Your Lying Eyes

Dedicated to uncovering the truth that stands naked before your lying eyes.

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28 May 2008

McClellan: Bush Wanted War

Scott McClellan's new book may well clear up the Great Mystery of why we went into Iraq. He appears to be backing up the theory that I have subscribed to, that it was Bush's grand, legacy-building strategy for the MidEast. According to the AP, McClellan asserts that in Iraq...Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents. There's a lot more like that in the article, which is worth a read.

No, it was not about oil - nobody actually making money from oil supported it. Part of it might have been just a severe over-reaction to 9/11, lashing out at Saddam as the most unsympathetic target available, but there were certainly more effective tactics we could have taken to send an anti-terrorist message. Bush believed he could avenge his father's 'humiliation' at getting kicked out of office while Saddam continued to thumb his nose at our no-fly-zones and arms inspectors while building for himself a reputation as a great 'wartime president' whose bold efforts transformed the world. In sum, half-a-trillion dollars have been vaporized, 4,000 American lives lost, tens of thousands of Iraqi's killed, countless new terrorist recruits, and the loss of America's good will throughout the world: for one man's vanity.

23 May 2008

Don't Mention the Assassination

The public rules of political engagement are awfully complicated - who can possibly figure it out? Now Hillary is in hot water for violating yet another hitherto unknown taboo. In explaining why she will fight on, she said: My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it." I don't understand it either. What's the problem?

18 May 2008

Obama and the Court

A commenter on my last Obama-no-worse-than-McCain post asked, as surely will John McCain in his desperate efforts to hold onto "his" base,What about the Supreme Court?

One thing to keep in mind is that the Court's right wing core is not likely to go anywhere soon. Scalia is the oldest of the 4, a spry 72. Even Anthony Kennedy, the court's conservative-leaning swing vote, is a mere 71. He's had some minor heart issues (a couple cardiac stents were inserted a few years back), but otherwise he can be expected to outlast an Obama administration. So there's little chance Obama could undo Bush's only worthwhile contribution to civilization.

So Obama will likely only have a chance to replace one liberal justice with a more liberal one. Justice Stevens is the oldest justice and quite liberal (particularly for a Republican), but he is at 88 apparently the picture of health. Still, he's probably the best bet to take the opportunity of a Democratic administration to call it quits. But how much more liberal a justice is Obama likely to nominate? Probably not much. Justice Ginsburg has had treatment for colon cancer, and might be the next most likely to retire, but again you can't get a whole lot more liberal than she. Breyer, the most moderate of the liberals, and Souter, a bit less moderate, are young and there for the long haul. So for the next 4 years at least we're pretty safe.

Of course there's a lot more federal judicial appointments Obama will be making, and there he can do real damage, but that's the way it goes. I'm not going to endorse electing a lunatic just to have a chance at some decent court appointees.

16 May 2008

Gone Ol' Party

The Republican Party appears to be entering a deep, brutal political winter, and few things in politics are more deserved. The Politico has reported that Republicans expect to lose up to 20 more seats this year, and seem to be at wit's end as to what to do about it. Former Rep. Mickey Edwards, an Oklahoma Republican, said: “I don’t know that I have seen a year like this, ever. The general attitude toward Republicans is so bad nationally.” Plus, they have no money. I know I've been deleting email after email from NRCC chairman Tom Cole begging for support, and apparently that's the norm - they have no money. The NRCC is basically telling their House members that their on their own.

The Iraq war is the most obvious problem, but the disease runs deeper. What did the Republicans accomplish? Yesterday's California Supreme Court decision mandating gay marriage is a case in point. Back in the Clinton years, the Republicans passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which allowed states to set their own rules but ensured that gay marriages would not be imposed on states that did not want them. Fair enough. But then the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and the issue arose anew, as it became clear that activist judges could impose this social revolution by fiat. The Republicans had an opportunity to push a constitutional amendment that would have taken the issue out of the hands of the courts and ensured it could only be decided by popular vote. But they preferred instead to use it as a political weapon - a wedge issue - with which to bludgeon Democrats. So they proposed an amendment that would ban gay marriage outright everywhere for all time, and of course it went nowhere. A more moderate amendment could have passed easily, but then they would have lost the issue. Instead, we now find that the largest state in the Union has now mandated a potentially society-redefining revolution based on the opinion of 4 people!

We needn't go into the rest of the failures - massive budget deficits, massive trade deficits, continued mass immigration on an unprecedented scale, further balkanization of our society, a foreign policy predicated on the insane notion that small, rag-tag gangs of terrorists and belligerent though militarily impotent and inept states constitute a threat of equal danger to the U.S. as Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Here's announced-libertarian candidate Bob Barr on the Federal Marriage Amendment. The former congressman is surely performing a valuable public service by providing us a meaningful way not to vote for McCain without having to actually vote for Obama. But do we want Obama as president rather than McCain?

Of course. Obama will do little differently as president than McCain, except for one critical item: he will get us out of Iraq earlier than 2013. Now I'm not naive enough to think Obama will actually just pull us out of there, damn the consequences. I think he should - better to allow the Iraqis to fight it out and come up with a solution quickly than for us to sit their for five (or fifty) more years, bleeding red and green to accomplish nothing better than could be accomplished via an all out two-year civil war. But I'm pretty sure he will get us out of there within a few years. Otherwise, does anyone really think that McCain's insatiable desire to be loved by today's Illuminati (NYT, WaPo, NPR, Jon Stewart(yes, Jon Stewart!)) will not have him working with the Democratic congress to continue the massive growth of government?

But let's look on the bright side. Under Obama, the healing of our military can begin. Perhaps we will actually reduce our military spending to a level more in line with the actual dangers we face (and our ability to pay). Yes, social spending and intrusive federal management of our lives will grow. But one thing pessimistic observers often overlook is that the basic function of the free market is alive and well. The concept of competitive pricing and private ownership of capital rules the world, in Russia, in China, across Europe, South America - pretty much everywhere. No one is proposing a return of welfare - ever hear Obama or Hillary suggest we bring back welfare? While some (mostly sensible) prison-sentencing, police-interrogation and drug-legislation reforms are brought up, no one is suggesting that we have too much law enforcement or that violent criminals are being treated too harshly. And neither Obama nor Hillary could possibly bring about the rebirth of the Soviet Union and its drive for world domination. In short, some of the most fundamental conservative victories of the last 30 years are safely with us and will endure whatever might transpire over the next 4 years. And I'm pretty sure the Democrats have learned their lesson from last time they controlled the government - the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. So cheer up - the really bad stuff - the demographic disaster - won't happen for another couple decades.

06 May 2008

Georgia On Our Minds

From the NYT Editors:
NATO needs to work with both sides to defuse the growing crisis. France and Germany, which argued for putting off Georgia’s membership, have a special responsibility. They can start by sending envoys to meet with Mr. Medvedev and make clear that they, and the rest of NATO, are committed to Georgia’s security and independence — and will be watching closely to see how he handles this first crisis.
Why, why, why? Why should France, Germany, the USA or Trinidad and Tobago care about how this little affair turns out? How is it any concern of ours how Russia treats the homeland of Joseph Stalin? We should have as little say in how Putin or Medvedev deals with Georgia than Czar Alexander II should have had to say about how Abraham Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman dealt with Georgia. I don't get it. Alright, Europe can try to broker a peace, because nothing good can come from a war there, but otherwise - who cares?

05 May 2008

McCain Courting Hispanic Voters

Yes, he's back at it. Although Steve Sailer has demonstrated that very few Hispanics actually vote and they preponderantly vote for Democrats when they do, this might not be a complete waste for McCain this year - assuming Obama is the nominee. Much to Hillary's benefit, Hispanics voters have proven to be somewhat averse to voting for the junior senator from Illinois - they no doubt object to the lack of mandates in his health care plan. And McCain will need every vote he can get, even though, despite having an insane approach to foreign policy, being completely clueless on economic policy, and believing that America's future depends on a large, steady flow of cheap immigrant labor, he will still get the vote of every idiot Republican in the country (including, I'm afraid, this idiot Republican as well).

America's Future in Newsweek

A surprisingly good article by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek on America's future. He's been on the talk shows the past week promoting his new book, from which this article is excerpted, but I didn't have a sense it would be particularly convincing - he sounded a bit like a Friedmanesque globalism cheerleader. But I wish he had highlighted this bit on the foreign policy "challenges" facing the U.S.

Some point to the dangers posed by countries like Iran. These rogue states present real problems, but look at them in context. The American economy is 68 times the size of Iran's. Its military budget is 110 times that of the mullahs. Were Iran to attain a nuclear capacity, it would complicate the geopolitics of the Middle East. But none of the problems we face compare with the dangers posed by a rising Germany in the first half of the 20th century or an expansionist Soviet Union in the second half. Those were great global powers bent on world domination. If this is 1938, as some neoconservatives tell us, then Iran is Romania, not Germany.
Yes, exactly. We have nothing to fear from these 'rogue' countries - they can barely influence their dysfunctional neighbors, never mind have any affect on the world stage.
Others paint a dark picture of a world in which dictators are on the march. China and Russia and assorted other oil potentates are surging. We must draw the battle lines now, they warn, and engage in a great Manichean struggle that will define the next century. Some of John McCain's rhetoric has suggested that he adheres to this dire, dyspeptic view. But before we all sign on for a new Cold War, let's take a deep breath and gain some perspective. Today's rising great powers are relatively benign by historical measure. In the past, when countries grew rich they've wanted to become great military powers, overturn the existing order, and create their own empires or spheres of influence. But since the rise of Japan and Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, none have done this, choosing instead to get rich within the existing international order. China and India are clearly moving in this direction. Even Russia, the most aggressive and revanchist great power today, has done little that compares with past aggressors. The fact that for the first time in history, the United States can contest Russian influence in Ukraine—a country 4,800 miles away from Washington that Russia has dominated or ruled for 350 years—tells us something about the balance of power between the West and Russia.
This has been a consistent gripe of Pat Buchanan's - why are we making enemies of Russia? Why are we constantly tweaking the bear's nose about bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, and setting up radar installations in the Czech Republic to deter Iran (what a joke!)?
Compare Russia and China with where they were 35 years ago. At the time both (particularly Russia) were great power threats, actively conspiring against the United States, arming guerrilla movement across the globe, funding insurgencies and civil wars, blocking every American plan in the United Nations. Now they are more integrated into the global economy and society than at any point in at least 100 years. They occupy an uncomfortable gray zone, neither friends nor foes, cooperating with the United States and the West on some issues, obstructing others. But how large is their potential for trouble? Russia's military spending is $35 billion, or 1/20th of the Pentagon's. China has about 20 nuclear missiles that can reach the United States. We have 830 missiles, most with multiple warheads, that can reach China. Who should be worried about whom? Other rising autocracies like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are close U.S. allies that shelter under America's military protection, buy its weapons, invest in its companies, and follow many of its diktats. With Iran's ambitions growing in the region, these countries are likely to become even closer allies, unless America gratuitously alienates them.
Right. Unfortunately, this is McCain's insane view of the world - every single government that disagrees with America is a potential Nazi Germany that must be crushed before it rises to conquer the world!
In July 2006, I spoke with a senior member of the Israeli government, a few days after Israel's war with Hezbollah had ended. He was genuinely worried about his country's physical security. Hezbollah's rockets had reached farther into Israel than people had believed possible. The military response had clearly been ineffectual: Hezbollah launched as many rockets on the last day of the war as on the first. Then I asked him about the economy—the area in which he worked. His response was striking. "That's puzzled all of us," he said. "The stock market was higher on the last day of the war than on the first! The same with the shekel." The government was spooked, but the market wasn't.
That's because the deaths of a dozen or so Israelis each year from random rockets fired off from Gaza is hardly a threat to Israel's security (never mind being a strategic concern of the U.S.). Israel is as dominant in the Middle East as the U.S. is in the world. People dying from rockets is sad and unfortunate, but hardly a basis for dramatic national action.

I haven't gotten to the rest of the article, which I presumes covers economic and social issues, but I'm glad he provided this bit of perspective - hopefully people hear it.

04 May 2008

Disingenuousness Defined

By Frank Rich, in today's column that the editors labeled "The All-White Elephant in the Room." In this little rant, Rich expresses his frustration at how the press is so soft on Republicans and so hard on Democrats(!). He notes: "The Clintons and Mr. Obama are always held accountable for their racial stands, as they should be, but the elephant in the room of our politics is rarely acknowledged: In the 21st century, the so-called party of Lincoln does not have a single African-American among its collective 247 senators and representatives in Washington." He then closes with this gem:
Anyone who does the math knows that America is on track to become a white-minority nation in three to four decades. Yet if there’s any coherent message to be gleaned from the hypocrisy whipped up by Hurricane Jeremiah, it’s that this nation’s perennially promised candid conversation on race has yet to begin.
Yeah, sure - Frank Rich wants a candid conversation about race about as much as Stalin wanted a candid conversation about Socialism. Here's an example of one of Mr. Rich's "candid conversations" about race, a screed against Clarence Thomas and how soft the press is on him(!). Does it sound like he's interested in speaking candidly? It would be interesting to imagine what Frank Rich would consider his ideal candid conversation:

White Man: I vote Republican because I'm afraid black men will break into my house and rape my wife and daughters and steal my flat-screen TV.
Frank Rich: Don't you see that the Republicans just plant these fears into your head to distract you from larger issues such as health care and tax breaks for the wealthy and trans-gender rights?
White Man: Of course you're right. How could I be so gullible?
Black Man: All I want is for all people to live in harmony and have the opportunity to fully develop their potential, no matter their color or gender preference.
Rich: Thank you, gentlemen, for this candid conversation.