Tuesday, November 21, 2006
  Knocking down Rangel

Charles Rangel's argument for the draft has occupied the news discussion yesterday and today. Rangel says that we wouldn't get into bad wars if the elite had sons and daughters in the military.

This argument can be knocked down utterly and completely with just one sentence, but I haven't heard anyone use this knockdown. [I was waiting for Rush to reach it this morning, but he hasn't yet....]

So here goes:

It didn't stop Vietnam.

In 1961, the draft had been in use for a century, and its effects were deeply infused in our culture and emotions. Government officials knew that any man could be drafted - though they had always been able to protect their own sons to some extent.

Despite that, they got us into an elective war, and proceeded to fight it incompetently so as to grind up a maximum number of draftees with a minimum of results.

It was the incompetence that led us to shun elective wars from then on. If we had fought properly, the 'Vietnam Syndrome' wouldn't have evolved.

Same thing now, unfortunately. If we had killed Saddam, then established Kurdistan as a base, allowing the Arab savages to continue killing each other for sport, we would have a genuine victory. Our soldiers would be available to fight other battles. This availability by itself would deter enemy actions, thus requiring less work for the soldiers.

But because George W. Vichy has acted with breathtaking incompetence, violating every long-standing rule of war, strategy and common sense, we are firmly back in the 'Vietnam Syndrome'.
 
Sunday, November 19, 2006
  Worth waking up for.....



Mitt Romney has just done something unprecedented. He is forcing his legislators to follow their own oath of office.

In his own unique and elegantly crafted words:

=====

It’s quite an interesting view I get from those windows.

All I have to do is glance this way to see the stream of tourists. They come in duck boats, trolleys, and as foot pilgrims.

They’re not here for the beauty. They’re here for the history.

For this was the place where an astounding idea was born. It revolutionized America, it revolutionized the world.

The idea was this: our nation would be guided by the voice of the people.

This nation would trust the voice of the people rather than the wisdom of a king, or anyone else.

The idea was embodied in the first Constitution, written by John Adams, here in Massachusetts. It established how the voice of the people would be heard – through elections and votes, petitions and initiatives, representatives and senators.

Lincoln said that as elected leaders, we promise to follow the law, to follow the Constitution. He called this “America’s political religion.”

Last week, 109 legislators decided to reject the law, abandon the Constitution, and violate their oath of office.

For the Constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature “shall” vote. It does not say may vote, or vote if its procedures permit a vote, or vote if there are enough of the members in attendance. It says “shall” vote.

A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation’s founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people.

As I listened to the debate in the legislative session last week, I was struck by the irony, and the hypocrisy. Legislators so energized to protect the newly discovered gay right to marry had no compunction about trammeling the long established, constitutional right of the people to vote.

The issue now before us is not whether same sex couples should marry. The issue before us today is whether 109 legislators will follow the Constitution.

Tomorrow, I will send these 109 a copy of the Constitution and of their oath of office.

And this week, we will file an action before the courts, calling upon the judiciary to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens.

Let us not see this state, which first established constitutional democracy, become the first to abandon it.


=====

Unlike the feds, most state governors and legislatures do follow their constitutions most of the time. But this is the first time in living memory that an executive has decided to require his own criminal legislature to follow its own laws and oaths.

Compare this to George W. Vichy, who verbally criticizes criminal sabotage by judges and then meekly obeys the criminal "decisions".

O Lord, how do we get Romney to serve as President NOW?
 
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
  Time for a rest





Two weeks of illness followed by an unending stream of atrocious weather has thrown me for a loop. I've decided to focus less on the uniformly dismal realms of war and politics, in order to cut stress.

At the same time, I need to turn my 'graphic mind' toward the next edition of speech & hearing courseware, which is starting to take shape.

So it's only polite and proper to give Polistra a good long rest. Until she has something to say, of course!
 
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
  Brief comments on election...

Well, this is what I wanted and what I voted for. It would be tremendously better if America had three or four parties; in that setup each party could carry a meaningful message, and you could replace something bad with something clearly better. Given the two-party setup, the only way to knock some sense into one brand is to pick the other one.

Joe Lieberman could form the core of a new party.

Another thing I'm watching: Rick Santorum and J.D. Hayworth were (rather surprisingly) defeated. Santorum and Hayworth are tough-minded independent thinkers; Hayworth probably the nearest thing to Teddy Roosevelt in today's setting. With both of these guys thoroughly disgusted by party antics, and free of party loyalty, they will be speaking even more freely.

The media and the parties are still discussing politics in terms of The Issues. It's blazingly obvious that The Issues were not nearly as important to the voters; what the voters want is just plain competence. As in GET SOME DAMN THING DONE. JUST ONE DAMN THING WOULD BE FINE, IF YOU ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH IT.

For example, a subject I've mentioned here often: opening up more territory for oil exploration, in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska. More than once the House and Senate approved ANWR, each time cleverly understanding that the other house would turn it down. Net result: Zero. George Vichy also had a chance to accomplish these goals by executive order. Net result: Zero. All of them were more concerned with continuing to Have The Issue.

We don't give a happy horseshit about your continued ability to hammer the opposition or make clever ads. JUST GET ONE DAMN THING DONE.

-----

Interesting observation by Scarborough on MSNBC just now... says that the replacement of Rumsfeld marks the end of the idealistic Wilson approach. From here on, he thinks, Bush will be listening more to hard-nosed realists who don't give a damn about 'young democracies' or 'transforming the Arab world', and who care mainly about defending this country against its enemies.

Lord, let it be so!
 
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
  Teddy speaks to us....



Polistra has been reading a 1916 book by Teddy Roosevelt, meant to persuade Americans that Wilson's pacifism was idiotic. Some of the details are obsolete but most of it works beautifully today.

On "war settles nothing":

A sillier falsehood has never been uttered than the falsehood that "war settles nothing". War settled the independence of this country; war settled the question of union, and war settled the question of slavery. Pacifists pretend to speak in the interests of morality. It is a poor thing for professed moralists to rest their case on a falsehood. Many of the greatest events of history have been settled by war. Many of the greatest advances in humanity have been due to successful wars for righteousness.

Christianity is not the creed of Asia and Africa at this moment, solely because the seventh century Christians of Asia and Africa, in addition to being rent asunder by sectarian animosities, had trained themselves not to fight, whereas the Mohammedans were trained to fight. Christianity was saved in Europe solely because the peoples of Europe fought. If the peoples of Europe in the 7th and 8th centuries, and on up to and including the 17th century, had not possessed a millitary equality with, and gradually a superiority over, the Mohammedans who invaded Europe, Europe would at this moment be Mohammedan, and the Christian religion would be exterminated.

Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared.


On the supposed conflict between militarism and "moral values", or in modern phrasing, the idea that we must win hearts and minds by being "better than them":

The real question which modern peace-loving nations have to face is not how the militaristic or warlike spirit within their own borders will affect these "values", but how failure on their part to resist the militarism of an unscrupulous neighbor will affect them. Belgium had a very keen sense of the "preciousness of human life" and of "the need for the care of child welfare" ... But all these "social values" existed in Belgium only up to the end of July, 1914. Not a vestige of them remained in 1915. To discuss them as regards present-day Belgium is sheer prattle, simply because on August 4, 1914, Belgium had not prepared her military strength. ... At this moment the Armenians, who for some centuries have seduluously avoided militarism and war, and have practically applied advanced pacifist principles, are suffering a fate, if possible, worse than that of the Belgians; and they are so suffering precisely and exactly because they have been pacifists whereas their neighbors the Turks have not been pacifists but militarists. They haven't the vestige of a "social value" left, to be "affected" by militarism or by anything else.

More later....
 
Sunday, November 05, 2006
  1.5 Cheers!


For the record, I should cheer the fact that the Iraqi court actually managed to give Saddam a death sentence. I wasn't at all sure this would happen. Now they need to run through 13 more trials.

What I'm actually cheering about, though, is the fact that the judge had the guts to kick Ramsey Clark out of court. Too bad we don't have any judges like this ... all of ours are enthusiastically on the same side as Clark. Maybe we should import some Kurds to serve as judges.
 
Thursday, November 02, 2006
  Do GEICO ads work?

Spokane is getting its first noticeable snow of the year right now. Won't amount to much, judging by the radar. When I poked my head out the door to check on its progress, I saw a couple of kids trying to play with the snow. One of them was singing "It's snowing. It's snowing. It's my birthday. It's my birthday ..." to the same tune as the Geico ad featuring Real Actor Vern Troyer. [The midget wearing sunglasses.]
 
  "We are sleepwalking toward disaster."

An invaluable short speech and discussion by Winston Churchill's grandson, in the Seattle City Club. WC3 finishes off the Bush/Wilson fantasy of applying democracy to Mohammedans. For instance: In two generations, France will be majority Mohammedan. No ifs, ands or buts; existing birth patterns ensure it. At that point democracy will bring Sharia law to France.

Separate audio and video links (the audio is probably sufficient, because there's not much happening visually!)

Audio

Video
 
  Peters catches on

Ralph Peters, who should be Secretary of Defense, has finally and grudgingly admitted that Iraq is broken.

Since I'm ill with some kind of flu this week, I'm not up to snuff on writing... so I'll "reprint" something I wrote in June of '05, leaving out some bits that referred to immediate events.

=====

Reprinted:

On a deeper level, this is what happens when an aphasic administration starts a war without communicating the real reasons for fighting. The real strategy is quite logical and comprehensible, given what we knew at the time, but for reasons I can't begin to fathom, Zenmaster Bushi decided to explain the war solely to the UN, using reasons crafted to appeal to the UN. In a republic, the President's job is to get his own country behind a war, not to gather support from permanently hostile nations like France.

George Friedman (not Tom!) in his book America's Secret War, lays out the underpinnings of our strategy and how it came about. Friedman is harshly critical of our mistakes, but he differs from the [Leninists] in that he actually wants to see us win.

In super-condensed form: Partly we were still fighting the last war. All of our strategic and intelligence forces were still totally nuke-minded. When 9/11 happened, the paralyzing fear was that Osama would hit us next with fission. At the same time, CIA took a new look at its sources, and decided to pay close attention to those who had been predicting 9/11. In late October, two of those sources independently said that Osama had a suitcase nuke already in place, ready to take New York. "From that briefing onward, the entire strategy of the war was changed. The obsession with WMD and nuclear weapons became an obsession that changed the war permanently." Then more nukes were discovered by Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency.
In hindsight, the whole thing was entirely too neat; but "given the zero-risk premises of the Defense Department, how could the United States ignore the report?"

Again in hindsight, this appears to be an effort by Pakistan to grab full US support in its perpetual feud with India, which at that moment (early 2002) looked like a potential small nuclear war. Bush gave Musharraf a choice. If he wanted our support, he had to kick out the pro-Osama elements in his own government and help us. (It appears now that this bargain has worked fairly well.)

So it was in that atmosphere of total nuclear panic that we took the word of Chalabi and others who were serving their own ends. Bush never told the American public how awful the world looked at that moment; if he had, he might have gained a wider sympathy for the mis-aimed effort, and critics might have been more inclined toward helping instead of harming.

There were other reasons for taking out Iraq, which make good sense but have never been officially stated. "The central dilemma the US now faced was how to get the Saudis into the war. The Saudis did not think the US was going to win this war. They understood the region and their own country far better ... and the US did not terrify the Saudis nearly as much as Al Qaeda did. Somehow the US had to demonstrate just how serious and frightening it could be, and then be in a position to put massive military and political pressure on the Saudis. This was the origin of the US decision to invade Iraq. There were other strands, such as fear of WMD, concern that Al Qaeda was collaborating with the Iraqis, and a genuine feeling that Saddam was a monster. But to understand the American decision to invade Iraq, it is essential to understand the American concern with the course Saudi Arabia was taking amid growing evidence that the Saudis were financing Al Qaeda."

(End Friedman, back to me.) This line of reasoning still makes sense, and could be fleshed out by good rhetoric, if Bush had any desire to help Americans understand what he's doing. I have to conclude that he has no such desire.

Still, errors or no errors, we now have Saddam out of power (though not dead, which to my mind is a huge error) and we have large parts of Iraq turning toward a new kind of governance. If we're smart, we'll separate the three parts, wall off the Sunnis, and let them continue being Arab savages. We owe a lot to the Kurds, who have been developing a civilized little country since 1991. They don't deserve to be dragged down by Arabs. (However, I'd be happy if events prove me wrong on the need for separation!)

=====

End reprint.

Well, events have proven the 'separationist' view to be right. Arabs have shown themselves to be utterly incapable of assuming any aspect of civilization. This shouldn't have been surprising.
 
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
  Kerry reveals

Amid his snarky "corrections" of what he "meant to say", Kerry accidentally revealed that the supposed "real meaning" just wasn't there at all.

What he said (shortened a bit): If you don't study hard, you'll get stuck in Iraq.

His "correction" was: "I forgot to say us. I meant to say they got us stuck in Iraq, not they got stuck in Iraq.

But the original sentence wasn't about any they, it was about you. He was speaking to students, advising them about their futures.

Let's try his correction: "If you don't study hard, they got us stuck in Iraq."

Nobody, not even a clumsy talker like Kerry or an aphasic like Bush, would speak that sentence. It's beyond ungrammatical; it's simply impossible for any native English speaker to produce that sentence.

Okay, so let's skip the they entirely and just plug in the us:
"If you don't study hard, you'll get us stuck in Iraq."
This could make sense if you know in advance that one of the students is going to become President, but the problem is that we're already stuck in Iraq.

Well, does the they got construction belong on the sentence Kerry claims he was trying to say?

"Because George Bush didn't study hard, they got us stuck in Iraq."

Nope, doesn't work either.

There is simply no way to reach what Kerry claims he meant from what he said, by any combination of missing words or clumsy locutions.

I suspect Kerry's mind is still on Vietnam, not Iraq. In the case of Vietnam, several presidents got us stuck there, in an incremental process, so they makes sense referring to Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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