3 Posts: (1) Saudi Humor--Us v. Them; (2) Bergen: Bush's Afghan Errors--Us v, Them; (3) Hurricane Al: 2007's Top Storm--Katrina, Etc. LFTC goes on Hiatus Thursday 11/1/07 and returns Monday, 11/19/07.
The Saudis are hardly known for being laugh-a-minute guys, nor is their home country known for chuckles. So King Abdullah's interview in which he says that Britain is not doing enough to fight terrorism shows that they have a funny bone after all. Hmmmm, whose terror are we fighting? Osama is from where? Mosques and madrassas inculcating radical Sunni doctrine worldwide were funded by which retrograde Mideast kingdom? What next? Paris Hilton slamming middle class Americans for lacking personal discipline? Abdullah, BTW, did this on a state visit to the UK. Which brings to mind Benjamin Disraeli's famous witticism about his arch-rival, William Gladstone: "If Gladstone were to fall into the Thames it would be a disaster; if he were fished out it would be a catastrophe." Throw him in the Thames and take a vote.
Peter Bergen, who interviewed Osama while at CNN a decade ago, has a well-written article presenting his views on the mistakes (many) that the administration has made in Afghanistan. Partly we missed Osama due to sheer bad luck--a near miss with a shell burst. The strongest argument Bergen makes is that the administration's choice to rely on Afghan surrogates to seal off Tora Bora allowed Osama to bribe his way out in December 2001. Bergen says that 600 to 800 special forces troops could have sealed the valley, and would have been impossible to bribe. This was a huge mistake indeed. The call had to be made by Tommy Franks, whom Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bergen's piece is a good read.
The Center for Oceanic-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) reports that 2007 is shaping up as the weakest hurricane season in 30 years. Which makes 2007's biggest storm Hurricane Al (Gore), a Category 12 monster (the National Hurricane Center's Saffir-Simpson Scale goes only up to Cat 5--about 200 mph winds) is that the financial impact of Al's global warming nostrums runs in the trillions, whereas Katrina will cost in the end about $150 billion.
I know it is retrograde male chauvinism to observe this, but in electing Argentina's Christina Kirchner President, female beauty reigns in the "Paris of the South" (Buenos Aires). Her policies may be akin to those of Hillary, but Argentina's new Evita will never be mistaken for our own aspiring Evita. (The WSJ's Mary Anastasia O'Grady profiles the new Prez's awful economics.) As for Hillary, she can cheer up. According to NRO's Deroy Murdock's latest column Hillary has been endorsed by a fresh constituency that sees spiritual beauty in her candidacy: Palestinian terrorists. Next: Will the UN General Assembly back Hill?
Special Forces soldier Michael Yon reports from Iraq that Iraqis are eagerly offering intelligence to U.S. forces, continually ISO for AQI (al-Qaeda Iraq) terrorists. Yon's account is vivid, especially his chronicle of AQI brutalities such as placing bombs inside dead kids so as to blow up their parents who come to claim the bodies, and promiscuous use of electric drills on captives. But on the brighter side Yon tells us of the risks locals are taking to alert us to AQI, and also the ingenuity. Locals are making cellphone calls in the presence of AQI they are turning in; when we show up we arrest everyone to protect the cover of the informant, who is later released. Some messages are sent over the Internet, with a Google Earth map showing the specified target AQI location. Visit Michael Yon's Online Magazine blog.
Francis Fukuyama offers four reasons why the Bush administration has floundered: (1) misapplication of the doctrine of pre-emption; (2) miscalculating the global reaction to our moves; (3) overestimating the effectiveness of conventional military power versus weak states; (4) epic managerial incompetence. FF thinks (a) pre-emption only appropriate for "stateless" terrorists; (b) the U.S. wrongly assumed that the deference its actions received during the Cold War and the 1990s would continue; (c) military power is of limited utility against transnational terror networks; (d) mismanagement sabotaged the chances of success. He sees the fundamental problem as the "lopsided distribution of power" in the globe today, with America the resented hegemon.
As to mismanagement FF is correct. Our miscalculation as to world reaction was, on FF's own evidence, reasonable. And one can also think much of the world reaction unreasonable, too. As for conventional military power, it was necessary to dislodge Saddam, and would also be needed to dislodge the Iranian mullahs. As for pre-emption, it was a calculated risk that went clearly awry, but it is an arrow we may well need in our quiver to deal with Iran. Finally, as for America's enormous power and influence being resented, it all comes back to what a young Wilt Chamberlain told a reporter when asked why he was so hated: "Nobody loves Goliath."
An interview with author Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL who wrote of Michael Murphy's Medal of Honor heroics, reveals how the SEALs, including Murphy, gave their lives as the price of making a humanitarian gesture to three Afghan goatherds. A rescue mission with 16 on board a helicopter went down after being hit with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade, the weapon that down two Blackhawk choppers in Somalia in 1993). Luttrell, a decorated veteran himself, was the lone survivor of Murphy's last mission, and thus his book on the story is titled "Lone Survivor." In all, 19 of 20 of America's finest lost their lives because of a gesture of human decency, made by four men who knew they were running a grave risk of capture or death.
A New York Times article last Friday has pictures taken by a commercial satellite before (August) and after (October) Israel's September 6 air strike. Syria, it seems, has scrubbed the site, all the while insisting that it has no nuclear program. As a 1992 signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, Syria is obligated to report any nuclear facility construction to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which as to this site it failed to do. It is fitting that these photos are in the public domain on the anniversary weekend of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
How many countries in the world would, 63 years later, confess and rectify racial injustice? A U.S. Army review tribunal has concluded that 28 African-American serviceman were wrongly convicted in a 1944 lynching at a Puget Sound military fort; 26 have already died. The tribunal further found that the young lieutenant colonel who prosecuted the court-martial improperly withheld material evidence that would have aided the defense. The incident was a riot at a military fort where 43 soldiers were charged in the lynching of an Italian P.O.W. whom they felt had been leniently treated. Charges were dropped against 2 and another 13 were acquitted. A white military policeman may actually have been involved in the killing, but was not prosecuted. That evidence the prosecutor suppressed. The prosecutor? None other than Leon Jaworski, a media hero of Watergate for bagging Richard Nixon.
One of the surviving soldiers suggested that racism was a motivating factor. Perhaps, but if so, why were not all 43 black soldiers convicted? Racism was rife in the services during World War II. As for Jaworski, if the tribunal's finding is right, he was guilty of a sin far worse than the black bag jobs, perjury and petty burglaries that marked Watergate's sleazy tale. Innocent defendants first go to jail, then live their lives as convicted felons dishonorably discharged, publicly shamed and with employment opportunities severely curtailed. And the guilty party goes free. Not a pretty picture. 25 years gone, Jaworski rests in peace, something he apparently denied 26 innocent men.
Columnist Rich Lowry sums up the wildfires and California's response perfectly, as the "un-Katrina." Recall the catatonic Louisiana (non-) Governor Kathleen Blanco alternating between on-the-air crying jags and finger-pointing at the Bush administration--whining "Where are my 500 buses?" when there were 2,000 state buses languishing in water-logged parking lots. This time, the federal government is having no trouble whatsoever coordinating with a real local partner, in the Governator. The difference is reflected in the title given all 50 state chief executives: Governor, as in govern.
NRO's Mark Hemingway warns us that Democrats are pushing for Puerto Rican statehood yet again, with many Republicans and even the White House--wet-dreaming of winning the support of 51st state Puerto Ricans--ready to go for it. The bill under consideration stacks the deck, recognizing that past efforts failed because by a narrow margin PR residents prefer commonwealth status with its tax breaks to statehood and welfare clientitis. Typically 49 percent of PRs favor commonwealth, 46 percent statehood and 5 percent independence (which would mean, heavens to Betsy, losing the benefit of Internal Revenue Code sec. 936 investment in PR). The trick: first have a vote up or down on commonwealth status alone. The statehood and independence voters combine to defeat this. Then have a second vote, between statehood and independence. Only an idea this stupid could require a loaded procedure to pass. As for Republicans who see PR gratitude giving them votes, there is a better chance that Osama will convert to Judaism.
Why Uncle Sucker should take in a state with twice the poverty rate of Mississippi, the poorest of the current 50, despite favored investment status and a good climate is beyond me. What about the thousands of PR veterans who served with distinction is America's armed forces? They are of course entitled to our gratitude--including extension of individual citizenship for meritorious service. But foreigners from countries all over the world come to the U.S. and serve, and we do not make their place of origin states in our American Republic.
And at the risk of being Very Politically Incorrect, as a New Yorker who knows people who were, over the years cursed and even jostled on Puerto Rican Day Parade--something that never happened to them with any other parade, with business downtown boarding up as if for a hurricane, I say: Come back and ask again next century.
Lawyers may ultimately prove a better weapon for Islamist terrorists than even the media. This week's mistrial misery in the Muslim Holy Land charity case is the latest example of the legal system biting the administration where it hurts. Yes, the government will retry, and likely lose again. Why so? Because the kind of jurors who have time to sit several months in a courtroom are too ignorant to know Hezbollah from Hadassah, and with O.J. jury IQs and judgment are easily bamboozled by defense lawyers and witnesses in complex financial fraud cases. "We didn't know the Palestinian folks we sent the dough to were baddies," etc. Each loss fortifies radicals within American Muslim communities, about how the government picks on them, etc. Better to let them stay free, but track their communications and funding to identify the real Mr. Big terrorist leaders and groups. Overall, since 9/11, a New York Times front-pager reports that the government's criminal conviction record is 29 percent in terror prosecutions, versus 92 percent in regular criminal cases. Part of this chasm can be attributed to the administration bringing every possible terror case, even if marginal; an intersecting factor is that juries are demanding strict proof, even in terror cases.
On another front, the LA Times reports that the FBI is working to "bolster" the cases against the 14 senior al-Qaeda commanders, fearing that much evidence against them may not be admissible, especially if military tribunals are invalidated and the cases go to the criminal justice system. Even a single acquittal in a high-profile case--with lurid courtroom descriptions of interrogation methods used (to save lives, which will be lost to most of the global audience)--would be a monster political defeat for America.
Which underscores anew to the supreme folly of putting unlawful combatants on trial. We rarely have done so during actual wars--Nuremberg was after. We should have stood that ground here. The President could, I think, have swayed most voters by explaining those precedents. As for our "allies" hectoring us, we could have told them (quietly, but firmly) that if they want our help in the future they had better shut up now. "Lawfare" is defeating warfare, by tying war-fighting up in knots.
The Wall Street Journal informs us about Haditha, the massacre that wasn't. Iraq (and Afghan) War vet Pete Hegseth tells how better intelligence from locals is turning the tide in Iraq. He is executive director of Vets For Freedom, a group that helps Afghan and Iraq War vets and informs the public, too. One piece at the VFF website is Mike Ledeen's case that we are now winning in Iraq. A Washington Post front-pager last week by 43 critics Thomas Ricks and Karen de Young says that AQI (al Qaeda Iraq) is now "crippled."
French philosopher Andre Glucksman has a brilliant essay in the new Manhattan Institute City Journal. The philosopher who brought the writings of Russian dissident Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn to French readers sees in Islamic suicide terrorism--ISO WMD--the hideous union of the genocidal nihilism of Auschwitz, plus the destructive power of Hiroshima. A chilling but vital read.
Mark Twain is said to have said (it may be apocryphal): "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." The Daily Telegraph reports that scientists are coming closer to figuring out out to steer and weaken hurricanes, per research spurred by Katrina. One hurdle is predictable: lawyers. Steer a hurricane from Town A to Town B, and see the lawsuits fly.
5 posts: (1) An American Hero--Us v. Them; (2) Conservative Contrarian: Glad Dems Won in 2006!--The Home Front; (3) Sovereign Investment: Financial Dynamite--"It's the Earth Stupid!"; (4) Rendition: What Hollywood Won't Say--The Home Front; (5) George Will's Constitution Class--The Home Front.
Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy gave his life to save his men, and Monday President Bush presented to a hero's widow the first Congressional Medal of Honor awarded during the Afghanistan campaign. Read the details and say a prayer of thanks for a true American hero. A Wall Street Journal editorial tells us more and favors us with a photo of Lt. Murphy as well. His story is told in a 2007 book, Lone Survivor, that I have just ordered from Amazon. Here is the tribute paid a hero, by President Bush at the award ceremony.
Bill Kristol explains why he thinks that a Republican victory in 2006 would have hurt Bush, while a Democratic win helped him. Basically, he thinks Republicans would have bailed out on 43, giving Democrats a free ride, because 43 would have stayed his disastrous pre-surge Iraq course. But defeat caused 43 to change horses and policies, though not in the direction proposed by the Iraq Surrender Group. Well worth a read.
Columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave perceives a global shift in economic terms via Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs): foreign governments exerting increased influence on the world economy. His piece runs sharply at odds with protectionist, isolationist force in the U.S. SWFs also hold potential as a financial weapon wielded by newly-rich countries whose governments are hostile to the U.S. Fasten your seat belts. A definite read.
A former top intelligence officer gives the skinny on rendition, the CIA's program of moving terror suspects between the US and foreign countries, both ways. Read this, and ignore the movies, and the five myths they foist off on viewers.
George Will, at his best, is without peer in giving a non-lawyer exegesis of constitutional issues. His polemic against the line-item veto is a classic. Former Supreme court law clerk Ed Whelan, a fine lawyer (and a former colleague of mine at GTE in the 1990s) who now heads the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is more than a match for Will. Ed tells us which paragraphs in Will's piece pass muster, and which he says we can skip (you may have to scroll, as Ed's piece is a few days old and his writings are continuous blogs, not discrete columns. Read both and get the best result.
4 posts: (1) Louisiana Gets a Governor--and Possible President--Katrina, Etc.; (2) Hillary's Extreme Makeover--The Home Front; (3) Congress Un-Talks Turkey: Too Late?--Us v. Them; (4) Notre Dame: Where Are the Irish?--Cyber-Serendip.
Republican Bobby Jindal defeated a field of "who" candidates to become Louisiana's next governor. Jindal, a Republican congressman, distinguished himself by being the ONLY Louisiana official who performed superbly after the Katrina disaster. His win Saturday is a Democratic state attests to the education of Louisiana voters in learning who can really help them. Media commentary focused on Jindal's being the first "Indian-American governor ("Indian" refers to India, not American's namesakes). But the real marker is that four years ago Jindal was cheated out of a gubernatorial win by the Democrats, who ran up the usual fraudulent urban vote tally in New Orleans and also scared rednecks by showing a picture of the dark-skinned Jindal as being ever darker than he actually is. The result was the catastrophic election of epic imbecile Kathleen Blanco. Had Jindal been governor, the Katrina story would have been different. The mainstream media don't get this, but Louisiana voters do. To see why Jindal might one day become President, read John Fund's superb piece in the online WSJ. Wes Pruden of the Washington Times sees trouble ahead for loudmouth Democratic Senator Mary "I wanted to punch out the President" (over Katrina) Landrieu, who will have fewer votes to over-count from New Orleans in 2008 than she had in 1996 when she squeaked in by the usual shenanigans.
Peggy Noonan offers her take on what she sees as a generally successful image makeover by Hillary. She also will be, PN assures us, "tough enough" to handle national security. What PN misses is that Hill will appoint several hundred federal judges if elected President, likely including at least one to the Supreme Court. (Only Jimmy Carter, of modern Presidents, did not get to appoint one.) And those jurists will be liberal, interventionist, and thus bound to make more decisions that impede the war effort, as several of her husband's appointees have done since 9/11.
Meanwhile, the LA Times reports that Hillary hasn't changed in one respect: She is still getting all sorts of money from Asian-Americans too impecunious to plausibly make the donations credited to them.
Congress has shelved its proposed resolution condemning the Armenian genocide, enough Democrats finally having gotten enough sense to see that destroying a badly-frayed relationship with an indispensable ally is neither worth the feel-good ego-satisfaction that public moral grandstanding gives many of them, nor is it worth propitiating the tiny Armenian voting bloc.
At NRO, author Barbara Lerner offers an increasingly minority view: that while Turkish treatment of Armenians was brutal, it was not a true genocide. She notes that the Turks exempted Armenian residents of Istanbul, Izmir (a major Turkish city) and Aleppo (in Syria) from the order, as well as Armenians serving in the government and military. Many Armenians of nationalist ambition, however, sided with the Russians against Turkey. While this, Lerner writes, doesn't justify the massacres ordered by the Turks, it shows that full-scale genocide was not the Turkish goal. Taking the contrary view, prominent historian Niall Ferguson, who has written a book on World War I, argues that newly-discovered historical evidence confirms the charge of genocide, but goes on to say that today's Turks should not be stigmatized by what took place 92 years ago.
Charles Krauthammer comes perhaps closest to explaining why Nancy Pelosi pushed for passage, guessing that she subconsciously knew that destroying relations with Turkey would force the U.S. to quit Iraq immediately. CK notes that even the leader of Turkey's Armenian community opposes the resolution. CK notes that 95 percent of our heavily-armored vehicles used by U.S. troops transit through Turkey. See a potential problem here? CK notes further that Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. envoy to Turkey at the time, protested vigorously and publicly, and got the endorsement of President Wilson as well (who, in 1920, urged that aid be sent to the Armenians). And America sent $117 million of food aid to the Armenians. Using the indispensable online Inflation Calculator database, we find that $1 in 1920 is $11.29 in 2006 dollars. Thus in 2006 currency value the U.S. sent to the Armenians $1.32 billion in current dollars.
A Wall Street Journal editorial notes Turkey's value to the U.S. It shares with us an interest in a stable Iraq and a non-nuclear Iran. A column from William F. Buckley echoes these themes. In an LA Times piece, Graham Fuller, a former vice-chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council and author of a forthcoming book on Turkey, offers a more complete checklist of Turkey's immense value and positional importance. He notes that Turkey increasingly diverges from U.S. policies, notably, towards Iran, which supplies oil and gas to the Turks, and towards Russian and China. Turkey also has made a turnabout in its relations with Syria, and supports Hamas as the legitimate government of the Palestinians. Today the Washington Post reports that President Bush and senior U.S. officials are strongly lobbying both the Turks and the Kurds, in an effort to defuse a dangerous situation, as Kurdish incursions into Turkey have engendered public calls for action by the Turkish government.
In all, not the picture of a country that is a chummy ally. But it is an ally nonetheless, and a key one. With 70 percent of all our military air cargo re-supply transiting via Turkey, we can ill afford superfluous grandstand plays. We will be lucky to persuade Turkey not to drift further towards our enemies. We have made a start in repairing matters, by providing more help to Turkey in its efforts to stem terror from the Kurdish Marxist PKK.
Above all: The U.S. government spoke forcefully and publicly at the time of the wartime Armenian massacres, and provided massive foreign aid to the victims as well, thus backing up words with deeds. Thus there is zero rationale for Congress to add its redundant voice nearly a century later--or ever. Placating a domestic constituency with a feel-good gesture that severely harms the broader collective national interest is simply indefensible.
Notre Dame was creamed by USC, 38-0 on Saturday (the gory details), the worst loss ever for ND versus the Trojans. Which brings to my mind the ditty--VERY politically incorrect--that my late father first sang to me about 50 years ago, to the chorus of "The Notre Dame Victory March" (known to many as "Cheer for Old Notre Dame"):
Shame, shame on old Notre Dame
Where are the Irish that brought you fame
You're a team of Poles and French
While all the Irish warm the bench
Watch Schwartz send Plotz through the line
Where in the blazes is O'Brien
You've a lot to answer for
Oh, shame on old Notre Dame
For completeness here is the original: both the opening verse, and then the chorus of the "Notre Dame Victory March" in all its glory.
If LFTC does not post tomorrow, you will know that the P.C. Furies have struck again....
5 posts: (1) El Salvador: The Ultimate Thank You--Us v. Them; (2) Lebanon: Politics for Keeps, Syrian Style--Us v. Them; (3) Our House Divided: A General Speaks: The Home Front; (4) S-CHIP: Humpty-Dumpty Democrats--The Home Front; (5) Fever-Swamp Politics: A Non-Hate Non-Crime--The Home Front.
The brightest moment in last night's GOP debate came from California Congressman Duncan Hunter, whose son has done two tours in Iraq. Hunter noted that soldiers from El Salvador are now serving in Iraq. The fight to save El Salvador was big news in the early 1980s, with lefties like Chris Dodd telling us that we were on the wrong side of history. Wrong, Chris (who is running for the Democratic nomination, at is at about one percent). Many among the French elite can learn from El Salvador. From one hitherto unaware, now newly educated, American, to the people of el Salvador: a heartfelt "Thank you."
This story explains how time-honored tactics resolve political argument between moderates and extremists: The extremists kill the moderates. Thus Syria's "road map" to its restoration in Lebanon.
George Will skewers Hillary's S-CHIP proposal, noting that this program for "poor" kids would, in Hill's case, cover households with incomes up to $61,950. This is 28.5 percent above the nation's median household income of $48,201. (Reminder: The median is not the average, which is skewed by extremes; it is the middle item in a statistical distribution, at which 50 percent are above and 50 percent below.) So in Democratic political logic, households in the top half are "poor": America is, I guess, not a rich country. A former Republican Congressman once told me when I asked how come small businessman could get government loans even if they had $250,000 in assets, and wasn't that a little generous?. "We are always generous." Amen.
Illustrative of how poisonous our domestic politics has become is this true tale about how liberal talk-radio conjured a fictive hate-crime. Sentence first, trial later, when it comes to today's "liberal."
2 posts: (1) Cancel the 2008 Beijing Games!--Us v. Them; (2) Cyber-Chordal Euphony: Classical Thrives Online--Class v. Crass. LFTC goes on hiatus again, for a fortnight, until Oct. 22. This is mainly because I am traveling most of the time between Oct. 6 and Oct. 16.
Christopher Hitchens recounts China's despicable record in blocking action on human rights at the UN, from Darfur to Burma to Iraq to Iran to Zimbabwe. He calls for a boycott of the "disgusting celebration" that will be 2008's Summer Olympic Games. Hitler, posthumously invited to speak at Columbia, will speak instead as the honorary ringmaster of the 2008 Olympics. Which leaves one unanswered question: Can China gin up its own Leni Riefenstahl?
Newsweek recently ran a cheery article spotlighting a welcome cultural development: online sales are revitalizing the classical music business. Decca Label Group, the classical music division of Universal, gets 20 percent of its revenue from online sales. Piano superstar Lang Lang's recording of two Beethoven concertos is matching sales of top rappers. Classical downloads are better quality and get stolen much less, partly due to its complex sounds not working well in the peer-to-peer downloads that facilitate theft, and partly for having an older, less larcenous audience. Niche sales online are rewriting the sales book, which for decades has embraced the best-seller model, where 20 percent of inventory generates 80 percent of sales. Now, Naxos, a two-decades old classical music company, has 146,000 titles online, and half sell 10 (yes, Virginia, that's ten) copies or less. Chopin conquers cyberspace!!!
October 05, 2007 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sputnik I (the word is Russian for "traveling companion") was launched Friday, October 4, 1957. I recall it vividly, because at age 10 I spent the better part of a day reading every one of the myriad articles in the New York Times. USA Today presents comments from one of the prime Soviet rocket designers. It seems that the launch was hastily cobbled together, to make sure the USSR scored a "first" in space. It worked. A Newsweek piece argues that Eisenhower knew the Russians were near, and wanted them to be first, so as to galvanize US action. In September 1956 a Jupiter-C rocket blasted 682 miles into space--higher than Sputnik's orbital altitude of 560 miles, but the fourth stage of the Jupiter-C was filled with sand, instead of with more rocket fuel and a satellite. Ike thought the Army's program too military, and preferred the Navy's Vanguard, which had a disastrous few-second flight on December 6, 1957. Back to Werner von Braun, and 56 days later, on January 31, 1958, Explorer I was launched. It, unlike Sputnik, made real science, discovering the Van Allen radiation belts.
Famously, Sputnik induced JFK to announce on May 25, 1961, a goal of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the decade., a goal reached July 20, 1969. (While Americans at home watched the landing from 10 PM to midnight on Sunday, July 20, I watched it in France from 4 AM to 6 AM, on Monday, July 21.) Perhaps Sputnik's best spur to the US was its role in creating DARPA in the Pentagon: the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA spurred networking research that culminated, in 1969, in the launching of the original INTERNET (then called ARPANET). It is also fitting that this week the military announced that America's Ballistic Missile Defense system is now fully operational, and thus capable of targeting launches from Asia.
Russia's anniversary pronouncement warned the US not to "militarize space"--yet another effort (sadly, probably to prove successful) to get the US to surrender its technological edge and decline to develop potentially immensely useful weapons. But in the spirit of science, let a former Russian super-insider have his say on his country's greatest day. Nikita Khruschev's son, Sergei, tells why the USSR lost the race for the Moon. It seems that the Bard's "green-eyed monster" was the culprit--at least, in Sergei's telling.
6 posts: (1) Israel Confirms Striking Syria--Us v. Them; (2) Europe: The Latest on Why They "Hate" Us--Weenie Watch; (3) DD-Day: Now 90 Days Away--The Home Front; (4) France-2's Palestinian Hoax: Sharansky Speaks--MSM Murders; (5) Academia's Disgraces--The Home Front; (6) A Turkey in the House; an Egg in the Senate--The Home Front.
A Jerusalem Post one-pager reports that the Israeli government has official confirmed the September 6 strike it conducted against a Syrian facility--one day after Syrian thug-Prez Bashir Assad whined that Israel had bombed an "unmarked military building." The JP report adds a detail I don't recall seeing before: Israel's elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit actually physically seized North Korean nuclear material before the bombs fell. Wow! Commandos land inside Syria and confiscate nuclear material, in a country that disclaims possession of any WMD? Be glad you aren't the facility commander, who must answer to the government for his failure. Think what happened to chess champ Kronstein, whose plan to kidnap James Bond in From Russia With Love failed....
Columnist Anne Applebaum suggests that the latest depressing poll numbers about European attitudes towards the US are due to our ineptitude in Iraq. Her sub-title says it all: "Would you follow the country that bungled Iraq?" I have several problems with this. First, Europe bungled the 20th century: two world wars, dragged across the finish line of the Cold War by Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher and Pope John Paul the Great. Second, France sent war criminal Haj Amin el-Husseini, whose title as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was conferred by Britain in 1922, back to the Mideast in 1946, and 32 years later allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini to finish off the Shah and sent him back to Iran. Third, France denied us the UN imprimatur by announcing it would veto any Security Council resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. Should 43 have given France a veto over our foreign policy, one 42 refused to give Russia over Kosovo? With the UN aegis we'd have had Turkey, India and many others helping, with Patriot Division committed to battle at the start and thus a faster finish to the war's first phase. Iraq II would not have been "America's war." Besides, whose mess are we now trying to clean up in the Mideast? One largely made by Britain and France, who drew the map of the modern Mideast. Fourth, France + Germany are front and center in helping create the next mess we face: Iran's nuclear program. The insistence by European chanceries that we pursue feckless diplomacy and belated, tepid sanctions while ignoring human rights diplomacy (too busy worrying about terrorist detainees at Gitmo to care about the Iranians) makes far more likely that military action will prove necessary. Which suggests that it is time to poll Americans about how they feel about our European "allies." (One "poll": A White House senior official has told a British reporter, no less, that the US views France and Germany now as closer allies than the UK: "There's concern about Brown. But this is compensated by the fact that Paris and Berlin are much less of a headache. The need to hinge everything on London as the guarantor of European security has gone.")
George Will, at his astringent best, warns that January 1, 2008 is "DD-Day": Demographic Deluge Day. This is when the first Baby Boomers turn 62, and begin to draw retirement funds from the federal government. So last week Democrats pushed through a vast expansion of S-CHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), beginning the transformation of a special subsidy for the poor (covering children in families up to 200 percent of poverty-line income) into a middle-class entitlement. Democrats seek to broaden client dependence upon government for distribution of favors; Republicans--43 will veto--push self-reliance. Democrats want equal outcomes--everyone a client of the welfare state--while Republicans want freedom's unequal outcomes. Possible insolvency as monster entitlement bills become due will not deflect Democrats from their mission. 43 is showing once again real political courage in doing the right thing. Selling market-based health-care solutions may be the most pressing domestic issue for Republicans in 2008.
Consumer maven John Stossel of ABC explains that the key to containing health care costs is not the uninsured, but the insured, who are hooked on low-deductible coverage that underwrites spending excess, instead of high-deductibles that would encourage cost control; coupled with a Health Security Account this would promote self-reliance and cut system costs and boost consumer long-term savings--a trifecta. In 2008, much more than health care will be at stake.
Natan Sharansky calls for full disclosure of France-2's 27-minute unedited footage of the Muhammad al-Dura Palestinian hoax that so harmed Israel at the start of the second intifada. He recounts how deeply it affected attitudes on college campuses he toured. Will the global press corps, ever eager for full disclosure by non-press organs, public and private, call for one of its own to surrender the evidence for public inspection? To do so would reveal their collective gullibility (complicity?) in swallowing whole the Palestinians conveniently timed--irresistible--fable, that put Israel on the defensive at the outset of the Palestinians major military assault on Israel. As Dan Rather would say (of 43's alleged default on National Guard service obligations): "Fake but accurate." Or Newsweek editor Evan Thomas (of the Duke non-rape case): "The narrative was right but the facts were wrong.")
National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor, as fine a writer on matters legal as there is these days, slams academia for its double-standards on free speech, between left and right. His diagnosis: leftist politics activism trumps genuine free speech values. Sad but so true.
A Wall Street Journal article recounts the latest folly of Congress: 226 House Members are sponsoring a resolution urging the President to take into account in policy towards Turkey the Armenian slaughter of 1915. Historians argue whether the mass deportation that killed at least 800,000 was a true genocide or simply massive indifference. Turkey was run then not even by the Ottomans, but by the triumvirate of "Young Turks" who seized power in 1908 and joined the Central Powers for World War I. Kemalist Turkey was nine years away. So, with our relations with Turkey hanging by a thread after the Iraq debacle, an idiot Congressman named Adam Schiff, who hails from a Golden State district loaded with Armenians, proposes to throw sand in the gears of US relations with a vital strategic country. This comes on the heels of the Senate voting 75-23 last week on a resolution calling for partition of Iraq, which provked a rare show of Iraqi unity.
Beats doing something about earmarks. Will Congress ever know when to shut up? Do not hold your breath.