September 20, 2004
I recently asked a very smart dog what percentage of the oil consumed in the United States came from the Middle East. He correctly answered, "about 25%" and then shared this article with me. Its a highly readable and informative primer on the issues of oil source, exploration, and delivery.
September 17, 2004
Its a dead heat
Yesterday's Rasmussen report reveals that in the sixteen-Battleground States (Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota, Oregon, Iowa, Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Maine, and New Hampshire) that are likely to determine the winner of Election 2004, President Bush and Senator Kerry remain tied at 47%.
That's unchanged from a week ago. Immediately following the Republican National Convention, Bush was ahead, 48% to 45%.
The week before the Republican National Convention, Kerry was ahead, 47% to 45%. In fact, Kerry has been ahead in the 16-Battleground States for most of the year.
A U.S. intelligence report prepared for President Bush in July offered a gloomy outlook for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst scenario being a deterioration into civil war.
It seems to me that there are only two real choices here: (1) win the war by bombing the hell out of Iraq until Muslim extremists leave the area; or (2) withdraw.
Josh Marshall noted early this week "the US is losing the war" as evidenced by the fact that "[w]e are rapidly ceding large parts of the country to control by insurgents."
Marshall correctly argued that President Bush is able "to edge Iraq out of the campaign dialogue by putting the issue back on to Kerry, asking what he would do differently and how it would produce a better result" because he knows that Kerry's supporters -- the left -- would find the "bomb the hell out of Iraq" solution untenable and Bush supporters would not vote for Kerry even if he did espouse that hawkish solution. Kerry would lose the election if he were to espouse withdrawal because he'd look like the "not really a war hero turned traitor" that the Bush camp paints Kerry out to be. Marshall touches on this when he says Bush has put "Kerry in a bit of a bind because the politically-unspeakable answer here is that there are no good solutions anymore." I sometimes wonder if it would be better if Bush won the election. He'd have to clean up his own mess.
I stop short of this conclusion, however, when I remember the real danger is the volitilitiy of the region and the other messes that Bush is making, through his complete unwillingness to approach the problems that face our nation in an informed and humble manner. Instead, Bush ignores the facts and acts as if we cannot lose.
Perhaps if Bush had actually fought in Vietnam, he'd remember that we lost that war and that we could lose this war, too. Instead, Bush is putting trying to win this war by half measures while antagonizing Korea and China. I think Bush is just dumb enough to think that we could fight four wars at a time -- despite the fact that we are not winning the two he's already gotten us into.
September 16, 2004
I admire informed iconoclasm more than most, and this book intelligently dashes false idols at every opportunity. How often have we heard our leaders say that: Islamic extremists hate us for our freedoms? Or that we will bring democracy to Iraq? Or that Iraqis want a democracy? Here is what the author if Imperial Hubris has to say.
Bin Laden’s foreign policy goals . . . are six in number and easily stated. First, the end to all U.S. aid to Israel, the elimination of the Jewish state, and in its stead, the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state. Second, the withdrawal of all U.S. and Western military forces from the Arabian Peninsula . . . and all Muslim territory. Third, end of U.S. support for, and the acquiesce in, th oppression of Muslims by the Chinese, Russian, Indian, and other governments. First, restoration of full Muslim control over the Islamic world’s energy resources and return to market prices, ending the impoverishment of Muslims caused by oil set by Arab regimes to placate the West. Sixth, the replacement of U.S. protected Muslim regimes that do not govern according to Islam by regimes that do. When U.S. leaders speak blithely and ad nauseam of building a democracy like ours in Afghanistan or Iraq or Burma or Russia or Liberia or Saudi Arabia, saying that it can be sone speedily and on the cheap, the betray ignorance . . .
American democracy began . . . in 1215 when the English barons reduced King John’s arbitrary powers at Runnymead. From that medieval glen to the American political system of 2003 is a nearly eight-century journey tracing a gradual but not inevitable advance of personal liberty, guaranteed civil rights, self government, and independent judiciary, and the separation of church and state. These are unprecedented accomplishments, but the road traversed to attain them has not been smooth; rather, it has been marked by brutal and bloody events and personalities, as well as by civil war, protracted legal struggle, urban riots, noble lives sacrificed, voting fraud, lynchings, ethnic and racial violence, labor-business clashes, and virtually every form of hatred, prejudice, and bigotry. In defeating these obstacles Americans have been helped – by great good luck or the kindness of Providence . . . – by residing on a fertile, temperate, and resource-rich continent tucked away from . . . devastating events . . .
Scheuer (?) relies on the words of Joshua Mitchell, Washington Post, 10 August 2003, p. B-7, to call into question America's cherished precept that mankind universally aspires to be free.
Freedom is neither a spontaneous nor universal aspiration. Other goods captivate the minds of other people from other lands, order, honor, and tribal loyalties being the most obvious. And because these other goods orient these people no less powerfully than freedom orients us, we are apt to be sorely surprised when people who are liberated turn to new tyrants who can assume order; to terrorists who die for the honor of their country or Islam; and to tribal warlords who winner-take-all mentality is corrosive to the pluralism and toleration that are the very hallmarks of modern democracy.
And the words of Ralph Peters
Democracy must be earned and learned. It cannot be decreed from without. In grim paradox, our insistence on instant democracy in shattered states . . . is our greatest contribution to global instability. . . . [Instant democracies are] the ass end of imperialism.
While I am not sure that all men do not yearn to breath free, I am absolutely certain that freedom is costly and must be jealously guarded. For this reason, only those willing to fight to secure their own freedom and work to jealously guard their freedoms deserve to be free.
September 15, 2004
The dog and the Colonel
Recently I attended a cocktail party and spoke with a Colonel with the United States Marine Corp. who was clearly frustrated by this administration's unwillingness to listen to our country's experts. We had just heard John F. Lehman, of the 9/11 commission, convey with wonder the "newly discovered fact" that terrorist funds came out of Iran. I asked the Colonel why that information was such news to our government when Robin Wright had reported the same -- several years ago -- in her book Sacred Rage : The Wrath of Militant Islam.
The Colonel mused that HE had long known that terrorist funds came out of Iran -- as did many other members of our goverment -- but that the Bush administration did not, because it refused to listen to the experts.
The Colonel noted that the "true believers" in the Bush administration who thought that we had G-d on our side -- because they believed in the Bible -- were just as dangerous as the "true believers" in the Middle East who thought that they had G-d on their side because they believed in the Koran. The Colonel then warned that we could lose this war, just as we lost Vietman, if the true believers continued in their folly.
The Colonel reported that the Bush administration sent a 24 year old man -- who had never bought or sold a single stock -- to set up the stock market for Iraq. Apparently, the young man's only qualification was ties to the Heritage Foundation.
The Bush administration also sent a young girl in her 20's -- also from the Heritage Foundation -- to advise 51 year old Iraqi tribal leaders on the problems facing the people under their authority. The Colonel (a very impressive man) noted that HE would not know how to advise a 51 year old Iraqi tribal leader -- so this young woman certainly did not know what she was doing.
The Colonel wondered aloud why American businessmen who did have knowledge about the stock market and former Mayors of our cities who had dealt with issue such as antiquated sewage systems were passed over in lieu of young people from the Heritage Foundation.
The Colonel also reported that the Bush Administration refuses to budget additional funds to the war in Iraq until after Congress returns on January 12, 2005. The Colonel notes that this means his funds run out in November 2004 and new funds will not be available until at least March 2005 -- given the amount of time it takes Congress to act.
September 14, 2004
An extended member of our pack just sent this to me by email. Click here to laugh until you cry, or wet the floor as our baby Fozzie Bear sometimes does when he gets really excited.