Thursday, December 30, 2004

Foot In Mouth: UK

Captain Ed is rendered nearly speechless by UK Foriegn Minister Clare Short's comments on the President's aid proposal.

Here's what the President said:
Secretary Powell is working hard. He has spoken with his counterparts in Japan, India, Australia, as well as other nations who are helping with the response in order to begin building an international coalition for immediate humanitarian relief and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. Based on these discussions, we've established a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts. I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order. Under Secretary of State Mark Grossman will lead a U.S. task force to work with these partners to help coordinate interagency response in our own government and to encourage other nations to participate in the relief efforts.
Here is what Ms. Short said:
“I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up,” she said.

“Only really the UN can do that job,” she told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme.

“It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers.”

Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.

She said the US was “very bad at coordinating with anyone” and India had its own problems to deal with.
This is mindbogglingly stupid on so many different levels.

Captain Ed is stuck on the assertion that the UN has any moral authority, let alone supreme moral authority.

But what moral authority is required to give away bottled water to people drinking sewage?

India has the world's fourth largest air force, and as Ms. Short points out, is itself affected; the Japanese have spent billions and decades to transform the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force into a global humanitarian vehicle; the Australians have three dozen heavy airborne transports and have coordinated military traffic with the USA for over fifty years; and the US Air Force has more transports and global bases and personnel than any other nation on earth.

The UN has exactly: 0 transports, 0 bases, 0 ground crew. It has nothing but what national governments place at its disposal.

The megatons of food and medicine and supplies would not be moving to the afflicted without the participation of those four nations.

There is no separate UN cargo capacity in competition with this aid coalition. Ms. Short is, in effect, claiming that the US, Australia, India and Japan would somehow work better through a layer of UN bureaucracy than by cooperating directly.

Ms. Short gets one thing right:
“I don’t know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system,” she added.
Give the little lady a cigar!
A nine-ring Churchill, to remind her of a competent Minister whose motto was "Action This Day".

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Foot in Mouth

Jan Egeland, undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, has made a warm meal of his own foot.
In a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, Egeland called for a major international response -- and went so far as to call the U.S. government and others "stingy" on foreign aid in general.

"If, actually, the foreign assistance of many countries now is 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the gross national income, I think that is stingy, really," he said. "I don't think that is very generous."

...Egeland, at the U.N. news conference, said the cost of the devastation will "probably be many billions of dollars. However, we cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages that have just been wiped out."

"The important thing is that we give and that we as citizens also demand that our countries give generously to those who have been so hard hit."

Egeland is already backpedaling from these comments, which have widely been denounced as in poor taste.

His yardstick is badly designed for measuring the aid contributions of the United States. In this country we limit the grip of the government over the national economy as much as possible. We're not likely to change it to suit the sampling methods of the UN.

Shame on Egeland for trying to use shame as a lever.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Powerline highlighted a pessimistic piece in the Weekly Standard by Reuel Marc Gerecht, entitled “The Struggle For the Middle East”. Gerecht thinks we are in peril of losing Iraq:
The administration really should not use here the refrain..."only Iraqis can secure their country." Clearing the roads adequately, which means suppressing the occasional bombings, brigandage, and assassinations, really has nothing to do with "standing up" Iraqi security forces. If there is one kind of military operation that does not require much local knowledge, it's undertaking roadblocks, observation posts, and ground and air patrols. The military personnel required to perform this function 24/7 isn't small, but it is certainly within the capabilities of forces already present in Iraq if the Pentagon so chose to allocate these resources. It beggars the mind to believe that the U.S. military cannot deploy sufficient forces to secure the highway between Baghdad and the capital's international airport. Insurgents and brigands--it's very difficult often to tell the difference--now own this short stretch of highway, which regularly sees ordinary Iraqis robbed and shot, often in carefree, outrageous ways.

…But we have reached a point in Iraq where our first priority must be to guarantee Iraqis--not Americans--a minimum of security on the major highways. A greater American presence and firepower on the roads could kill more innocent Iraqis. The American death toll could climb. Yet it is an excellent bet that most Iraqis would be willing to absorb the losses provided they can see improvement in their daily security.

...At this late date before the January 30 elections, there is probably no more effective and essential campaign for the U.S. military than securing the roads. Start with the highway to the airport, and then go after the roads from the capital south to the Shiite heartlands... Everybody...needs to see that the United States can protect one short airport highway that connects Iraq to the outside world.
A Powerline reader and IDF veteran, Paul Kotik, supports this policy:
In Lebanon, we quickly learned what Gerecht advocates: control of the roads is everything. The daily, nightly, and dreaded priority mission of Israeli forces in Lebanon became 'Ptihat Tzir" - opening the road. We set ambushes and lay there all night motionless and silent. We laid sensors, flew drones, and at daybreak walked our section of road in plain view.

By and large, it worked. I didn't need to whine about armor in Lebanon at the height of the Shi'ite insurgency. I got around in a Toyota sedan just fine, thank you.
I think Gerecht, and many in the media and much of their American audience, are confused about the definition of “security”.
We have already secured the ability of Iraqi commerce and government to function day-to-day, and are constantly improving the quality of Iraqi services. What we are unable to prevent are spectacles and incidents of violence by the insurgents. This is the core of the grunts’ complaint to Rumsfeld this week about the “propaganda war”: no matter how much the effective government of Iraq improves, the focus remains on the incoherent spectacles of violence.

A problem with Gerecht’s theory of “security” is that the media and much of the public regard the presence of any violence in Iraq as a failure of security. When Iraqis are dragged from their vehicles and murdered, this is reported as “more violence in Iraq”. When Marines kill 30 insurgents, this is reported as “more violence in Iraq”. As Gerecht acknowledges, a series of checkpoints would increase both Iraqi and American casualties; yet he argues it would improve “security”. In fact, by increasing the violence on the roads, it would fuel the complaints of a ‘security breakdown’.

Gerecht decries a Coalition that to him occupies “ever smaller, disconnected, fortified oases surrounded by insurgents, their sympathizers, and a fearful population”. That's a perfect description of his proposed checkpoints.

This method was employed by the French in Vietnam. Their "vietnamization" program merely produced Vietnamese garrison forces to relieve French troops on sentry duty. The French forces thus spared duty in the blockhouses and remote outposts were rotated home to France.

The result was failure. The French could not prevent the Viet Minh from mustering superior forces just beyond the range of their outposts; their outposts were too weak to withstand attacks without reinforcements and their reinforcements moved too slowly to prevent Viet Minh escape. In time, along the Rue Coloniales of North Vietnam, the Viet Minh had sufficient strength to obliterate the relieving columns; and eventually, surround and overrun the fortified bases. Long before Vietnamese divisions swarmed over Dien Bien Phu, their companies and battalions were destroying smaller French strongpoints across Vietnam.

Kotik says his IDF unit in Lebanon was successful because it ensured the road was clear. From his description of their tactics, I would argue it was due to aggressive and intelligent use of aerial and electronic surveillance and mobile patrols to force combat on terrorist guerrillas. The French successfully employed these measures against Algerian fellouze when interdicting covert traffic across Algeria's western frontiers. The purpose there was not to preserve French traffic from attack, but to deny mobility to the terrorists.

Likewise the Navy SEALS seriously damaged the Viet Cong in the river deltas of South Vietnam, through accurate intelligence, superior firepower, and excellent mobility. The SEALs earned the name "Greenfaced Devils" for their swift raids and overpowering ambushes against what was supposed to be an elusive guerrilla force.

In each case, the roads, trails, wadis, and rivers were not valuable as means of commerce and mobility, but as arenas in which to ensnare and destroy an opponent who survives by avoiding open battle. In those actions, small, speedy units, well-informed and familiar with their territory, are very valuable; and it is easier to train and equip Iraqis to fight like American commandos, than it is to train American commandos to move through the cities and countryside, and interact with Iraqi civilians, as easily as native Iraqis. Gerecht's advice to the contrary ignores these realities.

How should a terrorist insurgency be fought?
Let's absorb the lessons of a successful insurgent strategist: dawned on me that we had won the Hejaz war. Out of every thousand square miles of Hejaz, nine hundred ninety-nine were now free...If we held the rest, the Turks were welcome to the tiny fraction on which they stood, til peace or Doomsday showed them the futility of clinging to our windowpane.

...I wondered why Feisal wanted to fight the Turks, and why the Arabs wanted to help him, and saw that their aim was geographical, to extrude the Turk from all Arabic-speaking lands...If they would go quietly the war would end. If not, we would urge them, or try to drive them out. In the last resort, we should be compelled to the desperate course of blood and the maxims of "murder war", but as cheaply as could be for ourselves, since the Arab fought for freedom, and that was a pleasure to be tasted only by a man alive.

...Armies were like plants, immobile, firm-rooted, nourished by long stems to the head. We might be like a vapour, blowing where we listed. It seemed a regular soldier might be helpless without a target, owning only what he sat on, and subjugating only what, by order, he could point his rifle at.

Then I figured out how many men they would need to cover all this ground...I knew the Turkish Army seemed they would need a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than twenty men. If so, they would need six hundred thousand men...

...In Turkey things were scarce and precious, men less esteemed than equipment. Our cue was to destroy, not the Turk's army, but his minerals...In the Arab Army at the moment we were chary both of materials and of men. Governments saw men only in mass; our men, being irregulars, were not formations, but individuals...We could not afford casualties.

...Most wars were wars of contact, both forces striving into touch to avoid tactical surprise. Ours should be a war of detachment...Many Turks on our front had no chance all the war to fire on us, and we were never on the defensive except by accident and in error.
T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

This is an effective answer to war by garrison and checkpoint. It can also serve as a direct statement of the aims of the insurgency: the absence of a foriegn occupier and the "freedom" to practice self-determined despotism.

Fortunately for our efforts in Iraq, we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of the Turks, nor are our opponents capable of the cold objectivity of Lawrence of Arabia.

In the Iraq war, America's weakness is not material poverty, but public opinion. The death of a dozen soldiers is fuel for the liberal anti-war machine, which includes much of the highest levels of American media. Insurgency by remote detonator and light artillery works well against this weakness.

However, the insurgents seem unable to rely upon ambush, and appear unable to avoid premature seizures of local power. The terrorist uprisings in Najaf and Karbala, Fallujah and Samarra, worked only as traps for the insurgents, permitting the Coalition to kill hundreds of insurgents and capture huge stockpiles of munitions--more than had been expended all year in terrorist attacks. As this mistake was made by both Shiite and Sunni insurgents, separately, it would seem to indicate an Iraqi political need for some measure of territorial soveriegnity, no matter how impractical. This need is a serious weakness in an unpopular uprising.

Lawrence gave clear reasons for his confidence in ultimate Arab victory over the Turks:
It seemed to me proven that our rebellion had an unassailable base, guarded not only from attack, but from the fear of attack. It had a sophisticated alien enemy, disposed into an army of occupation in an area greater than could be dominated effectively from fortified posts. It had a friendly population, of which some two in the hundred were active, and the rest quietly sympathetic to the point of not betraying the movements of the minority. The active rebels had the virtues of secrecy and self-control, and the qualities of speed, endurance and independence of arteries of supply. They had technical equipment enough to paralyse the enemy's communications. A province would be won when we had taught the civilians in it to die for our ideal of freedom.
The insurgents do not have "an unassailable base" unless we grant them such freedom from fear; our communications are several hundred miles beyond their reach; they do not have 2% of Iraq's 25,000,000 people in their ranks; although they fight an alien enemy their propaganda is corroded by association with a hated domestic oppressor; they are no more free of foriegn aid than Lawrence's Bedouin, as his very presence demonstrated; we match them in speed and endurance and surpass them in self-control.

All of these are reasons for optimism so long as we actively and aggressively exploit our strengths and our enemy's weaknesses; accept violence as a means to ultimate victory and peace, instead of a lamentable failure of 'security'; and reject totally the passive doctrines of stasis and serenity that would leave us plant-like, predictable, and passively content to point rifles at nothing, leaving the enemy free to prepare for their Day.

We cannot avoid combat in Iraq, so long as the enemy is willing to fight. We can only seize the initiative and impose greater losses on them than we suffer ourselves, or yield the initiative, and the casualties, and the loss of public confidence which is the only sure means by which we can be driven from Iraq.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone enjoys the time with family as we wind down a wild and historic year.

I'm working the graveyard shift through the holidays, but will have supper at home with my folks.

We don't wait for The Day to open and enjoy our gifts. I've already enjoyed watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, extended version. Funny how much has changed for me since the first film hit the theaters in late 2001.

In these times of silly controversy and overblown hype, it's important to focus a while on what's really important in life. Enjoy the holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Yet Another Tet

Apparently we lost the Iraq war last week. For the umpteenth time.

We're told we have to flee Iraq to get out of harm's way.
To where? Yemen, where the USS Cole was hit in 2000?
Germany, where a disco was bombed in 1986?
New York City?

What's going on in Afghanistan? Is that country seriously walking down the path of democratic society? I don't hear anything about the perilous state of Afghan democracy anymore; it must mean we're succeeding there. A good reason to be hopeful as Iraq counts down to its own elections.

Monday, December 20, 2004


Long pause between posts!

I've been thrashing out something regarding liberal opposition to religious morality. Hugh Hewitt, Powerline and Captains Quarters are discussing similar topics.

Master of None suggests abortion in case of incest or rape is okay.
Big question: at what point would the government accept that a rape had occurred? When a guilty verdict is returned, when an indictment is handed down, when DNA shows paternity of a suspect? Or would it not most likely be, as soon as a woman filed a complaint of rape against an unknown assailant?
If so, what's the real difference between that and abortion-on-demand?

The media has deigned to allow President Bush to speak at length about his first term and his plans for his second. It's too bad you have to wait until after the election to see this sort of reporting. I will have to review the conference to see if the President made any mention of Joe Biden's tantrum this weekend.

Enjoy your holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Illegal Immigration Illogic

Ith from Absinthe & Cookies has posted on a William F. Buckley article on illegal immigration. Buckley says in part:
It is the market contribution to the dilemma: There are jobs only illegals are willing to perform, e.g. serving as nannies for Bernard Kerik. Much of the menial and agricultural work done in the southwestern states is done by illegals.

This logic has been put forward by President Bush also, as a reason to support a migrant worker program.
The President's thinking is that if a US employer can demonstrate that American workers will not fill a job, they should be able to legally contract out to foriegn labor.

I am surprised by this reasoning from a man with an MBA from Harvard Business School and real-world executive experience.

A job is: a collection of duties and responsibilities, to be performed in a given time, for a set amount of compensation.
The employer controls all three aspects, and could easily define them so that "no American worker will do the job".

If George W. Bush defined the job of White House Chief of Staff to be the present collection of duties, for $12.75/hr, on a week-to-week basis, then he could leave it open for a year and find no takers. He would then have demonstrated that "no American worker will do the job".

Plenty of employers define employment opportunities too cheaply, or too strenously, or too loosely, to attract the average American worker. They may do this out of inexperience or budget constraints. The President's plan would create a concrete reason: by deliberately bidding low, American employers would earn the legal right to access a cheaper foriegn labor pool, with the US government facilitating the contact.

The last time the President made a push to enact his plan, he met a wall of flak from Congressional Republicans. Let's hope that continues.

Newsweek's Nativity Nonsense

I think the Newsweek article on the Birth of Jesus is a lot of hokum, psuedointellectual heresy from someone who obviously is not a believer in any sense of having faith.

But I clearly recognize where editor Jon Meacham is coming from. Sad to say, it is a well-respected--though unrespectable--tradition in American scholarship to treat all histories as "narratives" or "texts" or "fictions" which should be read as an explanation of the author and audience, as much as an account of actual events.

This has a grain of value. Our accounts of the drafting of the Constitution do not relate anything of the influence of the wives of the Founding Fathers--except for Dolly Madison, who was clearly no airhead. Is it possible that she, alone, argued thoroughly with her husband about politics and society during the Convention? Our accounts are silent.

And you can certainly make judgements about historians by their acceptance--or rejection-- of the Marxist narratives.

But the postmodernists take this to ridiculous extremes. What does it say about 18th century America, that it needed to invent the narrative that Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence? What does it say about 21st century America that we accept this narrative?

A very young child, given a 2x4x4, will play games with reality, imagining his simple block to be a rocketship, an aircraft carrier, a castle, a robot. To me, postmodernist history has descended to this juvenile sophistry, adding only a university vocabulary. Let's pretend Jesus Christ never existed, okay? So then how would you explain the Gospels?

I think Jon Meacham does not fully respect the Christian faith; I think he is trying to win scholarly respect by adopting the postmodernist conceit towards religion; I think Newsweek ran the article because they are conceited fools as a rule and love to show it with topical stories.

For every 100 people who read Newsweek for the first time this week and walked away disgusted, there may be 1 person who says: This is a sassy, smart, and daring magazine. I will certainly buy it from now on to show that I'm hip. The first 100 weren't subscribers anyhow.

I also think that any Christian prompted into a crisis of faith by a bad Newsweek article has larger issues to deal with, and should chat with the pastor for a few hours.

Christ Himself had to personally answer the doubting Apostle Thomas, whose faith was renewed to the degree that he achieved martyrdom as a missionary in Asia.

If you meet Christians in doubt because of this article, withhold your exasperation at the author; it would be misunderstood as hostility. Explain the errors calmly, and refer curious to the many good posts at Vox Blogoli VI.

As a side note, regarding Catholic doctrine about the truth of Scripture:

Certain passages of the Bible describe events in specific terms. For example, the Israelites are said to have wandered 40 years in the desert, and the Flood has been said to have lasted 40 days and 40 nights.

Christian exgesis has made much of the relationships of such measures, in part because the ancients were deeply impressed with the universal nature of mathematics.

The 40 days of the Flood and the 40 years of the Exodus were compared to the 40 days between Christ's entry into Jerusalem and his Resurrection. All were periods of trial for the faithful, followed by a miracle forging deeper bonds between humanity and God. The trials of the Old Testament were interpreted as anticipating the Incarnation and Salvation.

The Church stresses that all of this is true, whether or not Christ spent exactly 960 hours in Jerusalem, or if the Flood lasted 960 hours, or if the wandering in Sinai lasted exactly 480 months.

To Catholics, suggesting that Christ's divinity is dubious if you can prove Jesus walked into Jerusalem, is deeply disrespectful and spiritually perilous.

We do not suggest that Christ's divinity or commands may be considered apocryphal yet wholesome, as some fringe preachers are doing.

I understand some Protestant denominations resolve the issue by teaching the Bible as literal truth in every aspect. That is certainly conducive to a moral life, but faithful Christians with a certain inherent inquisitiveness are going to note discrepancies and contradictions.

The Pope's statements about the accuracy of Scripture are better understood as addressed to those amateur and professional scholars of the Bible, seeking to resolve minor issues of time, place, and numbers.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Recommended Reads

Lex Communis on Clarence Thomas.

Miller's Time on Dr. Dean.

American Digest on the Groningen Protocol.

No slight intended to the dozens of other Calblog authors.

I'm thinking of doing a weekly recommended read post; but more than likely that will have to wait until after the holidays.
I'm working 13 days out of 15, with some turnaround 8hrs-on/8hrs-off days.

It's like I joined the Navy, without the guaranteed beer.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

Then [the Army of the Potomac] came to a crossroads. If they turned left, they would be retreating again. They turned right, and suddenly those tired men lifted their heads and a great cheer rose in the night.

Robert Leckie, The Wars of America

December 13, 2004. Along the icy Potomac, the Republican center launches an offensive. Hugh Hewitt marches in the van:

A front-page article in the Washington Post is on the "nuclear option" in the Senate. Bill Frist's finger is on the button. Push it, Senator.

This is the fruit of the Specter brouhaha. Far from opening a festering sore in the ranks of the GOP, it has jolted the pragmatists into a better awareness of the Party. We are ready for battle and eager for a fightin' general. Senator Frist will oblige us? Then bully for Frist!

Of course, the Washington Post attempts to spin this as unfair, arrogant bullying.

Scholars agree that a bitter showdown could shatter the fragile comity that is essential for action in the Senate and set a precedent for further erosion of minority party rights in the chamber. "I think we're headed into uncharted waters in terms of the scope of the filibuster and the retaliatory moves that are being contemplated," said Sheldon Goldman of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an expert on the judicial nomination process.

Could you quote a scholar who says that then, WaPo? Mr. Goldman is saying that this is unprecedented because of the "scope of the filibuster", a Democrat tactic, and the promised retaliation, another Democratic tactic.

And the Democrats, in the disarray of total unpreparedness, are positively disintegrating:

Use of the nuclear option "would make the Senate look like a banana republic . . . and cause us to try to shut it down in every way," Schumer said. "Social Security and tax reform need Democratic support. If they use the nuclear option, in all likelihood they would not get Democratic support" for those and other initiatives, he added.

Put aside, for a second, your justifiable outrage that a United States Senator would let Social Security go bust, out of partisan pique.
Consider: if Schumer could hold the line on judicial filibusters, wouldn't he be promising to do that? Isn't it significant that he does not so promise?

What would happen to a Pentagon theater commander who promised to meet an attack with a bitter guerrilla campaign that would lay waste to his entire zone of operations?

Charles Schumer's office will surely clarify his ill-considered remarks. Yet he is not the most ill-spoken Democrat today. Seniority takes precedence:

"If they, for whatever reason, decide to do this, it's not only wrong, they will rue the day they did it, because we will do whatever we can do to strike back," incoming Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said last week. "I know procedures around here. And I know that there will still be Senate business conducted. But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up."

December 13, 2004. Sen. Harry M. Reid. "But I will, for lack of a better word, screw things up."

Thanks, Santa!

It is not often that a man can forfeit a job in the brief time between his selection and his first day of work. Sen. Harry M. Reid, prospective Senate Minority Leader, is doing his damnedest to make the club.

Of course that is up to the Senate Democrats, and there may be other champions of blind suicidal cussedness to stand with Reid and Schumer.
Let's hope so.
Let this be the rallying cry of the Democratic Party: "SEMPER FUBAR!"
Senate Democrat Badge

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Saddam Aides Go On Junk-Food-Diet Strike

Tariq Aziz and pals have started refusing the prison menu to raise awareness: They don't accept the new Iraqi government:

"Some of the other 11 high-value detainees have been rejecting food, although they continue to snack and to take on liquids," Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, who has charge of prisoners in Iraq, told Reuters. "We're trying to ascertain who is turning their food back and why."

"Saddam has eaten today," he added.

Former deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, once Saddam's urbane envoy to the outside world, and former vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan were among dozens refusing food, Aziz's lawyer said. Nearly all of the 55 "most wanted" Iraqis sought by U.S. troops after the war are held at a secret location.

Aref Badia said they were complaining of lack of access to lawyers -- Badia has yet to meet his client Aziz in detention -- and were concerned that they may be placed physically in the hands of Iraqis following the country's election on Jan. 30. "They heard they are going to be handed over after the elections to an Iraqi government they will not recognise," Badia said.

Of course this is reported as a full-blown hunger strike.
Back in the 1980s that meant total starvation until the prisoner was too weak to resist IV nutrition.
Today it means "snacks and liquids". After all, a fellow's got to look after himself.

Captain's Quarters has a good piece on Vatican lawyers for Aziz. With that kind of support in the wings, do not expect to read that Aziz has killed himself demonstrating his total loyalty to Saddam.

Unless to snack and to take on liquids means chili-cheese-fries and Heffenweisen...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What Do I Owe You?

Captains Quarter's is disappointed in Jason Van Beek. Van Beek, a blogger from South Dakota, received $8000 from the Thune senatorial campaign. Captain Ed thinks Van Beek was obligated to highlight that financial support on his blog.

The argument is not that Van Beek compromised his ["impartiality"- ed.]--he had none. The argument is that he compromised his independence, by taking $8000 from one political party--and against that charge, his history of opposing Daschle long before being paid as a consultant is directly relevant.
He did not oppose Daschle because he was paid $8000. He was paid $8000 for effectively opposing Daschle.

Is there any question that Van Beek was insincere about supporting Thune? Then isn't it just about the failure to conform to the standards of another profession?

CBS is regulated by the FCC, FEC, and SEC. It must promote full disclosure and a pretense at objectivity because of its professional code, and the federal laws drafted around that code.
Bloggers are not a profession, have few rules of conduct, and are not federally regulated. We don't pretend to be unbiased and the overwhelming majority earn our living elsewhere than posting op-eds on the internet. It is foolish for us to adopt their restrictions just because they, the professionals, must endure them.

I don't even post my name on this blog anymore, at the request of The Yell Sr., because we both now reside in Riverside. None of my readers know if I write this because I was paid to, or because I wanted to, or because I am a prisoner forced by No. 2 to blog when possible.

So what?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

A Plan For Pro-Life Victory

In hashing out the pragmatist/idealist argument on various comment boards online, I hear a lot of argument that our idealism is too vague, too indefinite, too long-range to form a basis for GOP strategy.

I put forward the following series of concrete steps achievable in the short-term:

Exercise the nuclear option. Do this immediately after the new Senate is seated. Do not bother negotiating a pledge from Dems not to filibuster nominees; they would violate that pledge as soon as we nominate an "extremist". Unilaterally strip that option from them and any future minority, GOP or Donkey.

Stack the Court with strict constructionists. Don't bother trying to win support or commendation or respect from the Dems, the liberal media, or liberal academia. They want a Court that will overturn laws based on European jurisprudence and seal off cultural issues from legislatures; they say so openly. Either they are granted agreeable judges or they aren't; if they aren't they will raise Hell. Confound them. Select and confirm our sort of judges, the ones who recognize that not every answer is contained within the Constitution; that federalism has a purpose; and that the country cannot be ruled by judicial fiat. Pass every judge on a 51-50 vote if need be. We need not apologize for ensuring the public, not the courts, decide the laws.

Pass federal bans on abortion techniques.
With 5 strict constructionists on the Court, a challenge to such a law will only result in the complete reversal of Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, and Casey v Planned Parenthood. Abortion would be thrown back to the legislatures. So either the new restrictions are immediately challenged or not, we win. Eventually a case will arrive at the Court and we will be able to fight out abortion in 50 state legislatures and in Congress.

I'd expect people to argue these steps shouldn't be done. But can anyone argue they can't be done?

Friday, December 03, 2004


The UN report on reforming the Security Council is out. It is breathtakingly obtuse.

A. The question of legality
185. The Charter of the United Nations, in Article 2.4, expressly prohibits Member States from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defence under Article 51, and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII (and by extension for regional organizations under Chapter VIII) in response to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression”.
186. For the first 44 years of the United Nations, Member States often violated these rules and used military force literally hundreds of times, with a paralysed Security Council passing very few Chapter VII resolutions and Article 51 only rarely providing credible cover. Since the end of the cold war, however, the yearning for an international system governed by the rule of law has grown. There is little evident international acceptance of the idea of security being best preserved by a balance of power, or by any single — even benignly motivated — superpower.

"The yearning for an international system governed by the rule of law" was probably stronger when the USSR was driving tanks over its neighbors. It's just a lot more noticeable since Europeans can voice such yearnings without being arrested for sedition.
The complete lack of a global alliance against the United States demonstrates evident international acceptance of the reality that security is best preserved by a benignly motivated superpower.

I've been on committees that argued out drafts word by word. If you're not careful in editing the finished product, it can end up as badly formed as these paragraphs:
189. Can a State, without going to the Security Council, claim in these circumstances the right to act, in anticipatory self-defence, not just pre-emptively (against an imminent or proximate threat) but preventively (against a non -imminent or non-proximate one)? Those who say “yes” argue that the potential harm from some threats (e.g., terrorists armed with a nuclear weapon) is so great that one simply cannot risk waiting until they become imminent, and that less harm may be
done (e.g., avoiding a nuclear exchange or radioactive fallout from a reactor destruction) by acting earlier.
190. The short answer is that if there are good arguments for preventive military action, with good evidence to support them, they should be put to the Security Council, which can authorize such action if it chooses to. If it does not so choose,
there will be, by definition, time to pursue other strategies, including persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment — and to visit again the military option.

Note the open admission by the Security Council's own best advocates that in the evident a state should submit clear proof of imminent threat, the Security Council may choose not to act.
The panel apparently imagines that terrorists scheming to destroy a city with a nuke will dance attendance on the Security Council.
A transfer of nuclear weapons from a rogue state to terrorists, and its deployment by terrorists against its target, would not be in any way dependent on the cooperation of the target country or the international community as a whole. It would not be delayed by a withdrawal of international cooperation for such strategies as "persuasion, negotiation, deterrence and containment".
A denial of permission to act would not grant more time for other strategies. The terrorist timetable would countdown unaltered.

191. For those impatient with such a response, the answer must be that, in a world full of perceived potential threats, the risk to the global order and the norm of non –intervention on which it continues to be based is simply too great for the legality of unilateral preventive action, as distinct from collectively endorsed action, to be accepted. Allowing one to so act is to allow all.

Again, given the panel's own examples, this can only mean they conclude a legal precedent of intervention would be more damaging to the global order than a terrorist nuclear attack, a nuclear exchange, or fallout from a reactor strike.

If this is how the UN thinks, I'm not sure we want to have their support...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Why We Fight--Other Republicans

Since Patterico and Clark Smith are debating pragmatism versus principle in the GOP, I’m going to try and make clear my defense of ideology over partisanship.

1. The defining loyalties of conservatives are irreversibly fixed elsewhere than government.

When conservatives acknowledge a problem, we turn to faith, or family, or the free market for solutions. We feel that they have greater worth and more lasting power than the State. We feel that a State that does not engage the great social institutions is anemic, and a State that challenges them directly is doomed.

2. Liberals are primarily political. Conservatives are indirectly political.

Because our main loyalties lie outside of government, we turn to government only when our cherished institutions seem incapable of solving problems. Our preferred method is to redefine the State so as to enable the great social institutions to succeed.
Liberals, on the other hand, desire a State that transcends irrationally independent institutions, and scheme to empower the State whenever possible.

3. A negative political vision cannot triumph.

This may seem contradictory to the first two precepts, but a government policy that merely seeks to avoid the worst outcome will never defeat a Liberal plan to manage trouble while empowering the State, or a Conservative plan that solves problems by strengthening institutions. The overwhelming majority of the electorate falls into one of those two camps.

4. Collaboration with moderates and liberals necessitates commitments to both action and inaction.

Whether tacit or explicit, vague or concrete, an exchange of votes or compensation in other political commodities, the pattern is the same: the junior partner will cooperate with the senior partner in one instance, and the senior partner will avoid mention of another point of dispute altogether.

5. When in doubt, act as agreed.

Having hammered out a positive political platform to engage and strengthen the great social institutions, conservative politicians should actively pursue its achievement, and err on the side of pursuing the greatest advantage towards the common cause in the shortest amount of time possible. Thus they avoid appearing as though indifferent, or worse, actively hostile, to the institutions that hold the deepest loyalties of the conservative electorate.

Pragmatic Republican partisanship challenges every one of these precepts.
It asks deficit-hawks to be patient and tolerant as their concerns are totally ignored.
It tells pro-life Republicans to consider the cost to the Party of a fulfilled pro-life agenda.
It is beginning to frame its best argument, national defense, in negative terms of Democratic incapability.
It seeks wider collusion with moderates without reckoning the increasing number of awkward issues that must be avoided in the name of the Big Tent.
It considers the party platform essential to winning elections and disposable when governing.

So long as the backbone of the GOP is conservatism, and it is likely to stay that way for a long, long time to come, the pragmatists are playing with dynamite.

We’ve won a workable majority in the federal government. The pragmatists are not happy with it; they envision even larger majorities. But to what purpose? The justification of politics, to conservatives, lies outside politics. An eternal majority for the sake of blocking out the opposition does not motivate us.

Arlen Specter openly discussed thwarting the majority of the party towards his own views. It was outrageous to conservatives that any Republican would so abuse the hard-won majority. What truly shocked us was how many GOP leaders insisted that there was nothing outrageous at all. Specter made the mistake of overestimating the promise of inaction on abortion by the GOP leadership. He had to cover the overdraft with active promises of cooperation. Whether he has learnt a lesson, or whether the GOP will hold him to his word, has yet to be seen.

An Everest guide cannot halt halfway up and expect gratitude for avoiding a catastrophic fall. The conservatives in the GOP demand we make summit, and that is our measure of success or failure.