Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Does Your Ideal World Look Like?

Next time you hear someone complaining about politics and the state of the world - you know the type, long on moral outrage, short on ideas - ask them: what is the end goal of what you believe? What's the point of it all?

I suspect and hope that for most of us the ideal world looks very similar, and we just have different priorities and methods for getting there.

The following three quotes are an effective reminder of the kind of America and world it's worth struggling for, and in 2009 they seem positively revolutionary.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the start of his first term, 16 April 1953

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, farewell address, 17 January 1961

President Eisenhower's concern about the military industrial complex...his words have unfortunately come true. He was worried that priorities are set by what benefits corporations as opposed to what benefits the country.

- John McCain, 2005, Why We Fight

China and Info-phobia

No one was surprised that Chinese censors blocked Obama's call for internet freedom. I imagine plenty of Chinese surfers heard it anyway, and evaluated it for themselves. This is the same government that condemned Western press coverage of the Iranian's people struggle to be heard as irresponsible rabble-rousing.

This is the same government that claims it is trying to modernize China (it's better than before, but still behind Guatemala in per capita income), and yet it treats its citizens as school children who have to be protected from the nasty realities of the world; it's also the same government that has increasingly regressed to a form of Han nationalism, regarding Tibetans and Uighurs among others as aliens who should be grateful for their (forced) homestead inside the Middle Kingdom. (And where are the voices of the always-overheated American Right calling attention to injustice in Xinjiang and Tibet? Disappointingly few and far between.)

What, exactly, is the Chinese Communist Party afraid will happen when China's citizens are given unfettered access to the world at large? Free speech and elections go a long way to improving lives and economies. A country ready to take on global responsibilities doesn't have such insecurities.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

ARG Profile #1: Randy Brogdon

Randy Brogdon is an ARG: an Asshole Ruining the GOP. He's an excellent example of what's driving young people and intellectuals further away from the Republican Party. Good riddance you say? Sure, just like that seat in NY-23. And Arlen Specter. Who knows how many more "victories" the ARGs will have?

But back to Randy Brogdon - you want some examples of his assholery? First and foremost, how about making veiled threats to secede from the country. If there's something more anti-American than literally trying to destroy the Union, please let me know what it is. What has his panties in a bunch? Brogdon considers it an overextension of Federal authority for Oklahoma to receive stimulus money? (I'm sure he could arrange to send any funds for his district back to Washington. Strangely, he seems not to have done so.)

Randy Brogdon also wants America to lose its technical and scientific edge and fail in the global marketplace. Make no mistake - he wants China's education system to pass our own, because he's openly anti-education. He thinks you should have to teach your kids at home, but that's okay, since he also thinks you should be able to teach kids whatever you want - unless it's plate tectonics, the germ theory of disease, or that the Earth is round. (Think I'm kidding? Here it is.) And this guy is running for governor of Oklahoma. If that happens, a generation of people will grow up thinking of Randy Brogdon when they think "Republican". That's why he's an ARG.

If you're comfortable throwing all that away so Randy Brogdon can use government regulation to force his weird Seventh-Day Adventist beliefs on your kids, then hey. Your call. If letting him wreck America's technical competitiveness as China catches up doesn't bother you at all, then Brogdon and the other ARGs are your best choice.

China Says: Well Look What Happens When You Can't Control Your Spending

Instead of trying to get our biggest competitor, and the other most important country in the world to shape up into a democracy, Obama spends his time telling them the dollar and our banks will be okay.

It's a forced move. We have a huge deficit. There's no point in anyone's spending any more time Bush-bashing because it's not productive, but it bears emphasizing to the tea-partiers: this deficit didn't magically appear on 20 January this year, and where were you for the previous eight years? But it bears greater emphasizing to everyone else that we have to do something to fix this (like not pass a massively expensive health care bill to add to the fire) or we will soon have greater problems than not being able to encourage reform in the biggest nation on the planet. Bruce Bartlett has one solution that - forgive me - any Republican with balls would be getting behind.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Handbook for Sabotaging America's Technical Edge

There are so many nutcases out there (vaccine denalists and anti-science-eduction types being just two) that it's becoming easier to see the pattern they all follow.

Somebody even boiled it down into a rulebook. Of course they're being sarcastic, but it's scary that it's so widespread these days that you can recognize the general plan they all follow.

Why aren't these people seen as what they are - prime enemies of American democracy and enterprise?

Thoughts on Fort Hood from an Ex-Muslim

Ibn Warraq is a fellow at the Center for Inquiry and the author of Why I am Not a Muslim, the story of his rejection of Islam after subjecting it to rational thought.

The mainstream media will do anything to avoid pinning the shooter's actions on his extremist religion. Warraq's worthy comments on this matter
include the following:

The [mainstream median] tell us that the mindset of Major Hasan remains a "mystery," yet his Jihadist intentions are there on the surface for everyone not paralyzed by political correctness to see. According to CNN (Nov. 7), on the morning of the shootings Hasan gave copies of the Koran to his neighbors. According to the Associated Press (Nov. 6), soldiers reported that Hasan shouted out "Allahu Akbar" [God is Great] – the war cry of all Jihadis – before firing off over a hundred rounds with two pistols in a center where some 300 unarmed soldiers had lined up for vaccines and eye one filed a formal complaint about Hasan’s views and comments for fear of appearing discriminatory -- in other words, out of political correctness.

There's a difference between tolerance and obfuscation. Religious extremism will unfortunately always exist. Let's not aid and abet its excesses by looking the other way when it strikes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Azerbaijan Government Punishes Assault Victims

Of course, there's more to it than that: these particular assault victims were satirists (pretty funny ones actually) who got attacked in a cafe. It's funny how the pattern is always the same with governments who don't want to hear public criticism of their stupid decisions - all the government in question ever does is associate them with a crime (their own or someone else's), and it doesn't matter whether they're the victim or even whether they're acquitted - they're still punished.

In this case, Azerbaijan's citizens would do well to recognize that their government is apparently nostalgic for the days of the Soviet Union.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mark Todd: Hero of the Fort Hood Shootings

[Added later: The story was later clarified that it was Sgt. Mark Todd who brought down Minor Hassan. Get ready to hear extremist babbling in the trial.]

MSM is of course doing the predictable dance around the obvious-to-everyone-but-them fact that the Fort Hood shooter was a Muslim extremist. This is bad for several reasons, not least among them that, for reasons of his twisted faith, it's beyond cool that he was shot by a female police officer. If he's horribly dishonored by that and his pride wounded in a way that can't be described to someone not of his culture, after what he did, so much the better.

If you're offended that I'm gloating about that, then maybe you need to get rid of your stone age religion, or stop defending the harmful primitive superstitions of other people.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Libertarian Party Victories in Pennsylvania, Iowa

Seems like the LP has done particularly well in local races in IA and PA. This is great news, and nothing to sneeze at if you're a conservative looking for a place to make your vote count - considering that the GOP is well on its way to becoming a regional party.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brilliant Democrat Double-Agent in NY-23 Succeeds in Mission

If I were an evil Democrat (redundant?) here's what I would do. I would get someone (let's just call him "D.H.") to enter a political race, make overheated substanceless claims that the current Republican contender is a phony leftist socialist Kenyan Nazi, and then throw the election so the Democrat wins. And what's best is that devout Red State comrades would clap each other on the back, insisting that this was really a strategic victory, unable to see that what has just happened resulted in the loss of a GOP Congressional seat. Wouldn't that be devious? And it's so crazy, it just might work!

After I'd tested my dasterdly plan out once to prove that it could work, then I would set about doing the same thing to other possibly successful Republican candidates and raise money by calling them phony leftist socialist Kenyan Nazis. Like for example, Charlie Crist (yes, the same guy who was on the short list to be McCain's VP. As you know John McCain was all about picking leftist socialist Kenyan Nazis.)

Remember during the Democratic primary when Hillary's supporters were saying they would never vote for Obama in the general election? Brilliant strategy guys! Whatever your righteous motivation, you're sabotaging your own party. Lucky for us, the GOP would never allow such a thing.

End sarcasm: since I just moved, I had to re-register to vote. I can no longer say I'm Libertarian with a capital L. I registered GOP so I can make a difference in primaries by voting for the socially moderate candidates. I look forward to the day the Red State Central Politburo comes to knock on my door and throw me back out of the party.

Chinese Mineral Mercantilism Called Out at WTO

Like their mineral interests in Africa and the Middle East, their steep export tariffs and the underlying policy that motivates them are worth paying attention to. Fortunately the US and EU are doing so, but this story isn't getting much play in the North American press.

It's worth paying attention to trade disputes with China more than with, say, Europe, because the EU is composed of parliamentary democracies (which make decisions which are rationally beneficial for larger groups of people, internal and otherwise) and with whom we have a military alliance. This is not the case with China; the game is different and the rules change accordingly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Biggest Cajones Award: Mahmoud Vahidnia

At the end of an address at a major university in Iran by the "Supreme Leader", a student started asking seriously confrontational questions. If only everybody in the world were equally prepared to call bullshit, and to hell with the consequences.