February 24, 2012
The Times weighs in, taking bets against us.
Who even needs four columns outside a city when it has a fifth column inside?
Unfortunately, Samuel Huntington is not yet sufficiently influential to try to point to his least appreciated insight, but if he were, then indulge my trying to identify it.
The idea that national prestige built on military or economic power leads people to believe its precepts should be emulated; the corollary being that other nations will doubt their own.
That’s precisely what’s going on now. Thomas Friedman among others look at China’s rise and see “the future.” These latter-day Edgar Snowes don’t seem to care about the authoritarian manner in which China rules.
In fact, the writer of the Times editorial above admires it. He reduces the massacre at Tiananmen Square to just another bump on the road to economic prosperity. He accuses the West of having too much faith in Democracy without acknowledging his own faith in the Chinese oligarchs to act in the best interests of their country.
That the West can not become more authoritarian is nonsense. That’s the direction it’s already going. Krauthammer wrote the President issued his first decree last week by compelling insurance companies to issue birth control, definitely not one of his enumerated powers.
In essence The President believes the Legislative branch is redundant to his own power. What else to make of his belief the EPA can establish regulations via Executive fiat when Congress fails to pass similar legislation?
The President has openly stated his admiration for China in a state-of-the-union address no less. Is this creeping authoritarianism or are we now up to a trot?
February 22, 2012
As we watch the primaries go back and forth between Santorum and Romney, it occurs to me they may be telling us something; and it’s not which one of the two (or three, if you include Newt) candidates they prefer.
It’s that they prefer neither and, in essence, they are voting for a contested (otherwise known as “brokered”) convention.
Like Great Britain’s age-old foreign policy which was predicated on making sure no continental power became too strong (and, therefore, a threat), primary voters will put their weight behind whoever is behind the day before the primary.
It’s a Hail Mary strategy to make possible a deus ex machina conclusion, and it may just work.
February 7, 2012
Linking to a commentary written by Daniel Davis, a Lieutenant Colonel “breaking ranks” from the official progress reports from the Afghan campaign. He says it’s not going anywhere near as well as the army says it is.
I can understand Davis’ frustration, but look at it from the perspective of the Afghans. We’re leaving. The “armed forces/police” of the central Afghan government are going to be no match for the Taliban/warlords that hold the real power in the country.
It would be stupid to stick your neck out in that situation. So, their long-term interest is to stay alive and their short-term interest is to take our money.
We are simply not going to win this one. I really regret believing that, but I do. To win this kind of “ideological” war you have to be ready to completely destroy the power structure of a country; much like we did in Japan and Germany. We fight wars much more nicely now, which is the principal reason we don’t win them anymore.
We’re just repeating (again) the “win their hearts and minds” strategy that worked so well in Vietnam. Peggy Noonan succinctly characterized it this past April.
“We think in Afghanistan we’re buying their love, but I have been there. We’re not even renting it.”
(The rest of the article is a cultural critique of America and well worth reading.)
In terms of winning wars; one could argue we did so in Iraq. Perhaps, but would we have considered World War II completely “won” had Germany and Japan not created stable, functioning Democracies and not swung to the US sphere of influence following the war? The objective in Iraq was not only to subdue a tyrant but also to create a Democratic pro-American regime.
The end we’re now working toward is to simply have changed which anti-American regime runs the country.
And this one is going to be largely allied with Iran. And the part that’s so allied is located where much of the oil is.
February 4, 2012
Obama assures us that Jesus would let the Bush tax cuts expire. He’s (Obama) strangely silent on Jesus’ position on a government living beyond its means.
Quoth Obama “For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,” Obama said, quoting the Gospel of Luke.
Allow me to offer another excerpt from Luke (Chapter 18; ver 10 – 14)
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We can take a few things from this. Granted, tax collection has changed much in the past 2000 years, but still in modern times if you don’t pay your taxes the full force of the law will come down upon you.
Coerced virtue is not virtue at all. And just as the tax collectors gained at the expense of the people 2000 years ago, Obama gains power by taking from one (small) set of people and giving to another (large set of people).
But the point of the story in Luke is not about tax collection. It is about humility. God is more offended by the self-righteous Pharisee than he is the penitent tax collector. Which one does our President resemble?
Is he being sincere? Is he pandering to Christians? Is he trying to make Christians who oppose him feel like hypocrites? Is he grasping at straws?
One thing’s for sure, his striking a “Vaya con Dios pose” within a week of mandating the distribution of free birth control at religious institutions that oppose the practice is not likely to make him any more friends among that community.
February 2, 2012
He cites that many of Obama’s key initiatives (cap-and-trade, health care, TARP) were along the lines of ideas floated by some Republicans. So, you see, Obama is really a Centrist and it’s those hypocritical Republicans moving to the Right at light speed who are making him out to be a leftist.
Stripped down Lizza’s argument amounts to this. “If I define the “average” Republican position to be about where I believe it should be and I imagine the average Liberal politician is suitably to the Left of the President then logically Obama is a centrist.” QED
If you cherry pick Republicans and issues you could probably create a vision of the party that resembles. . . well, the one Ryan Lizza want us to imagine. At the end of the day during his four years as Senator, Obama voted with his party 96% of the time. The wishful and mendacious aside, there was zero evidence Obama had any ability or interest to behave in a bipartisan manner despite his transparently disingenuous assertions to the contrary.
Mickey Kaus put it differently
“Lizza’s apparent thesis–that Obama tried to end Washington’s “divisive trench warfare” but was thwarted by hyperpartisanship–is a classic “Neutral Story Line” (‘Can’t they get along’) given a mild anti-GOP twist. It’s also a bit of a crock. After the 1994 failure of President Clinton’s health care plan, if not before, it was obvious to anyone paying attention that passing a universal health care plan would be a heavy lift, opposed by most Republicans.”
Kaus the dissects another aspect of Obama’s leadership. . .
“The President’s decision-making method–at least as described in the piece–seems to consist mainly of checking boxes on memos his aides have written for him.”
“As part of its efforts to explore peace talks with the Taliban, the Obama administration is considering the controversial release of several senior Taliban figures from the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. The names of those being considered for release have not been disclosed, and the conditions are still being discussed. But diplomatic sources say they would probably be relocated to Qatar in the Persian Gulf, where the Taliban is negotiating the establishment of a liaison office to facilitate dialogue with the U.S.The administration has said any discussion about releasing the detainees is very preliminary and hinges on the Taliban renouncing terrorism and agreeing to peace talks.”