Saturday, January 11, 2003

Bizzaro Land Exists, and it's funny, but its a not very funny sort of funny. You know. The kind that is risible and should be held up for ridicule. But is just sordid, creepy, and wicked and - yah, Axis of Evil.

By the by, read Cletus' comment below the post itself. It's about three comments down.
Citizenship in the U.S. via Glenn Reynolds, this news item, where Syed Ali prevents a possible Synagogue from being torched.

He certainly is a hero. I'm happy I share a country with Syed Ali. Happy? Proud, more like it. Syed Ali's act is as much what being a citizen in this country is all about as the action of J.C. Adams that Steven blogged about yesterday.

If anyone has the idea that Moslems can't fit in here for whatever reason, I don't believe that. Some people obviously shouldn't be in the U.S., don't like this country, don't want to accept what it means to be a citizen here and don't respect what America is all about. But there are many more Syed Ali's out there, I think, than we usually hear about. To that end, I do really wish more American Moslems would be vocal and show their deep love for this country, the way the Japanese-Americans also mentioned in the Instapundit post. But Sayed Ali didn't have to be a member of a Citizen's League to show that he embodies what it means to be a citizen, looking out for fellow citizens. He showed it in his actions.

I respect and admire him.
The Continuing Crisis: As Islamist Suicide "Martyrs" discover a paradise not prepared for the influx of so many "heroes", Canada has gone Conyers and Rangel one better, and has instituted a draft for the Iraq conflict aimed at insuring shared sacrifice across all social classes, so it won't just be the indigent professional-protester class disproportionately serving duty in the Iraq war.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Speaking of the Below, via Steven I learn that the Greek Premier, Costas Simitis joins the game to give Saddam an opportunity to win another "Last Chance" and rack up more points:
Simitis wants EU nations to accept that there must be another, last-chance U.N. resolution enabling Saddam to comply"
Valuable Cash and Prizes await contestants who score points! Play the home version of the game!
Lets Make a Deal: The International Version: Sorry for the lull in posting this week. I've been meaning the last couple days to write a post on how this UN gambit is turning out, how it's not surprising but it is disappointing. But Steven Den Beste has written pretty much what I've been thinking.

My biggest worry all along, sometimes overcome by a wave of optimism, has been that whatever happens, the inspectors will never say its a serious violation. They look where they know they won't find anything. But let's set that aside. What do we think will happen if they accidentally stumble uncontrollably into something? Hans Blix will announce how disappointed he is that the Iraqis didn't tell him about whatever it is, but "this is all we've found, we'll insure this is destroyed. This is not a grave crisis and I hope people will respond calmly. I think the inspection process should continue to play itself out. Our Iraqi hosts have assured us that it was an unintentional lapse." etc etc.

In other words, all that a "find" of illicit weapons will mean is the goal posts will be shifted once again and the U.S. will be accused of being too hawkishly unwilling to "give inspections a real chance to disarm Saddam peacefully". Because it's the last part of Steven's post that I linked to above which I used to feel complete confidence is what was going to happen. But now I'm doubting. It's becoming clear that this is yet another of those "International Community" last chances - the akin to the "last chance to buy at a special low price" that we see on TV ads all the time, the "last chance" that is repeated every day.

That's been my biggest fear all along. Certainly it's been the intent of some to use the UN to set a trap, not for Saddam, but for the U.S.

It's always been like that. I've joked in posts in the past that what this is, and what the simplisime Americains don't understand, is an international version of a game show, with the "International Community" as Monty Haul and Arafat and Saddam as the contestants. Goal of the game is to see which contestant can rack up the biggest score in "last chances", with lots of cash and valuable prizes - but no Whammys - as the contestants score increases. The other goal is to extend the game as long as possible). I guess the only thing that's changed is I neglected the third contestant (there's always three), Kim Jong-Il, who recently won another "last chance" and the Gameshow Host is telling the U.S. that we should stop being so obstinate and hand Jong-Il his prize (what did he win, Alex? A opportunity to keep his nukes and a lifetime supply of oil, food, and aid to be dispensed under the supervision of his government, enabling him to further reward his supporters and punish his regime's foes!)

This whole international set up is a farce and it's either laugh at it or cry.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Gun Control and Gun Crime: About a decade ago, in response to a school shooting, Britain essentially outlawed private handgun ownership, ostensibly to prevent such gun crimes in the future. People who had them (fairly few Britons) were expected to turn them in.

Since then, gun violence has consistently grown, not shrunk. In the last year alone, gun related crime is up over 35%. This is fairly similar to the experience in America, actually. The areas that have the most restrictive gun control laws have significantly higher gun related crimes. Areas with looser gun laws (especially areas where concealed carry is widely permitted) have significantly lower crime in general, including vastly lower gun related crime. The usual gun-control argument is that because people can buy guns in America in areas where guns are widely available, that diminishes the effectiveness of gun control laws in New York or Washington DC, or Maryland. But if that were the case, one would still expect to see higher gun related crime statistics in the places that are supposedly "wide open towns" where guns are easily available than in places where they are restricted. Furthermore, Britain's experience is confirming America's in this respect: restrictive gun laws correlate with growing gun crime, and the usual argument doesn't apply in Britain: there isn't a place on the island where gun laws are less restrictive. As Mark Steyn recently wrote, one "would think if "gun control" was going to work anywhere it would be on a small island. Particularly a small island at whose ports of entry the zealots of HM Customs"

But gun control's not about stopping crime. But expect more of the same.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Little Enthusiasm for the Prospect Here, Either: So, I could Fisk this entire piece in the usual manner, but it's getting repetitive; for the most part, he makes more of the same, usual, tired, insipid arguments that I've dealt with in previous posts (in fact, I think this same guy was involved before. It's like deja vu all over again).

So read the article and just fill in the usual Fiskings at each stage where I would put them. I won't bore you by going through the whole thing point by point again. I probably will again in the future at some point. But right now I'm just filled with ennui at seeing the same bovine fecal matter masquerading as deeply instructive profundities over and over again.

It seems to be my lot in life. Someone says something inane and banal, I correct them, they regurgitate the same pablum over again, without even acknowledging that there are counter arguments to their superficial (but posed as "nuanced") scrivinings, I rebut it again, rinse and repeat. It's my lot even in games I'm in. Sometimes it's fun, or at least intellectually stimulating, but sometimes it's like being in Sisyphean Hell.

But, where was I before I interrupted myself? Why did I even bother linking to this piece if it's superfluous to the debate (and yet published as a uniquely profound and insightful contribution to it)? Well, there is one point in it that I'd like to address:
The prospect [of war] arouses little enthusiasm in the US or internationally.
Um, like, "duh", and isn't that a healthy thing? I wonder what this guy would be saying if we were enthusiastic about the prospect of war? The op-ed pages would be filled with the anointed reacting in horror to the spectacle of a people jingoistically enthusiastic about impending war, as if this were 1914 all over again rather than 2003. They'd be appalled and say this represents a level of immaturity about what happens in war that means we're not mentally ready for such an undertaking. But the fact that this isn't happening, the fact that people aren't out in the streets enthusiastically beating the drums of war, they also use as an argument against it. It's a typical position for them: a "heads I win, tails you lose" argument. It's also emblematic of their lack of serious engagement with the issues at stake, with the arguments on point here. That is likewise why they recycle the same points over and over again, column by column, rarely if ever dealing with counterarguments or the deeper question.

I'm very much of the opinion that war in this case is necessary. Indeed, I think the alternatives are more perilous than acting now (again, see my previous arguments made in prior posts). But that's not the same about being enthusiastic about the prospect.

Anyhow, I guess there should be a name for Fisking Ennui, and at least for me, I'm calling it Sisyphisking: the prospect of having to face the same tired arguments over and over again, unchanged in all essentials, and rebut them repeatedly. I guess it could also be Yogi Berra Fisking, from the sense of "it's like deja vu all over again" that comes from it.
The Paranoid Style in American Politics: And speaking of that Der Spiegel interview of Krugmen I linked to (via Andrew Sullivan) at the end of the post below this one, his rantings about how Bush is a new Marcos and he's afraid he'll have to flee the country and guys like him are a tiny, opressed band (well, I guess having to put up with Howell Raines is a form of opression), are signs of the paranoid ravings that infest the Left.

Some years ago an academic named Richard wrote a book called The Paranoid Style in American Politics which became a handbook of those who despised Conservatives, as it portrayed the Right as motivated by paranoia. It was still used as an assigned book when I was in College, and probably still is to this day. But it's increasingly obvious who the real paranoids are.
So, America's Allies prevailed on the United States, not to have the crisis with North Korea handled by the UN, not that it involve multilateral consultations, but that the U.S. engage in unilateral negotiations with Kim Jong-Il. This, they essentially say, is a U.S. problem and the Bush administration needs to handle it. So much for the "multilateral international community", eh?

Two months ago the U.S. dutifully discussed with our allies to discuss how to handle North Korea's intransigence and violation of the "Framework Agreement" (something I had, at best, mixed feelings about), saying that "well, it would probably be a good idea to not reward bad behavior. We think we should all agree to cut these guys off until they mend their ways. Would that be ok with you guys?" After the sort of multilateral consultations that everyone and their uncle had been haranguing the U.S. as the only way to handle international problems occurred, the allies all agreed that yes, this is the policy we should follow.

Now they're all "who? Us? Consulted? Agreed? No. Never heard of it. This is a U.S. policy and U.S. problem. No multilateralism. We never heard of this policy, weren't involved in agreeing to it, and think nothing but bad thoughts about it." So much for the spina of the "international community" (btw, yah, I know that my promised post on the criticality of having the support of the "international community" is becoming like that old What's New? comic on "Sex and D&D" - often teased but never produced. It's coming).

Also, remember all through the fall how everyone was saying problems should be addressed in the forum of the UN? Do we here that with respect to the North Korea crisis? No. And they say Bush has a double standard, and condecend regarding U.S. policy.

So, if anyone thinks I'm completely full of it on this, just look at what these enlightened people have already managed to slip down the memory hole in two short months regarding their own positions. . .and no one ever questions them on it (except guys like me, natch). They're allowed to prattle about how others (Bush, whomever) have a "confused" position (even though it's quite consistent, and as I mentioned in my Fisking of that FT article, linked to above, the difference between North Korea and Iraq demands different policies in no small part because we don't want things in Iraq to reach the stage they reached in North Korea, thanks to the bungling incompetence of the sort of people now decrying our "inconsistency" here).

Meanwhile, continue to pay attention to the tone of these enlightened commentators; later they'll say "oh, well, I never defended Kim Jong-Il's regime. In fact, I always thought it was horrible". But watch who they are directing most of their ire at now: Bush and his policies, or Kim Jong-Il and his policies? When they ever say anything condemnatory of North Korea, it's usually a) Perfunctory, and then quickly turned into a "but we're doing X wrong" and b) prompted by. . .again, people like myself. It's obviously not as deeply felt as their dislike of Bush. But, meanwhile, Kim Jong-Pol Pot is doing horrible things in North Korea, but the idiotarians reserve their hatred for Bush and conservatives in general. Not for the world's murderous, almost invariably Leftist, dictators.
Iraq, WMD, and the Gulf War: Seems their use under certain circumstances was ordered by Saddam.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

The New Pol Pot: that's what Kim Jong-Il is.

You'll need to remember who's been urging us to "engage" Kim Jong-Il, and deal with him, and who's been asserting and implying that everything wrong in North Korea and its relations with the world is the result of Bush's policy. And you'll need to remember who opposed Kim Jong-Il and called him for what he is, in a principled way.

You'll need to remember all that yourself, because years from now, when Kim Jong-Il is gone, you'll be hearing a lot of revisionist garbage about how the Left was in principled opposition to this murderous dictatorship, and the Right was simply engaging in unprincipled realpolitik. Just as with the original Pol Pot, you'll need to personally remember who were apologists for Kim Jong-Pot, because years from now those people will be the very ones saying black is white and white is black, that they were against this menace (they had always been against this menace), and we all need to remember who's saying what now, because usually they aren't called to account for it later. No one reminds them of their previous statements when they come to revising history later. Except nutjobs like myself, who thinks such things shouldn't be slipped down the memory hole so that the "good people" are not discredited. If you think I've gone crazy, then keep track. We'll see. If you remember what is being said by people now, and it doesn't come to pass that they try to pull one over on people later, then you've lost nothing. But watch and see. . .

But they've been getting away with it for too many decades. Enough is enough.
President Bush Unveils his tax plan todau. I'll prattle more on this, and the transparently rank demagogy against it, at a later date. Suffice it for now to say that we have not been in a consumption/consumer driven recession, we're in an investment/capital recession. That's why such things like $300 rebates to everyone, aimed at boosting consumption - temporarily and ephemerally - didn't turn the trick last time and won't fix it this time. Policies that will spur investment, on the other hand, are directed at the real problem. Demagogy about the fact that Bush's tax cuts go to the people who pay taxes rather than those - such as the "working poor", who pay no income taxes. . .and would benefit most not from a temporary "tax holiday" the the social engineers expect them to go blow on trinkets and baubles, but a social security plan - that would be Bush's, again - that allows them to invest and thus help move them from the status of "working poor" to the "better off" by the time they retire.
And So It Begins. . . - Ambassador Kosh.
With allied forces gathering in the Gulf, Britain calls up reservists. Chirac told French forces to be "ready for anything", indicating a likelyhood of the French tagging along in the war to depose Saddam's Ba'ath National Socialist regime.
Saudi Arabia leads the way in convincing OPEC to increase oil production, to insure no drop in supply from war.

U.S. economic news remains mixed, and Germany unlikely to recover this year.

What does all this mean? Everything is proceeding exactly as I have foreseen.
Liberty's Bastion, where radical proponents of Jihadist Islam have been left to spread their message of hate and organize bands explicitly aimed at committing terrorist acts, on the grounds of protecting speech, Britain, is ready to join the rest of the EU in outlawing Thoughtcrime:
Freedom of speech is under assault from a new initiative of the EU social affairs directorate, the Racism and Xenophobia directive, which is soon to be enshrined into British law. Under this law, racism itself - as opposed to inciting racial hatred - becomes an offence. Under the astonishingly broad definition, the "public condoning of war crimes" and the public dissemination, including via the internet, of "tracts, pictures, or other material containing expressions of racism or xenophobia" becomes an offence. So does the "trivialisation" of Nazi atrocities. This might make it impossible, for instance, to defend Slobodan Milosevic in public, or suggest that Stalin was worse than Hitler.
Many other troubling developments listed in that piece. Check it out.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Sorry for the Utter Lack of Posting so far today. I've had car problems and haven't been able to catch up with blogging.

That saga continues, but hopefully I'll have something later. If not, well, that's what Tuesday's are for.