Monthly Archives: February 2005

Hoping for Failure

There are two kinds of liberals nowadays: liberals who want America to fail in Iraq and the Middle East because they’re anti-American and/or they obsessively hate Bush and liberals who are patriotic and want America to succeed even if Bush gets the credit.

The number of liberals who fall into the latter category is extremely small. As a matter of fact, the only prominent Democrat I know of who really wants Bush to succeed in the Middle East is, I believe, Tom Friedman of the New York Times. Friedman really cares about that unhappy region which he demonstrated on today’s Meet the Press program.

He also observed that it would be politically disastrous for the Democrats to pursue their pacifist instincts and obstruct Bush’s efforts. At the same time, Friedman praised Joe Biden for being constructive in his criticism of the war. Joe Lieberman, yes. Biden? I don’t think so.

One reason I was happy Kerry lost is the rumor that he would appoint Biden secretary of state. It’s bad enough to have to listen to this windbag as the ranking memmber of the foreign relations committee; he would have been insufferable as secretary of state. Besides, it seems to me, Biden is preparing for a presidential run and so is positioning himself to the left of Hillary on the war, since Hillary figures she already has the left wing in her pocket and so can be a hawk on Iraq to pick up conservative votes.

Biden’s so-called constructive criticism of the war that Friedman finds praiseworthy is just second guessing. Biden, like John McCain (another presidential candidate), says more troops would have brought about a better outcome in Iraq, but more troops could just as easily have made things worse. Fewer Americans on the ground seem less like an army of occupation, and the critics who hate Bush and want us to fail would be screaming even more (if that’s possible) about a large American army of occupation proving Bush’s imperialistic designs.

A short while ago, New York Magazine columnist Kurt Anderson wrote an interesting article<a / on this subject.

A Cataclysmic Mistake

Perceptive article by Myron Magnet on the disastrous effects of the War on Poverty.

…the War on Poverty–an array of LBJ-era legislation that boosted welfare benefits and established other programs for the poor, including Medicaid–created its own form of depression, as women long dependent on welfare became so convinced of their own inferiority that they could hardly present themselves without trembling at a job interview. And, as a far worse psychological consequence, the sense of victimization and of entitlement to government support that the War on Poverty fostered created a corrosive self-pity and resentment among the children of its beneficiaries, and their children’s children. The self-pity led to drink and drugs; the resentment to crime and violence; and both together to a perpetuation of irresponsibility, dysfunction, and failure over the generations. The first-line antidote, in Mr. Bush’s view, would be the intervention of a counselor, preferably faith-based.

…Moreover, as a Texan, Mr. Bush had seen waves of Mexican immigrants flooding in to take jobs no one previously knew existed–still more evidence that there was no crisis of opportunity–while in the cities, a new wave of immigrant-run greengroceries, nail salons, construction firms, even commercial fish farms in Bronx basements, gave the lie to the failure-of-capitalism theory.

And, on top of all that, the overwhelming success of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which became ever clearer during President Bush’s first term, utterly exploded the idea that the hard-core poor were not working because of a lack of jobs. Welfare mothers crowded into the work force; the rolls dropped by roughly half. Not only were their children not freezing to death on the streets by the thousands, as even so wise an observer as the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan had predicted they would, but in fact child poverty reached its lowest point ever three years after welfare reform. Lack of opportunity? Hardly.

Pale as Orchids

Peggy Noonan on Hunter Thompson and Larry Summers.

I particularly like her comparison of American universities to Medievil cloisters:

But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They’re like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.

These monks and nuns are the worst of both worlds, frightened and so ferocious, antique and so aggressive. Will they exorcise Summers from their midst? Stay tuned. But cheers to the Ivy League students who refuse to be impressed by these relics.

The Mobs of Academia

Stop apologizing, Larry.

Seeing the Light

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius interviews a Lebanese warlord who has seen the light.

The usually anti-American Walid Jumblatt observed:

“It’s strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,” explains Jumblatt. “I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.” Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. “The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.”

A Muslim neoconservative.

The Boomerang Effect

The Times gets bitten.

Mending Fences

On the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, columnist George Melloan wonders whether the Europeans should be seeking to “mend fences” with Bush rather than the other way around:

Press coverage of George W. Bush’s visit to Europe this week focuses on the president’s supposed need to mend trans-Atlantic relations. It is at least interesting to ask whether the Europeans have any responsibilities in this regard. Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac aren’t children, after all, even if their behavior is sometimes juvenile.

The standard Franco-German beef, echoed in news media on both sides of the Atlantic, is that Mr. Bush conducts a “cowboy foreign policy.” He threatens nice people like Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and Syria’s Bashar Assad, merely because these two innocents support terrorism, plot mass destruction and undermine peace efforts in Iraq. He frowns on Europe selling China advanced weapons to help it become the dominant military power in Asia. He dares to suggest that Europe’s embrace of a massive United Nations “global warming” tax is a fool’s errand.

The American president is supposedly wrong to be concerned about the growing violence of German skinheads or French anti-Semites. Their grievances can surely be addressed by forcing the Jews to make ever- greater concessions to the Arabs, according to the catechism of those who claim to speak for “Europe.”

The Gonzo Journalist

Tom Wolfe on Hunter S. Thompson.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, Building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool, and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The shivering grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

The Updated CANADIAN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks he’s a fool and laughs, dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed, while others less fortunate like him are cold and starving.

CBC shows up to provide live coverage of the shivering grasshopper, with cuts to a video of the ant in his comfortable warm home with a table filled with food.

Canadians are stunned that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so while others have plenty.

The NDP, the CAW and the Coalition Against Poverty demonstrate in front of the ant’s house. The CBC, interrupting an Inuit cultural festival special from Nunavut with breaking news, broadcasts them singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Svend Robinson rants in an interview with Pamela Wallin that The ant has gotten rich off the backs of grasshoppers, and calls for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his “fair share.”

In response to polls, the Liberal Government drafts the Economic Equity and Grasshopper Anti-Discrimination Act, retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant’s taxes are reassessed and he is also fined for failing to hire grasshoppers as helpers. Without enough money to pay both the fine and his newly imposed retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government.

The ant moves to the US, starts a successful agribiz company.

The CBC later shows the now fat grasshopper finishing up the last of the ant’s food though spring is still months away, while the Government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he hadn’t maintained it. Inadequate government funding is blamed, Roy Romanow is appointed to head a commission of enquiry that will cost $10,000,000.

The grasshopper is soon dead of a drug overdose, theToronto Star blames it on obvious failure of government to address the root Causes of Despair arising from social inequity.

The abandoned house is taken over by a gang of immigrant spiders, praised by the government for enriching Canada’s multicultural diversity, who promptly terrorize the community.

Thanks to Allan Caplan

Social Security for Dummies

Krauthammer explains (so even I can understand it) why Social Security is unsustainable in its present form.

The heart of the matter:

Let’s start with basics. The Social Security system has no trust fund. No lockbox. When you pay your payroll tax every year, the money is not converted into gold bars and shipped to some desert island, ready for retrieval when you turn 65. The system is pay as you go. The money goes to support that year’s Social Security recipients. What’s left over is “lent” to the federal Treasury. And gets entirely spent. It vanishes. In return, a piece of paper gets deposited in a vault in West Virginia saying that the left hand of the government owes money to the right hand of the government.

These pieces of paper might be useful for rolling cigars. They will not fund your retirement. Your Leisure World greens fees will be coming from the payroll taxes of young people during the years you grow old.

That is why 2042 is a fiction. The really important date is 2018. That is when this pay-as-you-go system starts paying out more (in Social Security benefits) than goes in (in payroll taxes). Right now, workers pay in more than old folks take out. But because the population is aging, in 13 years the system begins to go into the red. To cover retiree benefits, the government will have to exhaust all of its FICA tax revenue and come up with the rest — by borrowing on the world market, raising taxes or cutting other government programs.