Archive for August, 2008

Bullshit

August 25, 2008

This is insane. Everyone involved should be fired:

DENVER – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefly evacuated from her downtown Denver hotel on Saturday when a man carrying two hunting rifles and two pistols tried to check in to the hotel.

Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley said 29-year-old Joseph Calanchini of Pinedale, Wyo., faces a charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon after police officers at the Grand Hyatt hotel noticed him carrying a rifle-type case while checking in. Calanchini did not have a concealed weapons permit, said Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Safety.

Fire.  Them.  All.

Guns in a gun case are not “concealed weapons.”

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What the Democrats need to do to win the 2008 Presidential Election

August 24, 2008

I’ve been thinking about Senator Obama’s pick of Senator Joe Biden as his Vice-Presidential nominee. I’ve come to the conclusion that this pick demonstrates that Senator Obama does not understand this election, or what he needs to do to win it.

In the sure and certain knowledge that the Democrats won’t follow my advice, I offer them here, free of charge, an explanation of what they need to do to win.

  • Fundamentally, this election is not between Senator Obama and Senator McCain. This election is between Senator Obama, and “not Senator Obama”. Oh, at the margins who “not Senator Obama” is matters. It matters for Republican intensity, and it matters for some votes from “moderates”. But the Republicans have held the Presidency for the last 8 years, they’ve had their chance to screw things up, so people are biased towards giving the Democrats a chance to screw things up for a while.
  • To the extent that it matters that Senator McCain is Senator Obama’s opponent, attacking Senator McCain is not going to do Senator Obama much good. You are not going to get people to vote against McCain because he married a rich wife (and therefore doesn’t know how many houses she owns). You’re not going to surprise any likely voters by telling them that McCain is a cranky old man, because they already know that. You’re not going to score a successful attack on his character, because Senator McCain spent 5+ years getting tortured in the Hanoi Hilton rather than accepting a “dishonorable” early release. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about McCain’s “character”, then you’re pretty much a guaranteed not to be a McCain voter anyway.
  • Senator Obama has never been challenged, and never accomplished anything other than getting elected to office. As Dean Barnett noted, he is a dilettante intellectual, and has clearly never spent much time actually thinking about the big questions, let alone foreign policy, or. apparently, much of anything other than “how do I achieve higher office?” This is the man who was “President” / senior Editor of the Harvard Law Review, but never wrote an article for the Law Review (it turns out that’s not correct, and that he did write an article, but lied about it earlier. I’ve yet to read the article myself, or see definitive commentary on it. More later). If he wants to become the next President of the United States of America, he’s going to have to convince the American people to vote for him.
  • Senator McCain’s campaign understands this. Thus we get the commercials about “The One”. Commercials that always end with “but is he ready to lead?”
  • There’s two ways you can look at the Obama campaign’s response. The first is that they don’t understand this. The second is that they do, but they realize he isn’t ready to lead, and so wish to avoid the question.
  • If Senator Obama wants to become President Obama, then he needs to introduce himself to the American people. He needs to say “this is what I believe in.”
  • Instead of talking about “Hope”, he needs to tell us exactly what he hopes to accomplish.
  • Instead of talking about “Change”, he needs to tell us what he wants to change, what he wants to change it to, and why.
  • Instead of talking to us about “living up to America’s Ideals”, he needs to tell us what ideals we haven’t been living up to, and what he’s going to do to get us back on track.

The, utterly destructive to his campaign, problem is that Senator Obama can’t, honestly, answer those questions. Part of that “can’t” is that he’s an intellectual lightweight, and hasn’t bothered to think enough about the issues to actually know where he stands. Which is why he so thoroughly sucks when he tries to speak without a teleprompter, and has refused to do town-hall style debates with Senator McCain.

The rest of that “can’t” is that America is still a center-right country, and Senator Obama is, at best, a center-left politician surrounded by hard-left supporters. So he can either piss off his supporters, or attract voters, but he can rarely do both.

Finally, an exit question for my readers: Exactly how does adding Senator Joe Biden to the campaign help Senator Obama with any of the things he needs to do to win?

The Lost Generation

August 24, 2008

Michael Barone’s US News article this week is titled “Why Won’t the Mainstream Media Question the Obama Narrative?” A desperate lefty, Dave in TN, wrote a comment trying to protect Senator Obama from the (justifiable) costs of his association with the terrorist William Ayers. In responding to him, I finally came up with the appropriate analogy to explain the situation.

Imagine a man. In his early 20s, he was a member of the KKK. He started out just marching through black neighborhoods with his white hooded buddies, but he decided that wasn’t enough. So he got together the more radical of his chums, and they formed a sub-group that engaged in cross-burnings, and fire-bombing NAACP and “pro-black” newspaper offices. Some of his buddies killed themselves putting together a nail bomb they were going to use on the NY Times, and he and his girlfriend (eventually wife) went underground.

Because of some prosecutorial misconduct, neither he nor his wife were ever convicted of any crimes. A decade ago, he wrote memoirs (popular on the KKK circuit) about his life and actions. In an interview published in the NY Post on September 11, 2001, he said “I don’t regret setting bombs or burning crosses. I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Now, try to imagine any Republican national politician having anything to do with that guy (Robert Byrd might do it, but he’s a Democrat Senator, not a Republican). Try to imagine what would happen to any Republican who actually was morally degenerate (and stupid) enough to associate with that KKK thug.

Now, understand that Senator Barack Obama is an associate of such a man, and that he has described this terrorism supporter as just “a professor of education at the University of Illinois.”

In the long run, that’s not going to work, because those who haven’t been morally gelded instinctively understand that William Ayers is not a morally acceptable human being, and that decent human being don’t associate with the likes of him.

So, why did I title this “The Lost Generation“, not “Obama and the Terrorist“? Because this is not an isolated problem. Oh, in intensity this is a bit of an outlier, but in general most 1960s Democrats have this same type of problem.

Most, if not all, people do some extremely stupid things when they are in their late teens / early twenties. It’s part of growing up. You screw up, you learn from your screwups, and you move on. The problem with the 1960s “liberals” is that they are unwilling to admit that they did screw up, and therefore are incapable of learning. And thus they’re incapable of moving on.

Consider Bill Clinton. When the things he did to avoid being drafted came to light in 1992, he could have said “look, I was desperate not to get drafted, and I did and said things, things that I’m not proud of, in order to keep out of the military. I regret that I behaved so poorly, and if I could do it again I would not do the same.” Mature, responsible (complete BS), would have dealt with the situation in a day, and been done with it. But he was a 60’s “liberal”, and the one thing they cannot do is admit wrong. Admit that their behavior was utterly selfish and self focused, admit that, instead of being something transcendently special, they were just typical spoiled kids.

There’s a great deal of separation between the wrongs of Bill Clinton, and the wrongs of Bill Ayers. As anyone who’s not a moral idiot will tell you, that difference matters. But there’s a great similarity in attitude between the two.

And the problem for the “moral worth” of the Left is that the American Left is dominated by that similarity. The “anti-war” movement among 1960s youth wasn’t driven by moral outrage over the wrongs of the American War Machine, it was driven by chickenshit momma’s boys who didn’t want to have to put their precious butts on the line for America. (Which is why the “anti-war movement” disappeared as soon as the draft did. IMHO, America in the 1960s would have been a far better place if there’d been no college draft exemption. You become eligible for the draft, you get taken (or not), and the “threat” is over and done with. It would have destroyed the support for the radicals.) The need to lie to themselves about what they were doing, and why they were doing it, started there. Unfortunately, it has never ended.

And thus we come back to Barack Obama and William Ayers. If the Left were even slightly honest about the 1960s, then either William Ayers would (publicly, if not in reality) repent of what he’d done, or else Barack Obama, 1990s up and coming politician, would not have come within a mile of that terrorist. Unfortunately, he did. Because all the 1960s “liberals” made a name for themselves when they were young and stupid, and thus they all have massive amounts of stupid decisions hanging over their heads. This seems to have stunted their emotional growth, and as a consequence essentially none of them have ever developed the maturity to say “hey we screwed up here, here, and here. We went too far here.”

Lacking that emotional maturity, none of them, and none of their intellectual progeny (like Senator Barack Obama) know how to reject a William Ayers. None of them know how to say “You know, Bill Clinton was a dumb kid back then, and made some mistakes, but Bill Ayers was evil, and we shouldn’t have anything to do with him.”

And because of that, on Tuesday Stanley Kurtz of NRO will be getting access to the papers of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which Senator Obama chaired and William Ayers co-founded. And press people who don’t have Senator Obama’s best interests at heart will be looking into exactly what Senator Obama owes this supporter of terrorism. I don’t believe Senator Obama will come off well during this examination.  That is because I don’t believe Senator Obama should come off well during this examination.

Because someone who sees nothing wrong with associating with a current supporter of terrorism, is not someone who’s got the judgment to be President of the United States of America.

The Democrat’s Press Problem

August 23, 2008

The Democrat Party has a press problem. Now, they don’t see it that way. They think the fact that the press is willing to give lefties a “pass” is a benefit. And, back when it was “The Press”, it was a benefit.

The problem is that now it’s merely the MSM. And while the MSM can refuse to cover issues they don’t want to cover, they no longer control the agenda enough to keep the information away from the voting public.

In 2004, this screwed the Democrats in two ways. John Kerry got a pass from the MSM on things like his “magic hat”, or “Christmas in Cambodia”, or the whole “military hero” thing. And thanks to the absence of a real vetting process, the Democrat Primary voters selected John Kerry as their candidate.

Then along came the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Who pointed out Kerry’s lies, his frauds, his cheats.  So much for “I’m John Kerry, and I’m reporting for duty.”

Then there was Rathergate.  Where the bloggers demonstrated that the MSM could no longer get away with creating fraudulent documents in order to help their candidate win an election.

Now, it could be that, even if Kerry had gone through a real vetting process, the Democrat Bench was so thin that Democrat voters would have picked him anyway.  (God knows the Democrat options in 2008 were pretty pathetic.)  But, if he had been vetted, he would not have done that idiotic “reporting for duty” crap, and he wouldn’t have had to “disappear” people, like David Alston, who appeared on stage at the DNC giving Kerry credit for other people’s actions.  Might he have gotten more votes in that case?  I certainly can’t imagine him getting less if he hadn’t pulled that idiocy.

And, if Democrat politicians were aware that (eventually) they will be vetted, would they be less likely to do the kind of things that are going to destroy Senator Obama in this Presidential campaign?

Consider: would any Republican who was serious about national ambitions associate with a right-wing version of “Reverend” Wright?  Would any of them get their entre to public life from a known, unrepentant, abortion clinic bomber (i.e. a right-wing William Ayers)?  Hell no.  And anyone who did, would have it exposed, and get destroyed early.

For the last couple of decades, if you were a politician and a disgusting human being, you had a strong incentive to also be a Democrat.  Bob Packwood (R-Oregon) got hounded from office.  Bill Clinton (D-Pres) got supported in office, for doing far worse.  If you were a politician who wanted to sexually harass women, would you be a D, or an R?

In part because we know the press is against us, Republicans do their best to get rid of their scum.  The Democrats, secure in their belief that a baised press would never go against them, has perpetually compromised its “principles” and looked the other way.

Happily, thanks to the internet, that power of that cover is weakening.  And the Democrats are going to pay for relying on it.

The most damning commentary I’ve seen about Obama

August 23, 2008

Wow, Michael Barone has just eviscerated Senator Barack Obama.  He talks about Chicago politics, and about how in order to “get into” Chicago politics you have to know somebody.  To put it in the Chicago vernacular, to “be somebody” you have to be “somebody somebody sent”.

How did this outsider from Hawaii and Columbia and Harvard become somebody somebody sent? His wife, Michelle Robinson Obama, had some connections: Her father was (I believe) a Democratic precinct committeeman, she baby-sat for Jesse Jackson’s children, and she worked as a staffer for the current Mayor Daley. Obama made connections on the all-black South Side by joining the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. But was Obama’s critical connection to le tout Chicago William Ayers? That’s the conclusion you are led to by Steve Diamond’s blog.

William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist who was quoted in the new York Times on September 11, 2001

I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.

It would be one thing to suck up to a guy who used to be a terrorist, and now rejected that behavior and repented of it.  It’s quite another to pal around with someone who believes that terrorism is acceptable behavior.

Would you associate with a former gang thug, someone who beat up people, torched houses and businesses, but who now recognized that what he did was wrong?  Who regretted what he’d done, and tried to make up for it?

I would be willing to associate with such a person, and would not reject out of hand someone else who associated with such a person.

Would you associate with a “former” gang thug, who was no longer big, strong, and tough enough to beat up other people, but who fondly looked back on memories of his criminal behavior, gloried in his crimes, and had no regrets?

If you had two candidates running for DA, Sheriff, or Chief of Police, and one of them used that “former” gang thug as a fund-raiser, and valued supporter, while the other avoided all such people, would you vote for the one who hangs out with the thug?

So, will you vote for President a man who counts an unrepentant terrorist among his most important supporters?  Shall the Global War on Terror be led by a man who clearly doesn’t think that terrorism is all that wrong?  (Because if Barack Obama thought terrorism was wrong, he never would have associated with William Ayers.

If you don’t believe in a “war” on terror, if you believe it’s simply a “law enforcement problem”, will you vote to elect as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America, a man who associates with known, unrepentant, terrorists?  A man who’s only able to run for the office in the first place because of support of a known terrorist?

The flap about the Chinese Gymnastics Cheating

August 22, 2008

When I first ran across the conflict about the ages of the Chinese Gymnasts, I had a hard time getting worked up about it. While I believe that the Chinese government is cheating, the US women’s team lost the team competition because they screwed up, not because of the cheating by the Chinese.

OTOH, I feel for Nastia Lukin losing out in the Women’s Asymmetric Bars to a 14 year old on a tie-breaker, esp. since the Bars is one of the events where being younger really does make a difference. So I’m glad to see that the IOC is at least pretending to care about the rules:

The International Olympic Committee has ordered an investigation into mounting allegations that Chinese authorities covered up the true age of their gold-medal winning gymnastics star because she was too young to compete.

An IOC official told The Times that because of “discrepancies” that have come to light about the age of He Kexin, the host nation’s darling who won gold in both team and individual events, an official inquiry has been launched that could result in the gymnast being stripped of her medals.

The investigation was triggered as a US computer expert claimed yesterday to have uncovered Chinese government documents that he says prove she is only 14 – making her ineligible to compete in the Olympics – rather than 16, as officials in Beijing insist is her age.

Mike Walker, a computer security expert, told The Times how he tracked down two documents that he says had been removed from a Chinese government website. The documents, he said, stated that He’s birth date was January 1 1994 – making her 14 – and not January 1 1992, which is printed in her passport

I doubt they’ll have the balls to do anything about it, but I’m still happy to see egg on the Chinese Gov’t’s face.

HT: Tom Maquire

You’ve got to be kidding

August 22, 2008

When I first saw this story, I thought it was a joke:

Analog TV shutdown kills free cell-phone TV

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer Mon Aug 18, 7:34 AM ET

NEW YORK – Picture whipping out your cell phone and catching up with “Lost” or “Jeopardy,” or watching the local 11 o’clock news, all for free. You can do this with an imported Chinese phone, but you can’t with any phone sold in the U.S. — at least not without monthly charges.

This is one of the reasons the United States is behind several other countries when it comes to making television an attractive option for cell phones. Carrier business models are partly at fault, but choices about TV technology made long ago are largely to blame.

Um, get real.  And, if you’re really disappointed that you can’t watch TV on a cell phone, you need to get a life.

What an ass

August 22, 2008

Gateway Pundit caught Obama being a typical left-wing jerk:

Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again on Wednesday for invading another country’s sovereign territory while adding a new twist: the United States, he said, should set a better example on that front, too.

The Illinois senator’s opposition to the Iraq war, which his comment clearly referenced, is well known. But this was the first time the Democratic presidential candidate has made a comparison between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Russia’s recent military activity in Georgia.

“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”

Gosh, yes, there’s no difference between deposing a murderous dictator, and invading a democratic country because you want to destroy it.

Russia

August 20, 2008

Over on Austin Bay’s blog, I tried to leave the following comment, but his system decided it was spam.  So I’ll post it here, instead:

“a”:

Russia “gave up” things it shouldn’t have had in the first place.  They no more deserved to get anything for it than does a thief for returning stolen property.

But they <b>did</b> get things for it.  They got Western investment.  You know, like in Yukos Oil.  Where teh Western Investors all got robbed by Putin when he decided to destroy the company in order to advance his dictatorship.

Russia does not have the right to engage in military threats against its neighbors.  Russia does not have the right to run its neighbors affairs.

You want to be an important country?  Great.  End the political and economic corruption, and become an economic powerhouse.  Of course, you’re run by people who aren’t competent to get rich without corruption, and who therefore won’t allow real competition to take place.  Which is why you’re going to remain a sad joke, a Third World Country with nuclear weapons.  Nothing more.

You want respect?  Earn it.  You don’t earn respect by bullying democracies that refuse to give you what you want.

Why I oppose “Single Sex Marriage”

August 20, 2008

Over at Volokh, Jonathan Adler opines about “Single Sex Marriage”.  His comment in favor of SSM demostrates why I’ve come to oppose it:

I believe that the institution of marriage and its associated blessings should be shared with same-sex couples.

It’s a perfect example of “people unclear on the concept.”  Society doesn’t give benefits to heterosexual marriages because heterosexuals “deserve its blessings”, society rewards and benefits heterosexual marriage because heterosexual marriage is what makes our society possible, and is why our society survives.  Heterosexual marriage, and the children those marriages produce, are what create the next generation, especially the productive and functional part of it.  As such, heterosexual couples have earned the benefits and rewards.

The one thing you never hear from “defenders” of SSM is how those relationships will benefit society. It’s always “gimme, gimme, gimme.”  It’s always about what they should get, and never about what they’ll give the rest of us in exchange.  As such, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. Anyone who goes into a marriage thinking “it’s all about me” is nto going to have a functional marriage.  Since that’s all we hear from the supporters of SSM, I expect the SSMs to be sad, pathetic joke versions of real marriages.
  2. Since not all of the defenders can be idiots, if SSM really did offer provable benefits to society, we’d be hearing about them.  Since we’re not, the rational assumption is that SSM does not provide such benefits, and therefore rational people should oppose SSM.  This is because it’s wrong to give people rewards that they haven’t earned, and therefore don’t deserve.  If for no other reason than it cheapens the value of the reward for the people who actually have earned it.

Then there are the idiot commentors to the post.  Let’s be clear here: The people of California voted, in 2000, by a large majority, that there is no such thing as single sex marriage.  4 worthless scum who happen to sit on the CA Supreme “Court” decided to re-write the CA State Constitution and invent a Constitutional “right” to SSM.  CA voters now have a chance to overturn that “judicial” usurpation of power, with a Proposition on the November ballot.

It is not possible to be a decent human being, and oppose that Proposition.

You think there should be SSM?  Great.  Then put it on the ballot, and get the people to vote it in.  Or, if you live in a State tha doesn’t have voter approved Propositions (or that does have them, but where the voters haven’t already ruled on the subject), feel free to try to get the Legislature to vote SSM into existence.  But when you claim that something that has never before existed in history is in fact a “right”, or when you defend others making the same claim, you are displaying a fundamental dishonesty that marks you as complete and utter scum.

You do not have the right to get your own way, not matter how strongly you feel about it.  You have the right to bring things to The People, and you have the right to try to get them to agree with you

You do not have the right to do an end run around them when they don’t agree with you.

Obama supports corruption in PA

August 20, 2008

So, we now get news that Obama will be bribing black ministers in Phily to “get out the vote” for him. Obama told us he was going to bring “new politics”. Hmm, exactly what’s so new about corruption?

Is the Gallatin, TN Police Dept. trying to steal this man’s gun?

August 12, 2008

This is the kind of thing all law-abiding citizens need to help jump on.

I showed him the letter, and he gave me directions to the Gallatin Police Dept. to retreive my firearm, spare mag, and $15 in 230Gr. Golden Saber ammo.

Except, of course, when I got there, the evidence officer told me they were running a stolen gun check on my own firearm, and it hadn’t come back yet. I informed him that after 3 straight weeks driving to Nashville and back on workdays, at $80 in gas a whack, I was rather hoping to get this cleared up now rather than later – I would put them in touch with the store I bought it from, even, because I work there. Didn’t help. So sorry. They might be able to ship it to me. Gotta wait for the background check.

That was last week, and considering I’ve left an unanswered message for him since then, and they still have a $1500 1911 that I’m rather fond of, I’m starting to think that by now, if ever there was a time that I was justified in being a bit annoyed with the faceless, useless, mindless bureaucracy, this is it.

This, to me, sounds like a crooked police officer trying to use the system to steal an expensive gun.  They way to beat that is publicity.

The US “Threat” to Russia

August 12, 2008

The same kind of bed wetters who were “convinced” that every problem during the Cold War was the fault of the US are at it again.  So, let’s consider their complaints about US behavior.

Russia’s turn toward an aggressive nationalism was triggered at all by American moves to expand NATO, abrogate the anti-missile treaty, build a pipeline through Georgia bypassing Russia, and a new anti-missile system in Eastern Europe.

What have we done wrong this time?  Let’s consider these whines one at a time:

  • Expand NATO: Let’s see, how many countries has NATO invaded?  0?  What does “expanding NATO” do to Russia?  At most, it keeps Russia from being able to invade some of its neighbors.
  • Abrogate the anti-missile treaty / [build] a new anti-missile system in Eastern Europe: Yep, that’s right, the US is trying to make it so that Russia cannot nuke its neighbors, or the US.
  • Build a pipeline through Georgia bypassing Russia: The US is trying to make it so that Russia can’t block oil deliveries to countries it’s trying to bully.

So the US “aggressions” against Russia are we’re making it harder for the Russian government to threaten or attack its neighbors.

And this is supposed to be a bad thing?  What planet are these people from?

Damn Putin

August 12, 2008

I do not like John McCain.  I do not want to vote for him.  But of McCain, Bush, and Obama, only McCain has been good on the Russian invasion of Georgia.

Thanks to Putin, I may have to become a McCain supporter.

Jerry Pournelle is wrong

August 12, 2008

Jerry Pournelle, a man whose opinions I often respect, wrote the following on Sunday:

A New and Needless Cold War

We are clearly playing with fire. We have overseas adventures, entangling alliances, and total involvement in the territorial disputes of Europe. We sided with the Albanians against Russia’s Serbian allies. We are shouting at Russia about the war in Georgia.

Thank God that Georgia is not a member of NATO. Nonetheless we are in a new cold war.

Yet the United States has more common interests with the Soviet Union than we have with most of NATO. We have expanded NATO to ring Russia with bases and allies — to what purpose? This is no policy for a Republic; it’s not even a policy for a competent empire. If we are going to play balance of power games, the new Russian empire is definitely a major part of that game. Working at restarting the Cold War is not in our interest in any way, and there is no outcome to this that is favorable to us.

Has everyone at State and in the Pentagon lost their minds?

No, they haven’t.  But on this subject, Dr. Pournelle, I believe you have.

  1. Russia is a corrupt dictatorship.  Given a choice between a Communist / other totalitarian dictatorship, and a non-totalitarian dictatorship, I’ll take the non-totalitarian one.  But dictatorships are our enemies.  Because dictatorships, especially corrupt ones, give their people lower standards of living, and fewer opportunities to succeed.  I’ve discussed this before: less freedom strongly correlates with more support for terrorism.
  2. Russia is our enemy.  Who is supporting Iran in their attempts to get away with nuclear proliferation?  Russia.  Who is supporting other State sponsors of terrorism in their disputes with the US?  Russia.  Why are they doing it?  “National Pride”?  Desire to show they’re “relevant”?  I don’t know, and I don’t care.  They have chosen to put themselves on the side of evil, they have decided to support terrorists.  They are our enemies.
  3. Georgia has supported us in Iraq (to the tune that we transported 2,000 of their troops from Iraq back to Georgia to help them fight against the Russian invaders).  Worthwhile countries are worthwhile allies.  If we wish to be (justifiably) considered a worthwhile country, then it’s time for us to be a worthwhile ally.
  4. It is not in our best interests for Russia to be able to threaten those countries around it.  Economic competitors make us better (consider the quality of US built cars today, compared to the quality of cars built in the US in the 1970s).  Military competitors do not.  The more Russia is able to throw its weight around militarily, the more dangerous the world gets.  To the extent that we can humiliate the Russians, and the Chinese, every time they try to be military bullies, we should.  Because that makes the world a better place for all decent people, including us.

The goal is not to “play balance of power”, the goal is to be number 1, in a world where no one competes with us militarily.

It’s like the choice between MAD, and “Assured Survival”.  Dr. Pournelle once understood that Assured Survival (for us) was better.  Why he thinks having a Russian Empire that can threaten us is a good thing, I don’t know.  Because it’s not.  A Russian “Empire” that cannot expand militarily, that is surrounded by an SDI system that means they can’t threaten to nuke anybody, is the only kind of “Russian Empire” that isn’t a threat to us.

Now, if Putin had spent his years in power stopping the Serbs from using their military might to massacre Bosnians, encouraging Russian minorities in formerly conquered and now freed countries to be good citizens of the countries they were part of, and working the the US to shut down Saddam, and keep the North Koreans, Iranians, Libyans, etc. from getting nuclear weapons, IOW, if Russia had acted like a civilized country that wanted the world to be a better place, rather than acting like murderous thugs, my opinion of them would be different.

But if the Russian government wasn’t a group of murderous thugs, the situation in Georgia wouldn’t have arisen in the first place.

Screw Russia.  Until they stop choosing to be thugs, we should choose to diminish them in any and every way we can.  If that means another Cold War, so be it.  If they want respect, they’re going to have to stop being thugs.  Because if they only way they can be “important” is to be thugs, they are undeserving of respect.

Hitting the nail on the head

August 1, 2008

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat followers shut down the US House of Representatives today rather than allow for debate on ending the Congressional ban on offshore oil drilling.  The Republicans decided that they weren’t going to leave.  Politico has been following the action. Rep Tom Cole gets the award for best comment of the day:

Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the dimly lit chamber is a “vision of the future by the Democrat Party: The lights are out, there’s no power, and the air conditioning is gonna go off soon.”

Earlier this week I wrote on why I’ll never vote for a Democrat.  The vote to adjourn was another example of what I was talking about.  No Democrat who voted for adjournment can honestly go home to the voters and claim that he supports lowering gas prices by allowing offshore oil drilling.  Because that’s what the adjournment vote was about.

Here’s hoping a lot of Republican challengers get campaign ads out of this.

Helping poor blacks

August 1, 2008

Interviewed by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, Senator Obama said the following:

You know, I have said in the past, and I’ll repeat again, that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city….

Well, Senator Obama, you can do that within a couple of years, easy.  Just support vouchers so that inner city parents can send their kids to private schools, just like you send your kids to private schools.  Of course, that would piss off the “Teachers” Unions, which care far more about money and jobs for their members, than about making sure their members actually do their jobs and educate children.

So, Senator Obama, what’s more important?  Good schools for inner city children, or sucking up to the NEA?

Why the Terrorists are an Existential Threat

August 1, 2008

Orin Kerr has an interesting post over at Volokh.  He says:

But before posting some substantive response to the book, I wanted to flag a dynamic that I think is driving both the book and the blog responses to it: Assessments of the terrorist threat.

My sense is that each person’s assessment of the terrorist threat heavily influences where they come out on what measures the government should take in the war on terror. At bottom, everyone in this debate is a pragmatist. Everyone balances the values of advancing public safety by taking aggressive measures against the value of advancing civil liberties by rejecting those measures.

The big difference comes in assessing the terrorist threat. Those who favor the most aggressive measures such as torture, detention without review, and lots of surveillance tend to see the terrorist threat as very grave in the short to medium time horizon. They consider terrorism an existential threat to the country, and they conclude that any step that might avoid a successful terrorist attack is a worthwhile step to take.

At the opposite end, the civil libertarian critics of the Bush Administration tend to see the threat as relatively modest in the short to medium time horizon. Al Qaeda can be dangerous, sure, but they’re no more dangerous than lots of other threats the country faces. Al Qaeda is just a few dozen people, and they can’t threaten the county in any real way. And even though they want weapons of mass destruction, the chances that they would succeed in a way that causes many thousands or millions of U.S. casualties is actually relatively remote. To believe otherwise is to fall for the Administration’s fear-mongering.

The different assessment of the threat explains why the two sides of the debate often talk past each other. To those who see the threat as grave, it is inconceivable that some would insist on playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules and be more focused on world opinion than the threat to American lives. To those who see the threat as modest, on the other hand, it is inconceivable that some would ignore the rule of law and recklessly injure our standing in the world. Each side tries to optimize social welfare based on its assessment of the threat, and each side thinks the other is shockingly uninterested in that goal.

While he is right in that, I think he has missed a major point.  And that is that while a “military” approach to fighting terrorism can end the terrorist threat, a “police” approach can’t.

If you are one who loves government, if you are one who wants a powerful government, then the “police” approach is ideal: it slowly corrupts the US (as each attack, or attempted attack, leads to more restrictions being imposed on the American people), giving us threats that only the government can fully deal with, without ever doing anything to really make those threats go away (that’s what happens when you punish people for doing things, rather than killing them before they can attack the US).

Look at the things that get the Left upset.  Do they scream about innocent American citizens being forced to take off their shoes in the airport, or the restrictions on carrying liquids?  No.  Do they get horribly bent out of shape at the government for spying on known terrorists, and those (almost certainly not innocent) Americans they contact?  Yes.  In other words: making Americans more subservient: good.  Effectively fighting terrorists: bad.

The terrorists are an existential threat not because of what they can do to us, but because of what their actions can lead us to do to ourselves.  The longer they remain free to attack us, the more harm they do us.  If you value the freedom of Americans, then you want the war on terror to end as quickly as possible.  Ad there are only two ways it will end: We win, and destroy the terrorists and all of their State sponsors.  We lose, and change ourselves to such a horrible extent that the terrorists no longer feel the need to attack us, because we no longer “threaten” them.  (Attention Lefties: Hollywood, with its movies pushing non-Islamic ideas, is one of the major threats they see in us.  I promise you, you will hate any America the terrorists find unwothy of attacking.)

One moral ignoramus wrote this in the comments:

Assessment of the seriousness of the threat is only half of the equation. There is also the assessment of the importance of the rights on the other half of the tradeoff.

I think that many of us civil-libertarian types would rather see ourselves and a few thousand of our closest friends killed by terrorists than to see the country pursue the course of arbitrary perpetual detention, internal movement controls, wholesale surveillance, and so forth.

What’s wrong with what he said?  Well, for one thing, what he’s “fighting against” isn’t “arbitrary perpetual detention, internal movement controls, wholesale surveillance”.  If you’re caught on the field of battle, your detainment isn’t “arbitrary”, and it takes a moral moron to claim that it is.  “Internal movement controls” like, oh, the way we’re forced to show ID to fly?  Where is it that the left, or even the “civil-libertarian types”, have been fighting those?  As for “wholesale surveillance”, spying on terrorists, and the people they talk to, isn’t “wholesale surveillance”, it’s targeting and intelligent surveillance.  And it’s what the left fought so hard to block, in the recent FISA fights.

But the most idiotic part of it is the claimed belief (I won’t dignify it with the word “thought”, because it’s pretty obvious no thought went into the comment) that having the terrorists kill a few thousand Americans would be better than those things.  Because having the terrorists kill a few thousand Americans is the best way to get a vast majority of Americans behind the kind of restrictions he claims to oppose!

The problem isn’t just a difference in threat assessment, it’s also a difference in desired outcome.  If you don’t want an overweening government becoming more enmeshed in our lives, then you want the war to end.  If you love or even care about America, you want it to end in an American victory.  And that means using the full power of America to hunt down and destroy our enemies and their supporters.  That means making it clear that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, and that engaging in it is bad for your health, your power, your ideology.

Because anything else leads to more government, and less freedom, for Americans.