Friday, April 30, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"As American as Apple Pie"

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence,
- Napoleon cited in a Wiki article on "Hanlon's Razor."

The Census is not part of some vast conspiracy to put your information in a super secret data base that will select candidates for the Billy Ayers Dude Ranch and Reeducation by Composting Center. This is not the government of the NSA that could potentially do such a thing, but would not. This is the government that aspires to be like the complacent idiots at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark who stick priceless treasures in a vast warehouse for "Top men" to write unreadable papers on.

There are virtues in the real Federal Civil Service. These include an exactitude in procedure, a devotion to communicating and informing all possible interested parties before implementing any procedure, a reverence for citing documentation and established practice, and caution regarding overtly self serving conduct. None of those are moral virtues but rather are the means of harnessing an amoral engine to achieve goals that may be moral or not. They do however give some protection against large scale reckless and arbitrary abuse, as opposed to a long steady campaign of incremental destruction.

The Census has none of those virtues. It is a temporary organization staffed with a leadership at the local level almost entirely by people who are not real Federal managers or supervisors. Managers posses full and arbitrary authority over the temporary workforce but lacks a firm grasp of the process or experience that could prevent error and waste. Given that the government should have been preparing to do the Census for 10 years the disorganization is inexcusable. The senior people are politically connected small businessmen and some unemployed professionals. They show little understanding of OPM regulations in how to handle staff. Real federal managers have absorbed some basic principles that come before not spending money. For example they will stress in training that one should never say or do anything that could create a liability for the government, that is why government workers, especially junior ones, are taught never to apologize. The Census has absorbed a few basic principles;
1. finish fast,
2. keep payroll costs down,
3. do it yourself and locally,
4. guard personal information.

The local civilian background of the leadership may be considered a good thing if the job really was a non-governmental short term job to accomplish a similar task. For example if a Big Six consulting firm was hired to inventory and organize a vast collection of medical records they might oversee a similar fast paced short term hiring training and task accomplishment cycle, although on a smaller scale. The process by which senior or junior people have been selected in the Census appears to be largely arbitrary. Some of the Enumerators, those are the ones who knock on doors to ask you questions, are retirees or housewives or recent college graduates or unemployed or underemployed professionally educated people. In my area at least it is a good crowd at the lower levels. They are certainly better than the entry level people working at TSA. Unfortunately the temporary nature of the job and the priorities of the leadership creates a sense of distrust and a separation between their goals.

If a Census worker knocks on your door, even if you had mailed the form in, do not assume a complicated plot. The simpler answer is that your answers are sitting in a box and they are under enormous pressure to fill in the blanks within the next two months. Would it have made sense to devise a system that more efficiently processed and verified all submissions in order to prevent wasteful duplication? Of course it would be but this is the government and the Census needs to be collected and tabulated now.

Our Lords and Masters have made the process even more painful by wrapping themselves in PC knots. The Census is beloved by three groups;

1. Politicians who use it to engineer districts,

2. Bureaucrats who use it to engineer programs,

2. Graduate students who use it to engineer time series studies.
The beauty of the Census is that it gives you numbers that can be compared over time.

Many of us may question whether the government has any reason to ask after anyone's race or if they are Hispanic. Remember that to the government Hispanic is not a race but an extra identifier. A person can claim to an Aleut or Swede (as their "race") and Hispanic. The book answer on that is the Voting Rights Act that mandates tracking group identification and tracking ballot access. The problem is that under PC pressure the ability of people to self identify has been pushed to the point that we are losing the ability to compare numbers over time. This may only matter to graduate students. A person can claim to be, or can be identified by the person answering for the household as anything. Anybody can claim to be Hispanic or not. Anybody can claim to be male or female or not. Anybody can claim to be Black or White or Asian or not. In fact people can claim to be Italians or Russians, or yes I mean this, Martians and report that as their race. Only the traditional choices are offered as examples to select from but the person writing the answers has to record what the person answering the questions tells them. The good idea behind this is that the Census really does try not to pressure people or guide them. The bad thing is that it reduces the clarity and simplicity of the results.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"The Bar of Cadiz"

The cascade of debt accumulated used to finance shoddy asserts that created a false impression of wealth, that was subsequently relied upon to justify profligate social welfare expenditures and extraordinary benefits for government employees, has bounced back and forth across the oceans and around the world. The economies are now consuming themselves, with the efforts to restore sanity resulting in spreading misery. This is the economic equivalent of an auto-immune disease spreading from host to host. It can largely be traced back to Barney Franks and his boyfriend at Fannie Mae. That unprepossessing duo may prove to be the Patient Zeros of the fiscal Aids crisis. Ultimately they may be responsible for more widespread suffering than Stalin or Mao Tse Tung. Barney the destructive dinosaur wreaks havoc.

Andrew Ian Dodge believes that a deal is in the works between Cameron of the Tories and his old schoolmate at Eton, Clegg of the Lib Dems. If that happens then the pacifist impulses of the Lib Dems and the Wettest impulses in the Conservatives may combine to make Americans remember fondly the great days of our partnership with Labour. The space for a voice friendly to America is getting smaller and smaller in Europe. Dodge believes that the major parties are foolishly throwing voters to the BNP. My question is can the UKIP benefit as the saner alternative?

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Now You See It, Now You Don't"

There are two parts to the Obama plan;
1. rationing services available under Medicare,
2. restricting access to alternative medical services.

The problem is not just that the Obama plan will deny some services to cut cost. Doing so through a more market and less third party based system would probably reduce costs dramatically, divert more resource to private charity, increase research and result in a very small number of people not receiving care they cannot afford. Sometimes it turns out that it is cheaper to provide some preventive services that might get cut under an Obama plan. For example I use the VA. Unless you have service connected disability the VA does not include dental services. Any physician will tell you that good dental care prevents a host of medical problems that will be far more expensive to treat in the future. Another example is routine treatment by an otolaryngoligist to prevent infections. These services are not routinely available at the VA and will I am sure not be available under the Obama plan, with a resulting increased cost over time.

The second part of the problem is what makes the first part indefensible. The Obama plan is not intended to be a plan for universal emergency coverage, analogous to the way that Social Security was intended to be a plan to prevent destitution among the elderly, but is a plan for comprehensive universal care, analogous to how Social Security is now viewed as a general retirement plan. The plan is designed to eliminate all private competition. That will ensure that not only will people not have access to some services under the plan but that they will have no way, unless they are part of a small wealthy elite, of gaining access through alternative or supplementary plans.

As a side note I am currently in the clutches of the Census, which I will blog about, while preserving confidentiality, on some other occasion. It is as you might expect of fear. My regrets for my inability to participate more fully in the discussion.

“Why is there this compulsion to tell anything but the truth?”

"You want answers? ... You can't handle the truth."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Global Zero"

Lucky for the Club-K missile people that they ripped off their music from the story of Elsa the Lioness. That film was made by what is now a unit of Columbia. If they had tried to do that to the Disney organization they would be in real trouble.

The missile in a container seems like a dubious asset for a nation threatened by an aggressive neighbor to turn to. If conventionally armed it would be of little use against a sizable invading army. For countering a seaborne assault mines delivered by small merchants or small combatants would be more cost effective. Against a sophisticated foe a system dependent on a satellite link could prove vulnerable. That is a potential weakness the US also needs to consider.

Many years ago Mad Magazine, the most serious intellectual journal around in its heyday, had a parody of Kipling's "If" that included something about "If you can hit a truck driver with your jalopy and convince him that he indeed was at fault ... Then you are a man my son" accompanied by some befuddled neanderthal schmoo staring at a guy waving a pointer at a portable slide screen, this was before the computer age, covered with statistical formulas. Obama not only views the American public as a collection of rubes ripe for the plucking, an opinion that based on his success until recently he had some reason to believe and which the Iranians and many others share, but he may even think that practiced thugs like the leaders of Iran and Russia can also be easily duped.

The Chicago model of politics practiced by the Daleys and its offspring of Community Organizer shakedowns as pioneered by Jesse Jackson and Saul Alinksy and then polished by Obama depend on a productive and benign host willing to tolerate and buy off the ethnic interests. The Daleys were always very careful not to threaten the Golden Goose. Old fashioned Daley style machine politics could view itself as an essentially benign, if less than optimally efficient, part of the city's social and economic fabric. Services were delivered, the peace was generally kept, and some sense of potential economic progress was offered to supporters seeking upward mobility. The Obama model is a failure domestically because in its unconstrained success it threatens to kill its host while achieving none of the goals at least sought by the old Democratic machine in return for preserving the wealth generating elements of society.

On an international level the Obama model has proven unable to pass the weak and uncritical inspection of the Europeans and the International Olympic Committee. That is a low standard he fails to meet since the Europeans are hoping that the Russians intend to preserve them as cash cows subject to occasional bluster and bullying, the same way the Daleys preserved the financiers and industrialists of Chicagoland. The Russians, Chinese and other serious players of power politics will look at Obama's handful of super conventional missiles the way a school bully looks at the geeky kid demonstrating all his ninja movie kung-fu moves. They will be tempted to reach out and pound him.

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Great Prophet"

The key concepts in the description are "distributed" and "expendable." The LCS is designed to be part of a flotilla that serves to replace, at an overall higher cost, a single higher value unit. The classic steam powered naval unit that performed all the functions desired here, projection endurance and the ability to respond to multiple threats, was the independent cruiser. That was shortened to the designation Cruiser. In the Age of Sail the frigate served the same function. Smaller units such as brigantines or corvettes lacked the endurance or firepower for independent operations in distant waters.

One problem faced when comparing naval units over time is that the traditional terms are often reused to describe units with a different function. For example in the US Navy the term Cruiser came to be used for any ship whose primary function was providing (AAW) anti-air warfare defense to a (CVBG) carrier battle group. The cruiser being designated a major combatant is commanded by a (O-6) Captain. In 1975 the US Navy created a large number of cruisers out of thin air by redesignating air defense destroyers. This undoubtedly terrified the Soviets. At the same time all single screw destroyers were redesignated as frigates.

The largest high value units, the ship of the line or battleship or aircraft carrier, are designed to operate in formation and not as independent units. The problem with the high value unit is its value. The battleship or carrier is "to big to fail" so the cruiser was designed to be a cheaper and expendable alternative. Now the cruiser is seen as to valuable to risk and the LCS is proposed as a collection of lower value units to perform the same function.

The question is what if anything are you willing to risk in combat? For the modern navy the model has been the carrier that was of such value that most of the rest of the naval assets are devoted to providing it a layered defense. The only units that could be risked in offensive operations were individual aircraft, usually crewed by junior officers. As we became increasingly unwilling to risk casualties an effort was made to shift to stand off weapons, either airborne or ship launched missiles. When the Navy gave up the A-6 squadrons it lost it's manned long range land attack capability. The F/A-18 is at best a stop gap until a new attack platform comes on line. The carrier battle group became essentially a vast expensive entity dedicated to protecting itself.

The problem is replicated for the surface navy where the cruiser is seen as to large to expensive to important with a full Captain in command and with to large a crew to risk in offensive operations. The LCS program is an effort to create the swarm of smaller units on the surface that can perform the roles that aircraft do for the CVBG. In a true cruiser, not the dedicated AAW units tied to the CVBG, a single ship would have the endurance to travel thousands of miles, the capacity to store supplies and loiter off a hostile shore, the sensors to detect all threats on above or below the surface, weapons to engage such threats, additional sensors to collect useful intelligence, communications to keep the fleet informed of any threat, a local Commanding Officer capable of exercising independent judgment in responding to an emerging situation, a crew sufficiently large and skilled and equipped with the tools needed to repair damage, and some means of projecting power onto the shore. If the LCS becomes a modularized set of ships each of whom perform part of the role of the (CG) cruiser then the overall cost is increased and the vulnerability of each smaller LCS unit will be greater than that of the more capable CG. As aircraft are dependent on their base the smaller units of the LCS flotilla will be tied to some resupply and maintenance base.

Breaking the large CG into a set of smaller ships can work if it is part of an overall naval expansion program and it is accompanied by a willingness to actually risk the assets created. To truly work the Navy would have to at least triple its overall size, creating more repair ships and supply ships supporting a swarm of small expendable craft under the command of junior officers. Unfortunately the continuing decline in the overall size of the Navy means that will not happen. Every junior officer in the surface navy dreams of taking a PT boat "In Harm's Way." We have the men but do we have he willingness to use them?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:

For more on Father Pflegler read Tom Roser's blog and scroll back to older posts.

Obama's home in Hyde Park/Kenwood was always safe because the community always had an extra dozen police on duty. Fourteen or so years ago I was a civilian employee of the University's UCPD and we had 40 full time officers plus another forty mostly Chicago cops who worked overtime for us. The CPD assured me that while there was no way to legally get a handgun, cops offered to give me one but I declined, they encouraged everyone to get a shotgun.

About 30 years ago the City tried to hire MGEN Michael D Healy to design a security system for Cabrini Green based on the Strategic Hamlets policy in Vietnam. General Healy is a friend of mine. His wiki article is generally accurate. He quit the Chicago job when he realized he was being used.

At what point does illegal immigration, actively encouraged to achieve political goals, constitute an invasion? At what point does organized criminal activity rise to the point of rebellion? My proposal is for a "Civil Rebellion" statute that would allow a Federal or State Attorney General to petition subject to strict judicial oversight for a suspension of habeas corpus within a defined geographic area where there was reasonable cause to believe that a significant percentage (maybe over 15%) of the population were fugitives, illegal aliens, or parole violators. The question is whether the States can justify a resort to the Art. I sect. 10 language cited by Professor Reynolds by quoting Patrick Henry,
"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace.
The war is actually begun!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010


(fm the BC thread "Cold Turkey")

Leo Linbeck III,
there’s a wee bit of space between “Nothing” and “public floggings and beheadings”

Today on Fox Bill Kristol was pointing out that Senator Levin's release of the embarrassing Goldman Sachs emails was a dangerous violation of the rule of law. Juan Williams was yelling that means nothing and the Boss gets to read your emails, and presumably show them to anybody. Kristol pointed out to Williams that we do not all work for Senator Levin, he is not America's Boss.

This reminds me of the "Give the Devil the Benefit of Law" passage in Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons."

Seeking to strengthen the rule of the law and the markets and the heritage of the Constitution is not a defeat but a victory. Our inheritance is not a weakness but a strength. If we raise that standard and stand by it, if we keep pointing out that it is what made America the world wants to flock to, then we will win.

On issue after issue, Unlawful Enemy Combatants, Bankrupt auto companies, Colluding Conspiracies of Commercial Kleptocrats in Fannie Freddie and Finance, foreign despots flouting civilized standards to bully and seek power through the threat of genocide, and the effective invasion of America by illegal aliens that are bankrupting State and local governments while being often linked to drug cartels and networks of Marxist and Islamic terrorists, the two extremes propose to deny the rule of law that shields us. The answer of the Democrats is to abandon the law and preemptively surrender to our enemies while transforming us into a defenseless regulated satrapy in a polyglot authoritarian system. To many who claim to be conservatives also have abandoned all hope and preach a retreat into atavistic isolation that would trample the law underfoot and exclude potential allies in the long struggle.

475 years ago Sir Thomas More was in the Tower awaiting his trial. The Robin Hood of poetry and the movies had 300 years earlier retreated into Sherwood Forest not as a goal but only as a last resort means to hide from the usurper until he could lead the people back to support lawful government. The idea that there is a legitimate law and we can rally to it even if we need to fear arbitrary government is part of our heritage. There is a mighty forest that our civilization has planted, we should not chop it down.

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Cold Turkey"

The government claims it is determined to preserve industrial structures seen as essential to the economy and the American way of life. To do so they will drain tax money from productive sectors, divert an increasing portion to feed supporters and build bureaucracy to prop up a shell of the failing structures. The models for this are Amtrack/Conrail and the Merchant Marine. In both cases we have ghosts of what were major industrial structures symbolic of America's industrial Golden Age. Twenty years of government administration will turn the automobile, health care and financial services industries into zombies also. If the model of government support of declining industrial structures threatened by innovation had determined policy in the 19th century we would now see ourselves dependent on subsidized and regulated Clipper ships, the Pony Express and our environmental waste problem would focus on cleaning up after all the oxen hauling goods along rutted trails.

The Post Office is unable to sustain Saturday delivery, despite the legal monopoly it holds over the delivery of First Class mail. Fortunately the need to evade the strictures of government inefficiency have stimulated the growth of alternatives to evade the government controlled system. Unfortunately the freight rail industry proved less able to adapt than the air freight industry did and the Rail Express Agency (REA) failed as the rail portion of America's infrastructure fell under government control. Private bulk delivery services, like FedEx and UPS serve the parcel delivery sector and have stimulated innovation and growth in the air services and associated industries. The need for substitutes for the government document delivery service through the Post Office has also stimulated much of the growth in the telecommunications and computer technology sectors.

This is not an efficient way to stimulate innovation, it is merely how the productive sectors react to government constraint The markets reacted to Prohibition by creating new transportation and management and distribution models that may be used by legitimate businesses but that does not men that the growth of organized crime was a good thing. The government constraints may stimulate innovation in some sectors to compensate but that does not mean that better and more rational growth would not have happened in the absence of the government imposed distortion on the market. It would not surprise me if the push to Europeanize America lead to an effort to harmonize our government structures with the general model in which telephone and related services are seen as an extension of the Post Office and placed under the control of a government department.

Comment on Gateway Pundit
"That Was Quick… Forget the Dialogue & Civility- Angry Coffee Party Mob Wants Blood!"

My guess is that the "Coffee Party" was designed to be a totally obvious astroturf project only populated by the obviously dysfunctional and the Press. That isn't a bug, it's a feature. The only point was to discredit the TEA party by association. Think of how the media encouraged the discrediting of Sarah Palin by establishing the false image projected by Tina Fey as being as credible as the genuine article. The Democrats media handlers set up a false equivalence in which people see a manufactured parody and then assume that the genuine article must be equally fraudulent since both are being treated to press coverage. David Axelrod's shop are experts at this.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Comment on the NY Post Editorial:
"Cowardly Central"

The Post should print the Danish cartoons, in fact the better thing would be for every Newscorp outlet to publish them on the same day. The best would be if rival publishers joined them in doing so. That should have happened during the first Motoons episode.

My hope is that Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert get treated with lawful contempt every time they show their noses in public. If they can't go near a restaurant without getting pelted with eggs (no one can afford tomatoes) then the pretentious balloon of false comedians will deflate. South Park should do an episode where Krusty the Clown gets to be funnier and braver then these TV hacks.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Comment on Theo Spark:
"Is This The End for Gordon Brown?"

The Lib Dems would be Labour on Steroids.

Clegg boasts that he is an Obama wannabe. After 18 months most Americans now see that Obama is an empty suit dishonest thug fraud shoveling money and power to corrupt cronies. His appeal was based on fear hate ignorance and manipulation by arrogant and discredited elites in a campaign using vast amounts of foreign money.

If Cameron wants to break from the pack he should hammer Clegg on this connection. The Lib Dems should be labeled as the Obama Party. They should also be labeled explicitly as the Global Warming Fraud Party. These two associations should be tied to Clegg like 20 pound weights, one to each leg.

If the Tories do this and focus the attack on these two issues on Clegg then the Lib Dem bubble will pop. Labour would not benefit from this since the first issue will remind the British public of Blair and the second will remind them of the Quango and Euro-centric governing principles of both Labour and the Lib Dems.

The beneficiaries of a final campaign push based on my plan would be the Conservatives and the UKIP. Between now and the election the UKIP should I think hammer the BNP as ignorant racist socialists whose authoritarian influence would prove a Trojan horse for Islamism, bankruptcy and the ultimate loss of sovereignty to Brussels or Russia or the Ummah.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Fire and Ice"

When the priest asked Voltaire on his deathbed to renounce the Devil and all his works the great man replied that "Now is no time to be making new enemies." Earlier he had written a description of the Quakers in England that admired their personal qualities but condemned them for their "Enthusiasm." Much of the Liberal zeal to control the world by defining and restricting the possibilities of the future can be tied to a sense of religious enthusiasm. This can be traced back to the excesses of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation movements. Unfortunately the swing away from that into an arid skepticism and secularism offers no basis for a productive law abiding and tolerant society. What is needed is a willingness to remain modest regarding your own grasp of the unknown but still committed to the principles and mechanisms that have transmitted the moral values that are proven to work. Obamism is exactly the inversion of what works as it claims a wholly specious and arrogant predictive power coupled with a preemptive determination to deconstruct existing economic, social and political structures.

The great danger of ideologies like Socialism or Scientism is that they claim a predictive power. Lincoln Steffens almost said "I've seen the future, and it works." If the authority of the State is wedded to the power of elites and the possibility of evaluating results to correct their models is pushed into the future rather than based on a valid historical record then dissent will be crushed. What we need are social and political systems that always leave room for the insubordinate voice willing to remind us of GIGO. As Rumsfeld noted we do not know what we do not know. What is catastrophic is when we refuse to consider what we should know and build our models to justify policies that could already be adjudged failures by experience and which can only be seen to be failures in the future after the damage is done.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"The Mothers of Re-invention"

failure is the outcome of not having tried the known solution hard enough

In the Soviet military plans, elaborate and detailed, arrived from Staff at HQ. Junior officers in the field were judged by their effort expended in executing the plan. Contrast this with the American military in which goals are determined and their achievement is left to the ingenuity of the local unit. In WW-II Naval Aviation had the motto "When in danger or in doubt, turn in circles scream and shout." That was because the immediate problem, being lost, was not foreseeable and any improvised activity to solve it was justified, or in the case of breaking radio silence defensible. The Soviet equivalent would have been "When in danger or in doubt keep flying until out of gas." Junior officers in trouble could expect messages from HQ demanding more "activity." Sometimes more effort expended on a plan overtaken by events is just what you don't need.

Michael Ledeen popularized the phrase "Faster please" that Glenn Reynolds and others use to showcase real change. Real change is not dragging the world into a Disney portrayal of a sovkhoz circa 1930.

To the true believer a doubter can be challenged the way Adolphe Menjou's General Broulard challenged Kirk Douglas' Colonel Dax in Kubrick's Paths of Glory. Just a little more dash and elan and you could have taken the Anthill.

Michael Ledeen popularized the phrase "Faster please" that Glenn Reynolds and others use to showcase real change. Real change is not dragging the world into a Disney portrayal of a sovkhoz circa 1930.


I like Apple products. I am using one now but they are arrogant. Having Al Gore on the Board of Directors is just dumb. No consumer products company should be looking to offend almost half their potential audience. If I was in that type of business I would avoid having Dick Cheney on my Board for the same reason. The fact is that boycotting Fox is all stupid posturing to excite a narrow base that Apple has relied on and need to grow beyond. Both Apple and News Corp (Fox) have Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud as a major investor. The Fox boycott is shell game public relations for left wing rubes.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Yesterday I walked from home into town, to save the $2.25 of course, and visited the Metropolitan Museum, where I am a member. Magnificent as the Met is I have not normally belonged, preferring to support several other institutions. However when the economy turned bad and my finances suffered I let those drop and the Met membership was a gift. The walk was about 9 miles with a stop for lunch at a nice cafe in Astoria, with a big production flash heavy web site, where I spent to much on coffee and a Pannini and desert. The girls there are as easy on the eyes as the break was easy on my feet. Frugality and fitness should always be so pleasant. Before reaching Astoria I had walked along Roosevelt Avenue for a while enjoying the medley of South Asian and Latin American businesses.

The walk across the 59th St. Bridge, only a tourist would call it the Queensboro, gives great views. These are slightly marred by the pedestrian/bike crossing being the old trolley lane that is on the North side of the bridge. The best views of lower Manhattan and the vista towards Brooklyn and the harbor would be had from the South side of the bridge but that passage is open to automobile traffic.

In the museum I spent some time looking for visiting items from Oberlin that are scattered around. The brochure gave thumbnail images of each piece and a map indicating locations but it was hard to locate them. Better signage to guide someone attempting to use this as a self guided tour would have helped. The guards were exceptionally polite. In addition I took another look at the Art Deco room with the glass panels from the SS Normandie, I offer my pics of them here for Marie Claude.

The image available from the wiki article on the Normandie is better.

My mother remembers as a little girl seeing a relative off who was traveling on the Normandie. The ship's loss, while undergoing conversion to a troop ship in WW-II, is one of those wounds, like the loss of Penn Station, that time inflicts on civilization and which can never be undone.

Finally I saw a temporary exhibit again of funerary statues from France entitled The Mourners. This is exceptional and I urge anyone who can to see these works from the Court of Burgandy. The individuality and humanity in these images is breathtaking and should give anyone pause to reflect on their prejudices about the perceptions of people in the Medieval age before the Renaissance and Enlightenment compared to our own. Unfortunately no photography was permitted there so I can only offer the superior images from this web site.

In town I caught the end of the Greek Independence Day Parade as I walked up 5th Avenue. In New York we have an excellent tradition of community parades. In other places these events have become rally points for confrontation between communities, as with the Ornge Day parades in Ulster. In New York the focus is diverted from displaying pride before and seeking to dominate rival communities to what may at first seem a more retrograde and class conscious approach that paradoxically works. Each group gets a day to parade not in the face of their rivals, which may seem democratic, but rather before their social betters, which seems positively feudal. The parades take place on 5th Avenue before the apartments of the rich and powerful. The sweaty ethnic masses get to march and blow horns and make noise. Some groups leave trash and vomit on the doorsteps of the wealthy and others do not. The aristocrats or "malefactors of great wealth" or society swells who inhabit the towers facing Central Park resist the temptation to pour boiling oil or slops out of their windows. Instead they abandon the city and head to their country homes. Bloody revolution is avoided. The Romans had a Saturnalia to relieve class tensions, the Japanese permit a salaryman to get drunk and tell off his boss, the English drove home the importance of social responsibility and duty to the community into their gentry so effectively that they got up and walked into the machine gun fire of the Somme. The French nobility treated their servants with undisguised contempt and lost their heads. In America we allow the people to parade.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"The Washington Monument"

The White House Press room occupies the space that held the swimming pool built for the polio crippled FDR using money collected as dimes from America's schoolchildren. I think that a candidate for President should promise to honor the memories of FDR and the sacrifice of those children in the Great Depression by restoring his swimming pool. Move the press corps to a Quonset hut or a Winebago™ out back. Honestly what reason do they have to be in the building as opposed to across the street in the Old EOB?

Thirty years ago I thought that news organizations would become aggregators of freelance contributors. The Internet has accelerated that trend. Rotating pools of freelancers should be given access to report on the White House and all Departments. The program should be modeled on the military embed system.

The Cyber Bully

(fm the BC thread "Out of the Box")

After two days I have not heard from Wretchard, which is most disappointing, a two day break from the BC feels like a vacation. Today I walked almost 10 miles around town and visited the Metropolitan Museum, will blog about that later.

The key point here is that I criticized the BNP in the UK as being national socialist in ideology and a potential stand in for Islamism. That is what triggered the assertion by whiskey that he is for 'national socialism' and he is for 'racism.' He was unambiguous about that and peterike who is I believe a Serbian chimed in to back that. I have been concerned that people here are getting played by Russian sympathizers, who even if they offer interesting information always should be considered as having their own agendas. So my basic charge about whiskey and peterike, no matter how much hand waving they or others try to lay on after about culture, remains. They need to be called out and hammered on that with a focus not an interactive discussion. It is possible that peterike simply did not understand what the initial dispute between whiskey and myself was really about and got caught up in a bandwagon effect.

Habu is simply a cyber bully, full stop. That is an actual legal dangerous condition, people have died because of it and the blog owners and administrators can be liable for any harm they cause either emotional damage or by stalking conduct. There are many resources and information available on the Internet on how to identify a bully and what to do with them. The rules on dealing with a cyber bully are;
1. identify,
2. do not engage, it is the response that they crave,
3. rally support and isolate them,
4. encourage authorities to remove them.

Four times he has attacked me and then followed up with apologies. Recently I myself tried to cover for him and drew a distinction between his efforts to claim special authority based on his claimed family or personal history beyond what is proper, and his actual erudition based on his education. I can no longer do so because he uses his learning and skills to enable the abuse and cover for advocacy for violence. His mood swings are remarkable and troubling. He has had a pattern of choosing a victim and pursuing them with escalating attacks and insults to bait them and drive them off the blog. Over last Summer into the Autumn he was doing so serially attacking one person every couple of weeks. Twice women communicated to me privately that they were being driven from the blog by his abusive bullying. Habu talks of guns to instill fear in people, that is why I keep my name off my blog. So let me be very clear here, if Habu is talking about how he is not afraid of combat and knows how to track and kill a man in order to make me fear him then I need and I think that the people in Pajamas Media need to know that. Threats and stalking are not to be taken lightly. If his insults and disparagement of my manhood as less of a combat leader than he is are meant to make me seek a personal confrontation with him then I will note that anyone as erratic as he has been is not someone I want to follow, lead or have on my flank. If he is attempting to instill fear in me, or threatening to stalk me, or daring me to meet him in person, I will just note that in America we hire people to deal with threats like that. It is part of being civilized. Let me be clear that in his policy proposals, as opposed to his personal attacks, he is not exploring the possibility of trends reaching conclusions and discussing how other similar situations have been resolved. He is calling for the preemptive extermination of millions indeed hundreds of millions of human beings both overseas and of US citizens. He is not calling for us to defend the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution but is instead calling for them to be rejected and replaced with a reign of terror to be guided by those he approves of. BTW, just to as is my nature go the extra bit to be fair neither he not whiskey are stupid, his advice to Stephanie on what to read is good. Habu is not I think a racist but he is a bully and obsessed with violence and his own sense of authority.

Whiskey has his monomania to motivate him, so he has perceptive energy. That does not change that he is a bigot and damages the credibility of the venue and all who participate in it. For example Leo Linbeck III has poured time and money into a charter school educational program that serves almost exclusively black students in NYC. Any linkage to the likes of whiskey could imperil that worthy effort. The reason I came back to post this is that I have three supportive comments on my blog plus three other aupportive communications by Facebook and email.

What made this so galling is that anyone who actually read my posts knows damn well that I am no leftist and no softy about the need to actually engage these issues and do what really needs to be done to win the Long War. The fear and panic and cries that anything short of gotterdammerung or selling ourselves out to the likes of the BNP are useless is what discredits us and enables the real enemies of Western Civilization to advance. At the risk of repeating, what triggered the attack on me was my mild defense of the UKIP position, although they are soft on the War and focused on a domestic agenda, as opposed to the BNP. They did not respond with an argument for the BNP position versus the UKIP or any other but rather gave a full throated endorsement of 'national socialism' and 'racism.' Go back and read it.

If efforts to explore policy options, other than rope+lamp post+global thermonuclear war, result in charges of cowardice and calls to get out of the blog then this blog will die or simply become a junior version of Free Republic. That niche is already filled and frankly this place can be better than that. The fact is that over the last few months many of the best commentators have faded away. wretchard has on several occasions shared with me his frustration at the repeated calls for violence and closed threads or tried to politely warn people. No one especially me wants a LGF style regime in here. That does not change that there must be some standards and when people damage the venue and make it risky to be associated with clearly and explicitly racist comments they must be stopped. It is also important that real and repeated bullying is something that must be stopped. Ideally everyone in here would have read what triggered my reaction but they did not and the blog owner has allowed this to run on without comment. He can either do something or ignore it or attack me. I still hope he does right and wants support to do so.

Climategate: a scandal that won’t go away - Telegraph

Climategate: a scandal that won’t go away - Telegraph

What is needed is some financial mechanism to control this. If there was a right in law for a citizen, whose increased tax and regulatory burdens make them a victim of a fraud, to sue the profiteers for damages then those who feed lies to the government and receive a benefit would be discouraged. Those exercising government authority while taking money from or channeling money to profiteers from the scam should be prosecuted for corruption. In America there is the Racketeering Influences and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute that allows pursuit of such conspiracies. Is there an equivalent in the UK?

Also linked at Theo Spark is this Telegraph story, "The secret war mission that inspired Goldfinger scene."

The last sentence, "He was good-looking, a cool womaniser, and in many ways an atypical spy" hurts. The awful truth, typical spies are none of those things.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On the Belmont Club

Regrettably over the last few months the tone of the debate in my favorite blog the Belmont Club has markedly deteriorated. It still has some of the best commentary around but it has also proved fertile grounds for those who engage in hateful speech of the kind that might be expected to come from agents provocateurs seeking to discredit the forum and prevent the kind of thorough and critical analysis of controversial topics that made the blog so influential. I have sent several messages to the blog owner, Richard Fernandez regarding my concerns but the problem only gets worse. Today I sent him the following;
The blog is completely out of control. I came to a place where a man from the Philippines had created a place where Blacks Whites and Asians cooperated in doing very sophisticated analysis. Now most of those people are gone and we have one person with wild mood swings calling for the extermination of over a billion human beings, and calling any interest in a more focused approach as "cowardly," and another openly stating that white people's 'national socialism' is OK. That last in response to not some left wing apologia but rather a rather daring analysis of the way that racist socialism can prove a trojan horse for Islamism and the dangers of current immigration policy. This gets no rebuke from the commentators or the blog owner. It wounds me deeply because I have poured much of my time effort and creativity into the Club. As it is now these people are simply a quotes mine for anyone from the far left seeking to discredit and demonize us. Everything I know about you and what you believe in tells me that you are better than this.

Write me when it isn't a support group for hate speech.
How did this happen? It began with what seemed like a harmless tendency of some commentators late at night on old threads to start trading war stories and then to begin discussing firearms and weaponry. Over the Summer it became increasingly to dominate some of the conversation along with what can only be described as militia sentiment. One frequent commentator engaged in periodic confrontational behavior with anyone who questioned his conclusions, based on prior service in the Marines and the CIA. This rose to a level of bullying that made female participants feel uncomfortable and stop participating. Several of the other prominent commentators, notably physicians, who had brought professional level skills to the discussion also drifted away. At the same time another commentator was forcing every problem into a narrow frame of study based on his theory of Western female infatuation with authoritarian Islamic Black or Socialist culture. Still the level of discussion generally remained high. I was concerned that we may be subjected to manipulation by either an overt Kremlin apologist FSB 'minder' or Serb apologists eager to advocate violence. On several occasions though wretchard (Richard Fernandez) closed a thread to discourage some people from advocating violence. Without clear statements as to why the thread had closed though they remained undiscouraged.

In the last few weeks the problems have accelerated. Some of this comes from people eager for an existential confrontation between America and Islam, some for people not so much calculating how to survive a systemic collapse as eager to see a post-apocalyptic America in which politicians are hung from streetlights. Their tone became shrill as they counseled despair before the confluence of domestic subversion, Russian intrigue and rising Islam. This was used to disparage all formal analysis and denigrate anyone attempting such analysis, in favor of calls for existential confrontation and the elimination of all enemies and their host communities, both foreign and domestic. Two days ago I sent wretchard the following;
Richard I am getting depressed. We are at a critical juncture. It is my hope that our efforts in the Belmont Club get read and make a difference. I do not want to throw in the towel. The accelerating domination of the blog by people steeped in self pity and defeatism is driving out many of the old commentators who brought a higher level of discourse to the forum. The claims of inevitable disaster are a mutually reinforcing chorus of panic used to shout down critical analysis and then justify calls for genocidal gotterdamerung. Theirs is not an exploration of a policy alternative but an abandonment of all analysis in a flight into an emotional tantrum. We should not need to fear a knock on the door because we have contributed to a blog in which one prominent contributor swings between fawning apologies and blood curdling calls for mass murder. If the problem was being instigated by intruders from the far left seeking to discredit us it would be easier to deal with.

You once speculated about creating a second site off of PJM for people to discuss practical matters. Perhaps if you did and then ruled that all discussions of personal weapons and calls for their use will be moved to there it might help. That would not eliminate the problem of calls to use nuclear weapons to exterminate over a billion human beings.

In some distress,
It is a tragedy if the hard work that Richard Fernandez has put into what for my nickel has been the best community supported political blog around is compromised by a few racists and violence fetishists. His vision of free people from all backgrounds learning to appreciate the gifts of liberty and the fruits of Western civilization is one that I support. It is my belief that despite many dark days ahead, days that may even include the necessity of regretfully resorting to some actions that a few want to resort to preemptively, the most creative and tolerant culture and economic system in human history will survive and triumph over the forces of fear and ignorance.

Over the last two years the Little Green Footballs blog, which was always more of a popular chat room then a place for serious analysis, crumbled into a left wing front. The compromising of the Belmont Club by socialists of the right would be far more intellectually serious.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Second Acts

(fm the BC thread "Out of the Box")

You would think they should be saying thank you
- Barack Obama

When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite
- Winston Churchill

Ultimately what may bring down Obama and the entire coalition of Pelosi, Emanuel, Reid, Franks, Schumer et al is just how rude they are. Occasional calculated invective can serve a purpose when used to rally your troops. It always has a cost. People can forgive many wrongs and injuries, just as a nation can make peace with another after a bitter war. The gratuitous insult sits deeper. It makes it impossible for old enemies to reconcile with you and it makes it impossible for erstwhile allies to fully trust your judgment.

Being a gentleman is not enough, just ask President McCain. Being vulgar though means that you never get to put down roots. Sooner or later the people will cast this lot off. What follows may be better or worse but those who rule by bribery and intimidation cannot conceal the contempt that they feel for all not subservient to them. Eventually even those who are will know that they and their Masters are united only in acting out of expediency. Six months after this lot is gone no one will admit to having known them. The down side for that is it makes them all the more tenacious in clinging to power.

The great American boy-men
- Earnest Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

There are no second acts in American lives
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

For Barack Obama I doubt that there will be a second act.

Yes. “Nazi.” “Racist.” Who cares? Really?
I’m with Whiskey

Who cares? I care and I thank you both for unambiguously crawling out from under a rock and proclaiming yourselves for racism. I decline and I hope that the consensus on this blog is with me on this. If not I can depart. In the future however I shall not respond to your racist comments. I am just to damned fastidious to deal with it.

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Out of the Box"

The two broadly based parties excluded from the debate in the UK were the BNP and the UKIP. From this side of the Atlantic the BNP look like racists who have absorbed all the ideological prejudices of Socialism and conflated them with a narrow tribal vision of Nationalism. Have seen where that leads to my enthusiasm for their project is lacking. Practically as a defense against the subversion of England or any corner of Western culture it strikes me as a dead end. The BNP vision includes an acceptance of a powerful authoritarian government that divides all of humanity into the favored insiders and the despised outsiders. It is my expectation that they could flip on a dime and become a front for the Islamization of Britain.

The UKIP may seem more congenial to American eyes but that may be its weakness. Is it like the Tea Parties subject to attack as some alien Yank intrusion? The tragedy is that the Party whose intellectual origins were closest to the small government and free market vision that inspired the success of both the United States and Britain in the 18th to 19th centuries is the heir of the old Liberals, the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately they are now the most Statist party advocating for the maximum transfer of sovereignty to the EU.

If I recall TV shows like Idol are copies of British originals.

The only way out of the thicket is for the elites to produce results

Results are to hard to get but they can produce voters. The answer for the elites becomes electorate substitution by importation. This does not solve the problem in the sense of allowing more results to be produced, unless the imported labor/voter pool results in a marginal increase in productivity. During the agricultural and industrial eras the importation of unskilled labor did produce results. Now the importation of unskilled labor does not result in a net increase in national wealth. If we were importing large numbers of skilled professionals or if we had a functioning educational system that could transform costly low skill imported labor, or at least their citizen children, into highly productive labor that would strengthen the nation then it could work to try and expand the electorate. What the current immigration system does do though is empower the importing elites to more efficiently extract the wealth that exists. Any proposed amnesty plan would accelerate that effect. This only postpones the eventual collapse of the wealth producing system but that is of little concern to those planning on immigration 'reform.'

My argument is not one for simply restricting immigration but is one for overhauling the education system and restoring on immigration system that first evaluates all applicants based on what is in the best interests of the United States.

The 2010 NYC Tax Day Tea Party

Here are three pics I took with my BBerry at this years Tax Day Tea party by the Main Post Office, and future home of Moynihan Station.

This first pic is a view looking North to the Main Post Office from the rally site. Fifteen or more years ago the late night party at the Post Office was a regular feature of Tax Day in New York. One year I remember stopping by around 10 PM and getting a free back rub from Playboy Bunnies, free pens and pencils, candy and bottled water, and a bag full of other product promotional stuff. It was where you could find all the vendors and entrepreneurs who normally are only encountered on TV around 3 AM. In recent years the carnival has dissipated for some reason. The Postal Police and I chatted wistfully about that for a couple of minutes. Across the street to the right of this photograph is Madison Square Garden, an ugly building that sits at the site of Pennsylvania Station. Penn Station was like the Post Office designed by McKim Meade and White with the two facades mirroring each other across Eight Avenue. After almost 50 years its loss is still a wound on the city.

This second pic is of the establishment that should be happiest with the Tea party Crowd. All the local vendors should have done well from the crowd. My understanding is that the radio personality Andrew Wilkow and his party ate in here. His fans were waiting outside.

These are the MDs Against Obamacare who were prominently displayed at the front of the rally. The Democrats may have miscalculated by viewing the Health Care industry as simply a source of employment for the semiskilled labor in the SEIU and a regulated piggy bank to shake down Chicago style. Not only are large numbers in otherwise liberal locations employed in the Insurance, Pharmaceuticals, and Medical Services sectors but these include highly skilled and educated professionals who are respected by and who communicate with millions of the voters that the Democrats are counting on.

This year I served as a Marshal, which means that I watched the crowd and not the stage. The people were generally good but the conditions along the Eighth Avenue sidewalks were crowded. The police were nervous about crowds blocking the sidewalk in non-designated areas. As a Marshal we had four tasks;
1. identify intruders attempting to set up an incident for the Press,
2. enforce regulations regarding no wooden or metal rods as sign supports,
3. discourage any inappropriate signs or statements that would discredit us,
4. keep the sidewalks clear for public safety lest the police clear it.

NYPD cooperation was generally excellent. When we identified someone attempting to provoke a confrontation they responded professionally to protect everyone's rights. It helped that the crowd was generally friendly, the cops were in a good mood, and the air was damp and comfortable. Just at the end it began to drizzle encouraging people to depart. The police could not have been happier. The crowd filled the space available but was not enormous, maybe a couple of thousand. Last year at City Hall the crowd was much larger from my perspective.

A handful at most of people walking by by were rude and that was generally just in passing. There was one drunk who sounded belligerent that the cops responded to, probably just to send away. Approximately a dozen young people with signs saying words to the effect of 'blame the bankers' or 'I love taxes, pay more taxes' and something designed to sound racial and challenging that failed to register were persistent in parading behind the crowd on the sidewalk and stopping to try and provoke people. As far as I could see none of them were attempting to infiltrate by impersonating supporters of the Tea Party movement.

The leftists were open about who they were. As to whether they were Anarchists or members of some other group I am not sure. They rather reminded me either of members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade or the Spartacist Youth League I met in college. Of course that was so long ago that people in Hyde Park then talked of Bernadine Dohrn not as a desperate and doomed felon on the run but rather like she had just stepped out for coffee, as indeed it turned out she had.

Given the crowded sidewalk effecting safety conditions, the proximity of open bars, and their repeated efforts to position themselves where they would slow down foot traffic or attempt to start arguments, the police were sympathetic to my suggestion that after 5 passes they needed to be told to move along and remain someplace separate. One, accompanied by a cameraman, was arguing with an elderly man at a corner within sight of the police and I was concerned that the NYPD might lose patience and simply order the sidewalk cleared. Fortunately before I had to interrupt the old man said "You refuse to listen to me, I am going" and turned to leave. The camera turned away and the leftist attempted to grab the old man by the sleeve and said "No you can't I want to..." At that point I stepped in and asked him in a clear loud voice, "Are you attempting to illegally detain or arrest the man who had expressed a desire to leave?" The penny dropped and he and his friends vanished.

There were a few people using signs with wooden sticks or metal rods that were disappointed when I told them that those were prohibited and only cardboard tubes were allowed. My approach was simply to focus on the public safety issue and ask them not to provoke the police to clear everyone from the area. This worked fine given the generally supportive nature of the crowd. One Ron Paul supporter had a 15 foot metal flagpole. He quickly realized that I was not going to indulge his desire to explore the first amendment in the equivalent of a crowded theater and he moved on, later I saw the police move him again. Generally speaking the Paulists and the Anarchists acted as self righteous and exploitive of the concerns that had drawn the crowd together as the street hustlers who showed up at the fringes to sell souvenirs. In fact as people gripped by a messianic vision the Paul supporters with signs designed to emphasis disagreement and provoke confrontation seemed to differ from the leftists only in details.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Two Tracks"

There is an important distinction between the Thai Red Shirts and the American Tea Party movements. The Tea Parties are genuinely spontaneous and local efforts that spring from the American traditions of Direct Democracy and Civil Society institutions that can function outside of the official nodes. Despite enormous effort by the media to identify single source leaders that would link the Tea Parties to the hierarchy of the Republican Party and attempts to smear them as astroturfing they remain vibrant because they are independent and authentic.

The Thai movement taps into genuine local pressures however the movement as a whole is a construct organized by agents of China. The demonstrators in the Red Shirts are whether knowingly or not foot soldiers in the Shanghai Cooperative Organization's effort to secure control over the sea lanes so as to gain a choke hold over the oil routes that Japan depends on and to surround Vietnam.

The dichotomy between desiring a restructuring of the system that would reduce the future costs of Social Security while still accepting the benefits in the present is easily explained. There is no hypocrisy in doing so. The government set the rules and created a system in which savings were discouraged and economic growth retarded. Therefor people in their 50s through 90s are made dependent on whatever benefits they can obtain. While it is true that those same people believed the lies of the politicians they voted for in creating this system there is no reason to ask them to suffer now while we work to create a more rational system in the future.

Victory Patience Precision

(fm the BC thread "At the Summit")

(who desires an immediate and final reckoning)

I am not naive about the aggression at the core of Islam. The founding myth for the religion is built around an effort to exculpate the betrayal and murder of his hosts by a guest who was given shelter as a suppliant. That is the original sin of Islam and they can never escape it. The crimes perpetrated by Mohammad at Khaybar and Yathrib were so fundamentally incompatible with not only most cultures standards of decency but were specifically regarded as abominations by the codes of Arabs themselves that they can never confront them or purge them from the legal and spiritual system they have been fused into. To do so is more hopeless then the efforts of romantic leftists to separate the nature of the crimes of Lenin and Stalin in an effort to revive the reputation of Communism. It is only possible for them to simply go on without acknowledging the nature of how the edifice was constructed and averting their eyes from poisons that leak from the basement. The foundation is no good however and in the long run, and that may indeed be a very long run, the edifice will collapse.

My optimism and patience rest on three facts;
1. Islam was not just stagnant but in decline before the infusion of
2. Oil revenues are declining and new technologies are coming on line,
3. Loyalty to Islam is brittle thin and rivals are gaining outside of Europe.

My vision is not one of a long decline that exalts endurance for it's own sake without any hope for recovery in this world. That was the fate of Byzantium or the doom foreseen by mad Steward Denethor of Gondor. My goal is victory under terms that leave the West not just intact but revived both materially and morally. If we can do that better by enduring the slow ebb of Islam, as we endured the slow ebb of Communism, to emerge without having wounded ourselves with genocide, then I think it will be worth the time and cost involved. That does not mean that I reject all confrontation. Merely that as John Foster Dulles said of our strategic policy in his day, we should respond in a time place and manner of our own choice.

My expectation is not that the intentions of Islam as a system will change. My expectation is that their capabilities will decline, at least relatively and probably absolutely. Further I hope that with targeted efforts some members of that community will see these changes and then may be lead into more productive belief or behavioral systems.

Many years ago I asked my father why we didn't just keep rolling East in 1945. Couldn't we have avoided the costs and fears of the Cold War? Leaving aside the fact that we really didn't have the bombs to support that strategy then, his reply that focused on our moral unwillingness to wage aggressive war and confidence that if we had the right answers we would be OK, that we should not destroy ourselves to preempt our enemy, made sense then. It is hard to hold back, knowing that innocents are suffering while we wait. If we really believe and are not passive, if we fix our own house, and intervene to effect critical changes where they can do the most good, we can build a world more just than the 19th centuries web of cynical imperial alliances but freed of the 20th century's blight of totalitarianism.

How long will it take for Islam to be no more of a threat to Western Civilization than it was 100 years ago? Why don't we give it a hundred years and then you can tell me if I was wrong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Warriors

(fm the BC thread "At the Summit")

Papa Ray,
The Warriors I know are not optimists

Even in combat it does not hurt for a Commanding Officer to crack a smile at the right moment. Politics has its own rules. America is a nation of optimists that believe in the future. Our most successful politicians, no matter how ruthless behind closed doors, always projected a sunny disposition. Go down the list of the 20th century's Presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan only the duds Wilson and Carter were humorless. Hoover, the first Engineer could have used a more positive image. He tried by asking for a song to make people forget the Depression. He got what became the theme song for the Democrats, Happy Days Are Here Again.

Millions of Boomers grew up watching the original Happy Warrior, Hubert Horatio Humphrey sing it in the annual Democratic telethon. Humphrey lost the 1968 election and the bitter and angry extremists captured the Democratic Party machinery but they did not capture America's heart. Humphrey's vision became the consensus position that the public supported for a liberal domestic agenda.

Reagan understood that he needed to radiate confidence. Being of good cheer did not mean that he failed to understand reality or did not appreciate danger. When he was shot and he said to his wife "Honey I forgot to duck" and asked the doctors if they were all good Republicans millions were comforted. That was a man you could follow. Who would want to face the prospect of taking a bullet for a prig like Hillary Clinton or Obama? In 2008 the Republicans, among their many failures, were unable to communicate just how unfunny and snarky and nasty Obama was. Now that the American people have gotten a look at him it is a theme that should be ruthlessly hammered home.

(who seeks an immediate existential response to perceived threats)
How long? 100 years ago the Ummah was an impoverished backwater that posed no threat to the advance of civilization. The current problems are I believe transient and the result of specific conditions. If we use our heads we should achieve a victory that reestablishes the primacy of a wealth and knowledge and spiritually uplifting civilization within a period of time no greater than that of the recent expansion of the problem.

Don't Panic

(fm the BC thread "At the Summit")

Morton Doodslag,
Yes incrementalism, as opposed to saying “Oh My God we must kill one billion people by yesterday or the world will end.” Are you suicidal? Seriously I have no desire to cause pain but the despair is over the top. Islam has waxed and waned for 1400 years. The confluence of post WW-1 trauma and petro-dollars for the Ummah is a recent and passing problem. We ace real dangers and hard choices but panic is not the answer. On the last thread, on my bberry I only get one window and commenting is a pain, DWB is screaming that the Patriot Act gives Obama super secret unlimited powers to suspend elections. This is not only untrue but it makes us all look bad. Be of good cheer, we have a lot of work to do. People side with happy warriors.

Morton Doodslog,
(who would target the "epicenter of their ideology" to reduce casualties)
Very glad to see we agree on what is important. If you look back I did try not to make my criticism to personal and my concern, about people reinforcing each others fears not just as to the intentions of the administration but about our prospects for avoiding failure and defeat, was not entirely unreasonable. Someplace in the archives are my own concerns about the constitutions we sponsored in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as speculations regarding the governance of the oil fields. Just yesterday I wrote in excruciating length about the possibility that the lines between combatants and civilians and sovereign states and dominant subsystems have become so blurred that threatened nations and communities may disburse and preposition WMD for retaliatory purposes. Yesterday Iran essentially announced their intention to do so.

Present company excepted, we have had trolls attempt to seed the blog with either defeatist or inflammatory content. Some time ago at one at least one of the regulars at LGF was deliberately submitting calls for violence or hate speech into PJM blogs. We know that there will be efforts to disrupt tomorrows tea parties. No one should be offended if someone offers a hand and says, "Steady on, it may not be that bad."

A defense of "incrementalism" is not a defense of current policy. It is an acceptance of the intent behind the original, highly assertive in most people's opinions, Bush-Cheney Doctrine. The concept of really changing their culture, using all the tools we have as we did with Japan and Germany, is a positive pro-American policy that over time may transform the Middle East. The actual specifics were subject to dispute. If we believe in our culture we have to believe that what it does for peasants who come to America it can also do to peasants in Mesopotamia. When conservatives reject that policy they do not get Patrick Buchanan's policies as an alternative, thank God. The same as when they stayed home rather than vote for John McCain did not get them a more conservative choice. If we do not want Obama we need to support the best we can get. Bush-Cheney had a good plan worthy of support. It was certainly to good to be conflated with the current program of retreat and surrender."

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"At the Summit"

provide the guests with the kind of atmosphere they were used to at home

Do you suggest that we chain people to the walls?

If any foreign leader chooses to humiliate Obama his locking up the press is not going to hide the story. If a senior politician, excluding some senior Americans, does something it is because he wants to and if he wants the word to get out it will. After all we have been told they are more subtle nuanced and sophisticated than Americans.

If Medvedev wants to lean over and give Obama a wedgie he will and the story will get out. The last people to be informed however would be the Americans. After 40 years of worshiping the power of the free press that brought down Richard Nixon they cry now that the Masters they sold out to no longer need them. They are sunk below the level of publicity flacks, reducing national security to the standing of entertainment gossip as they chased The Sweet Smell of Success.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Munich Model

(fm the BC thread "The Third Nuclear Age")

There is a common thread behind my concern over the rise of dominant subsystems that paralyze the capacity of state actors to respond effectively according to the rules of systems theory and my speculation over how Israel, or by extension any state actor, may respond to threats from hostile elements residing within theoretically non-belligerent states. If nation states are no longer truly subsystem dominant but merely components, merely different in function from NGOs, of a larger dominant international order then why should their territorial integrity be granted any special respect?

It is of course preferable to maintain a system of law and dispute resolution in which each nations territorial integrity is respected. As I have already discussed competent government systems are needed to ensure the freedom of commerce and security of people in a complex world. My concern is that by treating all entities as equal, when clearly many would have been subject to extraterritoriality or turned into dependents or protectorates or otherwise treated as non compos mentes under legal and diplomatic systems that existed before WW-II we have brought the dysfunction of local communities into international law. This has been compounded buy the subsequent denigration of the sovereignty of the powers themselves who created and maintained the system of law and free trade. Increasingly both internationally and domestically the forces, both physical and intellectual, of law are being rendered ineffectual and are being brought down to the lowest standard of dysfunctional 3rd World communities.

If you are being attacked by thugs from the town down the road and the police in that jurisdiction shrug their shoulders while the overarching authority of the Global Order is much more concerned with whether your grandfather built his house on a wetland without obtaining all the permits, then what do you do? Eventually as law and order break down people start to protect themselves or turn to market solutions.

If the the trillion dollar naval forces of the world are unable to stop Somali pirates at what point will the insurance companies or tax payers get tired and decide to hire some deniable guys to start blowing up docks, bars, boats, cars, warehouses and homes in Somalia until the piracy magically stops? When will steps be taken off the books and out of sight to convince Swiss bankers and Italian cutouts that the business is not worth the risk?

The point of the Israeli operations portrayed in the film Munich was that at some point a state that is truly sovereign must act where it knows that the international system cannot. International law is not a suicide pact. If the Israelis decide that the survival of their state and civilization are more important than the good will of guests on Charlie Rose then they should act. Once it is established that there will be a reaction to violence emanating from what were considered sanctuaries then the temptation to use those places goes down. That means that an established willingness to target a threat from within a community can actually reduce the risk of future targeting of that community. A state must be willing to protect its citizens and should not allow a hostile element to embed within it and draw it into conflict with others.

The Russians know this, they will pursue a target to the ends of the earth and strike within the heart of London. Unfortunately they do so for the narrow reasons and in the interests of a corrupt and destructive regime. All the strong state actors that Marie Claude admires know this. Only the dedicated soft power enthusiasts of America and Britain pretend that there really is a global system of law and order that does not depend on state actors willing to ruthlessly defend their interests and citizens. Most of the internationalists even know this and are really just fronting for their sponsors while advocating standards of sovereign immunity and restraint that are only meant to work against the interests of the United States and Israel.

I know I said I wouldn't but I can't help chuckling ruefully as MC complains about me not calling the French elites the kind of fools I call the elites in the US and UK. My writing is dense and hard to follow. It is my fault for using such a poor writing style but if someone just does not get it why not say so and ask for the hard parts to be gone over? There is no shame in that. Often I have to go over it again and catch where I seem to have lost a thread.

(who think the Danes will surrender)
The Danes may surprise you. Spines can come in small packages.

Thank you.

FWIW I recommend that serious students of International Relations get two books of Morton Kaplan's
1. Political Foundations of International Law

2. Systems and Process in International Relations.


(fm the BC thread "The Third Nuclear Age")

sol vason,
Iran already has the smuggling routes

Hezbollah is all over Northern Mexico and America's Southern border is an open sore.

the obvious target is Moscow

Maybe but the Russians have created this monster. If the target was Tel Aviv then the Israelis should listen to Alexis and then target Moscow. In fact the logical thing for them to have done already would be to bury a nuke deep in the sewers beneath the Kremlin. If I was Netanyahu I would want one hidden in each city on this list.

Some people think that we are helpless to prevent an attack by a non-state actor because there is no one to retaliate against. That is not true for two reasons;
1. the state involved is a matter of definition,
2. non-state actors cannot marshal resources without the aid of a state.

The Ummah considers itself a state. They just question the legitimacy of everyone else. A decision not to attack members of the Ummah because they are labeled as citizens of some state is a projection of our values and identities onto them. To do so is a profoundly imperialist construct. We should treat the members of the Ummah with more respect and take their construct of the division of the world into the dar al-Islam and the dar al-Harb seriously. The Ummah can be targeted.

Nuclear weapons are not manufactured in a garage by a mad scientist from Central Casting and his hunchback sidekick. The components are not safely stored in High School lockers. The funds needed are not gathered, stored and transferred by men with cleft sticks. The weapons are not transported across oceans and continents by students with book-bags. All of these tasks use a legal and commercial infrastructure that demands a system of state power to support it. Governments and the communities that they embed in can be targeted.

This is the strongest argument against the libertarian ideal that I have encountered. In the real world it turns out that it is impossible to do complicated tasks without the support of a government. Governments may be of greater or lesser effectiveness and they may be penetrated and subverted to serve private interests but even bad guys depend on some functions of government.

For the record I prefer the less apocalyptic vision of Armageddon Rex to the potential extermination of the Ummah. Costly reeducation plans would have to be included.

Marie Claude @37,
If you were not looking to stick a knife in people by promoting the idea of (presumably Jewish) racist views to the compilation of a wiki list of all things, especially ridiculous given that NYC, LA and London are on that list, you would have noticed that Paris proper at only 2.2 million does not make the cut. Sorry but you are just not that important. Yes, I know that Paris Metro is over 11 million in population. However I grant that if I was making up a real list for Netanyahu I would be sure to include Paris, Lyon and Marseilles. Targeting the inner cities with the Enarchs is easy, the hard part would be targeting the Ummah in suburbs.

We are dealing with very serious and difficult issues here. It is not my wish to be gratuitously offensive or threatening to anyone. When you see an opportunity to twist something, under the cover of a joke, into a charge of racism you bring to mind echoes of racist charges of divided loyalties. Remember Dreyfus? So the joke was not funny. My formulation can be attacked on many grounds, as immoral or impractical or even with a straight statement that Israel cannot attack the countries on that or any likely list because of what it would do to the Jewish people but not by saying that the almost random list I pulled off the wiki is missing one place because that place has Jews. Some idiot someplace is going to pull your comment up on the Internet and go "Aha, more proof of the International Global Jewish Banking Conspiracy."

As is my custom I decline to enter into an extended colloquy with you on such a topic.

Perhaps we can now hear of the criticality of Paris, Texas.

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"The Third Nuclear Age"

The NPT was a product of a particular systems dynamic. A good overview of the development of the field of international systems theory can be found here.

Many years ago as a student I studied Systems and Process in International Relations with Morton Kaplan at the University of Chicago. There are two things to know about his theoretical construct,

1. it has been superseded in influence by other theories, those of Kenneth Waltz notably, which demand less specificity and offer less predictive power,

2. Kaplan offered an elegant and sophisticated theory in which 5 overall systems could be classified in broad categories with simple rules and the component actors could be themselves viewed as subsidiary systems. A key quality to determine for actors at each level in his theory is whether they are system dominant or subsystem dominant. The overall international system is subsystem dominant. Functioning nation-states are system dominant.

While Kaplan described 5 global systems the only ones that have existed in reality are the Balance of Power and the Loose Bipolar systems. It may be speculated that the end of the Cold War offered the United States a brief opportunity to transform itself, as the sole surviving superpower, into the dominant actor in a Unit Veto system. The subsequent deterioration of the American position may be explained less by the predictable actions of other state actors seeking to constrain her than by a shift to subsystem dominance that allowed internal actors to weaken the ability of the United States as a system-actor to maintain its position. In other words was the United States really reduced in power by the rise of Russia and China or by the actions of internal elites who deliberately weakened her?

Soft Power and arms control process enthusiasts mistake a treaty, like the NPT, for an input that has power in its own right to influence the behavior of states. In doing so they treat the product of a subsystem dominant international process with no overarching legal and coercive authority as being the equivalent to a domestic law. The NPT worked because it served the interests of the two dominant players in a Loose Bipolar system. Without their support it becomes a dead letter. Without the power of the United States to enforce it the NPT, like most of the structures of international law, peace, and trade built over the last 60 years, becomes nothing more than a jobs program for members of the IAEA.

If we are now moving into a Balance of Power system then it will be essential to establish five roughly peer competitors to maintain stability. The failure of actors to clearly see the state of the overall system and their positions within it creates instability. This period of transition, given the presence of WMD and the rise of non-state actors, is especially dangerous. Traditional systems theories such as those of Kaplan and Waltz do not adequately address the issue of non-state actors. Non-state actors like al-Qaeda or media elites can be viewed as potentially system dominant subsytems that cross borders.