Friday, July 29, 2005

On the Idiots at the DLC

Peter Ross Range is a fool:
Once again, the British prime minister got it right. He understands that winning this war requires working it from both ends -- quashing the terrorists remorselessly while ameliorating terrorism's root causes. Blair pointed out that on the day of the London bombings, he was working to reduce poverty in Africa and protect the global environment. How many poor people was bin Laden helping that day?

Apparently I didn't read bin Laden's fatwa, where he writes "I became a terrorist because of the poor black in Africa. And global warming. If it wasn't for these issues, I wouldn't have hurt a fly."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I am quoting LGF today

Who are themselves quoting that old chap Sir Winston:
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

—Sir Winston Churchill, from The River War, first edition, Vol. II, pages 248-50 (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899).
It's that old "Untergang des Abendlandes" theme. Yet it's really true, religions which are proselytizing DO spread.

The nuclear domino

Those pals at The American Conservative write scary stories: Four Day War. But they observe one thing quite correctly, an international disarmamant in the near future is unlikely:
Iran is unlikely to give up its nuclear deterrence as long as Israel remains a nuclear power. Israel is unlikely to cede its nuclear capability as long as it feels threatened by the Arab/Islamic world and as long as Pakistan holds on to its bomb. Pakistan, of course, points to India, also a nuclear power. India looks at Pakistan and across the Himalayas and sees nuclear-armed China and says it would never give up its cherished membership to the elite nuclear club.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Teaching kids the Right Thing

From the Daily Show:

Sommers: "Challenging children has positive results. There are all sorts of lessons that a bully can teach you. I think that adults are hovering around, trying to protect kids [...] this is weakening them, it's not strengthening them."

Bee: "Kids do have to learn that life is a humiliating charade of endless disappointment and tragedy, ultimately culminating in pain, decay and death. "

Sommers: "..."

Bee: "My parents used to sing me to sleep with that one."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Pre-fab Outrage"

Credits to Wolcott:
and should Spielberg depict any member of the Israeli assassin squad expressing doubt or regret in lip-biting closeup, he'll be accused of sewing Bin Laden a new robe of snow-white radiance, and the movie will be boycotted by those who never intended to go in the first place but wanted yet another pre-fab outrage to bitch about in their blogs.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Change the World with Violence

Arthur Silber observes:
the ultimate roots of Bush’s foreign policy, with its plans for “benevolent worldwide hegemony,” are not in anything resembling traditional conservatism, which cautioned against governmental planning from above in all spheres—and the larger the sphere, the greater the caution to be utilized. No, the roots lie in the ideologues of the authoritarian, “transformative” left.
Peeperkorn adds:
Bush is evidently a guy who believes in the creative power of violence.
Silber responds:
the transformative, reordering leftist strain, that relies on force as a means for remaking the world, is one that has now been coopted by the neoconservatives.
Here is an old quote from Jonah Goldberg, which shows that this analysis of the neocon mind is true:
There is nothing we want to see happen in the Middle East that can be accomplished through talking around long tables festooned with bottled water and fresh fruit at Swiss hotels, that cannot be accomplished faster and more permanently through war.
If Goldberg's quote sounds plausible, that's only because the word "war" has been sanitized in the public mind. Usually when we say "war", we mean "the show of force". But war is not some kind of judo or wrestling. To wage war means to use painful violence and cause suffering. This is in turn sanitized by the expression "collateral damage", which makes it sound as if the only victim were shot up walls or hedges.

In reality Goldberg wants people to suffer, because the diplomatic way is not producing results fast enough for them. In fact, they prefer the violence even if it produces the same results, because the show of force makes the other countries more submissive.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Powell Memo 1971

Jonathan Chait in The New Republic discusses the issue of policies and ideas. One thing caught my attention:

Liberals--who have developed a fascination with corporations and the rise of conservative institutions--have an explanation of their own. They invest enormous importance in a memo written by Lewis Powell in 1971, making the case that corporate America must aggressively defend its interests.

The story of the Powell memo was the first explanation for the rise of the conservative movement and the downturn of liberal politics, that I have learnt of and since it was the only explanation, I accepted it at face value. The real cause may have been much simpler:
My colleague John B. Judis, though, has a far more convincing explanation than a memo that changed the world. In February, he wrote in these pages that businesses adopted a more aggressive and self-interested stance because the U.S. economy changed. In the 25 years after World War II, U.S. business enjoyed a dominant and cushioned position. Therefore business leaders could afford to accommodate unions and reasonable regulations. But, as the rest of the world eventually caught up, profit margins shrank and businesses began fighting unions and looking to Washington to cut their taxes, eliminate regulations, and institute other changes geared toward their bottom line. The cultivation of conservative ideas certainly played a role. But the great shift in U.S. politics resulted not from the persuasive powers of conservative intellectuals but dramatic changes in underlying material conditions.

That's a far more reasonable and straightforward explanation. One which does not need to make use of conspiracy theories.

Two totally unrelated Thoughts

Jonathan Chait understands how special interest groups work:
As conservatives well understand, once a group of voters has been given a property right by Washington, they will never allow it to be taken away. The individual rights will be a ratchet, one that can be expanded but never contracted. ... Privatizers understand full well that any concessions they make can be legislated away in the future, while private accounts cannot.

Daniel Nexon is quoting Guicciardini:
If you are involved in important affairs or are seeking power, you must always hide your failures and exaggerate your successes. It is a form of swindling and very much against my nature. But, since your fate more often depends upon the opinion of others than on facts, it is a good idea to create the impression that things are going well. The opposite reputation will be harmful to you (Series C, 86).

The sad Fate of M.I.T.-educated managers...

Greg Ip and Neil King in the Walls Street Journal write on Japan and Germany's peaceful foreign trade development (Via Brad DeLong )
During the 1920s, Japan had low import tariffs and its democratic, civilian government encouraged domestic alliances with European and American companies to hasten Japan's technological catch-up, said Hideaki Miyajima, a Japanese economic historian at Waseda University in Tokyo and a visiting scholar at Harvard. General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. operated Japan's only major automobile assembly plants. The heads of Japan's "zaibatsu" -- urban industrial conglomerates -- were pro-Western. Many sent their children to U.S. universities. But these pro-Western elites were too weak to resist the forces of militarism and imperial expansion.... In 1932, military-backed right-wing nationalists assassinated both Japan's prime minister and one of its leading business figures, Takuma Dan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-educated manager of the Mitsui Group zaibatsu. In 1936-37, the military completed its takeover....

Germany's rivalry with Britain is similarly complex.... Britain's old-line industrial elites saw Germany as a threat, while its emerging financial elites saw it as an opportunity. Within Germany, Ruhr-based heavy industry favored the army buildup and were more willing to risk conflict with Britain, while Hamburg-based trading interests were more pro-British, though supportive of the German fleet buildup....
That's an interesting information. It basicly shows how the economic relations determine (or at least correlate with) foreign policy positions.