Saturday, December 02, 2006

One thing puzzles me.

Vlad Putin seems intent on restoring the the Soviet Union, in all but name. No more of the old Marxist-Communist terminology, but the result is the same.

But with Russia having one of the lowest birthrates and lowest life expectancies for men, what is Putin going to rule over? With its treatment of Chechnya's Muslims, how many would want to immigrate there?

What's the Kremlin doing about the declining population?
Aside from the recent high-profile assassinations, there have been the killings, in a period of less than three months, of three bankers, one of them deputy chairman of the central bank. All were slain by contract murderers. A contender for the mayoralty in a Far Eastern town was killed at the height of the election campaign. A pro-Moscow Chechen commander was shot by a group of Chechen law enforcers in broad daylight in the middle of Moscow -- in front of passersby and a group of Moscow militiamen who, according to newspaper reports, watched from across the street. None of the perpetrators was arrested.

I'm with "Pauline"

Richard Miniter provides additional details about the 6 imams kicked off U.S. Airlines Flight 300. The passenger he calls "Pauline" makes some good points:
"It was almost as if they were intentionally trying to get kicked off the flight," Pauline said.

While the imams were soon released, Pauline is fuming: "We are the victims of these people. They need to be more sensitive to us. They were totally insensitive to us and then accused us of being insensitive to them."

The flight was delayed for some 31/2 hours. Bomb-sniffing dogs swept the plane, and every passenger got re-screened.

"I think it was either a foiled attempt to take over the plane or it was a publicity stunt to accuse us of being insensitive," Pauline told me. "It had to be to intimidate U.S. Airways to ease up on security."

So far, U.S. Airways refuses to be intimidated, even though the feds have launched an investigation. "We are absolutely backing this crew," Rader said.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Democrat love for symbolism.

Speaker Pelosi must be thinking about FDR and JFK. Pelosi's 100 hour agenda seems to be more an effort to evoke their memories than anything else. I can't believe that voters were really motivated by her promises, but having put these measures a matter of her personal credibility, they could attract pork and earmarks like flies to a dead fish. Will she impose the discipline to prevent that? Those 100 hours start ticking pretty soon, if they really exist, that is.

Stop pussyfooting, John. Tell us how you really feel.

John Podhoretz on the Iraq Study Group:
As one of the study group's members told the Times yesterday, "We had to move the national debate from 'whether to stay the course' to 'how do we start down the path out'."

This is the consensus view of the Iraq Study Group, which is very proud that it reached consensus.

Its members also reached a consensus view that Depends is a really fine brand of adult diaper, and that they love reruns of "Murder, She Wrote."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What does it say about a "liberal" society when its first reaction to a perceived cultural threat is to limit freedom of expression and religion?

What I do.

Donald Fagan, the singing half of Steely Dan, has put some of the cuts from his latest album on the internet with a low-fi player. My favorite song on Morph the Cat is the one that comes on when you go to his blog, What I Do, being an imagined conversation between himself and the late Ray Charles regarding the latter's way with the ladies. It's proof that Fagan's own way with infectious grooves is undiminished, and also a good reminder, if you haven't listened to your SD collection lately, to do so.

A few random musings

I've been away for two weeks visiting family in Illinois. I didn't even watch the news. I did get some reading done, though. I read a couple of books about the Shias and their hopes for power in Iraq after generations of oppression by Sunnis. Some of their biggest enemies are the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia, who consider Shiites to be worse than infidels, apostates, based on events occurring over a millennium ago.

I believe that we have done a good thing by overthrowing Saddam and overseeing the development of a democratic government. I think we need to keep training Iraqi troops as fast as possible, because the sectarian violence is not going to go away and we can't suppress it without more troops and stirring up more resentment from Muslims. We're seeing a bid by the Saudis to remake Islam in the Wahhabist or Salafist image countered by Iran trying to make it safe for fundamentalist Shiism. The terrorists aren't following moderates like Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and Iraq will be a battleground rather than a source for jihadists.

I think that our approach should be that of letting the supporters of terrorism and terrorists know that anywhere it crops up will be bombed until the regimes take care of their own messes. In other words, we may not be able to move in and restore order, but we can make short work of governments like Sudan's that is allowing genocide in Darfur. We may not be able to do it for them, but we can sure make sure it won't be safe while it fails to deal justly with its own people. Maybe if these tinpot dictators know that they won't be safe while they're hosting terrorism and genocide, they'll see that it's in their own interests to keep them out.

I'd like America to be loved, but failing that I want it to be feared, as the craziest bad-ass on the block, not to be messed with. We may not be able to invade and occupy anybody for long, but we can certainly destroy their property and sow chaos in their strongholds.

End of vent. It's not going to happen, but it's a nice idea for dealing with a hostile world. Our friends resent our power and our success as they sink into torpor. Our enemies take comfort in their ability to manipulate our media and undercut ongoing operations like Iraq, but that doesn't make us impotent. Warfare is still in its essence a barbaric activity. We're good at it, and even if the world doesn't care to adopt liberal democracy as a system, they shouldn't get the idea that they can destroy us or impose a different one on us.