...the warbloggers, those armchair generals who appear to delight in conflict, war and death -- so long as it all occurs far from wherever they happen to be, while their fingers fly over their laptops, while they sip their evening drinks and watch their widescreen TVs in their oh-so-comfortable homes.Second, the notion that simplisme is the root of the desire for war, and that one who understands the complex, rich broth of history would take a different position:
According to the brave, fearless, always-typing warbloggers, we had spread before us an old-fashioned morality play: on one side, we had pure, untarnished good -- the noble, honorable, uncompromising United States, which stands only for truth, justice, freedom and liberty for all. And on the other side, we had a monster like Saddam Hussein -- and anyone who expressed a "but" clearly had placed himself on Saddam's side, and on the side of torture, the murder of innocents, the gassing of children, rape rooms, and innumerable other crimes against humanity. There was no middle ground, no complexity, no nuance here -- it was one or the other. You were either on the side of the typing warbloggers and of Pure Good, or allied with the forces of Unadulterated Evil.Third, the notion that criticism somehow equals censorship:
I also realized something much more important: all those who adopted Coalition of the Pissy as their war whoop of condemnation against anyone declining to join their mindless dance of joy are nothing more than moral bullies and intellectual thugs. They are the enemies of mind, and of thought -- and they are the enemies of truth, justice and freedom in a very deep sense. They are the advance guard of the Truth Police. For them, history does not exist, nor does the past in any meaningful sense at all, nor does the future. These barbarians live only in the moment, only in the now -- disconnected from everything that has become before, and from everything that is likely to flow in the future from our present actions. Thought, principles and ideas are alien to them, in the most profound sense imaginable.Fourth, the notion that it's really All Our Fault:
And if you want thorough, indeed overwhelming, documentary evidence of the numerous kinds of support provided to Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s by both the United States and Britain, go to this page. Follow the links -- and despair, but wonder no more where Saddam's "power" came from. But our own crimes and betrayals still continued. Not only did we build up a man we knew to be a vicious, brutal dictator when it suited the demands of an utterly pragmatic, unprincipled foreign policy -- a policy which many enthusiastic supporters of our current foreign policy now want to see continued with Taiwan, so that we can sell yet another free country down the river for the benefit of a totalitarian dictatorship -- but we then stood by while innocents were slaughtered by the tens of thousands. The following has to be one of the blackest marks in our recent history -- and one of the most damning indictments of a "pragmatic" foreign policy, a policy which deliberately and intentionally spits in the face of principles, and of the value of human life.Fifth, the notion that having done something wrong in the past, we can't right it.
...these people who proclaim their own moral superiority at every turn, and condemn those who do not agree with them in every detail as loathsome "Saddam-lovers" who "hate America" -- apparently never learned, or are now determined to forget, that it was the United States, Britain and other Western nations who built up and supported Saddam when it suited our purposes, and that it was the United States that stood by while courageous Iraqis were slaughtered literally under our noses.Sixth, the overweening moral arrogance that seems to characterize a big part of the antiwar movement.
I want to state one thing very clearly and unmistakably for the benefit of any warbloggers who might read this -- particularly those warbloggers and other hawks who strut their self-announced moral superiority and constantly shove it in the face of everyone else, and who act as if any disagreement with their historically ignorant views of the world constitutes some sort of treason. You are the enemies of America -- just as you are the enemies of thought, of history, of ideas, of any conception of what genuine liberty means, and how it is to be achieved.Let's go through these in order. First, I've hammered a nail in the chickenhawk argument before; I should try again with a wooden stake. It's a vile debate tactic, aimed as silencing those with whom you disagree, and intellectually senseless, as it would suggest that only the troops ought to vote on issues involving war - something that I hope we're pretty far away from in this country. Second, no, the issue isn't the acceptance of nuance, but the inability to see anything in the other side's facts or argument that can simply be accepted - as it makes sense to accept that Saddam's capture was good - without a left-handed attempt to devalue it.Again, it's about devaluing an opponent's arguments so that no real weighing can take place. I fully accept the idea that war is a bad thing - that innocents (and innocence) die; that events seldom play out according to plan; that plans themselves are incomplete and contingent. I'm just weighing the scales differently, and am willing to accede both the goodwill and intellectual probity of those who disagree with me. Doesn't mean I don't think they aren't wrong; people often are. But I don't need to deny the idea that deaths in combat - of our troops, civilians, or even our enemies - are tragic, or that lives are in fact shattered by loss and injury in wartime. And I can hold that thought without the balancing 'but' and still hold on to my belief that those tragedies and losses are sometimes necessary or unavoidable. In my universe, that's what qualifies a nuance and intellectual sophistication. Third, no, saying that you're wrong - even loudly saying that you're wrong - isn't censorship, it isn't something that makes us 'enemies of truth, justice and freedom' - unless, of course, you are the sole arbiter of truth, justice, and freedom (see arrogance, below). I'm tired of reading in the Los Angeles Times plaints from those who explain that their dissent is being crushed by the totalitarian State. If the State was crushing your dissent, you wouldn't be on page A3 of the Times, you'd be in Pelican Bay. that ought to be a difference we can all understand. Fourth, where does the notion that all of history is driven by the Trilateral Commission (or, more seriously, by the U.S.) come from? Everything isn't our fault, nor is it entirely our responsibility. The West, collectively, has both some responsibility for what happens in the Middle East, and some stake in how it comes out. That stake was raised dramatically on 9/11 - as it would have been had we watched a cloud of debris, dust, and human ash rain down over Paris rather than Manhattan. But to suggest that we - in the U.S., or even in the West in its entirety are the only actors in this drama - is both counterfactual and morally demeaning to the actual people who live in those far away lands. They have the status of actors, of moral agents, not props in some morality play being acted out among the intellectuals here in California. Fifth, our failure to march on Baghdad and to support the Sunni uprising was a stupid and immoral act. But I'll point out that it was many of the same actors in Europe and the UN who counseled that we limit our action to ejecting Saddam from Kuwait. And having failed to do the right thing once precludes us from doing the right thing later - how? Sixth, I certainly reserve the right to enthusiastically argue on behalf of what I believe in. But I make those arguments in the context of my belief that the rest of the universe is full of smart, well-informed people who are worth listening to. And that not only do I hope they I can convince them of things important to me, but that it just may be that I learn something from them. Because if I can't learn from other people - if my only lessons come from self-reflection and dialogs held with my mirror - there wouldn't be any point in public dialog, and I could save myself the effort of typing these words for public consumption. UPDATE: Demosophia comments, and adds some historical echoes from an earlier era.
I don't think this means that the Bush Administration should be taking direction action against them -- closing off their funding via shutting down Saddam is a good start, and a policy of slow strangulation directed at Arafat and his fellow terrorists is probably the most politic at the moment. We need to try to squeeze off the EU funding, too, especially now that it's been admitted to be part of a proxy war by the EU not just against Israel, but America. But let's stop pretending that what's going on between Israel and the Palestinians is some sort of family misunderstanding. It's war, and the Palestinians -- and their EU supporters -- think it's a war not just against Israel, but against us. We should tailor our approach accordingly.But I still think he's is wrong in this - wrong because I tend to think that while a bloodthirsty cult run by kleptocrats does dominate the Palestinian people today, I continue to believe (based on not much more than optimism and my own view of human nature) that this dominance doesn't have to last. This implies that the issue is the leadership and dominant culture, and that the average Palestinian hasn't completely internalized the values of that homicidal leadership; or rather that it is best to proceed as though that's the case. That's a subtle but crucial distinction. It implies that we can be, in the terms of the Marines, both the "best friend and worst enemy" to the Palestinian people, and it builds a door that reasonable Palestinians can follow should they choose to. Making that choice possible should be the goal of our policies in that area. The paths are twofold; to openly go to war with the Palestinians (and in doing so, ultimately with the Arab world), or break the problem apart by doing several things: dry up the political and financial incentives being offered the Palestinians and terrorists to fight rather than simply live; find and neutralize the committed fighters; and work to empower (initially by keeping them from being killed by the more radical elements) the majority who I have to believe simply want to raise kinds and lead normal lives. Note that none of what I'm proposing is easy. And that elements of it do involve the explicit use of force - against terrorist organizations operating in the Occupied territories and judiciously, against states that harbor or sponsor them. But I think that it's easier to try the complex solution before we simply sweep the table clean with a war. Look, so far the Arab states have made it clear that they will fight the war against Israel to the last Palestinian. They have gotten a free ride in that they can send relatively insignificant amounts of cash and aid and so at a low cost have a lot of impact on Israel. Our goals should be in part to end that free ride, and free the Palestinians from their role - as Glenn describes it - as cannon fodder in order to let them make a conscious choice about whether they want war or peace. I won't foreclose on the latter possibility until it's clear that the Palestinian people have.
"The length and high tempo of Iraq operations are stressing all the Army's depots. Gary Motsek, deputy commander for support operations at the Army Materiel Command, says all five depots - at Red River; Anniston, Ala.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Letterkenny, Pa.; and Tobyhanna, Pa. - are spending more money and employing more people this year than last year. Spending is expected to double from $2 billion in fiscal 2003 to $4.5 billion in 2004, and overall employment could rise by as much as 15 percent - from about 7,000 to 8,000 or more. "Depots across the board will be executing substantially more work than they have in the past," says Motsek. To handle the rising tide of work, the Army may, for the first time, request a Pentagon waiver of the so- called "50-50" rule, which prevents contractors from performing more than half of all depot work. The Army is running out of people and space to do the work. Currently, the Army contracts out about 48 percent of its depot work to contractors."...and this passage:
"Lately, workers have had to discard more shoes than usual. Under normal wear, Bradley tracks are changed once a year, after 1,000 miles of wear. Today they are reaching the 1,000-mile mark in two or three months. As a result, the Red River production facility, the Army's only in-house source of Bradley tracks (Goodyear does some limited work), has gone from producing 5,000 to 6,000 shoes a month (enough to outfit about 30 Bradleys) to as many as 18,000 a month (enough for about 107 Bradleys). This year, the facility has ramped up from three shifts, five days a week, to three shifts - including one that's 12 hours long - seven days a week. The number of federal workers at the rubber plant has increased from 78 to 128 and more contractors have been brought on under short-term contracts to help cover the added shifts. Depot employees say they view the extra hours as their contribution to the war. Many wage-grade employees have worked so much overtime that they have stopped getting extra pay. Instead, they trade their overtime for more vacation days because earning more money would push them into higher tax brackets. Russell Vogeltanz, a front-line supervisor in the rubber facility, says he usually has no problem finding workers willing to extend their shift from eight to 12 hours or to work a weekend, though "it's a little hard to make people come out on Sunday, being the Lord's Day," he says. Not only have workers been putting in overtime, but they also have been going places they never expected. Before the Iraq war began, the Army transformed an empty warehouse at the Army's Arifjan Camp in Kuwait into a sixth depot. Nearly 500 civilian workers rotated in and out of the front-line repair center during the past year preparing for combat and then maintaining equipment during the fighting. It is the first depot created in a theater of war. Motsek says that having a depot near the battlefield saves the money and time required to ship equipment stateside. "Instead of just pushing parts and giving advice, these guys are there tearing down engines and making repairs," he says."
There is a certain kind of bright but brittle mind that loves this sort of either/or thinking. What such minds cannot accept is the common-sensical notion that real life ó including that of the press ó is lived mostly in the pragmatic middle. There, experience has demonstrated that intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline enable journalists to gather and report facts with an impartiality that ó though sometimes imperfect ó is good enough to serve the public's interest in the generality of cases.I have to go do chores, but will comment pretty extensively later in the day; meanwhile I'll toss this out for your review, edification, and amusement. Don't forget to go back and look at this old post of mine when you're thinking about it. [Update: OK, here're my comments on this: Rutten seems to have missed that whole Reformation thing; the notion that truth might not have to be derived from a priesthood - and make no mistake, when he starts talking about 'intellectual rigor and emotional self-discipline ,' he's talking about a priesthood - is something that
As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. In that spirit, our Saturday posts to this blog will always be "good news". We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, laugh at humourous events, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. It's a great break from the week, and something I think the blogosphere could use more of.
I began doing this on Saturdays, and my Muslim, Christian, and non-religious colleagues have all graciously agreed to respect and work within this Winds of Change.NET tradition. So, welcome to Winds of Change.NET... and Shabbat Shalom.
A number of years ago, we lived next door to a diplomat at the Pakistani Consulate. You might think this would be a recipe for friction, but he was nice enough. 9/11 was several years away and if anyone had a legitimate beef, it was our (formerly Pakistani) Isma'ili Muslim neighbours on the other side. But I digress. Anyway, Christmas comes around, and some bright acquaintance decides to give this Muslim diplomat a bottle of whiskey for the holidays. Since this is sort of like sending the Israeli Consulate a smoked ham, our neighbour came over with an embarassed expression. Would we like a bottle of fine whiskey? To this day, I still think of it as the perfect North American holiday story: a Muslim giving his Jewish neighbours a bottle of whiskeyÖ for Christmas.Carnival entries are listed by blogname in reverse alphabetical order, and are arranged into several categories: * Holiday Spirit * Religion * Humour * You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch * The Human Condition * Space: It's Not Just for Santa any More * International Politics * Domestic Politics G-d bless us all, every one.
"Thank you so much for including Operation Gratitude in your Support the Troops section. I want to give you an update! While I did start this as a one-person operation, we have now linked forces with the California Army National Guard, 746th QM BN out of Van Nuys--where we do our warehousing and staging. During our major Support the Troops Rally in November, we had over 200 volunteers help assemble almost 4000 packages in one weekend. Since then, we have ~25 volunteers on a weekly basis helping at the Armory, thousands of supporters around the country contributing items, letters and funds, and we have now sent over 7000 packages! We will continue sending up to 500 packages per week throughout the year and plan another mass event in the spring! To all the teachers out there whose students provided holiday letters and cards for the troops: MANY THANKS!! And keep those cards and letters coming--especially for events such as Valentine's Day! And Girl Scout troops: we would love to include your cookies in our weekly packages! Many thanks to all of you everywhere who have helped bring a smile to thousands of troops' faces this holiday season through Operation Gratitude care packages! Fondly, Carolyn Blashek Founder, Operation Gratitude
"Regarding the Al-Muhaya operation [the November 8, 2003 bombing in Riyadh],, it can be claimed that the house of Salul [a derogatory term used by al-Qaeda against the Saudi monarchy] had some media success in portraying the battle as the killing of Muslims, and in inciting some against the Mujahideen. But this effect is temporary and will disappear if, for example, the Mujahideen strike another blow in America. Then sympathy will return to what it was in the past, and may even increase."In Conclusion ... While attacks may or may not materialize over the course of the holiday season, we should nevertheless keep in mind that as long as men like Lewis Attiyat continue to roam freely and have access to Saudi finances, we may as well get used to this whole system of multi-colored terror alerts and vague warnings from the authorities.
"Aid groups worry that their attempts to remain independent in the eyes of Afghans, including Taliban sympathizers, has been compromised by U.S. involvement in delivering assistance. But Barno suggested it was time for relief groups to accept that they could not be neutral after a stream of deliberate attacks on de-miners and well-diggers, and said he hoped aid workers would return to Pashtun areas. "They probably have to, and they are, realizing that they are now operating in a different world," he said."They do, and most have chosen to be hostile. As Exhibit A, please compare and contrast what these international NGOs did in the just as dangerous Somalia after the UN armed aid mission left, and compare it to the bug outs from Iraq and Afghanistan. I have said numerous times over on Winds of Change that international aid NGOs are parasites on international disorder, and that the American military's mission to eliminate that disorder made the American military the NGOs' enemy. For the American military to fulfill its mission means the elimination of the work international NGOs do. Previous articles here on Winds have noted: * Amnesty's Moral Bankruptcy * Silence from Amnesty & Human Rights Watch The U.S. Military has noticed, too, as I mentioned in these 2 articles: * U.S. Military - Back to the Future! * US to International NGOs -- Drop Dead In the face of NGOs who would rather oppose America than do their jobs, the U.S. military is drawing the appropriate lessons as predicted. In short, the American military and government is learning from both defeats and victories and applying those lessons to the current battlefield. The same cannot be said of our enemies ÔŅĹ a roster that includes most international NGOs.
Sixth, we're going to develop security mechanisms based on the theory that fine-grained systems that bring information and communications to the existing public safety community, as well as the public at large are better than huge, centralized bureaucratic solutions;I'm going to skip ahead in my dialog with Calpundit, because this topic is actually the one I'm the most interested in. It deals with two issues that are closest to me right now: 1) national security; and 2) reimagining government policy in the terms of 'emergence'. There's a lot of woo-woo today around 'emergent' systems; it is a little-understood concept but one with applications from biology to urban studies to e-commerce and computer games. I have been nagging at the idea that somehow I could marry my liberal goals with emergent means, and divorce modern liberalism from centralized command-and-control mechanisms. It's a fuzzy, not-yet-thought-out set of ideas for me, but one that it working it's way closer to the surface of my brain.
In the simplest terms, they solve problems by drawing on masses of relatively stupid elements, rather than a single, intelligent "executive branch." They are bottom-up systems, not top-down. They get their smarts from below. In more technical terms, they are complex adaptive systems that display emergent behavior. In these systems, agents residing on one scale start producing behavior that lies one scale above them: ants create colonies; urbanites create neighborhoods; simple pattern-recognition software learns how to recommend new books. The movement from low-level rules to high-level sophistication is what we call emergence.Security, to me, is an excellent place to start talking about the policy utility of this concept. We're seeing the cost of highly centralized, overly-complex and intrusive security every time we fly. Does it work? Are we safer in the air today than we were on Sept. 10, 2001 because we all have to take our shoes off, or because passengers have changed their response doctrine? I've said it a hundred times; no one not armed with guns is going to hijack an airplane any time soon. The passengers won't allow it. Every time you take your shoes off as you go through security, ask yourself how well Richard Reid did, and how he got stopped. The reality is that no centrally planned security apparatus can adapt fast enough to the variety of challenges that an imaginative opponent can present. And the efforts to do so will require the imposition of an increasingly Stalinist security apparatus. We're seeing this play out the back-and-forth over civil liberties versus security that is taking place in Washington. So what's the response then? Do we abandon security in order to maintain our freedom? Or do we abandon freedom to remain secure? Or do we compromise, as we are, to wind up half-free and half-secure? I think there's another way. Conceptually, it looks like this: Instead of centralizing and bureaucratizing the defensive part of our security apparatus - of 'professionalizing it' - move the responsibility outward, where it really will be anyway. The reactions to 9/11 weren't coordinated in Washington D.C., they were done on the ground in Manhattan and in the air over Pennsylvania. We have a large network of 'first responders.' They are the police, fire, hazmat, EMT and emergency medicine staffs that exist in every city and county of the country. The reality is that any unanticipated terrorist action will first be met by these forces, not some super-special SWAT group coordinated out of the Pentagon. So why not beef these forces up? Rather than creating a national-scale bureaucracy that is guaranteed to get to the scene too late to do anything, why not move the responsibility outward? Concretely, that might mean some policies along these lines: * Improving the training and escalation procedures for front-line responders to enable them to recognize a terrorist act and quickly escalate the response to an appropriate level. Improve the tactical training for police in dealing with terrorist-level threats, and beef up local responses to explosive devices by better training and equipping local bomb squads. * Improve the training of even lower-level responders like private security guards in malls and office buildings to enable them to identify and respond, where appropriate, and to effectively communicate upward to local police and fire services. * Improve the public-health infrastructure (this would be a good thing regardless) to enable it to identify and respond to bioterror more quickly. This involves, unsurprisingly, better training local EMT and emergency room personnel in identifying and communicating potential outbreaks. Notice that each of these points relies to a great extent on two things: # Creating a doctrine in which the lowest level possible reacts to the threat; and # Creating a communications network (which is a combination of communications technology and the human attention and connections necessary to make that technology effective that connects local agencies upward and laterally. Overall, there is a current set of beliefs that each level will wait for the next level up to deal with a terrorist act. A citizen will tell a security guard, who will call the police, who will call SWAT, who will call the FBI, who will call the HRT, who will call the military. By the time we're done playing 'telephone,' it's all going to over except burying the bodies. At Columbine, the police response was right out of the current playbook. Secure a perimeter, evacuate all the civilians you can get out of the way, wait for SWAT and the bomb squad to show up, stage and prepare, and go in and secure the building. That didn't work so well there. But it was the standard doctrine, established because we believed that an unplanned response or a response without the necessary overwhelming force would be an ineffective response. So the police trained to wait for the situation to be right. The passengers on AA Flight 11 similarly followed doctrine; when hijacked sit tight, avoid confrontation, wait until the plane gets on the ground and the grownups either negotiate a settlement or effect a rescue. That didn't work so well either. Similar stories in Thurston High School and on AA Flight 93 ended differently. It wasn't because there were better plans, or necessarily because the specific people were braver or smarter (although on Flight 93 they were obviously better informed). It was because they operated on a different doctrine, which involved immediate action, and not passively waiting for someone else to solve the problem. Now some problems can't easily be solved by a few high school kids or airline passengers, and I don't mean to suggest that they are. But I do mean to suggest that we need to invert our doctrine - actually, to bring our doctrine in conformance with reality. Because we're spending billions building capabilities that aren't. Because the reality is that the only people who will have a chance to avert an unanticipated terrorist attack will be a couple of security guards and local cops. And the first people to react to it will be EMT's firefighters, and the staff of the local ER. So let's design a security system around them. There are some collateral benefits of doing this. First, we spend less time and energy building a giant, centralized domestic security apparatus which will inevitably be abused by those in power. By diffusing the power, we make that inevitable abuse harder to do, easier to detect, and more limited in scope. Second, the additional capability we build into local law enforcement and public health bears immediate fruit in better law enforcement and public health, even absent a terror attack. The communications infrastructure that will help Southern California agencies respond to an attack can also be used in the event of fires or earthquakes. Better public health infrastructure will not only limit the population's exposure to bioterror, but to naturally occurring disease as well. Practically, not every threat can be met at a local level. NEST will never be a county function. And offense will remain the best defense, and will never be a local function. But if we want to build a truly robust security system, we'd do well to heed Bruce Schneier (author of the great book 'Beyond Fear'):
The moral, Schneier came to believe, is that security measures are characterized less by their success than by their manner of failure. All security systems eventually miscarry in one way or another. But when this happens to the good ones, they stretch and sag before breaking, each component failure leaving the whole as unaffected as possible.and
"The trick to remember is that technology canít save you,Ē Schneier says. ďwe know this in our own lives. We realize thereís no magic anti-burglary dust that we can sprinkle on our cars to prevent them from being stolen. We know that car alarms donít provide much protection. The Club at best makes burglars steal the car next to you. For real safety we park on nice streets where people notice if somebody smashes the window. Or we park in garages, where somebody watches the car. In both cases people are the essential security element. You always build the system around people.ĒThe people on the front lines. Angela the baggage clerk. She's not going to violate my civil liberties, and she might actually save me some day, rather than investigating afterwards.
"When I was in the desert," said Nasrudin one day, "I caused an entire tribe of horrible and bloodthirsty Bedouins to run." --"However did you do it?" "Easy, I just ran, and they ran after me."Sufi stories usually teach on several levels. What lessons can we find in this one?
The possibility that he could acquire weapons. Remember that. For better or worse, that's what's left of the public rationale for going to war. Was it a good enough reason? Your call. But I wonder how strong the support for war would have been if Bush had said that back in JanuarySorry, Kevin. Gotta disagree. I'll toss a quick question to Kevin and Kos and some of the others who share those views: If we'd found WMD or real proto-WMD by now, would your position be different? Would the invasion have been wholly legitimate? Answer honestly now...
"Saddam Hussein had been acquiring weapons of mass destruction. We carried out with the help of an alliance, a war [Desert Storm], in which we put Saddam Hussein back into his box. The United Nations voted on a set of resolutions, which demanded Saddam Hussein live up to his obligations and get rid of weapons of mass destruction. "The United Nations Security Council imposed a set of sanctions on Saddam Hussein until he did that. It also established an organization that is set up to monitor whether Hussein had gotten rid of his weapons of mass destruction. "There has never been an embargo against food and medicine. It's just that Hussein has just not chosen to spend his money on that. Instead, he has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction, and palaces for his cronies."Sandy Berger, in 1998:
Berger sought to frame the dispute in broad, strategic terms. He said the world could not afford to allow Iraq to flout the will of the international community. "The lesson of the 20th century is, and we've learned through harsh experience, the only answer to aggression and outlaw behavior is firmness," Berger said. "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983," Berger said.President Clinton, in 1998:
"Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons," Clinton said in a December 16 statement from the White House.These are the ones I could Google. There are a bunch more collected at http://www.nowanow.com/wmds.htm. I list these, not to try and parse the blame for whatever faulty intelligence there may have been between Republicans and Democrats; I say it because reasonable, smart, well-informed people other than those in the Bush Administration believed that Saddam had WMD, and was willing to use them. And so to look at the decision made to invade, we have to look not in the light of the perfect information of hindsight, but in the context of the imperfect information available - to the question of whether it was a toy gun or a real Desert Eagle. There are absolutely legitimate questions to ask about the quality of our intelligence about Iraq - from before the first Gulf War until today. There are absolutely legitimate questions to ask about whether an invasion was the appropriate response to the risk of WMD. But those aren't the questions we're asking. And before we do, let's step further into the reality of the pre-invasion world, and move away from an Anthony Dwain Lee innocently holding a prop, standing at a party, and to Alan Newsome:
Alan Newsome never thought his BB gun would kill anyone. When he brandished it in the hallway of his Harlem apartment building, it was just something to help scare some cash out of a burger joint deliveryman. But the deliveryman turned out to be a cop, and when Newsome pulled the fake gun, the cop's partner shot the 17-year-old three times in the chest, killing him.The threat posed by Newsome - brandishing a realistic looking pellet gun - was one that any reasonable person would have responded to with deadly force. Saddam may have thought he had WMD because his staff lied to him. He may have thought he could use the empty threat to bluff. But the fact of his behavior moves him from the Lee category to that of Newsome.
Clark isn't indifferent or hostile to American power: He wants the U.S. to be the most powerful country in the world in a hundred years, thinks it will be good for the world if that happens, and is here to tell us how to do that. His answer is that of FDR, Truman, and Kennedy. The U.S. triumphs when it supports institutions that embody our values -- universally attractive, if pursued seriously and humbly -- and further our interests -- to the extent that they're compatible with those of most of the world's citizens.Kleiman:
As I would have expected from Andy, the essay has a highly original slant on what this campaign could be about: making the Democratic Party once again a comfortable place for those who are comfortable in their patriotism, and linking a progressive domestic agenda to the requirements of world leadership. You might call Clark's message as interpreted by Sabl -- though Sabl doesn't himself use this label -- the liberalism of national greatness.I like both of those quotes a lot. I've been put off from Clark by the sad fact that many of my military friends (albeit a self-selected and highly conservative group) actively detest him. I'll go read the book and do some more thinking over the next month or so.
A privately funded rocket plane called SpaceShipOne yesterday broke the sound barrier over California's Mojave Desert, achieving what its developer called the first supersonic flight achieved by a nongovernmental effort.A homebuilt supersonic rocket. (Admittedly, it's hard to call anything built by genius Burt Rutan 'homebuilt,' but still - I wonder how the level of effort compared with that in building the X-1?) [Update2: Commenter Mike Daley catches me in a DOOOH! moment and reminds us all that Rand Simberg and Jay Manifold are a) all over this; and b) actually know something about it... Update: Commenter Frank Martin provides a link to some pictures and first-hand commentary! Thanks, Frank...] WINDS' COVERAGE: * April 19/03: Private Manned Spaceplane Unveiled as the craft makes its first test flight. * Dec 18/03: SpaceShipOne breaks Mach One in a test flight. * Juune 8/04: The system prepares for its first space flight. Go, SpaceShipOne, Go! * June 21/04: First full flight successful! * Sept 29/04: SpaceShipOne makes its first official X-Prize flight, and succeeds. That flight had some scary moments, though. * Oct 5/04: Mission Accomplished! SpaceshipOne wins the X-Prize, and breaks the X-15's manned altitude record for an aircraft.
Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work. But I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!My two paying clients are v. busy right now, my two charity clients are even busier, and Biggest Guy just showed up from Virginia, so I have a houseful of kids as we get ready for the holidays. But wait! There's more!
Can promoting free-market deregulation and democracy at the same time be a recipe for ethnic persecution - or even genocide?
Whether you're a liberal or a conservative, Amy Chua's "Vengeful Majorities" will make you think. Hard. I'd put it right up there beside Lewis' "The Roots of Muslim Rage," Kaplan's "The Coming Anarchy" and Harris' "Our World Historical Gamble" as articles you need to read in order to understand the shape of the modern world:
"Market-dominant minorities are the Achilles heel of free market democracy. In societies with such a minority, markets and democracy favour not just different people or different classes but different ethnic groups. Markets concentrate wealth, often spectacular wealth, in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. In these circumstances, the pursuit of free market democracy becomes an engine of potentially catastrophic ethnonationalism, pitting a frustrated indigenous majority, easily aroused by opportunistic politicians, against a resented, wealthy ethnic minority. This conflict is playing out in country after country today, from Bolivia to Sierra Leone, from Indonesia to Zimbabwe, from Russia to the middle east."
Like I said, this is an article that will make you think. The core dynamic certainly makes intuitive sense, and there's a lot more to the article. It may even be relevant to Sunday's "Anti-Globalization, anti-Semitic, anti-American post, which covered the growing fascist/marxist/islamist convergence within global idiotarianism. Read her entire article, and you'll see what I mean.
"Vengeful Minorities" is actually derived from her book World on Fire, which I now plan to find and read. Salon.com offers a worthwhile review, and Chua's interview with Booknotes.org is good synopsis that helps to put her work in perspective.
I paid special attention to her description of the links between these dynamics and America's place in a globalizing world. It's one thing to talk about the convergence of antiglobalism with hatred of Jews and of America - quite another to begin to explain how this process works, and what lies underneath. Kudos to Amy Chua for bringing a fresh approach to some important problems.
ChicagoBoyz takes this logic one step further in "Anglosphere Achievement and Global Resentment," a gold mine of links to interesting resources and perspectives. I don't mention Chicagoboyz often enough, especially since Jay Manifold started blogging there.
Still, this is an issue that goes beyond left/right. Responding to the comment that her work has received praise from across the political spectrum, Chua notes:
"I think that -- I think that a lot of people are very bored of the debate about globalization. It's sort of going nowhere, and people are tired of it. And I don`t even think it`s make sense to talk about the right and the left when it comes to globalization. So I think that both globalization's critics and globalization's enthusiasts overlook -- both make mistakes. They both overlook the ethnic dimensions of free market democracy. So I feel that my book is non-partisan, or at least along traditional lines, and you know, neither left nor right, in any meaningful way."
Maybe. There are holes in her arguments and a definite bias in her worldview, as some of the Amazon reviews are quick to note. Even so, her work is a useful and potentially important contribution.
Ideologies, even good ideologies, have limit cases. Good intentions aren't enough - if we really want to help, it's critically important to know where those limits are. Bravo to Amy Chua for beginning a debate that will deepen our understanding at this critical time.
UPDATE: Peaktalk has some insightful thoughts on this matter, also based on his personal experience in Asia.
A mountainside is split in two, His coward legions fall. His shackled cities fade from view Beneath a smoky pall. Armored treads sound in the street, The tanks are not his own. He has bid many to be slain. He'll face his death alone. Cineas told Pyrrhus that 'Rome has a thousand heads.' And Rome was a republic, strong After that king was dead. The tyrant butchers live in fear And we go on and on. A century shall find us here And every tyrant gone. Our carriers loom off his coast. Our bombers fill his skies. And brave, skilled men with stealthy tread Prepare his grim surprise. Grant, and Sherman, Patton, Greene Have taught us to make war. We now pick up their legacy And free the world once more"So he wrote. So it was. The tyrant butchers live in fear... and we go on and on.
A little while ago, I wrote a series of articles covering the growing confluence of neo-Marxists, neo-Fascists, and Islamists, whose seemingly disparate ideologies appear to be uniting around a common set of hates ["Idiotarianism: Exhibit #27,349" | "Why Idiotarianism? Why Now?"].
I'm not the only one who noticed. Charles Johnson at LGF has been the most reliable and consistent tracker of this phenomenon, and The Counterrevolutionary's excellent short series [The Dynamics of Mass Hate | Why Do They Hate?] is worth your time. The issue is also starting to receive serious attention beyond the blogosphere - as well it should. We recently covered French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut's "The New Antisemisitism," for instance, and now Mark Strauss writes in "Antiglobalism's Jewish Problem" (Foreign Policy Magazine, Nov/Dec 2003):
"The browns and greens are not simply plagiarizing one another's ideas. TheyÔŅĹre frequently reading from the same page. In Canada, a lecture by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist David Icke was advertised in lefty magazines such as Shared Vision and Common Ground.... Far-right nationalists, such as former skinhead Jaroslaw Tomasiewicz, have infiltrated the Polish branch of the international antiglobalization organization ATTAC. The British Fascist Party includes among its list of recommended readings the works of left-wing antiglobalists George Monbiot and Noam Chomsky. A Web site warning of the dangers of "Jewish Plutocracy, Jewish Power" includes links to antiglobalization NGOs such as Corpwatch and Reclaim Democracy.... "By pointing to this so-called globalisation as our main problem, the anti-MAI activists prepare our thinking for the corresponding logical consequenceÔŅĹthe struggle for 'our own' local economy, and as a consequence also for 'our own' state and culture," the director of De Fabel van de illegaal warned. "Left-wing groups are spreading an ideology that offers the New Right, rather than the left, bright opportunities for future growth."
Mass-hate movements are serious matters, deadly on a massive scale unless somehow controlled, and usually uncontrollable once begun in earnest. A Second Holocaust is not yet begun - but consider:
These are not good trends, to say the least. It's one thing when this kind of madness takes root in a backward civilization like Saudi Arabia's, quite another when it crosses like an airborne virus into the heart of a technological civilization like Europe's.
Along the way, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are becoming less and less separable. I'll have more to say about some of the underlying dynamics on Tuesday - and it may make for uncomfortable reading on both sides of the political spectrum.
I am a trained bomb disposal expert. If I am running, try to keep up.He had some interesting comments on life over there, which will follow over the next few days. But having him home whole and hale is certainly good news to his parents and to us.
"Now, finally, here's my point: All it took was one person. Thanks to the Internet and weblogs -- and a little help from the community there -- it is possible for one man in a country just coming out from under dictatorship and war to speak to the world, to exercise free speech, to help spread that free speech, to report news, to make news, to build relationships, to create understanding. That is the moral of the story of the blogosphere: All that is now possible. Anyone can do this. Any of us can support it. All it takes is one person. Thank you, Zeyad. Thank you, Hoder. Thank you, Salam."And a big thank-you from us, too. To them, and to all who have blogged alongside them and helped them along the way. May our journey together continue... and may it continue to grow.
"Nine hundred and seventy-five men invading a city of 5 million sounded audacious, or worse, to the U.S. troops assigned the mission outside Baghdad last April 6. Ten years earlier, in Mogadishu, outnumbered American soldiers had been trapped and killed by Somali street fighters. Now some U.S. commanders, convinced the odds were far better in Iraq, scrapped the original plan for taking Baghdad with a steady siege and instead ordered a single bold thrust into the city. The battle that followed became the climax of the war and rewrote American military doctrine on urban warfare. Back home, Americans learned of the victory in sketchy reports that focused on the outcomeóa column of armored vehicles had raced into the city and seized Saddam Hussein's palaces and ministries. What the public didn't know was how close the U.S. forces came to experiencing another Mogadishu. Military units were surrounded, waging desperate fights at three critical interchanges. If any of those fell, the Americans would have been cut off from critical supplies and ammunition...."Líaudace, líaudace, toujours líaudace." This time, it was the right call. Read David Zucchino's "The Thunder Run" in full, and you'll find a true story that few fictional thrillers could match. UPDATE: See also Gizmag's May 3, 2005 article "Heavy Metal - A Tank Company's Battle to Baghdad"
"A coherent U.S. strategy toward Iran is increasingly necessary as dissent among the Iranian populace grows and evidence of both an aggressive nuclear weapons program and terrorist ties mounts. With international support, the Iranian opposition could bring about the end of the theocracy, but much of what we know about these opposition groups comes filtered through the media or intelligence analysts. Can the tyranny of the mullahs be ended, can the internal Iranian opposition take on the task, and should the United States assist opponents of the regime in any way? On December 3, AEI(The American Enterprise Institute) hosted an unprecedented Iranian-American town hall meeting with leaders of the opposition inside Iran. A panel of experts and activists at AEI joined a panel of opposition leaders in Iran to discuss the future of Iranian leadership, possible paths of reform, and the potential American role in this process."
I had grown sick of human works, which seemed to me a sum and expression of failure: spoilers, brutalizers of animals and one another, self-absorbed until we couldn't see that we ruined, finally, ourselves - what could we make? An epidemic ran unhalted, The ill circumscribed as worthless and unclean; the promises of change seem hollow, the poor and marginal hopelessly marginal, endlessly poor. I saw no progress, and the steeping ink of this perception colored everything, until I felt surrounded by weakness and limit, and my own energies failed, or were failing, though I tried not to think so. I awoke in Manhattan, just after dawn, in the tunnels approaching Grand Central: a few haunted lamps, unreadable signs. And with a thousand others, Each of us fixed on the fixed point of our destination, whatever connection awaited us, I spilled up the ramp and under the vault and lugged my bag out onto 42nd Street, looking for the Carey Bus. The dawn was angling into the city, A smoky, thumb-smudged gold. It struck first a face, not human, terracotta, on an office building's intricate portico, seeming to fire the material from within, so that the skin was kindled, glowing. And then I looked up: the ramparts of Park Avenue were radiant, barbaric; they were continuous with every city's dream of itself, the made world's angled assault on heaven. ..."...the made world's angled assault on heaven." yessss...
Third, we're going to stop Israel from building new settlements and push them to dismantle existing illegal ones;I'd talked pretty extensively about it before:
But while we figure out how to deal with the charmingly erratic nature of the Palestinian polity, we need to do so from a position that is sustainable - militarily, economically, politically, and morally. And I've gotta question whether the current policies - of quietly burying a huge budget to subsidize people to move into the settlements, while talking about handing them back to the Palestinians - are sustainable on any of those grounds.
Militarily, the original justification for settlements was they would provide 24/7 sets of Israeli eyes to assure that there would be no pre-invasion buildup. Between satellite imagery and Predators, that justification seems pretty much evaporated at this point. I have to believe that in the face of constant, low-intensity attacks such as we are seeing now, the settlements cost a great deal more in readiness than they provide. Economically, the Haaretz articles seem to speak for themselves. Politically, I used to think that the slowly growing settlements were a ploy to induce the Arab world to hurry up and negotiate - if they waited too long, there wouldn't be any land left over to make into Palestine. It may be that we're hitting that point now (back to 'Ruthless People' again).Note that this argument (that the occupation is such a ploy) is supported by a post by David Bornstein in Israpundit:
I propose that settlements be EXPANDED, new ones established and progressively more of Eretz Israel taken back and annexed on a sliding scale of time. Terror attacks will accelerate that process, and further, this policy publicly and aggressively announced. In other words, be good and we won't kill you. The same applies to Hizballah.The problem, of course, is who will pay.
The newspaper said it had given a team of reporters three months to interview officials, pore over ministry budgets and make calculations. The exercise was filled with frustration, but the conclusion drawn is that since 1967, Israel has spent roughly $10 billion on the settlements. Currently, the annual amount spent on settlements' civilian needs is more than $500 million.And the answer is that, fundamentally, we in the U.S.do.
U.S. assistance to Israel for fiscal year 2001 includes $1.98 billion in military aid (of which over $1.4 billion was earmarked for procurement from the United States) and economic assistance totaling $840 million.Note that I don't begrudge a dime of what we give Israel. But I'd like what we spend to be in Israel's and then our interest, as opposed to the settlement policy, which I genuinely believe evolved as follows: Once the West Bank, Golan, and Gaza had been conquered (in a war preempting a massive attack by the Arabs, let's remember) certain forces within Israel wanted to keep them, as a kind of Eretz Israel. I tend to believe that the policy was very much a 'Ruthless People' one, in which by gradually building out a network of settlements, they would make it clear to the Palestinian forces that time was not on their side, and that they needed to settle. For a variety of (mostly ignoble) reasons, the Palestinians refused to take the offer. And so Israel is stuck with a hostage it doesn't want and can ill afford. Clearly, this policy of 'civilian occupation' is economically devastating to Israel (which we mask by loaning or granting the necessary funds). I'm hard pressed to believe that it isn't militarily devastating as well, in the context of a terror war (as opposed to a conventional one). The burden of securing this scattering of small towns is immense. From a Haaretz interview with reservists:
Samocha: "The energy that goes into maintaining `normal life' there is inconceivable, not to mention the calculation of the economic cost versus the benefit. I'm not talking about the cost in the narrow sense - Doing a crude calculation, we found that the direct cost of the month that we served in Netzarim is NIS 12 million. Add to that the indirect costs and the sums are tremendous, I'm talking about the total cost of sanctifying the residency of 60 families, whose lives are in danger, and the lives of the soldiers guarding them, while gravely harming the lives of the Palestinians." Becker: "The issue isn't money, but how we Israelis look within a society that allows the illusion of Netzarim to exist."'The illusion of Netzarim.' I certainly couldn't put it any better. We in the U.S. foot the bill for this. While our support for Israel's right to exist securely cannot be challenged, I do believe that a full and frank discussion with the Israeli government on one simple point - the settlements must not be expanded by one house, and the illegal settlements must be permanently dismantled - until there is a final peace settlement with the Palestinians, or until we give up on peace, and frankly state that Israel has conquered and will keep the West Bank and Gaza.
"The Americans promised so much: democracy, freedom, security - now we have none of these things," said Capt. Mazen Ayash Youssif. "We were better off before. We all prefer the time of Saddam." The depth of their anti-U.S. conviction underscores the difficulties the military faces in winning over ordinary Iraqis, especially in the Sunni zone of central and western Iraq favored by the former regime. "If this is the way the people think here," concluded Valencia, "then we're in a lot of trouble."The sponsors of the trip?
The trip was sponsored by Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based activist group that opposed the U.S. invasion and is eager to spread its antiwar message. None of the parents had formal military clearance to visit their soldier children.In the Tennessean, another mother goes to visit:
Many of the soldiers serving in Iraq volunteer to help in hospitals, schools and with athletics and other areas where they feel they can make a difference. Holly's unit has a lot of fun helping at the Baghdad Zoo, where more than half of its 800 animals were stolen, killed or eaten by looters after the invasion. Some of the unit found a camel that had been stolen from the zoo. They put it into the back of the Humvee and hauled it back. The unit works closely with the South African group Thula Thula, which has come to Baghdad to improve conditions at the zoo. Holly and Vanessa took Raoul and me to the zoo, where we saw parents and children strolling the grounds.and
I was on a 12-day trip to Iraq and Kuwait to visit my daughter, Maj. Holly Meeker, an Army reservist who was deployed in February with the 372 Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based in Nashville. Operation Iraqi Freedom is her second war. And mine.I'm coming to the conclusion that somehow Iraq has become a sandy mirror where our journalists - the eyes and ears of our polity - see what they set out to find. The activists find unhappy Iraqis; the military moms find peaceful families strolling through the zoo. Somehow, in this era of instant communication, the fog of war is thicker than ever.
...the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the "right" to use violence.Today's Jerusalem Post has an enlightening story:
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said the Palestinian Authority should stop talking on behalf of all Palestinians. "A certain group should stop playing with the fate of the Palestinian people," he said. "There should be partnership in making fateful decisions, and this partnership should be based on the centers of power in the Palestinian street. We must respect the opinion of the Palestinian street."
"Israel understands only the language of violence and what we are doing is aimed at liberating the land, ousting the occupation and preserving the holy sites. We can't accept a hudna similar to the one we had in June. The Palestinian people want their freedom and independence and Israel must pay the price for a hudna by halting the construction of the fence and settlements." "Our final response is that we are not ready to declare a new ceasefire,'' said Muhammed Nazzal, a member of the Hamas delegation to the talks. "Hamas rejects the hudna and won't accept it, because our reading of the current political situation shows that the Americans and the Zionists are in deep crisis because of the continuation of the resistance in Iraq and Palestine." He said there was a wide gap between Hamas and Fatah on the shape and content of the proposed truce. "This is a very big issue concerning the future of the Palestinian people," Nazzal said.So, in case you're wondering when I do my post later on the Israeli settlements, why it is that I don't call for the immediate formation of a Palestinian state. It has nothing to do with this statement from the same interview:
Hamas founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin has told a German magazine that a Jewish state could be established in Europe. In interview excerpts slated for publication on Monday in Der Spiegel, Yassin opposed a two-state solution in which a Palestinian state would coexist next to Israel. "That would not work," he said. "The Israelis claim 80 per cent of the territory and will only let us have 20 per cent. It would only be an interim solution." Asked if there was no place at all for a Jewish state, he said, "They could set up a state in Europe." Yassin also rejected the Geneva Accord, which was hammered out between Israeli politicians and Palestinian representatives. "That plan is worse than the Oslo one, because it abandons the right of return for the refugees," he said.On a more local front, an interesting article in the regional section of today's L.A. Times (intrusive registration, use 'laexaminer'/'laexaminer'):
Taking the Intifada to the Football Field What could be more American? Dozens of young men in Orange County have planned a football tournament for the New Year's weekend in Irvine. But this gathering of Muslim American athletes on the gridiron - they say a first for Southern California - is being flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct by religious leaders dismayed by some of the team's names. Monikers for the flag-football teams include Mujahideen, Intifada and Soldiers of Allah and are accompanied on the league's Web site, http://muslimfootball.com, by logos of masked men, some with daggers or swords.There's a dialog going on about it within the local Muslim community.
An organizer of the Jan. 4 event, geared for American Muslims in their teens and 20s, said the names are a sign of football bravado and a show of support for Muslims in the Middle East. "A lot of the kids on our team are from Palestinian origin," said Tarek Shawky, Intifada's 29-year-old captain and quarterback. "We are in solidarity with people in the uprising. It's about human rights and basic freedoms." "I think they should be more sensitive and show respect to other people's sensitivities," said Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County and a national Muslim leader. "The words themselves do not have bad meanings, but people associate them with what's going on in the world around them."Personally, I'm more than a little tired of the culture of sensitivity that we live in. That means that while I'm not happy with the names, and less happy with the political statements being made by the youth who have chosen them, it's not a terribly big deal. I will, however, wait with bated breath for Jackie Goldberg to weigh in on the need for cultural sensitivity. It won't happen. Because offense can only be taken by the powerless, of course.
"The government does indeed have a crucial role to play in this endeavor. It must provide the structure and regulation that will encourage private launch companies and private space ventures. It must safeguard the rights of individuals and corporations to go forth and explore and exploit the opportunities that await in space and on non-terrestrial bodies. It can assist those private companies in the same way that the government enabled commercial aviation, by purchasing those services rather than competing with them or attempting to stifle them. The government can provide knowledge, laboratories, and other resources to help overcome scientific and technological problems that are more than a single company can handle. It can do this through existing structures and partnerships, and by this bring those things new life and new purpose. Mr. President, let us not send NASA back to the Moon, or on to Mars. Instead, let us send the best and brightest that are America to these places and beyond...."Read the whole thing. Bill "Trinity" Whittle would approve, I think.
The only sentence from this article you really need to read is, "Well, not solved it, exactly" -- because when you "solve" a fiscal mess by taking on additional debt, you've solved exactly nothing. Obviously, one way to resolve a mismatch between revenues and expenditures is to borrow the money to make up the gap, but next year the gap just comes back with an additional bill for the interest. Repeat this process long enough, however, and people aren't going to lend you any more money, and then you're still faced with the choice between raising taxes and cutting spending.From Eschaton:
So, the Gropenfuhrer [AL note: I'd really like to use this opportunity to publicly bitch-slap Steve "$300K" Lopez for this contemptuous construct, as well as his overall mediocre coverage of pretty much everything in local and CA politics. Dear Jon Carroll; I can think of three bloggers who could do a better job for a whole lot less money. Email me at the address above if you'd like some suggestions.] is claiming that borrowing by issuing a 15 billion dollar bond is somehow different than other kinds of borrowing. I'm sure the media will do its job and explain this to the moron-Americans of California (hah).
But, there is an ad campaign which will hopefully do what the news media won't. You can watch it at this website. Treasurer Angelides is sponsoring it. ... ANGELIDES: Well, here's what I'm saying. What he told the voters is that he was going to balance the budget, protect education, health care for kids, and he was going to balance the budget while doing it. And all I'm saying, Judy, is he ought to try to do that first. And merely borrowing more and more money and putting the state further and further into debt, and sending the bill to our children, is not what he promised and not the right thing to do. So come January 10, he's required to have a balanced budget plan. We ought to see it. Btu he ought not be asking to borrow $15 billion plus without a plan on how to balance the budget. He doesn't have one.Damn, this pisses me off. Personally, I don't yet know if Ahnold will be a good governor or not; I do continue to think, from my conversations with friends in Sacramento, that the shock of his election was a good thing. But this attack is pure and simple B.S. Let's go through it quickly, from three perspectives. First, I really do wish that someone with business experience would talk about why borrowing by a troubled entity - whether a household, company, or state - can sometimes be necessary. Since that apparently hasn't happened, I'll nominate myself. A big part of my business is dealing with troubled projects; some of them are actual companies, and some are troubled real-estate deals. The first thing you do is to assure sufficient liquidity to see through the time necessary to come up with an orderly plan. A company has bills due, and needs to keep operations going while you figure out how to fix it or close it in an orderly fashion (thereby retaining as much value for the creditors and stakeholders as possible). To do that, one of the first things you do to a cash flow projection, and to sit down with the banks to figure out where the cash will come from. It is often at this point that you wind up filing Chapter 11, because only in a post-11 environment will new loans be forthcoming (they get priority over the old loans). Similarly, California's budget isn't going to be changed in 45 days. And to bust Ahnold for not having a new, balanced, and politically palatable budget in 60 or even 120 days is unrealistic. The test is whether the budget process is moving closer to reality, and we won't know that for at least a year. Meanwhile, we have bills to pay, and the reality is that we're going to have to go to the bank to get the cash to do so. I'm not even sure this is the last bond issue that we'll require for this purpose (note that tax revenues are improving, but it remains touch-and-go). Second, in the specific context of the California budget; Davis and the Legislature sold about $10B in general-revenue bonds as a way of shuffling off the spending crisis. Those bonds are being challenged in court, and it is not unlikely that they will be found to have been illegally issued. This bond issue will cover (I believe) those bonds (retroactively legalizing them by getting authority from the voters) plus the additional car-tax-cut deficit, plus a little something in the kitty as noted above. Finally, Atrios neglects to note (he's not from here, so it may just be lack of knowledge) that Phil Angelides is the leading D candidate for Governor in the next cycle, and that he's overtly begun the campaign with this attack. I thought that he would have been a good candidate to run in Part 2 of the recall (along with Leon Panetta), and probably would have voted for him. A disclaimer - I knew him pretty well when I worked in Sacramento a long time ago, didn't think much of him then, but thought he'd grown substantially in his role as Treasurer. The posturing he's doing now may cause me to rethink my support. He blessed the bond issue Davis & Co. did (although he was critical), and his fiscal solution relies, unsurprisingly, on raising the taxes on well-off Californians. I've discussed earlier why that isn't necessarily a good idea.
The spiraling human rights crisis in suspended member Zimbabwe will grab most of the attention of Commonwealth leaders at the heads of government meeting in Nigeria this weekend. This is to be expected when there were more than a thousand reports of torture at the hands of the police and security services last year. President Mugabe must be sent a clear message that arbitrary detention, torture and systematic repression are at odds with the Commonwealth's vision of democracy, the rule of law and good governance. However, leaders must also look at how other members have trampled on basic freedoms in their rush to join the so-called "war on terror", have attacked the right to seek asylum, and still permit cruel punishments and executions. Is it any wonder that Mugabe has got the message that human rights violations will not be challenged?
... Our own government made the UK the only country in Europe to derogate from the European convention on human rights in order to rush through the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act. It has used it to imprison 14 foreign nationals for up to two years without charging them or bringing them to trial. They face the prospect of remaining in detention indefinitely on the basis of secret evidence that they have not been allowed to see and therefore cannot challenge. These "security measures" are undermining the credibility and viability of basic legal safeguards. The clampdown on the right to asylum has seen the Australian government's "Pacific solution" set of policies enable it to hold for months scores of people, who have been recognised as refugees, in detention centres - a policy branded by a UN delegation as "offensive to human dignity". Similarly, the new asylum bill in the UK threatens to criminalise those seeking asylum.See, it appears to be like this. Unless we are perfect, anyone else has every right to do exactly what they will - and we of course can't be critical. This is a consequence of that particular blindness that we seem to have nowadays in which everything bad becomes equivalently bad; it's a kind of binary morality. Sadly, I live in an analog world, as do the rest of the real people I know. Ms. Allen, may I introduce you to your US counterpart, William Schulz?
Certainly I have argued within Amnesty that in the face of genocide, such as in Rwanda, the organization is utterly remiss not to take a position in favor of military intervention.At some point we can spend our energy worrying about relabelling audio jacks labelled 'master/slave', or about liberals who criticize team names using racial epithets - or we can look at countries that are being looted by kleptocrats, and where the people are starving as a result. It seems like an easy decision to me.
It would appear that all the pandering in the world is not capable of convincing anti-Bush Americans that Bush cares about them, while all Democratic efforts to sell the good-government message utterly fail to convince pro-Bush Americans (even those quite disappointed with his unscrupulous actions) that the Dems would actually perform any better in practice. It's basically a politics of pure ressentiment with both sides more motivated by the perceived evils of the alternative than convinced of the merits of their team.He's puzzled by it. I'm less puzzled by it, because I have a theory. (...a theory which is mine, for you Monty Python fans out there).
* Papers are due Friday, January 30, 2004.
* Papers may be submitted in any of five topic areas: (1) budget and tax policy; (2) water policy; (3) housing and/or transportation policy; (4) energy policy; and (5) education policy. * Papers will be judged primarily on the extent to which they provide concise, well- substantiated, concrete ideas for overcoming political and financial barriers to Opportunity Economics in California. Opportunity Economics refers to the notion that economic growth is a crucial precondition for expanding equal opportunity for all, and also that such expansions of opportunity promote long-term prosperity. For more information, see ?Building the Opportunity Economy,? at http://www.hopestreetgroup.org/publications.htm. * Five winners shall be chosen, one for each of the five topic areas. A grand prize winner shall be selected from among the five winning papers, and will receive a cash award of $2,500. A second prize winner shall also be selected from among the five winning papers, and will receive $1,000. The other three winning authors will each receive $500. * The grand prize winner will have the opportunity to present his or her paper at a seminar sponsored by the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley.Check it out. I'm continually impressed by the level of dialog in the comments to this blog. If you're a reader here, go write something then submit it. Maybe I'll even get motivated to write something new.
My "Idiotarianism: Exhibit #24,349" article earlier today generated some interesting commentary, and a worthy question.
Ross of Perfidity.org finds the term overused, and I'm seeing more discomfort with it these days from the left. To which I reply in French: tant pis (too bad). The term is very useful, precisely because it calls attention to the growing neo-fascist/neo-marxist/Islamist nexus of sympathy, mutual justification, and joint action so vividly demonstrated in that neo-nazi spam's URL collection.
Don't believe me? Then you need to read Belmont Club's "Decline and Fall" (of the European Left) right now - and not just for the T.S. Eliot poetry. Read it for his account of The European Left taking the first steps toward being hollowed out by Islamists, and for predictions of a takeover trend that has historical parallels and makes both political and demographic sense.
Which brings us to Robin Roberts' question: Why? Why all of them? Why now? What's the attraction in these supposedly incompatible visions? I think it's simple...
They're united by a desire to shoot the same messenger.
Staring at their shattered idols, they all blame the same set of demons for the destruction of their gods: capitalism, modernity, the bourgeois mentality. And what do you get when you cross all 3? Symbolically, you get Jews... and you get America.
If they could but kill their god's destroyers, perhaps their gods could live again and fulfill the glorious prophecies foretold. The prophecies they were cheated out of. As I said in an April 19, 2002 exchange with MuslimPundit:
"A culture that sees nothing new in the world beyond the idols of its doctrine can only lash out in rage when those idols are cracked. For those idols carry their very identity, and the loss of identity leads inexorably to violence. This characteristic is not unique to Islam, and can just as easily be seen on any "progressive" university campus.
Which brings up an interesting point. Until now, conservatives have seen the (one way) sympathy and winking between the university's radical left and Islamist jihadists as ideological in nature: a pinch of Marxism, 2 tablespoons of reflexive anti-colonialism, a quart of victimization politics as a sop to the failure of their doctrines to create anything but brutal slums and pest-holes.
Maybe we were wrong. Maybe the real bond is not ideological, but cultural in nature. Facing their cracked idols, lashing out at the common messenger of their failure, these two movements agree only to borrow what they can from each other in order to wound the common object of their hate. America is surely the most prominent messenger. Israel, with no oil but a per capita purchasing power twice that of Saudi Arabia, is another."
Instapundit notes that this may not be the wisest choice of enemies. To which I reply: neither wisdom nor rationality are part of this equation.
Trent Telenko notes, correctly, that the most reliable covariant around the world for unreasoning hatred of America is becoming anti-Semitism - and vice versa. And so we watch as fascism, the radical left, and Islamism all meld together in an ooze of apologetics for murder and rabid denunciation of their common enemy.
Hence, "idiotarianism." That its proponents are largely immune or even ideologically hostile to rational thought is demonstrated, clearly, every day.
Are you paying attention? You should be. Know thine enemy, and learn to recognize them. They certainly recognize their enemies, and in case y'all hadn't noticed, we're it. Worse, there's nothing we can do to change that, short of adopting their Marxist or Islamofacist theocracy. Nothing. Which leaves us with just one option: win.
Pointing this out hardly cheapens discourse. Indeed, it's essential to intelligent discussion of what we're seeing.
Besides which, I love the label. It fits. Especially after we've spent the last 70 years demonstrating and documenting the inevitable trail of futility and poverty, and the oceans of blood these ideologies have left are everywhere they've been tried. In the 1930s, one might (barely) have had ignorance as a valid defense. No longer.
As we've been reminded on 9/11 and since, these ideas have real-world consequences.
Defeating and discrediting these ideas and those who promulgate them, and winning what Armed Liberal calls "The War on Bad Philosophy," is as important as any military action in the War on Terror. Maybe more so, if you're thinking on a civilizational scale.
I know which side of that fight I'm on. How about you?
--- UPDATES ---
"Hundreds of protesters, some with machetes and knives, besieged the French military base in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan on Monday, a day after soldiers called on the French to quit the war-riven country's front line. French troops fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstration but protesters kept coming back, attacking in waves, and by the evening the crowd had swelled to about 1,000..."In case you hadn't figured it out, "bourbier" (n. masc.) is how you say "quagmire" in French. Obviously, the French government needs to accelerate their timetables for withdrawal and call in the U.N. No doubt Kofi & co. can do the same stellar job they've done in Rwanda, The Congo, and other African countries. On a personal note (esp. if you're a woman, or live with one, or just a chocoholic like me), Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer. You might be wise to stock up on chocolate. Preferably the 70%+ variety.
Second, we're too dependent on ME oil. We're going to do something about it, both by pushing conservation, expanding alternative energy, and expanding exploration. We're going to build the damn windmills off of Cape Cod;I've been reading up a bit on this (note that it's a pretty information-rich subject, and unlike areas of political theory or strategy, where I feel free to just sit down and let it rip, I do think that some knowledge of fact is pretty important here - a knowledge which I'll freely confess to lacking, and welcoming input from other, more-knowledgeable parties, to get), and really realize that energy security has to be dealt with in three overlapping arenas.
Where Schneier had sought one overarching technical fix, hard experience had taught him the quest was illusory. Indeed, yielding to the American penchant for all-in-one high-tech solutions can make us less safeóespecially when it leads to enormous databases full of confidential information. Secrecy is important, of course, but it is also a trap. The more secrets necessary to a security system, the more vulnerable it becomes. To forestall attacks, security systems need to be small-scale, redundant, and compartmentalized. Rather than large, sweeping programs, they should be carefully crafted mosaics, each piece aimed at a specific weakness. The federal government and the airlines are spending millions of dollars, Schneier points out, on systems that screen every passenger to keep knives and weapons out of planes. But what matters most is keeping dangerous passengers out of airline cockpits, which can be accomplished by reinforcing the door. ... Good security [which] is built in overlapping, cross-checking layers, to slow down attacks; it reacts limberly to the unexpected. Its most important components are almost always human. "Governments have been relying on intelligent, trained guards for centuries," Schneier says. "They spot people doing bad things and then use laws to arrest them. All in all, I have to say, it's not a bad system."Amory Lovins, at the Rocky Mountain Institute, is making these same points about our energy infrastructure.
The energy that runs America is brittle - easily shattered by accident or malice. That fragility frustrates the efforts of our Armed Forces to defend a nation that literally can be turned off by a handful of people. It poses, indeed, a grave and growing threat to national security, life, and liberty. This danger comes not from hostile ideology but from misapplied technology. It is not a threat imposed on us by enemies abroad. It is a threat we have heedlessly - and needlessly - imposed on ourselves. Many Americansí most basic functions depend, for example, on a continuous supply of electricity. Without it, subways and elevators stall, factories and offices grind to a halt, electric locks jam, intercoms and televisions stand mute, and we huddle without light, heat, or ventilation. A brief faltering of our energy pulse can reveal - sometimes as fatally as to astronauts in a spacecraft - the hidden brittleness of our interdependent, urbanized-society. Yet that continuous electrical supply now depends on many large and precise machines, rotating in exact synchrony across half a continent, and strung together by an easily severed network of aerial arteries whose failure is instantly disruptive. The size, complexity, pattern, and control structure of these electrical machines make them inherently vulnerable to large-scale failures: a vulnerability which government policies are systematically increasing. The same is true of the technologies that deliver oil, gas; and coal to run our vehicles, buildings, and industries. Our reliance on these delicately poised energy systems has unwittingly put at risk our whole way of life.He points out, in this document (pdf) that:
*Tightly coupled system: 20 years ago, U.S. had a few monthsí usable total storage, well-head-tocar; refineries had 3 - 5 days, pipeline customers 5 - 10 days; generally far less now *>50% of U.S. refinery capacity was in three states (TX, LA, CA), >69% was in six states *Refinery concentration and specialization have increased markedly since 1981 *In 1978, sabotage of 77 refineries would cut cap. by 2/3, "shatter" economy (GAO); takes one RPG, wrench, rifle,...at each site *~84% of U.S. interstate gas flowed from or through Louisiana *A few people could shut off, for 1 y, 3/4 of gas and oil supply to eastern U.S. in 1 night w/o leaving LouisianaLovins' prescriptions are a little more extreme than the one's I'd advocate today - not because I think he's necessarily wrong, but because I think that a less-radical approach is both more politically attainable - but in a nutshell, his policy hierarchy looks like this:
Designing for resilience * Fine-grained, modular structure * Early fault detection * Redundancy and substitutability * Optional interconnection * Diversity * Standardization * Dispersion * Hierarchical embedding * Stability * Simplicity * Limited demands on social stability * Accessibility/vernacularityHis specific policy prescriptions are centered around: * Conservation * Dispersed Generation * Demand-based Pricing Basically, what he suggests is that we work to become intelligent about using energy (note that this isn't the Hard Green 'let's all go live in agrarian villages'-type conservation, this is the let's encourage fuel-efficient vehicles, rather than subsidizing the purchase of light trucks for passenger use, as we do today. Personal note: I needed a vehicle that had three rows of seats for trips with the three boys, plus storage behind the third seat for camping and ski gear, plus the ability to tow 1,500 pounds of trailer and racebike. In 2000, I had three options: Large SUV (Suburban, Excursion), Full-size van (Ford Econoline), or minivan (Honda Odyssey). I chose the Odyssey, which gets 24mpg in everyday use, tows the trailered racebike over Highway 14 to Rosamond without complaint, and has as much interior volume as a Suburban. But it's easy to park, and handles better. If everyone who bought a SUV between 2000 and 2003 made the same decision, we'd have made a dent in the 6% exposure we have to Islamist energy. Dispersed generation suggests that a strategy based on a fragile, complex, and undefendable energy infrastructure may not be the right way to go. The efficiencies of smaller package generators are increasing, and when combined with the flexibility of power-on-demand and the absence of transmission risk and loss, there can be some significant advantages to them. This suggests that nukes, which are by definition large and inflexible generators of power, may not be the best way to go. Note that I don't have the 'ohmigawd, uranium' issues around nuclear power (which kills far fewer people per kilowatt-hour than, say, coal). But I do think that large-centralized plants aren't where we should be putting our focus, and further that ramping down the economy in fissionables ought to be a good idea. But I'm not adamant about it. Demand-based pricing is also a critical feature of the model, in which we simply charge the true cost of the peak-load supply at times when it must be brought online. That's a key point; building economic policies that attempt, as closely as possible to mirror the true cost of the goods purchased. (On the Wal-Mart issue, one issue I have is the lack of health coverage for a substantial number of their associates - coverage which I help pay for, even if I don't shop there, because I pay for the public health care burden the employees impose through my taxes) So here's the mix of policies I'd support after a week of thought (obviously subject to change as I learn more from all the commenters who will pile on): * Improve vehicle fuel efficiency by doing four things: # Increasing CAFE standards, and setting a more-ambitious schedule of improvements; # Defining light-duty trucks (SUV's and pickups) clearly designed and sold for passenger use as passenger cars for CAFE and safety standard purposes; # eliminating tax incentives to buy fuel-inefficient vehicles; # explore tax credits for improvements in fuel efficiency in trucking (a large user of energy where there ought to be big incentives to save) Note that I'd trade all these for phased-in increases in gas (and diesel) taxes (maybe we could implement Andrew Tobias' notion of paying for a minimal vehicle insurance pool via a gas tax as well). * Improve residential and commercial fuel efficiency through changes in building codes. * Review of utility and building regulation to reduce the regulatory barriers to small-scale 'package' generation. Note that this last will get me in trouble with a number of enviro types, who want the smaller power plants (like the one in Redondo Beach near me) shut down. They'd rather have electric cars and power plants in remote areas; but the true cost of that kind of overcentralized system is blackouts and an insecure infrastructure.
The trail that investigators have uncovered, partly from reading computer hard drives found in Baghdad and partly from interviews with captured members of Mr. Hussein's inner circle, shows that a month before the American invasion, Iraqi officials traveled to Syria to demand that North Korea refund $1.9 million because it had failed to meet deadlines for delivering its first shipment of goods.From WoC in May:
So you get 'Potemkin weapons'; reports, promises, trailers filled with impressive-looking technical equipment, UAV's that are really just oversized model airplanes. Occasionally, some competent or especially frightened technician might actually produce something - but almost certainly not on the scale that the dictator believes. So Saddam believes he has them, and from that, we infer that he does, and what is really going on is a bunch of nervous paper-shuffling.Ayup.
The Democrats who would be president are fuming over a TV ad the Republican National Committee is running in Iowa, where the nominating caucuses are near. The Democrats' anger is understandable, but the ad is doing them a service. It makes plain, and inescapable, the challenge their nominee will have to meet if he is to have something better than the proverbial snowball's chance of contesting President Bush's reelection. ... It is not enough for the Democratic contenders to pound on the president's assorted missteps and misrepresentations in the Iraq War. An increasing number of Americans share that unease, but the terrorist threat remains real -- and the abiding question is how it can best be confronted, contained and defeated. ... The executive director of Amnesty International USA makes the same point the Republican ad does. William Schulz says junk slogans like "Regime change at home" and "No blood for oil" mask a liberal "failure to give necessary attention, analysis and strategizing to the effort to counter terrorism and protect our fundamental right to security." When you are hearing the same message from both your friends and your opponents, it would be wise to listen.Word. I desperately want to want a Democrat to win in 2004 (no, that's not a typo). I'm unhappy as hell with Bush's domestic policies; I think the GOP 'hand the keys to the Treasury to our donor base' is arguably worse than the Democratic version of the same thing; I doubt that the kind of tax, employment, energy or domestic security policies that I want to see implemented will make the grade in a Republican Administration. But I've got two large roadblocks in my path. The first is that I need to see a credible response to what I see as a multinational Islamist threat. Note that 'using the criminal justice system' and 'seeking UN action' is not, prima facie, a credible response. Bush has done a lot wrong as I note, but he seems to be doing one thing right. Yes, the postwar was imperfectly planned. But perfect plans only exist in movies made by Joel Silver. reality is be definition messy, contingent, and frightening - as we are seeing today. His trip and speech meant a lot to me; I've demanded for a while that he show an 'iron butt', and I'd have to say it will be hard for him to get up from the table after what he's done now. The second is that I want to see a Democratic ideology that embraces America instead of holding it at arm's length. I know that one comment or one blog post doesn't define even the individual who wrote it. But I see things out there that lead me to believe certain things. Here's a post from Alas, A Blog, a major left blog (note that I've had some great and productive discussions with Barry; the quoted post is a Thanksgiving post by his co-blogger Bean):
...many of us (myself included) will also be telling ourselves that we aren't celebrating the "real" Thanksgiving and all its racist and genocidal history, but rather enjoying the long weekend that allows out-of-town friends and family to visit, the excuse to eat lots of good food, and treating it as any other holiday, with or without awareness of what this day has historically meant. Why should it be any different from the way we celebrate any other holiday -- Memorial Day, Labor Day, and (for some of us, at least) Christmas or Passover? But today is not Thanksgiving for many of our fellow Americans. And, while I will be spending my time with friends and eating good food today, I would like to take a moment to reflect on another "holiday" taking place today. This was written by a dear friend of mine, Nikkiru, and my thoughts will be with her today.I don't single this post out to encourage people to rush over and hassle Bean or Barry. I don't even disagree with them that much of the history of this nation (as all other nations) is written in blood - even often innocent blood. I do completely disagree over the response to that history. And I do believe that my political party - the Democrats - and many of the supporters of their leading candidate - Howard Dean - are closer to Bean than to me in their view of how to value America. That's a problem for me. It's also a problem for them, since they are really damn unlikely to get the votes of the Toby Keith fans who stood and cheered him on during his performance. Even though those fans are the ones who would benefit substantially from policies tilted more toward the working and away from the owning. Because people don't just vote their economic interests. Sometimes they vote their hearts. And sometimes they vote their fears. Right now, both would seem to be in play.As many of you are aware, The official U.S. "Thanksgiving" is observed by many indigenous people and allies as the National Day of Mourning. Some may not be aware of the history behind that.