Tuesday, January 18

What Bush should say...PJ O'Rourke

In The Weekly Standard, P.J. O'Rourke tells us what he thinks President Bush should say in his inaugural address:

MY FELLOW AMERICANS, I had intended to reach out to all of you and bring a divided nation together. But I changed my mind. America isn't divided by political ethos or ethnic origin. America isn't divided by region or religion. America is divided by jerks. Who wants to bring a bunch of jerks together with the rest of us? Let them stew in Berkeley, Boston, and Ann Arbor.

The media say that I won the election on the strength of moral values. If the other fellow had become president, would the media have said that he won the election on the strength of immoral values? For once the media would have been right.

As they say, Read the whole thing.

Monday, January 10

Negotiating with evil

Leftists pride themselves on being (as they would have it) "enlightened." And one of the fundamental beliefs of self-styled "enlightened" Westerners is that every disagreement can be resolved by negotiation. Accordingly, no enlightened society ever needs to resort to violence.

From there it takes only a millisecond to reach the obvious conclusion that any Western leader who doesn't buy into this belief system, and instead takes the nation to war, is unenlightened--a primitive, a throwback to our barely-rational ancestors.

Fair enough. But members of the 'every disagreement can be negotiated' school eventually run into a nasty reality, in one of two forms:
--an opponent regime that views negotiation as a sham, a tool to be used to delay military conflict until they've improved their position; or
--they negotiate a settlement that quietly consigns millions of people (either third-party nationals or residents of the opponent) to death, torture, and permanent oppression and persecution.

(Let me hasten to add that not all instances of these two outcomes can be blamed on left-lib-"progressives", either: The Left is correct in pointing out that during the Cold War there were several cases of conservative strategists making deals with dictators who abused their own people when the dictator's support served the strategic goal of blocking communist expansion. Conservatives would probably gain support by openly acknowledging these past policies.)

But at the moment, the issue is how to respond to Islamic terrorism. Left-lib writers claim that 1) Islam is really a peaceful religion; 2) if the U.S. would just [fill in the proposed concession-du-jour here], they'd stop attacking us; 3) any restrictions on individual freedom in Islamic nations are wholly their business, and of no concern to us; 4) since the U.S. has nuclear weapons but hasn't used them since WW2, we must be willing to accept that *all nations* have the right to the same weapons.

If I've mis-stated Leftist thinking here, perhaps someone on the Left would be good enough to clarify their side's position.

Clearly the mere fact that a religion proclaims that it's devoted to "peace" doesn't make that true. And it's been pretty well shown that when people finally get around to reading the 'fine print', Islam only extends peace to those who either convert or submit to Islamic law.

These are some mightly harsh conditions, IMO.

Yet the Dem/Left keeps trying to negotiate. One imagines a conversation between a typical Leftist pol and Hezbollah going something like this:
Okay, so you want the U.S. to withdraw troops from all Islamic countries. Well that certainly wouldn't be a problem--half the American public already supports that, and us enlightened folks have been pushing that all along. Anything else? Stop supporting Israel, you say? Well, that will take a lot of horsetrading with a lot of congresspersons, but it's not a deal-breaker; we can negotiate on that.

Anything else? You say Americans must accept Shari'a law? Well what does that involve, exactly? Banning alcohol? You know we tried that back in the 1920's. Didn't work, but if it would give us peace with Islam--make that "peace with honor"--we could take another shot at it. After all, we've got, what, 5,000 heavily armed BATF agents in addition to the FBI, so we could probably make it stick this time. What else?

No sex on television? Actually the fundy-Christian Right will love that, so that's really easy. But of course Hollywood won't want it. After all, a lot of people out there make a *really* good living from that. And the billboard people will squawk. But hey, let us make some calls... Anything else?

You say all homosexual activity will be a capital offense?

You mean, like, the death penalty? Ah.

Captain, please throw these awful men out of our office. And then see if you can locate Secretary Rumsfeld for us.

Saturday, January 8

The fight over Social Security

If you're under 30 chances are you probably don't know much about the program's history or origins. Thus a brief summary may help:

1. Almost everyone likes "freebies."

2. Politicians learned a long time ago they could get elected by promising voters more freebies.

3. FDR and the Democrats pushed the Social Security program through.

4. During the debate on the bill's passage, Conservatives of the day (including a few Democrats) warned that the plan was a financial ponzi scheme--one that depended on an ever-increasing number of young workers to cover its outlays--and that absent such endless increases, it would eventually become insolvent.

5. Sure enough, birth rates have fallen sharply, so that fewer workers are making "contributions" into the system, even as more people are retiring and starting to draw benefits.

6. All the money paid in by workers over the years has been invested in government bonds (essentially IOU's). This by itself wasn't particularly bad--although the rate of return is lower than a company, the government is the lowest-risk investment. HOWEVER: a few decades ago Congress decided to write a law allowing it to consider SS contributions part of the "general fund", meaning that there is no longer any "lockbox", and there's nothing in it but IOU's from the government.

7. When the program's monthly payout exceeds the amounts paid in by workers, the difference will have to come from cashing in those IOU's. But since the government almost always runs a deficit itself, this means it will have to borrow money (on the world market) to fund SS obligations.

With this as background, the next few points are easily predictable:

8. Because FDR's critics warned before the law was passed that Social Security was fundamentally a ponzi scheme, most Democrats go absolutely nuts when Republicans warn that the program is headed for trouble, as they predicted from the outset. This "go AWAY, dammit!" response, based as it is in psychology and emotion, is impervious to facts or logic. Accordingly, the denial will almost certainly get worse as the crunch approaches.

9. No responsible Democratic congresscritter will agree that changes must be made to the program to avoid insolvency. To make any concessions is grounds for de-facto expulsion from the party.

10. The Mainstream/Dem-supporting media tend to oppose any GOP efforts to avoid insolvency, mainly because they hate President Bush and the GOP. Even those who are more moderate (all four of them) are understandably suspicious of Republican remedies--just as we would be if the roles were reversed.

Surprisingly, this situation has all the earmarks of a disaster for the GOP: If Republicans succeed in implementing even the tiniest increment of privatization, then Dems will blame them for any problems the system has for at least the next half-century.

Here's what I'd be doing if I were prez: I'd go before the cameras with the GOP leadership and jointly announce that although the best analysis shows the SS system is in trouble and needs to be reformed to avoid disaster, Paul Krugman and the Dems have loudly insisted that no substantive reforms are necessary. I'd emphasize that my advisors--and those hired by congressional Republicans--believe this is completely wrong, but we've jointly decided it's not worth fighting such a *divisive battle* when the Dems are so totally convinced they're right. Sooo....

Then for the next four years, keep mentioning that the Dems have promised the American people there is absolutely no need for SS reform. Eventually one of two outcomes would occur: either the Dems would finally have to come to the table and cooperate on a fix; or else they'd have to watch along with the rest of the country as the slow-motion train wreck played out. In the latter case the GOP would keep replaying video clips of the Dems' assuring Americans "no problem here, citizen."

But that's just me, and I'm--mischievous.

Wednesday, January 5

What the top Dem/left thinkers are writing

It may not be all that helpful to criticize incendiary comments from anonymous, rank-and-file Democrats/liberals, since Dem leaders can always claim those statements don't represent the mainstream of liberal thinking.

Fair enough. So instead let's look at what affluent, educated leftists are writing--and what the major left/Dem media outlets are choosing to publish from these lofty thinkers. For example, consider educated, affluent leftist writer Jane Smiley:

Edited from: "Why Americans Hate Democrats—A Dialogue
Subhead: "The unteachable ignorance of the red states" [Now that's a good start for a 'dialogue'!]
By Jane Smiley, in Slate [http://slate.msn.com/id/2109218/] Nov. 4, 2004
[Jane's most outrageous comments are in red.]

Forget introspection--it's time to be honest about our antagonists. I grew up in Missouri and most of my family voted for Bush, so I'm going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the *decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry*.

I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million—my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of *classic Republican feelings of superiority*.)

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states. The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to *underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America*.

Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to. They know who they are—they're full of original sin and have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind.

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple...system of belief that is dangerous to question.

*They make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it*.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent. American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. The last four years show that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

Third and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to *cling to your ignorance with even more fervor*. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the *ignorance basket*, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition (preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. *If you are sufficiently ignorant*, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, *and then you can always blame others.*

The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the *big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know*, decided to *make use of the religious right* in their *class war against the middle class* and *against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful *prey*—workers and consumers.

The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent *racism*, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. *They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant.* Lots of Americans like and admire them *because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up.*

Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?

Progressives have only one course of action now: React quickly to every outrage. *Red-state types love to cheat and intimidate*, so we have to assume the worst and call them on it every time. We have to give them more to think about than they can handle—to always appeal to reason and common sense, and the law, *even when they can't understand it* and don't respond.

They cannot be allowed to keep any secrets. Tens of millions of people didn't vote—they are watching, too, and have to be shown that we are ready and willing to fight, and that the battle is worth fighting. And in addition, we have to remember that *threats to democracy from the right* always collapse.

Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and *hatred*, and will destroy their purveyors in the end.

The Left keeps telling America how it's the party of tolerance, love and non-divisiveness. But the words of their apparent intellectual leaders--as endorsed by their publication by the top leftist outlets--tell a far different story.

Tuesday, January 4

WaPo: U.S. Civil War was a mistake!

Okay, they didn't say that explicitly, but... Power Line comments on an article by William Raspberry in the notorious Washington Post. The Post bemoans the awful state of affairs in Iraq:

[Some people argue] that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant whose defeat and humiliation should evoke no sympathy from us. But he did have a functioning country. There was a government in place. People went to work and to the market and to school in relative safety. Can anyone really believe that the U.S.-spawned anarchy has left the Iraqi people better off?
PowerLine notes that the same argument could have been made about the U.S. following our Civil War, as a few (understandably) bitter former rebels made life miserable for some by lynching and burning in midnight raids.

As I recall, credulous Leftist reporters also made the same case to defend Facism just before WW2. The story included a line that eventually became a synonym for rationalization by those who would appease dictators: "Maybe it's not perfect, but at least the trains run on time."

Surely no one would bite the hand...

Wretchard at Belmont Club has a fascinating analysis of the quiet contest taking place between the U.S. and the UN over who should run the relief operation. One UN official actually said the organization wanted U.S. and Australian troops to wear the blue UN uniform rather than their own colors.

Wretchard also poses the crucial question: What would happen if local jihadi types fire on U.S. or Australian troops as they're delivering relief supplies? In that event he believes that Kofi will say "I told you so" and Bush will get blasted in the U.S. and world media for insisting on forming a separate relief core group rather than letting the UN run things.

Several commenters countered that it seemed most unlikely that any shooting conflict would occur, since it would seem the height of stupidity for locals to shoot at the people who were trying to deliver supplies to heal their countrymen and/or keep them from starving.

Certainly that's logical. However, I think shooting is inevitable. If there are any local extremists (which appears highly likely), the prospect of taking control of a barely-guarded warehouse full of food and medicine (which could then be selectively distributed to vastly increase their influence) would seem too tempting to resist.

Monday, January 3

Right-shift, or GOP hubris?

Fred Barnes writes in Opinion Journal] about how the results of last November's elections herald bright prospects for the GOP in the future.

I'm not so sure.

While I liked the results, I think Republicans are kidding themselves if they believe those results herald the beginning of a large or long-term conservative shift in the electorate.

While a 3-point margin in the popular vote is nice, it doesn't alter the fact that a shift of just 70,000 votes in Ohio would have given Dems the White House.

With all respect to Mr. Bush, the Democratic nominee was one of the poorest candidates in several decades--a military record full of holes; meeting with representatives of North VietNam while we were still fighting; anti-U.S.-military testimony after VietNam; an abrasive, foreign-born billionaire wife; and an amazing penchant for shooting himself in the foot in flip-flopping on issues. If I were a GOP strategist I'd be worried that my party didn't win by more than 20-percent of the popular vote!