without bureaucratic politeness. Which is another reason why the people who claimed that actually fighting a Global War on Terror would fray and frazzle and just wear out and spoil our shiny perfect military all have brown eyes—because they are full of shit up to their eyebrows.
February 22, 2008
By Thom Shanker. WASHINGTON: Videotape of the U.S. Navy mission to shoot down a dying spy satellite made available shows an interceptor missile ascending atop a bright trail of burning fuel, and then a flash, a fireball and a plume of vapor. A cloud of debris left little doubt that the missile had squarely hit its mark as it spent its final days orbiting high above the Pacific Ocean.
A different kind of doubt still lingers, though, expressed by policy analysts, some politicians and scientists, and not a few foreign powers, especially China and Russia: Should the people of the world be breathing a sigh of relief that the risk has passed of a half-ton of frozen, toxic rocket fuel landing who knows where? Or should they be worried about the latest display of U.S. technical prowess and see it as a thinly veiled test for a shadow antisatellite program?....
"Should the people of the world be worried...." The way the question is put reminds me once again of the contempt I feel for the sort of people who make up the New York Times. (Shanker is their Pentagon reporter.) His loyalty and sympathy, as a member of the "coastal elites," is centered somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, and a lot closer to Paris than to the nasty old USA. His heart is in Belgium.
When he writes "the people of the world," he doesn't mean, like, you know, the actual grubby little people. No. He means their owners, the ruling elites. They are the ones who might not want us to be able to shoot down incoming missiles.
So let me rephrase the question. Should the people of the world be breathing a sigh of relief that the cops are on the beat, and carrying bigger guns than the hoodlums who think they own the neighborhood? Yeah, baby.
Should the people of China be breathing a sigh of relief that their brutal masters are feeling less pushy today? You betcha.
Should the little people of the world feel glad that the liberating spirit of Ronald Reagan has been vindicated today, at the expense of the "realists" who think that we have no "strategic interest" in their freedom and prosperity? And at the expense of the vile leftists who are in favor of tyranny and oppression?
It's no accident that Democrats and Euro-socialists and all the world's tyrants hated Reagan's vision of missile defense, and have fought it tenaciously from that day to now. They hate it because they hate the United States of America, at least when she is strong and proud and free. We are supposed to be humble and conciliatory and meek.
To which I say, Ha ha ha. You lose, sniveling worms. We shot a rocket—not from a stable platform—from a cruiser moving on the waves, and we not only whacked a satellite out of orbit, we hit one particular spot on the thing! To all the fake scientists and fake experts who have declared that this sort of thing is impossible, I spit upon your nihilism. It is ALL possible. Because we are Americans. We can do this stuff.
And thank you, President George W Bush, who made missile-defense and anti-satellite defense a priority.
The guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh launches an SM-3 during a ballistic missile defense exercise. (Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Navy)
It's jam to me, I must confess....
I must admit I'm taking a certain grim satisfaction in the way the NYT and the press are attacking John McCain with innuendo and zero facts. We conservatives have been gritting our teeth for so long watching a certain important Republican senator sucking-up to the Times and the news-media, who have been happy to pretend to like him as long as he attacks our president and his own party.
.... the Times offered zero evidence of either the affair or the favors. That didn't bother the AP, though; if the Times "suggests" something, it's fit to print.
The AP next proceeds to place Cindy McCain in a long line of political wives whose husbands have been accused of sexual misdeeds: Larry Craig's wife Suzanne; Hillary Clinton; Dina McGreevy, whose husband publicly announced an affair with a gay lover; Carlita Kilpatrick, whose husband, the Mayor of Detroit, sent "sexually explicit text messages" to his top aide; Lee Hart, whose husband Gary frolicked with Donna Rice aboard the Monkey Business...you get the picture.
But wait! Those are all women whose husbands actually did something wrong. To put Cindy McCain in that group implies that the "rumor" that the Times "strongly suggested" might be true is actually a fact. I think that John and Cindy McCain belong in another group altogether: innocent people whose reputations have been slimed by irresponsible rags....
It's not only fun, it's going to be very interesting to watch how this works out, and how big John responds to his media pals turning on him. And it's also pleasing to think that McCain will be much harder for the Democrats to beat, since they will have much less ability to say that he's just part of the Bush administration, etc, after having reveled in him being the "maverick."
February 21, 2008
Amir Taheri, writing today in the WSJ, Islam at the Ballot Box...
....The Islamist defeat in Pakistani confirms a trend that's been under way for years. Conventional wisdom had it that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the lack of progress in the Israel-Palestine conflict, would provide radical Islamists with a springboard from which to seize power through elections.
Analysts in the West used that prospect to argue against the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy in the Middle East. These analysts argued that Muslims were not ready for democracy, and that elections would only translate into victory for hard-line Islamists.
The facts tell a different story. So far, no Islamist party has managed to win a majority of the popular vote in any of the Muslim countries where reasonably clean elections are held. If anything, the Islamist share of the vote has been declining across the board....
And he's got plenty of data to back it up. I was a bit surprised at how many elections do get held in the Islamic world.
...Far from rejecting democracy because it is supposed to be "alien," or using it as a means of creating totalitarian Islamist systems, a majority of Muslims have repeatedly shown that they like elections, and would love to join the global mainstream of democratization. President Bush is right to emphasize the importance of holding free and fair elections in all Muslim majority countries.
Tyrants fear free and fair elections, a fact illustrated by the Khomeinist regime's efforts to fix the outcome of next month's poll in Iran by pre-selecting the candidates. Support for democratic movements in the Muslim world remains the only credible strategy for winning the war against terror.
The question is already decided, in my opinion...
This is a reply I was writing to comments by Bisaal at this post. But I'll just make it a post by itself, rough as it is, since I've already expended this morning's small reserve of time and energy on it...
Bisaal, I'm not ignoring you; your points deserve a longer reply than I have time for at the moment. Even their own post.
I don't agree with Mr Cella. I don't think there is some "thing" called "jihad" that exists. Or a thing called "Islam," so that one can say "Islam" is this or does that. The world of those who practice islam is as complex and varied as any other "world," and is made up of human beings with many motives besides those of religion.
I agree that "Mohamendanism is a Satanic perversion of Christianity," but I would say the same about all the modern revolutionary movements such as socialism and communism and fascism. And Islam is particularly nasty in the way it glorifies violence. But, people are still people.
Intelligent Musselmen (there's an old term I like) probably looked at 10th-Century Europe and saw a terrifying and evil movement called "Crusadism" that was surely unstoppable, and was beyond all reason. In fact we know now that the Crusades were a storm caused by the confluence of several different factors, which were unable to stay unified for very long. (One of them was the mix of French and Viking that became the Normans, one of the great conquering peoples of history. They embraced the Crusading movement, but also conquered England and Sicily and southern Italy at the same time. And their great military moment didn't last.)
"The war has been prosecuted on the proposition that the two are indeed incompatible: that building democracy will weaken the Jihad." --Paul Cella. Not exactly. The proposition is that the jihad is already weak, because most people are not fanatic death-ninjas ready to die for some cause. They have mixed motives, and mostly want to just get on with their lives. And IF they have a situation where they have hope of getting on with their ordinary lives, then they are going to strongly resent the brutal tyranny of groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban. Especially once they get a good stiff dose of them, as the Iraqis have.
And IF they have a strong and effective government that responds to their will, they will tend to turn against jihadists. I say we are seeing that right now in Iraq, on a huge scale.
Also, I think your idea that Iraq will become a puppet of Iran is not realistic. It is sort of like the assumption that Communist Russia and China were going to work together for "the Revolution". It looked good on paper, but never happened. They were just too different, and had different wants and needs. And both were internally much weaker and more divided than outsiders suspected. I grew up learning that communism was an international movement full of dedicated disciplined fanatics, which democracy was probably too decadent to oppose successfully. Ha!
Iran is a MESS. It has horrible internal problems, the regime is very unpopular, and is divided against itself. It is a major oil-producing country that has to ration gasoline!! A place where mothers often turn to prostitution to feed their children. Yet you assume that Iran will be the one spreading its influence. Think a minute. How about influence spreading the other way? Why is that somehow impossible?
The Iranian system is a big fat failure. The Taliban system was a failure. Al Qaeda is a failure, it can only rule places by brutal force, which is resented bitterly. Ask the people of Ramadi. All these jihadist groups can only rule people by force. That in itself says that democracy is incompatible with jihadism. In fact I'd say the question has already been decided, and Mr Cella is wrong.
Remember, President what's-his-name of Iran ran on a platform of economic reform! (And without a unified opposition.) If he had told the people his real desire was to spread the Revolution, he would not have been elected.
Update: Also, thank you Bisaal, for stimulating my thoughts! And if you ever meet my dear wife, Charlene, you two will get on well together--she thinks of Moslems the way you do. (You of course have a more pressing reason, because of where you live.)
And I do not mean to imply that democracy will make anybody good. It just tends to keep people occupied in different ways. And it is quite likely that elections may result in thugs coming to power. Especially in places where the desire of the people is for some big nationalist grievance that can over-rule the desire for ordinary good government. ie, the Palestinians. But even with them, regular elections (if they happen) will tend to result in politicians who address bread-and-butter issues.
February 20, 2008
Si, se puede!
This makes a lot of sense...(By Scott Ott)
(2008-02-19) — As Cuban President Fidel Castro announced today he would end his half-century of totalitarian rule, sources close to Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to tamp down speculation that they were on “the short list” of potential replacements for the ailing Communist dictator.
Rumors in Cuba carry the currency of mainstream media coverage in the U.S., and many Castro-supporters are eager to find new leadership that combines Castro-like charisma with iron-fisted leadership tactics and revolutionary support for government-run health care, education and industry.
“A Clinton-Obama ticket,” said one unnamed Cuba scholar, “combines the power and the glory that was Fidel Castro, with the unshakable commitment to collectivism, controlled economies, and virulent resistance to the United States as a superpower.”...
Either one would be a good fit for the job...
I mean, the Mahdi's due any day, right?
Dr Weevil writes:
Barack Obama’s weirdly Messianic campaign could conceivably turn out to be useful in the War on Terror. Why not start a rumor that he’s the Twelfth Imam? That should freak out Ahmadinejad and his millennarian terrorist buddies. How better to be a ‘Hidden’ Imam than to arrange to be born in Hawaii, insist that you are not a Muslim, and run for presidency of the Great Satan? An imam can’t get much more hidden than that...
I like it a lot. I'd guess our intelligence agencies are not up to this, but maybe the Brits or the Israelis could do it.
February 19, 2008
"A good synopsis of the current state of American politics"
When Bill Kristol was offered a spot at the NYT, I mostly just hoped he wouldn't goof-up and disgrace us conservatives. I think this piece, Democrats Should Read Kipling, does us proud...
....Orwell offers a highly qualified appreciation of the then (and still) politically incorrect Kipling. He insists that one must admit that Kipling is “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.” Still, he says, Kipling “survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.” One reason for this is that Kipling “identified himself with the ruling power and not with the opposition.”
“In a gifted writer,” Orwell remarks, “this seems to us strange and even disgusting, but it did have the advantage of giving Kipling a certain grip on reality.” Kipling “at least tried to imagine what action and responsibility are like.” For, Orwell explains, “The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.” Furthermore, “where it is a permanent and pensioned opposition, as in England, the quality of its thought deteriorates accordingly.”
If I may vulgarize the implications of Orwell’s argument a bit: substitute Republicans for Kipling and Democrats for the opposition, and you have a good synopsis of the current state of American politics.
Having controlled the executive branch for 28 of the last 40 years, Republicans tend to think of themselves as the governing party — with some of the arrogance and narrowness that implies, but also with a sense of real-world responsibility. Many Democrats, on the other hand, no longer even try to imagine what action and responsibility are like. They do, however, enjoy the support of many refined people who snigger at the sometimes inept and ungraceful ways of the Republicans....
Well, it's true. Actually, I think that way myself. Of course you will think me a bit absurd, but when I blog I sometimes think of myself as sitting around with George and Condi, puzzling out real-world solutions to problems. And resenting keenly those who propose sweeping solutions or easy generalizations. It does make blogging more fun.
“Very selfless and moral. One of the world’s wisest men.” –Oliver Stone.
“Cuba’s Elvis.” –Dan Rather.
“Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the cattle, and the earth. He is the whole island.” –Jean Paul-Sartre.
“A dream come true!” –Naomi Campbell.
“If you believe in freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro!” –Harry Belafonte.
“A genius.” –Jack Nicholson.
“Fidel, I love you. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes.” –Francis Ford Coppola.
“The first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War.” –Norman Mailer.
“Socialism works. I think Cuba might prove that.” –Chevy Chase.
“Castro is an extraordinary man. He is warm and understanding and seems extremely humane.” –Gina Lollobrigida.
After we conquered Nazi Germany, many German civilians were forced at gunpoint to walk through concentration camps. I think it would be entirely proper if thousands were rounded-up from Hollywood studios and taken for a look at Castro's prisons...
February 18, 2008
The actions NOT taken were the policy...
Jim Miller writes on the Africa policies of Clinton and Bush. Guess who I think history will consider a great president. For this and a lonnng list of other reasons...
...The actions taken not taken in Rwanda were the Clinton administration's important African policy. Besides that, he did little, other than to continue the policies of previous administration. Africa did not much interest either of his secretaries of state, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright.
In contrast to Clinton, George W. Bush had promised a less activist foreign policy during his initial campaign for office. There were some exceptions. From the beginning, he backed Colin Powell's successful efforts to end the civil war in the southern Sudan, a war that had gone on for decades (or perhaps centuries in some ways of looking at it). (Incidentally, I have thought for some time that Powell has gotten too little credit for that success, and for helping defuse the tension between India and Pakistan, somewhat later.)
But, after the 9/11 attack, that changed, and Bush decided on a more activist foreign policy, in part, I suppose, to get support for the war on terrorism. But the area he chose, and the policies he backed after 9/11 were not inevitable, and show something interesting about the man, and his administration. Bush decided to help the poorest continent, Africa, and decided to help in three principal ways; he provided help for fighting malaria and AIDS, and he set up a new system of foreign aid, which challenges African countries to reform, before they receive the aid.
All three have had successes, some of which you can read about in this article in the Washington Post. It is likely that, in the next decade or so, millions of Africans will live who might have died without these Bush initiatives.
Let's summarize. Bill Clinton could have saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans — but chose not to, in order to preserve his political viability. George W. Bush has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans, in spite of the political costs.
The political gains for Clinton were not great, and the political costs to Bush were probably small. But the contrast, in which one man does the right thing and the other doesn't tells us more than a little about the two men. And the fact that this contrast has gotten so little coverage tells us more than a little about our "mainstream" journalists.
(I was dubious about the Somalia intervention; I was, to the extent I followed the question, in favor of stopping the genocide in Rwanda. That's because I thought that the first required enormous resources — or exceptionally skillful diplomacy — and that the second required trivial resources. In fact, the UN commander in Rwanda at the time, Roméo Dallaire, thought he could stop the genocide with a mere 4,000 troops. In contrast, to disarm the Somalia clans might have required 400,000 troops, or a very long campaign.)....
Bush is a Christian leader. Clinton is a narcissistic lefty nihilist. The results are plain to see. History will judge.
At The Corner, Larry Kudlow has a long post on the economy...
A number of economists on and off Wall Street are ringing the recession bell, as they have so many times in recent years. But the Goldilocks economy has proven to be more durable and resilient than her critics appreciate.
Goldilocks dodged two potentially recessionary bullets this week. While modest gains in retail sales and industrial production suggest temporarily slower growth for the U.S. economy, these indicators are not signaling recession. In particular, Friday’s 0.1 percent production increase — which comes to 2.4 percent at an annual rate over the past 3 months and 2.3 percent over the past 12 months — removes the recession scenario. It’s slow growth, but it’s growth nonetheless.
To get a true recession reading, the production index would have to fall for 4 to 6 months in a row. That’s not happening. Despite some monthly declines over the past half year, the production reading for January was 114.2 — exactly where it was in July and September of last year. Looking inside the January index, there was a 0.3 percent increase for consumer-goods production and a 0.4 percent rise for business equipment. Both are solid numbers.
Meanwhile, the just-released January retail sales report defied the recessionistas with a better-than-expected 0.3 percent gain. Retail sales are climbing at a 2.7 percent annual rate over the past 3 months and a 3.9 percent rate over the past year.
Trade exports also continue strong, with the new December number showing a huge $144 billion gain. Out on the campaign trail, Hill-Bama mutters protectionism at every stop. But export trade has grown by nearly 50 percent — or 9 percent yearly after inflation — for the past four years. The real export sector now accounts for nearly one-third of U.S. gross domestic product, yet more proof that the global economic boom is alive and well.....
(There's more to read.) My guess is that this is about right. Just a guesstimate, of course. Just what my nose tells me. Plus the owner of the garage we use tells me that business is lousy for mechanics all over the area. So, if the economy was really bad, wouldn't people be repairing their old cars rather than buying new ones?
February 17, 2008
I can't say how much weight one should put on this article, Islam Needs Democracy, by Waleed Ziad, but it's damned interesting. I'd keep it in mind. As a general rule, I'd opine that whenever you hear that some country or group or movement is unified, monolithic (and supposedly unbeatable by us disorganized folks) you should be very skeptical. (Thanks to Orrin Judd)
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: While it's good news that secular moderates are expected to dominate Pakistan's parliamentary elections on Monday, nobody here thinks the voting will spell the end of militant extremism.
Democratic leaders have a poor track record in battling militants and offer no convincing remedies. Pakistan's military will continue to manage the war against the Taliban and its Qaeda allies, while President Pervez Musharraf will remain America's primary partner.
The only long-term solution may lie in the hands of an overlooked natural ally in the war on terrorism: the Pakistani people.
This may come as a surprise to Americans, but the Wahhabist religion professed by the militants is more foreign to most Pakistanis than Karachi's 21 KFCs. This is true even of the tribal North-West Frontier Province.
Last month I was in the village of Pakpattan observing the commemoration of the death of a Muslim Sufi saint from the Punjab - a feast of dance, poetry, music and prayer attended by more than a million people. Religious life in Pakistan has traditionally been synonymous with the gentle spirituality of Sufi mysticism, the traditional pluralistic core of Islam.
Even in remote rural areas, spiritual life centers not on doctrinaire seminaries but Sufi shrines; recreation revolves around ostentatious wedding parties and Hollywood, Bollywood and the latter's Urdu counterpart, Lollywood.
So when the Taliban bomb shrines and hair salons, or ban videos and music, it doesn't go down well. A resident of the Swat region, the site of many recent Taliban incursions, proudly told me last month that scores of citizens in his village had banded together to drive out encroaching militants. Similarly, in the tribal areas, many local village councils, called jirgas, have summoned the Pakistani Army or conducted independent operations against extremists.
Virtually all effective negotiations between the army and militants have involved local councils; in 2006, a jirga in the town of Bara expelled two rival clerics who used their town as a battleground.
The many militant outfits in the frontier regions are far from a unified popular movement. Rather, they are best characterized as ethnic or sectarian gangs, regularly changing names and loyalties.....
A book I just read with great excitement, and am starting to read over again, is The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism, by Louis Bouyer. Bouyer was a French Lutheran who converted to Catholicism in the 1930's, and was able to look at both sides with great clarity. It's the sort of book I read and keep slapping my forehead and saying,
He shows in the first part of the book that the original insights of the Protestant reformers were completely Catholic, and were positive and renewing ideas that the Church needed. And then in the second half he shows what went wrong, how the philosophy that was pervasive at the time, Nominalism, led the reformer's positive views immediately into negatives, and into opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. For instance, Luther's appreciation of the overwhelming importance of scripture as the living Word of God, (Sola Scriptura) soon led his movement to attack tradition, and the teaching authority of bishops and councils. They could not hold the different aspects of authority in tension—to embrace one led to denying the others. (And their Catholic opponents were in the same philosophical trap, and their defense of tradition led to denigrating scripture.)
I'll just give you a little quote I liked, to pique your interest. (Also, this post, by David Schütz, is very good, and caused me to buy the book. Thanks!)
....If this assertion sounds like a paradox to a number of Catholics, as well as to Protestants, this is due entirely to a series of prejudices and misunderstandings. And if Catholics and Calvinists seem to agree in regarding Calvin as essentially anti-mystical, it is because, as a rule, Calvinists are incredibly ill informed about Catholic mysticism, viewing it wholly on the surface, while Catholics know only the externals of Calvinism.
Rather than embark on a long discussion, we propose simply to relate a most revealing conversation we once had with the minister Auguste Lecerf, certainly the person of our generation the most learned in Calvinism, as well as embodying in himself the highest type of strictly Calvinist spirituality. As he had said, quite baldly, that a mystic, in his view, was just someone who held paradise to be a place of debauchery, we read to him, without cormment, some of the salient passages of The Ascent of Mount Carmel, by St. John of the Cross. After listening with the closest attention, he answered in perfect sincerity and without hesitation: "If that is the real Catholic mysticism it is precisely the religion for which Calvin fought all his life.".....
February 16, 2008
For world peace, poke a thumb in their eye...
From the Daily Mail: Bush branded 'cowboy of space' after decision to shoot down malfunctioning satellite...
President Bush was branded a cowboy last night amid claims that his decision to shoot down a failed satellite could spark a confrontation with Russia and China...
...They warned the president could provoke a new arms race in space by brandishing America's military power.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, called the move "regrettable".
And in a jibe aimed at the President he said: "Clearly someone in the administration who has the instincts of a cowboy has decided this is the perfect excuse to rattle our sabres and show the Chinese that we have the same capabilities."....
Rattling our sabres is good. It will promote peace. Looking weak and indecisive will tend to lead to war. I suggest we should try to make the debris fall so as to make shooting stars over Peking...
(Image purloined from Neptunus Lex. Thanks. )
February 15, 2008
A low-down dirty trick--campaigning on issues and facts!
I found the tone and style of this piece, AlterNet: What Will Obama Do When There's No Hillary Firewall?, by Earl Ofari Hutchinson utterly fascinating for the way it openly assumes that attacking a candidate on the issues, and the way he has voted in the past, is dirty politics, and in some never-specified way "over the line." (Thanks to Glenn.)
I think this is going to be a major theme in the up-coming election. To campaign on a Democrat's issues will be called "swiftboating." (Which is portrayed as a scoundrel trick when, in fact, the Swifties did nothing wrong, Kerry was never able to refute them, and had to admit to one major lie.) And, psychologically, it's preparation for a defeat to come--"We are going to be stabbed in the back. So there will be no need to re-think."
...If her campaign goes down, so will Obama's Hillary firewall. The gloves will be off and it won't be pretty.
There was an early hint of the dirty stuff that will come his way. The instant that Obama announced his campaign last February, National Rifle Association executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre wasted no words when asked about Obama's strong support for a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons, and severe limits on handgun purchases during his tenure in the Illinois Senate. [Why is this "dirty stuff?" If Obama believed in it and voted for it, shouldn't he and his supporters be proud?]
He called Obama's pro-gun control stance "bad politics." LaPierre's admonition was an ominous warning that the powerful gun-lobby group would oppose Obama, and so would millions of other passionate gun owners that take their cue from the NRA. [Isn't that what's supposed to happen in a democracy?]
That's just the start. His votes and views during his days in the Illinois Senate on taxes, abortion, civil liberties, civil rights, law enforcement and capital punishment have so far drawn little public attention, because of the media and a big chunk of the public's obsession with nailing Hillary. But in a head to head match up with the likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain, Republicans and conservative interest groups will surgically dissect his state Senate votes and they will find much there to pound him on. [And he's going to proudly defend his record, right? Stand up for his beliefs, right? And you too, Mr Hutchinson? You will be wearing your candidate's record like a badge of pride, right?]
The National Taxpayers Union will pound him for voting to impose hundreds of new taxes and fees on businesses in his last year in the state Senate. Though the tax hikes were deemed necessary to help close Illinois's crushing budget deficit, business and taxpayer interest groups screamed foul. ["Were deemed." I love the passive voice. Were "deemed" by who? God? So, if something has been "deemed," it's wrong to oppose?]
Obama's vote to raise taxes and his consistent pro-labor votes marked him as another tax and spend Democrat. This has been the dread label that Republicans have tagged Democratic contenders with in elections past. This always strikes an angry chord with millions of voters who equate higher taxes with government waste, inefficiency and pork barrel favoritism. And even more insidiously, equate high taxes with special interest giveaways to minorities and the poor. ["Dread label." You have not argued that he is NOT a tax-and-spend Democrat, so shouldn't you call it an "honest label?" Next you will object to him being "tagged" as a "Democrat!" Insidious, those Republicans.]
Obama got a perfect rating from the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council. In 2001, he backed legislation that restricted medical support in certain types of abortions where the fetus survives. Pro-life groups interpreted that as a vote to strengthen abortion rights. ["Interpreted?" You mean it's not that? Actually, bad news pal, us insidious right-wingers are going to "interpret" it as INFANTICIDE. Which it is.]
His vote and views on choice will make him a prime target for pro-life groups. He got a zero rating from the National Right to Life Committee for voting for stem cell research, for funding abortions abroad, and against parental notification in the U.S. Senate.
Obama's pro-civil liberties votes on capital punishment and police power and the 100 percent rating he got from the ACLU won't help him dodge the soft-on-crime label on the issue of crime and punishment. [Are you claiming he's NOT soft on crime?]
McCain and the GOP hit squads will go for the political jugular and lambaste him as an anti-police, anti-business, pro abortion, pro labor, pro-gun control, tax and spend liberal Democrat. Conservative interest groups will tar him as a liberal Democrat who will bend way over to pander to labor, minorities, and women. Obama's record on civil liberties, civil rights, abortion, and spending will endear him to millions of voters, but not in the South and the heartland states. ["Obama's record"--exactly. You admit it's his record that will be "lambasted" by "hit squads." So perhaps you ought to call them "GOP TRUTH squads?"]
Then there's the personal dirty stuff. They'll hammer him for his dealings with an indicted Chicago financier, for possible conflicts of interest in other financial dealings and legislative votes, and for his fuzzy, oftentimes contradictory, statements and actions on the Iraq War and terrorism. Then there's the ultimate ploy: the race card. [Uh, Obama's whole campaign is a "race card." He'd be a minor politician if he weren't black.] The GOP hit squads will dig, sift and comb through every inch of his personal life and poke through his voting record to find any hint of personal or political muck.
Actually, what I think is most important here is that there's not a hint that Mr Obama might have a political philosophy, or core values, that he is willing to stand for, or defend openly and unashamedly. Nihilism is just assumed to be the normal human condition.
February 14, 2008
Here are a couple of good books on Ronald Reagan. I should write a bit about them, but I'm too tired tonight--so just trust me, they're worth reading. They are on my mind because Charlene and I will be at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley next weekend for a Federalist Society conference.
February 13, 2008
"Oft evil will shall evil mar"
I'm not too happy about the political landscape right now. But since I'm a strong supporter of President Bush, and think he is in fact a far greater leader than he is given credit for, I guess I've had seven fat years, and can't complain too much about fields full of lean kine.
But it is with keen pleasure that I now get to watch a couple of really horrid evil Dems slash at each other with the weapons they have used so unfairly against Republicans all my life.
Here's a treat: Hillary's unhappy about....wait for it.....the press going easy on a Democrat! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of...
...The press's failure to closely examine Obama's Iraq record is a source of perpetual frustration for the Clinton camp--and a fair gripe. It has allowed Obama's supporters to mythologize him as a fearless crusader. At the same time, it has enabled the Clintons to mount overzealous attacks on his record....
"So cheer thee well, thynges could be wors"
Iowahawk is the poet of our age. If you haven't read his latter-day Canterbury Tales, Heere Bigynneth the Tale of the Asse-Hatte, do so right away...
...61 Then bespake the Po-Mo artist,
62 "My last skulptyure was hailed as smartest
63 Bye sondry criticks at the Tate
64 Whom called it genius, brillyant, greate
65 A Jesus skulpted out of dunge
66 Earned four starres in the Guardian;
67 But now the same schtick withe Mo-ha-med
68 Has earned a bountye on my hed."
69 Sayed the Bishop, "that's quyte impressyve
70 To crafte a Jesus so transgressyve
71 But to do so with the Muslim Prophet
72 Doomed thy neck to lose whats off it.
73 Thou should have showen mor chivalrie
74 In committynge such a blasphemie."
75 And so it went, the pilgryms all
76 Complaynynge of the Muslim thrall;
77 To eaches same the Bishop lectured
78 About the cultur fabrick textured
79 With rainbow threyds from everie nation
80 With rainbow laws for all situations.
81 "But Father Rowan, we bathyr nae one
82 We onlye want to hav our funne!"
83 "But the Musselman is sure to see
84 Thy funne as Western hegemony.
85 'Tis not Cristian for Cristians to cause
86 The Moor to live by Cristendom's laws
87 Whan he has hise sovereyn culture
88 Crist bade us put ours in sepulture.
89 To be divyne we must first be diverse
90 So cheer thee well, thynges could be wors
91 Sharia is Englishe as tea and scones,
92 So everybody muste get stoned."
93 The pilgryms shuffled for the door
94 To face the rule of the Moor;
95 Poets, Professors, Starbucks workers
96 Donning turbans, veils and burqqas.
97 As they face theyr fynal curtan
98 Of Englande folk, one thynge is certan:
99 Dying by theyr own thousande cuts,
100 The Englande folk are folking nuts.
101 BURMA SHAVE
February 12, 2008
"Shorn of his Teleprompter, we saw a different Obama"
Dean Barnett has a intriguing article on watching Barack Obama giving a speech where he went a bit off-message..
...Regardless, the liberal commentators have gushed their praise nearly every time Obama has opened his mouth before a Teleprompter the past few months
It was thus interesting to see Obama climb to the stage at Virginia's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday night. As he strode to the podium, Obama clutched in his hands a pile of 3 by 5 index cards. The index cards meant only one thing--no Teleprompter.
Shorn of his Teleprompter, we saw a different Obama. His delivery was halting and unsure. He looked down at his obviously copious notes every few seconds throughout the speech. Unlike the typical Obama oration where the words flow with unparalleled fluidity, he stumbled over his phrasing repeatedly....
...What makes Obama's Jefferson-Jackson speech especially relevant is where he went when he went off script. The unifying Obama who has impressed so many people during this campaign season vanished, replaced by just another angry liberal railing against George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Exxon Mobil, and other long standing Democratic piñatas. The pressing question that Obama's decidedly uninspiring Jefferson-Jackson oratory raises is which Obama is the real Obama--the one who read beautifully crafted words from a Teleprompter after his victory in Iowa, or the tediously angry liberal who improvised in Virginia?...
I hope McCain is clever enough to pin this slippery character down, if he ends up being the candidate...
February 11, 2008
Jonah speaks to Nineveh
I suspect that most people just think I'm a bit kooky when I obsess over my theory that most "liberals" aren't liberals at all any more. That they are nihilists, that they've been "hollowed out," that any philosophy or principles that you associate with the term "liberal" are gone. But I see the evidence all around us, and I think it is the real story in our politics, and in the culture war.
You simply won't "get it" if you keep asking why liberals are doing such un-liberal things...It's the wrong question to ask.
Jonah Goldberg has an illustrative piece in NRO (Thanks to Anchoress and Gerald): Taking Issue With the Democratic Race: An Empty Primary...
....But that’s it. The rest of their disagreement boils down to who is a more authentic agent of “change.” In fairness, there’s an interesting debate to be had on that score, as Obama and Hillary’s philosophies of government differ dramatically. Obama believes in a transformative politics where lofty — often gassy — rhetoric is not merely a substitute for action, but actually preferable to the nitty-gritty detail work Hillary prefers.
But that debate is almost entirely theoretical, [Actually, it's NOT "theoretical"--there's no theory of government ever made explicit] drowned out by the mad scramble to assemble an identity-politics coalition of generic “Hispanics,” “blacks,” “white women,” etc. It’s amazing how complacent the media is in carrying on with this kind of nakedly reductionist analysis. The notion that Hispanics may be voting one way or another for reasons other than their ethnicity seems never to come up.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, women, blacks and Hispanics vote too, but that’s not how the demographics and coalitions of the right work. GOP candidates actually have to win over people who believe things. (After all, the famed, and tragically frayed, “Reagan coalition” was about different groups of principled people, not a mere hodgepodge of ethnicities and genders.) Exit pollsters ask GOP voters whether they’re committed pro-lifers, whether they think the economy is the most important issue, etc. I’m sure they ask Democratic voters similar questions, but it’s telling how little we hear about that. What Democratic voters actually believe doesn’t seem to be that relevant, in large part because Democrats aren’t voting their beliefs, they’re voting affections.
Obama is “the one” — in Oprah’s words — not because of his policies but because his is a transcendent, unifying, super-nifty-cool personality. Hillary, meanwhile, is staying aloft largely through her ability to guilt-trip female liberals into sticking with her. Her cultivated weepiness and dour lamentations about how she’s been so picked on sometimes make it seem like she’s setting up a political version of one of those “how-does-a-Jewish-mother-change-a-lightbulb?” jokes. Answer: “It’s all right; I’ll just sit in the dark.”...
....The Republican party is a mess, absolutely. Conservatives are sorting out what they believe, what heresies they can tolerate and on which principles they will not bend. At times this argument is loud, ugly and unfortunate. But you know what? At least it’s an argument about something...
Liberalism used to be about liberating oppressed peoples from fascist dictators, and bringing them democracy and opportunity. Too bad no one wants to do that stuff anymore. Oh wait...
Toxic to his cause...
This article in Weekly Standard, A New Middle East, After All, is worth reading . This is just a little part that grabbed me...
....Although Senators Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joseph Biden would rather burn in oil than give George Bush credit for his insistence on linking the war in Iraq to the battle against Islamic extremism, the president has damaged al Qaeda--and al Qaeda has damaged itself--more in Mesopotamia than on any other battlefield. Al Qaeda will live on in the forbidding mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and from there it may do horrendous harm to the United States and its European allies. But if al Qaeda is ever to evanesce, it will be because its jihadism lost its ethical appeal in the Arab heartland where it was born. American and Pakistani paramilitary successes against al Qaeda will never be sufficient to demonstrate the organization's evil to Muslims worldwide. Indeed, Pakistan's ineffectual attempts to assert control over tribal border areas have been counterproductive, giving bin Laden a fillip of hope at a time when his jihad is facing decided difficulty in Iraq.
By contrast, it is democracy in Iraq, as bin Laden correctly foresaw, that would be toxic to his cause: Few ideas elicit from him more venom. It is one of the great ironies of the war that President Bush, a man not known for perusing much primary material, actually did read bin Laden's declarations about Iraq and did consider his ideas. It is by no means clear Bush's antiwar critics ever have. We have not been able to counter the Egyptian and Saudi Arabian intellectual engines of jihadism against the United States; this would be difficult even if Bush's State Department actually tried it. But what we have done is help Iraqis grope their way toward democracy, even as al Qaeda's cruelty has rallied Iraqis to fight at our side....
"al Qaeda's cruelty has rallied Iraqis to fight at our side.." Exactly. WE can't defeat al Qaeda. It's impossible. It's like, we're gonna try to sort wheat from chaff from amongst a billion Muslims? No way. But, the Moslem world is as divided as any, and so any enemy of ours implies that there are allies we can work with.
Still, it's pretty amazing what George W. Bush has accomplished. He didn't nibble around the periphery, or futz around with half-measures. He flung us right into the Arab heartland, took one of the most populous and advanced Arab countries, and in a very short time (as cultural transformations go) and at a very small cost (as wars go) has converted 25 million people into al Qaeda-haters!
And what fills me with glee is that is is probably too late for our fake-pacifsts and fake-liberals to reverse the decision. Conservatives are still wringing their hands over the possibility that we might pull out and and a Cambodia-type bloodbath would ensue. But there's no need to worry, I believe. It's too late for the Democrat Party's al Qaeda allies. The game's over. We could leave Iraq tomorrow, and Iraq's government would still muddle through. (There are of curse, huge advantages to keeping some forces in Iraq, and we will certainly negotiate a long-term security agreement with Iraq before Bush leaves office. And President Obama will just have to lump it.)
February 10, 2008
"Rejoice and receive good news"
"The loss of joy does not make the world better — and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good. . . . We have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news."
-- Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth (pp. 36-37). [Quote found by Christopher Blosser, here]
February 9, 2008
Gaia angry at Bush, Cheney--withholds sunspots...
DailyTech: Solar Activity Diminishes; Researchers Predict Another Ice Age
Dr. Kenneth Tapping is worried about the sun. Solar activity comes in regular cycles, but the latest one is refusing to start. Sunspots have all but vanished, and activity is suspiciously quiet. The last time this happened was 400 years ago -- and it signaled a solar event known as a "Maunder Minimum," along with the start of what we now call the "Little Ice Age."
Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, says it may be happening again. Overseeing a giant radio telescope he calls a "stethoscope for the sun," Tapping says, if the pattern doesn't change quickly, the earth is in for some very chilly weather.
During the Little Ice Age, global temperatures dropped sharply. New York Harbor froze hard enough to allow people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island, and in Britain, people reported sighting eskimos paddling canoes off the coast. Glaciers in Norway grew up to 100 meters a year, destroying farms and villages....
It's our fault for being selfish. But Obama is wiling to negotiate with the Sun.
Send 'em to sensitivity training...
Ponder for a moment the prodigious amounts of energy, money, and human effort lefty Democrats have poured into "healing" discrimination and the divisions of our society. Think of the relentless propaganda that pounds schoolchildren from their tenderest years. Think of the hectoring and bullying of us all; the hearings, the lawsuits, the throngs marched off to "sensitivity training." Think of the pompous self-rightousness with which they wrap themselves in the civil rights movement of ancient history.
Think of the FEAR we all live in, fear of saying or doing something "insensitive," and being branded racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or whatever the current fad. (Well, I'm personally somewhat less afraid, since, as a white male Catholic Republican, I'm by definition racist, sexist and homophobic. An oppressor!)
98% of this stuff is done by Democrats. Right? SO, we would expect Democrats to be the least guilty of discrimination, right? The least divided by sexism, the least polarized by racism. The least plagued by the divisions which, supposedly rend our society.
Black men: 81% to 19%. Black women: 75% to 17%! Latino women: 28% to 71%. Latino men: 37% to 62%. White women: 36% to 59%.
Way to "bring us together" Dems!
Of course I'm being sarcastic; the last thing that Democrats want is to end discrimination, it's their stock-in-trade.
February 8, 2008
Lists of reasons...
Over the last few months serious bloggers and pundits have given us lists of reasons why conservatives oppose John McCain. But you would never haver guessed that there were such documents from listening to the mainstream media. Opposition to McCain was invariably portrayed as personal pique, or kooky right-wing extremism.
I caught a bit of Rush Limbaugh this morning, and he was quoting some media lefties who are coming up with........lists of reasons why conservatives oppose John McCain! Gee, I wonder why the shift?
February 7, 2008
Thinking of the Obama campaign...
"Man is a creature who lives not by bread alone, but principally by catchwords."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881
Death to traitors...
If this story is true, it just makes my day...
Close on the heels of the killing of top Al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan's North Waziristan region, an American Al Qaeda militant has been killed in the same region, media reports said.
Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam al-Amriki, was reportedly killed in an attack by a US Predator drone on a house near Mir Ali, one of the main towns of North Waziristan, a few days ago, The News reported on Thursday.
Gadahn, a 32-year-old American from southern California, has been accused by the US of praising the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and attending Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas...
Ha ha. It looks like "Azzam al-Amriki" is now "Azzam al-Grease-Spot."
February 6, 2008
Axis of Good...
....President McCain will inherit the Axis of Good that W forged--with the particularly important additions being India, Indonesia, Brazil, France (at least momentarily), Canada, and Germany. It's only Bush Derangement Syndrome that prevents foreign policy experts from seeing that. Formalizing the League would be a useful but unnecessary step...
It probably doesn't matter, as far as the Global War on Terror is concerned, who gets elected. At least for the big picture. Bush is similar to Truman, whose vision crated our template for fighting the Cold War. Truman was enormously unpopular, but there was not a chance that his successors would repudiate his policy.
The Bush Doctrine will be America's doctrine now. All the current candidates appear to be pygmies compared to him, and so not have the capacity to formulate a new strategic doctrine, even if one were possible.
February 5, 2008
So insane I'm at a loss for a title...
San Jose State University has banned blood drives on campus because of the FDA's long-standing policy barring gay men from donating blood, the Spartan Daily reports. The school's president says the FDA's restrictions violate SJSU's nondiscrimination policy. "I recognize the importance of giving blood and we know that universities are a significant source of blood," he wrote in an E-mail sent to faculty, staff, students, and alumni. "Our hope is that the FDA will revisit its deferral policy in a timely manner, and we may soon be able to hold blood drives on this campus again."
Critics are calling the move "terribly misguided," saying blood drives on the San Jose campus bring in an estimated 1,000 pints a year. High school and college campuses also account for about 20 percent of all donated blood, and blood drives are often where students develop the habit of becoming lifelong donors
I think they should let those gays give blood, and then inject it randomly into all the faculty and administrators of SJSU. And anyone else who is too stupid to see that "political correctness" is murderous evil.
February 4, 2008
A page-turner, a thriller...
I give my highest recommendation to Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England, by Lynne Olson
It is about the small and exceedingly motley group of MP's who rebelled against Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement. The odds against them were far greater than I had realized. The story is utterly gripping. And every bit of it is applicable to right now.
We see the psychology of that time, the desperate wish to ignore or argue-away the growing menace, every day. As an example, I noticed that thebook's amazon.com page quotes this book review, by David Cannadine, in the WaPo. And Cannadine is obviously far less interested in the book itself than in applying it to the presidency of George W Bush, using the story, by twisted logic, as an argument in favor of appeasement!
...He gathered around him a coterie of tight-lipped conservative advisers who were as like-minded and narrow-minded as he was. He scorned his critics in the legislature, branding them foolish, ignorant and unpatriotic. He had no time for members of any party but his own, and he treated the opposition with contempt. He cowed and coerced the media, and he authorized telephone tapping on an unprecedented scale... ...George W. Bush? No, Neville Chamberlain...
As applied to Bush, these are simply lies. I could fisk all of them, and already have many times. Bush's wiretapping, for instance, is of foreign communications, which we have done, without warrants, in every big war since Lincoln massively tapped telegraph lines. But Chamberlain was wire-tapping his fellow MP's! There's no similarity at all.
...One problem (which Olson does not address) is that the opponents of appeasement had no effective alternative policy. In the 1930s, Britain's empire and military commitments were overextended, especially as regards Europe and the Far East. That meant that waging war on two continents was a nightmare prospect, to which appeasement seemed for a time the only option...
NO, it was appeasement that caused that problem--if France and Britain had confronted Germany earlier, their forces would probably have been more than adequate. And part of Chamberlain's policy was to not prepare for war, to resist all calls to build up the British military--because that would be "provocative." Which had of course, exactly the opposite effect. (Wilson got America into WWI by the exact same fallacy; that not preparing for war makes war less likely.) Then, as now, every hesitation and cringe is being watched by cold eyes, and assessed Hitler knew that Chamberlain would not defend Czechoslovakia (which was far more defensible than Poland), just as bin Laden knew that America was weak when he saw Clinton flinch in Somalia.
And Chamberlain had immense power over the press, and used it to keep his opponents from communicating with the Bristish people. (Nowadays our journalists and academics carry little Chamberlains inside, and do the same.) We see the same see-no-evil psychology all around us now, for instance in the Canadian Human Rights Commission's proceedings against Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn.
..."Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last," Olson rightly notes, "the lessons of Munich and appeasement were wrongly applied to a later international crisis [Suez]." President Bush and his fellow neocons should take note....
Bullshit. It is the lesson of Suez that is being wilfully misapplied.
February 3, 2008
"something more raw and instinctual at work here"
The older and cannier among you will remember All in the Family, and its theme song, which contained a line I always thought was totally wrong for Archie Bunker: "...Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again." No way. That one must have come out of the mind of some bookish Hollywood songwriter, not an urban working-class guy like Archie.
A real Archie of that time in the mid-seventies hardly have been able to express what he wanted, because Archie was clearly a "Reagan Democrat" before Reagan was nominated. He had no political philosophy that he could have ever articulated, but he was disgusted with the sickness of the Democrats and the culture of the 60's. And when Ronald Reagan came along, the Archies liked him instantly, without ever thinking much about policies or philosophy. It was mostly gut feeling.
And I suspect something like it is happening for John McCain right now. (NO, I'm not saying McCain is a Reagan, or abating one jot or tittle the reasons why I dislike the man.) And I'm still a Romney supporter. BUT, I can't help noticing how much Romney is like Herbert Hoover. Hoover was a great American, a talented businessman and manager of government programs, and a world-class humanitarian hero in the aftermath of WWI. But he was not a guy the ordinary American warms to.
There's a famous line attributed (falsely) to Admiral King, "When the going gets tough, they send for the sons-of-bitches." I think there's a something similar in the inarticulate soul of America that says, "When leaders turn mushy in times of war or crisis, send for the Jacksonians." (Here's the piece to read on Jacksonians, by Walter Russell Mead.) Patrick Ruffini writes:
....But there is something more raw and instinctual at work here too. Older belligerent men are not afraid of confrontation, either personally or politically. I’ve heard more than one guy mention McCain’s volcanic temper as a positive. They equate this with toughness against our enemies.Well, I can resonate with that. I loathe McCain for the many times he's poked ME, as a conservative Republican, in the eye. BUT, there's a lot of people who deserve a poke in the eye, and I'm not unready to see President McCain pick up his eye-poking stick and do something about it. And something in me hopes that he will take to hunting down and exterminating jihadi animals with the same tenacity that the Scotch-Irish demonstrated in hunting down redskins, a ferocity they learned in Britain as border-reavers and as Protestants transplanted into Catholic Ireland.
A commenter on my previous post also reminded me again of McCain’s family origins: like many Southerners, he’s Scots-Irish and has the temperament to match. If you’re not an ideologically driven activist, and you fit the profile of an older belligerent man, you’ll probably end up choosing the Jacksonian flag & country candidate over the corporate titan....
...We yield to no one in our regard for Mr. Steyn. He's consistently funny and insightful. He was helpful when I needed a jacket blurb for my book and I keep his book of columns on 9-11 on hand for when I want to stoke the fires of righteous anger. It's always a treat to chat with one of his bevy of personal assistants. Heck, I even pulled a couple strings to get into a Dartmouth student event where he's speaking later this month.
Which all makes it excruciatingly painful not just to read that he actually thought the neocons knew anything about Republican politics, but that little bit about how happy Hillary must be happy about how the election is shaping up. Being a conservative imposes certain obligations, none higher than a respect for the lessons that history teaches us. The notion that, in a contest to lead one's country, being an older straight white male war hero leaves one in an inferior position to a liberal woman or black is so ahistorical that even Bob Herbert knows better: "Those who may think that a woman named Clinton or a black man named Obama will have an easy time winning the White House this year should switch to something less disorienting than whatever it is they’re smoking." It's a sad day on the Connecticut when a Timesman makes more sense than a Hampshireman...
Another thought. Hugh Hewitt is worried that McCain will be a candidate like Bob Dole, too old, and uninspiring. But McCain is nothing like Dole, and, more importantly, he misses an important aspect of Jacksonian values. Mead writes:
....Respect is also due age. Those who know Jacksonian America only through its very inexact representations in the media think of the United States as a youth-obsessed, age-neglecting society. In fact, Jacksonian America honors age. Andrew Jackson was sixty-one when he was elected president for the first time; Ronald Reagan was seventy. Most movie stars lose their appeal with age; those whose appeal stems from their ability to portray and embody Jacksonian values—like John Wayne—only become more revered...
And yet another thought. I've hearing reports that lots of lefties are saying how much they like McCain. Doubtless this is because they are deranged with hatred of Bush, and McCain has been a big thorn in Bush's Side. So what happens when Bush is gone, and McCain's the leader of the Republicans? Do you think things will continue to be friendly? My theory is that lefty nihilists hate Bush because he believes in God, and believes in America. To the nihilist, belief is an affront and an irritant. So what happens when they discover that McCain is a patriot? Ha ha. We may be in for some fun.
The pitiless crowbar of events....
From Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s famous 1978 commencement address at Harvard:
....Without any censorship, in the West fashionable trends of thought and ideas are carefully separated from those which are not fashionable; nothing is forbidden, but what is not fashionable will hardly ever find its way into periodicals or books or be heard in colleges. Legally your researchers are free, but they are conditioned by the fashion of the day. There is no open violence such as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to match mass standards frequently prevent independent-minded people from giving their contribution to public life.
There is a dangerous tendency to form a herd, shutting off successful development. I have received letters in America from highly intelligent persons, maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but his country cannot hear him because the media are not interested in him. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, blindness, which is most dangerous in our dynamic era. There is, for instance, a self-deluding interpretation of the contemporary world situation. It works as a sort of petrified armor around people's minds. Human voices from 17 countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will only be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events....
...A Decline in Courage ...may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society. Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life.
Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.
Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?...
February 2, 2008
Pull the lever anyway...
Rand expresses it so well...
Someone once said that there are two political parties--the Evil Party (Dems), and the Stupid Party (GOP). Occasionally they will band together and do something both evil and stupid. This is called bi-partisanship.
And in many such instances, it goes by the name of "McCain-SomeDemocrat." As Levin notes, there would have been no "Reagan-Feingold," or "Reagan-Kennedy" bills on restricting free speech or abandoning the borders. And that is why, for many Republicans (or at least for many conservatives), they will need extra strength nose plugs to pull the lever for him this fall, if they can muster the will to do it at all.
Well, I feel like that also, but it will be important to get him elected anyway. Remember, the president appoints thousands of other people, who can do a ton of mischief if they happen to be lefty nihilists. And there will probably be three Supreme Court justices needed soon, plus lots of lower-court judges. So pull the lever for him anyway, and maybe donate some money too.
Soon, soon, we will stand straight again...
Winston Churchill once wrote that the best argument against democracy was five minutes of conversation with a voter.
If Obama doesn't crash and burn on Tuesday, we are going to be saying "winston didn't know the half of it." Try, for a sample of what's to come, this stupefyingly banal WaPo op-ed by Susan Eisenhower, the grand-daughter of a great man...
....Given the magnitude of these issues and the cost of addressing them, our next president must be able to bring about a sense of national unity and change. As we no longer have the financial resources to address all these problems comprehensively and simultaneously, setting priorities will be essential. With hard work, much can be done.
The biggest barrier to rolling up our sleeves and preparing for a better future is our own apathy, fear or immobility. We have been living in a zero-sum political environment where all heads have been lowered to avert being lopped off by angry, noisy extremists. I am convinced that Barack Obama is the one presidential candidate today who can encourage ordinary Americans to stand straight again; he is a man who can salve our national wounds and both inspire and pursue genuine bipartisan cooperation. Just as important, Obama can assure the world and Americans that this great nation's impulses are still free, open, fair and broad-minded.
No measures to avert the serious, looming consequences can be taken without this sense of renewal. Uncommon political courage will be required. Yet this courage can be summoned only if something profoundly different transpires. Putting America first -- ahead of our own selfish interests -- must be our national priority if we are to retain our capacity to lead....
I am just SO looking forward to having our "national wounds salved."
"revenues declined 22.4%"
Charlene noticed this Bizzyblog post, about how the news media ignored or downplayed the fact that the two recent bombings in Baghdad we done using mentally retarded women. That's the sort of detail that might make almost anyone realize that surrendering to these monsters is madness. And realize also that al Qaeda is possibly scraping the bottom of the barrel for "single-use activists."
So of course the terrorist-allies in the news media slanted the story to “the new Baghdad feels a lot like the old Baghdad.”
The Bombings were not done to influence Iraqi opinion--it's long past obvious that the Iraqis are not going to be cowed by terror-bombings. Those women and children in the pet markets in Baghdad were killed for the New York Times. And CNN, and CBS, and the rest. They were killed BY our news-media, who have demonstrated a thousand times that they will spread the terrorist story-line. That they will reward al Qaeda for bloody slaughters.
Those poor people were slaughtered to give propaganda ammunition to our "anti-war" activists. They were killed for our "pacifists." They were killed for Barack and Hillary. They were killed for the Democrat Party. They were killed for Ron Paul. they were killed for the Quakers...
But there was a tiny crumb of comfort in the last line of the post:
...In totally related news, the New York Times Company (symbol NYT) reported Thursday that, though it turned a profit in its fourth quarter, December revenues declined a heart-stopping 22.4%.
February 1, 2008
Mrs Thatcher, we pine for you...
From The Corner:
Another [reader] e-mail:
It is very hard to think like a Democrat. Please take this as a gentle reminder: to many of Hillary's women fans the fact that Obama stood up and helped her with her chair is a reason to resent him and to vote against him. If he's caught holding a door for her he'll be finished.
Yes it is hard to think like a Dem. Especially Democrat women. You mustn't hold the door for Hillary, but if the polls look bad she will cry, and the girls will all assume that a certain man has been a brute, and vote against him. And they put on pink t-shirts and demand that Marine recruiters be driven from the neighborhood, but if someone's breaking into their house at night, they call 9-11 and plead for big men with guns to come and save them...