Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Picking at scabs

I'm sure that conservatives and libertarians have some of the same mental tics, but why is it that Liberals constantly rehash the same flimsy arguments over and over again, like a acne-riddled teen picking at his scabs?

'The Case for Calling Them Nitwits

They blow each other up by mistake. They bungle even simple schemes. They get intimate with cows and donkeys. Our terrorist enemies trade on the perception that they’re well trained and religiously devout, but in fact, many are fools and perverts who are far less organized and sophisticated than we imagine. Can being more realistic about who our foes actually are help us stop the truly dangerous ones?'

This is about the fifteen-thousandth variation on this argument:

Many Muslim terrorists are badly trained -->

Badly trained terrorists are easy to defeat, and often defeat themselves -->

Muslim terrorism is very little actual threat to us -->

Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our huge anti-terrorism apparatus are completely out of proportion to the threat.

Interestingly, the very same people who aver this will also aver very shortly thereafter that even a tiny threat from man-made global warming means we should dismantle industrial society, live like stone-age paupers and send all our money to Bangladesh, but that is bye the bye.

The most important thing to understand about this argument is that terrorists don't stay incompetent. People learn, they develop skills, they mature into much better terrorists. Nineteen mainly Saudi Muslims demonstrated this quite clearly on September 11, 2001.

Left to their own devices, in their safe havens like the FATA region of Pakistan, the southernmost islands of the Phillipines and Somalia, the terrorists will develop skills and weapons which can cause immense harm on an immense scale. They intend to, and will, unless we stop them.

Lefty nuances about what we should call terrorists did not defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. Lots and lots of squaddies, Marines and special forces hit squads did. Unpopular though this is with many on the left AND right, that is what will have to happen every time Al Qaeda set up shop somewhere- viz Mauritania, Morocco and Burkina Faso.

All the young men who poured into Iraq to fight the Crusaders, who then died in the great meat grinder, are young men who will not be available in the Maghreb, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and the other battlefronts of our war on Muslim terror. They cannot become undercover terror operatives either. And the ones who went back home, having confronted our might, took with them stories of disillusion and defeat.

In this war, victory will come when the enemy learns that his cause is hopeless. Implacable will to fight on the fronts that exist is what will bring that about. Bone-headed flim-flam like this argument seek to disguise both the nature of the enemy, and the conditions of his defeat.

Shall we ask the government of Somalia whether Al Shabab are nitwits? I don't think so. Or the government of Algeria about Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb?

The time is coming very shortly when we will need to send a big ****ing army to Somalia, and destroy Al Shabab root and branch. The alternative? Another Afghanistan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Calling a political woman a whore is now OK as long as she is on the right

'FORGIVE ME for not feeling great sympathy for Meg Whitman — or womanly outrage on her behalf. The California candidate for governor has gotten ample political mileage from being called a “whore’’ — in a cellphone conversation, recorded and leaked, between her opponent, Jerry Brown and an aide (who did the name-calling). In a year filled with formidable female candidates, this may have been the most gender-loaded dustup, and the most predictable. Whitman claimed the high road, demanded a mea culpa for the women of California, and watched the headlines pile up.'

Gosh, time flies. Just a few months back, everybody on the left, including I'm sure this idiot, were bemoaning the lack of civility in public life. Like a vast horde of Victorian school marms, they wittered on endlessley about how terribly gauche and beastly those TeaBaggers were being.

And now, in the twinkling of an eye, rudeness and incivility have morphed into 'trash talk' which is apparently AOK! All part of the rough and tumble of a merry democracy, dontcha know? She should toughen up, the stupid bitch!

I am sooooooooooooooo bored with the intellectual vacuity of the left, its asinine whining and 'can't remember what I said yesterday' dopeyness.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hell hath no fury like that of an electorate scorned

'"It's a basic, simple message that I think hits the sweet spot of appealing to conservatives and independents simultaneously." To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, it is a message that has the additional advantage of being true.'

'Barone adds: "Liberals who are puzzled by what's happening should take 30 seconds and watch this ad."'

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Friday, October 15, 2010

First article I ever read about Blair that rings true

'...I have never been able to detect, in his behaviour or speeches, any evidence of bedrock Labour sentiments, and this memoir fails totally to explain why he drifted into the party. There was never any real reason. It was happenstance. Or rather I prefer the Quixotic explanation offered by his former housemaster at Fettes, Eric Anderson and his wife Poppy. Blair was always a consummate actor, and was given the part of Anthony in the school production of Julius Caesar, although not yet a senior boy. He had a startling success in the part, as one would expect. Poppy did the costumes, and dressed the followers of Brutus in blue. Anthony and his men wore red. "And that," she said, "was how Blair became Labour."'

Many is the time I mused on this myself. I, unlike about 97% of the British population, have always liked and continue to like Tony Blair. I didn't like his policies in many crucial respects, but as a man, I found him optimistic, warm and humane. He is confident, but not narcissistic and vain like Obama. He is also a good Christian, in an era where those are as rare as hens teeth. He is also one of very few politicians who seems to understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

The story of British politics for at least the last three or four decades has been one of running away from responsibility and the refusal to weild power in the cause of right and good. Obsessed with pampering the not-very-poor of Britain, most British politicians have paid scant regard to the rest of the world, lest they be seen as 'neo-colonial'. Never, never, never accept the premises of your enemies!

'His admiration for Margaret Thatcher was unbounded and had he followed his father and become a Tory MP he would have been her natural successor.'

What a terrible thought. What Mrs Thatcher (PBUH) conspicuously lacked was a successor. What if Tony Blair had been the one? I say terrible because what actually happened was so vastly inferior to that outcome it hardly bears thinking about. Whatever New Labour was, it had a vast sea anchor hauling it backwards called Gordon Brown.

'Blair's instinctual conservatism expresses itself in various ways. One is his good manners. He has the best manners of any political leader I have come across, here or abroad. I happen to believe manners are important, in theological terms an outward sign of inward grace. They spring, certainly in Blair's case, from a profound love of order, which is illustrated, time and again, in his memoir.'

What a wonderful and original thought. It also reveals another strand of why I like the man. Here is another-

' of the most touching things to emerge from this memoir is Blair's half-formulated desire to be much more ruthless, at a personal level, than he is. But it is beyond him. One cannot see him, like Lloyd George, snarling at a colleague: "I want him dead chicken by midnight" or, like Churchill, marching up and down the Cabinet room, saying aloud to himself, "I want them all to feel my power."'

I wish, as I'm sure millions of others in the country do, that he had been more ruthless with Brown, throwing him under the bus at any one of dozens of excellent opportunities. But he didn't. He soldiered on. But he wouldn't have been himself (he would have been Peter Mandelson) if he had thrown him overboard.

I have always had a lot of time for Paul Johnson, and this is one of the most interesting pieces about Tony Blair I've read.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do they really know what they are doing?

'Speaking in Parliament, Mr Byrne said he backed the idea of cutting the number of quangos, a process he said the previous Labour government had set in motion.

But he accused the government of changing its argument over why they should be axed when it became clear that costs associated with closing them would not lead to any savings and could cost money.

He dubbed Mr Maude "the most expensive butcher in the country".

He said: "Labour had a plan for steadily saving £0.5bn by carefully closing 25% of quangos over the next few years.

"The Tories now need to tell us whether their desperation for headlines and faster cuts means the cost of closing quangos is actually bigger than the savings. And while they're at it, they should tell us whether their manifesto commitment for 20 new quangos is now on ice." '

QUANGOs are and were a very useful way of expanding government and regulation without giving the appearance of doing so. That is why I hate them. And want to see them done away with.

But for the second time in a few weeks, I find myself agreeing with Labour. I feel dirty, but it's true. Francis Maude, the Coalition minister in charge of getting rid of the QUANGOs, said this:

"What people find so irritating is the sense that there is this huge amount of activity incontinently set up, much of it by the last government, by bodies which are not in any way accountable - no one can be held accountable for what they do and that is what we are seeking to change," he told MPs.

Really, that is the main reason for getting rid of QUANGOs?

I'm sorry, when you are spending £135 BILLION a year you don't have, trivial questions of non-accountability are as chaff in the wind. When we have national expenditure at or below national income, we'll get back to precious arguments about whether a QUANGO can be held accountable or not.

The trouble with the Labour criticisms is that the current coalition already have a track record in grandstanding while actually not following through on the meaty substance. Just like with the Child Benefit nonsense, where Labour pointed out that for all the damage caused, only a billion pounds will be saved, out of a total benefits budget of about three hundred billion. And not only that, if the losers from the Child Benefit means testing get a tax rebate to compensate, the exchequer may actually be WORSE OFF.

My faith in the competence of the Coalition is being sorely tested.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A real laugh out loud moment

'John Simpson says BBC news was never left wing
John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs editor, yesterday attacked Mark Thompson for claiming that corporation used to be left wing, insisting that its news coverage has always been "straight as a die".'

Well, if you say so, John, it must be true.

The Pacific

Something I just read tweaked my memory, and my annoyance, at the TV miniseries 'The Pacific'.

As campaigns go, the US operations in the Pacific in World War II barely figure as world changing events. While of course for the participants in them they were tremendously important, for everyone else, pretty much not.

This probably very expensive mini-series tries to turn the not epic into an epic. By every measure, the US pacific campaign was strategically unimportant. Imagine a world where Japan controlled all the islands in the Pacific? Mmmm. Scary it isn't. The Phillipines, I hear you ask? Yes, Saudia Arabia might have to forego its domestic staff. Eeek.

On all measures, this was a small-time deal. Numbers of men involved: numbered in the thousands, at most tens of thousands. Both the Eastern and Western fronts in Europe counted combatants by the hundreds of thousands and millions. Strategic value of what was being fought over: most of the islands fought over in the Pacific were insignificant specks in the vast expanse of the ocean.

My biggest bugbear is the strategy chosen by the US commanders. With the exception of a few bigger islands like Guadalcanal and Guam, none of the other islands needed assaulting. Unless the island had airfields or naval bases, they didn't need attacking at all. What is the worst thing about an island? It is very easy to besiege. Just cut it off from supply by sea and air and wait.

So what did the US Admirals choose to do? Yup. No waiting!! Hell no. We can't just wait six months until they are all starved and thirsty, and just take them prisoner. Nope. Gotta go in there with guns blazing and get a few hundred more marines killed. Makes for much better television.

Even the bigger islands, like the Phillipines and Okinawa, could have been reduced slowly, with the understanding that the Japs had no means of resupply. So rather than charging at the machine guns, the US could simply have squeezed like a python, reducing the area controlled by the enemy and denying him movement and resupply. But no. Lives must be expended, heroes created, and myths promulgated.

Mostly though, what annoys me about 'The Pacific' is that there is no equivalent of the lavish mini-series for the many, vastly more strategically significant Eastern front campaigns. For no good reason that I know of, the Russians have never taken the time or the effort to memorialise the seven million men who died fighting the Nazis in this way. I wish they would, as an antidote to that strain of American braggadocio which continually tells us that it was they who 'won the war'.

Stop bleating or people might notice

'First, since we don't have a well-integrated sense of what our values are--we find it very hard to express what we stand for in any kind of inspiring, compelling way.'

Many progressives are ignorant. Ignorant of history, ignorant of political theory, ignorant of human nature... just plain ignorant. Being vague and dealing in vast generalities are in my experience almost invariably a cover for not knowing very much.

But this is really an insignificant factoid.

Progressivism has been immensely successful. So why don't progressives feel successful?

Progressivism has been vastly more successful in the real America of the last seventy years than conservatism, yet progressives still see themselves as weak and ineffectual. Despite changing America from a nation of free enterprise and tough individuality to one dominated by big business, big government, corparatism and dependency on state programs, progressives don't see themselves as successful.

And conversely, despite enormous amounts of evidence to the contrary, conservatives in America consider themselves successful, and their nation still evincing all the old pre-New Deal qualities. Go figure.

Indubitably, I could do a better job of summing up both the real 'accomplishments' and the real principles of progressivism than many progressives, but there is no question that they have transformed America.

The people with the real problem are American conservatives who don't see that vast swathes of what is around them was created by progressive policies. How much of US agriculture is subsidised by the Federal Government? Who owns US airports? Who owns most of the US airlines? How is the vast bulk of old age medical care provided in the US? How much of the United States is owned by one government agency or another? How much of US business is tied to government by very strong ties of 'lobbying' and other corrupt practises? How much of what goes on in the US is now directly or indirectly connected to government funding?

Because most elected representatives in the US have very low levels of knowledge or concern about wider issues of public policy, most of this has happened with very little or no resistance from the Republican party. In fact, large amounts of it were their work.

The US has a vast distance to travel if it ever chooses to go back to its pre-New Deal incarnation.

So why do progressives feel like failures? Why are they afraid the their brand is weak?

What progressives should be immensely proud of is that under the radar, without ever having a strong brand, they have transformed America into a stodgy, statist, corporatist monolith. That vast swathes of their policy are now the status quo. And that conservatives think they won!

There is the very first twinkling of recognition in the American people that their country became a progressive nightmare while they were busy with personal matters, a recognition prompted by Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin mostly. But for now, most Americans are still asleep.

My advice- don't wake them up.