Saturday, February 24, 2007

The NY Times misses the point. (I wish I had)

The New York Times chimes in today with an editorial titled Misguided Missiles that's more than a little misguided itself.

The issue at hand is the Bush administration's plan to install parts of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, which the Times predictably castigates. But a few sentences from the editorial jump out at me:

"It is unlikely, however, that more military posturing against Iran is going to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions."

"Ms. Rice, who’s been counting on Russia to help keep up the pressure against Iran’s nuclear efforts, should have known that provoking Moscow this way could be especially counterproductive."

"Add to that the fact that the move has annoyed “old European” allies, like Germany, which are central to efforts to contain Iran, and it seems like another example of diplomatic negligence."

The Times seems to assume that the Bush administration is seeking to install this system as part of its efforts to deter Iran from seeking nuclear weapons, which strikes me as more than a little odd. The point of a missile defense system isn't to deter another country from arming itself; it's to deter that country from attacking you with those weapons.

It's a move that only makes sense if you concede that Iran is going to get those weapons no matter what. And that says to me that the Bush administration, regardless of what it claims in public, has in fact resigned itself to that conclusion.

Rejoice, ye triumphant pacifist front! There will be no second invasion. When the UN's paper-thin resolve breaks and Iran refuses to back down, the United States will do...absolutely nothing. The mullahs will get the bomb; the most Bush can do is try to make sure that Iran doesn't use it against Europe.

Israel? They're on their own. Again.

I don't know who should be more scared by that.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

What we have here is a failure to connect the dots.

Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but there's something to be said for coherency, particularly when you're trying to spin a plainly negative development into something positive. Case in point--Soujourners founder Jim Wallis, trying to explain why he thinks that the apparent demise of the "Religious Right" is a good thing:

Most people I talk to think that politics isn't working in America and believe that the misuse of religion has been part of the problem. Politics is failing to resolve the big moral issues of our time, or even to seriously address them. And religion has too often been used as a wedge to divide people, rather than as a bridge to bring us together on those most critical questions.

A pretty damning indictment, all things considered, and one that's been frequently made in decrying the "Religious Right."

All right. For the moment, let's grant, for the sake of the argument, that religion as a divider, rather than a uniter, is a bad thing. But then Wallis, who one can safely surmise would identify himself with the "Religious Left" (if there were such a body) has to explain what religion, as a uniter, is good for--and the very next paragraph, he goes off the tracks and straight over a cliff:

It's time to remember the spiritual revivals that helped lead to the abolition of slavery in Britain and the United States; the black church's leadership during the American civil rights movement; the deeply Catholic roots of the Solidarity movement in Poland that led the overthrow of communism; the way liberation theology in Latin America helped pave the way for new democracies; how Desmond Tutu and the South African churches served to inspire victory over apartheid; how "People Power" joined with the priests and bishops to bring down down Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos; how the Dalai Lama keeps hope alive for millions of Tibetans; and, today, how the growing Evangelical and Pentecostal churches of the global South are mobilizing to addresse the injustices of globalization.

If Wallis thinks that these are the works of religion as a uniter, I have a bridge in Brooklyn he might be interested in. Did religion bring together abolitionists and slave owners? Civil rights leaders and segregationists? The Solidarity movement and communists?

Of course not. Every movement he cited above had one other thing in common, besides their religious sources: they were all movements against something. Slavery, segregation, apartheid, dictatorships--every one of these movements was against something, and as a necessary corollary to that, against that something's proponents and defenders. If that's not religion as a divisive force, I don't know what is.

The problem Wallis is trying to get around acknowledging is that in America, the great religious movements of the last two generations have been the pro-life and the pro-family movements. There is no real "Religious Left" anymore because the Left in general embraced opposing positions to both of these movements--and based most of their opposition to these movements on the fact that they are fundamentally religious in nature, with an alarming degree of success.

"The Religious Right's Era Is Over"? Wallis had better hope not, because if so, what replaces it won't be a new wave of religiously-inspired leftist social movements.

What replaces it will be Richard Dawkins, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and company: the people of the Left who successfully turned back the great religious movements' assault, and will now seek to banish all religions--and all religious people--from the public square once and for all.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Warming: A Crisis Without a Solution

When it comes to global warming, I'm somewhere in the middle of the road. I don't buy that the whole thing is a politically-motivated scam; at the same time, though, I don't believe for a minute that restricting energy use through caps (a la Kyoto) would work, even if China, India, and the US were all on board (which will never happen). It's simply impossible to make the kind of cuts that would be required while maintaining anywhere near the current standard of living worldwide (though, given the belief of many prominent environmentalists that humanity is a plague upon the earth that must be substantially reduced, if not eliminated altogether, this could well be an intended "unintentional" consequence).

It's my opinion that since we can't go back, the only way out of this mess is forward--that is to say, new technology is our only hope. The voice in the media that most closely coincides with my views on the environment is, ironically, Robert Samuelson. (I say ironically because I disagree with him on almost everything else.)

In the wake of the recent international report on global warming, Samuelson has taken the opportunity to once again inject some much-needed sanity into the debate:

The dirty secret about global warming is this: We have no solution. About 80 percent of the world's energy comes from fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), the main sources of man-made greenhouse gases. Energy use sustains economic growth, which -- in all modern societies -- buttresses political and social stability. Until we can replace fossil fuels, or find practical ways to capture their emissions, governments will not sanction the deep energy cuts that would truly affect global warming.

Considering this reality, you should treat the pious exhortations to "do something'' with skepticism, disbelief or contempt. These pronouncements are (take your pick) naive, self-interested, misinformed, stupid or dishonest. Politicians mainly want to be seen as reducing global warming when they're not. Companies want to polish their images and exploit markets created by new environmental regulations.

Read the whole thing.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

No, you are NOT all Americans. [rant]

More and more, in recent months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, Iran has gotten ever closer to its stated goal of wiping Israel off the map, and most of the Eastern Hemisphere (not to mention our neighbors to the north) is all but dancing in the streets in celebration of the apparent demise of the War on Terror--much as Palestinians did on the very day of 9/11--my mind travels back to those attacks, and to the global reaction to them, and more specifically to the famous Le Monde headline: "We Are All Americans."

Are you, really?

You supported our invasion of Afghanistan, because if there has ever been a case of justified retaliation in post-modern times, that was it. But when our President moved beyond that, recognized--as anyone with half a brain could--that Al Qaeda was neither an aberration nor an isolated group, and determined to work to put an end to the conditions that spawned it and other groups like it, suddenly, you stopped.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq was not only a clear menace to the world--a hostile regime known to use weapons of mass destruction in the past, and whose disarmament was never confirmed, as evidenced by the continuing sanctions against it--but a major instigator of the conditions that spawned Al Qaeda--lest we forget, Osama bin Laden explicitly cited both the sanctions against Iraq and American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia against Iraq as excuses for attacking the US. If there was ever a slam-dunk example of a situation that could not, in a post-9/11 world, be permitted to continue, that was it.

And what did you do?

You threw up every roadblock you could in defense of the status quo. Months in advance, President Bush accurately predicted Saddam's obstructionism, his half-hearted cooperation in name only, his continuing efforts to conceal either his WMD programs or the fate of them--he called every step of the dance long in advance, and you still marched to Iraq's beat.

You delayed; you derided; and when our President finally concluded that you could not be relied on and moved anyway, your howls of indignation could be heard around the globe--followed swiftly by every doomsday prophecy you could come up with.

And thus, in Iraq, we've seen the melding of two of the "great" public relations principles of the 20th century: the Big Lie, and the determinative power of the media. Tell a lie--the bigger the better--tell it loudly enough, long enough, and eventually people will start to believe it--and, thanks to the media, not only believe it, but make it a self-fulfilling prophecy--a reality. Thanks in large part to you and your anti-American allies here in the US, Iraq has been all but lost.

And you people celebrated.

The situation in Iran grows more desperate by the day, and you refuse to do anything. You treat the declining poll numbers of Mahmouhd Ahmadinejad as a sign that Iran is buckling, when the real leaders of Iran are the mullahs, who can simply replace him with another hand-selected puppet to appease your outrage, then continue unopposed on their merry nuclear way.

Only the US and Israel are seriously looking at removing, not Ahmadinejad, but the mullahs who are the root of the problem--and they are both strapped, thanks to Iraq and Lebanon, respectively.

And you people gloat.

Just what did "We Are All Americans" mean? It didn't mean you would support us as we sought to ensure that 9/11 would equal "Never Again." It didn't mean you would treat Islamofascist terror, whether Sunni or Shiite, as the global menace that it is. So just what did it mean?

Here's what I think it meant: "We Are All Americans" meant "Americans are like the rest of us, now." It meant that Americans, like the rest of the world, were now mere passive victims. It meant that Americans had been dragged down to the level of the rest of the world. It meant that Americans, like the rest of the world, could only helplessly wail after each new attack, shaking their fists to the heavens and crying out, "Why?"

And when President Bush proved it wrong--when, unlike the rest of the world, he determined to do something about it--"We" were no longer all Americans. America was suddenly once more the most hated country in the world--hated because we set out to do the necessary work that the rest of the world didn't have the balls for.

"We Are All Americans"? Please.

You are NOT all Americans.

Americans have NOT been dragged down to your level.



Friday, February 02, 2007

I would hate to be her daughter.

Courtesy of Constitutionally Right, an article from The Badger Herald that does a pretty good job of unintentionally demonstrating just how dehumanizing abortion really is--not just to the ones killed, but to the ones seeking the killing:

The focus of Christensen’s presentation was the testimony of a woman who said she bore her daughter in 1961 because the law prohibited her from having an abortion.

“It was an extraordinarily difficult time,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous. “It changed my life forever.”

The woman even traveled to Mexico in an attempt to bypass the abortion laws in the United States, but she returned home immediately upon seeing the dangerous conditions under which the abortions were performed.

“I am thankful that my daughter is alive and well and happy,” the woman said. “But each and every day I am reminded of the fact that she exists. My life would have been much different if I would have been able to [have the abortion].”

Words fail.