Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Litvinenko, the other side of the coin

Okay, so my question in my last post, "Am I missing something," suggested that the net equation of killing Litvinenko would be a loser for Putin. Well, now for the other side.

I have been a subscriber to Stratfor's free "Geopolitical Intelligence Report" which is periodically emailed to me. In the latest missive, they give an overview of the decline and end of the Soviet Union and events leading to Vlad Putin's presidency.

My takeaway is, there could be an upside for the Putinistas, There are a lot of rogue KGB/FSB types out there. These are desparate times and all (Putin, Berezovsky et al) are desparate men. Putin sees that the West is probing in Georgia and other places and is not about to stop. He holds the energy card for Europe now. He is popular at home. If he has some political capital maybe he knows how to spend it better than George Bush and now may be a time to get away with it. After all, what are we going to do, nuke 'em?

A painfully dying and eventually dead Litvinenko as a signal sent to a lot of people while publicly shedding a few tears may not be without a net upside.

Leaving some amibiguity about Mr. Berezovsky's role in his friends death doesn't hurt. Certainly, this is not all that difficult as the speculation about Mr. Klebnikov on other blogs made clear. I know I'll not be sending my resume off to Mr. B anytime soon.

Berezovsky, Putin, I don't think most Americans appreciate how ruthless people from other societies can be.

There is no link directly to the article so if you wish to read the whole thing, sign up at

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Am I missing something

There are some things in life I don't get. For example, Donald Trump is supposed to be one of those master of the universe gazillionaires who hemorrhages money as he just can't stop making the stuff. If this is so, why is he giving seminars all over the country to supposedly tell his countrymen and women how to make as much money as he does? If I were Mr. Moneybags, the last place I would want to hang out is with the hoi polloi (of which I am a member in good standing) to tell them how they can be just like me, thus erasing any uniqueness I might possess.

Thinking there is something that does not meet the eye, I googled to try and find if he was really rich as Croesus. It seems he does have assets, but there has got to be something wrong here as success to me would mean not having to spend time on the road in Holiday and Hampton Inns across the country giving the same spiel over and over. If he isn't a pauper, he's a nut.

Something not meeting the eye is more or less today's theme. Pierre Gemayel's assassination this past week, with the blame placed on Syria, set alarm bells off in my head. To that purpose I propose a thought experiment. Let us pretend to be the President of Syria in a meeting with his trusted advisors. "Okay, lads, next order of business, should we assassinate someone this week. How about Pierre Gemayel. He and his family hate us. If we get this guy everyone will pin it on us and we shall have America salivating even more to bring down the regime. Last time we took out someone, we had to remove all our troops from Lebanon. Tell me the net upside?"

In the same vein, we have the case of Alexander Litvinenko, given something that didn't agree with him in London and succumbing from indigestion last Thursday night. The hue and cry surrounding his death has centered on the executive of an Eastern European country. Again, let us do the thought experiment thingy. A certain fellow named Vladamir Putin is in a meeting with his trusted advisors. "Okay, lads, next order of business, should we assassinate someone this week. How about Alexander Litvinenko. He is a part of the Berezovsky circle. Now if we could get Boris back and put him on trial, that would be something. Sasha Litvinenko, just how important is it to lose this guy? Tell me the net upside?"

I dared not give voice, I mean blog to my thoughts as being the voice of humility, I thought them to unworthy to mention. That was until I read Martin Kelly's rantings that are different from my paranoid rantings in that they are in much greater and better detail (linked from Dennis Mangan). Worth looking at. I am not linking to any one post in particular as there are so many of them.

If anyone has the net upside of getting rid of Gemayel in Lebanon and some B list critic in London , please let me know.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I never liked bowling anyway

It began early, as our parents got us up to be taken to the neighbors to spend the day. I remember asking what my parents were doing, but the answer did not register. Then, I would guess, about 7:00 PM Mom and Dad arrived to retrieve us. We were ready to go home to our own familiar rooms.

Except, we were not going home. Traveling out from the city on slow roads as the new fast highways were not finished, we were headed to ......The Burbs. No more living in apartments, neighbor upon neighbor. Now we would live in a house that we owned (subject for a short while to a mortgage). For a time, the big change did not appear positive to me. I and my sibs had a network of friends in the apartments and missed them. In fact, for a few years I would wish to move back. As other relatives lingered in the city for some years, we would travel by our old place and visit. The memories faded, though as families of the old friends made their hegiras out of the city in the great post war migration. When the highway building was done and had taken fast roads to the suburbs, our trips bypassed the old digs. The next time I saw the old apartments, they looked long in the tooth and now I felt more the escapee than the exile.

My memories of my new hometown are not perfect, but, on balance they are positive. My new friends and I would travel all over town on our bicycles, going further all the time. It was a feeling of freedom that I don't know if I would have had had we stayed put. People, as owners, become house proud and though this is lampooned, I kind of liked living in a neat neighborhood. However, I did a lot of lawn mowing as a child and that was not a fond memory and I have vowed never to mow another lawn and have kept that promise, even though I live on a much larger piece of land now.

Of course, you are not cool unless you hated your life in that narrow universe outside of the metropolis. That is what we are all supposed to believe. Oh, the isolation, the alienation, the anomie. Whatever. This is really just evidence of the eternal adolescence at least of Americans.

No matter how happy your home life was, you were ecstatic to go off to college. It was all new. So free. No one telling you to do your homework, go to bed. What is more, no matter how old the school is you have the false feeling that you are the first to experience all this. Or at least to experience it in a new and unique way.

The life with mom and dad and sis and rover is gone. One recoils from the memory with horror. Yes, there is a better way. You may not find it, but you know it is not suburbia, even if you end up living there yourself. Still, you know that bourgeois life is a living death and how can your unenlightened neighbors stand it?

Well, grow up. No, I mean it. Literally. Grow up, put down the bong and enjoy life in the burbs. You are wrong. Life out beyond the city limits is better and more fulfilling than in the loft where you plan to start writing the book with the movie rights in mind about how the suburbs eat one's soul. Just as soon as you save enough money delivering pizzas, if you are not shot first.

How have I come to this epiphany? Moi, I could not have come up with it in a thousand years. I live out in the "exurbs" and have to watch out that my Swamp Yankee neighbors don't shoot each other up at church suppers as they must be even more alienated.

No, Randall Parker over at Parapundit links to an article about how high density living is the enemy of friendly communities where people socialize and interact with their neighbors. as proposed by economist Jan Brueckner.

Take that Robert Putnam, Mr. Bowling alone. Just because no one likes his favorite sport anymore does not mean people are not enjoying each others company. Most suburbs seem empty during the weekday, but, on weekends just walk down any street and you can smell the barbeque as neighbors gather to eat ribs and feed the obesity crisis. In Fact,

"Among their specific findings were that for every 10-percent decrease in density, the likelihood of residents talking to their neighbors at least once a week jumps by 10 percent. And involvement in hobby-oriented clubs increases even more significantly -- by 15 percent for every 10 percent decline in density. To measure these and other social interactions, researchers used data from the Social Capital Benchmark Survey and controlled for other factors such as income, education and marital status."

So, get a life and get a lawnmower.

I do have a friend who went to trade school and now has a electrical contracting business where he makes more than partners at prestigious big city law firms. If I ever asked him about his level of alienation, I am sure he would not regard me as sane. Poor soul never got to college. Does some mean barbecue, though.

One of Randall's posters, Fred, sums it all up,

"Critics of suburban sprawl often try to argue that it's the result of collusion between the evil forces of developers, zoning officials, the oil companies, and . . . you name it, paving contractors, tire companies, aluminum siding salesman. All of this disregards the fact that for families of normal income, and probably for people generally, a detached suburban home is overwhelmingly their housing preference. That's why those evil residential developers keep building those faceless, sprawling suburbs. Demand.

I have a book about the evolution and development of the city of Paris in the 19th and 20th centuries. I remember that it makes reference to a survey conducted asking Parisians to select their preferred type of home, disregarding the factor of cost. In other words, if price were no object, would you prefer a townhouse, a penthouse, a flat in a high rise, etc. The overwhelming favorite: a single family detached home. This is the City of Light!"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Humbly, I shall accept a draft nomination

All this talk about Republicans getting back to their base is all well and good after the deluge. I just don't know how effective it is. There were a number referenda in several states and the ballot questions on moving the minimum wage north all did very well.

The small government crowd, it seems, only does well when a Democrat regime has screwed things up such that people are willing to try something new. So all the GOP has to do is wait for the debacle and catch the resulting wave and ride it as long as possible. Selling small government itself is a bit of a problem.

The voice of humility understands this. A true humilitarian knows you do not try to change the current but to travel with it. It is with this in mind, I have started the True Democrat Party. I announce that I will seek and accept the nomination for President. Here is my platform:

America needs a $40 minimum wage. Working families can't do it on their own. The True Democrat Party is here to help the little guy.

Let's see that wuss, Nancy, match that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm being channeled

It isn't really so. I hardly think that little me has influenced William S. Lind over at Defense and the National Interest. I am certain that he does not know this blog exists. Still I take it as vindication that my ideas have some validity somewhere.

We differ in that Mr. Lind does think we should put Saddam back. His reasons are cogent, but as stupid as the war was and is, I can't get my mind around putting Himself back in power.

Unfortunately, I agree with Mr. Lind that it would be the smart thing to do. I have other reasons. Saddam coming back would be seen as our defeat. It rankles me no end to see my country lose, but we lost the war when we started it and if we can salvage something, it is an ill wind etc. If we lose a stupid war, we may, for a generation, not be inclined to get into another one. If we find someone and he is perceived to be our boy and can survive despite that perception, we may be able to claim a sort of victory, we may sucker ourselves into another adventure.

No, it will have to be someone credible as a Sunni resistor. There is only one big name in that field.

Let's just go. There are going to be consequences anyway and it is not worth Bismarck's Pomeranian grenadier.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hard as Nails

I agree with Gene Healy's agreement with Julian Sanchez's take on John Derbyshire. "his views are, often as not, absolutely vile. But he's exceptionally sharp and learned, and expresses his thuggish views without cant or sugar coating, which I suppose is a virtue. It's almost as if a team of genetic scientists took a mouth-breathing, beer-swilling, Pak-bashing specimen of pure Cockney trash and raised his IQ by 100 points. How can he fail to be interesting?"

Mr. D is in trouble with some people for giving up religion. An ability to argue Episcopal theology is absent here so others can have a go at him for that. I did read his un conversion story and it seemed reasonable enough. I get the feeling he stayed as long as he did out of filial piety or he was no longer in his comfort zone. Anyway, now that he has left his up scale (in American eyes) denomination, it may be easier to think of him as that lager lout.

No, I found something else to to discuss. Actually, he makes a pretty good case for his having that genteel thuggish side in his review of Mark Steyn's America Alone,

"I am, in fact, willing to confess myself a collateral-damage armchair warrior, who would be happy to see us trade in our inventory of smart laser-guided precision munitions for lots and lots and lots of old-style iron bombs, and fleets of great big iron planes to deliver them. Remember those photographs of mid-1945 Berlin, fragments of broken wall sticking up out of vast drifts and dunes of pulverized masonry? Now that’s rubble.

Oh, and we won that war."

That is certainly refreshing. He just loved the Hun suffering. Ooh, forgot to mention that arm sticking up through that rubble.

Of course, that his point is ridiculous goes without saying. No expert has ever suggested that conventional bombing won the war in Europe. I hate to jog anyone's memory as I know of my own early onset, but it was the Big One that ended the Pacific War.

Now, we brushed aside Saddam's army to get to Baghdad. Does Derb suggest that we should have just bombed for forty five days and then proceeded to the same results? Is he suggesting that we withdraw and start a course of heavy bombing and then go back in and then we will get the march to Jeffersonian democracy?

Oh well, usually he makes much better sense. Anyway, as he kinda turned his back on the war, he has to keep up some hard guy cred. Once a chickenhawk......

It's too bad, because I do like consistency. I want my jerks to be jerks all the time. Not John. His War Against White Trash a few week before was dead on and he is usually interesting.

Anyway, I don't believe in sanity. I've never known anyone who was not afflicted with doublethink (i.e. act of holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously, fervently believing both, and being unaware of their incompatibility). Heck, I'm sure I practice it myself, but of course, I'm more humble about it.

So, I'll continue to read him as he is often quotable and I'm often lazy.

And if he wants to argue that we start a five year carpet bombing campaign against the whole Middle East, it would be no stupider than our current policy.

John Derbyshire, my favorite hooligan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I should have expected it

I think it was the Summer of '84. We were all gathered in Worcester as the candidate was about to swing through and was going to meet our group among others. He was moving up and if he was successful, his incumbency would carry him through other campaigns, but this one would be tough and nothing could be taken for granted. I believe he would have met with the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association for Man Hamster Love if it existed.

So in he comes and shakes hands all around. The first thing everyone noticed about him was how perfectly groomed he was. Think of some guy you know with a rep as a snazzy dresser. Well, forget it, he was a slob beside your man. He looked like a sculpture out of GQ.

So he sits down and we discuss what we want. After some small talk, he agrees to what we ask and get up and leaves. After he is gone we stand for a second. Everyone starts to look at everyone else. We all start to smile and, almost in unison, we say, "We've just been lied to."

In looking back, I can think of what we saw when he talked to us. Well groomed, insincere, polished. One thing though, he did not impress anyone as being too sharp. It was a short meeting and it may be unfair. there are some people after a few minutes, right or wrong, you say, wow, there's a bright lad or lass. Not him.

I guess by now I should not be surprised by what John Kerry says.