Wolf Pangloss's Fish Taco Stand

"But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world."

"What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?"

"What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish.

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31 January 2008

Five Letters from Bin Laden

Found, in Pakistan, five letters from Bin Laden. That's basically what the article says, with a few unimportant details thrown in.

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The New Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

In the middle of an article on the slow grinding to a halt that was the Fred Thompson campaign, Andrew Ferguson immerses the reader in the modern version of fear and loathing on the campaign trail.
It's not pleasant to think of the life they lead, these Americans who would be president, from the first hints of dawn to well past midnight, this life of endless demands, this succession of superficial sociability, in which you smile and smile and pop your eyes wide open in delighted wonder at the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of faces and places that circles before you, and you haven't the time or leisure to settle on a single one. Charming countryside, pretty little towns, sprawling centers of commerce and industry fly by and you haven't a moment to enjoy them or learn their tales. You rush to meet hundreds of people a day and never have a meaningful exchange of words with any of them.

From the backseats of freezing cars and vans you're hustled into overheated coffee shops and those packed school gymnasiums with the stink rising to the rafters and then the oppressive hush of corporate meeting rooms, where your nose starts to run and a film of sweat forms under your wool pullover, and you press the outstretched hands that carry every bacterial pathogen known to epidemiology. You open your mouth and you release the same cloud of words you recited yesterday and the day before. And in the Q&A, when you stop to listen, you hear the same questions and complaints from yesterday, the same mewling and blame-shifting, all imploring you to do the impossible and through some undefined action make the lives of these unhappy citizens somehow edifying, uplifting, and worth living. And you always promise you will do that; you have no choice but to tell this kind of lie.

There's no rest, because there's not a moment to waste: The handful of minutes away from the kaleidoscope are spent chatting with the scorpions of the press, the ill-dressed, ill-mannered reporters from the prints and the pretty, preening peacocks of TV, each of them either a know-it-all or a cynic or a dope, take your pick, and each of whom, for professional and other reasons, will deploy all his energies and cleverness to the task of trapping you into a misstatement or ungenerous remark or expression of irritation so he can convey to his editors and the world that--at last!--you've made a gaffe; and if you won't make a gaffe then he will convey to his editors and the world how "scripted" and "over rehearsed" you sound; kind of slick, almost robotic, inauthentic.

When the scorps are dismissed, in the seconds before you pass from the freezing van to the overheated gym or boardroom, a sycophant whose name you can't remember hands you a cell phone that connects you to a rich man whose face you dimly recall from another boardroom last summer and you beg him to give you money, or more often--considering the grinding pressure you feel for cash, always for cash--you beg him to assemble a circle of other rich men that he can beg on your behalf, and when you sign off you don't have time to be grateful. There will be more calls before dinner and after dinner, and dinner is a cold thigh of chicken in a sump of clotted gravy served from a steam table in a freezing cinderblock banquet room at the Lions Club, and a hundred pairs of eyes fix themselves on you--a celebrity, someone they've seen on TV--as you dribble the gravy on your shirtfront. And after you release the same words and hear the same complaints you go to bed in a Hampton Suites for five hours of sleep on starchy sheets with dimly visible stains whose origins are impossible to discern, and from the corner the digital display on the microwave flashes 12:00 12:00 12:00 . . .

And you do all this so you can wake up the next morning and do it again. Because you like it.

Imagine liking that. Just for a second, try it. It's too much for me, through the looking glass and straight into the sky past the second star on the left where troubles smell like lemon drops and way above the chimney tops that's where you won't find me.

Not only don't I want to run for President after that, I don't want anyone I like to run for President. Maybe this is an argument for John McCain, but if so it's an odd one.


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30 January 2008

Go Ralph!

Ralph Nader is thinking of running for president, again. Since Denny K. left the 2008 race the Martians didn't know who to vote for. Now Ralph may be getting in. The Martians (and the Jovians and Saturnines as well) are happier than you will ever know.

Vote Ralph Nader! Do it for the extraterrestrials among us.

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Even Jimmah Carter favors photo ID to guard against US voter fraud

Who wouldda thunk it?!
Former President Carter stated on March 22, 2006, "Within the next three or four years, all 50 states will move to some kind of voter ID." Carter, along with former Secretary of State James Baker, recently led the Commission on Federal Election Reform. Among the commission's recommendations was the requirement of photographic identification at the polls to curb voter fraud.

Related: How to Cheat the Vote

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The Oil Parable

"Brethren," said the preacher, "the Lord made the world round like a ball."

"Amen!" agreed the congregation.

"And the Lord made two axles for the world to go round on, and He put one axle at the North Pole and one axle at the South Pole."

"Amen!" shouted the congregation.

"And the Lord put a lot of oil in the center of the world to keep the axles well greased."

"Amen!" cried the congregation.

"And then a lot of sinners dug wells in Pennsylvania and stole the Lord's grease. And in Kentucky, Texas, Alaska, Mexico, Russia, Araby and Persia, and all through Africa, and steal more of the Lord's grease. And some day they will have all the Lord's grease, and them axles is gonna get hot. And then that will be hell, brethren, that will be hell!"


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Davy Crockett, modern populist politician

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Read some of Davy Crockett's advice to them as aspire to politicking.
"Attend all public meetings," says I, "and get some friends to move that you take the chair- if you fail in this attempt, make a push to be appointed secretary; the proceedings of course will be published, and your name is introduced to the public. But should you fail in both undertakings, get two or three acquaintances, over a bottle of whiskey, to pass some resolutions no matter on what subject; publish them even if you pay the printer- it will answer the purpose of breaking the ice, which is the main point in these matters. Intrigue until you are elected an officer of the militia; this is the second step towards promotion, and can be accomplished with ease, as I know an instance of an election being advertised, and no one attending, the innkeeper at whose house it was to be held, having a military turn, elected himself colonel of his regiment." Says I, "You may not accornpb your ends with as little difficulty, but do not be discouraged- Rome wasn't built in a day.

"If your ambition or circumstances compel you to serve your country, and earn three dollars a day, by becoming a member of the legislature you must first publicly avow that the constitution of the state is a shackle upon free and liberal legislation; and is, therefore, of as little use in the present enlightened age, as an old almanac of the year in which the instrument was framed. There is policy in this measure, for by making the constitution a mere dead letter, your headlong proceedings will be attributed to a bold and unshackled mind, whereas, it might otherwise be thought they arose from sheer mulish ignorance. 'The Government' has set the example in his attack upon the constitution of the United States, and who should fear to follow where 'the Government' leads?

"When the day of election approaches, visit your constituents far and wide. Treat liberally, and drink freely, in order to rise in their estimation though you fall in your own. True, you may be called a drunken dog by some of the clean shirt and silk stocking gentry, but the real rough necks will style you a jovial fellow, their votes are certain, and frequently, count double. Do all you can to appear to advantage in the eyes of the women. That's easily done- you have but to kiss and slabber their children, wipe their noses, and pat them on the head; this cannot fail to please their mothers, and you may rely on your business being done in that quarter.

"Promise all that is asked," said I, "and more if you can think of up thing. Offer to build a bridge or a church, to divide a county, create a batch of new offices, make a turnpike, or anything they like. Promises cost nothing, therefore deny nobody who has a vote or sufficient influence to obtain one.

"Get up on all occasions, and sometimes on no occasion at all, and make long-winded speeches, though composed of nothing else than wind- talk of your devotion to your country, your modesty and disinterestedness, or on any such fanciful subject. Rail against taxes of all kinds, office-holders, and bad harvest weather; and wind up with a flourish about the heroes who fought and bled for our liberties in the times that tried men's souls. To be sure you run the risk of being considered a bladder of wind or an empty barrel, but never mind that, you will find enough of the same fraternity to keep you in countenance.

"If any charity be going forward, be at the top of it, provided it is to be advertised publicly; if not, it isn't worth your while. None but a fool would place his candle under a bushel on such an occasion.

"These few directions," said I, "if properly attended to, will do your business; and when once elected, why a fig for the dirty children, the promises, the bridges, the churches, the taxes, the offices, and the subscriptions, for it is absolutely necessary to forget all these before you can become a thorough-going politician, and a patriot of the first water."

This may or may not have been what Crockett actually said. It was credited to him in a book published in 1860 (also see here and here). What is most remarkable is how Crockett's rules of guidance, typical of Jacksonian Democrats of the time period, are such bold populism in warp and woof. We tend to think that our own de-generation of politicians is the most populist and pandering batch of thieves ever to make their hideout at the state or national capital. But things have been just as bad in the past. We shall always have Davy Crockett to remind us.

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26 January 2008

Oh What a Sign: Clinton or Prosperity?

25 January 2008

The Billary Clintons play the race card

Kyle-Anne Shiver has been conducting a virtual seminar at the American Thinker for the past month or so in how Barack Obama and the Billary Clintons, who were all well trained in Saul Alinsky's 4GW methods of agitation, have been employing the Alinsky techniques to destroy and defeat each other. The Alinsky technique is a vicious way of scapegoating and personally destroying a opponent in order to arouse and excite one's own followers and demoralize and defeat the opponent's followers.
Even though Obama seems to be harnessing the South Carolina black vote that will give him that state's delegates, he has been feeling the brunt of the Clintons' mastery of the tactic of polarization, taught decades ago to Hillary by Saul Alinsky.

Obama is being forced into the position of being the black candidate. Successfully polarizing Obama, who has attempted to run as the anti-polarity uniter, a man in the middle, has not been a lazy-day walk in the park for the Clintons, and surely would not have been attempted if Obama hadn't trounced them in Iowa. [link]

Let me set something straight. I am a pragmatic anti-racist. I believe that race is a useless distinction. Race is a lie. There is no black race, no white race, no oriental race, no Jewish, Palestinian, English, French, Swedish, Aryan, German, Swiss, Russian, Ethiopian, Eritrean or Arab race. Caucasian, Mongolian, Negro are all long-rejected classifications of the human race based on the way that people look and the color of their skin. The human race is the only race worth favoring.

Well, maybe wolves and other dogs deserve some favoring too.

But black and white racism is about as stupid as white chocolate. Dark chocolate, on the other hand...
The Alinsky technique goes something like this. Find an opponent who has some reason to avoid open conflict. This opponent will become the scapegoat for all that is wrong in the world, the focus of agitation and polarization. Followers will come to believe this scapegoat is a vile enemy. It is not necessary that the scapegoat really be a vile enemy. They simply need to be able to be painted as an enemy.

Cue George W. Bush. Is Bush derangement syndrome more understandable now?

Ridicule the enemy. Then blame the enemy for whatever the enemy has. It doesn't have to be anything bad. It only has to be something you don't have. Start making a lot of noise. Be rude, horrible, hateful. This isn't about truth or reality, it is about turning your followers into mad dogs and frightening the enemy and any innocent bystanders into letting you get away with whatever you want to do.

Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis on the tactics of Saul Alinsky. She was offered a job to work directly for Alinsky in Chicago, but turned it down to go to law school at Yale, where she worked to defend Black Panthers from murder charges. She understands Alinsky's method very well. After graduating, Obama went to work for a community organization in Chicago that needed a black person to rabble rouse in the hood. They used the Alinsky method to agitate for free goodies for the "Have Nots." Obama learned by doing and became very good at it. He got good enough that it led to his first political office as a ward politician in Chicago.

Obama does not want to engage in verbal combat with Hillary Clinton because no man should fight a woman. Mrs. Clinton already complained that the men were beating up on helpless poor little rich-girl Hill at an early debate. Obama knows that beating up a girl is a losing tactic. Instead, he has been direct about publicly scapegoating Bill Clinton as the problem with the hostility in the campaign. He will not do the same to Mrs. Clinton. Perhaps he will find some subordinates to do the dirty work of tarring her. If he wants to have a chance he will.

Obama is as likable as Bill Clinton. He doesn't need to get into the mud to fight it out. He could win without using Alinsky tactics. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is not charismatic. She needs to use Alinsky-style tactics. If you thought the Bill Clinton years were divisive and polarizing for the country, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Following the successful example of the Clintons, the Democrats divide the country up into tribes of women, blacks, hispanics, gays and lesbians, abortionists, leftover marxists, good and bad members of the military, good and bad businessmen, tobacco-spitting hicks, NASCAR voters, and the like. If they can assemble enough tribes into their coalition they can win. They do not have any interest in bringing people together or in erasing tribal distinctions. They succeed when they polarize people and drive them into tribes, because that makes the tribes angry and easy to manipulate with Alinsky-style tactics.

So what are the Billary Clintons doing against Obama? They are turning his black support against him. He is not running on race, but black people support him anyway. The Clintons will force him to stand with his race while Hillary gathers women to herself, and in a vote along tribal lines the 50% woman vote beats the 10% black vote. They will also ridicule his lack of experience, as he is only a first term Senator, while touting Hillary Clinton's experience.

This leaves an opening the Republican opponent can use in the general election. Ultra-feminist Hillary Clinton is counting being the long-suffering wife of a philandering President as experience leading the country. It isn't, no matter how much she cries about it. She is only a second-term Senator and never held any elected office before joining the Senate. Plus she is older than Bill by a year. Perhaps she will cry in her defense again. Perhaps? Surely she will.

The presidential campaign is going to get really ugly. Uglier than we have ever seen it. And that ugliness will be something that can be turned against those who use it.

Links to more sources on these tactics below.

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24 January 2008

Post-modernist Chomsky has trouble separating truth from falsehood

Noam Chomsky continues his Jew-baiting ways, this time while visiting Iran. Read all about it at Gateway Pundit.
The Iranian Mehr News is reporting on their exclusive interview with America-hating Leftist Noam Chomsky:
Noam Chomsky, a widely known intellectual and political activist, says an immediate punishment of Palestinians started “for the crime of not following orders” by Israel and U.S.

In an interview with the Mehr News Agency, Chomsky said, “Savage punishment of Palestinians by the U.S.-Israeli alliance” should come to an end.

Oy vey! What a yutzi pomo shmeckle he is! Look it up. His mother should be alive today to see what a self-hating Jew she raised.

h/t: Thomas Lifson


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23 January 2008

Reading List: Foundations of the American System of Government

The Internet in general, and WikiSource in particular, is a wonderful thing. This is a mostly chronological reading list on the foundational documents of the American system of government.
The Magna Carta (The Great Charter), 1297
The 1215 version imposed upon John was repealed shortly after being signed. The 1297 version remains in legal force in England and Wales to this day. It records the rights of the nobility and of freemen and restricts the rights of the King and his Government by holding them subject to the Law.

The Articles of Association, 1774
The Articles of Association were a petition of grievances against Great Britain by the American colonies, and a compact among them to collectively impose economic sanctions to pressure a resolution. The Articles were drafted by the First Continental Congress in 1774 and were an important formative document in the history of the United States that perhaps hastened the American Revolution, though they were intended instead to alter Britain's policies towards the colonies without severing allegiance. [link]

United States Declaration of Independence, 1776
The first of three Charters of Freedom declared the colonies independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain and explained the reasons why this must be. It was ratified on July 4, 1776. This is why July 4 is celebrated as Independence Day in the USA.

Articles of Confederation, 1777
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, or, more commonly, just the Articles of Confederation, was the first governing document of the United States of America. The articles, which combined the 13 colonies of the American Revolutionary War into a loose confederation, were adopted by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, after 16 months of debate. The articles were ratified three years later on March 1, 1781. [link]

Constitution of the United States of America
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later ratified by special conventions in each state. It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the less defined union that had existed under the Articles of Confederation. It took effect on March 4, 1789 and has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations. The Constitution of the United States of America is the oldest written national constitution in use. [link]

The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 pseudonymous articles written mostly by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution. They were first published serially in New York City newspapers. A compilation, called The Federalist, was published in 1788. The Federalist Papers serve as a primary source for interpretation of the Constitution, as they outline the philosophy and motivation of the proposed system of government. [link]

Antifederalist Papers
The Antifederalist Papers were written pseudonymously by several patriots who believed that the Constitution without any enumeration of individual rights at all would be a prescription for tyranny. It was highly influential in the passage of the Bill of Rights and its attachment to the Constitution. They are arranged in one-to-one correspondence to the Federalist paper against which they argue. See here for more.

United States Bill of Rights, 1789
In the United States, the Bill of Rights is the term for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These amendments explicitly limit the Federal government's powers, protecting the rights of the people by preventing Congress from abridging freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of religious worship, and the right to bear arms, preventing unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and self-incrimination, and guaranteeing due process of law and a speedy public trial with an impartial jury. In addition, the Bill of Rights states that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the Federal government to the citizenry or States. [link]

Additional amendments to the United States Constitution

These are additional amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America added after the first ten amendments on the United States Bill of Rights (ratified in 1791) have been ratified . There are 17 additional amendments to date, ratified from 1795 to 1992.

Some Unsuccessful attempts to amend the United States Constitution
There have been over ten thousand attempts to amend the United States Constitution. This is a list of a few of the more recent or interesting ones.


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Venezuelan Refugees from Chavez copy Cuban Refugees from Castro, flee to South Florida

Hugo Chavez's Chavismo variant of Stalinism inspires such emotion in those who are subject to it that given the choice they leave all their possessions behind and flee, much like those who lived in Cuba under the emergent Stalinist dictatorship of Fidel Castro. Kirk Semple tells all about it.

Can another Democrat President's Bay of Pigs fiasco still be avoided?

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Du Pont: Where They Stand

Where do the presidential candidates stand on the five issues that matter most?

Where They Stand
A look at the presidential candidates' positions on the five biggest challenges facing America.

January 15, 2008

Three states down (Iowa, Wyoming, and New Hampshire), and 47 to go. Seven candidates--from Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain on top, to Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani in the middle and John Edwards at the bottom--are still in the race to become the next president of the United States.

In the beginning Mrs. Clinton was the Democratic establishment's winning candidate. But with her loss in Iowa and her position as underdog in the New Hampshire pre-election polls, the more liberal Mr. Obama was assumed to be the likely Democrat nominee. He still may get the nomination, but a massive national Clinton effort led by Bill and his presidential contacts may get her to the top.

On the Republican side, the ultimate outcome is far from clear. Messrs. McCain, Romney and Giuliani are still serious candidates, and while Mr. Huckabee would like to be, his lack of a national organization and his policy beliefs (a national sales tax, limiting free trade) and his history of raising taxes as governor of Arkansas are unlikely to appeal to most Americans.

But the political ups and downs of the candidates and the electricity of the campaign--"I am promising change!"--matter much less than the substantive policies the next president would implement regarding the five most important challenges facing our country.

* * *

America's fight against terrorism and its threat to our country is the most important policy question facing the next president. For more than six years President Bush has protected us from a second September 11. Maintaining and enhancing that protection will be the most important job of the next president.

The significant disparity between the political parties on this issue may be the most important policy difference of the campaign. Mr. Edwards is a modern McGovern, pledging to remove our military from Iraq: "I will do it in my first year in office. Combat missions ended, combat troops out of Iraq, period." Never mind what such a significant al Qaeda victory would do to America's safety. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton are slightly less aggressive in urging retreat, but he does plan to "get combat troops out of Iraq" and she says she will "sponsor legislation to de-authorize this war" and "immediately draw down 40,000 to 50,000 troops," continuing to reduce troop strength "until all of our combat troops are in fact out of Iraq."

Mr. McCain, the most militarily experienced candidate, would ensure the strongest effort to defeat terrorism. In his words, the debate is "whether we set a date for withdrawal, which will be a date for surrender, or whether we will let this surge continue and succeed." Messrs. Romney and Giuliani strongly agree with him, and Mr. Huckabee seems to as well.

* * *

Securing America's borders against illegal immigration is the second serious policy question. Building the first 700 miles of border fence is the first step. The next ones are creating tamper-proof ID cards for all immigrants, eliminating the "visa lottery" that allows 50,000 random immigrants a year to enter the country, and deporting the two million or so illegal immigrants with criminal records . All the Republican candidates generally support these security improvements, and the Democrats are slowly come around to them. What we need is a president who will wrap these elements in a broad border-security bill and get it through the Congress.

Free trade promotes economic growth. About 10% of America's GDP currently comes from trade. It creates jobs--6.1 million of them, according to the U.S. Trade Representative--lowers the cost of goods, and gives people a broader choice of goods to purchase. President Clinton's 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement has expanded trade with Canada and Mexico by 172% and has more than doubled the export of agricultural products to both of those countries.

Even so, the Democratic Party is by and large opposed to it. Five of the new Democratic senators elected in 2006 were opposed. Mr. Edwards is a vigorous protectionist, and Sens. Clinton and Obama both voted against the Central American Free trade Agreement. Mr. Huckabee is at least a partial protectionist, who dislikes NAFTA and has vowed to sign only "fair trade" deals. The rest of the Republicans believe in the value of trade: Mr. Giuliani would "tear down the walls to free trade," and Mr. Romney has said that protectionism would make America "a second-tier economy" with a lower standard of living.

This is an important policy question for voters to think through, for a protectionist in the White House would reduce opportunities and prosperity and increase the cost of goods to the American people.

* * *

Equally divisive among the candidates for president are our energy policies, policies that have been moving us in the wrong direction. We refuse to drill for the offshore and Alaskan oil and natural gas we know is out there and accessible--some 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (a 19-year supply) and more than 100 billion barrels of oil (which would replace our importation of foreign oil for 25 years). We haven't built a new oil refinery in America for more than 30 years, and have not permitted the construction of a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s. Even with the current zeal over man-made global warming, additional nuclear power plants--which emit no greenhouse gases--have not been permitted.

Among the candidates, Mrs. Clinton opposes offshore drilling, is "agnostic" on nuclear power, and wants to raise taxes on the oil companies by $50 billion. Mr. Edwards opposes nuclear power and drilling in both Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Obama agrees with him on drilling but believes nuclear power should be part of the energy mix. In contrast, all the Republican candidates support construction of nuclear power plants and--with the exception of a more hesitant Mr. McCain--offshore drilling.

Finally, other than national security the most important matter for all presidential candidates is their economic vision, for economic policies drive the growth, employment, wealth, and opportunity of Americans. For 52 consecutive months--since August 2003, the year of the Bush tax cuts--America's economy and employment has been growing: 8.3 million new jobs have been created, the country's Gross Domestic Product is up 27%, and the tax cuts have increased federal revenue by $785 billion, the largest four year increase in U.S. history. All of which teaches us--once again--that lower tax rates mean higher economic growth.

So the Republican candidates support keeping the lower tax rates, although Mr. McCain had opposed both the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts at the time. On Thursday Mr. Giuliani offered a significant tax reduction plan that would repeal the death tax and lower the tax rate on corporate profits to 25% from 35% and on capital gains tax rates to 10% from 15%.

All three Democratic candidates promise to raise taxes. None of this is surprising, for the Democratic Party today is in lockstep against higher-income tax rate reductions, even if they produce economic and job growth. Only 4% of Democratic House and Senate members (9 out of 253) voted for the 2003 tax cuts, so it is, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth that the tax rate reductions increased government tax receipts and grew our economy.

* * *

So what does all this information tell us? That there are serious and substantial differences between the two parties and their candidates on significant elements of America's public policies. And that on each of these five important issues--protecting our country, securing our borders, encouraging international trade, generating our energy needs and promoting economic growth--the presidential election matters.

There is a Nov. 4 fork in the public policy road, for the next president will choose the direction in which our policies will proceed--up or down, right or left--on all these matters.


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Mitten Smitten with Mitt

Amy D. Goldstein writes a must-read paean to Romney at the American Thinker.
Have you noticed how all of the Republican candidates can barely conceal their contempt for Governor Mitt Romney? It goes way beyond the typical good-natured competition that usually is the hallmark of Republican contests. Senator McCain has snarled at Governor Romney in debates and Gov. Huckabee has tried to paint Romney as cold and uncaring, while Sen. Fred Thompson attacked Governor Romney right out of the box. This display of hatred usually is the hallmark of the Democrats.

So, why do the other candidates hate Mitt Romney? Several reasons:
  1. He can win. Governor Romney appeals to economic conservatives and could appeal to foreign policy conservatives based upon his understanding of the issues. Most non-partisan foreign policy wonks who have briefed the major candidates tell me that Romney "gets it" better than any other candidate -- even better than those who have held high profile office for decades. Moreover, he is the candidate that the Democrats most fear.

  2. Jealousy -- from his hair to his appearance to his family to his money - these are all reasons for deep-seated, if unseemly, jealousy. This green-eyed monster makes its appearance in almost every speech or presentation, in the form of a joke, a jab or a veiled reference.
  3. He isn't beholden to interest groups.

Read the rest.

Goldstein articulates many of the reasons I have been coming around to the Mitt point of view. I know there are many who dislike him for his Mormonism and looks. First, the Mormons I have known have been some of the finest, most civic minded people it has ever been my honor to meet, and it is pure bigotry to hold his religion against him. Second, Reagan was incredibly good looking too. I was still under the spell of leftism during the Reagan years and remember how I and the other then-lefties hated Reagan back then, and much of the dislike was because he was a good looking movie actor with a full head of slicked-back black hair at the age of 70.

Like Reagan, Romney was a hard worker who had a successful career before he came to politics. His career taught him the executive skills a president needs in spades. He has the money to chart his own course, unbeholden to special interests or to fellow billionaire Soros.

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21 January 2008

Conservativism is the real "Reality Based Community" in America

On this day on which we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday, John Hood expresses uncommon wisdom as he explains the natural alliances of conservatives that form the Republican Party in America:
The conservative movement constitutes an alliance of those who accept unchangeable facts rather than trying to wish fantasy into reality, remake human nature, or avoid economic tradeoffs. Traditionalists embrace timeless morals, even when they deny one immediate gratification. Libertarians embrace the sovereignty of consumer demand and the sometimes-disorienting effects of technological change, even when the result isn’t to one’s personal liking. And hawks embrace the reality that America lives in a dangerous neighborhood, one full of bullies, pirates, and fanatics who respond to gestures of good will with contempt, larceny, and brutality.

As I have written before, Conservatives accept the unchangeable facts of life and then endeavor to change the things that can be changed. The techniques that conservatives embrace to make changes are steady, incremental, preserving as much of the pre-existing good as possible while minimizing the harm inflicted by their changes by testing the results and readjusting the changes as required. And when they stay with their principles, conservatives do not endeavor to change human nature, adopt a Pollyanna-ish view of the affairs of nations of the world, or value the contributions of cohesive groups of people more than they value the unique, God-created men and women of whom the groups are composed.

The Civil Rights Act of 1957 is an example of a conservative change. The President was a popular Republican and the General responsible for Allied victory in World War 2. He was the commander responsible for actually integrating the US military, which had been officially segregated previously. Eisenhower learned from his experience desegregating the military the vast increase in national strength that would result from the end of segregation. Both the House and Senate were majority Democrat. No Civil Rights Acts, no Acts with the two words "civil" and "rights" in the title, had been passed by Congress since 1875, which a Democrat-appointed Supreme Court struck down. The 1957 act, originally proposed by President Eisenhower, was so loathed by the majority party that Senate majority leader and future President Lyndon Baines Johnson cut out all the tough original measures leaving only a shadow of the original bill. Democrats such as Strom Thurmond filibustered the bill longer than any bill had been filibustered in American legislative history, with Thurmond actually speaking continuously on the Senate floor for 24 hours to prevent a vote for cloture from being taken. Both Al Gore, Sr. and John Fitzgerald Kennedy voted against the 1957 Act. And though the Act was watered down by the Democrats, a watery soup familiar to all those who lived through the Great Depression, it established a bipartisan Civil Rights commission that was given the task to investigate civil violations of voting rights in addition to the criminal violations that could already be investigated, a Civil Rights Commission in the Justice Department, and allowed the Justice Department to intervene in state and local voting rights cases. Gail Heriot testified at the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Act:
Without the 1957 Act, there may well have been no Civil Rights Act of 1960, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Fair Housing Act of 1968 or Education Amendments of 1972. Seen in this light, the 1957 Act does not seem puny at all; it was, rather, Congress’s first step on a long-overdue journey.

And let us remember that that the path that Congress had to travel from 1957 to 1964 was marked and paved by Abe Lincoln and his fellow Republicans who held the country together, emancipated the black slaves with the 13th Amendment, passed the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to blacks, and passed the 15th Amendment to allow all black Americans to vote. The Republican party was originally founded out of the scraps of the Whigs as the anti-Slavery party, which explains why the former slave states were solidly Democrat, with an admixture of KKK, for a hundred years after 1860 until the civil rights transformation of the 1960s nailed shut the coffin of government sponsored segregation. And it explains why great civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass were registered Republicans, as were almost all black Americans of the time. Even Jackie Robinson was a Republican.
I am a Republican, a black, dyed in the wool Republican, and I never intend to belong to any other party than the party of freedom and progress.
-- Frederick Douglass (c. 1817–95)

Though black voter registration actually dropped in the South after the 1957 act, the advances in the law and its obvious weaknesses led to the Civil Rights Act of 1960, also signed by Eisenhower, which did produce modest gains in black voter registration in a year, and with the Freedom Rides that began in 1960 led to the entire civil rights movement that managed to overthrow the last vestiges of the segregationist Southern Democrats' Jim Crow laws.

And so the incremental approach, the racing plan of the Tortoise against the scatterbrained Hare, was proved out.

When the spread of civil rights varied from this plan, for instance with the rash of radical legislating by the Judiciary that began in the 1960s (unbalancing the balance of power between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches as defined in the Constitution), bad ideas like the exclusionary rule that had never been passed by a legislature or even imagined to be reasonable by legislators became law.

But the growing dictatorship of the Judiciary is a totally different topic that deserves its own post, perhaps its own blog, even a book.

The realistic, incremental, results-tested approach of conservatives is responsible for almost all real world improvements to established traditions. If the desired goal is radical, novel, Kafka-esque remedies that are worse than the disease then sweeping changes based on ideology instead of real world data, without intermediate results-testing and incremental improvements, will do.

Which would you rather live in, the real world or the idealized world inside your head? For me, though it is cruel and surprising, I choose reality. So do my fellow American conservatives. And when the "progressives" and neocommies claim to be the "reality based community," I laugh at them in their delusion.

And when race-hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young tarnish Dr. King's legacy on this day that bears his name, I judge them not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. That is as King would have wanted it.

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Stephen Coughlin and Jihad Terror Doctrine in the real world

Stephen Coughlin is a lawyer, a Reserve Military Intellgence officer, an Arabic speaker, and a scholar of Islamic law. He is also soon to be a former advisor to the Pentagon, who was fired after ruffling the feathers of "Hasham Islam, an aide to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England," by "being too critical of Islamic law." [1, 2]

While looking through Stephen Coughlin's master's thesis I was impressed less by Coughlin's own writing, which was stodgy and academic as is only to be expected from the fact that it is found in an academic thesis, than by his command of the material. Appendix G, on real world Jihad doctrine, is a real eye-opener. The following is quoted from the Quranic Concept of War by Brigadier S. K. Malik of the Pakistani Army. This book is state sanctioned military doctrine for Pakistan.
Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means; it is an end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him. Psychological and physical dislocation is, at best, a mean, though, by no means, conclusive for striking terror into the hearts of the enemies. Its effects are related to the physical and spiritual stamina of the opponent but are seldom of a permanent and lasting nature. An army that practices the Quranic philosophy of war in its totality is immune to psychological pressures. When Liddell Hart talks of imposing a direct decision upon the enemy through psychological dislocation alone, he is taking too much for granted.

The role of terror in Jihad warfare is bad enough. What is truly alarming is that the Quranic Concept of War sees terror as the proper strategy for the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Terror cannot be struck into the hearts of an army by merely cutting its lines of communications or depriving it of its routes or withdrawal. It is basically related only if the opponent’s Faith is destroyed. Psychological dislocation is temporary; spiritual dislocation is permanent. Psychological dislocation can be produced by a physical act but this does not hold good of the spiritual dislocation. To instill terror into the hearts of the enemy, it is essential, in the ultimate analysis, to dislocate his Faith. An invincible Faith is immune to terror. A weak Faith offers inroads to terror. The Faith conferred upon us by the Holy Qur’an has an inherent strength to ward off terror from us and enable us to strike terror into the enemy. Whatever the form or type of strategy directed against the enemy, it must, in order to be effective, be capable of striking terror into the hearts of the enemy. A strategy that fails to attain this condition suffers from inherent drawbacks and weaknesses; and should be reviewed and modified. This rule is fully applicable to nuclear as well as conventional wars. It is equally true of the strategy of nuclear deterrence in fashion today. To be credible and effective, the strategy of deterrence must be capable of striking terror into the hearts of the enemy.

Coughlin's contract is set to be terminated in March so it is possible that the decision could be reversed. Let us pray and hope that it is. Stupid about the Jihad and how nuclear weapons would be used in it is no way to go through life, especially not for the US Military.

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17 January 2008

How to Cheat the Vote

Denny K. raised the topic of vote counting fraud in the Democrat primary in New Hampshire. All the accusations that have been flying from the left side of the political spectrum concern Diebold machines and the vendor that services them. But that is far from the only way, or even the easiest way, to cheat a vote.

What are some of the ways we bloggers can imagine to cheat the vote? If we can figger out how to cheat the vote, we can figger out how to stop cheating too.

So.... without further ado, here are some ways to cheat the vote.
  1. Manipulate the vote counting process
    1. electronically, by introducing non-random errors in counts.
    2. manual counters modifying paper ballots (or poking at chads to see if they are loose, thereby loosening them).
    3. intentional errors in sums.

  2. Add, remove, or change vote records
    1. after voting has completed but before the counting is done, for instance by dumping extra ballots into the hopper and modifying the voter sign-in logs.
    2. find uncounted ballots after the counting has completed and challenge the count in the courts.
    3. challenge the vote in the courts, ask for recounts in areas where errors are likely to go against you and ask to exclude recounts in areas where errors are likely to go against opponents. Demand that recount be conducted in private and have the re-counters alter the ballots out of public scrutiny.
    4. shred ballots for your opponent and challenge the vote in the courts.

  3. Fool voters into voting for something other than their intentions.
    1. through electronic trickery.
    2. through tricky ballot design
    3. through tricky wording on ballot measures (double and triple negatives, etc).

  4. Allow people who are not allowed to vote to vote anyway.
    1. don't perform any prudent voter identity verification, for instance by checking a photo ID.
    2. don't purge the voter rolls of dead people, convicted felons, and those who move and register somewhere else.
    3. don't perform a reliable check of citizenship or residency at registration.
    4. don't perform any kind of duplicate records check during the count to prevent cheaters from casting multiple votes.

  5. Have law enforcement treat vote fraud as a minor matter. It is awfully hard to catch, and those who are caught must be made into examples. Intentional vote fraud should be a felony that prevents people from voting or holding public office.

When the government fails to prevent vote fraud they cheat every voter out of their vote. Your vote doesn't count when a fraudulent vote opposes you. You are being robbed. Get upset!

It is high time that common sense standards be implemented nationwide to guarantee the accuracy of the vote. It is technologically feasible now, using the same techniques that banks use to protect transactions and public companies use to prevent Sarbanes-Oxley violations.

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16 January 2008

al-Qaeda spreads Opium in Diyala Iraq

Patrick Cockburn gives reality a leftist twist for The Independent:
The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops.

Afghan[s] with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates, north- east of Baghdad.

At a heavily guarded farm near the town of Buhriz, south of the provincial capital Baquba, poppies are grown between the orange trees in order to hide them, according to a local source.

Here is the narrative you are supposed to believe. Opium has been grown in Iraq since the Sumerian era in 3400BC. Farmers in Diyala province of Iraq cannot make a living growing regular food crops. Recently, these Afghans just happened to be walking by with everything that was needed to grow opium poppies. Farmers not realizing that opium gets processed and turned into heroin thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to grow opium between the orange trees in their orchards. The fact that the al-Qaeda "resistance" hides out here and has killed a bunch of farmers before seizing their land doesn't have anything to do with why opium poppies are being cultivated in Diyala. That is just a coincidence. By the way, all the violence in the province is caused not by al-Qaeda but by American troops. There are not any heroin labs in Iraq.

Those who read past the first three paragraphs will discover there is more to it.

Diyala, an area of foothills stretching from just east of Baghdad to the Iranian border, with easy transit across the Iranian border, is the primary center of violence and al-Qaeda terrorist activity in Iraq. Al-Qaeda jihadists and criminals imported opium poppies and Afghan experts in opium cultivation to Iraq, first in the south around Basra and now also in Diyala. al-Qaeda jihadists and other violent criminal gangs have taken over a bunch of farms in the boonies after either killing or driving away the owners and are cultivating opium poppies and preparing for jihad operations on their stolen land. There are not any known heroin labs in Iraq, yet.

The Al-Qaeda "resistance" romanticized by the likes of Cockburn are not Minutemen or heroes. They are criminal gangs something like MS-13, the Crips, and the Bloods, only more violent and fascist and not nearly as civic minded.

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15 January 2008

Textual Analysis of the Muslim analogue to Christ

Spengler describes what has been happening recently in textual analysis of early Koranic manuscripts. First, why is it so all-fired important?
No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God's self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, "The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ." The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.

What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? That would be the precise equivalent of proving that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels really was a composite of several individuals, some of whom lived a century or two apart.

Now, listen to Andrew Higgins' story.
In 1857, a Paris academy offered a prize for the best "critical history" of the Quran. A German, Theodor Nöldeke, won. His entry became the cornerstone of future Western research. [...]

The Munich archive began with one of Mr. Nöldeke's protégés, Gotthelf Bergsträsser. As Germany slid towards fascism early last century, he hunted down old copies of the Quran in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. He took photographs of them with a Leica camera.

In 1933, a few months after Hitler became chancellor, Mr. Bergsträsser, an experienced climber, died in the Bavarian Alps. His body was never given an autopsy; rumors spread of suicide or foul play.

His work was taken up by Otto Pretzl, another German Arabist. He too set off with a Leica. In a 1934 journey to Morocco, he wangled his way into a royal library containing an old copy of the Quran and won over initially suspicious clerics, he said in a handwritten report about his trip.

The Nazis began to use Arabists early in the war when German forces began pushing into regions with large Muslim populations, first North Africa and then the Soviet Union. Scholars were used to broadcast propaganda and to help set up mullah schools for Muslims recruited into the German armed forces.

Mr. Pretzl, the manuscript collector, appears to have worked largely in military intelligence. He interrogated Arabic-speaking soldiers captured in the invasion of France, then, according to some accounts, set off on a mission to stir up an Arab uprising against British troops in Iraq. His plane crashed.

Responsibility for the Quran archive fell to Mr. Spitaler, who had helped collect some of the photos. During the war, Mr. Spitaler served in the command offices in Germany and later as an Arabic linguist in Austria, gaining only a modest military rank, records indicate.

After the war, he returned to academia. Instead of reviving the Quran project, he embarked on a laborious but less-sensitive endeavor, a dictionary of classical Arabic. After nearly half a century of work, definitions were published only for words beginning with two letters of the 28-letter Arabic alphabet.

The archive in question consisted of 450 rolls of film filled with photographs of early Koranic manuscripts that were assembled by Bergsträsser before WW2.

During World War II, this collection was said to be destroyed.
On the night of April 24, 1944, British air force bombers hammered a former Jesuit college here housing the Bavarian Academy of Science. The 16th-century building crumpled in the inferno. Among the treasures lost, later lamented Anton Spitaler, an Arabic scholar at the academy, was a unique photo archive of ancient manuscripts of the Quran.

The 450 rolls of film had been assembled before the war for a bold venture: a study of the evolution of the Quran, the text Muslims view as the verbatim transcript of God's word. The wartime destruction made the project "outright impossible," Mr. Spitaler wrote in the 1970s.

Mr. Spitaler was lying. The cache of photos survived, and he was sitting on it all along.

It was not destroyed. It was merely hidden, secreted away from other academics, by an overly careful scholar who worked at a glacial pace.

Now it is being worked, slowly, but not glacially so, and privately. Doubtless those who work on the analysis are nervous, and for good reason. For somewhere dark figures plot Jihad against the project to analyze the ancient Koranic manuscripts, much as a self-flagellating albino monk assassin prepared himself for holy warfare in The DaVinci Code. Only this time it's not fiction.

God bless and transport you, dear scholars. Your task is of import. And I pray that He guides you to releasing the images on the Internet so that they can never be locked up and hidden away again. That will be the only way your task can be completed in safety.

h/t: Ace of Spades

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14 January 2008

Deflation and the Upcoming Economic Problems

The US economy is not ready to collapse... yet. But it looks bad. It looks like big economic problems are in the future for the USA (and everyone else, since the dollar is the world's reserve currency). Here are some of the more interesting articles around.

The deflation time-bomb, by Mike Whitney
Whitney predicts more a depression with the sub-prime mortgage collapse spreading to all mortgages and then to all credit, resulting in a rash of foreclosures, bankruptcies, and bank failures. He hints at the cause when he says the currency deflation will only be stopped by refusal of lenders to lend and borrowers to borrow, or by a sell-of of the dollar. He doesn't really say why it is happening, other than blaming Bush, or how to make the best of it when it comes.

If deflation is the problem, and I think it is, then it didn't start with Bush. It started with Reagan and has only gotten worse ever since. Even Clinton with his "surplus" only ran a surplus if you completely ignore the debt the USA was racking up for Social Security and Medicare at the same time.

CDS: Phantom Menace, by Hellasious (Hell as IOU's)

Credit Default swaps (CDS) allow hedgers and speculators to bet on credit events (like defaults, etc) by big borrowers (governments, large cap corporations, or big funds). They are a form of insurance that is completely unregulated. They are a craps game with hedge funds and speculators (mostly speculators) betting on derivatives and indices and other stuff. Lots of speculators are about to lose their shirts, because as of the second half of 2007 the combined value of all the CDSs is up to about $45 trillion. That is three times the USA's GDP and over twice the capitalization of the entire US stock market. It is nearly as large as the total amount of debt outstanding in the entire world, and might exceed the total amount of debt worth buying. The speculators who are lending on these CDS instruments are highly leveraged (approaching zero margin), and if their CDSs go bad they will lose the whole leveraged value, not merely their investment. Hellasious explains:
But selling a CDS requires zero margin and even produces immediate and regular income from payments received for underwriting the credit insurance. Theoretically the sellers should maintain adequate reserves on their balance sheets to cover their credit risk exposure, but does anyone believe that hedge funds and traders actually do? Not a chance... The result is a highly volatile equity exposure, carried at zero margin in a completely unregulated over the counter market. Recipe for disaster? You bet...

Not only that: CDSs create these infinitely leveraged equity positions out of thin air. Unlike options, single stock futures or other equity derivatives that require the delivery of actual securities at settlement, CDSs do not. They are pure bubble-air and can be created regardless of the amount that is outstanding in the underlying securities.
Government-Industrial Complex, by the Wall Street Examiner
This article points directly at motive:
Businessman enters politics via the candidacy or contributor route. Politican gets elected and appoints his contributors and supporters to key governmental or advisory positions. Politician leaves office with a plush gig to make up for the years of meager earnings.
Even Tony Blair, labor leader, has joined the post-elective-office gravy train working for JP Morgan/Chase.

The Bernanke Paradox And How To Overcome It, by Hellasious
Hellasious is back with what he thinks is the likely failure mode for the economy, that US consumers stop spending money even at a nearly zero percent interest rate. His solution is more and better jobs in a government-targeted industry. Energy and environmental mitigation are Hellasious' preferences. I certainly agree on energy, and agree again on a massive energy project of even greater scope than the Manhattan or Apollo projects, with tax and other incentives for private companies to build the infrastructure for the new sources of energy. An energy project of heroic scale is needed. However, it is not the answer to the deflation-caused depression that looms in the future.

More government spending is not the answer to deflation that was caused by uncontrolled government spending and loose money. Abolishing Income and Corporate Tax and instituting a Fair Tax might actually get rid of a lot of the perverse incentives that have led the economy into its present straits. Maybe a solution to the insolvency of Social Security and other government wealth transfer programs could follow. But that is a really radical answer.

Still, it is not as radical as the current course, which appears to be to stabilize US incomes at the same level as Chinese or Mexican incomes. That'd solve the illegal immigration problem! Chinese incomes are in the $.50 an hour range, and the US minimum wage is almost $6, twelve times as much.

The US has a long way to fall to reach parity with China or Mexico. That would be a collapse!

Radical solutions are to be preferred to that.

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12 January 2008

Reply to a death threat from "muslim"

I knew it would happen someday. It seems you can't say anything without offending some loser dork somewhere like Mauritius.

muslim // Friday, January 11, 2008 at 08:00

wolf.. consider yourself and your family unsafe from now on. no soldier is going to be there to protect you. For mocking my reigion you have prepared me for martydom. wait till i find u. and i will find you wolf. be afraid.

"Muslim," if that is your real name, you are a pagan and polytheist who has raised up and personalized Jihad to be equal to God. I suspect you have done the same with the Koran, which is not God no matter how much you value a book written in words that can be translated and plainly understood by anyone. You will die and spend eternity in hellfire unless you mend your ways, the same way that others who believe as you will suffer. Christ accepts and forgives all who confess their sins and repent in their hearts. Find Christ, who is the kindly face of God to man. He is watching for you and everyone who thinks like you, even those who have already committed murder, rape, and other terrible crimes.

As a small first step, think of this verse from the Last Sermon of Mohammed. "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you." This is one of the very last things that Mohammed said. It is similar to, but not as complete as, the Golden Rule as written in Matthew 7:12:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Thus only do something to another unasked if you would wish that other to do the same thing to you. This would require that you wish you and your own family to be murdered. Think deeply on it. Maybe you will just leave Islam. Maybe you will find Christ, though that may not end your troubles on this earth. I do not know. But I pray that you do not find yourself in Hell being tortured by 72 devils (who are all virgins, having never been loved), though that is where you are headed now.

God bless you and guide you away from the inhuman, false, idolatrous paganism you now follow.

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Was Gore going to Baghdad?

I ask because it snowed in Baghdad for the first time in a hundred years.

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10 January 2008

Doctor Strangebush: Don't get MAD, get Preventive

how I learned to stop worrying and love the preventive war

Preventive War isn't quite as bizarre as it seems at first sight. It is a doctrine designed to prevent the US from getting nuked by terrorists or sickened unto death by tailored plagues from terrorists who have home bases in a state that either sponsors or tolerates them. This is an existential threat. Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was also bizarre at first sight, was also a doctrine designed to stop an existential threat (getting nuked by the USSR), and was widely accepted by both left and right. Both of them depend psychologically on caricaturing the USA as violent and unreasonable. Preventive War is actually much less frightful and awful than MAD, for it does not promise to lay waste to entire continents but only overthrow dictators and kill international terrorists. The problem comes with believing the violent, unreasonable pose is real, rather than a pretense. The problem comes with personalization, with believing the pose actually reflects the personality defects of the President instead of understanding it is a pretense, the confidence of a good hand, a posture meant to prevent hostile others from risking attacks against America.

A few days ago I wrote a sarcastic post about preventive war*, focusing on reframing the discussion by recasting the language used.

Now to be fair to myself, it seems the biggest problem with the preventive war doctrine is that it came from George W. Bush. Some Democrats remain falsely convinced that Bush stole the 2000 election from Gore (despite even the NY Times concluding that Bush won fair and square in Florida). They claim that Bush isn't their president, and refuse to be loyal to their own country (thanks to Glen Wishard for the loan of the word) because they dislike the occupant of the President's office.

Will replacing a Bush with a Clinton, again, fix this? Doubtful. And if it does, can we afford to let Jamie Gorelick (author of the wall that prevented the CIA and FBI from sharing data) and people who think like her into another administration?

Having been a wee sprat in the 60s in the midst of MAD hysteria, and having been frightened out of my socks by Duck and Cover and similar films, I see Preventive War and the spread of Liberty as the alternative to fear that gives hope to Americans. It also offers hope to those who are oppressed by dictators or threatened by Jihad/Hiraba terrorists and brigands like al-Qaeda, that things might get better.

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09 January 2008

Must Read: Success in Irregular Warfare

Sam Holliday writes on the challenges posed by, and responses demanded by, the Global Jihad (or any other Global guerrilla movement) against the non-Muslim nations of the world.
We have strategies for achieving victory in conventional war and strategies for achieving agreement in peace. We need strategies capable of maintaining stability through equilibrium in irregular warfare. The Department of Defense has the military and hard power of war and the Department of State has the diplomats and soft power of peace. We need career personnel — not confined by the war or peace dichotomy — dedicated to all aspects of internal security when insurgents are attempting to weaken or overthrow those in authority. [...]

We need to improve our ability to develop and implement foreign policies for the current conflict. However, more than the “soft power” and increased funding of the State Department suggested by Gates is needed. The threat of the global Islamic revivalist movement (Third Jihad) has brought to our attention the fallacy of the war and peace duality. We must now think in terms of a war-irregular warfare-peace trilogy. During policy formulation we must think of three subdivisions of conflict and cooperation — each having unique means, strategies, tactics, methods and techniques. [emphasis mine] Since the rise of the nation-state the focus has been on external security, resulting in the reality of irregular warfare being slighted. Also, irregular warfare presents some unique hurdles for the United States. In the eighteenth century it was assumed that that we would exist in relative isolation, and would never want to use the military for internal security.

It is true that “we must focus our energies beyond the guns and steel of the military,” as Gates suggests; however, he fails to say what is needed: policies and strategies for stability through equilibrium. In other words, we need to create self-regulating systems that maintain internal stability through coordinated responses to any internal disruptions or input from its external environment. The goal of stability is to maintain a climate of order and satisfaction through a process of reciprocal and endless interactions that avoid the extremes of both status quo and chaos.

A Department of Stability?
Today there are two broad contending views regarding policy formulation and implementation for irregular warfare:

1. Focus the military on conventional war against the armed forces of other states and focus the Foreign Service on diplomacy and negotiations to avoid war, while muddling through irregular warfare.
2. Recognize irregular warfare as being distinctive from both war and peace by creating a new Department of Stability with career personnel dedicated to irregular warfare.

[first view deleted...]

The second view places responsibility for irregular warfare in a single department. With the Defense Department focused on war fighting and the State Department focused on diplomacy, a Stability Department could focus on (1) separation of hirabahists (evildoers using terror) from other Muslims; (2) strategic communication to increase support for our actions and weaken support for our enemies; (3) uniting the enemies of our enemies with our allies and friends into an alliance of the willing; and (4) implementing the tasks (methods and tactics) for achieving stability through equilibrium and neutralizing hirabahists. Such changes in structures and processes would be the most efficient way to develop policies regarding irregular warfare.

Very interesting. Read it all.

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All eyes on Baitullah Mehsud

It is time for some news from the Far End of the World, the region that touches the sky where the Pashtun tribes live between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Baitullah Mehsud, the rising young al-Quaeda/Taliban commander who has been accused of responsibility for the assassination/murder of Benazir Bhutto, is all of a sudden very popular with the Pakistani military, which is seeking him out in order to kill him as dead as vulture vomit, and then kill him some more. It is possible that some want the military to capture him first. Judging from what seems to happen to captured Taliban commanders (free and clear after a little bribe), I'm against capture. Mehsud, who captured five Christians recently, has freed the the Christians under intense political pressure.

Mullah Abdul Salaam, the former Taliban commander and governor of Uruzgan province, who recently joined the government and helped NATO retake Musa Qala, has been made the district chief of Musa Qala.

Pakistan is on alert over the Shiite holy month of Moharram, which will reach its peak observance on Jan 20.

It's questionable whether this is really information from Afghanistan or Pakistan, but it is about a man of Pakistani heritage who was headed to Afghanistan to go on Jihad. Britain has jailed Sohail Qureshi, a London dentist who had his mind set on going to Afghanistan and joining the Taliban in order to kill NATO soldiers (including British soldiers). The sentence is 4 1/2 years, but he's likely to be out in one year. Now that's multiculti punishment for you! Going to war against your own country is the most clear, unambiguous example of treason possible. One year in jail for treason! When did they stop hanging people for treason again?

Iran is beginning to expel its Afghan refugees, many of whom have been in Iran since the Soviet invasion of 1979 or were born in Iran. Afghanistan is pleading for Iran to hold off. This is the middle of winter after all.

Now this is good news! Islamic political parties are losing their appeal for voters in Pakistan.

British special forces stationed in Taliban-infested Helmand province (where most of the Heroin comes from), kept up their spirits on Christmas by patrolling in Santa hats.
But as they neared the final mile of their patrol, almost five hours after they set out, every man who had one swapped his helmet for a Santa hat. Armed with heavy machine guns, mortars and grenade launchers, the men continued through a derelict bazaar, grinning like children, but looking like a violent Father Christmas audition.

China is going into copper mining near Kabul.
All that remains from Soviet attempts in the 1970s to assess one of the world’s biggest copper reserves is exploratory drill holes.

But in five years time, if all goes to plan, the landscape in the Aynak exploration area will finally be changed into one of the world’s largest open cast mines thanks to a $3bn investment by the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC).

And finally, a traveling exhibition of ancient artworks from Afghan's pre-Islamic past has found its way to Amsterdam, and in May will begin a 17-month tour of the USA. Time magazine gives an overview.
The Amsterdam exhibition presents 250 objects from four archaeological sites — Tepe Fullol, Ai Khanum, Tillya-tepe, and Begram — dating back as far as 4,000 years ago. It includes gold and silver vases from the Bactrian Bronze Age; a Greek limestone pillar and sundials from the 2nd century BC; Indian-related ivory figures and furniture from the 1st century AD; and a spectacular gold collection from Tillya-Tepe that includes bracelets, hearts, a crown, and even a pair of golden shoe soles meant to convey an aristocrat's disinclination for walking.

But just as Afghanistan's geography invited cultural influence, so too did it draw a sequence of invasion and conquest that has put the country's heritage in constant peril. The Taliban's destruction of art was the culmination of years of catastrophe visited on the National Museum, and the extraordinary story of how the surviving art got here is as much part of the exhibit as the art itself.

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08 January 2008

Benazir Bhutto: Assassins' Accomplices Arrested

The assassin who shot Benazir Bhutto seems to have been identified from photos. His gun has been identified as a Steyr M. Following leads, an investigative team including detectives from Scotland Yard has identified and arrested several accomplices in Swabi, a town in the North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan. Musharraf's previously declared commitment to cooperating with Scotland Yard and solving the Bhutto murder appears to have been confirmed.

Earlier the Pakistani government had tied the assassination to Baitullah Mehsud's organization, notably intercepting his congratulations on the successful jihad murder.
The government released a transcript Friday of a purported conversation between militant leader Baitullah Mehsud and another militant.

"It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her," Mehsud said, according to the transcript. The government did not release an audiotape.

Mehsud's spokesman denies he had anything to do with it. The spokesman denied that Mehsud even knows how to shoot a gun, since he prefers to spend his time on macramé. Okay, I made up that last sentence just to see if it was any more absurd than the previous one. It isn't. Seriously, who believes anything that Jihadist terrorists say? They don't speak to communicate the facts. They speak to advance their 4GW program. To them all speech is warfare, so everybody listening had better be on defense. This means you, dear reader.

Musharraf also claimed he never disliked Benazir Bhutto though he often disagreed with her, especially for her habit of frequently moving goalposts.

Sunday's issue of Parade magazine is causing controversy for the Bhutto interview, which is its cover story, because of overly sensitive readers. In a posthumously published interview that she gave before being killed Benazir Bhutto said that the first time she ever heard of Osama bin Laden it was because he had given $10 million to the ISI to overthrow her government.

Bilawal Bhutto, Benazir's 19 year old son and heir-in-waiting for leadership of the Pakistan People's Party, warned from London that Pakistan would disintegrate if free elections for parliament were not held (or, presumably, if lots of PPP candidates were not elected). He then headed back to Oxford college, of which he stated "When I am at Oxford I hope that I can be left alone."

Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and regent in charge of the PPP, stated that Musharraf's claims that Bhutto brought her assassination on herself by reckless behavior was a death insult. Oops!

Benazir Bhutto's sister in law, the widow of Bhutto's brother who was gunned down in mysterious circumstances while Bhutto was premier, has proposed that Bilawal should leave the Pakistan People's Party and join her political party, the Pakistan People's Party-Shaheed Bhutto.

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Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

                Matthew 7:15-16