August 31, 2007

Ancestral voices prophesying war !

The DC tom-toms are more insistently beating out a rhythmic warning of a U.S. strike against Iran this fall. Here's Pat Buchanan:

Initially, Americans might cheer the bombing of Iran, and Congress would head for the tall grass. But as U.S. strikes would be an act of war, rallying the Iranians behind the failing regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and igniting a long war the end of which we cannot see and the troops for which we do not have, there are powerful arguments against a new war.

Iran and the United States would both pay a hellish price, and Iran at least seems to recognize it.
If paleocon parades of horribles leave you skeptical, Larison, complete with "our" spellings, links to lefty peacemongers:
Rumours continue to swirl about an attack on Iran before the year is out. Prof. Cole points to this Barnett Rubin item, this author was told by U.S. intelligence sources that his forthcoming book on Iran might be made obsolete by an attack before 2008, and there has been talk that Rove timed his departure to make sure that he was out before it happened. Plans to classify the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation certainly fit well with preparation for some sort of military action.

The inimitable Spengler thinks Iran's braggadocio conceals a serious decline, and something between benign neglect and attrition will do the trick unless Iran acquires nuclear weapons:
Iran, I warned on September 13, 2005, is running short of oil and soldiers (Demographics and Iran's imperial design). Its oil exports could fall to zero within only 10 years, according to new studies reviewed in the December 11 Business Week. Iran's circumstances appear far more pressing than I believed a year ago, when the consensus estimate gave Iran another 20 years' worth of oil exports. Apart from oil, Iran exports only dried fruit, pistachio nuts, carpets, caviar and, more recently, prostitutes (Jihads and whores, November 21).
War scenarios abound, both horrific and warmonger optimistic.

The official opposition has not connected its second thoughts about the Iraq adventure to opposition to an Iranian campaign. In fact, even Obama (I was against the war when I was a legislator in Springfield, Illinois) has kowtowed to AIPAC and pimped the Iranian threat.

With Congress quiet and the Dems looking the other way, it's really up to W.

If that notion leaves you with a feeling of calm, call your shrink to up your meds.

August 27, 2007

Bye, Al

It seems that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has called it quits. About time, and giving the lie to those who thought he'd hold fast, given the likelihood that any Bush nominee would get a grilling.

Look for someone squeaky clean, a law-school dean, a judge, or a Senator, who can get through the hearings and make promises to Leahy, Schumer & Co.

Not-So-Sweet Caroline

I've written before about Jerusalem Post writer Caroline Glick.

Glick effectively skewers the folly of the Israeli leaders who gave back tranches of occupied territory in Lebanon and Gaza without negotiating and without getting much in return except a brief respite. She's ruthless and incisive in this regard.

Glick regularly beats the war drums for an attack on Iran, preferably by the United States.

There are many questions, however, that Glick never answers. Here are some:
  • She assumes a unity of interest between the U.S. and Israel. Apparently post-1967, cold warriors in Washington viewed Israel as a useful proxy to take Soviet allies in the Middle East down a peg or two. Pre-1967 and in the post-Soviet world, Glick, American-born and educated, still simply assumes a community of interest between Israel and the U.S. I just don't get it. Nowadays the alliance seems one-sided, with the U.S. having little or nothing to gain from it. War with Iran? Fuggedabadit.

  • Glick opposes Israeli territorial concessions on the West Bank. Given the weakness and unreliability of the Palestinian organizations (brought about in part by past Israeli tactics, to be sure), she has a point. But what then? Does she favor expulsion, perhaps at some opportune moment of crisis? Or incorporation of the territories into Israel? If so, would she offer citizenship to the Palestinian residents? Even if the demographics aren't as favorable to the Arabs and some say, what then? Is she still a for a democratic Israel?

  • What's Glick's rationale for her Zionism? She appears not to be religious. Why does a Jewess from Chicago have more right to live in Palestine than an Arab from Jaffa? And if she chose to leave Chicago for the Holy Land, why does she make such insistent demands on the United States.

  • What's so all-fired great about Israeli democracy? It leads to corrupt leaders, divorced from constituencies, except to distribute state money, for example, to ultra-orthodox who will neither work nor join the Army. Time, it seems to me, for an Israeli DeGaulle, Putin, or Pinochet.
Hey, I'm just askin'.

Two Books

I've recently completed two books, Robert Novak's memoir, The Prince of Darkness, and Thomas Fleming's take on World War I, The Illusion of Victory. Both are good reads.

Novak, an "insider" columnist and TV personality who has gotten more conservative over the years, offers a candid account of the people he's worked with and written about. Refreshingly, Novak is candid about his mistakes as well as the many fools (as he sees it) whom he has had to suffer more or less gladly. He's particularly merciless to Jimmy Carter, whom he calls an inveterate liar, and John McLaughlin, the chat-show host, whose vanity, according to Novak, knows no bounds.

Novak also describes his conversion to Catholicism in a rather matter-of-fact way, and regularly discusses his income, an unusual bit of candor in an autobiography, but interesting nonetheless--what do the chattering classes live on?

The book is remarkably open and honest, and very much a book by a reporter, rather prosaic, full of detail, and invariably interesting.

Fleming, who's a bit of an ideologue when he writes for Chronicles, a very paleoconservative rag, writes as a historican. On display are the courage and innocence of the doughboys who were drafted to die in the fields of France, and of Robert LaFollette, who courageously opposed the war. The preeminent role is played, however, by the horrid Woodrow Wilson, whose sanctimony, inflexibility, and vanity contributed so much to the disastrous outcome of the war, as well as to the atmosphere of repression that dominated the country and echoes to this day.

August 15, 2007

Pushtunwalla, Deobandis, and Gordon Chang

Gordon Chang blogs for Commentary's Contentions, and lately he's in a warlike mood, this time against Pakistan:
Pakistan, unfortunately, is the nation that conclusively disproved the optimistic notions of “realists” like Kenneth Waltz, who argued that nuclear weapons made their custodians responsible. After all, generals like Musharraf watched Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, make deals with Libya, Iran, North Korea—and, undoubtedly, other nations—for nuclear technology. Two Pakistani nuclear scientists met with al Qaeda representatives in 2000 and 2001, which indicates the strength of the ties between extremist elements and the nation’s nuclear programs. And agents in the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, have provided substantial support to al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the country’s military and civilian officials act this way, just imagine what its rogue elements will do. It’s safe to say that there are few responsible custodians of nuclear weaponry in the Pakistani government.

If fanatics take control of Islamabad, will we be willing to insert our military into Pakistan to secure its arsenal? If we are not, then are we prepared to let al Qaeda become the world’s 10th nuclear power?

Of course, that would be India's problem more than ours. And moreover, I doubt we know any more about Pakistan’s diverse peoples than we do about Iraq. One thing we can predict–the results of an invasion of Pakistan would be other than unexpected. What do we know about Pushtoonwalla, Baluchi independence movements, zamindars, or the Deobandi?

Gordon Chang is nice enough to engage his commenters, but there seems to be no limit to the military commitments he wants this country to undertake, or the wars he wants to fight.

Such a future is certainly possible. The return of conscription, the tightening of the national security state to George Creel and Mitchell Palmer proportions, Americans raining death on civilians from the air and dying in large numbers, too. If Basiji landing craft were waiting offshore from Atlantic City, we might have no choice; they aren’t.

I prefer a regression to 1897. Reduce foreign entanglements; eliminate excessive dependence on foreign anything, including energy and credit; substantially restrict immigration; adopt enough tariffs and quotas to preserve strategic industries and what’s left of the American working class. Start bringing our troops home from the Old World, and paring down the obsolete commitments that put them there. Forget about using our military to democratize a reluctant world.

Instead, all the candidates with the possible exceptions of Ron Paul and Kucinich, are interventionists, though less openly than Gordon Chang. The Dems want to pare down the Iraq intervention, but that’s about it. Say “Darfur” and they’ll rev up the C-130s. If Olmert decides to drive to Damascus to raise his approval rating over 3% or to hold off the investigators, expect them all to applaud.

Tell the slacker generation to put away their GameBoys and cell phones, and get ready for 40-pound packs, MREs and Kevlar, ’cause that’s where this is going unless we change course.


One of the better flicks I've seen lately.

It's a "perfect crime mastermind" vs. "young DA" but well acted by Anthony Hopkins, who can do no wrong, and Ryan Gosling.

It has actual dialogue and engages the brain. Will wonders never cease?

August 13, 2007

Stanley Crouch Tells It Like It Is

Stanley Crouch is a unique, sometimes crotchety voice.

In a column today, he writes of the carnage wreaked in the black community by gang murders, and the strange reluctance of the political class even to talk about it.

That, and the astonishing numbers of incarcerated black men, is a major problem, but not a major political issue. It should be both.

August 11, 2007


Mitt Headroom got 31 per cent of the vote in the Ames straw poll. That's not so impressive considering how much money he spent.

We have a bizarre situation where Romney's been at or below 10 per cent in the national polls, but polling well in Iowa and New Hampshire. Back-to-back wins in those two states could give him some momentum. On the other hand, with other primaries following so soon afterward, an initial bounce might not mean so much next year.

Cute Baby Pictures


HT: Rod Dreher.

August 10, 2007

King-Harbor To Close

LA County has decided to close King-Harbor Hospital (formerly King-Drew), because the feds inspected it, found it not up to snuff, and cut off funding.
King-Harbor has been out of compliance with Medicare standards since January 2004, a stretch some experts say was unprecedented and would not have been tolerated at other hospitals. In a five-part series published in December 2004, The Times detailed how the hospital had become one of the worst in the nation by a variety of measures, largely because county supervisors failed to take aggressive action for fear of being branded racist. [Emphasis added].
The hospital was built as a sop to the black community after the 1965 riots, and has been protected as a patronage pot for years.

Now, of course, the Chicanos are on top in L.A. as far as minority politics goes.

Meanwhile, the Supervisors showed they aren't racist by letting a charnel house operate in the black community for years. The Supervisor for that community lives in posh Brentwood, not in her own district.

Air Crash in Polynesia

An Air Moorea Twin Otter that took off from Mo'orea for the seven-minute flight to Tahiti crashed in the sea, killing all aboard, Tahitipresse reports.
“The political knowledge of the average voter has been tested repeatedly, and the scores are impressively low. In polls taken since 1945, a majority of Americans have been unable to name a single branch of government, define the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative,’ and explain what the Bill of Rights is. More than two-thirds have reported that they do not know the substance of Roe v. Wade and what the Food and Drug Administration does. Nearly half do not know that states have two senators and three-quarters do not know the length of a Senate term. More than 50 percent of Americans cannot name their congressman; forty percent cannot name either of their senators. Voters’ notions of government spending are wildly distorted: the public believes that foreign aid consumes twenty-four percent of the federal budget, for instance, though it actually consumes about one percent.”

Louis Menand, from “Fractured Franchise - Are the wrong people voting?” in The New Yorker

HT: Total Buzz.

Jay Leno has been making hay with this for years, going out on the streets and asking very basic questions of passers-by, usually louts with bill caps on backwards.

Ain't democracy wonderful?

August 7, 2007

The GOP Unravels

Power tends to corrupt, and corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
Lord Acton said it, and it's wise. This piece by John Fund, on the imminent demise of Alaskan porkmeister Ted Stevens and the blindness of the Republican Party, is sad.

It leaves the field open to the Dems, who may well be far worse.

Sad, really.

August 2, 2007

What Price Controls Do

An eerie report from Zimbabwe.
It appears, however, that not even an unchallenged autocrat can repeal the laws of supply and demand.

One month after Mr. Mugabe decreed just that, commanding merchants nationwide to counter 10,000-percent-a-year hyperinflation by slashing prices in half and more, Zimbabwe’s economy is at a halt.

Bread, sugar and cornmeal, staples of every Zimbabwean’s diet, have vanished, seized by mobs who denuded stores like locusts in wheat fields. Meat is virtually nonexistent, even for members of the middle class who have money to buy it on the black market. Gasoline is nearly unobtainable. Hospital patients are dying for lack of basic medical supplies. Power blackouts and water cutoffs are endemic.

So-called "advanced democracies" don't do much better. Their economic folly is just not so extreme or so widespread. Think rent control. Think minimum wage. Think gasoline price controls in times of shortages.

My New Logo

Lileks also came up with this one.

Very appropriate for a Grumpy Old Man.

Porky Commits Seppuku

I've always been amused by cartoons and drawings of animals joyfully contemplating their imminent demise at the hands of carnivorous humans. These are found in Mexican restaurants and small-time fast food joints, mostly.

This French offering is in a class by itself, however.

"The French don't care what they do, actually, so long as they pronounce it properly."

HT: Lileks.

August 1, 2007

Put That High-Octane DNA In Your Pipe, and . . .

The DNA of the people they hire tends to be a little higher octane in terms of aggressiveness and energy,” said Jason E. Klein, president and chief executive of Newspaper National Network, which sells ads on behalf of a variety of newspapers across the country.

--NY Times, on News Corp.'s takeover of the Wall Street Journal
Eye of newt, nitro, and a spark of creativity. That's how to sell advertising.