October 7, 2014

Got an hour and a half to kill?

Stunning truth about Socialism's Legacy from Alan Charles Kors

Hat-tip: Brother Bryan on Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2014

Smart commentary on Hong Kong

Blog friend tgreer is a foreign policy dweeb, Chinese speaker, and has many personal connections to young people in the region. That -- and his general smarts -- make his Bargaining with the Dragon: Some Straight Talk on Hong Kong well worth a read.

One of the bits that surprised me: western observers (and Milton Friedman fanboys like me) likely overestimate Hong Kong's contribution to China's GDP:

Back when Mr. Patten turned Hong Kong over to the People's Republic that statement would have been self-evidently true. Now it isn't. In those days Hong Kong was 16% of China's total GDP. Now it is a bit less than 3%. Hell, given the growth we have seen in Guangzhou and Shenzhen over the last two decades, it isn't clear that Hong Kong is the Pearl River Delta's most successful city. The cold, hard facts of the matter is that China's economy grows by two Hong Kongs a year. The region's economy is not important enough to Beijing for the protestors to use it as a bargaining chip.

You will definitely want to read the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2014

Post to Polis: Frack Off

Pinch me!

Still, the more gas is available worldwide, the less leverage Putin will have in bullying neighbors and in talks with European powers such as Germany, which also depends on Russian gas.

That's the Denver Post Editorial Board speaking. And if that doesn't sound enough like the words of Republicans Cory Gardner and Rand Paul [starting at 5:00], among many others, the Post continues:

Not everyone agrees, of course. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., was among 20 House Democrats last fall who wrote to the energy secretary expressing concern LNG exports "would lead to greater hydraulic fracturing activity," which is probably true. But we would hope most members of Congress appreciate that fracking can be done safely, and that America's new energy bounty offers a huge opportunity to assist pro-Western governments abroad.

Read more: Liquefied natural gas as a geopolitical tool - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_25314888/liquefied-natural-gas-geopolitical-tool
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse
Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook

Take that, Democrat.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:18 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

What do you expect from a party that would nominate an "anti-civil rights, anti-choice, anti-marriage equality" troglodyte to the Federal Bench?

Polis was on "The Independants" last night (Libertario Delenda Est has its own TV show and it is Purdy good). The topic was Bitcoin and he gets a sympathetic audience on the show. He can point to great libertarian bona fides.

Yet he gets a pass on his reliable votes for dirigisme because he pens the occasional liberty-friendly OpEd.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2014 11:56 AM

March 3, 2014

The real reason Putin wants Ukraine

Much has been made of the Russian naval base in the Crimea region of Ukraine, which Russia has a long-term lease upon. Why send troops to protect other troops? So the cover story is "to protect ethnic Russians" an excuse at least as old as the start of World War II. Sudetenland, anyone?

But what hasn't been reported, until this morning, is the vast network of natural gas pipelines in Ukraine, where about 80% of her neighbors get their natural gas, sourced from Russia. But the stakes are even higher for Ukraine herself, as she gets 65% of her own natural gas from Russia, who has not been shy in reminding them who's boss. Consequently, Ukraine has been working toward construction of compressed natural gas (CNG) terminals in Odessa, Ukraine, for the purpose of free trade consumption on world markets. Perhaps this taste of freedom is something Putin can not stomach.

Commander Victor Vescovo, USN retired, writes in Real Clear Defense:

The key to Ukraine’s energy independence from Russia and, therefore, its ability to determine its own political future lies in Odessa -- the city, its port area and energy infrastructure, and the access to Black Sea it provides. Crimea is likely lost. But if Ukraine is to survive, all of its current focus should be on Odessa and preventing any Russian movements against this vital region from Crimea, Transnistria, or Russian territory.

Cdr. Vescovo outlines a fairly simple strategy to protect Odessa but also explains, with the help of a map, that Odessa, like Crimea and eastern Ukraine, is majority native Russian speaking.

russianspeakers.jpg


UPDATE: From Investor's - Seven Energy Policies to Make Putin Pay Over Ukraine, Crimea

1. Start fracking in Europe
2. Expand fracking in the US
3. Promote LNG exports
4. Allow U.S. petroleum exports
5. OK Keystone XL
6. Expand, not contract, nuclear power in Ukraine
7. Unify Cypress and build a new pipeline

"Finally, smart energy policies also would undermine other energy autocrats around the world, including Venezuela." And Iran.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2014

"Get in line" my a$$

I appreciated the props from jk for recognizing early on that the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle was a seminal moment in American politics. American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord has a very good article that explains why. Here is but one insightful passage:

The key to GLAAD’s millions [of tax-exempt profits] — and the power all these "fascist bands" have exercised over the last several decades — is guilting Americans into believing that if they don't go along with the latest "non-negotiable" left-wing demand they are somehow…well….pick one. Racist, homophobic, pro-war, greedy, sexist and on and on and on…yada yada yada. In fact, one is doubtless more than safe in suspecting that in those millions of Phil Robertson fans are people with gay family or friends who decidedly could not be considered "anti-gay" -- but refuse to sit by silently and watch an obviously good person be lynched in the name of some left-wing conception of gay rights.

What's happened here with this Phil Robertson episode is more than about Mr. Robertson himself. Much more.

The backlash against A&E and GLAAD says in plain language that Americans are fed up with being routinely confronted by Reagan's "cowardly little fascist bands."

Read it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2013

What is the World Coming To?

First the Canadian Supreme Court legalizes prostitution. (Technically the act was already legal, but other acts to facilitate it were prohibited.)

Now Utah may no longer criminalize unlicensed consensual polygamy.

At this rate Americans may soon win the freedom to keep the proceeds of their labors, safe from seizure by the state!

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2013

Backlash!

Now we're starting to get somewhere.

"I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility," Paglia said. "This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points."

Yes, Camile Paglia. As stipulated in the Daily Caller article from which this was taken, she is gay and was open about it before it was so fashionable. And "while she is an atheist she respects religion and has been frustrated by the intolerance of gay activists."

I see in this the apogee of the growing partisan and cultural divisions in our country that have only accelerated under the feckless leadership of President Obama. A new tolerance and cooperation is near its dawn. I am proud of my country.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:02 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

While dagny shares the sentiment tweeted by jk to @pourmecoffee, I see this as more than just the latest contretemps in the culture wars. This is a watershed moment, IMO. Paglia's brave disapprobation is exhibit A.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2013 12:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

This is not a sea change for Camille Paglia, who has long been an outspoken critic of both the left and the right (whatever those labels may or may not mean) - witness this gem, from 1991: http://is.gd/43URfi

People like her and the ineffable Tammy Bruce confound inhabitants of both sides - perhaps one of the reasons they are worthy of a certain respect.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 20, 2013 2:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, I read KA's entire linked piece - not. I read the first couple of screens and the closing paragraph. So I'll conclude that Paglia's disapprobation isn't as brave as first thought because she's made a career of it. And DC probably doesn't enjoy wide circulation amongst LGBT advocates, fascist or otherwise. So perhaps the dawn is still metaphorical hours away, but I do feel it coming.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2013 3:27 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Au contraire, mon frere - my point is that Camille Paglia has been career-level brave.

Backlash often comes not in moments, but in extended time. The Boston Tea Party was in 1773; it took three years for our predecessors to accumulate enough stored backlash to declare independence. The Nullification Crisis was in 1832, nearly three full decades before Fort Sumter.

Legend has it that the Etruscans cheered for Horatius as he pulled himself out of the Tiber and onto the shore. He had earned their respect. I won't claim to agree with everything Camille Paglia says, but I will gladly salute her sustained consistency and integrity.

This is still a watershed in the culture wars. It may take a long time yet, but to quote another small-government spokeman: "I'm thinking we'll rise again."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 20, 2013 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

@pourmecoffee not only has a great twitter handle and avi, she is also the rarest of birds: a lefty with a good sense of humor. I disagree frequently, but her posts are just as frequently ell-oh-ell funny.

That said, I was wrong to let that be my only contribution to the contretemps. I do share dagny's and pourmecoffee's wish it did not happen or would go away soon. But it is worthy of discourse.

My frustration was well expressed by my pal, Jiom Geraghty:

I could live in a world where anything goes; we're all First Amendment absolutists, and the only proper recourse to awful speech is more speech. I could also happily live in an American culture that was politer, calmer, more respectful and less incendiary. But right now we've got a world where the Right is expected to play by the Oxford Debating Society rules while the Left uses Thunderdome rules.

My acquiescence and reticence to push back, of course, contributes to that. I really do not want to join my Facebook friends who will settle for nothing less than canonization, knighthood, and free Starbucks for life for the Bearded Duck Dude.

And yet everything I read showed him to be pretty thoughtful and respectful. The Thought Police have taken his show away. Though nobody but Larry Kudlow has an inalienable right to TV show, that is a raw deal.

I don't know if he has musical gifts. Perhaps he could join ZZ Top?

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2013 4:30 PM

December 19, 2013

A Visage of Red and Blue America

If one is known by the company he keeps then let me just say, "I don't wear pajamas."

Duck-Pajama-e1387465423639.jpg


"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying?"

Does anybody get to have an opinion under the First Amendment to the Constitution, or just those who don't say things that make other people uncomfortable? I don't see any theater here, or any flames. Phil Robertson is free to express his opinion. The rest of us are free to express whether or not we agree with it. That is called Liberty.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:09 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Michael D. "heck of a job Brownie" Brown points out "This is not a First Amendment issue because there is no government involvement." Fair cop. I hereby revise my close to "Stop apologizing for expressing your opinion. And stop stiffling your laughter when other people express theirs."

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2013 5:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Looking at the WaXaminer's Meet Ethan Krupp (H/T Insty) I am rethinking my support for the First Amendment.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2013 6:15 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I imagine that living down his new nickname is going to be a lifelong problem for young Ethan "Beta Male" Krupp.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 20, 2013 2:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't really think so, KA. While it's difficult for us to understand or relate, metrosexuals seem to take pride in the suppression of their masculinity. The cultural messages with which they are bombarded tell them that chicks dig "sensitive" guys. But like healthy, virile young men who choose to dose Viagra, they don't know when they've crossed the line between self-improvement and self-destruction.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2013 3:33 PM

November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans' Day

Thanks to all who serve(d)!

I hope it won't be considered flippant if I include one of my favorite quotes. As Veterans' Day falls on the eleventh, I am reminded of Kurt Vonnegut. My first Vonnegut book was "Breakfast of Champions," and indeed it was an introduction to adult reading to an adolescent who was more interested in guitars, weed and young women than books. I remember reading this and being especially touched:

When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 2, 2013

The Greatest Generation!

Insty sez: "STANDING UP TO OPPRESSIVE GOVERNMENT: You'll love the 'trophy' World War II vets took home from the government shutdown blockade."

wwiivets_policetape.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

These are the heroes that charged the coastal defenses at Normandy. A little police tape and some portable barricades isn't going to stop these men.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 2, 2013 6:50 PM

September 11, 2013

Don't Tread on Us

"I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids -- She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. -- She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. -- As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal: -- Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of stepping on her. -- Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?" -American Guesser, aka Benjamin Franklin December, 1775
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:39 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2013

"Of Course We Know That!"

Better late than never, Paul David Hewson.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2013

You're Welcome

jewishgirlsandguns.jpg

Source: @tikchik (via @ConservCityGirl via @AHMalcolm)

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Mama grizzly?

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2013 4:50 PM
But AndyN thinks:

How to tell if somebody really means it when she says never again.

Posted by: AndyN at July 29, 2013 10:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yep. Reminds me of a FB meme I saw yesterday. "You go ahead and give peace a chance. I'll cover you in case things don't work out."

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2013 11:08 AM

July 13, 2013

The "Producer's Pledge"

"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."

The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.

If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.

Ayn Rand said,

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."

Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?

Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.

Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.

The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.

For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."

I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Well said and well thought. But it strikes me as a very tough sale.

Trying to think of a producer who would eschew a sale, it would probably have to be more direct. Maybe I wouldn't sell to the Taliban, but withholding gas from a poor stupid Boulder guy's Subaru? It doesn't take many cycles to rationalize away that.

My employer sells bucketloads to gub'mint. I read your pledge first, as you presented and thought "we're not going to leave that money on the table" while he rest of your post loaded.

NED bless Magpul (though principled stands might be a plus in that industry) but while government seems pretty close to Atlas, I think business is light years away. And for every principled Galt, there are a dozen James Taggarts to patch things over. In fact, we probably make the Progressives' favorite error of conflating business-folk with Capitalists.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2013 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Your very last point is key. And it is the only way we can convince producers to do this, as a moral issue.

"Do not conflate winning special favors from government with achievement. Cronyism and achievement are each other's mortal enemies."

(I quote because I just said it on Facebook.)

Just as peaceful Muslims lose credibility when they fail to denounce the crimes of Islamofascists perpetrated in the name of their faith, capitalists lose credibility when they fail to denounce and distinguish themselves from crony-capitalists.

I'm not thinking we would encourage individual gas stations to refuse fueling Subarus (while still selling to SUV owners) but for oil producers or refiners to stop selling to retailers who don't agree to temporarily padlock their pumps in those cities and counties. The producers will still have a world market to sell into. The retailers will be under public pressure to make a decision. If one agrees he will be the only one in the region to receive fuel shipments. This applies to all counties, even the ones that allow fracking.

There are details to be worked out, for sure, but to any extent such a plan is executed, especially just before an election, it will bring an important question into the public square: Do producers need consumers, or do consumers (and government) need producers?

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2013 1:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right." | Atlas Shrugged
Posted by: johngalt at July 14, 2013 11:01 AM

July 10, 2013

"saucily exhibiting Kelly Slater's package"

There are many reasons to embed the preceding promotional video. I'll try to hit them all, in no particular order.

Badonkadonk.

Product placements for HTC phones and Windows Phone OS, which they refer to as "Surface" at the end of the promo.

A hip soundtrack, featuring a group I'd never heard before.

Feminist schadenfreude. After all, has there ever been, in the history of advertising, a man who complained that a woman in a commercial was "sexualised?" The commenter's mindset is clearly revealed by the term "typical blonde size six surfer girl." Jealous much?

Equality. This one nearly provokes me to profanity. It is fast replacing altruism as, in my opinion, the most dangerous and dispicable idea in human thought. To wit:

So what exactly is so offensive this time, as the surfing giant is merely using a tried and tested marketing approach? Probably the fact that this little voyeuristic semi soft-core porn clip is representing a professional sport which has been fighting a long and ongoing battle for gender equality.

Please. Men and women are - wait for it - differ'nt. Commercial advertising is as free-market as anything else left in this world and its practitioners have discovered a formula that works. You may not like the formula, and you may not like that it works, but no amount of snippy commentary will ever change those facts.

Freedom. Freedom to voluntarily participate in a promo video featuring ass shots, of your own ass. "12 butt shots in one minute and 46 seconds exactly." Huzzah! Perhaps you'd prefer if she wore a burka, Ms. Salvo? As a father of daughters, I have no objections whatsoever to this promo. Natural, athletic beauty is nothing to hide or to battle against using shame, much less the government regulation that is so routinely resorted to in such matters of "inequality." You, who claim to seek "gender equality" would have more credibility if you didn't object to the same "offenses" as does the Taliban.

Did I mention badonkadonk?

Hat tip to Tully Corcoran and the "Popular Now" feed on Bing.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:24 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

And I speak fluent Redmondonian. The tablet at 0:29 is Microsoft's "Surface:" positioned to destroy the iPad about the same time ads like this lose their efficacy and appeal.

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 9:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

In "North Colorado" the iPad will be illegal.

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2013 2:02 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

What strat?

Posted by: Sugarchuck at July 11, 2013 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Make sc miss a Red Strat with a rosewood fretboard and you're doing something right!

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 5:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

He must have been mesmorized by the hip soundtrack. And I too, since it easily merited its own bullet point on this, the successor to the blog for "Jazz, Guitars, and Right Wing Politics."

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2013 6:32 PM
But jk thinks:

There was a soundtrack?

Posted by: jk at July 11, 2013 6:42 PM

July 4, 2013

Independence - The Universal Good

Mike Rosen did a very good job deconstructing the "America sucks" diatribe of a Denver Post columnist on his radio show Tuesday, but for those who don't have time or inclination to listen I'll do it again here, hitting just the high points.

First the title: "Beware of zealots this Independence Day." That's right, flag-waving Americans should remind "thoughtful" people of bomb-throwing Islamists. But perhaps I'm just too sensitive.

In recent times, we've seen an uptick in gratuitous, obsequious, false patriotism, rooted in empty slogans and reflexive - not thoughtful - displays of bravado rather than heartfelt allegiance and love of country.

Recent times? I believe this began in earnest on a particular date: September 11, 2001. Didn't something memorable happen that day, Steve?

They proclaim love of country is exhibited in the absolute defense and embrace of the Second Amendment, typically above all other constitutional provisions, as a critical defense against a paranoia-imagined government takeover.

And here the - thoughtful - Mr. Lipsher either denies or ignores history. Take your pick. Why can boy scouts take "Be Prepared" as their motto but the rest of us should, instead, place complete faith in a government that says, "trust us, we'll take care of you?" A government operated by other men, no better nor worse than those whom it serves, but entrusted with the authority to use force. Like all other powers in government, that force must be checked.

They throw around terms such as "liberty" and "tyranny" without any apparent appreciation for their meaning: They are mere buzzwords, dog-whistles to help them identify "us" and "them" in their quixotic quest to "take America back" from implied - but rarely explicitly stated - minorities, liberals, Muslims, Hollywood, welfare recipients and the Kenyan/socialist/America-hating President Obama.

This is mere rant, intended to detract from concrete ideas of liberty and tyranny. While it is true that some Americans are xenophobic this by no means describes the majority of American patriots, much less their motives. They merely seek to maintain what is great about America - individual freedom and the right to create one's own prosperity - without having it "spread around a little" against his will.

Like most Americans, I truly love my country and the unparalleled opportunities it affords me, and I'm proud of our achievements as a nation. But I also see its flaws - often cloaked in our incredible wealth and national arrogance - and I want it to be better.

But are you proud of your achievements as an individual? Or, more importantly, do you believe others have the right to be proud of their own achievements? Achievements like incredible wealth and, not arrogance, but pride in their "heartfelt allegiance and love" of a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal?

I believe you when you say you want America to be better. So do I. But there may be a great divide between what each of us would prescribe as "better." For my part that would be more freedom not less, less regulation and compulsion not more, more charity and volunteerism not more taxation and redistribution. These principles should extend beyond our shores as well: Free trade with other nations not free aid, defense cooperation not replacement of their armed forces with ours. Every nation, like every person, is free to work and achieve and own the fruits of those labors without threat of being pillaged by others, like redistributive governments that employ a Viking morality under the guise of democratic "majority rule." These principles would make not just America better, but the world.

On this day, July 4, 2013, Happy Independence Day people of the earth.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)
But Jk thinks:

Well said. Happy Fourth.

Posted by: Jk at July 4, 2013 4:56 PM

June 11, 2013

Oh No NoCo, Don't Go!

On the heels of it's dismissive editorial, which I linked in the comments on yesterday's post about an 8-county split from "Old Colorado" to form a new state, comes this spin-heavy "news" piece that clearly shows a nerve has been struck in D-town.

Mazurana said the process of breaking way from the state and starting a new one, is long and difficult. Both the state legislature and the U.S. Congress would have to approve.

"All the rest of the states are are not going to want to share their federal aid with this new state," Mazurana said. "And the state is not going to give up oil and gas money on a whim."

However, the notion could draw the backing of well-heeled conservative backers, he said. "The Koch brothers could come in along with some other wingnut groups." [emphasis mine]

I'm thinking of a new 501c3 application: "Colorado Wingnuts for Liberty and Property Rights"

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:27 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

"Colorado Prosperitarian Party" might confuse them with Progressive and be accepted.

I lost a comment yesterday. I hate to get too excited over a longshot, but the proposed split is a great idea, establishing Federalist principles at a scale closer to those at our founding.

The trick is to find another state that will be as reliably Democrat as NoCo will be Republican. Puerto Rico? Split off Marin County? The Congressional distribution will not likely change, but we need to find a Hawaii to our Alaska. The Democrats will not give two Senate seats to the other guys in perpetuity.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2013 9:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Many of these hang ups could be swept aside by just defecting to Wyoming, rather than demanding 2 new senators from the thin air.

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2013 10:35 AM
But jk thinks:

Dude, you are a genius.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2013 10:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

We'll see. I just floated the idea to Independence Institute's Amy Oliver, who Jon Caldera credits for starting the idea via a Twitter hashtag: #WarOnRuralCO

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2013 3:36 PM

June 10, 2013

North Colorado/South Colorado?

Carolina and the Dakota Territory have done it. Perhaps Virginia and West Virginia are a better example. Commissioners of Weld County, Colorado, the third largest county in Colorado and third most productive in the nation, are publicly contemplating a split from the remainder of Colorado. Seven neighboring counties would possibly join us.

Commissioners said Thursday that failed legislative efforts to crack down on oil and gas, as well as increases in rural renewable energy standards were "the straws that broke the camel's back."

Conway told the Tribune that Weld County's main economic drivers, agriculture and energy, are under attack, even though those sectors contribute significantly to the state's economy. He said the county's return on its financial contributions to the state are minimal.

He's just being polite. Weld and other rural counties are the makers, Denver and other urban counties are the takers. This could be a win-win for the urbanites, who could finally wash their hands of the coal, oil and gas energy they so disdain. We'll just take our cheap, reliable energy and go away. Heck, we won't even ask for another star on the flag. Just give us the liberty that our ancestors were born with, and our descendents deserve to enjoy.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (4)
But Alexc thinks:

More like this... and / or recombination. Why shouldn't the rural counties of neighboring states become a new one?

Posted by: Alexc at June 10, 2013 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm in.

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2013 4:39 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Massachusetts and Maine are another example. Completely constitutional.

Posted by: T. Greer at June 10, 2013 6:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

For its part, the Denver Post is unimpressed:

Serious people with serious complaints don't waste their time on quixotic crusades. They roll up their sleeves and deepen their efforts to convince their fellow Coloradans that their arguments have merit.

Oh, you mean by giving public testimony on 6 bills in 90 minutes? Or maybe we didn't say loudly enough that mandating what kind of energy we use is immoral as well as unconstitutional. No, Denver Post, we have come to live in an Ochlocracy and we're not going to stand for it any longer.

Posted by: johngalt at June 11, 2013 4:18 PM

April 9, 2013

Brushfire Radio

Awesome! Blog brother Bryan is a big part of another great new venture, Brushfire Radio at libertycast dot net.

Brushfire Radio takes its name [6:40] from the Sam Adams quote, "It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of liberty in the minds of men."

I am very impressed with this young man. His knowledge and eloquence about liberty concepts is superb.

Bonus: Joss Whedon reference at 28:40.

UPDATE: Interview with LOTR-F speaker Jeff Wright is up.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:28 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Any chance of hearing last night's interview they did before LOTR-F?

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2013 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They told me that last night's interview was to be the first for their fledgling media behemoth. I expect it will be posted soon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 9, 2013 4:33 PM

March 28, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

"..America, America, God shed clear sight on thee. And crown thy past, with, at long last, a future that is free." -- Facebook friend and former Colorado state senator Shawn Mitchell (Tuesday "via mobile")
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2013

Colorado Sheriff would defy feds

The Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado, Terry Maketa, told constituents yesterday that he would prevent gun confiscation in his jurisdiction if a "lawfully signed warrant" were not in play.

"I would step in the way if federal law enforcement was acting under some directive and seizing weapons without a lawfully signed warrant," he said, adding that he's not worried about that because he's received emails of support from federal law enforcement agencies.

"I think they would turn first, quit and join me before following something as ludicrous as that," he said.

This is welcome reassurance to the majority of Coloradoans who oppose big-city mayors' politically motivated gun control railroad job in the Democrat-controlled Colorado state government. Speaking of which,

"I don't have any plan to run for governor, for senate, for house," he said. "I say that knowing full well things can change."
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:32 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2013

Atlas Shrugged Part III - Summer 2014

Oh yeah!

"We're not going to get critics coming on board,"Aglialoro said. "The academic-media complex out there doesn't want to like the work, doesn’t want to understand it, fears the lack of government in their lives, wants the presence of government taking care of us."

Insists on demanding the unearned.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has expressed support for some of Rand's writings, and Aglialoro says Ryan's 2012 campaign alongside Mitt Romney could have used a bit more of her thinking.

"It would have served the campaign well if he would have embraced the natural way to capitalism that Ayn Rand, and I think Romney and Ryan should have quoted [her] over and over and over again during the campaign, that it's the producers who should be applauded and appreciated and not denigrated, that 'rich' is not a dirty, four-letter word. It's a good, four-letter word."

But that's in the past and we're looking forward.

Aglialoro is looking at a different politician to carry the mantle of Ayn Rand in Washington: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

"Since they're starting to beat up on Cruz, there must be something good about him. Cruz is new on the scene, on the side of the free market, of limited government, of capitalist instinct in our society. So I think Cruz is somebody who could fit the bill."

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Great news.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2013 2:07 PM

March 12, 2013

Colorado is America's Canary

Dear America,

If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government, just look at what is taking place in Colorado. Editorialist Anthony Martin suggests Colorado Democrats appear determined to start a civil war.

A state that was once friendly to gun rights has now become a hotbed of leftwing political activism that directly challenges citizen rights -- unless that citizen wishes to smoke pot legally.

This scenario only further enrages gun rights activists who view such things as the height of hypocrisy -- touting citizen rights to smoke pot while at the same time attacking citizen rights when it comes to guns.

If you want to read about the "civil war" part you'll have to click through. I'll not be accused of incitement.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government..."

Dude. Been there, done that, lived to tell the tale. http://is.gd/ASoCyG

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 12, 2013 5:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

See how easily we fail to notice when the pot is warmed gradually? We just glibly refer to the "Californication" of our state without looking to see how much further Kalifornia is trying to go at the same time. I'll share this around in Colorado circles.

My caution was meant for those in swing districts who might choose to replace their Republican congressman with a Democrat in 2014 because some Republican somewhere "frightens" them.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2013 5:56 PM
But AndyN thinks:

If you care to see what happens when a single political party controls the executive and both houses of the legislative arms of government...
Were you worried that if you didn't appear balanced you'd offend someone? I believe that there are currently 24 states in which the GOP controls both the legislative and executive branches. Is there any evidence that those state governments are attempting to trample on the rights of their citizens?

The GOP has many problems, but this particular problem is specifically a Democratic party problem.

Posted by: AndyN at March 12, 2013 6:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good question! I love good questions.

I wasn't concerned about offending anyone, as yesterday's "On Legislation and Human Rights" post should illustrate, but I was seeking to illustrate a general principle rather than a partisan lament. Now I will try to defend it.

I am less affected by the anti-liberty of Republicans than that of Democrats but I do recognize it when I see it and, as a proponent of consistency in ones principles, oppose it. For example, Arkansas just overrode the veto of its Democrat governor to implement what some call the nation's most restrictive abortion ban. If one accepts the premise that a state prohibition on abortion tramples a right of the mother, namely to control her own bodily functions, then this is an example of Republicans doing exactly what I condemn Colorado Democrats for: A partisan infringment of individual liberties.

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2013 7:08 PM

January 31, 2013

Quote of the Day

I want to begin by saying something that needs to be said: I am not going to tell you that we have the luxury of feeling good about where we are as a movement, or that we don't have lessons to learn. But this is the movement and the cause that rescued this country 30 years ago, when serious people thought we were too complex to be governed anymore. This is the movement and the cause that refused to believe freedom was exhausted, only that it was tired of not being defended. And you held up freedom and made it so vibrant that prisoners in Prague and shipbuilders in Gdansk and freedom fighters in Managua and dissidents in gulags in Russia saw it and were moved by it. And not only have you been right about these large, cosmic things, you have been right about more basic things: We can't grow an economy by making audacity cost too much, we can’t strengthen people by penalizing them for work, we can’t own our future by living on the credit of countries who want to dominate us. Those values are as right today as they were yesterday, and may they always define us. I have not always been with you, but I am with you now, and I am proud to stand with you to wage this fight. -- Newly-minted Republican Artur Davis (X - AL)
Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2013

Internet Knights Templar?

From ZDNet article Anonymous hacks US Sentencing Commission, distributes files:

However, in order for there to be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, certain things need to happen. There must be reform of outdated and poorly-envisioned legislation, written to be so broadly applied as to make a felony crime out of violation of terms of service, creating in effect vast swathes of crimes, and allowing for selective punishment. There must be reform of mandatory minimum sentencing. There must be a return to proportionality of punishment with respect to actual harm caused, and consideration of motive and mens rea. The inalienable right to a presumption of innocence and the recourse to trial and possibility of exoneration must be returned to its sacred status, and not gambled away by pre-trial bargaining in the face of overwhelming sentences, unaffordable justice and disfavourable odds. Laws must be upheld unselectively, and not used as a weapon of government to make examples of those it deems threatening to its power.

For good reason the statue of lady justice is blindfolded. No more should her innocence be besmirked, her scales tipped, nor her swordhand guided. Furthermore there must be a solemn commitment to freedom of the internet, this last great common space of humanity, and to the common ownership of information to further the common good.

We make this statement do not expect to be negotiated with; we do not desire to be negotiated with. We understand that due to the actions we take we exclude ourselves from the system within which solutions are found. There are others who serve that purpose, people far more respectable than us, people whose voices emerge from the light, and not the shadows. These voices are already making clear the reforms that have been necessary for some time, and are outright required now.

It is these people that the justice system, the government, and law enforcement must engage with. Their voices are already ringing strong with a chorus of determined resolution. We demand only that this chorus is not ignored. We demand the government does not make the mistake of hoping that time will dampen its ringing, that they can ride out this wave of determination, that business as usual can continue after a sufficient period of lip-service and back-patting.

Not this time. This time there will be change, or there will be chaos…

In the vernacular of the posting, my voice emerges from the light. I ask those who would denounce hacking as a tactic to explain how else these alleged abuses of official justice could be effectively challenged?

Hat tip: Drudge

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother Ellis is alive, okay and in HI...more info soon.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at January 26, 2013 7:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm pretty sympathetic as we have a common enemy. justice qua justice and Justice as the DOJ are major league broken.

Tactics...

My Internet cocoon world was 100% in favor of Aaron Swartz and 100% opposed to the prosecutorial overreach that tipped him toward suicide. My hero, Kim Strassel, interrupted the party to remind me -- and the rest of the WSJ Editorial Board -- that he stole private property (the intellectual property in the JSTOR database) to distribute it as he saw fit and not how its owners chose to dispose.

So a DoS attack on the DoJ has symmetry, but I am going to have to come out as anti-revolutionary. Sorry Comrades, I think we have an "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon where we can appreciate their passion, and agree that their targets deserve a bit of unpleasantness.

But real people in pursuit of real justice were inconvenienced by the website's being down. And if we're to throw a tradition of law that extends from the Magna Carta to Aaron Swartz away, I want to know a little more about the new regime.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2013 10:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Your concern was the one that required a "?" at the end of my headline. Examine this particular demand:

"...and to the common ownership of information to further the common good."

This was where I became... squeamish? Perhaps more like disheartened. I do believe the goals are mostly noble, but eliminating private property crosses an unacceptable boundary. I reconciled by interpreting it as "free access to public knowledge." A tenet of free speech, and a catalyst to prosperity and peace.

If there is one thing Anonymous may be lacking it is a moral, philosophical base to fully justify its efforts. Seek Objectivism lads: Force only in self-defense; full individual liberty within the personal sphere, for every man is an end in himself; consistency with physical reality. Private ownership of property is consistent with the second of these. However, government secrecy is not.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2013 12:01 PM

January 18, 2013

Article V State Amendments

I wanted to post video (thanks Ari Armstrong!) before discussing this. Find 35 minues sometime this weekend, it is pretty good:

UPDATE: Q & A: [Man, who is that long-winded bore asking the first quetsion?]

Posted by John Kranz at 6:50 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2012

Sarah Hoyt - "Ungovernable"

Sarah Hoyt, who grew up in the Socialist Paradise of Portugal and is a successful author of many a fine SF/F novel, sees the future...and has faith that the American people will weather the difficult times ahead with some measure of style:

Unogvernable:

I’ve said before that I became an American by reading Heinlein books. This is true at least to an extent, though I’d be at a loss to explain the process to you. I mean, if you knew how to do that, book by book, chipping away, so someone starts out wondering what’s wrong with all those Americans who don’t like taxes (don’t they know taxes are civilization? And have always existed) and ends up thinking getting a Don’t Tread On Me tattoo is a brilliant idea, even while immersed in a socialist, communitary system, we’d have no problems. We’d just use “the process.”

Mind, you, it is likely that the er… Heinleinizing (totally a word. Don’t worry your pretty head) of my opinions came from watching socialism up close and personal. Heinlein had help. But all the same, and even so, by the time I came to the States as an exchange student I had been, so to put it, primed to react to the US as “home.”

(...)

This is why statists of any stripe so often throw their hands up and call us ungovernable. Not that this gives them the idea they shouldn’t try. No. Instead, they try to devise more cunning ways of governing us. You have them to give credit for dreaming the impossible dream. It’s the one proof we have that the sons of beetles are Americans.

So… after sixty years of creeping statism, they’ve now “captured the flag” – they have actually got all of the important systems sewn up: news, entertainment, education, government.

They think – can you blame them? – that they won.

I won’t say they can’t hurt us. They can. The mechanisms they’ve seized hold of are important and they are – natch – misusing them.

I’m not saying that this will be easy. It won’t. Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and I’ve said before I think we’ll lose at least one city.

But, listen, the problem with these sons of… Babel is that they might be American, but they’re not American ENOUGH. If they were, they’d understand “ungovernable” and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug. It’s a feature. And that it’s baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places. Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn. And enough of us have it.

Finally, let's note that Sarah is from COLORADO. There's just something about that place. Rand didn't choose it to be a star of Atlas Shrugged out of thin air.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 12:47 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Not to diss on brother ew's excerpting skills, but read the whole thing. Touquevillian.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2012 1:22 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I see I spelt it "Unogvernable" in the link but I'm leaving it 'cause it's appropriately symbolic!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 20, 2012 1:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An interesting comparison of American individualism and European specialization. One might expect comparative advantage to give Europeans the edge, but that's not the way this essay reads. Instead it gives them, stagnation.

Could it be that specialization, while more efficient, also creates monopolies? Or at least cartels. Supply is diminished and costs rise to the point where the nonessential is just dispensed with. A translation: Nonessential = luxuries.

So in addition to individual empowerment and, yes, liberation, the human tendency toward generalization also tends toward larger and freer markets. Whoa - felt a shudder just then.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2012 5:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry man, but I don't see any of that. I see a bit of class-distinction (Americans don't "know their place") versus a bit of boisterousness. A bit of community spirit. Yet even in the context of our specialization discussions I don't see it here.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2012 6:17 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I think it's not exactly specialization or generalization, but American's do-it-yourselfization that she is getting at. When merde happens, more Americans jump in the water and rescue the kid, fix the leak in the dam, put out the fire...whereas most Euros wait for the official, credentialed unionized repair person. Our government officials are always trying to turn us into that, but she thinks it hasn't really taken.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 20, 2012 7:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:
Part of the thing with Europe is the worship of the “experts.” “We’ll take it to the expert” or “We’ll have the expert do it.”

There is more than one thing going on here, I admit. One is a submission to authoritah. Another is a certain humility that "one person can't do everything." Though whether it is a chicken or its egg, this condition depends upon specialization.

Maybe it's my exposure to academia that makes me more sensitive. Whenever someone tells me I "can't" then I, like Heinlein, become more determined. "No, buddy ... YOU can't!"

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 4:04 PM

November 19, 2012

In continuation of a trend...

Please add "The Hamas-run Heath Ministry" to the list of people and orginatizations of which I am skeptical.

GAZA (Reuters) -- The number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during Israel's on-going offensive reached 100 on Monday, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said.

And Reuters.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2012

Tyrone Woods, American Hero

Posted without comment:

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll @ Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"Let's Roll."

Here's more detail on the CIA orders to "stand down."

Posted by: johngalt at October 26, 2012 6:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Bill Kristol cites CIA spokesman, Petraeus: "No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate." Kristol says it could only have been a presidential decision.

Posted by: johngalt at October 26, 2012 6:59 PM

October 12, 2012

An Inquiry

Three Sources is Universe-wide in its coverage, but Colorado-based in its essence.

So as a Gentlebeing from another state, I am curious if the Three Sourcers are familiar with (or perchance have met) any of these Free Coloradans of Interest:

Christine Smith
L. Neil Smith
Ann Barnhardt
Trey Parker and Matt Stone

Colorado seems to be a hotbed of creativity and just a right cool place nowadays. If any of y'all know where Galt's Gulch is located, I know you need to pretend ignorance, but PM me.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 6:31 PM | Comments (13)
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe I'm wrong in thinking we didn't chase away brother AlexC but I thought he found his time better spent with a higher local readership. He does still comment from time to time.

Posted by: johngalt at October 15, 2012 2:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Gentle, fraternal ribbing -- I wish we did half as well for Colorado as they do for PA at the cooler. It's a model of what blogs can be in the local arena.

Perhaps after meeting the local candidates at Liberty on the Rocks, I will finally make good on my promises to adjust focus.

Posted by: jk at October 15, 2012 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Gunnison -- we should all meet at Mario's Pizza...

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2012 10:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thought about that but Gunnison is a 4-hour drive from our Atlantis. Maybe Buena Vista instead? Evergreen Cafe.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2012 2:41 PM
But jk thinks:

And a guy with my car doesn't do Monarch unless conditions are perfect. I'm in for Byunah Vista if the weather is good.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2012 3:48 PM
But dagny thinks:

JK, you are always welcome in any of our cars. They are not so much fun to drive but are, perhaps, preferable in adverse weather conditions.

Posted by: dagny at October 17, 2012 11:25 AM

October 9, 2012

Two Minutes of AWESOME!

Think of it as morality tales for the iPod generation.

Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute credits Arthur Brooks at American Enterprise Institute as the most influential proponent of the morality of free markets and capitalism. The results of AEI's Video Contest will show you why.

I posted the First Prize winner, as determined by a collection of judges, on my Facebook page. But I think they're all great. Each one is a 2-minute lesson in anti-statism, and in true free market fashion I'm linking to the full page of finalists for you to pick your own winner. As for me, I'm the father of three daughters and I choose for my favorite: Suzie's Lemonade Stand.

Many of these teach lessons that used to reside in public education. This is an excellent opportunity to return them there.

Watch them. Share them. Promote them.


UPDATE: I may have awarded too soon. I'll stand by my favorite but honorable mention also to "Pet Enterprise" and "Making Pie." I also predict JKs fave will be "FES International." Like I said: Awesome ... Every ... One.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Many are nice -- but I am going to go with Susie, with honorable metion to "My Grandfather's Story."

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2012 8:18 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Since I probably wouldn't have seen these otherwise, many, many thanks for posting! The winner was special because it had government agents in suits seizing Mom's sewing machine and shutting down the "illegal" operation. To be honest, I thought Susie's lemonade stand was going to be raided by a SWAT team any second!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at October 9, 2012 8:54 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Don't get JK started on the SWAT team raid thing...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 9, 2012 10:34 PM
But jk thinks:

When lemons are outlawed...

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2012 6:47 AM

October 4, 2012

America: Frack Yeah!

How many times have we heard the left make baseless claims that Big Oil uses its money and influence to stamp out competition wherever it can, and thereby maximize their own profits? Investors Business Daily printed an editorial yesterday that now, finally, substantiates that claim. But it's not what you might think. In this case "Big Oil" equals Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia's state-owned oil monopolies.

Venezuela's state Foundation National Cinematheque has been financially linked to "Gasland," a 2011 anti-fracking documentary whose aim was to paint fracking in the U.S. as dangerous.

(...)

This week, the Heritage Foundation's Lachlan Markey found that United Arab Emirates-owned "Image Media Abu Dhabi" financed "Promised Land," a Matt Damon film that shows U.S. oil and gas companies as greedy behemoths out to poison America's small towns.

(...)

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been accused of financing radical environmentalist groups through foundations to undercut oil sands production in Canada, which is America's top supplier.

If you have to ask why they oppose American energy production, here is the answer:

All this signals something big is at stake in global power politics: fracking, which threatens petrotyrants as no nuclear weapon ever has. The Gulf states, Venezuela and Russia derive their power solely from their dominance in energy production, not by their economies.

If fracking and the combination of investment, high tech, expertise and geography enable the U.S. to produce natural gas at $3 a unit, while Russia can only do it at $10, the threat is obvious.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:56 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Yes, yes, YES. American inexpensive energy explosion coming even if Obama gets reelected...he'll try to stop it, of course, but I don't think he can. Private land still exists!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at October 4, 2012 3:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ah, the idealism of private property. Don't bet that he can't stop it. Private property owners don't own the air, don't own the underground water, don't own the snail darters and wooley amoebas.

Good NED man, have you not read the book? (He asks, knowingly.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 4, 2012 3:36 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I will revise and expand my remarks...I don't think Obama in his second term will have the political capital to kill the American energy revolution. Congress won't let him and a lot of union folks are counting on it. His theoretical Gaiaean Marxism will clash too much with reality. Objective reality!

Thankfully, I think we have a good chance of a different President who will be pushing the car DOWN the track instead of putting on the brakes as hard as possible. But as in "the book," there is the possibility that Wesley Mouch will be appointed "Czar" with the power to screw things up. I don't totally discount that.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at October 4, 2012 3:51 PM

September 13, 2012

Quote of the Day

The Obama Presidential campaign jumped on the remarks Wednesday as inappropriate, yet a "senior Administration official" had told the website Politico later on Tuesday night that "The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government." So the White House can walk away from its own diplomats, but Mr. Romney can't criticize them? -- WSJ Editorial: Romney Offends the Pundits
UPDATE: I am disappointed and saddened that the media has chosen to attack Gov. Romney for serious and accurate remarks, instead of questioning the Administration or State Department on America's role in the world. I will not be on Facebook today. I have already seen too many stupid jokes about "the Romney Gaffe."

The Romney Gaffe, of course is to declare the importance of freedom and individual rights to expression. I got to wondering, though: who were these Republicans I read about who pounced on Gov. Romney?

Ah, yes. Peggy Noonan.

UPDATE II: James Taranto laughs at the headline (So Much for the War on Drugs: Romney takes hits from fellow Republicans), but the linked piece names GOP critics. All but anonymous ones are pretty tame.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (13)
But jk thinks:

I'm going to be less flippant as we have a serious disagreement. Hit the big red reset button that Secretary Clinton brought and let's chat.

I'm a bit surprised that I am arguing with two unlikely interlocutors today.

-- Guy insults religion.
-- Religious wackos go non-linear..
-- US diplomatic corps says religion should not be insulted.
-- Gov. Romney corrects. Problem is NOT insult of Islam -- problem is wackos.
-- US Chattering classes and media go non-linear.
-- Administration disavows first message but says "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."
-- Media pounce on...Governor Mitt Romney.

I'm staggered that you and Ms. Noonan find Gov. Romney intemperate when he is refuting two egregious misrepresentations of individual rights by the Administration.

The President has walked back the original tweet (it was never approved -- guess Humphrey's Executor was overturned when I was on vacation) and now has been forced to walk back "Egypt is not an ally."

Media pounce on...Governor Mitt Romney. And Noonan (at 1:22) is complicit. Pouncing media point out "even Republicans were critical."

I suggest anybody who criticized Gov. Romney for making a fulsome defense of our free speech rights was wrong.

Now, if he'd hire Kim Strassel...

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2012 4:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Or Instapundit Reader Arthur Barie:

Glenn, you know what you're not seeing in all these stories criticizing Romney's statement?

Romney's statement.

Can't let a clear defense of the 1st Amendment, and of American interests leak out into the public eye.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2012 4:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Does anybody else get the feeling that brothers jk and jg have swapped their tradtional roles?

On Romney's statement:

I don't find Romney's statement intemperate. I only criticize his timing. Noonan, at 1:22, says "No one should attempt to exploit it for gain." Well, of course he's going to exploit it for gain, but the trick is to do so without it looking like that's all you're doing. (Extra emphasis on the "looking.") Of course you're right that there's a double-standard for Romney vs. the prez and the media, but the fact that it's unfair doesn't make it unimportant. Just let the president take the full broadside of the shitstorm that blew up in his administration's face, just for one freakin' day. THEN make your measured and principled statement the next day. That's all I'm saying.

On Noonan: I'm not suggesting she set policy but she has a good ear for how the chattering classes will hear things, does she not? At least bring her on board as a consultant for the opposition in mock debates. And putting her on the payroll would take her off the talking-head circuit. Win-win.

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2012 7:36 PM
But Jk thinks:

Yeah, it's like that movie, Prelude to a Kiss. Can I be Kim Basinger?

Posted by: Jk at September 13, 2012 10:06 PM
But dagny thinks:

Meg Ryan???

Posted by: dagny at September 14, 2012 2:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Aaaagh! That's why I don't do movie allusions! Yes, Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin (I just checked on imdb and yes it was Alec Baldwin).

Great movie, though.

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2012 2:21 PM

September 12, 2012

Krauthammer for Sec State!

A good friend of this blog sends this with a suggestion that we "...appoint Krauthammer to issue the public statements on the embassy attacks."

Doctor the K can be a bit much for me on occasion. But there are times to speak the truth even if it a bit dour. And this is one of those times.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Whoa, double-take time: Is that a crude copy of the Obama logo on the upper right corner of the black flag displayed in the beginning of the video?

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2012 12:06 PM

September 11, 2012

Happy Patriot's Day

The name never stuck, but I still like it. I also still like this picture I took with a Palm Pilot iii (wicked modern tech!) and first posted Sept 11, 2004:

UPDATE: Interesting: 9/11 shot from space (Hat-tip: @BuzzFeed)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I and mine will never forget either. CNN and MSNBC viewers however, might. The latter did replay their minute by minute live coverage from 11 years ago, including a visible jumper's body plunging ground ward, but didn't see anything preceding.

I don't want to imply that 9/11 remembrance is a partisan activity but individuals clearly remember it differently. I remember the humanity and the senselessness - and the need for justice.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2012 11:28 AM

August 22, 2012

A New Magazine - Liberty Island

Liberty Island is the home of the Statue of Liberty, a cherished symbol of American freedom and (since 1886) a welcoming beacon to the rest of the world. The name also subtly evokes the spirit of non-doctrinaire libertarian conservatism that will animate the site. People will be drawn to Liberty Island not for reasons of ideological purity but because they love freedom in all its dimensions–and because it is entertaining and fun. Finally, the name is meant to evoke a kind of utopian nowhere, an island of freedom in a sea of conformity, a place where the imagination can run free.

I'm sure that the ThreeSourcers are going to want to read and/or contribute, so here ya go:

Liberty Island

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 3:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2012

Liberty in Boulder Tonight!

They only allow it two Mondays per month -- don't miss it!

Join us on Monday, July 23th, where your featured speaker will be Dr. Jill Vecchio, who will be discussing free market healthcare reforms. After Dr. Vecchio's presentation there will be a short Q&A session, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!

This event is open to the public, you're welcome to bring friends!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 3, 2012

Unlikely Sharanskyite

Or, "No wonder they kicked him out or NPR!"

Juan Williams pens a perfect and beautiful piece on the WSJ Ed Page today. I hesitate to excerpt, but the ThreeSources Style Guide is pretty explicit on this point.

Williams supports the US decision to refuse Castro an invitation to the Summit of the Americas, by tying freedom to prosperity and tyranny to privation, with the latter underscored by a visit to his hometown of Colon, Panama.

Secure markets are necessary for successful trade policy, and investment cannot take root when dictators can usurp property rights. Real, vigorous trade also leads to global investors and an educated workforce--all of which threaten dictators' power. That is why the U.S. stance on Cuba is so important for the region.

This spring brought a personal reminder of how important it is. I was born in Panama, in a poor city, Colon. For my birthday this year, I walked around there for the first time since my mother brought three children, including me (as a 4-year-old), to Brooklyn, N.Y. No joke, we came to this country as added freight on a banana boat.

I was never quite sure why I waited so long to go back to Colon. My wife and sons also accompanied me and, ever wiser than his old man, my youngest son, Raffi, said my reluctance to visit might have had something to do with the fear of the intense, ugly poverty that eats up people


Juan? The token prog on FOX? It is beautiful. This link should be free for seven days for non-subscribers.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2012

Honor Flight

Happy Memorial Day!

Hat-tip: Daily Caller

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2012

The Gay Marriage "Distraction"

It is a well travelled Republican talking point that the gay marriage issue is a distraction from President Obama's economic record. It's true of course, but the Republicans are as much to blame for said distraction as the Democrats.

A friend from suburban Wichita, Kansas emails a link to this story about a public school teacher posting his views against gay marriage on his Facebook page. He has every right to his beliefs, of course, and to speak them publicly. But by continuing to oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage we allow him to become the face of our conservative party. I will not stand silently by. How many of us have wished we could have been present in the face of an incident of racial discrimination in the segregated south and that we would have had the courage to say, "No, that is wrong?" Same story, different age.

My Kansas friend sent the link with the note "Need your comments here" to both me and my brother. What follows is my response, which rebutted my brother's.

[Brother] writes that it is "nonsense" that established law denies a right for same-sex marriage, then declares there is "no defined right for same sex couples to "marry." Which is it?

[Brother] writes that "The majority of the country does not care what people do in their own bedrooms or whom they decide to 'love'" but then proclaims homosexuality "abnormal" and that he doesn't support homosexual weddings because that would "redefine something that has been a pillar of communities for 5000+ years" and "the more we break down the institution of marriage to simply be a whim, the more our society will continue to degrade." So you, and "the majority of the country" are fine with homosexuality, you just don't want to acknowledge it in law?

[Brother] faults Conkling, the Hutchinson teacher, for "taking the cause backwards" and "fuel[ing] the opposition" by opposing gay marriage on religious grounds. I say [brother] is no different by attempting to oppose this individual liberty on non-religious grounds, whatever those might be. Until he clarifies his contradictions there's no way to know what objective basis he claims.

Conkling's "logic" is even more fallacious: Homosexuality is wrong because it is a sin, equal in God's eyes to all other sins, and we are ALL sinners. He says all sins are equal in God's eyes so homosexuality is equal to murder, but it's also equal to lying. Do you agree that lying is as wrong as murder? I don't. Conkling says he condemns gay marriage "because those who embrace it will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." First of all, doesn't the bible teach man to "judge not?" Secondly, there are other beliefs about heaven and sin and for one man to impose his own upon all other men is just as wrong as Sharia law.

Would it not be better to simply allow civil unions, conferring all the legal rights of marriage while witholding the term "marriage" than to continue to allow this issue to divide Americans and distract from issues that actually matter to all of us, like whether or not America will be a socialist country? And even if they aren't satisfied with civil unions and come back next year demanding "marriage" who cares? Whatever it is called it will still be a minority behavior. Unlike drug legalization nobody makes a legitimate case that legal homosexual marriage will cause more homosexuality. (But so what if it did? Will that affect you? Your children? Anyone who is not "abnormal?")

The cause of western laissez-faire capitalism is a cause of individual liberty. Individual liberty in commerce is a human birthright, as is individual liberty in social relations. Individuals are, by their nature, free to join a commune or establish a nuclear family; free to love another of the same gender or of the opposite gender. If you want to live free of oppressive taxation and wealth redistribution your only argument is individual liberty as a human birthright. But you weaken that argument by denying others a liberty of which you disapprove. Stop it. Admit your mistake and strengthen your position in the debate that really matters - that really affects you and your family's lives - by abandoning a debate that doesn't matter. Don't insist that your beliefs hold dominion over the beliefs of others lest they turn your logic back on you and insist that you are your brother's keeper.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:23 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Agreed and well said. There are quite a few things which may be defined as sinful which we do not elevate to statute. "Coveting thy neighbor's ass" is still okay in Weld County, as far as I know.

I allowed a many-years-old subscription to National Review elapse when they demanded -- on the cover -- a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage. I wasn't petulant about it, still respect NR, and have slid a little money their way since.

But I basically reached the same conclusion, that I could not employ the supremacy clause for a personal matter and expect others to defend my economic liberty. I suspect that would not have happened under WFB's more libertarian hand but I have no empirical proof.

On the pragmatic side, I think it remains a killer. Trying to attract somebody younger than 30 to the table of liberty is difficult in the wake of North Carolina's vote and now Colorado's lack of vote.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2012 6:45 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

JK drops his subscription to the National Review and I drop out of the Republican party. I struggled for several weeks about attending our caucuses, knowing that Party of God types would choose Rick Santorum and that a majority of the evening would be spent pushing an amendment to our state constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Even before Obama weighed in the strategy was to generate voter turnout based on opposition to gays. I cant possibly vote for Obama but I will not be in a party or campaign that seeks to benefit from an assault on the dignity and liberty of my brothers and sisters. And I won't be alone. Republicans are on the wrong side of history when it comes to Gay rights and they will pay a price for decades to come. Fifty years from now nobody will remember the Bidden gaffes or Obama's fundraising predicament; people will remember the first black president was the first to run for office as a supporter of gay marriage. Democrats enjoy almost unanimous suppport in the African American community based on Kennedy/Johnson era civil rights legislation and if Republicans don't wake up they will lose another voting block.

JK and John Galt, as always, provide a reasoned argument rooted in the Constitution and I appreciate that but this has become something more visceral for me. A couple of weeks ago a little girl in a town next to ours hung herself after being bullied for a year over her mother's sexual orientation. Last night I went to a funeral for one of my daughter's classmates. He climbed onto an overpass and jumped onto the highway below. He was bullied to death for being Gay. I am sickened and heartbroken. I will not be in a party that would deny the basic human dignity and equallity due every man and woman. I wont be part of a political movent that would deny the choice of marriage, the most important, valuable and meaningful decision I've ever made, to others. Bob Marley sings of "forwardin' this generation triumphantly," though in my case it is our younger generation that has been "forwarding" me. Henceforth I intend to help them "sing songs of freedom" and if the Republican party wants to block freedom's way I intend to roll right over them.

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 16, 2012 9:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

JK is correct about established attitudes, and I think my brother's beliefs reflect his environment more than his heart. The Kansas friend I mentioned lives near Wichita, more evangelical even than Colorado Springs and yet he replied to me, "in my world in Kansas USA I could care less what the corn-****ers do, just don't interfere with me or my family." A libertarian position that, if a bit intemperately stated.

I can't cite examples of friends or neighbors who've been affected by discrimination, and dagny observed that my attitude has *ahem* evolved. I can say I was profoundly ashamed when my neighbors and fellow delegates loudly booed the speaker from Colorado Log Cabin Republicans when he suggested the Colorado civil unions bill should be supported. When I said, fairly loudly and to no one in particular, "Hey, be nice" the woman next to me turned around incredulously. The rest of the conversation was unspoken but I do believe I impressed upon her that her attitude was something upon which she should reflect.

I had a similar experience at the Romney rally last week. A woman asked me if I wanted to sign her pro-life petition, ubiquitious at GOP events. I shook my head and asked her if she was aware that over two-thirds of Republican delegates to the state convention approved a resolution that abortion and pregnancy are personal, private matters and not the business of government. She was speechless but a man nearby blurted out, "Well they are wrong!"

In the first case I pleaded for civility, and in the second merely cited a fact. The reaction from those who heard me was reflexive, but shallow and unsupported. There was no furher debate or discussion, the respondents merely drifted away silently. These are simply ideas which they've never considered. None has dared utter them in such settings, in all likelihood.

Ayn Rand said that silence in the presence of ideas which you find abhorrent is tacit approval of them. Simply say, "I disagree" she advised in 'Philosophy, Who Needs It?' I hope that brother Sugarchuck, or any of the rest of us, will not abandon the Republican party when it most needs a voice for liberty. Our country's present state of divisivness and the failed leadership of the president present an opportunity to discredit the idea of socialism, but the left is not the only source of discredited ideas - the unchallenged dogma of social "norms" on the right should be confronted at the very same time.

To those who say that gay marriage or even civil unions are just a "drip, drip, drip of liberalism" I give the following reply:

Liberalism was established for the promotion of liberty. Thomas Jefferson was a "liberal." George Washington was a "liberal." Modern leftists co-opted the term and it has come to mean socialist or communist. I'm all for liberalism, but not socialism or communism. I understand the difference. Do you?
Posted by: johngalt at May 16, 2012 12:27 PM

May 9, 2012

Gotta change the vernacular

An issue has been bugging The Refugee and it's time to address it. That is, Leftist continually use "the government" as a singular entity. Examples would include, "The government should do this..." or "The goverment should pay for..." Can we agree that the government is actually a plural entity?

On Three Sources, we often say "taxpayers" when referring to government. This is better, but is still too impersonal. Instead, can we say, "you and your neighbors"? Thus, one might say, "You and your neighbors are obligated to pay for my birth control," or "You and your neighbors should all pay more so that I can have longer unemployment benefits." Yeah, it's a lot of keystrokes, but folks around here type pretty fast. It might bring home just exactly who "the government" really is, one blogger at a time.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 6:38 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Amen to that. Where possible, I like to use the name of a person's child, niece, grandchild. That provides a little perspective.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2012 10:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The problem with this formulation is that it isn't always applicable, as we see in the All Hail Harsanyi three posts up. The wasted dollars come from "you and your neighbors" but the "errors, sloppiness and bad judgement" come from a bureaucratic lack of accountability. The wealth does come from you and your neighbors, but the actor is "government."

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2012 1:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

True enough, JG. Perhaps "bureaucrats" would sufficiently personify the non-financial portion of government.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 11, 2012 4:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking it should be way more perjorative.

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2012 5:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, there's a Monty Python allusion: "I can't think of anything more derogatory than 'Belgians!'"

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2012 5:56 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't know, JK. I'd sooner be called Belgian than a Frenchman!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2012 10:18 PM

April 24, 2012

Colorado Republican Resolution for Reproductive Liberty

Seventy (70) percent of 3266 delegates voted at the April 14, 2012 Colorado Republican Assembly to approve the following resolution:

38. It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that pregnancy, abortion and birth control are personal and private matters, and should not be subject to government regulation or interference.

Yes: 2,290

No: 976

APPROVED

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2012 4:14 PM

February 22, 2012

Otequay of the Ayday

"What astonishing changes a few years are capable of producing! I am told that even respectable characters speak of a monarchical form of government without horror. From thinking proceeds speaking, thence to acting is often but a single step. But how irrevocable & tremendous! What a triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal & falacious! Would to God that wise measures may be taken in time to avert the consequences we have but too much reason to apprehend." --George Washington, Letter to John Jay, 15 August, 1786
Posted by JohnGalt at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2012

The gig is up

The historical accounts of the 2012 Presidential election are already being written. From Steve McCann's 'The Republican Establishment's Strategic Blunder' in the American Thinker:

The one major accomplishment of Barack Obama has been to bring a sudden and abrupt end the people's ability to tolerate this tacitly understood game between the two major Parties.

(...)

All the other challengers were easily eliminated or made irrelevant, as they did not have the money or experience of knowing how the game is played, but Newt refused to just slink away. Never has the Republican Establishment trained its guns on any one candidate in such an unbridled and unrestrained way.

Perhaps Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or Ron Paul are not the right candidates to face Barack Obama, but that decision should be up to the voters. While it maybe the role of the conservative pundit class to proffer their opinions of the various candidates, it is not the role of the overall Establishment to so marginalize candidates that there appears to be only one viable alternative.

The Establishment could not have made a more strategic blunder. They will, in all likelihood, succeed in securing the nomination for Mitt Romney, but the damage they have inflicted upon themselves is approaching irreversible. The public now sees the length to which the Establishment will go to make certain their hand-picked candidate is chosen regardless of the dire circumstances facing the nation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:28 PM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I dunno. This really smacks of conspiracy theory. My assessment of conspiracies is that the theorists give way to much credit for intelligence to the conspirators.

It reminds me of when Gore and RFK Jr. blamed Bush for Katrina. Sure - a guy they claim to be to stupid to read a book somehow has God-like control over the weather.

Similarly here, the "GOP establishment" is too incompetant to organize a campaign, but somehow as the skills to do a Jedi mind-trick on the electorate.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 1, 2012 11:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm confused. What's the "conspiracy theory?" That negative campaign ads work or that "an amalgam of like-minded groups with one common interest: control of the government purse-strings" dominates national party politics?

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2012 2:52 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG, you're a friend, so I'm happy to un-confuse you. :-)

First of all, the definition of "The Establishment": "an amalgam of like-minded groups with one common interest: control of the government purse-strings." Who in the polical debate does that NOT describe?!? We at Three Sources would love to control the government purse strings, if for no other reason than to tie a knot in them. Indeed, it is the disagreement over government gathering and use of funds that animates most of us.

Second, the idea that dozens or hundreds of prominant politicians - who can rarely agree on lunch - got together and derived a consensus and a grand strategy for electing a particular candidate seems highly implausible. The fact that a number of prominant politicians support a particular candidate does not mean that they got together and decided to do so, though no doubt many of the talk regularly.

Finally, "...it appears that those who are nominally identified as the "Republican Establishment" are doing all they can to alienate the vast majority of the current base of the Party." Seriously?? The party appartchik is sitting around dreaming up ways to piss off the "vast majority" of its base? Again, implausible. Moreover, how can they alienate the "vast majority" of the base and simultaneous convince them to vote for their chosen candidate?

This a sour-grapes theory to explain why Newt is losing to Romney. The truth is that while Romney may be deeply flawed, Newt is deeply, deeply flawed. Finally, just because a bunch of party insiders don't believe that Newt is electable doesn't mean it's not true.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 1, 2012 4:26 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

What he said. BR, that is...

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2012 11:43 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

"Republican Establishment trained its guns"
in non-partisan, unelectioneering, bomb-catching plainspeak, people established (aka, whose opinions are sometimes sought) within the republican party exercised their right to free speech and called a Newt... well, whatever they thought he was.

The idea of Ann Coulter colluding with anyone behind a closed door is silly... until ... it becomes oddly disturbing >:-0

I caught a bit of the ads and speech from the FL campaign. I didn't find the selected Romney ad objectionable (and you'd think they'd picked a nasty one). A bit harsh perhaps, but way less harsh than Newt calling anyone else a Washington insider: that takes gall and a forked tongue well-used to the taste of bile.

Gall don't necessarily impress independent voters. I already can't stand listening to His Whineyness anymore.

P.S.: the prohibition on posting comments still afflicts NB; but only with FireFox.

Posted by: nanobrewer at February 1, 2012 11:56 PM

January 15, 2012

Madame Prime Minister!

Professor Reynolds brings this clip. It may be "Coals to Newcastle" to embed it here, but I'll take that risk.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I've always believed the better answer to the "wealth gap" argument, even than Madame PM's, is that the depth of poverty can be plumbed no further than zero, and even as the poor rise out of poverty they are replaced by new low wage earners entering the workforce - there will always be workers at society's lowest wage. However, the wealth one may achieve is bounded by nothing but his ability, ambition and the good graces of our government overlords. Why should anyone want to restrict the growth of this "prosperity gap?" That is, anyone other than government overlords.

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2012 5:56 PM

December 20, 2011

Segue of the Year

Like the Oscars, they always pitch their best in December to try and get the coveted pick. But Bret Stephens, at the WSJ Ed Page schools this segue lover on how it is done.

As cosmic coincidences go, the deaths of Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il in the same week the U.S. pulled the last of its troops out of Iraq is hard to ignore. Havel made the exposure of tyranny the great task of his life. Kim was tyranny personified. And the war in Iraq was the bruising leap over the wall of global indifference behind which all tyrannies subsist.

The power of indifference is something I first understood from Havel himself after interviewing him, over a beer, in the gardens of Prague's Czernin Palace. The occasion was a June 2007 conference of international dissidents that he co-chaired with Israel's Natan Sharansky. I asked him about his views on the war in Iraq. He had once supported it, but now he was more tentative. The rationale, he said, had not been "well-articulated." The timing of the invasion was "questionable." As in the 1960s, the U.S. risked becoming an emblem of William Fulbright's "arrogance of power."

Then Havel stopped himself and, as he seemed wont to do, put the train of his thought in reverse. "The world," he concluded, "could not be indifferent forever to a murderer like Saddam Hussein."


I once read somewhere "During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world." I have not given up on Sharanskyism, but feel that we face an existential crisis in domestic policy. If we are to follow Europe's economic example, we will accept Europe's inability to alter events. This will please my Facebook friends and my big-L libertarian friends. But the cause of liberty and prosperity is not served.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, in honoring those who served in Iraq, the president never mentions the dismantling of a despotic regime. Not once. Instead it's an opportunity for partisanship and ideology:

"See, there's a reason our military is the most respected institution in America. They don't see themselves or each other as Democrats first or Republicans first. They see themselves as Americans first.

(...)

This cannot be a country where division and discord stand in the way of our progress. This is a moment where we must come together to ensure that every American has the chance to work for a decent living, own their own home, send their kids to college, and secure a decent retirement."

"Our" progress? Every American had a better chance at all of those things, before government resolved to "help."

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2011 2:27 PM

December 18, 2011

Giants Walked the Earth

The Velvet Revolution's Vaclav Havel has died. I celebrated Christopher Hitchens for his gift of spreading ideas. Havel turned ideas (and in my opinion less than-stellar rock and roll) into freedom for . . . how many? We can't count. Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch like to credit Havel with the fall of the Soviet Union. I'd give equal billing to President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, Pope John Paul, and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

But Havel gets bonus points for continuing to speak out for liberty long after the USSR was vanquished. Havel remained a player until his death at 75.

Gillespie digs up Welch's 2003 Profile in Reason. I'm going to steal his pull quote comparing Havel to George Orwell. Then I'll suggest you can read it to encompass Havel, Orwell, and Orwell's recent biographer Christopher Hitchens.

Like Orwell, Havel was a fiction writer whose engagement with the world led him to master the nonfiction political essay. Both men, in self-described sentiment, were of "the left," yet both men infuriated the left with their stinging criticism and ornery independence. Both were haunted by the Death of God, delighted by the idiosyncratic habits of their countrymen, and physically diminished as a direct result of their confrontation with totalitarians (not to mention their love of tobacco). As essentially neurotic men with weak mustaches, both have given generations of normal citizens hope that, with discipline and effort, they too can shake propaganda from everyday language and stand up to the foulest dictatorships.

Unlike Orwell, Havel lived long enough to enjoy a robust third act, and his last six months in office demonstrated the same kind of restless, iconoclastic activism that has made him an enemy of ideologues and ally of freedom lovers for nearly five decades.

Giants.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page weighs in:

Havel was given many awards in his lifetime, though never the Nobel Prizes (for peace or literature) which he so richly deserved. But notable among his prizes was Germany's prestigious Quadriga Award, which he won in 2009 and then returned earlier this year when Vladimir Putin was named the 2011 recipient.

It was that old disgust with hypocrisy again. When he died Sunday at age 75, he knew his legacy lived on with freedom-seeking people around the world, not least the imprisoned signatories of China's Charter 08 who took their inspiration directly from him. Their day of freedom is coming.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

We concluded: "The question is not whether Obama can live up to the Nobel Peace Prize, but whether he will be able to live it down." At least on the latter score, he has. He's no peacenik, he's a killing machine. -- James Taranto

Sic semper tyrannis -- welcome to the "Freedom on the March" category, Mister President.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2011

Job Creators Alliance

My first impression of it was a "Creators Union." A collection of free-market capitalism's best informed businessmen and women speaking out against government interference with the American dream. I heard founder Bernie Marcus talk about it during a teleconference interview with Rusty Humphries of theteaparty.net yesterday. He espoused views of competition and creation that would make Ayn Rand proud. And with this effort he's standing up for his values as Rand insisted that businessmen must do, or perish.

JCA acts as a public advocate agressively making public appearances and interviews to evangelize the free market private sector's role in creating wealth, prosperity and jobs. Marcus' recent interview in IBD is a good example.

Are they making a difference? Perhaps I was too sanguine in a comment last October when I said, "Capitalism is becoming 'cool'". The nationwide "Occupy" protests underway might contradict my optimism. But an equally likely verdict is that the "we want our fair share" crowd is playing to an empty theater. Despite media attempts to portray it as "a pretty massive protest movement" that "could well turn out to be the protest of this current era" (- That NBC lead anchor guy with the crooked nose, Brian Williams I believe) there really aren't very many people involved. Compared to the TEA Party demonstrations of 2009 and 2010 the self-proclaimed "ninety nine percent" are a mockery.

President Obama is quick to make villains of anyone who earns "too much" money. Job Creators Alliance is a long overdue voice that counters, "Hey, wait just a minute."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:56 AM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

Another problem for the crowd from Oz Occupying XYZ is the apologizer-in-chief has run on (therefore, away with) all the good lines.

My first choice to be slain with a splintery stake is "fairness." Who remembers this?

Gibson: So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
Obama: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.


Posted by: nanobrewer at October 15, 2011 1:52 AM

September 29, 2011

Happy Coffee Day!

You bet your ass that is Devil Dog Brew. Semper Fi, Hank!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:20 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2011

Found it!

Terri posted video of President Bush's remarks at the dedication of the Flight 93 Memorial.

UPDATE: President Clinton's (audio only). Seriously, listen.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2011

Patriot Day

jkflag.jpg

Ten years of quiet and a recent flurry of Reason and CATO articles had convinced me that "we overreacted" to the attacks. And they're certainly right, but.

My Dad, selling advertising to his clients, used to love to quote William Wrigley III. The gum magnate quipped that he knew half of his advertising budget to be a complete waste. If I only knew which half, said Wrigley, I'd cut it out.

The Reason and CATO folk are certainly right. We have done a thousand things that were ineffective and encroached on personal liberties. But, watching video again, one remembers the threat. And at least half, Mr. Wrigley, was overreaction. But the total package prevented additional attacks and severely dismantled the projection capacity of the perpetrators.

I'd suggest a candidate run on taking an honest evaluation of personal liberties versus protection. Finding the half -- starting with TSA screeners -- that violates liberties without protecting citizens and eliminating it.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:


I really liked the display I saw on Jay Rd. (just west of 75th) this AM: seven properties, seemingly one long fence, seven US flags horizontal ("half mast" for those w/o a flag pole).

In the afternoon, all seven flags now flying high.

Classy move... never forget...

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 12, 2011 12:33 AM

September 10, 2011

Not one more word

I know, we are supposed to pull together in unity for 9-11. Had the President not delivered a political campaign speech to a joint session of Congress the night before last, I might comply.

But we have been told of President Obama's oratorical skills sine the Democratic Convention in 2004. I just watched President George W. Bush and President Clinton's remarks at the dedication to the Flight 93 Memorial. Nothing President Obama has said has come close. All of his have been political speeches, or more likely, about him.

Presidents Bush and Clinton delivered memorable and moving speeches. Even VP Biden was doing well when the TiVo stopped. If you did not see them, I would recommend your trying to find video.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:01 PM | Comments (0)

Herman Cain's 9-11 video

I liked it. Some did not. "The Other" McCain is as much over-combative as "The Antecedent McCain" is (politically) under-combative. There's a fine line between moving and maudlin and I see room for honest disagreement.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

There is no honest disagreement from the likes of Alex Pareene. Without a doubt he would also label a composition of patriotic music with Pearl Harbor images as an "incredibly tasteless" "monstrosity." Or the Israeli National Anthem played over a pictoral representation of the Holocaust.

Some things must be remembered, lest we become the sort of sanctimonious mollycoddled urban effite who would dismiss documentary memorials such as these as "tasteless."

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2011 1:15 PM

September 5, 2011

Reagan for kids (especially the 18-year olds)

This post legitimately spans multiple categories. I don't recall it being discussed here when it was first released, last May I believe, so I'll immortalize it in the 3Srcs/EatOurPeas archives now.

For the youth of America who don't remember the economic resurgence that came about under the policies of President Ronald Reagan Mike Huckabee offers a new animated American History series to give them the pro-America version of events they may or may not have ever heard of. Here's a clip from the Reagan Revolution episode.

Mike Huckabee calls it an unbiased telling of history, while those more inclined to a politically-correct worldview see the religion boogeyman as they quote from the video's website: "We recognize and celebrate faith, religion and the role of God in America's founding and making our country the greatest place on Earth," the site reads.

I had attributed this reflexive anti-religion attitude to a majority of the one-third of American voters who are unaffiliated with a party but I'm ready to concede it may be yet another form of extremism that's been made to appear mainstream by the Dominant Liberal Establishment Mass Media. In defense of his product Huckabee claims that, "Ninety-one percent of liberals who were shown the videos said they not only learned something they would buy them for their kids."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:09 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Ooooooooh i dooooooon't knooooooooow maaaaaaaan....

Perhaps I have been whacking at the Gov for too long and need to better "recalculate pros and cons in real-time" but the tone of this is Reefer Madness meets Emmanuel Goldstein meets a PBS Kids' Recycling Special.

I enjoy a positive portrayal of our 40th as much as the next ThreeSourcer but there is little factual information here and the tone tries too hard to persuade to actually be persuasive.

And those Teeth! Millions of young children will grow up having Ronald Reagan nightmares! That can't be good.

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2011 10:55 AM

August 23, 2011

A Few Cheers for Sharanskyism

From a Sharansky-themed blog? Too much to ask?

The WSJ Ed Page proclaims "a victory for freedom and U.S. national interests" (admitting that it is not over).

A dictator with American blood on his hands is about to be overthrown by a popular revolt invoking democratic principles. Not a single American has died in the effort, and the victory would not have been possible without U.S. air power, intelligence and targeting as part of NATO. A long-oppressed people now has a chance to chart a freer future, a fact that is clear from the rejoicing in Benghazi.

What would we prefer: That Gadhafi stay in power?

Rather than wring our hands about the dangers ahead, now is the time to applaud the bravery of the Libyan people and help them build a better country. One way to start would be to respect what the rebels have accomplished and respond to their requests for assistance, rather than trying to dictate how they should act.


Freedom on the march, babies, freedom on the march.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

That is something, but it is not enough. The Americans who served, suffered and died in Iraq -- and who still serve there today -- changed the world and won a great and a difficult victory. No account of their service, no commemoration of the dead that ignores or conceals this vital truth is enough.
[...]
That victory was much more than a dignified escape from a sticky predicament. The coalition victory in Iraq was a historical turning point that may well turn out to be comparable to the cannonade of Valmy. It changed the course of world history. We have not done justice to those who gave their lives in Iraq until we recognize the full dimensions of their achievement. The story of Iraq has yet to be told. It is too politically sensitive for the intelligentsia to handle just yet; passions need to cool before the professors and the pundits who worked themselves into paroxysms of hatred and disdain for the Bush administration can come to grips with how wrongheaded they've been. . . . All wars are tragic; some are also victorious. The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known. The victory is equally real but the politically fastidious don't want to look. -- Walter Russell Mead
Hat-tip: Instapundit. The entire Mead piece, you'll be unsurprised to hear, is worth a full read: Mead comes to terms with his teenage pacifism.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

A moving article. I haven't read it all yet but was struck by the parallels of Iraq with Vietnam though not, from what I've read, mentioned in the article.

Both wars were opposed by the press, but in Iraq the media was at least wise enough not to villify the troops themselves. In Vietnam the administration blinked. In Iraq it did not. (Perhaps John McCain served his nation better as a Senator than as a fighter pilot.) And in both wars, for different reasons, the veterans are ignored by popular culture. It is good and just that we begin to recognize the accomplishment of Iraq War veterans as more than merely "not losing."

I'll excerpt my own quote from the article:

That [Osama bin Laden's] dream died in Iraq.

But on this Memorial Day it is not enough to remember, and give thanks, that Osama's dream died before he did and that the terror movement has been gravely wounded at its heart.

Because the dream didn't just die.

It was killed.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2011 2:27 PM

May 9, 2011

Quote of the Day, Yesterday.

Happy Mothers' Day:

It's unconscionable to me that I would protect my children from running out into a busy street but not protect their right to be free. A month after my oldest was born my husband and I spent an entire morning baby-proofing our house: placing plastic covers on all empty wall sockets, installing cabinet latches, covering all the sharp edges of the tables with adhesive cushions. Why wouldn't I also rise to install barriers against that which harms my children's future? We armed our children with the knowledge against "stranger danger," we taught them how to dial 911 in emergencies, we've taught them how to properly handle and not handle firearms. Why wouldn't I teach my children about their fundamental rights as an American? Their right to free speech, to assemble, the freedom of the press, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the freedom of religion? Their right to pursue happiness but not the expectation that they are owed happiness from their fellow man? -- Dana Loesch

Posted by John Kranz at 9:59 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Reminiscent.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2011 2:57 PM

May 7, 2011

Cry Havoc! And Let Loose...

Trained United States Dogs of War.

As if we needed more proof that dogs rule, check out this amazing photograph from the Foreign Policy website. It's from a Special Forces training mission a few months ago. Two brave American warriors jumping out of a helicopter into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rob Long says "don't bring a cat to kill a terrorist." I'm not going to get into the fray, but I do love the picture:

wardogs1_lightbox.jpg

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll, guestinstying.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"You go, dawg!"

Islamists consider cohabitation with dogs to be proof of our wretchedness; I consider canine villification to be proof of theirs.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2011 3:05 PM

May 4, 2011

Now a word from the Anti-Ron Paul

No doubt Rep Paul and Martin Feldstein would find much to agree on, but in accepting the Irving Kristol Award at the American Enterprise Institute, the Harvard professor delivered what AEI's Bridget Johnson calls "a pointed message for legislators on the Hill eager to slash budgets: Watch it with defense cuts."

"There are those who say the United States should not be the global policeman. ...There are also those who say we cannot afford to be the global policeman," Feldstein said at the annual AEI event at the National Building Museum. "But should we really be deterred from that role when the cost of our entire military budget--including the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan--is now less than 5 percent of our GDP? There is no danger of bankrupting ourselves by so-called 'imperial overreach' when we spend less than 5 percent of GDP on defense."

I'm quite ready to cut defense. I'd start with halving our personnel presence in now-friendly nations like Japan, Germany, South Korea. Services could privatize more supply and training functions and follow American business into doing more with less. But I'm not ready for an austerity-based isolationism.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:13 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Where to begin...

Friends, we're going about this all wrong. Global policeman? Do any of you know any volunteer policemen? Because all the policemen I know get paid to do that job. I wouldn't mind all these countries having us be the global policemen, so long as they're paying for the service we provide.

Talk about privatizing, JK - think of it as all the other countries outsourcing their defense to us. Who could do it better? If we play our cards right, would could do this for a profit.

Pax Americana.

And if we do pull our personnel back from these nations you mention, we'll have to build new bases here. There's a whole stretch of real estate running from San Diego to Brownsville...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 4, 2011 6:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Pax Americana indeed (we agreed on two words). My hero, Deepak Lal is out in your neck o' the woods at UCLA. His "Reviving the Invisible Hand" remains a formative book for me. I found it a compelling case for aligning the libertarian impulses of isolationism with the exigencies of sustaining trade in a large and violent world. The times that our species has been able to truly progress has always been under the aegis of a Liberal International Economic Order -- the big ones being Pax Britannia after Peel repealed the Corn Laws, and postwar Pax Americana.

Not gonna bait me with militarizing the Southern Border. Might I remind the barbed-wire and machine-gun ThreeSources contingent of Shakia Dahlmia's dictum? "A government big enough to keep your neighbors out is big enough to keep you in."

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2011 6:34 PM
But jk thinks:

"Nein, mein Brüder, we're just building this wall to prevent the West Germans from sneaking in to get our free healthcare..."

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2011 6:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Before we collect a fee for "policing the globe" we'll first make a gift of taxpayer's dollars in the amount of said fee. In the end it nets out to zero.

I'm being flippant but foreign countries would not pay us to be us. Instead they'll just "steal" American military services like the Chinese steal American companies' software.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2011 8:12 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Nice little country you have there, Mr. Premier; it would be a shame if something happened to it..."

I don't that your statement as flippant, JG - merely realistic, given the current way of doing things. That's why things will change radically when you elect me President and my new foreign policy takes effect. It goes like this:

(1) Dear United Nations: it's been fun. We're parting ways. You've got thirty days to get out of New York. Buh-bye.

(2) Foreign aid: "A billion dollars? Sure. What do you have that's worth a billion dollars?" Taxpayer dollars to support other countries is not our business, and not our problem. Rwanda and Lithuania are welcome to trade with us and grow their economies to improve their well-being. Welfare checks written to other countries, like all other forms of welfare, are history.

(3) Regime change is something else that's no longer our business. We respect the right of all other countries to freely choose their leaders, without our meddling. If you don't like your leader, you vote him out or throw him out. If your leader makes himself our enemy, we'll give you a chance to depose him; if you don't and it comes to war, we're in this to defeat your country, not to change your leaders for you.

(4) State Department: somewhere you've got a list of which countries are our friends, which aren't, and why. Bring that list to my office on Tuesday; I'll have coffee and sandwiches ready. By the end of lunch, we'll have an agreement that each country will get dealt with fairly, unambiguously, and consistently, based on mutual interest.

(5) We will be the example of liberty to all nations, and the guarantor of liberty to none.

Anyone care to contribute planks to this platform?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 5, 2011 12:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think I'll be contributing at all...

To be clear, that was "The Old America" that responded to challenges of Fascism, Soviet Communism, Islamic Terrorism, and the Barbary Pirates. Future rapacious despots will have nothing to fear from the US, and any loss of prosperity from globalized trade will be happily discarded as the price of "pure liberty."

We'll let France lead the world. On Cinco de Mayo!

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2011 12:50 PM

May 3, 2011

Back to Normal

I was quite happy when I heard that Osama bin Laden had met justice at the hands of Navy Seals. He was an enemy to liberty and he was a brutal murderer. It didn't occur to me to go dancing in the street -- but I don't have anything less than a smile for those who did.

I join Larry Kudlow (I hope you saw his Monday show) in fulsome praise for the President. President Obama took a tough road with many risks. He made the right call and I applaud him for it.

And yet, for the idea that the President is now somehow "unstoppable" in 2012, I offer a more realistic look at our nation's thoughts and sensibilities. About Noon Eastern on the day after, here are the Wall Street Journal's Most Popular stories:
wsl_mostpop_110503.gif

I'd say we're getting back to normal. (Umm, and here's a link to #1.)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Unstoppable? Only if the elections are held this week. Let the voting public fill its gas tanks a few more times before going to the ballot box...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 3, 2011 2:02 PM

May 2, 2011

Quote of the Day

"In the end it was the matchless skill and courage of these Americans that insured the success of this operation," a senior intelligence official said, referring to the team that went in. -- LA Times
Well done!
Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

HOO rah!

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2011 2:50 PM

April 27, 2011

Another 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' Movie Review

Because, if we aren't talking about it every day it isn't often enough.

Via email from Dr. Clifford Asness who produces the excellent Stumbling on Truth website, where he posts periodic original columns on topics in economics and investing. This as much a review of the reviewers as a review of the film. First, the film:

"I am telling you it's good. Particularly if what you're looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics? Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted "Indie" film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full "right" to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's praises and laud it's signs of a tight budget as "authentic."

OK, I guess that was about the reviewers too. Or maybe even mostly about the reviewers. But this is really about the reviewers:

"The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?)."

And his conclusion:

"If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.

Go see the movie."

Uncut and unedited version follows, including a link to the LA Times story where Aglioloro hints he might not make Parts 2 or 3 because "he's going on strike."

I've sent to this distribution list essays on limited government, and wonky quant finance papers. Now a movie recommendation (that is itself kind of a mini-essay on limited government).

Go see Atlas Shrugged. I did and loved it.

The critics hate it like socialist cats in the bath. The movie's producer, a hero of mine, is close to shrugging (see link below). It's hard to spend money, time, and blood on something, and have the critics savage it (which sadly matters a lot to success if not at all to truth), and go on.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/04/atlas-shrugged-producer-critics-you-won-hes-going-on-strike.html
I am telling you it's good. Particularly if what you're looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics? Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted "Indie" film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full "right" to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's praises and laud it's signs of a tight budget as "authentic."

I'm not sure if we have art imitating life or the other way around, but the critics are themselves Randian characters. They have an agenda - punish those who love liberty and have the temerity to defend it, then go to parties and be lauded by their friends for their heroic progressivism. And if they can make some snobby lies about cinematography along the way, more the better. (note - a small minority of critics have not seemed ideologically motivated, with them I simply disagree thinking they are using the wrong standard)

The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?).

If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.

Go see the movie.

-- Cliff

p.s. The movie superbly preserves a message from the book that gives the lie to so much the left says about it. The heroes are not "businessmen" and the villains "government". The book and movie clearly show the heroes are liberty loving creators and the villains totalitarian thieves - and those thieves come in the form of big business crony capitalists (those who don't create but use the state's power to steal to enrich themselves) as often as government apparatchiks (and never the defenseless poor). Look for this. The movie and book are honest, the critics are not.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:23 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Only slightly off-topic - different movie, related theme of issues with a meddling, over-reaching, central-planning government: http://bit.ly/jUjK3W

Doubtless near and dear to the hearts of all the ThreeSources brethren...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 11:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Umm, right link? Day by day?

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, read the word balloons - I won't tell you who Sir Golfsalot thinks is the hero of Joss Whedon's movie and spoil it. I'll just say that you can't stop the signal.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes! I came back for a pre-emptive Mea Culpa but you beat me to the click. I was stuck on "movie." For some reason Mal and the kids are first and foremost a teevee phenomenon to me.

Sir Golfsalot. Heh. Trump is trying to make it Sir Hoopsalot.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Is that Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican party? That Trump?

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2011 4:45 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, one sunshiny ray of hope - at least it's looking like Mike Hucksterbee won't be "the leader of the Republican Party." Sources on the ground say he's dissolving his campaign apparatus.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 7:23 PM

April 26, 2011

'Mother of Exiles'

This is the name that Emma Lazarus gave to the Statue of Liberty when it was gifted to America from France in the 19th century. The poem she reluctantly wrote to aid in raising funds for the building of a base to place it upon came to be the statue's meaning put into words:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

One analysis of the poem published by the University of Virginia errs in its characterization of an irony:

"As political propaganda for France, the Statue of Liberty was first intended to be a path of enlightenment for the countries of Europe still battling tyranny and oppression. Lazarus' words, however, turned that idea on its head: the Statue of Liberty would forever on be considered a beacon of welcome for immigrants leaving their mother countries."

I disagree with this conclusion. The statue and Lazarus' words were, in fact, symbols of enlightenment and freedom and did stand in contrast to European tyranny and oppression. However, the fault for European emmigration was not America's new statue but the fecklessness and intransigence of Old Europe's governments.

Is this germane again, today? Do the words in the great statue's base beckon to a new generation of American Patriots to strive for not just "democracy" but liberty?

It is true that much progress toward liberty has been made in America's 19th and 20th centuries, but in many other ways the once "golden door" of America has become as tarnished as the oppressive societies to whom she once showed the way. From the U of VA's concluding paragraph:

Just as Lazarus' poem gave new meaning to the statue, the statue emitted a new ideal for the United States. Liberty did not only mean freedom from the aristocracy of Britain that led the American colonists to the Revolutionary War. Liberty also meant freedom to come to the United States and create a new life without religious and ethnic persecution.

Yet this means little if economic persecution remains. Let not the New Colossus be transformed from the Mother of Exiles to the Mother of Equals, nor let our "tired" our "poor" our "huddled masses" once able to breathe free, succumb to the persecution of "shared sacrifice." Some lecture us that "cutting programs that help those who need them most is morally wrong" and "when Jesus talked about how God will judge nations, he said that God will focus on what we did or did not do for the neediest among us." And yet, how do government policies which violate the eighth and tenth commandments advance Jesus' word?

God's judgement, and liberty itself, are things reserved only to individuals and not to the abstract form we call "nations." Our government "overlords" would do well to remember this important distinction, as would voters.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great post, JG!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 26, 2011 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, what he said!

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2011 6:25 PM

April 20, 2011

Salute!

ThreeSources salutes Commander Shanti Sethi for her service and general hossness.

Shanti-Sethi.jpg

America is truly a wonderful country. Where else would you find a female Navy officer from Reno, Nevada, commanding the destroyer USS Decatur? Did I mention that she is of South Asian origin? Oh, and let us not forget that she is a graduate of the nation's oldest private military academy, Norwich.

In mid March, her ship made a port call in Chennai, India. The Indian media were quick to recognize the success of a daughter of their nation and the visit received a great deal of publicity.


Hat-tip: Blog friend Sugarchuck.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2011

Going Galt - The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Robert Tracinski is one of the best Objectivist writers on the scene so I was very interested when I recieved this 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' movie review from him in my inbox. In short, he is glad the film was made but thought it should have been of higher quality.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes--but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.
But Tracinski does not suggest that all of the story's spirit has been lost.
This same combination--vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"--might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

The movie's greatest signifance, according to Tracinski, is its relationship with the TEA Party.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel. [emphasis mine]

[For the hopelessly obsessed, such as myself, I've posted the entire article including original hyperlinks below.]

TIA Daily • April 14, 2011

FEATURE ARTICLE

Going Galt

The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

by Robert Tracinski

After more than 50 years, a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's perennially best-selling pro-capitalist epic in finally coming to the big screen—but through the strangest route possible.

That the film hasn't been made long ago, despite being one of world's most successful literary properties, is surprising—but not too surprising. No, it's not because the novel is difficult to adapt to the screen, as you will sometimes hear from both its critics and its admirers. Yes, the book has long, complex exchanges of dialogue that have to be ruthlessly condensed. But Ayn Rand started out her career—in the 1920s through the 1940s—as a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogue—and, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.

If you can't figure out how to make a good movie out of all of that, then brother, you don't know your own business.

Hollywood, as many of us have long suspected, does not know its own business. Plenty of big-name directors, writers, producers, and stars expressed interest over the years. But whether it was the pro-free-market politics, the larger-than-life heroic characters, or the big philosophical ideas, the book forced modern Hollywood outside its comfort zone, and no one was able or willing to figure out what to do with it.

So the version that comes to us now is one that was hastily put together at the last minute, with only weeks to go before the film rights lapsed. It has a small budget, no recognizable stars, an inexperienced director, and a script co-written by a producer with no literary or artistic experience whatsoever. The resulting film was unable to find a major distributor, so even though it was scheduled for April 15—a perfect symbolic date for a protest against big government—the movie was originally set to open only in a dozen small "art" theaters in a few big cities.

That was about six weeks ago. Then something remarkable happened.

Atlas Shrugged is set to open tomorrow in 300 theaters across the country. True, that's still a fraction of the opening distribution for a big blockbuster—but it's an awfully big fraction. This means that the film won't just be opening in a few big cities but will play in quite a number of towns across the heartland. Places like Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Lakeville, Minnesota. In politics, we ask: but will it play in Peoria? Yes, it will, at the Grand Prairie 18 in Peoria, Illinois.

More remarkable is how this happened: as a result of grass-roots pressure and agitation from fans of the novel. This allowed the producers, who decided to self-distribute the film, to convince many local theater operators to give the movie a chance.

I know from local experience that a lot of this pressure came from Tea Party groups or individual Tea Party members, many of whom have taken inspiration from the novel, so this huge jump in distribution has to be seen as the latest success—and as a show of strength, numerical and ideological—for the Tea Party movement.

I have never seen a film spread through this kind of grassroots groundswell of enthusiasm, with zero support from movie critics, cultural elites, or celebrities. This is all the more remarkable because most of the people clamoring for the film are doing so sight unseen. So we have to interpret this as an enormous demonstration of support for Ayn Rand's novel, which readers hope will be faithfully adapted in the film.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes—but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.

The movie does not adulterate or rewrite the ideological content of the novel. Rather, the script has a tendency to take Ayn Rand's complex and original characters and reduce them to Hollywood clichés. Yes, you read that right. Contrary to the usual literary smears against Rand, it is her characters who are fresh and complex, while it is Hollywood's stock heroes and villains who are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. The novel's version of Lillian Rearden, for example, is a fascinating study in how the left uses its pose of moral and intellectual superiority to keep the people who do the actual thinking and the actual work—the world's innovators and wealth-creators—intimidated and suppressed. Lillian's goal is to prevent these men from expressing pride in their achievement and to make them eager to demonstrate their subservience to their "progressive" overlords. She does this in high society by using her husband's money and position to support a salon of leftist artists and intellectuals. Much more memorably, she does it at home by subjecting her husband—an innovative, self-made steel tycoon—to a constant drumbeat of emotional abuse intended to make him feel that business, like sex, is not a subject to be mentioned in polite company. (He eventually learns to question both of those assumptions.) Lillian Rearden is a totally original yet instantly recognizable archetype of manipulative power-lust—yet in the film, she is reduced to not much more than a catty trophy wife of the type we've seen many times before. So Hollywood found a way back to its comfort zone, after all.

Unfortunately, this persistent flaw takes a good deal of the ideological and dramatic punch out of the story and may leave some new viewers of the film wondering what all of the fuss is about. I hope they take the time to find out by picking up the original novel, because there is a lot there that will justify the enthusiasm of Ayn Rand's fans and of the Tea Partiers who have picked up her novel in recent years.

The film covers just the first part of the novel. The producers wisely chose to divide Ayn Rand's densely plotted thousand-page epic into three segments, with the plan of presenting them in a trilogy of films. The main story line in Part 1 is the struggle of the protagonist, railroad executive Dagny Taggart, to hold her railroad together and save an American economy dying from suffocating taxes and government regulations. Sound familiar?

But Dagny's story isn't just about economics. It is about her sense of loneliness and isolation in a world where men of enterprise, initiative, and ability seem to be disappearing. And more: we see her loneliness in a culture where clear-eyed rationality and self-assertive ambition are no longer valued. Dagny faces a world that has fully adopted, in all of its ugly actual details, the left's credo of "need, not greed." Everyone has needs—expressed in long, whining complaints about how "sensitive" they are—and no one has the guts to take responsibility for supporting his own life and achieving his own happiness. In short, these guys have taken over.

Dagny finds an ally in the steel tycoon, Hank Rearden, who helps her build a crucially needed rail line to the nation's last remaining industrial boomtown—and I think you can guess that they find, in each other, a solution to their problems.

Dagny's main obstacle is her older brother, Jim, who is no good at running the railroad but knows how to run to Washington. While Dagny tries to keep the railroad alive by supporting the last growing industrial enterprises, Jim is always scheming for short-term profits from political favors and government subsidies. Again, sound familiar? He is the perfect fictional villain for the age of bailouts—the era of Government Motors and banks being turned into "government sponsored entities."

It is Jim's cabal of politicians and politically connected businessmen who begin the action in Part 1 by plunging the nation into an economic crisis, from which Dagny saves them, and they end Part 1 by causing another, worse crisis. Again, sound familiar? But while the film presents Jim as another Hollywood cliché, a soulless young corporate schemer, the novel's portrayal is more complex, interesting, and relevant to today's political environment.

In the novel, Jim has pretentions of being an intellectual and a deep, sensitive, "spiritual" type. Even when his schemes have the obvious ulterior motive of extorting unearned wealth, they are always pitched in terms of altruist bromides. But he really means the bromides, and Ayn Rand's point is that you can't tell where the "idealist" motive leaves off and the cynical one takes over. Jim believes that someone needs to be sacrificed to "the public good"—and he always tries to make sure he is "the public" and not the one being sacrificed.

This is summed up in a scene early in the novel when Taggart concludes the negotiations for one of his corrupt deals by offering a macabre toast: "Let's drink to the sacrifices to historical necessity."

This same combination—vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"—might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

This is just scratching the surface of an epic novel, and the story widens and deepens as it goes beyond Part 1. But I think you can now see how an obscure, low-budget film has become a grassroots crusade before it even opens in the theaters. The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenon—and part of the Tea Party phenomenon.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"—a reference to one of the novel's heroes—sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel.

The novel has not yet found anything near its fullest and best expression on the screen—nor have we seen anything near the full scope of its impact on American politics.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2011

One more day...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Doesn't seem to be a theater anywhere near me - mayhaps there's not enough receptive viewers in California? From the look of the theater listing, I'll be waiting for this to hit cable...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Torrance? Central LA?

http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/theaters#California

Me and my kinfolk are going to the premier in BOULDER. (Yes, that Boulder.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Both are nearly an hour from me, and through downtown traffic. Yeah, I'm just whining. Eleven million people in the LA area who desperately need to see this, and it's showing on two gorram screens. You'd think a market this size...

Who am I kidding? We can't even hold onto an NFL franchise. I've got no reason to believe that this American Idol level, entertainment-addicted wasteland has the synaptic firepower to understand this movie. They're still waiting for Meet the Fockers VII.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

One should count himself lucky it's on any LA screens. It's tantamount to Friedman's 'Free to Choose' airing in Moscow in the 1920's.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 11:36 PM

April 13, 2011

Two more days...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2011

Margaret Thatcher with a Drawl

On the 150th Anniversary of Ft. Sumter, I think the South may rise again. Check out Sandy Springs, GA and Mayor Eva Galambos


Posted by John Kranz at 1:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2011

Only Zimmerman can go to China

I confess I was a little disappointed at the early reports claiming Bob Dylan had allowed the Chinese censors to edit his song list. I'm a fan of the sage of Hibbing, Minnesota, and -- compared to the rest of the country -- something of a fan of the middle kingdom.

But it did not sit well that "Blowin' in the Wind" was censored from the set list. Then again, was it? Our beloved media claims it was because he played it in Singapore but not in Beijing. Eggo propter hoc, dominatrix. Ron Radosh is not so sure.

Clearly, since Dylan alters his set list each night, we do not know what they asked him to sing. He had to give them his lyrics in print, and as [Sean] Curnyn writes, "The mental image of these communist bureaucrats going through all of those songs, trying to figure them out, is an oddly pleasant one."

The best part of Radosh's column, and one that must be internalized every couple of years, is that Bob Dylan is not captive property of the left no matter how many times they claim him.
The ignorance the media has about Dylan is most apparent in this AP dispatch appearing this morning in The Washington Post. Take the very first sentence about a forthcoming concert Dylan is to give in Vietnam: "After nearly five decades of singing about a war that continues to haunt a generation of Americans, legendary performer Bob Dylan is finally getting his chance to see Vietnam at peace." The writer, obviously a very young person without any familiarity at all with Dylan's work, does not realize that Dylan never sang about the war in Vietnam, and never joined one single protest against it.

In his famous 1968 interview (the very year of protest) conducted for Sing Out! by his friends John Cohen and Happy Traum, Dylan was asked by Traum: "Do you foresee a time when you’re going to have to take some kind of a position?" Dylan answered in one word: "No." Traum, obviously upset, argued that "every day we get closer to having to make a choice," because, he explained, "events of the world are getting closer to us ... as close as the nearest ghetto." Dylan's answer: "Where’s the nearest ghetto?"


Stop it! I'm going to cry!

Nothing in Radosh's piece or Sean Curnyn's that he links to, exculpates Dylan. But it inculpates MoDo and the AP and WaPo for establishing a narrative without any factual basis. Who'da thunk?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 1, 2011

If You Did Not Hate Radical Islam Before

iran5.jpg

From "Iran Before the Chador"

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2011

Libya

Not gifted with The Refugee's brevity, I will go on a bit about "the speech."

1. Donald Sensing nails it with "There is no Plan A.' After a week's whining that there were no tangible objectives, Our Commander-in-Chief offered hope and change.

2. I was once more amazed at the lack of luster. Where is that guy who lit up the stage in '04 and '08? Larry Kudlow saluted him for a dramatic and strong finish, but I was half asleep in my frog pajamas* by the end. Zzzzzzzz.

3. For structure, I get it, Mister President, it was very multilateral and the UN was in on it. But, umm, isn't Libya on the Committee for Human Rights in the UN? Seems like we wouldn't have to use Tomahawks and sorties to prevent their massacring "hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians." And, if not, is their approval truly the gold standard?

4. This partisan hack viewed every line through the prism of his opposition to Iraq. Just replace Libya with Iraq and Qaddafi with Saddam and everything works. This president has always been at war with Eurasia I suppose**.

* Apologies to Tom Robbins
** Apologies to George Orwell

UPDATE: 5. It isn't an Obama speech without a strawman and he delivered early. There are those who said we couldn't possibly stand up to the fierce Libyan Air Force and there are those who suggested nuking the whole country. But I -- Mister Reasonable Guy -- have chosen a more moderate path... It reinforces the idea of a thin-skinned executive who cannot abide any criticism without assuming that it lacks seriousness or credibility.

UPDATE II: Prof VDH says the same thing, unsurprisingly better.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:11 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

If I may add another:

6. This president has now launched more cruise missiles in anger than all previous Nobel Peace Prize winners combined. [Hat tip: Mike Rosen]

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2011 11:50 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Obama is the Johnny One Note of speech-making; they all sound alike.

If he had quit after 15 minutes, it probably would have been a good speech. The longer he prattled, the more incoherent the message became. America is the leader, but we're not going to lead. We're not the world's police until the world needs police. We're going to step in and protect the innocent except when we don't. Just waiting for him to say he was against it before he was for it.

Great comments, BTW, especially numbers 4 and 6.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 29, 2011 2:27 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Couldn't help but love all the comparisons to Reagan's seven minute speech when he attacked Libya.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 29, 2011 2:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

With each passing situation that President Obama faces, ponders, delays, and eventually makes a forgettable speech about, I'm reminded more and more of a specific episode of the original Star Trek series: 'The Corbomite Maneuver'

Jim decides that they're going to board the ship and render any assistance they can, including medical. He, McCoy, and Bailey beam over, and find that the Balok they thought they'd been dealing with is a mannequin; the real Balok is a small, childlike being (the most perfectly Clint Howard has ever been cast in his life) with a booming voice and charming sense of humor.

I just wonder when or if we'll ever get to meet the real President Obama.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2011 3:30 PM

March 25, 2011

Live Free or Die

I had heard of the Free State Project and considered it an interesting, if moderately crankish, idea.

The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government, to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.

John Stossel had a couple of representatives on his show last night. I confess I was swayed into serious consideration -- and the lovely bride is packing and taping up boxes.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:05 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Kind of like those pro-liberty activists back in 1620 who agreed together to relocate for the creation of a freer society. It took about 160 years for it to finally work. Of course, it ultimately led to what is now Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, the only natives they had to displace were the Algonquins (who went on to form a famous club in New York City). The Free Staters have a larger and more intransigent indigenous population with which to deal.

Does it have to be New Hampshire? My better half isn't a fan of the cold, being from a tropical clime.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 25, 2011 7:04 PM
But jk thinks:

They took a vote (when they reached 5K) among eleven states -- every one of 'em colder than a dang boot! All the warm ones are too populated or too statist to be undermined by 20,000 activists. Wyoming would have at least been geographically convenient.

I confess I was thinking "cold..." and Stossel mentioned it several times. The Pilgrim's path is never easy...

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2011 7:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

New Hampshire is 5000 feet lower in elevation (what is it, 1 degree per thousand feet?) than Wyoming and has roughly 99 miles per hour calmer prevailing winds.

Call me when New Hampshire is exempt from federal taxation and regulation.

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2011 10:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Tough room. Already zero state income tax, zero state sales tax. Plus a rich history of embracing liberty.

Rte 128 is still open, so Commonwealthers and other New Englanders with bad ideas spill in. The point was made that it is not 20,000 warm bodies but 20,000 activists. All into a state with smaller population than the Denver Metro area.

Yeah, watched it again on TiVo. It looks pretty good. They explain it much better than I do.

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2011 12:00 PM

March 24, 2011

Why They Fought

Posted by John Kranz at 4:03 PM | Comments (0)

Libya

Many things to appreciate about Blog Brother BR. But top of this is: he's no welcher. My cappuccino was paid for yesterday, and he magnanimously added a white chocolate latte for my lovely bride.

For a couple Sharanskyites, we were palpably nervous about the actions in Libya. Speaking for myself, I came home to find Victor Davis Hanson had pretty much nailed it.

Why are many conservatives against the Libyan war? Is it, as alleged, political opportunism -- given their prior support for the 2001 and 2003 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

No. Most of us support wholeheartedly our troops now that we are in, but opposed the intervention for reasons that were clear before we attacked, and are even clearer now.


Professor Hanson then enumerates seven difficulties with the action -- and I cannot say I disagree with any one of them.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Such blog challenges are simply great excuses to get together with good friends.

Libya is a very close call for The Refugee. There are many good reasons to get rid of Qaddafi. Nevertheless, The Refugee lands in the camp with JK and Victor Davis Hanson.

There are three reasons to go to war: national defense (including pre-emptive action), to protect clear national interests and to prevent genocide. Despite that fact that Qaddafi is a brutal dictator who will kill many, this does not seem to be a case of genocide.

There are other equally vicious regimes in North Korea, Iran, Syria, Darfur, Zimbabwe, China, etc., and we are not invading despite arguably clearer national interest. The fact is, we are attacking Libya because we can do so with virtually no fear of (significant) reprisal. Kind of a chicken excuse, if you ask me.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 24, 2011 12:17 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's a shame that "No Kinetic Military Action For Oil" just doesn't have quite the same "punch"

Posted by: AlexC at March 24, 2011 1:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And it was also a close call for johngalt at one time, but not now. As JK and Matt Welch convinced me, Uncle Sam should have remained on strike. But SOS Clinton succombed to the pleas, not so much of the Libyan rebels but of the French President. A better plan would have been to leave France and the U.N. to their own devices, and give every form of economic support to the Libyan revolution. The would-be interventionists would learn the thankless unpleasantness of being the world's policeman and Libya's rebels would have achieved success at least as quickly as appears likely via the present morass.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2011 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

@AlexC: Heh -- I'll definitely take a "No Kinetic Military Action For Oil" T-shirt. Maybe tye-dye, with a big peace sign...

Posted by: jk at March 24, 2011 3:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Idea submitted to thoseshirts-dot-com on your behalf.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2011 4:41 PM

March 11, 2011

No, it really is over.

A NY Times editoral yesterday squeaked, "It's Not Over in Wisconsin." But I'm quite happy to correct them - as the WSJ notes, it really is. But what most interested me in the execrable Times piece was it's opening line:

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have reversed half-a-century’s middle-class progress in the state by erasing collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

First of all, this explains why Progressives are so agitated - issuing death threats - calling for "class war" - with the democratically enacted legislation in Wisconsin. It took them fifty years to achieve the present state of their glorious people's state, yet in a few weeks a handful of Republican politicians have pulled out one card and the rest of the house-of-cards came tumbling down.

But what else does this seethingly indignant sentence say? Middle-class progress over the last 50 years is to the credit of - unions? Then why are unions such a minority presence in the private sector? But I digress. To fully understand what "progress" means for the middle-class one must first consider how the middle class has changed in five decades. The graphs at this Tax Foundation post show that the 1960 middle class consisted mostly of married couples, a large portion of whom had children. Fast forward to 2007 and that demographic is mostly represented in the top two quintiles of taxpayers. (You know, the "rich.") Today's middle class is single filers.

These demographic shifts have no doubt contributed to the perception of rising income inequality. When the so-called rich are increasingly couples with two incomes, they will naturally look wealthier than the vast number of single taxpayers who now populate the statistical middle.

But those single taxpayers aren't poor. They're now the middle class!

As for the nuveaux "upper class"...

Because of the progressivity of the federal tax code, these couples end up facing the highest federal income tax rates even though they live distinctly "middle-class" lifestyles.

(...)

As lawmakers look for solutions to the economic challenges facing today's "middle-class" but upper-income families, they would do well to consider the way in which taxes--federal and local--are contributing to the problem.

And that, boys and girls, is what is driving the events in Wisconsin. To borrow from the SEIU mob vernacular, "This is what middle-class progress looks like!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:43 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

FB friend posts "If you live in Wisconsin, don't forget to set your clock back 50 years this weekend!"

Wrong-as-pants-on-a-trout, but a funny line.

Posted by: jk at March 12, 2011 12:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, but even funnier if it were autumn. In the spring, we set the clocks, forward. Fifty years seems a bit optimistic but it does feel like a huge leap. Maybe 50 is about right.

Hey FB friend, remember when you were singing drinking songs and we were carping about the Constitution and the end-of-America-as-we-know-it when Stimulus and Obamacare got ramrodded through? Well, UP YOURS this time. (I usually try to stay above this level but I just can't help myself when I see all these able bodied young people running around with their palm outstretched.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 12, 2011 4:19 PM

March 9, 2011

No Fly, Deux

Some comically snarky jabs in this Matt Welch piece. Plus this outsourced answer to brother jg:

It's not hard to understand the impulse here. Qadaffi is an evil sonofabitch mowing down his own people, and we have the most powerful military in the history of the world. There's a particularly rusty and nasty-looking nail sticking up right in the middle of the footpath, and we happen to have this marvelous hammer nearby. What kind of heartless and/or gutless bastard can stand idly by as the bodies pile up?

This kind: The one who worries about the myriad unintended consequences of war.

Look around the historic North African and Middle East uprisings of 2011, and what's missing? The Great Satan, that's who. The United States has such an outsized role in the world's affairs, and such an overwhelming military advantage, that it cannot help but massively distort any internal situation it gets involved in, and sponge up responsibility for the affairs of people who for too long have been spectators in their own lives. By mostly removing itself as the central protagonist of the Arab Spring, Washington is devolving that responsibility to the people who deserve it, and letting the focus remain instead on the brutal misgovernance of the region's dictators.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:29 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. This is a good argument for a sort of terrestrial Prime Directive. I hereby admit that my patriarchal proclivities had overwhelmed my rational faculty.

I did consider this reasoning, by the way, before endorsing limited bombings of "Russian planes" in totalitarian states under civil war. I thought that the engagement, and therefore the risk and the expense, could be assiduously restricted to removing the unfair advantage. But what I hadn't considered was Welch's most monumental point: American non-involvement is an absolute defense against claims of American complicity in "fill in the blank."

While Welch and I may still disagree on the issue of defensive aid to an ally under attack from a third party, his argument exposes a tacit national defense welfare arrangement where the United States feels obligated to come to the military aid of "the innocent." Well, in this particular example at least, they are not innocent. Libyans have had decades to oust their dictator. Their present malady is a lesson to other peoples of the world who see a dictatorial madman coming to power. Stopping him may be costly, but only more so the longer he is allowed to hold power.

Yes, I do believe the Prime Directive is apt in the case of Libya. They are without a doubt a "pre-warp" civilization.

Well done my brother.

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2011 10:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had another important point to include before posting the last comment - It is an irony of historic proportions that this new lesson to the world, i.e. be careful what you wish for when demanding that the USA stop being "the world's policeman," is presided over by Barack H. Obama, the proponent of American Non-Exceptionalism. By failing to engage as the leading power in nearly every international dispute, either militarily or diplomatically, he is showing the world just how much it has come to depend on and even demand America doing exactly that. And as enmity for the Stars and Stripes gradually wanes, the world may not actually start to "love and respect us" as candidate Obama promised, but it will certainly wonder if it is better off without American "meddling."

At the same time the American people are spared the expense and the weight of conscience that all of this good-deed-doing has traditionally cost us.

There you have it world - Uncle Sam is on strike.

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2011 11:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Who is Sam Galt?

The presence of one President Barak Obama had a too-large influence on my reticence. Any military undertaking would be poll driven and unlikely to underpin an overarching freedom agenda.

Wait -- does this mean I won one?

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2011 10:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Do none of our agreements from the start count? OK, maybe or maybe not your first win, but methinks the most decisive.

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2011 12:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

P.S. "Who is Sam Galt?"

Like

Sometimes I wonder if I've expressed myself effectively. This confirmed it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2011 12:33 PM

March 8, 2011

No Fly

You can call me a fair weather Sharanskyite, but I'm not. It is not a fair cop, guv.

I still defend American missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan was the established residence of the perpetrators of 9-11. Iraq was far less directly tied to our national interest. A "War of choice" as is said. But it was geographically and politically important enough to count as a keystone in a Sharanskyite freedom agenda. The fact that it scared Moammar Gadhaffi (how are we spelling it this week?) into abandoning his inchoate nuclear program is particularly germane this month.

Yet, I am joining my CATO pal Gene Healy in advising caution and against a Libyan No-fly zone:

Our Constitution takes a narrower view. It empowers Congress to set up a military establishment for "the common defence ... of the United States," the better to achieve the Preamble's goal of "secur[ing] the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Armed liberation of oppressed peoples the world over wasn't part of the original mission.

America would be "the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all," John Quincy Adams proclaimed in a famous speech on July 4, 1821, but she would be "champion and vindicator only of her own."


One could make the Sharanskyite case for Libya and the Healian case against Iraq. Yet I contend that the risk/reward ratios are substantively different.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

But would you throw a rope to a drowning man? What we have here is called an "emergency situation." Sometimes a risk is called for.

A no fly zone? No. But a few airfield bombardments, after consultation with our allies, would go a long, long way in helping the Libyan military decide to get on the right side of this fight like the Egyptian military did just last month.

Are we using force to "overthrow the government of a sovereign nation?" Hardly. A civil war is underway in a totalitarian state. Failure to act will cause more bloodshed than action will. And such action would not be warranted in a pluralistic nation whose military was not attacking her own citizens.

FNC correspondent Leland Vittert was asked by a Libyan rebel, "You're an American. Can you tell me why America does not help us?" It has become almost expected that America will defend innocent lives. Are we obligated to do so? Absolutely not. But our worldview and our sense of humanity compel us to it. Or at least, they did, prior to the present regime. This bunch can't act in the name of peace in Libya for fear of gasoline prices going back down.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2011 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

More deserving than the Sudanese? Myanmar? You're from Boulder, how about Free Tibet! Eritrea?

I'm not a geography whiz, but Libya looks huge, African, and Islamic. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: jk at March 8, 2011 3:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

C'mon bro, won't you just acquiesce to blowing up their Russian airplanes? Blowing up Russian airplanes is FUN!

As for your other civil war examples, if those nations have Russian airplanes I'm for blowing them up too.

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2011 2:24 PM

March 3, 2011

A VP Galt -- Pentagon Feud

It was bound to happen. There's tension in every administration.

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I did criticize Governor Palin's call for a NATO No Fly Zone in Libya. I thought it bellicose: a little too much, too quickly. I'd like to see the US stand with dissidents in Libya (and Iran!), wish them well make it known that we support their cause and look forward to welcoming them into a community of Nations.

Then, pursue sanctions and diplomacy from a position of moral strength. I don't put too much credence in the efficacy of diplomacy and sanctions, but it is a proper starting place and a proper parking space. Our plans can stay static while we watch developments unfold. I'm still a Sharanskyite and would like to see the US stand for freedom. And yet, we cannot repeat the Marsh Arabs fiasco where dissidents expect us to come to their aid.

The Pentagon reminds today that a No-Fly Zone is not a casual endeavor. It is a serious military entanglement:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Appropriations defense subcommittee that the U.S. military could establish a no-fly zone over Libya, but cautioned that doing so would first require widespread air strikes across that nation.

"If it's ordered, we can do it," Gates said. But, he added, it would be "a big operation in a big country."

Establishing control of Libyan air space would "start with attacks to destroy" Libyan air defense systems, Gates said. That kind of assault would require more U.S. military aircraft than "you would find on a single aircraft carrier."

Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I believe I counseled President Palin only to order our warships to lie at anchor off Tripoli, did I not? No beef with the Joint Chiefs there.

(Between the two of us our administration will be a model for all others to aspire to.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 4, 2011 3:30 PM

March 2, 2011

The fall of "Big Labor"

Leftist media has tried to draw analogies between the Wisconsin contretemps (jg loves the word contretemps) and popular uprisings against middle-east dictators. A parallel does exist, but not the one they've been suggesting.

Robert J. Samuelson writes on today's IBD Ed page, "What we are witnessing in Wisconsin and elsewhere is the death knell of Big Labor."

To members, unions exist to win higher wages and fringe benefits, and in this, they mainly succeeded. In 2006, union wages in the private sector were about 19% higher than those in comparable nonunion firms, estimates economist Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University.

The wage premium can endure if higher productivity (aka efficiency) justifies higher wages, or if companies can pass along costs to customers. The productivity advantages of unionized firms are scant, Hirsch says. The formula worked, because many heavily unionized industries were dominated by a few large firms with similar labor costs. These could be recovered in higher prices.

Or in the case of public-sector unions, higher taxes. But the election of President Obama and his cavalier attitude toward spending and taxing, galvanized the thoughts of most Americans that they were "Taxed Enough Already." And now, finally, there are some politicians in the Republican party who offer a competitive alternative to the status-quo big governmentism of the last half of last century. And the taxpayers are changing loyalties at the ballot box.

Traditionally, public-worker unions flourished in an alliance with liberal Democrats. But the huge loss of state and local government revenues has -- like new competitors for firms -- transformed the economic and political climate. Labor costs put upward pressure on taxes and downward pressure on public services.

The result is a dilemma that transcends partisan union-bashing. Striving too hard to protect existing wages and benefits will stimulate more political opposition, and not just from Republicans (see Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York). But sacrificing too much may trigger a revolt from angry rank and file.

Private-sector unions couldn't solve this dilemma; they never reconciled past successes with future survival. So Big Labor became Little Labor. If public-sector unions fail, Little Labor could become Mini Labor.


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (0)

How a Real Leader Speaks

Michael Barone. And he is not quoting President Obama:

"Indeed Britain has taken on a leading role in coordinating the international evacuation effort. Our AWACS aircraft are directing international aircraft involved. And Brigadier Bashall, who is commanding the operation, has established a temporary joint headquarters in Malta.

"I have thanked the Maltese Prime Minister personally on behalf of the country. Not for the first time in our history Mr. Speaker, we must pay tribute to Malta and her people." -- PM David Cameron

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Your "Freedom on the March" categorization prompted me to click through and read the rest of the short Barone piece. Awesome stuff.

I'll say this for Obama: His election has given other leaders of the western world a chance to inspire the peoples of the world to freedom.

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2011 12:46 PM

March 1, 2011

The Larger Issue

While the "right" of public sector unions to bargain collectively has been to focus of the recent kerfuffle in Wisconsin (The Refugee loves the word "kerfuffle"), Detroit New editor Nolan Finley ("All Hail Finley!") nails the real issue. That is, the Democrats refusal to participate in the legislative process jeopardizes our democracy.

American-style democracy holds together because no matter how nasty the political game gets, the players honor a few inviolable rules. We obey the laws, even the ones we disagree with. We respect the ballot box. And after even the most bitterly contested election, the loser accepts the results, works within the system and awaits another chance to prevail with voters.

[...]

But what's happening in Wisconsin and Indiana breaks that tradition and puts a crack in our democratic foundation.

[...]

Instead of staying on the field to defend their positions, Democratic lawmakers in both states fled to neighboring Illinois, where they hope to win with their absence what they couldn't at the ballot box — namely, the right to control policymaking.

[...]

The lawmakers in exile call this a defense of democracy. In truth, it's a step toward anarchy. If it catches on as a practice, it will officially end government by, of and for the people.

The Refugee could not say it better and won't try. Our form of government cannot function if one party of the Legislative branch buggers the law-making process. In a not-so-subtle shot at his blog bretheren, The Refugee will be so bold as to suggest that it cannot operate if the Executive branch buggers the rule of law by opting out of duly passed laws that it does not like, either.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 3:13 PM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

Not a high bar, that is for certain. cf. the aforementioned Mister Biden.

WSJ's case for DOMA is a good one, but for the "Constitutional obligation" to defend it, not so much. DOMA is "reasonably defensible" therefore the president has a responsibility, in the name of upholding the Constitution, to do so? Still not seein' the clause that compels this.

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2011 2:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'd also like to add that I don't see the high court ruling on this, except to overturn a lower court that throws DOMA out. The Judiciary can and should grant wide latitude to the Legislative for strengthening Federalism. And just as the Executive is under no obligation to defend the law, the Judiciary is under no obligation to invalidate it.

"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2011 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

With you all the way, bro. To be fair, the list also includes Jefferson, Arthur, and Coolidge. Three out of 47...

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2011 3:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The lawmakers in exile call this a defense of democracy. In truth, it's a step toward anarchy. If it catches on as a practice, it will officially end government by, of and for the people."

The fleeing Democrats may call it what they wish, but it's a temper tantrum by spoiled children.

However, it is not a step toward anarchy. It's a hypocritical step toward shutting down a machine that's now going against them. Anarchy simply means the lack of a government or other authority that rules by force.

Finally, government is hardly "by" or "of" the people. It's by those who are able to put the government in power, whether a majority, plurality or mensheviks (lit. "minority"). If you have a single person dissenting with what government does, you cannot say "the people."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 2, 2011 8:38 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I read the WSJ article cited by brother jk. The subtitle (paraphrased) "Gay marriage belongs with the states" implies a healthy defense of federalism. This is as we'd expect. I thereby expected to disagree with the article, being more on BR's side of this argument than jk's or JG's, but I didn't.

I found it to be arguing that Obamans are doing a neutral to slightly negative thing. Now, that may be a reading stilted by my opinion of DOMA, which is that it's morally a good idea. However, I've not really resolved if this good idea is good policy for the citizenry. Be a good debate for the coffeehouse. Anyone frequent Cannon Mine in downtown Lafayette?

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 8, 2011 9:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Used to, and I still live pretty close. Anybody reading way down here? Set up a meet for the Centennial State Wing of ThreeSources? Find out who the hell nanobrewer is?

Posted by: jk at March 8, 2011 11:18 AM

February 17, 2011

The TEA Party State

JK did a great write-up on the Wisconsin revolution against state employee union looting of the treasury. As I thought about covering the same story I had some phrases in mind: Here comes the sun... It's always darkest before the dawn... Finally, hope and change! Stuff like that.

But how can something like this happen in Wisconsin? Home of the U of W in Madison, birthplace of the AFSCME union and a long-time leftist bastion? Check the leadership:


Scott Walker in 2010
225px-Scott_Walker_2010.jpg

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

45th Governor of Wisconsin
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Lieutenant Rebecca Kleefisch
Preceded by Jim Doyle (D)

And the Senate...

Wisc%20Senate%202011.jpg

And the State Assembly...

Wisc%20General%20Assembly%202011.jpg

Now that's the kind of flip-flopping one can appreciate! Makes me want to break out in song:

"Movin' to Wisconsin soon,
Gonna be a dental floss tycoon"

Just one * last * question: How in the bloody 'ell did Colorado manage to stay in Democrat hands? Wait - don't answer that.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:18 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Colorado comparison is apt. Madison makes Boulder look like Fort Worth. Mister Wadhams replacement would do well to try and reproduce their success.

(And Mister McDaniels's replacement could look at some Packers tape as well...)

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 4:46 PM

February 15, 2011

Enschuldigung?

Our German allies are reassessing the Bush Presidency in the shadow of Egypt:

Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the U.S., who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions. . . .

Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction. Everyone was sure--without knowing any Muslims--that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naive nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people.


Courtesy of WSJ's "Notable & Quotable"

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2011

Understatement of the Week

The President of Egypt website, February 14, 2011:
egypt.jpg

Hat-tip: Trey Hicks

Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 5, 2011

Sharansky on Egypt

A long and detailed interview by David Feith in the WSJ Ed Page:

In the book, Mr. Sharansky argues that all people, in all cultures, want to live in freedom; that all dictatorships are inherently unstable and therefore threaten the security of other countries; and that Western powers can and should influence how free other countries are. Rarely have these arguments been dramatized as during the past weeks—in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and especially Egypt. So late Wednesday night I interviewed Mr. Sharansky to hear his explanation of our current revolutionary moment.

As mentioned before, Sharansky has become disillusioned with President Bush. But I think it is clear that Iranian or Egyptian dissidents cannot look to the US for even solidarity. My libertarian friends celebrate this, I cannot.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

That is the great tragedy of the 2009 Iranian "uprising".

Lovers of freedom learned that they cannot count on the United States for even the smallest bit of moral support in their pursuits of liberty.

Shameful.

Posted by: AlexC at February 5, 2011 2:11 PM

February 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

Public intellectuals who beat the wealth disparity drum have an argument that goes something like this: Inequality is bad; there is correlation between bad things and inequality; ergo, the U.S.A. is trucking down the Pan-American Highway to banana republicdom if Congress doesn't repeal those pesky Bush tax cuts and go back to '60s cartel economics. -- Josh Brokaw, Reason.com
Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Taking on my familiar contrarian role:

There is nothing wrong with wealth disparity. A healthy economic system is dependent on the existence of wealth disparity, with some parties who have wealth and are willing to trade it for goods and services, and others who want that wealth and are willing to provide those goods and services in order to obtain it. Wealth is like temperature: if everything on the planet is the same temperature, entropy has reached maximum. No winds blow, no rain falls, and the system stagnates and dies. Inequality powers both systems.

Picture a city in which every person is prosperous and comfortable. Eventually, one of them will become hungry and go to the Taco Bell for a bite to eat. But the Taco Bell is closed, because there are no employees; because everyone is prosperous, no one is willing to sling tortillas at the Taco Bell. Economic entropy. It applies to communities and nations alike.

Put another way, wealth disparity causes trade, and trade is the mechanism by which wealth disparity is alleviated, as the formerly poor gain wealth and their condition rises. One might even say that free-market trade is a more humane and more effective mechanism for redistribution of wealth than taxation and confiscation ever could be.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 4, 2011 12:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not only might I say that, I actually do.

Well said. Love the entropy analogy. Here's a similar one - electric potential, aka "voltage." What is it called when everything is at the same voltage? Dead battery.

Posted by: johngalt at February 4, 2011 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Mises (as usual) hits this one out of the park. In "Socialism," he points out disparity's contribution to innovation. In the Socialist utopias he sees everyone trying to create in 1922, he points out that if they succeeded, the lack of income disparity would impede innovation because the wealthy are the early adopters. This year's luxury becomes next year's necessity -- but only if we allow those evil rich to waste their money experimenting.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2011 11:27 AM

February 3, 2011

What Egypt Needs: Property Rights

Hey, I love Democracy and wish it upon my Egyptian brothers and sisters. But, as usual, their problems are more centered around the lack of rule of law and property rights.

Hernando de Soto was hired by the Egyptian government in 1997.as part of a USAID project. The results went unstudied after a cabinet shakeup, but are germane today:

-- Egypt's underground economy was the nation's biggest employer. The legal private sector employed 6.8 million people and the public sector employed 5.9 million, while 9.6 million people worked in the extralegal sector.
-- As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.
-- We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today's dollars.

All the tools that a populace could use to advance are denied. As possibly the last Sharanskyite on the planet, I suggest that Egypt might be a good candidate for U.S. interest (sorry big-L libertarians!)

A long term ally and peaceful neighbor to Israel, Egypt is the right location for a model middle eastern democracy. She boasts an educated, mostly secular populace that has seeds of western friendliness.

Yes, there will be a backlash for our long term support of Mubarak. Certainly the exercise is fraught with peril. All the same, compared to Iraq and Afghanistan, it could be a low cost path to a free and powerful nation in that difficult neighborhood.


Posted by John Kranz at 2:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2011

Should Have Listened in 2005...

Hat-tip: Verum Serum (via Insty)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2011

RIP Sharanskyism

Fouad Ajami saw -- for a short time -- the reincarnation of President George W Bush as Secretary Clinton. Neither Ajami nor I are holding out much hope.

Thus the word went forth to the despots in the region that the American campaign on behalf of liberty that Mr. Bush had launched in 2003 had been called off. A new Iraqi democracy, midwifed by American power, was fighting for its life. The Obama administration would keep Iraq at arm's length.
[...]
But an undeniable truth hovers over Lebanon: the ebb of American power. Five or six years ago, the Lebanese rebellion against Damascus had been emboldened by American power and protection. The "Cedar Revolution" that brought about the withdrawal of Syrian troops was both Lebanese and a child of the American presence and prestige in that country.

Without US leadership, that small flame of liberty has been extinguished. Sec Clinton may see it -- but I do not think her boss does.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:31 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2011

The "TEA Movement" is More Popular Than a "Big-Tent"

Comity? Who needs comity?

Jared Rhoads of The Lucidicus Project (Helping medical students understand free markets) agrees with me (and Robert Tracinski) that limited government is not merely a practical issue, but a moral one.

I used to think that Republicans did stand for individual rights on principle, but that they shied away from moral arguments because they deemed it better public relations to be "big-tent," inclusive, neutral. Well, over the past two years, the Tea movement has demonstrated that pro-individualist moral sentiments are popular and effective. We are still waiting for the Republicans to catch up.

What is holding them back? As writer Craig Biddle explains in a recent article in The Objective Standard, Republicans face a self-imposed obstacle in their effort to limit government to its proper functions: they still believe that being moral consists of sacrificing oneself for the needs of others.

Imagine approaching your moderate Republican Congressperson and making the case for cutting government based on the morality of individual rights. He may smile and nod in agreement, but as Biddle indicates, there is conflict churning in his head:

•Repeal Obamacare? How can we do that if the right thing to do is to sacrifice for others? People need medical care, and Obamacare will provide it by forcing everyone to sacrifice as he should.

•Phase out Medicare? How can we do that if we are morally obliged to provide for the needy? The elderly need medical care, and Medicare provides it by forcing everyone to pony up.

•Phase out Social Security? How can we do that if, as the bible tells us, we are our brother's keeper? The elderly need money for retirement, and Social Security provides it by forcing everyone to do the right thing.

The only proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights. It is not to oversee our healthcare, help us be charitable, or assist with our retirement planning. There is no way to roll back Obamacare or other government encroachments without recognizing this fact and stating it openly on the floors of the House and Senate.

The next time we circulate a petition, let's tell the supporters of Obamacare that what they have done is not simply impractical, unfair, or too expensive. Let's tell them it is wrong.


Posted by JohnGalt at 1:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2011

Quote of the Day

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik suggests Arizona has "become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Jonathan Last counters:

Umm, isn't Mecca kind of the mecca for prejudice and bigotry? I mean, Mecca won't even allow non-Muslims inside the Mecca city limits. They have road blocks and religious police on the lookout for intruders and everything. Just saying.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2011

SIgn Me Up

Jason Richwine calls Liberty Air a thought experiment. I wish it were a business plan.

Let us imagine there were a major airline that could opt out of all TSA regulations. Call it "Liberty Air." Liberty Air openly advertises that it takes zero safety precautions when it comes to screening passengers and baggage. Would you fly on this airline?

The upside to Liberty Air's approach is a far more pleasant airport experience. Liberty Air has no metal detectors, so there are no long lines after you get your ticket. Get to the airport ten minutes before take-off, not two hours. Pack whatever you want in your carry-on, including "dangerous" liquids, disposable razors, a hunting knife, whatever. If you have a laptop, don't worry about taking it out of its case. Wearing a metal belt buckle? Have a lot of keys? Don't want your Blackberry to leave your sight? No problem. You won't have to juggle your boarding pass, your driver's license, your cell phone, and your laptop. No need to take off your shoes. Don’t feel hassled to collect all your belongings pouring out of the X-ray machine--there is no X-ray machine!


Richwine does not address the negative externality of a terrorist flying a plane into a building or nookyular plant, but I think we could figure it out.

To seriously return to the thought experiment, I relate it to the FDA. No rational person would advocate such an overly conservative approach to drug approvals, but that is the bias of the organization and oversight. Same with the TSA.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The larger problem is the negative externality of the existence of our federal government. We're lucky they still let us leave the airport to continue our travels in the "much more dangerous" automobile.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2011 3:37 PM

January 8, 2011

Semper Fi

Had the great fortune of finally meeting the proprietor of Devil Dog Brew and part of his wonderful family last night. I gave some for Christmas gifts this year and every recipient is hooked.

If you have not tried it, I highly recommend both the Devil Dog Brew and Snipers Brew. Great coffee from great folks, and sales support those who wear our nation's uniform.

Semper Fi, Hank!

UPDATE: Brother jg, sister Dagny, the lovely bride and I had dinner last night with The Everyday Economist who was in town for the ASSA meetings. What a great time.

I'm still surprised that some of these people on the Internet have an actual corporeal presence. I wonder if The Boulder Refugee may even be real...

UPDATE II: Bing® to the rescue, jg. Urban Dictionary:

Single Digit Midget: Primarily used in the military to refer to someone who has been on an extended deployment and now has less than 10 days left before going home.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Hobbies? (Just a little resume advice.)

Cute commercial. Just one question: "Single-digit midget??"

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2011 12:10 PM

January 6, 2011

Here Comes John Galt

To the big screen.

Here IT comes. The film version of my favorite novel, which we last discussed here and here, is in post production and should appear in theaters "No later than Tax Day, April 15."

Many of my trepidations about making this story into a movie have been salved by this interview with executive producer and financier (read: owner) of the film, John Aglialoro.

Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, Aglialoro is one of those rare corporate executives who fully "gets" the philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged.

So the storyline should be safe. The scope of this movie is Part I of the book, which readers can review key points from by reading those entitled entries in Three Sources' "Atlas Shrugged QOTD" archive.

And the casting appears excellent as well. In my mind's eye I can envision Ms. Schilling walking through an abandoned factory, or consoling her poor, misguided young sister-in-law. And the movie's Hank Reardon, played by Grant Bowler, seems a perfect fit. I can easily see him telling Tinky Holloway that his game is up.

But we'll have to wait for the second sequel for that scene. I've heard that the intentions for Parts II and III of the book are to be separate sequels, each following about a year after it's predecessor.

Judging by some of the scene photos the setting of the movie will be decidedly modern. Apparently it will be set in our time, not in that of the book's writing. This is as it should be. The uninitiated youth will be more captivated than with a more faithful portrayal of the book. And, more importantly, we are closer to the events of the story becoming reality today than at any time in history.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Fun. But how's he intend to make a film without the wisdom of Hollywood?

They should steal Glenn Reynolds's tagline: "It's Ayn Rand's world, we're just living in it."

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I expect that production values will be the last thing for which critics will pan this film.

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I was being a liiiiiitle more sarcastic than that.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 6:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I read the sarcasm. But I took it as a "quantum comment." It can have multiple meanings at the same time. (Alas, in our era it has no literal meaning whatsoever until a judge says it does.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 8:21 PM

January 2, 2011

The Next Moral Crusade -- Capitalism


Over the New Year's holiday spent here in Seattle with Mr. and Mrs. Macho Duck I re-read an article in a 2008 issue of The Intellectual Activist (Vol. 20, No. 1.) The article's title is 'Fusionism Comes Unfused.' It reopened some internecine disputes in a clearly stated way so I wanted to share. Checking first for posts containing the word "Tracinski" (the author) I found a drought from 2007 until 2010. Shame on me!

The piece reviews the 2008 GOP primary season, where Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee's early leads evaporated, for no apparent reason, to leave the field wide open. Tracinski attributes the cause to a "desperate desire" on the part of GOP voters to avoid the stark choice between a pro-defense, pro-markets and "not particularly religious" Giuliani and a "strongly religious, anti-abortion candidate who has nothing particular to offer on the war and denounces the pro-free-market Club for Growth as the 'Club for Greed."

"But in avoiding the choice between a religious agenda and a secular agenda, Republicans were forced to evade the substantive issues at stake in th election and focus instead on the personal qualities of the candidates. (...)

In short, faced with a big ideological question on the role of religion, Republicans dodged the issue and instead chose a candidate on non-ideological grounds. [McCain, the flip-flip-flopper]

Yet the conflict between the religious and secular wings of the conservative agenda cannot be avoided, even if Republicans declined to resolve it this year.

Republican fusionism is unstable because its basic premise -- that the moral foundation of free markets and Americanism can be left to the religious traditionalists -- is false. For five decades, under the influence of fusionism, conservatives have largely ceded to the religious right the job of providing the moral fire to sustain their movement. But they are discovering that the religionists do not have a strong moral commitment to free markets. In fact, the religious right seems to be working on its own version of 'fusion' -- with the religious left.

(...)

The reason for this shift toward the religious left is that religion ultimately cannot support the real basis for capitalism and a strong American national defense: a morality of rational self-interest. Christianity is too deeply committed to a philosophy of self-abnegation, a destructive morality that urges men to renounce any interest in worldly goods and to turn the other cheek in the face of aggression. (...)

Tricked by William F. Buckley and his fusionists into outsourcing moral questions to the guardians of religious tradition, the right has never been able to develop the moral case for rational self-interest -- which means that it never developed the moral case for the profit motive, property rights, and the free market. Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues, but thanks to "fusionism," they are unable to articulate them. And this means that they have never been able to turn the defense of free markets into a moral crusade."

To my religious brothers and sisters I urge you not to read this as an indictment of your faith. Religious morality has much to offer in the realm of personal values. But as a universal guide for the conduct of civilizations it is too easily co-opted by the forces of World Socialism.

A defense of capitalism as the means for men to deal with one another is not only not an abandonment of moral values, it is the only moral crusade that can hope to ever have a peaceful end.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:39 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I guess this post means holiday comity is now officially over. It was fun.

I don't know that Mr. Tracinski has changed his tune since 2008, but I posit that the Tea Party and the 2010 elections have about completely debunked his argument.

I had the good fortune to meet, via one of my most leftist friends, one of Hizzoner's state campaign chairmen, I parroted the media line about how Giuliani erred in waiting for the Florida primaries, yadda, yadda. This person, 25 years my junior looked at me as a naive waif and said "yeah, that's what we said -- we spent piles of money in New Hampshire and couldn't get anywhere." Without dismissing the candidate's faults, the GOP is clearly not ready for a social libertarian of Giuliani's stripes.

But by the same token, they did not pick His Huckness. TIA sees that as some nefarious plot, I see it as recognition of electoral exigencies. Moderates appeal to the American electorate and prosper in the American system.

Yet I return to the Tea Party, which brought a bounty of serious freedom candidates like Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul. Subtract the evangelicals from the Tea Party and you have a typical libertarian gabfest with some angry bearded guys.

I think this comment still holds: we have to hold our uneasy partnership together to hold back the forces of collectivism. Frank Meyers was right -- it's worth it.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2011 11:03 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And I say the TPM validates his argument.

I read you as focusing on one aspect of the post: why Rudy and Huckabee were rejected. It is a fact that they were, and you passed right on by the new fusion of the religious right with the religious left or the assertion that Republican fusionism is fundamentally unstable.

As for the TEA Party verdict, consider from the last quoted paragraph - "Many on the right are implicitly sympathetic to capitalism; they sense its virtues..." But they don't understand why it is virtuous. The closest they usually come is to quote the Declaration of Independence's "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The World Socialists slay this foe with the ol' "200 year-old dead white guys" argument.

The past quote you linked celebrated that "pro-lifers line up to vote when it's 40 below." They do so because it is a moral cause for them. You couldn't oppose making the profit motive, property rights and the free market an equally or more powerful moral cause, so you must just consider it impossible. "If man were meant to fly then God would have given him wings."

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2011 2:52 PM

December 27, 2010

What Prosperity Looks Like.

Gotta Facebook friend. Brother jg and I had a 100+ comment thread trying to convince him that fossil fuel was not evil. I won't dredge it all out, but I used a favorite contrarian thought: celebrating "robber baron" John Rockefeller (boo! hiss!). Rockefeller brought nickel-a-gallon kerosene to families that could not afford dollar-a-gallon whale oil. Suddenly they had light. Their day did not end when the sun went down. (Don't think the whales minded too much, either.)

What an evil bastard he was, bringing heat and light to the poor. Then giving his money away to philanthropy. Rapscallion!

I fear my friend cannot grasp the pre-kerosene days and finds my "freezing in the dark" comments melodramatic. Well, Ms. Ruto is not perhaps freezing in Africa, but the NYTimes reports that she is digging light:

Every week, Ms. Ruto walked two miles to hire a motorcycle taxi for the three-hour ride to Mogotio, the nearest town with electricity. There, she dropped off her cellphone at a store that recharges phones for 30 cents. Yet the service was in such demand that she had to leave it behind for three full days before returning.

That wearying routine ended in February when the family sold some animals to buy a small Chinese-made solar power system for about $80. Now balanced precariously atop their tin roof, a lone solar panel provides enough electricity to charge the phone and run four bright overhead lights with switches.


My friend will be happy that it is solar, but I have terrible news. She will educate herself, and then want a car.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2010

North Korea is still Dark

Perhaps it's time to redo the logo:

mcd.jpg

Every McDonald's in America -- courtesy of Business Insider.

Hat-tip: James Pethokoukis

Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2010

Tweet of the Day

ted_nugent_bday.gif

A model for us all. Happy Birthday, Ted.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Ted was one of the biggest reasons I watched the one-star rated 'Beer for My Horses' movie on CMT recently. Ted was a mysterious, unspeaking Sheriff's deputy with unconventional methods and skills, like using a hunting bow in gunfights with drug gangsters. There was a decent, if transparent, plot and some of the dialog by the lead character played by Toby Keith was endearing. Add in the doobie doo of Willie Nelson and I give it a solid two-stars.

Plus a guy has gotta love a rock star who ever wrote and performed a song called 'Wang Dang Sweet Poontang.'

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2010 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No one's touchin' this one, huh? It's OK. I understand. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2010 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps you said all there is to say.

I'm saddened to confess, now that I have come to appreciate him personally, that I really never appreciated him musically. Just not my genre

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2010 4:53 PM

December 1, 2010

Quote of the Day

Dave Brubeck at his 90th Birthday celebration:

After a visit to Chopin's home and being surrounded by "all these pianos," Mr. Brubeck composed a Chopinesque jazz piece with the Polish name "Dziekuje." Mr. Brubeck asked if anyone in the Blue Note audience knew what "dzieuke" means. "It means 'thank you,'" a lady called out.

"That's right," said Mr. Brubeck. "It means thank you. And I want to play this piece as thanks to the people of Poland for resisting Soviet Communism."

It wasn't possible to ask Mr. Brubeck as he left the stage whether he had seen the Katyn story in the news earlier that day. We guessed he had. At the time of that 1958 trip he said of the jazz scene in Poland: "No dictatorship can tolerate jazz. It is the first sign of a return to freedom."

Posted by John Kranz at 4:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2010

Warm Clothing for Afghan Children

I've given small amounts to Spirit of America over the years. They raise money to provide our troops with items to distribute to families in Iraq and Afghanistan. School supplies. playground equipment and the like go a long way toward improving the communities and showing what our military represents.

I was moved by this request. The lovely bride and I decided that a more generous than usual donation was to be our Christmas present to each other this year.

Captain Jensen writes: "Right now we have four schools, and children are flooding into the schools by the hundreds, no exaggeration. These people haven't had a school open since the Soviet invasion of '79, so they are determined to send their children to school even though the Taliban are taking steps against it. Anyways, with winter right around the corner, the head elder here expressed his concern that the children have no cold weather clothes (coats, boots, gloves, beanies, etc.)."

A fleece jacket is $12 and a fleece blanket costs $6. Our goal is to provide 1,000 of each to the Marines in Garmsir to help the Afghans there. If we can buy before Thanksgiving, we should be able to get them there by Christmas. We'll use clothing from the drive mentioned last week to do even more. Your help matters.


They do awesome work.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, USMC

I can think of no better way to celebrate than by ordering some Devil Dog Brew coffee.

devil_dog_15percent.gif

Our friend Hank is offering 15% off today's orders -- Semper Fi, Hank!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Okay, my Christmas shopping is done...

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2010 11:59 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Foxnews.com has an article today titled, "Which Animal has the Largest Testicles?"

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/11/10/animal-biggest-testicles/?test=latestnews

My immediate thought was "A United States marine." Semper Fi!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 10, 2010 12:13 PM

September 24, 2010

Porcine Aeromotion

Pigs must be flyin'. An editorial in today's Denver Post, which originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune, is titled "Entitlement nation." It's main point is that our nation is on the cusp of an irreversible "culture of dependency." When the lamestream media picks up on this trend and expresses concern, you know it's getting dire. Maybe there really is a general awaking beginning to occur.

No excerpts on this one. It's short and you gotta read it.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Better wear a sturdy hat! (Great link)

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2010 8:16 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Longmont Time-Call even picked up a condensed version in today's edition. It's obviously striking a chord and getting some traction.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 27, 2010 2:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"But today, there is a different specter: a broader culture of dependency that could eventually undermine our economic and political system."

"Eventually?"

Other than this I completely agree with the (belated) editorial - which means the author is obviously a racist, bigoted, heartless homophobe.

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2010 3:21 PM

September 1, 2010

Shhhhhhhh.

Mission Accomplished.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:29 AM | Comments (6)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

You are correct if the mission was to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Or if the mission was to please the Liberal Left. By those criteria, he got a twofer.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 1, 2010 11:37 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

Not sure what you mean by all that BR. Mind elaborating?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 1, 2010 12:24 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sure. When Obama took office, he promised a number of things including closing Gitmo and ending combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010. The Left has been hammering him for continuing Bush-era war strategies, not closing Gitmo as promised and sending more troops to Afghanistan. Obama needed a "win" with his base by meeting yesterday's deadline.

In looking at the situation on the ground, we have seen a significant rise in insurgent attacks, including a coordinated attack on 13 sites right after our combat troops exited. The Iraqi government, though exceeding the expetations of some (read: Biden, Obama) still is not fully stable after the last elections. Thus, it would likely have been more prudent to keep combat forces in place for another few months until the current Iraqi government is settled and they are in a better position to repel insurgents. However, Obama's domestic political agenda seems to have trumped military conditions. If these conditions continue to deteriorate, then he will have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Not a given, perhaps, but if conditions do deteriorate, I seriously doubt that he will send troops back in. Hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 1, 2010 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd say "Mission Accomplished" at liberation (true when the infamous banner was unfurled) and at basic stabilization (I'll accept the V-I date of 11-22-08).

I'll join you that the Bush-era goal of a "stable ally in the War on Terror" is threatened, but declaring a transition from combat on August 31, 2010 does not bug me.

Many things do bug me. The suggestion all troops would be gone in a year was bad. I'd suggest the examples of Germany and South Korea where our troops are stationed on bases in friendly soil.

All in all, we have civilian control of the military and a troop presence of 50K strikes me (military tactical genius that I am) as reasonable. Would another year of 100K troops make a huge difference? Is this not the reduction of forces agreement created by President Bush? This President badly needs a victory lap so he's taking it.

Put me down as offended by Our President's diffidence to our achievements and disturbed by the lessons he learned, but I don't think he has yet broken Iraq. President Bush's hard fought victory will likely endure.

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2010 2:09 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

BR-

I believe you overestimate the docility of the democratic base. There are very few lefties (or isolationists) I know who think that leaving 50K troops in the country fulfills Obama's campaign promises. (This seems to be the standard reaction).


The decision to draw down in Iraq, I think, has much less to do with Mr. Obama's electoral base than does the continuing mess that is Afghanistan. The bright minds in the Pentagon know that they can't run two 100,000+ troop counterinsurgencies at the same time. It is not politically feasible. Heck, given the turn over rates of the officer corp, it isn't militarily feasible. The decision to continue on in Afghanistan was the decision to draw down in Iraq.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 1, 2010 4:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The staged "withdrawal" of combat troops may not impress the moveon.org crowd but for a guy with so few promises kept he had to have this one.

Speaking of militarily feasible, a retired Major General whom I hold in high regard claims that VICTORY is possible, but not via COIN (Counter-Insurgency) strategy. [Scroll down to COIN Stubbornly in Place]

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2010 10:48 PM

August 25, 2010

Defying the FDA

I'm a law and order guy, but taking on the FDA will always entitle you to a "hell yeah."

WSJ:

ELMHURST, Ill.--Victoria Vasconcellos, the petite founder of an Internet retailer in this Chicago suburb, is in the thick of a regulatory battle that could affect millions of American cigarette smokers.

Ms. Vasconcellos imports electronic cigarettes from a Chinese manufacturer and sells them on her website, Cignot.com, to 14,000 customers. The 48-year-old is part of a growing legion of e-cigarette purveyors who are defying the Food and Drug Administration, which contends the nascent nicotine products are drug devices that require pre-market approval and may pose their own health risks. The FDA began intercepting shipments of the products from China two years ago.


But, but, but -- we haven't told you can yet!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2010

Building Mosques and Building Dialog

James Taranto rarely misses the point. But I suggest that he has on the groundzeromosqueraversy.

He has devoted many column inches to this topic. Today, he opens with

So what are we to make of Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam whose plans to build a fancy mosque near Ground Zero have caused such a frenzy? Even backers of his plan disagree sharply.

Not to say evaluations of Imam Raul are not germane and all, but I think his level of moderation or actual intent is quite beside the point. Clearly, he is a right bastard.

A real moderate or a caring clergyman would not pursue this. You'd have to be a bastard to do it, since he continues, I think syllogism proves my point.

And yet in America we let bastards be bastards rather than empower government to determine who can be and where. A decent man would not dishonor New Yorkers and Americans. But I'd rather Imam Son'f'bitch proceed than empower the government to protect us from offense.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:13 PM | Comments (17)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great rhetorical question, JG.

The issue of separation of Islam and Sharia Law has been underdiscussed in the national discourse. It is mentioned, but not as part-and-parcel of Islam. Certainly, most Muslims in this country abide by the law of the land.

England is experiementing with Sharia courts to adjudicate Muslim issues. This is described as "a law within a law," but is in fact "a law above the law." Sharia law is allowed to supercede English law. Muslims basically get to choose whichever court is most to their advantage.

Not here - no way, no how.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 26, 2010 4:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I am not advocating for Sharia law. I am advocating for freedom of worship as provided for in the First Amendment. I'm uncomfortable denying that right because of what some members did.

You may legitimately prosecute someone who incites violence, jg, no argument. But you cannot deny their right to build a place of worship because they might someday say it.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2010 4:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On Main Street in Pittstown you've got a point. A stone's throw from the site of 9/11 is far different. (And what's wrong with the Islamic "place of worship" 11 blocks from there?) New York city, state and the federal governments, in their infinite political correctness, have yet to build a "Ground Zero" memorial to the innocent victims of 9/11 who were murdered nearly 10 years ago. The possibility of a monument to the faith and ideology that spawned the 9/11 murderers being built there first is intolerable to the countrymen of those innocent victims, not to mention their families.

Or have we forgotten? ("It isn't Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you.")

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2010 9:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

This also seems to be germane to the conversation. I found it while searching our archives for a "have we forgotten" link.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2010 9:45 AM
But jk thinks:

I love the blog but this one would be best conducted with very loud voices over very dark beer.

I'm completely down with you, jg. It makes me want to puke that this loser is erecting a monument to Osama Bin Laden's great victory in 2001. I hate it with every morsel of my being.

But part of freedom is allowing other people to do things you hate. And to answer your direct points, I'll return to "who decides?" Brother jg says there's already a mosque -- what is the correct density? It's too close to ground zero -- so we establish a mosque free zone? How many blocks is okay? Imam Rauf is not moderate enough -- who draws the line?

The answer is to let free people do legal things as they choose. AND BE PROUD! There are no churches in Saudi Arabia, but there are mosques in the 9/11 debris field. We're good. Freedom is good.

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2010 10:23 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, let's talk about the two types of law. There's the "natural law" that Jefferson and Bastiat talked about, which is that people have rights and can defend themselves against aggressors (including organizing with others for voluntary, common defense). Bastiat noted that "the law" itself became "perverted" from the concept of collective energies of defending rights to taking from one man and giving to another.

Sharia law is statutory law: it's not based on natural rights, but rather it's codified law that imposes the rule of one individual upon others. Women and infidels are second-class citizens. Now, if Mrs. Ali Akbar Husseini al-Hamid wants to follow the terms of Sharia law in her marriage, and she is voluntarily subjecting herself to the terms of a law she believes is correct, then it's her business. The problem is that Sharia law doesn't work that way. She's liable to get her head chopped off in an honor killing, like that poor woman in upstate New York who wanted to divorce her bastard husband.

However, we can't lump everyone together and say that the mosque will be based on Sharia law, and even if it were, we can't hold all members accountable for actions they may not necessarily support. If there's evidence that it's a haven for terrorists, then we have reason to shut the whole thing down. If there's some husband abusing his wife and justifying it under his "traditional law," then we can do something about him, but it would still be hard-pressed to make a case against the whole mosque.

As JK said, freedom means that others will do things you don't like. One liberal myth is that we need to "respect" others. Unalienable rights don't require anyone to "respect" others or what they do, only that you don't infringe on others' rights. So we can think the local imam is lower than dog poop, while still not infringing on his equal freedoms of speech and property.

I don't want this mosque built. It's a deliberate monument to the hijackers that I am damn sure the mosque-goers are glorifying. The very name "Cordoba" is from what the Moors did in Spain to commemorate a victory. However, we can't use the same darkness that our enemies use against us. We need to use the light of freedom, showing them that we won't stop them from building here, but we will be watching every last little thing they do, and we're already exposing them for what they are.

I wonder what "tolerance" and "mutual respect" would greet, say, students from a Hasidic yeshiva if they went to the mosque for a field trip?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 27, 2010 11:48 AM

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Sadly, the Commander-in-chief won't say it and our sad Vice President won't think it. But I will shout it from the ThreeSources Rafters: "Well done, lads and ladies!"

"We've met our goal," Gen. Ray Odierno, the commanding general in Iraq, told reporters Tuesday. "But the story is not about 50,000. The story is that we are continuing to be committed to Iraq. But our commitment is going to change."

Odierno said that going forward, the focus will be on economic, political, cultural, and technological developments as opposed to just the military relationship.

There are currently 49,700 troops in Iraq and that number will remain level through next summer, Odierno said.


That was some partisan excerpting. The AP story leads with props to President Obama for meeting a campaign promise and bringing the troop level below 50,000.

We turned a fear society into a free society and deposed a tyrant who was a threat to the free world. Did we create paradise? I suspect not -- but a free people can.

Thanks to all who serve!

UPDATE: Mark Tapscitt reminds it cost less that the failed stimulus.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"props to President Obama for meeting a campaign promise and bringing the troop level below 50,000."

Yeah. That lying scum will blame Bush when it suits him, and take credit for his predecessor's timeline. And that SOB Biden dared to claim, in front of the VFW no less, "One month after his inauguration, at Camp Lejeune, President Obama laid out a plan for ending the war in Iraq responsibly, and we have followed it closely ever since."

If George Bush had said this in 2004, the lamestream media would have blasted him. "Experts" would have called him optimistic in the face of certain failure. But now the Great Plagiarist can express the very same sentiments without being questioned. "This process can sometimes be frustrating, and there will be ups and downs, but I am confident that the Iraqis will form a national unity government soon."

But if Iraq plunges into darkness once American forces are all gone, it'll be a rewriting of history akin to "We have always been at war with Eastasia." Obama will simply blame Bush for pushing the timeline in the first place.

So how about closing Guantanamo, huh?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 24, 2010 11:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Even worse to me, Perry, is that the pullout is predicated on the surge which was enthusiastically opposed by Senators Biden and Obama.

Media notwithstanding, I think most Americans recognize the victory as being W's. The wisdom of the enterprise will be debated for some time, but I don't think anyone will attribute victory to Obama-Biden.

Posted by: jk at August 24, 2010 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well said and a thoroughly deserved post my blog brother. Like the soldiers I saw riding across the border to Kuwait I will say, "We won!" And in addition to "Thanks to all who serve" I will add "under our government's ridiculous rules of engagement."

And Tapscott's point is important [not to mention that fabulous graph again]: Official CBO price tag for 3 months of war and 5 years, 9 months of nation building is $709 billion, versus $787 billion for the "Stimulus" bill to be spent in 3? years. Those numbers are darned similar, aren't they? It's almost as if the Dems said, "If America can afford to spend over $700bn for war she can afford over $700bn on pork." Nah, they couldn't be that crass, right?

Posted by: johngalt at August 24, 2010 2:56 PM

August 6, 2010

Hiroshima

Reading through the Presidents, I have come to like almost all of them better after learning more about them. Even those I disagree with -- say TR -- I have come to respect for their patriotism and sincerity. The first words I ever heard Glenn Beck say were "I HATE Woodrow Wilson!" That was a bad first impression. I disagree with President Wilson's philosophies and policies. I abhor many things he and his administration did. But I do not hate him.

One guy that went down was President Truman. McCullough's superb biography was quite complimentary but I was surprised at his commitment to Progressivism (always thought he was the "reasonable" successor to FDR, but he crusaded for government health care) and almost disgusted by the TJ Prendergast, Kansas City machine that spawned him. McCullough is probably right that he was honest -- but he came out of a putrid, corrupt system.

One thing I will not countenance is the idea that he is a "War Criminal" for the atomic bomb decisions. A Japanese friend at college loved to rail about "Truman the War Criminal."

Today brings news that the Obama Administration is offering a soft apology -- sending a low level diplomat to a service the US has typically eschewed. Warren Kozak worries that any hint of an apology shows moral equivalence.

Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them -- something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.

Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.


I'm colored by historical absolutes about the brutality of Hirohito's Japan, but also of personal anecdotes. My Mother-in-Law (no jokes from me, this woman is my second Mother) grew up in occupied Philippines and saw incredible acts of depravity.

Of course, that does not earn an A-bomb, but it went all the way up. Truman made the right call and proceeded courageously. I'm glad we are allied with modern Japan, but I am not in an apologizin' mood.

Complete Text:

A Hiroshima Apology?
Japan's continued focus on remembering the bomb has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands. .ArticleComments (221)more in
By WARREN KOZAK

For the first time since the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan 65 years ago, today the U.S. ambassador to Japan will attend the official commemoration ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The U.S. ambassador has always declined the annual invitation, but this year is different. President Barack Obama decided to acknowledge the event with the presence of a high-level dignitary. As State Department spokesman Philip Crowley explained, Ambassador John Roos will be there "to express respect for all the victims of World War II."

Gene Tibbets—the son of Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima—called the Obama administration's decision "an unsaid apology." Whether or not that's the case, by saying "all the victims" Mr. Crowley raises the specter of moral equivalence, a problem that's grown worse over the years when it comes to judging right and wrong during World War II and throughout history.

The U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. When the Japanese still didn't give up, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki three days later. On Aug. 15, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally, ending the most brutal war in the history of the world.

Japan remains the only country ever to have been targeted by atomic bombs. More than 120,000 Japanese died instantly from the bombings and perhaps as many succumbed to radiation poisoning afterwards (the exact number will never be known). It should be noted that when President Harry Truman was considering whether to invade Japan instead of dropping the bombs, his advisers estimated that an invasion would result in one million American casualties and at least two million Japanese deaths. In the strange calculus of war, the bombs actually saved Japanese lives.

If the Obama administration wants to ease the friction over this event or even to apologize, then perhaps it is also a good time for the Japanese government to begin to discuss World War II truthfully with its own people.

Since 1945, Japan's narrative has centered almost exclusively on the atomic blasts and its role as victim—with short shrift given to the Japanese invasions of China, Manchuria, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indochina, Burma, New Guinea and, of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese children have learned little about the Rape of Nanking or the fact that as many as 17 million Asians died at the hands of the Japanese in World War II—many in the most brutal ways imaginable.

There is also the inconvenient truth that Japan started the war in the first place. There would have been no war in the Pacific between 1937 and 1945 had Japan stayed home.

Focusing on the atomic bombs paints the Japanese as victims, like other participants in World War II. They were not. The Japanese, like their German allies, were bent on global conquest and the destruction of other people who did not fit their bizarre racial theories. Japan's continued focus on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands.

There are times when ordinary citizens understand history better than their leaders. In approaching Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Obama should consider a related event that took place 25 years ago. On May 5, 1985, President Ronald Reagan made a rare public relations gaffe when he visited the Kolmeshohe Cemetery near Bitburg to lay a wreath at the graves of German soldiers.

His reasoning came from a decent place—he wanted to help bolster his ally, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and he thought that enough time had passed to allow both countries to move on together. But a firestorm erupted when it was learned that the graves were not just those of ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers but of SS troops as well. President Reagan dug in his heels despite strong protests and laid a wreath at the brick tower that loomed over those graves.

The protests came not because people refused to move on or because the postwar bonds between Germany and the U.S. were not strong and real. They were then and they remain so today. Rather, the anger came because the president's act created a tacit understanding that U.S. soldiers were no different than SS Storm Troopers, whose bloody tracks still leave a horror throughout Europe that can barely be equaled in that continent's long, lamentable history. The G.I.s were liberators. The SS were demented murderers. Period.

Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them—something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.

Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.

Mr. Kozak is the author of "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay" (Regnery, 2009).

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Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

I admit I don't understand diplomospeak, br, maybe our striped-pants friend tg will explain it.

Modern Japan is a great ally and I dislike the thought of denying them anything. But I think Kozak's analogy to the SS and Reagan at Bitberg is apt. As is a concern that they continue to teach this victimology over an objective assessment of their country's 20th Century leadership.

@ka: "Coming out ahead." I assume you mean that Deming was a better advantage than MacArthur was a loss? I completely agree.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2010 1:59 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jk: yeah, in hindsight, that was pretty poorly worded on my part. Should anyone ask: no, I'm not making light of 200,000 vaporized souls, and I wasn't thinking "nuclear destruction of two cities in one hand versus Deming in the other - seems like a fair trade to me." What I *meant* was, rebuilding and modernizing their nation from their pre-war condition to Japan, Inc., is a great leap forward.

I probably have a kinder view of MacArthur than you; on the other hand, Japan took Deming to heart more than America did. American industry - especially American automakers - ccould still learn a lot...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 6, 2010 5:13 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JK: Any way to de-Rupertize the text of the article and send me a copy?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 6, 2010 5:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I pasted the complete text in the "Continue Reading.." portion ("Rupert forgive me, for I hath sinned against thee...")

Would EVERYBODY please send me an email. Backup Boy lost his Outlook contacts apres le deluge.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2010 5:52 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Interesting article. I would not be comfortable comparing those who died at Nagasaki and Hiroshima with SS troopers. Unlike the SS troopers, the average Japanese civilian was not a murderer. I mean, if this was the Yasukuni Shrine it would be an entirely different matter....

As for an apology? I probably wouldn't offer one. Were I in Truman's shoes I would have done the same. And the fire bombing of Tokyo and environs was orders of magnitude worse. That does actually make me a bit squeamish. Were I in Truman's shoes I do not know if I would have been able to authorize the dropping of 1,700 tons of incendiary bombs on civilian homes.


But nobody remembers the firebombs today. And that is for the best, isn't? It is better to just let these things go quietly, I think. I'd rather not be asking the British government to apologize for Tarleton and his men.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 7, 2010 1:41 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Conservative estimates are of 1M American lives saved and over 5M (that's million) Japanese lives saved by the bombs (another one of my passions is military history).

I've studied it quite a bit because my uncle was to be in the 1st wave, and my Dad was slated for the 3rd wave in Operation Olympic. I've seen the quite a bit of evidence of the land-based "kamikazes" that were planned as a reception (Al-Queda suicide-bomb-rafts? Japs had them too, called "Shinyo").

So, I'm not unbiased, but neither do I hate the Japanese: I rather like their country and their friendship in fact! Their monument at the center of Hiroshima is very touching, but I wouldn't be there to apologize either.

Posted by: nanobrewer at August 11, 2010 12:11 AM

June 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

The American flag carried that truth through a forest of muskets and bayonets, into all the shackled corners of the world, past the frozen forests of Europe and the graveyard islands of the Pacific, and to the grey dust of the Moon. It passes nightly over the communist squalor of Cuba and North Korea, the butchers of Tiananmen Square, and the high priests of the Middle Eastern death cult. Let none of them ever look upon the Moon without remembering that free men walked there first. No slave or suicide bomber will ever leave a footprint beside the one Neil Armstrong made. -- Doctor Zero
Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

June 7, 2010

The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc

A good friend of this blog emails a link to President Reagan's incredible speech June 6, 1984.

Sugarchuck says "no comment necessary." I'm going to have to agree.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Three Sourcers homework assignment: Compare and contrast this address from Reagan with Obama's first address to Europe. Extra credit: compare and contrast each respective president's address at the Brandenburg Gate. Ask yourself how we could have fallen so far.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 7, 2010 2:33 PM

May 21, 2010

Close Enough for Me!

One in every crowd, is there not?

LEE SMITH says Lebanese-American Rima Fakih, this year’s Miss America winner, isn’t necessarily a fully Westernized Muslim just because she wore a bathing suit. She may well be what her admirers say she is, but to know for certain you’d have to look into her head and her heart, not at her body or clothes. The same is true for any other beauty pageant contestant, but there’s something else, too: Some bikini-clad women in Lebanon, believe it or not, support Hezbollah, just as a small number of Middle Eastern doctors perversely become terrorists.

We all have to start somewhere if we're going to all get along. And I am ready to offer Ms. Fakih the benefit of the doubt.

gallery_photo1273132184michigan.jpg

Photo: MissUSA

Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"Fully westernized muslim." In my book a muslim is westernized enough if he/she is content to live under western law and refrains from murder.

Oh yes, and as for the photo of Ms. Fakih... Like.

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2010 7:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Appreciate your live coverage of Colorado GOP. Next year, I may have to cover Miss USA.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2010 8:43 PM

Bravo and Huzzah!

Why did the DJIA drop 376 points yesterday? Perry and I insist it is an aggregate and attempts to oversimplify are antithetical to what a market is.

Why did "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" pass at ThreeSources without pictures, firebombing, or beheading? Well, it's an aggregate. I was slowed but not stopped by thoughtful appeals from respected friends in the 3src commentariat. As a hack of an artist, I was concerned that the respectful image I was planning (a light pencil sketch to be screened back over Arabic verses) would not be guaranteed to connote my intentions. And, I had to meet a job candidate over a long lunch and my time was limited.

As promised, blog friend Terri shared her letter (but not the image) she sent to revolutionmuslim.com.

But I was blown away by the winners of Reason's "Everybody Draw Mohammed" contest. Masterful work. Mine would have been so far behind these, I am glad I did not participate. Brilliant!

UPDATE: No, I can unequivocally deny that I was interviewing, Rep Sestak.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2010

Drawing The Prophet

I have not been able to contact my Muslim friends about "Everybody draw Mohammed Day" and confess I was suaded by SC and Terri's appeals to my Better Angels.

But Nick Gillespie has a powerful post today on why Reason will be participating (they will publish their contest winners. I will link and likely grab a respectful image or two.

Compelling, no?

And at the heart of the liberal project is ultimately a recognition that individuals, for no other reason than that they exist, have rights to continue to exist. Embedded in all that is the right to expression. No one has a right to an audience or even to a sympathetic hearing, much less an engaged audience. But no one should be beaten or killed or imprisoned simply for speaking their mind or praying to one god as opposed to the other or none at all or getting on with the small business of living their life in peaceful fashion. If we cannot or will not defend that principle with a full throat, then we deserve to choke on whatever jihadists of all stripes can force down our throats.
[...]
Our Draw Mohammed contest is not a frivolous exercise of hip, ironic, hoolarious sacrilege toward a minority religion in the United States (though even that deserves all the protection that the most serioso political commentary commands). It's a defense of what is at the core of a society that is painfully incompetent at delivering on its promise of freedom, tolerance, and equal rights. It's a rebuttal to the notion that we should go limp in the clinches precisely because bullies and bastards can punch or blow us up.

John Stossel's show that night will be "on free speech and Islam."

Posted by John Kranz at 7:41 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Like.

Especially, "jihadists of all stripes" i.e. Muslim, Venezuelan, North Korean, Progressive...

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:37 PM

May 12, 2010

Reading List Nomination

Mike Rosen's 10 am guest today was author Lee Harris, whose most recent book entitled The Next American Civil War: The Populist Revolt against the Liberal Elite might find a welcome place on the reading list of every ThreeSourcer.

Throughout our history, Americans have always challenged the definition of liberty, and this has allowed us to progress as a society. Harris argues that this debate is good and necessary, and that we must take this new populist uprising seriously if we are to defend our founding principles. A masterly and visionary work that weaves current events with philosophical investigation, The Next American Civil War rethinks Americans' most elemental ideas of freedom in order to enable the people of the United States to face the challenges of our times.

Harris has penned other titles that, were I a more prolific reader, I'd likely have read by now. Civilization and It's Enemies explains that historical amnesia leaves the west unprepared to defend itself from the barbarism of al-Qaida (and the sneeringly dismissive review of the book by Publisher's Weekly is reminiscent of the vitreol once reserved for the likes of Ayn Rand). The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West carries the theme further and "offers strategies by which liberal internationalism can defend itself without becoming a mirror of the tribal forces it is trying to defeat."

But The Next American Civil War apparently concerns a different threat to western liberal internationalism namely, liberal internationalists.

Here's a link to the audio interview, wherein he even mentions the Woolworth's' Waitresses jk blogged about back in ought-five.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Ah, September ought five, happy days! I still had no idear that the Republicans weren't going to usher in some libertarian paradise...

I'm still lumbering through the Presidents but try to give myself one piece of candy per month if I keep up with my medicine. Professor Jeffry Miron's Libertariaism from A - Z is fun. But if there were a quorum who wanted to read this and discuss on these pages, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2010 5:08 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sounds like a must read. Thanks for the tip, JG!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 12, 2010 6:47 PM

May 4, 2010

A Line Worth Remembering

Before Mayor Giuliani took to Larry Kudlow’s program to become the Apostle of supply-side economics, I had already had a moment of swoon for Hizzoner. We've discussed his authoritarian history and I am not brining up the argument again.

But I was not the only one who heard this line. John Podhoretz recalls it today, and Ramesh Ponnuru links and excerpts:

[G]overnment officials believe it is their role to provide reassurance even when they cannot do so. And they’re simply wrong about that. The American people are far more sophisticated about these things than those officials appear to believe, and they can be talked to like adults. That was the lesson, in part, of the immediate aftermath of September 11, when Rudy Giuliani simply said that the “number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear, ultimately.” He sugar-coated nothing. And that is the truth of crises and crisis management.

Without question, that was the best thing I ever heard a politician say. All the journalists were trying to feed their headline writers by getting the mayor to suggest a casualty figure on 9/11. Giuliani said "more than we can bear." I can still see and hear it.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2010

Burying the Lead

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, at his news conference yesterday afternoon, said he would not rule out the possibility that the Times Square attack could be related to the recent threats against the creators of the comedy TV series "South Park," who have been threatened online for allegedly defaming Muhammad. The bomb-filled SUV in Times Square was parked next to the headquarters of Viacom, the parent company of "South Park." That coincidence needs to be thoroughly pursued. -- WSJ Ed Page
'Scuse me? Has anybody else heard this? I think this is huge -- but it does not "fit the narrative."
Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

James Dellingpole has heard it. South Park: The most dangerous show on television?

Posted by: johngalt at May 3, 2010 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Pfft! Foreign press -- those guys don't even believe in global warming!

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2010 4:10 PM

May 1, 2010

Every Day (was) Draw Mohammed Day

Some superb discussion continues on the righteousness and efficacy of "Draw Mohammed Day." Thanks for all the thoughtful comments.

One thing that I did not mention is my belief that this is not a fundamental, axiomatic part of the Muslim faith. This is a brand new thing for CAIR types and the never got a date crowd at RevolutionaryMuslim.com to be offended about. There have been many respectful depictions of the prophet through time by devout Muslims.

This is not a central tenet, it is a new, post-Qutb, Taliban thing (I first heard of the Taliban when they were mashing up millennia-old Buddha statues). The Internet Segue Machine comes through again: a collection of Mohammed images, from the respectful to the Matt&Trey.

I'm softening due to appeals to me better angels as well as general disbelief in my "Spartacus Defense." But I still think these folks are whacked.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2010

Draw Mohammed

It is not often that I part ways with James Taranto. His humor and genial outlook are an inspiration to me, as is his ability to engage the other side and hold to principle. (Plus he's had me on BOTW a few times and I am very easily bought!)

But I have to respectfully diverge from "Everybody Burn the Flag." Taranto seriously explores and comes out opposed to "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day:"

The problem with the "in-your-face message" of "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" is not just that it is inconsiderate of the sensibilities of others, but that it defines those others--Muslims--as being outside of our culture, unworthy of the courtesy we readily accord to insiders. It is an unwise message to send, assuming that one does not wish to make an enemy of the entire Muslim world.

I have a few weeks and plan to correspond with a couple of Muslim friends before then. But unless I get a change of heart, tune in May 20 for a respectful -- if badly executed -- image of the Muslim prophet.

Courage is a funny thing. I'm not extremely worried about ritual beheading with our small readership (a whois does provide my infidel address) but it is way out of my comfort zone intentionally to offend innocent people. I don't take that lightly.

But the heart of liberty for me is that none of us is empowered to prevent another from offending us. I'm disturbed by "Milton Friedman, Father of World Poverty" signs but I'm not issuing fatwas. One of the prices of freedom is extending it to others, and this religious group has no standing to tell me what I can and cannot draw.

Had our elites stood up for freedom, I would pass. Rare kudos to Jon Stewart, by the way. He was brave and correct in his defense of his colleagues. But I think it is unfortunately required -- to preserve freedom -- that everybody draw Mohammed.

UPDATE: Taranto posts some thoughtful responses today -- hey I told you he was a swell guy!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | Comments (15)
But johngalt thinks:

Very well said SC and, like Taranto, I think you approach Islam as it might be and not as it is now. Specifically, I'm unaware of any "New Koran" that tempers the faith's teachings from those of the 6th century.

I wonder this: How can your Muslim friends look you in the eye and tell you their religion deserves your respect when, if not tempered by their participation in western society, it teaches them that you are less than human and they have a right, which springs from their own "fidelity" to Islam, to harm you?

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2010 3:05 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

John Galt’s comment on my post contains within it one of the most pertinent questions we will answer in our lifetimes; is Islam compatible with the values of 21st. century America? There are clearly Muslim fundamentalists in this country that wish to do us harm and there are others, as evidenced by the Minneapolis cab drivers that wish to live under Sharia, rather than laws written in accordance with the Constitution. That being said, there are Christian fundamentalists and many other factionalists who would live outside of our laws and do us harm as well. The question is, how do we gauge the threat. I have been asking myself that question since 9/11. The answer I’ve come to rests on two assumptions and I’ll readily admit I could be wrong, but I hope that I am not.

My first assumption is this: the Koran, like the Bible, is a spiritual text and as such, it transcends place and time. It is also like the Bible in that it is an ancient text written in a specific historical, geographical and cultural location and it shares the Bibles’ historical limitations, in that books written to benefit people living in small tribal patriarchies, will contain elements sensible to those cultures and not our own. It is my belief that most contemporary Muslims, interpret their Koran as most contemporary Christians interpret the Bible, not literally but figuratively. Both documents give ample opportunity for those so inclined to miss the forest for the trees but the Muslims I know seem to be living a Koran that teaches tolerance and living in God’s love and service. I don’t hold the specific details of the Bible against it, acknowledging that it has been used to justify terrible things over the centuries, nor do I hold that the Koran and it’s followers must be locked into a violent, 6th century world view.

My second assumption is that most Muslims in this country share our belief in the Constitution and the declaration of Independence. Most of my Muslim friends are immigrants, so they came here seeking freedom and I believe they see our founding documents as their best hope for securing that freedom. They are willing to live and let live.

Obviously, if I am wrong, we are all in a world of hurt and the years to come will be perilous indeed. If I am right, we need not insult followers of a great world religion to defend our First Amendment. We are not required to follow the British in creating a parallel society, one for Sharia and one for English law. Rather, we demonstrate through speech and tolerance the value of free speech. Let the cartoonists draw Mohammed when it suits them but for the rest of us, let’s speak hard and with compassion. And don’t forget to write Al Franken.

Posted by: sugarchuck at April 28, 2010 5:57 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Woot! I am with SG here.

I'll add this question:

What is the goal here? Are we standing up for our right to free speech? Or is this an attempt at the 'Spartacus' defense, as mentioned earlier?

I am not sure drawing Mohammed is a particularly effective way to achieve either goal.

Consider the audience. Lets say some 4 million Americans draw Muhammad on draw-Muhammad day. How will the average Muslim see this? How much you wanna bet that 'freedom of speech' will never enter the discussion? No, it will be - 'see, look at intolerant Muslim-hating Americans." That is how the Muslim street will see it. Tribalism writ large. And how does that help us? What will the American people gain by being thrown into an us-vs-them competition with Islam itself?

Lets not fool ourselves. We can scream ourselves silly saying, "I'm doing this to protect the right to insult any belief and creed", but all that will be heard is, "I'm doing this to protect those who insult your beliefs and creeds." And ot be honest, this isn't a message I am too keen on sending.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 29, 2010 2:23 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, that's how the West-hating Muslim world will see it. Tolerant Muslims, wherever they are, will see that Americans are at worst being "ignorant" about that Western ideal of free speech. Rational people will ask themselves, "They're being offensive, but won't Allah take vengeance? Is it necessary for me to kill over this?" So someone can have his opinion, and you can have your opinion that his opinion is dog poop.

My purpose is to expose the irrational ones, the closet jihadists: they seem normal but will suddenly demand the shedding of "infidel" blood. This is why I use the old term Mohammedan for jihadists, to show that their religion is about Mohammed, not Allah. The Spartacus motive isn't mine yet still has merit for others. "And what if you track down these men and kill them, what if you killed all of us? From every corner of Europe, hundreds, thousands would rise up to take our places. Even Nazis can't kill that fast."

"us-vs-them competition with Islam itself"

Who made it "us-vs-them" in the first place, though? Even without the cartoons, the jihadists still make it "us-vs-them." Maybe this amounts to poking an anthill, but then we can see just how many ants there are.

It's really a shame that the jihadists make it "us-vs-them." In my travels around Mindanao, except for certain places few civilians dare to go, I've seen lots of Muslim Filipinos (at least those who wear traditional clothes) living peacefully with their largely Roman Catholic countrymen. Some men wear traditional robes, and mwomen wear hijab (burkas are very rare), yet virtually all are peaceful people.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 30, 2010 9:50 PM
But T. Greer thinks:
Who made it "us-vs-them" in the first place, though? Even without the cartoons, the jihadists still make it "us-vs-them."

Agreed. But don't we play into their hands by reinforcing the narrative?

Poke the anthill? That is a fair reason - better than most I have heard. But if the act of poking the anthill creates more ants?

Posted by: T. Greer at May 1, 2010 2:26 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't think we could "reinforce their narrative" beyond what the jihadists already believe: the parades for 1400 years have called for beheading those who insult the Prophet, as well as a caliphate across the world.

By definition the number of total ants won't change. We'll just see more of them than before. Oh yes, I recognize that "Draw Mohammed" will be offensive, and it will offend Muslims who weren't offended before. But we'll see which were willing to commit violence after being offended.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 2, 2010 8:39 PM

April 20, 2010

Truth in Media (no, REALLY)

Just when you thought it wasn't safe to consume any establishment media news product comes this in US News and World Report: Global Warming, Ethanol, DDT and Environmentalism’s Dark Side

Those who question global warming alarmists’ claims and policy prescriptions have been compared to holocaust deniers. Yet what are we to call environmentalists whose policies have resulted in the deaths of millions and could exacerbate poverty and hunger? The movie title Not Evil, Just Wrong may be too charitable.

Snap! Now that's what I call 'Hope and Change' in the news business. How did this happen? The story was written by Carrie Lukas, VP of Policy and Economics at the Independent Women's Forum (because "All issues are women's issues.") Their mission:

The Independent Women's Forum is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and educational institution. Founded in 1992, IWF focuses on issues of concern to women, men, and families. Our mission is to rebuild civil society by advancing economic liberty, personal responsibility, and political freedom. IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy. IWF is home to some of the nation's most influential scholars—women who are committed to promoting and defending economic opportunity and political freedom.

OK, sounds good so far. They may have been founded in 1992 but it's hard to believe this has been their mission all along. I think JK'd have linked 'em by now! ;) Better late than never though.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the entire US N&WR entry and not just the excerpt on balanced-ed.org. It's an editorial. Oh well, the flicker of hope felt really good for those few minutes. Still check out iwf.org though.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:16 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

In my defense, I have linked to the filmmakers several times.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2010 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't think iwf.org is affiliated with 'Not Evil, Just Wrong' but I could be wrong, not evil too.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2010 5:23 PM

April 11, 2010

"Capitalism is the only truth that keeps the nation healthy and fed."

I happened upon this on FNC's Huckabee show yesterday and have to share it, now and for posterity.

Actor Jon Voight, one year the junior of my 'mad-as-hell over the state of American governance father' uses his interview on the show as a platform for a ranting expose against the sitting President of the United States, except that he isn't ranting - he's sober as a judge and serious as a heart attack.


Hat Tip: Marc Schenker at Associated Content who gives a thorough review of the letter and its presentation. Special recognition for the word "Bailoutpalooza."

UPDATE: [12APR 12:38 MDT] I checked google news to see if any other media outlets were talking about the Voight letter. You can see all four related stories here. But you can't see the original story that I HT'ed anymore. Apparently AssociatedContent.com has blackballed it. And earlier today the original author, Marc Schenker, posted another story revealing the censorship. Of course that posting gets "The content you're looking for has been removed" treatment as well. But google saw it before it was yanked.

Associated Content Censored My Accurate Reporting on Voight's Criticism of Obama Associated Content - Marc Schenker - ‎19 hours ago‎ today. As some of you have read, my article of today ACCURATELY REPORTED on Jon Voight's criticism of Barack Obama, which was delivered on Mike Huckabee's ...

Is this a genuine case of internet censorship? Anyone know how to access the google cache pages?

AssociatedContent.com "is an open content network. AC's platform enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic, in any format (text, video, audio and images), and connects that content to consumers, partners and advertisers."

Apparently some content is less equal than others.

Mega hat tip: The patriot who youtubed the Huckabee appearance - "DouggieJ." It may only be a matter of hours before youtube blows him away too.

Note: As of this UPDATE, the video has 18,458 views (compared to 196,251 who viewed 'Obama can't name any ChiSox players?')

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:34 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I dunno man. It's nice to hear a Hollywood cat talk up capitalism, but I think rape and poison are over the top.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2010 3:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A more appropriate word may be found than rape but poison is precisely correct: "Giving them the idea that they are entitled to take from the wealthier who have lived and worked in a democracy that understands that capitalism is the only truth that keeps a nation healthy and fed." [pointed glare]

Keep swallowing that and, when you run out of the wealthy, you're dead.

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2010 6:00 PM

March 30, 2010

Denver TEA Party III

I don't yet have firm plans to attend tomorrow's Denver TEA Party [4pm at the State Capitol] but if I go, these will be my signs:

And...

Are any of the Colorado brothers interested in going? I have two blank poster boards and need someone to carry the second sign.

UPDATE: 3/31 0850 MDT - According to People's Press Collective the scheduled 4pm start time is unlikely. Travel delays from Grand Junction mean the start time will probably be 5pm instead.

Also, I had assumed that Palin and other headliners were on board for the entire tour. Not so.

In the event that none of us go to the event I invite others to contribute their sign ideas in the comments.

UPDATE II (jk): Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a pic:
trustme.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 8:44 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

Not out of line at all. Besides not having to walk from a parking spot we'll also be livin' the green life in the carpool lane!

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Posted before update -- whatever you decide. I'm not sure Palin's absence isn't a plus. With all respect to the guv, I'd rather attend a freedom rally than a "Sarah Palin rally."

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2010 10:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

More signs:

WHAT PART OF "ENUMERATED POWERS" DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?


ENEMY OF THE STATIST
|
V


(A couple of these would make good 3Srcs T-shirts!)

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

News of Ms. Palin's absence serves mostly to explain the dearth of local advertising for the event.

jk: I emailed you to discuss logistics. [@3srcsdotcom]

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 1:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Got your email, thanks. $50 seems a bit excessive for gas but we're thinking it over...

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2010 1:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What did you expect in the "new energy economy?"

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 2:56 PM

March 20, 2010

CODE RED Rally in D.C. via Cell Phone Vid

This is cool! Tania Gail of PAWaterCooler.com is going to the Capitol rally today and she's posting live video clips to her website via cell phone. If you click on the image it links to her qik.com page which shows a google map of her location when the video was recorded.

11 minutes ago she posted this clip. "Holy cow, people are coming!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2010

Video of the Week

Cowboy Soldiers


[Embed removed -- it annoyingly defaults to play, but give this a listen at the link]


"You want to thank us for freedom, send beers 'cause we need 'em" Masterful!

Hat-tip: Blog friend Terri

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"MMMMM, beer!"

Get your ground-poundin' butts back home to Wyo safely boys and I'll happily drive up and buy you a round or three.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2010 8:49 PM
But jk thinks:

And I got the next three!

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2010 10:14 AM

March 4, 2010

An Anniversary Worth Celebrating

March 4, 1801: The Marine Band performed at a Presidential Inauguration for the 1st Time for President Thomas Jefferson

Hat-tip: @SemperFiHank (And y'all ought to be drinking his coffee!)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2010

QOTD

From Thomas Paine's "Common Sense":

"Earlier in this work, I threw out a few thoughts on the propriety of a Continental Charter, (for I only presume to offer hints, not plans) and in this place, I take the liberty of rementioning the subject, by observing, that a charter is to be understood as a bond of solemn obligation, which the whole enters into, to support the right of every separate part, whether of religion, personal freedom, or property, A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends."

The breadth and depth of all American patriot's wisdom at the time of our country's founding remains awe inspiring.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2010

The Real Lesson of Evan Bayh?

Coverage of Evan Bayh's retirements has focused on "the partisan divide" and the notion that there is no longer room for moderates in the debate. The prevailing group-think seems to be that "extremists" on both sides have hijacked the respective parties and forced out the moderates. This analysis is essentially correct, but does not recognize the underlying dynamics.

Over the past 80 or 90 years, the US has gradually drifted to the left in the form of expanded government regulation, bureaucracy, oversight and personal intrusion. During the periods in which Conservatives have prevailed at the ballot box, the result has been an arrest or a slowing of the leftward drift, not an actual move back to the right. There have been some notable periods of deregulation and reduced tax burden, but even under Reagan, the actual size of government never slowed as measured by Federal budget or number of agencies. The best we have enjoyed is a smaller government as a percent of GDP, but that does not represent an actual return of personal authority and freedom to the people.

The country has now reached a crossroads: we either move once-and-for-all into Euro-socialism or we start to reclaim the individual liberties that the Constitution and founders intended. To use a football analogy, the Left can see the goal line and is intent on crossing it. At the same time, the Right understands that this is a goal line stand. We either stop the Left and push them back or we lose the game.

The Tea Party protests are the manifestation of this reality. An awaking population is not only saying "no" to nationalized heathcare and "no" to expanded government, many are saying, "Return Liberty to its rightful owners." In this fundamentally ideological battle, there is no middle ground. Prior comprise has only resulted in extending the time to a socialist state.

No mas. It's time for smash-mouth football.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:44 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

You hit a nerve, br. I think we should take up a collection and buy every journalist a history book. Would that slow the preening "unprecedented partisanship" stories? Jeeeburzz.

I really do rank Senator Bayh among the good guys. Yet I am alarmed at this rising chorus of "politics is broken" because they cannot steamroll-through the Euro-socialism you discuss.

Curiously, with so many things in government and politics truly broken, this is what we software guys like to say a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2010 1:05 PM
But HB thinks:

The problem is that the media covers policy like they do sporting events. So much of the coverage is on the "process" and the "players" and how things might play out. Success is measured by what gets done. If a policy proposal is defeated, it is a "loss", despite the fact that it might be a victory for the American people.

There seems to be less discussion of whether the policy is a good idea than whether a proposed bill will become law.

Posted by: HB at February 18, 2010 11:26 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

That's a very good point, hb. I had not thought of it in those terms.

Perhaps the reason for the media's focus on the process is their underlying bias that additional regulation is almost inherently good (unless it addresses gay rights or abortion). With that as an assumption, they don't have to address the good/bad analysis and can therefore just focus on the win/loss.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 19, 2010 12:22 PM

February 15, 2010

Now, That's What I Call a Jarhead!

WSJ: U.S. Marine Walks Away From Shot to Helmet in Afghanistan

MARJAH, Afghanistan—It is hard to know whether Monday was a very bad day or a very good day for Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig.

On the one hand, he was shot in the head. On the other, the bullet bounced off him.

In one of those rare battlefield miracles, an insurgent sniper hit Lance Cpl. Koenig dead on in the front of his helmet, and he walked away from it with a smile on his face.

"I don't think I could be any luckier than this," Lance Cpl. Koenig said two hours after the shooting.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:56 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Hoo rah!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 16, 2010 11:27 AM

February 9, 2010

Giants Still Walk the Earth

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Posted by John Kranz at 8:00 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"She went on to say violence against women in the Islamic world is systemic and written into the religious texts that are also used as state law in some countries."

And yet, NOW's Terry O'Neill thinks the most important example of violence against women for her to criticize is Tim Tebow "tackling" his mom.

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2010 1:26 AM
But jk thinks:

It is stunning to listen to her. I dare you to find one thing she says which is false, yet in aggregate it is so incendiary.

I think the greatest article the Weekly Standard ever ran was the comparison between her and Frederick Douglass. link

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2010 10:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, quite. In this respect (and probably others) she is very much like another giant who once walked the earth.

They are incendiary not because of their beliefs, but because of the threat they pose to the beliefs of others.

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2010 3:48 PM

Don't Ask Bret Stephens, Don't Tell Bret Stephens

Wow. Bret Stephens takes to the WSJ Editorial Page today for a powerful and thoughtful piece on gays in the military. He first exposes some of the more frivolous and emotional arguments on both sides of the debate. Then he plays in the middle, and makes what I feel are incontrovertible points.

But does "don't ask, don't tell" contribute to military effectiveness? Probably not. One problem is that by demanding that gay and lesbian service members keep their sexuality a secret, it makes them uniquely susceptible to blackmail. It creates a security hazard where none need have existed.

More problematic is that it has meant the dismissal of more than 13,000 service members since the policy came into force. Assume that the presence of openly gay people in uniform poses real if intangible risks to morale or capability. It's still worth pondering whether those risks outweigh what amounts to the loss of an entire division of war-fighters.


He closes with positive reactions from the British, Canadian, and Israeli militaries.

I think it's a good idea -- I'd just hate to see President Obama do something right and ruin his streak.

UPDATE: Ilya Somin concurs

The Australian, British, Canadian, and Israeli armed forces are all among the best in the world. If they allow gays to serve openly with no ill effects, that strong suggests that the US can as well.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, BSA!

Today marks the 100 anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. In those 100 years, more than 110 million American boys have learned self-reliance, self-respect, leadership, teamwork, survival and a dedication to service - not to mention how to stay warm in below-zero temperatures and not burn the eggs when cooking over an open fire.

The Refugee is proud to be an Eagle Scout with Son of The Refugee close to that rank as well. The Boy Scouts remain the largest, most effective organization for teaching the core values that made this country what it is. Happy birthday, Scouting!

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2010

You Laughed at Me, Eh?

Wondering aboot freedom's next home, I suggested that out neighbors to the North have been heading in the right direction.

Holy Hockey Pucks, eh? They've now passed us in the Heritage/WSJ Freedom Index.

The U.S. lost ground on many fronts. Scores declined in seven of the 10 categories of economic freedom. Losses were particularly significant in the areas of financial and monetary freedom and property rights. Driving it all were the federal government's interventionist responses to the financial and economic crises of the last two years, which have included politically influenced regulatory changes, protectionist trade restrictions, massive stimulus spending and bailouts of financial and automotive firms deemed "too big to fail." These policies have resulted in job losses, discouraged entrepreneurship, and saddled America with unprecedented government deficits.

Canada is now #7, with the United States right behind at #8.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Despite their socialist health care system, they've had some conservative leaders who (gasp) somehow reduced their deficits at the same time they lowered taxes. I need not elaborate on what we've been doing here...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 20, 2010 10:08 PM

January 19, 2010

Woo Hoo

Okay. I b'lieve...

Coakley concedes

Posted by John Kranz at 9:53 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith thinks:

I hope Boxer and Feinstein are having a hard time sleeping tonight. "If we've lost Massachusetts..."

Posted by: Keith at January 19, 2010 10:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The 364-day drunken bender of President Obama and congressional democrats is now, effectively, over. The Republic has survived. Barely.

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2010 11:46 PM
But Keith thinks:

Yeah, jg, maybe, but they're leaving us one hell of a bar tab that somebody's eventually going to have to pay.

Posted by: Keith at January 20, 2010 12:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Not to mention all the barf on the floor and the furniture. But at least they didn't burn the house down.

Damn. I haven't felt this good about something I watched on TV since CU won the college football national title in '89.

"Good night, Marcia,
"Good night, Marcia,
"Good night, Marcia,
"It's time for you to go."

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2010 12:47 AM

January 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

Christopher Caldwell also weighs in, apropos the attempt to kill Kurt Westergaard . . . and, in a very explicit sense, intellectual freedom. Few industries congratulate themselves on their "courage" and "bravery" more incessantly than artists and journalists — at least when it comes to plays about a gay Jesus, or joining the all-star singalong for Rock Against Bush. But it's easy to be provocative with people who can't be provoked. Faced with an opportunity to demonstrate real courage, the arts and the media shrivel up like a bunch of dying pansies. -- Mark Steyn
Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2010

A "Freedom Recession"

The WSJ Ed Page runs a sobering but essentially correct synopsis of this year's freedom report:

Democracy's troubles are summed up in "Freedom in the World 2010," the yearly report card published today by Freedom House. We're in a "freedom recession," the advocacy group says. For the fourth consecutive year, more countries saw declines in political and civic rights than advances, the longest such period of deterioration in the 40 year history of this widely cited report.

Start with the "axis of engagement" states that President Obama sought to butter up diplomatically in his first year in office. The authoritarian regimes in Russia, Venezuela, Iran and China all became more repressive in 2009, according to Freedom House measures. America's attempts to play nice didn't make the other side any nicer.


I think they short-shift President Bush a bit, for backing down after the 2006 midterms. I suggest that he had his hands full with the Iraq surge and a possible unraveling from all the gains made. He was less of a Sharanskyite in the last two years, but he focused diminished political capital on what was important.

Gotta read the whole thing, but the end is worth excerpting as well:

If in the days of Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan, we worked to fashion the world into a better place guided by the belief that the urge to live in freedom is universal, today we act as if we are resigned to taking the world as it is. We used to nudge countries toward liberal democracy. Now we assume the price of nudging is too high.

Meanwhile, the enemies of democracy have set out to undo the gains of the post-Berlin Wall era, and many are succeeding.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | Comments (2)
But T. Greer thinks:

Psht. In terms of foreign policy, Bush's last two years were his best. When I try and think of his great fp successes -- the Indian nuclear deal, for example (everybody seems to forget how significant that deal really is), or the stabilization of Iraq -- I find that they reached completion near the end of his second term. It was before his last two years he messed up, not during them.

More pertinent to the editorial's point, however - what kind of "nudging" are they talking about? It all seems very vague to me.

Posted by: T. Greer at January 13, 2010 5:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Well stated, tg. I had certainly forgotten the Indian nucyulur deal...

I return to this blog's founding and the Natan Sharansky quote from which we adopt the name. The second inaugural address was built on Sharanskyism. Secretary Rice and President Bush were both handing out copies of "The Case for Democracy" to staff.

I think it is safe to say that you appreciate the striped-pants diplomacy of the State Dept better than I (odd, because stripes are very slimming...) and I think it is safe to say that the penultimate two years were far more devoted to conventional diplomacy. We absolutely agree, however, on the stabilization of Iraq.

But what I would call his fp successes were built on Sharanskyite ideas. I'll see your Indian deal and raise you Libya. Freedom was “on the March" in Lebanon, Georgia and Iraq because they felt the Third Source of power: "the power of the solidarity of the free world."

I know the country has lost its taste, but President Obama cannot say a kind word about Iranian protesters, and the Administration’s handling of Honduras is an embarrassment.

Nobody is left to trim freedom's lamp. Nobody will lead against the forcers of darkness,

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2010 10:34 AM

December 29, 2009

Lack of Global Leadership for 200, Alex?

I have not whacked the folks at Reason Magazine for -- what -- weeks now. How is it that I agree with them on everything and disagree with them on everything else? Like ManBearPig, it doesn't add up.

Today Steve Chapman posts a solemn but truthful look back on the March of Freedom in 2009:

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the blossoming of democracy around the world, stimulated in part by the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. Far from producing much new growth, however, 2009 brought to mind an old folk song: Where have all the flowers gone?

Steve, buddy, can I be honest with you? The "flowers" were in full bloom when a Sharanskyite US President was leading the world with a bold call for more self government and liberalism.

When Reason Magazine joined those who piled on an unpopular Administration in an unpopular war, freedom's growth was impeded. When Reason Magazine's editor published a polemic book attacking Senator McCain and lambasted him throughout the election, it contributed to the election of a candidate who displays zero interest in using even the bully pulpit to promote freedom.

Said Reason editors and staff were no doubt on firm philosophical footing when they criticized President Bush and Candidate-Senator McCain. But big-L Libertarians are supposed to be so smart about unintended consequences are they not?

You and your buddies, Steve, would do nothing to contribute to American leadership of a Liberal International Economic Order (LIEO). Welcome to your world.

Libertario delenda est!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Well crafted post, JK! Could not have been said better nor more forcefully.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 29, 2009 2:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Many thanks for the kind words, br. I'll confess to liking it, too. Bloggers soon learn that your pop hits do not always match your critical, artistic triumphs...

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2009 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not exactly completely truthful though, is it? Chapman writes "Democracy did not fare so well in Honduras, where the military roused President Manuel Zelaya from his bed at gunpoint and put him on a plane to exile in Costa Rica."

But after what the AP describes as "Central America's first coup in 20 years" the Hunduran congress voted 111-14 to keep him out of power. And he was "roused from his bed at gunpoint" because he ignored a ruling by the Honduran supreme court, which said a referendum could not change the national constitution in regard to presidential term limits.

It is true that "democracy" did not fare as well here as in, say, Venezuela or Bolivia, with masses of leftist agitators rigging elections to have their way. But the 125 members of the Honduran congress exercised democracy. And all of this goes to show that liberty, not democracy, is the ultimate savior of humanity. Strange that a Libertarian would confuse this important distinction.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2009 5:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I missed that. It does look like Chapman joins the US State Department in being on the wrong side of the issue. That should be punishment enough for a Reason contributor.

And yet he is not wrong to list it as a dark moment in history when the Obama Administration sided with Hugo Chavez over the Honduran Supreme Court.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2009 5:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Food for thought: Barack Obama loses in a walk to the Republican candidate in 2012. Do you suppose the Republican will have to settle for sharing power with Obama, ala Mugabe?

I have to think the transition would result in far more damage than popping the W's off of some keyboards.

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2009 6:05 PM

Go Packers!

We've got several flavors of football fan 'round these parts, but I have to give some props to the boys from the frozen tundra of Lambeau field. I recently reconnected with a great friend of this blog. When I was posting at Berkeley Square Blog, I met then Maj. Jay Greeley who had been recalled and was serving in Mosul.

lambeau_field.jpg

Now LTC Greeley is an Army liaison to the FAA. He sent me a couple of emails, and I know everybody at ThreeSources will dig these pictures.

gbjackets.jpg

"Every Thursday a group of us arrive at Walter Reed about 3pm and stay no later than eight to sit with the soldiers. Two years ago, Gen Campbell called me up and invited me to contact the Packers organization. The Gen was an Alumni of St. Norbert College (SNC), knew that I had a connection with Bob Harlan, and said to "get the stuff."

"Mr. Harlan, then acting Pres of the Packers, sent eight boxes overnight of game balls and other stuff. Soldiers received hats, coats, everything... This is the family of a young man who lost his left leg and left arm. His younger brothers came from Arkansas and did not bring coats for the cool fall. So the Packer ladies packed some coaches jackets and the word is that they went in the Locker Room and grabbed them from the head coaches’ lockers as they had the biggest ones.

packers_pres.jpg

"A year later we were able to give Bob Harlan his thank you from the Walter Reed Warrior BDE Commander. With me was a young Sgt that was with me in Mosul, his unit supported some tough operations. He was assigned to St. Norbert College (SNC) ROTC."

MajGreeley.jpg


There are other great pictures in the email and I can forward them to any ThreeSourcer who is interested, Some depict current patients so I will not post them publicly. I will leave you with one picture of our friend, receiving his service coin from some fellow named Petraeus – you may have heard of him.

I had the chance to talk to LTC Greeley on the phone for an hour yesterday, He is a fire hose of interesting information and great stories. I know I'm joined by all ThreeSourcers when I say "Thank you for your service!"

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2009

Too Long for Quote of the Day

The spirit of Sharansky lives, even though it is so unfashionable in America today that even I am becoming sheepish. Here's the WSJ Ed Page today:

In Iran and China, Christmas weekend brought two inspiring examples of the high price that men and women are still willing to pay in the eternal struggle for political freedom.

In Beijing, the Chinese Communists ignored the protests of more than a dozen countries and sentenced 53-year-old literary critic Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison for the crime of peacefully agitating for democracy. His verdict came after a two-hour, closed-door trial Wednesday from which diplomats, his wife and his chosen lawyer were barred.

"When he decides to do something, he doesn't regret it,'' said his wife, Liu Xia, who was allowed to speak to her husband for 10 minutes after he learned his fate. "He said he hopes to be the last person punished for practicing freedom of expression" in China. No wonder Chinese officials are so afraid of Mr. Liu, who wields the power of the unbreakable individual spirit.

Meanwhile, in Tehran, democratic protestors continued to risk their lives and freedom by going into the streets despite an increasingly brutal government crackdown. On Sunday, security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the College Square neighborhood, killing at least four and injuring dozens, according to witnesses and opposition Web sites. The nephew of opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was among the dead.

It's impossible to know when these freedom fighters will realize their democratic goals, but they deserve our admiration and support.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, we are kindred spirits are we not?

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2009 1:08 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

For those interested, this is what Liu was arrested for. That was about a year ago. I wonder why they even need a trial - they have not had a problem detaining him for a year.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 28, 2009 9:19 PM
But jk thinks:

This is the government Thomas Friedman so admires, tg. Sure they can detain a political prisoner for a year wuthout trial -- but the government is empowered to make people use CFLs!

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2009 10:15 AM

December 7, 2009

Recognition

I know Microsoft is the root of all evil and all, but an Instapundit reader points out a little discrepancy:

bing091207.gif
vs:
goog091207.gif

I know, it's not like it was Earth Day or something...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:35 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

That's a great picture of Pearl Harbor I had never seen before.

Kudos to MSFT. Boo on GOOG.

Posted by: AlexC at December 7, 2009 7:27 PM
But jk thinks:

And you can mouse over hotspots to get additional information.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2009 8:01 PM

November 22, 2009

Al Gore Wishes he Never Invented the Internet

This whole post at Minnesotans for Global Warming is hilarious and biting, but here is the part I find most relevant to prior posts of my own:

The Global Warming Extremists controlled the argument for years by saying, it's only legitimate science if it's published in certain journals and peer reviewed, and if you control the Journals you control the science. But sadly with Al Gore's invention, the anointed few are losing control, much like the medieval church did with the invention of the printing press.
Posted by JohnGalt at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2009

Nice!

Reason Magazine has been a very vocal critic of recent missions, and a constant critic of anything that can be considered military expansionism or adventurism. But this is an awesome tribute to some guys who ensured many of the freedoms we argue over:

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2009

Freedom on the March

Sad that President Obama could not find the time to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall in Berlin. But glad Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed a joint session of Congress:

[F]or me America seemed completely out of reach . . . then on the 9th of November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell.

And this border which had divided a nation, for decades, keeping people in two different worlds, was now open. And this is why for me, today is first and foremost a time to say thank you.

I thank all those American and Allied pilots who heard and heeded the desperate appeal of then-Mayor of Berlin Ernst Reuter, in 1948, who said, you, the nations of this world, cast your eyes towards the city.

For months, these pilots flew food to Berlin for the airlift, saving the citizens from starvation. Many of these soldiers risked their lives. Dozens lost their lives. We shall remember and honor them forever . . .

I think of John F. Kennedy, who won the hearts of the Berliners, when, during his visit in 1961, after the wall had been built, he reached out to the desperate citizens of Berlin by saying, "Ich bin ein Berliner." I think of Ronald Reagan, who, far earlier than most, clearly saw the sign of the times and, standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate, already in 1987, called out, "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." This appeal shall remain forever in my heart.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:24 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2009

Communist Humor

WSJ's "Noatble & Quotable" picks up a Der Spiegel Article by Hans-Ulrich Stoldt and Klaus Wiegrefe

"What would happen if the desert became communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage." Jokes like that made the rounds among East Germans during the communist era, and West Germany's intelligence service would collect them, as a way to assess the public mood behind the Iron Curtain but also to amuse its masters in Bonn, the West German capital.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2009

Our CARE Package Showed Up

Hank at Devil Dog Brew, forwards a note from a Colonel in Afghanistan:

Hank, I want you to know that I received the Devil Dog Brew care package donated by John Kranz of Erie, Colorado. This is absolutely one of the best care packages I have ever seen. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines will all enjoy the coffee, snacks, and gifts. We are all thankful for Americans like John who take the time to send a package like this one. Thanks to you for providing quality products and supporting the Military. Also, thanks to John for his generosity.

Semper Fi, Greg


Don't send the FTC after me, I make no money for my endorsement, but this coffee is very good. We've all become used to the "Seattle-Style" roast where the beans are toasted (detractors call it burnt). I like this taste but have to admit this is a refreshing change. It is full flavored and robust without the toasted edge. I recommend it highly.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2009

Selling Freedom to a Polity That Does Not Value It

Media Flash - Female, non-white, lauds Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' explaining how it changes lives.

JK asked the title question. This is my first answer.

Hat tip: Brother Russ

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

News flash: Communism Bad

I really enjoyed this Matt Welch piece this morning. I was gonna link then I wasn't, then I was.

But a great friend of ThreeSources sent the link with the suggestion "This ought to be required reading for all Americans." And I cannot argue.

It was the largest breach of the Iron Curtain in a generation, and it kicked off a remarkable chain of events that ended 11 weeks later with the righteous citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Twenty years later, the anniversary of that historic border crossing was noted in exactly four American newspapers, according to the Nexis database, and all four mentions were in reprints of a single syndicated column. August anniversaries receiving more media play in the U.S. included the 400th anniversary of Galileo building his telescope, the 150th anniversary of the first oil well, and the 25th anniversary of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A Google News search of “anniversary” and “freedom” on August 23, 2009, turned up scores of Woodstock references before the first mention of Hungary.

Get used to it, if you haven’t already. November 1989 was the most liberating month of arguably the most liberating year in human history, yet two decades later the country that led the Cold War coalition against communism seems less interested than ever in commemorating, let alone processing the lessons from, the collapse of its longtime foe.


How can you "sell" freedom to a polity that does not value it?

Posted by John Kranz at 2:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2009

The Segue.

I'm going to risk embroilment in the FTC regulation on blogs for product endorsements. But please be assured that I receive NO remuneration for my recommendation.

Yet I have to report that the Devil Dog Brew and Sniper's Brew coffee arrived today, I opened the Sniper's Brew and it is AWESOME!

Good company, good coffee, good cause.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:18 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Which Devil Dog roast did you choose? (There are 3 roasts darker than "Bold.")

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2009 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope everybody's sitting down -- I actually scored decaf of both Sniper's and Devil Dog. When the decaf is good, you know you've hit a vein.

Posted by: jk at October 7, 2009 12:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Thanks for the tip! This could bring me out of my mourning of the demise of my local Peaberry coffee shop. Forget blue and red, at least we can agree on dark coffee and dark beer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 9:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Agreed, and agreed on Peaberry, where was it, 120th & Sheridan?

Out-o-towners: Peaberry was a local chain that competed with and was purchased by the wicked evil Starbucks Corporation. Company stores switched over, but a few individual franchises kept on under the Peaberry banner.

Really good stuff, although as they attained ten or so stores, my Berkeley educated niece decided that they too were evil. Business is great as long as you're not successful at it. (Hope I didn't step on teh Kumbaya moment.)

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2009 11:59 AM

September 26, 2009

Devil's Dog Brew

If any ThreeSourcers enjoy both coffee and supporting those who wear the nation's uniform, you can shop at www.devildogbrew.com/ It was started by a retired Marine and coffee enthusiast.

In addition to coffee, they have an "Operation MRE" package with Coffee and nuts and sunflower seeds and Tabasco sauce and t-shirts. The website notes, however, "The Coffee Mug, Gerber® Folding Knife & US Marine Corps Edition Operation Enduring Freedom 9MM Beretta® which are pictured are all good pieces of gear but these are mine and not included in the Operation MRE package."

My friend, Hank, (Semper Fi!) helped me order some coffee for me and agreed to ship the kits to servicemembers. Great project Sir, good luck!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 2:49 PM | Comments (2)
But Hank thinks:

Many Thanks, I'd like to tell them who this is from. I'm sending it to the boss I used to work for, he's actually in this story, (I post to a blog as the Marine Contributor) Claire's been a great friend. He's deployed to Afghanistan and I might even get a few great pics to share.

With Utmost Respect, Semper Fi, Hank

www.kneedeepinthehooah.com/2009/02/hank-and-bar-girls

Posted by: Hank at September 27, 2009 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

This gets better every minute. My blog brothers and I disagree on almost everything around here.

Yet we are unanimously in awe of the courage and sacrifices of the men and women who defend the freedom we cherish. I'll send you personal information under separate cover.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2009 10:38 AM

September 21, 2009

Give Local Gov'ts More Power or Face Secession

That's the warning given by Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vincent Cable regarding the powerful central government in ... the United Kingdom.

He told delegates that the party was committed to "generally federal solutions" that would let the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish gain more revenue-raising powers to create "much more genuine home rule but within the UK".

"Unless we grapple with this, it will lead to conflict and possible secession. We have to start raising the warning here and now about what could happen."

Apparently they have some Limey Glen Beck over there raising his own rabble. Another common theme between UK and US governments was also mentioned:

He also called for electoral reform to stop the practice of "rotten boroughs", where MPs felt under no threat due to their large majorities. Making votes count was crucial to improving the behaviour of MPs, said Cable.

I'd like to co-opt that term for the congressional districts of Jared Polis and Diana DeGette of Colorado, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Charles Rangel of New York, and at least a hundred other congressmen across the land. Can I get a hell yeah?

(And 10 bonus points to the first who can explain what an "unelected quango" is.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:27 PM | Comments (2)
But T. Greer thinks:

The UK is ten steps worse than we are here... I can understand where the secessionist sentiment might come in. They are a true nanny-state. More surveillance than East Germany, a greater social net than France, and no difference at all between the two parties.

The U.S. is not this bad yet.

This also explains, in part, why we do not have our own little Dan Hannans running around, and why your call for a "Hell ya" will not be heard by many. Sad, but true.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 21, 2009 8:16 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hell yeah, and it's a perfect fit for Rangel. His district is almost entirely within upper Manhattan, which politically is entirely rotten. All five New York boroughs are.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 21, 2009 9:43 PM

September 11, 2009

Happy Patriots Day

Eight years ago, we were attacked for our freedom.

Reasonable people may disagree on the actions since then, but we should not forget the motives of the attackers: our freedom is abhorrent to them.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2009

Bad Gig

Blog friend Terri brings to light the poor plight of the Pakistani stand-up comic. It seems the following jokes are illegal:

“Terrorists have kidnapped our beloved Zardari and are demanding $5,000,000 or they will burn him with petrol. Please donate what you can. I have donated five litres.”

To commemorate the ascension to the Presidency, Pakistan Post has officially launched a new stamp. But the people of Pakistan are confused which side on the stamp to spit on.

Robber: “Give me all your money!”
Zardari: “Don’t you know who I am? I am Asif Ali Zardari.”
Robber: “OK. Give me all my money”

Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2009

Hotel Philosophy

Sadanand Dhume has a great guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal. He examines why luxury hotels have been a target for radical Islamic terrorists and I think that ThreeSourcers will enjoy his reasoning

From a radical Islamic perspective, however, an international hotel is much more than merely a convenient target of opportunity. It also represents, in microcosm, the antithesis of the world that radical Islamists, both violent and nonviolent, seek to create.
[...]
For Islamic radicals, who seek to order all aspects of 21st century life—from banking to burqas—by the medieval precepts enshrined in Shariah law, the secular nature of a hotel is galling enough. But perhaps this would not matter as much if it weren’t appealing to local elites. In a place like Peshawar or Kabul, and to a large degree even in Jakarta or Mumbai, a five-star hotel represents an island of order and prosperity in a sea of squalor. It hints at the prosperity promised by free markets and a culture of individual liberty. It is living proof that the worldly can successfully be split from the divine. It also acts as a bridge to the West. For example, star players of Manchester United, the British soccer club, were scheduled to stay at the Ritz-Carlton before the attacks forced them to cancel their visit to Indonesia.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2009

If we're going to LOVE Republican Women...

Governor Palin is quite attractive, but can I love Liz Cheney? She has some pointed words in the WSJ today about President Obama's speech to the students in Moscow. She thinks he is rewriting the history of the cold war:

The basis of the Cold War was not "competition in astrophysics and athletics." It was a global battle between tyranny and freedom. The Soviet "sphere of influence" was delineated by walls and barbed wire and tanks and secret police to prevent people from escaping. America was an unmatched force for good in the world during the Cold War. The Soviets were not. The Cold War ended not because the Soviets decided it should but because they were no match for the forces of freedom and the commitment of free nations to defend liberty and defeat Communism.

It is irresponsible for an American president to go to Moscow and tell a room full of young Russians less than the truth about how the Cold War ended.


Awesome. Read the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

An emailer points out that her husband has a shotgun and is not afrad to use it.

Purely professional, Mister Vice President, purely professional...

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2009 11:55 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Lynne is the President's wife. This is Liz, the daughter. The straight one.

Posted by: AlexC at July 13, 2009 1:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks -- mea maxima culpa! Still think the shotgun part holds true...

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2009 2:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not long ago I mused about a Palin/Cheney ticket for '12. Pairing Palin with this Cheney is even more interesting to ponder:

"Change? We'll show you change!"

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2009 3:48 PM

June 11, 2009

Cannot Make This Stuff Up

We're closing Gitmo! My soul will feel so cleansed when this process is complete. Finally, to have a President that understands complex moral imperatives. The WSJ Ed Page reports that a little American lucre has solved the nasty problem of the Uighurs:

Months of moral grandstanding and intense diplomacy are finally yielding dividends: President Obama has convinced Palau, a Pacific archipelago and long-standing U.S. ally, to resettle a small group of the least dangerous Guantanamo detainees. All it took was $200 million in foreign aid to a country with 20,000 residents and a GDP of about $164 million.

Headed to Palau are the Uighurs, ethnic Chinese Muslims who were picked up in 2002 near Tora Bora. Some of them received weapons training at Afghan camps affiliated with al Qaeda or the Taliban as part of their separatist movement -- the Uighur minority is brutally repressed by the Chinese government -- though they are not considered threats to the U.S. or other Western nations. But they were left in legal limbo because they could not be returned to China, where they would likely be tortured or worse, and no other country would give them sanctuary.


So the least dangerous are gone, at a cost of only $11.7 million per detainee. No doubt that Palau will treat them much better than the American military -- and less doubt that they are secured from future terrorist activity. It's a proud day for this great nation!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | Comments (2)
But Jess thinks:

A. The Bush administration declared them innocent so they should technically be allowed freedom. B. Nobody wants to take them, so I guess Palau is where they end up? What happens with all the other detainees? And why so expensive?
Good, humorous post.
http://www.newsy.com/videos/palau_s_potential_prisoners

Posted by: Jess at June 11, 2009 1:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't wait for the '60 Minutes' expose' about six months from now: "Watching these former U.S. detainees day-to-day lives here on this Pacific island one can't help but wonder, were they better off at Guantanamo? And should the U.S. have just kept it's 200 million dollars."

Hey, it could happen!

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2009 7:43 PM

May 29, 2009

Way More Patriotic Than You

There is nothing a libertarian enjoys more than a trip to the DMV -- it validates everything he believes. I even had the good fortune of going from the hospital (drug study visit -- I be fine) to the Weld County Clerk & Recorder Del Camino extension east of Longmont. Trust me, the medical folks are still better, though I know there are plans to "fix it."

When number 93 was finally called, I must confess that the woman who served me was courteous and professional. When I told her I was picking up "Support the Troops" plates, she told me how beautiful she thought they were and how popular they are (I don't think we're in Boulder any more, Toto!) But the wait and the impersonal feel, and the uncomfortable chairs do validate my beliefs. You'd never go here unless you had to. For any other purpose, you would find another venue.
plates.jpg
But, I do have my "Support the Troops" plates proving -- once again -- that I am way more patriotic than anybody around here. Have a great weekend!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2009

Three Warriors

I have not linked -- positively -- to Peggy Noonan in some time. I think you have read enough of my negative links that I won't go into. Besides I come to praise our Margaret, not bury her.

She brings her sweetness and love of country to her column today. And it is a great warm up for Memorial Day weekend.

The category of military hero—warrior—fell off a bit, in part because of the bad reputation of war. Some emerged of heroic size—Gens. Pershing and Patton, Eisenhower and Marshall. But somewhere in the 1960s I think we decided, or the makers of our culture decided, that to celebrate great warriors was to encourage war. And we always have too much of that. So they made a lot of movies depicting soldiers as victims and officers as brutish. This was especially true in the Vietnam era and the years that followed. Maybe a correction was in order: It's good to remember war is hell. But when we removed the warrior, we removed something intensely human, something ancestral and stirring, something celebrated naturally throughout the long history of man. Also it was ungrateful: They put themselves in harm's way for us.

For Memorial Day, then, three warriors, two previously celebrated but not so known now by the young.


Superb.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

I found a High School friend on Facebook. Seeing that he listed US Navy as an employer, I said "Thank you for your service." He replied:

Hi John, thanks for the comment about military service. It means a lot. As I live in Australia there is a lot of anti-American and anti-military sentiment. I also recall a comment years ago from someone we went to primary school with. She ripped into me about being in the military. I suppose that is easy to do when you watch the news and see negative stories. The story behind the news story is pretty amazing and most who have been there have a great deal of pride in their service. Sorry for writing a book. Thanks for the comment.

Many things disappoint in life. But the thought that these people are not treated like the heroes that they are. That chaps my hide. Thanks to all who serve!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Here, here!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 21, 2009 11:45 PM

April 22, 2009

Exploit-the-Earth Day

In 1970 a US Senator created 'Earth Day' to "inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth's environment." But this movement has since metastasized from "appreciating" the earth's environment to deifying it. As a result, any productive human activity can be villified as "pollution."

In contrast, Objectivist philosopher and publisher Craig Biddle wrote that the correct moral path is to celebrate "Exploit-the-Earth Day" instead. [email article - Click 'continue reading' for the full text.]

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism—the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment—because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

For at least 45,000 years human beings have been exploiting the resources of earth and nature for their survival and prosperity. There is certainly no rational reason to quit now. In celebration of exploiting the earth I have created two original prints and I publish them here now for free public use.

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.

On April 22, make clear where you stand. Don’t celebrate Earth Day; celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—and let your friends, family, and associates know why.

Hat tip: jg's friend, henceforth (and long overdue) to be known as 'brother' Russ.

{Hint: Right-click on 'save target as' not 'save picture as' below so that you'll get the high resolution versions.}


________________________________________________________________________
Op-ed from The Objective Standard

On April 22, Celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day

by Craig Biddle


Because Earth Day is intended to further the cause of environmentalism—and because environmentalism is an anti-human ideology—on April 22, those who care about human life should not celebrate Earth Day; they should celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day.

Exploiting the Earth—using the raw materials of nature for one’s life-serving purposes—is a basic requirement of human life. Either man takes the Earth’s raw materials—such as trees, petroleum, aluminum, and atoms—and transforms them into the requirements of his life, or he dies. To live, man must produce the goods on which his life depends; he must produce homes, automobiles, computers, electricity, and the like; he must seize nature and use it to his advantage. There is no escaping this fact. Even the allegedly “noble” savage must pick or perish. Indeed, even if a person produces nothing, insofar as he remains alive he indirectly exploits the Earth by parasitically surviving off the exploitative efforts of others.

According to environmentalism, however, man should not use nature for his needs; he should keep his hands off “the goods”; he should leave nature alone, come what may. Environmentalism is not concerned with human health and wellbeing—neither ours nor that of generations to come. If it were, it would advocate the one social system that ensures that the Earth and its elements are used in the most productive, life-serving manner possible: capitalism.

Capitalism is the only social system that recognizes and protects each individual’s right to act in accordance with his basic means of living: the judgment of his mind. Environmentalism, of course, does not and cannot advocate capitalism, because if people are free to act on their judgment, they will strive to produce and prosper; they will transform the raw materials of nature into the requirements of human life; they will exploit the Earth and live.

Environmentalism rejects the basic moral premise of capitalism—the idea that people should be free to act on their judgment—because it rejects a more fundamental idea on which capitalism rests: the idea that the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value. While the standard of value underlying capitalism is human life (meaning, that which is necessary for human beings to live and prosper), the standard of value underlying environmentalism is nature untouched by man.

The basic principle of environmentalism is that nature (i.e., “the environment”) has intrinsic value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of the requirements of human life—and that this value must be protected from its only adversary: man. Rivers must be left free to flow unimpeded by human dams, which divert natural flows, alter natural landscapes, and disrupt wildlife habitats. Glaciers must be left free to grow or shrink according to natural causes, but any human activity that might affect their size must be prohibited. Naturally generated carbon dioxide (such as that emitted by oceans and volcanoes) and naturally generated methane (such as that emitted by swamps and termites) may contribute to the greenhouse effect, but such gasses must not be produced by man. The globe may warm or cool naturally (e.g., via increases or decreases in sunspot activity), but man must not do anything to affect its temperature. And so on.

In short, according to environmentalism, if nature affects nature, the effect is good; if man affects nature, the effect is evil.

Stating the essence of environmentalism in such stark terms raises some illuminating questions: If the good is nature untouched by man, how is man to live? What is he to eat? What is he to wear? Where is he to reside? How can man do anything his life requires without altering, harming, or destroying some aspect of nature? In order to nourish himself, man must consume meats, fruits, and vegetables. In order to make clothing, he must skin animals, pick cotton, manufacture polyester, and the like. In order to build a house—or even a hut—he must cut down trees, dig up clay, make fires, bake bricks, and so forth. Each and every action man takes to support or sustain his life entails the exploitation of nature. Thus, on the premise of environmentalism, man has no right to exist.

It comes down to this: Each of us has a choice to make. Will I recognize that man’s life is the standard of moral value—that the good is that which sustains and furthers human life—and thus that people have a moral right to use the Earth and its elements for their life-serving needs? Or will I accept that nature has “intrinsic” value—value in and of itself, value apart from and irrespective of human needs—and thus that people have no right to exist?

There is no middle ground here. Either human life is the standard of moral value, or it is not. Either nature has intrinsic value, or it does not.

On April 22, make clear where you stand. Don’t celebrate Earth Day; celebrate Exploit-the-Earth Day—and let your friends, family, and associates know why.

***

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:18 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith thinks:

In honor of Earth Day, I suppose we should remind everyone of the awesome power of green energy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKcD_aLZ9EI

Well, okay, it's more of a bluish-green.

Posted by: Keith at April 22, 2009 8:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HA! The people waiting with breathless anticipation remind me of the ones on the train in the 'Atlas Shrugged' tunnel scene.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2009 12:33 PM

March 20, 2009

Republic or Oligarchy

Most of us, I'm sure, are familiar with the idea that "left" vs. "right" or "liberal" vs. "conservative" are imprecise definitions of political philosophy. What I've promoted instead is that political structures are organized along a continuum from fully collectivized to complete individual liberty.

This excellent video presentation by YouTube's "notdemocracy" describes the balance as one between "total government" and "no government." Five basic types of government cover the spectrum: monarchy - oligarchy - democracy - republic - anarchy. But only two of these are "stable" forms of government: oligarchy and republic. The other three naturally evolve into one of those two. (Hint: Everything becomes an oligarchy except a republic.)

Readers who watch this will understand why I consider it so important to fight for the integrity of the original Constitution, which means removing antithetical amendments to it such as the 16th.

Hat tip: Dr. Ignatius Piazza via jg's friend Russ.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:34 PM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not that excellent. Whoever put this together blindly clings to "law" and does not recognize the concept of peaceful capitalist anarchy, just because it has no "law." So what? We have plenty of "law" today, and what has that done for personal liberty?

When this guy speaks of "law," is he talking about natural law or man-made law? Is he talking about the natural right to defend yourself and your property, which are a priori and need no legislation to enforce or guarantee? No, he speaks of "law" in the sense of rule.

Now, the problem with republics is that they degenerate into democracy. Tytler said, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury." From the very start of our "republic," the federal government practiced wealth redistribution. It was a trickle but increased during the days of "internal improvements," then in the 20th century with the welfare state.

As far as "stability," that exists only with slaves who don't rise up against their masters. Everything else about human society will wax and wane.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 21, 2009 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't know about this guy, but he refers to America's founders. They attempted to establish a man-made law that codified natural law - and no more. Then they attempted to preserve man's inalienable rights from future man-made laws via the Constitution. The Constitution is the only thing that stood in the way of a natural degeneration to democracy and beyond.

You may be able to cite examples of wealth distribution based on tariffs and fees but I think you'll agree the real heavy lifting wasn't possible until the progressive income tax effectively enacted by the 16th Amendment. That was in 1913. Democracy in America is, therefore, essentially a 20th century phenomenon.

As for anarchy as a desirable political system, I think even Rand would agree with the proposition that "the proper amount of government makes everyone freer." Of course this statement is vague as to quantitization of "proper" but clearly it is more than "none."

Posted by: johngalt at March 21, 2009 7:09 PM
But caritas thinks:

I think that people who watch this video dont realize that the creator pulled a lot from Plato's republic, that book went through these steps in much the same way but what Plato left out was that his republic was in reality not a republic but an oligarchy because the people would be ruled by a guardian class, and that the transitions from republic to democracy usually have to be sparked.

Posted by: caritas at March 22, 2009 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

I like the video's rejection of absolute democracy. It's a good introduction to those who don't understand why "one man, one vote" is not the ideal.

It does, however, imply the existence of an ideal law. I appreciate rule by law but suggest we have not yet seen the text of that ideal. The original Constitution we all admire permitted slavery and counted people as three-fifths based on their skin color.

You want to keep all the Amendments but the 16th? Then it is a Republic? That seems awfully capricious. You call shenanigans on Wilson, but Lincoln had Federal troops in place to push the 14th. I think the 12th and 17th do more to degenerate republicanism into democracy. (You'll recall I wanted to rescind both until I encountered Governor Blogojevich, now I am not so sure.)

It is damned difficult to structure law; stop by my HOA meeting or get Sugarchuck to tell you a tale or two about township council. My problem with this video is that it papers over this difficulty. Like Perry, I see it championing a Law that does not exist.

Caritas -- great handle but you have to share it with my test server at work. I do wish I had a webcam to watch Johngalt as he reads your accusation of promulgating Platonicy.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2009 12:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I didn't take caritas as accusing me of promulgating [word] Platonicy [?]. He said Plato's Republic was an oligarchy. That's more than I know on the subject, but it agrees with what I and the video have said.

Which is not that the 16th Amendment is the Constitution's only problem, nor that the Constitution was perfect. I agree with the idea of an "ideal law" analogous with Perry's "natural law." That this law is "a priori and need[s] no legislation to enforce or guarantee" is proven false by the violation of this law all over the world (including, more and more, here in the USA.)

The Constitution sought to guarantee natural law. It did the job fairly well right up to the point where amendments such as (but not limited to) the 16th were adopted by unconstitional processes.

Some (ahem) have suggested the American people would quickly re-ratify the 16th Amendment if so proposed. I say it was more likely in 1913, before the public really understood what it would lead to. And yet it was necessary at the time to falsify the results in the state legislatures. In the full light of day, with a complete airing of the facts, it doesn't even fare as well as the old ERA (equal rights amendment).

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2009 2:52 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I don't know about this guy, but he refers to America's founders.
Well, that in itself means nothing. Many liberals today refer to the Founding Fathers, like when Democrats proclaim themselves "The party of Jefferson."

Even then, which Founding Fathers? Jefferson believed in real liberty, while Alexander Hamilton was a statist who desired one United State government to rule all (which is what

They attempted to establish a man-made law that codified natural law - and no more. Then they attempted to preserve man's inalienable rights from future man-made laws via the Constitution. The Constitution is the only thing that stood in the way of a natural degeneration to democracy and beyond.
Yes and no. The problem with the Constitution is the consolidation of power, and making it absolute law without any ability to question it. If you don't obey, for example, the 16th or 18th Amendments, no matter how bad the law might be, you're a criminal.

Declaring something "the law" does not necessarily mean it is right or proper. Many bad things have been set forth as legislation, statute, etc. Now you might say, by what standard are we to craft law? It's simple: is a particular "law" doing anything for all persons' lives, liberties and property, or is it a bad law that redistributes and/or targets specific individuals or groups?

"The rule of law" does not mean that law must always be obeyed. It means that whatever law there is, it must apply equally to everyone, else it's merely the rule of men.

You may be able to cite examples of wealth distribution based on tariffs and fees but I think you'll agree the real heavy lifting wasn't possible until the progressive income tax effectively enacted by the 16th Amendment. That was in 1913. Democracy in America is, therefore, essentially a 20th century phenomenon.
It most dramatically increased speed in the 20th century, yes, but "internal improvements" began in the early 19th, as did the first income tax under Lincoln. It became a matter of the federal government getting more money from the states, and borrowing more.

All the money in the world doesn't matter if the government has no desire to spend it, and if the people have no desire to elect officials who will redistribute their neighbors' wealth. The "democratic process" took root in the early 19th century as people began asserting their "right to vote," and by the late 1830s the U.S. national debt necessarily increased. It wasn't as much as the 20th century, but relative to the budget then, it was tremendous. The national debt had nearly been paid off under Andrew Jackson, then started going up under Van Buren.

As for anarchy as a desirable political system, I think even Rand would agree with the proposition that "the proper amount of government makes everyone freer." Of course this statement is vague as to quantitization of "proper" but clearly it is more than "none."
Government must exist only with the consent of the people. Not just "the majority" of the people, but "the whole people" constituting everyone. Thus the "proper" amount is the maximum that any given person is willing to give.

Even so, you're talking about a "political system" rather than a government. That's where corrupt favor-trading and wealth redistribution enter.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 23, 2009 9:41 PM

March 12, 2009

Constitutional Taxation

One or two of you may have noticed my comment under Tuesday's Quote of the Day. Fewer still may have followed any of the links. I got a chance to investigate futher today.

From a November 7, 2002 Press Release by Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S., Counselor at Law, Federal Witness and Private Attorney General:

On a much broader scale, the absence of liability statutes raises the specter of widespread government fraud, going all the way back to the year 1913. And, there is no statute of limitations on fraud.

The main problem which the SUBPOENA seeks to solve is to confirm, once and for all, the apparent absence of any federal statutes which create a specific liability for income taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code.

(...)

The absence of any statutes creating a specific liability for subtitle A income taxes means, quite simply, that federal income taxes are totally and completely voluntary, in the common everyday meaning of that term. Liability only begins when Form 1040 is signed.

So it would seem that refusing to complete a tax return, or even completing it and refusing to sign it, may legally absolve an individual of any federal income tax liability. I met a man who actually adhered to this strategy in the early 1990's. At the time I thought he was a madman. Now I believe I've found his justification.

But what of that pesky federal witholding that AlexC lamented?

Further stunning proof that these taxes are truly voluntary can be found at IRC section 3402(n). Here, Congress has authorized a form called the “withholding exemption certificate” abbreviated “WEC”. The term “withholding exemption certificate” occurs a total of seventeen (17) times in that one statute alone.

However, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has never created an official form for the WEC.

I haven't yet found any information on the status of the legal action since the date of this press release. (Is there an honest judge left anywhere in the United States Federal Government?) Here, however, is Counselor Mitchell's brief essay "Let's Dismantle the IRS: This Racket is Busted"

Let’s Dismantle IRS:
This Racket is Busted

by

Paul Andrew Mitchell
Private Attorney General

All Rights Reserved without Prejudice


It’s time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service. This organization has outlived its usefulness.

The hunt was on, several years ago, when activists like this writer confirmed that IRS was never created by any Act of Congress. It cannot be found in any of the laws which created the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The U.S. Supreme Court quietly admitted as much, at footnote 23 in Chrysler Corp. v. Brown. In a nation governed by the rule of law, this omission is monumental.

The search for its real origins has taken this nation down many blind alleys, so convoluted and complicated are the statutes and regulations which govern its employees rarely, if ever.

The best explanation now favors its links to Prohibition, the ill-fated experiment in outlawing alcohol.

The Women’s Temperance Movement, we believe, was secretly underwritten by the petroleum cartel, to perfect a monopoly over automotive fuels. Once that monopoly was in place, Prohibition was repealed, leaving alcohol high and dry as the preferred fuel for cars and trucks, and leaving a federal police force inside the several States, to extort money from the American People.

All evidence indicates that IRS is an alias for the Federal Alcohol Administration (“FAA”), which was declared unconstitutional inside the several States by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935. The result of the high Court’s decision in U.S. v. Constantine confined that FAA to federal territories, like Puerto Rico, where Congress is the “state” legislature.

Further confirmation can be found in a decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Used Tire International, Inc. v. Manual Diaz-Saldana, which identified the latter as the real “Secretary of the Treasury.” The Code of Federal Regulations for Title 27 also identifies this other “Secretary” as an office in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This is ominous data. It serves to suggest that IRS has no authority whatsoever to mail envelopes from the “Department of the Treasury.” Such obvious deception is prohibited by federal mail fraud statutes, and defined as a predicate to racketeering.

Moreover, the vagueness now proven to frequent the Internal Revenue Code forces a legal conclusion that the entire Code is necessarily void, read “no legal effect.” The high Court’s test for vagueness is obviously violated when men and women of common intelligence cannot agree on its correct meaning, its proper construction, or its territorial application.

Take, for instance, a statute at IRC section 7851. Here, Congress has said that all the enforcement provisions in subtitle F shall take effect on the day after the date “this title” is enacted. These provisions include, for example, filing requirements, penalties for failing to file, and tax evasion.

Guess what?

Title 26 has never been enacted into positive law, rendering every single section in subtitle F a big pile of spaghetti, with no teeth whatsoever. Throughout most federal laws, the consistent legislative practice is to use the term “this title” to refer to a Title of the United States Code.

To make matters worse, conscientious courts (an endangered species) have ruled that taxes cannot be imposed without statutes assigning a specific liability to certain parties.

There are no statutes creating a specific liability for taxes imposed by subtitle A of the Internal Revenue Code. This is the set of statutes that impose the federal income tax.

Look at it this way: if Congress imposed a tax on chickens, would that necessarily mean that the chickens are liable for the tax?

Obviously not! Congress would also need to define the farmer, or the consumer, or the wholesaler, as the party liable for paying that tax. Chickens, where are your tax returns?

Without a liability statute, there can be no liability.

This now opens another, deeper layer in this can of rotting worms. If IRS is really using fear tactics to extort an unlawful debt, then it qualifies for careful scrutiny, and prosecution, under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act aka “RICO”.

How fitting, and how ironic, that IRS is legally domiciled in Puerto RICO.

When we get down to brass tacks, we find that Congress encourages private Citizens to investigate and bust rackets, mainly because it perceived a shortage of public prosecutors talented enough to enforce RICO statutes against organized crime syndicates.

This shortage is the real reason why the RICO statute at 18 U.S.C. 1964 awards triple damages to any party who prevails, using the civil remedies it provides. And, happily, State courts like the Superior Court of California also enjoy original jurisdiction to litigate and issue these remedies.

All of this would approach comedy in the extreme, were it not also the case that IRS launders huge sums of money, every day, into foreign banks chiefly owned by the families that founded the Federal Reserve system.

Did you think the Federal Reserve was federal government? Guess again!

One of the biggest shocks of the last century was an admission by President Reagan’s Grace Commission, that none of the income taxes collected by IRS goes to pay for any federal government services.

Those taxes are paying interest to these foreign banks, and benefit payments to recipients of entitlement programs, like federal pension funds.

So, the next time your neighbors accuse you of being unpatriotic for challenging the IRS, we recommend that you demand from them proof that IRS is really funding any federal government services, like air traffic control, the Pentagon, the Congress, the Courts, or the White House.

Don’t hold your breath.

Honestly, when all the facts are put on a level table top, there is not a single reason why America should put up with this massive fiscal fraud for one more day.

It’s now time to dismantle the Internal Revenue Service.

Keeping all those laundered funds inside this country will result in economic prosperity without precedent in our nation’s history.

Let’s bury IRS beneath the Titanic, where it can rust in peace forever along with the rest of the planet’s jellyfish.

America deserves to be a living, thriving Republic, not another victim of Plank Number Two in the Communist Manifesto.

About the Author:

Paul Andrew Mitchell is a Private Attorney General and
Webmaster of the Supreme Law Library on the Internet:

http://www.supremelaw.org

See also:

“U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Falls Silent in Face of SUBPOENA for Tax Liability Statutes”

“31 Questions and Answers about the IRS”

“What Is the Federal Income Tax?”

“Electronic Censors Found at U.C. Berkeley’s Law School”

“Private Attorney General Backs UCB’s Graduate Instructors”

“Paul Mitchell Blasts Clinton, Rubin for Racketeering”

“Paul Mitchell Applauds House Vote to Kill IRC”

“Paul Mitchell Urges Nation to Boycott IRS”

“The Kick-Back Racket: PMRS”

“Congresswoman Suspected of Income Tax Evasion”

“Our Proposal to Save Social Security”

“Charitable Contributions by the Federal Reserve”

“Legal Notice in re Withholding Exemption Certificates”

“A Cogent Summary of Federal Jurisdictions”

“BATF/IRS -- Criminal Fraud”

“Income Taxes and Government Fraud”

“A Monologue on Federal Fiscal Fraud”

“Miscellaneous Letters of Correspondence”

# # #

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (8)
But jk thinks:

I s'pose. I know a guy (and I think you do, too) who makes an impassioned and reasonable sounding case that he does not have to pay taxes because of a non-capitalized 's' in State in the 14th Amendment.

So, that works just fine until he gets a job and has to explain it to HR that "he doesn't need to fill out a W-4 because he is a sovereign citizen of the State of Colorado." I just think this will land you in the same (rhymes with 'jackpot') place.

The sad part of my disbelief, though, is the alacrity with which our State and Federal legislators would rectify any situation that threatened incoming revenue. I don't think that a Congress that just passed a trillion or two in spending last month would allow a return to 19th Century funding.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2009 10:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I gave a few minutes thought to the consequences of a tax that everyone has to pay. Since one can't get blood from a turnip and government spending can't stop on a dime, the deficit would be monumental until outflows could be made to match inflows. It would be chaotic - perhaps even disastrous (particularly in urban areas.) But it would be RIGHT.

Posted by: johngalt at March 13, 2009 11:30 AM
But jk thinks:

Stop me if I'm just being argumentative. But I think you're falling into the Libertarian trap of "misoverestimating" your electoral support.

Again I suggest that your most optimistic scenario is realized. Justice Ginsberg, writing the concurrent opinion of the court's 8-0 majority (Associate Justice Scalia was hunting with Dick Cheney) vacates the 16th Amendment.

You and I would cheer; Rep Ron Paul and Jeff Flake would jockey for position; The Fair-taxers would fill SPAM-filters everywhere...

...and the rest of the world would act as quickly as it could to overcome this little procedural obstacle. This could threaten health care to children! The AARP would mobilize 60 million hotel-discount card holders with a TV blitz. In the end a crushing majority would line up to get back to the status quo ante before their checks were delayed.

Sad, perhaps, but I cannot look at any recent election cycles and see a desire for a do-over (maybe on "Dancing with the Stars...")

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2009 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"... this little procedural obstacle."

Are you suggesting that the Constitution of the United States could be amended by an act of congress, or of the president?

I suppose you have cause there because that's what's been done in the case of the 16th amendment, and others. I'm afraid the constitution has become nothing more than a rallying cry for freedom-loving Americans. It sure doesn't stop our government from doing what it damn pleases.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2009 1:26 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm suggesting that they'll do whatever it takes. If they can ignore it they will, but if they have to, they will break the world land speed record in ratifying a new amendment. They could do it in three days, with very little objection.

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2009 1:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe I'm just a rube. Two-thirds of the members of both houses of congress, then majority vote by legislatures of three-fourths of the states seems a tall order to me. Three days? Really?

And a separate question: You really don't think we could muster 34 senators OR 145 congressmen to keep America as the world's sole Republic?

http://www.usconstitution.net/constam.html

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2009 6:08 PM

February 20, 2009

21st Century Paul Revere

I'm dubbing CNBC's Rick Santelli the Paul Revere of the 21st Century, and his clarion call is "The looters are coming! The looters are coming!"

Video here (You gotta see this!)

"Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they're drivin' '54 Chevys. Maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit."

(...)

"They're [floor traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange] pretty much of the notion that you can't buy your way to prosperity. And if the multiplier that all of these Washington economists are selling us is over one then we never have to worry about the economy again. The government should spend a trillion dollars an hour because we'll get 1.5 trillion back.

(...)

"If you read our founding fathers, people like Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson, what we're doing in this country now are just making them roll over in their graves."

The division is not over race, as AG Holder claimed, but over productivity. The "racism" charge is now merely a distraction. The new administration has contempt for anyone who can earn his own living through industriousness and productive effort. Instead they confiscate wealth from producers and lavish handouts upon the lazy and the corrupt. They are, in the truest sense of the term, looters. And they control the levers of power in the administrative branch of our government. We're about to see if the "separation of powers" model can withstand their assault on the Constitution.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:08 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Palin-Santelli 2012!

Posted by: jk at February 20, 2009 1:54 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Here's another smackdown worth looking at.

Posted by: T. Greer at February 21, 2009 12:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Good one, tg. And by good I mean, of course, very bad. I love the line "...the Ebenezer Scrooge - Rick Santelli plan where we just let these people rot."

I think Chris Matthews is proof that the media rots your mind far worse than politics. He worked with Tip O'Neill and the leading lights of the Democratic party his whole life and came out well-reasoned, polite and practical. Ten years on MSNBC and he became a raving, frothing, hyper-partisan lunatic.

Sorry for the strong words but I'll stand by the comparison. A politician or advisor has to deal with opposition. Once you get your own show you are the law.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2009 11:48 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

I love this guy. I have spent the last hour viewing youtube clips of the man, and I really think somone needs to make a Sentelli youtube channel.

Here are my favorites:


*Santelli Reams Liesman for Defending Bernake

*Rick Santelli on Market Intervension


*Santelli pissed off about the bailout

And yes, Chris Matthews is ridiculous. But honestly speaking, I think Santelli was the one who came off better there. For one, he never had to resort to asking who the other guy voted for.

Posted by: T. Greer at February 21, 2009 8:29 PM

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Hans von Spakovsky tells the story of Christmas 1919, celebrated by his father and 16 others as they skied across the arctic to escape Communism.

I will not excerpt, you'll want to read it all.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2008

Jacques Plante Journalism

Montreal goaltender Jacques "Jake the Snake" Plante was known for great goaltending, being the first NHL goalie smart enough to wear a mask, and the occasional bon mot. Having worked between the pipes myself, I kept one of his quotes taped to my monitor for several years: "How would you like a job where, if you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?"

I wonder if Secretary Rice feels that way. Long time readers know my fondness for her knows few bounds. She has been one of the most articulate spokespeople for the administration’s foreign policy. (Okay, that’s not too hard.) She also has a compelling biography which has given her an appreciation for civil rights and the true non-duck-huntin' meaning of our Second Amendment rights.

The striped-pants crowd at State has ameliorated her Sharanskyite stance for freedom more than I'd like, but she has been a rock on Iraq and a staunch friend of Israel. On Iran and North Korea, the administration has not been able to achieve all of its goals. Jacques Plante did not shut out his opponents every game either.

The WSJ Ed Page lights the red lamp today and leads the boos with Condi's Korean Failure. My boys have been pretty tough on Rice. Ambassador John Bolton is held in high esteem there. Bolton, whom I admire for promoting American interests in the UN, doesn't realize that the country does not hunger for his bellicosity. He wants to take a tough line on Iran and North Korea, fine. The administration used all of its political capitol holding the line on Iraq.

I think that was the right choice. The six party talks were a good idea, outsourcing a little diplomacy to China. Diplomacy did not work, surprise. There were not many other options. I'd like Ambassador Bolton, and the WSJ Ed Page to admit that.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee generally shares Blog Brother JK's favorable view of Condi. (He points out, with some pride, that Condi, Sec. Gale Norton, Sen. Pete Domenici and The Refugee all hail from the same Alma Mater, Denver University. Of course, so does Sec. Madeleine Albright, but you can't win 'em all.)

However, he must diverge with BB JK on the DoS assessment and side with the WSJ. Condi's tenure has seen no improvement in State's proclivity for appeasement and an unwillingness to call out the world's dictators. We continually "pay it forward" only to get an "NSF" in return. "Foggy Bottom" is more than a locale - it's our negotiating strategy with enemies.

JK is correct that N. Korea and Iran are essentially impossible to negotiation with. However, throughout the 20th/21st century history of Secretary of State, we have yet to have one with the integrity and backbone to say, "Having no deal with these thugs is the best we could negotiate, and no deal is better than any deal."

To close out the hockey theme, The Refugee would like to point out that the seven-time national champion DU Pioneers are currently on a seven game winning streak and ranked 5th in the nation for NCAA hockey. Oh, and one more thing: CC sucks!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2008 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, they're really my brother's Tigers, not mine, so I'll let the last line slide -- Go Pioneers!

The Refugee sets a pretty high bar for Secretary Rice. She has not cleaned up the Aegean Stables at State nor improved the proclivities of a mind-numbing bureaucracy. She didn't develop a cure for Cancer either.

But she did pave the way for the President's policies in Iraq and, as documented by Kim Strassel (her tinfoil hat repels John Bolton's poisonous thoughts), left substantive improvements in many of the world's trouble spots.

I put Bolton in the same category as the Free-Tibet and fix Darfur crowd. There is a distinct limit to our possibility to "fix things" and far less domestic appetite for additional intervention.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2008 5:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

johngalt's dad was a DU engineering professor in the '60's and '70's so I got to go to a few games as a tyke. I loved the little bearded man ('Boone') in a 'coon skin cap mascot for the "Pioneers." Now, the PC police are running him out of town to be replaced with a stylized pigeon.* Sigh.

Nonetheless, GO PI's!

* I searched for 20 minutes and couldn't find a better link than this one.

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2008 12:58 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

JG hits a nerve with the Refugee, as Boone was the mascot while he attended school. Chancellor Coomb recently killed Boone for all time because "It does not reflect the cultural diversity that we desire," or some such excuse. So, Chancellor, white guys with beards embarrass you? Besides, how does a hawk/chicken/stylized pigeon reflect these values better - what type of student are you recruiting? Are pinfeathers an entrance requirement?? Yeesh.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 18, 2008 3:48 PM

December 15, 2008

Freedom on the March

Blog Brother Boulder Refugee hopes the reflexive anti-Bush partisans take a teachable moment from the shoe tossin' Muntadhar al-Zeidi. My sanguine-meter is set pretty low on this one, but you have to admit, Iraq is looking pretty free and democratic. Here's the WSJ news pages:

Iraqis Rally in Support of Man Who Threw Shoes at Bush

BAGHDAD -- Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs across many parts of the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president.


I remember the President throwing a strike on a ceremonial first pitch a few years ago. Maybe he should have challenged Zeidi to shoes at 20 paces.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2008

The NYTimes's Vision for Iraq

“That conversation must be candid and focused. Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.”
Don Surber calls it "Despicable." "But Bush stood tall."

I got the special eight-year-commemorative-Bush-Bashing issue of Reason last week and I have been absorbing all the AP-MSM proclamations that President Obama is inheriting a World destroyed by President Bush. And I may have mentioned that Gene Healy ends his otherwise excellent, important book with a three chapter jeremiad on the evil that is W.

He's no President Coolidge, mind you, but I will be throwing some soft cheers through the end of his term. I recommend Elizabeth Strassel's exit interview with Secretary Rice. Chris Wallace had a great one last Sunday with her as well. The Bush Years have not been a model for limited government and fiscal discipline, but he leaves two solid SCOTUS justices and a world that thankfully does not match the NY Times's vision of the Middle East. The number they don't mention in the War stats, observes Surber, is 24 million Iraqis liberated. I would add Afghanistan and the Palestinian controlled areas even though they have not made the best use of self-directed government.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2008

Merry Christmas, My Friend

There is hope this season. On of my leftiest, most Bush-despisin' friends emailed me a poem and a link to a snopes story about it. From Snopes, I learned that the author is Corporal James M. Schmidt, USMC. It has circulated the Internet adapted to Army, Navy, and perhaps Zoroastrian versions. But here is the original, as it appeared in Leatherneck in 1991.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIEND
'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I'd just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2008

The Food Is Certainly Better

The central question in Reason Magazine's 40th Anniversary issue is whether we are more free than in 1968 or less. As much as big-L libs love to look at the dark side, about all of them were pretty upbeat. Veronique de Rugy highlights the conundrum "Government has grown, but freedom has grown faster."

As Milton Friedman showed in Capitalism and Freedom, such wealth both feeds and is a byproduct of freedom. On one hand, freedom in economic arrangements produces wealth. This, in turn, produces a demand for more liberty, which then produces more prosperity. Thus, increasing wealth is usually correlated with increasing economic freedom. The deregulations of the airline, telecom, and trucking industries in the 1970s, and the marginal tax rate cuts and control of inflation in the ’80s, contributed to the widespread prosperity of the ’90s.

Yet, the wealth accumulation of the last 40 years has also made the government bigger. Real federal spending increased from $774 billion in 1968 to $2.5 trillion in 2008—a 225 percent increase—and federal spending per household grew from $11,800 to roughly $21,000 over that period, in constant dollars. This forms a libertarian paradox: economic freedom and wealth breed not just more political freedom, wealth, and choice but also more government.


David Boaz's book of his collected essays is likewise pretty upbeat. JohnGalt once suggested a freedom meter. Like the end-of-the-world clock, we could dial it up or down based on elections, legislation, and our moods that day.

I watch a nephew discover Ayn Rand and the liberty movement (I gave him my 40th Anniversary issue). I feel sorry that he did not discover the movement when Ronald Wilson Reagan was President. On the other hand, he gets the Internet. Ultimately, I have to accept that the additional wealth is a good tiebreaker for 2008.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith thinks:

I'll play the contrarian - color me partially unconvinced.

I've read the article, and what stands out to me is that there's no satisfactory definition of "economic freedom" stated. I'm left with the idea that the writer sees "economic freedom" and "having more money to spend on more stuff." Indeed, if we're going to measure economic freedom by the number of poor people (as defined by the Census Bureau) who own air conditioning, color televisions, and refrigerators, then she is right - and it's time to declare victory in the War on Poverty so they'll stop taxing my income to death and using the revenue to buy air conditioners, televisions, and refrigerators for the so-called poor. We have the richest poor in the world here.

But "economic freedom" must also mean "the freedom to spend the money I rightfully earn in the ways I see fit, or to not spend it at all if I so desire." If I own an asset (let us say a plot of land) that I cannot use in a sensible way as I see fit (such as to build a business, as a result of the government declaring it a wetland), then I have wealth but no economic freedom in that regard.

The same applies to what should be called individual unfunded mandates. If I have ten extra dollars, then I have more wealth; but if the government outlaws cheap incandescent light bulbs and requires me by law to spend an extra twenty dollars a year on compact fluorescents, I have less economic freedom. If my wife, who (bless her heart) loves pork rinds, suddenly cannot enjoy them because the nannystate's diet wing bans them now that we can afford to add them to the grocery list, then we lack economic freedom.

Look at the whole concept of Tax Freedom Day. With some fluctuation, Tax Freedom Day has advanced later in the year as time goes by, and that does not take into account those individual unfunded mandates. It also doesn't take into account the effect on the cost of goods purchased with my increased wealth due to government meddling in markets and production. Finally, it doesn't take into account the federal debt, which is a bondage - though a bondage postponed.

Wait until the government gives us universal health care and starts nationalizing industries, and see how much economic freedom we lose.

I see it as a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. I doubt that "wealth accumulation of the last 40 years has also made government bigger." Instead, I see it more as a matter of, as Americans created more wealth, our government became greedier and demanded a bigger and bigger piece of it. Government does not create wealth; at best, it can provide an environment where the citizens can create wealth. Our government, as a result of its felt need to regulate and dictate more and more aspects of our lives, has cost us freedoms, both economically and politically.

I'll wait until later in the day to scroll down the page and play village contrarian on the issue of immigration.

Posted by: Keith at December 2, 2008 4:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The problem is that you cannot quantify freedom. You're either free or you're not. (Austrian economists like me tend to reject quantification of abstract concepts like "good" and "bad," which we hold cannot be measured objectively.)

We were not truly economically free under Nixon's wage-price controls. We're certainly not truly economically free today. But how do you assign a value to gasoline lines and stagflation versus a federal bailout and New York's mandate that all health insurance cover everything (meaning men are insured for hysterectomies)?

Different times, same BS, same problem. Don't be satisfied today just because you have your iPod, hi-def TV and other toys. A gilded cage is still a cage, so the saying goes. Be willing to demand freedom, even if it means having less wealth.

Ask yourself: do you love wealth more than you love liberty?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 3, 2008 11:20 PM

December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving, CCXIV

A note from a Navy Seal:


navyseal.jpg

Hat-tip: Hugh Hewitt

Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2008

We Won.

A group is promoting tomorrow, 11-22, as V-I Day to celebrate a US Victory in Iraq.

I haven't wanted to step too far on the sunny side of a fragile situation but today I am ready to claim victory. A prescient pundit (Jay Nordlinger? Mark Steyn?) said -- way back when -- that if we do well in Iraq, we can look forward to their protesting against us, that a free country that hates America was a sign of success. Well.

Yahoo/AP

BAGHDAD – Thousands of followers of a radical Shiite cleric protested a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security deal Friday, burning an effigy of President George W. Bush in the same square where Iraqis beat a toppled Saddam Hussein statue five years ago.

Chanting and waving flags, Muqtada al-Sadr's followers filled Firdous Square to protest the pact that would allow American troops to stay for three more years.


I saw video of shouting and pushing in the Iraqi Parliament yesterday. Folks in suits and nice haircuts were throwing stacks of paper. This blog is named for Natan Sharansky's book that bifurcates between fear societies and free societies. There have been a million mistakes in Iraq, and I am sympathetic to an informed and reasoned suggestion that we should never have gone in. But we have flipped a fear society to a free society -- and I will never apologize for that.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | Comments (12)
But Keith thinks:

johngalt: that day can't come soon enough - and with him already being branded a "house Negro" by one of their number, that day will arrive rapidly. The real question is what Obama will do about it when it happens.

I dread the day that these same people decide we're weak and spineless enough to make their next attack on American soil. We could run an office pool on when and where that will happen. I wonder if his fanatical groupies will figure out he's not who they thought he was before that day comes.

Posted by: Keith at November 21, 2008 5:17 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

But those people yelling in parliament can take up guns very quickly... heck, most of them were terrorists (or something close to it) before they got elected.

The problem comes when the factions cannot settle their disputes by means of yelling at each other. Once that happens, it is all too easy to pick your guns back up...

I also do not think it is fear of U.S. retaliation that has kept terrorists from attacking America. Honestly, we can act spineless or stoic- those bent on reaping terror will do so if they can. To imagine otherwise is to lull yourself into a false sense of security.

~T. Greer, nitpickingly pointing out that the "house negro" statement came from Zalwahiri, al-Qaeda's 2nd in command- quite different from the Mahdi mob burning Bush's effigies.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 21, 2008 7:55 PM
But jk thinks:

And the Germans could descend into Socialism -- no, wait a minute -- but that does not nullify their liberation from fascism.

I'm thinking that we have provided Benjamin Franklin’s famous "Republic if you can keep it." Sure it could go bad but its present signs are extremely encouraging.

I hope you're right that our promised future spinelessness will be without cost. Closing up Gitmo, sending terrorists home, pulling out of Iraq on a domestic political schedule and treating future attacks with law enforcement and not military response might scare the hummus out of our enemies but it seems counter-intuitive.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2008 11:57 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

jk, I don't know if I can buy that argument. After all, couldn't have Bush said the same thing back in 2003 when Saddam was ousted? We did liberate the Iraqis from the Baathists- surely the next five years of violence were just the Iraqis failing to "keep" their society free?

Honestly, I have problems seeing where the cost of our spinelessness comes in. Your average terrorist is a fanatic. He expects to die for his cause. Gitmo is nothing but a source of anger for him. The supposed toughness of America really is an irrelevant factor.

Let me put it this way- did Al Qaeda decide to launch a terrorist attack in 2001 because we elected a Texas wussie?

I will qualify this by saying that withdrawing from Iraq is a bit different than the other examples you mention- like the videos of roadside bombs, footage of American troops withdrawing from Iraq could help the terrorists by letting them claim that they won. However, I think the link between Domestic treatment of terrorists and number of terrorists committed to harming the U.S. is small.

~T. Greer

Posted by: T. Greer at November 22, 2008 8:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"The supposed toughness of America really is an irrelevant factor."

I'll argue with that one. The "average" terrorist may be a fanatic but far fewer of them will sign on with a group that is clearly getting its ass kicked around the world by a determined adversary. Volunteering to be a Jihadi Joe was far more attractive when the biggest threats to your existence were UN resolutions, occasional rocket explosions at the neighborhood milk factory, and the very real possibility of jail time should you be unlucky enough to get arrested while visiting New York City.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2008 8:56 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@JG: Someone who chooses to hijack an airplane and ram it into a building is prepared to die. I have a hard time believing that such a man really cares if his failure to kill himself will result in CIA torture or jail time.

Of course, there is a difference between destroying terrorist groups and their affiliates across the world and increasing the level of punishment the odd terrorist receives if he is unsuccessful.

One works and one doesn't.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 22, 2008 9:28 PM

November 15, 2008

Blast From the Past

An Insty post dated 9-15-2001:

BE PATRIOTIC: BUY SOMETHING. That's what Scott Norvell says and he's got a point. I went to the mall yesterday, and it was deserted. It's actually magnifying the terrorism's damage when people stay home and the economy suffers.

Okay, people will make up for lost time soon. But going out to a movie, or dinner, or shopping isn't just good for the economy. It's a way of carrying on life as normal. That's a victory of sorts, too.


President Bush has been completely maligned for telling people to "go shopping" after 9/11. I forget what/how/if he said, but it has joined the lore of President GHWB and the supermarket scanner and VP Quayle's "You Say Poh-taht-oe." When you remember those days and the feeling that we would never return to "normalcy" (Thanks, President Harding!) that we enjoy today, it was pretty decent advice.

Hat-tip: An older, wiser Insty who thinks we may soon be called into service again: "We shall fight them in the strip malls, we shall fight them in the restaurants, we shall fight them online -- we shall never surrender!"

Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans' Day

Not a better way to spend it than a quick contribution to The Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund

Hat-tip: Hugh

UPDATE: Terri has four choices.

And Taranto links to Cigars for Soldiers Boy, that''s a "Nuke the Gay Whales for Jesus" outfit -- how many ways can you annoy a leftist?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

I spent most of the morning in a room full of Sons of Iraq leadership, watching Al Arabia's coverage of said election. Explaining the electoral college through an interpreter is, in case you've never done it, kind of an adventure.-- Milblogger Bad Dogs and Such
From a nice collection of military bloggers' reactions at Mudville Gazette
Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2008

American Journalism Dismantled by ... a Democrat

If John McCain is going to win this election it will be with the help of great Americans like Orson Scott Card. A science fiction writer (who's work dagny likes) he's also a Democrat and a newspaper columnist published in North Carolina. And according to Rush Limbaugh (where I first heard this) he's far enough left to be pro gun control. And yet, he takes American newspapers apart:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

(...)

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

(...)

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

(...)

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

(...)

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.

Every blogger should link this column.

Every American should send it to his local newspaper.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2008

Turkmeni Democracy.

Haven't had a real "Freedom on the March" post in a while, but Scholar's Stage links to an article in Diplomatic Courier called Can Democracy Truly Blossom in Turkmenistan? It seems the fiat of wacky "Turkmenbashi" has been replaced by a written Constitution. DC concedes there are issues:

Many feel that the constitution lacks components vital to a functioning democracy, such as a constitutional court and freedom of expression and that the document was designed to please foreign investors. Essentially, the document was not created for the people, but for the elites and to open up markets to stimulate economic reform.

Prosperitarian rule in a land that ends in S-T-A-N is nothing to sneeze at. Nor is the small Asian Republic's willingness to stand up to neighbor Russia:
Nevertheless, Turkmenistan’s move towards democracy is favorable to the West. Acting as an economic ally, Turkmenistan stands to gain more than it would lose by developing amicable relations with Europe and the United States. This provides a counterweight for Western states against a “Resurgent Russia” that they seem concerned about.

The opening of Turkmen markets has the potential to damage Russo-Turkmen relations and hurt Russia’s economy. With Russia being ruthless on payments and on the natural gas supply to Europe including many former Soviet republic and satellite states—Ukraine and the Czech Republic—many are more than likely to flock to Turkmenistan for gas. Turkmen gas will be cheaper and there will be less politics involved. This would threaten Russia’s energy supremacy in Central Asia and in Europe weakening Russia’s status as an energy abundant state.


Perhaps the light of liberty lives, albeit in France, Canada, and Turkmenistan.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2008

Banned By YouTube

Do y'all watch Pat Condell? Samizdata links frequently to his deeply offensive -- and absolutely hilarious -- anti-religious rants. YouTube is blocking it, so samizdat Adriana Lukas is trying to spread the word. I'm happy to oblige:



Posted by John Kranz at 6:04 PM | Comments (3)
But Adriana thinks:

Hm, do we link to him frequently? I saw this guy for the first time on Geoff Arnold's blog and it's the blocking by YouTube rather than his views that got me to link to him...

Posted by: Adriana at October 4, 2008 10:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Frequently being in the eye of the beholder, I guess. I have seen him only through Samizdata and I have seen him three or four times.

Condell is a little more incendiary than I prefer around ThreeSources but, like you, I will lend an IP address to avoid censorship. He has a right to be heard.

Posted by: jk at October 4, 2008 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Offensive? Only to Islamists. (In this post at least.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 6, 2008 2:55 PM

August 22, 2008

Random House Bows To Catholic Pressure, Pulls Novel

KIDDING!

Had you there, didn't I? Actually it was a novel about the nine year old wife of the Prophet Mohammed, and author Sherry Jones is now looking for another publisher.

"Random House made the decision to cancel its US publication of the novel 'The Jewel of Medina' after much deliberation and with great reluctance," a statement from the publisher sent to AFP said.

"The decision was based on advice from scholars of Islam, among several creditable sources, that publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community and could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."


Hat-tip: Eidelblog, where Perry wonders about a possible double standard.
It's strange. I'm trying to think of when Catholics "strongly advised" Dan Brown and Doubleday regarding "The Da Vinci Code," or when Protestants issued death threats against someone for mocking Jesus. You might remember, Catholics did protest against "The Golden Compass," but show me one person or structure that was ever threatened.

This is a dangerous slope. And another reminder of the unseriousness of the civil libertarians. I get goose bumps when I think of the ACLU defending the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois (man I hate Illinois Nazis!) but that was a long time ago.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This means that the terrorists have achieved some of their objectives. That is, change the behavior of non-Muslims to "respect" Islam. It emboldens further fear and intimidation. More precisely, the double standard that PE notes subjugates all other religions to Islam. We must not allow ourselves to be intimiated.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 22, 2008 11:58 AM
But AlexC thinks:

It's the militant arm of the Salvation Army we should be worried about.

Sheesh... there are literally tens of thousands of people (some may be your neighbors) who are trained to use those bells as truncheons.

Let's not even discuss those buckets. This is a family blog.

Posted by: AlexC at August 22, 2008 12:15 PM
But jk thinks:

(The Knights have those swords, ac!)

Br, your tense betrays you -- as you point out, we have already allowed ourselves to be intimidated. Game over.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2008 12:46 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

We have certainly lost a few battles, but The Refugee doesn't think the war/game is over yet. Americans have a history of being pushed just so far. This Refugee is not ready to break out the prayer rugs just yet.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 22, 2008 4:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I suspect you're right. It just seems that publishing is now lost to freedom. First it was academia, then media, now to see Random House afraid to publish a book after we saw booksellers capitulate on Salman Rushdie in the 90s.

Disheartening.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2008 6:09 PM

August 5, 2008

Requiescat in Pace

A blog that takes its name from Natan Sharansky would be remiss to not spend a few words on the passing of his great compatriot and fellow dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I'll offer links to better writers:

James Lileks (HT Insty):

Naturally, I was in the perfect mood to read the entire Gulag Archipelago. I got all three volumes from the drugstore – which should have told me something about the land in which I lived, that one could buy this work from a creaky wire rack at the drugstore – and it taught me much about the Soviet Union and the era of Stalin. After that I could never quite understand the people who viewed the US and the USSR as moral equals, or regarded our history as not only indelibly stained but uniquely so. Reading Solzhenitsyn makes it difficult to take seriously the people in this culture who insist that Dissent has been squelched. Brother, you have no idea.

Solzhenitsyn speaking at Harvard in 1978:
Some people sincerely wanted all wars to stop just as soon as possible; others believed that there should be room for national, or communist, self-determination in Vietnam, or in Cambodia, as we see today with particular clarity. But members of the U.S. antiwar movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear?

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page:
Solzhenitsyn warned of "an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses," and a "tilt of freedom in the direction of evil . . . evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature." His own prison-camp experience after World War II told him evil was all too real and had to be confronted.

However dourly Russian his warnings often were, Solzhenitsyn fortified the West with the truth and will to triumph in the Cold War. The great, inspiring irony of "Ivan Denisovich" is that it ends with Shukhov concluding that, even amid his icy prison, the day was "almost a happy one."


I read a funny article a few weeks ago about how Hollywood releases a new McCarthyism movie about every year to great fanfare, yet never a movie about the depredation of Communism. I wish they'd skip next years telling of the blacklist and trade it in for a heroic movie about this world hero.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | Comments (0)

Shhh. We Won.

Don't tell the NYTimes, or Senator Obama. But the war in Iraq is over and we won.

Bret Stephens claims this in his Global View column on the WSJ Ed Page. And I wholeheartedly agree. Stephens won a $100 bet from Francis Fukuyama "that Iraq would be a mess five years after the invasion." Stephens collected on the basis of troop casualties but takes the time to enumerate what has been accomplished.

Here's a partial list: Saddam is dead. Had he remained in power, we would likely still believe he had WMD. He would have been sitting on an oil bonanza priced at $140 a barrel. He would almost certainly have broken free from an already crumbling sanctions regime. The U.S. would be faced with not one, but two, major adversaries in the Persian Gulf. Iraqis would be living under a regime that, in an average year, was at least as murderous as the sectarian violence that followed its collapse. And the U.S. would have seemed powerless to shape events.

Instead, we now have a government that does not threaten its neighbors, does not sponsor terrorism, and is unlikely to again seek WMD. We have a democratic government, a first for the Arab world, and one that is increasingly capable of defending its people and asserting its interests.

We have a defeat for al Qaeda. Critics carp that had there been no invasion, there never would have been al Qaeda in Iraq. Maybe. As it is, thousands of jihadists are dead, al Qaeda has been defeated on its self-declared "central battlefield," and the movement is largely discredited on the Arab street and even within Islamist circles.

We also have -- if still only prospectively -- an Arab bulwark against Iran's encroachments in the region. But that depends on whether we simply withdraw from Iraq, or join it in a lasting security partnership.


After "Mission Accomplished," supporters are too chicken to use the W word. But I ain't: we won the war. Much work remains in Iraq, and the wider war continues, but Iraq has been won.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

July 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

Sen. Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go. -- Obama adviser, Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (Ret.)
From Jake Tapper. Apparently, it would be inappropriate to visit the troops as a campaign stop, but it's fine to have a "citizen of the world" campaign rally in Berlin.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2008

1215 Reenlist in Baghdad

BobKrumm.com:

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Petraeus, reiterating earlier remarks made by Command Sergeant Major Hill, said that the unprecedented ceremony sends a “message to friend and foe alike.” He told those assembled that it is “impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”


Happy Fourth! Hat-tip: Instapundit.

UPDATE:

Words fail. To share a country with these young men and women.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2008

Pictures From Ramadi

A superb post about Ramadi reconstruction, starting with a traffic jam on Route Michigan. "Last year it was empty except for US soldiers trading shots with Al Qaeda."

And don't miss this set of pictures (.pdf file). Nine pictures of hope and change that the defeat-at-all-costs crowd is willing to give away,

Posted by John Kranz at 4:40 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Hey, I recognize the Arabic on the back of that cart. It means "The closer you are, the slower I go"!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 23, 2008 1:28 PM

June 18, 2008

Chicks Love a Guy in Uniform

army_mil-2008-04-29-122617.jpg


http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2008/06/this_is_importa_1.html

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 5:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2008

Irish Eyes are Smilin'

I'm in the habit of having a beer every day, either with my evening meal or after it. I've got a case of Guinness in the fridge that I use for satisfaction of that occasional craving for cream stout. Tonight, I'll lift not one but two pints of Ireland's proud heritage to the brave and fortunate souls of that fine emerald isle, for they were given a rare say in their own affairs and told the peddlers of 'world government' to piss off:

All 27 European member states have to ratify the treaty for it to go come into force next year. So far it has been approved by 18 members including Britain, but Ireland is the only country to put it to a public vote.

(...)

The outcome was triumph for a highly-effective No Campaign masterminded by the Libertas group led by the multimillionaire Declan Ganley.

Libertas argued that the Treaty would undermine Ireland’s influence in Europe, would open the door to interference in taxation and enshrine EU law above Irish law.

For Brian Cowen, the newly-installed Irish Prime Minister, the result was a disaster. All the main political parties, aside from Sinn Fein, had supported the Treaty and made strenuous efforts to win the referendum.

Mr Cowen now has to face the embarrassment of explaining to his fellow European leaders why he failed to persuade his nation to adopt the Treaty.

Why did he fail to "persuade his nation" to adopt the Treaty? Because the decision was put in the hands of its citizens instead of its government. Each group can be expected to act in its own self-interest and in Europe, as in America, those interests are more and more incongruous.

UPDATE: I beg a thousand pardons for the carelessness of this ill-traveled yank and respectfully replace "British Isle" with emerald isle. (We'll tell the bloody queen to piss off straight away too!)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:57 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Republic of Ireland is one of the great, last holdouts for freedom in Europe. Low taxes, generous incentives for entrepreneurship, an interesting health care model. Sadly, they have banned smoking in Pubs, so nobody's perfect.

Enjoy your Guinness, but I'd be a little more cautious about calling it a "British Isle." That's not going to win you a lot of friends, Colonist.

Posted by: jk at June 13, 2008 3:30 PM

May 20, 2008

An Excellent Charity

Spirit of America helps the US Military to help in Iraq and Afghanistan. They get school supplies, and soccer balls, and clothing that US forces can use to help in the communities they serve. I invite you to peruse the website and see the great projects.

It seems that they have a special opportunity to raise funds before Memorial Day, in the form of a matching grant.

Greetings Friends and Supporters!

In honor of Memorial Day and National Military Appreciation Month, an anonymous donor from the Pacific Northwest has presented Spirit of America with a challenge. . .if we can raise $5,000 in the next 72 hours (3 days), he pledges to match that and here's the real bonus. . .if we can raise that $5,000 in the first 24 hours, he will continue to match donations all the way up to $10,000 over the next 3 days!


It is an awesome and very deserving charity. You can give here.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:21 PM

April 28, 2008

A Prize Worth Having

Venezuelan Student Movement Leader Awarded $500,000 Milton Friedman Liberty Prize

Washington, D.C. –The Cato Institute has announced that Yon Goicoechea, leader of the pro-democracy student movement in Venezuela that successfully prevented President Hugo Chávez’s regime from seizing broad dictatorial powers in December 2007, has been awarded the 2008 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.

A 23-year-old law student, Mr. Goicoechea plays a pivotal role in organizing and voicing opposition to the erosion of human and civil rights in his country. In his commitment to a modern Venezuela, Goicoechea emphasizes tolerance and the human right to seek prosperity.

Venezuela’s student movement emerged in May of 2007 in response to a government-ordered shutdown of the nation’s oldest private television station, RCTV. In the face of ongoing death threats and continual intimidation due to his prominent and vocal leadership, Mr. Goicoechea has been indispensible in organizing massive, peaceful student protest marches that have captured the world’s attention.


Well done, Yon! Hat-tip: Rick Sincrere

Posted by John Kranz at 4:03 PM

April 15, 2008

Ambassador Bolton

I have great respect for Ambassador John Bolton and consider it a Senate crime that he was not confirmed -- imagine, an American ambassador pursuing American interests at the UN!

All the same, his bellyaching about the President's North Korea policy is becoming tiresome. He has another guest editorial in the WSJ today (I think this is the 491st -- and he has appeared on their FOX News show as well). I have no substantive disagreement with his call for a hard line -- were I President, we'd have invaded last Thursday.

But I don't understand who or what is served by his impolitic tone:

President George W. Bush is fond of comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. But as he meets with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Washington this week, his policy regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program looks more like something out of Bill Clinton's or Jimmy Carter's playbook.

Tearing down President Bush might advance Bolton's popularity, but I don't see it advancing his interest or position. I don't think President Obama is going to be significantly tougher, yet his constant harping damages the Republican brand and makes it more likely that we'll elect someone who will have Kim Jong Il in for a State Dinner.

Of course Republicans can criticize President Bush. We may have done that once or twice here. But the Bolton attacks are constant, relentless, and fail to account for other concerns: Iraq, Iran, the opposition party in Congress. Nor do they seem to include the decorum and respect I think he owes a man who nominated him to the U.N.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM

April 14, 2008

Putting ThreeSources' Weight Behind Instapundit


Yon_book.jpg With a straight face, I add my nano-influence to Professor Reynolds.

I ordered a copy of Michael Yon's book. Yon has done much to promote the idea of liberty and victory in Iraq, has provided an awesome example of blog quality and influence, and has given us some spectacular reads.

I gave him a little money a while back. But I think buying the book helps him, demonstrates support for a pro-troop viewpoint -- and I bet it will be a helluva read.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM

April 1, 2008

Islamic Tolerance

Assemble your own segue:

Jonah Goldberg reacts to Fitna and compares it to "Darwin Fish." (HT-Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err [Happy Blogiversary!])

It's fine for Muslim moderates to say they aren't part of the cancer; and that some have, in response to the film, is a positive sign. But more often, diagnosing or even observing this cancer -- in film, book or cartoon -- is dubbed "intolerant" while calls for violence, censorship and even murder are treated as understandable, if regrettable, expressions of well-deserved anger.

Blog Brother Cyrano sends a link to The Child and the Invader It's on MEMRI TV I cannot embed, but watch a couple of these. These cartoons get their plotlines from Itchy and Scratchy, but cast adorable blue-eyed Persian children as the mice and a cartoonishly evil soldier as the poor cat. The Invader has a Star of David (subtlety is not a family value!)

These cartoons made Brother Cyrano angry, but they kind of scared me. The plotlines are transparently stupid but the production values are very good. The animation itself is clever and professional. Pretty dang good propaganda.

The issue is always always always that good Christians are expected to pony up taxes to support "Piss Christ" while so many of our Islamic friends riot at cartoons. Goldberg is correct in pointing out a middle offense of moderates' tacit approval. Free speech is the freedom to offend, as long as it's not an incumbent Senator within 60 days of an election. Everybody else needs to learn to live with it.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:01 PM

March 18, 2008

Hitch Was Right!

Slate magazine is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the invasion (liberation, anybody?) of Iraq. And boy, do they know how to party:

Slate has asked a number of writers who originally supported the war to answer the question, "Why did we get it wrong?"

They made the mistake of asking the question of Christopher Hitchens, and he delivers a beauty:
I am one of those who, for example, believes that the global conflict that began in August 1914 did not conclusively end, despite a series of "fragile truces," until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is not at all to redefine warfare and still less to contextualize it out of existence. But when I wrote the essays that go to make up A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, I was expressing an impatience with those who thought that hostilities had not really "begun" until George W. Bush gave a certain order in the spring of 2003.

Though "a hash" was made of the effort so far, Hitchens enumerates the successes:
But I would nonetheless maintain that this incompetence doesn't condemn the enterprise wholesale. A much-wanted war criminal was put on public trial. The Kurdish and Shiite majority was rescued from the ever-present threat of a renewed genocide. A huge, hideous military and party apparatus, directed at internal repression and external aggression was (perhaps overhastily) dismantled. The largest wetlands in the region, habitat of the historic Marsh Arabs, have been largely recuperated. Huge fresh oilfields have been found, including in formerly oil free Sunni provinces, and some important initial investment in them made. Elections have been held, and the outline of a federal system has been proposed as the only alternative to a) a sectarian despotism and b) a sectarian partition and fragmentation. Not unimportantly, a battlefield defeat has been inflicted on al-Qaida and its surrogates, who (not without some Baathist collaboration) had hoped to constitute the successor regime in a failed state and an imploded society. Further afield, a perfectly defensible case can be made that the Syrian Baathists would not have evacuated Lebanon, nor would the Qaddafi gang have turned over Libya's (much higher than anticipated) stock of WMD if not for the ripple effect of the removal of the region's keystone dictatorship.

All those writing ass-covering essays in the series need to address why those goals were wrong or not worth the effort expended.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM

February 25, 2008

Worthy Donation

I hope you all got a chance to see Ezra Levant's defending himself from the Alberta Human Rights Commission. It's entertaining to see a pugnacious instead of submissive response to a tinhorn bureaucrat.

Blog Brother Cyrano emails a recommendation too support Levant against lawsuits.

Over the past month, the public’s reaction to seeing their government interrogate a journalist has snowballed into a national discussion about freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the separation of mosque and state. What started out as an issue reserved to the blogosphere and talk radio has jumped into the mainstream media, and even into Parliament. To my delight, the Canadian public – across the political spectrum – has been overwhelmingly supportive of free speech and critical of these Orwellian commissions, and groups like the Canadian Association of Journalists and PEN Canada have recently weighed in, too, and very vigorously.

We’re winning in the court of public opinion – and I say “we”, because it was the blogosphere that moved this story from the “undernews” to where it is today.

Well, now I’m being threatened with a lawsuit because of our campaign for freedom.


Not a bad way to spend a few bucks, if you can. The way I see it, you're either with Levant or you're with the 7th Century fanatics who cannot weather a cartoon.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM

December 26, 2007

A Thank You Letter

On Michael Yon's site from LTC Jim Crider, thanking America for letting him serve us so proudly.

The experience of war changes people. For some it is a negative change but most manage to absorb the experience and use it to make themselves stronger. I have said goodbye to a mortally wounded soldier in the hospital, spoken to grieving family members of our casualties, and tried to comfort soldiers who just lost their best friend in a single violent moment. I have been under fire, looked insurgents in the eye, and seen corruption up close. I have also seen people emerge from oppression and live with hope for the first time in years. I have seen children reach up and grasp the hands of American soldiers just because they trust them. I have felt the desire to help and then been given the resources to do it. Finally, I have felt the close knit camaraderie that develops when you serve with a group of people fighting for a cause larger than self. Yes, this experience has changed me. I am stronger, more driven, and humbled all at the same time.

Those who know me know I am not often speechless. But this one time...read the whole thing.

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 5:53 PM

December 20, 2007

Me and Vlad

As a former TIME Magazine Person of the Year laureate myself, I was saddened by this year's choice. I don't line up with Hugh Hewitt and Governor Romney too frequently, but they are right this time.

General David Petraeus should have been the pick. Putin will use the cover to propagate totalitarianism, Petraeus -- and the troops -- should be rewarded for their unexpected and improbable accomplishments.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM

December 13, 2007

Diyala or Duluth?

Nope, it's not apples-to-apples and it is not statistically meaningful. But that does not make it uninteresting:

The tragedy of Ice and IEDs

Tragically, 32 people have died in the US since Sunday as a result of ice storms in the midwest

I would like to take this opportunity to point out that during the same time frame (Sun-Wed) only 2 US military service members have died in Iraq, and only one of those was due to hostile action.


Interesting, and a great reminder to the "grim milestone" crowd that a 0% death rate is not the standard of comparison for peacetime.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM

November 27, 2007

The Twelfth Imam

Osama Bin-Laden had it all wrong. Why convert the Infidel with the sword?

The 7th Century is over and the Great Satan is now for sale:

NEW YORK - Wall Street rebounded sharply Tuesday after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority said it will invest $7.5 billion in Citigroup Inc. — a vote of confidence for the nation's largest bank, which has suffered severe losses amid the ongoing crisis in the mortgage market. The Dow Jones industrials rose 150 points.

Don't think I have lost my free-trader instincts. I do not seriously mean to compare Bin-Laden religious hooliganism with a legitimate business trade (especially one that sent the DJIA up 150 points!) At the same time, I'd suggest that the Muslims of the world embrace modernity (as all of my Muslim friends have) and engage people with ideas and trade.

UPDATE: I removed a line with which I was not comfortable, celebrating Persian and Arab successes in innovation and trade. It was complimentary but I don't want to get into ethnic stereotyping.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Well, if the turban fits, right? :)

Arabs were among the greatest traders, which is one of their great lost legacies. Sinbad the Sailor wasn't an adventurer first; his seven voyages weren't pleasure cruises.

As I pointed out to someone yesterday, the dollars come home to roost. Arabs gain nothing by sitting on the cash they receive by selling us oil. And how wonderful the U.S. economy might be that even a troubled company like Citi (if you believe the news hype) can draw that kind of investment.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 28, 2007 3:41 PM

November 20, 2007

Don't Tell the "High Life' Man

Even the NYTimes is reporting good news from Baghdad today, Breitbart finds
Baghdad by night -- juice bars, neon lights, bustling streets

And then, suddenly, you've arrived and the mirage has become an oasis of generator-driven light; a colourful jumble of trendy juice bars, cosy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors, where children play, families dine and lovers meet.

"Even two or three months ago we would have been afraid to come here at night," said 20-year-old Hussein Salah, an off-duty soldier, slurping a milkshake with his wife, Shihad, at the Mishmesha (apricot) juice bar in Baghdad's relatively safe Karrada suburb.

"Now we sometimes sit outside here till one or two in the morning. It is quite safe. The security situation is vastly improved," said Salah, the orange light from a nearby flashing palm alternatively brightening and dimming his clean-shaven face.

Declines in Iraqi civilian casualties and a sharp reduction in bomb and mortar attacks have sparked optimism that the capital is at last starting to revive.


It's a short step from juice bars to Appletinis, however, and soon I fear the Miller High Life Man will pull up in an armored Humvee and revoke some poor Iraqi's Miller license...

Hat-tip: Hugh

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Strange, I can't post a reply to this one.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 22, 2007 3:04 PM

November 7, 2007

Freedom of Worship

Insty posts an email and this pic from Michael Yon:

Thanks_and_Praise-vers2.jpg

I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John's Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John's, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. 'Thank you, thank you,' the people were saying. One man said, 'Thank you for peace.' Another man, a Muslim, said 'All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.' The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

A beloved but moonbat relative of mine works almost full time now to establish a US Department of Peace. I recommend 'Chosen' Company 2-12 Cavalry, they seem to be doing a hell of a job.

UPDATE: Chris Muir's take.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:24 PM

November 6, 2007

There's a Grim Milestone in There Somewhere

Wait, wait -- there's gotta be some some bad news in here...Hold the Presses!! I found It!! Before it got better, it was worse!

AP: 2007 is deadliest year for US in Iraq

The grim milestone passed despite a sharp drop in U.S. and Iraqi deaths here in recent months, after a 30,000-strong U.S. force buildup. There were 39 deaths in October, compared to 65 in September and 84 in August.


Those AP guys are good, give 'em props.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I hear before modern alternative medicine, MILLIONS died from the flu. EVEN WHEN YOU GAVE THEM THE VACCINE! If they had only chanted and burnt eco-sensitive incense ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 6, 2007 12:11 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Sick thing is, while 2007 was the deadliest year in Iraq, the month-by-month numbers show a DRAMATIC decrease after the surge.

Oops! Something the MSM left out, huh?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 9, 2007 10:20 PM

November 3, 2007

Dissident Down But Not Out

ThreeSources patron saint Natan Sharansky is profiled in a nice interview in the Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal (free link) this weekend. First, the sad truth:

The fortunes of Mr. Sharansky and his ideas about freedom rose and sunk with President Bush's opinion polls. His "The Case for Democracy" came along, three years ago, when the administration seriously looked to push it in the Muslim world. The president loved the book, and Mr. Sharansky became the in-house philosopher for the Bush Doctrine. "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book," blurbs Mr. Bush on the back cover of the paperback edition.

But democracy is a dirty word these days. So Mr. Sharansky is lonely too, bounced out of Israeli politics and out of favor. He, Vaclav Havel and other former Eastern European dissident faces of the freedom agenda are dismissed as Cold War naďfs, pernicious Utopians, or worse--men whose moral Manichaeism has no business in the "complex Middle East."


Even with the freedom movement "on its back foot," Sharansky is pretty sanguine about Russia, and moderately upbeat about the Mideast. It's a great read.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:20 PM

October 8, 2007

Happy Columbus Day

I know nobody in ThreeSources Land has to work today on the big holiday, so take some time to enjoy Jules Crittenden's celebration of "the most unPC holiday of the year."

That’s why I intend to celebrate it doing the most unPC thing I can think of. Working for a living.

Columbus Day celebrates the arrival of Europeans in the New World, which critics note marked the onset of a lot of death, power shifts, slavery and domination of the continent by new ethnic groups. Essentially, a continuation of history as usual as far as the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia were concerned, all of which had practiced those things repeatedly. Only in the Americas, an acceleration of history, something different.

From this complex, sometimes disturbing history of boldness, vision, determination, misery, blood and hope in the cauldron of New World, emerged the greatest nation history has seen, founded on noble ideas, some of which we are still finetuning. An example to the rest of the world, which is still having trouble with a lot of the basics. Happy Columbus Day.


I finally scared off my last leftist friend a while back. He stayed with me through my support of the War in Iraq, free markets and all. But in our last email exchange, I pointed out that there was scant evidence of human rights in the 1000 years before the Europeans arrived. He directed me toward the Iroquois Constitution. I must admit, that was more sophisticated than this "great white hunter" (my new nickname with this particular interlocutor) had known.

Yet it is basically a defense pact, open only to those who spoke a particular language. There was a stab at self government, but I still see nothing of individual rights or freedom. That came on boats.

Standard disclaimer: the abrogation of treaties with indigenous Americans is one of our great shames and is completely indefensible. A nation of laws should have done better. But we (we, kimosabe?) came and established a free enough society that Samuel Colt could prosper and invent interchangeable parts, economically manufacturing firearms. The settlers did not have guns because they won the lottery.

And that's your racist, ThreeSources hate for the day -- have a great Columbus Day! Hit all the sales!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

So what you're leftist ex-friend is saying is it's only OK to forcefully defend yourself from others if you're part of a group, and then only if that group is non-European.

While the nativists protest parades in Columbus' honor, I'd like to protest his federal holiday. How many tax dollars go to pay people not to work in the name of this "genocidal racist?" (1/365th of what it costs to get them not to work year round in their government jobs, I suppose.)

Were someone to press this issue, however, they'd just change the name of the darned thing like they did with Presidents Day. Something like, "Continental Discoverers and Exploiters Day."

Posted by: johngalt at October 8, 2007 3:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen on the holiday. We lack for sufficient days to honor those who truly had a part in making this nation great. Having Washington and Lincoln share "President's Day," whatever. At least I like it better than Labor Day.

Posted by: jk at October 8, 2007 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Y'know, I thought said leftist friend had stopped speaking to me, but now I remember: it was he who sent the "six black lab puppies Internet mail hoax." I guess we are friends after all.

Posted by: jk at October 8, 2007 3:37 PM

October 3, 2007

General Pace's Speech

This was posted on Hugh Hewitt's site:



Thanks to all who serve.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM

Mission Accomplished

Instapundit links to an essay titled Mission Accomplished, with a very optimistic look at the future of coalition involvement in Iraq.

The great question in deciding whether to keep fighting in Iraq is not about the morality and self-interest of supporting a struggling democracy that is also one of the most important countries in the world. The question is whether the war is winnable and whether we can help the winning of it. The answer is made much easier by the fact that three and a half years after the start of the insurgency, most of the big questions in Iraq have been resolved. Moreover, they have been resolved in ways that are mostly towards the positive end of the range of outcomes imagined at the start of the project. The country is whole. It has embraced the ballot box. It has created a fair and popular constitution. It has avoided all-out civil war. It has not been taken over by Iran. It has put an end to Kurdish and marsh Arab genocide, and anti-Shia apartheid. It has rejected mass revenge against the Sunnis. As shown in the great national votes of 2005 and the noisy celebrations of the Iraq football team's success in July, Iraq survived the Saddam Hussein era with a sense of national unity; even the Kurds—whose reluctant commitment to autonomy rather than full independence is in no danger of changing—celebrated. Iraq's condition has not caused a sectarian apocalypse across the region. The country has ceased to be a threat to the world or its region. The only neighbours threatened by its status today are the leaders in Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran.

Weekly Standard? National Review? Nope, across the pond.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM

September 29, 2007

Not Everyone Has been Convinced

General Petraeus’s testimony and report has brought a sizeable number of people back into belief that our cause is just in Iraq and that the US military can succeed.

A good friend of this blog sends a link that reminds that the belief is not yet unanimous. "Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has consistently led the way in telling the story of what's really going on in Iraq and Iran. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke to him about America's Hitler, Bush's Vietnam, and how the US press failed the First Amendment." Der Spiegel counters Hersh's worldview with hard questions like "Is this just another case of exaggerating the danger in preparation for an invasion like we saw in 2002 and 2003 prior to the Iraq War?"

Hersh: We have this wonderful capacity in America to Hitlerize people. We had Hitler, and since Hitler we've had about 20 of them. Khrushchev and Mao and of course Stalin, and for a little while Gadhafi was our Hitler. And now we have this guy Ahmadinejad. The reality is, he's not nearly as powerful inside the country as we like to think he is. The Revolutionary Guards have direct control over the missile program and if there is a weapons program, they would be the ones running it. Not Ahmadinejad.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where does this feeling of urgency that the US has with Iran come from?

Hersh: Pressure from the White House. That's just their game.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What interest does the White House have in moving us to the brink with Tehran?

Hersh: You have to ask yourself what interest we had 40 years ago for going to war in Vietnam. You'd think that in this country with so many smart people, that we can't possibly do the same dumb thing again. I have this theory in life that there is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everything is tabula rasa. Everybody has to discover things for themselves.


My correspondent mentions that he is right about that: some people never learn.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM

September 28, 2007

Vaclav Havel on Burma

In a just world, Vaclav Havel (or Vaclav Klaus) would be Secretary General of the United Nations. A good friend of the blog sends this link to a Guardian -- yes, the Guardian -- column by Havel:

On a daily basis, at a great many international and scholarly conferences all over the world, we can hear learned debates about human rights and emotional proclamations in their defense. So how is it possible that the international community remains incapable of responding effectively to dissuade Burma's military rulers from escalating the force that they have begun to unleash in Rangoon and its Buddhist temples?

For dozens of years, the international community has been arguing over how it should reform the United Nations so that it can better secure civic and human dignity in the face of conflicts such as those now taking place in Burma or Darfur, Sudan. It is not the innocent victims of repression who are losing their dignity, but rather the international community, whose failure to act means watching helplessly as the victims are consigned to their fate.

The world's dictators, of course, know exactly what to make of the international community's failure of will and inability to coordinate effective measures. How else can they explain it than as a complete confirmation of the status quo and of their own ability to act with impunity?


This Sharanskyite becomes despondent. I believe that we could militarily pursue stability in Iraq and promote freedom elsewhere, but it is obvious that our political class cannot. With the US pinned down by Senator Levin, the despots of the world know impunity quite well.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There's certainly an argument for our direct intervention. Some say "but only if the people want it, because we can't determine for a people who their leaders should be." But didn't the Iraqis want Saddam ousted? Isn't it obvious that the Burmese want their military dictators ousted. But there's a problem: where does it end? If we intervene in Myanmar, why didn't we in Darfur? There are so many conflicts, and we can do only so much. That's why I personally favor something akin to our support of the Contras, delivering the weapons and equipment so the people can free themselves.

I think there's an argument for some action in, and if we do things right, it wouldn't take much for us to go in and kick some ass. But it will be bloody for the Burmese people, who I think will be slaughtered in revenge by a retreating Burmese military.

Just send in John Rambo, but won't happen till next year.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 1:37 PM

September 18, 2007

Bring it on!

Stand and be counted, Democrats Legislators.

The Democratic leader said he will call for a vote this month on several anti-war proposals, including one by Sen. Carl Levin that would insist President Bush end U.S. combat next summer. The proposals would be mandatory and not leave Bush wiggle room, said Reid, D-Nev.

"There (are) no goals. It's all definite timelines," he told reporters of the planned legislation.

Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday night he would have agreed to turn his summer deadline into a nonbinding goal if doing so meant attracting enough votes to pass.


Let's get those votes on record. Who's with MoveOn.org and who is with the forces of freedom and modernity?

Posted by John Kranz at 8:58 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

See that part?

"non-binding goal"

That's like playing poker with worthless chips. Voting for "non-binding" legislation allows politicians to make the "courageous" attempt to support something, without facing the consequences of actually supporting it via statute.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 1:14 PM

September 13, 2007

Blink

Or, as the WaPo calls it "Democrats Push Toward Middle on Iraq Policy."

After two days of congressional testimony from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, the battle lines in the House and Senate over the war have begun to shift, with moderate members of both parties building new momentum behind initiatives that would force the White House to make modest changes to the military mission but not require a substantial drawdown of troops by a set date. Democratic leaders, who have blessed the new approach, now believe that passing compromise legislation is the first step toward more ambitious measures aimed at ending the war, although that tactic is likely to result in stiff opposition from Democratic activists who want a rapid troop withdrawal.

Just months ago, Democratic leaders gave short shrift to any bipartisan bills deemed insufficiently strong by their left flank. A Senate measure to institute the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, headed by Republican former secretary of state James A. Baker III and Democratic former Indiana congressman Lee H. Hamilton, never came to a vote after Reid slammed it as "weak tea." And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) blocked consideration of a bill to force the Bush administration to plan for withdrawals after antiwar Democrats denounced it.


Now if we can just do something about Senators Warner and Lugar...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM

September 11, 2007

Hsppy Patriots' Day!

Y'all tired of this picture yet? I'm not.

jkflag.jpg
Instapundit readers will want to know that I shot it with a Palm iiiC

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM

September 10, 2007

Petraeus!

K-Lo at NRO has a great collection of quotes from General Petraeus’s testimony today:

2006 was a bad year in Iraq. The country came close to unraveling politically, economically, and in security terms. 2007 has brought improvement. Enormous challenges remain. Iraqis still struggle with fundamental questions about how to share power, accept their differences, and overcome their past. The changes to our strategy last January—the surge—have helped change the dynamics in Iraq for the better. Our increased presence made besieged communities feel that they could defeat al-Qa’ida by working with us. Our population security measures have made it much harder for terrorists to conduct attacks. We have given the Iraqis the time and space to reflect on what sort of country they want. Most Iraqis genuinely accept Iraq as a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian society—it is the balance of power that has yet to be sorted out.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM

September 6, 2007

Senator Schumer's Worst Moment

It's hard to pick, but I watched video of this speech on Hugh Hewitt's site yesterday and I was appalled.



J.D. Johannes posts commentary today with video of one of those loser Lt. Colonels whom Senator Schumer sent to war and now calls a failure. Don Surber weighs in as well (HT Insty on both)

Schumer heads the Democratic Senate campaign for 2008. Remember when James Clyburn of the South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, said that good news from Iraq would be bad news from the Democrats?

Small wonder Schumer wants to downplay the success of our military in Iraq. For shame.


Shame indeed.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM

September 4, 2007

Neighborhood Watch Program

Baghdad. Kimberly Kagen has a superb guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal Today (paid link) titled The Tide is Turning in Iraq

Skillful combat -- and skillful negotiation -- have transformed the area formerly known as "the triangle of death" into a region of dawning, if precarious, stability. As Coalition forces consolidate their gains in these areas, they are also striking Shiite militia sanctuaries east of Baghdad and further south and east along the Tigris River valley. Gen. Odierno and his division commanders cleared territory gradually throughout Phantom Thunder and Phantom Strike, so that they could hold it after clearing operations.

The tribal movement begun in Anbar has spread throughout central Iraq, as thousands of Sunnis have either volunteered to join the Iraqi Security Forces or formed local defense groups under Iraqi government and Coalition auspices. These "concerned citizens" groups springing up throughout central Iraq have not been previously observed on this scale in the country. They permit U.S. and Iraqi forces to hold territory they have cleared more effectively. The volunteers who make up these groups, recruited and deployed in their own neighborhoods, have incentives to protect their families and communities. They are not independent militias, however. They are partnered with Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition forces.

The Baqubah Guardians, one such group, recently helped the Iraqi police in that city fight off al Qaeda insurgents until Coalition helicopters arrived. The Taji Neighborhood Watch association searched hundreds of homes for weapons caches. Iraq has hitherto lacked a local policing initiative, relying instead on national and regional models. The concerned-citizen groups are filling this gap while the U.S. and the Iraqi governments work to expand and improve the Iraqi Security Forces that many of these volunteers hope to join.


The President's surprise visit to Anbar was a shrewd move to show the gains that have been made. His political foes can hope for failure and pray for spectacular carnage in the next few weeks. I think most Americans are beginning to see some gains, no matter what Katie Couric thinks.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM

August 27, 2007

Bastiat On Iraq

ThreeSources's friend Josh Hendrickson at Everyday Economist has a smart piece this morning. He takes on those who now think that more command-and-control would have helped the Iraqi economy and concomitantly impeded the insurgency.

The EE links to reports that claim a slavish devotion to free market ideology spoiled an opportunity to keep services and jobs active in state-owned enterprises. He then responds with Bastiat's "seen and the unseen."

Messengers Thoma and Holland fail to take account of what is not seen on more than one account.

Thoma and Holland behind the veil of what is seen, conclude that had the administration should have kept the infrastructure in place. It is easy in hindsight to make this call, but it ignores what is unseen. Suppose the infrastructure had been maintained and that the United States “put people to work doing something, anything.” Would this have improved the economic circumstances in Iraq? Bastiat certainly wouldn’t believe so:


I hate to tell people what to do, but I'd suggest one reads the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM

August 20, 2007

Sharanskyism, circa 2007

This blog was christened in the heady days of the Orange and Cedar revolutions. Secretary Rice and President Bush were photographed with Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy. The second inaugural address was a book report.

The WaPo carries a comprehensive and sobering look at Bush's goal to end tyranny. Peter Baker's piece is titled "As Democracy Push Falters, Bush Feels Like a 'Dissident'" The President says he wears the "dissident" label with pride but I don't think anybody can be satisfied with "falters."

The days after the speech were heady. Eight million Iraqis went to the polls to elect an interim parliament, their purple-stained fingers a global symbol of emerging democracy. A political assassination in Lebanon triggered demonstrations known as the Cedar Revolution that toppled a pro-Syrian government and forced Damascus to end a three-decade occupation. And protests over a stolen election in Kyrgyzstan ousted another entrenched leader in the Tulip Revolution.

"There was this sort of euphoria," recalled Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House, which promotes democracy worldwide.

Bush and his team tried to demonstrate their commitment. The president met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia for a tense discussion about the Kremlin's crackdown on dissent. And when Egypt arrested opposition leader Ayman Nour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled a trip to Cairo. Two weeks later, Egypt released Nour.


When the Iraq poll numbers were nose diving, I told people that I was the last Sharanskyite. Now that the ambition is being blasted from Senator Carl Levin and Rep Ron Paul, I read this blog's beloved tag line and affirm myself to the Case.

Some people I respect around here are comfortable with a Hobbsion bellum omnium contra omnes but I see American economic and security interests are well served by the propagation of liberal values. Today, totalitarian regimes -- maybe someday even the U.S. State Department.

It's going to take time. I would have been a little kinder than Sharansky:

Still, after an invigorating start in 2005, progress has been harder to find. Among those worried about the project is Sharansky, whose book so inspired Bush. "I give him an A for bringing the idea and maybe a C for implementation," said Sharansky, now chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Israel. "There is a gap between what he says and what the State Department does," and he is not consistent enough.

The challenge Bush faced, Sharansky added, was to bring Washington together behind his goal.

"It didn't happen," he said. "And that's the real tragedy."


Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM

July 9, 2007

Is the GOP set to fold on Iraq?

A good friend of this blog emails today. Last week saw signs that the illustrious and brave GOP Senate coalition (yeah, right!) is set to cave with Senator Lugar's dash to the exit, Senator Domenici's joining him -- all as positive signals come out of Iraq

A NYTimes fromt page story today asserts that the White House is seeking an exit strategy before September based on GOP defections.

“When you count up the votes that we’ve lost and the votes we’re likely to lose over the next few weeks, it looks pretty grim,” said one senior official, who, like others involved in the discussions, would not speak on the record about internal White House deliberations.

That conclusion was echoed in interviews over the past few days by administration officials in the Pentagon, State Department and White House, as well as by outsiders who have been consulted about what the administration should do next. “Sept. 15 now looks like an end point for the debate, not a starting point,” the official said. “Lots of people are concluding that the president has got to get out ahead of this train.”


Far be it from me to argue with "some administration officials" and people in the State Department, but I believe the President can and will hold this together.

We're a couple weeks away from the August news doldrums, when the Washington Press Corps will have to resort to chasing this year's Cindy Sheehan around this year's Crawford Texas for news. Our courageous Senators will go home to hide under their beds.

While the Senate cowers, our brave men and women in uniform will continue their successful counterinsurgency operations around Baghdad. When Congress reconvenes, they will wait two weeks for General Petraeus's report. And I feel Petraeus will surprise to the upside.

As I emailed, I have no dispositive proof that the Senate won't cave before recess, but I have faith in the President's resolve. I don't believe the New York Times and the anonymous leakers who just happen to agree with them.

In the meantime, I hope the remaining GOP Senators read the WSJ Ed Page, as well as the NYTimes:

The Democratic Presidential candidates are trying to out-compete each other to see who can demand a pullout faster. The goal for nearly all of them (save perhaps Senator Joe Biden) isn't to create some bipartisan policy that the next President could inherit and sustain; it is to use Iraq as a partisan club to win the 2008 elections, and only then worry about the consequences.

Republicans may think they can distance themselves from all this, but they'll get no credit from voters if they contribute to an ugly outcome in Iraq. Their best prospect for making Iraq less important in 2008 is military progress that allows for a reduction in U.S. forces with honor and a more stable Iraqi government. A divided Republican caucus that undercuts America's military efforts while chasing the mirage of bipartisan comity will only make their own election defeat more likely.


I am further heartened that the GOP Presidential candidates are united in their support for the battle in Iraq and the larger war. (Rep Paul is an exception, but he makes a principled stand against "foreign entanglements" which differs in my book from cut-and-run. Besides, George Stephanopoulos says he won't win anyway.)

The GOP will soon have a new leader, and that leader will be resolute -- this will help stop defections.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM

July 7, 2007

Scots Wa Hae!

John Smeaton is a hero. Fame is so ill deserved for most, but not for Smeaton, the Glasgow baggage handler who kicked a flaming terrorist. Fan websites are springing up. A PayPal account to "buy him a pint!" now has more than $9000.

Being a good scot, he "prefers Wiskey" and seems to be handling his fame with dignity and modest aplomb.

Mr. Smeaton described his role more modestly. He says he joined police officers and others in subduing the attackers -- taking a kick at Bilal Abdullah, who on Friday was charged in the attacks. Then, Mr. Smeaton came to the aid of an injured bystander who'd joined in the rumble.

"I did nothing special," Mr. Smeaton said. "I just ran in and booted a guy."


His brogue is so thick that his interview required subtitles -- in Australia! Cheer up sons and daughters of the Enlightenment. The land of Adam Smith and David Hume has supplied another hero.
Twas doon by the inch o' Abbots
Oor Johnny walked one day
When he saw a sicht that
troubled him
Far more than he could say...
Now that's no richt wur
Johnny cried
And sallied tae the fray
A left hook and a heid butt
Required tae save the day.
Now listen up Bin Laden
Yir sort's nae wanted here
For imported English radicals
Us Scoatsman huv nae fear

All this from a Wall Street Journal story (paid link) which never mentions the anatomical target of the attack. Are they backing off, or is Dow Jones too suave to discuss "goolies?"

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM

June 30, 2007

Near Miss

I have never seen Keith Oberman before. I have read about him, but didn't get the full KO Experience until I saw this YouTube clip on HotAir (Hat-tip: Insty I think)

He interviews a former CIA guy (Larry Johnson, who seems to be well known around the blogosphere as well -- I need to get out more). Johnson asserts that the London car bombs would have made a lot of noise but were unlikely to hurt anybody unless they were inside the car with the bomb. He and Oberman then go on a joint tirade about why we're in Iraq and why the London bomb gets more attention than bombs in Baghdad.

I'll cede that petrol and propane and nails seem less sophisticated than Iranian IEDs. But it plays into a media narrative that every foiled plot was "a bunch of jokers," "dropouts from al Qaeda," &c. The war isn't really real, terrorists aren't dangerous, we've been at war with Eurasia all along...

Imagine that 9/11 had been foiled. What a bunch of losers! Get this, they had box cutters. And they thought they would take over the plane and -- wait for it -- take over the cockpit and fly these planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon!

What a bunch of bozos -- clearly, we have nothing to fear from the likes of these losers.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:43 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

Don't forget the spent the nights before going to tittie bars!

Posted by: AlexC at June 30, 2007 10:35 PM
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

I am guessing that the reason a car bomb in London gets more publicity than a car bomb in Baghdad is because there isn't a war going on in London.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at July 1, 2007 5:40 PM
But jk thinks:

You are never going to get invited on Keith Oberman's show using goofy-ass logic like that. (Damn, I said "Ass.")

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2007 8:13 PM

June 28, 2007

Two Views of Iraq

A good friend of this blog sends a link to a Tony Blankley column in Real Clear Politics. Blankley's a smart guy and uses the same hair stylist as Senator John Kerry. But I don't agree with his downbeat assessment. He, like Congressional Democrats, is not waiting for September for General Petraeus's assessment. Blankley has an advance copy:

From all this and more, let me save you the bother of waiting for the September deluge of reports from the four corners of our government. Come September it will be the received wisdom of Washington that: (1) the Maliki government is hopelessly incapable of ever effecting the necessary political compromises to make Iraq a functioning government, (2) we cannot maintain our current troop strength in Iraq with the current size of our military, and (3) the Iraqi military will not soon be ready to replace our forces in combat or even heavy police duties.

That is the "metaphysical certitude" conventional wisdom, and one cannot pretend that that is not a likely outcome. But I have been heartened of late by reading Austin Bay, Michael Totten, and Michael Yon. Those guys serve it up pretty straight, and all three are cautiously optimistic about new operations and rules of engagement. Petraeus may surprise to the upside. I am joined in this belief by Victor Davis Hanson:
But for all the justifiable criticism of the Iraqi reconstruction, two truths still remain — the United States is taking an enormous toll on jihadists, and despite the terrible cost in blood and treasure, has not given up on a constitutional government in Iraq.

The Sunni front-line states, who subsidized jihadists and still enjoy our misery in Iraq , , but they are now terrified that these killers, in league with the Iranians, will turn on them. The net result is not just that some Sunnis are helping us in Iraq, but that they are being urged to for the first time by those in the Arab world, who would prefer to see the Iraqi government, rather than the terrorists, succeed. And if Iraq is still a terrible disappointment, Kurdistan is emerging as a success few envisioned, refuting some conventional wisdom about the incompatibility of capitalism and constitutional government with Middle Eastern Islam.

Theocratic Iran is not exactly as “empowered” as is generally alleged, but in the greatest crisis of its miserable existence. As the mullahs up the ante in the region, they could very soon not only lose Iraq, but also their own dictatorship.


Blankley is ready to install what my emailer calls a new Saddam, and return to more decades of realpolitik and realism. VDH notes that the United States "has not given up on a constitutional government in Iraq." I'm not ready to either. Senator Lugar and Tony can throw in the towel. I will be the last Sharanskyite.


UPDATE: And do not miss J. D. Johannes's views on NRO.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM

June 21, 2007

Email Support to Marines

The Fighting 6th Marines are in the thick of it in Fallujah and one of their Colonels has asked for email

COL. SIMCOCK: (Chuckles.) I'll tell you what, the one thing that all Marines want to know about -- and that includes me and everyone within Regimental Combat Team 6 -- we want to know that the American public are behind us. We believe that the actions that we're taking over here are very, very important to America. We're fighting a group of people that, if they could, would take away the freedoms that America enjoys.

If anyone -- you know, just sit down, jot us -- throw us an e- mail, write us a letter, let us know that the American public are behind us. Because we watch the news just like everyone else. It's broadcast over here in our chow halls and the weight rooms, and we watch that stuff, and we're a little bit concerned sometimes that America really doesn't know what's going on over here, and we get sometimes concerns that the American public isn't behind us and doesn't see the importance of what's going on. So that's something I think that all Marines, soldiers and sailors would like to hear from back home, that in fact, yes, they think what we're doing over here is important and they are in fact behind us.


On their blog, they thank Michelle Malkin and Blackfive for linking, and say that the effort is going well.
Just by way of an update, we've reached our halfway mark of 3000 e-mails. This is after despairing yesterday when the deluge had slowed to a trickle by yesterday evening. Then we got 900 e-mails over night. All in all in the past 24 hours we've gotten 1300 e-mails. I'm not counting the various spam e-mails, either, though "Queen Amallah," I hope you eventually find your money.

If you have the time and inclination, why not register with Vox, drop us a comment and join our community? We've got a great readership here and lots of good regular commenters and plenty of content. I hope you stop by regularly; we update as often as is feasible.


The e-mail address for the campaign is rct-6lettersfromh AT gcemnf-wiraq DOT usmc DOT mil

Hat-tip: A Second Hand Conjecture

Posted by John Kranz at 8:13 PM

May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day II

I have read a dozen great posts about Memorial Day. But don't miss Dean Barnett's late entry:

Even if we put the tendentious political agenda aside, commemorating the fallen as victims does them a profound disservice. If the fallen were anything like any of the men I’ve spoken to who have served in Iraq or who are serving in Iraq or who will serve in Iraq, they would far prefer being celebrated as heroes than mourned as victims.

Heroes are what the fallen were. They didn’t want to pay the ultimate price for their country, but they were willing to do so. Their lives were marked by courage and honor. On this of all days, let’s honor them by doing what they would probably prefer we do - celebrate their virtues and thank God that our country has been blessed with so many men who had such virtues in such abundance.

And let’s further count our blessings that we still have so many of their kind walking among us.


Amen to that.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Toby Keith put it thusly:

"And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come free.

I’m an American Soldier an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right

I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American Soldier, I’m an American, Soldier."

Thanks to all the HEROES who serve.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 8:00 PM

Happy Memorial Day

Memorial-Montage.jpg

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." -Thomas Paine

I'd suggest Michael Yon's "Memorial Day Message" (that's his photo as well). He shares two stories of bravery from wounded soldiers under fire that must be read. He ends, sadly, sadly:
Both men often lamented to me how frustrating it was to be back home and realize that the average American is not aware of practically any of the progress that’s been made in Iraq. Both men darken with something closer to anger when they consider the sacrifices made by fallen soldiers and the fact that while the media most likely counted the deaths in all instances, they also most likely failed to mention any of the good things their fellow soldiers had accomplished while in Iraq.

Thanks to all who serve. Today, special thanks to all who gave all their tomorrows for our todays.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM

May 19, 2007

Letter from Iraq

Max Boot posted this letter from LTC Steve Miska.

Given that reality, we need to stand by the Iraqis. How long, you ask? I am on my second tour following a year in Tikrit from 2004-2005. A realistic goal is to have stabilized this region by the time my eleven-year-old son is old enough to serve in the military. Not that he is preordained to serve, but my hope is he will not have to deal with the complexity and tragedies that I have witnessed in Baghdad over the last eight months. My only other goal is to be able to look myself in the mirror every day, knowing that I stuck to my principles and did as much as possible to win in this very dangerous environment.

If our government decides to prematurely pull out, I would fail to reach both goals, and my son and his generation may find themselves embroiled in something far worse than what we experience now—all because my generation couldn’t get the job done.


I'd sure read the whole thing, but it's your weekend.

Hat-tip to Instapundit and another round of thanks to all who serve.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

May 13, 2007

Medal of Freedom Recipients

George Tenent has written a book to defend his reputation. While everybody has focused on some of his attacks on the administration, the Weekly Standard has pointed out that his book speaks much about al Qaeda presence in Iraq, the efficacy of aggressive interrogation procedures and the current threat from Iran. He thinks the Bush administration is discrediting him, but he did receive the nation's highest civilian honor: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Another recipient takes to his own defense, more credibly and succinctly. L. Paul Bremer has an editorial in the WaPo today, defending both the decision to de-Baathify Iraq and to disband Saddam's Iraqi Army:

Our goal was to rid the Iraqi government of the small group of true believers at the top of the party, not to harass rank-and-file Sunnis. We were following in the footsteps of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in postwar Germany. Like the Nazi Party, the Baath Party ran all aspects of Iraqi life. Every Iraqi neighborhood had a party cell. Baathists recruited children to spy on their parents, just as the Nazis had. Hussein even required members of his dreaded intelligence services to read "Mein Kampf."

Although Hussein and his cronies had been in power three times as long as Hitler had, the CPA decree was much less far-reaching than Eisenhower's de-Nazification law, which affected all but the lowest-ranking former Nazis. By contrast, our Iraqi law affected only about 1 percent of Baath Party members. We knew that many had joined out of opportunism or fear, and they weren't our targets.


I'll confess that I had seen Bremer before the War and was mightily impressed by his apparent intelligence and competence. When he was picked to head the provisional government, I thought it was a great pick. When a then slowly-decaying Andrew Sullivan blamed him for the troubles in Iraq, Colon cancer, and the lack of good parking places in Provincetown, I wondered if I had misjudged.

Bremer admits some failures in judgment but defends himself from the CW.

Hat-tip: Terri at I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err who points out that the editorial also reminds us of Saddam's depravity.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:55 PM

May 3, 2007

Stories from Occupation

Do. Not. Miss. the four part essay on Estonian Independence on Kojinshugi. I started reading Sam on his Unigolyn blog when he was in Estonia. He moved to British Columbia and I have kept up with his less political kojinshugi.

He recently returned to Estonia and has posted four parts of an essay on the nation's history, annotated with stories his relatives and memories from childhood. This, from the second part, caught my eye:

I remember signatures being collected in schools for the language law. I don’t know what the signatures were for, or why they were asking nine-year olds to do it. But I remember signing it and I remember feeling joy doing it. We were told we didn’t have to wear our Octobrist pins anymore. That day I went home and asked my mom for a hammer. I sat on the front steps of my house and I beat that grotesque pentagram and Lenin’s bald head into a flat piece of metal. I now wish I’d kept it, but back then I just wanted to be rid of it.

They gave us new schoolbooks. The old ones all started with a four-page adulation of Lenin, the Lover of Children and Our Great Father. They said we could throw the old ones away. My school was only about 50 meters away from the Bronze Soldier and the Eternal Flame, a recessed gas fire, was still burning there. Me and some of my friends didn’t feel like dumping the books in a trash can. After school, we went to the Flame and we ripped those books to shreds and burned them. Keep in mind we were nine year-olds. No one told us to burn those books. We weren’t politically savvy. But we knew almost viscerally that this shit they had been forcing on us was pure, unadulterated evil.


My mother in law had the same feeling at a similar age, The occupying Japanese forces came to school on the first day and supervised the kids' cutting every reference to the United States, a Dollar Sign, or the American flag out of their schoolbooks. Mom knew, too, that that was wrong though she did not know how wrong or why.

You'll not find either Sam or my Mother in law at a peace rally holding up a "War Is Not The Answer" banner (well, Sam might be infiltrating the assembly for a podcast or something...)

I'm only half through. I will bug you again when I have finished it, but this is incredible stuff: the real prized jewels in the blogosphere,

Part One


Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM

May 2, 2007

We Win. They Lose.

Never know about the efficacy of an online petition, but I could not resist this one:

We win. they lose.

When it came to defeating the Soviets, Ronald Reagan made it simple: "We win, they lose." Now more than ever, the defeatists in Congress must hear that same message. America will never surrender.

WeWinTheyLose.com is a new site where you can get involved in the fight to support our troops and secure victory in the War on Terror.


Sign the petition.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM

April 14, 2007

"Contest for survival"

For at least several years there has been a quiet underground movement to secure the rights of liberty and freedom for citizens of a major nation on the world stage. Brave national patriots, both within their country and in exile, expose themselves to boundless peril at the hands of the authoritarian regime that rules the country with an iron fist. America has committed military force to defend these ideals in Iraq and Afghanistan. But western nations give not even diplomatic support to those struggling for the same freedoms in this other, critically important, nation - at least not publicly.

This major nation is not Iran, nor Venezuela, China, Vietnam, North Korea or Zimbabwe (nee Rhodesia). It is one of five veto powers on the UN Security Council: Russia.

One Russian patriot, Alexander Litvinenko, has already lost his life in pursuit of the cause.

Another, billionaire Boris Berezovsky, lives in the UK under political asylum - a status that is continually threatened by Russia's Putin regime.

And today, world famous Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov has been arrested in Moscow for "shouting anti-government slogans."

Activists had planned to gather at a city centre square about one km (half a mile) from the Kremlin to protest at what they say is Putin's trampling of democratic freedoms and demand a fair vote to choose a new president in 2008.

Teams of riot police, acting on a ruling from the city authorities banning the protest, pounced on protesters as they appeared in small groups near the square and swiftly loaded them into buses, Reuters witnesses said.

Surprisingly, Kasparov was able to make statements to reporters:

"Today the regime showed its true colours, its true face," the former chess grandmaster said during an adjournment.

"I believe this was a great victory for the opposition because people got through and the march happened."

Moscow police explain just how important it was to forcefully detain these "dangerous" citizens:

Moscow police chief spokesman Viktor Biryukov said about 170 of the "most aggressive" protesters had been detained.

"Thanks to the well-coordinated actions of the riot police and Moscow police, we were able to prevent an illegal gathering being carried out," he said.

This all serves as stark evidence why free men must never grant complete trust to government.

"For ordinary people in Russia today, it's a contest for survival," Anastasia Krampit, 39, said as she watched the protesters drift away.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:22 PM

April 11, 2007

If I Die Before You Wake

There's something in this flash video to offend eveybody around here: a countrified voice, religious overtones -- but I bet you're all gonna love it.

Hat-tip: my brother via email.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes God, bless the men and women who volunteer to defend freedom and understand that there are fates worse than death.

And God, may you damn straight to hell every so-called American who believes that evil may be left to fester on the other side of the world without concern that it may come this way again.

Just as does John McCain, I hold the American soldier in awe and reverence.

(No, I don't believe in God, but 90% of those soldiers do. And 90% of anti-war [anti-freedom] piss-ant Democrats do too.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2007 11:00 AM

March 27, 2007

CornHuskers For Surrender

ThreeSources friend The Everyday Economist, emails a link to this article and suggests that "Somewhere, Osama is smiling."

Sad to see the US Senate voting for defeat. Curious to me was that the reasonably red state of Nebraska supplied both the switchers that allowed this one to pass.

Similar legislation drew only 48 votes in the Senate earlier this month, but Democratic leaders made a change that persuaded Nebraska's Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to swing behind the measure.

Additionally, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a vocal critic of the war, sided with the Democrats, assuring them of the majority they needed to turn back a challenge led by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Insert your own Taranto joke about Senator Hegel, I would be surprised if many of the good people I know in that great state will be happy that their two Senators gift wrapped this present for enemies.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:21 PM

March 20, 2007

Well then don't play

Colorado Rep Marilyn Musgrave (R-Atlantis Farm and environs, I believe...) has a good record on spending and the war, and I was happy to see her win a close re-election in 2006. But she opens herself to the old joke "We've established what you are. We're now quibbling over price."

She may just go ahead and vote for defeat in Iraq so that she can bring home some Federal jack to her constituents:

"She hates the games the Democrats are playing," said Guy Short, chief of staff to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), a staunch conservative who remains undecided, thanks to billions of dollars in the bill for drought relief and agriculture assistance. "But Representative Musgrave was just down in southeastern Colorado, talking to ranchers and farmers, and they desperately need this assistance."

If you hate the game so much, Rep Musgrave: don't play.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, one of whose readers wonders "Um… I thought the Democrats had a 'mandate' on Iraq? Why do they need to buy votes?"


Posted by John Kranz at 2:39 PM

March 19, 2007

A Question for War Opponents

Today's Democrats can be divided into three groups:

  • Those who regret supporting the war;

  • Those who never supported the war;

  • Those who would not have supported the war if they "knew now what they knew then."

I'll concede that there are some Democrats who still support the war, but they have no representation in party leadership, so I dismiss them.

I encourage everybody to read Michael Totten's amazing report on progress in the Kurdish north. He compares a visit there fourteen months ago to a recent visit. Erbil, the "capital" city of Iraqi Kurdistan (Totten eschews the scare quotes) is a bustling and booming metropolis, rivaled in growth and construction only by Dubai. Totten notes plans for the tallest building in Iraq, as well as mobile-phone billboards (with attractive, unscarved females!), construction -- all the signs of commercial life.
korek_tower.jpg

Kurdistan’s rise flips Iraq on its head. The Kurds are ahead, but they started from nothing. Under Saddam’s regime they had the worst of everything – the worst poverty, the worst underdevelopment, and worst of all they bore the brunt of the worst violence from Baghdad. 200,000 people were killed (out of less than four million) and 95 percent of the villages were completely destroyed.

The Kurds seem happy and well-adjusted. Scratch the surface, though, and any one of them can tell you tales that make you tremble and shudder. Everyone here was touched by the Baath and by the genocide. If living well is the best revenge, the Kurds got theirs.

“You see this place now with its government, its democracy, and its system of laws,” my guide Hamid said. “It wasn’t like this even recently, believe me. Before, it was a jungle.”


It is an awesome read. Totten is not very optimistic on Baghdad or Anbar, and the desire for Kurdish independence, which I have supported for years, has some troubling repercussions.

All the same, the liberation of the Kurdish North from Saddam Hussein is a huge success -- dare I say "Mission Accomplished?" This region is showing its neighbors the advantages of freedom and plurality as it gives hope and opportunity to its citizens. This could not have happened without coalition troops.

I ask all those who have abandoned -- or who proudly proclaim they've never given -- support to the mission if the liberation of the Kurdish North is not in and of itself a good reason for war. And if you think I'm going too far with that, how can you deny the opportunity for freedom to the rest of Iraq? It is a credit to the coalition troops that they gave opportunity to all Iraqis. Some have embraced it and some have elected to pursue tribal vendettas and brutal power struggles.

But you cannot read this and call the war a mistake and a failure.

Hat-tip: Insty (all my links today are: Coals to Newcastle...)


Posted by John Kranz at 4:59 PM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The Kurds started to benefit from the US the day we started the Northern No-Fly Zone. The peshmergas (sp?)gladly joined out troops 4 years ago (Today as the MSM keeps drumming into our heads, BTW) as gratitude.

I, too, would LOVE to see an independent Kurdistan we can call an ally in the Middle East.

It probably won't happen because we're too busy keeping the Turks happy so we can maintain our presence at Incirlik.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 19, 2007 8:35 PM

March 9, 2007

News Item of the Decade

What's that? Did Bill Gates promise to buy Apple Computer and divide all of its stock amongst all the AIDS patients in Africa? Did Mahmood I'mInAJihad just convert to Christianity? Did Hillary divorce Bill? No.

Gun Ban in D.C. Overturned

Owning guns in D.C. may soon become legal, as federal appeals court ruled that the right to bear arms applies not only to militias.

Three years ago, a lower-court judge had told six D.C. residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted the guns for protection that they don't have a constitutional right to own handguns.

City argued that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies only to militias, not individuals.

Today judge held that the Second Amendment doesn't just apply to militia service, or to people with "intermittent enrollment in the militia."

Just what was this D.C. gun ban? From the Cato Institute via P.R. Newswire: "Under existing law, no handgun could be registered in the District, and even pistols registered prior to D.C.'s 1976 ban could not be carried from room to room within a home without a license."

Well, what's wrong with that CNSnews? If that is the "democratically-expressed will of the people of the District of Columbia" then who cares that, "Even though the nation's capital had one of the strictest gun bans in the country, it also suffers from one of the five-highest murders rates of major cities nationwide?" I guess two out of three federal appeals judges care:

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued intermittent enrollment in the militia."

The court also ruled the D.C. requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock was unconstitutional.

(...)

"The district's definition of the militia is just too narrow," Judge Laurence Silberman wrote for the majority Friday. "There are too many instances of 'bear arms' indicating private use to conclude that the drafters intended only a military sense."

The opinion of the lone dissenting judge is telling. Her foundation for supporting the 30-year old law was not that individuals are not militia members, or that handguns are not hunting tools. Instead she wrote, "the Second Amendment does not apply to the District of Columbia because it is not a state."

Can I believe my eyes? I'm still not sure I believe a sitting federal judge actually wrote this. The reporter must have misrepresented, right? I wonder if she would also argue that the first, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth (take a breath), twenty first, twenty second, twenty third (oh really?), twenty fourth, twenty fifth, twenty sixth and twenty seventh amendments don't apply to D.C. because "it is not a state?"

For some time now I've been considering creation of a "Slave-o-Meter" that reflects the global movement toward collectivism and away from individual liberty modeled after the Union of Atomic Scientists' "Doomsday Clock." I was dissuaded by the notion that the "Slave-o-Meter" would only ever move in one direction: toward collectivization of humankind. (And because I still haven't thought of a better name than Slave-o-Meter.) This development in D.C. is one rare, delicious, possibly temporary case where it moved noticeably in the other direction.

UPDATE: [13 March] I am eternally grateful to JK for his comment link to the WaPo editorial on this. It allows me to share this remarkable quote:

"While the ruling caught observers off guard, it was not completely unexpected, given the unconscionable campaign, led by the National Rife Association and abetted by the Bush administration, to broadly reinterpret the Constitution so as to give individuals Second Amendment rights."

So in the document that begins ... We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America, an interpretation by the "National Rifle Association and abetted by the Bush administration" that one of its amendments applies to "individuals" is "unconscionable."

DUDE! WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:50 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

I humbly suggest "Serfdom Miles." How far down Hayek’s road we are. Like the clock, it will be hard to weight multiple parameters into a single, scalar quantity.

I am not so pessimistic as you. It is disturbing to see the free word give up its liberty by bits and pieces -- at the same time, I look at the Heritage /WSJ index of economic freedom and see that more and more people are escaping from the least free nations.

In a Sharansky sense, I'd say this planet is doing well, although in a Friedmanite, Hayekian sense, we may be giving back some gains.

Following the Constitution in the US Capitol is a good sign.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2007 6:07 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thank GOD a court in this country FINALLY understood what the Second Amendment really means!

Now,..how soon before the knee-jerk reactions from the "let's talk" liberal crowds??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 9, 2007 8:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Not sure what time the WaPo hits the streets, tm, but the answer is "less than 24 hours."

Dangerous Ruling: An appeals court ruling would put handguns back in D.C. homes

Quelle Horreur! Guns in homes...

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2007 12:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thanx for the link, jk

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 11, 2007 12:02 PM
But dagny thinks:

The WaPO article JK links to above is hysterical, in more ways than one. However, I recommend reading the comments to the article. At one point a commenter notes that the comments are 82% in favor of the ruling. Perhaps there is hope for DC yet????

Posted by: dagny at March 12, 2007 7:31 PM

Capitalism for Campesinos

ThreeSources's "Freedom on the March" category was created in January of 2005. Freedom seemed in true ascendancy. Iraqis were showing their purple fingers, Libya was giving up on its nuclear programs. The cedar and orange revolutions were just around the corner.

Freedom has lost some ground since then, I won't dwell on it.

Yet I don't think Latin America has scored a post in this category in all that time. Today, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page calls for (paid link, sorry!) more free trade with Latin America to counter the new left of center message with one of freedom and prosperity.

This is the root of the U.S. problem in Latin America: the lack of trade leadership. The 2002 Bush steel tariffs did their share of harm, but the biggest obstacle is Congress. The Central American Free Trade Agreement barely passed last year, and now Democrats are saying they want to renegotiate bilateral deals with Peru and Colombia that have already been signed. Trade is by far the biggest leverage the U.S. has in the region, and the best tool for improving living standards and strengthening democracy. If Congress fails to renew "fast-track" negotiating authority this year, the problem will get worse.

The best alternative to Hugo Chávez's Marxist revival is the vision Mr. Bush offered earlier this week to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "Latin America needs capitalism for the campesino, a true capitalism that allows people who start from nothing to rise as far as their skills and their hard work can take them." It's a shame Mr. Bush can't reinforce that message with greater promises of access to the U.S. market.


It doesn't look good, but it reinforces my pragmatism. President Bush fumbled the ball when he enacted the steel and softwood tariffs and the GOP Congress has sucked on trade issues.

But I watch Rep Charlie Rangel, and Senator Webb and it appears that protectionism has completely taken over the Democratic Party.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

March 5, 2007

A Toast to Baghdad

Muhammad and Omar from the great blog, IraqTheModel, have a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, saying the things I am thinking but am afraid to say out loud: the surge is working.

So after only a couple weeks we can feel, despite the continuing violence, that much has been accomplished. Many Baghdadis feel hopeful again about the future, and the fear of civil war is slowly being replaced by optimism that peace might one day return to this city. This change in mood is something huge by itself.

The brightest image of the past two weeks was the scene of displaced families returning home; more than a thousand families are back to their homes under the protection of the Army and police. This figure invites hope that Baghdad will restore its social, ethnic and religious mosaic.

Marketplaces are seeing more activity and stores that were long shuttered are reopening -- including even some liquor stores that came under vicious attacks in the past. This is a sign that extremists no longer can intimidate people and hold the city hostage. All of this gives the sense that law is being imposed.

Checkpoints are not seen as scary threats to the innocent. They look more professional and impartial as they include members of the police, Army, Multinational Forces and even traffic cops with laptops verifying registration papers. We've lost the fear that checkpoints might be traps set by death squads; they search everyone, even official convoys and ambulances.

We feel safer about moving in the city now, and politicians who used to hide behind the walls of the Green Zone are venturing out. Watching Mr. Maliki walking on Palestine Street in central Baghdad gave a positive impression that the state, and not the gangs, owns the streets.


No doubt dark days lie ahead. But if Iraq can gain some security in its capital, that sets a foundation for order.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM

March 1, 2007

Seven Minutes

I had heard about this, but I finally followed an Extreme Mortman link, and watched this speech by Rep. Sam Johnson’s (R-TX).

Must watch.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:56 PM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I did a few weeks ago. It sent chills down my spine!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 1, 2007 9:53 PM

February 26, 2007

They Don't Make Democrats Like This Anymore

Senator Lieberman, in a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (free link)

But we must not make another terrible mistake now. Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown. Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake--assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger--forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill--probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed.


That's a responsible opposition position. He understands the gravity of the fight, the souring position held by the electorate. He doesn't line up and salute but he supports his own vote to confirm General Petraeus.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM

They Will Hold Their Manhood Cheap

...that they did not fight with Prince Harry on St. Crispen's Day.

I join Bret Stephens of the The Journal Editorial Report in applauding a particular UK troop deployment:

[Paul] Gigot: Next, on the heels of the British government announcing it will withdraw some troops from Iraq, comes news of a notable deployment. Bret?

Stephens: Yes, well, once upon a time, there was an English prince, who went by the nickname Harry--most of us know him better as Henry V--who had what you might call a misspent youth and then found his place in history on the battlefield called Agincourt. Well, today, there's another English prince, also called Harry, also with something of what you might call a misspent youth, who is now, by his own choice, going to be deploying to Iraq to lead a squad of soldiers in southern Iraq. And I think a lot of people wonder what the purpose of an aristocracy is, especially when most European aristocrats spend their time disgracing themselves on the pages of HELLO! I think young Harry is showing what that purpose is. It is to set an example. And I think he's made the British very proud.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM

February 25, 2007

Murtha Stumbles

Those are the words of WaPo staff writers, Jonathan Weisman and Lyndsey Layton, not me. They point out that the plan was to unite Democrats and divide Republicans. But...

But a botched launch by the plan's author, Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), has united Republicans and divided Democrats, sending the latter back to the drawing board just a week before scheduled legislative action, a score of House Democratic lawmakers said last week.

"If this is going to be legislation that's crafted in such a way that holds back resources from our troops, that is a non-starter, an absolute non-starter," declared Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah), a leader of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

Murtha's credentials as a Marine combat veteran, a critic of the war and close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) were supposed to make him an unassailable spokesman for Democratic war policy. Instead, he has become a lightning rod for criticism from Republicans and members of his own party.


Sorry Rep. Murtha is having a bad day, but when you can't get the Washington Post on board for some antiwar and anti-administration politicking, you have a problem.

I'm thinking some "Don't blame me, I supported Irey" T-Shirts might be good right about now...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM

February 23, 2007

Democracy Midwifed

There is another casualty of the partisanship that has turned the Iraqi liberation into "Bush's War" and formed a solid line of Democrats in opposition. We're missing the political twists and turns as a new nation is birthed in the fecund Mesopotamian crescent.

The Wall Street Journal (news pages) reports today that Ahmed Chalabi has a new position in the government.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- In his latest remarkable political reincarnation, onetime U.S. favorite Ahmed Chalabi has secured a position inside the Iraqi government that could help determine whether the Bush administration's new push to secure Baghdad succeeds.

In a new post created earlier this year, Mr. Chalabi will serve as an intermediary between Baghdad residents and the Iraqi and U.S. security forces mounting an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign across the city. The position is meant to help Iraqis arrange reimbursement for damage to their cars and homes caused by the security sweeps in the hope of maintaining public support for the strategy.


I don't blame partisan wrangling, the insurgency has been very adept at impeding the birth of civil society. I think the opponents have played into their hands.

Put me in those polls where a majority of Americans still see and demand success. Give General Petraeus a chance. Then, instead of sniping at the administration from the sidelines, watch an inchoate nation unfold, real time.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM

February 20, 2007

IBD Poll

Among many great reasons to be depressed, it's hard to top the polls showing that Americans do not believe they can win in Iraq, do not feel we can win in Iraq, and do not care whether we win in Iraq.

I suspect it has been finely inculcated, yet still stand silenced (not my normal state) when I hear my countrymen are willing to allow another Vietnam outcome. I risk cherry-picking a poll, but Larry Kudlow references an Investor Business Daily Poll that tells a different story.

Speaking of Investors Business Daily, they posted tremendous polling data last Friday on Iraq that you won’t read about in the mainstream media.

Contrary to common wisdom, most Americans want to win in Iraq.

The poll was conducted by IBD’s polling partner TIPP. This is Raghavan Mayur’s company and they are very accurate pollsters.

Based on 915 respondents, the IBD/TIPP poll revealed that as of February 7th, 66% believe that it's “very important” or “somewhat important” to win in Iraq. That includes 85 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Independents, and 53 percent of Democrats.

It goes on to say that 58 percent are “very hopeful” or “somewhat hopeful” of a U.S. victory in Iraq.


I am very hopeful and believe it is critical to win.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM

February 15, 2007

Screw TNR!

If I may recount: TNR comes out boldly for the Iraq war, then turns tail and attacks the mission when it gets difficult, piling on to support antiwar candidates and help pull the President’s party out of power.

Now, its editors are crying into their 1945 Château l'effete that It's becoming obvious: No one is going to save Darfur

Precisely because neither of these [UN] options ever seemed likely to work, we have argued over the past year that nato intervention is the best way to end the genocide. We still favor that approach, but we have no illusions that the Bush administration will ever undertake it. Last week, speaking at a panel in Washington, D.C., John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group urged Western governments at least to weigh the possibility of military action against Sudan--but then conceded, "It's a laughable concept as we sit here today." True enough. At this point, we would be happy to see the West take any action that has even the remotest chance of stopping the genocide. Some efforts, such as a no-fly zone over Darfur or a naval blockade of Port Sudan, could, at least in theory, be undertaken unilaterally or by a small group of countries. Other proposals, such as travel bans that target government leaders or sanctions against Sudanese oil, would require broad consent from the international community to be effective.

Unfortunately, none of these measures seem likely to happen any time soon. For one thing, when it comes to Darfur, we have shown time and again that we simply lack the will for substantial steps of any kind. For another, China--a major consumer of Sudanese oil and a longtime supplier of equipment to Khartoum's military--would almost certainly foil efforts to punish Sudan economically.

And so the West either isn't going to act or isn't going to act strongly enough, and the plight of Darfuris will become more dire by the day. Indeed, as recent reports of attacks on aid workers piled up, one humanitarian group, Médecins du Monde, decided to pull out of Darfur. If others follow, millions of displaced persons could soon be without water, food, or medicine.


Afghanistan, a good TNR journalist would say, is reverting to lawless Talibanism, and Iraq is a Quagmire and a mistake of the current administration.

The UN is powerless and disinterested, and TNR wants the administration to organize a coalition of the willing. Let's nuke China and free Tibet while we're over there.

Former TNR Editor Peter Beinart's book is subtitled "Why liberals, and only liberals, can win the war on terror and make America great again." I respect Beinart (and Martin Peretz) but his old magazine disproves his thesis almost once a week.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM

How Many Republican Defeatists?

I guess that's the last remaining question in the House. I'm relearning what a friend the "cooling saucer of the Senate" is to a minority party. Even with all our squishes and RINOs, the Senate GOP stalled the defeat resolution under Sen. McConnell’s bold leadership.

But, as they say, you can pass a Ham Sandwich in the house (if the majority party is not hallah or kosher) and we will soon see a bill "supporting the troops" but denigrating their mission and attempting to withhold the tools for victory. How many House GOP members will join the pusillanimity club? The WSJ Ed Page issues a warning: (free link)

All of this is something that House Republicans should keep in mind as they consider whether to follow this retreat. The GOP leadership has been stalwart, even eloquent, this week in opposing the resolution. But some Republicans figure they can use this vote to distance themselves from Mr. Bush and the war while not doing any real harm. They should understand that the Democratic willingness to follow the Murtha "slow-bleed" strategy will depend in part on how many Republicans follow them in this vote. The Democrats are themselves divided on how to proceed, and they want a big GOP vote to give them political cover. However "non-binding," this is a vote that Republican partisans will long remember.

History is likely to remember the roll as well. A newly confirmed commander is about to lead 20,000 American soldiers on a dangerous and difficult mission to secure Baghdad, risking their lives for their country. And the message their elected Representatives will send them off to battle with is a vote declaring their inevitable defeat.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM

February 3, 2007

A Resolution I Can Support

Fellow Colorado blogger Terri at I think ^(link) therefore I err has written an alternate non-binding resolution, and one I could most certainly support:

1) Continue to let the troops know they have my full support and not in a William Arkin sort of way.

2) Not vote for any Senator who votes for a non-binding, or a binding resolution requesting extra benchmarks or no extra troops as requested

3) Actively campaign against Senator Salazar who has decided to now call the Iraq war a quagmire along with his Democratic colleagues because he thinks it's expedient I'm sure. He was voted in as a moderate and now he thinks he was voted in because of a Democrat "surge". He's incorrect.

4) Continue calling the numbers on Hugh's website to voice my opinion!


Scroll up to the Global Warming resolution as well.

UPDATE: And Welcome to the blogroll. A good excuse to add a Colorado section.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
But Terri thinks:

Hey thanks for the link and the Blogroll!
You've been added to mine too, but I needed to switch over to wordpress. Beta blogger was not working on my Mac for longer than I wanted, so I went ahead and switched. Same name, just .worpress

Posted by: Terri at February 13, 2007 12:45 PM

January 16, 2007

Hope They Don't Practice

Second Iraq Hanging Also Went Awry - New York Times

BAGHDAD, Jan. 15 — Iraq’s turbulent effort to reckon with the violence of its past took another macabre turn on Monday when the execution of Saddam Hussein’s half brother ended with the hangman’s noose decapitating him after he dropped through the gallows trapdoor

I for one am glad that the new Iraqi government is showing so little proclivity for efficient executions. The last group was, perhaps, a little too good?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM

January 15, 2007

Give The Surge a Chance

Larry Kudlow points out that world markets are treating the President's new Iraq strategy more optimistically that the media, Democrats, and Senator Hagel, or as they're known in the blogosphere, the MSMDH.

But President Bush’s overhauled Iraq strategy, including a tougher line on Iran, is being viewed by investors as a plus for security in the Middle East. Two large aircraft carrier groups and 16,000 sailors have been positioned in the Persian Gulf. There also are indications that the U.S. will provide Patriot anti-missile defense systems to allies in the region. So, putting all this together, geopolitical risk premiums are actually declining — hence lower oil prices.

While pundits and politicians are saying the new Bush plan won’t work, market investors are voting with their money for a much more positive verdict. And after surveying the details of the new Iraq strategy, I’m casting my lot with the investors.

The U.S. military buildup — including the strengthened naval presence — not only will provide better security for Iraq’s democratically elected government, but also enhanced security for the entire region.
[...]
Think of it: Falling oil prices not only reflect lower war and political risk, but they are actually doing enormous damage to one of the Middle East’s top risk producers: Iran.

Political opposition by Democrats and Republicans to Bush’s new strategy may be hardening, but financial markets are pointing to a much more positive scenario. Might the president’s new plan actually work? World markets are saying give it a chance.

I agree.


Me too, Larry.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:45 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

The contemptable General Wesley Clark was on FNC with Shawn Hannity last night saying, "We won the Cold War through diplomacy, we should be trying to win this war diplomatically too."

That's right Wes, the diplomacy of MX missles, Trident subs and a 600 ship navy. Not a shot was fired militarily, but a full economic broadside was required to bring down the "evil empire."

The same strategy could be effective now, perhaps even more so than with the Soviets. How? $20/bbl for oil would be a good start. Encourage domestic drilling in all the places we currently "preserve" and the bottom will fall out. Even if it required federal subsidies it would cost far less than $270 billion.

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2007 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

General Clark won the war in Bosnia. I don't remember that they were dropping treaties and resolutions from 30,000 feet, but that was a long time ago. I might have forgotten.

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2007 4:52 PM

December 30, 2006

[sic] Semper Tyrannis

Wow. The AP is on hand to tell you all you need to know about the late Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. In U.S. tolerated, then villified [sic] Saddam you learn from one Calvin Woodward that Saddam wasn't such a bad guy (well, apart from those atrocities) but that America just has a need to personify its struggles -- especially one with a moustache.

WASHINGTON - When U.S. leaders decided it was time to despise Saddam Hussein, he made the perfect villain.

He was cocky and cunning. He looked dangerous and deranged standing at rallies firing a gun into the air, conduct unbecoming a head of government.

He was Hitler Lite, or as the first President Bush put it, "Hitler revisited," lacking the endless armies, but close enough for U.S. purposes. He had a history of atrocities. His black mustache heightened the aura of menace.


Had Hitler shaved, I'm sure we'd have left him alone. (George Carlin had a great routine: "Stalin had a beard. Teddy Roosevelt had 'whiskers.'")

It just gets worse. The death of a ruthless dictator who has put hundreds of thousands of his countryman to death is such a grand occasion to do a little America bashing. Don't make fun of the AP mispelling in a headline though, you'll anger Joseph Rago and expose yourself as one of those petty bloggers.
villified.bmp

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM

December 29, 2006

JK Questions Their Patriotism

A terrible thought occurred to me a few weeks ago. It's not necessarily original but I think it deserves a hard look. And, today, I got the perfect segue to discuss it thanks to Perfesser Reynolds.

A strain of CW says that support for the war in Iraq has dropped because the struggle has been more difficult than anticipated. I have certainly believed this, and I have admitted to war opponents that I thought it would be easier.

But what has changed for the war opponents? We're not rationing gas, holding blackout drills, or conscripting their family.

War opponents are Bush opponents and they are merely being opportunistic. They count the casualties and await macabre, invented benchmarks: "more people have died in Iraq than have hit over .250 in the major leagues!” The problem is not lack of will, the problem is a lack of belief in American exceptionalism.

Instapundit links today to a Dave Kopel piece about long standing tribal conflict between "the Anuak, Nuer, Majangir, Opo and Komo." It's another lugubrious tale of tribal conflict than has gone on for n years, and you cannot help but glaze over, because the story is as common as it is sad. Reynolds links, and closes with this- startling yet true statement:

Nobody has cared, but now that Ethiopia is opposing the Islamists in Somalia with U.S. assistance, we'll no doubt see a sudden surge of "human rights" advocacy on the subject, though the whole disarmament thing might make it politically tricky . . . .

Nobody cares that people are killing each other, until the United States should have a strategic interest in siding with one tribe over another. To oppose the interests of the US, we will suddenly face education on the perfidy of the Ethiopians and the gentle goodness of the Anuak.

I remain in the shrinking population that supports the war because I think we have a far better life to offer and that we will ultimately reap security rewards for our efforts. Aside from the occasional Cindy Sheehan, it strikes me that the people who are doing the sacrificing, as a general rule, are prepared to continue sacrificing to achieve the mission. Those who have "grown weary" will not and never did sacrifice, they just do not believe in what America has to offer.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

What has happened is that by failing to win the war, Bush has given the looney left every opportunity they could hope for to persuade the wishy washy "centrists" that the cost is not worth the reward.

(The only good part of this is that reward is being judged in terms of "American interests" and not "world security." Of course it would have been better for both had the war been conducted by warriors rather than diplomats.)

The looney left is not only uninvested, but counter-interested in American power projection in the mideast and around the globe. The centrists, on the other hand, ARE invested by way of taxpayer funding of the military mission.

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2006 10:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Obviously you're right on the tax issue and it seems out of character of me to downplay it. Considering the fungibility, lack of clear accounting and debt structure of the Federal Gub'mint, I question whether this is felt as a sacrifice.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2006 12:21 PM

December 26, 2006

The Booming Economy You Don't Hear About

Nope, not here. As Larry Kudlow has been mentioning, a boom in Iraq.

Larry links to an Amir Taheri piece in The New York Post

Four years ago, this was a jumble of rusting quays, abandoned houses and gutted buildings. By the spring of 2003, its population had dwindled to a few dozen, along with hundreds of stray dogs. There was even talk of abandoning it altogether.

Today, however, Um Qasr is back in business as a port with commercial and military functions. Hundreds of families that had left after the first Gulf War in 1991 have returned - joining many more who have come from all over Iraq.

The boom in Um Qasr is part of a broader picture that also includes Basra (the sprawling metropolis of southern Iraq), the Shi'ite "holy" cities of Najaf and Karbala, Mandali on the Iranian border and much of Baghdad.

When the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank reported two years ago that the Iraqi economy was heading for a boom, skeptics dismissed it as misplaced optimism. Now, however, even some of those who opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein admit that many Iraqis share that optimism.

Newsweek has just hailed the emergence of a booming market economy in Iraq as "the mother of all surprises," noting that "Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are."


Of course they're more optimistic. The New York Times doesn't deliver that far.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM

December 15, 2006

Thank You Mr. Taranto

I know most of you read Best of the Web everyday, so I have not linked. But if you have missed any of the eight "Responding to Rangel" letters he ran during his vacation, Click on over and read every one.

I wrote a brief letter to Taranto to thank him. I always knew that the folks who wore our nation’s uniform were courageous, honorable, patriotic. But it is good for this Vietnam era brat to be reminded just how wrong Sen. Kerry and Rep. Rangel are to disparage their intelligence and capacity to compete in the private sector.

Mr. Taranto:

Though I missed BOTW, my wife and I read the letters every day this week. I suspect we both cried every time.

What a gift to share a country with such people. What a Christmas gift to be reminded.

I gave little thought to a military career, although in Junior High I wanted to be like Capt./Maj. Nelson in "I Dream of Jeannie." I'm not one for regrets, but if I had it to do over again, I would have served.

Hope your vacation was enjoyable -- thanks again for the letters.


Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM

November 30, 2006

Changing the Narrative

President Bush's opposition, both in politics and in the Press, has successfully undermined the Iraq liberation with a constant focus on WMds. They are very good at this kind of myopic focus. I would cite the defense of President Clinton "It's all about sex" and the press redemption of Anita Hill, who went from discredited witness to feminist hero in a couple years of NYTimes and WaPo puff pieces.

That's all old hash (dude, did he say something about hash?) but they are being just as successful today advertising that the war was based on a lie and that the reasons crumbled when no WMD stockpiles were found.

A realistic look at the reasons for war must include the sanctions. And any discussion of the sanctions should include the widespread corruption unearthed by the Volcker report.

Nobody seems to be looking for either WMDs or Oil for food corruption anymore. But the WSJ Ed Page reports that Australia is proceeding with prosecution of an Aussie firm that paid bribes.

The Australian government started to act once Mr. Volcker's probe began turning over the rocks. Apart from the U.S., no other nation has launched a full-scale, independent criminal investigation into the crimes committed as part of Oil for Food. Mr. Cole's thoroughly readable report is available at www.oilforfoodinquiry.gov.au. He has recommended 11 AWB employees, plus a BHP Billiton executive, for criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, most other countries have done little or nothing to come clean. France, which was given preferential oil allocations, has only a lone prosecutor moving ahead, with little support from the Elysée Palace. Russia, which facilitated the oil allocations and blocked moves on the Security Council to investigate kickbacks, refused to assist Mr. Volcker, much less prosecute anyone. Ditto for China, which received huge oil allocations, and Vietnam, whose state-owned food companies paid kickbacks in exchange for business contracts.

Regarding the U.N., Mr. Cole notes that "The United Nations knew that Iraq was breaching sanctions by requiring payment of inland transport fees and surcharges or after-sales-service fees. It knew this between 1999 and 2003. . . It took no steps to publicize or warn member states of the Iraqi practices, and it took no steps to stop the practices." Mark it down as another coda to Kofi Annan's disastrous legacy as Secretary General.


Count me in the 40% who still support the war. The status quo was not an idyllic kite-flying paradise portrayed in "Fahrenheit 9/11" but an untenable dystopian fear-society where a corrupt leader was skirting sanctions to become a more dominant player in the politics of an important region..

Posted by John Kranz at 10:26 AM

November 20, 2006

While Time Magazine Slept

A ThreeSources reader sent me a link to Time Magazine's article on Pope Benedict XVI over the weekend. The suggestion was that BXVI might be as important an ally in the War on Terror as JPII was for Reagan in the Cold War.

The article was good and I hope my friend is right. I took the time to complete an online survey at Time.com, where I gave them a harsh assessment of their product and a stark evaluation of how frequently I visit their site (Never, unless somebody sends me a link).

sisu does a much better post on the article than I would have, under the title While Time Magazine slept.

The blog post points out that somebody paying more attention would not have been quite as surprised as Time, that then Cardinal Ratzinger had shown definite proclivities, and that perhaps a real news organization should have paid more attention.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:24 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

Before Pope John Paul II died, there was discussions of the next Pope being from a country that has a "Islamic" problem, must like JPII was from a country that had a "Communist" problem.

The front runner was a Cardinal from Nigeria, some Catholics (myself included) were surprised that a German was picked. Though after reading Marc Steyn's "America Alone," it's easy to see how prescient the Pope's selection was.

It's obvious that Pope Benedict is willing to take on Islamicfascism head on. Witness his speech from a few month ago.

He's going to keep doing it, too.

Posted by: AlexC at November 20, 2006 3:24 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Alex, Germany has a sizeable Turkish population. Turkey straddles the divide between East and West and therefore Christain and Muslim (as well as secular and religious).

Makes sense to me.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 20, 2006 8:57 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Trekmedic, I know... that's the thrust of my 2nd paragraph. Europe is slowly evoling into Eurabia, and Germany near the head of the pack.

Posted by: AlexC at November 21, 2006 12:39 AM

November 17, 2006

My Kind of Diesel Mechanic

WCCO.com reports on a beauty queen who is giving up her title to serve our nation and the cause of freedom.

Jessica Gaulke is trading in life as Minnesota's queen of the lakes for a year in the Iraqi desert.

"There's obviously preconceived notions about beauty queens," said Gaulke, who was chosen as Minneapolis Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes in July.

Gaulke is giving up her title because her National Guard unit has been activated for duty in Iraq. The 22-year-old Augsburg College sociology student will be going to the Mideast as a diesel generator mechanic.


Senator Kerry could not be reached for comment. ThreeSources wondered if he would retract his famous comment: “You work on your poise, you get your lipstick right, you find an evening gown that fits, you can do well. If not, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Hat-tip: My lovely wife.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM

October 27, 2006

Times Do Change

I don't think anybody can be totally sanguine about the political situation in Russia. Arrested journalists and business leaders, renewed nationalism and expansionism. The promise of freedom when the Berlin Wall fell has not been realized.

Yet, in the long term, we can't forget the improvement from Sharansky’s incarceration to this:


moscow_bmi.gif


I'm still on the British Midlands International email list, though I haven't been back to Blighty in years. BA has one flight per day to Denver; it's much smaller competitor flies twice into Moscow. Interesting.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM

October 6, 2006

Islam

I'm going to add some bad news to AlexC's depressing post yesterday about unceasing Muslim-Western violence in France.

Perry de Havilland first reports that "A Muslim police officer has been allowed to refuse to guard the Israeli embassy in London."

Disturbing, but then Havilland doubles down with Violence is just a symptom... it is all about Islam.

In strong but well reasoned words, Perry says that Islam, by demanding a "whole life" view is no different from Communism.

If Muslims want their religion to be treated with tolerance, they need to de-secularise it in the same way Christianity has (largely) done. But for as long as Islam advocates an imposed political order based on religious principles, it must not be treated either legally or socially as being above critique on any level whatsoever.

Islam is the problem and, just like Communism and Fascism, it is simply incompatible with western post-Enlightenment civilisation. And also just like Communism and Fascism, it must be contained or defeated militarily when it threatens us but it must also be defeated as an ideology as well.


I have a few good Muslim friends, one of whom is very devout, the others are the equivalent of "Jack Mormons" (Abdul Muslims?) There are a billion and I'm a religiously tolerant guy. I'm not ready to start another Crusade.

Lawrence Wright in "The Looming Tower" bifurcates between traditionalist Muslims who subscribe to the imposed political order Havilland discusses and those who have been able to live in a secular world.

I can't join the Coulter/Malkin brigades who think Islam must be subjugated. But I am finding it harder to believe that we are fighting a small, isolated minority.

Big questions, but who cares. Did you guys know Rep. Mark Foley was gay?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM

September 24, 2006

Mr. Orwell, call your office

If you like running out of hot sauna into the icy pool, I can recommend a couple of interesting articles.

First, seriously, read Stephen Hayes's How Bad Is the Senate Intelligence Report? This was the cover of last week's issue (Felix Allen Macaca, Jr. has the current week) and is available free on the website.

The Weekly Standard, and Hayes especially, have been slow to lie down and accept the CW that Iraq would never work with al-Qaeda, 'cause Saddam was secular. You can get immediate troglodyte status with any thoughtful NPR listener by expressing the slightest doubt of that.

Hayes demolishes it

As early as 1982, the Iraqi regime was openly supporting, training, and funding the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization opposed to the secular regime of Hafez Assad. For years, Saddam Hussein cultivated warm relations with Hassan al-Turabi, the Islamist who was the de facto leader of the Sudanese terrorist state, and a man Bill Clinton described as "a buddy of [Osama] bin Laden's."

For several pages, Hayes enumerates inconsistencies, errors, and willful misdirection in the Senate Intelligence report which "proves" it.

Grab a large coffee and read that one coast-to-coast. It's cover story length, a little dry, and incredibly repetitive because Hayes finds so many errors to contradict. That's your sauna visit. After reading that article, you will be particularly informed on a topic about which most of the country is purposefully ignorant.

Then read as much as you can stand of the Page A01 bylined story in the WaPo Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight

"It's a very candid assessment," one intelligence official said yesterday of the estimate, the first formal examination of global terrorist trends written by the National Intelligence Council since the March 2003 invasion. "It's stating the obvious."

Saddam Hussein's Iraq, long before President Bush blundered into the Pottery Barn, operated state sponsored paramilitary training camps for terrorists.
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 "good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm" in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting "Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, 'the Gulf,' and Syria.

Seems like recruitment was doing all right when President Clinton and Speaker Wright were running things.

Now the same "intelligence community" that participated in the Senate Intelligence Report, willfully obstructed the President, missed 9/11, sent the extraordinary Joseph Wilson IV to Niger, and said WMDs were a slam dunk should be believed in toto with a subjective assertion.

Because they're professionals, I suppose. It would be humorous to see the fourth estate so supportive of the veracity of every word from US government spooks. It would be humorous had it not been so successful in hurting the war effort and inculcating opposition in the electorate.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM

September 22, 2006

I'll preorder a copy

The more I hear about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the more I like her.

She has located in the United States because the Dutch would not protect her from Islamic militants after Theo Van Gogh was murdered. I think she belongs here. George Will pulls himself out of an intellectual batting slump with this incredible column

Slender, elegant, stylish and articulate (in English, Dutch and Swahili), she has found an intellectual home here at the American Enterprise Institute, where she is writing a book that imagines Muhammad meeting, in the New York Public Library, three thinkers -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, each a hero of the unending struggle between (to take the title of Popper's 1945 masterpiece) "The Open Society and Its Enemies.'' Islamic extremists -- the sort who were unhinged by some Danish cartoons -- will be enraged. She is unperturbed.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, whom I'll quote "Read the whole thing!"

Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM

September 4, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust!

"And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Doop doop doop da doop!"
Al-Suaidi mug shot.jpg

From Australia's Herald Sun:

US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.

{...}

"Hamid al-Suaidi led a group that kidnapped people. He ordered bombings and mortar attacks that killed a number of our armed forces and our citizens. Al-Qaida in Iraq is severely wounded," Rubaie [Iraq's national security advisor] said.

"After his arrest he gave critical and important information and we ended up killing 11 militants of the second tier of leaders and nine of the lower tier," Rubaie said of Suaidi.

I had to scroll through the "all 825 news articles" Google link to find one from Australia in order to avoid liberal media bias in the report. For example, the ITV [Britain] version that I took the photo from waited until the fifth of seven paragraphs before mentioning the captured man's name, and even then did it thusly:

Hours after an "embarrassed" US military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a news conference to announce that Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.

So after starting the story with, "Security officials [no mention of whose] claim [as it's apparently in dispute] to have arrested the second-in-command of the terror [what, no scare quotes?] group al-Qaeda in Iraq," they morphed this news item into a slanted report on the so-called occupation of Iraq by the US military. In the process they inplicity question Washington's sincerity to "let Americans go home."

If you still wonder why the majority public opinion is that things are going "badly" in Iraq, here's your answer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Al-Qaida in Iraq?

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2006 10:48 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Is it me,..or does that green thingy under his chin look like the bottom of a gallows??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 5, 2006 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

What is that? I've seen that picture a hundred times and never quite got it.

The New Republic today says that this guy wasn't important and that the London explosive guys weren't really dangerous. Even our wins are losses.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 1:14 PM

August 26, 2006

Good WaPo Research

Samuel H. Preston and Emily Buzzell at the Washington Post answer a question that has been in the back of my mind but that I have been too lazy to research.

In short, there are a lot of young men and women serving our nation in Iraq. Every death is regrettable, but how many would die if they stayed home or went on spring break in Aruba?

Kudos to Preston and Buzzell for a nifty piece.

Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces. Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

To give away the ending, that’s half the US average. But wait, that includes 95 year olds and people not in the good health of our men and women in uniform.

U.S. men 18-39 only face 39% of the risk, which seems closer to an intuitive estimate. But -- insert your own W.C. Fields joke here -- on the whole, it's better to be in Iraq than be an African-American in Philadelphia; the latter is 11% more risky.

"The death rate of American troops in Vietnam was 5.6 times that observed in Iraq. " (I blogged that we lost well over twice as many in a short while in WWII fighting for eight square miles of Iwo Jima).

In short, to post the number dead is specious. Kudos to Professor Preston and Ms. Buzzell for the perspective, and to the WaPo for printing it.

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 6:29 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I'll wager that civilian deaths in Iraq are a similar fraction of those in Vietnam and WWII. Despite the aggressive efforts of subversive elements to create humanitarian crisis there, far more "innocent" women and children died as a result of thousand-plane raids and B-52 carpet bombing missions. War is still hell, and should be waged as a last resort, but western ingenuity, skill and respect for life has dramatically reduced the scope of collateral damage. (To the point that Hezbollah had to STAGE atrocity scenes in their recent "stab the sleeping tiger" war with Israel.

Islamic terrorists claim to "love death like we love life." We love life so much we try to spare those of the wives, daughters and children of even these murderous bastards.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2006 12:29 PM

August 22, 2006

Sharansky Lives!

I rarely link to Taranto, because I assume that every ThreeSources reader reads Best Of The Web everyday.

But an item today is so perfect, I have to highlight it. He links to a Thomas Friedman column about Iranians who are displeased that their government is giving 500 million to Hezbollah, when their nation is still damaged by war and earthquakes. Taranto adds:

This is one reason why democratizing the Middle East is such an important goal. It's very unlikely that a democratic Iran would be waging war on Lebanon. Democracy is a check on unnecessary war. Indeed, a drawback of democracy is that it's sometimes a check on necessary war; just look at Old Europe and its approach to Iraq, Hezbollah, etc.

My idealism has been bruised and beaten these days. Republicans are distancing themselves from the President on Iraq, the Israel/Hezbollah war in Lebanon did not end as well as it could (that understates but captures ThreeSources opinion).

I turned in my neo-Wilsonian merit badge awhile back, but Mr. Taranto has put a little fight back in my Sharansky side. Why we fight. What's at stake. Thanks to ALL who serve!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM

The Dark Side of Valuing Life

Okay, I've written my provocative headline for the year.

We do value life. People complain that we live in a "disposable society" because we replace instead of repair things."We value human labor and thought more than a television set!" retorts I, "This is a good thing."

Kids wearing bicycle helmets strikes old- schoolers as "wussification." I'm concerned that we pamper youth, but much of it is valuing life highly. The same can be said for lawsuits. Life is not cheap anymore.

The dark side is that the investment in war and freedom is now much more costly. Edward Luttwak of the Jerusalem Post (hat-tip Mickey, via Insty) compares eight IDF forces lost to WWII:

When an IDF company attacked the mountain town of Bint Jbail, losing eight men in one night, that number was perceived in Israel - and broadcast around the world - as a disastrous loss.

Many a surviving veteran of the 1943-1945 Italian campaign must have been amazed by this reaction. There too it was one stone-built village and hilltop town after another, and though the Germans were outnumbered, outgunned and poorly supplied, a company that went against them would consider the loss of only eight men as very fortunate, because attacking forces could suffer a 150% or even 300% casualty rates - that mathematical impossibility being explained by the need for a second, third or fourth assault wave to take a small village.

Even that was not much as compared to the 6,821 Americans who died to conquer the eight square miles of Iwo Jima.


As Patton said "thank God that such men lived." They still live. Is not Iraq worth as much as eight square miles?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)
But silence dogood thinks:

Can we leave Iraq as we did Iwo Jima, desolate and unihabited?

Posted by: silence dogood at August 25, 2006 3:43 AM
But silence dogood thinks:

I wonder if more lives have not been lost in the 8 square miles around Jerusalem than anywhere else on the planet.

Posted by: silence dogood at August 25, 2006 4:14 AM

August 21, 2006

Freedom On Retreat

I will agree with The Wall Street Journal (free link) that the United States, Israel, and the cause of freedom have suffered a serious setback in Lebanon. The French have sandbagged us, the U.N. itself has shown its indifference to freedom, and the Bush/Rice promise that the region will not return to "the status quo ante" has been broken.

On Thursday, Jacques Chirac confirmed a Le Monde report that his government was prepared to offer only some 200 combat engineers (in addition to the 200 French troops already in Lebanon) to what is supposed to be the resolution's centerpiece: A 15,000-man U.N. force that will help the Lebanese army patrol their southern border and ensure that Hezbollah will no longer use the area as a staging ground for future attacks against Israel.

Given that the French contingent was supposed to be at the vanguard of this enhanced force, it's unclear whether other nations will be willing to chip in with troops of their own. All of this after the French used the promise of a robust, French-led international force to get the U.S. and Israel to agree to a cease-fire and withdrawal. Even less reassuring is the insistence by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie that her troops will remain in the lead only until February, after which, apparently, it's salaam and adieu.


I will not join them in ascribing blame to the Secretary of State.
The person who should really be furious here is Secretary of State Rice. She midwifed this cease-fire in the name of Lebanese democracy and as a way to use diplomacy, and the U.N., to tame Hezbollah and frustrate its patrons. She also believed French promises, so it'd be good to know if she now feels she was lied to. If this U.N. exercise turns out to be as feckless as it increasingly appears, U.S. credibility will also be a loser.

As I commented before, I think the Secretary has been charged by the President to pursue the diplomatic tack. I don't think French perfidy is a surprise to her nor is the lesson is hers. The lesson here should be for the "multilateralists who believe that Kofi Annan's crew can solve problems in a difficult and dangerous world. Ned Lamont says we should negotiate with Iran and Syria. Sadly, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) agrees.

Yet another failure of diplomacy, as Iran tests ten missiles and continues development of nuclear weapons. And the lesson remains unlearned.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Like Brit Hume, I don't think it's as bad as it looks. This is not so much a serious setback as a gigantic missed opportunity. That opportunity belonged not to the U.S., or even Israel, but to France and the U.N. Bush/Rice said, "OK Jacques, we'll be your huckleberry," and gave them the helm of the international diplomacy garbage scow. In apparent admission that diplomacy can't dissuade RFMO (religious fanatics with military ordnance) they surrendered even before their mission began. (Surrender being the ONE thing you can count on from the French.)

But there is a setback. Despite this massive failure on the part of the UN, greater even than the "oil for food" debacle, supposed serious American statesmen like Lamont and Hagel (and many more in the US Senate) still believe we should "talk" to Iran and Syria. And say what? "That's it, young men. You're in time out!"

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2006 3:06 PM

July 17, 2006

Stand with Israel Rally - NYC

Pamela from Atlas Shrugs attended the Stand With Israel Rally in NYC today and gives a weblog report. She has great coverage on her site 'Atlas Shrugs' including some great photos of Hillary swallowing her bile when Elie Wiesel said, "Thank God Bush is in the White House."

Great stuff Pamela! Check it out.

UPDATE: Here's the Rush Limbaugh program transcript of Pamela's "breathless" call to the show on Monday. Man, she was on fire! (And if you look close on Pamela's post, you'll see that the very first trackback ping is: Three Sources!)

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:37 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Not many times I wish I lived in New York, but I would have liked to have been there.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2006 11:04 PM

July 16, 2006

Iranian Nukes? We'll Soon Know

We knew this was coming sooner rather than later when we witnessed the "elections" of Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. When the "imperialist" American administration and the "Hitler" and "Ghengis Khan" like Israelis did nothing to provoke open warfare with Iran, those swell Iranian mullahs grew tired of waiting. As Robert Tracinski writes, "If, in the face of repeated threats and provocation by an aggressive dictatorship, you refuse to go to war, the war will eventually come to you." Two years after the 'forward strategy of freedom' swept the Syrian army out of Lebanon, Hezbollah was under growing pressure to leave as well. No reasonable person should have expected them to leave peacefully. (What do you think they are, pluralistic democrats? No, they're Islamofascists you fools!)

A timely example of such a fool is Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who said on Fox News Sunday this morning that, essentially, it's Bush's fault! Dodd attributes the military action in south Lebanon to diplomatic failure:

"It seems to be that you have to go beyond just understanding the friendship, which is important, but for Israel's benefit and our own, we have missed, I think over the last number of years, the ability to really engage in the kind of diplomatic efforts in the middle east. From 1967 up until the end of the Clinton administration, every administration has remained very, very engaged in the middle east. This administration unfortunately has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies. I think unfortunately we've allowed this time to elapse over the last several years, the resolution 1559 was adopted two years ago, and the administration's done nothing in my view to really insist that the Lebanese rid southern Lebanon of Hezbollah and so this time has gone through without really engaging in the process thus we find ourselves today, Israel certainly has the right to defend itself. What it's doing is absolutely necessary. If Lebanon and Syria will recognize that those soldiers need to be returned and also Hezbollah has to get out of southern Lebanon then I think you could bring a cease-fire about."

To be fair, it has been nearly five years since Islamofascists unilaterally slaughtered 3000 American civilians with airliners. But despite this, why is Dodd still endorsing the realpolitik appeasement cum stability strategy of the past thirty years? Does he genuinely believe that it will lead to regional and worldwide peace if we just give it another decade or three to work itself out?

I can't say whether it is a symptom or a cause of America's confusion in general, or Dodd's in particular, but there is clearly a filter in place between the events of the mideast and the front pages of America's news media. Compare some recent news excerpts in America to those in, notably, Australia:

WSJ- 'World Leadership Reacts To Escalating Mideast Violence'
"Haifa was hit with at least 20 rockets fired by Lebanese guerillas, in retaliation for a wave of bombings by Israeli airplanes early Sunday morning when about 18 powerful explosions rocked southern Beirut."

AP (via Houston Chronicle)- 'Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa'
"Hezbollah's firing of at least 20 rockets at Haifa and 30 elsewhere came after Israel unleashed its fiercest bombardment yet of the Lebanese capital, starting after midnight Saturday."

And, in the most offensive of my three examples,

Chigago Tribune- '2 dead on Israeli warship; jets attack Lebanon anew'
"A draft resolution under consideration, from Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, demanded the release of Lebanese captives and detainees in Israeli prisons, and supported Lebanon's right to "liberate them by all legitimate means."

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon early Saturday, targeting bridges, fuel depots and gas stations in the east and south, security officials said."

[...]

""You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a taped statement broadcast Friday. He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets."

The clear message to American voters: The "cycle of violence" continues and Hezbollah/Lebanon are defending their sovereignty from Israeli aggression.

In contrast, Australians read the following headlines:

The Australian- 'Militants' missile hits ship with Iranian troops' help'
"Israel says the troops involved in firing the missile were from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

[...]

"A military official said the group was also believed to have longer-range projectiles that could hit the Israeli commercial hub of Tel Aviv."

The Australian- 'Strikes to intensify in four-stage strategy'
"In the first stage, which began shortly after the Hezbollah incursion across the border last Wednesday, Israeli warplanes attacked missile caches in south Lebanon and elsewhere, particularly those housing long-range missiles.

Fifty caches, some hidden underground and in private homes, were reportedly destroyed. It is unclear what percentage of the 13,000 missiles known to be in Hezbollah hands that accounts for."

[...]

"In the second stage, which began early on Friday, warplanes attacked the heart of Hezbollah power, shattering high-rise buildings in south Beirut housing the militia's command structure as well as the home of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was reportedly trapped for a while in the underground command centre when the building above it collapsed."

"The third and fourth stages are still secret. However, the sources said the operation calls for each of the four stages to be more powerful than the previous one."

[...]

"Israeli officials say the international community will not force Israel to stop before its goals are achieved."

Sydney Morning Herald- 'With US backing, Israel determined to go for the kill'
"Israel's goal is to either eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat, or altogether. The broader goal of the US is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush Administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East.

Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants - with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike."

[...]

"Israel and the US would like to hold out until Hezbollah is crippled. "It seems like we will go to the end now," said Israel's ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon. "We will not go part way and be held hostage again. We'll have to go for the kill - Hezbollah's neutralisation."

These stories give a far different perspective on the current munitions exchanges: Israel is under attack by Iran-sponsored terrorists embedded in a third nation, Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets target Israeli civilians while Israeli laser-guided bombs target, Hezbollah rockets. Contrary to the protestations and accusations of one Christopher Dodd, the Bush adminstration has clearly been working in concert with regional and world governments to lay the groundwork for Israel to help Lebanon exorcise Hezbollah from its cities and countryside without manic diplomatic attempts to protect the terrorists.

Dodd warns that, "This could spin out of control to such a degree that we have a major, major war in the middle east." The reality is that the cold phase of that war has been raging since at least 1979, with Iran's Islamic revolution. Iran has decided it is time to turn up the heat on this war and it certainly appears that Israel, the Bush adminstration and key western governments anticipated it, were prepared for it, and are in the process of winning it.

There is little reason for concern that Israel's defense forces will fail in this effort. The two areas of concern are that diplomatic failures will allow allies like France and Russia to reverse course and, more ominously, that Iran's threat that attacking Syria " ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages" portends their possession and imminent detonation of a nuclear bomb. Let us hope that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter as well in hand as they appear to have Hezbollah's rockets.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:59 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I hate to respond to a thoughtful post with an anecdote, but I have been thinking about Senator Dodd all week. I did not know he was on FNS, I have that TiVoed and will watch it soon.

I have been considering the Senator from Connecticut who is still respected by his party because I purchased some Contra Cafe coffee on July 4, and it recently showed up. The coffee is great and is grown by former freedom fighters in Nicaragua.

I think of Senator Dodd because I remember his fighting President Reagan tooth and nail. I think of he and Kris Kristofferson as leading the pro-Sandinista movement in the US. Rather than admit he was wrong, Dodd -- 20 years later -- opposed the nomination of Otto Reich to be Assistant Secretary of State. His crime? Supporting democracy against communism in the Western Hemisphere.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

And one quibble. I would disagree with conflating the Iranian and Palestinian elections. The election in Iran was a farce and remains worthy of scare quotes. The election in palestinian-controlled-Isreal, however, was legitimate.

I'm not happy that they chose Hamas, though people should remember the other choice was Fatah. They were, however, real and legitimate elections and their constituencies are getting the government they deserve.

I include their number in my accounting of folks living under self elected government.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I hesitated to group them together for the reasons you mentioned, but I was trying to economize on words in this post, believe it or not. In defense I'll point out that when your democratic choices are limited by force or by "belief in unproven things" it is not a free election in either case.

I can live with this quibble though. My charming bride said she wasn't sure she shares my sanquinity that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter "well in hand."

That comment forced me to consider the source of my optimism. I re-read my own post to find the answer: The unprecented combination of Israeli resolve to "to to the end now," and not go "part way and be held hostage again," coupled with supportive words from key Arab leaders. The Israelis are implementing the Bush Doctrine and no one of consequence - not the multiculturalists of Old Europe nor the Islamic apologists of Egypt or Saudi Arabia - dares, strike that, chooses, to stand in their way. Selfishly, they all want Hezbollah "crippled" or, better yet, "neutralized."

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2006 7:33 PM

July 11, 2006

$66 Billion in Unearned Guilt

I've been thinking about how to blog this story since it broke: Megabillionaire Warren Buffet recently donated (evading the estate tax in the process) $37 billion of his $44 billion in personal wealth to a charitable foundation established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Combined with the $29 billion already under foundation control the resulting $66 billion is five times the wealth of the next largest, the Ford foundation.

I won't belabor the contradictions of Buffet praising the estate tax as an "equitable tax...in keeping with the idea of equality of opportunity in this country, not giving incredible head starts to certain people who were very selective about the womb from which they emerged." Or of his criticism of "dynastic wealth" coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children.

I'm most interested in the issue raised by John J. Miller on the Opinion Journal page of July 7th. "The Microsoft mogul and his wife should not leave their foundation to posterity," he writes.

I fully agree with many points made in this editorial. For example:

"Surely there are better reasons to embark upon the world's biggest grant-making program than to salve the conscience of a guy who has no business feeling guilty in the first place."

And, "If Mr. Gates views his foundation as a vehicle for guilt riddance, chances are his grants will fail often and spectacularly. Yet if he views it as a way of furthering his already enormous contribution to society through nonprofit rather than for-profit means, then perhaps he will make a positive difference in the areas where he is focusing his efforts: global health and American education."

But Mr. Miller's principal point is not just that a charitable foundation should be used to further the values of its benefactor(s), but that it must necessarily be constrained to shut itself down after some arbitrary number of years for fear of the "harmful trend" of "an organization that exists in perpetuity, clinging tightly to its assets and ever further removed from its benefactors and their intentions."

It seems to me that if you want your wealth to live on and contribute in your image after your passing, you'd want it to do so for as long as possible. The trick here is to build something that can't be highjacked by others for their own purposes after your passing. This is exactly the problem that faced the founders of the United States government. So here we have another instance of resignation that nothing can retain its original nature and purpose against the pressure of revisionism.

The irony here is that the Gates Foundation, which has chosen to make a positive difference in the areas of global health and American education, has an opportunity to counteract such pressures. The reason the American Constitution, the American government and the American way of life are under threat today is precisely because of revisionist pressures endemic to modern American education. If the Gates Foundation threw even a fraction of its weight behind a return to accurate and objective teaching of American history and civics it could single handedly save the nation from apathetic disintegration.

Alas, such an effort is unlikely from a man who says, "We really owe it to society to give the wealth back."

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:13 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Well said.

It strikes me that this giveaway is the world’s largest Rorschach test. Folk Marxists can either coo in delight that the Gateses have discovered "what's really important" or more likely think "damn well time those robber barons gave some back!"

I'm guessing a rare moment of unity for ThreeSourcers believing this will end very badly. I suggested when it happened that they clearly would do less good for society giving it away than they did when they earned it. Now I fear O'Sullivan's law will kick in [Every non-Conservative organization becomes more liberal over time] and that this money could become a colossus of unintended consequences, doing far more harm.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 9:04 AM
But howard thinks:

"Or of his criticism of 'dynastic wealth' coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children."

-as far as I've heard in previous interviews with, and statements from, Buffet, he has no intention of leaving millions to his own heirs. And his beliefs against dynastic wealth are purportedly based on the idea that inheriting abstract sums of material wealth begets more laziness than not. I don't believe his support for the estate tax is any more elaborate than that.

Agree or disagree, there's very little hypocrisy in his position on this - unless you know something about his motives that I don't know. But then it seems like a lot of people are in the business of questioning what others do with their money, and here I thought that was a liberal tendency.

Posted by: howard at July 12, 2006 11:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Howard, I said in my post on this topic that "Mr. Buffett can do what he chooses, indeed that's the best benefit of having billions, is it not?"
http://www.threesources.com/archives/003037.html

Two concerns you'll hear around here are, one, that the foundation will devolve into something that doesn't match its founders' wishes, and that its gifts will do more harm than good. And, two, there is a distinct disconnect between his objection to dynastic wealth and his use of tax shelters for his own estate. The WSJ says:

"In explaining his charitable motivations this week, Mr. Buffett also went out of his way to say that he is "not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth." This is fair enough, and is also one of Mr. Buffett's arguments for so vocally defending federal death tax rates of 50% or more. But we can't help but point out that Mr. Buffett's gift will itself be shielded from Uncle Sam because it is going to a foundation. So in practice he is in favor of death taxes only for those whose estates are too small to hide in foundation tax shelters.

In addition to his Gates Foundation gift, Mr. Buffett also said he will give major donations well north of $1 billion each to separate foundations run by his three children and another in the name of his late wife. These gifts, too, will be shielded from taxation and will allow his heirs to wield power and influence long after the 75-year-old has gone to his just reward."

Gates and Buffet did a lot of good for people as they assembled their fortunes. I doubt they'll do half as much good giving them away, but that it sheer speculation.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2006 9:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you Howard for the eloquent comment. I did try to learn what Buffet has or will leave to his children but was unable to find even the $1B donations to his children's foundations that JK informs us of by way of the WSJ.

So even if they don't receive direct cash inheritance, each will certainly award himself a salary as full-time director of the foundation. (Hey, a guy's gotta eat, right?)

I also wanted to clarify: The liberal tendency is not to question what others do with their money, but to control it. (Or prevent it altogether.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2006 3:56 PM

June 30, 2006

Freedom Babes

Ohhhhhhh yeahhhhh.

Posted by AlexC at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Compelling arguments and trenchant invective...

Rather than Santa Cruz's seceding, wouldn't it be better to keep Bolivia intact and use the pro-freedom (and attractive) protestors to force the national government away from collectivism.

(Side note: my in-laws hosted an exchange student from Santa Cruz. She would fit right in with this group.)

Posted by: jk at June 30, 2006 3:35 PM

June 23, 2006

Australia, The Brave

Krauthammer.

    with action comes bravery, from the transcendent courage of the doomed at Gallipoli to the playful insanity of Australian-rules football. How can you not like a country whose trademark sport has Attila-the-Hun rules, short pants and no padding -- a national passion that makes American football look positively pastoral?

    That bravery breeds affection in America for another reason as well. Australia is the only country that has fought with the United States in every one of its major conflicts since 1914, the good and the bad, the winning and the losing.

    Why? Because Australia's geographic and historical isolation has bred a wisdom about the structure of peace -- a wisdom that eludes most other countries. Australia has no illusions about the "international community'' and its feckless institutions. An island of tranquility in a roiling region, Australia understands that peace and prosperity do not come with the air we breathe, but are maintained by power -- once the power of the British Empire, now the power of the United States.

    Australia joined the faraway wars of early-20th-century Europe not out of imperial nostalgia, but out of a deep understanding that its fate and the fate of liberty were intimately bound with that of the British Empire as principal underwriter of the international system. Today the underwriter is America, and Australia understands that an American retreat or defeat -- a chastening consummation devoutly, if secretly, wished by many a Western ally -- would be catastrophic for Australia and for the world.


1914? I did not know that.

Posted by AlexC at 8:29 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

What a great and well deserved column. (An Aussie friend says he actually knows of a married couple named Bruce & Sheila, but I digress.)

I agree that Australia has been a staunch ally and dig further that they eschew what Krauthammer calls the "Yes, but" support of other allies. But in which conflict did Australia join us and Britain not?

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2006 10:31 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I think it's Vietnam.

Posted by: AlexC at June 24, 2006 11:54 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

An outstanding column. No wonder Oz's national anthem is "Advance Australia Fair!"

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at June 24, 2006 12:16 PM

June 16, 2006

Sharansky Blog Conference

Our blog's namesake held a telephone conference with bloggers. Pamela of Atlas Shrugs reports on the call.

Bush did a great thing bringing democracy to the Middle East . But the US has begun to backpedal. You speak of giving nukes to Iran. This is the policy of Clinton/Carter. And it failed horribly. It didn't work for North Korea it won't work now. We must actively support Iranian opposition

[...]
Sharansky really believes that people want to live free. He cited Muslims that he knows that pray five times a day and live in free societies and are happy. He said we should not "create demons, we have enough demons." He has complete faith in the individual's desire to be free.

She has an MP3 download available as well. I have not heard it yet.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:28 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

Speaking of which... I'm going to see Senator Rick Santorum, Daniel Pipes and Natan Sharansky on Monday night. They will be discussing Middle East peace.

If I get to ask a question of anyone, do you have any suggestions?
(other than plugging threesources.com!)

Posted by: AlexC at June 16, 2006 9:48 PM
But jk thinks:

When "A Case For Democracy" came out and President Bush delivered an inaugural address that Mike Gerson essentially stole from the book, the hope for freedom in the Middle East looked very bright.

I wonder if Sharansky is still hopeful after the setbacks and difficulties of the past year.

Posted by: jk at June 17, 2006 11:37 AM
But johngalt thinks:

This business about giving Iran "nuclear technology" in return for "suspension" of nuclear enrichment activities defies reason. But, since Condi is at the helm of this freak show I'm inclined to give it some benefit of my doubt. Even if she's not the architect, I don't believe she'd sign on if she didn't see some point to what she's proposing.

And what is that point? My best idea to date is that they're going way, way, way out on a limb with regard to what they'll offer Iran's irrational government with the intent of either a) producing a crack in Iran's, thus far, impressive resolve not to negotiate that can then be parlayed into more realistic terms through further negotiation or b) demonstrating to the influential Iran friendly nations of the world, i.e. Russia and China, that even when we offer to basically give them what they're trying to produce they remain a non-diplomatic rogue state intent on mischief.

However this diplomatic dance plays out, let it suffice for me to say I have little concern that these offers will ever be delivered.

Posted by: johngalt at June 17, 2006 9:48 PM

June 6, 2006

Beinart's Subhead is Wrong

I'll likely buy Peter Beinart's new book, The Good Fight : Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again.

Yet his thesis has been undercut by his own magazine. They have a disturbing report that while we are all looking at Iran, the nuke-capable leg of the axis-of-evil may be prepared to test a missile.

The Japanese and South Korean press reported in late May that U.S. spy satellites had picked up indications that North Korea was preparing to test launch a Taepo Dong II ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. TNR has confirmed that the United States has detected significant activity at a North Korean missile test site and that the administration is very concerned that Pyongyang is preparing a launch. What's more, some U.S. intelligence analysts warn that the North Koreans may test a three-stage rocket capable of striking the western United States. "Suffice it to say, it's got people's attention," says one State Department official.

Why? Well applying too much rational thought to Dear Leader is a losing game. But the TNR piece points out an interesting dynamic:
At first glance it might seem like the North would have a lot to lose from such saber-rattling: It could drive the six-party nations closer together and, rather than succeeding in their attempts to lift sanctions, could result in further financial restrictions from Japan, South Korea, and China, countries with which the North does a substantial amount of business. But Michael Green, an Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Bush National Security Council senior director with responsibility for North Korea, says the North Koreans have shown in the past that, by creating a crisis, they are able to alter the diplomatic calculus. "The North Koreans have found that these crises are a good way for them to turn the chess board over and restart the talks," Green says. "In the past, by creating a crisis, they have gotten high level bilateral talks and even economic and aid assistance out of it."

Hell, a former US Secretary of State even brought wine!

Sorry Peter, you're my favorite lefty but the culture of military-loathing and abashed use of American power are rooted too deeply. President Clinton was a moderate and he taught North Korea how to kick the can down the road. Give me some neocons.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:48 PM

June 3, 2006

Ethics Training for Terrorists

The Denver Dailies led with this story:

US orders ethics training for all its troops in Iraq

BAGHDAD -- Seeking to quell outrage over allegations that Marines went on a killing spree against unarmed civilians in Haditha, the top US general in Iraq ordered all American troops in the country to undergo additional ethics training, the military said yesterday.


Which made me wonder if our enemies would be reciprocating, and forcing terrorists to complete ethics training in Saudi Arabia.
When bombing civilians, take care not to injure women and children, unless of course they are Jews or infidels or they are just hanging around the target site...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM | Comments (4)
But Jacob thinks:

Your comment is nonsensical. First of all, what does Saudi Arabia have to do with anything? The war is taking place in Iraq, against Iraqi's, not in Saudia Arabia against the Saudi's. Second, Saudi Arabia is a US ally in the War on Terror. Are suggesting that it is, in fact, a terrorist haven? Third, you're suggesting that because terrorists kill women and children without justification, then we should be able kill to women and children without justification. Logically doesn't that mean that we would be no different from the terrorists?

Posted by: Jacob at June 3, 2006 7:15 PM
But jk thinks:

No, our ethics training sets us apart.

Point taken that I should be more careful not to disparage our ally. Make it a Pakastani madr -- no, wait...

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2006 7:20 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

That's the trouble with allies these days, you just can't tell which side they are on.

Ethics training, sheesh.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at June 3, 2006 11:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, Jacob, if "we" kill women and children without justification then "we" too are terrorists. However, the fact that terrorists kill our women and children (and fathers and brothers) without justification is, in fact, justification for killing anyone with any relationship to terrorists.

Posted by: johngalt at June 5, 2006 3:21 PM

May 18, 2006

We Stand On Guard For Thee

Ala at Blonde Sgacity has the story of a brave, fallen Canadian soldier and the note she left.

A female Canadian soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday had written a letter to her sister saying how proud she was of her mission...

"In an e-mail dated early March to her younger sister Kate, Capt. Nichola Goddard recounted carrying a 45-kilogram pack uphill on a two-kilometre march, as well as other daily challenges of her role in the Afghan mission.

"I feel like a poster child for why people should join the military," Goddard wrote. "It was an amazing 15 days."

In her e-mail, Goddard described moving into isolated areas, either by foot or with vehicles, to conduct shirras -- the Pashtu word for meeting -- with local elders.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:11 PM

May 7, 2006

Pieces of Paper

The news seems dire:

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran renewed its threats to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on Sunday, with its president saying sanctions would be "meaningless" and its parliament seeking to put a final end to unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Does anybody care one whit? (There are three-and-a-half furlongs in a whit.) Would anybody expect Ahmadinejad to keep the terms of a treaty?

You can say what you want about President Bush, but one thing I respect is that he does not put too much stock in a treaty or agreement with those who might be arguing in bad faith.

I remember Secretary of State Albright drinking champagne with Kim Jong Il after they had signed a piece of paper. Like most of these worthless treaties, it hampered, effectively, what the US could do -- while the other party ignored it entirely. Likewise Vice President Gore helped negotiate the Kyoto treaty, while the Senate he presided over voted 0-95 on ratification.

One joy of gritty Bush realism is that we put less stock in pieces of paper that propose to protect us.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:32 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

I say let diplomacy work... like it worked for the Darfurians.

Oh, and it wasn't 0-95, it was actually 98-0 for the "Byrd Hagel" amendment which said, "No agreement, unless it affects ALL countries equally"

The Kyoto agreement was famous for ignoring China & India (both with currently exploding economies now), and much of the rest of the third world.

It wasn't so much a treaty to curb emissions, as it was a treaty to curb the United States & the first world.

Posted by: AlexC at May 7, 2006 10:50 PM

April 26, 2006

Freedom, Pragmatism, Optimism

Okay, so it's not up there with "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy." But I have been questioned for putting all three together. Allow me to defend.

I created this blog category early in the life of ThreeSources. "Freedom on the March" was a centering concept around here and it united me, AlexC and JohnGalt. We watched Afghanistan hold elections, saw positive signals from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Ukraine, and eventually, Iraq. Close to 100 million additional people are living under a government they voted for when compared to President Bush's inauguration day.

The annual reports from the Heritage/WSJ Index of Economic Freedom show improvement (although the United States has fallen back, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations). Yes, I am pretty happy with the advance of freedom in the world, although it is frequently messy.

The underreported story of the year is the business growth in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cars, mobile phones, and satellite TV are hot consumer items, and the rebuilding efforts are attracting those who can think big. The Wall Street Journal features a a guest editorial today (paid link) that highlights Afghanistan's attraction as "A Virgin Market."

KABUL -- The recent Yale graduate I was chatting with at a party here spoke Chinese and had lived in China, the seeming epicenter of all things capitalist. "Why did you decide to come to Afghanistan?" I asked. He stared at me. "This is the largest rebuilding and development effort in the history of the world. Who wouldn't want to be here?"

After decades of conflict and the crippling legacies of communism and fundamentalism, Afghanistan is finally open for business. The signs are everywhere, from Kabul's traffic jams to Mazar-i-Sharif's building boom; from the opening of a Coca-Cola bottling plant to the country's first private university, the American University of Afghanistan, offering programs in business administration and information technology.

According to the World Bank, Afghanistan is ranked 16th among 145 countries for ease of opening an enterprise. The Afghan Investment Support Agency, the one-stop shop for investing in Afghanistan with streamlined business registration, reports that 754 foreign companies have registered investments of $1.3 billion in Afghanistan; some well-known names include Siemens (rehabilitating dams) and Serena Hotels (Kabul's first five-star). There are 13 private banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank-affiliated Kabul Bank, and ING-managed Afghanistan International BInternational Bank. A third mobile phone company, Lebanon's Investcom, will launch service in Kabul in June, having paid $40 million for its 15-year operating license. At least $100 million will be invested in cement manufacturing in 2006.


I believe the move towards freedom is inexorable. It may go in fits and starts, but it cannot be stopped. Hear me out:

1) Free economies always outperform non-free economies. That's a core belief to me and I could provide examples well into the night.

2) The more powerful economy -- over time -- will win an armed conflict. Like the Union in the US Civil War, they can persevere through mistakes and setbacks. Their opposition may have much going for it but they can rarely outlast a wealthier adversary.

3) Another core belief is that free societies innovate, learn, and adapt better than centralized, command-and-control. Professor Reynolds links to Strategypage for his underreported story of the war: the adaptation on troops using the Internet. Flight 93 is a testimony to free people adapting and using technology in war.

I'm talking glacial, continental drift time frames and rates here. Buffy would remind us that pain and hard times lie ahead. But I am still confident.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

April 13, 2006

Is this not a better Iraq?

I confessed that while recent events had damaged the depth of my neo-Wilsonianism, I am still a Sharanskyite. I have not joined the Fukuyama-Will-Buckley club either. If I were Jewish, I'd be a neocon.

I will confess that living in Iraq in 2006 would suck somewhat. It is dangerous, unpredictable, and services are tenuous. Yet I am struck that LatteSipper (mmm, I'm a cappuccino guy but a latte sounds pretty good now) seems so convinced that the coalition actions have somehow "ruined" Iraq. Like Iraq was the idyllic Mesopotamian Eden depicted in the opening minutes of Fahrenheit 9/11.

I would choose dangerous freedom over stable tyranny any day of the week. My April 9 posting reminded us of the children's prisons and mass graves, the torture chambers, government rape.

As difficult as life can be, these people now have the opportunity to practice politics. Hundreds of newspapers are now published, Internet use is widespread. The political vessels have been revitalized pari passu, as the old Buckley might have said, with the rehydration of the southern marshes.

Austin Bay writes about unseen political infighting between clerics Sadr and Sistani in Sistani's Squeeze

Outsiders -- including U.S. government officials -- can bewail the Iraqi parliament's lack of progress in forming a government, but since the middle of March I strongly suspect the hidden story has been the Interior Ministry and the Iraqi nationalists' war on Sadr. It's a quiet police and political war waged with the blessing of Ayatollah Sistani. Creating a strong and stable Iraqi government (the so-called "national rescue front") is the goal. Sistani has advised Shia leaders to make concessions to Sunnis in order to establish a "unity government." That's an action anathema to Sadr.

It's a fascinating article as it stands. But it reminded me that I consider this an improvement over Saddam's dictatorship, not some broken mess that we have created.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM

March 31, 2006

Borders

We disagreed on Google around here. How about Borders Books? Dale at samizdata is Throwing down the gauntlet

The 'blogosphere' is alive with the recent announcement you will not stock the Free Inquiry issue with the Danish cartoons.
We abhor your cowardice in the face of the enemy and your lack of moral fibre to stand up for the First Amendment in the face of those enemies.

Our publication, Samizdata, has joined the Borders boycott call which is spreading amongst other high profile network publications.


I resisted an MI:3 boycott last week and was shown to be wrong. I came out for Google when the blogosphere wouldn't and still stubbornly believe I am right.

But Borders I am ready to whack. Yeah, they own the store and can stock or not stock what they choose. While I concede that, I am deeply troubled by the chain’s capitulation to groups who would stifle speech. Borders makes a very public show of opposition to censorship with its celebration of "Banned Books Month."

Rabble-based violent censorship is better than gub'mint censorship, but it still keeps free people from selling and buying what free people want. I’m an Amazon guy myself (someday I'll do a post on Internet shopping for the handicapped) so I don't think I'll feel the pinch, but I am disappointed that an American bookstore chain is kowtowing to thuggish pressure..

Posted by John Kranz at 9:48 AM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

I shop mostly at Amazon (mainly for selection), but there is alot to be said for going into a bookstore and browsing. Amazon doesn't give me the same experience. Although it's mostly B&N or the mall bookstores.

Borders? Kiss my @$$.

Posted by: AlexC at March 31, 2006 12:26 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Books ... what is that? Oh, the paper things I use to keep my monitor at eye level, right?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 31, 2006 12:52 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I, too, mostly shop via Amazon. However, go to Border's webpage and,...voila!,...its run by Amazon, as well.

I have to agree w/ Alex,...I like to browse every once in a while and, since I'm a Border's club member, I get some things cheaper than at Amazon.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at March 31, 2006 8:48 PM
But jk thinks:

It is always a shock to find yourself on the other side. I normally defend Borders and Barnes & Nobel from my anti-corporate, anti-chain, anti-globalization friends.

One of my best leftist friends is a book editor who is convinced that the chains will push out the smaller publishers and reduce choice. I constantly argue that the bigs bring more choice to more places. The profit motive at work.

No denying the joy of a real bookstore visit, especially since the chains put coffee shops and comfy chairs in them. But, if I may cry medic, Medic, I have MS and find traditional shopping very fatiguing. About everything I buy now comes to my door. I miss the experience but online commerce is a real boon to me.

Posted by: jk at April 1, 2006 9:15 AM

March 6, 2006

Sharansky on Democracy

Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy, was a major influence on this blog. Indeed, the name of our blog is taken directly from the pages of it. It appears at left.

Mr Sharansky writes in Sunday's LA Times on the Palestinian democracy and the Bush administration's insistance on fast elections in the Middle East.

    I believed, however, that the crisis presented an opportunity to begin a different kind of political process, one that would link the peace process to the development of a free society for Palestinians. I had argued for many years that peace and security could be achieved only by linking international legitimacy, territorial concessions and financial assistance for a new Palestinian regime to its commitment to building a free society.

    Despite my faith in "democracy," I was under no illusion that elections should be held immediately. Over the previous decade, Palestinian society had become one of the most poisoned and fanatical on Earth. Day after day, on television and radio, in newspapers and schools, a generation of Palestinians had been subjected to the most vicious incitement by their own leaders. The only "right" that seemed to be upheld within Palestinian areas was the right of everyone to bear arms.

    In such conditions of fear, intimidation and indoctrination, holding snap elections would have been an act of the utmost irresponsibility. That is why I proposed a plan calling for elections to be held no earlier than three years after the implementation of a series of democratic reforms. Three years, I believed, was the absolute minimum for democratic reforms to begin to change the atmosphere in which free elections could be held. Unfortunately, the plan was never implemented.

    The recent election of Hamas is the fruit of a policy that focused on the form of democracy (elections) rather than its substance (building and protecting a free society). Rather than push for quick elections, the democratic world must use its considerable moral, political and economic leverage to help build free societies in the Middle East. We should tie trade privileges to economic freedoms, encourage foreign diplomats to meet openly with dissidents and link aid to the protection of dissents (as Bush did when he helped force the release of Egyptian democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim).


He concludes..
    Helping democracy take root in the Arab world will take time and persistence. Most Arab governments will try to stamp out any spark of liberty. But the democrats within these societies are our partners. We can help them by refusing to support those who repress them, and by making clear through both our statements and our policies that the efforts to expand freedom within their societies will benefit their countries as much as ours. The alternative is to return to the pre-9/11 delusion that a tyrant's repression of his own subjects has no consequences for us.

Posted by AlexC at 12:44 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Great piece. I still consider myself a Sharansky-ite.

The Hamas election is a setback for peace but I am not certain it is a step back for freedom. Recall that the other choice was Yasser Arafat's Fatah party who had ruled with corruption and zero elections for decades.

There will be a demand from the world to continue with elections in "Palestine" and they might grow to make better choices.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2006 10:11 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm not sure so JK.

Was the election of Hamas a reaction to the generally craptacular performance of Fatah, (sort of a throw the bums out vote), or an endorsement of terror as statecraft?

If that question has been answered as the former, then maybe next time around, they'll find the right combination.

Posted by: AlexC at March 6, 2006 12:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I am quite convinced AlexC that it is the later - Hamas' efficacy in improving the lives of "Palestinians" has been no less craptacular (what an awesome word!) than has Fatah's. But at least Hamas tells the poor scarecrows over there that there IS a cause for their misery and there IS a solution for ending it. The fact that they've misidentified both is irrelevant; they offer hope.

What Sharansky advocates is called "nation building." It can't be done. People aspire to their own dreams, not the ones you come in and teach them are best. Like children, people given freedom for the first time learn through their experiences. The steps Sharansky lists in his conclusion are the proper ones. (The problem is that the diplomatic corps and every other branch of government in every western nation including our own is, at best, schizophrenic on the principle of freedom.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2006 3:31 PM

February 27, 2006

WSJ Answers Fukuyama

My wobbly moment is solidifying without any help from PM Thatcher. Rather, it comes from today's lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal,(free link) which matches my objection to Fukuyama's "end of neocon history," namely, what else do you do?

Then there is the supposedly failed policy of the Bush Administration. In five years, it has brought four democratic governments to power in the Middle East: by force of arms in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through highly assertive diplomacy in Lebanon and Palestine. Mr. Fukuyama tells us that "by definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it."

Leaving aside the niggling examples of Japan and Germany, exactly how are we to know that country X does not want democracy, except democratically? Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese have all made their democratic preferences plain in successive recent elections. And with the arguable exception of the Palestinians (arguable because Fatah was as undemocratic as Hamas), they have voted to establish considerably more liberal regimes than what existed previously.

This is not to say democracy is a cure-all. It is also not to say that the peril these democracies face, from terrorist insurrection or ethnic or religious feuding, isn't grave. Nor, finally, is it to say that the "Hitler scenario" can be excluded in a democratizing Middle East; that possibility is always present, especially among nascent democracies.

But democracy also offers the possibility of greater liberalism and greater moderation, possibilities that have been opened with the courageously pro-American governments of Hamid Karzai, Jalal Talabani and Saad Hariri. And as we stand with them, it seems to us that America's bets are better placed promoting democracies--even if some of them succumb to illiberal temptations--than acceding to dictatorships, which already have.

Or does someone have a better idea?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM

February 23, 2006

The Wake of War

Vietnam: beacon of freedom?

In another sign that Vietnam is beginning to attract a critical mass of foreign investment, Vietnamese regulators approved Intel Corp.'s plans to proceed with the country's single biggest technology project to date, a chip-assembly plant in Ho Chi Minh City.

Intel's arrival is expected to be announced Tuesday at a ceremony with political leaders and Intel Chairman Craig Barrett. The size of the company's investment, likely to be several hundred million dollars, and its prominence in the technology sector signal a turning point in Vietnam's economic emergence.

The country is already an important exporter of food and textiles, and its success in attracting capital is growing. Merrill Lynch estimates that foreign direct investment in Vietnam reached $5 billion in 2005, an eight-year high. The influx helped lift annual economic growth to rates approaching those of Asia's biggest booming economies, China and India. During the past six years, Vietnam's gross domestic product has grown at an annual average of 7.4%, adjusted for inflation.


Like my Fukuyama post (for which I expected severe opprobrium), it makes me question my neoWilsonian beliefs. We failed to install capitalism and democracy in Vietnam, but they found it. Estonia found it, Socialist India and Communist China are finding it.

I definitely veered toward some basic precepts of isolationism in 2005. Not just the tough times -- a better feeling for the difficulty of affecting change from outside.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

I wonder if the Soviet Union communist/socialist system not collapsed, if "creeping capitalism" would have had a chance to settle in?
They were the hardest of the hard core, keeping their satellites in line.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Man, I just think you have to look at what works. I love the Cuban exiles in Miami for their anti-Communism, but you have to call the embargo a 40 year failure.

This grabs me because Vietnam would seem to have everything against it, but it finds success and freedom -- how do you spread THAT!

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 2:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Yeah, but what if you can't see how good it is on the outside?

F*ck. Even the CIA didn't think the Soviets would call it quits in the 80s.

If you don't know any better, and only know what your told, I can see how you wouldn't understand that there is another way.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 4:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I recently watched a History Channel program on the Vietnam war. The lede promised to relate that war to the one in Iraq. There weren't any direct mentions of Iraq during the program itself but the parallels were there to see.

An invading army attempts to (reject or unseat) a tyrant's hold on the throats of an unwilling populace. Defeating the tyrant is also in the interests of the invading army, for reasons of capitalism and freedom. But there was a difference in Vietnam: a huge proportion of the populace was not only willing, but fiercely dedicated to the communist cause. Ho Chi Minh was a shrewd and effective politician with the persuasive power of Billy Graham. He had plenty of material to work with in his propaganda effort, given that France had been occupying the place as a colony since the end of WWII. And for what reason? Rubber plantations. Michelin tires.

The distinction in Iraq has been and must hasten to materialize, "we are here to liberate and stabilize, then we're going home." I say split the place up into three soverign states and move our forces to the borders between them. Help each state eradicate hostile elements within their state and then let the UN replace our border forces with UN forces.

Whatever the specific route we take to get there, we must let these people run their own affairs entirely as soon as we can. We are not their keepers.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:39 AM

February 20, 2006

Re-accessing Iraq

The best anti-war piece you're ever going to see is in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. After Neoconservatism is an adaptation of Francis Fukuyama's upcoming book, "America at the Crossroads."

I confess that I was thinking of Fukuyama's "End of History" over this weekend as I tired of the Cheney hunting accident. These are hard times for neocons; hard times for Sharansky-ites; and pretty tough times for Republicans (though it appears they're going to let us play the Democrats again this year...)

I was re-accessing the Iraqi liberation just before this came out. And it is a thoughtful exegesis. Fukuyama is no moonbat. I find much to agree with. Especially his retrospective questioning of the neo-Wilsonianism I felt so strongly.

The way the cold war ended shaped the thinking of supporters of the Iraq war, including younger neoconservatives like William Kristol and Robert Kagan, in two ways. First, it seems to have created an expectation that all totalitarian regimes were hollow at the core and would crumble with a small push from outside. The model for this was Romania under the Ceausescus: once the wicked witch was dead, the munchkins would rise up and start singing joyously about their liberation. As Kristol and Kagan put it in their 2000 book "Present Dangers": "To many the idea of America using its power to promote changes of regime in nations ruled by dictators rings of utopianism. But in fact, it is eminently realistic. There is something perverse in declaring the impossibility of promoting democratic change abroad in light of the record of the past three decades."

The Romanian model was expected to repeat in Iraq, and the insurgency was underestimated. I yield to no-one in my support for this administration and the war on terror. But I am frequently asked to look people in the eye and say we did the right thing. To fail to reevaluate is stubborn. Am I still a Sharansky-ite? Yes. Am I still a neoWilsonian? I don't know.

What is certain, and only partially conceded by Fukuyama, is that it is hard to conceive a pleasant counterfactual. Had we not invaded Iraq, Saddam would still be in power, Iran would be making nuclear noises, payments to suicide bombers' families would still be occurring, training camps would still be open. Fukuyama has no great illusions about the UN's being able to sort this out.

The conservative critique of the United Nations is all too cogent: while useful for certain peacekeeping and nation-building operations, the United Nations lacks both democratic legitimacy and effectiveness in dealing with serious security issues. The solution is not to strengthen a single global body, but rather to promote what has been emerging in any event, a "multi-multilateral world" of overlapping and occasionally competing international institutions that are organized on regional or functional lines. Kosovo in 1999 was a model: when the Russian veto prevented the Security Council from acting, the United States and its NATO allies simply shifted the venue to NATO, where the Russians could not block action.

Yet, in the next breath (or page) he is ready to hand it off to USAID, and the State Department, which I consider our own, local, UN.
If we are serious about the good governance agenda, we have to shift our focus to the reform, reorganization and proper financing of those institutions of the United States government that actually promote democracy, development and the rule of law around the world, organizations like the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like.

In fact, I will bend quite a ways to agree with Fukuyama on problems, philosophy, and past history. It is his present and future to which I cannot subscribe. In fact this startling assertion undermines his entire argument:
The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally. The misjudgment was based in part on the massive failure of the American intelligence community to correctly assess the state of Iraq's W.M.D. programs before the war. But the intelligence community never took nearly as alarmist a view of the terrorist/W.M.D. threat as the war's supporters did. Overestimation of this threat was then used to justify the elevation of preventive war to the centerpiece of a new security strategy, as well as a whole series of measures that infringed on civil liberties, from detention policy to domestic eavesdropping.

Watching the Cartoon Wars for a couple of weeks, I cannot believe that we overestimate Islamicist Terror. And I accuse Fukuyama of underplaying the domestic safety that our foreign actions have produced. Robert Kaplan, quoted in the story, has stated that the original war was not worthy but that the larger conflict in which we are now embroiled is worthy of the blood and treasure.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM

Darkness

There has been good discussion on these pages about "The Bush Doctrine" and the application of absolutes toward questionable regimes like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Good stuff, but let me pull up one I bet we can agree on: North Korea. I like the ThreeSources logo because it associates prosperity to politics and freedom. No segment of the map is clearer than the Korean peninsula. Dynamic, free, South Korea is vibrant and prosperous; their cousins in the north are dark as the sea. Here's a full-size look at the area:


earthlights_korea.jpg


Claudia Rosett today wonders why the US, through the UN is subsidizing this despotic regime.

It's bad enough that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is starving his people while building nuclear bombs. But why are we helping him?

In theory, we're not. But the U.S. has been by far the largest donor to the aid appeal under which the U.N. World Food Program has shipped $1.7 billion worth of rice, corn, wheat and sugar into North Korea over a decade. Last summer the regime declared itself self-sufficient in food, ordering the WFP to wind down operations by the end of the year. But North Korea also let the WFP know that it would be happy to start receiving aid for state-run development projects. Obediently, the WFP has come up with a plan, awaiting approval from its executive board this coming week, to "work with the Government to support its strategy of moving towards development and away from humanitarian assistance." The "Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation" has a $102 million budget to deliver food and "transitional assistance" for Pyongyang's "strategy for recovery."


Just like Saddam, the UN will provide not only cover, but political favors Kim can dispose at his discretion.
If the WFP's new plan goes forward, Kim will be in the pleasant position of receiving free goods, enjoying plenty of control over who gets what, and taking credit for the handouts. Part of the WFP plan, for example, is to provide supplies for food-processing factories where the government will hire the workers, operate the plants, and in some cases -- how many is not clear -- "transport the product to the beneficiary institutions."

There is no question that many people are hungry, and, as the head of the WFP office in Pyongyang, Richard Ragan, described it in a recent interview, "living on the edge." In the field of good works, one of the worst dilemmas is what to do when a tyrant holds hostage his own population -- trading on their deprivation to lever out of well-meaning donors whatever it is he really wants. But in North Korea, the WFP -- America's main conduit for aid into the country -- is losing whatever leverage it ever had. Big brother China and eager-to-appease South Korea are shipping substantial aid with few strings attached. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to corral Kim over matters as mortally important as nuclear bombs. This new program whipped up by the WFP to suit Kim's palate sends just one message: Yes indeed, we are chumps.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

February 14, 2006

Half Million Rally in Beirut

... no Danish flags burned.

    Half a million flag-waving Lebanese packed central Beirut on Tuesday, a year to the day after the assassination of former premier Rafik al-Hariri, giving new impetus to Lebanon's anti-Syrian coalition.

    The turnout was reminiscent of huge protests after last year's February 14 killing of Hariri and 22 others.

    Those demonstrations, coupled with international pressure, forced Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon, although Damascus denies any role in the assassination.

    Syria's Lebanese foes said Tuesday's rally would revive a campaign to force pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud to quit and to punish those behind the truck bombing that killed Hariri.

    "By being present here today, you foil the conspiracy ... against Lebanon, against Rafik al-Hariri, against Lebanon's freedom, independence and dignity," the former prime minister's son and political heir Saad al-Hariri told the crowd from behind bullet-proof glass.

    Believing he too could be killed, Hariri has spent more than six months abroad, but returned to Beirut for the anniversary.


Bring on the protest babes!

Posted by AlexC at 12:26 PM

February 9, 2006

TNR Misses the Point

The subhead of the Peter Beinart editorial captured my imagination:
What Bush understands and the Danes do not

I have a ton of respect for Beinart, but I think he swings and misses in this week's editorial. I am still glad he is not swiping at the President, that's always a bonus in a "Democrat mag." And his point about more devout Americans empathizing better with devout Muslims than secular Europeans is interesting and well taken. I'll even accede to a certain hunger on the right for a "Clash of Civilizations."

But he then misses the mark on what I find to be the base of the contretemps. It is not that the cartoons were inflammatory or insensitive. The problem is the Islamicists' insistence that no likenesses are allowed and that a private newspaper -- and the government that chooses not to censor it -- is responsible to uphold Islamic law on non-Muslims.

In short, it is unusual to find Beinart defending the Administration and my saying, "No, Peter they are wrong!" But they are. Perhaps a bold defense of the free press is not appropriate, but the State Department went too far in condemning the cartoons.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM

February 8, 2006

The Jewish "Street" Explodes

Jonah Goldberg in The Corner

April 1, 2006. New York -- In response to a series of offensive cartoons published in an Iranian newspaper and subsequently printed in every newspaper around the globe, including many which had refused to publish the now-forgotten "anti-Muslim" cartoons last winter, the "Jewish street" erupted. At Brandeis University, a course on Lesbian motifs in Yiddish literature was briefly interrupted as students asked their professor what he thought about the controversy. In Washington D.C. a flurry of letters to the editor and press releases poured out of Jewish organizations. In New York, Commentary magazine -- a leading organ of the "neoconservative" Jewish Right -- announced it would run three articles on Iran in its next issue as well as an extensive letters section.

"This is outrageous but expected," thundered a furious Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League on a longer-than-normal appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

Elsewhere Jewish tempers weren't running so hot. At Artie's Delicatessen on the Upper West Side of New York, Josh Greenberg ate a pastrami sandwich with a friend, Abe Kolman, hoping to avoid all the furor in the Jewish street. "Zabar's is a mad house today," Greenberg observed. When asked about the Iranian newspaper controversy, Greenberg said "What are you going to do?"

Kolman, an orthodontist, added "I'd stop eating Iranian pistachios, I guess."

The White House continued to plead with Jews across America to stay calm.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

Not Jewish, but to show my solidarity, we burned our carpets to stick it to the Iranians.

I always dug hardwood floors anyway.

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 1:27 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm starting to think that the primary employment in the ME for Muslims is 'Riot Mob Participant'. I've seen nearly 0 impact on their economy.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 8, 2006 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Hey, a gig's a gig!

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 4:45 PM

February 7, 2006

They Have Eyes But Cannot See

Tucker Carlson had two very instructive interviews last night, both concerning the Danish Cartoon War (great as the words contretemps, kerfuffle, imbroglio, and l'affaire Cartoon are, I like the term "Cartoon War.")

First he spoke with Chicago Tribune Managing Editor James O'Shea about his paper's refusal to publish the cartoons. Carlson was upset that MSNBC would not allow him to show the cartoons, and O'Shea defended his paper's "unwillingness to offend sensibilities" [I am paraphrasing, but pretty accurately for a change]. Carlson repeatedly pointed out that you cannot really understand the story if you cannot see them, and pointed out that nobody hesitated to copy the Rolling Stone cover with Kanye West as Jesus. O'Shea held his ground, talked about how brave his reporters in the field are, and did not concede that cowardice played a part in this editorial decision.

After the interview, Carlson said "in twenty years, when nobody reads newspapers anymore, you can show that interview to anybody who wants to know why."

Next up was Rachel Maddow, from Air America. She is on almost every show. She is reflexively left-wing and anti-Republican. But she thankfully does not have the bilious, vicious nature of so many on her far left side of the world. She straight facedly drew equivalence between "Our fundamentalists" and "Their fundamentalists." Carlson rarely speaks for me, but he was perfect last night, saying that Jesse Helms and Bill Bennett try to cut federal funding for the NEA whereas they burn buildings and that many European journalists are hiding for their life. Maddow wasn't buying for a minute. All fundamentalists are bad, how can you think ours are benign?

So the Cartoon War clarifies many things. But only to those who will see.

BTW, if you still ain't seen them, Tim Blair has the infamous illos here. Burn my house down, I linked!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

The lesson the be learned here..

If you're offended by something, light fires and destroy things. Some of the offenders (or their friends) will give you a pass and profusely apologize.

Posted by: AlexC at February 7, 2006 1:32 PM

February 6, 2006

The Cartoon War

That's what Austin Bay calls it.

At first take the name The Cartoon War may suggest something comic, exaggerated, or surreal. Those elements are in play– definitely in play. Cartoon and War are a collision, words that should not appear in the same serious sentence. They are a collision of values. But that’s the core of this, isn’t it? Likewise, the very real violence and anger add a heavy, instructive irony. The war between open and closed societies is not superficial, exaggerated, or surreal. The imagination is a battlefield. On a “technologically-compressed planet” the small and mundane –the cartoon– can quickly inflame; in a world of unfiltered, borderless information “the imagined” can have extraordinary consequences.

I laughed when I saw the headline "Cartoon Protests Turn Deadly." It seemed absurd. Of course, it is but absurd in a way that life and the enemies of freedom -- our enemies in the terror war -- are absurd.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM

February 5, 2006

Condi, whack somebody!

All about the cartoon imbroglio has been said by better writers, but there is one item that is getting an ill-deserved pass: the US State Department’s siding with suppressors of speech rather than freedom. I am conditioned to expect no better from the striped-pantsers, but Perry de Havilland at Samizdata takers 'em on

Land of the free, home of the brave, eh? Not in Washington DC it seems. Rather than face down the intolerant face of radical Islam, the US State Department is pandering to it. This is a national disgrace and I hope some US newspapers will show how they feel by supporting their colleagues in Denmark and publishing the damn cartoons themselves and telling Kurtis Cooper where he can stick his political master's craven opinions.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM

February 2, 2006

Threat to Freedom

02-02-200daybyday6.gif

Always on the ThreeSources blogroll: Day by Day

Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM

January 25, 2006

Google Capitulates

Ian at Banana Oil is closer to Chinese Google than I am, but he wonders whether anybody at the hypervalued company has read Sun Tzu:

Abject surrender is not the way to foster cultural change for the better.

And don't think for a moment that this will be regarded as a move of strength or integrity. The Chinese will not respect you for this. Read The Art of War. They won, and got you to give them the victory on a silver platter. You are now the Communist government's bitch, whether you know it or not.

Way to go, guys.


I join the blogosphere in disappointment, but I cannot work up the high dudgeon. I wish Google had given the ChiComs a lecture; I wish Microsoft had told the EU to fuggedabout it instead of phony gestures such as hobbled versions and limited source distribution.

But both Google and Microsoft have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders that must supersede a company's desire to change the world. I'd say the same to Ben & Jerry.

In the case of China, I have to think the more information the merrier. The more people on even a bowdlerized Internet, the better chance that the benefits of freedom -- if not Falun Gong movements -- will be understood.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:25 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

What works people up about Google is that their corporate motto was "Don't be evil."

Selling out to the red Chinese is a pretty big step in that direction, I'd say.

While I understand the fiduciary responsibility, can't a corporation have ethics? (damn, i sound like a dirty hippie)

Like not selling out to frigging communists?

Posted by: AlexC at January 26, 2006 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

My opinion is certainly in the minority. While like most West-coasties their bumper-sticker credos do match reality, I guess if you consider filtering results on a search engine to be "evil," then I am wrong.

The ChiComs do a lot of real evil -- keeping one of its unfortunate subjects away from the edifying prose of ThreeeSources.com is a pity but not a piori evil.

My hope continues to be that as the Internet becomes more prevalent, more Chinese citizens find ways around the filters and that the volume of information becomes more than the officials can monitor.

The fiduciary responsibility does not supersede everything but I believe strongly that you are obligated to devote your efforts to increasing shareholder value.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2006 4:18 PM

January 16, 2006

Cookies for Troops!

Silence's daughter is selling girl scout cookies -- and you can have them shipped to the troops in Iraq.

Cool idea -- enabling the young ladies to pry money out of the patriotic Atkins crowd. If you don't have a closer relative, email jk [at] threesources [dot] com and I will help you hook the troops up with some Samoas and Trefoils...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:36 PM

January 4, 2006

V for Vendetta

Whilst waiting in the lobby of a theater after viewing 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (don't wait for a review from yours truly) I perused the posters for coming attractions. One caught my eye. It read - "PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE AFRAID OF THEIR PEOPLE." Hey, this could be my kind of movie, I thought to myself! The title was 'V for Vendetta' and it was billed as, "An uncompromising vision of the future from the creators of the Matrix trilogy." Yeah, the Wachowski brothers... red pill, blue pill. Very interesting, I thought.

Here's what they offer by way of synopsis on the official site:

Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (NATALIE PORTMAN) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (HUGO WEAVING) known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.

Other than the fact that totalitarian Britain isn't very futuristic, this idea has promise. We'll see. It's at least worth keeping an eye on leading up to the March 17 premiere.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:12 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

It sounds interesting, and a couple hours looking at Ms. Portman cannot be called a waste.

I am skeptical of all things Hollywood and the choice of "totalitarian Britain" concerns me. I am guessing they don't mean what you and I think about the UK.

Yes, it is the land of Orwell and they have taken all the guns. But these guys would never find a bad word to say about Cuba or Syria or the Soviet Union yet they will go after our #1 ally in the War on Terror. Am I scratching too deeply?

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2006 10:38 AM

January 3, 2006

New Year at the VFW

From the red part of the purple Midwest, I found this email very moving.

Sugarchuck was playing a gig at a VFW and they were doing karaoke while the band set up and:

They had some sort of Karaoke thing going while we were bringing stuff in and they sang that Lee Greenwood song, "Bless the USA." Anyway, everyone on the dance floor formed a circle and held hands, raised their hands in the air and swayed back and forth singing at the top of their lungs. everyone else in the bar stood as well and raised their hands and sang.

No irony, no cynicism, no post-modernism, and everyone of those guys fought overseas, mostly in Korea and WWII, but there were a lot of Viet Nam guys and A few Desert Storm guys too. They've put their money up and when they sing that stuff it is moving beyond description. Most of us walk around every day never knowing how incredibly blessed we've been to have these people willing to protect us and fight for us.


Happy New Year to all who serve or have served.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM

December 21, 2005

Berkeley Square -- Banned In Iran!

The madness continues in Iran. The government will now choose music for its lucky subjects, increasing their decency substantially. The WSJ Ed Page says in "The Non-Music Man:

Now the Islamic Republic has taken another bold step on the road to Year Zero, this time by banning Western music. Tehran commuters, who in recent years have grown accustomed to listening to Eric Clapton or Kenny G., will now have to put up with whatever Mr. Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council deem "decent." Don't expect "Crosstown Traffic" or "Baby You Can Ride My Car" to make the list.

Iranians have been here before, as have other victims of dictatorship. Ayatollah Khomeini banned all forms of music after the 1979 revolution, but the rules were gradually relaxed after his death. In the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, music was banned along with all other expressions of art and culture, and hundreds of musicians were murdered. The Nazis extolled the music of Wagner, yet they famously tore down the statue of the Jewish-born Felix Mendelssohn in front of the Leipzig Gewandhaus.


Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world, and the youth are acclimated to American music and culture. I agree with the WWSJ Ed Page that the ultimate hope for Iran is likely an internal revolution.

I confess I had hoped for a fast domino-effect revolution after Iraq was liberated. I take full responsibility for that mistake but still hold that we will have to support an internal revolution if tacitly and covertly.

Sadly, the opposition party deals with this by contriving arguments about Valerie Plame, faux-outrage over NSA eavesdropping, and filibustering renewal of the Patriot Act.

UPDATE: TCS has a good column with more specifics.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | Comments (3)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder if they are going to ban Butthole Surfers too!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 21, 2005 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Naaah! I'm sure Butthole Surfers will pass Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council muster...

Posted by: jk at December 21, 2005 12:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It takes one to know one.

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2005 3:25 PM

December 20, 2005

Economic Development

Via Jay Nordlinger, here is an incredible story in the Memphis Business Journal. A Tennessee National Guardsman bringing entrepreneurship to Iraq.

His business dream represents a big dose of Tennessee entrepreneur spirit transplanted to the Middle East by Wayne Culbreath.

Culbreath was working in the realm of economic development when, two years ago, his National Guard combat unit was activated and sent to Iraq. For five months he was stationed at Forward Operating Base Cobra, east of Baghdad and 20 miles from the border with Iran.

An Army captain, Culbreath commanded a unit that spent most of its time finding and disposing of improvised explosive devices, typically a couple of artillery shells wired to detonate with a trigger.

"We found that a lot of the guys who planted the bombs weren't foreign fighters," he says. "Most of them were getting $60 to shoot at Americans, and they were only doing it to feed their families."

That led to a new initiative: American style, grass roots economic development.


I suggested pre-war, that the Iraqis would have a predilection toward entrepreneurism. To an extent, the satellite dish vendors and automotive sales have shown that to be true.

But the article discusses a long-term reliance on centralized command and control. People wait for Baghdad to fix the electrical grid rather than envisioning a private solution.

Lastly, it shows yet again that our troops are not slack-jawed yokels from the ghettos and rural outposts. They are bright and talented professionals -- I thank my lucky stars for each of them.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:15 PM

December 16, 2005

Four-year old ambush

A friend of ThreeSources emails a link:

A hero's welcome at preschool

Just one day after an emotional reunion with her husband and two young daughters after a year in Iraq and Kuwait, Army Reserve Maj. Denise Wurzbach was doing what she'd done every weekday before being sent overseas: taking her oldest daughter to preschool.

But unbeknownst to the major, her arrival at 10 a.m. yesterday would be marked by a chilled, squirmy but determined band of children outside the Goddard School in Blue Bell.

Each was armed - with a piece of cardboard painted with a letter that together spelled "Welcome Home Major Wurzbach."

When the major's vehicle pulled up, the 38-year-old Whitpain Township servicewoman leaped out with her 4-year-old daughter, Maggie.
Maggie's classmates broke into a cheer, and her mother broke into a huge smile, waved and said: "Thank you. Wow!... It's good to be here. It's good to be home."


Thanks to all who serve!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Blue Bell?! That's not far from me! JK is scooping me in my backyard! ;)

Thanks to all of the troops, as well.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2005 3:15 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Sorry Alex ... I leaked this one. Just call me Scooter.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 19, 2005 2:48 PM

Critics Come Around?

It is gong to be more difficult for war critics after the elections yesterday. Tucker Carlson last night defended the achievements against Air America's Rachel Maddow. (I plan to write a letter today pointing out that the Carlson-attacks-the-war-from-the-right vs. Maddow-attacks-the-war-from-the-left is getting tiresome). Carlson had to admit that this was a big deal, though he quoted a private email from The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash that any good outcome will be an accident, in spite of not because of the administration's efforts (friends like these, huh?). But a defense from critics all the same.

Today, The New Republic has a web article from Lawrence Kaplan teased as "Again and again, we have been wrongly assured that Iraq was turning a corner. But yesterday, it may have actually happened."

Contrary to prevailing wisdom, Washington's political strategy in Iraq has always made more sense than its military strategy. In its essentials, the logic of the former was straightforward: Induce the Sunnis to surrender violence in favor of political participation and create a broad-based, cross-sectarian coalition that can govern Iraq effectively. Although yesterday's elections hardly guarantee that outcome, they do amount to its necessary precondition. Whether the aim can actually be achieved is up to the Iraqis.

In this regard, yesterday offered reason to hope. Having now moved beyond the mechanics of democracy--that is, the process of choosing leaders--Iraqis may also begin to move beyond a zero-sum brand of politics and toward the sort of compromises essential to a broader conception of democracy.
[...]
If a stable democracy emerges, it will not be a perfect one. But, then again, Washington isn't chasing an idealism so pure it defeats its own ends in Iraq. Quite the contrary: Today, at least, it seems like the United States knew what it was doing all along. Savor the moment.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

December 15, 2005

Bullish on Iraq

Larry Kudlow posts an optimistic look at Iraq today. It's wild eyed, it's rosy -- and I can't find one place where I think that it's wrong.

Let’s be perfectly clear. This wasn’t any ordinary step, not by a long shot. What the world witnessed today was a historic moment. A moment where fifteen million Iraqis—the very same people who suffered for years under the tyrannical dictatorship of Saddam Hussein since Jimmy Carter was in office—boldly walked to the polls with their children and cast their ballots for a first full-term parliament.
[...]
Sooner rather than later, our brave troops will be returning home to America’s shores. They will have participated in one of the grandest campaigns in all of history. Much like the courageous, battle hardened GIs returning from World War II, these young men and women will one day be able to tell their grandchildren that they helped change history for the better. Duty called and they not only answered, they delivered.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM

On Patience

Two great thoughts on how fast the Iraqis are establishing a representative government.

1. Bobby Eberle from GOPusa.com wonders what today's naysayers would think of a ten-year interim Constitution like our Articles of Confederation:

It took America ten years to get things right, and we still have to fight to stay true to the Constitution’s meanings. Iraq has been at it less than three years. The progress can only be described as remarkable.

2. A better voicing of the same sentiment comes from my buddy Sugarchuck: "MSM have gotten every single prediction and assessment they've made wrong. I am convinced they should turn Iraq coverage over to sports writers who understand the difficulty of turning a losing program into a winning one and have at least a minimal amount of patience with the process. Hell, Nebraska has given Calahan two years to implement a west coast offense."

You'd think we might be as generous with Middle Eastern Democracy as Cornhusker fans are with Big Red.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM

Purple Fingers

Bill Roggio writes that he's watching Iraqis vote in droves:

I’m in the town of Barwana, one of the three Triad cities which include Haqlaniyah and Haditha. The poll site sits right where Zarqawi’s terrorists executed residents for not conforming to al-Qaeda’s perverse brand of Islamic law. It’s currently 8:20 am Iraqi time, and turnout is heavy so far, with several hundred voters showing up. The polls opened at 7:00 am and the first handful arrived minutes afterward. There is a steady line of voters waiting to vote.

Thanks to all the brave men and women who wear our nation's uniform who have made this possible. And I salute the Iraqis for their personal courage in voting.

Another great day, whether the MSM think so or not.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (news pages, not my right-wing crazies) reports that polls were kept open an extra hour to accomodate high tirnout. Better than St. Louis.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

Bill Roggio has been doing incredible work in Iraq lately. He's an self-embedded blogger!

Posted by: AlexC at December 15, 2005 6:46 PM

December 14, 2005

More Please

On the eve of Iraq's election, Iraqi citizen Betty Dawisha:

    “Anybody who doesn’t appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell.”

Don't forget, December 12th through 15th are Purple Finger for Freedom Days, but tomorrow the polling places are open.

Officially, you're supposed to ink the index finger, but I suspect that Ms Dawisha would have inked her middle finger if that were an option.

Posted by AlexC at 11:32 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I saw that on TV (FOXNews, mirabile non dictu!) I thought it would make a great RNC ad...

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 12:08 PM
But AlexC thinks:

No way. Too aggressive. The DNC would complain like they have sand in their shorts.

They'd say it was a plant. The Pentagon was propagandizing over there you know. ;)

Better to let the Dems hang themselves with their own words. The GOP doesn't control Dean, Pelosi or Kerry. It's a more "pure" attack.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 3:03 PM

December 6, 2005

That Sucking Sound

That sucking sound you hear is ten thousand Democrats canceling their subscriptions to The New Republic. And 20,000 Harvard alumnae writing nasty letters.

For Harvard Professor William J. Stuntz has a piece on TNR's website today that will not go over with the MoveOn Crowd or Leader Pelosi. In Lincoln and Iraq, Stuntz compares the Iraq war to The Civil War.

n 1861 Abraham Lincoln led what was left of his country to war to restore "the Union as it was," to use the popular phrase of the time. Free navigation of the Mississippi River, the right to collect customs duties in Southern ports, the status of a pair of coastal forts in South Carolina and Florida--these were the issues over which young American men got down to the business of killing one another that sad summer.

It was all a pipe dream. "The Union as it was" was gone, forever. Events proved William Tecumseh Sherman--the prophet of that war--right, and everyone else wrong: An ocean of blood would be required to reunite the United States, and once that blood was spilled, the country over which James Buchanan had presided was as dead as the soldiers whose corpses littered the battlefields of Shiloh and Gettysburg, Antietam and Cold Harbor.

But there was a much bigger, much better, and above all much nobler dream waiting in the wings: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (to use Lincoln's own words)--that the chains of four million slaves might be shattered forever, that freedom and democracy might prevail against tyranny and aristocracy in a world still full of tyrants and aristocrats.
[...]
Freedom and democracy, justice and the equality of all men before God and before the law--those causes were very different. Shedding an ocean of blood for them was terribly sad but not tragic: The essence of tragedy is waste, and the blood shed on the Civil War's battlefields was not wasted. Horrible as its killing fields were, those young men accomplished something profoundly good: Their deaths ensured that (to use Lincoln's words again) "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." That is why the Civil War has gone down in history not as America's own World War I, but as the war of America's true "greatest generation," the generation that preserved freedom and democracy for us and for the rest of humankind.


Stuntz continues [I don't know whether the link requires subscription, holler if you want it emailed or longer excerpts -- this is a stunning piece!] to compare the Iraq War as being longer, bloodier and more noble in cause that its original intentions.

He accepts that mistakes have been made, but again compares to Lincoln's

None of this excuses the bungling and bad management that have plagued the Iraq war. The administration has made some terrible mistakes that have cost precious lives, both among our soldiers and among Iraqi civilians. But bungling and bad management were far more evident in Lincoln's war than they have been in Bush's. Most wars are bungled; battle plans routinely go awry. Sometimes, error gives rise to larger truths; nations can stumble unawares onto great opportunities. So it was in the 1860s. So it is today in the Middle East.

Two-and-a-half years ago, our armed forces set out to fight a small war with a small objective. Today we find ourselves in a larger war with a larger and vastly better purpose. It would be one of history's sadder ironies were we to turn away because that better purpose is not the one we set out to achieve. Either we fight the fight our enemies have chosen until they are defeated or (better still) dead, or millions of Muslim men and women may lose their "last, best hope"--and we may face a mushroom cloud over Manhattan, the work of one of the many Mohamed Attas that Middle Eastern autocracies have bred over the last generation. The choice belongs not to the president alone, but to all of us. Here's hoping we choose as wisely as Lincoln's generation did.


Amen. If somebody still thinks like that at Harvard, and the Democrats at TNR will still print it, there's some hope, Professor. Some hope.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Great excerpts JK. Bravo to the Harvard professor. He evokes comparisons to Victor Davis Hanson.

I too am heartened by the venue of this essay. Perhaps the cancerous sore of the anti-war, anti-prosperity, anti-human faction of the Democrat party has sufficiently swelled and discolored that it may be crusted over by the rational, self-interested majority and allowed to shrivel and die the death it so profoundly deserves. A key factor to observe will be how long it takes for Howard Dean to be fired as chairman of the DNC.

Posted by: johngalt at December 6, 2005 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

It amuses me that many Democrats write off Gov. Dean as a clown. Last night Rachel Maddow was asked about the latest Dean-burst and replied that "Rep Tom Tancredo wanted to nuke Mecca!"

Tucker rejoined that Dean was head of the party and that Tancredo was "a congressman from Colorado." That is what I have tried to get my Democrat friends -- and Andrew Sullivan -- to admit. (Note to his fans, Carlson said “he wished” that Rep. Tancredo had a leadership position.)

The minority leader of the House has now seconded Rep. Murtha's plans for "immediate redeployment" and Dean has one-upped them.

Were I a candidate for the House (stop laughing!) I would ask my opponent "Would you vote for Ms. Pelosi for leader?" I am not sure that even the Third Colorado District can muster a plurality for cut-and-run.

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2005 4:14 PM

December 5, 2005

Apology: Condi Style

While the EU leaders squawk about whether their airspace was used to transport prisoners and call for apologies, Secretary Rice replies "buddies, we saved your ass yet again [okay, I'm paraphrasing...]"

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned the tables on European critics of tough U.S. tactics in the war on terror Monday, maintaining that intelligence gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency has saved European lives.

Responding for the first time in detail to the outcry over reports of secret CIA-run prisons in European democracies, Ms. Rice said the U.S. "will use every lawful weapon to defeat these terrorists." But in remarks delivered as she got ready to leave on a trip to Europe, she steadfastly refused to answer the underlying question of whether the U.S. had CIA-operated secret prisons there.

"We cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations. We expect other nations share this view," Ms. Rice said in a statement at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

The secretary said that information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies from a "very small number of extremely dangerous detainees," has helped prevent terrorist attacks and saved lives "in Europe as well as in the U.S. and other countries." Reports of the existence of the secret prisons has caused a trans-Atlantic uproar. The European Union has asked the Bush administration about these reports.


I'm glad somebody in this administration does not believe that a demand for an apology always requires one. Bill Kristol was pretty eloquent about this this weekend on FOXNews Sunday. Discussing the 'alleged-paid-editorial" SCANDAL, Kristol issued a loud "so what [paraphrasing again...]"

What he did say was "we're fighti9ng a war." And I have to agree. If the worst thing we do in a global war against fascists who think nothing of bombing a wedding reception is to engage in some borderline PR tactics, I can still call us the good guys.

Bully for Kristol. Bully for Sec. Rice. We should respect our allies' sovereignty (more than Iraqi press scruples) but we deserve more doubt-benefit from EU nations.

The only real crime here is the CIA leak to the WaPo. Only about 10,000 times more significant to national security than Valerie Plame's identity.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

December 1, 2005

Bulgaria & Ukraine Pull Out

The war is looking pretty grim to the folks at the Associated Press:

Two U.S. Allies Leaving Iraq, More May Go
Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December.

How will we continue?

Don’t get me wrong, I thank them for their brave service and am disappointed to see them go. But the portentous tone of this "news" piece is humorous. I think we'll get by somehow without Bulgaria...

The url for the story ends in "iraq_crumbling_coalition." Even the webmasters are biased...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:12 PM | Comments (4)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yeah, even the / slants down to the left...

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 2, 2005 12:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Start some UNIX wars around here, willya? Like we don't have enough to fight about.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2005 12:49 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Damn Mac Insurgents, laying JPEGs (as opposed to IEDs) all over the internet ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 2, 2005 3:29 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Whoa whoa whoa...I thought it was a unilateral invasion.

Posted by: AlexC at December 2, 2005 3:42 PM

November 23, 2005

Kaplan in TNR

Lawrence Kaplan gives the Democrats a little harsh medicine -- in their own book! Here's the start of his TNR article:

The war in Iraq has generated, among other things, a new tradition in the media. Every time former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft criticizes the war--and he has done so on nearly a dozen occasions--the press advertises his latest gripe as evidence of a split in conservative ranks. Not surprisingly, then, his latest fusillade, delivered a few weeks ago in a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Goldberg, was once more touted as breaking news. It wasn't. Far more telling was the chorus of leading Democrats, liberal columnists, and left-leaning bloggers--that is, voices that once could be counted on to condemn Scowcroft as the second-rate Kissinger he is--who emerged to applaud the octogenarian devotee of realpolitik for his candor. Which brings us to a second tradition produced by the war: liberals against liberalism.

Lest there be any confusion about the inclinations of the former general with whom so many "progressive" voices have found common cause, his approach to foreign policy resembles that of a man who, on seeing an elderly woman being bludgeoned on the sidewalk, crosses to the other side of the street. This is the man, after all, who toasted the architects of the Tiananmen Square massacre not six months after they perpetrated it. Who found it "painful to watch Yeltsin rip the Soviet Union brick by brick away from Gorbachev." Who counseled sitting on the sidelines as Saddam Hussein massacred the very Shia his administration had encouraged to rise up. Who says that "some people really don't want to be free." And who rightly calls himself "a cynic about human nature.'

Cynicism, alas, is enjoying a vogue in the party of Woodrow Wilson. "Just as Scowcroft is doing," Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen points out, "it is the Democrats who often speak the language of realism that seems downright uncaring."


It doesn't let up (holler if you want me to email the whole piece). Here's the end:
What we have in their place is a crude and cheap version of realism, which, although ostensibly a method of analysis that eschews ideology, is rapidly becoming an ideology of its own. Unfortunately, its key tenets as laid out by the Gary Harts and Paul Krugmans of this world--non-interference, narrowly defined vital interests, a foreign policy scrubbed of idealism--provide no adequate response to the war of ideas in which we're presently engaged and will be long after the war in Iraq draws to a close. Nor do its proponents factor in the steep moral price bound to be exacted by trading in Woodrow Wilson for Brent Scowcroft. Is it really necessary to point out how deeply amoral U.S. foreign policy was during the Kissinger and Scowcroft years? If idealism has failed in Iraq, the solution lies in the realm of means, not in abandoning idealism--and certainly not in the cynicism of Brent Scowcroft.

Not in '06 and likely not even in '08, but someday, the soi-disant liberals are going to have to reconcile this cynicism and isolationism with their other principles. Those, like Kaplan, that is that have principles.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM

November 17, 2005

Victory II

Perhaps we just needed honest debate. The calls for cut-and-run are solidifying and stirring the resolve of those who understand. A new site, NoEndButVictory.com, recalls previous American ignominy:

Within living memory, we have seen what happens when America abandons its national commitments, and deserts the brave people who stood tall and believed its promises. The faint-hearted and the wavering painted our commitment to the people of Indochina as a cause in itself of the bloodshed and grief there — and then stood mute when they achieved their objective, forced America’s retreat, and years of genocide followed in its wake.

A generation later, they’re trying to do the same in Iraq. For the sake of an Iraqi people only now grasping the responsibilities, perils, and blessings of liberty, we cannot let them force America to shrink from the awesome responsibility it has shouldered. For the sake of American honor — and those who have died in this cause — we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1991, when the cost of our reluctance was counted in Kurdish and Shi’a dead.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not a left- or right-wing issue. This is an American and Iraqi issue, and all men of good faith must now come together to remind our leadership that whatever our politics, and whatever we thought of the decision to go to war, there can be only one end:

Victory.

The anti-war, cut-and-run crowd, which fears not defeat, nor dishonor, nor an Iraq under the terrorist heel, is well-organized. Its online haunts are well-known enough: Daily Kos, Atrios, and the rest have a massive readership, and they present the appearance of representing a substantial segement of public opinion in the United States.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:03 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Indeed. Back to bumper-sticker debates.
"War is not the answer"
Yeah. Victory is.

Posted by: AlexC at November 17, 2005 3:21 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Homework assignment for all top administration officials: "What victory means to me" a 500 word essay.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 17, 2005 4:51 PM

Victory

I have rarely considered Senator McCain to be an ally.

But he has come through in a strident defense of the President against the "Bush Lied" crowd, and he blasts his compatriots in today in a guest piece for The New York Post.

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

Americans may not have been of one mind when it came to the decision to topple Saddam Hussein. But, though some disagreed, I believe that nearly all now wish us to prevail.

Because the stakes there are so high — higher even than those in Vietnam — our friends and our enemies need to hear one message: America is committed to success, and we will win this war.


The piece makes the point far better than I did in comments below.

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM

October 27, 2005

Was the War Really About Oil?

Brian Micklethwait, whom I respect greatly, has a speculative post about declining support for the war. In a casual conversation with siblings, they came up with this hypothesis:

But what if the dime has now finally dropped that actually this war is NOT all about oil?

Could that be what Middle America is getting nervous about? For as long as they were convinced that it was all about oil, they were content. That is our kind of war. Simple, limited, clear, selfish. All the things you want, and not like Vietnam at all. But now that it is dawning on them that this really is about "democracy" and such like, for that exact reason they are getting fidgety. Will it be worth it? When will it end? Where will it end? etc.


I wholly reject this premise and commented so. Reading the comments reminded me one of my favorite things about Samizdata: the quality of the comments. Many different viewpoints from both sides of the Atlantic, expressed generally with seriousness and respect.

Flip through the comments, they're great.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | Comments (3)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

It is a great post even though like you I disagree, but as a hypotheses it is an interesting idea. My take is that people are realizing some pertinent things:

1) It is a long haul to build a democracy and a positive outcome is far from a sure thing.
2) The hurricanes have brought painfully to point that everything costs time, energy, and money and the supplies of all of those are limited. Money spent to rebuild Baghdad is not available to rebuild New Orleans.
3) Actions in Iran and North Korea and our government's discussion of same note that there is still no shortage of brutal tyrants who may possess WMD's and being willing to use them or provide them to those that would.

None of these is an indictment against the war but can lead to misgivings in the ranks. People certainly could have gotten the wrong idea about 1) from statements by our VP or Sec. of Defense and possibly even been convinced that the "domino theory" would take care of 3).

I also agree that the No Blood for Oil slogan has only its catchy chant and ready adaptability to a placard going for it. I would however point out that our foreign policy is tainted by our need for oil, it is not THE issue but factors in to many of the things we do or don't do.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 27, 2005 6:26 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you could've stopped after '1' Silence. The war has lost appeal because it has been longer and more difficult than we imagined.

The terrorism that remains in Iraq (it is NOT an insurgency) has certainly surprised me. You can call me naive but I expected flowers in the street, wasn't surprised by continued acts against the Coalition troops, but am gobsmacked that they are killing so many Muslims.

They see how bad democracy would be for their cause, that makes me want to stick it out.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2005 11:27 AM
But johngalt thinks:

1) The only "sure things" are death and taxes.
2) Was indemnity insurance available to the citizens of Baghdad to rebuild their city in the event it was damaged during a war to overthrow their tyrannical government? No. But even so, they couldn't be as certain that would happen as could New Orlineans that a hurricane would, one day, hit their city.
3)And letting Iraq continue to at least claim doing the same dissuades these other Axis of Evil members, how?

The "domino theory" is having its effect. Notice that the enemies of freedom and capitalism are becoming more and more direct in their rhetoric. They had been pursuing their "diplomatic option" too, and it was a miserable failure. Democracy in "the land of three rivers" was the last straw for them. Their cause is entering its death throes.

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2005 3:15 PM

October 15, 2005

Freedom on the March!

Looks like high turnout and lower-than-expected violence in Iraq in this WONDERFUL day. October 15, 2005.

Sooni has pictures:

iraqi_vote051015.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 5:18 PM

September 27, 2005

Anti-War

When the heroes of the War are enumerated, Christopher Hitchens should be right there in that number. His constant, principled, and eloquent support of the quest for true liberalism against liberals has been stellar.

Andrew Sullivan started out in his league (and his camp) but got too distracted by domestic issues and then lost his gumption when things went poorly.

Hitchens's support has been resolute and indefatigable. I TiVoed his debate with George Galloway on C-SPAN. While I have lost my taste for that fiery, confrontational debate , I have to admit that those two were pretty good.

I was reading "Blood, Class and Empire" in the UK, and one of my associates' wives, a London attorney solicitor, said over the dinner table, in perfect British-chattering-classes pitch: "What's Happened To Christopher Hitchens?" I almost said "9-11" but thought better of it. I replied "Mr. Hitchens has seemed to find that some people on this planet are more evil that the US and UK government." Pretty lame, but I kept my job...

In Slate today, Hitch gives us Anti-War, My Foot - The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington. He knows who's who and where the bodies are buried:

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

The media treatment of the antiwar rallies make their Katrina coverage look good.

Hat-tip: Protien Wisdom, who links this to other media failures in covering these rallies. This is becoming one of my favorite blogs, and will be on the blogroll later today.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM

August 29, 2005

Mrs. Sheehan

Judging from some recent comments, I am suddenly not very popular around here. I was going to reply in the comments but I wanted to link to a couple of other pieces.

Sugarchuck has consistently called for a hands-off, tolerant approach, based on who she is and what she has already given. I appreciate that. He and Silence would like to see commentators (especially me) lay off.

While I am also tired of vituperative attacks on Mrs. Sheehan by the right, I am NOT going to concede ground to her because I am not comfortable asserting my beliefs against one who has "laid such a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

Byron York details that she is the public face of one Lisa Fithian.

To anyone familiar with the world of professional protesting — protests against globalism, capitalism, war, police tactics, and dozens of other causes — the presence of Fithian is a sign of how far Cindy Sheehan has strayed from the roots of her "one mom" crusade against George W. Bush. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a sign that the "one mom" crusade was never just one mom. Fithian is a legendary organizer who operates in the world of anti-globalism anarchists, antiwar protesters, and union activists; an advocate of aggressive "direct action" demonstrations, she protested the first Gulf war, played an important role in the violent shutdown of Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, was a key planner in protests at the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2000 and 2004, and organized demonstrations at trade meetings in Washington, D.C., Prague, and Genoa.

I can sit still when she lines up with Michael Moore, or Al Sharpton, but this alliance has me concerned. Dang them for putting a sympathetic face on lunacy. But I am not going to let them offer lies and denigrate the mission, because of her.

Silence doesn't seem very chipper either. As to his first point, that's the idea: comedy writers are penning better White House communications than does "White House Communications."

As for the "No WMD's" comment, I offer two rebuttals. The first comes from that crazy, right-wing, in the pocket of the Bush Administration magazine, The New Yorker. Nicholas Lemann wrote in February 2003:

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it's been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington's main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular.


My second defense is a plea to recall discussions we had over lunch. You thought that the Neo-Wilsonianism was a ruse and said that if you believed that they were serious about propagating democracy then you'd be on board. (This is all from memory, if I have it wrong tell me and I will retract everything I said.)

As for the Vietnam comparison, I don't see where that happened in this post but I am very interested in that. The assertion that "they didn't want is there" was constantly cited by the antiwar crowd, but my experience with South Viet Namese as completely orthogonal to that.

I have met a few families that came over after, and they really resent the inference that "the simple little rice farmer doesn't care if he lives under democracy or Communism." That is patronizing to the highest degree.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:51 PM | Comments (2)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I'm still pretty chipper, really! I was not actually lumping you in with the "conservative commentators" but referring more to the endless stream on TV and in print. (Nicely balanced in idiocy by liberal commentators in the same media I freely admit.) I think you gave Mrs. Sheenan a very fair shake. I also completely agree on the circus of leaders, activists, and protestors who are just there for the publicity. As for the media circus itself, putting aside the cynical slow news cycle theory, (not discounting it, just putting it aside for a moment) I wonder if Joe Klein isn't on to something with his theory that what is captured here is sort of a national mooring for all who have fallen. As many soldiers have stated, there is a disconnect between those fighting this war and the general public here at home that seems to be living through a time of peace. For political reasons we have not been shown returning caskets or military funerals in the idea that this will help us persevere. Perhaps we are seeing a bit of the opposite, a public that not being able to comprehend the sacrifice is not fully engaged in the cause.

You are also correct in your memory of my comments regarding propagation of democracy. I am on board for that, but if we are serious I would think we could come up with a better overall plan. We are really just hoping that this experiment in Iraq goes well enough that it crosses borders in the region. We cannot topple every brutal regime and toppling one and expecting the rest to fall like dominoes is hopelessly optimistic.

The Vietnam comparison was in another post and has been tossed about pretty loosely by the liberal side. I too know people who came over after. The rice farmer very much did care about which form of government he lived under, that was precisely the lure of communism, the power to the people toppling the corruption of above. That is also why I called it the "promise of communism" and not communism itself, as the reality was much different than the promise.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 29, 2005 6:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Exactly right, Silence. It's not just a coincidence that communism and corruption start with the same letter - they are blood-brothers.

And just exactly why does Cindy Sheehan deserve any more than a week of patient understanding from those whose values and motives and life-threatening efforts she denigrates? Because her son was one of those who made that effort? When he insisted upon re-enlisting, knowing full well that he'd be bound for Iraq, he told us what he thought of what his mother and her handlers are doing now, in his name. If he were able now to "punch someone out" you can bet it wouldn't be the guy who called him a "merchant of mercy who export[s] freedom and import[s] honor." But it might well be the person who said this when asked how Casey's three siblings were coping with his death and the role his mother has assumed as a critic:

"Carly the oldest has coped by throwing herself into school. Andy is coping by becoming Casey. Janey is coping by drinking and partying.

Unfortunately, I am not able to help them that much because of my pain, and because I feel so compelled to fight the injustice and bring the troops home.

I know they believe that what I am doing is right, but they wish we weren't in the situation, as do I."

That person is Casey's mom, Cindy Sheehan. http://brentrasmussen.com/log/node/117
Cindy is "not able to help them" [her other three children] because of her "pain" and, oh by the way, that she "feels so compelled to fight the injustice and bring the troops home." Well, by God, it might just be too bad if Casey's little sister becomes an alcoholic, or worse, but at least mommy "fought injustice!"

Is this the first time in recorded history that a son has disagreed with his mother? If not, then why would anyone assume that Cindy speaks for Casey?

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2005 2:59 PM

August 28, 2005

Among Heroes

Caelestis at The Makaha Surf Report (Forward Deployed) pens a stirring piece called In the company of heroes. It is hard to pick an excerpt -- I'll go with the close:

I have spent nearly a year in Iraq in my three tours here, and my spirits are always buoyed by watching my countrymen and potential countrymen at work and at play. They go out everyday and face mortal peril, they go out and have to confront the evil of our time, they go out and see friends killed or maimed for life. They do that and still they smile much more than they scowl, they show love and compassion to the Iraqi people instead of fear and hatred. They still believe in the mission even after nearly 1900 of them have been cut down in the sands of Mesopotamia. Being here with them reinforces my beliefs in humanity and my idealism, with brave and selfless men and women such as these, anything is possible. The fires of human passions are often at their hottest in war, the fires of evil seek to scorch and destroy all that is good, in our men and women I see the fires of righteousness in action. Good done for the sake of good, selflessness for the sake of your brothers and sisters in arms, sacrifice in the name of love, and honor in a battle against those without honor. I truly have been blessed these last 2 and 1/2 years, I have lived in the company of heroes. Heroes of America, heroes to the downtrodden and dispossessed, heroes to the persecuted and brutalized, heroes descended from the peoples of every nation under heaven.

Thanks to all who serve. And Hat-tip to Mudville Gazette.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM

August 26, 2005

On Constitutions

Hand-wringing over perceived inadequacies in the draft Iraqi constitution do not concern me as much as your average NYTimes columnist.

First, we should smack our heads with wonder every time we read a headline about factional conflict in the Iraqi Parliament. These folks are discussing, arguing, and when they get really grouchy, threatening to boycott or walk out. Not shooting, not bombing. Elected leaders behaving no more childishly than US Congresspeople.

Secondly, this is a draft. There will be many opportunities to amend and repair flaws. The US Constitution did not outlaw chattel slavery and we did okay.

Thirdly, as the WSJ notes, Britain has done pretty well with no written Constitution, the USSR had a great one that was never enforceable, let's keep an eye on reality, not clauses.

Lastly, Michael Barone observes another thing about representative democracy:

They make the point that Iraqis are not necessarily going to make the same constitutional and policy choices that Americans would. This is of course true of other democracies. Britain has an established Church of England, and the prime minister effectively (and the Queen formally) chooses the Archbishop of Canterbury. Canada provides public funding for Catholic and other religious schools. France bans girls from wearing headscarves in schools. Germany prohibits the publication of Nazi materials. We don't do any of these things, and most Americans wouldn't want to. But who would argue that Britain, Canada, France, and Germany are not acceptable representative democracies with acceptable levels of human rights? They just have different histories and different traditions, and have made different choices.

Some have argued that Iraq is a poor testing ground for democracy in the Middle East because it has multiple sects and ethnic groups—the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. But I think the multi-sect, multi-ethnic character of Iraq is actually helpful in forging an acceptable democracy. It forces constitution-makers to confront squarely the age-old dilemma of representative government, how to reconcile majority rule with minority rights. In a mono-ethnic, mono-sect state, or one in which one group is the overwhelming majority (Shiite Iran, Sunni Egypt), that issue doesn't necessarily present itself, and you risk getting the tyranny of the majority that our own Founding Fathers strove to prevent.


Long as they're arguin'...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM

August 25, 2005

That's Not Funny!

Scrappleface's Leak: Draft of Bush Answer to Cindy Sheehan is not funny. Here's a long excerpt, but you're gonnaa wanna read eevry word of this:

You ask for what noble cause your son died?

In a sense he died so that people like you, who passionately oppose government policies, can freely express that opposition. As you camp in Crawford, you should take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground. This land was bought with the blood of men like your son.

Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.

The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.

Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.

Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM | Comments (3)
But sugarchuck thinks:

I think Casey Sheehan loved his mother and would have punched this guy out and every other knucklhead critical of her; though I doubt he would have agreed with her politics.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 25, 2005 6:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I did not find the Scrappleface letter to be harshly critical of Mrs. Sheehan. Not really worth punching anybody for.

I think it states -- brilliantly -- why good folks enlist, reenlist, and tolerate all the harshness of military life. I won't presume to put words in anybody's mouth but I would like to send Ott's letter to every living member of our forces with my signature stating that it represents my beliefs.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 7:24 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Pretty high and mighty rhetoric for a President who didn't feel that freedom and liberty for Iraq was anywhere near strong enough of an argument to go to war against Saddam. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that this was his true purpose all along he was compelled to ride on the coat tails of the battle against terrorism and tout the possibility of WMD's in the hands of a brutal tyrant.

Forget the Vietnam comparisons, there we were fighting against the will of the people, who much as we might not have wanted to admit did actually prefer the promise of communism over corrupt dictatorship. Here we do have the will of the people on our side and will likely have a democracy as an outcome. The comparison that I never see is the comparison of free trade and free information versus sanctions and isolation. Compare Cuba and China, even look at the gains in Ireland as its economy flourishes versus the many British attempts at military style crackdowns. Forget Rep. Tancredo's plan to use nuclear weapons, the real WMD's to defeat brutal dictators and terrorism are free information and free trade. Let the people have a taste of freedom and economic prosperity and they will change their system of government to bring more, often peacefully over time as the old systems rot from within or become marginalized by the power of personal freedom and wealth. The generals and pentagon planners may be convinced that military overthrow is faster and more efficient but they tend to have a rather short view of active combat or tenure of election. We compare Iraq today to Iraq a few years ago, but we never compare Iraqis to Chinese. China's leaders may have lacked Saddam's maniacal tinge, but they were every bit as powerful and could be every bit as brutal in wielding that power. As the argument for the strategy of bringing freedom in Iraq goes, it is a stepping stone to promote freedom throughout the Middle East. As such it should be looked at closely and with a long view lens. If our goal is a free and prosperous Middle East is military intervention or radical revolution the best strategy to achieve that goal?

Mrs. Sheehan is a grieving mother and her words may be rightfully viewed through that filter. She certainly does not speak for all mothers in her position. What I find maddening is the number of hours, words, and pages devoted to analyzing her political positions through microscopic evaluation of her spoken views. She is not a policy maker, planner or elected official of any kind. Send the conservative commentators off to analyze our actual government's plans, policies, and strategies.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 29, 2005 11:59 AM

August 22, 2005

1,000 Bin-Ladens

My antiwar friends believe, as absolute Gospel, that our efforts in Iraq provide a breeding ground for terrorists, and that President Bush is manufacturing terrorists with his aggressive posture.

Yet Michael Barone looks at 'The Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries and sees progress being made.

Minds are being changed, and in the right direction.

Most importantly, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 percent to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 percent to 25 percent since 2004) and Morocco (from 40 percent to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 percent to 26 percent since 2002).

Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey, and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.


I have seen this referenced in a few blogs, but I am not expecting coverage anywhere else.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:21 PM | Comments (6)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Hmm, I think support for terrorism and the number of terrorists are two separate things. I suspect that the Pew researchers may not have been conducting their polls in terrorist enclaves, something about living to tell the story... Maybe breeding ground is the wrong term, maybe it is more of a consolidation of terrorists, drawing fanatics from all over the world who are sold on the idea of holy war against the infidels. Does it sway Muslims with no prior fanatical tendencies? I doubt it. Does it provide encouragement, training, and an outlet for would be terrorists? I think it does. The scariest part is the attraction of Europeans and Asians to the cause, folks who can go back home and travel abroad more easily. Is president Bush manufacturing terrorists with his posture? That seems an overstatement, but we could do our job combating terrorism and bringing freedom to Iraq just as well with less angry rhetoric. No need to poke the rabid dog with a stick.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 24, 2005 7:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Valid points. Likewise, a little multiplication takes the bloom off this rose, 14% of billions of folks supporting terrorism is a lot.

Certainly the poll results are very suspect because they lack infrastructure for polling and tyrannical governments are not conducive to candor.

Yet I find the results STARTLING. And I suspect that most of my anti-war friends (few of whom are as rational as you) would be certain that terrorism against the US would be held in much higher esteem after the Iraq war.

I am going to throw your analogy back at you, though: do you just let a rabid dog be because it is difficult to deal with?

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 11:05 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

No, you shoot it, but no need to poke it with a stick while you wait for a clean shot. The tough guy bluster may win points in some political circles but it also tends to be good fodder for the extremists recruiting for the other side.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 25, 2005 1:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Let's leave that poor ol' dawg alone for a bit...

I see the Pew numbers as contradicting your concern. I think that the appeasement and soft response to terror by Carter, Reagan and Clinton were much better for recruitment and operations.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 2:04 PM
But dagny thinks:

Sorry, I have to beat the dead horse errr dog a little more.

Shooting a rabid dog is clearly the best way to deal with it.

Unfortunately, the world is currently refusing to shoot the rabid dog of terrorism since a few innocent fleas might get killed in the process.

Posted by: dagny at August 25, 2005 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

The French Prime Minister wants to give sanctions a few more weeks. If they fail, he has assured our diplomats he will support other measures against the animal...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 5:13 PM

August 20, 2005

Why They Hate Us

whyhateus.jpg


I suggested last week that Silence Dogood be ThreeSources's Fashion Editor. Publius brings us the latest swimsuits from Saudi Arabia, plus a link to an amusing mock interview with the Saudi Minister of Tourusm.

I guess it's okay that her knuckles are exposed, because men and women cannot swim together anyway!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM | Comments (5)
But AlexC thinks:

Great graphic, I'm going to post it on my pstupidonymous as well.

Did you see the one picture of the girl showing her knees and her neck! *very* provocative!

Posted by: AlexC at August 20, 2005 3:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And dangerous too, at least to "law and order," Sharia style. What chance does the promise of 72 virgins 'in the bush' stand to one smooth skinned young lass in the hand? Before they know it young muslim males will start questioning the authority of Allah, or at least of the neighborhood mullah.

Great work JK.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2005 7:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking this could be the first annual ThreeSources "Swimsuit Issue." We'll do this every August to drive up readership...

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2005 3:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Why just August? I vote for babes whenever news warrants!
I think those powerline guys flog the Miss Universe contest quite a bit.

Posted by: AlexC at August 21, 2005 5:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Good point -- why wait for news? Ian at Bannan Oil used to post one every day...

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2005 1:39 PM

August 11, 2005

Mrs. Sheehan

Like the 9/11 families, it is unsurprising that some people would use the death of a loved one to acquire a forum for their political views. The only moderately unusual thing is the antiwar bias of the MSM who glorify this woman.

I think the moms who supported their sons' and daughters' service would love an opportunity to speak out against the people and associations which defame their noble missions. But I doubt if there is much opportunity to be heard.

I did like this commenter to The Anchoress

Slightly OT and probably uncharitable but here it is anyway: a year or so ago I wrote to my Marine son (then in Iraq) and told him not to get killed because there were certain among his relatives whom I would not put it past to use the coffin as a soapbox for an anti-Bush rant. His reply was, “Don’t worry. If anyone tries that, I will sit up in the casket and fargin’ STRANGLE them.'’ I wonder how many servicemen would say the same.

Semper Fi! And thanks to all who serve.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:05 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

JK, you are reading my mind today with your posts. But I had another angle to this "Gold Star" mom who apparently can't get along with her husband any more than she can with the president.

How long do you suppose it will be before Mrs. Sheehan makes a pilgrimage to Sadr City to "grieve at the site of her son's senseless death, precipitated by nothing more than Bush's decision to conduct an illegal war?" Not long after that you can expect to see video of the "reluctant" activist with a terrorist's turban on her head, sitting on top of a suicide bomber or some other such terrorist "weapon system." We'll be calling her 'Sadr Cindy.'

Too bad she's not at least good looking like Jane Fonda used to be.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2005 2:51 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I've got a post on pstupidonymous (http://pstupidonymous.blogspot.com/2005/08/cindy-sheehan.html) about this.
It's flared up between me and some other philly bloggers, otherwise I'd post it here.

Posted by: AlexC at August 11, 2005 10:40 PM

July 21, 2005

Standing With Britain

unionjack.png

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM

July 20, 2005

Filthy American Imperialists!

Jim Hake emails "Project Friendship a success!"

Dear friends and donors,

What a day was had! Clouds, sun, rain and outrageous humidity, but together with the Public Affairs Marines at Camp LeJeune, Marine families, the local community and the MCCS, Spirit of America completed the packing of thousands of school supplies and hygiene kits heading to Iraq. More than 75 volunteers worked side by side to prepare for the shipment of goods Spirit of America had donated for the II MEF Marines deployed to Iraq. The items will be given to Iraqis as gifts of friendship from the American people. The goal is to help the Iraqi people and to build better relations between Americans and Iraqis.


MarineCorpsExchangeSmall.jpg


More photos, info, and a chance to help at the Spirit of America site.

Thanks to all who serve!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:30 PM

July 12, 2005

Cool T-Shirt

Donating to Britain seems odd ("coals to Newcastle?") but many folks would like to help. Here's a couple of ideas:

London Stands
Some cool T-Shirts with proud London captions. ($2 less PayPal goes to the Red Cross)

Buy a copper a pint!<

A UK blogger will take any PayPal tipjar contributions to his site and buy beer for Police, and emergency personnel.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:27 PM

July 10, 2005

Iraqi Terrorism Links

The President was vilified by the left for daring to mention Iraq and terrorism in his speech last week. As Ron Reagan, Jr., tried to tell Christopher Hitchens, the 9-11 Commission report is felt by many to exculpate Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime.

I recall the Commission's being a very politicized body, and that they eschewed bold pronouncements to assure a unanimous approval of the report.

The transformation from "we couldn't find any links" to "there cannot possibly ever be any links” seems tenuous at best.

John Lehman, a 9/11 commissioner, spoke to The Weekly Standard at the time the report was released. "There may well be--and probably will be--additional intelligence coming in from interrogations and from analysis of captured records and so forth which will fill out the intelligence picture. This is not phrased as--nor meant to be--the definitive word on Iraqi Intelligence activities."

Stephen Hayes has been a lonely voice; while everybody was parroting the NYTimes's interpretation of the 9-11 Commission report, Hayes found and reported a book full of connections. In this week's Weekly Standard, he reprises them in The Mother of All Connections. And adds new data:

There could hardly be a clearer case--of the ongoing revelations and the ongoing denial--than in the 13 points below, reproduced verbatim from a "Summary of Evidence" prepared by the U.S. government in November 2004. This unclassified document was released by the Pentagon in late March 2005. It details the case for designating an Iraqi member of al Qaeda, currently detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an "enemy combatant."

1. From 1987 to 1989, the detainee served as an infantryman in the Iraqi Army and received training on the mortar and rocket propelled grenades.
2. A Taliban recruiter in Baghdad convinced the detainee to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban in 1994.
3. The detainee admitted he was a member of the Taliban.
4. The detainee pledged allegiance to the supreme leader of the Taliban to help them take over all of Afghanistan.
5. The Taliban issued the detainee a Kalishnikov rifle in November 2000.
6. The detainee worked in a Taliban ammo and arms storage arsenal in Mazar-Es-Sharif organizing weapons and ammunition.
7. The detainee willingly associated with al Qaida members.
8. The detainee was a member of al Qaida.
9. An assistant to Usama Bin Ladin paid the detainee on three separate occasions between 1995 and 1997.
10. The detainee stayed at the al Farouq camp in Darwanta, Afghanistan, where he received 1,000 Rupees to continue his travels.
11. From 1997 to 1998, the detainee acted as a trusted agent for Usama Bin Ladin, executing three separate reconnaissance missions for the al Qaeda leader in Oman, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
12. In August 1998, the detainee traveled to Pakistan with a member of Iraqi Intelligence for the purpose of blowing up the Pakistan, United States and British embassies with chemical mortars.
13. Detainee was arrested by Pakistani authorities in Khudzar, Pakistan, in July 2002


There are many examples in this fine piece. Those who deny any possibility are like the people who refused to look into Galileo's telescope -- ignore heterodoxy at all costs!

I'm currently reading Karl Popper, and he is pointing out to imbeciles like me that a theory cannot be proven true, it can only be proven false. I think some on the left could use some Popperian logic (in many respects!)

Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | Comments (2)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

The link between Saddam and al Qaida is that an Iraqi infantryman joined the terrorist group? Does this logic make Bush responsible for John Walker Lindh?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at July 13, 2005 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Hayes details considerably more than that. Read the whole piece. Also check out Claudia Rosett in today's OpinionJournal:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/cRosett/?id=110006953

"Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn raise, with good reason, the question of why Saddam gave haven to Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the men who in 1993 helped make the bomb that ripped through the parking garage of the World Trade Center. They detail a contact between Iraqi intelligence and several of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Malaysia, the year before al Qaeda destroyed the twin towers. They recount the intersection of Iraqi and al Qaeda business interests in Sudan, via, among other things, an Oil for Food contract negotiated by Saddam's regime with the al-Shifa facility that President Clinton targeted for a missile attack following the African embassy bombings because of its apparent connection to al Qaeda. And there is plenty more."

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2005 10:13 PM

July 8, 2005

All Britons still, II

A guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal asks:

LONDON -- Will they never learn? Anyone who thinks that the bombing of London might bring about any kind of favorable political result whatever betrays a fantastic historical ignorance of the true nature of Britain's capital city. No one, absolutely no one, whom I have spoken to since yesterday morning's attacks has expressed anything other than what one of them called "disgusted resignation" at the way our city has been violated yet again.

"London Pride" is invoked. The Noel Coward lyric "Every Blitz your resistance toughening/ From the Ritz to the Anchor and Crown/ Nothing ever could override the pride of London town." As is the story of an elderly woman who says "It's ridiculous not being able to take trains home. If we didn't kowtow to Hitler, why should we to this lot?"

Rule Britannia!

UPDATE: Thanks to Publius for the illustration. I post it with pride.

unionjack.png

Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

All Britons still

The Spectator's editorial today confirms that -- George Galloway aside -- Britain will show the firm resolve of Churchill's heirs and will not choose the false security of Spain.

Which is to say that we in London, Paris, New York and the rest of the civilised West face a terrorist threat which cannot be said wholly to have been provoked by Iraq. These are people whose hatred of what they see as Western values is seemingly ineradicable. It is impossible to negotiate with them. Their grievance is not just with the war in Iraq or with the treatment of Palestinians by Israel but with the whole system of Western values that they find troubling and disturbing, not least the emancipation of women.

That's the enemy we face and the situation we face is victory. The piece contains an interesting fact: "...more British people died in the attacks on the World Trade Centre than in yesterday's brutal outrages..."

Nobody wants to lessen the barbarism or tragedy of the attacks, but it was pointed out on FOXNews yesterday that each attack has lost an order of magnitude in the death toll. These people are still totalitarian assholes -- but they are not winning.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM

July 7, 2005

We Are All Britons Today....

Captain Ed @ Captain's Quarters speaks for many this morning...

    On July 7, 2005, let it be known that the world united behind our British brothers and sisters as fellow members of Western Civilization under attack by the forces of tyranny and oppression. We stand with our friends who have suffered a terrible act of war on their civilian population, a cowardly and shameful act that amply demonstrates the depths of depravity of the enemies of freedom and liberty.

    We are all Britons today.


John Hawkins picks up the reaction from the idiot brigade.

Posted by AlexC at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Indeed we are!

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2005 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. Now it remains to be seen whether Britons are still Britons, or if they decide to become Spaniards instead. Personally, I expect the upper lip to stiffen.

Posted by: johngalt at July 7, 2005 3:27 PM

June 30, 2005

Iraq: Just Like that other War...

No, not Vietnam -- the real parallel seems to me to be the Civil War. I am no history scholar, and the "War Between The States" is not my forte.

All the same, I was watching General Wesley Clark's commentary (rebutting) the President's speech the other night. And I thought "My God! It's the reincarnation of General McClellan!" He'll run in '08 as the anti-war candidate against what will be a pretty complete victory.

My pals at the WSJ Ed Page run with this meme. The real parallel is not strategic or military, but the behavior of the opposition.


Wanted: A Constructive Opposition

Scanning the commentary after President Bush's Fort Bragg speech on Iraq, our eyes were caught by a headline in The New York Times: "Wanted: A Policy." True, the advice was dated 1861, not 2005, and the President at whom it was directed wasn't George W. Bush, but Abraham Lincoln. But you get the idea; plus ça change.


They take a few whacks at Gen. Clark, Rep. Pelosi, Sen. Reid -- but then they really pile on Senator Joe Biden:
Then there is Delaware Senator Joe Biden, whose thoughts on the subject are particularly worth attending to because he is the Democratic Party's lead spokesman on the issue. Consider his track record to date:
• In April 2004, Mr. Biden predicted there would be "absolute chaos" in Iraq following the handover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government of Ayad Allawi. "Who's going to be the referee when [U.S. Ambassador Paul] Bremer leaves?" he demanded to know on CBS's Early Show. But Mr. Allawi helped smooth the transition to the current representative government, and he has taken his place as a leader of the opposition.

• In December 2004, Mr. Biden said prospects for a successful election in Iraq were "receding rapidly" because of Administration mismanagement; a month later, he predicted the election was "going to be ugly." But the January 30 elections were peaceful and inspiring.

• Earlier this month, Mr. Biden called the de-Baathification of the Iraqi army one of the "major mistakes" of U.S. policy, and called for Iraqis to rehire some of Saddam Hussein's old colonels. But it was precisely the April 2004 effort to re-enlist Baathist officers in the so-called Fallujah Brigade that was among the Administration's greatest mistakes so far in Iraq.

The Senator's latest ideas are to accept an Egyptian offer to train Iraqi police and to get NATO to deploy some troops to police the border with Syria. On the former, we weren't previously aware that the Cairo constabulary was a paragon of efficiency and probity, which is perhaps why the Iraqi government has discreetly turned away the offer. On the latter, has he talked to the French? They've barely allowed NATO forces to help in Afghanistan, much less be deployed in numbers in Iraq.

We stress Mr. Biden's views because he strikes us as one Democrat who understands the stakes in Iraq and seems genuinely interested in a good outcome. The thinness of even his policy alternatives suggests that Democrats really don't have any better ideas than the two-pronged Bush strategy of 1) supporting a new, inclusive democratic Iraqi government and 2) training and deploying Iraqi security forces as rapidly as possible.


I'm willing to admit that it might be good politics. They cannot compete on a serious policy vis-ŕ-vis the War on Terror, they can capture and inculcate the anti-war crowd, and hope anti-war fever catches on.

Decent politics -- but it didn't work too well for McClellan...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:02 PM

June 22, 2005

Gitmo vs. Hanoi Hilton

A great reader letter in Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus today:

Jay,
My husband was a POW in Vietnam for five-and-a-half years. He is beside himself over this Gitmo stuff. “Honey glazed chicken!” he says. “What about moldy bread with rat turds in it?” And “what about nothing but pumpkin for 45 days?” And “what about getting beri-beri from eating nothing but white rice for months?”

“They complain that the air conditioning was turned up?” he says. They made him live in a box outdoors for months, under the summer sun.

“They are put in uncomfortable positions?” he says. He had to sit on a stool for months, in one position.

And so forth.

He is writing a column on this, but he is recovering from surgery so he is slow writing it. The surgery is his second hip replacement; his hip was eaten up by the beri-beri.

Yet nobody’s asked any of the POWs what they think of the Gitmo thing.


Follow the link for more amazing speechifying from our Secretary of Statue.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:03 PM

Rice 2008

"The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people--and to the entire world--by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt's elections, including the Parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election."--Condoleezza Rice, speaking Monday at the American University, Cairo

Ever since President Bush settled on a policy of promoting democracy in the Middle East, he has been repeatedly lambasted for his alleged hypocrisy: Why advocate democracy for Iraq and Lebanon, say the critics, but not for autocratic U.S. allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia? In this telling, "democracy" is said to be just an alibi for the pursuit of narrow U.S. interests, especially a steady supply of oil.

Well, so much for that view. On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Cairo and then Riyadh and, in soft tones, delivered a stark message: America would no longer pursue "stability at the expense of democracy." The U.S. will now notice when peaceful Egyptian protestors are brutalized by government security goons, or when Saudi citizens are imprisoned for "peacefully petitioning the government"; and the future of both countries as American allies rests on the seriousness of their commitment to democratic reform.


I will think about sending this to my friend who sends me all the MoveOn.org conspiracies and anti-Bush editorials. We'll see.

But today's WSJ shakes my endorsement theory quite a bit. First, the first page reminds that Senators McCain and Chafee have opposed eliminating the "death tax" (The deficit, you know) and the Ed Page leads with Secretary Rice's barnstorming the MidEast as the Sharansky disciple she is. And she would never, ever, ever find herself paired with a Lincioln Chafee in a news story.

Rice 2008. If there's no chance of drafting her, McCain.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

Between Campaign Finance "Reform", the Keating affair, and the fact that the media love him, the Senator leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I like Rice, if she doesn't run, Romney looks interesting. K-Lo @ NRO is pushing him of late.

But it's waaaaay too early to hazard a guess anyway.

Posted by: AlexC at June 22, 2005 10:24 PM

June 21, 2005

Adopt a Blog

This is cool and I hope it works.

ThreeSources will happily host a Chinese blog to help a blogger circumvent government blocking.

WikiHome

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent! I can't wait to add the byline to our header, "Officially banned in the People's Republic of China!"

I can't wait to comment on the Chinese posts. Sure hope they're in English!

Posted by: johngalt at June 21, 2005 3:05 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Let's aspire to be banned by Cuba, North Korea and Iran as well!

Posted by: AlexC at June 21, 2005 5:28 PM

Still Pro War

I want to reaffirm my support, not only of the troops but of their mission.

Senator Durbin's comments, focus on Gitmo, poll numbers, &c. have obscured the goals and achievements of the War on Terror.

I have mentioned my friend’s emails before. I respond infrequently because I think that she does not enjoy my responses, but I respond occasionally because -- well -- I can't stop.

Today she sends an EJ Dionne column with a preface about how she has always suspected a global conspiracy. She cites the Dionne column and a Bill Moyers interview on CNN as substantiation.

Here is my response. I was happy to affirm my support:

I should be nice and let a few more go by, but I MUST comment on today’s email

I read every word you send, by the way. I worry that you are less exposed to alternate views. Today’s email quotes E.J. Dionne and Bill Moyers, whom I consider to be two of the most far left and anti-administration people in Journalism today. Yes, Thomas Friedman supported the war, but I would not say that he supported the administration. Friedman is a moderate liberal, not a right winger.

I’m sure the war could have been prosecuted better and I wish Iraq were more stable today. But I clearly believe there is far more hope for an Iraqi today than when Saddam Hussein was filling mass graves and throwing people into recycling shredders. The elections in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine-Authority, and Lebanon – plus the growing movements in Egypt are all direct benefits of the Coalition’s muscular approach to terrorism.

The US will likely never be “safe” as our open society exposes vulnerabilities. But I certainly feel that we are safer with Saddam out of power and many al-Qaeda leaders captured or killed.

We’ve paid a high price, and I flatly reject that those who have died have done so to enrich the wealthy. They did it for their country and to make the world better – and I believe that they did.

I hate to end on a side note but rich folks enjoy stability: make deals with Saddam, make deals with the Saudis, keep the money rolling in. Inviting instability is a bold move that was not done for profit, it was done for freedom. History will judge its efficacy but I am confident judging its intentions today.

With love and respect,

Your friend.
jk


More eloquent and important than me, Col. Repya write the Minneapolis StarTrib today, hat-tip Power Line
I was so upset when I read the Star Tribune's Editorial today that I sent off this letter below to the editor from my duty desk in Baghdad, Iraq. The voices of millions killed by Hitler, Stalin & Pol Pot are rising from their mass graves and demanding an apology. Durbin is wrong and the Star Tribune is wrong even more. Clearly they are not on our side! Soldiers over here keep asking me why America has forgotten 9-11. I keep telling them that the liberal media won't let the American people see the images of the murdered and tortured Iraqis we find every day over here. Please keep up the fight back home and I promise the American military will win the war over here!

Thanks you for your service. Colonel!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:45 PM

June 15, 2005

Geneva Convention

As I (and my pals at WSJ Ed Page) see it, if the terrorists staying at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility want to be treated under the Geneva Convention, we can shoot every one of them. Then, the queasy among us can get their wish of "shutting down Gitmo."

WSJ.com - The Red Cross and Congress

The International Committee of the Red Cross gets special access to prisons around the world as the neutral observer body designated by the Geneva Conventions. But for more than three years now the ICRC has abused that position of trust to wage an unprecedented propaganda war against the United States.

Leaked ICRC reports have described conditions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as "tantamount to torture" because indefinite detention is stressful. And just last month the ICRC's Washington office broke its confidentiality agreement with the U.S. government to fan the flames created by Newsweek's false Quran-abuse story.

Fortunately, Capitol Hill is starting to notice. A study released Monday by the Senate Republican Policy Committee says the ICRC has "lost its way," and suggests annual reviews be conducted by the State, Defense, and Justice Departments to certify that the organization truly adheres to its stated principles of "neutrality, impartiality and humanity."

In particular, the study raps the ICRC for its efforts to "afford terrorists and insurgents the same rights and privileges as [uniformed] military personnel" by misleadingly pretending that a radical document called Protocol 1 is settled international law. This causes the ICRC to "inaccurately and unfairly accuse the U.S. of not adhering to the Geneva Conventions."

U.S. taxpayers are the largest contributors to the ICRC's budget ($233 million, or 26%, in 2003). They have a right to expect an honest interpretation of the Geneva Conventions for that money, not more leaked reports that will be spun to give aid and comfort to al Qaeda.


These people are treated better than they deserve because of US benevolence, I think the administration needs to assert this.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:25 AM

June 6, 2005

D-Day

61 Years Ago.

    "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

    Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

    But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

    I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

    Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."


Thank you for your service, and your sacrifice.

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Amen!

Posted by: jk at June 6, 2005 10:46 AM

June 5, 2005

The Face of Freedom

Has George Bush become the face of freedom for the oppressed?

    Tensions have been steadily building in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation in the run-up to parliamentary elections set for November, leading some observers to predict that Azerbaijan could see a massive uprising similar to those that toppled unpopular regimes in three other ex-Soviet nations - Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan - over the past 18 months.

    Supporters of several opposition parties marched in Baku on Saturday, chanting "Freedom!" and "Free Elections!" They held placards with slogans like "Down with robber government!" and carried pictures of U.S. President George W. Bush with the words: "We want freedom!"


Besides writing "freedom" on a poster, freedom is a difficult concept to illustrate during a march. But the message of his picture is clear. George Bush brings freedom.

And they want it.

One small worry though.
I haven't seen any protest babe pictures yet...
It's not a freedom protest if there aren't good looking women.
Where are they?

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

June 4, 2005

Dear Amnesty International

...and everybody else who is so concerned that the US is evil. I'm very sorry that somebody’s Koran may have contacted urine. I'm sorry about Abu Ghraib. But I ask you to read Our only luggage was hope' in the Miami Herald.

It was written by Sergio Perodín Jr., a young man who was graduated from high school in America today, after two attempts to escape Cuba to come here, losing his mother and brother in one of them.

As a child I had an experience that taught me the price that individuals are willing to pay for freedom.

I was only 7 years old and living in communist Cuba. My parents yearned for freedom and dreamt of coming to America. They secretly planned to escape, along with 72 others who shared their dream. We embarked on a wooden tugboat. Our only luggage was hope, but in that attempt, 41 lives were lost. Among them, my mother and brother. My father refused to give up hope, and a short time later, we risked our lives in a second attempt, but on this occasion, aboard a raft.

It began on the fateful day of July 13, 1994, as we embarked on the 13 de Marzo tugboat at about 2 a.m. About 13 miles off the coast of Cuba, we were suddenly attacked by three Cuban tugboats. They rammed us. Pressure hoses, normally used to put out fires at sea, were used against us. Their impact was so powerful that children were swept to sea from their parents' protective embrace.

Those on the tugboats shouted insults over loudspeakers. In a frenzy, they crashed into the ship, damaging the hull, which caused the tugboat to take in water rapidly. Within minutes, the ship sank. People were screaming and begging to be rescued, but those on the tugboats showed no pity. They circled us and made whirlpools in the water, causing men, women and children to be lost forever in a black sea of despair.
[..]
A month later, my dad was released from prison, and we were more determined than ever to attempt our search for liberty once more. It took about two weeks to build a raft. One night we embarked on the raft along with seven others and began navigating the seas with wooden paddles. We paddled for a whole day and suddenly we got caught in a storm. We tied ourselves to the raft with ropes and fell asleep from exhaustion. When we woke up, we noticed that we were being taken back to the coast of Cuba by the rough currents of the storm.

At that instant, it seemed as if all our hopes had been lost, but again with all the strength within us, we continued paddling assured that freedom awaited us. We were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and eventually taken to the Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba.
[..]
I will be graduating from high school today. Another dream has been achieved. To this day, I remember that awful tragedy and I still struggle with the memories. But I know I have another dream to accomplish for myself and the memory of my mother and brother. I will go to college. I will do it in the land where everything is possible -- in the land where I found something so valuable that people are willing to risk their lives to obtain it.

It is called freedom.


I provided the long excerpt because the registration process is onerous (but you can get Dave Barry emailed to you as a reward).

Hat-tip: Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Freedom isn't free, except in America where, as a result, it is regarded as less important than the "right" to food, shelter, and health care.

Posted by: johngalt at June 6, 2005 2:38 PM

Intellectual Shermanism

Johngalt, for the best reasons, doesn't like my respect for Sherman's march to the sea. But I believe that the costs of war demand that you settle for nothing less than total victory.

Sherman effectively squelched a CSA rebel insurgency. VDH pondered whether Shermanesque brutality was needed to stop fighting in Iraq and PLA-controlled Palestine. Like many martial thoughts of Perfesser Hansen, I have held this thought for some time.

Now, Perry de Havilland at Samizdata calls for less magnanimity. In "Shine the spotlight, name the names," Havilland says we let those who were wrong about the cold war off too easily -- and that they came back as to be wrong again in the war on terror.

Now as I have said before on this blog, there are many people who opposed the war in Iraq for reasons that are clearly held in good conscience, fearing the cost to liberty in the West of such entanglements and I think it is important to differentiate between those people and others who oppose military action by the USA and UK for quite different reasons. Folks like Robert Fisk or John Pilger or Noam Chomsky are not neutral or 'pro-peace', they are actually on the other side because to them it is better to stand with people which makes women chattels, slaughters civilians intentionally, stones homosexuals to death and hangs females rape victims as well as the rapist, by simple virtue that anyone who is opposed to the liberal capitalist world is preferable to the United States. If the USA can be wounded, making the world safe for burquas and clitoridectomy is a small price to pay.

Well good bless the internet. By their own words they will be revealed. This is something that need to be an ongoing process, taking articles and 'inviting' the authors to confront their words and ask what they think now. Do not make the mistake of the 1990's and be magnanimous in victory. No, before forgiveness must come repentance. If the other side wants to be treated kindly then let them put their hands up in surrender and admit they were wrong. Until then it is time to follow the example of Hussein Shirazi and put the boot in. Hard.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

One of the best way (so I hear) to housebreak your dog is to rub their face in it.

Maybe the left needs this.

Posted by: AlexC at June 4, 2005 2:03 PM

May 29, 2005

Remembering

Memorial Day weekend isn't about the start of summer and barbeques.
It's remembering those that have sacrificed in war for our country.

The Library of Congress has undertaken a project to get the stories of veterans and record them digitally.

Audio, video and text versions of their memories are being recorded for the future.

Experiencing War

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Mourn the dead, honor the heroes (all who served with honor), and praise NED that the "land of the free" has finally evolved beyond conscription. And so long as America's wars are waged exclusively in America's rational interests there will be no shortage of volunteer soldiers.

Posted by: johngalt at May 30, 2005 4:46 PM

May 23, 2005

Auf Wiedersehen

Herr Scroeder is in a little trouble in German Politics.

Larry Kudlow points out an interetsing trend:

It's also interesting to note that Bush, Howard, and Blair -- all pro-war heads of state -- won re-election. With this defeat, Schroeder's hopes are dimming. Chirac is in trouble too. Maybe the war isn't as unpopular internationally as the press would have us believe. Could it be that, even in the heart of Old Europe, pro-war capitalism trumps anti-war socialism?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Anti-war socialism never reigned over pro-war capitalism, even in "Old Europe." The former is always, simply, LOUDER than the latter.

I found it delicious that this story was also carried in the PRC's "ZINHUA online" news service - http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-05/24/content_2993084.htm - including this quote: "The best thing for the economy is a change in government," said Rainer Guntermann, senior economist of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.

Hopefully the Chinese are paying attention.

I also noticed, on XINHUA's "Opinion" page - http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/opinions.htm - these "Voice of Netizens" comments - http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-03/24/content_1382422.htm - on the subject, "Is English skill that important?"

long1: Make a comparison of soft environment between China and India, it's not difficult to see that China is at a disadvantage in that less people speak English. This has become a constraint to China's long-term development. Those in favor of abandoning English learning really have no great vision. They don't set sight on China's future, let alone the future of the world.

txh: It's undisputable that China has a lot to learn from industrialized countries, in fields of science, technology, communication and so on and so forth. Can we do it without mastering the English language?

Leweje: The harsh and hard reality is you would be considered a dummy if you can't speak English, and you would be further downgraded if you can't write English. If you know neither English nor computer? Well, you are a flat-out idiot !

Freedom is on the march, and it's mother tongue is English.

Posted by: johngalt at May 23, 2005 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Very good. Maybe someday we'll convince teachers in the United States that it is important.

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2005 5:39 PM

May 19, 2005

Pepsi Boycott?

I don't call for boycotts lightly. There is usually a better way -- BUT, I don't think I'll be buying Pepsi products (I don't consume much).

Have you seen the story of PepsiCo president Indra Nooyi at the Columbia Business School MBA recognition ceremony? She likened the five continents to the five fingers and cautioned the students that the U.S. appeared to "give the finger" to the world. (I wonder that she wasn't making hateful remarks about the great nation of Mexico...)

A soldier writes to PowerBlog with a different interpretation:

I found Ms. Nooyi's graduation comments offensive, not to mention off-base, because the central theme of her speech was that America is, in essence, "flipping off the world."

I am in Iraq, and served previously in Afghanistan. Many Americans have given their lives to liberate those nations from tyranny. In that light, I offer a few examples of "fingers" in those places that might present Ms. Nooyi a more substantive representation of American presence abroad than a trivial story of a rude traveler.

For example, she could ride on a combat patrol here and use her fingers to return the waves that I see on every mission from some of the over eight million Iraqis whose fingers were stained with purple ink following voting in the first democratic elections after decades of tyranny. She might notice her fingers moistened by sweat as she unconsciously gripped her armrest, noticing a tinge of fear from attack by a roadside bomb--the same fear felt by myself and every other American on Iraq’s roads.

In Afghanistan, many children and parents stick their thumbs straight up when Americans pass, demonstrating gratefulness for no longer living under the Taliban. I drove by Kabul University a while back and saw two young girls using their fingers to carry the books that represent the freedom to pursue education now enjoyed by Afghan women.

Now, a question that begs an answer: Does Ms. Nooyi consider that freedom an example of America "giving the world the finger," or "giving the world a hand?"

In the meantime, I will stop consuming Pepsico products and encourage others to do the same. Please remember, it is this country, and the brave men and women who defend it, that provided the free enterprise system that allowed your company to become a global corporate power. I would hope that Pepsi senior executives would show more respect for this great country. Perhaps the troops who enjoy your products would hope so as well.


Stunning. This reminds me a bit of "The Dixie Chicks" contretemps. Nothing illegal, but you should know your market a little better -- I don't think Pepsi wants to be labeled anti-American.

UPDATE: Heh.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM

May 1, 2005

Fast Food Überzeugungkrieg

Wells Fargo (formerly Strong Funds) analyst and daily update author Peter Nulty wrote, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of McDonald's restaurants, that the advent of "copious protien for a pittance" helped end the Cold War. [Full text of emailed essay from 14Apr05 reprinted in "continue reading."]

Nulty's contention was that a capitalist economy could provide better and more plentiful food to consumers than a socialist one, and when the subjects of Soviet socialism experienced this first-hand they demanded change, and economic freedom.

I will dub this the "cheeseburger bomb" and it is the weapon of choice in waging Überzeugungkrieg, or 'persuasion war.' Such a tactic would not have worked in oil-rich totalitarian Iraq, because Saddam was wise enough to keep his citizenry well fed. (Except when it was expedient not to.) DPRK, however, is an excellent target for such a 'weapon.' Unfortunately, the only mechanism for delivery requires voluntary cooperation of the target regime. Don't expect Baby Kim to go along the way the Hungarians did.

*****

Saying good things about McDonald's isn't popular these days, but Friday is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald's, and I have some good things to say.

Let's remember (if you are old enough) what the world was like on April 15, 1955. Very few families could afford to eat out more than once or twice a year. My family rarely went to restaurants, and when we did it was considered a major extravagance. When I went to college in the early ‘60s, my parents gave me the equivalent of $2 a week in spending money. But on Sunday evenings, the dining facilities were closed and students had to fend for themselves. So I would go to a local diner with my friends for the cheapest blue-plate special in town: It cost $1.75, and left me with 25 cents to last the rest of the week. Eventually I found a part time job and life got easier, but for a while there I was pretty crimped.

Then, in 1962, a McDonald's opened up on the edge of town, and I could get essentially the same meal – a burger, fries, and a cola – for 35 cents, leaving me enough pocket money to go to a movie and hang out for a few hours at the local student coffee house. For me in those years, McDonald's was a miracle of efficiency and consistency that raised my standard of living.

I wasn't the only one impressed. My wife's cousin, who lived behind the "Iron Curtain" in Hungary, got a three-week visa in 1972 to visit America, and my wife drove him to California and back to see the sights. Even in those early days, my wife was no fan of McDonald's, but her cousin wouldn’t eat anywhere else. Why? He was amazed at American bounty. He had been told that capitalist workers were wallowing in the gutter. Instead he found them chowing down at clean, friendly, brightly-lit McDonald's for a fraction of the price he was used to paying in the Socialist paradise back home. Also, he thought the food tasted good. So the socialist and the capitalist ate at McDonald's all the way to California and back, and even today he says that the most surprising thing about his first view of America was McDonald's.

Soon after the cousin returned to Budapest, his father, who was the vice premier of Hungary at the time, instituted economic reforms that allowed entrepreneurs in Hungary to own their own small businesses. Those reforms energized the Hungarian economy and became the model for Gorbachev's "perestroika" reforms that began to thaw the Soviet Union in the ‘80s. I don't believe it's going overboard to say that the success of companies like McDonald's played a major role in bringing an end to the Cold War.

By providing copious protein for a pittance, McDonald's (and restaurants like it) enriched us all. But it also raised a new problem that we are now struggling with: Many of us consume more food than we need and we have to learn how to rein in our appetites somehow. But I'd rather have today's dilemma than the one we faced in 1955, when only the wealthy had to worry about being overweight. I don't blame McDonald's for making food affordable for me; I blame myself for lack of discipline. But I'm confident we will, um, lick this eventually.

Thank you, Richard and Maurice McDonald. Thank you Ray Kroc. And happy birthday, Mickey Dee's. Oh, yeah: Would you do something about that silly clown, Ronald What's-His-Face? He's really annoying. (Kidding!)


Peter Nulty
Editor

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Great stuff, or as Homer would say "Mmmm, burgers..." Mikhail Gorbachev also was quoted at a Brooklyn McDonalds to say "we could learn something from this."

I will steal this to segue into the jk theory of world politics:

1) Free nations will always be richer (cf. Mises, Hayek)
2) The richer nation will -- long-term -- win a war. We won the cold war economically, and the Union gave every opportunity to the CSA in strategy and tactics, yet the North won the Civil War with industrial output.

By simple syllogism, then, freedom should be continually on the march, taking brief hiatuses only for things like the Carter Presidency.

Schools teach that indigenous Americans lost because they didn't have guns -- like the settlers won the lottery. I contend that they didn't have guns because they didn't create a free enough society to support a Sam Colt.

The start of that free society was certainly when the colonists used specialization and comparative advantage to feed all the people without 97% of them being farmers. The start of the burger revolution!

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2005 12:42 PM

April 28, 2005

EU Constitutional Crisis

As waves of liberty wash over the Middle-East, as they did in "New Europe" after the collapse of the Soviet Union, where else do you suppose their effects are being felt? Why, in "Old Europe" too!

This AP report from two days ago reveals that the socialist citizenry of the socialist state of France, regarded as the principal force behind the EU unification effort, may be getting cold feet.

French polls have shown a steady opposition to the charter. A poll published Friday, indicated 62 percent of voters will reject the constitution in France's May 29 referendum — the highest figure so far.

All 25 European Union members must approve the text for it to take effect. A French rejection could spur "no" votes elsewhere.

Opposition is attributed to the anticipated loss of "French jobs and sovereignty in the EU's giant market." Well, DUH! (On the sovereignty part anyway.)

But what of the poor Germans? They won't even get a vote in the matter: "Germany, the most populous EU member with 82 million people, is submitting the charter to lawmakers for approval and does not plan a referendum." Never fear, after France chooses self-rule, the Germans can always stage a popular "Deutsche Freiheit" revolution.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:14 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

And Andrew Stuttaford has a piece from the London Times about Holland:

"Europe, for the Dutch, has lost its allure. Few politicians now call for an ever-closer union. Even fewer see in Brussels a model of efficiency, probity or accountability. The Dutch are to vote on the European constitution three days after the French referendum. Disillusioned with EU bureaucracy, resentful that they pay a disproportionately high share of the EU’s rising costs and fearful of losing their national identity, the Dutch may vote decisively against...Above all, the country is reacting to years of stifling liberal consensus. There is a backlash against the assumptions that The Hague should pay generously for other Europeans, take a lead in development aid or make concessions to a club dominated by larger members determined to have their own way. The Dutch want to concentrate on priorities at home. What they dislike is not the idea of a constitution, but the accretion of more power to an unaccountable Brussels. The Netherlands has the chance to speak for Europe. The Dutch should vote “nee” in the referendum."

http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/05_04_24_corner-archive.asp#061713

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2005 5:24 PM
But AlexC thinks:

A French "non" vote would have a significant impact on the continent's EU fetish. It might derail the whole experiment.
A question then to ask is, will the Euro currency be affected negatively?
If it is, what's that going to do to the rest of the world? I understand that some markets have moved off of the dollar infavor of the Euro as their currency of choice.

Posted by: AlexC at April 28, 2005 10:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Schadenfreude is a bad thing. I am happy to see the EU constitution fail because I think it is an anti-liberty structure.

Yet to completely unwind the EU Federation, including the common currency, would restrict free movement of goods, labor and capital. I don't want to unwind it, but I don't want to wind it more tightly, unless the constitution were completely restructured.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2005 1:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It is instructive to note that, on the subject of a governing Constitution, the EU is not much more advanced than Iraq, and less so than Afghanistan. http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2063.html As the march of freedom leads to more and more new constitutions across the world, they all face the same difficulty. How to empower a government that doesn't infringe upon individual liberty.

The founders of the USA had it right - government power must be EXPRESSLY limited. Meddlesome bureaucrats and politicians must be held in absolute check when it comes to issues of liberty. America's Constitution is the best model for all the rest, but not in its current form. Most of the amendments should be tossed out. And then we have to reform our courts to ignore the relativistic urge to redefine the Constitution by redefining the words with which it is written.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2005 3:43 PM

Quagmire Alert

Instapundit linked to this NYTimes Editorial as an example of historical revisionism, which it is.

But I read the same editorial and was glad the good folks at the NYTimes were not around for the creation of our Constitution. Heavens! Months have gone by and they're still not done? The war was obviously a waste!

The Bush administration has, understandably, stopped trying to disguise its frustration and concern. Granted, Iraq's politicians are new to the challenges of parliamentary give-and-take. But if they manage to squander the aura of democratic legitimacy conferred on them by January's election, it will become radically harder to bridge ethnic and religious divides, build a national army and police force, and repair a still shattered infrastructure.

Dear Timesers: Self rule is a messy business. If it is successful in ten years, we should be happy, five ecstatic. Sorry that only Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan have held elections. And that only Lebanon and Egypt are showing direct leaning toward freedom in the mideast. But what can you expect when the President is a moron!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM

April 12, 2005

Pope John Paul

De Mortuis nil nisi bonum or "do not speak ill of the dead" should probably apply double to a Pope, and to a Pope who helped free much of the world from Communism.

But my thought has been echoed eloquently by Joseph Braude in TNR's Power Failure

It's impossible to know for sure why so many Islamist leaders and Arab heads of state were so generous in their praise of John Paul this week. But here's one theory: They liked him because he didn't hold them to the same standards to which he held Poland's Wojciech Jaruzelski and the USSR's Mikhail Gorbachev. They liked him because whereas he successfully fought for religious freedom, equality, and social justice in Eastern Europe, in the Middle East he did not.

As a political figure, I think it is right to question JPII's stance on the mideast. As Braude ends, it is worth considering the point for a successor:
But in the long run, the Pope's soft stance toward dictators and Islamists hasn't served anyone well--not Christians, not Jews, not Muslims. In Latin America, the Pope spoke clearly for social justice; in Eastern Europe, he spoke clearly for religious freedom; but in the Middle East he allowed himself to be lectured by Bashar Assad about how the Jews killed Christ, and bad-mouthed by some of the very Islamists whom he had welcomed into the Vatican. His successor must be shrewd and demanding in the Middle East--and willing to be loved a little bit less by the region's self-appointed leaders.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 AM | Comments (6)
But AlexC thinks:

That's why my money's on Arinze from Nigeria. He's seen Islam at work in his home country.

Posted by: AlexC at April 12, 2005 2:35 AM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I'm not sure this criticism is fair. I didn't see Reagan, Thatcher, Bush I, or Clinton pushing hard for democracy in the Middle East either. The Pope was a product of his times, as Goerge W. is a product of his.
I'm also not sure that the leader of one religion should take on the leaders of another, especially when there is no real seperation of church and State in the Mid East. We might make a political distinciton, as Goerge W. has taken great pains to do, but chances are very good the Muslims wouldn't and the Pope would be seen as starting a religious confrontation. As it stands, his overtures to the Mid East, modest as they may have been, set the stage for a more explicit diaglouge to come, as Nixon's trip to China opened doors that had been closed in his day.

Posted by: sugarchuck at April 12, 2005 10:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Your points are well taken, sc, but PM Thatcher and President Reagan watched the Iraq conflict from the extreme sidelines. PJPII was still in power and spoke out against the war.

I hardly expect another crusade, but I never really got over the appeasement.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2005 11:05 AM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Your point on Iraq is also well taken. Communism imploded rather than exploded, because the United States was willing to arm itself for conflict and was willing to use arms if need be. Iraq is free becuase of armed intervention and the Pope's position was wrong. Prayer has it's place, and it is an improtant one, but the willingness to fight has it's place too.

Posted by: sugarchuck at April 12, 2005 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Other than the Kantian "uncertainty" angle, this is an insightful analysis. As the non-subscriber article summary states: "The leadership of Hamas conveyed its condolences to the press and urged the Vatican "to maintain its position in support of our people and our cause, and focus its efforts on steering its followers to defend the rights of our Palestinian people to confront the continuous Zionist aggression, which targets Muslims and Christians..."

Certainly there is a measure of self-serving recharacterization of the Vatican's position here, but it is essentially accurate. And how can there be any doubt why so many Islamists and Arab dictators were generous in their praise?

An honest evaluation of the Pope's legacy must recognize the fact that his objective was never liberation of Eastern Europe, described by Braude as "religious freedom, equality, and social justice." The Pope's mission is to expand the influence of religious faith throughout the world. He cares less if you call God "Allah" or follow the teachings of Muhammad rather than Jesus, than if you are not permitted to worship or pray at all. He worked toward freedom of religion in secular Eastern Europe. The fact that individual liberty accompanied it to some extent was a collateral development that proved more notable to us than to the Pope.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2005 2:47 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Wow, good comments all. My two cents is that this is a concrete example of the need for seperation of church and state. The Pope is a religious leader after all, his political power comes through the ability of Catholics to exert political pressure on their political leaders, something not possible without political freedom and ironically seperation of church and state. Thus his influence in a non-Catholic theocracy is extremely limited. He has a grand bully pulpit of course but to whom does he preach to bring about change?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 14, 2005 6:01 PM

April 3, 2005

If Nominated I Will Not Run

If elected I will not serve.

VATICAN CITY - Roman Catholics and others began to speak out Sunday about their hopes — and expectations — for a new pope, as the intense guessing game began over who would succeed John Paul II in leading the Church.

I celebrate the pope's life, specifically for his contributions to freedom. His support of the Solidarity movement in his native Poland did much to bring down the Soviet Union. Sharansky and Sakharov write that tyrannies are more fragile than they look and find it difficult to weather a strong voice for freedom.

I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but I was extremely disappointed when John Paul II could not see the same need in Iraq. It frustrated me to no end that the man who stood up to the USSR could not stand up to a tinpot depot like Saddam Hussein.

Hugh Hewitt credits the triumvirate of Reagan, Solzhenitsyn, and Pope John Paul II with the victory in the Cold War. I'll take nothing from those guys, but how can he not put PM Thatcher in their camp? No Maggie, no victory. When the men wavered or "went wobbly" the Iron Lady held strong.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The Pope can do a good job of advocating liberty, but is worthless when it comes to defending it - other than rhetorically, at least.

This morning I heard William Krystol say that John Paul II believed that war was never the answer because in his lifetime he saw Nazism and the Soviet Union fall "through prayer and love" or something to that effect. I don't think the Pope actually believed that, and I hope Krystol doesn't. He must have misspoke, mustn't he?

The next time you hear a world leader say, "We have to love those who hate us" just tell him, "That's the Pope's job. Your's is to kill them before they kill us."

Sometimes it takes homicidal maniacs too long to "find God." Sometimes they need a little help, the hard way.

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2005 3:38 PM

March 26, 2005

Crazy Ideas


The freedom and democracy bug continues to spread.

    Hundreds of thousands of people chanting "Oppose war, Love Taiwan" joined President Chen Shui-bian Saturday to protest against China's anti-secession law that sanctions the use of force against the island.

    Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party hopes the protest will draw international attention to the new law and put pressure on China to scrap it.

    Organizers said 1 million people joined the show of people power against Beijing's military threat, but Taipei police estimated the crowd at just over 240,000.

    "I am here to protest against a barbaric China which looks down upon the Taiwanese people," said 70-year-old businessman Fan Wen-yi, adding he was not affiliated to any political party and had never participated in a protest before. "The anti-secession law, simply put, is a law that authorizes war."

    The protestors chanted slogans and waved green flags that read "democracy, peace, protect Taiwan" as they marched toward the presidential office from 10 locations around the capital, symbolizing the 10 clauses of the anti-secession law.


Bill Roggio had a heck of post about China & Taiwan and any potential military confrontations that may arise.
Go read it.

Posted by AlexC at 7:35 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

And democracy protests in Bahrain! http://www.publiuspundit.com/?p=754

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2005 12:16 AM
But AlexC thinks:

A world gone mad! Who do these people think they are? ;)

Posted by: AlexC at March 28, 2005 8:20 PM
But AlexC thinks:

And Zimbabwe!

http://www.publiuspundit.com/?p=771

Posted by: AlexC at March 28, 2005 10:30 PM

March 22, 2005

Turned The Corner

Last night, Larry Kudlow asked Austin Bay if we had now "turned the corner" in Iraq. The Colonel responded that, by his observations in theatre, we had done so long ago.

A little good news today bolsters the case:

Baghdad Residents Kill Three Militants

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shopkeepers and residents on one of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns Tuesday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passers-by, giving a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq.


The news is great but I hope that the AP reporter (Traci Carl) was not too overwhelmingly optimistic. "a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq." Absolutely nothing in story backs up that particular editorial comment in the lede.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM

March 16, 2005

Pulchritudinous Protesters

AlexC's observation that pro-democracy protests seem to feature the most beautiful women is catching hold with the rest of the blogosphere.

Riding Sun references a political cartoon in a Jordanian newspaper that compares caricatured hotties to their grizzled, bearded opponents. (Follow the link to links galore of freedom babes.)

It's good marketing to capture the West's imagination but it is also especially germane to the MidEast as many of the autocratic regimes also impose religious dress codes that are not terribly flattering to the female form.

I'm even more convinced that we are called on to liberate Beverly Hills (Did you see the cover of "The Economist?"). Expressing one's sexuality is a part of freedom. Which they can now do in The Ukraine.

Hat-tip: Instapundit.

UPDATE: Yeah, I changed the headline from "Freedom, Whiskey, Sexy" Get me a job at the Sun.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

I can't imagine I was the first... but thanks.!

http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/000768.html

Posted by: AlexC at March 16, 2005 10:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The miniskirt is definitely in vogue in the Ukraine. What does this illustrate? Individuality, first and foremost. Also a healthy joy for life and endorsement of western ideals like competition and ambition. But most importantly, celebration of the joy of life on earth (as compared to the "afterlife.")

We can clearly discern the values expressed by the fashions of these 'Hezbollah girl scouts' too:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?g=events/wl/021405lebanon&a=&tmpl=sl&ns=&l=&e=1&t=&prev=15
Uniformity, utility, equality, repression, duty. "Don't worry girls, you'll get to be one of the 72 virgins in waiting for our heroic suicide martyrs."

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2005 10:51 AM

March 9, 2005

The Sharansky of Saigon

Claudia Rosett, who deserves a freedom-rewarding prize as much as any journalist today, gives that sobriquet to democratic dissident Nguyen Dan Que of Vietnam. In her OpinionJournal piece today, she highlights his courage and ends with hope.

Dr. Que does not have access to the daily diet of news that feeds the free world. But given the feats of modern technology to spread information, he knows enough about what is now happening in the Middle East so that he wished to share his views on how America's intervention in Iraq is like the war in Vietnam, and how it isn't. The similarity, he says, "is the same fighting spirit for freedom." The difference, he adds, is that in the fight for freedom, the side America is on "will triumph this time."

Why?

"The world is changing," says Dr. Que. "There are more opportunities than ever."
He is right, and if the world is changing, it is because the U.S. is hardly alone in prizing freedom. In every country are people who care about liberty--and in most places there are a few willing to pay dearly and take extraordinary risks to lead the way. Dr. Que is one, and as we watch the Middle East, it bears remembering, as he says, that these are "universal values," that in many places there are people who given any chance at all will answer freedom's call.


The sub-head is so good that Instapundit wants bumper-stickers: "Vietnam -- The Next Iraq?"

Let Freedom Reign!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM

March 7, 2005

The Sharansky Moment

Caroline Glick writes a column in The Jerusalem Post about Natan Sharansky's influence in the United States.

In the history of Israel's relations with the US, there has been no precedent for the influence that Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky has had on US foreign policy. While in the past Israeli leaders have worked closely with their American counterparts, no one other than Sharansky has managed to actually influence the way that American policymakers think about foreign affairs or perceive the role of the US in the world.

Today it is beyond debate that Sharansky has deeply influenced US President George W. Bush's thinking on international affairs. After reading Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy, Bush told The New York Times that Sharansky's worldview "is part of my presidential DNA." This Sharansky-inspired "presidential DNA" posits that the Arab world's conflict with Israel, like its support for global jihad, will end when the Arab world democratizes. In Sharansky's view, once Arabs are governed democratically, they will not wish to sustain the conflict.

If Sharansky and Bush are correct, then the past week has been one of the greatest weeks in the history of the Middle East. Syria's puppet government in Beirut has resigned and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is being squeezed from all directions. He has declared that he will end Syria's occupation of Lebanon and has turned over Iraqi Ba'athists to American forces in Iraq in the hope of stemming the seemingly inexorable demise of his regime. Egypt's dictator, Hosni Mubarak, under attack from Washington and from his democratic opposition – that for once is being supported by the Western media – has announced that he will enable other candidates to run against him in the upcoming presidential elections.


Driving through Boulder to get to work this morning, I was behind one of 10,000 old cars that are covered in "Peace," "No Iraq War," anti-Bush, anti-capitalism, and generally anarchic bumper stickers.

I thought to myself, this guy just needs one big bumper sticker that says "Appeasement!!" I think Sharansky is shaping that view in the Administration and its successes are shaping that view elsewhere.

It may never come to Boulder, but the "Peace Protesters" may not be viewed as good-intentioned if a little naive but for what they truly are: appeasers who would rather deal with dictators than make a stand for liberty.

Sharansky was of course liberated by Thatcher and Reagan. My favorite story is of the two of them watching some peace protest and Maggie saying "Whose Peace, Poland's?" I still say that to peaceniks around Boulder but they don't get it.

Sharansky's "moral clarity" and his call for moral clarity in the free world may be his greatest gift.

Hat-tip: Pillage Idiot

Posted by John Kranz at 4:26 PM

March 2, 2005

A Long Way Baby!

Reuters "news" "service" reports

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan Wednesday named its first female provincial governor, a step forward in the slow political progress of women since the fall of the Taliban more than three years ago.

Three years from "be stoned to death if you are caught walking outside the house without your husband" to "provincial governor." I would call that pretty quick progress, but I am one of them polyannacons...

Hat-tip: The Corner. (And the "news" "service" joke is, of course, stolen from Taranto...)

Posted by John Kranz at 7:22 PM

Bush Demands Syria Withdraw from Lebanon

That's the headline of this AP wire story

On Syria, though, there appears to be no give in the hard U.S. position that it must withdraw its troops and security forces from Lebanon and permit the neighboring Arab country it has long dominated to run its own political affairs.

Speaking at a community college in Maryland, Bush demanded Syria give democracy a chance to flourish in Lebanon.

With France solidly aligned with the United States — in contrast to France's dissent from the Iraq war — Bush said, "The free world is in agreement that Damascus' authority over the political affairs of its neighbor must end."


Brilliant. Glenn points out that the Lebanese have a choice between:
leb_syrians.jpg
Or...
leb_freedom_smile2.jpg
leb_freedom_smile.jpg
Pretty easy to pick!

UPDATE: Friend of this blog, PubliusPundit, has been leading the pack on this story he posts about brewing action in the House:

WASHINGTON, March 2 (AFP) - A US House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday approved a resolution blasting the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and called on President George W. Bush to tighten the screws on Damascus.

The resolution, introduced by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, expresses “the grave concern of Congress” regarding Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.

The resolution describes Lebanon as a “captive country” and states that Syria’s occupation “represents a long-term threat to the security of the Middle East, as well as US efforts “to promote political and economic liberalization in the region.”


Posted by John Kranz at 7:04 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Have you noticed that the freedom protestors (where ever they are) are usually good lookin' babes?

Posted by: AlexC at March 3, 2005 1:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Instapundit has shown five in row from Lebanon, all of whom are very attractive. It strikes me as a "Free Beverly Hills!" opportunity.

Posted by: jk at March 3, 2005 10:13 AM

February 27, 2005

A Real American Hero

Saturday evening, I met someone you don't meet everyday.

A real American hero.

After our SePA YCOP kickoff meeting, I and three other compatriots (one of which was frequent pstupidonymous commentor and Montgomery County Vice Chair Mark Haupert) went over to Bryn Mawr's Great American Pub for some brews and political conversation.

Whilst the four of us were drinking and discussing the battles of the Revolutionary War (of all things), a young Marine in full uniform walked in, alone, and sat down. A chest full of medals, including a Purple Heart on top of them all.

Immediately the four of fell over ourselves thanking him for his service and buying him drinks. We rearranged ourselves to include him in the middle of our group.

He spoke of General Washington (not President, but General as Washington himself had preferred), and his role in the revolution, as well as the founding of the Marines, and the significance of the decor on an officers hat.

Eventually we got to asking about his medals, particularly the Purple Heart.

The level of humility he showed was incredible. Very humble, speaking very softly, he was just there doing his job, doing what he was asked to do.
A Hero. This was the real deal.

As it turns out, he was with one of the first groups of Marines into Baghdad, and was wounded when changing the barrel on a 50 caliber machine gun. A thirteen year old kid fired an RPG at him. He woke up in Germany.
Incredible.

What struck me the most when speaking to him was how young he looked. He was drinking, so he had to be 21, but he looked like a kid; but most importantly and perhaps most inspiringly, a hero.

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Semper Fi!

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2005 11:24 AM

February 26, 2005

Egyptian Elections (Yawn)

Yahoo! News - Mubarak Orders Egypt Election Law Changes

CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered a revision of the country's election laws Saturday and said multiple candidates could run in the nation's presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak has not faced since taking power in 1981.


Hmm. I wonder what prompted that?

UPDATE: Tigerhawk thinks it may have been Secratery Rice's "displeasure..."

Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM

February 24, 2005

Hearts and Minds

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page sums up (free site) a story that was traversing the blogosphere this week.

Druze leader and Lebanese parliamentarian Walid Jumblatt opposed the Iraq war and described Paul Wolfowitz as a "virus." But he has had a change of heart:

"It's strange for me to say this," he recently told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, "but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing."

As, it seems, do the Lebanese. There were mass demonstrations in Beirut last week following the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. That was to be expected--a fitting tribute to the man who rebuilt Beirut from the rubble. What's remarkable is that the demonstrations haven't stopped.

On Monday, tens of thousands of Muslim, Christian and Druze protesters took to the streets to demand that Syria withdraw its 14,000 occupying troops and end its de facto control, via its intelligence apparatus, of Lebanese politics. Hundreds of Lebanese expatriates protested outside of Syrian embassies in Paris, Stockholm, London and Kuwait City. The Lebanese Prime Minister has offered to resign; his rubber-stamp parliament will likely be swept in forthcoming elections provided these are conducted fairly

A real opposition front is forming under the aegis of Mr. Jumblatt and exiled figures such as former Prime Minister Michel Aoun, who was ousted by the Syrians in 1990. If this isn't a Ukrainian-style Orange Revolution (yet), it may be the start of what some Lebanese are calling their own peaceful intifada--the "shaking off" of foreign rule.


Lebanon has a great history of pluralism and openness. Restoring it by way of yet another MidEastern democracy would be a huge advancement.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Stupid American cowboy... it'll take decades to undo the damage he's doing to World Peace."

Dagny and I are currently reading Sharansky's book. Good stuff.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2005 2:37 AM

February 22, 2005

Success has many fathers

Trying to honestly appraise the "US went it alone in Iraq" argument, I had to admit real disappointment with our friends to the North. Sure, France and Russia were bought off by UNScam, but the Anglosphere was broken. It should have included Britain, Australia and Canada.

I know Canada has moved left and I know the conservatives up there have failed to construct a national party, yes, I do read Mark Steyn. But that was one country I felt should've been on freedom's side.

Martin will announce 30 troops and a million Canadian dollars (I would normally make a weak currency joke about Canada here, but with the dollar trading at 1.32 Euro today I'll pass...)

Paul Martin to announce that Canada sending 30 soldiers to train Iraqis

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada will contribute up to 30 soldiers to a NATO-led force that will help train the new Iraqi army, senior federal officials confirmed Friday.

The formal announcement will be made when Prime Minister Paul Martin gathers with other leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting Tuesday in Brussels.

Ottawa also plans to contribute $1 million towards a NATO-managed trust fund that will help pay the expenses of Iraqi officers who take part in the program.


Well done, eh!

Hat-tip: Belmont Club

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM

February 19, 2005

Syrians Want Syria Out

Publius Pundit sees two ironic threads in the latest news from Lebanon. One, that Jacques Chirac stands accused (j'accuse?) of instigating the rebels. (Oui, oui!). The second is that the Syrian people would like their government’s occupation to end. He links to this New York Post story

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The barrage of criticism aimed at Syria after the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has some Syrians saying it's time to withdraw the 15,000 troops their country has in Lebanon.

This is not yet the opinion of the Syrian government, which has spent the week denying responsibility for Monday's assassination and reaffirming its close ties to Lebanon. But some here feel the Syrian presence in Lebanon has become too troublesome.

"Syria should withdraw its army and intelligence agents from Lebanon immediately, today rather than tomorrow," said Michel Kilo, a prominent Syrian writer.

Their presence is a threat to Syria itself, Kilo warned. "The Syrian people and the Syrian government are the ones suffering as a result."


Ending this occupation seems an achievable goal, and would insert yet another democracy into the region.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:02 PM

February 18, 2005

U.N. Perfidy

Larry Kudlow has fixed his CAPS lock key and has written a nice piece on the UN.

He had Claudia Rosett on his show last night. I think it is significant that she wrote about UNscam, not only in the Wall Street Journal, but also in The New Republic. I don't think other non-right-of-center outlets are covering this story.

Larry says:

Who can deny that the ultimate responsibility lies with Kofi Annan? He knew he was helping Saddam Hussein to survive. He knew the program undermined U.N. sanctions. And he knew the U.N. secretariat was living off the corrupt financial benefits of this misbegotten deal.

According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, among those following the story closely: 63 percent believe Kofi Annan should resign; and 72 percent believe Saddam used the program to bribe nations such as France and Russia. Also, only 37 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the U.N.

I believe the U.N. can serve a constructive purpose in problem solving with rogue states such as Iran, Syria, and North Korea. But I also believe Americans will never be confident about the U.N. as long as Kofi Annan is still secretary general. And whatever happens at the United Nations, the United States must always act in its own national self-interest to protect our country.


Posted by John Kranz at 6:09 PM

Free Lebanon

Publius Pundit says "I guess moral support really does help."

It helped Sakharov and Sharansky when President Reagan called evil by name -- why wouldn't it work in Lebanon.

BEIRUT (Reuters) - President Bush called on Syria on Thursday to withdraw its forces from Lebanon as Lebanese opposition leaders vowed to topple the country’s pro-Syrian leadership.

Voices from across Lebanon’s various ethnic and religious communities, encouraged by the tough anti-Syrian stance of the United States and France, are now telling Damascus and its local allies it is time to go.

Look around the PubliusPundit site. It is dedicated to the advancement of democracy and freedom around the globe -- good stuff!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)
But Robert Mayer thinks:

Agreed. It's amazing the impact it has, though. From the inaugural address through the SOTU to now, just hearing the words of America's President in support of them has sent shock waves through the people of unfree countries. It's seems like that alone has moved the world 10 steps closer to ending tyranny already.

Posted by: Robert Mayer at February 18, 2005 1:58 PM

February 17, 2005

Great NYTimes Editorial

I have given Thomas Friedman a few thumbs-ups on his NY Times columns, and he deserves another today

There is no excuse anymore for Syria's occupation of Lebanon, other than naked imperialism and a desire to siphon off Lebanese resources. If the U.S. government and media really care about democracy in the Arab world, Mr. Hariri's envoy said, then the U.S. has to get behind those trying to rescue the oldest real Arab democracy, Lebanon, from the Syrian grip.

Well, Rafik, this one's for you. I am sorry you won't be able to read it.


Fouad Ajami has a guest editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (Paid site only)
There is talk nowadays of spreading liberty to Arab lands, changing the ways of the Arabs, putting an end to regimes that harbor terror. The restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty ought to be one way for the Arabs to break with the culture of dictators and police states, and with the time of the car bombs. Hariri sought for his country a businessman's peace. His way was a break with the politics of charisma and ideology that has wrecked the Arab world; he believed in philanthropy and practical work. His vision may not have been stirring. But there was dignity in it, and a reprieve from the time of darkness.

Is it my mood today? The most liberal and the most conservative major editorial pages in the country today are calling for war with Syria as surely as William Randolph Hearst called for war with Spain.

As a Sharansky devotee and neo-Wilsonian, I can't run from it, I am just surprised at the idea's velocity.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:43 PM

February 11, 2005

Nobel Prize

Dan Henninger has a great idea for the Nobel Peace Prize this year: The Iraqi Voters.

While the Nobel Committee has made some bad decisions in the past (Henninger also says they could give it to Arafat again for dying...) they have occasionally made good choices -- and this would be one:

"Abdul Karim Abboud, 54 years old, lives close to the Abu Hanifa mosque in the district of Azamiya, an area of Baghdad inhabited by a Sunni majority. Early in the morning, the man left his home accompanied by his wife to cast their votes. On their way to the polling center and not far from their home, gunmen started to shoot randomly to scare people and prevent them from voting. The wife received a bullet in her shoulder. Abdul Karim carried his wife back to their home and left her with their daughter. He left his home again, heading for the polling center. After casting his vote, Abdul Karim went back to his wife. He said: 'This is for Iraq and its freedom.'"

The whole column is, of course, great.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM

February 9, 2005

Fear Society

On my second day in confinement, I asked a guard, "Do you know why I am here?"

"I don't know," she replied. "Your interrogator will tell you."

The next day, I was taken to a room down a long corridor and told to sit down. A fat hand with an agate stone ring set an interrogation form in front of me. Then he began asking about my Web log, which has hyperlinks on it to Western feminist groups.

"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."


This is the story of a young Iranian woman who spent 36 days in prison for blogging.

Sharansky talks about free societies and fear societies but it is so easy to forget.

I had a European houseguest last week who thinks that poverty in the former Soviet Republics is just as bad as Communism was. It pained me that a young man who had lived under tyranny did not really value liberty. But this is the difference. Times can still be hard but when you can speak up in the public square, where you could not before, you have made progress.

I cannot help but feel that President Bush was speaking to this woman in his inaugural address. Those who didn’t get the speech didn’t understand.

Hat-tip: Virginia Postrel

Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM

February 7, 2005

60's Refugees

A writer for San Fransisco's Chronicle makes another comparison to Vietnam.

    The voters came to the polls in huge crowds, ignoring insurgent attacks and casting their votes under the protection of U.S. troops. International observers praised the process, calling it a triumph of democracy and a defeat for tyranny.

    Iraq 2005?

    No. South Vietnam in September 1967.

    As we now know, South Vietnam's experiment in democracy didn't work out well. Communist forces launched the Tet Offensive four months later, forcing the U.S.-backed government almost to its knees, and finally conquered the nation seven years afterward.


Except that Tet was a victory for the US. It was the media's perception of the Tet Offensive and it's biased reporting in the direction of a loss that made it a "victory" for the Vietcong.

So I guess in that respect, Iraq is a lot like Vietnam. Left wingers and their useful idiots in the media are trying to beat us at home.

Posted by AlexC at 1:52 AM | Comments (1)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

If we had stayed with our support of Chalabi and the INC then I would see your analogy to Vietnam. (Ignoring of course the longstanding position of most Republicans that there is no analogy to Vietnam) The big difference here is the general population's support of the democratic government alternative. This support did not exist in South Vietnam and that is what doomed the war to failure, not biased liberal reporting. (We liberals are all powerful, but we are not that powerful) The Tet offensive was a military victory in the traditional sense that land was captured and strategic initiatives were met. But just as in Iraq, when it comes to using the military to achieve democracy the traditional military victory of routing the undemocratic forces and capturing their land is just the first step toward achieving the ultimate goal.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 11, 2005 12:37 PM

The Power of Pride

Iraq hasn't fallen apart yet...

    With a hero who gave his life for the elections, a revived national anthem blaring from car stereos and a greater willingness to help police, the public mood appears to be moving more clearly against the insurgency in Iraq (news - web sites), political and security officials said.

    In the week since national elections, police officers and Iraqi National Guardsmen said they have received more tips from the public, resulting in more arrests and greater effectiveness in their efforts to weaken the violent insurgency rocking the country.


Nothing like a personal investment a system to bring out the pride in people. Iraqis' are now sure that their country belongs to them, and now they want to clean it up. Really clean it up.

Posted by AlexC at 1:51 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I note another important statement in this article:

"But in interviews over the past week, officials and Baghdad residents cited what they called a renewed nationalist pride since the elections that they said may be dampening anti-American sentiment, and may be starting to dispel Iraqi tolerance and support for the insurgents."

Isn't this the same "nationalist pride" that contrarians in the US cited as the reason why our troops are "part of the problem, not the solution?" This one sentence turns that entire argument on its head. The reason for lukewarm response to US and Iraqi law and order on the streets of Iraq's cities is the fear and distrust of one's fellow citizens that is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes. Again, from the article:

"Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the interim finance minister and a powerful figure in the Shiite-led coalition expected to dominate Iraq's new National Assembly, contended that the elections created a sense of solidarity that helped dissolve an Iraqi aversion to trusting neighbors, a habit ingrained during the Hussein era."

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2005 2:34 PM

February 4, 2005

Name the Dissidents

Dan Henninger wonders why we don't know the names of Iran's Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov or Sharansky.

It's a failing of western media but it is also a failing of the State Department. I don't think most Americans realize that Iranian democracy dissidents exist -- and those that do don't realize their numbers. A few high-profile dissidents would captivate the national attention and further draw the parallel see between the two fronts for liberation: Reagan's Eastern Europe and Bush's Mideast.

By the time the Berlin Wall fell, Andrei Sakharov, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and others were already household names in the world. In 1968 the New York Times had published Sakharov's essay, "Reflection on Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom." These were the years in which the word "dissident" entered the lexicon. What has the West--governments or media--done for the dissidents of the Middle East? Very little.

Jay Nordlinger has done yeoman work on this topic in Cuba and China. It's time we know some names.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:36 AM

February 1, 2005

Senator Kennedy Was Right

Actually, the senior Senator from Massachusetts spoke erroneously, misled, and showed very poor political form speaking against the war on the eve of the first free elections. But:

I could support his call for an immediate troop reduction. Would it not be an important symbol of our desire to hand the country back? I don't want to cut and run, but if we brought 10,000 troops home and positioned it as bringing fighters back and sending trainers in, it would accomplish several objectives:

  • demonstrate our lack of empirical aspirations ;

  • start the handover to the free, elected Iraqi government;

  • show the folks back home that a victorious end is in sight

  • save money and rest some of our forces.

No schedule for removing future troops, no deadlines. Just a good faith show of returning power to Free Iraq.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

JK, I am stunned to read this from you. Election or no, the handover of government functions to Iraqis was started long ago. An artificial troop movement may be good PR but it will have no bearing on the arrival date of a "victorious end." Such an outcome has been apparent to me since the drafting of an interim constitution. It seems to be apparent to Kennedy and Kerry now too, along with Zarqawi and the rest of the fellow travelers, since their rhetoric has intensified of late.

And how can the imbeciles who've been lamenting the "foolishly low" troop strength levels for the past 22 months now make a case that we have too many soldiers there? Please. Even when Iraq is fully self-sufficient we will have a larger than normal embassy security contingent and the analog of US forces in Europe based in Iraq instead. Not so many as are there now, that is for sure, but shouldn't capturing or vaporizing al Zarqawi first be more important than some transparent gesture?

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2005 4:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think it would be a transparent gesture. It would be a very real gesture that will help us and show that the transfer proceeds. I agree that the transfer is an ongoing process.

And actually, brother Johngalt, one of the things I like is its opposition to "we need more troops." I thought that was a positive.

Can’t please all the folks all the time I guess…

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2005 6:42 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I haven't seen any mention of a Germany/Japan/Phillipines style military basing system in Iraq or Afghanistan.
We were stayed in Germany to keep the Soviets from overrunning the west, as well as keeping an eye on the Germans.
Can't we do the same in Iraq? Keep an eye on Syria or Iran and kill every last one of Zaraqawi's crew?
I'm for drawing down the troops, but not abandonment.

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2005 11:13 PM

January 31, 2005

Freedom in Iraq

The President's critics have a new line, which is very good news indeed; I was extremely bored with all of their old ones. The new line is Senator Kerry's: yeah, the vote is cool, but the hard part of building a democracy remains.

It would be naive to think that problems are over. The tough slog of legislating a Constitution, counting votes, creating coalitions all remain. And Gouverneur Morris and James Madison are both dead.

Yet these same critics warned us of: "The Brutal, Afghan Winter," "Afghanistan: the Burial Ground of Empires," "Chemical Weapons in Iraq," "Quagmire," Dinesh D'Souza talked about "The party of Yea and the party of Nah," it was a different context but it transfers easily.

The WSJ Ed Page has a great lead editorial today, a great piece from IraqTheModel blog, and on the paid site, yet another great piece from Michael Rubin of AEI: Iraq Has Voted.

I'm fine basking in the glow for a couple of days, but Rubin speaks to some good indicators for an inchoate Iraqi acceptance of compromise and coalition.

With travel restrictions lifted, Iraqis rediscovered their country. Arabs booked Kurdish hotels solid five months in advance. Kurdish colleagues from the University of Sulaymani visited college friends in Basra for the first time since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. Freedom to travel moderated religious extremism. "During Saddam's day, I didn't know much about Iran. I figured since it was a Shia government, it would be a utopia," a Shia schoolteacher told me in a Karbala coffee shop. "Now that I've been to Iran, I realize how wrong I was." Free to study the teachings of traditional scholars, populists like Moqtada al-Sadr hemorrhaged support. In the alleys and squares around Shia shrines in Kadhimiya, Karbala and Najaf, merchants began selling not only long-banned religious books, but Western magazines as well.

Despite doomsday predictions of civil war, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen learned to compromise. In May 2003, under the watchful eye of a colonel from the 173rd Airborne, Kurds displaced from the Kirkuk region negotiated with Arab farmers to divide the wheat harvest. Before re-flooding marshes drained by Saddam Hussein's government and given as agricultural land to Baathist loyalists, fishermen and farmers sat down in al-Amarah to discuss revenue sharing and compensation.

Democracy is a process, and Iraq has only started along its arduous path. But already, the transformation is vast. In January 2004, in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya, hundreds packed an auditorium for a town-hall meeting. For three hours, residents peppered their mayor and city councilmen with questions ranging from electricity rationing to property disputes to questions regarding licensing of a local radio station. The Iraqis raised their hands and made their statements with respect. They had learned the meaning of tolerance, debate and compromise. In February 2004, I witnessed a similar scene in the largely Sunni Arab city of Baquba. Across the Arab world, politicians lecture to the people. Only in Iraq is the opposite true.
[...]
While the Arab Middle East is dominated by single parties and strongmen, the transitional Iraqi government will be a coalition. Already, in smoky backrooms and parlors, Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are meeting to strike deals and hammer out policy. Every Iraqi may not vote, but they now have a choice of candidates and parties denied to millions of Egyptians, Saudis and Syrians, let alone more than a billion Chinese. Iraqis may fear violence, but they no longer fear speech or thought.

UPDATE: The best example of the genre is the summation to Spencer Ackerman's piece in TNR: "In Maryland yesterday, the hopes and enthusiasms of Iraqi voters were on proud display. But so were signs of the difficulties to come."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM

January 30, 2005

The Vote


... it's a great day in free Iraq.

    Some came on crutches, others walked for miles then struggled to read the ballot, but across Iraq, millions turned out to vote Sunday, defying insurgents who threatened a bloodbath.

    Suicide bombs and mortars killed at least 27 people, but voters still came out in force for the first multi-party poll in 50 years. In some places they cheered with joy at their first chance to cast a free vote, in others they shared chocolates.

    Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.

    "We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.


27 dead vs millions voting? Looks like the terrorists are really losing. Each death is obviously tragic, but this is still good news on the whole.
The turnout?
    An electoral commission official said 72 per cent of registered eligible voters had turned out. While no figures were provided to back up the claim and many Sunnis would not have registered to vote, it was clear that millions of Iraqis took part in the country's first free elections for more than 50 years.

    Heavy voter participation was reported in the Shia south and in the Kurdish north, and in Baghdad the turnout was 95 per cent. And even in troubled cities such as Baquba correspondents said polling stations had been full all day despite five bombings and a mortar attack.


I will remind readers that 60% of eligible voters voted in November's election to re-elect George Bush.
72% is even better than anyone could have hoped for.

A great day indeed.

(photo caption & link)

Posted by AlexC at 9:00 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

An incredible and wonderful day unless you happed to be an elected Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I have little to add to this excellent post but to point out that very few people thought this would work. Last week, last month and last year we heard calls to pospone or simply surrender the election.

As Senator Kerry hastened to point out, this does not mean all the problems are over. You'd think a Naval veteran would understand that all victories in freedom and politics are temporary. Baghdad and Boulder must both be ever vigilant.

I will not forget the Iraqis dancing out side the polling places, nor the pride of the expats. A great day for freedom and a great day for Iraq.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2005 5:47 PM

January 28, 2005

Ringing Freedom's Bell

... except they're not in Iraq.
They're in Australia and Michigan and Nashville and California and Washington.

    The Australian head of the Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program, Bernie Hogan, said a crowd of people was waiting outside the Fairfield centre when he arrived.

    "We had a line-up of probably 60 or 70 people at the front door at seven o'clock," he said.

    "They've been slowly but surely being processed and showing their registration certificates and casting their vote."

    Voting in Iraq's transitional national assembly elections will continue in Australia until 5pm (AEDT) on Sunday.

    Voting inside Iraq is scheduled for Sunday only.

    Voters are electing a national assembly that will appoint a provisional government, write a constitution and organise further elections.


....
    Joyful tears and frequent applause marked the start of U.S. voting Friday in Iraq's first independent elections in more than 50 years.

    Security was tight at the abandoned store-turned-polling place in this Detroit suburb, with guards checking IDs at the parking lot entrance and using metal detectors at the doors. Inside, an oversized, homemade Iraqi flag hung from the ceiling. One poll worker could be seen weeping.

    "We feel happy now. This is like America, this voting," said Zoha Yess, 64. "We want fair, good government."


Here's where you'll disagree with me.

I'm all for letting Iraq's freedom bell ring, but I'm not sure we should be ringing it from here or Australia, or anywhere else other than Iraq.

The 26,000 expatriates fled Iraq for better, greener pastures. American or Australian pastures. They're Americans now. They're Australians now. They're not recent Iraqis. No matter how much of a connection to the people they may have, they're not there.

Let the people in Iraq vote for their leaders.

Let the Iraqis vote for their Constitutional Congress, not Americans. The Iraqi people have an opportunity to turns things around for the better. The people on the ground know what they want. Let them vote. And only them.

The same idea applies for Poles who voted in Chicago a few years back during one of their elections.

Give them the bell, let them ring it.

Posted by AlexC at 3:09 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I see your point. I have two reasons, however, to be glad that ex-pat Iraqis are voting.

First, they fled Tyranny. Unlike someone moving to Canada from the States or here from the UK, these people can keep their homeland and still choose to leave it.

Second is a pragmatic desire to have those who have seen functioning democracies in Australia, UK, and the USA contribute to the process. They might be metaphorical big brothers who can show the others how it is done (Iraqis from Washington State do not apply and should be disenfranchised).

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2005 5:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Um, just in King county Washington, JK. The non-urban remainder of the state is red, and only votes once per living registered individual.

Third, a great number of these expats would like to return to their homeland one day, either permanently or just to visit. This is another reason why they have a rational self-interest in the future of Iraq's government.

I think I understand your stance on this Alex. I too would prefer to see American expats in Europe barred from voting for ABB, but this is one of the drawbacks of our current democratic system where citizenship and enfranchisement is a birthright. It's one more reason why restricting citizenship to those who've earned it (military vets is the best measure I've yet seen) would be an improvement.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2005 11:08 AM
But jk thinks:

Okay, but the State of Washington certified the fraudulent election and has therefore earned my opprobrium.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2005 6:14 PM

Iraqi Election News

For Fair and Balanced (© Rupert Murdoch) reports from the elections, may I recommend: Friends of Democracy a blog associated with the Spirit of America folks. Jim Hake says:

Spirit of America has been supporting Friends of Democracy in Iraq to provide a ground-level view of the election from the people and bloggers of Iraq. It seems that major media often focuses on the violence and terrorism. Given the historic nature of this election we think people deserve better. The goal is to offer a full picture of the elections from the perspective of Iraqis. There are lots of good reports already on the Friends of Democracy site at http://www.friendsofdemocracy.info. It is not "candy coated" - it includes good news and bad. Take a look now and make sure to check it on Sunday.

A report on the debates includes the line: "Corruption is a chandelier on which the others hang their mistakes." I am guessing that sounded better in Arabic...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM

January 27, 2005

Mother Overjoyed - Bishop Repulsed

On Sunday, January 16, in a Bucharest hospital, 66-year-old Adriana Iliescu delivered her first child - a 3 pound, 3 ounce little girl named Eliza Maria. Though the infant was six weeks premature the mother is "more than happy" with her new daughter.

What a joyous occasion! Mother and baby are both "in good condition in intensive care." Everyone is overjoyed that the first-time mother's 9-year struggle to become pregnant finally came to fruition. Not so fast: "This case has shocked us all," said Bishop Ciprian Campineanul of the Orthodox Church. "This was a selfish act." It seems some reflection may be required to determine if one belongs to the "all" who are shocked or the "everyone" who is overjoyed.

The bishop pointed out that it isn't merely 66-year-old (or 57-year-old) mothers who act "selfishly" when they pursue in vitro fertilization. Clerics disagree in principle with the procedure whatever the woman's age. Why? This cleric didn't say. But how can it be "selfish" to give birth? Clearly, what the man of faith objects to is not the birth, but the conception. Everyone can thank NED that Romania's government is not a theocracy - or is it?

"There is no law in Romania stipulating a maximum age for artificial insemination. [However,] A draft law awaiting approval in parliament bans fertility treatment for women who are above the normal reproductive age." (emphasis mine)

It's a damn good thing. We certainly wouldn't want to see anyone else repeat such a "selfish" and "shocking" act.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (2)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I assume that the mother is completely privately insured for the cost of the preemie care and has provided a financial trust to care for her child should she not live to raise her to adulthood?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 31, 2005 12:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Why? Are you insinuating that for the public to be saddled with the burden of caring for the child is in some way...immoral?

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2005 2:25 AM

January 26, 2005

War For Freedom

Jonah Goldberg points out that, in spite of what Richard Cohen or Pat Buchanan says, the recent statements of al-Zarqawi prove that the war is a fight for freedom.

In short, the notion that America is in a war for freedom over tyranny has elicited bipartisan snickering and guffawing. In the wake of Bush's inaugural, the chorus of complaints intensified. And understandably so, given the fact that his address was the most forceful articulation of his "freedom" vision to date.

But before the cackles could reach their crescendo, the naysayers hit an inconvenient snag. Musab al-Zarqawi, the "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq, appointed by Osama Bin Laden, came out and agreed with President Bush. "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," Zarqawi declared in a statement. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."

You can almost hear Cohen and Buchanan snapping their pencils "Darn it, stop stepping on my message!"


I drove to work today behind a car that had a bumper sicker inside the back window. The first line "The War on Iraq" was clearly visible through the defrosted region of the glass but the second line (certainly a snarky-anti-Bush, anti-War comment) was obscured by ice. I laughed in my car, "Man, I thought I was a supporter! This guy has a 'War on Iraq' bumper sticker..."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM

January 21, 2005

Courage

As Alex points out below, the elections in Iraq are on schedule and the population seems very interested. I don't think any of us think it will be pretty but I, too, predict good turnout. And they can't screw it up any worse than Washington State, right?

I want to commend the candidates, workers, and voters, who are all standing up for their democratic rights -- at literal mortal peril. We have much to teach but much to learn about freedom.

Taranto, at Best of the Web, highlights two stories in the United States where people are too afraid of terrorism to allow votes. I repeat, these are in the USA: Illinois and Tennessee:

Groups want Iraqi voting moved

A prominent local Catholic priest is supporting a movement of businesses and churches who are demanding that city leaders move one of the Nashville polling sites in the upcoming Iraq elections.


And in Illinois:
Suburban village tells Iraq election group to leave

NILES -- An organization assisting in voter registration for the upcoming Iraqi elections left their headquarters Thursday in this suburb north of Chicago after village officials expressed security concerns, officials said.

The International Organization for Migration said Niles officials told the group they had concerns that the building could be a target for violence. The organization plans to move its administrative operations to the northwest side of Chicago.

"We are having to move our offices, and we are moving to continue serving the Iraqi community in the best possible way," said Oliver Vick, head of the organization's Chicago office. Vick said the move was involuntary.


After our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen risked their lives for this, these suburbanites are "uncomfortable." I am rarely ashamed to be an American, but I am ashamed of sharing a country with these. Taranto asks "What kind of people are so pathetic and cowardly?"

Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM

Election Optimism

Freshly liberated Iraqis head to the polls in nine days. As it the election year custom in our nation, a new one is trying to start itself in Iraq.
Election polling.

    An overwhelming majority of Iraqis continue to say they intend to vote on Jan. 30 even as insurgents press attacks aimed at rendering the elections a failure, according to a new public opinion survey.

    The poll, conducted in late December and early January for the International Republican Institute, found 80 percent of respondents saying they were likely to vote, a rate that has held roughly steady for months.


First Afghanistan, next Iraq.
    "I think the real story of this election is what's gone on beneath the radar," the [anonymous] official said. "They may not know what they're voting for. But I think they recognize it's something called democracy."

I would add voting for freedom and standing up against oppression to the statement.

Posted by AlexC at 1:06 PM