Saturday, February 28, 2009
Another step in reducing New York to a Europeanized Disney City. Once Patterson and Bloomberg's taxes and regulations have killed the small businesses that New Yorker's depend on then the industries that employ the educated professionals that they view as cash cows will relocate leaving only a few jobs for those catering to whatever tourists still have the money and interest to visit. This will result in a decrease in congestion suitable for a pedestrian mall. The arrogance and elitism of Obama, Patterson and Bloomberg will make streets safer for the Critical Mass bicycle nazis. Soon they will recreate the conditions of Hanoi of 30 years ago in NY.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Those who cheered on for the “humbling” of America are now shocked to discover that America was the ship on which all sailed across the stormy seas of Globalism.
As Ferguson did point out the US is most likely to have the institutional and cultural capital to weather this crisis without entering a revolutionary episode and therefore the flow of capital remains favorable to the US even while we are in crisis. If China can not find markets for her exports then she will need to find something to keep 20 million or more young men busy. What direction will they march if the worst happens? Russia, Japan and India could all start pointing at each other:
The impressive accomplishment of the Democrats is making us dependent victims of coercion by energy bullies like Putin. That is a neat trick considering that we have domestic energy resources that dwarf our import needs and that our conventional military forces, untapped growth potential, and superior demographics make us a 600 lb gorilla compared to Russia's paper tiger. America is being weakened as an act of will.
The background checks to purchase a firearm should be exactly the same as the background checks to register to vote. No more and no less. The ID check to complete the purchase and take possession of the weapon should be the same as the ID check needed to cast your vote. No more and no less.
re: #1253 Iron Fist
No, voting is a privilege. People under a certain age can't vote. Neither can people with a felony record (in some states). The Supreme Court has taken a very expansive view of the privilege for the last hundred and fifty years or so, so that people think of voting as a right.
But it is not, nor has it ever been a right. Just because Democrats want to allow illegal aliens to vote doesn't mean that they have any right to do so. The first requirement to being allowed to vote is that you are supposed to be an American citizen.
just because they don't enforce the rules on the books doesn't mean that there are no rules on the books.
This is semantics and solipsism. I'm not sticking around to deconstruct the grammar but just remember this. The community creates the legislature. Saying that the voters are defined as being competent citizens, competency being defined as being of an age to be accountable for one's choices and able to exercise reasonable judgement including being sane, does not mean that the state grants you membership in the enfranchised group as a privilege. The group defines its membership and uses the legislature, an organ of the state, to codify the rules and procedures it desires. Who the community defines as eligible to exercise the right to vote may change by definition, for example there may be a property qualification or a bar to public employees or beneficiaries voting, but that does not mean that they are losing a privilege. It merely means that they would not be members of the group able to exercise the right.
Privileges are granted by the State, Rights are inherent in a community and expressed by that community through the organs of a state, the legislature, that the community creates.
I met Fast Eddie over a third of a century ago. He's a very bright guy, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School who met with about a dozen mostly undergraduate students one day in a lounge in Ida Noyes Hall. Mr Vrdolyak told us he was raised in an apartment over a mexican brothel in Chicago's far South Side. He talked about Thukydides and how a one party Democracy could work. He explained how the introduction of modern wage expectations and unionism had broken the link between the voting taxpayers and the local political party that had made the old machine work efficiently.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Carter dreadful as he was, and he really was, did fund programs for strategic modernization that bore fruit under Reagan. BHO is emptying the pipeline. He is ensuring our long term strategic decline. A reduction in end strength personnel numbers hurts because it can make us unable to respond to a crisis and it reduces the institutional pool of knowledge needed to train future warriors but that can be overcome. Given the lead times needed to develop major weapons systems and new technologies Obama's evisceration of the Pentagon's procurement plans will leave us crippled for decades to come. Whoever becomes President in 2016 will likely face a world at war and will not have the tools to meet his responsibilities.
Even in the 1940s some weapons that magically appeared when the Arsenal of Democracy ramped up had been designed and planned for 5 years or more. Now for ships, aircraft and major ground combat systems it takes 15 years or more to get a response to a need into production. Attempting to speed that up with systems that are vastly more complicated than the equivalents of 70 years ago will only increase the probability of fraud waste and failure.
The lazy game of attacking the Pentagon budget is always done this way. First Congress mandates a series of expensive and conflicting operational demands. Second Congress makes clear to the Pentagon that they will have to meet their future needs with fewer active programs since building more single issue platforms would mean running more programs. Also more less capable platforms would mean that each would face a greater risk of sustaining loss in combat. The financial cost would go down but the human risk would increase. So Congress at that stage orders the Pentagon to design fewer more expensive platforms, to "save money" and "protect the troops." Then Congress cuts the number of end units to be purchased in order to "save money." This increases the cost per unit that is then planned for. Remember the cost of much of the design work is allocated to the units eventually purchased. The reduction in numbers planned for usually happens more than once. The redesign and rebidding of the program delays it by at least 5 years. Along the way various design changes are earmarked or otherwise inserted into the program. Guaranteed that Senator Byrd and Congressman Murtha have a go at it along the way. Congress then explodes in fury at the unexpected surging cost of the program. Thumb sucking articles are written pointing out that the proposed system is now to expensive to ever risk in combat. The NY Times or Bill Moyers report that a manager once had a sexual harassment complaint. The program is delayed for an extra 5 years in response to requirements arising from a Quadrennial review. More outside studies are produced arguing that the program is now an expensive dinosaur that does not meet anticipated future strategic needs. After billions have been spent building one or two prototypes the program is canceled. Various officials and politicians announce that vast sums have been saved.
To Michael J Totten (after he responded to criticism of Christopher Hitchens),
Thank you Sir for providing us with the vicarious satisfaction of seeing the complacently snarky publicly slapped. Woody Allen’s best moment (leaving aside “I practice a lot on my own” and setting aside issues like pederasty and incest, but I digress) was when he pulled Marshall McCluhan from behind the signboard to deflate the windbag in Annie Hall. We all dream of witnessing such moments.
To be clear I also questioned Mr Hitchens judgement and expressed concern about his putting his companions in danger but when people applaud Hitchens willingness to challenge the nazis without his dissolving in self pity after being beaten I think it is poor form to criticize them for doing so. If Mr Hitchens companions, who were there and were placed in harm’s way, choose to fault him then that is a different matter.
To my mind after someone you know gets a beating under such circumstances a gentleman responds by offering a clean towel, a dry martini, and a subdued inquiry “Was that wise?”
Upon further consideration I think that the above mentioned expression of concern could elicit one of two proper responses.
1) "No, and I apologize." The apology being for causing his friends any worry or grief.
2) "No, but it was worth it." In that case a friend accepts that and does not feel the same need to have expressed worry, even though it is assumed, or expect an apology for having been made to do so.
In both cases the issue of the risk that companions were exposed to by not being warned in advance is a separate topic.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Someone once told me, meaning the story is to good to check out, that back in 1958 when the US landed troops in Lebanon NBC news ran a video of the Palisades across the Hudson river from New York and claimed it was a shot of the Americans invading.
I do wish that we had landed 200,000 in Lebanon in 2002 and marched East. France still needs to be paid for her treacherous collaboration with Saddam that kept the 4th ID from coming in from the North. If that had happened then we would be less likely to be losing Turkey and it would have been easier to pressure, or ideally ensure regime change, in Damascus.
Regarding the conduct of Christopher Hitchens in Beirut. Let's give Hitchens credit for this one. What 3rd World Hell holes need is viral freedom. On the stuffy Republican level that is what Bush intended by invading Iraq. He defaced the Cosmic Ego of Ba'ath arab national socialism's maximum leader. Hitchens showed disrespect to the the Syrian Nazi street gang. We should flood these countries with disrespectful progressive deconstructionists. Tell the self pitying egomaniac cursing the Americans, the Israelis, the English, the French, the Turks, and the Byzantines for "humiliating" him that life is tough and that God is telling him he is wrong. Encourage drag queens to parade down their streets and dance in their faces and tell their daughters that they can go anywhere and dress as they please. Also have lots of real men with guns around to blow away these insecure bullies if they try to stop the ongoing circus like expression of freedom. Basically Ann Coulter was right. What the fascists in the world need to experience is defeat. They have earned disrespect. The Arizona Sheriff Maricopa County Joe Arpaio, who puts prisoners in stripes, understands this.
Granted though that when traveling with others it s a good idea not to surprise them by inciting an assault.
I would love it if the 82nd Airborne dragged Syria's chinless Ophthalmologist out of his palace and pelted him with old shoes on camera.
The audience tells us what theater reaches them so we should use it. I would have leveled Fallujah and then publicly and on camera hitched up a pair of mules and sown the ground with salt. The British would be fools to give up the wigs in their court rooms. There is low culture and high culture, low ceremony and high ceremony. All convey important lessons about power and respect and tolerance and freedom.
My best day teaching was when I conjugated Respect in front of my class in The Bronx. You want to be Respected? First you must act Respectful. When you are are full of respect then you will be seen as a fit vessel able to hold respect. That will make you Respectable. Only then will you be Respected.
The legal definition of Chutzpah is killing your parents and demanding mercy from the Court because you're an orphan.
Soros stands there with buckets of gasoline next to him and a burnt out match in his hand as the house goes up in flames behind him and he expresses shock at the suffering the Fire Department couldn't prevent.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Ann Coulter dates Liberals story is based on her having gone out a few times with Andrew Stein. He is a businessman in his 60s who retired after a career as a Democratic elected official in NYC. He was the last President of the New York City Council before that office was abolished. It is of course completely irrelevant to evaluating the quality of the arguments that she brings to the political debate.
The most valuable function that commentators like Miss Coulter have is that they draw forth such vile abuse from the foot soldiers of the Left as to make it clear that those who attack her are hypocrites. You can see it on this thread. Miss Coulter's opponents are not commenting on her statements and considering the truth or context of what she has written or said. Even if she was wrong on occasion they do not focus on that but attack her based on alleged dating habits or sexuality. The purpose of this tactic is to stop debate. They seek to so befoul the public square as to drive all persons who would express opposing views off. Therefor they attack the speaker and not the content. This is an Alinskyite tactic.
The Republicans have always been better than the Democrats at controlling their fringe troops but the Internet has made the problem much much worse. Koss, HuffPo and DU commentators (collectively the Netroots) are now in control of the Democratic Party. The adults who have lost control and permitted BHO, Dean and Axelrod to seize the party apparatus were fools for thinking that they could control this.
Thirty years ago, when discussing events of less than 30 years in the past, it was stressed to me that particularly in regards to East Asia it would help if an American Secretary of State knew when to say either the whole truth, meaning here something like this,
"We care deeply about many things and we believe not only that we are right on these issues but that acting in accord with these democratic and humane principles are in every nations interest for a host of reasons including but emphatically not confined to the long term financial health that all forms of freedom fosters. Specific topics will be shared between us in privacy during a full and frank exchange of views based on mutual respect."
or when to say nothing forcefully as in,
"Sorry but I don't want to talk about that now."
Famously Dean Acheson at the National Press Club did neither on January 12, 1950. He speculated on what the US defense perimeter was, did not support South Korea, and 6 months and two weeks later North Korea attacked.
Physicians take the Hippocratic Oath. It should be carved in stone over the entrance to Foggy Bottom and in the Capitol.
Do No Harm
The rise of the NGOs is a recent problem. Until after WW-II the only non-faith based charities were Hospitals, Universities, the Red Cross, Children's Aid, Settlement Houses and the SPCA. They all had specific tasks that they could be held to. Religious establishments performed similar tasks and missionary work. The rise of NGOs is directly tied I postulate to the rise of the income tax. First Rockefeller and Ford, then everyone seeking to shelter their legacy, formed foundations to hold their money in trust and distribute it in accordance with their wishes. That last restraint quickly proved to be a weak reed as left wing professionals took over the legacy foundations. These became enormous jobs programs for children of the elites, supplementing trust fund income, staffing Boards and administering projects, and employing armies of the PhDs that were churned out in the post war years. All this without the burden of having to actually teach or produce results. They did however keep busy investigating or creating problems both domestic and foreign. The hold on the taxpayer as a second source of funding was nurtured by the practice of using these NGOs as job banks for otherwise unemployed Democratic staffers and politicians during temporary Republican episodes. Add museums, zoos and gardens to my charity list.
It is only natural that the vast armies of the somewhat Westernized semi-college educated elites that arose following decolonization would want to get on this gravy train. It certainly offered a better prospect than trying to run an honest newspaper, teach, administer the civil service or run a business in their home countries. Trying any of those activities could get you killed.
Friday, February 20, 2009
What I have never understood is why Bush held back and let the Syrian regime survive. After the Harari assassination they were on the run, human rights prosecutors circling, Beirut protest babes winning Western hearts. Why did he let the opportunity go?
The Republicans should be preparing a $200 million dollar ad campaign now and start pounding away on what was probably the best theme they wandered away from last Summer "Drill Here, Drill Now and use everything." Don't be subtle, use pictures of Oil Sheiks and Putin and Chavez and call the Democrats toadies and slaves, rip Joe Kennedy apart publicly. Make him a liability.
Regarding the attempt by Kyrghiz to demand more from us before ordering us out of the critical airbase. If we do not want to issue uncovered calls to 3rd World thugs to get their support fair enough. That is why we need both carrots and sticks. Simply picking up our toys and going home is not an option. Now the Chief Ego of Kyrghiz or Whackistan or whatever knows that saying No to Uncle Sugar is cost free. The worst that happens is that some thumb sucker who majored in Sociology at Brown will say that he should do more "for the children." Maybe they'll even praise him for showing courage. If you say No to Uncle Vlad then there is a real possibility that some morning you'll find your breakfast milk doesn't agree with you, accidents happen. Right now the Israelis are supergluing lavatory doors and slipping whoopie cushions onto chairs used by Iranian physicists. We also need to put the fun back into foreign affairs.
Abu Musa is claimed by the U.A.E. and is occupied by Iran. Why not have the U.S. “buy” it from the UAE for $20? We can then have the 5th fleet move into its new home, after first declaring it a free fire testing range for 30 days.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Wretchard I think that you set up a straw man or at least overstate the case when you disparage the argument that Democrats on some level sabotaged the economy as "Tin Foil Hat." While it is unlikely that Soros when in his lair dons nehru suits and cackles like a parody Bond villain while planning the destruction of the United States it is true that he has stated that he looks forward to the day. Also while there are no photographs of him crawling on his belly before doing unspeakable acts of obeisance before his masters beneath an ancient Chinese monastery there is no good argument that I have heard to the effect that acting as if it were true would not produce more effective policy choices.
What is absolutely and indisputably true is that in every Presidential election for the last 76 years when the Democrats were out of power they have sought to convince the American people that the country was in a Recession or headed into a Depression. They have done this with the cooperation of the Media and partisan academics and without regard to either the facts in each case or with consideration as to how their political maneuvering could effect the actual markets. The Republicans have been far less guilty of this vice. Perhaps that is because they assumed, now erroneously, that they are the Party of Wealth and their supporters would be disproportionately hurt by such a tactic. The only question is as to the extent that Democratic obstruction of the Bush administration was timed to ramp up and paralyze it in the year before the election to support that theme.
It is hard to tease out because the opposition to Bush was far more partisan and intransigent from the beginning than that endured even by Reagan. By comparison the hated and about to be impeached Nixon had been handled with kid gloves and courtesy. The refusal over a period of years by the Senate Democrats to allow Bush's judicial appointments to come to the floor for a vote demonstrates a scorched earth willingness to hurt the country that was not tied to any timetable to cause a pre-election crash.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I have earned the right to say this.
I told you so! I told you so!
God that felt good, now I need to shower.
Cannoneer No. 4 and I have been beating this drum for months.
We need to find workable Pakistanis and sit down with them and the Indians and decide what the future will look like. Be as Imperialist Sykes-Picot and manipulative as we can be but take responsibility and get the job done. Implement the Marine motto “We can be your best friend or your worst enemy.” Implement real local self empowerment COIN where we can but leave no doubt that we can and will kill anyone who stands in our path. Either way we will be offering them respect, which is what they want anyway. As for Pushtunistan, it was an old Soviet front gambit to destabilize Western proxies. We could consider adopting the idea under the turnabout is fair play principle.
Remember the Islamization of many of these valleys along the Hindu Kush is a fairly recent (100 to 300 year) event. That is one reason why they are so chest thumping militant. We could threaten to reverse the process if they allow their territory to be used as the base for launching ghazi raids on the West. Those are what the 9-11 attacks were.
The fact is that Islam suffers from a paucity of failures in the eyes of its adherents. They do not measure success in terms of wealth generated or creative content generated but solely on terms of acreage controlled and souls submitting. The fact is that during the last 20 years Bethlehem has gone from a Christian community to a Moslem one. The fact is that over the last 60 years Iraq has gone from 25% Christian or Jewish to 2% Christian and essentially zero Jews. The fact is that non-Islamic communities are disappearing in Egypt and are threatened in Lebanon. Why should they change when they are doing so well?
The European project is fundamentally different in purpose than the American. America was conceived of as a more efficient economic integration of a collection of essentially culturally homogenous and peaceful states governed by a free people. Four generations later the built in tensions exploded in an episode of Civil War that is remarkable for how little rancor it left in its wake. The imperfect assimilation of one minority group has however persisted with disastrous consequences.
Europe was designed to coerce cooperation between hostile primitive tribal nation states that had a long history of conflict, that had twice in a quarter century exploded into global war, and who were riven with dozens of unassimilated minorities and irredentist claims. The tool of economic integration was used as a fig leaf to cover the purpose of establishing a power that could defang passionate communities.
The defects of Europeism that Vaclav Klaus decries are not a bug of the system but a feature. One consequence of this for Americans is that we need to understand that despite it's wealth and population on paper the European leg of Nato is designed to be militarily ineffective. The founders of the European Economic Community, Robert Schumann and Paul Henri Spaak must have observed the feckless performance of German troops in Afghanistan and smiled. Unfortunately so has Vladimir Putin and many others.
It is interesting to note that Klaus does not get along at all with Vaclav Havel, whose New Years Speech I linked to 5 threads back in "Opening the package." The Wiki article on Klaus is remarkably open in its bias but gives some background for the dispute.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The Israeli press and blogs are all saying that Avigdor Lieberman and his party with their 15 seats are out and a coalition between Likud and Kadima with almost everyone from Labor on to the right is in. That would leave just Meretz, Lieberman and the arab parties in opposition. Debka seems to believe it also but that does that have to mean that it is untrue? The good news is that such a coalition would be resistant to blackmail by threats of defection. That threat by small partners is the curse of proportional representation coalition governments. The bad news is that such a government may be stable but to broad based to actually accomplish anything. Israel faces hard choices and will need to make decisions, both domestic and in foreign policy, that a compromise government may be unable to make.
The acid test will be when Susan Powers’ plan to insert the US military into “occupied Palestine” moves froward. The military will not mutiny whatever they think and Obama knows it. Will the Americans open fire on the Israelis? Will the Israelis open fire on the Americans? The anti-Semitic and anti-American and anti-military convergence are having a wet dream imagining the possibilities.
One of many reasons to feel unhappy about Chavez getting his prize the third time he tried is that it encourages the Democrats wilder dreams of a perpetual revolution in America. It also encourages EU advocates who do not want to take “No” for an answer. You will keep voting until you deliver the correct answer, after which voting will become a compulsory but meaningless ritual.
Israelly Cool has a link to an archive spread, out of Russia it seems, of Life Magazine photos of Hitler and the adoring crowds. Damn damn damn.
Take the time and go through the images, the horror of it is how normal they all look. Sure they are addicted to funny uniforms and big flags but that could be a High school rally. These aren’t slavering creatures from under a rock. Some of the aids, Goebbels for example, have a peculiar look but most seem very focused calm and normal. Hitler listens respectfully to people and charms the ladies. These aren’t skinhead sadists on parade, except that we know that they were.
On the "Banality of Evil."
Contrast the Nazis with the Islamists. The Germans used the scary images to an extent, to whip up and unify the crowd, to emphasize the reduction of the individual to a totalitarian ideal. Robert Hughes pointed out that the same tricks are used in Nuremberg and Mussolini's EUR and Lincoln Center in New York. Hopefully for the last that effect will be reduced after the current renovation. However on the whole the Germans stressed retaining an appearance of normalcy. They held off even going to a full economic mobilization. It is possible that if the war had lasted longer or the Soviet Union had collapsed that the wilder and more medieval fantasy aspects of the regime would have become more visibly dominant.
The Islamists have the formula backwards. First they stress their unworldly separation from normal society. Even when resident in Western countries they make a point of dressing in the beards, baggy trousers and loose vests that mark a hard core Al Qaedist, and which are rare among men in most moslem countries, as the burkha was rare until recently among most moslem women. It is true however that even at its origins Islam distorted its adherents social relations so as to isolate them and control them. The isolation of women also advanced that goal.
Now this is not unique to Islam. Other groups, for example, Hasidic Jews, the military and the police, also use ritual and costuming to identify and control members of the group. However what any resident of NY knows is that members of the Hasidim and other distinctive minority groups make a point of interacting with the greater host community in a decidedly productive and positive way that imposes the minimum of inconvenience on members of other communities with whom they deal. Even police when off duty do not seek to impose on others.
For Islamists the goal is quit different. They seek to dominate and coerce the submission of others to the will of their group. So they absorbed all of the supremacist ideology from the fascists and the glorification of violence without any of the sense of a need to pay tribute to forms of traditional bourgeois courtesy.
It can happen here. There was a lot of fascistic imagery in play in America during the early 1930's. Mussolini was very popular for time. See Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again" especially the "Credo" at the end.
I think the enemy comes to us with the face of innocence and says to us:
"I am your friend."
I think the enemy deceives us with false words and lying phrases, saying:
"See, I am one of you--I am one of your children, your son, your brother, and your friend. Behold how sleek and fat I have become--and all because I am just one of you, and your friend. Behold how rich and powerful I am--and all because I am one of you--shaped in your way of life, of thinking, of accomplishment. What I am, I am because I am one of you, your humble brother and your friend. Behold," cries Enemy, "the man I am, the man I have become, the thing I have accomplished--and reflect. Will you destroy this thing? I assure you that it is the most precious thing you have. It is yourselves, the projection of each of you, the triumph of your individual lives, the thing that is rooted in your blood, and native to your stock, and inherent in the traditions of America. It is the thing that all of you may hope to be," says Enemy, "for"--humbly--"am I not just one of you? Am I not just your brother and your son? Am I not the living image of what each of you may hope to be, would wish to be, would desire for his own son? Would you destroy this glorious incarnation of your own heroic self? If you do, then," says Enemy, "you destroy yourselves--you kill the thing that is most gloriously American, and in so killing, kill yourselves."
The rule used to be that you could tell the difference between children and adults. Adults are easy for a skilled con man to hustle, the more they think that they are wise to the hustle the more likely they are to be the mark. However an adult who has dealt with a variety of people learns to detect something wrong about the fantasist who is not processing the available information the same as everyone else. A child has an untarnished BS detector that protects them for the confidence man but leaves them open to the lunatic who truly believes in himself. Elwood Dowd saw the corruption and falsity of the world and retreated to a childlike simplicity. Fortunately the messiah who’s fantasy he followed came from his own pure heart rather than some Leader’s.
The question with BHO is whether he is a fraud or a lunatic. Are his devotees gullible children retreating into an extended adolescence for a large well meaning rabbit who may be wrong headed but who means well and really believes with them that if you really really believe in hope then you can change the world? Or are his followers cynical small time grifters looking to rip a free ride out of some targeted hate group,such as rich people or Jews, and deservedly doomed to get taken to the cleaners for their sins?
Last year, before Axelrod packed the caucuses and stole the Democratic nomination for BHO, we all speculated on what Hillary as POTUS would be like. Despite my misgivings, from having met the person, I was often told not to worry since she is so ambitious, corrupt and cynical that she could be relied on to do the right thing when it came to defending America, even if it was for the wrong reasons. My question now is not so much for his followers as for the man himself. Is Obama simply a Red Diaper Baby true believer, as crazy as Dinnerjacket, and able to sweep along the children of the Kossite left and millions of whiskey’s hysterical women because he really believes that he is the Messiah? Is he a cynical and deeply corrupt tool of the Chicago political machine who, as his memoir indicates, spent his youth practicing how to manipulate and deceive the white society that he despises? If the latter, is he the leader or the lead? Does he write the script or is Soros pulling his strings? We still do not know.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Osama conceived as Al Qaeda as the Salafist opposition to the House of Saud. The original Saudi campaign against the other tribes of present day Saudi Arabia, including the Hashemites of the Hejaz, relied on the Salafis Ikhwan movement. They were broken as an independent force in 1930 but represented the continuing dream of a true Islamic army that had the God given right to live as bandit parasites off of their presumably degenerate neighbors. Remember the original vision of Islam was for only a minority to convert and the majority to live as dhimmis to support the believers. Believers would also be driven farther afield to find new communities of unbelievers to pillage. For a few years the Americans did the House of Saud a favor by consuming the true believers in Iraq. This was analogous to the role that the Russian Front in WW-II served for Francisco Franco. He was able to ship the real fascists off with the Blue Division to where they conveniently got killed. Spain was a rather peaceful and non-ideological country after WW-II, which greatly aided the subsequent transition to democracy. Saudi Arabia probably would need a far deeper shock to truly break the Salafist grip. The House of Saud is itself of dubious legitimacy, without the support of religious extremists, having evicted the true descendants of Muhammad from the Hejaz, and facing declining oil revenues. They are not all fools but they face an uncertain future.
Friday, February 13, 2009
To Mr. Byron York,
"Which means the census flap might well be an early test for congressional Democrats. Do they believe in accountability and oversight or not?"
The answer is "No." Always happy to help.
Remember that the administration intends to flood the census rolls with illegal aliens lured by the porkulus bill. These will be used to skew the reapportionment towards retaining Democratic districts. It is worth reviewing the Wiki regarding the 14th Amendments sec.1, that does not explicitly grant birthright citizenship to the children of illegals and sec. 2 that does explicitly address the need to tie apportionment to the number of citizens allowed to vote. Using non-citizens to increase a State's representation dilutes the vote of citizens and should be actionable under the 14th Amendment. Is there a lawyer in the house who could please comment?
Back in 1990 I walked around for a few weeks doing census interviews. This is a process that should be treated as a sacred rite with multiple layers of inspection and extreme penalties for fraud, particularly if on the part of staff. The extraordinary casualness of the census and the voting process are the two greatest vulnerabilities in the American polity.
Maybe we should count everyone, dye their finger blue, and then verify that they have a secure ID, and finally verify Selective Service status, in the same process. Failure to register would result in the loss of citizenship rights.
I am becoming ever more persuaded by the idea that no one should be allowed to vote for an election at either level of government if they derive the bulk of their income from that same level of tax authority. The only exception that I can see would be for all enlisted members of the armed forces and officers called to active duty for periods of less than 3 years or during hostilities. I have heard the proposal to draw a distinction between regular civil servants and those engaged in public safety but do not believe that such a distinction could be practically retained.
When you have a pre-existing organization with a life independent of the legal authority recognized by the international community it is not analogous to a subordinate military department in a constitutional democracy. In Morton Kaplan's Systems and Process terms you have a subsystem dominant system. Foreigners mistake the ISI, or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as the equivalent of the American CIA. Then they compound the error by fantasizing that the CIA is itself a shadow government. Individuals or cabals within the CIA can be obstructive. In the ISI there are not rogue elements. There are representatives of the organization who got caught. There may be factions within the ISI, as in any organization. As a whole though the ISI can be considered more cohesive, more "system dominant" than the State of Pakistan that it is embedded in.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Yesterday I went to a debate on the Green Subsidies sponsored by the Smith Family Foundation http://www.thesmithfamilyfoundation.org. These are always the best policy debates available. A nice enough fellow arguing for "green investments" on behalf of the National Resources Defense Council pointed out that he had spent years working for Nomura so he knew that mindless stimulus spending wouldn't work and the problem was that the lack of liquidity brought about by the housing manipulations prevented the presumably worthy projects he was advocating from getting market financing. When I pointed out that no one could seriously trust these projects to the same corrupt people who created the financial meltdown to begin with he could only spread his hands and smile.
When asked which was more environmentally destructive a regulated socialized society or a freer less regulated one the representative of Green for All claimed not to know. The representative of the American Enterprise Institute happily took that ball and ran with it. I was reminded of:
Vaclav Havel's New years Speech
At the end a nice campus radical, I do not know if he was a Sparticist or a Revolutionary Maoist or a member of some other alphabet party, tried to have some fun with me after assuming that I was a representative of Wealth and Power. Since I was alas painfully aware that he had no judgement in these matters I was not threatened and enjoyed the encounter. Shows you that the left are more slavishly dependent on appearances and good clothes than the right is. His problem was that he wanted people to want "better things" cleaner air or dignity for old auto workers, choices that meant altering their preferences. When I pointed out that the preferences were a priori to the economic analysis he wanted to make people change their desires, what I called their Utilities. Given the extensive track record on the results of having sincere people use government power to change the General Will to a more moral position I felt safe in urging him to, in Vaclav Havel's words, "Look out the window."
@Eggplant (Comment #201),
This is similar to the problem I faced when talking to the campus radical in my post #75. He was emotionally ready I think to emulate other great revolutionary intellectuals such as Pol Pot and sacrifice the selfish inhabitants of the present for a more moral future. Regrettably I do not see that the external code is sufficient protection against following that path. Humans are to smart, to adaptable and flexible for that. The most subtle and competent among us are the most likely to succumb to the temptations of solipsism. Any decently trained scholar can twist a moral text to justify purging a guilty land in blood.
What is needed is an internal brake and not one that is sophisticated but rather one that is more durable for being modest. Whiskey is right is pointing out that the responsibilities of domestic life make women, and I would think men, more practical and focused. This reduces the risk of their engaging in selfish and romantic explorations that could endanger society at large. One reason that I believe in 6 months of universal military training after the 17th birthday is that, at a minimal cost to society since little other productive activity would be forgone, people would get sufficient training in practical problem solving to reduce the probability of their falling prey to irrational exuberance in the future. People need to be taught, in Vaclav Havel's phrase, to "look out the window."
Of course we will always need some risk takers, visionaries and rule breakers. A general encouragement of individual restraint and modesty in the culture, in far more than the sexual sense, will allow for personal liberty and creativity while stopping conditions in which the "Sex and the City" Left both milks the productive cow dry and ties down the risk taking sheep dogs, while falling prey to Millenarian moral extremists.
Expand that to 35,000 words, wrapping it around a story to personalize it and you have a book that will sell. Better you might have a screenplay. Wars are hard, you do not "choose" war. You accept it or surrender. We have been over the logistics involved in our fragile Afghan position ad nauseum. Right now the Northern route exits at Putin's sufferance. The loss of the Kyrghiz airbase s a warning that a worst case retreat through the North could end up like a retreat from Moscow. The Khyber route is cut. Our choices are:
1) Do nothing and keep a small footprint in Afghanistan, one warlord among many as the forces gather around us. We could hopefully do that for some time. Possibly events will happen to the West or East that will improve our position in the future or things may get worse.
2) Run away and accept another 20 years of violence and contempt in a world that knows the US is a paper tiger. This would be the Vietnam fantasies of the aging Left come true with a vengeance. Only now instead of facing the last hopeful thrashings of a dying Soviet dinosaur we would face the rising ambitions of a resurgent China and a triumphant Islam.
3) Add 30,000 or more troops to Afghanistan in the hope that they will so overawe the Taiban that, despite the fact that the social and political soil is much less fertile for making a surge work than they were in Iraq, everyone promises to be nice and devote themselves to community organizing and sustainable development while we quickly declare victory and go home. This is the strategy I most expect to lead to an American Dien bien phu.
4) Pour in all the resources needed to transform the Afghan society into something capable of supporting a civil society and accompany it with the long term deployment of COIN forces sufficient to do the job. This would be the 50 years at least of the American Raj approach. It has two problems, the geographic that makes the massive surge problematic and the American political which makes any long term commitment impossible.
5) Focus our efforts on Pakistan while conducting a holding action in the Taliban rear with raids into Pakistan's tribal areas from the West. This could entail an effective dismemberment of Pakistan in conjunction with India to ensure a safe supply route to Kabul. To do this would require the cooperation of China, which could prove expensive. It is doubtful that the present American administration has the stomach for such a policy.
So we have 5 options that range from the risky to the disastrous with the least likely to fail over the long term being those that Obama is least likely to pursue. My expectation is that he will attempt some kind of short term surge designed so that he can "Declare Victory" and pull out with the country collapsing behind him. Al-Qada may give him the fig leaf given that he has been negotiating with them for months. They may just spring the trap and eat 50,000 Americans.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Wretchard postulates two impediments to effective counter-intelligence,
1) Organizational, with bureaucrats focused on turf battles rather than their oath of office,
2) Political, with foreign agents covered by morally corrupt partisan interests.
May I suggest that the problem might be deeper than that? The political cover has metastasized to the point that it is no longer passive enabling but actual collaboration. For example consider the Iraqi WMD fiasco. Wretchard presumes that the Intel agencies mistakenly passed on a report that Iraq had WMD because a lack of Humint assets prevented us from knowing the error in the original British report. It is possible for the sake of argument to consider that the wilder rumors regarding the WMD could be correct. What if Saddam did have stocks of chemical weapons that were shipped to Syria during the months long period gained for him by French deceit and Democratic intransigence? What in fact if the WMD not only existed but was known to exist with physical evidence being located and personnel questioned? Given the pervasive information lockdown on anything that contradicted the party line "Bush lied, children died" only a dysfunctional fringe would pay attention to the information. Alternative considerations of sensitive subjects are rapidly confined to the tin foil hat ghetto inhabited by 9-11 Troofers, UFO enthusiasts, Illuminati or Masonic or Zionist conspiracy theorists, believers in the guilt of Alger Hiss, questioners of Obama's qualification for his office and doubters of the efficacy of the New Deal. Some of these are fantasies of the deranged and some are simply wrong and one or two may be accurate. Without a healthy information distribution and testing culture it becomes hard to know.
Totalitarian cultures, like the Soviets or the Academic society of Politically Correct speech codes can be highly effective at controlling the flow of information and convincing atomized individuals of the correctness of a predetermined position. Everyone can be made to believe that Bush lied or Obama is a brilliant achiever or there is no difference between men and women or raising the minimum wage will reduce poverty. What the cultural apparatus cannot do is eliminate the effects of people acting on these erroneous beliefs. If you act on a faulty belief, even one that is generally accepted, then the result will be failure. The costs of that failure can range from poverty to a holocaust.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Good luck, I stumbled on this while surfing. 33 years ago your grandfather lived around the corner from my freshman dorm. We walked to campus together a few times. Practical questions come to mind, my apologies if they have already been addressed.
First is that to be truly free of government intrusion and regulation you will have to be more than an offshore commune. If you were for arguments sake a community of 100 located on a platform 5 miles off the coast you would be wrong to assume that would make you free from regulation. While some posters might hope that your supplying power and other goods to the shore would give leverage that might be wishful thinking. You could expect a visit from the Coast Guard or even the State authorities under a host of regulations and even if you felt that suppressing you would be economically irrational. We are talking about government here, remember? Someone can at any time post a rumor that a child is being endangered in any way and the game is over.
Second and more importantly to me is the problem that any small community that sees itself as refugees threatened by a hostile alien power is subject to terrible internal pressures. Call this the "Lord of the Flies" issue. You can gather the best people with the best of intentions and over time politics, desires, grievances and just plain insanity, will occur. Surviving these threats in any particular small pioneer settlement is not probable. Most small businesses fail for personal reasons and most large entities survive on inertia but become unproductive. The answer is to have a larger number of start ups so that the failure of any single location will not invalidate the whole enterprise. The high cost of entry is the barrier to that approach.
Hope you can take these criticisms as constructive. You have good people putting serious work into this project.