Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Culture post of the day: form 27B"

Brazil has always been on my top list. The trailer is understandably designed to get the mob into the theaters so it does not fully display the growing sense of horror that the film portrays. In one way the dystopia of Brazil is worse than that of Nineteen Eighty Four because it is closer to reality. As we discussed in the prior thread the overriding feature of government bureaucracy is its growing incompetence. At least with the intellectual O’Brien you could grasp at some level with a belief that you could communicate with the person destroying you. In the world of Brazil you are consumed by a monster as mindless and pitiless as some cold blooded creature in a monster movie from the 1950’s.

Comments on LGF
"Hitchens: The Swastika and the Cedar"

Hitchens just has to connect a few dots and realize that his enemies are not the stuffy heterosexual traditionalists of Christian Bushistan and Jewish Israel. He can engage in long pleasant disagreements with them over drinks. His enemies are their enemies.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Do not be Unintentionally Rude

Those two mottos can take a gentleman far. Hitchens should have told his companions what he intended and planned to do so and get out safely.

OT, Maybe Brown can give Obama something he has never had before, a job.

The Italian Fascist symbol is prominently displayed on the pole that flies the American Flag in Washington Square park. It is NYC's tribute to Mussolini in an Italian neighborhood. In Chicago they named a short street downtown Balbo Drive after a Fascist aviator who massacred Ethiopians.

Comments on LGF
"GM CEO: Thanks for the money"

Apropos of nothing at all I have always considered it cosmic irony that the plans for the invasion of Japan (Operation Downfall consisting of Operations Olympic and Coronet) used the names of automobile models as the code names for the various beaches on Honshu.

If GM and Chrysler fold what marques do you think that Ford will pick up and which might resurrect as niche independents or be picked up by others?

My guess is Jeep goes to Ford, Opel to VW or Mercedes.

Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet should be worth something to somebody. I expect Buick, Pontiac and Saturn to disappear.

A tranzi Socialist sometimes gets to meet a real Trade Unionist, the results are interesting. Real Labour would make short work of Obama. When the soviet era apparatchiks had gotten soft and complacent Lech Wałęsa climbed over the wall.

Comments on LGF
"A Bill to Let Big Government Set Your Salary"

The new twist in the Democratic tactic here is that they are calling for wage controls first and only on "The Rich." That will quickly trickle down to controlling labor also as they colonize the Board Rooms and enact new regulations to protect the People's Investments. The old "Wage and Price Controls" that Nixon got suckered into sponsoring did wages up front and aroused hostility, followed quickly by economic trauma. This way Obama gets the power up front and the economic stagnation to be followed by collapse will come later.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Silence, ye unbeliever"

Regarding the report in National Review by A. McCarthy on Spain's grab for "Universal Jurisdiction," Israel needs to introduce Spain to the concept of State Responsibility. If Spain permits private citizens to abuse the judicial power then she creates an obligation to protect the external party and make restitution. Failure to do so could constitute a casus belli and justify Israeli responses to defend itself. The question arises as to whether the use of Spain's judicial authorities, with the implied right to resort to the police power or the armed forces to execute its judgements, could be considered an "armed attack" within the meaning of article 51 of the United Nations Charter. The United States should take a similarly dim view of such threats to Mr Bush (43) and officers of his administration. Bill Clinton responded to a threat against Bush (41) by Saddam Hussein's agents with violence.

In a triumphant society brave men use their creativity to wrest a good living from catching fish and reward themselves by eating steak.
In a declining society women live on seaweed and feed sushi to a declining number of cows.

Tony (who speculated that the left wants "to wipe out carbon-based lifeforms altogether"),
As they say in Chicago, "It can be arranged."

Twice I have linked to the New Year's Speech from Vaclav Havel on the spiritual and environmental devastation wrought by Communism. That is enough to think that all can take it as a given.

God or mathematics might ensure that sentient life returns to this corner of the universe even after a catastrophe but that may not include another Mozart. All things are not equal. What we happy few have built and cherished over the last 3,000 years is worth preserving. Some things are worth fighting for.

Comments on Belmont Club
"The Dead Hand"

Cannoneer No. 4,
My first reaction was to think of the Muttawah incident also. The British are being steadily prepared for Islamification, not in any conspiratorial sense but emotionally as the consequence of their own bad choices. The origins of this vulnerability might be traced through the culture of Unionization that stemmed from the pathologies of the class system and underlay the rise of the Labour Party a century ago.

The idea that it is better the local citizens do it tolerably, now, than waiting for the Feds or the State to do it perfectly, later...

The kicker is that the expansion of government has been accompanied by a decline in its performance. Its presumption of exclusivity in a chosen role can be critiqued on two grounds. First is the question of what government should do and second is the question of what government can do.

In America, but not in England, the Constitution assigns some functions, such as coining money or regulating the armed forces, exclusively to the Federal government. The use of the Elastic and Commerce clauses to expand the Federal powers beyond those enumerated has blurred understanding of the distinctive nature of what was granted to the Federal government. These limits were alien to the English system in which Parliament is in theory now an absolute power, the King in Parliament. They are restrained only by custom and now by the even more arbitrary authority of the European Union.

The issue of competence, not in the meaning of moral capacity but of technical skill, is even more troubling because it is not susceptible to legalistic arguments. We get into the realm of Sociology here which always a slippery topic where prejudice can obstruct scientific study. The larger any organization gets and the more it attempts to do the less effective it is. Sixty or eighty years ago the government could in a crisis choose one task among fifty to do and marshall the best and the brightest and achieve miracles. Now the government attempts to do not one thing or fifty but a hundred and fifty using the ranks of the civil service. The results are failure. The more things government attempts the lower the quality of the workforce in each task. What you end up with is Airport Security. Not only does this result in sub-standard performance in those roles where large numbers have been hired to do jobs that were never meant to be the role of government at all but the dilution of talent and loss of focused oversight lead to failure in those positions, such as the police power, where we need government to function efficiently.

One reason that hysterics yell "My child is in there" when they aren't is that it is usually cost free to do so.
Some are simply honestly mistaken but some are deranged attention seekers and others are malicious. If caught and faced with punishment they will whine that they intended no harm, or even wanted to encourage others bravery, or they'll plead if a would be rescuer was hurt that "there has been suffering enough" and if no one was hurt by their fraud then they will claim the "punishment is disproportionate." Israel faces the same carping when it responds to the provocations of the arabs. We have been desensitized to hypocrisy and irresponsibility by excessive regulation and lawyering.

Armeggedon Rx (who commented that Red Ken might have progressed to ordering police to block recruiting stations),
It is already getting close to that situation in Berkley where the municipal administration and the police assist Code Pink in harassing the USMC recruiting station. If the civil servants not only refuse to perform the tasks that their employers think they have been hired to do but actively prevent others from doing so then the reasonable question is, "Why not save the money and send them home?" Would England be a more lawless place if The Plod went on vacation and told the public "So long and thanks for all the fish?" The purpose of government is employing staff not delivering services but simple self interest should limit the tendency to make it a complete farce. I will look for the Yes Minister clip in which Sir Humphrey explains to Bernard the fascinating history of the remit for the Department of Administrative Affairs by which their authority was expanded but their responsibility was progressively reduced.

Cannoneer No. 4 (who quoted Det Supt Peter McGuinness),
Compare, "The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand" and "our officers ... handled the incident as professionally as we would expect them to and they then worked long into the night ... South Yorkshire Police feel for the family and will continue to support them ..."

Comment on Belmont Club
"The deadly drones"

I have always admired the Israelis ability to make lemonade out of lemons. They live in a region where their neighbors are prone to the wildest fantasies. Realizing that they could not undo that condition they have capitalized on it. The "arab street" might be mythical itself but it believes deeply in Israeli super powers. Judicious feeding of their paranoia has them believing in Israeli master spies everywhere and that the "Drones" to be feared are either invincible jewish robots or the result of secret rays that will turn arabs into asexual drones. Maybe the Israelis can convince them to be on the watch not just for Drones but for Killer Bees.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Nazis! Part 2"

Hitchens did well the other day, along with Salman Rushdie, in challenging an offensive Islamist rapper on TV. Then he went and wrote an Anti-semitic screed repeating lies about the conduct of the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza. He is unstable and unpredictable but he does have courage but not judgement. He is an old fashioned liberal imperialist who knows in his bones that he has the right to criticize the provincials.

Many many years ago my Father went on a trip to Latin America with a Letter of Introduction from somebody or other. When he arrived in Havana he said to the taxi driver that he understood they had a new man in charge. The reply was "Si, Señor, Sergeant Batista." My Father, who was not anybody important, replied "Good, let's go see him." So the taxi took him to the barracks where Fulgencio Batista was living and the Sergeant came out to the veranda and apologized that his family had just sat down to dinner but spent 10 minutes in conversation with my Father, because an American had come to talk to him.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Decisionmaking under uncertainty"

There are fundamental differences between conservatives and revolutionaries. I did not say between the right and the left since there are radicals in both camps. A salient feature of radicals is that they behave in consciously conspiratorial ways. Even when in a position of authority and even when engaged in presumptively lawful conduct they tend to express themselves through ways, such as subterfuge, secrecy and small group power struggles, that tie in to their emotional and historical underground links. Conservatives and most Republicans, but not most Libertarians, behave quite differently. Their values express their focus on the relentlessly normative. This may give them an affinity to the values of productive industry but not necessarily to those of politics. The Democrats have been captured by the radicals and have rejected the alternative of a moderately socially progressive heritage that built the party of George Meany and Hubert Humphrey, Scoop Jackson and John (but not Edward) Kennedy. Given that the Democrats are now dominated by radicals it makes sense to use that information when judging Obama. He was indisputably the candidate of the most radical elements and does have a history of associating with frankly revolutionary elements. Humans are not beasts. We have the capacity to use experience, not just our own but others, to predict future events and make plans accordingly. Given these facts it is prudent and sane for someone to expect bad things from Barack Obama and act on that expectation.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Yes we can and no, they can’t"

In my bones I think that we cannot keep 70,000 Americans in Afghanistan unless we have 30,000 Americans in Gwadar. Only seven problems with that: the Pakistanis, the Baluchis, the Pashtuns, the Iranians, the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese.

The Pakistani government is attempting to sew together a balloon while it is being shot full of holes from the inside. The odds on their welcoming an American base are between slim and none. Our best bet might be to tell "our friends" that we will need the base to evacuate them when everything collapses. Unfortunately "our friends" will not be in a position to deliver whatever we want from them.

The Baluchis are the regional population and have been subject to autonomy carrots being dangled by cynical outside powers (especially the Soviets) for decades. Why should they align with the soon to vanish Americans and play Kurds for a Day?

The Pashtuns are the 40 million plus tribe that thinks of Kandahar as its territory and have every intention of dissolving the governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan while looting American supply caravans and depots. It is what they do.

The Iranians think of Baluchistan and most of Afghanistan as break away bits of their empire. They are just over the border to the West and if you think that they can be trusted to protect a supply line for Americans then I want your bank account number, social security and credit card quick because you are about to get cleaned out and it might as well be me that profits.

The Americans are now under the command of Barack Obama. No one expects them to stay beyond the second bloodletting.

The Russians have been angling to get a warm water port in this area for over two hundred years. On the long term level that has not changed even if the demographic realities do not support those ambitions. On the more immediate basis an American base to the South reduces the value of the Russian controlled supply lines to the North. As noted before they have a long history of manipulating the tribal politics. The Great Game continues.

The Chinese happen to be the people who built the port, have their own ambitions and intentions with regard to the region and its mineral resources and have spent decades also in building ties in the region to counter the Americans, Russians and Indians.

The Indians could be the only natural friends that America has and I would be doubtful that they would trust Obama enough to stick their necks out for him.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"Big in Japan"

If I was the Republican Governor of Hawaii I would react to Obama’s failure to respond to a ballistic missile targeted on my state by marching down to the Hall of Records and personally fishing his birth certificate out of the file. While the Governor of Hawaii has no meaningful relation with active duty forces that could help to defend against such a threat, other than invoking Article IV section 4 clause 2 of the Constitution, the Governor of Alaska does. A potential conflict between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama could happen if she directs active duty Guard forces to defend her state and Obama federalizes the troops to prevent them from doing so. Eisenhower did that to force through desegregation and the Guard obeyed him.

If anyone will confront Obama in a constitutional crisis it will be someone from the Democrats in Congress. Remember the Republicans in Congress told Nixon when it was time to go. It is unfortunate that in Pelosi and Reid we have two of the worst examples of ignorant political hackery that ever disgraced their two offices. While the office of the Vice President and President of the Senate has not been exactly distinguished in American History Biden represents a modern low from whom we can expect no leadership. Strangely enough the most likely source of a challenge to Obama might be the ancient President Protempore of the Senate and third in line to the Presidency, former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK, Robert Byrd. He is a bigot and a partisan and his pork barrel earmarks are legendary but he fancies himself an orator and a constitutional scholar on the order of Henry Clay or John Calhoun. The question is at the age of 92 is he up to the fight?

Comments on Belmont Club
"5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Negotiations"

Obama has vowed to “cut unproven technologies”. The last thing he wants to do is prove the technologies by allowing them to actually be tested under battlefield conditions.

The answer should have been, “Who owns this problem? North Korea does and I will repeat what has been the stated policy of the United States for over 50 years. Any launch of a ballistic missile towards the territory of the United States or one of our allies shall be treated as a hostile attack and may be responded to with the full strategic power of the United States in a time and manner of our own choosing.”

Comments on Belmont Club
"More Afghanistan"

There are significant Pashtun minorities in the UAE and in the UK. This chart is from the wiki:

Regions with significant populations
Pakistan                  28 million (2005) [1][2]
Afghanistan            13 million (2006) [3]
UAE                             315,524 (2008) [4]
United Kingdom      200,000 (2006) [5]
Iran                              150,000 (2005) [6]
India                               11,086 (2001) [7]
United States                  7,710 (2000) [8]
Malaysia                         5,100 (2008) [9]
Canada                             1,695 (2006) [10]

The terrible thing about all the retreat and defeat, the humiliations and betrayals and deprivations that the Democrats prepared over the preceding 8 years and have now begun to unleash on us is that none of it was inevitable. We had everything needed to achieve victory but a confident population and a loyal political class. We had the wealth, the population, the technology and the opportunity. We could have knocked over the mullahs in Tehran and their lackeys in Damascus, we could have crushed the barbarians in Pyongyang and in Riyadh, we could have liberated billions and lead the world into a new age of liberty and prosperity and creativity and within sight of the goal we threw it all away.

The upshot of the short sighted policy you describe is that when, I did not say if, the mullahs fall from power the Iranian people will not turn to the Americans but instead to the Chinese.

The only true costs are opportunity costs. We had the capacity and the opportunity for Victory. Now the military is signing on to the only war in town. Sure they can do their jobs and sound enthusiastic about it but the bottom line is that they are providing a credible layer of activity to cover an exit strategy.

In so far as it does any good, building an Afghan army and police force and starting to develop a Civil Society behind the enemy lines, it will be the unacknowledged continuation of Bush’s plan. Without the stamina to stay the course and confront the “root causes” of hatred and violence in Tehran, Moscow and Islamabad the good works done will prove as ephemeral as the Gazan greenhouses.

wretchard launched four threads in close proximity, so the discussion became diffuse and I will collect my commentary.

On Who's Allah?, regarding the diplomatic aptitude of Hillary R Clinton.
This is really a fiendishly clever plot to convince the rest of the world that the can’t depend on Uncle Sugar to play the adult so they have to stop being free riders.

She could be the answer to Global Warming. The room temperature drops when she shows up. I’ve felt it.

On Obama to meet Assad?
Israel has already been called the “Twice Promised Land.” Now Obama is selling them to Iran and Syria and Hamas and Al-Q (who really don’t care) and heck he’ll offer to screw the Jews for Chavez just as icing on the cake. Bibi takes office on Tuesday, will he pull the rug out from under BHO?

My prediction is that we see serious thumb suckers by the media pushing this line in a few months.

Mike Sylwester,
He has Russian equipment, no reason for him to tie himself into an American supply line. Assad shares interests with the Turks regarding the Kurds. That is another betrayal that BHO can add to his collection. There are a range of things that the Syrians want aside from the obvious in Lebanon or the Golan.

On Iran and North Korea:
I call it the Long War.
Bush pulled one punch when he didn’t make eliminating the fascist Ba’ath rump regime in Damascus part of the original “Axis of Evil” formulation.
We should be cutting steel right now, should have been 5 years ago really, to triple the size of the fleet.
You want a jobs program? That would be a jobs program.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Comment on The Daily Mail
"The Queen is not amused"

To this Yank it seems that the changes ever since the Parliament Act of 1911 have been a bad idea. Not simply because they break tradition, the United Kingdom is not Disneyland or Fiddler on the Roof, but because they are unwise. The flexible historic system was the best protector of individual liberty. Every change brought by the left has made you more open to dictatorship by corrupt demagogues.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"Eyes wide open"

Last thread was getting a good discussion going about the twin durability of the opium poppy and the durability of Islam in hostile environments. Islam not only creates a moral desert within human beings by scraping away their connections with their own history and all the moral codes that arise in all other functional societies (for example Islamic society weakens the incest and the child abuse taboos in a way that no other society that emerged from the stone age ever did and survived) but also is associated with persistent degradation of the physical environment. Anatolia was a fertile breadbasket with irrigation systems that had been developed over thousands of years, until the Moslem conquest following the battle of Manzikert. Similar desertification occurred in North Africa and Palestine.

More bad news.
Russia outlines Arctic force plan.

No, let me be clear about this, NO!
While I do not like Obama and I would like to see the birth certificate and I'll even concede the possibility that he might have effectively renounced his natural born citizen status by traveling on a foreign passport or claiming to be foreign national to get a scholarship, both unproven rumors, the fact is that his being moved to Indonesia and registered as an Indonesian adoptee when he was a minor does nothing, nada, zip, to his US citizenship. That is a tin foil hat crazy position to hold so give it up. US citizen children are kidnapped by their Saudi fathers and held in the KSA. If one of those US citizens ever escapes and returns to the USA they will be welcomed back as citizens. No CBP officer would say anything other than "Welcome Home" and no judge would question their status as natural born citizens. So be clear about this, if you can prove that Barack H. Obama as an adult renounced his US citizenship then you have something. What happened while he was a minor means nothing.

Just where does that belief come from? You can't just make this stuff up. Natural born has always been taken to refer to Lex solis not Lex sanguinis. It has everything to do with where he was born. The law is not a matter of personal outlook or choice, it is the law. The wiki is OK on this particularly
Some countries are restricting lex soli by requiring that at least one of the child's parents be a national of the state in question at the child's birth, or a legal permanent resident of the territory of the state in question at the child's birth, or that the child be a foundling found on the territory of the state in question. The primary reason for imposing this requirement is to limit or prevent people from travelling to a country with the specific intent of gaining citizenship for a child. The 27th amendment to the constitution of the Republic of Ireland was passed by referendum in 2004 for this purpose.
The United States has never had a judicial ruling or legislative act restricting the citizenship of children of illegal aliens. Even if we had that condition would not have applied to Obama. His father was legally present on a non-immigrant visa. He would be ineligible now and may have been then ineligible for citizenship as a polygamist.

Comment on Michelle Malkin
"The Strange Sacking of a Top Treasury Official"

The worst case implication here is that Polakoff was following a trail that would expose corruption among the regulators that benefitted important persons tied to the Democratic party. Either that or he was himself the source of embarrassment who was trying to cover his record with a lot of hand waving about what happened last year. Someone is up to no good and it is par for course in the bureaucracy to destroy the messenger before he brings bad news.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The civilian surge"

South Asia suffered for generations from the legacy of Cambridge University Fabian Socialism. Now that India has finally shaken off that legacy the cultural imperialists are poised to try again under American cover in nearby Afghanistan. Call if the Revenge of the Raj. There clearly is a place for Civil Affairs projects. Normally these functions are performed by uniformed soldiers called to active duty from specially trained reserve units that recruit civilians with the needed skills. That makes sense while combat operations are still in progress. Later when the military moves to supporting and overseeing tasks more commonly associated with law enforcement it becomes appropriate to shed the army uniforms. Iraq is now probably at that stage. The risks in Afghanistan are two fold. First it might be premature to civilianize the effort while there are still organized enemy combat units in the field. Second is that these efforts should be focused on providing the training, legal framework, market access, and infrastructure for a normal society to develop. My fear is that this will become a pork barrel for an army of Chicago Community Organizers who will saddle Afghanistan with a model of dependancy and corruption, although the native variety may be able to teach the newcomers on that score, and inefficiency that will collapse as soon as outsiders withdraw and the waiting Taliban move back in.

Daniel Hannan MEP's Speach to Gordon Brown

This is so good it needs to be posted and preserved. Pity the man endorsed Obama but as an Englishman he can be pardoned for losing the thread in our election.
Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of this Parliament – that being to say one thing in this chamber, and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that; who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British Jobs for British Workers’, and that you have subsidised – where you have not nationalised outright – swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks.

Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words. Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country.

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child.

Now once again today you tried to spread the blame around, you spoke about an international recession; an international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squall – but not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear up their rigging – in other words, to pay off debt – but you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line, under the accumulated weight of your debt. We are now running a deficit that touches almost 10% of GDP – an unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary – countries where the IMF has already been called in.

Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising – like everyone else, I’ve long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of these things – it’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening the situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year, in the last twelve months, 125,000 private sector jobs have been lost – and yet you’ve created 30,000 public sector jobs. Prime Minister you cannot go on forever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorging of the unproductive bit.

You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re well place to weather the storm, I have to tell you, you sound like a Brezhnev-era Apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense. Everyone knows that Britain is the worst placed to go into these hard times. The IMF has said so. The European Commission has said so. The markets have said so, which is why our currency has devalued by 30% – and soon the voters, too, will get their chance to say so.

They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are a devalued Prime Minister, of a devalued Government.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"The grandfather paradox"

You know and we know and you know that we know that it is nonsense

This will rank as one of the great political speeches to be studied for generations, I commented on Mr Hannan’s blog that he should post the full transcript so it will show up on Google searches.

The reason the accounts between the US and the Chinese or others are out of balance is because they have been free riders on the US provided umbrella of security and lawful trade. What is needed is a mechanism that transfers the tenders of wealth back to the US to pay for the benefits that they received in return for toasters and athletic shoes.

Argument for a more Parliamentary system, the example of the British and their Question Time. A system in which a Leader emerges after 20 years of being closely observed by jealous colleagues and tested by public interrogation is unlikely to produce an empty suit like Obama.

Argument against a more Parliamentary system, the example of the American Legislature. The peer elected leaders of the House and the Senate are Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid If that is the best that they can come up with then we may be better off selecting our leaders by random lot. That would be closer to the Athenian model.

The AIG executive Jake DeSantis responds to Obama. The American Mussolini of Mediocrity should find a rock to crawl under.

The one limitation on the franchise that would make a difference would be to put it in the Constitution that no person who derived the majority of their sustenance from the public treasury at the federal level shall be eligible to vote in any election for Congress or for an Elector for President or any other Federal office and that no person who derives the majority of their sustenance from a State or States or component(s) thereof shall vote for in any election at the State or local level. No such disability should apply to enlisted members of the armed forces or officers called to active duty during conflict.

Existing limitations on voting by felons, or persons certified by a court as incompetent, need to be enforced. Secure ID systems for registration and voting need to be instituted. The extreme libertarian objections to a national ID card have left us open to having the entire constitutional system hijacked.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The front-line shopping mall"

The worse news is that it will not work. The reason is that while in one office the crusty old Security Wallah is writing tough regulations and plans to have reliable people observe and evaluate in the office next door a Multicultural Outreach Coordinator will be rewriting these new regulations into mush and then ensuring that any new jobs in training, staffing and evaluating this Homeland Defense operation will go to, surprise get this, representatives of the concerned communities. That means that whoever is fronting for the next Captain Hook will be only to happy to provide staff for the operation.

Comment on Belmont Club
"The Why of Kabuki"

It is helpful to trace back the reasoning that says that since the non-bank firms participate in the economy they should be as subject to seizure as banks. Going forward it will lead to the power to seize any business or individual. After all they participate in the economy too, don't they? The attitude that taking a government benefit, even if coerced, justifies government regulation starts with the exploitation of the Elastic and the Commerce clauses to justify Federal regulation in what would under the Constitution be considered State functions. The idea that the people are subjects who a duty to the beneficent government was advanced by the government expansion in Health Care. At first this happened in the State or local realm where, as with education, there was no constitutional issue. More recently the Federal authorities assumed a role in these fields and the concurring right to regulate effected conduct. The first efforts were naturally on an issue that was trivial. The justification for seat-belt laws was that accident victims would end up in government supported hospitals and therefor there was a public interest in forcing people to wear seat-belts in order to reduce the cost to the taxpayers. For the record if I am driving and you get in my car you will buckle up. Real purists might want to push this line of thought back to the fluoridation of water. The key issue here is that the Federal government has used this logic to insert itself into regulating and now potentially seizing any form of activity or individual anywhere.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Never let a crisis go to waste"

We do not react on behalf of Mr Gore any more than we toppled the Taliban on behalf of the 9-11 widows. A sovereign nation reacts to offenses against its interests. The Chinese and Russians can assist or not.
Begin the following actions with approximately 24 hours between each step if the Pyongyang regime does not comply.
1) Demand the release of the hostages and the full compliance of North
     Korea with an inspection and disarmament program.
2) Announce publicly that we are prepared to feed 20,000,000, for 90 days,
     explain the steps we shall take.
3) Evacuate all but a a handful of Forward Observers from the DMZ.
4) Station 2 CVBGs about equidistant between Wonson, Vladivostok and
5) Institute a full blockade of North Korea by air and sea, no aircraft may
     fly, no patrol craft or fishing boats can leave harbor.
6) Destroy the missile launch facilities.
7) Destroy nuclear facilities.
8) Destroy ballistic missile and artillery installations.
9) Destroy all military and government installations.

I derive no pleasure from violence, you are right, this is no board game, these are human beings.
That is why credibility counts, that is why we spent hundreds of billions of dollars preparing for and rehearsing annihilation for 45 years. All that was done so that Obama could grow up sheltered and feckless, so that Kim jong Il and his ilk of the world would be contained. As Sam Spade says of threats, they all have to have the fear of killing behind them to work. If we can convince Kim to back off by showing him pictures of the cast of the View looking real concerned or sorry then go for it. I start out by saying marshall the humanitarian aid because I expect North Korea to crumble as everyone scrambles for food. If we cannot lay out a series of expected costs if they do not step off the escalation ladder then Kim faces no constraint at all.

In a word, No. China’s conduct will help determine her relations with the US for the next 50 years.
If we want the NorK regime to wind down with the minimum violence then the cooperation of China and Russia should be part of the process. This could be a Good Cop/Bad Cop or Mutt and Jeff byplay. We should be constantly engaged in back channel discussions with Beijing on these issues.

Thank you, pretty darn sadistic aren’t I? You haven’t even heard of my plan to send them Rosie O’Donnell.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Loss of lift"

Dodd's wife's side jobs are a smoking gun. Game, Set and Match.

China's call for a new reserve currency is just more kicking the can of the problem down the road. Can't run an honest local government or steal enough from your neighbors? Then send all the power and responsibility to Washington. Uncle Sugar has no more credit to pay for your toys? Then send all the bills to the UN and IMF. The virtues of capitalism include the joining of responsibilities for choices at the point of production. Socialism constantly seeks to offload responsibility. The US borrowed massively from China to pay for hundreds of billions worth of consumer goods and subsidize some of the inflated levels of professional employment in education and financial services. China also got something for the trade. They bought domestic tranquility. The chinese regime is fundamentally illegitimate since it is not based on any ancient lineage like a monarchy, is not based on any revolutionary or divine truth like the white heat of communism was and is not based on the sovereignty of the people. All they have is the Mandate of Heaven, which is another name for inertia.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The pits"

How can people react to disaster?
Particularly how can people react to an anticipated disaster?
We do have some cultural training in gallows humor. The Cold War did us some good in this. Bomb shelter drills, Dr Strangelove and campus End of the World parties ritualized and normalized our expectation of the apocalypse. Some will undoubtedly turn inward in Depression, like a dog seeking a corner to die in. Some will react with a show of bluster and egoism, trying to grab the best table in the empty dining room on the Titanic as the ship tilts. Others, and I suspect they will prove to be the healthiest, will focus on personal humanity. The adolescent slogan was, the world is about to end, let's have sex. Their instincts are not bad. Here is the kicker in my thesis, that reaction is not only healthy, it is the basis of Red State values. It would not surprise me if there turned out to be an increase in pet adoptions and marriages in the coming year. People will need security and acceptance and an assurance that,
"The fundamental things apply, as time goes by."

So, "Let's Face the Music, and Dance."

Comment on Belmont Club
"Obama hints at his Afghan strategy"

LBJ was probably a good poker player. He did share two problems with BHO:
1) a desire to recreate the Age of FDR, more understandable in his case
     because he did grow up in Depression Texas
2) a desire to be liked by people who despised him, WASP liberals and

dre and 49erDweet, “Are you punch-drunk?”= Are you on drugs?

A Conservative Teacher,
Bush should have not just defeated John Forbes Kerry, he should have spent 4 years rubbing him into the dirt and repeatedly making it clear that every problem that America has can be personified in the Junior Senator from Massachusetts. He should have made Kerry into the Democrats Hoover that Republicans could run against for 50 years.

Raoul Ortega,
Rum Romanism and Rebellion, I remember when my Jr High teacher raced through the chalk and talk themed on stupid Republicans and justifying the rise of the Democrats, to get past the unpleasantness of the Civil War. It did occur to me that Blaine's slogan was factually correct even if politically inept.

Rudy Giuliani would have punctured this balloon in a way that McCain could not bring himself to.

Habu you have it right, Churchill understood. Democracies don't negotiate exit strategies, they win or lose wars. They do not "prevail over an adversary" they defeat an enemy. By their own standards the Taliban are democrats. They all know why they are there, they believe in what they are doing, they consent to the execution of a common purpose. Obama has nothing but contempt for the nation he is President of and the Constitution that nation produced. He is here to act out his psychodrama with his father. Those he identifies with, not the same as those who identify with him, are along for the ride. Everyone else in America is a tool for him to use and dispose of, everyone outside of America is an audience at best or a ritual hate object (Englishmen and Jews) to be disposed of.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The crucial year"

The fuel either comes from the South-west on Iranian sufferance or from the North on Russian sufferance. Everything else we can do by air but not the fuel. The Taliban have very little support on the ground, certainly less than 10%. What they have is a presence and the ability to intimidate. They are in a similar position to the darling of the Left from 40 years ago, the Vietcong. If the US could provide physical seurity and train and pay an Afghan police force we could hold the villages and win. The chinese want stability so they can exploit the minerals and have a supply route to Iran. To me the best strategy would be (would have been for 7 years) a sharp shock to Iran to induce regime change. The problem is Pakistan. How can we stabilize Afghanistan while the big neighbor, over 170 million with over 27 million Pushtuns, is dissolving?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Letter to Instapundit re:
"Are Senator Dodd's A.I.G. Actions Impeachable?"

Regarding your statement, "ARE SENATOR DODD’S A.I.G. ACTIONS IMPEACHABLE? Since Senators can’t be impeached, no." do you overstate the position? As I read the Constitution any person can be impeached at any time. Nothing in the text says that Congresscritters are immune. Nothing even says that the subject of the impeachment has to be a current employee or citizen of the United States. All that it says is that the punishment can not extend past disbarment from holding an office of profit or trust. So it appears to me that the House could impeach Senator Dodd and then if the Senate choose to convict him, which they could do in theory even if he choose to resign, it would be up to the Senate to decide whether to;
1) bar him from non-elective office
2) expel him and bar him from holding elective office
3) bar him from holding any office elective or non-elected
4) censure or reprimand him.

Agreed that it is precedent for Congress to seat an impeached and convicted person, Alcee Hastings but does that disbar the Senate from setting a higher level of punishment? Agreed also that it is unlikely that the Senate would try a former employee of the government if the person choose to resign but does that mean that they can't? Agreed that it is unlikely that Senator Dodd would face an impeachment or an expulsion but does that mean that his actions are not impeachable?



I did get a reply properly noting that I had misread Article Two (sect.4) which states, "The President, Vice President, and all other civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors." My error being in focusing on Article One and neglecting Article Two by not properly construing the term "civil Officers" as limiting the power to employees of the government at the time of impeachment.

On Mar 21, 2009, at 11:30 AM, Glenn Reynolds wrote:

Only civil officers of the United States are subject to impeachment.

My reply follows.
Was not sure if the precedent of William Blount in 1799 had ever been definitively settled. But I did overstate, they do appear to have to be (present tense) a "civil officer." In the 17th to 18th centuries the term Civil Servant applied to both the Members of Parliament and to the Crown Servants who executed the sovereign's will.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"It's a small world"

We are facing possibly 20 million or more unemployed in America if the bottom drops out. It might be a good idea for the nation’s mayors to plan for harnessing armies of the unemployed as laborers on urban farms. I could see large sections of the NYC parks system being put into “Victory Farm” production.

If Congress rams through this ex post facto bill of attainder on taxes I expect that every Director of a financial firm and 50% of other corporate directors will retire on the spot and move to the country. NYC and SF are instantly out of business, the economy contracts by 20% and those mobs you will see of 20 to 40 year old people huddled in the rain fearing the other urban mob that is no longer interested in solidarity will be wondering when their mommies will come to feed them.

buddy larsen,
what if to the new admin your dystopia is a feature, not a bug?

That could be true. In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four Goldstein's book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism lays out the intent as a matter of policy to have constantly declining living standards. Obama and company may be frozen adolescents who read that when they were 17 and thought it sounded cool and never grew up.

Comments on Belmont Club
"Message to Iran"

I wrote on the last thread about the US hoping to rely on the Iranians to get supplies to the troops in Afghanistan. This is an idea so transparent and sad that our best hope is that the wolves will be shocked into inactivity.

Gates of Fire
Israel is likely I think going to depend on submarine launched cruise missiles to destroy key facilities. The Iranians are probably going nuts, crippling their own productivity, tearing everything up looking for evidence of zionist spy sabotage. With any luck that makes the job of real professionals easier in penetrating their facilities. I would think that the first targets would be the refined petroleum products storage facilities, transportation manifolds and Iran’s sole refinery.

Do not assume that BHO would order the US Navy to turn on Iran and contain them after an Israeli attack. Do not fool yourself that he will swing into a de facto alliance with Israel. I assume the worst. Obama might guarantee the security of Bahrain and the UAE if they stay neutral. He might order the US Navy to escort shipping through the straits of Hormuz to protect Iranian interests and order the US to “Quarantine” Israel.

If Israel could do this with agents in place it accomplishes two things;
1) It paralyzes the Iranians and the Arabs as their worst nightmares come
     true. Decades of bogeyman stories come back to haunt them.
2) It serves as a powerful warning to the West that angry ignorant Islamic
     mobs aren’t the only thing they have to worry about. The Mossad
     could have a bomb anywhere. Let Putin stare under his toilet and worry.
     Let the Spanish PM get on a chair to inspect the chandelier over his bed.

A US sub just hit a US amphib in the straits.

The chinese actually listened when the economics professors told them that markets provide information and that government needs accurate information to prepare for future events. They are not democrats and have abandoned the Rousseauean Utopian Socialist ideology underlaying Communism. They are non-charismatic fascists. Obama and the Democrats on the other hand are still committed to dreams of reforming the General Will to perfect humanity. They do not like markets because they do not want inconvenient truths. BHO believes in the power of his words to transform the crude reality that markets reflect. Words are all he ever had.

Comment on Belmont Club
"The raincoat of Franklin Raines"

Many years ago, before PC and empowered women etc., a friend from college who was working in Marketing for Citicorp told me the following story. “You can go into the boardroom of any Fortune 500 company in America and you will see a dozen men in identical Brooks Brothers sack suits, one man in a silk Armani suit with a large gold watch and several gold rings and one guy dressed like Bing Crosby in a golfing cardigan. What do you do? The answer is, keep your eye on Bing. He owns the company. The guy in the fancy silk suit? He’s the delivery boy.”

Even more years ago my Father treated me to lunch at the Chock Full O Nuts near his office. I loved the nutted cream cheese on date nut bread sandwich. As we left Dad asked me if I noticed anything about the other men who were sitting at the lunch counter. I mentioned that they all seemed to be wearing good suits. Dad nodded, “Yes they are. Their wives won’t let them out of the house without them. Every man at that counter (except for Dad and me) is worth over 30 million dollars (an enormous sum in those days.) They have to wear a good suit for business but they eat at Chock Full o Nuts because they aren’t entertaining clients and you don’t waste money.”

Afghanistan Redux

Serendipitously I attended another meeting last night at which the speaker was Gary Berntsen. Mr Berntsen is a retired CIA officer and he ran the agency's operation at Tora Bora in 2001. His blog is at the link. He is adamant that he requested an 800 man Ranger Battalion to seal off Osama bin Laden's escape route into Pakistan. His claim is that General Franks denied the request and that order came from the White House. My letter to Mr Berntsen follows:

Thank you for a good overview of The Company at yesterdays Club meeting. The book looks great and I hope to finish it off this weekend. Today I hope to get out another job application after sending this message. Frankly things are brutal and looking bad. Got as far in the book as a seeing a future naval officer ask "Daddy, what's going on?" and I always read the end first. A quick search on you at Google got only one personally adverse comment you may want to acknowledge in your presentations. At www.historycommons.org I found the following:
False or Mistaken Account by CIA Officer - CIA officer Gary Berntsen heads the CIA's emergency deployment team to Tanzania in the immediate wake of the bombings. He will improbably claim in a 2005 book that the US at first primarily suspects Hezbollah. According to him, it is only on August 15 when a CIA officer in Karachi happens to notice an article saying that an Arab traveling on a false passport was arrested in Karachi near the time of the bombings. This is discovered to be Odeh, who is transferred to US custody. Only then does al-Qaeda's involvement become clear. Perhaps to support this timeline, Berntsen also falsely claims that another bomber, Mohamed al-Owhali, is arrested on August 15 when in fact he is arrested three days earlier.
This strikes me as a surprisingly minor level of reaction for anyone to face on the web and you should feel pleased that you appear to have drawn fewer ad hominem attacks than others. Given that you packed in a large volume of information I am not sure how you could have included other topics that I personally am interested in such as:
1) The role of Valerie Plame and her spouse and their impact
     on the CIA's reputation.
2) Mike Scheuer's performance since leaving the agency and
     the the ability of the agency to conduct effective observation
     and analysis without internalizing the prejudices and
     conflicts of those being studied. The English called that
     "Going Native."
3) The proposed appointment of Chas Freeman to head the
     PDB team and what that says of the current leadership.
4) The role of the NSA and its size compared to the CIA.

For 28 years I have regretted not joining the agency. A good rule is that if you are going to do something do it with the best in the business. It was my hope that I could have gotten into Customs and used that to back door into the JCTTF. Unfortunately I got a minor strain injury down at FLETC before the firearms test. Despite my having a 95 examination average with nothing adverse on my record and having passed physical training and defensive tactics, and despite my having over 9 years of federal service and despite my never have been seen by a physician after having reported the injury, they ordered me to attempt the shoot and then sent me home.

The event I mentioned that I attended on Wednesday can be found here, http://www.thesmithfamilyfoundation.org/. On a broad array of topics they offer the best policy debates in town. While I found the extreme Libertarian Hornberger to be useless in the debate I think that the other three, Preble of CATO who was for a small footprint and withdrawal, and the pro interventionists Boot of the CFR and Goodson of the War College, to all be people that you would want to interact with.

Please stay in touch and let me know if you have Roger Ailes ear or any other ideas on how I could be useful.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"Here to help you"

Soon we can see psuedo-news stories filled with pictures of crying grandmothers unable to go to a child’s graduation as justification for a call for nationalized transportation. Stories filled with pictures of hungry children will be used to as justification for calls for a nationalized agriculture system. They already had nationalized education. They just effectively nationalized housing and finance. What else will be left?

My OT on Afghanistan is a separate post.

As I am unemployed and uninsured my interest in this topic is not completely theoretical.

On The Smith Family Foundation Debate
on the U.S. options in Afghanistan

This was first posted as an OT on a Belmont Club thread.
Last night I went to a Smith Family Foundation debate on Afghanistan. The panel were as follows: Max Boot, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Larry Goodson, Professor, U.S. Army War College, Jacob Hornberger, President, Future of Freedom Foundation, and Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute. That meant one pro-interventionist Boot, one pro-intervention big footprint traditionalist Goodson, one isolationist paleo-libertarian Hornberger, and one small footprint internationalist libertarian Preble. I found Hornberger's sneers about Neocons borderline anti-Semitic and the fact that he refused to or was not qualified to discuss the strategic issues as opposed to chanting we killed their children so they hate us, depressing. After I talked with an Afghan architect who assured me that few people take the religion seriously as a reason for violence and who wants to build a museum in Bamiyan where the statues of Buddha were destroyed by the Taliban. Good luck to him. The libertarian expressions of concern for the suffering of foreigners was so patently false as to distasteful. Hornberger did get Boot to admit to being an imperialist. My subsequent letter to Goodson follows, a similar letter went to Boot who replied, "Thanks for coming last night and for raising a number of thoughtful points to which, alas, I have no good answer."
Dear Professor Goodson,

It was good to meet you at last night's debate. My concern was about the integrity of our logistical lines into Afghanistan if Pakistan implodes. From what you said I got the distinct feeling that the administration intends to solve that problem by making a deal with Iran. Understandably that is tempting since the Chinese already built a road and it spares the expense of building and guarding a parallel route through the Pakistani region of Baluchistan. My suspicion is that the Iranian deal can only spell disaster as the endangered parties (Israel and the Gulf states) react in their own interests. It seems to be the spirit in Washington to attack our friends and appease our enemies. Perhaps we shall see, in the same spirit, a deal to appease China at the expense of Tibet and India, to appease Russia at the expense of Eastern Europe and to appease Syria at the expense of Lebanon. Eventually some of these betrayals will conflict with each other. When I asked if you think that Israel will go quietly into the night or if Iran and Russia could be trusted to keep a deal (Did you really propose we trust 60-80,000 Americans to a supply line that depends on fuel brought in from the North at Putin's sufferance?) you he noted the new Israeli government and said "We shall see." Given the stakes involved, and considering how we neglected to plan sufficiently for the second stage when we committed to Iraq in '03, we should plan this operation a little more thoroughly. It is a given that all plans have to be changed, Rumsfeld was blind-sided by France getting Turkey to lock out the 4th I.D. Still we should at least try to ensure a more stable source of logistics before committing to a larger operation, worthy as the goal appears to me.

My concern is that we are facing a perfect storm in which a common interest is being seen by paleo-social conservatives, libertarians, liberal global institutionalists and cynical realists. All of them are prone to manipulation by foreign money interests more dangerous and less accountable then the mythical Israel lobby. This touches me personally as my thesis advisor was a man who always treated me with courtesy, John Mearsheimer.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"New words for old"

Twenty years ago. Cult of Personality

Remember the end of The Front Page when Walter Burns accuses Hildy Johnson of stealing the watch he gave him? That is the kind of chutzpah the Democrats show in bailing out AIG instead of sending it into bankruptcy, approving the payouts and then organizing a mob to attack the Republicans and create a precedent for a bill of attainder and ex post facto law. When the Democrats of Athens broke precedent and the law to hold a mass trial of generals after a naval disaster one man stood up and condemned it. That was Socrates and eventually the same demagogues came back and killed him.

A Better Blogger

Doug Ross @ Directorblue does what I'd like to do better than I can. Now I am suffering from blog envy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"Who me?"

I think that Dodd, or his evil twin Skippy, inserted a provision protecting the bonuses from further review, and made sure to do it before Obama took the oath of office. If it had been done after the bonuses were paid it would have been ex post facto and unconstitutional. The fact is that Obama signed the bill so even if his flacks try to make an issue that some negotiations happened on Bush's watch it means nothing, nada, zip. Carolyn Maloney is full of baloney when she proposes a special ex post facto law to recover the money, Anyone who advocates such a law should be deemed mentally and morally incompetent to vote or hold office. That particularly holds for Senator Schumer. BTW Schumer funded his initial run against Al D'Amato using his muscle from when he was on the House Banking Committee, that's right he roosted with Barney Frank. Schumer went into Wall Street board rooms and the line I heard was that he did not suffer from subtlety. Something on the order of "Cough it up" was mentioned. We should be careful not to get overheated here but it is true that this frays the line between America and random dictatorships. If Congress can pass ex post facto laws to take away specific people's money, at the same time that the President is announcing that he is changing the rules to make military veterans pay for their service connected injuries, then it becomes conceivable that somewhere some Colonel among the thousands will wonder if we really are any different. More likely and equally disastrous is that if Congress did pass such a law the entire banking and financial system would collapse on the spot. Every Director of every corporation would retire to the country, possibly a foreign country, on the spot. Cows could start grazing in NY's Bowling Green again.

Regrettably I have not found it on Youtube but in the movie Captain Horatio Hornblower there is a scene where El Supremo rants and raves waving his arms, as the Royal Navy methodically demolishes his ship around him. The sharks are starting to circle around Obama and they may not be as polite as Gregory Peck.

Comment on LGF
"Another Secret Left-Wing List surfaces"

This Autumn I drove the McCain campaign around when they came to town. The Candidate was of course in the big car with the guns. I was driving a van with either staff, the hairdressers, or the press. I was driving when they all got a flash message to their BBerries from the DNC about why it was right for the Democrats to go after Joe the Plumber personally and why reporters should dig up Joe's personal records. The meme bounced around the van like a ping pong ball "Why of course we should." Took less than 30 seconds to settle the issue.

Comments on Belmont Club

I have heard that the most effective tool for reducing vandalism and shoplifting in shopping malls is Mozart. Pump it over the public abuse system and older people feel welcome while the adolescents vanish. The problem is that crowds of feral young people are tolerated because they have money. A few weeks ago I was in the candy/newspaper/stationary/lotto local store as the Korean owner stood in the door staring at two Junior High students browsing the wares. When they left to rejoin the baying crowd outside, who were working themselves up for a fight, I asked him, “Why do you put up with it?” His reply, “I have to. They are my customers.”

The great tragedy is that at the crucial moment when we needed someone who could stand in for Good King Harry and rally the troops for battle on behalf of Western Civilization John McCain was not up to the task. He wanted to and I think he saw the big picture, even if he was wrong on many details, but whether due to age or infirmity or a misplaced gentility he just couldn’t sustain an attack.

Thank you for giving me an opening to tie together my ideas on this and the last thread. In teaching BTW this is called "spiraling" and deserves a black belt.

Government, particularly at the national level, should have one role in education; inspecting and tossing criminals into jail. A provision for vouchers, designed to augment a rich variety of charitable and commercial services, should be the basis of funding for our educational system. The States should set standards and supervise tests and inspections to see that those standards are met. Parents who refuse to educate their children or who (Here is where I expect the Libertarians to explode) misuse their authority to inculcate ignorance and bigotry under the guise of and in place of education should be charged with abuse. This should not interfere with private religious and cultural schooling but would cause a problem who believe that in the name of a religion it is acceptable to refuse to provide a basic education and instead spread lies and hate. The only alternative to that is the current dysfunctional system in which real abuse is ignored while more and more money is thrown at the unionized public schools by a centralized government that in theory controls everything but in practice delivers little.

michael hoskins,
I'm sure I used this story before. Some years ago I met the then Commandant of West Point. I pointed out to him that a College President had three jobs. As the Colonel holding the General's bag trembled the Commandant asked "Really, what are they?" The answer, "Why General, parking for the faculty, football for the alumni and sex for the undergraduates." Having had his job explained to him the gentleman laughed and shook his head "Then I am a complete failure. The environmentalists won't let me fix the first, we are losing at the second, and the third is illegal."

Comments on Belmont Club

Saint Daniel Patrick Moynihan, among his many other gifts to the world, gave us the phrase “Defining Deviancy Down.” Two Hundred and Fifty Million dollars is now chump change. Just how much was Sherman Adams’ vicuña coat worth?

The idea of Federalism has both theoretical and practical justifications. The theoretical argument is that of the laboratory of democracy with competitive solutions to problems. That views States as incubators of change in a political free market. It is a lovely concept that suffers only slightly from a paucity of evidence that these new ideas are allowed to crop up and grow in the hinterlands. The practical reason to divide power in a Federal system is the realization that politicians are by their natures crooks. The central authority should not attempt to provide more than a handful of services. What they can do is stay busy investigating the malfeasance of other levels of government. The States should exercise their power to investigate corruption at the federal level. The Constitution of the Confederacy had a specific clause addressing this issue, as well as another ensuring that Cabinet Officers would have seats in the legislature so that they would be available for questioning. Both were interesting ideas worth considering. The Chinese Nationalist system had a "Control Yuan" tasked with investigating corruption.

My favorite book, damn near my little red bible, is William Kornhauser's Politics of Mass Society (The wiki on Social Movement is dismissive of his work) which lays out how atomization can lead to totalitarianism. When to much power is concentrated at the center the individual becomes isolated and vulnerable to being swept up in mass movements. For the working class that would manifest itself as communism and for the middle class the equivalent in Kornhauser's formulation is fascism. Vibrant local polities that engage individuals and that are subject to inspection by a Central (only partially higher) authority seems safer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"The Guardians"

Just watched Barney Frank on The News Hour on PBS. He was in full bleat that as he now owns the company he should be able to declare that these employees have not earned their bonuses, and he blamed Bush/Paulson for not providing sufficient oversight. The draw dropping moment was when he said that "it is natural for everyone to cover their own mistakes" and therefor the people who caused the problem should not be allowed to evaluate the performance of employees. He meant it as a criticism of AIG's current management's fitness to award bonuses. The truth is that as VDH and The Old Guy make clear Barney Frank, along with Dodd, Raines, and Gorleck, is among the last people to be trusted with evaluating a two teller Savings and Loan let alone a firm like AIG.

The legal definition of "Chutzpah" is killing your parents and then demanding the mercy of The Court as an orphan. Barney Frank's portrait should appear next to the definition.

Let us consider Wretchard's original submission. The true horror of rule by a Lil' Kim isn't that the buildings are ugly, or food is bad or the clothes are shoddy or the light's go out. The true horror is in those poor women desperately applauding as Dear Leader walks by in a modest casual sweater. Watching any American yearns for a soul brave enough to step forward and yell out "Hey fat boy, you suck." The gutless wonders of the Western Press were in Onanistic Glee when the Iraqi threw his shoes at President Bush. Like late night talk show hosts they only choose safe targets. Right now it is possible that if Obama ever gets humiliated in public he would deflate like the Wicked Witch under a bucket of water. My concern is that in three years, after Acorn gets its army together and the acolytes of Ayres get their hooks deep into the State apparatus, people may be afraid to insult the Leader.

@MarkJ (who said he believed America is different because of guns),
Just to be clear, I do not agree with you on either your facts or your implications. I see not a shred of evidence that would lead me to believe that the armed forces or law enforcement would side with people threatening or using armed force under any circumstance including those arising from the conduct of Barack Obama. The "militia" movement of the 1990s was an embarrassment at best. The answers to our problems simply do not lay in dreams of or threats of armed revolution. I do believe in the Second Amendment and can believe that there could be circumstances in which an armed citizenry can induce a sense of caution that could mitigate abuses by an oppressive corrupt local machine, particularly in isolated communities. As a meaningful part of the national dynamic it is an invitation to disaster. As Talleyrand said of the murder of the Duc d’Enghien by Napoleon I, "It was worse than a crime, it was a blunder." If you really want to invite repression that that is the road to follow. What is needed is harder; old fashioned politicking, constant communication, presence in every polling site to try to ensure an honest vote and instant response to every abuse or lie are where we must start.

When people have their enabling paradigms threatened they can become dangerous. They will do anything to validate their beliefs that they relied on establish their connection to a coherent social network. To affirm that Bush (or someone declared to be like him) did not win, should not have won and could not be allowed to win someone like your ex-girlfriend's sister will accept conduct that in other circumstances they would repudiate. There are a series of simple steps from agreeing with those whose approval you crave (so many never leave adolescence), to discounting evidence of misconduct by Acorn, to participating in what would be a criminal act. Few go as far as Bernadine Dohrn or Rachel Corrie but the path is well trodden. We should all stop and examine our assumptions constantly.

@Unsk, Concur.

Comment on LGF
"Obama Tries to Stop AIG Bonuses"

When the Dow was back up to 7,324.
The Dow is up slightly for two reasons.

1) Dead Cat Bounce.
2) Pump and Dump
It is my suspicion that BHO's friends are getting another round of cash out and will follow it with more shorting to extract a few billion more as the market slides towards 5,000 by May Day.

Comment on Cheney:
"Obama has made America less safe"

Cheney is 100% right. Things are not the same everywhere. In fact the Left agrees and then says that we are the bad guys. The US and the UK are nations inhabited by people who create a culture that expresses itself in a specific set of values and laws, for the US expressed through a Constitution. That created a web of laws that helped support a civilization that encouraged trade, creativity, personal liberty and a respect for life. It is protected by laws both domestic and by international treaty. Those who are at war with these nations are not equal parties to a civil dispute. Insofar as their conduct violates the Law of War they are unlawful combatants and should be treated as such.
HT Theo Spark, at link.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"The silver cord"

On the death of Ron Silver.
Knowing that men of Ron Silver's intelligence, industry, practicality and fundamental decency can be found on all sides of an argument is a great gift. To often when we face the infantile caterwauling that has replaced argumentation the tasks of government appear to be so distastefully debased to a form of unending rubbish remover that the temptation becomes to withdraw. That is a great error that misjudges why the community at large confers honor to certain individuals or professions. The qualities of honor and respect are not conveyed as an additional bonus for people who are lucky enough to win life's lottery. Even in aristocratic societies that would be a misunderstanding. Honor is conveyed on those who are willing to undertake difficult and dangerous tasks on behalf of the community, beyond the hazards that are faced by the rubbish remover. A healthy community encourages and honors it's warriors even when the enemy they fight are not themselves respectable. This was a theme in The Grand Illusion. So we should fight the good fight for its own sake. In our weaker moments when we are tempted to throw in the towel we should remember that there are men of Ron Silver's quality on the other side, that they are worth reaching, that they enrich our comprehension no matter which side of an argument they are on, they may change sides, or if they facts justify it so may we, and finally that there is no excuse for any of us on our side as well as on our opponents to do worse.

Comments on Belmont Club
"Pakistan again"

How will nuclear war calculate into the whole environmental sensitivity posture? Will Al Gore have enough carbon credits to trade to cover that?

Didn't BHO himself say at one point "When I actually do something I'll tell you?"

The Indians and the Chinese have to sit down and decide what the end game will look like. The Indians can't move if the Chinese can stab them in the back. I predict Endlosung in Tibet and a Chinese Corridor to the Iranian gas fields.

To spin out my South and East Asian concepts, the question is how stable is China going forward? If the loss of export markets breaks the urban economies hard enough then they will not be able to function as safety valves for rural poverty. The basic communist model has always been to fund urban industrialization by extracting resources from the rural peasantry. The refinement in the last 20 years has been that the incredibly productive Americans, especially wealth creating farmers, have stepped in to help. The chinese regime has no inherent legitimacy except for inertia. It really is a pure fascism but stripped of even the ideological pretensions that underlay Mussolini. If urban stability cracks under the pressure of 30,000,000 unemployed then the unrest that comes from poverty and corruption always left simmering in the countryside could explode. China could dissolve and do so more violently than the Soviet Union did. So the big question is does China expand like a Red Giant or collapse like a white dwarf? India needs to act fast with regard to Pakistan and can not wait while China sorts itself out.

Someday. somewhere Ngo Diem, Haile Sellassie, Perez Musharraf and Reza Pahlevi will get to play Bridge together.

Comment on Belmont Club
"Waiting game"

The rage that Western conduct feeds is greater than the hatred of Israel and all jews that the West ignores. On a basic level Nasrallah and company actually prefer the Israelis to the Americans and Europeans. They respect the Israelis and more to the point they believe that the Israelis respect them. In their 7th century minds the fight to the death between arab and jew is honorable. Western constant coddling of them only infuriates because it so palpably reeks of disrespect. It treats them like adolescents under the tutelage of a Guidance Counselor. This only throws gasoline onto the cultural bias towards misogyny when they face a feminized West.

We live in a world where adolescents kill each other because someone stepped on their $120 sneakers. When asked why they will say, "He Dissed me." When I was teaching a particular tough guy wannabe thought he could drop in once every couple of weeks to graze among the female students and perform a little disruption ritual. First he tried to play me with the "poor oppressed ghetto boy me, don't you feel sorry for me Mr Money?" act. He was nonplussed when that did not gain traction. Then I told him, "I don't have to deal with this garbage." I was thinking the word "crap" and he knew it but there are rules. What I was thinking was what I would have said as a naval officer, "Tell it to the Chaplain." Then I went on, "We have someone here who is paid to listen to your story, I'm sending you to Mrs. Nussbaum. She's warm, she's sympathetic, she cares." Mrs. Nussbaum was a well endowed, indeed slightly zaftig Guidance Counselor in her late 40s whose office was, honest to god, in a converted bathroom. The student instantly melted. "Please Mr (...) not that, you can beat me instead. I want you to." Sorrowfully I shook my head, "No." After that I failed him and then one day I saw he had got hurt, probably in a fight, and I helped a Security Guard carry him to the Nurses office. After that he followed me like a puppy and the tough kids either treated me OK or ignored me. I did have one kid that I failed come up to me and shake my hand and thank me, for treating him with "Respect."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Making it through"

Instead of the Bernanke Helicopter cash delivery service why not have the government just mail everybody a $1,000 Walmart gift card. That should make the chinese happy. I will bet anybody in the room $10 that Joe Biden thinks that makes sense. I’ll bet $1 that Joe has proposed this.

Comment on Belmont Club
"The fatal hour"

The virtue of Democracy is that The People get the government they deserve. The vice of democracy is that each person, that is You bud, gets what The People deserve. Who believes that they deserve no better than The People do?

Universal military service does not guarantee against vanity or the Treason of the Clerics. Kerry served of a sort in Vietnam (did you know?) and he still turned out to be a fathead. Still, on the margin, it would probably be good for both the masses and the future intelligentsia or their political allies if they all spent at least a few months together solving very practical problems. This has nothing to do directly with military efficiency and almost all professional officers oppose any kind of a draft. It has everything to do with national security in the larger sense.

Comment on Belmont Club
"A politically exposed person"

There are two separate issues here (usually I do three so I am getting better,) First is the question as to whether there are any circumstances that justify the government either directly or through a regulated agent inquiring into a persons religious or political beliefs. The second issue is as to whether if there is any such justification there is a tinkers chance in hell that this procedure could achieve its desired purpose.

For the first question I must reluctantly hold that while the ideal is that people interact solely as functional objects, whose opinions regarding art, politics, religion or deportment are equally personal and irrelevant to the outsider except insofar as they are revealed in a commercial transaction, that can be presumed as lawful unless they produce an immediately unlawful effect, the reality is otherwise. Seventy eight years ago the American Secretary of State Henry Stimson could say that "Gentlemen did not read each other's mail." Maybe less than ten years ago we could still believe that one could only become a subject for a security inquiry by either a reasonable connection to a specific criminal investigation or by voluntarily submitting oneself to review for the purpose of obtaining a clearance for a job in the government. Now however the very speed of communications, the porosity of borders and the complexity of hostile conspiracies, make it important that we attempt to preemptively identify cases where otherwise routine financial or other communications could reveal either a link to an enemy network or a target that an enemy may seek to exploit.

The second question then becomes important. Let us say for argument that the government has a legitimate interest in knowing whether Mr Nelson is someone that al-Qaeda is likely to assassinate, producing a liability for the bank that he does business with and imposing a duty on the authorities to monitor him for his protection or to identify efforts to approach him or if he is the agent himself of a hostile power who seeks to use the banks to harm others. The problem is that this policy is clearly unlikely to achieve any useful purpose. First because the people executing it are either junior employees of the bank acting outside of their expertise and therefore likely to make a hash of it or low level employees of the government, think airport security, and likely to make a hash of anything.

In fact political pressures make it unlikely that any such program would be allowed to usefully target what would be called in Intelligence work the Essential Elements of Information needed to evaluate the threat. Indeed they are unlikely to target what a real threat could be. That is why the questions are not only badly asked but are not the result of an interrogation program that trains a professional to elicit useful information. No pro expects the bad guy to say on his bank application that he is a member of al-Qaeda or of the FSB, so if the question is thrown out it is buried, as a legal gotcha for later, among more useful questions. If profiling is needed, that is to find people likely to be collaborating with bin Laden's or other hostile agencies, then it may not be as crude as asking "Do you know any arabs or russians?" but it should be intended to find that out even if a fog of questions about "Are you a Tory and do you believe in Global Warming?" is wrapped around the topic. If the window dressing questions are to objectionable though they produce hostility and become self defeating.

Agreed, that is why I think that a set of very basic questions on the mass level, that could be reviewed with other indicators to select candidates worth a full interview by professionals, makes more sense. Bank Officers are not Intelligence or Law Enforcement Officers.

What questions might be useful as red flags?
Are You Or Any Of Your Immediate Family Or Close Associates senior officers or Directors of a corporation with gross revenue over $10,000,000?
AYOAOYIFOCA elected or appointed officials at the national level at sub-cabinet rank or higher?
AYOAOIYIFOCA military officers of senior (General officer or equivalent) rank?
AYOAOYIFOCA on an airline "No Fly" list or been asked to surrender a passport within the last 7 years?
AYOAOYIFOCA citizens or nationals of any of the following countries? (list to be reviewed)
Best for the last to simply require that a current passport be requested and checked as part of the opening an account process, with a question as to whether all foreign travel within the last 7 years is indicated.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Fear and gloating"

The $50 Billion question is, did Geithner know? He was head of the NY Federal Reserve bank for five years and Madoff’s activities were a threat to the integrity of the Financial Services Industry, which is a key to the economy of the NY region. Did the SEC inform him of reported cases of large scale fraud?
Working within the Federal Reserve System, the New York Fed implements monetary policy, supervises and regulates financial institutions and helps maintain the nation’s payment systems.
emphasis added. The efforts of Harry Markopolos to bring the fraud to the attention of the SEC are known and detailed in the wiki.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Beginnings and endings"

If the government mortgaged our future merely to erect edifices filled with larger than life size tributes to the sexual organs of Democratic politicians then that would be less harmful than what they are intending. The real damage, as I commented two threads back, is in the twin strategies of weakening America before its enemies, by de-industrializing through an environmental policy that is based on a religious faith more than any science, by deconstructing the armed forces, by instituting legal regimens that make future successful military activity impossible and that make future private entrepreneurial capital growth unlikely, and by the entrenchment at public expense of a vast army of foot soldiers for ACORN that has already been shown as an agent of vote fraud and intimidation to destroy the lawful operation of business. As I noted on the last thread there are precedents for his strategy of expanded bureaucratic regulation, capital extraction by intimidation and anti-Semitism.

Comment on LGF "Onion: Experts Agree,
Giant Crabs Pose No Threat"

My favorite Biology Prof was Monty Lloyd who did a slide show for what today would be called an Ecology class. Such things were just becoming popular then. He was an entertaining fellow who told us he had two families in two countries and used slide shows to describe various fauna and their habitats. He was good and knew his stuff. We were all 18 or 19 year olds. I still remember when he put one slide in a series of 50 or more up and it was a Common Louse. Without missing a beat he said "If you've ever had crabs you know what a bitch these are" and then he went to the next slide. He never did make Full Professor, during Vietnam he just gave everyone an A so they wouldn't have to face the draft, and forgot to stop the year the draft ended. Remember that back then Chicago was the home of the Gentleman's D. Nowadays some pinhead would probably destroy his free spirit with a sexual harassment complaint.

Comments on Belmont Club
"Ships in the night"

Brown looked uncomfortable in Obama's shadow, he is more likely to see eye to eye with David Patterson.

Clearly he had to consider his choices as he sat next to Obama listening to a wee voice in his head saying, "Gordy if this idiot can get everything having earned nothing than surely you can go home and take care of David Cameron." He has to consider his choices. He can take the opportunity to declare the Americans losers and dramatically drop a knife in our backs. The shabby treatment he received actually works against that since he doesn't want such a big move to look petty or personal. Now if he wanted to go that way he'd have to prepare with a series of steps, getting cozier with the French, Germans and Russians. A second choice for him would be to run to the right of the Tories on social and security issues. Burnish up the image of Labour as the Working Man's party by cracking a few heads. A third choice is to essentially merge back into the Liberals as the party of teachers, bureaucrats and europhiles.

Re: Thomas Jackson's comment, "Its as of the nobles of France and Britain held a conference in 1300 to discuss the future of serfdom."
Close but the reality might be worse. Philip IV of France and Edward I of England signed a Peace Treaty in 1303 which laid the foundations for the Hundred Years Wars. Both extended the administrative machinery of government and both had policies of anti-Semitism that served both to rally support against scapegoats and to extract money to fund their adventures.