Friday, August 25, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - A Plague of Red Ghosts
I wonder if we truly appreciate the blight left on the world by seventy-plus years of Soviet Communism.

Let's leave alone the succession of failed states and active terror movements that the Soviet Union built up and strung along during the Cold War. The growing conflagration of Islamic terror was stoked by Soviet cash and arms.

And then there are those persistent lies. Lies like this:
The concern [is] that, through mechanisms we're not entirely sure of, the very richest are siphoning off the economic growth before it flows through the middle and lower classes. The worry is about the distribution of growth, but the suspicion is that the distribution is being warped by the sheer level of inequality.
I'm not going to address this here; Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek refutes this delusion far better than I can. (He is also where you can find this conspiracy theory; I'm not going to dignify it with a link.)

The idea that the rich have some secret system for siphoning off wealth and denying it to "the people" is not a new one; as long as there have been Marxists, this idea has not been far behind. It was the popular refrain of Communists and socialists in the 1930s, an encouragement to the proletariat to rise up, seize control of the state, and smash capitalism and the bougeoisie. (Usually blissfully ignorant of the carnage necessary to effect such change.)

It is an idea that considers wealth a fixed quantity, that in order for one to have luxury another must do without. This is an idea that can be dispelled by a basic class in economics - but it is a legend that many desperately want to believe, so they do.

I am reminded of a time while I was attending the University of Utah, on my way to a business class. I started talking with a girl nearby, learning that she was a graduate student in economic. She then proceeded to tell me how she believed capitalism was a failed idea, that Marxism was the way to go. I didn't laugh in her face; I try to be more polite than that. I did not challege her assertion, either, though now I wish I had. For there I was, twelve years after Communism's demise, surrounded by the products of capitalistic society, products that Russia still hadn't managed to compare. All Communism had managed to accomplish was the efficient mass production of human misery.

The empirical results of Communism, Marxism, socialism, and their fellow travelers are all that are necessary to damn them forever. They operate on the assumption that men can be forced to be better, that wealth is fixed, and that government can fix all - as long as it is run by enlightened people.

Capitalism works because it acknowledges that men are not angels, and succeeds despite them.

Recommended Reading
VDH discusses communication.

Mark Steyn, "Espying the Jew."

Jonah Goldberg, "The Living Constitution's Double Standard."

Deroy Murdock, "Bull=Headed Greens."

What had been a relatively mild tornado year got ugly fast yesterday.

Thought of the Week
“What experience and history teach is this—that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Churchill Quote of the Week
"All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."
Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, August 21, 2006

Seen At The Corner: Romney and Polygamy

The First Wives' Club [Kate O'Beirne]

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Governor Mitt Romney's great-grandfather had multiple wives and two great-great grandfathers had 10 wives each. The article allows that Romney "is a confirmed monogamist of nearly four decades and polygamy has been absent from his family going back two generations." While some might note the upside of generously sharing those handsome Romney genes in the past, current history is noteworthy. Should Mitt Romney join a 2008 race that included John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and George Allen, the only guy in the GOP field with only one wife would be the Mormon.

Posted at 3:51 PM

Leave it to the Tribune to play up the pointless. (Let's see - anyone want to guess how many Utah Mormons have polygamists in the family tree? Actually, that would be an interesting statistic to have.)

However, the irony in Ms. O'Beirne's last sentence is rather interesting.

[Back to Romneywatch.]

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Well, here I am, back for another week...

Um, well, yeah, I missed last week. But I'm back now!

Questus Furore - Declining to Engage

What a difference a week makes.

Last week's revelation of a plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners hammered home one key fact: While we may have grown bored or tired of terrorism, terrorists are still quite interested in us.

We are now four years and a little over eleven months after September 11, 2001. The threat remains, though blunted. The threat of terror will likely in some form always be with us - but it does not have to remain the danger it is now.

What is needed now is a recommitment of the national will - and a drive by our political leaders to see to it that the war on terror continues to be taken to the enemy, up to and including the larger use of force on the international scale if necessary. The trouble is, that will is flagging.

The Republicans are hurting because of an inability to define the problem, the problem being that we have bands of men, some independent actors and some supported by various totalitarian powers, who are fired up to go kill anyone who stands in the way of a glorious Caliphate. Stymied by this seemingly simple problem, they have gone on to politics as usual, spending like drunken sailors.

What is worse is that they have no incentive to focus. The Republicans may not have much focus on this issue, but the Democrats are pretending it doesn't exist. The anti-war special interest groups have gone after those Dems who feel getting rid of Saddam was a good idea, as Senator Lieberman found out. The days of hawkish Democrats are over. And this is a loss for all of us - for that means we are unable to to agree on that most fundamental of questions, the question of whether the United States is at danger from attack from without. That such a large proportion of Americans can ignore the threat posed by Islamic radicals so soon after 9/11 boggles my mind.

The only plan the Democrats currently have is to pull out of Iraq and... that's it. All the Republicans have to do is point at the Dems and say, "Well, we have more of a plan than they do," and win on the national security issue - because they would be right.

In the 1960s, letting the peaceniks win the day and make us pull out of Vietnam (and condemning millions to die in concentration re-education camps) posed little immediate physical threat to the United States, because there was little chance of Viet Cong infiltrating into the United States and hijacking planes.

This isn't the 1960s. We are up against a new enemy, that does not play by our rules, that does not share our regard for life, that does not flinch at sacrificing thousands or millions of their own children in service of their cause. Treating them as legitimate combatants grants them an honor they do not deserve. Treating them as criminals explains away their murders as products of social deviancy.

They are barbarians, and they have crossed the frontier. They have come to sack and burn our cities. Will we rally ourselves to our own defense, or will some cities fall before we awaken from our stupor?

The current state of affairs does not encourage me.

Recommended Reading
VDH, "The Brink of Madness," "Surreal Rules," and "Hope Amid Despair?"

Jonah Goldberg, "The Swastika and the Scimitar."

John O'Sullivan, "Invincibility Myth No More."

Mona CHaren, "How Do You Fight Someone Who Isn't Afraid to Die?"

Good luck sleeping after reading this piece, "August 22," by Bernard Lewis.

Why, yes, I don't much like Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson. How did you know?

Thought of the Week
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
Marcus Aurelius

Churchill Quote of the Week
"Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war."
Sir Winston Churchill, to Neville Chamberlain in the House of Commons, after the Munich accords (1938)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Coming Soon! Rocky Anderson's Circus!

Oh swell. Guess whos coming for dinner for Rocky's protest.

In a couple of weeks, President Bush is coming to Salt Lake to address the American Legion. And Rocky finds that offensive.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Rocky Anderson, a legend in his own mind.

Not content to let Bush visit Utah unpicketed, Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson has once again taken it upon himself to organize a protest.

And he invited Cindy Sheehan to come. Out of the goodness of his own heart, I'm sure.

But this is more than just a disagreement about policy. This is what, in Rocky's world, passes for rational debate, as he stated in a KSL interview:
Excerpt 1: Rocky Anderson, Mayor of Salt Lake City: "I think he has been an utter disaster and I think there's a huge obligation on the part of anybody who sees these as major problems to stand up. I think it's the most patriotic thing an American can do."

Excerpt 2: "This president has been a disaster. He's led us with a lot of lies, whether it was manipulated intelligence, whether it's ineptitude, he has led us into a war."
"He's led us with a lot of lies." So in Rocky's world, Bush is not just wrong, he's evil.

I think I found some of Rocky's supporters:

tinfoil hatters

Okay. But answer me this: what, exactly is the point of this protest? You think Bush doesn't know he's not real popular right now? That the President doesn't know a lot of people disagree with him on Iraq?

Here's what I think this is: it's all about you, Rocky. You're a big progressive fish in a small bowl, a fact that chaps your hide. You aspire to bigger things. This is your last chance to grab some national media attention before you leave the mayor's office. And by inviting Cindy Sheehan, you guarantee national media attention focused on you.

And you and everyone who shows up to your "peace rally" will be marching for yourselves.

As I said last year: Salt Lake needs a mayor, not a mouthpiece. Rocky, you're not representing me. You're not representing the community view. Admit it - this is all about you.

Leave already, Rocky. You've insulted us enough.

P.S. DISCLAIMER: Yes, they have the right to do this. I am painfully aware of this. But just because you have the right to do something doesn't necessarily mean you should. For example, I could launch into a profanity-laced diatribe on the mayor, or I could relate stories and rumors (some of which are even true) of the mayor's behavior with his employees. But I won't.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lock The Door And Don't Talk To Strangers Day

Explained here.

Seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

British Break Up Terror Plot

British intelligence and police have foiled a major terror plot.

The basic outline of the plot seems to be this: using liquid explosives disguised as common items (beverages, lotions, gels) or concealed in electronic devices, suicide bombers would destroy planes on Trans-Atlantic flights.

21 people have been arrested in connection with this plot; rumor is that they are all British citizens, of Pakistani ethnicity. This has not been confirmed.

As you can imagine, there is a lot left to learn about this.

Quote of the day comes from Instapundit:
"Some people have decided that the war on terror is passe. But although you may not be interested in terrorism, terrorism is still interested in you."

News links:
Drudge Report
NRO's The Corner
Pajamas Media
Irish Trojan
Counterterrorism Blog (specific articles here and here)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Watching Politics and The Connecticut Primary

Yes, I know. Politics is boring.

What can I say? I'm a junkie.
I have a news summary on Lieberman's loss over at The Pacific Slope, and I plan to write some more on its implications later.

Very brief summary: Joe Lieberman lost, his anti-war challenger Ned Lamont won. This is not a Good Thing.

The sixties are back, in all their narcissistic navel-gazing vapid ignorant self-righteousness.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

IBM - Expanding the Innovation Horizon Global CEO Study 2006 - United States

IBM - Expanding the Innovation Horizon Global CEO Study 2006 - United States

Over the next two years, two-thirds of corporate CEOs say they're going to need to make fundamental changes to their business.

The reasons, they say, are many: intensified competition, escalating customer expectations, and unexpected market shifts. For many, you can add to that list workforce issues, technological advances, regulatory concerns, and globalization.

Yet fewer than half of CEOs think their organizations have handled such changes with much success in the past.

These and other findings are in "Expanding the Innovation Horizon," the 2006 IBM Global CEO Study reporting on the agenda of CEOs in the next few years. The results are based on interviews conducted recently by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) with 765 chief executives from around the world. (It was the second global CEO study conducted by these partners; in 2004, the first Global CEO Study reported on interviews with 456 CEOs.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - The War of Words
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats

It seems as though we are in the midst of The Great Unnerving.

Perhaps no better an example of this can be found in the state of Connecticut, where Senator Joeseph Lieberman is engaged in an intense primary race against his virulently anti-war challenger, Ned Lamont. While each candidate is trying to out-liberal the other, bashing on Wal-Mart and arguing over how high to raise the minimum wage, the race really boils down to one issue: Lieberman's support of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The movers and shakers of the Democratic Party are about to start a purge; if Lieberman loses, every Democrat who supported the Iraq war is in trouble, from his own side.

Another reflection can be found in the reportage of the Israeli-Hizbollah-Lebanon conflict. Continued demands for negotiated solutions and immediate Israeli cease-fires are given lots of airplay, despite the fact that over fifteen years of diplomacy and concession brought us to thius juncture. While diplomats jawed, Hizbollah built bunkers and bought rockets. And Iran was more than happy to supply the rockets, the training, and even the operators.

Yet another could be found in Congress yesterday, where Democratic senators (led by Sen. Clinton) assailed the Secretary of Defense on Iraq. Missing, of course, were suggestions as to what to do now, as the only proposal the Democrats have been able to come up with since the invasion of Iraq is what they termed a limited pullback - to Okinawa, Japan.

As Rumsfeld reminded the Senate yesterday, the enemy is in this to win. And the enemy is not made up of fools. They are clever, they are cunning, and they are one thing we are not - completely, utterly ruthless.

I'm no strategist, and I am not a visionary. But this is how I see it: We are at a decision point. Now is a time where we can make a decisive inroads against radical Islam at a comparatively low cost, or we can falter and have to face it again in another five years - which will prove much more costly.

And the really scary thing? Our leaders really have nothing to do with it at this point. This decision lies with the American people, not with their leaders. Either we commit to carrying on the war now, or we run home and hide.

Which will be followed by a bloody crashing of the gate no more than five years later. Isolationism was proven to be a fatally flawed foreign policy by 1942; a return to it in 2006 will only bring more war to our shores.

Recommended Reading
Victor Davis Hanson, "The Brink of Madness."
When I used to read about the 1930s — the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Italy, Spain, and Germany, the appeasement in France and Britain, the murderous duplicity of the Soviet Union, and the racist Japanese murdering in China — I never could quite figure out why, during those bleak years, Western Europeans and those in the United States did not speak out and condemn the growing madness, if only to defend the millennia-long promise of Western liberalism.

Michael Ledeen, "The Thirties All Over Again?"
Certainly there is lots of bad news, most of which confirms what we already knew: The Western world hates Israel; the taboo on anti-Semitism is off; the Western world has been P.C.’ed to the edge of death; there is no stomach for fighting the war against Islamic fascism.

Sounds like the Thirties to me.

Jonah Goldberg, "Lose-Lose."
The point here, alas, is that Westerners are suckers. Or, put another way, terrorists aren’t stupid. They understand that images are more important than armies. Heck, that’s why they’re terrorists in the first place...

...Terrorize your enemy and make them feel like villains in the process — that’s a powerful strategy. This strategy depends on the willing support of what Lenin called “useful idiots.” These are the accommodating Westerners — many of them intellectuals — all too willing to take the word of totalitarians and even more eager to believe that the champions of democracy are in the wrong. Some social scientists call these people “French,” but that is too limiting. For there are plenty of them in America, too.

Barbara Lerner, "We're Losing."

Rich Lowry, "Romancing the Totalitarian Temptation."

Thought of the Week
"The first effect of not believing in God is to believe in anything."
G. K. Chesterton

Churchill Quote of the Week
"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War'."
Sir Winston Churchill

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Atlantis On The Pad

Reflecting on Matt's post below, I thought I would mention this:

NASA Moves Atlantis to Launch Pad

They are going for two launches in two months - and if successful, make the shuttle program viable again.

The trouble is we are fast approaching a decision point. We are reaching the end of the shuttle era, at least with the current shuttles. With the exception of the Endeavor, the shuttles were all built in the 1980s. And all of the shuttles are basically 1970s-early 1980s aerospace design. It's time to replace them.

But the popular desire to do so does not exist.

Recommended Reading

Jonah Goldberg, "Lose-Lose."
The point here, alas, is that Westerners are suckers. Or, put another way, terrorists aren’t stupid. They understand that images are more important than armies. Heck, that’s why they’re terrorists in the first place...

...Terrorize your enemy and make them feel like villains in the process — that’s a powerful strategy. This strategy depends on the willing support of what Lenin called “useful idiots.” These are the accommodating Westerners — many of them intellectuals — all too willing to take the word of totalitarians and even more eager to believe that the champions of democracy are in the wrong. Some social scientists call these people “French,” but that is too limiting. For there are plenty of them in America, too.