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Dude, With Keyboard » 2009 » November

Archive for November, 2009

What Bush inherited

Victor Davis Hanson (VHD to NRO regulars), gives a good reminder on what George Bush inherited:

George W. Bush inherited a recession. He also inherited the Iraq no-fly zones, a Middle East boiling after the failed last-minute Clintonian rush for an imposed peace, an intelligence community wedded to the notion of Saddam’s WMD proliferation, a Congress on record supporting “regime change” in Iraq, a WMD program in Libya, a Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Osama bin Laden enjoying free rein in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, a renegade Pakistan that had gone nuclear on Clinton’s watch with Dr. Khan in full export mode, and a pattern of appeasing radical Islam after its serial attacks (on the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers, U.S. embassies, and the U.S.S. Cole).

In other words, Bush inherited the regular “stuff” that confronts most presidents when they take office. What is strange is that Obama has established a narrative that he, supposedly unlike any other president, inherited a mess.

At some point, Team Obama might have at least acknowledged that, by January 2009, Iraq was largely quiet; Libya was free of WMD; Syria was out of Lebanon; most of the al-Qaeda leadership had been attrited or was in hiding; a homeland-security protocol was in place to deal with domestic terror plots; European governments were mostly friendly to the U.S. (unlike during the Chirac-Schröder years); and the U.S. enjoyed good relations with one-third of the planet in China and India.

I’m not sure Syria is really out of Lebanon, but the overall point still stands. Obama seems to have some luxury on the foreign policy front to be an ass to our allies and a friend to our enemies, since the clear and present danger seems to have abated a bit, not that the previous guy will get any credit for that.

I also hate the idea of “inhertting” a bad economy. It always makes it sound like the guy before caused it. True, the stock market peaked in Clinton’s last year in office and true the economy really tanked in Bush’s last year, but I don’t think either can really be blamed for it. The Dot Com bust that occurred in Bush’s first year (and began in Clinton’s last) was utterly predictable since the Dot Com boom was a text book bubble market. Ditto the housing market of the 2000’s. The government can be more readily blamed for the current housing crisis. Still, the economy is a complex beast. Government can do very little to grow the economy, at least one as advanced as ours, other than lowering taxes and streamlining or rolling back regulations. The 80’s boom, the Dot Com boom, and, yes, the housing bubble were at least partially influenced by such changes. Government however is more likely to harm the economy (usually in the name of “helping” it) by increasing taxes and regulation. Obama/Pelosi/Reid seem to be trying every possible dose of the latter. Yet, we go into year two of Obama and they still want to blame Bush for the fact the economy hasn’t shown much inclination to substantially improve, even though not one of their policies of any significance would grow the economy.

But, continuing my theme of giving small golf claps to the Democrats for consistency, this totally jives with the modern Democratic party. They’ve been the party of victimhood for a solid 3-4 decades. That they’ve controlled the legislature for nearly three years and the White House for almost one and they are STILL blaming someone else (white guys from Texas, natch) just shows you how allergic to personal responsibility they are.

Is there ANY upside to this?

President Obama and Attorney General Holder want to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM, to war on terror watchers) in New York. Is there any possible way this is a good thing?

  1. Right away, what happens if he is acquitted? Well, you have two choices: Let him go free so that he either goes on to become a hero in the radical terrorist haven of your choice, where he’ll likely go back to masterminding things (though their is a small chance he’s killed by his fellow terrorists if its determined he gave away too much information). Or you don’t let him go free and essentially hold him some place much like Guantanamo Bay (though not actually at Guantanamo Bay as Obama will have probably closed it by then). If he does the latter, then its the worst possible outcome. Talk up carrying out justice and then basically act like there was never a fair trial all along. Granted, its sort how things work in Chicago, but that won’t work too well in the court of international opinion which Obama cares more about than what we think down south.
  2. OK, so you get a hung jury? I don’t see how this is good either for all the same reasons as above, only its dragged out more.
  3. He’s found guilty. OK, fine. Where you going to put him? You going to execute him and turn him into a martyr, which I thought was always a bad thing in liberal minds? Or put him in an existing maximum security prison to a) poison other peoples minds and b) turn that prison into a REALLY maximum security prison. Got to say there would be a sort of demented irony if Blackwater needed to be hired to secure the place. So, then what about the next terrorist incident? Are you really going to go at like Gil Grissom on CSI?
  4. What happens if evidence is required from national security sources? They going to have to give up the goose? Or not, it makes the likelihood of option #1 more likely, no?
  5. And what about the whole “torture” argument? Will any thing he said be admissible? And won’t the tactics of the people who extracted the information from him also be put on trial? Does anyone doubt that you’d probably end making an Oliver North out of one of the interrogators? Is that really what the anti-torture people want? Because, here’s the dirty little secret. Most people don’t want a formal torture policy. They are against the “legalization” of it. But, they also sleep better at night hoping there is a Jack Bauer out there somewhere who’ll do what it takes to keep mass murderers at bay. The inevitable debate over the interrogators’ tactics will either work out the opposite of how Dem’s would hope in that it’d make the more illicit tactics of the war on terror somewhat more popular than they are. OR, the details of the interrogations are so graphic and so highly publicized that sympathy for  KSM would become the cause de jour. Neither option is good in my mind. I don’t want “torture”, even when used with scare quotes because what is referred to as torture doesn’t really rise to that level, to be something we formally except. I prefer to think that these tactics are rare and only used in extraordinary circumstances.  I don’t want us to ever “feel good” about it. And I certainly don’t want the opposite. I don’t want KSM to get sympathy because we feel ashamed of what we did. It was war. It IS war. We must fight it, knowing that tough calls must be made.

Ultimately, I don’t see how the trial can be fair, in either direction. But saddest part of all this is that this is a perfectly rational decision by the Obama administration. It is entirely consistent with what they have stated all along. Terrorism, or man caused disasters as they like to call it, is simply a law enforcement issue. The fact that it requires the armed forces to fight it effectively is a mere technicality. On the one hand its completely demented, on the other at least on this one point, the Obama administration is acting fairly consistent. Kudos for that, I suppose.

That said, this can only end badly.

Tom Maguire and Baseball Crank also knock it out of the park on the issue.

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Was Ft. Hood really Terrorism?

I’m going to dig into the question of motive and “crime” with regards to Ft. Hood. My heart goes out to the victims and their families of that awful day brought. Also, heads should roll over what sure looks like a runaway series of failures seemingly hampered by politically correct bureaucratic mechanization. But, I wish to make what I feel is an important, if ultimately academic, point: I don’t think Hasan’s massacre of his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood qualifies as terrorism. Its a big deal in the right wing blogosphere to label him a terrorist and I sympathize with the point. However, we’ve devalued other important words (racist and fascist, to name two biggies) through overuse and the application of fluid definitions and I’d prefer we didn’t do so with the heinous act of terrorism. Hasan seems to have had jihadist motive or at least a jihadist rationalization, but I still don’t think it qualifies as “terrorism” as we commonly understand it.

  1. It was not a civilian target and therefore would not have been likely to effect daily behavior of the populace. This isn’t a cut and dry qualification but I think it is relevant here.
  2. There is no reasonable explanation for the massacre from a political standpoint. I doubt Hasan though the attack would get us out of Iraq or Afghanistan, but I could be giving him too much credit for rationalization. Attacking troops on American soil is not going to strike fear into Americans. It’ll likely have the opposite effect.

The FBI’s definition of terrorism hinges on these two basic tenants, though one could argue that a military base is a “government” facility. But, this was not just anybody attacking a military base. It was one of our own soldiers. Austin Bay brings up another “T” word: Treason. Or “traitor.” I think these terms fit perfectly and are vital to labeling this man for what he is. His flirtation with extremist jihadism, if media reports are to be believed, certainly should be evidence against the likely defense of insanity. But, still this man chose one thing, his religion, over that of his duty to his country. Furthermore, he took up arms against his fellow soldiers. He should receive a military trial and a military execution for the act of treason. He wanted to be a martyr it would seem. We should oblige.

UPDATE: I see Cliff May at the National Review basically said the same thing:

My two cents: The most widely accepted definition of a terrorist is someone who intentionally targets non-combatants with violence for political purposes. The shooter at Fort Hood, by contrast, was targeting uniformed combatants. In that sense, he was not a terrorist. So what was he? A traitor, a man who wore his country’s uniform, and killed his fellow countrymen in the service of his country’s enemies.

Is there a reason we no longer use the word “traitor”? Maybe it’s time to reintroduce it into our vocabulary?

The Wall – Touching a Piece of History

Had the opportunity to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down with a reception hosted by the German Consulate.  It was a very moving ceremony.

Even got to touch a piece of history.

A piece of the Berlin Wall

A piece of the Berlin Wall

If only they had no guns, Ft. Hood would never have happened

The “cause” of the Ft. Hood massacre has been blamed on post tramatic stress disorder and fundamentalist Islam, or as I believe, old fashioned political correctness. But, I guess, we should have figured that “guns” would eventually be blamed. Chicago’s Mayor takes a spin at this line of attack (hat tip: the professor). If only we kept the guns out of military bases, massacres such as this would never happen. Of course, what guns were supposed to be at Ft. Hood were locked up. Its possible that if more people were armed, the casualty count would be lower. But, nope, if only we’d get rid of America’s love of guns, especially at our military bases (boot camp should be about strongly worded letters, I suppose), then such issues wouldn’t happen. Sure. Give it a try.

Or maybe we can simply get rid of soldiers who believe Muslims are justified in prioritizing Muslim enemies above the service to their country. If that makes you feel too judgemental, then perhaps we can agree that trying to contact Al Quaeda is a line one shouldn’t cross. Its an idea.

The Willful Ignorance of the White House Spokesman

Robert Gibbs, in response to the DC tea party protests against health care: “Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler.” Marie Katherine Hamm provides a public service and shows Mr. Gibbs that, much like the lyrics to the song Imagine, we really don’t have to imagine much at all since reality was ahead of the curve. Save the link for your one stop shop of BushHitler photos as people try to act like associating the president with Hitler is a new phenomenon.

An aside: I don’t think its particularly helpful to protesters to compare Obama to Hitler. Obama is, at the very least, a soft-core marxist (and I defy someone to prove differently) and accusations of “socialist” are certainly acceptable. I know that socialism and fascism were simply two sides of the same coin and not opposites as we were falsely taught in poli-sci classes. And yes, there are actions by the Obama administration that would have caused Olbermann’s head to explode with Hitler comparisons if they were done by the previous president. I get all that. So, then compare him to Mussolini (who moved seemlessly from socialist to fascist) and I think the comparison would be more apt. When he’s compared to Nazi’s or Hitler, you can’t help but bring up the Holocaust and no matter what I think of the President’s desire for power, I do not, for a moment believe that he deserves to be tainted with Hitler, which is more than simply an idealogical comparison. You’re associating mass murder and that detracts from, rather than adds to the argument.

Our president can’t be bothered with celebrating the greatest historical event of the last 40 years

As I have said to anyone who would listen, the problem with President Obama is that his world view is straight out of the Harvard humanities department bubble. In his world, there was nothing paritcularly scary about communism (witness the softening of Cuban policy and his apparent siding with the Hugo Chavez clone in Honduras). In his world, the country he now governs was largely the biggest reason for the world’s problems during his lifetime, up until the point he became president. In his world, the battle against communism was a right wing fantasy. In his view, the U.S. is not a beacon of freedom but a nation in need of offering apologies.

So, when he was running for president, he took a high profile trip to Germany to show “the world” that he was not like all the others. And his speech was actually compared to Reagan and Kennedy’s stirring anti-Soviet speeches in defense of basic human freedoms. Well, Germany is getting ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, an event that would not have happened without constant American support of Eastern European liberty and our somewhat consistent refusal to compromise the basic ideas that the Cold War were all about. Naturally, Germany invited the American president to participate.

Sorry, he can’t be bothered. A black man who should appreciate the removal of an oppressive force views Germany as nothing more than a campaign spot and that whole Berlin Wall thing as some local issue.

OK, so he lacks a basic understanding of this momentus occasion, but moreover he’s also politically stupid. If he wanted to seem presidential, instead of petty and partisan, he could have owned this. He also would have scored some points with his nemisises on talk radio and Fox News as they would have inevitably over griped about whatever he said over there. Moreover, if he were REALLY smart, he would have stopped in California on the way to pick up Nancy Reagan as his guest. But, nope, this never occured to him or his handlers. Again, can’t be bothered. But, don’t worry Germany. Obama’s re-election campaign will kick off in just a few years. He’ll see you then.

The Ft. Hood Massacre

Ann Althouse has a pretty reasonable take on the attack at Ft. Hood.

A better man would not try to score political points off such an awful tragedy but I am having a real hard time not blaming this on the likes of Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, and pretty much everyone in Hollywood. For starters. They have spent years making the war in Iraq out to be nothing but one big anti-muslim orgasm by Hitler clones. Never mind that the US brought real pluralistic democracy to the Arab world for the first time (outside of Israel). Never mind that a ruthless dictator who killed far more Muslims than U.S. has was removed from power and eventually brought to justice.  Never mind that the significant actions by the US military since the cold war ended were on behalf of Muslims (Gulf War I, Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, Iraq). The media hasn’t portrayed much nuance on the issue. Very little of the “Bush means well, but its a bad idea” line of attack that was perfectly reasonable (the jury is still out on this whole half-hearted nation building approach we’ve undertaken). No, it was all about oil even though this Democratic Congress or the hostile media has not been able to trace any oil profits into the Bush/Cheney coffers.

Look, Hillary Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh for what happened to Mathew Sheppard. Talking heads at MSNBC tried to ascribe the worst possible motivations of the tea party movement (racists!) without bothering to ask them what the hell they stood for. Hell, Michael Moore and President Obama’s own “Green Czar” figured Bush was IN ON 9/11. All the while Muslims have been continually told that they should worry about the redneck backlash that has yet to ever occur. But, that’s more of the same. The Tea Party is viewed as a bunch of racist and intolerant knuckle draggers worthy of off color jokes. These are not merely fringe beliefs but ideas that are aired regularly in the mainstream media. Is there any reason to believe someone who already believes that Muslims must kill the infidel aggressors and that suicide bombers are as noble as the soldier who falls on a hand grenade, might actually feel perfectly justified in those beliefs since its not particularly far off from the storyline pushed by the media elite?

OK, no I’m not really blaming the aforementioned Hollywood scumbags for the murders at Ft. Hood. I’m a libertarian and believe that people are ultimately responsible for their own actions. Still, when the inevitable redneck nut job commits a horrendous crime, is it too much to wish that people on the left will play the “let all the facts come out” game instead of figuring out how to blame their political opponents for it? I’m not hopeful.

I saved or created 832.23 jobs this week

And how did I calculate this? By using the same method apparently used by the state of Illinois. I call it the MSU* method of calculating job saving and creation.

*MSU = Make Sh*t Up

A metaphor for progressivism?

I just completed the Tivo’d “V” premiere and I actually can’t disagree with what this author says. There are a few not so subtle jabs at Obama style progressivism.

Hmmm….

Progressive policies are sort of like alien totalitarian lizard people? If you put a gun to my head, I’m not sure I could come up with a better metaphor.

Welcome to our new Racist Red State Brethren

Suddenly, we have to consider the possibility that Virginia (Obama won by 6 pts) and New Jersey (Obama by 15) are racist. Yeah, yeah, Obama’s administration had nothing to do with the vote. They had local issues, yada yada. This means nothing. The president is still very popular (and we shall mention nothing about what polls say about his individual policies).

UPDATE: In case you think its unfair that Obama’s policies are judged on the basis of state elections, look at this:

For example, in Virginia, the second most important issue that was reported in the exit polls was health care. Now, you didn’t have a debate about state health care. It was about national health care, because Virginia is in the D.C. media market, so all this debate spills over.

About a quarter of the [Virginia] electorate had [health care] as the most important issue. So it clearly affected this election. It was, in many ways, a national election.

But, please, only get mad about Halliburton

Al Gore invest in a lot of green companies and it is apparently quite lucrative.

“I have advocated policies to promote renewable energy and accelerate reductions in global warming pollution for decades, including all of the time I was in public service,” Mr. Gore wrote. “As a private citizen, I have continued to advocate the same policies. Even though the vast majority of my business career has been in areas that do not involve renewable energy or global warming pollution reductions, I absolutely believe in investing in ways that are consistent with my values and beliefs. I encourage others to invest in the same way.”

He’s right and I don’t really have any problem with it, except that he’s a former vice president, his party is in power at every level and Gore is something of a folk hero among career environmentalists, many of which are the primary human resource in such places as the Energy Department. And what’s this?

The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts. Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr. Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years.

Does anyone think that Gore did not play a role in these taxpayer funded rewards? The article also notes that Nancy Pelosi also invests in clean energy companies, many of which get grants and other such funding from government authorities. Fortunately, the Speaker of the House would have no say in how the government would reward contracts. Nope, not at all. I guess Insider Information is only a bad thing when the people on the inside reside on Wall Street. I’m sure every contract is rewarded only on merit.

Nothing to see here. Look over there! Halliburton!!

(Yes, I know the retort would be “but Gore’s companies aren’t trying to “kill” anyone, as if that’s exactly what Halliburton is guilty of.  Well, skeptics like me see many environmental policies as guaranteeing poverty for millions of people, so, such unsubstantiated claims about Halliburton’s supposed blood on their hands leave me unmoved.)


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