Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Racism Card

Kass has an astute analysis of the Blago-Burris affair.  but he calls it using the race card.  This is incorrect. It is the "racism" card.

What is so interesting about it is not that the election of the Obama was supposed to put all this behind us but that it now seems that the chief victim of it is now the Democratic party.  It was tried by Obama himself on McCain and it backfired.  But it worked quite well on Clinton and now it may propel the non-entity Burris into the Senate by cowling the Democrats. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Incentives for everything but investment

Nice point about Obama's worldview made by Fred Barnes: it seems that everyone responds to incentives but capitalists:

As president-elect, Obama has talked frequently about the economy but
practically never in the language of free markets. Incentives? He's
mentioned "incentives for fuel-efficient cars" and "economic incentives
that would be helpful" to Iran to improve relations, but not for
capital investment. "Across-the-board tax cuts" or "corporate tax cuts"
or "tax cuts to increase investment"?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The new war against fat

Andrew Ferguson on the Left's war against obesity.

The cover of the Standard features an article by Charles Krauthammer arguing for a "net-zero gas tax," one of the most sensible ideas I can think of and one which could potentially bring together those on the left and the right in a true coalition, i.e., one where people work to bring about the same policy change for entirely different and independent reasons.

Some of those civilian facilities the Israelis have been dropping bombs on

Pictures released by the IDF. Odd how the civilians in Gaza seem to like to march around in formation.

Interesting and Honest Post

Joel Stein on Liberals and Patriotism. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kick Me I'm Irish

Richard Harris used to joke that whenever he did something good it was reported in the papers as "Britain does _____" but whenever he did something bad he was identified in the papers as an Irishman. 

We are getting a chance to see the same dynamic at work with Republicans. Once upon a time--about a week or so ago in fact--all of the scandals were evidence of Republican depravity.  A Senator gets caught in the airport mens room making suspicious foot tapping touches and he must be identified as a Republican.  But now all of the problems are evidence of "American" values being out of whack, not Republican.

Left unanswered by this Guardian columnist is why, if it is American values that are the problem, the banks in the great care-castles of Europe such as Britain, Germany and Iceland are doing worse, much worse?

Type II Error

Mark Steyn finds the key anecdote yet again:

"But beyond that is a broader question. In
Afghanistan, the young men tying down First World armies have no
coherent strategic goals, but they’ve figured out the Europeans’ rules
of engagement, and they know they can fire on Nato troops more or less
with impunity. So why not do it? On the high seas off the Horn of
Africa, the Somali pirates have a more rational motivation: They can
extort millions of dollars in ransom from seizing oil tankers. But, as
in the Hindu Kush, it’s a low-risk occupation. They know that the
western navies that patrol the waters are no longer in the business of
killing or even capturing pirates. The Royal Navy that once hanged
pirates in the cause of advancing civilization and order is now advised
not even to take them into custody lest they claim refugee status in
the United Kingdom under the absurd Human Rights Act."

Here are the people we wanted to abandon to Sadaam

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Peace vs. Security "Trade-off"

Here is all you need to know about the liberal mindset and Israel:

"Abbas may instead call for presidential and parliamentary elections
early next year. Right now, polls show his Fatah organization ahead of
Hamas, 42 percent to 28 percent. But the situation is explosive, quite
literally, because Hamas's cease-fire with Israel expired on Friday. If
Hamas votes with rockets, Israelis will become even more pessimistic
about a two-state solution."

Now what is so delicious about this is that it doesn't come in the form of opinion but in the form of neutral analysis.  The prospect of a party bent on the destruction of the state of Israel lobbing rockets into cities would be bad because it might make them more pessimistic about the prospects for peace.  Not that it would kill Jews. Not that it should make them more pessimistic, that it will make it harder for them to believe that there is not a party on the other side of the border bent on their destruction. The fact that there is such a party is beside the point.

Re-read the paragraph just quoted, but instead of imagining a suited reporter imagine a group of Nazis scheming to ease the Israelis into a complacent mindset so as to create the opportunity to destroy them. It makes just as much sense read that way. 

One paragraph later we have this absurdity:

"If hard-liners begin to win [among Palestinians and Israelis], that
means the issue will be security," says Davutoglu. "Security will be
more important than peace."
Now ponder that for a moment.  The peace-security trade off?  Don't those usually go together?  We say, "Peace AND security?" The UN has a security council to ensure peace, yes?  That is what peace is, isn't it? Only Israel is expected to see these things as competing goods. They could possibly be viewed as different if the party threatening peace and the party threatening security were different, but given that it is Hamas that is the threat to peace and security (along with the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole) in what sense can one have peace without security?  And yet, we have reached the point where such absurdities roll off the tounge without our even noticing.

"Yes, finally we have peace.  Now we can do something about those guys on the other side of the border lobbing rockets at us."

Interestingly, the press in Pakistan can still write about Israel and the Arabs

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just Tell Me to Shut Up

One thing I don't like about the sensitivity approach to tolerance is the way that it tends to condescension. Take Obama's duck of John McCormick's question about his Blago ties.  Obama cuts him off "because I don't want you to waste your question."  He could have just used his excuse and not answered the question but instead tries to frame it in terms of being helpful and concerned for the reporter's well-being. Good manners assumes conflict and tries to blunt it.  "Sensitivity" assumes that conflict is rooted in ignorance and tries to educate it.  I think that it is only a matter of time before reporters get tired of being stiff-armed and told that they are ignorant at the same time.  A polite no comment or even a Bushian non-sequitur might start to look good after a while.

Milbank makes the argument that Obama is doing the same thing that Bush did all the time and brings in the example of Bush begging off a question about a military raid into Syria.  But that is not quite the same.  In addition to it not be a question about a scandal but one where there is a legitimate reason to beg off answering for national security reasons, there is the more important point that Bush doesn't try to make his answer seem like he is trying to help the reporter. 

"I'm not going to comment on the matter," Bush said. "You're welcome to
ask another question, if you'd like to, on a different subject," the
president added

There is a world of difference between just saying you are not going to talk about something and telling a guy you are doing him a favor becasue his original question was one that didn't even need to be asked if he had read the statement and done his homework. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rejoice, Gentlemen! Defeat is Ours!

Among the many payoffs to losing the election is that many necessary policies there were denounced as fascism are now going to be acceptable.  Obama has already re-Christened the FISA act and wire-tappings as prudent during the campaign.  Now David Cole has come out in favor of preventative detention!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rule of the Mandarins

These guys at the car companies have been wasting tons of money and haven't accomplished very much.  Someone else should run their businesses.  Who should we put in charge there?  Why Congress, of course!  After all, we don't want too much change, do we?  If they suddenly started using money efficiently and actually building cars that people want it could prove very unsettling to the economy. Last thing we want in these uncertain times is an abrupt change, and who else has the experience of wasting money on such a colossal scale?

Of course the actual person running it can't just be a politician.  It has to be someone with the right technical skills.  Engineer?  Businessman?  Silence you crazed ideologue!  We need someone with sympathy and understanding for all the interests and social values at stake.  Yes, that's right: a lawyer.  I am surprised we didn't think of it before.  In fact, that was probably the whole problem in the first place over there at the car companies: not enough lawyers.   

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Neo-Cons and India

Douglas Feith recounts an anecdote that was recounted to him by an Indian official to the effect that even though India has almost as many Muslims as Pakistan it is practically unheard of that an Indian Muslim joins al Qaeda.  Why? Because India is a democracy.

This is an idea that I hope and believe will get more attention now that the Bush administration is leaving and one can be in favor of the spread of democracy without the confounding factor of the unpopular conflict in Iraq.  With time, people may even be willing to consider that spreading democracy is not only good but may even require force.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You would be a fool to work

It turns out that some cities are in pension trouble.  This city in California is facing bankruptcy because it can't meet its pension obligations.  Little wonder: Firemen can retire at 50 and get 90% of their pay as pensions.  What kind of fool would keep working under that deal?