LAST 2005 LFTC Post. FIRST 2006 LFTC Post: Thu., Jan. 5. At year-end it seems appropriate to look back on LFTC's first season, so to speak. Thus these roughly 1,800 words (print: 3 pages). Start with a metric: Since LFTC web publishing began Sunday, April 16, 2005 there have been 805 posts. (Subtracting out Index posts to precisely tally pure issue posts is too much work, as I posted occasionally on weekends and thus cannot simply multiply weeks times five; the figure for Issue posts is probably 625 to 650--in the stock Beltway phrase, "close enough for government work.").
The intent of LFTC was to give primacy to war-related issues; while I have done so, I wound up posting more Home Front items than planned, partly due to the twin Supreme Court vacancies, and partly because these issues are very important, too. I posted very little in Cyber-Serendip, and plan to hunt more diligently for off-beat items in 2006; ditto for Telecom, albeit Discovery's Disco-Tech blog focuses on telecom, and I occasionally post there. Song parodies became not infrequent fare (a genre not originally planned for LFTC); entertaining LFTC readers is both fun for me and gives readers a well-deserved break from all the sturm und drang.
Of what was said, perhaps it is best to identify the main objective for each category, plus note surprises. In Us v. Them I naturally focused on the Iraq insurgency--yes, the Administration and some of its supporters dislike the term, but it has gained universal currency and thus seems best to accept. But also I tried to put the Iraq War into the larger context sought by the Administration: the choice of Iraqi Freedom in 2003 was not accidental. 43 believes, as do his top aides, that starting the Mideast and even the broader Islamic world on the road to democracy will over time greatly reduce the impetus of the violent young to commit terrorist acts. Natan Sharansky's line that unfriendly democracies are better than friendly dictators resonates with 43. It doesn't seem to have caught on with war critics.
Weenie Watch and Turtle Bay Tortoise are also key war-related areas. Re the former LFTC aimed primarily at Old Europe, yet the 7/7 London bombings, the Muslim rampages in France and the utter lack of remorse displayed by the killer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh changed things. It was possible to argue even back in April that Europeans were asleep at the switch, so to speak, on the danger posed to their societies by assimilated young Muslims. No longer. So however reluctantly, and still with much public anti-Americanism, Europe is helping more than before (if still not enough). As for the UN, with John Bolton playing US cop on the beat, the Turtle Bay crowd will be called publicly to account for their misdeeds, and thus there likely will be fewer of them.
In 9/11, 3/11 and N/11 homeland security was examined, while natural disasters led to the Katrina, Etc. postings. The bedrock distinction, clear to all, is between human evil and nature's caprice. Yet in New Orleans we were bombarded with graphic depictions of human evil in the wake of nature's caprice. Katrina exposed anew how mega-disasters strike at the social glue that binds societies, without which social disintegration undermines civil society itself. Beyond the horrific loss of human life that a terrorist WMD strike can inflict, is the longer-term loss of domestic tranquility and security that erodes the trust society needs to function. It is to prevent such from happening that the Administration has aggressively interrogated detainees and monitored communications abroad and even here. Critics who would tie our hands seem not to keep graver risks than limited privacy invasion and civil liberties curtailment in mind. As LFTC noted this year, critics are 9/10 people who see 9/11 as horrific, but just a big attack from one group, calling for stepped-up multilateral response; 43's supporters are 9/12 people who see 9/11 as a transforming event calling for pre-emption by coalitions in a global war on terror.
The Home Front centered on the Supreme Court vacancies. The campaign that forced 43's hand in pulling his first nomination for the second vacancy was a rarity in American history; nominees have generally been rejected due to efforts of the opposition party, but not this time. Here, unlike in other areas, the biggest disappointment for many 43 supporters was 43 himself. His choice of John Roberts seemed to say that he wanted not merely a vote for judicial restraint, but a powerful voice whose opinions would influence wavering sitting Justices, and future generations of lawyers as well. But then he started with a cipher for the second slot, lamely proclaiming that he knew she would vote right. It was the finest hour of those among 43's supporters who answered that a mere vote was not enough, but rather quality counted as well. Thus Samuel Alito.
Yet many of 43's supporters also proved to this observer a disappointment in their obsessive focus (echoing liberals) on Roe v. Wade. Even accepting (as I do) that the original decision was an awful act of judicial usurpation of state legislature prerogative, and one issued with risible intellectual underpinning, reversal of Roe brings to mind the famous Chinese admonition to beware what you wish for, lest you get it. The consequences of the 1973 ruling were surely not foreseen by the seven Justices who supported it; they thought it would end debate on the matter. So, the impact of outright reversal would likely be more turbulence, passage of many state laws permitting abortion, and probably numerous acts of civil disobedience, including violence. Beyond that, while acknowledging the sincerity of abortion foes and the seriousness of the issue, LFTC has argued that in wartime the most vital cases the judiciary will hear are those pertaining to conduct of the war, most particularly as to (a) pre-strike survelliance and (b) treatment of detainees. If the judiciary ties our hands and we fail to learn from detainees about an impending WMD attack, the cost will be higher than that imposed by abortion, a procedure most American women desire to have access to, albeit many will accept some measure of restrictions. Fortunately, most of the judges inclined to trim or overturn Roe are likely to be inclined to give the government a free hand with detainees during wartime. Which makes the conservative focus on Roe less harmful than it otherwise would be.
It's the Earth, Stupid! covered a broad range of economic and environmental issues. Separating these two is hazardous, as how economies are run affects the environment; command economies do more harm to the environment (witness the former Soviet Union, a vast toxic waste dump with an imploding population). And environmental issues affect the economy, which is why after endorsing Kyoto and browbeating the US about Global Warming nations have shrunk from implementing it in full, lest they destroy their own economies. Explicit rejection by key developing countries emphasizes this last point. The G8 this past summer recognized practical limits to enviro-purity on GW. Kudos as well to the National Hurricane Center for rebutting assertions that GW is intensifying global cyclonic storm activity. A key sub-theme under economics has been that our political debate is sterile, because we focus almost exclusively on cash flow and liabilities while ignoring assets. John Rutledge's comment that this is like discussing the Earth while ignoring the Sun deserves universal currency. As to energy, Peter Huber and Mark Mills wrote the book (The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, The Virtue of Waste and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy) that establishes a fresh baseline for the energy debate, also now conducted in sterile terms (conservation versus energy needs): It is not raw energy, but highly-ordered power derived from processing raw energy, that defines modern society's needs and thus determines energy value.
The Ap & The Cap was dominated by stadia and other large buildings, until the year-end NYC transit strike. Failure to come up with a plausible, proper plan for Ground Zero was once again the Ap's worst hour; its finest was ending up with two privately-funded stadia (Mets & Yankees), even if it took the stubbornness of the state's worst legislator (Sheldon Silver) to crater the absurd West Side baseball stadium project. As for the Cap, the Washington Nationals deal was a true embarrassment--a windfall for the Lords of Baseball and the billionaire tort baron who owns the Orioles, plus a financial sinkhole for a city whose finances were not in great shape to begin with. One thing I learned this year, however, is that my belief that Washington DC is the nation's most misgoverned city was laid to rest, courtesy of New Orleans. Tony Williams made a financially ruinous deal for a ball club, but he would not ask his constituents to take an e coli bath so as to preserve his own political base.
Class v. Crass covered the culture wars, with its main theme that traditional culture is superior to modern varieties, arguing that not everything old is bad and not everything new is good. The biggest losers are, of course, the kids, who imbibe sewage thinking it is sweet cream. Classics complemented this theme. Oops! tallied errors--of fact, not judgment; mercifully (for you as well as for me) it has proven to be a small set of entries.
In December 2005 LFTC added a new category, MSM (MainStream Media) Murders. Much was said on LFTC about MSM's sins, and given MSM's enduring great power it seems wise to highlight MSM's misdeeds in a separate category. How much better would the war be going if MSM did not cover Iraq by counting IEDs, and terrorist detention by accepting every accusation against the US as presumptively true? Evan Thomas was exaggerating when he said that MSM was worth 15 points for Kerry in 2004, probably the boost was more like 5 points. But 10 or 15 points in polls, which affect a President's ability to govern, is a reasonable guess. Worst of all, that Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nguyen Vo Giap agree that media are their most valuable asset in fighting America is a sobering comment on how MSM can inflict vast harm on the society that shelters it. Instances of MSM helping--such as in the first months after 9/11 and when embedded with our magnificent military, are all too rare.
Looking forward to 2006, let me end by thanking LFTC readers for giving some of their valuable time to coming to this website, and wishing you a Happy 2006. With a gazillion blogs out there you have many web alternatives, to say nothing of those not connected to the Internet. So do I, so please excuse me while I vacate my PC keyboard for one with 88 keys ISO (felicitous, I hope) aural stimulation.