Archives for June 2005
Islamists have proved adept at winning liberal exemption from criticism
states Victor Davis Hanson,
It is no accident that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf are still popular sellers among zealots in some capitals of the Arab world. Was our war on terror, then, going to be morally clear to even the most progressive utopian, since our enemies lacked liberal pretensions and the charisma of a Stalin, Ho, Che, or Fidel that so often duped the gullible?
Two factors explain the current growing hysteria over Iraq, and they transcend the complex nature of the war and even the depressing media reports from the battlefield. First is the strange doctrine of multiculturalism that has become one of our most dominant boutique ideologies of the last few decades, as the United States experienced unleveled prosperity, leisure — and guilt.
Hanson goes on,
Contrary to all recent popular wisdom, the war in Iraq is not a disaster, but nearing success. It has been costly and at times tragic, but a democracy is in place, accords are being hammered out with Sunni rejectionists, and the democratic reformist mindset is pulsating into Lebanon, Egypt, and the Gulf. This has only been possible because of the courage and efficacy of a much maligned military that, for the lapses of a small minority at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, has been compared to Stalin and Hitler.
If President Bush were a liberal Democrat; if he were bombing a white Christian, politically clumsy fascist in the heart of Europe; if al Qaeda and its Islamist adherents were properly seen as eighth-century tormenters of humanists, women, homosexuals, non-Arabs, and non-Wahhabi believers; and if Iraq had become completely somnolent with the toppling of Saddam’s statue, then the American people would have remained behind the effort to dismantle Islamic fundamentalism and create the foundations to ensure its permanent demise.
But once the suicide murdering and bombing from Iraq began to dominate the news, then this administration, for historical reasons largely beyond its own control, had a very small reservoir of good will. The Islamists proved to be more adept in the public relations of winning liberal exemption from criticism than did the administration itself, as one nude Iraqi on film or a crumpled Koran was always deemed far worse than daily beheadings and executions. Indeed, the terrorists were able to morph into downtrodden victims of a bullying, imperialistic America faster than George W. Bush was able to appear a reluctant progressive at war with the Dark Age values of our enemies.
And once that transformation was established, we were into a dangerous cycle of a conservative, tough-talking president intervening abroad to thwart the poorer of the third world — something that has never been an easy thing in recent American history, but now in our own age has become a propagandist’s dream come true.
And don’t miss Arthur’s thirtieth installment of good news from Iraq.
While you ponder Iran, let’s mention Venezuela, too
Iran’s used elections as a PR ploy for the theocracy, and they are going nuclear, too.
Not to be upstaged, Hugo wants to go nuclear, too, and with Iranian help: Venezuela dimisses jitters over nuclear programIn one of his “hey, look at me, I’m not saying what you think I’m saying” maneuvers, Hugo claims that
Venezuela will pursue plans to develop nuclear technology for its medical, industrial and oil sectors despite regional jitters over possible cooperation with Iran, the science minister said.
Hugo’s repeating himself, of course.
At least Brazil’s not playing along,
Chavez said in May that Venezuela and other Latin American countries such as Brazil and Argentina could develop nuclear energy as an alternative power source.
But Brazil said it would likely not cooperate with Venezuela on nuclear energy projects involving Iran. A Brazilian government official described possible Iranian involvement as “risky” and pointed to Brazil’s energy projects with Argentina and the United States.
In further Hugo news, Cuba says someone, possibly Columbian, has been trying to kill him, and the Cuban website (is this a pattern?) also says that a Survey Ratifies Hugo Chavez´s Political Leadership. The survey didn’t ask this guy, or the oil workers protesting against corruption and lost jobs who shut down oil production. The Cuban press didn’t seem to have time to report that retired members of the Venezuelan armed forces protested the presence of Cuban “advisors” in the Venezuelan military, but at least Hugo’s giving a pay raise to the soldiers that are (still) loyal to him.
Venezuela and Iran would have perfect synergy: both countries are led by ideologists that hate the USA and are adroit at manipulating elections; the mullahs have plundered their country and Hugo, not satisfied with all that oil money, has taken over the Central Bank’s reserves; and now they both think they’re the bomb. Or at least, want to be.
Update: Some Venezuelans are revolting
A brief post Iran, part 2
The mullahs hold an election, and insist on the invisible huge turnout, in order to justify their own legitimacy.
The election has candidates that only the mullahs have vetted. Over a 1,000 possible candidates were rejected.
The election goes well, with one candidate, supposedly for “reform”, going to a second round with a “traditionalist”.
Why would anyone be surprised, then, that the “traditionalist” won?
As the Beeb said, His victory means all the organs of the Iranian state are now in the hands of conservative hardliners. And in the guise of legitimacy, too.
For more on Iran, don’t miss Editor: Myself blog (hat tip: BuzzMachine). Via Roger L. Simon, Michael Ledeen explains how What we’re seeing is a power struggle within the tyrannical elite
(Part 1 of A brief post on Iran here)
Maturity, the NYT, and the war
I’ve always, even as a child, believed that mature people dealt with what there is; i.e., a mature person deals with reality while an immature person squanders their energy and resources lamenting what there isn’t/crying-whinning-complaining about what they don’t like/wishing their time away. A mature person handles a situation realistically, and sets goals to see it through.
The NYTimes editors have a record of lamenting, complaining and wishing, rather than coping. Just this morning they’ve come up with this editorial, Three Things About Iraq, which they start with the statement, “To have the sober conversation about the war in Iraq that America badly needs, it is vital to acknowledge three facts. . . “
Tiger Hawk takes care of fisking two of the things, starting with, “The war has nothing to do with Sept. 11.”
That there may have been no material connection between Saddam Hussein’s government and September 11 hardly means that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with September 11. While there were definitely important reasons independant of September 11 to take Saddam down — it was American policy to bring about the fall of his government even before George W. Bush came into office — the invasion itself was directly related to our war on al Qaeda and its cognates. First, we needed to re-establish out credibility in the Arab world, which credibility was squandered by virtually every president since Jimmy Carter. This could only happen by brining the war into the heart of the Arab world and taking casualties killing jihadists. We are doing that every day. Second, we needed to put ourselves in a position to coerce the regimes most important to the war on Islamist jihad, including particularly Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia joined the fight only when it realized that we did not need its bases or its geography once we occupied Iraq. Third, we simply could not run the risk that an undeterrable and power crazy tyrant like Saddam Hussein might make common cause with al Qaeda.
One might well argue that these purposes for the war are inadequate, but there are many people outside the administration who have no particular partisan ax to gring — me, for example — who think they carry the day. For the Times to declare as a fact that the Iraq war has “nothing to do with September 11” is transportingly dishonest.
But let me add more more fact the NY Times appears to consider a simple side issue:
Were the Times use its considerable resources to do all it can towards the goal of winning the war, it would show a great deal maturity.
The rest is just childish belly-aching.
More on Kelo vs City of New London, from Elighten NJ
From their post, All For The Greater Good:
Fast forward to the present and we find the constant erosion of property rights in the United States. People and their property are seen as little more than tax targets to be exploited for the “greater good”.
Look no further than income tax laws imposed; more for the purpose of wealth redistribution than to provide for the common protection of life and property of citizens. You don’t decide how to use the fruits of your labor; the “government” decides and demands to be paid first, to hell with your needs or wishes. All for the “greater good.”
The IRS has the power to investigate your personal activities and finances; without a search warrant the IRS has the right to search your property and financial records; and without a trial, the IRS has the right to seize your property. All for the “greater good.”
Find out how this erosion of the right to own private property relates to the Kelo decision by reading their post.
And while you’re at it, bear in mind that nowhere in the Kelo decision does it say the property seized must be limited to real estate.
Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes for development
Yahoo News on the Kelo vs City of New London decision
Cities may bulldoze people’s homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development, a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday, giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue.
The Justices voting in favor of this ruling are John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.
Last February I was saying it can happen anywhere. Could it happen here? Certainly. They way the local and state government have been spending money, it makes perfect sense that they’d raze down homes paying $10,000/yr in taxes to put up homes or businesses that pay a minimum of $50,000+/yr in taxes. Say, for instance, in the Witherspoon Street/Hospital neighborhood.
DynamoBuzz explains in NJ terms,
And what does this mean in New Jersey?? This state is full of wealthy land developers and business interests, from Donald Trump and George Norcross down to the local land developers. You know the names, just look in the Sunday real estate listings. All they need to do is go a local town planning board and propose some development project that has the net effect of increasing tax revenue. Like perhaps tear down three or four older ranch houses and replace them with townhouses. Or maybe a property with a motel that could instead have a hotel/conference center. Of course, these developers have already contributed thousands of dollars to the local politicians, and I’m sure the politicians will get even more if the land deal goes through. This is pay to play on steroids, state sponsored kick backs.
This ruling gives local governments unlimited power over your personal property.
The NJ blogss reaction:
In the biggest blow to those who would save the businesses in downtown Bloomfield from the wrecking ball, the Supreme Court today handed down its decision in Kelo v. New London — and gave local governments the right to use eminent domain, even to make way for private business development.
This follows a NJ superior court decision in late May in favor of the township, and against the fighting merchants.
NJ Eminent Domain (emphasis mine)
In far too many instances, such as Long Branch and Asbury Park, the blight declarations go back ten years or more. This is an unconscionable burden to the property owners within the affected area. They cannot sell, except at a discount; they are reluctant to invest in their properties because of the fear of Eminent Domain; and many municipalities neglect to enforce their building codes once the areas have been determined to be blighted. This only exacerbates the impacts on the property owners.
We’ve had many inquiries today concerning what the property owner can do. The only answer is for the property owner to be vigilant regarding proposed municipal action and to participate in and contest the blight studies when they are presented to the municipal Planning Board. If the property owner sits on their rights and does not do this, they will have a very difficult time filing a Prerogative Writ suit contesting the municipal action.
The SCOTUS decision is wrong, and it makes me angry. As Mark Leon Goldberg put it,
Loose interpretations of a government’s right of eminent domain is the sort of thing we expect in Harare — not New London
The potential for abuse in this ruling is obvious, and the fact that governments cannot be trusted to do the right thing is exactly the reason why the Michigan Supreme Court reversed Poletown earlier this year. And Justice Thomas hits the nail on the head when he observes that it won’t be (and historically hasn’t been) the rich and powerful who are finding their homes condemned and given to corporations, Wal-Mart, or simply someone who will build a bigger house and promise to pay more property taxes (as Will Wilkinson observes, “That is, if you have something somebody richer than you wants, watch out.”).
The SCOTUS has spoken and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.
This is a bad decision.
More at SCOTUS blog.