Thursday, January 26, 2006

Recycle This! Boy, this should piss some people off. Every recycling effort in the country costs more money than it brings in. It's like mass transit. Something that people insist on, but isn't self supporting.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Spengler in the Asia Times, as always it's hard to argue with his logic however depressing it may be. All those "end of the world" movies made in the '50s about nuclear war seem to be on the verge of coming true.

Washington will initiate military action against Iran only with extreme reluctance, but it will do so nonetheless, except in the extremely unlikely event that Ahmedinejad were to stand down. Rather than a legacy of prosperity and democracy in the Middle East, the administration of US President George W Bush will exit with an economy weakened by higher oil prices and chaos on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere. But it really has no other options, except to let a nuclear-armed spoiler loose in the oil corridor. We have begun the third act of the tragedy that started on September 11, 2001, and I see no way to prevent it from proceeding.

Shelby Steele on Hillary's plantation remark on MLK Day. Ouch.

When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary's remark as follows: "I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes--the wretched of the earth, a slave people--who will surely know all about plantations." Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us--as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Here's an Aussie looking at humor on the Right and Left. Interesting read and in it he leads off with a reference to one of the books that drove me Rightward.

What is surprising is just how successfully the new right, for want of a better tar brush, has been at colonising this outpost of public discourse. If you're looking for a year zero from which to trace this development, you could probably do no better than 1987 when P.J. O'Rourke published Republican Party Reptile and inspired a generation of conservative satirists to begin poking fun at the sacred cows of the left. Reptile was not just genuinely funny, it was dizzyingly, irresistibly, shockingly so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Michael Ledeen on Iran and how military action is unlikely, and unlikely to succeed even if attempted. The only solution is to help the Iranian people overthrow the mullahs themselves. Otherwise the people who invented modern terrorism will soon have the Bomb if they don't already have it.

Our failure to support revolution in Iran is already a terrible embarrassment, and risks becoming an enormous catastrophe. Almost everyone who writes about the chances for revolution takes it for granted that it would take a long time to come to fruition. Why must that be so? The revolutions in countries like Georgia and the Ukraine seem to have erupted in an historical nanosecond. Nobody foresaw them, everyone was surprised. Who imagined the overnight success of the Lebanese people? How long did that take? The entire region is awash with revolutionary sentiment, and nowhere more than Iran. Why assume — because no one can possibly "know" such things — that it would take a long time?

And even if you believe that revolution cannot possibly succeed before the successful completion of the mullahs' nuclear project, is that a reason to abandon the policy altogether? On the contrary, it seems self-evident that it would be even more urgent to support revolution in a nuclear Iran than earlier, doesn't it? So why not start now? The Iranian people may be ready. We won't know until we try.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's Curtains for al-Qaida - What happens when Iraqi "insurgents" take on Zarqawi's thugs? A good Hitchens piece on the war within the war. Local Iraqis are taking on the terrorists for us.

If all goes even reasonably well, and if a combination of elections and prosperity is enough to draw more mainstream Sunnis into politics and away from Baathist nostalgia, it will have been proved that Bin-Ladenism can be taken on—and openly defeated—in a major Middle Eastern country. And not just defeated but discredited. Humiliated. Is there anyone who does not think that this is a historic prize worth having? Worth fighting for, in fact?

I leave that thought with all those who have been advocating withdrawal, or taking a fatalistic attitude to an overrated "insurgency," or who hold the absurd belief that al-Qaida would have left Iraq alone if only we had done the same. If their advice had been followed, and the coalition had pulled out in 2004, the Zarqawi forces would have tried to take the credit, and their boast might even have been believed. This would have been a calamity of a global and epochal order. Now, however difficult and messy the rest of the transition, that at least will never be the outcome.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented Yike. If this doesn't depress you nothing will. It's a "what if" piece written as though it's 2007.

Americans did not want to increase their military commitments overseas; they wanted to reduce them. Europeans did not want to hear that Iran was about to build its own WMD. Even if Ahmad-inejad had broadcast a nuclear test live on CNN, liberals would have said it was a CIA con-trick.

So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.

Only one man might have stiffened President Bush's resolve in the crisis: not Tony Blair, he had wrecked his domestic credibility over Iraq and was in any case on the point of retirement - Ariel Sharon. Yet he had been struck down by a stroke as the Iranian crisis came to a head. With Israel leaderless, Ahmadinejad had a free hand.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson on Iran where our choices are between bad and worse. A U.S. strike on Iran's nuke program would be a disaster, but not taking it out would be worse. But you can imagine what the reaction would be, even though the same people complaining would secretly be thankful that we did it.

The political heat would mount hourly, as Russia, China, and Europe all would express shock and condemnation, and whine that their careful diplomatic dialogue had once again been ruined by the American outlaws. Soon the focus of the U.N. would not be on Iranian nuclear proliferation, or the role of Europe, Pakistan, China, and Russia in lending nuclear expertise to the theocracy, but instead on the mad bomber-cowboy George Bush. We remember that in 1981 the world did not blame the reckless and greedy French for their construction of a nuclear reactor for Saddam Hussein, but the sober Israelis for taking it out.

Politically, the administration would have to vie with CNN’s daily live feeds of collateral damage that might entail killed Iranian girls and boys, maimed innocents, and street-side reporters who thrust microphones into stretchers of civilian dead. The Europeans’ and American Left’s slurs of empire and hegemony would only grow.

We remember the “quagmire” hysteria that followed week three in Afghanistan, and the sandstorm “pause” that prompted cries that we had lost Iraq. All that would be child’s play compared to an Iranian war, as retired generals and investigative reporters haggled every night on cable news over how many reactor sites were still left to go. So take for granted that we would be saturated by day four of the bombing with al Jazeera’s harangues, perhaps a downed and blindfolded pilot or two paraded on television, some gruesome footage of arms and legs in Tehran’s streets, and the usual Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer outtakes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

For the House GOP, A Belated Evolution George Will kicking the GOP in the ass, as it deserves. If there is no difference between the parties in the way they deal with tax revenue and spending then what's the point of voting?

Liberals practice "K Street liberalism" with an easy conscience because they believe government should do as much as possible for as many interests as possible. But "K Street conservatism" compounds unseemliness with hypocrisy. Until the Bush administration, with its incontinent spending, unleashed an especially conscienceless Republican control of both political branches, conservatives pretended to believe in limited government. The past five years, during which the number of registered lobbyists more than doubled, have proved that, for some Republicans, conservative virtue was merely the absence of opportunity for vice.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Saddam's Terror Training Camps I will never understand the Bush Administration. Its overall communications effort is as inadequate as Bush's public speaking ability. Why aren't they shouting this from the roof tops?

THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.

The Despicable Self-Loathing Preached by "Syriana" Amir Taheri in the Arab News on the latest Hollywood nonsense. Now I'm convinced it's not worth seeing.

Here is how the incomparable Evelyn Waugh described the present American situation when the makers of “Syriana” were still nothing but glimmers in their daddies’ eyes: “There is no more agreeable position than that of dissident from a stable democratic society.”

The reason is simple: In a stable democratic society in which you are protected by law you can lie, cheat, and mislead, all in the name of political dissent, and be rewarded with fame and fortune.

The fact that the CIA is little more than a costly leaking device used by rival groups within the US establishment to lump accusations and counter accusations at one other need not bother the makers of “Syriana”. The CIA masters, for their part, would be pleased with “Syriana” if only because it claims that they can do anything at all!

The self-loathing party in the US would do well to ponder the second part of the above mentioned quotation from Waugh: “ The more elaborate the society the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Mark Steyn on how the West is slowly committing suicide, or rather is allowing itself to be slowly murdered. If WWII were fought today we would lose because too many people believe that our civilization isn't worth fighting for.

So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blasé culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things. If you've read Jared Diamond's bestselling book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," you'll know it goes into a lot of detail about Easter Island going belly up because they chopped down all their trees. Apparently that's why they're not a G-8 member or on the U.N. Security Council. Same with the Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of "societies." Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society collapses because it chops down its trees.

Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the trees. (Russia's collapsing even as it's undergoing reforestation.) One way "societies choose to fail or succeed" is by choosing what to worry about. The Western world has delivered more wealth and more comfort to more of its citizens than any other civilization in history, and in return we've developed a great cult of worrying. You know the classics of the genre: In 1968, in his bestselling book "The Population Bomb," the eminent scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines--hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." In 1972, in their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and gas by 1993.

None of these things happened. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. We're pretty much awash in resources, but we're running out of people--the one truly indispensable resource, without which none of the others matter. Russia's the most obvious example: it's the largest country on earth, it's full of natural resources, and yet it's dying--its population is falling calamitously.

The default mode of our elites is that anything that happens--from terrorism to tsunamis--can be understood only as deriving from the perniciousness of Western civilization. As Jean-Francois Revel wrote, "Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."