Friday, August 25, 2006

Quotable - "Moral Arithmetic"

Jeff Goldstein writing at his blog, Protein Wisdom:
If you don’t like the Bush Doctrine or the given tack for fighting terrorism, say so and say why. But to fall back on the canard that we’re in some kind of serious danger of losing our liberties—after five years of war where we’ve been asked little sacrifice—is itself the very kind of scaremongering the anti-war people always accuse the administration of engaging in each time it purports to take the terror threat seriously.

What the administration has going for it is that it is fighting to protect a way of life—not, as some others evidently are, a mere standard of living.
Hear, hear.

TFFQ: A Plague of Red Ghosts

A new Friday Furo Questus is up at The Wasatch Front.

Questus Furore - A Plague of Red Ghosts
I wonder if we truly appreciate the blight left on the world by seventy-plus years of Soviet Communism.

Let's leave alone the succession of failed states and active terror movements that the Soviet Union built up and strung along during the Cold War. The growing conflagration of Islamic terror was stoked by Soviet cash and arms.

And then there are those persistent lies. Lies like this:
The concern [is] that, through mechanisms we're not entirely sure of, the very richest are siphoning off the economic growth before it flows through the middle and lower classes. The worry is about the distribution of growth, but the suspicion is that the distribution is being warped by the sheer level of inequality.
I'm not going to address this here; Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek refutes this delusion far better than I can. (He is also where you can find this conspiracy theory; I'm not going to dignify it with a link.)

The idea that the rich have some secret system for siphoning off wealth and denying it to "the people" is not a new one; as long as there have been Marxists, this idea has not been far behind. It was the popular refrain of Communists and socialists in the 1930s, an encouragement to the proletariat to rise up, seize control of the state, and smash capitalism and the bougeoisie. (Usually blissfully ignorant of the carnage necessary to effect such change.)

It is an idea that considers wealth a fixed quantity, that in order for one to have luxury another must do without. This is an idea that can be dispelled by a basic class in economics - but it is a legend that many desperately want to believe, so they do.

I am reminded of a time while I was attending the University of Utah, on my way to a business class. I started talking with a girl nearby, learning that she was a graduate student in economic. She then proceeded to tell me how she believed capitalism was a failed idea, that Marxism was the way to go. I didn't laugh in her face; I try to be more polite than that. I did not challege her assertion, either, though now I wish I had. For there I was, twelve years after Communism's demise, surrounded by the products of capitalistic society, products that Russia still hadn't managed to compare. All Communism had managed to accomplish was the efficient mass production of human misery.

The empirical results of Communism, Marxism, socialism, and their fellow travelers are all that are necessary to damn them forever. They operate on the assumption that men can be forced to be better, that wealth is fixed, and that government can fix all - as long as it is run by enlightened people.

Capitalism works because it acknowledges that men are not angels, and succeeds despite them.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Well, They Do

Whiteboard 20060816

From The Whiteboard, one of the better webcomics out there.

The current storyline, of which this is part, starts

Friday, August 18, 2006

A New Friday Furo Questus Is Up

...only at The Wasatch Front.

Thought of the Week
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Coming Soon! Rocky Anderson's Circus!

Oh swell. Guess whos coming for dinner for Rocky's protest.

In a couple of weeks, President Bush is coming to Salt Lake to address the American Legion. And Rocky finds that offensive.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Rocky Anderson, a legend in his own mind.

Not content to let Bush visit Utah unpicketed, Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson has once again taken it upon himself to organize a protest.

And he invited Cindy Sheehan to come. Out of the goodness of his own heart, I'm sure.

But this is more than just a disagreement about policy. This is what, in Rocky's world, passes for rational debate, as he stated in a KSL interview:
Excerpt 1: Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "I think he has been an utter disaster and I think there's a huge obligation on the part of anybody who sees these as major problems to stand up. I think it's the most patriotic thing an American can do."

Excerpt 2: "This president has been a disaster. He's led us with a lot of lies, whether it was manipulated intelligence, whether it's ineptitude, he has led us into a war."
"He's led us with a lot of lies." So in Rocky's world, Bush is not just wrong, he's evil.

I think I found some of Rocky's supporters:

tinfoil hatters

Okay. But answer me this: what, exactly is the point of this protest? You think Bush doesn't know he's not real popular right now? That the President doesn't know a lot of people disagree with him on Iraq?

Here's what I think this is: it's all about you, Rocky. You're a big progressive fish in a small bowl, a fact that chaps your hide. You aspire to bigger things. This is your last chance to grab some national media attention before you leave the mayor's office. And by inviting Cindy Sheehan, you guarantee national media attention focused on you.

And you and everyone who shows up to your "peace rally" will be marching for yourselves.

As I said last year: Salt Lake needs a mayor, not a mouthpiece. Rocky, you're not representing me. You're not representing the community view. Admit it - this is all about you.

Leave already, Rocky. You've insulted us enough.

P.S. DISCLAIMER: Yes, they have the right to do this. I am painfully aware of this. But just because you have the right to do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. For example, I could launch into a profanity-laced diatribe on the mayor, or I could relate stories and rumors (some of which are even true) of the mayor's behavior with his employees. But I won't.

Also, no comments here. If you would like to comment on this piece, please join me over at The Wasatch Front, where I've cross-posted this article. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Seen At The Corner: "Storm Warning"

Seen at The Corner:
Storm Warning [Stanley Kurtz]

In an interview with Paul Gigot at FOX News, Middle East expert Martin Kramer says the Lebanon war was more likely a mistake than a deliberately planned diversion from international efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. (I don’t have a link, but Ralph Peters also argued early on that the war was not a planned diversion but a mistake.) Basically, Kramer argues, Iran gave Hezbollah a wide array of rocket technology (far more of it than Israel realized) for use against Israel in the event of an American and/or Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But Iran’s orders were vague, and Hezbollah jumped the gun, thereby degrading the value of one of the key modes of (proxy) retaliation Iran had planned to use in the event of a move against its nuclear program.

Let’s think about this. How would this work in a world where Iran had given Hezbollah, or some other terrorist group, a weapon of mass destruction, to be used as a form of difficult-to-trace proxy retaliation in case of a serious attack? No doubt, in the case of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, Iran’s instructions to a terrorist client might be far clearer and more restrictive: “Absolutely do not use this (dirty bomb, suitcase nuclear devise, anthrax, etc.) unless and until we (Iran) are directly and forcefully attacked by the United States, or Israel, or both. In fact, wait for word from us before planting this device in Tel Aviv or New York.” Would Hezbollah go along? Would a nuclear, chemical, or biologically armed Hezbollah even realize when their conventional provocations might be going too far? After all, in this case, Hezbollah likely didn’t realize that by kidnaping Israeli soldiers it was starting a war. In other words, we’re witnessing a dry run of the sort of miscalculations we face in a world of nuclear armed, terrorist-friendly states.

Iran gives Hezbollah rocket technology, only meaning it to be used in case Israel and/or the United States launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear program. Hezbollah miscalculates by kidnaping Israeli soldiers, thereby creating a war in which the Iranian rockets are “prematurely” used. After all, once at war Hezbollah feels it necessary to defend itself with everything it’s got. In fact, you’ve got to believe Hezbollah’s very possession of so much Iranian supplied rocketry made it overconfident about provoking Israel in the first place.

So the very receipt of powerful weaponry from allied nation-states makes terrorist groups more likely to take destabilizing risks–especially because they don’t have countries to defend, or a public to whom they are accountable. Terrorist groups are simply organizations composed of people who live to die. Now substitute weapons of mass destruction for rockets and you see how quickly a rogue state in league with a terrorist organization could plunge the world into a nuclear conflict, even when it doesn’t intend to do so.

Posted at 10:11 AM

Friday, August 11, 2006

Seen At The Corner: "Let's Not Radicalize Them"

Andy McCarthy, at The Corner:
They're Radicals, So Let's Not Radicalize Them ... [Andy McCarthy]
The big wind-up from that Times' "news" story this morning — no editorializing here:
[Simon] Reeve [who wrote a book about bin Laden] said that while traveling recently in Indonesia he heard of many baby boys being named Osama in honor of Mr. bin Laden. In part because of the Iraq war, he said, “We’re seeing a radicalization of the ummah, the larger Muslim community around the world.”
So try to follow this — though, of course, you'll need the high-brow nuance of a State Department careerist or the Council on Foreign Relations to grasp it. In the decade after we left Saddam Hussein in power rather than deposing him, representatives of the umma responded by bombing the World Trade Center (1993), Khobar (1996), the embassies (1998), the U.S.S. Cole (2000); unsuccessfully plotting to blow up much of Manhattan (1993), a bunch of airliners (1994-95), L.A. Int'l Airport (2000) and the U.S.S. The Sullivans (2000); and finally killing almost 3000 of us in suicide hijackings that destroyed the WTC and damaged the Pentagon.

But it was the Iraq war of 2003 that radicalized them.

It couldn't possibly have been, say, the Koran's Sura 9:5 ("Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolators wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.")

Naaaaaaaaaahhhhh, must have been the Iraq war.

Posted at 6:02 AM

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What, Me Worry?

Sorry to be alarmist - but given today's news, should we be worried about these guys?

Especially since I'm flying to Florida on business next week...

And just what were these two knuckleheads up to in Ohio? (And notice their names.)

British Break Up Terror Plot

British intelligence and police have foiled a major terror plot.

The basic outline of the plot seems to be this: using liquid explosives disguised as common items (beverages, lotions, gels) or concealed in electronic devices, suicide bombers would destroy planes on Trans-Atlantic flights.

21 people have been arrested in connection with this plot; rumor is that they are all British citizens, of Pakistani ethnicity. This has not been confirmed.

As you can imagine, there is a lot left to learn about this.

Quote of the day comes from Instapundit:
"Some people have decided that the war on terror is passe. But although you may not be interested in terrorism, terrorism is still interested in you."

News links:
Drudge Report
NRO's The Corner
Pajamas Media
Irish Trojan
Counterterrorism Blog (specific articles here and here)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Race To Lead The Retreat

The implications of Lieberman's primary loss are another piece, for another time. Suffice it to say I am unhappy with it, because it proves that the Democratic Party and its adherents believe the War on Terror is no concern to them, and I worry that the majority of the American people may agree with them.

But for now, here's just a wrap-up of the happenings:

Hot Air, video of Ned Lamont's victory speech:

Here’s the empty suit who just won the Connecticut primary delivering what must be the first victory speech in history to begin with a call for retreat.
And proceeding on with chants of "Bring 'Em Home!" while making the peace sign.

Swell. The sixties are back, in all their narcissistic navel-gazing vapid ignorant self-righteousness.

From National Review:

Steven Spruiell,
"The Bitter Beginning."

Byron York,
"Joe Lieberman and the Memory of "Sore-Loserman.'"


And from the New York Post,
John Podhoretz:
THE Lieberman loss ends the bipartisan consensus on the war in Iraq.
You read that right. I said "bipartisan consensus." There has been one, though you probably missed it.

Yes, I know polls have said for two years now that Democratic voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the war. Yes, I know Democratic politicians - with the exception of Joe Lieberman - never miss an opportunity to go after President Bush for his decision to go into Iraq and for his handling of the war.

But the weird little secret of the past couple of years is that when push comes to shove, Democrats in Washington have assented to the continuation of the war on Bush's terms. They have voted to fund it.

House Democrats voted against an immediate withdrawal. Senate Democrats even voted against a set timetable for withdrawal.

That's over now. The Democratic Party officially became the antiwar party last night.
Or you could just read this from Michael Moore (the link is to NRO's Sixers - I can't link to that man.):
Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq and who continues to support, in any way, this senseless, immoral, unwinnable war. Make no mistake about it: We, the majority of Americans, want this war ended — and we will actively work to defeat each and every one of you who does not support an immediate end to this war.

Nearly every Democrat set to run for president in 2008 is responsible for this war. They voted for it or they supported it. That single, stupid decision has cost us 2,592 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. Lieberman and Company made a colossal mistake — and we are going to make sure they pay for that mistake. Payback time started last night.
Be very careful what you wish for, Mr. Moore. Purges can be painful. The results aren't all that pretty, either.

Friday, August 04, 2006

TFFQ: The War of Words

Questus Furore - The War of Words
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

It seems as though we are in the midst of The Great Unnerving.

Perhaps no better an example of this can be found in the state of Connecticut, where Senator Joeseph Lieberman is engaged in an intense primary race against his virulently anti-war challenger, Ned Lamont. While each candidate is trying to out-liberal the other, bashing on Wal-Mart and arguing over how high to raise the minimum wage, the race really boils down to one issue: Lieberman's support of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The movers and shakers of the Democratic Party are about to start a purge; if Lieberman loses, every Democrat who supported the Iraq war is in trouble, from his own side.

Another reflection can be found in the reportage of the Israeli-Hizbollah-Lebanon conflict. Continued demands for negotiated solutions and immediate Israeli cease-fires are given lots of airplay, despite the fact that over fifteen years of diplomacy and concession brought us to thius juncture. While diplomats jawed, Hizbollah built bunkers and bought rockets. And Iran was more than happy to supply the rockets, the training, and even the operators.

Yet another could be found in Congress yesterday, where Democratic senators (led by Sen. Clinton) assailed the Secretary of Defense on Iraq. Missing, of course, were suggestions as to what to do now, as the only proposal the Democrats have been able to come up with since the invasion of Iraq is what they termed a limited pullback - to Okinawa, Japan.

As Rumsfeld reminded the Senate yesterday, the enemy is in this to win. And the enemy is not made up of fools. They are clever, they are cunning, and they are one thing we are not - completely, utterly ruthless.

I'm no strategist, and I am not a visionary. But this is how I see it: We are at a decision point. Now is a time where we can make a decisive inroads against radical Islam at a comparatively low cost, or we can falter and have to face it again in another five years - which will prove much more costly.

And the really scary thing? Our leaders really have nothing to do with it at this point. This decision lies with the American people, not with their leaders. Either we commit to carrying on the war now, or we run home and hide.

Which will be followed by a bloody crashing of the gate no more than five years later. Isolationism was proven to be a fatally flawed foreign policy by 1942; a return to it in 2006 will only bring more war to our shores.

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson, "The Brink of Madness."
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Michael Ledeen, "The Thirties All Over Again?"
Certainly there is lots of bad news, most of which confirms what we already knew: The Western world hates Israel; the taboo on anti-Semitism is off; the Western world has been P.C.’ed to the edge of death; there is no stomach for fighting the war against Islamic fascism.

Sounds like the Thirties to me.

Jonah Goldberg, "Lose-Lose."
The point here, alas, is that Westerners are suckers. Or, put another way, terrorists aren’t stupid. They understand that images are more important than armies. Heck, that’s why they’re terrorists in the first place...

...Terrorize your enemy and make them feel like villains in the process — that’s a powerful strategy. This strategy depends on the willing support of what Lenin called “useful idiots.” These are the accommodating Westerners — many of them intellectuals — all too willing to take the word of totalitarians and even more eager to believe that the champions of democracy are in the wrong. Some social scientists call these people “French,” but that is too limiting. For there are plenty of them in America, too.

Barbara Lerner, "We're Losing."

Rich Lowry, "Romancing the Totalitarian Temptation."

Thought of the Week
"The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything."
G. K. Chesterton

Churchill Quote of the Week
"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'."
Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Nordlinger's Grim Thoughts

Jay Nordlinger in today's NRO:
The question comes anew whether the West has the stomach to fight the War on Terror, and prevail in it. I don’t know — think of all the major personages and institutions that are either against the war or sympathetic to the other side. Three years ago, interviewing Secretary Rumsfeld, I asked this question: whether the West had the stomach. Actually, what I asked was whether Americans would “stick with the Terror War.” Rumsfeld answered, quick as a flash, “They stuck with the Cold War.”

Yes, indeed — but I’ve always felt we got somewhat lucky there, particularly with the advent of Gorbachev. (I know this makes many of my fellow Reaganauts gag.)

And many years ago — when I was in college — I read those stirring Norman Podhoretz essays, in which he spoke of Israel, America, and Europe, and said things like, “Oh, West, look in the mirror and behold your fate.”

I’m afraid these times prompt apocalyptical thoughts.
I wish I could disagree.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Recommended Reading

Jonah Goldberg, "Lose-Lose."
The point here, alas, is that Westerners are suckers. Or, put another way, terrorists aren’t stupid. They understand that images are more important than armies. Heck, that’s why they’re terrorists in the first place...

...Terrorize your enemy and make them feel like villains in the process — that’s a powerful strategy. This strategy depends on the willing support of what Lenin called “useful idiots.” These are the accommodating Westerners — many of them intellectuals — all too willing to take the word of totalitarians and even more eager to believe that the champions of democracy are in the wrong. Some social scientists call these people “French,” but that is too limiting. For there are plenty of them in America, too.