In regards to last nights “debate”(which I did not watch because my contempt for this sort of cartoon WWF version of politics grows by the hour) – I think those of you who are complaining about how unfair it was that CNN did such a laughibly bad job providing balance are missing the big picture here.
Come on guys, we are Republicans, since when have we ever expected a fair shake from the press? Democrats need special handing because they are ‘delicate flowers’, they need biased questioning to ensure that they shine, because frankly without it, they would stink on ice.
Think about the daily crotch kicking experience that President Bush has had to withstand since 2000, you show me the Democrat candidate who can withstand that sort of daily punishment.You think this “I hate the president” idea goes away with the end of President Bush?
Come on. ‘Bashing the President’, whomever he or she is a cottage industry. Its practically the new ‘Silicon valley’. I’ll bet the money spent on pundity is greater than the GDP of most European countries. People used to make and wear loud bowling shirts in public, they used to put flames on the side of their cars ‘to look cool!” and followed the local football teams, now they play the big game of pundit politics like they know what they are talking about and they play rough like it really matters one way or the other.
How do Japanese refuel an airplane differently that Chinese?
Iraqpundit observes how success in Iraq is changing how success in Iraq is defined by Democrats and Big Baloney.
While politicians such as Joe Biden and John Murtha struggle to figure out whether the surge strategy is working, life goes on in Iraq. Biden just called the surge “a fantasy,” and Murtha just admitted that it’s working.
So now we are faced with a situation. What’s the next step? Report news? Of course not! It is time to say improvements are too slow, and they exploit the Iraqi people.
WaPo reporters know what to do:
“As violence continues to dip across Iraq, U.S. officials say they will increasingly shift their barometers of success from security to basic services — electricity, gasoline, water and sanitation — that reflect whether life for Iraqis is returning to normal.”
Okay, as a result of the “dip,” the government can “reopen gas stations across the city. At those stations, where drivers last year sometimes waited for days to fill up, waits are now usually less than 15 minutes, decreasing the demand for black-market gas. ”
That’s not good enough. And the electricity? “Maysan province in the southeast received the least, 11.6 hours, while Anbar province in the west received the most, 23.3 hours. Baghdad was on the lower end, with about 11.9 hours per day. State Department figures from six months ago showed the city receiving an average of 5.1 hours a day. ”
Wait! What did you say about Anbar? 23.3 hours of electricity a day? More than anyone else in Iraq? Certainly more electricity than Anbar had under al-Qaeda in Iraq’s rule. No, things are still bad. They should have been fixed overnight all over Iraq, according to WaPo.
Read it all.
Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, have discovered a new way to separate the therapeutic benefits of cannabis from its mood-altering side-effects.
Cannabis contains a chemical called THC, which binds to, and activates, proteins in the brain known as ‘CB1 cannabinoid receptors’. Activating these receptors can relieve pain and prevent epileptic seizures; but it also causes the mood-altering effect experienced by people who use cannabis as a recreational drug.
Now, Professor Maurice Elphick and Dr Michaela Egertová from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences may have found a way of separating out the effects of cannabis – a discovery which could lead to the development of new medicines to treat conditions such as epilepsy, obesity and chronic pain. The research is described in the December issue of the journal Molecular Pharmacology.
Using a novel imaging technique to study autistic children, researchers have found increased gray matter in the brain areas that govern social processing and learning by observation.
“Our findings suggest that the inability of autistic children to relate to people and life situations in an ordinary way may be the result of an abnormally functioning mirror neuron system,” said lead author Manzar Ashtari, Ph.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.
I am always amused to hear baby boomers applaud themselves for being so much more in touch with their sexuality than were their parents. For them, prior generations were uptight prudes that just didn’t know how to get their groove on. Seemingly lost on these free spirits is that the “boom” in baby-boom came from someplace. As much as we might like to think that sex and eroticism is our exclusive province, the truth is that sex, lust and fun has not changed all that much throughout the ages.
It is also a misconception that prior to the sexual revolution, all that rocking and rolling took place within the confines of marriage. Monkey business is not new. It is in fact one of man’s favorite past times and from all the information available, one vigorously pursued by both sexes. Neither have the consequences of sexual behavior changed over the years. My mother used to say that the best form of birth control was an aspirin…held tightly between the knees. Sex leads to pregnancy and that is just the law of nature. What is different is that the availability of contraception along with abortion on demand has meant that couples can pursue their past time without the worry of pregnancy. The new wide-open playing field has also meant that marriage is no longer the price a man pays for a woman’s passion. Women were more likely to demand marriage in exchange for sex because they believed – quite properly it turns out – that any children that resulted from a roll in the hay would be healthier and happier in a stable two-parent home.
This is perhaps the most significant difference between the old school idea of marriage and the new. Pre-marital sex is as old as the hills and therefore so is being pregnant outside of wedlock. What is different is that women are no longer choosing to marry as a result of pregnancy, choosing instead to become unwed mothers.
Over the last 40 years or so, the message our culture has delivered to women is that having a baby is not a good reason to get married. We have eschewed the shotgun in favor of psycho-babble about personal fulfillment and worries of unstable marriages. This latter based on very little evidence as it turns out.
In fact, what evidence there is suggests that women that marry in order to legitimate a pregnancy are at no higher risk of divorce than women of similar age that became pregnant after marriage. Moreover, studies also show that giving birth out of wedlock reduces the likelihood that a woman will ever marry. This is important, of course, because every bit of scientific study shows that children raised in a two parent home are healthier, happier and wealthier (as are the mothers that raise their children within a stable two-parent home) than are those in single parent homes.
This is all the proof we need to answer– yes! – to the question: “Is having a baby a good reason to get married?” And it is this answer that will be the greatest help in moving us back toward the old school idea of child centered marriage.
Yes will help us alter the notion that to marry because of pregnancy is to be punished for sexual sin. Yes says that as a culture we view marriage-because-of-children as an ideal. Yes says that a marriage because of pregnancy doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of penance with a man (or woman) for whom you have little feeling. Indeed, it may be all the more reason to reserve sexual intimacy for those that you truly care for. Yes reinforces the idea that women being selective in her choice of sexual partners is the ultimate act of empowerment and that pricing her passion at marriage is an act of self protection and love for her children.
It’s just astonishing how biased and incompetent CNN has become. Michelle Malkin has the details on last night’s “debate” fiasco.
Bloggasm (via Instapundit):
1. You’re like an exothermic reaction, you spread your hotness everywhere!
2. I wish I was your derivative so I could lie tangent to your curves.
3. You’re like a dictionary, you add meaning to my life!
4. If I was an enzyme, I’d be helicase so I could unzip your genes.
5. I’m attracted to you so strongly, scientists will have to develop a fifth fundamental force.
6. Baby, you overclock my processor.
7. Be my queen and mate me with your knight moves.
8. Baby, you make my floppy disk turn into a hard drive
9. You make me want to calibrate my joystick without the latest drivers.
10.You defragment my life.
Love him or hate him, you can’t say George Bush doesn’t do exactly what he always said he was going to.
America’s unlikely president, so widely despised, purportedly now a lame duck, has once again demonstrated that while others are uselessly dithering, dickering and putting forward dead-end plans, he will push his vision forward in defiance of obstruction. Whether it’s the United Nations and its reticence to enforce its own resolutions, or a United States Congress that thinks abandonment of an entire region to genocide and Iranian domination represents the moral high ground, obstructionists ultimately have proven no obstacle to Bush’s efforts to introduce order and security in the most volatile and dangerous part of the world.
Now, Bush and that strangest of bedfellows, Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, have revealed their strategic vision for an Iraq that, while politically still unfinished business, is on its way to becoming everything Bush promised four years ago. A free, democratic, U.S.-allied Iraq that has already inspired democratic movements in the region and can stand as a bulwark against the imperial aims of Iran.
We’ve arrived at another moment when, to the derision of his opponents, Bush could once again declare a mission accomplished, his vision realized.
The news that got sidelined this week by Bush’s other unlikely foreign policy initiative, the Annapolis peace talks, is that the United States and Iraq have agreed to a broad security framework, its practical details still to be negotiated. Predicated on a July 2008 drawdown of the surge’s five combat brigades, the deal reportedly envisions an ultimate reduction of U.S. troops from 160,000 to 50,000, pulling out of the forward posts in the villages, towns and cities of Mesopotamia, handing those to strengthened Iraqi forces, and remaining in fixed bases as a strategic force. Their purpose: to deter foreign threats and internal coups, to remain as an insurance policy against sectarian division and presumably, to continue in a support and advisory role to Iraqi forces. It leaves in place the U.S. military’s ability to surge into trouble spots as needed.
The deal further offers the United States, having expended so much blood and treasure in Iraq, preferential treatment in business dealings with Iraq. The much-disparaged oil for blood. Or, if you prefer, friendship, gratitude and loyalty for freedom.
It is a deal sure to enrage Iran, and is all the more surprising that it should be put forward by the waffling, Shiite-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki.
At this moment, Congress has walked away from Iraq and our troops there for the holidays. Congress has opted not to fund combat operations, hoping to apply some pressure while its impotent Democratic leadership figures out how it can possibly turn a growing success into disaster, for their own perceived political benefit.
George Bush, the United States and Iraqi military, and even the fracticious Iraqi government, under the electoral pressure of the 2006 Congressional turnover, but in defiance of the withdrawal lust of that body, have managed to turn around the debacle that was Iraq, giving that nation and her people some time to breathe and regroup. While the anti-war faction in Congress continues to demand withdrawal, Bush and al-Maliki are creating new facts on the ground that Congress will not be able to deny.
The strategic plan could do for Iraq and the Middle East what hundreds of thousands of American troops have done for Germany and greater Europe, Japan, Korea and greater Asia for more than 50 years. In all of those places, the United States is providing millions of people with security and the opportunity to thrive and live free in the face of well-established threats. Last spring, Bush was derided for offering a Korean vision of the U.S.-Iraqi relationship, but now, he is making it happen.
Bill Clinton gets caught lying again. Dog bites man. Everyone is focussed on his lie, but not the point he was making: that he wasn’t taxed enough during a time of war. He “resents not being asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.”
He resents that the government didn’t compel him to cough up more of his income? He could donate any amount he wanted. Or counseled his wife to speak out against efforts to cut funding for the troops.
Maybe someone should explain the concept of charity to Slick Willy.
Besides, who really believes that the Clintons want tax increases in order to fund the military? It was Clinton who cut the military during his 8 years. No, the Clintons want your tax money so they can meddle.
How’s this for an opening paragraph in a news story?
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The United States met its own low expectations for President George W. Bush’s first major foray into Mideast peacemaking, using a presidential summit to inaugurate new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks but leaving terms for the talks vague and the depth of the U.S. role unclear.
So much for who, what, where and when.
Watching the news coverage of yesterday’s opening event, a few things stood out:
- Democrats and “the world” fault Bush for not working on this problem more intensively. Apparently, we are the world’s policeman for some issues.
- No one mentioned the humiliation of Madeline Albright chasing Arafat to his car, begging him to return to Bill Clinton’s negotiating table.
- Why must the USA be the catalyst for mideast peace? Why not France? Why not Germany? What’s keeping them so busy?
- Ohlmert and Abbas both seemed committed to making peace. Their constituents do not.
- Charles Krauthammer noted that virtually every member of the Arab League flew to Annapolis for the conference, which belies the contention that the US has no influence in that quarter because of Bush.
WHAT’S the difference between an illegal immigrant on a job and a “scab” that crosses the picket line? After all, aren’t both merely seeking work where they can find it? Aren’t both willing to toil at a lower wage in an effort to feed their families?
The difference – at least in the ongoing strike by the Writers Guild of America – is Hollywood liberalism and the bicoastal 213/212 area code universes that ideologically feed it.
For what the strike by the WGA has revealed yet again is that outrage among the Los Angeles-Manhattan intelligentsia over corporate greed, unfair labor practices, stagnating wages and vanishing job security is directly related to the income and education level of those threatened.
Consider for a moment the hundreds of thousands of American workers in California alone who have been forced from jobs in construction, landscaping, auto-body repair, cable installation and a host of other jobs by an alliance of greed-driven employers and an ethnocentric lobby that’s hungry for demographic power.
These aren’t crop-picker or dishwasher jobs that Americans allegedly won’t do, but rather entire skilled and semi-skilled industries that have provided the butter and bread for the working class table.
Where is the outrage within Hollywood’s fabled “Thirty Mile Zone” for these displaced workers?
…Once there was a bipartisan consensus behind free trade, but that’s not true anymore, either. Even Republicans, by a two-to-one majority, believe free trade is bad for America, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.
Once upon a time, the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are rising out of poverty would have been a source of pride and optimism. But if you listen to the presidential candidates, improvements in the developing world are menacing. Their speeches constitute a symphony of woe about lead-painted toys, manipulated currencies and stolen jobs.
And if Dobbsianism is winning when times are good, you can imagine how attractive it’s going to seem if we enter the serious recession that Larry Summers convincingly and terrifyingly forecasts in yesterday’s Financial Times. If the economy dips as seriously as that, the political climate could shift in ugly ways.
So it’s worth pointing out now more than ever that Dobbsianism is fundamentally wrong. It plays on legitimate anxieties, but it rests at heart on a more existential fear — the fear that America is under assault and is fundamentally fragile. It rests on fears that the America we once knew is bleeding away.
And that’s just not true. In the first place, despite the ups and downs of the business cycle, the United States still possesses the most potent economy on earth. Recently the World Economic Forum and the International Institute for Management Development produced global competitiveness indexes, and once again they both ranked the United States first in the world.
William W. Lewis of McKinsey surveyed global competitive in dozens of business sectors a few years ago, and concluded, “The United States is the productivity leader in virtually every industry.”
Second, America’s fundamental economic strength is rooted in the most stable of assets — its values. The U.S. is still an astonishing assimilation machine. It has successfully absorbed more than 20 million legal immigrants over the past quarter-century, an extraordinary influx of human capital. Americans are remarkably fertile. Birthrates are relatively high, meaning that in 2050, the average American will be under 40, while the average European, Chinese and Japanese will be more than a decade older.
The American economy benefits from low levels of corruption. American culture still transmits some ineffable spirit of adventure. American students can’t compete with, say, Singaporean students on standardized tests, but they are innovative and creative throughout their lives. The U.S. standard of living first surpassed the rest of the world’s in about 1740, and despite dozens of cycles of declinist foreboding, the country has resolutely refused to decay.
My dad, who turned 87 today, warned me as I left for college about “over-educated idiots” — people with a surfeit of book learning but a paucity of wisdom. It helps explain why universities are so liberal–smart people can reach stupid conclusions.
This came to mind reading a book review about…
Jack Unterweger, a Viennese writer with a checkered past, came to Los Angeles with assignments from Austrian media to report on the city’s dark side. He insinuated himself into Hollywood’s expatriate Austrian and German crowd, visited LAPD headquarters, and went on a ride-along with a patrol officer.
At night, Unterweger the journalist became Unterweger the killer, picking up three prostitutes downtown and in Hollywood and strangling them with a signature ligature he fashioned from his victims’ bra straps. It was a pattern he’d honed back home, where he’d been killing prostitutes and dumping their naked bodies in wooded areas, posed obscenely and strangled with their own clothing.
An intelligent and charismatic man, Unterweger was a classic “malignant narcissist” who strangled at least nine women in the early 1990s while reporting on the crime wave and enjoying the fawning support of Vienna’s radical chic salons.
So Jack just managed to be in the right place to cover these grisly murders. Did anyone think he might be the killer?
He should also have been a prime suspect from the beginning, since he’d already been incarcerated for 15 years for bludgeoning an Austrian teenage girl to death. It was while in prison for that murder that he wrote an autobiography that endeared him to the Viennese intellectual set. He was set free with a rare presidential pardon in 1990. Six months later, Austrian prostitutes began disappearing.
While incarcerated, Unterweger began to write brooding memoirs and novels filled with sadistic fantasies that became bestsellers. He also wrote children’s stories broadcast on Austrian radio and had “almost a supernatural ability to win helpers and advocates, whom he used to obtain privileges and influences.”
The photo on the book cover shows the menace and dark allure that Unterweger exploited so successfully. Slender, with piercing eyes, chains slung around his neck and a large prison tattoo across his bare chest, women wanted to rescue him.
Among those who lobbied for Unterweger’s pardon was future Nobel Prize-winning author Elfriede Jelinek, who wrote, “The clarity and great literary quality with which Jack Unterweger described his childhood made a great impression on me.”
Over-educated idiot, indeed. The memoir that moved her so much was a fraud.
Unterweger fabricated a prostitute aunt slain by her john. His portrait of a brutal grandfather was challenged by relatives. He blamed Schäfer’s murder on a blackout rage but had cold-bloodedly marched her into the forest before strangling and beating her.
Nonetheless, Unterweger’s patrons used these works as proof that he’d been rehabilitated. Austrian writer Sonja Eisenstein paid for correspondence classes (he scored highest in religion) and was moved by a poem he wrote (plagiarized from Hermann Hesse). Years later, as suspicion grew in her mind, Eisenstein realized she’d been duped. She wrote to Austria’s largest newspaper: “Jack Unterweger is a shark in the Austrian cultural scene . . . an agent of destruction that threatens all society. No one is safe from him.”
But the newspaper didn’t print her warning.
Prophetic words, but the paper never printed them.
Instead, the ex-con won a state grant to produce his play “Scream of Fear” and prostitutes disappeared in towns the playwright toured. Fearing a political scandal, authorities dithered.
“The idea that the poster boy for rehabilitation cruised around the country strangling hookers, paying for gas, food, and lodging with state subsidies, was too embarrassing to contemplate,” Leake writes.
He explains differences between the U.S. and Austrian justice systems and drops references to Nietzsche (an Unterweger favorite), Freud, the classic film noir “The Third Man,” and Nazi persecution of so-called “degenerate artists,” which Leake believes made “the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme in postwar Vienna, and no one dared call an artist or writer a degenerate.”
We’ve had similar instances of “artists” getting mushy about some stone cold killer. Witness Ed Asner demanding justice for Mumia. Or Norman Mailer getting someone killed. As Wikipedia recalls:
In 1980, Mailer spearheaded convicted killer Jack Abbott’s successful bid for parole. In 1977, Abbott had read about Mailer’s work on The Executioner’s Song and wrote to Mailer, offering to enlighten the author about Abbott’s time behind bars and the conditions he was experiencing.
Mailer, impressed, helped to publish In the Belly of the Beast, a book on life in the prison system consisting of Abbott’s letters to Mailer. Once paroled, Abbott committed a murder in New York City six weeks after his release, stabbing to death 22-year-old Richard Adan.
Educated. Dense. Dangerous.
President Bush, ignoring vicious, personal insults from Al Gore over the past seven years, invited the Nobel Laureate in for a 40 minute chat in the Oval Office.
Bush has extended himself graciously more than once to Gore, personally sending an Air Force a jet to fetch Gore back from Europe so he could attend the 9/11 memorial services at the National Cathedral shortly after the attack.
The White House emphasized before the meeting that Bush had called Gore to extend a personal invitation and that the ceremony honoring the prize-winners was scheduled to ensure that Gore could attend.
Asked whether Bush invited Gore in order to hear about global warming or as an opportunity to make amends over the 2000 election, Perino said, “I didn’t psychoanalyze the president to find out why he decided to invite Al Gore to the White House. . . . It’s a friendly and neighborly thing to do, to invite someone to come to the White House,” she said. “It’s not something that was calculated.”
Make amends for what, getting more electoral votes? What ass would ask such a stupid question? Answer: any number of stupid asses in the press corps. Sheesh.
And so the Battle of Iraq is to be brought to an end, in T.S. Eliot’s phrase, “not with a bang but a whimper.”
With the eyes of the world focused on the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis, Md., President Bush’s war tsar, Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, quietly announced that the American and Iraqi governments will start talks early next year to bring about an end to the allied occupation by the close of Mr. Bush’s presidency.
The negotiations will bring to a formal conclusion the U.N. Chapter 7 Security Council involvement in the occupation and administration of Iraq, and are expected to reduce the number of American troops to about 50,000 troops permanently stationed there but largely confined to barracks, from the current 164,000 forces on active duty.
“The basic message here should be clear. Iraq is increasingly able to stand on its own. That’s very good news. But it won’t have to stand alone,” General Lute yesterday told reporters in the White House.
Bringing the war to a close by the end of 2008 will ensure that the next president will face a fait accompli in Iraq, a fact that will further remove from the presidential election the Iraq war as an issue of contention.
Shelby Steele’s column, excerpted and linked below, makes a case for opening a dialog with the mullahs in Iran, an idea advanced by Barak Obama.
If Mr. Obama’s idea was born of mushy idealism, it could work far better as a hard-nosed moral brinkmanship. Were an American president (or a secretary of state for the less daring) to land in Tehran, the risk to American prestige would be enormous.
The mullahs would make us characters in a tale of their own grandeur. Yet moral authority would redound to us precisely for making ourselves vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. The world would witness not the stereotype of American bullying, but the reality of American selflessness, courage and moral confidence.
Steele speaks of “the world” as if there exists some unbiased audience of fair minded people who recognize right and wrong. This, in itself, is mushy idealism.
One must ask, who are we seeking to impress with our moral authority?
- Europe? In the 1990s, it stood by and watched the Balkans descend into genocide, leaving the USA to clean up the mess. The anti-Americanism extant in European media is laughable. Alas, much of Europe is a collection of spoiled ingrates whose freedom was paid for by American blood and treasure. Apart from any tactical reasons, why should we care what they think?
- WWII is known as the “good war.” If England had heeded Winston Churchill’s warning about Hitler and took military action to prevent Germany from rearming, it would have been a better war, but one that lacked moral authority.
- Bill Clinton and the UN have never been called to account for standing by as 800,000 Rwandans were macheted to death. Presumably Clinton, by doing nothing, maintained his moral authority — just look at the adoring crowds he attracts.
- In Iraq and Afghanistan, we liberated 51 million people from tyrany and midwifed democracies. Yes, both are fragile. Both cost innocent lives. Both saw our troops misbehave in certain circumstances. But the big picture is positive, yet “the world” affords virtually no moral authority to the endeavor. So what?
In world where Michael Moore can invent dark motives and sell them to a gullible public, where media savvy terrorists can influence the narrative in the US and world media, where conspiracy theories are swallowed whole, exactly what’s the point?
Once Iraq was liberated, Osama bin Laden declared Iraq as the primary front in the war against the west. Because of a stalwart president and our exceptional military, Al Qaeda is suffering a humiliation before the whole world. That defeat will redound to the whole world’s benefit in ways we will never fully know.
And we’ll never get so much as a thank you.
I think of such wars as essentially wars of discipline. Their purpose is to preserve a favorable balance of power that is already in place in the world. We fight these wars not to survive but–once a menace has arisen–to discipline the world back into a balance of power that best ensures peace. We fight as enforcers rather than as rebels or as patriots fighting for survival. Wars of discipline are pre-emptive by definition. They pre-empt menace to the peaceful world order. We don’t sacrifice blood and treasure for change; we sacrifice for constancy.
Conversely, in wars of survival, like World War II, we fight to achieve a favorable balance of power–one in which a peace is established that guarantees our sovereignty and survival. We fight unapologetically for dominance, and we determine to defeat our enemy by any means necessary. We do not harry ourselves much over the style of warfare–whether the locals like us, where the line between interrogation and torture might lie, whether or not we are solicitous of our captive’s religious beliefs or dietary strictures. There is no feeling in society that we can afford to lose these wars. And so we never have.
All this points to one of the great foreign policy dilemmas of our time: In the eyes of many around the world, and many Americans as well, we lack the moral authority to fight the wars that we actually fight because they are wars more of discipline than of survival, more of choice than of necessity. It is hard to equate the disciplining of a pre-existing world order–a status quo–with fighting for one’s life. When survival is at stake, there is no lack of moral authority, no self-doubt and no antiwar movement of any consequence. But when war is not immediately related to survival, when a society is fundamentally secure and yet goes to war anyway, moral authority becomes a profound problem. Suddenly such a society is drawn into a struggle for moral authority that is every bit as intense as its struggle for military victory.
America does not do so well in its disciplinary wars (the Gulf War is an arguable exception) because we begin these wars with only a marginal moral authority and then, as time passes, even this meager store of moral capital bleeds away. Inevitably, into this vacuum comes a clamorous and sanctimonious antiwar movement that sets the bar for American moral authority so high that we must virtually lose the war in order to meet it. There must be no torture, no collateral damage, no cultural insensitivity, no mistreatment of prisoners and no truly aggressive or definitive display of American military power. In other words, no victory.
Meanwhile our enemy is fighting all out to achieve a new balance of power. As we anguish over the possibility of collateral damage, this enemy practices collateral damage as a tactic of war. In Iraq, al Qaeda blows up women and children simply to keep alive the chaos of war that gives it cover. This enemy’s sense of moral authority–as misguided as it may be–is so strong that it compensates for its lack of sophisticated military hardware.
On the other hand, our great military might is not enough to compensate for our weak sense of moral authority, our ambivalence. If we have the greatest military in history, it is also true that we lack our enemy’s talent for true belief. Our rationale for war is difficult to articulate, always arguable, and distinctly removed from immediate necessity. Our society is deeply divided and there is a vigorous antiwar movement ready to capitalize on our every military setback.
Out in the Paris suburbs two Muslim boys crash their illegal minibike into a police car. Not wearing helmets, they die at the scene. Guess what happens next?
Pajamas media has a report from Nidra Poller:
Violence is spreading from Villiers le Bel to a dozen neighboring communities. At least twenty policemen have been injured so far tonight (forty injured last night according to the latest figures), some of them critically. The insurgents are using firebombs, iron rods,, and firing buckshot.
Journalists are attacked, their cameras are stolen. The mayor of Villiers le Bel is running a crisis center from an undisclosed location. Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie is strangely absent, silent, or ineffectual. This is not the way it is supposed to be happening in the Sarkozy government. Don’t be surprised if Alliot-Marie is replaced early next year.
Cars, dumpsters, and buildings have been torched. A school gym has gone up in flames. Shop windows that weren’t smashed last night are targets tonight.
The New York Times reports on this.
Dozens of youths clashed with the police for the second night in a row in a working- and lower-class suburb north of Paris on Monday, throwing stones, glass and firebombs against large contingents of heavily armed riot police officers and moving nimbly from target to target on several fronts, burning cars and a garbage truck.
Never once does the NYT story mention the Muslim aspect.
The anti-American German media are having a great time predicting our doom. Again. David’s Medienkritik writes:
Euro-Nationalism as Substitute for Forbidden German Nationalism
At the same time, Der Spiegel has repeatedly avoided heaping the same sort of scorn or using the same extreme tone in highlighting the various troubles of the European economy, power grid and infrastructure despite relatively similar conditions (a weak Euro not too long ago) and incidents (power outages, train crashes, faulty infrastructure).
Instead – when publishing covers on Europe – they’ve repeatedly engaged in overt cheerleading – (just compare these covers to these covers). Let’s not forget SPIEGEL ONLINE’s primative excitement when a Eurofighter apparently defeated two F-15s in a mock battle. This thinly veiled Euro-Nationalism is desirable and useful – in part – as an acceptable alternate outlet (along with large sporting events) for forbidden German feelings of national pride. Unfortunately, the Euro-Nationalism of publications such as Der Spiegel almost always counts anti-Americanism as one of its key ingredients.
Perhaps Der Spiegel could – just once – run a story on America’s remarkably low unemployment rate (and the jobs it has created for millions of legal and illegal immigrants) despite record high oil prices. But let’s not forget – that would call into question the carefully crafted ideological caricature of the United States as hopeless social wasteland and home to predatory global capitalism.
Gerard Baker of the London Times refutes the nay-sayers.
The pundits have finally run out of bad news to report from Iraq, where, unmolested by the morbid fascination of misery-seeking reporters, the locals actually seem to be belatedly enjoying the first fruits of their liberation. So attention has turned again, as it has tended to do from time to time these past 50 years, to the inevitable collapse of the American economy.
The declining dollar is for many an ominous indication that the long period of US economic supremacy is at an end. In the past month especially, a nation that usually remains in blissful ignorance of the daily fluctuations of the foreign exchange markets has been repeatedly reminded that the dollar now buys a fraction of what it used to — down 35 per cent against the pound in the past six years and 40 per cent against that fledgeling monetary superpower, the euro.
Let me take a moment in this season of cheer to raise a few objections. The first and most obvious point is that there are many reasons why currencies move against each other, often in quite dramatic fashion. Seismic, epochal, geopolitical shifts are not usually the best explanation…
For the historically short-sighted, let’s remember we have been here before. Between 1985 and 1995, the dollar declined by 43 per cent against the world’s big currencies — somewhat more than it has in the past six years. That period was also marked by dire proclamations of the end of US economic power. But it turned out that in those years the foundations were laid for the strongest period of US economic growth in the past 35 years.
If you’re still sceptical, ask yourself this: is it probable that the shift in the relative value of the dollar and the euro represents a bet by the world’s investors that Europe — strike-torn, productivity-challenged, demographically doomed Europe — is the world’s economic future, rather than the US, or, let’s say, China?
If I could just sneak out in the middle of the night and saw off Rudy Giuliani’s strong right arm and John McCain’s ramrod back and Mitt Romney’s fabulous hair and stitch them all together in Baron von Frankenstein’s laboratory with the help of some neck bolts, we’d have the perfect Republican nominee. As it is, the present field poses difficulties for almost every faction of the GOP base.
Rudy Giuliani was a brilliant can-do executive who transformed the fortunes of what was supposedly one of the most ungovernable cities in the nation. But on guns, abortion and almost every other social issue he’s anathema to much of the party. Mike Huckabee is an impeccable social conservative but, fiscally speaking, favors big-government solutions with big-government price tags. Ron Paul has a long track record of sustained philosophically coherent support for small government but he’s running as a neo-isolationist on war and foreign policy. John McCain believes in assertive American global leadership but he believes just as strongly in constitutional abominations like McCain-Feingold.
So if you’re a pro-gun anti-abortion tough-on-crime victory-in-Iraq small-government Republican the 2008 selection is a tough call. Mitt Romney, the candidate whose (current) policies least offend the most people, happens to be a Mormon, which, if the media are to be believed, poses certain obstacles for elements of the Christian right.
On the other hand, as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg pointed out, the mainstream media are always demanding the GOP demonstrate its commitment to “big tent” Republicanism, and here we are with the biggest of big tents in history, and what credit do they get? You want an anti-war Republican? A pro-abortion Republican? An anti-gun Republican? A pro-illegal immigration Republican? You got ‘em! Short of drafting Fidel Castro and Mullah Omar, it’s hard to see how the tent could get much bigger. As the new GOP bumper sticker says, “Celebrate Diversity.”
Over on the Democratic side, meanwhile, they’ve got a woman, a black, a Hispanic, a preening metrosexual with an angled nape – and they all think exactly the same. They remind me of “The Johnny Mathis Christmas Album,” which Columbia used to re-release every year in a different sleeve: same old songs, new cover.
For Rep. Laura Richardson, a noose is a “horrible symbol of racism” and hanging one in public should be a crime.
The Long Beach Democrat’s first legislative act of her congressional career last week was to push a resolution criminalizing hanging nooses.
The move follows a rash of hate crimes involving nooses, including one hung on a tree at a high school in Jena, La., over the summer. That incident plus the arrests of six black teens accused of beating a white high school student in a separate incident set off protests in the town that drew national attention.
No doubt a noose could be offensive. But she’s got her facts wrong, facts she got from sloppy reporting from Big Baloney. We linked to this report last month about Jena myths.
Myth 2: Nooses a Signal to Black Students. An investigation by school officials, police, and an FBI agent revealed the true motivation behind the placing of two nooses in the tree the day after the assembly. According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of “Lonesome Dove.”)
The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history.
When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends. Another myth concerns their punishment, which was not a three-day suspension, but rather nine days at an alternative facility followed by two weeks of in-school suspension, Saturday detentions, attendance at Discipline Court, and evaluation by licensed mental-health professionals. The students who hung the nooses have not publicly come forward to give their version of events.
The LA Daily News rates movies on a scale of zero to four stars. Here is their capsule review of Brian De Palma’s “Redacted.”
Pseudo-documentary from Brian De Palma about American troops suffering and behaving monstrously in Iraq is hard to watch and not particularly good, either. But it dares to go to dangerous, dispiriting places that this year’s other war movies are far too timid to tread.
So, make a bad movie but as long as it presents American soldiers raping a 14-year and murdering her family as emblematic of our efforts in Iraq (dispiriting, indeed) you get four stars.
…What’s so scary about Huckabee? Personally, nothing. He seems a charming, decent, friendly, pious man.
What’s troubling about The Man From Hope 2.0 is what he represents. Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids. A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution, Huckabee’s a populist on economics, a fad-follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do “good works” extends to using government — and your tax dollars — to bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
For example, Huckabee would support a nationwide ban on public smoking. Why? Because he’s on a health kick, thinks smoking is bad and believes the government should do the right thing.
And therein lies the chief difference between Paul and Huckabee. One is a culturally conservative libertarian. The other is a right-wing progressive.
Whatever shortcomings Paul and his friends might have, Paul’s dogma generally renders those shortcomings irrelevant. He is a true ideologue in that his personal preferences are secondary to his philosophical principles. When asked what his position is, he generally responds that his position can be deduced from the text of the Constitution. Of course, that’s not as dispositive as he thinks it is. But you get the point.
As for Huckabee — as with most politicians, alas — his personal preferences matter enormously because, ultimately, they’re the only things that can be relied on to constrain him.
In this respect, Huckabee’s philosophy is conventionally liberal, or progressive. What he wants government to do certainly differs in important respects from what Hillary Clinton wants, but the limits he would place on governmental do-goodery are primarily tactical or practical, not philosophical or constitutional. This isn’t to say he — or Hillary — is a would-be tyrant, but simply to note that the progressive notion of the state as a loving, caring parent is becoming a bipartisan affair.
Indeed, Huckabee represents the latest attempt to make conservatism more popular. Contrary to the conventional belief that Republicans need to drop their opposition to abortion, gay marriage and the like in order to be popular, Huckabee understands that the unpopular stuff is the economic libertarianism: free trade and smaller government. That’s why we’re seeing a rise in economic populism on the right married to a culturally conservative populism. Huckabee is the bastard child of Lou Dobbs and Pat Robertson.
Historically, the conservative movement benefited from the tension between libertarianism and cultural traditionalism. This tension — and the effort to reconcile it under the name “fusionism” — has been mischaracterized as a battle between right-wing factions when it’s really a conflict that runs through the heart of every conservative. We all have little Mike Huckabees and Ron Pauls sitting on our shoulders. Neither is always right, but both should be listened to.
While the “surge” of five US brigades plus their accompanying support elements, about 30,000 US troops total, is the main focus of commentators when discussing the current situation in Iraq, the real surge in Iraq is happening behind the scenes. The rapidly expanding Iraqi Army is where the real surge in forces is occurring. …
By the time the US plans to reduce its combat forces to pre-surge levels (July 2008), the real surge is planned to have increased the Iraqi Army to 13 divisions, 49 brigades, 154 battalions, and five or six ISOF [Iraqi Special Operations Force (ISOF)] battalions.
The US is considering plans to draw down to 10 combat brigades by early 2009. The Iraqi Army plans to continue growing to 13 divisions, 52 brigades, 162 battalions, and seven or eight ISOF battalions.
Inside this Iraqi Surge is an “exit plan”. But it’s not an exit plan that everyone — especially the antiwar Left — will like, because it has the potential to wind up an offensive spring. The arrival of substantial Iraqi forces will free up a lot of US maneuver brigades for employment elsewhere. Earlier proposals to withdraw US forces to Kurdistan, Kuwait or most ludicrously, to Okinawa and ceding Iraq to the Sunni rebels and Sunni militias were really attempts to dress up a unilateral surrender as a redeployment. A withdrawal following on a defeat in Iraq would never have freed up forces for Afghanistan or other places to because they would have been pinned in place to guard against a rapidly destabilized Middle East.
The Real Surge DJ Elliott describes is really a relief in place of US Forces by a newly generated Iraqi Army. The difference between a relief in place and a rout disguised as a redeployment is very significant.
In the latter case, a redeployment in defeat would have put US forces on the defensive for the forseeable future. A relief in place by new forces is really also another term for a strategic reinforcement. The danger which the antiwar Left will rightly see in the Real Surge is that it contains the kernel of offensive action. That’s not to say that any kind of military action against Iran or Syria is contemplated or even wise. There may be no intent. But it is fair to say that a Real Surge will create the capability to do more things than would be possible in the aftermath of a pell-mell retreat.
Even if the US never takes any military action against Iran the creation of a new and modern Iraqi Army, well supplied with artillery and logistics (as appears to be the case) will create a threat in being for the Ayatollahs. From a situation in which the Teheran could contemplate virtually annexing southern Iraq (as would have occurred if the US had admitted defeat in early 2007 and left) the Ayatolahs now face the prospect of having to maintain large permanent standing forces on their border with Iraq. Nor is this all. If most US ground forces are freed up by the Real Surge the Iranians will suddenly face the prospect of dangerous mobile US reserve. All in all it would be a nightmarish burden for Teheran to shoulder.
Does this mean war in the Middle East? Ironically the Real Surge may actually reduce the prospect of war considerably, while at the same time improving the prospects for the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem. While it is possible that Iran, watching its window of opportunity closing, may become suddenly reckless and launch an all-out attack to destabilize Iraq, it is probably too late for banzai measures. The odds are that Iran has been strategically beaten, first by the American Surge and worse, by the follow-on Iraqi resurgence.
The intolerable burden of maintaining a war-footing against the new Iraq, guarding against possible American action, Western sanctions and the need to refurbish its collapsing oil industry while maintaining a nuclear program may collapse the theocrats in Teheran in the same way it did the old Soviet Union.
That might be a good thing. For Iran, Iraq, America and the whole world.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Botticelli , Boltraffio, Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Messina, Perugino, Hans Memling, El Greco, Hans Holbein, Rokotov, Peter Paul Rubens, Gobert, Caspar Netscher, Pierre Mignard, Jean-Marc Nattier, Vigee-Le Brun and many more.
Congress is less divided by partisanship than it is united by devotion to the practice of protecting incumbents. Doing this with, for example, the bipartisan embrace of spending “earmarks” is routinely unseemly. But occasionally, incumbent protection is also unconstitutional.
It was in 2002, when Congress was putting the final blemishes on the McCain-Feingold law that regulates and rations political speech by controlling the financing of it. The law’s ostensible purpose is to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. But by restricting the quantity and regulating the content and timing of political speech, the law serves incumbents, who are better known than most challengers, more able to raise money and uniquely able to use aspects of their offices — franked mail, legislative initiatives, C-SPAN, news conferences — for self-promotion.
Not satisfied with such advantages, legislators added to McCain-Feingold the Millionaires’ Amendment to punish wealthy, self-financing opponents. The amendment revealed the cynicism behind campaign regulation’s faux idealism about combating corruption.
The amendment says: When a self-financing House candidate exceeds the personal spending threshold of $350,000, his opponent gets three benefits. First, the opponent can receive contributions triple the per election limit of $2,300 from each donor. Second, the donors’ now-tripled contributions are not counted against those donors’ aggregate contribution limits for the two-year election cycle. Third, the opponent is permitted to coordinate with his political party committee unlimited party expenditures that otherwise would be limited by statute. Senate campaigns are subject to similar provisions, which are even more generous to candidates opposed by wealthy, self-financing individuals.
Democrats like to define themselves as the party of poor and middle-income Americans, but a new study says they now represent the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional districts.
In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.
He also found that more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats hold both Senate seats.
“If you take the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, we found that the Democrats represent about 58 percent of those jurisdictions,” Mr. Franc said.
A key measure of each district’s wealth was the number of single-filer taxpayers earning more than $100,000 a year and married couples filing jointly who earn more than $200,000 annually, he said.
My buddy is raising his two daughters to be perfect ladies. He is teaching them to demand not that they be treated as delicate flowers that must be handled with care lest they crumble, but strong women who delight in their femininity. To that end he has instructed his girls that they shouldn’t open a door for themselves, should never pull out a chair and should always receive a gentleman’s hand while exiting an automobile. We all got a good laugh when my buddy’s wife– upon hearing some of her husband’s dictates, wondered aloud when she might receive some of this treatment.
There are some young men in his daughters’ futures that will no doubt have their work cut out for them.
My good friend is of course talking about more than just pulling out chairs. His old school ideas of social etiquette are an attempt to provide clarity for his daughters that men have unique responsibilities in their relationship with women and that one of those duties is to defend and honor womanhood. It is also a reminder to men that ideas of nobility and chivalry are not anachronisms, but indicators of suitability as a partner. It is in the best interests of his daughters (and all young women) that they understand that what they have is precious, and before giving themselves to the first knucklehead that comes along they should demand evidence of a mans understanding of his unique role.
But it is, as the song says, “a different world” and some of the expectations of behavior have changed. The different expectations are perhaps one explanation for why we struggle. We enter unions unsure of our roles, unaware of our responsibilities and uncertain of our partner’s suitability.
For instance kids today openly refer to “hooking up,” which is to say physical intimacy without testing; rolling the dice when lives are quite literally at stake. How does one navigate relationship intricacies when femininity is equated with sexual behavior and men are not required to demonstrate fitness for anything but getting busy? The rules of old school social conduct provided a way to steer the course through courting.
Court brings to mind a trial and indeed the time spent in courtship is a time of testing. Ideally it is a time to assess ones knowledge of the unique roles men and women play in relationships. To court carries weight; it implies forward looking — that the time spent with one another has purpose beyond the moment. Most importantly to court implies a commitment – not simply exclusivity, but a commitment to certain behaviors and responsibilities. This is particularly important for women as they carry the burden of birthing children – the consequence of “hooking up” — and will shoulder the burden alone if they choose poorly.
Hooking up of course implies just the opposite: Transience; All the goodies with no commitment to anything but the hot and heavy moment. What we lose in moving away from courtship and towards “hooking up” is not only a respect of sex as the culmination of a process of evaluation but we also lose the idea that the negotiation is one a woman makes for her own protection. The compatibility of two people is not only based upon sexual heat, but upon shared dreams, values and attitudes.
A proper testing increases the likelihood of a loyal and trustworthy partner.
Pulling out chairs, opening doors and the like are small acts that we tend to take for granted. They are often also evidence of a man’s broader understanding of his duty to defend womanhood and protect the house and home.
My buddy is preparing his daughters to be scrupulous assessors of manly behavior. I had better make certain I am preparing my sons to be men. One of their first lessons is that treating a woman as a lady is not only a sign of respect it is a demonstration of both maturity and manhood.