Friday, January 27, 2006

Two Important Economic Points 

The prosperity of a given household is like an escalator on an escalator; and the wealth of nations may be more due to societal structures like liberty and justice than Das Kapital.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

So, you think the Iraq War is costing lots of money? 

Well, if you think that, you are wrong. See this data. Iraqi Freedom is the second-least costly war in our history, beyind only Gulf War I.

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"Munich" extremists and the Moderate Shift 

"Should you leave the debate to the great over-simplifiers? The extreme Jews and extreme Palestinians who consider any kind of negotiated settlement to be a kind of treason?"

Steven Spielberg was discussing his latest epic work of equivocation and non-postured moral posturing on Sunday when he unleashed on straw man "extremists" who decry his film, demonstrating one of the most frustrating trends in leftist ideology today: the moderate shift. Now, this isn't something new on the left, as Ted Kennedy and the gang of congressional soap-box mongers will tell you. In the abortion debate, for example, the pro-abortion tactic has been for decades to denounce the "extremists" who would outlaw any medicine developed after the discovery of America, do away with abortion, birth control, pregnancy pain-relief, MRIs, epi-pens, flu shots, and tylenol and demand everyone walk around with a Bible strapped to their crotch, and then claim moderation and compromise by asking only that abortion be kept out of the clutches of some phantom Christo-maniacs. Of course, as most pro-life people outside the imagination of Barbara Boxer will tell you, few people actually prescribe to the extreme ideology described. The effect is to shift the debate, by staking out an opposing idea so far flung and extreme, that whatever is suggested as an alternative will appear moderate by comparison.

Spielberg would have us believe that it isn't he who is extreme, but critics of his film. It seems those who disagree with his film must be too ideologically bullheaded to identify the Palestinian terrorists as human beings at all. His message is simple: if you don't buy my message, you are an ignorant savage. But most complaints about Munich are about Spielberg's surprising willingness to bend or distort facts to further his message. I, for one, am more inclined to believe the agents who were there, who point out a surprising number of inaccurate and down right false assertions in the film. In the Reuters interview, former agents of Mossad question the bungling of the agents, and lack of females in the contingents (including females was standard), the length of time spent in the field, and more. Spielberg is more than willing to paint a picture of a barren, lonely, wasteland of low lighting and dark hallways, where agents sit for weeks and ponder their purpose before screwing up another booby trap.

Spielberg seems enraged that critics are too "black and white", that those who don't like his film deny the humanity of the terrorists. But he fails to see that the humanity of the terrorists is not the issue, and never was. Serial killers, rapists, child molesters: all of them undeniably human. Yet there is something about the decisions they make that outweighs their simple existence as humans. One of the terrorists is shown to have children: yet are we to believe the Israeli victims had no families? The humanity of the terrorists was never the question: the barbarity of their acts is the grounds on which they should be judged. Its easy to pretend that there was another way, that a "negotiated settlement" could have ended it all peacefully. What negotiated settlement does Spielberg have in mind? He must be aware that the PLO at the time was in no mood to negotiate, and that their demands during the hostage crisis were as unreasonable as they were unlikely. And caving to the demands would only have insured more terrorist act by a desperate and plainly violent Palestinian movement. Many on the Right are upset with the film because it focuses so much on the reasons for committing an act of terror, yet so little on the nature of justice that compels a civilization to extract punishment on those who choose terror. Spielberg, a Jew, knows that Judaism provides a rich religious background for understanding, and the Old Testament is rife with examples of, and reasoning for, the balance being set aright, and enemies being smitten by the forces of right. Even Jason and I have gotten into the discussion of the necessarily reciprocal nature of Justice. Spielberg, grasping, appeals to the motives of the perpetrators, but shows the Israelis as vengeance hungry and brutal. He even goes so far as to suggest that the policy of brining terrorist to justice is the problem, not the solution, by way of his cute juxtaposition of the World Trade Center at the films end. What motives, I have to ask, could he possibly believe justify such acts, or even validate them enough to be discussed as valid rather than dismissed and condemned outright? At the risk of sounding extreme, I have to venture none.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

I'm so worried... 

...I can't sit down. After reading these articles about Iran (you must read them, I can't emphasize that more), I'm really, really worried. I wish I was in charge, so I could order our military to act against Iran and take care of this bad situation on our terms before thing become much worse.

I want to be an historian, but maybe I should take a sidetrack and get a commission in the military. Given how the world seems to be shaking up, I'll have job security and lots of chances for advancement.

This is all very, VERY bad...

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Why is a nuclear Iran bad? 

Well, you know, it makes a World War in the near future quite plausible... Not good, to put it VERY mildly. And since I don't want to spend the rest of my youth battling Chinese communists in Persia, I think we should take care of Iran before it goes nuclear.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Mark of Leadership... 

...is to make tough decisions when they must be made. The current mounting crisis with Iran is one of those situations where difficult decisions must be made--a nation lead by maniacs with designs on committing genocide must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. VDH writes the following that I agree with wholeheartedly:
the public must be warned that dealing with a nuclear Iran is not a matter of a good versus a bad choice, but between a very bad one now and something far, far worse to come.
Read the whole thing.

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Saddam supported terrorists 

"Drip...drip...drip" indeed.

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On Alexander Hamilton 

His birthday should serve as an occassion to remind us of what he urged so strongly in his life: a republic must defend itself vigorously abroad through a strong executive so that it may maintain it's cherished liberty at home. Read the whole thing.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Bellicose Belafonte 

[Update: Check out these "Pictures of Repression" from 2004. It's one of 5 galleries from the missing person site, and it shows the kind of "Democracy" they have in Venezuela.]

Its always amusing to see how faded, washed out celebrities weasel back into the news. The list of "Americans" who met with Chavez on Sunday reads like a Hollywood obituary: Danny "Black Panther" Glover, Cornel "prophetic witness in imperial America" West and Harry Belafonte, who is regaining some measure of notoriety for purportedly telling Chavez that millions of Americans support his revolution. Dream on, Harry:
"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution,"

Hollywood has always been a strange place, but it never ceases to amaze me how deluded and warped the world view of some of the West Coast elite has become. This, of course, isn't the first time Belafonte has run his mouth off. Back in 2002, he compared Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice to "house slaves," since we all know that skin color shouldn't limit anything in America, except political preference. And this isn't even the first time he's gone with the "tyrant" motif either, according to Wikipedia:
In 2005, he referred to Black Republicans as "tyrants" and compared those serving in the Bush administration to Nazis. He also compared the Bush administration to the Third Reich, and stated (falsely) that "Hitler had a lot of Jews" in his regime.

If Hollywood really cared about the lives of the people in these countries, or about people in general, they wouldn't shy away from recognizing a real tyrant when they see one. Apparently, Hollywood's idea of tyranny involves winning free, peaceful elections by the biggest number of votes in the history of your country, but not gassing and killing your own citizens, torturing, raping and killing political dissidents, starving and bankrupting your country, and consolidating power via force and fixed elections. This much we can infer, given the less than stellar support the Iraq war has received in the "Brokeback Mountain" part of the world. Not that Chavez is a saint either, according to this list of missing political opposition figures in Venezuela, and a US News story detailing his ties to other less-than-savory leaders. But the real sad part about this story is that it is a story at all. A delegation of aging hippies from LA shouldn't even be fodder for the tabloids, especially when our nation is at war and facing very real challenges each day. I'm not sure which is more lamentable, in fact: the sad state of affairs among America's so-called "elite," or that we are showing the world a pathetic and inaccurate reflection of national sentiment that is the direct result of an undiscerning, biased American news media.

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Connection between Iraq and Terrorists 

This is the real deal. Read the whole thing.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Want to be depressed? 

Read this article on China's likely impending economic collapse (and thus global depression due to the West's high trade with China). All this time I've been worying about a Chinese superpower, but I really should be worried about a dismembered China with regional warlords controlling the nuclear arsenal. I'm not sure which is worse, because both are very, very bad...

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A New Cold War? 

While much of the foreign policy news and attention is rightly focused on events in the Middle East, and China, there are increasingly worrisome developments taking place in South America. Highlighted by today's Chavez-Morales meeting, socialism and open hostility toward the US are on the rise. Energized by misinformed, highly publicized opposition to CAFTA, Daniel Ortega and Oscar Arias are even eyeing returns to power. Feeding on the frustration of a populace rife with crime and poverty, Morales chose the route of great socialist leaders of old, when faced with times of crisis: he slammed the US, big business and capitalism.
"We are joining this anti-neoliberal, anti-imperialist fight," Morales said as he met Chavez and his ministers at the airport. "We are in a new era, we are in a new millennium, a millennium for the people, not for the empire."

And how's this for diplomacy
"You know who is the axis of evil? Washington, they are the axis of evil, and their allies in the world who threaten, invade, who kill and assassinate, we are forming an axis of good," Chavez said.

Morales' self-alignment with Castro should be alarming to most people, since the "successes" he is seeking to model have left Cuba a wasteland, rife with poverty, corruption and languishing in 30 year old technology. Not exactly the way to carry a struggling Bolivia into modernity. But wait, there's more!

Not only is Morales promoting a host of socialist programs, increased nationalization of industry and scores of anti-US trade policies, he's also fighting on the other side of the war on drugs!
Morales' opposition to U.S.-led efforts to eradicate coca cultivation in his Andean nation also have alarmed Washington. Coca is the source of cocaine but Bolivia's Indians also use it for hunger suppression and medicinal purposes.

It seems Morales has declared the flood of cocaine from his country to be largely a problem of US demand, not one of controlling the coca growth in Bolivia. Morales' love of Castro, however, may be his own undoing. Far from the next Soviet Union, if Cuba is any indication, South America is drifting the way of impoverished Africa, where an absence of political and economic freedoms and private property rights keep the people trapped in a medieval cycle of disease, famine and war. Good luck getting Bono on this one.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

College Resuming 

Posting might be light for a couple of days while I get settled back into the rutine, so make sure to check back in by the end of the week at the latest=)

Maybe Andrew can post some stuff... ;P

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Momentous Anniversary 

Today in 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The world has changed a lot since then, hasn't it?

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