Tobacco Road Fogey

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Saturday, January 18, 2003

More common sense from the UK

Johann Hari wrote this commentary for the Independent:
If your hatred of Dubya overwhelms your hatred of Saddam, then I sympathise ? that is the reason why I too once viewed this war with dread and contempt ? but I strongly suspect that if you were confronted with the reality of Saddam's Iraq, you would change your mind.

...We do not need Bush's dangerous arguments about "pre-emptive action" to justify this war. Nor do we need to have the smoking gun of WMD. All we need are the humanitarian arguments we used during the Kosovo conflict to remove the monstrous Slobodan Milosevic ? and this time, we can act in the certain (rather than probable) knowledge that the people being tyrannised will be cheering us on.
Question for Mr. Hari: what makes you think that President Bush isn't just as disgusted with the humanitarian situation inside Iraq as you are?


Common sense from the UK

Check out this editorial from the Daily Telegraph:
The anti-war lobby is wrong to say that the prospective war in Iraq is all about oil. President Bush had shown little interest in military intervention in the Middle East before the unprovoked attack on the World Trade Center and consequent murder of nearly 3,000 of his fellow citizens.

His campaign against Saddam Hussein emerged as an extension of the war against terrorism. But it is not wrong to say to say that the incipient war is partly about oil. A concern over oil supplies was fundamental to the decision by the first President Bush to challenge Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Saddam Hussein remains a threat to his neighbouring oil-producing countries in the Middle East, and it is certain that this has added to America's resolve to remove the Iraqi dictator from power.

Merely to make the point that oil is a factor in America's battle against Saddam Hussein does not, however, concede the case against war. Those who use the argument "It is all about oil" need to explain why the defence of energy supplies does not deserve support. The implication of the anti-war lobby seems to be that oil is a frivolity.
Like I said earlier, just because it is partly about the oil doesn't make it wrong.

Friday, January 17, 2003

No "BUTs" about it

Here's the newest Victor Davis Hanson piece at National Review. Here's a sample:
The old, less-sophisticated America has gone the way of the coalmine, steel factory, and farm. Indeed, there are very few dinosaurs left who, after using reason and logic to discern good from evil, will grudgingly accept the world as a tragic place, inhabited by bad characters who cause suffering and pain — in a world of constant dangers, both natural and human. Not surprisingly, the world of "He's no damn good" and "I've had about enough of that nonsense" is gone — replaced by different sorts of people who speak in different sorts of ways. Hence we see the ascendancy of our ubiquitous BUT.

...Language is the mirror of morality. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, BUT and its weasel-word clan were huddling in silence, afraid to come out when people of confidence and conviction had no use for their prevarication. But I'm afraid that now the worm tongues are making a comeback, and thus their BUT once more threatens to lord over us all.
Don't miss it!


Good luck, Marines

More Marines from Camp Lejeune, NC are heading out.

Our thoughts, prayers, and thanks are with you and your families. Good luck and good hunting.


Say what you mean?

I love this statement from a recent Jane Galt post:
If what you are advocating is so distasteful to you or others that it will not stand the cold light of plain words, you should rethink your advocacy.

Jane said this in the context of describing the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" in the abortion debate, but it is equally applicable in many other contexts. In light of the situation in the Middle East and the uproar over the Bush administration's position in the University of Michigan court case, it is advice well heeded.


Pssst!! It really is about the oil.

At the risk of losing my membership in the VRWC, I'm going to make the shameful admission -- our problem with Saddam Hussein really is about the oil.

Yes, we need it because we use a lot of it. Yes, American oil companies would love to have the contracts to run the oilfields of Iraq.

The funny thing is -- we don't mind if Iraq continues to own the oilfields and we have to pay them for the oil -- at market prices. The problem we have with the current situation is how Saddam spends the money he gets from the sale of that oil.

We don't care if he builds the biggest mosques in the entire region. We don't even care if he builds many palaces for himself and his cronies. Four-story high murals with his distinctive mug on them -- who cares!

What we do care about is his penchant for buying weapons -- of any kind and lots of them -- to use against anyone he sees as his enemies, foreign or domestic.

What we do care about is his financial support for homicide bombers and their families in Palestine.

What we do care about is his support -- financial, logistical, and intelligence -- for radical Islamists who want to do things like hijacking commercial airliners and crashing them into the WTC and the Pentagon. Or blowing up party-goers at a nightclub in Bali.

Oil is just one of many commodities we need for our economy, and we've never minded having to pay to get it.

War, terror, and power are what Saddam wants to buy. With what used to be our money.

The oil can't go elsewhere, but Saddam can. Away from Iraq and the oil.

And we should make sure that he does, either in this world or the next.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

"Confessions of an Ex-Pacifist"

Dr. David Lazerson tells us how our current situation in our struggle against terrorism differs from the anti-war glory days of the 1960's:
You see, this notion of pacifism gets a bit sticky when one side believes in dialogue, reaching out a hand in friendship, and even compromising, while the other side hates your guts, wants your head displayed on a stick, and would like nothing better than to level your towns and plant their flags all over the joint. Peace only works when it´s a two-way street. If not, pacifism becomes suicide.
Anybody got an email address for Sheryl Crow? Maybe she'll listen to Dr. Lazerson.


Another good read

An excellent opinion piece by Bala Ambati in the student newspaper at my alma mater. A sample:
There are countless demonstrations by Muslim-Americans against Israel's treatment of Palestinians, but almost none against Osama bin Laden's treatment of Americans. Replies that Islamic fundamentalists don't represent Muslims are irrelevant; they claim to without a murmur of renunciation and are esteemed by multitudes throughout the Islamic world cheering bin Laden as Robin Hood. It's vital not to let others speak in your name if you disagree, especially if they speak with guns and bombs. Rather than take on terrorist co-religionists, Muslim-American organizations compare themselves to Jews in Weimar Germany, an offensive depiction of America.

... Moderate Muslims must choose whether to let megalomaniacs, liars, misogynists and murderers hijack societies and religion and pilot them into destruction's abyss. Sidelines are not moral high ground. Unequivocally repudiating and forswearing terrorist methods and imperialist aims of Islamic fundamentalism by moderate Muslims is overdue. This requires calling the present jihad by mujahadeen and martyrs awaiting paradise its name, hirabah (unholy war) by mufsidoon (evildoers) bound for jahannam (hell).
Also worth the read.


Hitchens strikes again

Christopher Hitchens fires yet another broadside at the so-called "peace movement." Here's a sample:
Ever since the morning of 11 September 2001, the United States has been at war with the forces of reaction. May I entreat you to re-read the sentence? The government and people of the United States are now at war with the forces of reaction. And this was not willed, on the American side.

Everybody knows how to dilute the statement. Isn’t Saudi Arabia reactionary? What about Pakistani nukes? Do we bomb Sharon for his negation of Palestinian rights? Weren’t we on Saddam’s side when he was at his worst? But however compromised and shameful the American starting-point was - and I believe I could make this point stick with greater venom and better evidence than most people can muster - the above point remains untouched. The United States finds itself at war with the forces of reaction.

...The line that connects Afghanistan to Iraq is not a straight one by any means. But the oblique connection is ignored by the peaceniks, and one can be sure (judging by their past form) that it would be ignored even if it was as direct as the connection between al-Qaida and the Taliban. Saddam Hussein denounced the removal of the Sunni Muslim-murdering Slobodan Milosevic, and also denounced the removal of the Shi’a-murdering Taliban. Reactionaries have a tendency to stick together (and I don’t mean ?guilt by association? here. I mean GUILT).

If the counsel of the peaceniks had been followed, Kuwait would today be the nineteenth province of Iraq (and on his own recently produced evidence, Saddam Hussein would have acquired nuclear weapons). Moreover, Bosnia would be a trampled and cleansed province of Greater Serbia, Kosovo would have been emptied of most of its inhabitants, and the Taliban would still be in power in Afghanistan. Yet nothing seems to disturb the contented air of moral superiority which surrounds those who intone the "peace" mantra.

...But the option of a quiet life disappeared on 11 September. The United States is now at war with the forces of reaction. Nobody is entitled to view this battle as a spectator. The Union under Lincoln wasn’t wholeheartedly against slavery. The USA under Roosevelt had its own selfish agenda even in combating Hitler and Hirohito. The hot-and-cold war against Stalinism wasn’t free of blemish and stain. How much this latest crisis turns into an even tougher war with reaction, at home or abroad, could depend partly upon those who currently think that it is either possible or desirable to remain neutral.
Well worth the read.

Another link to the same article, via Daily Pundit.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

"After the War"

Here is a very thoughtful article by Stanley Kurtz concerning what we should do about the form of government in Iraq, should we happen to topple Saddam Hussein and his Tikriti clan from power. Kurtz compares the potential problems of democratization in Iraq with similar processes in post-WWII Japan and the latter part of the British rule of India. He concludes that democratization of Iraq (or any other Arab autocracy, for that matter) may be difficult for us to accomplish in less than a generation and that other alternatives may be more palatable to the short attention spans of both the West and the Arab world.

This is a subject that has been given, in my opinion, far too little consideration by the media in the West, probably due to the ideological schisms between the Western democracies over whether we should be attempting to change the regime in Baghdad.

Too often in the post-WWII era, America has intervened (some say, interfered) in the internal affairs of other countries without a constructive alternative to the system already in place. Most of the time, our government has been willing to settle for "not against us" or "against the other guys" at the expense of the welfare of the citizens of those weaker countries.

Iraq is a case where we cannot let pragmatism and short-term interests rule the decisions we make. We must have a plan to create and nurture real political reform for the citizens of Iraq, even if it takes several years to stabilize it.

It's time we stopped allying ourselves with dictators, autocrats, and military juntas that speak soothing words to us about how they oppose our enemies while they oppress and plunder their own people. If we demand liberty and opportunity for ourselves, we must demand the same for those in other countries and put our efforts and our treasure where our mouths are.

UPDATE: Screwed up the link on the original post, and it's corrected now.


"Clash of the supersystems"

Excellent article by Ken Sanes in the Asia Times what he sees as the three most important socio-political systems shaping world events today -- corporate capitalism, statist liberalism, and militant Islam -- and the interplay between them. A sample:
These are the three systems now contending for the hearts and minds of people around the world. Each has its own geographic centers. And each sees itself as the engine of history that is using the process of globalization in a different way, bringing about prosperity and personal freedom or social justice and equality or a world in which humanity lives by the requirements of Allah.

But, even while these systems are fighting each other for power, it is interesting to note that they also have something in common: they are all genuinely multiracial in philosophy and practice. Islam would bring all peoples together under Allah just as it physically brings them together in Mecca. And whatever one may say about the terrorists who crave mass death, they don't discriminate in their own ranks based on race. For its part, statist liberalism glorifies diversity, including racial diversity, as an antidote to the white traditionalism of the West. Corporate capitalism is ultimately inclusive, as well, since it pulls everyone into its orbit in its quest for new markets. It does divide people up, on the basis of money rather than race.
Go read it for yourself.

(thanks to Little Green Footballs)



I'd just like to say welcome to all of you visitors from One Hand Clapping. Thanks also to Rev. Sensing for the link (again).

Monday, January 13, 2003

A Liberal's Case for Bush's War

A great article at making a plausible argument for the upcoming war in Iraq from a liberal perspective. Here's a sample:
After weeks of arguing with one of my colleagues, I finally got him to concede that an American military intervention to depose Saddam Hussein is justified and appropriate. I convinced him by sending him reams of information about the brutal nature of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. He really didn't know, and now he does, and he changed his mind. But with a catch. "This isn't the right American administration to carry out the invasion," he said.

Robert Kagan recently wrote "Yesterday's liberal interventionists, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti, are today's liberal abstentionists. What changed? Just the man in the White House."

Mr. Totten addresses the biggest question that I've had with most of the liberal/leftish opposition to regime change in Iraq. Thankfully, he agrees with me -- the Iraqi people do deserve better than what they currently have.

Where are the other liberal voices like this?

(via Little Green Footballs)


Is anybody surprised dept.

Somehow, I was expecting something like this.

In my opinion, the only way we are ever going to find all of Saddam's horrors is to invade Iraq and go through the place with a fine-toothed comb. Just like we had to do in Germany after WWII.


A shot at Ramsey Clark -- and a hit

Susanna Cornett takes the former Attorney General and leftist gadfly to task over Clark's recent comments calling Jesus Christ a terrorist. The clincher:
The bottom line is that Ramsey Clark is an old man, trying to be relevant and failing, who is more interested in making news and pandering to his audience than he is in telling the truth or making even token gestures toward his implied philosophical goal of peace, tolerance and understanding in the world. He has the substance of a hot air balloon, and I’m more than happy to apply the sharp prick of reason.
I'd call it a KO. Read it for yourself.


Nuts about nukes?

Does anybody else agree with me that Charles Krauthammer is completely nuts when it comes to the North Korean nukes:
We should go to the Chinese and tell them plainly that if they do not join us in squeezing North Korea and thus stopping its march to go nuclear, we will endorse any Japanese attempt to create a nuclear deterrent of its own. Even better, we would sympathetically regard any request by Japan to acquire American nuclear missiles as an immediate and interim deterrent. If our nightmare is a nuclear North Korea, China’s is a nuclear Japan. It’s time to share the nightmares.
This is a prime example of the time-wasting diplomatic "signaling" that our government spends an inordinate amount of time contemplating and carrying out. And most of our international diplomatic FUBARs happen when the "signals" don't translate correctly for the locals.

Say what you mean and mean what you say -- the best rule of thumb. Save the signaling for traffic intersections.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Dear Arianna...

Here's a clue for you.

(via Andrea Harris)


Interesting perspective from Britain

Andrew Rawnsley writes this in today's Observer:
There seems to be a paradoxical rule that to be labelled as a Public Enemy Number One by the United States is your best guarantee of longevity. Think Colonel Gadaffi, still ruling Libya all these years since Ronald Reagan tried to bomb him into submission. Think Fidel Castro, still ruling Cuba despite the efforts of President Kennedy and every successive occupant of the White House to quash him. Think, most of all, Osama bin Laden. George Bush demanded that the most expensive intelligence services and the mightiest armed forces on the planet bring him Osama bin Laden 'dead or alive.' He is still waiting for the head of Osama. For all the CIA appears to know, bin Laden could be mashing castor oil beans in a north London flat.
Only because these three were never really "Public Enemy Number One" here, Mr. Rawnsley. During the times of our greatest troubles with both Gadaffi and Castro, the Soviet Union was the real target of American attention. Both of them were dependent on Soviet support to tweak the U.S. nose. Haven't heard much in the way of serious trash-talking from either of them since the Soviet Union split up, though.

As for OBL, we haven't heard much lately from him either. Before we went into Afghanistan, the guy was on TV, courtesy of Al-Jazeera, almost as often as Tom Daschle. Since we went into Afghanistan -- a couple of audio tapes which can't be verified as genuine by any experts in the field outside the U.S. government (which might just have a wee bit of interest in keeping the OBL myth alive).

If any of those folks had really been "Public Enemy Number One" for America, they'd be sharing accommodations in the netherworld with the last pack of rascals we set our mind to getting -- Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini. Do you Euros really want to see us go after the current crop of rascals like we did those in the 1940's?

I didn't think so...


Problems in the EU

Interesting Newsweek article on some of the problems cropping up with our friends in Europe. Looks like some of the German political bobbing and weaving is wrecking the dream of a "united Europe".

For all of the European complaints that Americans don't know enough about their history and culture, let me suggest that the Europeans read up on some American history -- the Articles of Confederation. Sounds to me like they've got their own versions of Federalists and Anti-Federalists going on over there.


"New" strategy to combat anti-Americanism

Matt Welch has a radical new strategy for the U.S. government to use to combat anti-Americanism overseas -- telling the truth and pointing out the lies in the foreign media.

Anyone who is currently reading bulletin boards or forums that have a high level of international (especially European) participation has been seeing anti-American feeling growing over the past few months. It seems like a lot of those folks are bound and determined to believe the absolute worst lies about us.

I personally believe that most of those folks wouldn't recognize the truth if it jumped up and bit them in the hindquarters, but at least we could say we tried to clue them in.

I wonder if it would work on the lefties here in this country...

(via Instapundit)
10:04 PM  


Good article on "copycatting"

Lawrence Lessig has a good article about how legal advice might not be the best business advice when it comes to copyright infringement. A sample:
There's a lesson in this example that executives in the content industry should think about before they sign away their businesses to lawyers. The law is a rough-edged tool. It was not crafted by geniuses of economics. How it affects new and different markets is uncertain. A smart business therefore asks not whether the use of its content is "theft," but whether the use of its content will (eventually at least) benefit it. The business of business is to make business, not to purify the world of copyright violations.



Hey, Mr. President!

Down here, on the bedside table. It's me -- the vision thing.

Must be a family trait. Your dad kept losing track of me, too, back in the day. And as we both know, losing me probably cost him a renewal on these fancy digs.

I see that the Congress is finally back in town. Y'all did pretty good, getting that unemployment extension passed and signed so fast. Your pals over on the Hill really dropped the ball when they skipped town for the holidays without having that bill on your desk, but somebody over there in the West Wing should have noticed it, too.

Shucks, if the Democrats on the Hill were the ones gumming up the works for that bill before the holidays, you could have mentioned that to the press down at the ranch a few times. You know, shame 'em a little bit -- they're sitting home fat and happy for Christmas while unemployed folks are worrying about whether they have enough cash to pay their rent and not be homeless for the New Year. Might have discouraged some of them from announcing their campaigns for your job quite so early.

Gotta wonder, though, why your first big initiative of the new year was a whopping big tax cut. You know, even my eyes glaze over when economists get out there before the cameras and try to explain how this new stuff is going to affect all kinds of households. If you've seen one sheet full of numbers, you've seen more than most people want to.

If Rumsfeld is gonna spend most of the month of December announcing troop movements and Reserve and National Guard callups, it might be a good idea if the first big announcement of the New Year told us where they are going, how long they are gonna be there, and what they might be doing. I know -- you don't want to tip off our plans to our enemies -- but sending our soldiers off to a place where the residents don't like us too much scares the bejeebers out of a lot of folks. Especially the ones that are related to those soldiers.

You see, Mr. President, a lot of folks are real uneasy about where this country is going and who's driving the wagon. They see TV pictures of warships sailing and warplanes taking off and they'd like to know what's up. It's been so long since they've seen any real shooting on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox that a lot of 'em have forgotten why we need to send so many more soldiers over there.

They need you to give 'em a pep talk, Mr. President. Tell 'em that you're in charge of that mess over in the Middle East, not Kofi Annan and the weapons inspectors. Maybe you need to nudge Colin a little bit -- remind him that he used to be a general who won a war over there once, not just another Kissinger wanna-be. He doesn't have to become one of those cookie-pushers over there in Foggy Bottom. He's the boss of the place, for goodness sake. Maybe a couple of shots of Tabasco in the coffee urns over there will get some folks fired up.

Karl Rove could use a kick in the seat, too. He's spending too much time poring over polls, trying to figure out the little issues that'll squeeze out a few more votes or a few more campaign bucks. The best way to get a president re-elected is to make that president "the man" in the political arena. Big presidents need big issues that everybody can understand, not narrow issues that only a few people care about.

When you were traveling around the country in September and October, Mr. President, those cheering crowds weren't coming out to hear what you really said. They came out because they wanted to be part of a cheering crowd. They wanted to be part of the biggest event to hit their hometown in the last few years. They wanted to forget their problems for an hour or two and feel good for a while.

They need a dose of confidence, Mr. President. They need to know things are gonna get better and that you're the one that can tell 'em how we're gonna get there. When they start feeling good about the future, they'll start buying things and hiring people. They'll start waving flags and hooting down all those anti-war weenies who keep popping up on the TV so often.

Ronnie Reagan knew this. And that's why the other side hates him so. He saw this country as the greatest country on Earth, and he never stopped telling us that. Kept the message simple and positive.

The economy was in the tank when Ronnie came to Washington, too. When he left Washington, the economy was booming and the Communists were running for cover. And the people were proud to be Americans and ready to take on anybody that didn't like the way we do things.

Get rid of the little dreams with the fine-print numbers in them, Mr. President. Little dreams are for little people and little countries. A big country deserves a big dream.

And don't forget to pick me up and carry me close to your heart. I can't do you any good if I'm not with you.

And let your heart speak. I know they'll listen.


Be careful with Mozilla...

Don't know whether it's just me or not, but, if you are a Blogger/Blog*Spot user like me, be very careful using Mozilla to edit your main template through the web interface. I've tried it a couple of times and have had goofy problems as a result.

One problem that I've noticed is that div tags seem to lose any attributes that are added to them. For example, I lost the class="posts" attribute for the div tag in the section of the template that controls the area where my posts are displayed. Needless to say, this caused the background of the post section of the page to turn dark gray, which made it very difficult to read.

You have been warned...


Lame duck lays one last egg

Gov. George Ryan of Illinois commuted the death sentences of all of the prisoners on Death Row in his state today, two days before he leaves office at the end of his single term. Ryan's action is the culmination of a three-year review of how the death penalty is applied in Illinois. The review appears to have indicated some serious problems in the administration of capital punishment in Illinois.

In the abstract, Ryan's decision is laudable. If the system is that broken, all over the state of Illinois, then maybe this will be the wake-up call for Illinois legislators and Illinois voters to reform a bad system. If this is only a problem with certain jurisdictions or certain appellate courts in the state, however, the governor has unfairly tarred the good prosecutors and judges with an unusually wide brush.

One question, though: how much input did the governor get from victims' rights advocates and victims' families? If not, why not?


Why there's no "Rush" for Democrats these days

Pejman Yousefzadeh has an article on Tech Central Station concerning the Democrats' attempt to find a liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc. A sample:
The Democrats misdiagnose their problem. They face a more fundamental malady than being able to find the right messenger. They have struggled in finding the right message with which a messenger could win hearts and minds among the electorate.

...Although the Democrats complain about the lack of a media presence, or the lack of a "liberal answer to Rush Limbaugh," their major problem lies in the fact that they lack a message that resonates with the American people. It is well and good to demand a powerful microphone with which to transmit one's message to the public. But before the microphone is afforded, one has to know what to say.
Fortunately, it's awfully difficult to make the case for class envy and ethnic division in a manner that is entertaining. No entertainment means no profit for the average radio station, which makes syndicating and selling such a product even more difficult.

Not only do the Democrats not have the steak, they don't even have the sizzle to sell to the American public.

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