Archive for January, 2006

Trouble in Mind

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Posted by Andy

It’s not that the Democrats don’t like Judge Alito. They like him a lot. As Senator Schumer so accurately observed, they went into the hearings with completely open minds, no idea how they would end up voting. But now they are “troubled.” Judge Alito’s views are “disturbing,” and they find that they have many, many “concerns.” The New York Times is troubled too. Judge Alito subscribes to “troubling views” about executive powers. He has said “some truly disturbing things about his view of the law.” His “extraodinary praise of Judge Bork” is “unsettling,” given Judge Bork’s “radical legal views.” His membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton “is also deeply troubling.” His dissent from a ruling “by two Reagan-appointed judges” in a mine safety case “is especially troubling.” And his over-all testimony “should trouble moderate Republicans as well.”

The health of the body politic is not well served when its great newspaper of record and almost half the Senate, not counting frightened moderate Republicans, are effectively disabled by seriously troubled minds. Looking ahead to Judge Alito’s confirmation, which seems quite possible, a bunch of us political care-givers are organizing a volunteer corps of trouble counselors, with the aim of providing at least some measure of closure (not cloture). Contributions may be sent to savethementalhealthof thesenateandthenewyorktimes.org. In the words of the old African-American song, which Judge Alito has not yet succeeded in suppressing, Trouble in mind, I’m blue, but I won’t be always. Sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day….

Victory

Wednesday, January 11th, 2006

Thanks to Powerline for this quote from Winston Churchill:

“You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

more on Iran

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

I don’t really buy the argument that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is defensive and nationalistic. If the Iranian mullahs were content to only torture, murder, and rob their own people, like Hosni Mubarak, they would have nothing to fear from the U.S. If Syria’s Assad had similarly modest ambitions, like Ghaddafi, he would also have nothing to worry about. Heck, Iran might even get U.S. foreign aid if they would just cool it. The Palestinians get plenty of it, from Europe as well as the U.S., some of which is used for reward payments to the families of suicide bombers. It is hard to arouse the Great Satan as long as you stay within your own borders, or, if you must venture abroad, at least only blow up Jews a few at a time.

Acquiring nukes and threatening to wipe Israel off the map are not really very effective defensive measures. I think they have something else in mind, but then I’m only going by their words and actions. Here is some interesting background at frontpagemagazine.com on the subject of Israel launching a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

How serious indeed

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

Posted by Andy

But hey, picture the world as it appears from Tehran: Bellicose Great Satan ensconced just across both the eastern and western borders, with Hell’s chattering classes pondering the advisability of invading a charter member of the Axis of Evil. Nuclear-armed Little Satan only a few hundred miles away, its willingness to strike against its real or presumed enemies amply demonstrated in the past. Nuclear-armed Pakistan preoccupied with India and no current threat, but you never know. A long history of Western imperialists, British and Russian and then American, divvying up spheres of influence, forcibly manipulating internal politics and treating Iran like some impotent banana republic.

It is of course impossible to separate the Islamic fervor of the mullahs from the Iranian body politic in general, but I suspect that one reason they have so far prevailed, in that divided society, is an understandable and not entirely unreasonable appeal to Iranian nationalism, irrespective of religion. President Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel are certainly distressing, but from the limited accounts I’ve seen (mainly in the Times) I don’t think his Holocaust denial is quite unequivocal and in any case he’s right about one thing–the Palestinians have been forced to pay the price for the sins of Europe.

God knows nuclear nonproliferation is a worthy goal, but in practice the effort is sure as hell selective, in large part necessarily, and has not so far been notably successful in the world at large. Assuming the Iranians want nuclear weapons and not just peaceable energy, which I suppose we have to, I have no idea what to do about it either. As you suggest, I think the potential danger is less the use of nuclear weapons by Iran or any other national entity but the possibility of nukes falling into the hands of people like Bin Laden who would have no compunction about using them. But an invasion of Iran? Bombing of nuclear facilities, insofar as they can be pinpointed? Leave it to the Israelis? The ramifications seem to me to be prohibitive.

I read Mark Steyn’s article online in the Journal and was about to recommend it, then saw that you had already posted the link. A fat, self-indulgent West that’s lost its religious compass, committing demographic suicide? Given the unpredictability of history it may be a little dire, but it’s very well argued and impressively detailed–Steyn is a terrific writer–and it’s hard to disagree. Not exactly a new perspective though–Buchanan, for instance, explored much the same territory in “The Death of the West.” For that matter Jean Raspail did too, a few decades ago, though emphasizing immigration more than birth rates, which were not at the time so starkly ominous.

I haven’t read “Death of the West” or any of Buchanan’s other books, but I check out his column occasionally and hear him on TV. He’s not moronic, or even an isolationist in any Fortress America sense. Whether or not Bush’s neo-Wilsonian visions will ultimately bear bitter fruit remains to be seen–and I’m an agnostic–but Buchanan’s apprehensions about a hubristic and potentially disastrous over-extension of American power cannot in my opinion be easily dismissed.

What do we do about a problem named Iran?

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

What would I do about Iran? God knows. I don’t have access to the intelligence, whatever it is, about the locations and defenses of their nuclear facilities. Nor do I know lots of other relevant stuff. So I can’t possibly know what, if anything, a military response should look like. Bush has said that possession of nukes by Iran is unacceptable. I feel the same way. Of course we shouldn’t pay any price, but I do think we should be prepared to pay a fairly high one, to take them out, assuming it’s even possible. My guess would be that it is possible with some kind of military operation to, if not completely destroy their nuclear capability, to at least set it back significantly.

But we should just let Israel do it. They have to do it anyway. They don’t really have a choice, no matter what the blowback is. The president of Iran has called for them to wiped off the map, and there is every reason to take him at his word.

The other option is to foment revolution, but again I am far too ignorant of the facts of the matter to have any idea of the feasibility of such a thing. Assuming there is something the U.S. can do to encourage and support revolution, we should be doing it.

Suicidal Tendencies

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

My favorite blog these days, and for awhile, is The Belmont Club. I got to meet him at the pajamasmedia bash in New York. He was one of the only pajamasmedia bigwigs who enjoyed talking to the little people. He’s an Australian software developer, but also a serious political analyst and writer. His latest post is his commentary on two complementary takes on the end of the West, in The New Criterion, by Roger Kimball and Mark Steyn. Both articles and The Belmont Club’s commentary are well worth reading. The threat to Western civilization is not really from suicide bombers, but from suicidal tendencies.

How serious is it?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

It no longer looks like if, but when Iran comes into possession of nuclear weapons. This will bring us one step closer to the day when Osama Bin Laden, or someone like him, gets their hands on a nuke. I know, I know, Sunni don’t like Shia. But hatred of the Jews, hatred of the U.S., and a desire for nukes are things they have very much in common. This situation gives me great cause for concern. If I were President of the United States, I would hardly be thinking about anything else.

What bounds there are on the President’s authority in a time of war depends on the severity of the threat, as I’m sure John Adams and Abraham Lincoln would agree. Adams went too far. Lincoln didn’t. Adams used the threat to national security, which was real, to attempt to crush his political opposition with the Alien and Sedition Act. Does any reasonable person think Bush is doing that? I think the real disagreement is about whether we are really in a war for our national survival, and for the survival of Western civilization. Or not. The NSA has been data-mining phone and email communications for a lot longer than George Bush has been in office. It would be a gross dereliction of duty if they were not. I am not bothered at all by this. My freedoms are being threatened all right, but not by the American government. This whole kerfuffle is being politically manufactured by the New York Times and the Democratic Party, which is odd, because it’s very stupid politics.

Dick Morris has a good column today in which he explains that the Democrats are misunderstanding the isolationist bloc in the U.S., which he says is about 35%. Isolationists are against the war, but they are in favor of the Patriot Act and of wiretapping by the NSA. Isolationists are not all liberals. They are pretty much half and half, and they are against foreign involvement and for domestic protection. Add them to those who, like myself, believe that there is no domestic protection without foreign involvement, who support the war in Iraq, and you have a substantial majority who are not going to get their undies in a twist about the NSA spying on suspected terrorists.

The Democrats may be ready to commit suicide, but I don’t think the American people have quite reached that point.