Archive for the 'Paradigm Shift' Category

More heresy

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

The WSJ has a piece signed by 16 scientists:

the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts. Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade — indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections — suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being promoted — or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it before — for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired

The list of heretics is getting pretty long now.

A new Cold War

Friday, May 25th, 2007

VDH describes our current world in terms that look a lot like certain periods in the Cold War, with loud domestic dissent and a new policy of containment that he says has been tacitly adopted by the West and much of the world:

May was another normal month in the war against Islamism. At home, a delusional Rosie O’Donnell was back at it. She reminded her viewers that the United States has killed over 600,000 innocents in Iraq. And in an impassioned plea, she and her cohorts reminded us dullards that zealous jihadists must have some understandable reason for being so, well, zealous. Perhaps she meant in the same way that the zealous Waffen SS must have had some legitimate reason for its strong feelings? Jimmy Carter was also plugging another book on his Christian piety by slandering a president at war for mixing religion and politics…

Critics who deplored the effort to depose a genocidal Saddam Hussein were urging the United States to do something to stop the genocide in Darfur — but of course always with the U.N. or EU (of Rwanda and Kosovo fame); a familiar formula: our Marines, their diplomats. Democrats who claim we took our eye off al Qaeda when we went into Iraq won’t explain how getting out will allow us to put both our eyes back on them when they’re in a nuclear Pakistan. Democrats who assure us that the war is “lost” and the surge hopeless will not cut off funding for it, damn its architect Gen. Petraeus, or explain how in good conscious they can send more soldiers into harm’s way for a war they assure us we can’t possibly win…

In spite of this all, given the power and wealth of the United States and its cloning mechanism we call globalization, the world shrugs and goes on. I suppose the idea is that we are in a sort of Cold War containment mode with radical Islam. In other words, we try to ensure that jihadists cannot do too much damage to the world order, and that in time we will simply smother them the way we did the earlier Soviet fraud.

So we fight the worst in Afghanistan and Iraq, try to ensure that Iran doesn’t get the bomb, hope that Israel is alive one more day, and then put out these small brush fires that burst out at weird places like Fort Dix or a London mosque. In the meantime, our own counterassault continues. Oprah, iPods, the 300, the Internet, and everything else from jailbait Paris Hilton to the ghost of Anna Nicole just chug on, and do the their own small parts in undermining and coopting the 7th-century world of Dr. Zawahiri.

Is it working? In some sense, yes. Poor Dr. Zawahiri, after all, is still ranting about the Kyoto accords from his mud-brick enclave, his cave notes full of cribbed ideas from Al Gore and Noam Chomsky. If he keeps declaiming, Jon Stewart or Bill Maher will do a link-up soon.

But most serious nations, it seems — those in the West, China, Japan, India, and Russia — have come to some sort of unspoken, politically incorrect consensus about the radical Muslim world, its unearned oil profits, and its very practiced terrorism. I guess they think watching radical Islam is akin to watching a nursery full of ill-tempered infants fighting over hand grenades — the key being to keep them in, and you out of, the playpen when their adult toys periodically go off.

If Professor Hanson’s thesis is correct, there seems to have been an evolution in the Western world and elsewhere to seeing this struggle as an ideological war. If so, the world has come a long way in the last half-decade.

Signs of the times

Monday, March 19th, 2007

You might have seen a version of this before, if you’re old enough. It’s Ridley Scott’s famous ad from the Super Bowl in the year 1984. It announced an anti-establishment future, the Mac, while bringing to life the eponymous Orwell book. Now we’re in 2007, and media move fast, sometimes stealthily. This anti-Clinton commercial featuring Hillary as Big Brother is an Obama ad, unofficial, deniable, of course:

The expertly done mashup’s creators are, at this writing, anonymous. However, the Hollywood savoir faire and elan of the commercial may be no accident, in our opinion. There is an anti-Hillary movement in the corridors of media power:

Looking for a new political love, Mr. Geffen hosted a small dinner in 2005 for Mr. Obama at his mansion, attended by Mr. Katzenberg and a few other friends including Warren Beatty. Shortly after, Mr. Geffen called Mr. Obama and pledged to support the senator if he ran for president, according to someone familiar his thinking. Messrs. Geffen and Katzenberg rushed to put together the Feb. 20 fund-raiser, wanting to be the first in town to hold a political event for Mr. Obama. Following the cocktail party for 400 at the Beverly Hilton hotel, Mr. Geffen hosted an intimate dinner at his nearby mansion for 40 people, many of whom had raised at least $46,000 for the event. In total, the funds raised at that event could account for about 10% of the total Sen. Obama is expected to raise nationwide in the first quarter…

The Old Media of the Left are divided in their loyalties and their preferences, but the Left’s New Media are united in a disdain for Senator Clinton:

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Senator Clinton garners only 3% in the Kos poll, while Obama is at 26%. There are still many adults in the US, but it would be unwise to underestimate the kids, whom the New Media may suck in (and sucker) as voters.

Prosperity has been around for such a long time in this country that great foolishness might be in store, in politics and in policy. We’re due, there’s no question about it. The last two generations of Americans have known no serious economic privation and little warfare broadly involving the population. Moreover, the Illustrious Dunderheads have been at work during all of this time filling the minds of the young and affluent with all sorts of claptrap. Therefore, all sorts of nuttiness just might be in our future. “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control” — we don’t dismiss it out of hand as an unofficial campaign slogan of the anti-war, global-warming party in 2008.

Our true allies in the war — but how many are there?

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Carlos Alberto Montaner on the Liberal Muslims who are the West’s true allies in seeking reformation within Islam, which is the only sustainable way of creating peace:

Slowly, in the course of almost one thousand years of intellectual confrontation and violent wars fought on battlefields, Christian fundamentalism lost its power and attributes until the notion of the lay state and freedom of conscience broke through. Left along the road were millions of corpses and an awful history of barbarity and injustice that reached the peak of abjection and fury with the Inquisition, the burning of witches and the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. The intention is very good, and Liberal International’s strategy is correct. But the possibilities of success in the short or middle run are very limited. A truly liberal Muslim would have to:

• Fight for the equality of women and for an end to the use of the Koran as the fountain of the law, especially by eliminating its function as a penal code.

• Face the brutal fatwahs of imams who condemn dissenting writers to death.

• Denounce the warmongering nature of a religious creed that consecrates the virtue of the jihad (at least to the fundamentalists) and separates the world into two halves: the half that already has submitted to Islam and the half that must be conquered. (But not even those heroic battles constitute the hardest part of the immense task facing liberal Muslims. The bitterest swallow, but an inevitable test, is to:)

• Lead the defense of Israel’s right to exist as an independent and peaceful nation alongside an equally free and peaceful Palestinian state.

Hey, it only took Christianity a thousand years to achieve the overthrow of fundamentalism, according to Mr. Montaner. So lok on the bright side. Surely with the speed of the Internet age, the Islamic Reformation can be accomplished in less than half that time.

Milton Friedman: a long, productive life as a public intellectual

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

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We have said that perhaps the biggest unreported story of the last decade is that a Great Depression did not occur after the Great Stock Market Crash that began in the year 2000. As you can see in the chart above, when the Internet Bubble burst, the NASDAQ plummeted from its high of 5100 to a low of 1100.

And nothing happened. When a very similar Crash happened in 1929 to the NYSE, the country suffered the worst economic calamity in its history, GDP fell precipitously, unemployment hit 25%, and the stock market didn’t recover for a quarter century — until 1954. We thought that the non-Depression in the US following the bursting of the Internet Bubble was a huge story. In our view, the non-Depression was caused by Alan Greenspan’s adoption of a expansive monetary policy, so significantly at odds with the awful performance of the Fed in the 1929-1933 time frame (and other structural issues such as the lack of deposit insurance). However, we never saw that story in print until yesterday.

Yesterday we read a piece in the WSJ called Why Money Matters, which included the following chart and analysis:

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The prosperous ’20s in the U.S. were followed by the most severe economic contraction in its history. In our “Monetary History” (1963), Anna Schwartz and I attributed the severity of the contraction to a monetary policy that permitted the quantity of money to decline by one-third from 1929 to 1933. Since 1963, two episodes have occurred that are almost mirror images of the U.S. economy in the ’20s: the ’80s in Japan, and the ’90s in the U.S. All three episodes were marked by a long period of rapid economic growth, sparked by rapid technological change and the emergence of new industries, and accompanied by a stock market boom that terminated in a crash. Monetary policy played a role in these booms, but only a supporting role. Technological change appears to have been the major player.

These three episodes provide the equivalent of a controlled experiment to test our hypothesis about what we termed the Great Contraction. In this experiment, the quantity of money is the counterpart of the experimenter’s input. The performance of the economy and the level of the stock market are the counterpart of the experimenter’s output, i.e., the variables whose relation to input the experimenter is seeking to determine. The three boom episodes all occurred in developed private enterprise market economies, involved in international finance and trade, and with similar monetary systems, including a central bank with power to control the quantity of money. This is the counterpart of the controlled conditions of the experimenter’s laboratory…

The results of this natural experiment are clear, at least for major ups and downs: What happens to the quantity of money has a determinative effect on what happens to national income and to stock prices. The results strongly support Anna Schwartz’s and my 1963 conjecture about the role of monetary policy in the Great Contraction. They also support the view that monetary policy deserves much credit for the mildness of the recession that followed the collapse of the U.S. boom in late 2000.

It was good to finally read this story that it was monetary policy that indeed had made much of the difference in the outcomes of the Great Crash of 1929 and the Great Crash of 2000. It took a while, but it was worth the wait. It struck us as well that the author was following up on analysis that he had done 43 years earlier — that in itself is a pretty unusual bit of follow-up, after such a long period of time. But what was perhaps most amazing was that the same day that the author’s article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on the op-ed page, his obituary was the WSJ’s lead editorial.

Milton Friedman has received no shortage of tributes after dying at age 94 this week. However, it is hard for us to imagine many blessings in life greater than being actively engaged in work and the world of ideas into one’s tenth decade. The WSJ obituary of Professor Friedman included this comment of his on the role of the public intellectual:

“We do not influence the course of events by persuading people that we are right when we make what they regard as radical proposals. Rather, we exert influence by keeping options available when something has to be done at a time of crisis.”

Crises of course recur with some regularity. The hard part to achieve is the long, engaged life of a Milton Friedman. It is just one of many ways in which he stands as an inspiration.

Diana West’s speech for President Bush: “the Free World and the Shariah World”

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Diana West lays it on the line (originals here and here), with her version of a speech by President Bush redefining the war as a war specifically against Islamic sharia law:

the United States has supported fledgling democracies in Afghanistan Iraq and the Palestinian Authority. We have proudly assisted in making free and fair elections possible in these places…each of these new democracies has produced constitutions that enshrine Islamic law.

Because Islamic law, known as “sharia,” does not permit equality between the sexes or among religions, it is anything but what we in American consider “democratic.” Indeed, sharia law endows Muslims, and Muslim men in particular, with a superior position in society. It also outlaws words and deeds that oppose this inequitable power structure for being “un-Islamic.” From this same Islamic legal tradition comes the mandate for jihad (holy war, usually against non-Muslims) and dhimmitude, the official state of inferiority of non-Muslims under Islam.

With their devotion to Islamic tradition, then, these new democracies have, in effect, peacefully voted themselves into the same doctrinal camp as the many terror groups that violently strike at the non-Muslim world in the name of jihad for the sake of a caliphate — a Muslim world government ruled according to sharia.

So be it. What I mean by that is, it is neither in the national interest nor in the national will for the United States of America to attempt to reshape such a culture to conform to our notions of liberty and justice for all. It is neither in the national interest nor in the national will to attempt to reform a belief system that animates this culture to conform to our notions of freedom of worship. It is, however, in our national interest, and must become a part of our national will, to ensure that Islamic law does not come to our own shores, whether by means of violent jihad terrorism as practiced by the likes of Al Qaeda or Hezbollah, or through peaceful patterns of migration, such as those that have already Islamized large parts of Europe.

We wrote on this topic months ago, when we said that it was irresponsible for the President not to specifically identify our new Cold War in the West — the long war against Islamic sharia. Now, in our opinion, there is a strong undercurrent of this still un-PC belief in America — and the recent election results may be evidence of it. One difference between the free world and the sharia world: in our world, teenage boys play video games where they behead prople; in their world, teenage boys behead people who play video games.

An excellent point about the Angry Left

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Mark Steyn on the superiority of the Angry to the Passive:

[T]asteful passivity is the default mode of the age: Five years ago it was striking, even in the immediate aftermath [of 9-11], how many radio and TV trailers for blood drives and other relief efforts could only bring themselves over the soupy music track to refer vaguely to “the tragic events,” as if any formulation more robust might prove controversial.

Passivity is far slyer and more lethal than rabid Bush hatred. Say what you like about the left-wing kooks but they can still get a good hate on. Sure, they hate Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Halliburton and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh rather than Saddam and the jihadists, but at least they can still muster primal emotions. Every morning I wake up to a gazillion e-mails from fellows wishing me ill, usually beginning by calling me a “chicken hawk” followed by a generous smattering of words I can only print here peppered with asterisks, and usually ending with pledges to come round and shove various items in a particular part of my anatomy. There’s so much shipping scheduled to go up there I ought to get Dubai Ports World in to run it….

At what point does a society become simply too genteel to wage war? We’re like those apocryphal Victorian matrons who covered up the legs of their pianos. Acts of war against America have to be draped in bathetic music and uncomprehending reflections and crescents of embrace. We fight tastefully, too. Last week one of America’s unmanned drones could have killed 200 Taliban big shots but they were attending a funeral and we apparently have a policy of not killing anybody near cemeteries out of sensitivity. So even our unmanned drones are obliged to behave with sensitivity. But then, these days the very soundtrack to our society is, so to speak, an unmanned drone.

It’s not only the Left that’s Angry. A lot of conservatives are pretty angry too. Now if they all could get angry about that same thing, what a day that would be for America.

UPDATE

Bret Stephens has some observations as well on the Angry Left.

We hear growing impatience to end the war, by doing whatever it takes to win

Friday, September 1st, 2006

We are hearing from our friends and neighbors an increasing impatience with “staying the course.” We are hearing, from conservatives and moderates, and a couple of liberals too, that it is ridiculous to be in a war longer than WWII with military nonentities. We are hearing a profound impatience with the lies of the MSM and the strange-sounding political correctness of the administration. We are hearing more and more the sentiment of using whatever force is required to just make this problem go away. We hear almost no concern with how America looks to the world, and little about morality, for that matter. We’ll try to summarize some of what we’re hearing.

We have chronicled on several occasions the finding that a significant portion of America has wanted the US to use much greater force in Iraq and elsewhere against our enemies. We are hearing that this sentiment has grown even greater in recent days. We hear American patience wearing thin, as many Americans think it is absurd for the world’s mightiest power to be hamstrung by Lilliputians without and weak politicians within. We think that is happening for a variety of reasons. The provocations from Iran continue, including their deadly nuclear program and proxy Shiite war in Iraq. (The comparisons of Iran with 1930’s Germany continue to multiply.) The Hezbollah war shows that weak responses are of limited value. And the Iraqis themselves — at least so far — seem unable or unwilling to live as a peaceful society, even though they have had plenty of time to do so; America has had to up its troop strength to do for the Iraqis what they can not or will not do for themselves. Meanwhile, Islamic killers everywhere demonstrate every day that they care as little for Muslim lives as they do for infidel lives. We hear a feeling of: screw them all.

In the broader struggle against al Qaeda and its allies, we sense a similar frustration. Why are we all putting our shoes through airport detectors rather than putting our Muslim enemies’ feet to the fire? Why are we not profiling and identifying the terrorists and likely future offenders and removing them from civil society? Why do we have to put up with politicians and a seditious MSM that pretend that Muslim terrorists in our midst, who kill our fellow citizens, are anything, anything but the Islamic killers that they claim they are?

Americans are by nature not imperialists. Americans do not want to rule foreign countries. But neither do they want to feel threatened by them. We hear this from conservatives, moderates and even some liberals: the rhetoric of democracy from President Bush was okay, but it has worn out its welcome, just as the embarrassing, strangely apologetic sucking-up about peaceful religion has. America does not need five years to wipe out this unworthy enemy. America does not have to put up with Islamofascists who intimidate our government from even calling them the Islamofascists that they are. We hear again and again from Americans who are sick of politicians who lie, kowtow and demonstrate weakness. (This point goes for controlling the border as well.)

Americans spend, give or take, half a trillion dollars on the military every year. They are also sick of a lousy return on investment. We hear this from our fellow citizens: why on earth are we monkeying around with a pipsqueak like Ahmedinejad and his little country with their teeny-weeny military that is a mere 1% of America’s? Why are we not kicking ass and taking names?

It’s more than that; we hear that patience with the “moderate Muslim” world to deal with the problem of their fundamentalists has pretty much worn out. Even though President Bush has been for the most part MIA on the ideological aspect of the war against Islamic fascism, the people have come to understand a fair bit about the enemy in the last five years. The American people understand that the enemy considers it a religious duty to wage war against America, and will not be satisfied until we are all converted or killed. For five years, Americans waited patiently for the moderate Muslim world to rise up in outrage about the atrocities being carries out in the name of their religiion. Instead, Americans have heard virtual silence about the outrages. It’s been an appalling performance. Worse still, what Americans have heard is absurd accusations of racism and whining about civil liberties from community spokesmen and lawyers, and this has worn out the patience of many Americans. It was asked of Don Rumsfeld some time ago if America was creating more Muslim fanatics and terrorists than were being killed in the war: we hear that the answer for many Americans has become, who cares? Kill as many as need to be killed. For many people the theoretical questions of who is right and who is wrong have lost their meaning; the question has become who will live and who will die — and we hear that Americans want to live.

Many Americans simply do not care what the French or the Russians or the Germans or even the English think of us — let alone the Islamic world. We want to be left in peace, and unmolested by third world enemies with their various complaints. Many Americans do not care if Najaf and Fallujah or Baghdad or Teheran continue to exist as places on a map. They just want to be left alone. And they want the people threatening not to leave us alone impotent or dead. We hear disgust at the notion that Americans have to sit around waiting for whatever it is Ahmadinejad will unleash whenever he has the capability — if he’s the new Hitler, don’t wait: get rid of him and his capabilities. Waiting is simply a formula for a million dead Americans before we take him out.

To many Americans, it appears as simple as a formulation from a US president a century ago. As TR put it: Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead, No more pussyfooting around. That’s what we hear as a larger theme in the so-called anti-war sentiment of our time.

We hear this, even from conservatives: in a certain sense, President Bush has indeed failed America. But it is not by his bellicose ways. He has, in fact, not been warlike enough, according to the wishes of many Americans. There seems to be a view that you only have a limited time to prosecute a war with a national consensus behind you, so you better make that time count, and President Bush has not adequately done so. According to this view, the United States of America should have made it plenty clear over the last five years that the last people on earth that Muslim terrorists or Islamofascist ideologues want to screw around with is us — by overwhelming, and brutal, uses of force. (The complete destruction of Fallujah might have been helpful and instructive, for example; putting Marines on trial on the word of the enemy is exactly the wrong message to send.) To many Americans, the need for overwhelming, merciless force is the lesson of this war, as it should perhaps have been the lesson of Vietnam. Americans are impatient, and they will not tolerate being in a “state of war” indefinitely. Wars are meant to be won, not endured.

We hear from many Americans who now have a terribly itchy trigger finger versus America’s declared enemies. That may be a good thing, or it may be a very bad thing, from the standpoint of making policy for a great power. Nonetheless, it is a sentiment to be ignored by politicians at their peril.

UPDATE

It would be a very fair question to ask: just how do these sentiments translate into action or policy, and we don’t know that we have an answer to that question. But we have the feeling that soon enough, the frustration we sense may well translate into the mother of all disproportionate responses after some enemy provocation. We’re not there yet, but we are nearer the tipping point than ever.

Malthus, Eurabia, and the vagaries of mathematical projections

Friday, August 18th, 2006

The English demographer and economist TR Malthus became famous by being wrong. He pointed out in 1798 that populations can increase at a geometric rate, while food production increases at an arithmetic rate. If you project the lines out for a couple of generations, the result is starvation. He was spectacularly incorrect of course, but he gave people the gift of having a great issue they could obsess over without being able to do anything about it. In that sense, he is the father of environmentalist hysteria, the overpopulation fanatics, the global warming crowd (and the global cooling crowd) — as well as daytime television and cable news.

The coming of Eurabia in a couple of generations is among the latest projections of the Malthusian sort. Originally conceived as a political term, Eurabia has taken on a flavor of demographic inevitability in recent years, with the mathematical projection of ever-increasing European Muslim populations and declines in the Christian population. This has led to well-credentialed commentators warning of a “Muslim Oxford” and such things sometime in this century. No doubt if present trends continue unabated, Eurabia will emerge as predicted. The question is whether the straight-line projections are accurate.

We would do well to treat such projections with skepticism for a couple of reasons. For one thing, a cheery reason, as Spengler has pointed out, Muslim birthrates tend to decline sharply everywhere when women’s literacy rates rise. For a darker reason, consider that the Muslim populations of Germany, France and England are pretty small at present. How might the Christian and secular populations of Europe react at some point if economic conditions in Europe plummet, jobs become scarce, and these populations feel far more put upon than they do today?

There are no guarantees in life, and there are no guarantees in mathematical projections either. The vast secular and Christian populations of Europe are not uniformly represented by their vapid and cowardly elites, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn pointed out almost three decades ago at Harvard: “The Western world has lost its civil courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, each government, each political party and of course in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.” Neither are the populations of Europe entirely represented by the images of the MSM, who are the lickspittles and vassals of the elites. There are soccer thugs and soccer thugs in-waiting all over Europe — remember: virtually no one in Germany in 1930 imagined Germany in 1940.

The vast secular and Christian populations of Europe appear pretty docile at present. But how much of that is an illusion, or a result of the unsustainable welfare benefits of the decaying European economic machine? What happens if times get tough?

You see, there are some mathematical facts that are worth paying attention to, and they underscore the possibility of a very different future. For many years now, Europe has taken on characteristics of an economic fantasy land. Structural unemployment has increased to terrible levels, and vast sums of GDP are channeled through government (57% in France — 3x USA) in order to maintain huge welfare benefits to the people of Western Europe.

So far Europe has been bailed out of its coming problems by the massive productivity increases of the last several generations, the willingness to live with unsustainable levels of government spending, and the importation of cheap labor. Projecting that trend indefinitely is risky. As we have pointed out regarding the US’s own Social Security system, it has precisely the structure of a Ponzi scheme — what happens if the bubble bursts, or the wheel stops, even if only for a few years? It’s happened before; don’t say it can’t happen again — discontinuities are the hardest things of all to forecast, but they happen all the time.

The projections of Eurabia are based on assumptions about the underlying docility of the supposedly enervated populations of Western Europe. That assumption of docility is in turn, in our view, based on potentially questionable projections of economic growth and prosperity. Our point is this: Europeans have among the nastiest histories of brutality, barbarism and genocide on the planet. From the 1790’s in France, through the 1930’s in Germany, and, to pick a tiny example, 1290 – 1656 in England, Europeans have shown themselves to be every bit as bloodthirsty and ruthless as anyone on the planet. It is unwise to assume that these characteristics can be bred out of peoples so quickly, no matter what the doddering elites and their court jesters in the MSM seek to portray.

Eurabia may well emerge. It is, however, our expectation that upheavals far worse than anyone is currently forecasting lie ahead for Europe and America in the intervening years.

America’s super-affluent live in Cloud Cuckoo Land……..for now

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Michael Barone in the WSJ and here, on how Connecticut’s super-affluent are the most fervid of anti-war types. We see this attitude as self-destructive, but completely explicable:

Through most of the 20th century, American exceptionalism has been the creed of both of our major parties. Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, for all their sophisticated knowledge of foreign cultures, were exceptionalists just as much as Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Among voters, transnational attitudes were espoused by only a very few, in the odd corners of university faculty clubs, investment-banking firm dining rooms and the councils of shop floor socialist intellectuals.

Now it’s different. In 2004, pollster Scott Rasmussen asked two questions relating to American exceptionalism: Is this country generally fair and decent? Would the world be better off if more countries were more like America? About two-thirds of voters answered yes to both questions. About 80% of George W. Bush voters answered yes. John Kerry voters were split down the middle, with yeses outnumbering nos by small margins. That’s reminiscent of the story about the Teamster Union business agent who was in the hospital and received a bouquet of flowers with a note that read, “The executive board wishes you a speedy recovery by a vote of 9-6.” Not exactly a wholehearted endorsement. [we wrote about this here — ed.]

The Connecticut primary reveals that the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has moved, from the lunch-bucket working class that was the dominant constituency up through the 1960s to the secular transnational professional class that was the dominant constituency in the 2004 presidential cycle. You can see the results on the map. Joe Lieberman carried by and large the same cities and towns that John F. Kennedy carried in the 1960 presidential general election.

Ned Lamont carried most of the cities and towns that were carried by Richard Nixon. In Stamford, where Joe Lieberman grew up the son of a liquor-store owner, and where there are still sizeable blue-collar and black communities, Mr. Lieberman won with 55% of the vote. In next-door Greenwich, where Ned Lamont (like former President George H.W. Bush) grew up as the scion of an investment banker family, and where the housing values are now among the highest in the nation, Mr. Lamont won with 68% of the vote. If Mr. Lamont wins in November, he will be just one of several members of a Democratic caucus who have made, inherited or married big money.

The working class Democrats of the mid-20th century voted their interests, and knew that one of their interests was protecting the nation in which they were proud to live. The professional class Democrats of today vote their ideology and, living a life in which they are insulated from adversity, feel free to imagine that America cannot be threatened by implacable enemies. They can vote to validate their lifestyle choices and their transnational attitudes.

In the mid-20th century the core constituencies of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties stood foursquare for America’s prosecution of World War II and the Cold War. Today, as the Connecticut results suggest, it’s different. The core constituency of the Republican Party stands foursquare for America’s prosecution of the global struggle against Islamofascist terrorism — and solidly on the side of Israel in its struggle against the same forces. The core constituency of the Democratic Party wants to stand aside from the global struggle…

America’s super-affluent professionals have increasingly come to live in a dream world. They do jobs which are often sorts of meta-jobs, two or three or five layers up from anything that seems real. Imagine if your family got its vast income from your litigating logo infringement cases in India and China, for example (no insult intended to international logo-infringment litigators, mind you). These New Elite are a different sort of bird, different from the Organization Man, or the Lonely Crowd. They are newer and older: they live in Aristophanes‘ fantasy world cloud cuckoo land. We think their defining characteristic is this: like aristocrats, they feel entitled to much, but deep down they also feel that they do not truly deserve the lives they lead.

We have discussed their utopian views and their narcissism on many occasions. We have railed against the utter ignorance of the super-affluent and their disconnection from how life was in America a mere 130 years ago.

Education might be a good long-term medicine for the problem that affluence carries within it the seeds of decay. But it is not the medicine that the super-affluent might taste first. Our enemies, like Iran, aim at dealing the US economy mortal blows. They are working feverishly on the means to do so, and we have no doubt that they would use them if they deem it in their eschatological or political interests. In such a scenario, exotic positions in finance, law and related fields would be among the most vulnerable, and perhaps the hardest hit economically. When faced with their own personal riches-to-rags stories, these super-affluent may well suddenly become the most fervid hawks. We’ll see.

Our liberal betters begin to feel aggrieved by the Left

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Lanny Davis on his discovery that the Left is really, really mean:

This kind of scary hatred, my dad used to tell me, comes only from the right wing — in his day from people such as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, with his tirades against “communists and their fellow travelers.” The word “McCarthyism” became a red flag for liberals, signifying the far right’s fascistic tactics of labeling anyone a “communist” or “socialist” who favored an active federal government to help the middle class and the poor, and to level the playing field.

I came to believe that we liberals couldn’t possibly be so intolerant and hateful, because our ideology was famous for ACLU-type commitments to free speech, dissent and, especially, tolerance for those who differed with us. And in recent years — with the deadly combination of sanctimony and vitriol displayed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Michael Savage — I held on to the view that the left was inherently more tolerant and less hateful than the right.

Now, in the closing days of the Lieberman primary campaign, I have reluctantly concluded that I was wrong. The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony.

Davis’s sentiments are notable, less because he has discovered the way the Left views its opponents, but for what they reveal about him. Notice that he felt, and still apparently feels, very superior to people of a conservative orientation. This is quite telling. Ann Coulter is deliberately provocative, and Michael Savage continues to be the third rail of conservative talk radio, but Mr. Limbaugh is nothing if not an utterly mainstream GOP conservative, with an informed and educated audience. He’s kind of a middle America Republican everyman — and Davis is still caught in the old “racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe” mindset. Talk about out of touch with what’s been going on in electoral politics over the last dozen years!

Perhaps Mr. Davis still has more in common with those on the Left who currently upset him than he cares to acknowledge still.

56% of Democrats think Israel’s actions unjustified or too harsh

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

56% of Democrats and 59% of liberals believe that Israel’s actions in this current conflict have been unjustified or were excessively harsh. Michael Barone wrote about this. Here are the numbers in a poll by the LA Times:

unjustified.gif

As Barone said, “These numbers would have been astonishing 50 years ago and surprising 20 years ago….Left-wing anti-Israel sentiment is not confined to a few odd corners of the academic world; it has become a mass constituency in the Democratic Party.”

We also recall Bill Kristol’s statement: “the Democratic party doesn’t really want to fight jihadism. It’s just too difficult.” Unfortunately, Mr. Kristol, it appears to be worse than that. Those Americans who are pro-Israel and pro-the-fight-against-jihadism may increasingly find, like Joe Lieberman, that they do not have a natural home in the Democratic Party.

Terrible problems arise when truth is low on the list of values

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Which is the worse mess, the Islamic world or the fantasy world of the MSM? Sometimes it’s hard to decide. Consider this from the IHT, talking about that poll the other day (discussed here) in which vast numbers of Muslims said that Arabs did not carry out 9-11:

In what the Pew Global Attitudes Project called one of the survey’s most striking findings, majorities in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Turkey – Muslims countries with fairly strong ties to the United States – said, for example, that they did not believe that Arabs carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

This was just one finding illustrating the chasm in beliefs between the two groups…

This characterization of Muslim denial as a “chasm in beliefs” is rubbish. The Muslim world may now deny that Arabs did 9-11, though many sure celebrated at the time, and that denial may come from the fact that truth is a not the highest value in an honor-shame society, or it may come from an ingrained sense of victimhood taught as part of religion, or from some other cause. But the denial is ridiculous on its face. It is a symptom of big trouble for the world that people think those responsible for 9-11 is a matter of dispute, when we know all about the hijackers’ identities and the origins of the plot — and when the plotters have explicitly claimed responsibility. People might be ignorant, demented, or in denial, but they are not entitled to facts that are totally at odds with reality. Water does not flow uphill, even if you fervently wish, or pray five times a day, that it were so.

But what is even worse than the ridiculous denial of reality in the Muslim world is its inexcusable mirror-image in the well-educated elites of the MSM. How dare the MSM dignify the demented speculations of misled people as a “chasm in beliefs.” “Belief” has no business in the matter. We know reality, and those who choose to deny reality are foolish, misled, insane, culturally blinkered, or otherwise hobbled in their understanding of reality and the world. For the MSM to dignify unreality rather than to state what is is clearly (and condemn it, for that matter) is unacceptable. It plays to the worst in the enemy, and it debases the traditions of the Enlightenment, practicality and common sense on which the Western world relies for its existence and legitimacy.

Yet to the MSM, there is a “chasm in beliefs.” One opinion is just as good as the other. No judgment here. What would the MSM base such a judgment on, after all? Has there really ever been “proof” that 9-11 happened? Were you on the planes? Didn’t those Jews miss work that day? Weren’t there explosive charges in the WTC basement? One opinion is as good as the next, and mightn’t those tapes of Osama been doctored? And can you speak Arabic by the way, to tell what was definitively said by that “Osama” on the tape? It was a CIA put-up job, wasn’t it — them and the Mossad?

Here’s a chasm in belief for you: there are those who think the MSM are good and trustworthy, and there are those who believe that they must be stopped before they get us all killed. Which side of that chasm are you on?

The difficult process of seeing and speaking clearly is well underway

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

The West is in the process of a fascinating change in perceptions. This change has been taking place over the last five years, ever since 9-11. At that time, not one in a hundred Americans, and few in the West generally, could make any sense out of militant Islam. For the most part, people had no idea what guys like bin Laden were talking about. It just sounded soooo crazy and far out. Surely it was only a tiny group of lunatics that saw things this way.

Slowly the West has been going through a transformation. Slowly the West has come to understand militant Islam. The process is not yet complete, but it has come a long way. We wrote about this previously. The West went through its “religion of peace” phase in the days immediately after 9-11, and its “fantasy ideology” phase for the next year or two, when the enemy were reckoned in small numbers. Then came Iraq, with its daily bombimgs surpassing the wildest totals in Israel. Some saw this as all Bush’s fault, and though there are no doubt those who still sincerely believe this, that number diminishes every day — in part because almost no one in the world actually thinks that if the US left Iraq tomorrow, religious and totalitarian violence would cease because of the US departure.

Then came the election of Hamas, the rise of Ahmadinejad, and in between all the bombings and killings and plots in Bali and Egypt and Jordan and Darfur and Nigeria and Afghanistan and Turkey and Somalia and the US (UNC, LAX, Beltway Snipers, and thwarted plots) and England and Spain and France and Canada and Denmark and the Netherlands and elsewhere. And then the Cartoon Riots and more bombings and embassy burnings and all the threats to behead — not to mention the actual beheadings of Nick Berg and Danny Pearl and Ken Bigley and Eugene Armstrong and Paul Johnson and all the rest. And it’s Allahu Akhbar all the time with these guys, like in that video of the Iraqi insurgent sniper drawing a bead on a US soldier; Allahu Akhbar, Allahu Akhbar and on and on and on. All the time, Allahu Akhbar. And then the MSM worthies come on the TV and say none of it has to do with religion.

There’s really only so much of this a person of average intelligence can stand. And so we have begun to see the different perspective emerge, as people begin to face what they were afraid to face, and they begin to insist that all people live by the standards of the civilized world, or else. The ‘or else’ hasn’t been fully developed, of course, but that is most likely just a matter of time as critical mass is created on both sides of this conflict. Our way of measuring progesss in this cultural and critical evolution in the West has several elements, including this: what number of Muslims do people in America and the West think are actual or potential problems for America and the West? This went from almost zero on 9-12, to numbers that are quite startling today, at least to us. We heard Mary Mataliin the other day estimate the number of deranged and dangerous Muslims at anywhere from 140 million to 200 to possibly 300 million. Today we heard John LeBoutillier use the figure 1 billion with regard to Muslims with strange practices or are somehow out-of-control. We don’t mean particularly to single out these two estimates, just to make the point that it is totally uncontroversial today for people to remark in casual conversation that a very large percentage of the entire Islamic world is possessed of very big problems with violence and ideological madness that are of their own making. This was anathema a few years ago, but no one seems to notice anymore these days — outside of those institutions which have to formally abide by the strictures of political correctness.

We certainly hope there won’t be a widespread war, but it seems pretty much inevitable, does it not? If the militants, with their gangs of violence-ready juvenile delinquents, do not change their program in London and Paris and Amsterdam and Copenhagen, what are the alternatives? A millet system? D’himmitude? Mass arrests? Repression? Civil War? The list seems rather short to us. If Ahmadinejad says he will destroy Israel in one storm and the US or Israel destroys his nuclear capability to do so, will there not be a terror war waged throughout the Middle East and Europe and the US? You tell us what the scanario for peace is — we’d genuinely and enthusiastically prefer it to the dark vision that lies before our eyes.

Maybe things will change and get better. That would be nice. Maybe Iraq will become, in the nick of time, a working model for what can be achieved in the Arab Islamic world, and the theology of militant Islam will alter itself in the space of years, not decades or longer. That would be fantastic, and we hope it occurs. And on the other hand, maybe Europe wants to become Muslim and will just chuck all this modern business — as we’ve said, it might save on women’s clothes and car insurance. Conflict and war are not inevitable, after all, since people are not apples and don’t have to obey Newton’s First Law. They can always reverse course on their own and simply surrender.

We feel like we’re stuck in the movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, waiting for the implications of FDR’s oil embargo on Japan to play out. Just waiting and watching as events unfold. One of the most unpleasant aspects of this waiting is our belief that the cowardice and Leftism of the MSM, and the institutional bias of government towards accommodation and order, will combine to try to repress those who see and speak clearly as events approach a breaking point. Let’s just hope that we will be proven wrong about that, as well as about every other thing in this little essay.

UPDATE

The UK has been something of a laggard in seeing and speaking clearly. An exception is this piece in the Telegraph by Simon Heffer:

[T]here has been a dichotomy in mainstream British society. With varying degrees of clumsiness, honesty and transparency, the Government has identified and admitted a threat to our way of life from a small minority of radical Islamists.

In opposition to this view are pacifists, anti-racists, radical Marxists, anarchists, anti-Blairists and others of varying degrees of conviction and opportunism who see any attempt by the state to try to limit the incidence of terrorism as an assault on civil rights. They have branded the two brothers in the Forest Gate raid “victims” – a word used by the chairman of their press conference yesterday. It is a word that is clearly losing its force in our language. There seems to be a pursuit of moral equivalence with the more usual idea of a “victim” of terror.

Miss [Melanie] Phillips’s contention is that we were, and still are, a country in denial about the threat from radical Islam. The reaction to the recent raid exemplifies this. First, we failed to implement basic border controls.

Then we tolerated extremism for years, before public opinion finally forced the authorities into action. She quotes several already well known examples of radical clerics who incited murder and other forms of violence while the British authorities, notably the Crown Prosecution Service and senior politicians, turned a blind eye.

Supporters of radical Islam such as George Galloway and Ken Livingstone are elected to public office: the latter’s well documented hostility to Israel seems hardly to count against him. As recently as this year, the police went easy on those who used the publication of offensive cartoons about Islam as an excuse to call for murder.

For years, those who came here to incite violence were supported by a generous welfare state and enabled to continue their activities with the support of new human rights legislation. They have become the tool – sometimes willingly, sometimes unwittingly – of white political agitators and extremists, who have for years manipulated the anti-racist and multicultural causes for their own ends.

A climate has been created in which the police hardly dare to act on the basis of convincing intelligence, and are forced into a state of defensiveness. There is a widespread presumption across the intelligentsia, which leaks into the media, that the prime victim of this is the Muslim community. Any suggestion that it might be the entire population – including innocent Muslims who might one day find themselves on a Tube train filled with poison gas or blown to bits – who stand to be the real victims is treated with disdain. And those who try, like Miss Phillips, to argue that the evidence supports greater vigilance are treated as pariahs.

We shall find out in the space of a few years just how suicidal the West really is.

UPDATE II

We note this paragraph from the review of Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept by Andre Zantonavitch in the American Thinker:

Among the nightmare statistics cited by the book are these: 1. 80% of the women in Oslo’s shelter system are Muslims fleeing abusive families, husbands, and boyfriends; 2. Danish Muslims make up 5% of the population but 40% of the welfare rolls; 3. refugee-friendly Switzerland is already 20% Muslim; 4. the world’s most wonderful city (in my view) Amsterdam is now majority Muslim; 5. 70% of all French prisoners are Muslim; 6. the four London bombers that killed 56 in July of 2005 received almost a million dollars in welfare benefits.

The last five years have been our 1930’s

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Overview: since 2001, we have come to understand the nature and depth of the problem we face in the world, and Afghanistan and Iraq have been an important part of setting the context for our long war. The recent murders of 21 Muslim boys by 15 Muslim men in Iraq in the name of Islam have helped crystallize our thoughts. The 1930’s set the context for World War II; we have squeezed our 1930’s into just five years.

It seems to us that there is a meaning to the Mosaic Commandment not to take God’s name in vain that goes far beyond taking false oaths or swearing, namely this: doing evil acts while specifically invoking the name and authority of God is profoundly evil. Doing so is truly and completely taking God’s name in vain, if God is good. It is, indeed, an utter perversion of the idea of religion, if religion is something that humans should hold in any regard. Something is very wrong with religion if it permits invoking God’s name for the killing of innocents, or does not even recognize that this is an evil thing.

There doesn’t seem to us much on earth more evil than deliberately targeting and killing children, with the exception of killing children specifically on behalf of God and religion. That is why we found the story so disturbing and horrific of the 21 Shiite children who were executed by 15 other Muslims, all “in the name of Islam.”

Well, you point out to us, what about all the terrorists in Israel with their pre-suicide videos, or the beheaders of Danny Pearl or Eugene Armstrong with all their taped ‘Allahu Akbar’s, or those jolly fellows who wanted to decapitate the Canadian prime minister? What about the beltway snipers, or the North Carolina SUV crasher, or the Egyptian gunman who killed those people at the El Al counter at LAX? What about the London subway bombers or the murder-threatening Cartoon Rioters or the men who wanted Abdul Rahman’s death? What about the Bali and Jakarta bombers and the Beslan massacre? For that matter, what about Sirhan Sirhan, or Munich 72, or the Marines in Lebanon, or the Cole of Khobar Towers, or the African embassies; what about the hijackers of United 93? They were all Muslims praying to and invoking the name and authority of their God. What is special about the killings of the 21 Shiite kids?

One answer is that the killing of these kids seems particularly pointless and random, and hence all the more evil to us. But there are other answers too. In many of the murders mentioned above, it is possible to let the sheer evil of the acts get diluted by some political change the murders supposedly are intended to bring about. That seems less obvious here. And the senseless murders of these Muslim children make a point that cries out to the world: these killers will not stop, even if every Jew and Christian were to vanish from the face of the earth. The Muslim killers are going to keep finding innocents to kill in the name of Islam and their God.

There were sound reasons for making war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we wholeheartedly support those campaigns in our long war. Beyond their practical aspects, however, there is a genius in these engagements in the Islamic world, a total change in mind-set that they have brought about. On September 11, 2001 not one in a hundred Americans understood what was happening, why such ridiculous and terrible attacks were taking place. When newsmen quoted from bin Laden’s 1998 declaration of war, it all sounded so crazy, like some fantasy ideology. Osama was an outlier, not the pattern; now that has all reversed. Today we can see that the snake has many heads. Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and all their mini-me’s from Canada to Indonesia, from the UK to North Carolina, and every day in Afghanistan and Iraq. The problem is worldwide and large.

The execution of 21 Muslim children by 15 Muslim men in the name of Islam underscores that something is very wrong near the heart of Islam, and we are capable of hearing that message today only because we have come to be engaged with the Islamic world over the last five years in ways that most Americans never imagined possible. (That was not the intention of the MSM of course. They have largely thought that, by featuring the daily atrocities and car bombings, they were feeding an anti-war agenda; what they have unintentionally accomplished is to highlight the massive problem we face, and to make themselves look ridiculous. Similarly, the Western apologists who say that various murders and plots have nothing to do with Islam have made themselves look absurd, when the murderers and plotters proudly announce that they make Jihad at the command and in the name of God and Islam.)

The world faces a profound problem when men do not feel shame at muder, but instead proudly announce that they murder in the name of and at the behest of God. We understand the matter differently when it is not Crusaders versus Muslims, but Muslim men murdering Muslim boys in the name of Islam. The last five years has given us the context to understand the systemic nature of this problem. That is not a solution, but a necessary pre-condition to bringing about a solution. In our view, the big part of this war is still to come. World War II would not have made sense to anybody without watching the rise of German and Japanese ideologies and militarism in the 1930’s. We have now had our 1930’s.

UPDATE

We note some related elements in a piece by Shrinkwrapped.

‘a good Muslim, a knowledgeable Muslim’

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

BBC on Moussaoui, repeating some of what we’ve said here:

Abdul Haq Baker was the mosque’s chairman and became Moussaoui’s friend and confidant. Mr Baker remembers Moussaoui as an affable individual with a sense of humour which attracted him to others, but also an admirable seriousness about his faith. “He wanted to revive his roots which were in Islam. He wanted to be a good Muslim, a knowledgeable Muslim, who wanted to know how to implement the tenets of Islam…”

Seems about right to us.

UPDATE

The Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell, would, we think agree with us that Moussaoui has been doing his best to be a religious man:

“Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited,” he said….”In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages.”

We’re beginning to see some sort of pattern here, but the picture still appears a little fuzzy. After all, didn’t our leaders tell us to believe that “Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.” If so, it has been the most successful hijacking in history.

UPDATE II

P J Nasser helpfully reminds us that the irenic suras in the Koran mostly come from Mohammed’s time in Mecca, and the bellicose ones (later, hence more authoritative) from Medina.

Wittgenstein, Iran and George Bush

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Overview: In this piece we put forward the hypothetical case that George Bush, the Decider, determined several years ago that he will not permit Iran to get nuclear weapons. We argue that there are a number of implications from having made such a decision in terms of planning for an attack and its repercussions, and that these have been underway for several years. Finally, we argue that several puzzling policy positions of the Bush administration, and George Bush’s strange silence on some key issues, may be understood as “rope-a-dope” within the context of the broader, unspoken decision about Iran. Whether any of this is true or not, we haven’t a clue; indeed, we fear none of it is true.

“What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence…”

— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922, Introduction, p. 3

Wittgenstein was a philosopher who in the Tractatus proposed a flawed theory of language. George Bush is not a philosopher, and often garbles his language. Nonetheless, that phrase of Wittgenstein’s keeps coming back to our mind when we think of the things George Bush talks about, and those conspicuously absent from discussion. George Bush says some things quite clearly, and others he passes over in silence.

There are three things we note that George Bush does not much speak of: (a) the ideological war against sharia; (b) the inevitability of decisive military action to prevent Iran from getting WMD; and (c) effective control of the US border with Mexico. The reasons for these things probably have nothing to do with each other. The President may not talk about our ideological war because he does not want to further inflame passions in the Islamic world, or the situation in Iraq is too dicey, or because he does not think in such terms. He may keep quiet about Iranian WMD because none were found in Iraq, which surely seems to be sufficient reason. He may not talk or act about enforcement of the border with Mexico because he is in the pocket of big corporations, or there is a conspiracy of the New World Order, or his pollsters have said to do so is unwise electorally, or he strangely believes that a welfare state can have open borders. No doubt you can list many more reasons, both sensible and absurd, yourself.

To underscore how radically different George Bush’s current silence on Iran is from his talk on Iraq, we’ll go back to the fall of 2002, courtesy of Peoples Daily and the detailed, bellicose and provocative things the President said in his October speech:

Saddam and his “nuclear holy warriors” are also building a nuclear weapons program, Bush said in a rare evening address. “If we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed,” the president told civic group leaders at the Cincinnati Museum Center. “Saddam Hussein would be in a position to blackmail anyone who opposes his aggression.” “He would be in a position to dominate the Middle East. He would be in a position to threaten America. And Saddam Hussein would be in a position to pass nuclear technology to terrorists,” Bush said….

“The time for denying, deceiving and delaying has come to an end,” Bush said. “Saddam must disarm himself or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” Bush warned that an Iraqi military facing destruction “may attempt cruel and desperate measures” and that Iraqi commanders may be considered war criminals if they follow Saddam’s orders. “There is no easy or risk-free course of action,” Bush said. “Some have argued we should wait, but that is not an option. In my view, that is the riskiest of all options because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become.”

The things that George Bush was saying about Saddam and WMD and their possible use by Iraq or terrorists are all far more overtly brandished and threatened by Iran itself. Yet there is barely a peep from the President about Iran, certainly nothing like the rhetoric of a few years ago. As for the control of the Mexican border, it is obvious that this is a major, virtually uncontrolled pipeline for smuggling human beings into the United States; it’s as though the Rio Grande had a big neon sign above it saying: Terrorists Welcome! Finally, the President’s backing of the ports deal with Dubai, the mealy-mouthed response to the Cartoon Riots and the Afghanistan apostasy case, and his silence on the disasters that are Islamic sharia societies appear at odds with the way the US handled the ideological front in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

We are certainly willing to entertain the notion that the President is just out of it, that five years of the 9-11 environment have been too much for the man. Or perhaps he has a tin ear politically, and simply has a ‘screw-you’ attitude towards the base (and a majority of Americans) regarding the priority of effective border control over amnesty, guest-worker programs, or anything else. And maybe the administration really is outsourcing Iran policy to the EU and the UN, and the administration plans to figure out what it is really willing to do to stop Iran a year or two down the road.

Maybe, but what if?

What if it all hangs together, however? What if the President’s reticence on our ideological war is all about maximizing cooperation in the Arab and Islamic worlds for a massive operation against Iran, which might involve not only the assistance of the ports-deal UAE, but countries like Saudi Arabia, with basing, overflight and oil export elements in play? What if a major element in the Bush softness on the southern border is to attract Iranian and other infiltrators to use well-established and well-penetrated coyote channels to track these people — they’re going to get in somehow, why not in through venues where the US has active intelligence assets? And as for the the back-seat role the US is playing in Iranian diplomacy, what if one purpose is to stall for time and to egg on — through relative silence and passivity — the loudmouth millenarian thug Ahmadinejad to greater and greater excesses of rhetoric and action, potentially tricking him into sufficient offensive action so that America’s hitting Iran can be seen as a defensive response?

We recognize we are probably trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and that we are engaging in wishful thinking, since we hope there might be a clever strategy behind what appears to be utterly feckless behavior. However, it is fair to say that George Bush has been fixated on the war since 9-11, and on protecting the United States. And while it is also fair to say that the President may not be the sharpest theoretical tool in the shed, he has mastered the art of letting his opponents overextend themselves by silently, apparently cluelessly playing rope-a-dope, as Thomas Lifson has shown.

It has been obvious for a long time that Iran was going to build a nuclear arsenal come hell or high water; no diplomacy was going to stop them — the very thought is laughable. Therefore, and this is the crucial point, George Bush, the Decider, has already made the decision about how he will handle the matter. He will either let them get the bomb or he will not. No competent CEO, faced with a circumstance as potentially devastating as Iran’s getting and using the bomb, would take the position that “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” when planning the actions to stop it and to deal with the consequences of that new war, takes years. Therefore, in our opinion, George Bush has already made the fundamental go / no-go decision about whether he will permit Iran to get the bomb. If he has decided not to let Iran get the bomb, there are a number of decisions that flow from that. These include deferring the timing of a strike as long as possible, getting as much intelligence within Iran as possible, trying to foment conditions within Iran to stop Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, preparing battlefield and diplomatic conditions for a strike, using Iran’s belligerency against itself, and preparing in depth for the counter-attacks that will be unleashed by Iran in that new war. At least that’s what we’d do if it were our responsibility.

So there is a some case to be made that there is method to what appears to be madness in certain policy positions and in the silence of the Bush administration on certain important issues. If it turns out that George Bush may again demonstrate with Iran that he is a master poker player, there is still one great and overarching mistake he could make: when the time comes for an attack, he could choose moderation. If America were to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability, it needs to wipe out its ability to make conventional and terrorist war as well. It would be the highest folly not to do so, and planning to comprehensively destroy Iran’s terror capability is perhaps the thing that takes the most planning of all.

So maybe there is grand strategy at work by George Bush and his administration. On the other hand, as Wittgenstein said, (and Bill Kristol and many others believe) maybe their silence comes from having nothing to talk about.

Debra Saunders: No mas!

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

She cuts loose over May Day protests in RCP:

When supporters of illegal immigration threaten to boycott all stores, it makes me feel like shopping. When I see TV reporters interview demonstrators, who announce that they are undocumented, I can only surmise that illegal immigrants have nothing to fear from immigration authorities.

When demonstrators say that Americans should welcome them because they are willing to work at low wages, I notice that they have depressed wages for other low-skilled workers and made it harder for less-educated Americans to earn a living wage. I salute anyone who wants to work hard, but I cannot feel good about the fact that they do so by dragging down other people’s ability to earn a decent living.

When I read Mexican American Political Association flyers for the May 1 event that demand “immediate legalization without conditions,” that tells me activists don’t want the earned citizenship in the Senate Judiciary Committee immigration bill, because it requires would-be citizens to learn English, attend civics classes, pay a fine and back taxes, and pass a criminal background check.

When I read, “no escuela” (no school) on MAPA flyers, and that the Los Angeles Times reported that in Southern California some 40,000 students may have skipped school to join in past protests, I think of the 18 percent of Latino high school seniors who have not yet passed the state exit exam.

When I read, “no trabajo” (no work), I see activists who are ready to stick it to their most potent lobby, American employers, which makes them ingrates.

Then, when MAPA President Nativo Lopez calls for “no employer sanctions and no guest-worker programs,” that tells me he wants no laws whatsoever governing who can come to and work in America….

I can only say that when I read, “no trabajo” and “no escuela” and “no compra” (no shopping) and “no venta” (no selling), my response is: “No mas.” No more.

We sense American outrage growing and becoming louder, over things that seem to us obviously outrageous, but heretofore passed over in silence or low tones. Is it us, or is there change in the air?

UPDATE

Polipundit sees precisely the opposite phenomenon in the MSM.

Does it matter that old adages are incomprehensible to young people?

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

For thousands of years men have been farmers or hunters, or at most one degree of separation from these activities. As a result, homespun proverbs have been for millennia as common as homespun clothes. This continues to be true in much of the world. For example, even today, China has 800 million farmers. That perhaps surprises you, but even more dramatic is this: ninety years ago, 42% of Americans lived on a farm. So the change away from the knowledge of crops and animals, even in America, is incredibly recent.

Today in America, however, many young people haven’t a clue what it signifies to reap what you sow, or what reap or sow mean. They don’t know why you make hay while the sun shines; they may not even know what hay is. They don’t know about early birds or birds of a feather or eggs in one basket or counting chickens. For that matter, how can you look a gift horse in the mouth if you’ve never seen a horse up close?

Maybe we’re too persnickety. After all, adages come and go, just like buggy whip makers. Every generation has its greatest invention since the printing press, the light bulb, or sliced bread; life moves on. And today’s adages, from Godwin’s Law to the Dilbert Principle, aren’t bad at all.

UPDATE

We would like to have concluded this piece on that light note above, but we just can’t. We have repeatedly said that we can’t afford to let our bridges to the past crumble, and that is more important than ever. In our perilous times, some adages shouldn’t be forgotten. William L. Shirer, in the epigraph for The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, quoted George Santayana’s famous dictum from 1905: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Shirer went on to say in the Foreword on page xii: “In our new age of terrifying, lethal gadgets, which supplanted so swiftly the old one, the first great aggressive war, if it should come, will be launched by suicidal little madmen pressing an electronic button.” That’s too long to be an adage. However, Shirer does seem a bit prophetic about the millenarian Ahmadinejad and his new Aryan nation, not to mention an entire generation of Islamic suicide-murderers, doesn’t he?

The Islamic cultural straitjacket and American cultural blinders

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Overview: In order to achieve ultimate victory in our war against militant Islam, Americans are going to have to come to understand that the cultural blinders they have been taught to wear over these last decades are as imprisoning as the straitjacket of Islamic sharia societies. We have to free ourselves in order to help free them and create a more peaceful world. If we cannot shake off our PC blinders, we will lose the war; yet ours is the easier task compared to the reformation required in the Islamic world.

We in the West take the idea of progress for granted, as we have previously discussed. But what if your society doesn’t march to that drumbeat? What if your society has no concept of ‘progress’, only of ‘submission’? What if your society is rather zero-sum in nature, referring all things — including really trivial concepts like charging interest for a loan — back to a 1400 year old book? What if your society is further built around the idea of always pleasing higher authority? What if your society authorizes you to have contempt or disregard for those lower than yourself? What would we call such a society?

Well, that society would seem to resemble some aspects of feudal Europe and medieval Christianity. To blogger orangeducks, that society is the Islamic world of Iraq — and he has the business experience to back it up. It is a society where lying to superiors with good news is expected, certainly one form of ‘submission’, and lying to inferiors in order to gain or maintain advantage is taught from birth.

Example I, the Lease: The Art of the Deal in Iraq is to figure out, not if someone will try and screw you, but how and when. The focus is always on not getting caught over a barrel by the other guy, and to try to get the other guy over that barrel, using deception, lies, misinformation, lies, misdeeds, lies, and finally, more lies. The Agreement, that poor casualty of the desert sands, is considered to be a first step, not a final arrival, on the long march to screwing the “other guy.”

A few days ago, I was called point blank and to my face a “thief” and a “liar” by an 85-year-old Iraqi from whom we are leasing a house. I wrote the lease agreement, including clearly stating the price for the first 6 months, and then a discount price for the second 6 months. These prices were based on verbal (read:painful) negotiations that had lasted for days. Once completed, I gave the lease contract to the gentleman, and he had it for 2 days. He contacted me a couple times to change a few minor details, which I did. He then signed it, and I signed it, and then I sent it off to our offices in the US for payment processing.

The day after we signed, the gentleman was beside himself and putting on all sorts of theatrics. With full-blown indignation, he said the price was too low, and “the person” who wrote that wretched lease was trying to trick him and was a thief and a liar!

Example II: the Order. In addition to trying to screw each other, there is the opposite condition of trying to avoid embarrassment — to “save face” or keep one’s “honor” in front of each other. Under this cultural imperative the lies fly, efforts die, but the Muslim, forever, keeps his head held high.

So, for example, when you are talking to a company president about delivery progress of a critical item by his company to a location, he’s getting his information from his assistant, who is getting it from the field supervisor, who is getting it from the guy who is related to the guy who is friends with the guy who owns the trucking company, who gets it from the dispatcher, who gets it from the truck driver (who also happens to be the company president’s nephew, but that’s another story).

Each and every one of these guys, all the way through the chain, will lie to the guy above him when asked about the delay in shipment (and there IS a delay — always). In order to save face, each will say whatever they think is good news, no matter how false and misleading it actually is. By the time you talk to the boss, who is also trying to save face with you, there is no relationship between what you are being told and what is really happening — none.

I had steel prefabricated buildings to construct at project sites throughout Iraq. They were to be ordered from a factory in Kuwait, fabricated, loaded, and trucked to sites in Iraq in 11 weeks. I inquired as to progress at least weekly. I was told when they were ordered, when manufacturing began, when they were completed, when the buildings were staged, when they were loaded on to trucks, and when the trucks were waiting at the Iraq border. Everything was communicated with exact details every step of the way.

The trucks were held up at the border for several days, then a week, then two weeks. Excuses abounded. I finally sent a Westerner down to the factory in Kuwait, only to find that the first step — the order — had not yet been placed….

The stories are endless (even more endless than the length of this post!) At first we were all offended at being lied to so much. But after a while, you stop taking it personally, and you just start giving credit where credit is due: They can’t build anything, can’t manufacture anything, and can’t fix anything that breaks. But at least they are good at one thing: lying their asses off all day, every day. Think about this the next time Uncle Mah starts talking about using his nukes to provide electricity

Orangeducks puts his extensive personal experience into an overall concept of the society he has been dealing in:

Muslims, like the stick bug and the chameleon and the stone fish, have developed, to an amazing extent, the ability to deceive….They hone these deceptive traits by practicing on themselves, first and foremost, by perfecting the art that most Westerners would call “lying.” But to them it’s not really lying. To them, lying is simply the most effective means at their disposal for saving face, being clever, getting ahead, and trying to appear superior. Remember, deception is the Muslim’s most developed trait; their secret weapon. Its constant exercise is not a matter of shame, it’s a matter of pride.

And they absolutely drool at the site of an unsuspecting Westerner who waltzes into their midst, like the juicy beetle oblivious to the chameleon, with his Christian-based ideas of “Truth” and “honesty” and “ethics” and “integrity.” From Alexander the Great to the 101st Airborne, the first thing the Arabs saw was not our frightening array of weapons, but the big “Tootsie Pop” signs stenciled on our foreheads.

The Iraqis don’t seem like a bad lot, but it is critical to our victories, our expectations, and our tactics to understand the cultural straitjacket they wear. It is even more important for Americans to recognize the cultural blinders they have been wearing for decades now.

Somewhere in our library we have a world history from a century ago. It describes Russians as “a cruel people with an enormous capacity to endure suffering.” Such writing is unthinkable today. Over the course of the last hundred years, Americans have lost the capacity for such generalizations — for understandable and good reasons as well as bad ones. Yet all this has gone way overboard; we this week witnessed the case of a student who was severely reprimanded for noticing — correctly — that the students excelling in mathematics in a class were Asian. This is a trivial but poisonous example of the war on the home front that must ultimately be waged to defeat militant Islam around the globe.

The good news for America is this: many people are only pretending not to see what they see, in order to avoid the censure of their PC overlords. If the flare goes up, the PC will go down. It can’t happen too soon. (HT: Larwyn)