November 27, 2008

Factoid of the Day

Turkey droppings are being used as a fuel source in electric power plants. One such plant in western Minnesota provides 55 megawatts of power using 700,000 tons of dung per year. The plant began operating in 2007. Three such plants are in operation in England.

November 25, 2008

Crazy Caroline

Caroline Glick is the Chicago-born Mme. Defarge of modern Zionism. She sits and knits, and devises schemes for crimes and disasters. She's bright enough, but radioactively dangerous. Here's her latest:

With just six weeks remaining to his tenure in office, much of what Bush will leave behind him has already been determined. But there are two things he can still do that will impact greatly both the world he leaves behind and how he is judged by history: He can take action against Iran's nuclear program, and he can embrace Israel as an ally by pardoning four men who have been persecuted for assuming the alliance exists.

On the surface, these two agenda items couldn't be more disparate. By neutralizing Iran's nuclear installations Bush would save the lives of millions of people. By pardoning Jonathan Pollard, Larry Franklin, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, he would save the lives of four people.

In short, start an aggressive war for the sake of a minor and problematic ally, and free two convicted spies and two accused ones before their trial is over.

Glick does not mean to advocate increasing diplomatic efforts to prevent the nuclear armament of Iran. She craves war:
By attacking Iran's nuclear installations - or by permitting Israel to fly over Iraq to attack Iran's nuclear installations - Bush will do two things. He will bolster the US-Israel alliance. And he will demonstrate that the stability engendered by the status quo is antithetical to US interests.
Notwithstanding this crazy bloodthirstiness, Glick's fawning admirers seem to regard her as a prophetess, and her man Netanyahu is ahead in the polls these days.

The Zionist attacks on Obama were designed to force him away from any hint of evenhandedness on Middle Eastern issues. With (obliterate Iran) Hillary headed for Foggy Bottom, Glick's attitude is not simply the nattering of a crazy extremist.

November 5, 2008

A Remarkable Victory

I certainly wouldn'ta thunk it, two years ago, when Obama launched his campaign. With a mixture of skill and luck an implausibly inexperienced son of a white anthropologist and a Kenyan expat parlayed his rhetorical talent and temperament into a historic victory.

Do I share his views? Insofar as one can figure out what they are, mostly not. Will I like his appointments. Mostly not, especially judges. Do I fear a "cult of personality"? You betcha.

I do think, though, that he's a remarkable personality and his victory is historic.

What's more, he'll be a lot more pleasant to listen to than his three immediate predecessors, especially the feckless W.

UPDATE: Corrected a typo.

November 3, 2008

Madelyn Dunham, RIP

Barack Obama's grandmother has died on the eve of what will probably be his greatest triumph.

This woman was there for young Barack when his mother, father, and stepfather were not. How many grandmothers, these days, step in when the parents fail? This is the quiet heroism that keeps our society from getting much, much worse.

May her memory be eternal.

Last Pre-election Post

Although I've been following this election more closely than it deserved, I haven't posted much about it. From a political junkie's perspective, it's fascinating. No candidates for reelection, no VPs seeking to succeed to the White House. A major-party black, the first female GOP candidate--and one who evokes a great deal of feeling on both sides. The heiress-apparent bested by an eloquent but inexperienced ringer. John McCain resurrected.

On the merits, although McCain is a smarter and more attractive man than W, the GOP has forfeited any claim on higher office. McCain forfeits his claim because he has so completely drunk the neocon interventionist Kool-aid that he is a positive danger to the country and the world ("We are all Georgians"). McCain muffed his last opportunity when he went along with the disastrous bailout plan. Had he taken a populist stand there, it might have galvanized support; like many others, he allowed himself to be spooked. Anti-tax is not a substitute for wisdom and courage on the virtual socialization of the financial sector for the benefit of the rentier class. Although Sarah Palin is no student of history, I don't share the view that she was a terrible choice. She has turned out to be a political rockstar, a heroine to her supporters and a bugbear to her detractors. Anyone whom Gloria Steinem hates, after all, can't be all bad. Palin has a future.

Obama is, like McCain, an attractive personality. To the extent he's not merely a cipher, he's far to the left of the country. The one consolation is, he knows it, and is temperamentally cautious. Obama is, however, quite wrongheaded on almost every issue of consequence. His views do not even offer a contrast to the interventionism of the GOP, except that he may employ his statism to favor the ordinary folk in a few ways, more than the super-rich. Less bellicose and more cautious though he is compared to Bush and McCain, Obama seems to have a different stylistic but not strategic vision.

It is the messianism of Obama's movement that is most troubling. It has often been said that if we get dictatorship in this country it will be in the name of tolerance and inclusion. Aside from his likely majorities in both houses of Congress, there are troubling signs of a collectivist mass movement in Obamamania, and signs among his followers of a quick trigger figure for demonization and suppression of his opponents. His own impulses, one hopes, are better than that, so that even though he stands to inherit an imperial Presidency with few checks or balances, the Republic will survive even a new burst of liberalism.

I have adopted enough pessimism and enough of the Stoic worldview that I will not be disappointed. I expect nothing.

The Best, the Worst, and Bush

Nick Kristof's Sunday column has two themes: where W stands on the lists of worst American Presidents, and his notion of what changes we need in foreign policy.

Kristof thinks it's a tie between W and James Buchanan for the worst. In fact, it's probably early to evaluate W definitively, but I don't think he's the worst of the worst. My candidate for the worst is Woodrow Wilson, whose intervention in WWI was a key link in the chain to the disasters of the murderous Twentieth Century.

The best, besides Washington? Probably Calvin Coolidge. The historians traditionally give high marks to wartime Presidents, at least in victorious wars. The ones who avoided war, avoided dangerous innovations, and presided over domestic tranquility are underrated. This is not the time to revive the whole Lincoln controversy--great man or tyrant?

Kristof's other theme is his vision of internationalism. Aside from a rather naïve reverence for international organizations, including apparently the thieving UN, Kristof, like the neocons, seems to accept the notion that this country has some kind of high moral calling in world affairs, and should meddle abroad. Kristof simply wants to be nicer to other countries and more respectful of international institutions. Why not sharply reduce foreign entanglements of all kinds? It's not a question of unilateralism vs. multilateralism, but of hubristic activism versus a cautious modesty.

Stay out of other people's business, and keep our powder dry.