July 30, 2008
July 27, 2008
However, as much as I kind of like the guy, and would rather listen to his elevated platitudes than W's lateral /s/, I can't bring myself to support him.
Aside from his mechanical support for the whole social agenda and centralizing, egalitarian domestic politics of the left, his foreign policy is not the pansified surrender that the neocons suggest.
In fact, the "Citizen of the World" who wants us to be concerned with Burma, Darfur, Zimbabwe, and God knows where else, is a traditional liberal internationalist. He wants us to be concerned with the happiness and prosperity of everyone, everywhere, and to spend the money and send the military forces needed to make it happen. This view isn't very different from the militarized democratic messianism that W adopted after 9/11, except it's unmoored from realpolitik, from any sense of what the strategic interests of our country are. Iraq may have been a mistake, but at least there was a claim (partly false, of course) that it was of special concern because of oil and terrorism.
The Darfurs of the world have no such significance. Whether BHO makes any distinction between humanitarian concern and the national interest is not clear. What is clear is that he has not eschewed such quixotic nonsense as NATO expansion, the basing of troops in South Korea, and a monetary military commitment to an increasingly repulsive Israel, notwithstanding the paranoid rantings on contentions.
What Obama has on offer, then, is a more multilateral, touchy-feely version of Wilsonian interventionism. Such a policy will not spare us from more useless expenditures on foreign aid, more kowtowing to the corrupt UN, and more war.
Unless, of course, as Bush did in abandoning his aversion to "nation building," the man surprises us. I'd be the first to applaud.
Parenthetically, McCain, with his "Bomb, bomb, Iran" jokes and his anti-Russian stance, is a dangerous man. If I lived in a swing state, I might have to force myself to vote for Obama. I live in California, now a Dem. slam dunk. I can vote for Bob Barr without fear or guilt, and hope agaisnt hope that Obama is a Manchurian candidate for non-interventionism.
July 24, 2008
Even the Gray Lady can't be all bad all the time.
July 20, 2008
It has many things Mongol, from gers (yürts) fermented mare's milk to throat-singing, to stews with lots of bones in them. It also has a love story, lots of scenes of people crossing the wilderness on horseback and on foot, and lots of bloody battles.
Apparently (I'm no expert) it's fairly true to history.
If you like the exotic, or fantasy stories about strange and imaginary places, or just dramatic and unfamiliar scenery, this film is worth seeing.
In the industrial neighborhood of Wad Al-Joz in Jerusalem, a group of Israeli Special Forces troops on motorcycles along with police and army reinforcements were stationed on the path the bus from Tiberias was taking to get its passengers, all legal residents of Israel, home. They demanded that the driver stop immediately. One of the soldiers got on the bus and said, “Anyone who moves his head, I’ll put a bullet in it.” Arab said to me, “At that moment all I could think of was Abir, who really was shot in the head by a bullet.”HT: Velveteen Rabbi, who struggles with these issues.
The soldier continued, “We are from national security.” He then told the young men, about ten of them, to begin taking off their clothes in the bus, in front of the women and girls. Then he took them out one by one and had them lie down on the filthy street, littered with stones and pieces of glass. They began with Ahmed, who was 16 years old. Then all the young men had to strip and get out of the bus and lie on the ground. One of them was injured in the stomach by a piece of glass. Arab asked me, “How can they ask the men to undress in front of the women? They don’t have morals!”
I asked him, “Do you think they perhaps have at least some basic morals?”His answer was definitive: “None at all.” I explained to him that humiliation by forced nakedness didn’t just happen to his friends: it is a longstanding problem in the Israeli military.
July 19, 2008
Much of the yowling comes from Jewish Americans who sympathize with the most aggressive and hysterical forms of Zionism. These are the people for whom any criticism of Israel is Jew-baiting (remember Joe Klein), the diverse world of jihadis is a single, monolithic enemy, and it is 1938 every day. They take the rhetoric of Iranian President Ahmadinejad as an expression of his intentions, and see no distinction between the interests of israel and the United States. They are, of course, a small minority of American Jews, who absorbed veneration for St. Eleanor and the slogans of liberalism at their grandma's knees.
There are, of course, proponents of an aggressive war with Iran who are not Jewish and don't even particularly care about Israel, except as a strategic asset. (Despised in the region, Israel must tie itself to a foreign sponsor, first Britain and then the United States--hence it's a Mideast base of last resort).
However, to give the agitation critical mass and effective rhetoric, it's the NoPods and the Krauthammers whose theme-development and writing are essential to the effort, in which exploitation of WWII genocide is constantly exploited. Pat Buchanan, although in some ways performs yeoman service, has to play bad boy and use the term "Fifth Column" to describe these circles, and if Israel were an enemy, and not just an over-pampered and too-influential ally.
I have played the troll on Commentary's Contentions blog, attacking this notion and the constant lies used to promote and exonerate Israel. It's no fun commenting where everyone agrees with you. But it's a bigger deal than a few nasty exchanges.
War with Iran would be a horrible mistake, and a crime. Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson said,
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.The United Nations Charter, to which the US is still, perhaps unwisely, a signatory, also forbids aggressive war.
To bomb Iran, then, without an attack from Iran or the imminent danger of an attack, would not only be a mistake, it would be a crime. And the Commentary crowd are accessories before the fact.
Psychopathology plays a part here. In most intellectual men there lurks the self-doubt--am I, a scribbler, really a man? Norman Podhoretz, the leading agitator for a bombing campaign, parlayed reminiscences about being beaten up by what used to be called "Negroes," into a literary career, and fame among a small New York coterie. For those who were converted to Zionism in 1967 or later, identifying with the image of the tan, tough, brash and ruthless Israeli is an anti-pansification salve.
Instead of agitating for the murder of thousands to reassure themselves that they aren't wimps, here's my suggestion to these folks. Take a Viagra. Then take a Valium.
July 13, 2008
This drop could be ephemeral. They've both had a lousy two weeks. But, then again, perhaps not.
Barack needs to get his groove back. Meanwhile, the electoral college map still favors BHO.
UPDATE (7/19)--back up a little, then down. Tied in Rasmussen. Odd, because the McCain campaign is invisible.
July 9, 2008
July 4, 2008
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.Well, it's that time of year again (already!).
Let's just start with the first proposition, that it is "self-evident" that "all men are created equal."
It is evident that all men are not equal when it comes to basketball prowess, mathematical skill, and perfect pitch. What, then, doth "equal" mean? Equal in rights to participate in gummint? Jefferson may have proclaimed this equality as an ideal, but it was belied by property qualifications for voting, slavery, and if "men" is taken to be gender-inclusive, the limited rights of women. To rescue the proposition, we must retreat to some rather abstract notion of equal importance to God, rather like the mother who loves her slow and disobedient offspring just as much as her clean, obedient achievers.
Not much of a proposition on which to found a nation, however nice a ring the words have to them.
Next we come to natural rights and the reason for governments. I'll leave the "life, liberty" stuff to the reader, but it's pretty clear that governments in fact were not instituted to secure these rights, but to get organized to fight the guys over the next hill, or to make sure the Big Men kept more of the women and luxuries than the peasants.
I love the country and the ring of the words, but like most truisms, their sound is more persuasive than their sense.
Talk amongst yourselves, as Linda Richman would say.
July 1, 2008
Ransacking ethnography and history, how can a society deal with this problem? I came up with five ideas. On longer reflection, one might come up with more.
- Polyandry. As in Tibet, allow a woman to take more than one husband. Unfortunately, this works best when the husbands are related, usually brothers ("adelphic polyandry"), and the Chinese, generally allowed one child only, tend not to have brothers. It might work with cousins.
- Eunuchism. It was common enough in many Asian empires, to castrate promising youths, who then became most useful to the court, and less likely to be disloyal in the interest of the children they were incapable of having. Certainly it would reduce the number of randy, frustrated men.
- Monasticism. Practiced among Buddhists, Christians, and others, this practice involves temporary or permanent celibacy for certain people (in the case, it would need to be mostly males) to pursue their spiritual as opposed to carnal development. Whether buggery develops in such settings is a cultural and spiritual matter--the practice still reduces the randy-young-man-with-a-knife problem. The Chicoms haven't yet come to terms with religion, although it is coming.
- Human-wave warfare. The Chinese practiced this technique in Korea, with some success, and the Iranians under Khomeini used it extensively, with hundreds of thousands of teenagers dying in Saddam's minefields. It can certainly dispropotionally deplete the male population, as it did in the Paraguayan War and in WWII Russia.
- Importing foreign women. In a sense, this practice simply internatonalizes the problem, but why should the Chinese care? They have some racial feelings, but the Han have absorbed many non-Han peoples. So, mail-order or internet-order brides from the Phillipines and places like Moldova might be an option. In fact, there are thousands of American women whom the feminist demonesses and girlie-men have driven into careerism, casual sex, and loneliness. How many would jump at the chance to marry up-and-coming Chinese engineers? They do tend to have high IQs and to age gracefully, and Eurasian children are beautiful. (For all the single Jewesses out there, the Chinese are people of the book, albeit Confucius's Analects and the classic poets. A briss and a mikveh (circumcision and a Jewish baptism), and your up-and-coming engineer will be kosher, solvent, and perfectly marriageable under the traditional rules. The kiddies will be unlikely to fall ill with one of the many Jewish genetic diseases. The campuses will fill up with Sino-Hebraic valedictorians in 20 years.)