Archive for June, 2008

Bush haters move on to history

Monday, June 30th, 2008

The author of a novel advocating the assassination of George Bush, has moved on to Churchill and Roosevelt. The book is Human Smoke and is an indictment of the Allies in World War II because they stood up to Hitler at last and refused to accept that final aggression. The author, apparently a pacifist, sets out to attack Churchill and Roosevelt but does it in a dishonest way. His novel, Checkpoint seems to have outraged even the New York Times, rather tolerant of most Bush-haters. The Booklist review gives a bit of the plot:

Jay and Ben are old friends who haven’t seen each other in a few years. A former teacher who has fallen on hard times, Jay is very, very upset about the war in Iraq. He has expressed his objections by marching in an antiwar demonstration in the nation’s capital, but the protest has had no effect. Now Jay has asked Ben, a writer currently working on a book about the cold war, to bring a tape recorder to a Washington, D.C., hotel room because Jay wants to talk about his decision to assassinate the president.

A columnist in The Independent has picked up on this pacifist nihilism and brought more light on this mindset.

Winston Churchill? Today we only remember his heroic opposition to Nazism. But while he was against gassing and tyranny in Europe, he was passionately in favour of it for “uncivilised” human beings whose riches he wanted to seize. In the 1920s, Iraqis rose up against British imperial rule, and Churchill as Colonial Secretary thought of a good solution: gas them. He wrote: “I do not understand this squeamishness… I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.” It would “spread a lively terror”.

He does not mention, and may not even be aware of the fact that Churchill goes on to confirm that by “poisoned” he meant tear gas. He may not know it because he took the lines from Baker’s book above.

The correction (unacknowledged by the writers) is here.

“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” Baker quotes, but if one returns to the original memorandum, found in the Churchill Papers in Cambridge, it goes on to make it clear that the idea was not to use “deadly gasses” against the enemy, but rather ones aimed at “making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory [i.e., tear] gas.” Churchill goes on to write: “The moral effect should be so good as to keep loss of life reduced to a minimum” and “Gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror yet would leave no serious permanent effect on most of those affected.”

I am belaboring this point because we have begun to see a similar pacifist nihilism in the presidential campaign. The attacks on John McCain’s military record, the refusal to see progress in Iraq, attempts to undercut the war on radical Islam (perhaps because some would rather lose than see Bush win anything), all seem to suggest that some have gone beyond politics to some sort of lunatic antipathy to American civil discourse. I think we have seen only the beginning of this.

Obama’s fairness doctrine

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Today, a number of anti-Obama blogs woke up to find they  had been banned by their hosting service. They were banned as a source of spam although the only thing they had been doing was posting anti-Obama messages. In Chicago, where Obama learned his political tactics, the Fairness Doctrine means shutting up your opponent.

In his first race for office, seeking a state Senate seat on Chicago’s gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.

The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district.

“That was Chicago politics,” said John Kass, a veteran Chicago Tribune columnist. “Knock out your opposition, challenge their petitions, destroy your enemy, right? It is how Barack Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 that conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters. But in that first race, he made sure voters had just one choice.”

He just talks about transforming politics.

Why the Irish voted no.

Friday, June 27th, 2008

The Irish referendum on the new EU Treaty (renamed from Constitution after being voted down by two other countries) resulted in a horrifying (to EU bureaucrats) NO vote. I wonder why. Maybe they have been watching German television. Of course, that Youtube video has already vanished from the European server. You can only see it in the US now.

If Obama wins the election this fall, we get to see what it is like to be ruled like Europeans.

The left and fascism

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I read Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism when it came out and posed a review at Amazon. Now comes an amazing account of the relationship between Harvard University, liberal bastion that it is now, and the Nazi regime of Adolph Hitler.

The Harvard University administration during the 1930s, led by President James Conant, ignored numerous opportunities to take a principled stand against the Hitler regime and the antisemitic outrages it perpetrated, and contributed to Nazi Germany’s efforts to improve its image in the West. The administration’s lack of concern about Nazi antisemitism was shared by many influential Harvard alumni and students. A faculty panel that supervised a mock trial of Hitler in 1934 ruled that Hitler’s anti-Jewish actions were “irrelevant” to the debate.


Health Care Reform- the doctors

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

This piece in the NY Times reports on discontent among physicians. These are young men and women in the prime of their careers and they are talking about quitting. Congress is doing what it can to force them out by cutting reimbursement for Medicare. by 10.6% this year.

Over the next nine years Congress will slash Medicare payments to physicians by 37 percent, at the same time practice costs will increase at least 22 percent.

I think my suggestions for reform based on the French system are worth consideration but I see no interest.

Someone finally understands George Bush

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Spengler is a pseudonym for a writer in the Asia Times who is often a source of wise counsel in complex matters. His recent column on George Bush and Pope Benedict provides considerable insight into the relationship between these two men. A similar relationship between the preceding Pope, John Paul II, and President Reagan had a great deal to do with the fall of the Soviet Union. Spengler writes,

Despite his position on Iraq, Benedict’s critics within the church regard him as a civilizational warrior as dangerous as the US president. Bush might denounce “Islamo-facism”, but continues to believe that Islam is a “religion of peace”. Muslims suspect that the pope wants to convert them, a threat they never have had to confront in Islam’s 1,500-year history.

Finally, someone has understood the dilemma that George Bush faced in 2001:

After the September 11, 2001, attacks, American intelligence had no means to determine which Muslim governments were in league with terrorists. Middle Eastern governments do not resemble Western nation-states so much as they do hotels at which diverse political factions can rent accommodations, including factions who provide weapons, passports, training and intelligence to the sort of men who flew planes into the World Trade Center. Elements within the governments of Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, among others, supported terrorists, besides Saddam.

The only way to resolve the matter quickly was to make a horrible example out of one of these regimes. That got the undivided attention of the others. “Kill the chicken, and let the monkey watch,” say the Chinese.

This is exactly why we invaded Iraq and it is tragic that the Bush people did not make a better attempt to explain this. Spengler is no latecomer to this view, as he explained at the time.

The West should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to ask questions later. Rarely in its long history has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late. Why should that be the case? The answer, I believe, is that keeping the peace requires prospective combatants to maintain the balance of power, for example between Athens and Sparta in the 5th century BC, between Catholic and Protestant states in the 17th century AD, and between the Central Powers and the Allies at the turn of the 20th century. Once powers truly are balanced, however, neither side can win, except by a devastating war of attrition. Postponing war therefore creates equally matched opposing blocs who eventually will annihilate each other.

Spengler explains why he opposed the attempt to turn Iraq into a modern nation, the first in the Arab world. I believe he is wrong here but the attempt was certainly costly and teetered on the brink 18 months ago. Only a REAL change agent in the Army, General Petraeus, was able to bring it off.

The future is still in doubt but the cooperation of George Bush and Pope Benedict may have significant influence on how that turns out.

A cautionary tale

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Urban renewal was a big subject 20 years ago. The big downtown housing projects that had been built in the 1950s were being torn down. They had turned out to be too big and the residents had become hostages to the criminal element, unless they joined the crooks. The high rise projects had replaced low rise “slums” that, it turns out, were more people friendly. The next big thing was called SEction 8. This was a program that provided poor people with vouchers which they could use to rent housing in nicer neighborhoods. As a member of the Planning Commission in Mission Viejo, I saw the intense pressure being put on all small cities to build more “affordable housing,” usually in clusters so developers can maximize profit from the subsidies.

The results of all this are now coming in. It is not good.

More Obama ignorance

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Barack Obama has supported the US Supreme Court’s ruling that foreign terrorists being held in Guantanamo have the same rights to legal representation and the US court system as US citizens. He mentions the Nuremburg war crimes trials as an example of the same principle, apparently unaware that the Nuremburg trials were by a military commission similar to those established by Congress and now overruled by the USSC. Andrew McCarthy, who actually prosecuted the 1993 WTC attackers, disagrees with Obama, but what does he know ?

I’m still waiting for the DVD of the ABC Network special, “The Path to 9/11.” Hillary is out of the race so they should be able to finally release it.

It’s late to start drilling. Maybe

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Bill Clinton vetoed ANWR drilling in 1996 saying that it would not produce any oil for ten years ! Guess what ? That was 12 years ago. The political left has the usual weak response to this argument. This Wikipedia entry has the usual environmentalist slant that mars its otherwise useful role, but it contains this summary:

In 1987, Canada and the U.S. signed the Agreement on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd treaty which was designed to protect the herd and its habitat from damage or disruptions in migration routes. Canada’s Ivvavik National Park and Vuntut National Park borders the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Energy Bill authorized drilling in ANWR, but a filibuster by Senate Democrats kept the measure from coming to a vote. In 1995, Republicans prepared to take up the battle again and included a provision for ANWR in the federal budget. President Bill Clinton vetoed the entire budget and expressed his intention to veto any other bill that would open ANWR to drilling.

I’d say that establishes the responsibility pretty well. Why is this important ? Aside from $4.59 gasoline, I mean ?

Well, Brazil has discovered a massive oil field in deep water off its coast. It has leased all the deep water drill rigs in the world for the next five to seven years.

There are no more drilling ships to be had, and it will take years to build them. Now, it doesn’t take deep water rigs to drill in ANWR. Nor are they necessary for the tar sands and oil shale of the Rocky Mountains which contain massive reserves.

But it is time to drill. Although it is very late.

The politics will be very interesting to watch. Democrats are opposed to any carbon use so they oppose any drilling. Bill Clinton created a national monument to prevent coal development but, as is usual with Bill, nobody knows if this was simple corruption or more Democrat anti-carbon politics.

A really dumb negotiating tactic

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

I sometimes listen to Laura Ingraham on the radio in the morning. Some of her themes are not to my taste but she is good and has a huge following. For the past several weeks there have been “temporary” hosts on her show and there was no explanation. Some feared recurrence of her breast cancer from 2005 but it turns out it is only a stupid radio syndicator who thinks they can win a negotiation by taking her off the air. At this point, I think she is better off changing to another syndicate, especially after reading about the people involved.