December 31, 2007

If You Think There's Hypocrisy Now...

The blogosphere has pointedly noted environmental hypocrisy: all the private jets at the Bali conference, for example. Glenn Reynolds often says that he'll take it seriously as a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis.

There's a definite pecking order among Gaia worshippers. The Important People fly in on private jets to give speeches to the Significant People, who arrive in their high-end SUVs and learn what sacrifices Gaia requires of the Little People. It brings to mind classical brahmin-controlled India or pharaonic Egypt under the priesthood.

But that will be as nothing if and when significant life extension occurs.

Picture the high priests of Gaia urging that the technology be forbidden--and using it themselves. Picture televangelists (and mullahs, perhaps) condemning it as diabolical because it evades God's judgment and man's just reward in heaven--and using it themselves.

December 27, 2007

The Bhutto Assassination

My first reaction[1] is that Condoleezza Rice should resign. She's been blundering around in over her head, and, in view of subsequent events, this is definitive:
Let me just say that we have an unfolding story in Pakistan. There appear to be authoritative sources, Pakistani television, saying that a state of emergency is going to be declared. We’ve not heard from President Musharraf, to my knowledge, yet.

I just want to be clear that the United States has made clear that it does not support extra-constitutional measures because those measures would take Pakistan away from the path of democracy and civilian rule. And whatever happens, we will be urging a quick return to a constitutional order, we will be urging that the commitment to hold free and fair elections be kept, and we’ll be urging calm on all the parties.
If she doesn't have the grace to resign, Bush should fire her.

Fat chance of either.

[1] I say 'my first reaction' because it's not clear who is responsible for the assassination. The above comments presume that it isn't Musharraf's people. It would be nice if we had an intelligence service capable of making that determination--correctly.

Follow-Up. From Andrew McCarthy at NRO:
It is the new way of warfare to proclaim that our quarrel is never with the heroic, struggling people of fill-in-the-blank country. No, we, of course, fight only the regime that oppresses them and frustrates their unquestionable desire for freedom and equality.

Pakistan just won’t cooperate with this noble narrative.
For the United States, the question is whether we learn nothing from repeated, inescapable lessons that placing democratization at the top of our foreign policy priorities is high-order folly.

The transformation from Islamic society to true democracy is a long-term project. It would take decades if it can happen at all. Meanwhile, our obsessive insistence on popular referenda is naturally strengthening — and legitimizing — the people who are popular: the jihadists. Popular elections have not reformed Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Neither will they reform a place where Osama bin Laden wins popular opinion polls and where the would-be reformers are bombed and shot at until they die.

We don’t have the political will to fight the war on terror every place where jihadists work feverishly to kill Americans. And, given the refusal of the richest, most spendthrift government in American history to grow our military to an appropriate war footing, we may not have the resources to do it.

But we should at least stop fooling ourselves. Jihadists are not going to be wished away, rule-of-lawed into submission, or democratized out of existence. If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first. Or they’ll kill you, just like, today, they killed Benazir Bhutto.
Like Instapundit often says, read the whole thing.

December 24, 2007

The Internet

IMO without the Internet Hillary Clinton's campaign likely would have successfully maintained its image of inevitability, and the Iraq situation likely would have been pushed toward collapse like Vietnam was.

That's not to say that Hillary won't be nominated. It's not to say that the Iraq occupation will be salvaged. And it's definitely not to deny that Iraq may have been an even more dubious strategic decision than Vietnam.


Added December 26, 2007. In particular, I don't think that the antiwar spin after Tet would have succeeded--even given the idiotically unrealistic expectations the Johnson administration had created--if the Web had been available. Now Instapundit links to a warning that a Tet is coming in Iraq.

December 23, 2007

Rachel Davis and the Decline of the West

Instapundit responds that a Tennessee student Rachel Davis was suspended from high school for defending herself against assault. As of this writing, 141 out of 450 people in an online poll believe that the suspension was justified.

A California high school teacher replies that
The principal at my own son's school expects--and I kid you not--that students will curl up on the ground into a fetal position and hope that someone else goes running for help.
This insane outlook is not confined to otherworldly educators; it is pervasive.

Nicholas Sarkozy opposes firearms ownership and declares that you may not shoot dead a home invader who turns out to be unarmed.

Tony Martin...John Howard...

No wonder that Islamists take us for pushovers.

I haven't pulled a trigger since basic training long ago. I don't own a gun, but the right to purchase one is very important to me.

Afaic the right to self-defense is a fundamental human right. IMO a government which denies this right is, or will ultimately become, a despotism. A populace that consents to such government powers deserves to be serfs. I'm skeptical that such a civilization will survive, and I'm pretty sure that it won't progress.

December 21, 2007

Jew Lawyers Scheme Against Their Country!

A primary inadequacy of Bush's war leadership is his failure to articulate the nature of the struggle. (That failure may well be rooted in a failure to conceptualize the nature of the struggle, which in turn may well be rooted in his mental laziness. But I digress.)

The Israelis would never be that naive, right? Wrong, according to the JPost Pasionara (caveat lector! although her current column is plausible, she often gets carried away):
While the soldiers and general public view the (Hizbullah) war as a failure, one sector of Israeli society sees the war as a great triumph. For Israel's legal establishment, the war was a great victory. It was a war in which its members asserted their dominance over Israel's political and military leadership.
Mazuz effectively asserted that international law prevents victory in war when he argued, "The laws of war, or international humanitarian law doesn't concern itself with relations between two states, but with the relationship between civilians and states. That is, it places the two warring states on one side of the divide and the citizens of the two states on the other side, and the goal of international law is to protect the citizens of the two states and to say: You're big kids. You want to fight, go fight, you have rules… and the rules aim to minimize as much as possible the consequences of the war."

By so arguing, Mazuz demonstrated that he views the goals of legal advisers as different from and indeed in conflict with the goals of political and military leaders. The goal of the latter is to defend the country from its enemies and to win wars. As Mazuz and Mandelblit see things, lawyers are tasked with protecting enemy populations from the IDF.

The distinctive way that legal advisers define their responsibilities has had an enormous impact on the military and the political leadership of the country. It is not that the internalization of the lawyers' approach has made the IDF or the Israeli government any more moral or law abiding than they have always been...

What has changed is the focus of military and political leaders in conducting war. Before the advent of legal dominance, commanders and political leaders devoted themselves to winning wars. Today they concentrate their efforts on avoiding criminal indictments.
(HT: Instapundit and National Review) This brings to mind the Internet rumor that during the overthrow of the Taliban, a Predator-drone operator had Mullah Omar targeted, but the commander (Franks?) insisted on checking with a military lawyer before giving permission to fire. By the time the lawyer okayed the attack, Omar was gone.

December 19, 2007

The Sabotaged Fence and Our "Elites"

See the previous post for a link about the fence.

Suppose the American people finally resort to installing a Putin and he goes after our elites the way Vladimir goes after his enemies. If the Enlightened People think I'll go in the streets on their behalf, they should think again.

For perspective: IMO America is in decline and we are heading for stagnation or, at some point, collapse. However, the decline is not irreversible.

Afterthought. Maybe the best realistic 2008 outcome is a caretaker who will minimize our decline until, heaven willing, the country produces another real leader. (Reagan restored the country for a generation, but time and entropy happen to us all.)

Every Time I Suppress My Misgivings about Fred Thompson, He Gets in the News

When I read that Congress sabotaged the border fence, I hit the roof:
It’s important to me that a Presidential candidate have an executive track record. The lack thereof has been my primary reservation about Thompson and one of my primary reservations about Obama.

However, when the government reminds me of a bordello, I’m not going to seek out the candidate with the most experience in brothels.
Right afterwards, I saw this:
Fred Thompson: Lazy as charged
By: Roger Simon
Dec 19, 2007 01:35 PM EST

WAVERLY, Iowa — When is retail politics not retail politics? When candidates refuse to get off their big buses and go do it.

Fred Thompson rolled into this small town on the Cedar River in north-central Iowa on a giant brown bus Tuesday. He also had a van, an entourage of guys with earpieces and a press aide.
So the sum total of Thompson’s day in Waverly was meeting with a newspaper editor and saying nothing and then meeting about 15 people in a warm firehouse and saying nothing.

When he was supposed to go out and find voters in shops and diners, talk to them and answer their questions, he decided to skip it and get back on his luxury bus instead.

That’s not retail politics. That’s not Iowa. And that’s not laconic. That’s lazy.
Is Thompson running because his young wife wants him to?

Shades of John Kerry.

Follow-Up. I don't have time to post links, but the above article has been discredited as a hit piece. IMO Thompson should stay in the race and, without becoming a full-fledged supporter, I've made a small donation to his campaign.

December 14, 2007

"There You Go Again"?

Obama to Clinton: “Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.” Zap!

It's unthinkable that Bill Clinton would ever lead with his chin the way Hillary did.

December 9, 2007

If True, This Is Gobsmackingly Stupid.
Even Worse, It's Adolescent.

From the Jerusalem Post:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reportedly said in Annapolis this week that her childhood in the segregated South had helped her to understand the suffering on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I know what its like to hear that you can't use a certain road or pass through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I know what it is like to feel discriminated against and powerless," Rice told a closed meeting of Arab and Israeli representatives, according to the Dutch representative at the summit, Franz Timmermans.

"Like Israelis, I understand what it's like to go to sleep not knowing if you will be hurt in an explosion, the feeling of terror walking around your own neighborhood, or walking to your house of prayer," Timmermans quoted Rice as saying, the Washington Post reported.

Rice described her childhood in Birmingham, Alabama, during the era of segregation and the killing of four young girls in a bombing at a Baptist church in 1963. She reportedly said the bombing, which killed one of her classmates, helps her understand the fear of terrorism felt by Israelis.
I'd like to think that this report is inaccurate, but Rice was appointed by The Most Brilliant Man Harriet Miers Ever Met, who is the son of the man who selected Dan Quayle for the Vice Presidency.

Memo to Condoleezza Rice: Smarts, hard work, and sucking up will take you only so far. There comes a point at which real talent is essential.

Memo to the whole No Small Ball administration: If you manifestly lack the talent to achieve great things (and are mentally lazy to boot), you shouldn't try.

December 7, 2007

A Modest Proposal Regarding the Border Fence

Just brainstorming:

If Mexico refuses to patrol their border, we should build and garrison the fence on their side.

Come to think of it, I'd be willing to expedite US citizenship for Mexicans and other Latinos who would serve a term guarding the border. Carefully screened and supervised Mexicans, that is: the work might be dangerous and the potential for corruption significant.

Monitor the real fence with a virtual fence.

December 3, 2007

A Modest Proposal for Maria Shriver

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a viable governor of California, but he is ineligible for the Presidency because he is not a natural born citizen.

Yet it's sometimes argued that the Clintons are circumventing (the spirit of) the Constitution's 22nd Amendment, which limits Presidents to two terms.

If the Clintons can do an end run, why can't the Schwarzeneggers?

If Maria is President, Arnold can run the US like Prince Albert ran the UK.

Which party's nomination should the Schwarzeneggers seek? It doesn't matter.

Not only is there California's bloc of Electoral College votes, but the whole country would flock to see "Pumping Iron with the Kennedys".

Afterthought (December 15, 2007). Mike Dukakis succeeded in skedaddling out of Massachusetts onto the national ticket while his financial mismanagement could still be swept under the rug. Schwarzenegger might not be as lucky.

December 2, 2007

Demagogues and Ben Franklin

Benny is often quoted to the effect that people who would give up liberty for temporary security deserve neither.

It's an obvious point once you realize it, so the trick is to keep people, perhaps including yourself, from realizing it. The populist demagogue proceeds by promising security in the language of challenge and renewal.

As for the GOP, the admirable Virginia Postrel quotes one Daniel Weintraub:
PS to my Republican friends: I know CNN did a lousy job picking the questions and half of them came from people with links to Democratic candidates and causes. But they didn't pick the answers. The candidates still had their say. And in two hours of yakking, I don't think I heard a single sentence expressing confidence in the ability of individuals to pursue happiness on their own. Isn't that what the Republicans are supposed to be all about?
My gut reaction is that 'compassionate conservatism' is more dishonest, and ultimately more pernicious, than Clinton's and Obama's shticks.

IBD on the Dollar

(HT: Dinocrat) Investor's Business Daily editorializes:
Others see in the dollar's slump a metaphor for America's future — one of decline and waning influence in the world.

To be sure, the dollar is down almost 40% against the euro since 2001. Against the pound, it's off almost 44%. It's even down against the yen, by nearly 13%.

But put in perspective, these declines are neither dangerous nor even undesirable. Over the long-term, the dollar is well within normal bounds. After years of rallying due to massive flows of investment into the U.S., the dollar has simply come down to Earth.

To say it has "collapsed" or "plunged" is simply wrong — as the chart above shows.
The weak dollar, by making U.S. goods more competitive overseas, will sow the seeds of future growth through booming exports, more domestic jobs and a new surge in investment from overseas to snap up bargains in the U.S.

That's not a cause for concern, but of celebration.
IBD tiptoed gingerly toward the obvious, but managed to ignore it completely by the end of the editorial. Let's let the dollar drop further so we can celebrate even more. Yaaay!!! George Bush is smart! Strategery!!

The dollar advanced because the world believed that America--the country that won the Cold War--the country that wired the planet--would lead humanity into the future. The dollar is declining because the world no longer believes that.

Afaic American decline is obvious, but it is neither inevitable nor irreversible. Nor is it accidental. Who benefits? On the left, there are obvious culprits: the trial lawyers, the social-service apparatchiks, the NGO nannystaters, the deathwish Greens, etc. I have no doubt that a similar rogues' gallery exists on the right.