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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

This time, no more Mr. Nice Guys.

So we've made Afghanistan a paradise and with the final demise of you know who, Iraq will also become so bobo that David Brooks will soon move there. Is there an area of the world that we've missed. Why, yes. There is an area calling out for our ministrations. It is called Somalia. Now, now, I shall not tolerate all the guffawing I know is going on out there. Just because George the Father sent a healing mission that utterly failed does not mean we haven't learned something. Actually, our government has learned something and that is we are not going to send American troops this time. This is not smart, it is less stupid. The Ethiops come from just the next hood over and have no Kumbaya genes so no matter how humanitarian we may frame this operation, you get in the way of this army and the mercies won't be tender.

Anyway, unlike the last time, I don't think we're calling it kindness. Rather we portray it as part of the War on Terror. You see, Somalia was a mess, with all kinds of cutthroat militias cutting throats in the Mogadishu area. Then religion reared its ugly head in the name of Islamic Courts. Religion was real tricky this time because its ugly head looked downright appealing to the locals. This may have been because instead of someone losing his head when he wouldn't payoff a thief, the thief lost his hand when the courts took up the case. Anyway, if you are surprised that we are now bosom buddies with the militias who used to be the problem but now are the solution, you haven't really been paying attention. After all, we were once very friendly with the late what's his name.

We had fought the cutthroat militias years before. We did it by sending some of our boys to hang out there. Rather, to be hung out there. After the Blackhawk Down debacle, President Clinton realized there was no point and bugged out. Whatever one wants to say about the man, he was no fool in his own interest and when he smelled no personal upside, he was gone in the same way Ronald Reagan moved out sharply from Lebanon. The two of them knew when the doctrine of sunk costs applied to politics and war.

So the theory is that stopping the Islamic Courts will stop Al Qaeda from using Somalia in the war on the Great Satan. If the Abyssinians had not taken Mogadishu, why right this minutes Osama's carrier fleet and troop transports would be getting ready to dock and resupply for the next leg of their voyage to invade and destroy America, the home of the crusaders. Yep, that's the way of it.

The truth of it is that if we are to suffer at home from jihad, it will be because we let jihadists come here like the last big surprise. If we cut ourselves off from the source of holy warriors they will kill each other much the way enlightened Euros killed each other in the two intramural matches that took place in the first half of the twentieth century. It will probably not be as organized, but then, you have to be highly civilized to slaughter efficiently.

If you love your kids, teach intolerance

New addition to the The Short Dictionary of Politics.

tolerance: Old, permitting free expression of views one does not share. New, suppression of thought, or speech found uncomfortable by favored groups.

I was moved to add the above definition after reading Let’s make 2007 the Year of Real Tolerance by Brendan O'Neill at Spiked Online. The definition says it all and Brendan does as well. Tolerance no longer means giving unpleasant ideas a hearing, but the opposite. As that is so, it is now incumbent for every open minded person to stand up for the free expression of views one does not share, that is, to be intolerant.

In truth, no one really believes in tolerance, just as no one is really pro choice or pro life. To hold any one of the three, you have to hold it through thick and thin. What people say when they are saying any of these things is, "I am tolerant of what it is fashionable to be tolerant about," or I am pro abortion, but I don't really want to discuss it on its own terms," or "I am anti abortion." The last one is even more tricky because so called pro lifers usually do want to discuss abortion, but, unless they are insane, get stuck on the pro life thing when you ask them how pro life they are. Would they refrain from shooting someone about to rape their daughter? My general sympathy is with pro lifers, but I would reload and keep firing in the event. As to pro choice, it would not be difficult to find a union member public school teacher who claims to be pro choice. Ask him/her how they stand on school choice. Doublethink was around long before Orwell.

But enough of that, it is the high virtue of tolerance we are discussing here. I was behind a car once with a bumper sticker that said, "Unitarianism, a religion without a dogma." Unitarianism in Massachusetts has a reputation for being accepting and inclusive. They will accept you no matter what your race or sexual orientation, etc. Of course, one could force the issue and prove they do have a dogma. Say a bunch of skinheads with swastika tattoos went to church one Sunday and introduced themselves by saying, "we believe in God and want to worship him and have never found acceptance at any church. Well, we saw the slogan about no dogma and said this is the place for us. It is wonderful to find a place tolerant of us and our different views on race." The UUs (as they are referred to here) would soon find a dogma even though they might not write it down.

It is hard for anyone to tolerate an idea that says something extremely negative about them. I don't remember whether it was Shockley or Jensen who was speaking when they first came out with their intelligence theories, but the audience of mostly black students kept applauding to drown out the speaker. I certainly understand why they were upset. No one likes to have their intellect slighted. Still, they were in no way tolerant. Along comes the Bell Curve and the applauding continues. The definition of tolerance must change from respecting the honest arguments you disagree with to not rocking the boat for some people.

Now the science of intelligence is something I will never study. I have an interest in reading the popular science press, but science is, to me, a religion into whose inner mysteries I will never be an initiate. This saddens me as I wish I were smart enough to understand. It also causes me not to believe any idea as it might become passe. After all, when I was a baby the advanced theory was that breast feeding was not preferable to the bottle. Now the theory is there are IQ points to be gained by sucking it in naturally. I needed those points.

Still, one can do some observations on one's own that give some convincing evidence. The vast majority of Jews came to this country over the last century in an impoverished condition and lived in slums. Today, a Jewish neighborhood is often a place of opulence. Was this rapid change due to luck or brains? This may not be proof, but it is evidence of intelligence being heritable. Saying it violates a taboo. Applause please.

I do not like the idea of offending people, but I do not believe it is a good thing to stifle discussion. Better to have us screaming at each other than the soft totalitarianism of holding hands as Oprah Nation.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Was Sick And You Healed Me, I Was Separated And You United Me

So Gerald Ford has passed on. I wish him well whatever dimension he has attained. The comments on the news are coming fast and furious and are notable for an almost uniform vacuity. We are being told he healed and unified the nation. Funny, I never felt sick enough to need healing and I felt no more or less united after he became president.

I remember Nixon going and Ford being sworn in. He made a speech utterly forgetable other than for the line "I'm a Ford not a Lincoln." He was excoriated for pardoning Nixon. Even Teddy Kennedy is now saying that was a great move. Supposedly, if Nixon had been tried, we would have either had a civil war or gone into a national funk that would have been disastrous in those pre prozac days. Well, I for one would have liked to have seen Nixon tried. He was a fair lawyer and if he could have gotten a change of venue out of DC he would have made a show of it. Maybe, it was the political class that was healed and unified.

Yeah, they were dredging up anyone who could be relied upon to say something meaningless. Barney Frank said Gerry was the last of the Republican moderates. So who is the last of the moderates in your freakin' cargo cult, Barney. That would be Grover Cleveland and we shall not see his like again among the Dems.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Okay, I'll Sacrifice My Honor This One Time

So, your man Drudge informs us of the wee contretemps between Rosie and Trump. In truth, I don't have a dog in this fight (another thirty days in Purgatory for that). Still, I find myself wanting to root against someone, but this is just too tough.

When I started this blog, it was my intention to be much more gentlemanly than I was in my early life. Actually, it would have been difficult to be less so, but, when these two appear together.... One is reminded of the words of Oscar Wilde, "The only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it."

More About The Happy Jobs

Part of Udolopho's comment on my last post:

"The question becomes, are we building an America that can support people of all stripes and talents, or are we building a two-tier society that offers riches to certain white collar classes and working poor wages to everyone else. I don't want to live in a country with Mexico's class structure, but that is what we are building. I wish I were a little older so I could be spared the inevitable outcome of this reckless experiment. If we keep this up there is socialism in our futures. Frankly, I'd rather work in a factory."

I must have sounded cavalier in my last post, even though I was not speaking about immigration but the loss of jobs overseas. One certainly does not wish to offend Udolpho for the treatment he can deliver is withering. Actually, as bad as the one just linked to is, this one is far more devastating.

Someone who spent years in a job and sees it go away can feel desperate. I actually know what that is like. Twelve years ago, the company I worked for left and took my so called professional job with them. That job was lush and I knew in our declining area of the state it could not be replaced. And it wasn't. We adjusted and I am one of the self under employed of this country. We could have followed the company but they were headed to a place where we would not have wanted to raise our kids. I have no regrets even though I know the day I turn 65 will just be another day.

As to that blue collar thing, The departure of factory jobs is a mixed blessing. Yes, some higher skilled and paid jobs leave, but a lot of industrial accidents never happen. If you've been around when someone's hand gets caught in a machine, it is not pretty. That can happen in real work. When my son was small, a classmate's dad, working as a truck mechanic, was killed when something sprung lose. We don't have many industrial jobs here and that was not factory work, but it was enough to remind me that I am glad I escaped the box factory.

As to Udolpho's question about the nature of what the economy is to become, that is a lot to think about, but, I don't expect we disagree much on the nature of our future social structure. I have a problem with the word "we" as in "are we building an America that can support people of all stripes and talents, or are we building a two-tier society." We don't get to build anything. Either it evolves or someone is deciding things elsewhere and is not consulting the we. At least I don't remember any one from the government or a cabal calling moi.

Anyway, I am working class myself and I expect a tad older than Udolpho. I remember the largest employer's workforce going out on strike for near a year and only going back when Taft-Hartley was invoked. The kids of the strikers got free lunches in school. My own father was out for a summer on strike. It was always a stratified society, you knew it in the town I grew up in. Oh, that largest employer is gone and my father's company has merged a number of times and is no longer recognizable as the old New England icon it was.

Post WWII may have been the only time in the history of the world that working people were allowed by the amount of their paychecks to think of themselves as middle class. How long could that last and how much had it to do with us being the only economy standing after the war? Beats me. I'm no economist and they disagree anyway.

As to the world Udolpho sees coming to pass, I may not agree in every particular, but the ongoing invasion can only bring changes. Will they all be Camp of the Saints type. Probably to a great extent, as an inundation of workers can only result in beggar thy neighbor and decline of wages in declining industries and service jobs and the overclass prefers every new group over their lumpen countrymen. Yeah, it should not be pretty.

Actually, it is not pretty now in this country. I go to a suburban mall maybe once a year unless I can avoid it. The young people I see there are in no way ready for the Tsunami coming their way. On the way home today, I listened to a talk show where callers carped about the Brazilians (a growing presence here). All of a sudden a couple of restaurant owners called in to say though the chefs are American, they never hire Americans for grunt work because they are not as reliable as Brazilians (they did not mention if they are paid less). If it were a choice between Joao and an overly tattooed* American kid** who is also doing an imitation of a pincushion, I would probably decide on Joao from Sao Paolo. Joao's kids will not work as hard or get along as well.

Why this is happening against the wishes of most Americans is the big question. I understand that corporate donors want it. I don't understand why that feeling is pervasive among them. It is only in the dirtiest of industries that third world immigrants toil for corporations (e.g meatpacking). Around here it is busboys, chambermaids and landscaping, etc. not big business.

So why the big push. Let's go across the pond and look for a paranoid conspiracy theory that at least sounds plausible. The English libertarian, Sean Gabb looks at what is happening in his country in his Free Life Commentary Issue Number 143.*** I have highlighted what I think is most relevant to our situation.

"It is possible to see, during the past 25 years in at least this country, a movement towards a new settlement in politics. This movement has continued regardless of who has occupied which office, and regardless of what party has won which election. It is clear that the ruling class - or that loose coalition of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, educators, and media and business people who derive wealth and power and status from an enlarged and active state - wants an end of liberal democracy. The desired new settlement is one in which those at the top or with the right connections can enjoy the most fabulous wealth and status, and in which their enjoyment of these can never again be challenged from below. We, the ordinary people, are to be stripped of our constitutional rights - no freedom of speech, no personal or financial privacy, no procedural safeguards in the criminal law. We are to be taxed and regulated to what counts in our own culture as the edge of the breadline. This is on the one hand to provide incomes for clients of the ruling class, and on the other to deprive us of the leisure that might allow us to understand our situation, and of the confidence that might allow us to challenge it. In any event, every organ of the ruling class is at work on promoting ideologies of boundless submission to the new settlement.

At the same time, structures of accountability that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries are to be deactivated. Their forms will continue. There will be assemblies at Westminster. But these will not be sovereign assemblies with the formal authority of life and death over us all. That authority will have been passed to various unelected and transnational agencies. And so far as the Westminster assemblies will remain important, our votes will have little effect on what they enact.

We are passing into the sort of world that existed in much of Europe before the French Revolution - a world of diverse and conflicting sources of authority, all equally unaccountable. The great simplification of authority that happened in Europe after 1789, and that had happened over two centuries earlier in England, was a product of nationalism; and simplification was followed by accountability and then by liberalism. This sort of reaction is in future to be made impossible by promoting movements of people so that nations in the old sense disappear, and are replaced by patchworks of nationalities more suspicious of each other than of any ruling class."

Even if this is true, it can't work for long. Manchester, New Hampshire once had the largest textile mill in the world. They hired a French Canadian to work next to an Irishman to work next to a Pole to work next to an Italian as they figured that would stifle union organizing. The mills no longer make textiles, the mill owning class has ceased to exist, If those who plot against us execute their plan, may they disappear too.

*To me, that's one tattoo.

**This show also often does a segment on the dumbing down of American youth where callers give examples of young people who can't add or make change.

***This link does not go directly to the article. You have to search on the left side to get to Issue 143.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Give Us Back Our Happy Jobs

Today I heard someone talking about a record trade deficit and problems for the country thereof. I don't remember anyone saying anything about our loss of factory jobs, but they might have. A lot of people, go on about the destruction of our industrial base and the ensuing loss of work. Not me. Maybe I should, but I don't. That does not mean terrible things may not occur because we lost all those jobs. I'm just not going to go on about how terrible it is.

Why? Because I had one of those jobs. Summer after freshman year saw me in a box factory doing hot, sweaty, grunt labor. It is a moment in life that makes you think about your future, and think I did. At the end of the summer I knew I would never go back there and I started bugging relatives to make sure that any avenue of nepotism available would be tapped for a better job the next year.

The point is, all the folks moaning about the loss of factory jobs have no intention of taking one were they to magically reappear on our shores. You listen to them and you would think that the Chinese were just having a ball in all those factories. They are all saying to each other, "I didn't know what fun was until factory work arrived." These are the jobs that remind one of the story of John F. Kennedy campaigning outside a coal mine in West Virginia as the workers were arriving. As he was about to shake the hand of one worker older than himself, the man tore into Kennedy. He told the candidate, "What are you doing here? You have nothing in common with us. You've never worked a day in your life." JFK shocked the man by saying, "Well, suh, you ah right." The man, taken aback by the candidate's honesty, then said, "Son, you ain't missed a damn thing."

So, who knows? The widget plant reopens and maybe everyone leaves Walmart and shows up Monday morning as the whistle blows. Maybe not.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Will that be one hump of two?

The blog The Black Sea reports on the camel sacrifice practiced by Turkish Airlines maintenance staff. The owner of the blog actually flies that airline. He reports the food is good for airline food. Hmmm, I wonder if they are serving fresh filet of camel. I am culinarily adventurous (in a humble way) and would not be adverse to trying dromedary steak on a flight,assuming there is no mad camel disease . I would watch to make sure that the camel sacrifice held on the tarmac was not how they supplied the galleys of the jetliners. Anyway, if they can guarantee where the camel came from and the cleanliness of the processing facilities, Turkish Airways is now the official airline of the voice of humility for at least one flight to Istanbul.

One thing I don't get. I assume all or most of the staff is Muslim. It was my impression that animal sacrifice is a pagan thing and not Islamic. Of course, as the meat was distributed to the participants (so I read somewhere), only the camel was making any real sacrifice and that may be allowed in The Church of the Camel.

Which, apropos of nothing, reminds me of the saying, No pain, no gain. I've seen my fair share of people suffering and getting nothing out of it. In fact, the more pain, the less gain. I remember slipping and falling and breaking a wrist. It hurt like hell. I don't remember anythng good such as some cosmic lesson coming out of that except to wear non slip shoes in icy conditions.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wrong From the Start

Randall Parker strikes again. We are losing in Afghanistan. Of course he is highlighting the obvious, but I guess that has to be done over and over again as few of us get it the first time.

I would not wish to repeat what Mr. Parker is ably doing. My focus today is to show what a deficient personality I really have and knaw on an old rug like a senile dog.

Remember the heady days after 911. Well, I do, but how clearly? Good question. I'm having more and more senior moments all the time. I remember the general tone being, "We gotta get those bastards." So we started bombing Afghanistan and cooperating with the Northern Alliance, a group of freedom loving patriots who quoted from the collected works of Bill Bennett. With our air support, they turned the flank. We sent troops in and chased the remnants of the Taliban out and installed a government and freed women and all that. Noble stuff.

It was all a waste. All of it. We did not get the self confessed mastermind of every bad thing that has happened to us. That evil Taliban is back. What people forget is that the Taliban was not defeated. They retired in good order. Certainly good enough order that they were able to regroup and return to battle. Not only that it looks like Round 15 of a 15 rounder and what looked in the early rounds like a mismatch with that big lanky guy from the West landing a few roundhouse rights has changed. That cagey boy from the East got on his bicycle and just circled around, landing a jab here and there, staying out of reach, while wearing the big guy down. In the final round, the betting has shifted, big time. This is how the Afghan Kid has won all his fights, seemingly a pushover in the early going then coming back later on. And, he has won all his fights (maybe the contretemps with Big Alex can be called a draw, but that's about it).

But of course, this time it was going to be different. Right. Anyone who thought the GIs giving out nylon stockings and chocolate thing was going to work this time was nuts. Actually, all that ranting about "United we stand" was little more than the raging of a drunk in a bar. Trust me, it's been a long time, but it's a subject I know something about.

So, I can hear no one say, though they might, what would have been your great plan, smart guy. Well that's the thing. I have no illusions about my genius, but all too many of my country's leaders do. If, by some bizzare circumstance, I had been invited I would have laid out the options thus, "Scenario one, we can invade that country and try to capture bin Laden. To do it right so that he can never come back if he escapes, it will take hundreds of thousands of troops and several decades to change the culture and more likely our culture will change. Oh, we will probably leave without actually effecting the desired change. Scenario two, I would withdraw all our troops from overseas and secure our borders.

So by now, if you are awake, you are saying, does this guy want to just give the terrorists a pass? No, I want to win. Hey, I'm from Red Sox country: I know what losing is* and it seems that our military and foreign policy wonks are, even still, hell bent in merely taking us into one labyrinth after another.

The most intelligent strategy I have ever heard was best explained in a letter to the letters page years ago. It was posted by George D. of the UK, "the terrorists could have been hunted one-by-one by having a special task force that deals with it, like Israel did in hunting the Nazi war criminals, without going to war with the country that provided shelter for them."

Of course such a policy would need focus over a long term and could not be a TV war and no party out of power would have been able to resist accusing the administration of doing nothing.

No, the Afghan thing will continue on until the inevitable and like the Brits and Russians, we shall leave, maybe with some face saving fig leaf, but we shall leave.

*So they finally won the series, long after I lost interest in sports in general and the Red Sox Nation fanaticism in particular. I am probably the only person in New England who does not own a piece of Sox regalia. Still have my Ted Williams baseball card.

I'll leave baseball fanship to heavy hitters like George Will. I'll also leave pushing for wars to him as well.

Leave Sil Alone

Ok, so Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) doesn't know Sunni from Shia. Does anyone care about that? What did knowing those things do for all those smartypants Republicans? What he does know are the things it is important to know for a congressguy, how to get elected, how to get along with party leadership, how not to be impeached as a judge. Knowing enough to not put large sums of money in the freezer is a bonus for which I am certainly grateful.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What is Victory?

Glaivester has a good post wherein he opines on what is and is not victory in the current Mesopotamian unpleasantness. His screed is, to me, not arguable. However, in reading it, I realized it would give me an excuse to be lazy and repost something from ancient times.

The Article below was written and published before the great crusade in Iraq and even before the liberation of Afghanistan, but after 911. Of the little that I wrote, it was found to be the most offensive. I think it is still valid.

America's greatest 20th century victory

Indeed, the only one

Every now and then someone on a talk show or in print will ramble on about how we lost in Viet Nam. Some act of cowardice or stab in the back is regretted, blah blah blah. I wish to dispute the idea that we lost "nam." If one truly reflects, the U.S. Army's ten year Southeast Asian Field Training Exercise that ended in the nineteen seventies was our only victory of the last century. Yes, yes, everyone is saying to themselves, "What is he talking about?" Well, folks, wise up, we lost all the other ones. Our friends and enemies alike bled us and continue to bleed us dry over conflicts that supposedly we were victorious in or at least managed a tie.

Now, granted we might not all agree on what constitutes a win. In order to set the tone, let us define terms.

The Agamemnon School of Victory: This consists of completely destroying your enemy, grabbing a lot of plunder and a great looking slave babe. After that, you go home to be murdered by your wife and her toy boy. It is only the last part that I think needs work.

The American Century School: After victory or tie, hunker down, rebuild the place, never leave.

The humilitarian School: After the war, you leave and forget about the place you left.

Believe me, I used to accept the conventional wisdom of our defeat. I remember being on active duty on the day the cease-fire went into effect and hearing the lieutenant in charge of our section sarcastically call it HPVN Day: Honorable Peace in Vietnam Day. I remember the collapse of the South's regime and thinking how it had all gone down the drain. It had, it was a waste, but that was the end of it.

Therein was our victory. Had the North given up the fight, we would still have troops and planes and PXs and condom dispensing machines all over South Viet Nam. We would have brass on the border taking meetings ad infinitum with the North's officers. We would be forever rebuilding the South. Heck, the North would by now have cozied up enough to us running dogs to get some aid, as in the North Korean nuclear blackmail scam. Swiss banks would be awash in skimmed cash from all the associated boondoggles.

Ah, but that was not the case. When the last of our boys left, we were gone. We had bled buckets and lost untold treasure, but, when we finally said au revoir, it was over. We even had a measure of revenge as Hanoi had its own Viet Nam in Cambodia.

Compare our "defeat" with our "victories," (not to mention "ties" and "incompletes" like Haiti). There was WWI, The Great War. I've wondered about that name, "The Great War." It is doubtful that the lads who spent all those years in the trenches would have thought it so great. We got into it because the president at the time, Wilson, wanted to "make the world safe for democracy" by fighting "the war to end all wars." Now sober reflection - an endeavor, I used to avoid like the plague - would tell one that such comments were moronic. Certainly, history has proved Mr. Wilson wrong. Still, it led our country to send enough men over to pull the Allies' chestnuts out of the fire. Wilson, fresh from a rhetorically successful Mexican adventure gave a war message that went something like this, "Oceania is at war with Eurasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia." No, well close enough.

Did our country get anything out of this? Of course: war dead, left where we had no compelling national interest. Worse, while our troops were overseas, the early twentieth century version of the soccer moms managed to slip through a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale and use of alcohol. In a way, this brought about a continuation of World War I on the home front (Let me digress a second, religious Jews were allowed wine for certain holidays. I can see the handwriting on the wall. Maybe someone will want to join me in starting a new religion with bacon and other high cholesterol foods as sacraments so we can be ready when the health Nazis ban them.)

There were other results from that "Great War" including Hitler. Yes folks, without Woody, Dolph would have probably spent his declining years raving in a Bavarian old soldiers' home. By demonizing Kaiser Bill and getting rid of the Imperial German Government we insured instability in Germany. Maybe an Allied victory did not lead to Hitler in an algebraic equation (Allied victory + German defeat = Hitler) but it is impossible to imagine the Third Reich, the holocaust, etc. had the Kaiser stayed in power after a peace of exhaustion.

While we are on the subject, would a German victory without our participation, have been all that bad? Yeah, they would have made a few annexations and would have tried to order trade to their liking. Sorta like what they're trying to do today in the era of the Euro.

In the inter war period (that is, between the big wars) we had adventures in Haiti and Nicaragua that brought peace and stability forever (yes, Nurse, I'll take my medication now)...

Now, class, let us look at World War II. The record shows that we were attacked by Japan whereupon Germany brilliantly declared war on us. There will always be controversy as to whether we pushed the Japanese into attacking us and intended to be in the war. Suffice it to say, I will not debate the issue and will display my maturity by stating a belief that the American and Japanese elites both suffered a temporary lack of humility that led them both into an inevitable and unwanted misunderstanding.

Though we took the surrenders, let us not claim a victory. We ended up supporting our allies and our enemies. We really did not want Japan and Germany rearming so we generously managed their defenses. The American Army became the Japanese Army. The U.S. Air Force served as the Luftwaffe. Those countries, freed from huge defense expenditures, had "economic miracles" that allowed pundits to tell us we should be doing what they were doing. (There are few American intellectuals so poor, that they don't own an inferiority complex about something.) Of course, that advice is no longer given today.

Eventually, by "containing" the Soviet Union" we were able to see it collapse. Now that should have been victory. We should have said to our NATO buddies, Okay, guys and girls, we're taking off, you have a few years to work out your modus vivendi for the next millennium, but, you're on your own. How naive such a sentiment is. No, all those bureaucrats out of work, Pentagon planners with nothing to plan, a president who couldn't refer to himself as "Leader of the Free World" (granted it doesn't have the ring of Dux et Imperator, but we do still pretend to be a republic. It will take awhile before even "Princeps" appears). So we have our cold war commitment, without a cold war. Our defeat continues.

On the other side of the world, there was Korea, an incomplete. The Communist Bloc doesn't really exist, yet North Korea is holding its own. This is amazing in that they are spending nothing on anything, if only because they have nothing to spend and their people are starving to death. Meanwhile, we hold the line with Seoul.

There are a few other items including but not limited to Haiti and Nicaragua again. See above, and, give me a larger dose this time, please.

We are all proud of how we ejected the Iraqis from that wonderful just and good democracy of Kuwait and ended the evil reign of . . . what's that, we're still bombing? Oops.

We have had success in the Balkans. We put a cop on the beat in Bosnia promised for one year. Of course, "one year" was like the question did creation take seven days as we know them or could each of those days have meant untold ages. I am no theologian, so I have no business discussing biblical chronology. Merely note that one year is going to last a long time. World War One started in Sarajevo and was so much fun, we just have to fight it again. Mr. Cohan should have written: "We're staying, we're staying over and we won't be back forever."

And of course Kossovo was another bada boom, bada bing, hurl a few bombs and go home. Nope, taxpayers are going to foot the bills until Camp Bondsteel becomes an archeological site.

Obviously, I've left out a few of our successes like Panama and Grenada. Well, I haven't any knowledge of their current situation, but maybe we just left them alone after we were done and are spending no money on them at all and we merely bask in their gratitude. Maybe not.

So, as we are about to start the second year of the new millennium while continuing all the foreign adventures of the last century as well as a forever war on terrorism, let us remember, our boys overseas. On patrol for us from the Maldives to Pristina, from Seoul to Berlin as well as Kabul, but not Saigon. Where is George McGovern? Wake him up at the Home for Failed Presidential Candidates. Let's say it again, George: "Come home, America."

And if you have any doubts about the Viet Nam victory thesis, let the record show that no one even remotely connects the Hanoi regime with 9-11.

Friday, December 08, 2006

V is for Vacuous

Call me cheap, but I rarely get to see movies in theaters. Here in the Peoples' Republic, we have an institution known as Inter Library Loan whereby you can get any book that is held in a Massachusetts library anywhere in the state delivered to your hometown library. This also applies to DVDs. We wait for them to come to the library system. So if I am to comment about movies, it will never be early. Anyway, what little I have to say will not deteriorate horribly over time, Conversely, it will not gain much either.

There are a number of bloggers who write about their fanship of comic books, graphic novels, etc. It must be me, but I don't get it. It is probably old age as I think Spiderman was just gaining popularity when my reading of the genre ended. I had occasionally bought or borrowed comics in grade school and then in the Summer between seventh and eighth grade, a friends mother gave me his DC collection (maybe fifty comic books) consisting mostly of Superman. I read them all and then tossed them never to have the desire again. I read a Mr. Natural owned by a drug addled college classmate and once sufficed. I hope I have not missed some great cultural development.

So along comes V for Vendetta and the movie of it was treated with all the seriousness of a work on the level of that serious scientist, Al Gore. I have heard that the comic series was somewhat inspired by hate for the lioness, Margaret Thatcher, whose effect in the end was little more than a meow. Oh, well.

The movie was a waste of time. Its plot can be summed up easily. It's always the Reichstag Fire. In this case a virus that allows John Hurt to become an English Fuhrer. Then one brave freedom fighter saves the day. And what a freedom fighter he is, taking on battalions of cops. All these movies remind me of a cartoon I saw in Playboy while in college. It is a movie set with the action in the Middle Ages. A field of knights are about to charge a lantern jawed hero armed with sword and buckler, but no armor. His retinue is three poorly equipped derelicts. The director gives him the scene, "Okay, Rex, Take it from, "Follow me, they can never stop men who want to be free.""

Of course, what really made it a waste of time is that the Wachowski brothers are completely tone deaf about the TV age. The left loves to fantasize about the imminent rise of the next Hitler. Well, in our times, that is not about to happen. This does not mean we don't have some disgusting politicians who manage to attain office. It certainly does not mean that I would know if totalitarian dictatorship is or is not possible. What can be said with some confidence is that it is probably not possible to build a hard guy cult of personality with TV. John Hurt's personality is all wrong for a television supremo. Why do you think Oprah destroyed Phil Donahue. Which one would you rather listen to for an extended period of time assuming suicide was not an option? Well, you would probably choose Oprah. Not because you cared about what she had to say, but just for the soothing tone of voice as opposed to the hectoring of Phil Donahue. It goes to why Ronald Reagan did so well though I can't remember a word he said. He had the tone of voice of everyone's loving father.

I remember seeing Bill Clinton win the election against Bush the father. It was in the debate where I think they were all on stools and they stood up to answer questions. Bill would get up and act as if it was the Bill Clinton show. George was hapless and Perot would lecture. Even I liked Bill. It wasn't the only reason, but soon after that, we got rid of TV. People would have turned their backs on a regime with John Hurt and Roger Allam's characters. In fact, if the Republicans perceive Hillary as a mortal threat, they would be well advised to buy her half hour prime time slots with the proviso that she have no guests.

No, Il Duce is not coming. No one is going to be yelling Heil W or Heil Chaney soon. Our fascist future may have The Two Minute Love,* but we shall never have the Two Minute Hate. But if you like movies with a lot of action and no dearth of PC cliches, this is for you.

*From The Joy of Curmudgeonry

Fewtril #4

Many a man is so impressed with the idea that the next despots will be wearing jackboots, that he will fail to hear the gentle flap of sandals.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

nVI Day

the voice of humility officially designates today, December 5, 2006, not Victory in Iraq Day. We have taken this unprecedented action in light of the testimony of Mr. Robert Gates, the President's nominee for Secretary of Defense. Mr. Gates said we are not winning. tvoh is sure there is a sense of betrayal among many, many bloggers. Even so, we do suspect that there is still not a hair out of place on any of the well coiffed manes. The same cannot be said for many of the fellows they cheerlead into battle.

Among other reasons for taking this drastic step is the memory of being on active duty the day the cease fire was signed with North Vietnam. Our section chief referred to it as HPVN day, Honorable Peace in Vietnam in accord with Nixon's oft quoted words, "Peace with honor." If the voice of humility can't smell a set up at his advanced years, then he has truly wasted his life even more than his relatives have suspected.

I assure whatever few readers I have that there is no pleasure in this as there are 2906 of my countrymen in graves.* Once an Irishman said to me when I asked him why I should do a certain thing now, "Because you're a long time dead." What did these lads, who will never wake, die for?

That does not mean I am beyond taking some satisfaction. From the blog is a link to an Instapundit timeline. If this man were a really great lawyer, he would certainly go to court to suppress this as it is embarrassing beyond words.

*It's probably considered bad form, but I shall also mention that significantly more Iraqi's have attained the same peace.

Peace Studies at the voice of humility

Stephen Browne of Rants and Raves has commented on Congressman Charles Rangel's call for a draft. Stephen is agin it. He notes the generals do not want or need conscription. Recruitment is meeting goals, etc. He is right as far as it goes, though I've read the quality of new recruits is declining. Not unexpected in a military that sells itself as a gateway to college. Why enlist if that dream may not come true?

Anyway, as Clemenceau said, "War is too important to be left to the generals." Unless, we are going to give it all over to the military, we have to understand that this is so, for good and ill.* We also have to understand some aspects of our current problems. The generals did not want the wars. Remember Madeline Albright saying, "What good is it having the most powerful military in the world if you don’t use it?" It was civilians who pushed Iraq. The Generals are happy to build the machine, but do not want to risk it and see it suffer the inevitable degradation of real operations. Oh, a Delta Force raid here and there maybe to test the toys, but, saints preserve us from a long war. This is something about democratic armies that de Tocqueville touched on. Sooner or later, the politicians are going to want to use it.

So, how do you have an army and not have a war. Let us cast about for an example of a democracy that does not start wars and does not get invaded. And the winner is; Switzerland. Now, I do not know what the congressman from NYC was proposing in detail, but if it was the system in place previously, that is not what will work. That system of deferments insured that few from even slightly privileged backgrounds ever woke up at the reception station.

No, in Switzerland, everyone (male) goes. No deferral for someone just because he got 750 verbal. Everyone goes.** If that were so here, attitudes might change. Say, if Glenn Reynolds had to have learned the pleasures of low crawling, would he have backed sending others to die. And if his unit were being called up? Indeed! I am also serene in the knowledge that such a national militia will never happen and there will be more stupid adventures in the future.

So the Swiss know that they will all be called up in an emergency. That has the effect of limiting the number of emergencies that Swiss politicians find it necessary to respond to. Especially as the politicians will be donning their uniforms as well.

As someone who is somewhat libertarian, conscription is not something I endorse, but if you don't want war, this is one way to avoid it. Still, everyone, and I mean everyone, going to defend the nation in a real emergency is far less odious to me than the facist national service proposals that the Dems are always floating.

I grant Mr. Browne's point about the military having a better army with volunteers. It is possible universal service may be the ruin of the army as our youth appear to be self absorbed and semi-literate. Still, I am as willing to risk it as Bill Bennett, JPod, Frank Gaffney, Max Boot et al were willing to risk the lives of men not their sons.

Lest anyone think that the thought of actually facing service in a real war made the Switzers a bunch of wimps, one only need to glimpse the general order issued by their leader, General Henri Guisan during World War II when they might have faced invasion, ''Everywhere, where the order is to hold, it is the duty of conscience of each fighter, even if he depends on himself alone, to fight at his assigned position. The riflemen, if overtaken or surrounded, fight in their position until no more ammunition exists. Then cold steel is next. ... The machine gunners, the cannoneers of heavy weapons, the artillerymen, if in the bunker or on the field, do not abandon or destroy their weapons, or allow the enemy to seize them. Then the crews fight further like riflemen. As long as a man has another cartridge or hand weapons to use, he does not yield. ..." The order also commanded the men to consider a government broadcast of surrender as enemy propaganda. Would the nation stand to the end? Apparently, the Germans thought so.

*I say this as a civilian whose military service ended only 11 promotions shy of general.

**One can bring up the case of Israel where everyone goes and there is a lot of war. The arguments pro and con are for another day. I recommend Defending Israel by Martin Van Creveld.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another social problem not solved

Here in my home state, the gay marriage question has bubbled up again. Our state's supreme court did what any group of politically connected lawyers are capable of and performed the modern equivalent of looking at the entrails of an animal and divined that the state constitution mandated same sex Holy Matrimony. The antis organized and have fulfilled requirements to get the question on the ballot. The legislature has to certify it to get it on the ballot and with all the courage that our Great and General Court (the official name of our collection of foxes in the henhouse) can muster, they are doing their best to adjourn before taking up the question.*

Jane Galt in an old long post has convinced me that gay marriage would ruin straight marriage. Or she would have if marriage were not already in trouble. The problem is that someone has already went off the road and drove the hummer into the living room. Marriage ain't what it used to be, or the number taking "advantage" of the institution, anyway.

Nationwide, you have your social conservatives wanting a constitutional amendment to save marriage. Yeah, that'll work. Nationalizing marriage will solve things such that someday a Republican pres will be working with Teddy Kennedy on the "No Marriage Left Behind" bill.

The reasons behind the decline in marriage rates are beyond my poor powers of cognition. Do I want to "save" marriage? My natural inclination is libertarian in most parts. Where it is not libertarian, it is reactionary. Though no family is perfect, I remember mine as being most often happy. There was sibling rivalry and the feeling of oppression when not getting one's way, but I look back on it and hope I am doing as well for my children. The other aspect of life that causes one to be a reactionary is the sure knowledge that almost all ideas are wrong. Those that are right are few and far between and prove themselves by standing the test of time. There may be some or many who enter into legal gay marriages and attain long term bliss, but oh to be a pioneer in the field of same sex divorce law in these times.

Still, my libertarianism is always bubbling up as is also the desire to give people what they want til it hurts (them). There is also recognition of the fact that no one, male anyway, should ever commit matrimony here in the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts without a pre-nuptial agreement. If it has come to that, that there is no real default option and even normal average walking around straight couples are well advised to write a contract, then maybe it is time to take the state out of marriage altogether.

I know this does not fly with the contending parties, as they both want to marry the state more than anything. When someone wants the state to enact their vision, it is time to be suspicious.

The causes of the decline in marriage will probably accelerate and maybe gay unions will help that along. There are too many other factors that are at work and governmental fiat will not stop it. If Ray Kurzweil is right and we are going to live near forever, til death do us part becomes meaningless. Even if his singularity stuff is only partially right and we will be able to live healthy lives past a century, then who will want to commit at twenty five to what could be over a hundred years. Maybe some couples contracting for twenty five with renewal options and and equitable division of assets is an answer. Few would want to be part of a couple that did the no one put asunder forever thing if one could contemplate a union celebrating the three hundredth anniversary.

There is, of course, the guys just don't want to commit at all stuff that is thrown about. Having myself committed to the institution of marriage was probably the smartest thing I ever did other than not buying a nehru jacket. Fred Reed(#150), however, has put why most other lads are not rushing to the altar business as well as anyone could.

"You don't understand how bad the divorce courts are. You probably don't know what "imputed income" is. You think that "joint custody" means "joint custody." Think again. Quite possibly you will have to support her while she moves with your kids to Fukuoka with an Air Force colonel she met in a meat bar.

In short, marriage often means turning twenty-five years of your life into smoking wreckage. Yes, happy marriages exist (I personally know of one) and there are the somnolent marriages of habitual contentment or, perhaps, of quiet resignation. But the odds aren't good.

Permit me an heretical thought. In an age when neither sex economically needs the other, in which women do not need protection from wild bears and marauding savages, not in the suburbs anyway, perhaps marriage doesn't make sense, at least for men. The divorce courts remove all doubt. A young fellow might do well to stay single, keep his DNA to himself, pick such flowers as he might find along the way, and live his life as he likes."

Thus getting the state out of the way so that individuals can find their own "compelling" reasons to tie the knot will probably work out a lot better as time goes on as the default position is becoming more and more obsolete.

What about polygamy? Well, what about it? Anti gay marriage people will tell you that if gay marriage is allowed so will polygamy. The gay marriage advocates have taken pains in Massachusetts to say that will not happen. I think the antis have it right here. After all if Adam and Steve have successfully argued before the court that they have the right to live the way they wish, then why not Adam, Eve and Sue (a boy named or otherwise). Of course, there are arguments that polygamy exploits women and all that. if a women reaches adulthood and signs a contract that exploits her, that proves only her stupidity, and what if is the guy who is getting snookered? I am not interested in making democracy safe for the stupid. I would think that the normal rules on contracts made under duress would obtain. Marrying a fourteen year old like the renegade Mormons as your third wife would be asking for trouble, when a lawyer** gets a hold of her (or him, noting the rash of teacher/young stud pairings) and asks,"Did you know what you were doing and would you like to be free with a hefty settlement?" Certainly, almost anyone can answer that question, no (maybe not the free and hefty settlement part). I aver I am lucky to be married 20+ years, but time has proved I did not know what I was getting into.

Some people are even worrying about polyamory and its effect. Some people don't have a life (like bloggers).

So I am willing to see the Commonwealth of Massachusetts amend its constitution to read that the state has no law on unions of individuals other than to enforce contracts freely made and that the contracting parties are responsible for the smooth operation of the contract and anything resulting thereof (such as children). Obviously, a better stylist should write the amendment, but not a lawyer.

This is suggested with the sure knowledge that it has no chance of ever being enacted. For where my countrymen and women do not want to marry the state, they oft wish to be its children. They look on the government as ultimate father and mother to succor them when their lives have taken a bad turn. Nowhere more so than here in the Peoples Republic. That lousy trailer FEMA will give you three weeks after the hurricane subsides does not alter the mindset Having to write your own contract and think about it will seem too much of a burden to most people.

I intend to just sit back and watch. After all, there are so many other icebergs out there, what with social security, tight energy supplies, immigration, a forever war on terror. I can't solve 'em all. Gay marriage will have to take care of itself.

*The previously blogged about Governor Romney plans to recall the legislature to make them vote. Romney can't be bothered to spend much time here anymore as he is running for the presidency. The best way to do that in the Republican Party is to run against Liberal Massachusetts. One would expect no less of him.

**I know of no one who has ever said, "You know the problem with Massachusetts is, you can never find a lawyer here."

Friday, December 01, 2006

the voice of humilty, human tennis ball

On the Litvenenko case, I have been lobbed back over the net by Martin Kelly and until the next whack of the racquet I am not blaming the Russian Government.