Dienstag, März 29, 2011
It was a day of infamy. Not like Pearl Harbor, which was a surprise attack held during diplomatic talks, but a day of infamy in the original sense of the word, from the Latin infamia, the inversion of fame, the flipping of fame to infamy. It is a state of extreme dishonor, a black spot on US history.
But not for the reasons that the Left would have you believe.
The popular conception is that the Vietcong was fighting for independence against a corrupt government and that the North Vietnamese were helping their oppressed brothers (and sisters) fight against tyranny. The Tet offensive was a popular uprising that the US had to put down to save the regime. The US was involved because we were knee-jerk reactionaries, trying to prevent the spread of communism and willing to kill innocent civilians for the sake of geopolitics. My Lai and "We had to destroy the village in order to save it" proved that the war was horrible and we shouldn't be involved. It was nothing but a colonial war and the US was on the wrong side. We fought a war of genocide and were outfought by peasants.
As usual, the popular conception is wrong.
The Vietcong were financed and run by the North in order to destabilize the South, which, for all its failings, was a functioning government with popular support. The North was financed in turn by both China and Russia, with the latter dominating, who sent billions in weapons and supplies in the hope that the Vietnamese, if successful, would turn over Cam Rahn Bay, a lovely natural harbor, over to the Soviets for their geopolitical games with the US. The North Vietnamese were ruthless Leninists (and remain so today, largely) that were more than happy to massacre the Catholics in the North; they violated each and every agreement signed with the French that split Vietnam without regard to anything but their revolutionary ideals. They beat the French at Dien Bien Phu in a set-piece battle that reflected less on their abilities as much more the incompetence of the French military command which allowed the battle to happen at all. They fought to unify Vietnam under the banner of the Vietnamese Communist Party, hard-core Leninists who learned their trade at Moscow's knee at the start of the Cold War.
The US was involved because the South asked us for help at a time when Wilsonist idealists were running US foreign policy, more than happy to give a helping hand to anyone trying to emulate western political philosophies. The massive amounts of foreign aid corrupted the capital thoroughly and created a political system rife with corruption and incompetence. Tet was a deliberate suicide mission aimed at US public opinion, complete with wide-spread political assassination of Southern politicians by the North, resulting in the destruction of local guerrilla fighters (the Vietcong); thereafter, the war was fought by North Vietnamese regulars, using tactics that were illegal under the Geneva Laws of Warfare (disguising soldiers as civilians and use of cultural sites for military operations). The US was indeed involved to prevent a Communist takeover: there are good reasons to do so, and the fate of those fleeing Vietnam as Boat People should be an object lesson as to how far people will go to flee Communist rule.
Civilian lives were lost, but largely because of the way the North fought. They lost every single set-piece action they tried to fight, every single one. They lost tactically, they lost strategically, the only victory they achieved was political, sapping the will of the US to continue to fight. They fielded an army of peasants that was thoroughly trounced by drafted US soldiers and South Vietnamese soldiers. The story of the ARVN 18th Infantry Division defending Xuan Loc gives absolute lie to the claim that the South Vietnamese were incapable of fighting and worthless: that division outfought the North Vietnamese 4th Army Corps to a standstill until, outnumbered and running out of ammunition (that the US Congress denied them), they withdrew, with one unit staying behind to be completely wiped out to cover the withdrawal.
That is why this is a day of infamy. It is a day of infamy for the US congress, which made foreign policy by cutting aid, making it impossible for South Vietnam to defend itself. They prevented the US military from intervening via what we now call a no-fly zone, giving air support to the South at a time when it was being attacked by the North. The North Vietnamese had tried something similar before and was stopped by US air power
Put bluntly: the US failed in its commitment, failed in its duty, failed to stand by a country - South Vietnam - which by 1973 was fighting the war without US troops and holding its own, indeed winning back the countryside. It finally fell to a combined arms attack using more tanks and artillery than the Germans had when they started WW2.
The North broke every treaty it ever signed, broke every promise it ever made, and after the war was over, killed millions of Vietnamese through "re-education" camps and political oppression that led to desperate attempts to escape. They fought a war of lies and deceit, a typical Communist "war of liberation" that did anything but liberate the country. The Vietnam we see today is still run by that party, mellowed by age (and the dying-out of the Leninists) and itself thoroughly corrupted.
It is also a day of infamy because it led to an entire generation of Democratic politicians whose careers were made by opposing US actions, bordering on treason and sedition, typified by John Kerry, who used his service as a tool to gain and hold political office by making the US look as bad as possible in order to appeal to those who were disgusted by the war. This is nothing but brazen opportunism and is indeed infamous.
Lessons were learned. The US no longer has a drafted military, moving to a purely professional army instead because of many of the problems faced. Allies also knew that the US could only be relied on if led by the right politician, and indeed this gave solace to our enemies because they also knew that the US could not be relied on if led by corrupt and incompetent politicians. The US showed that it is vulnerable to the manipulation of public opinion and that there are more than enough willing and useful idiots more than happy to further their own careers by advancing viewpoints that damage US interests.
Now some reading this might roll their eyes and say "another revisionist..." but I dare anyone to state the case that the facts are different. You're entitled to your own opinions, but the facts speak another language. One of infamy.
Samstag, März 19, 2011
Read it here.
First and foremost, President Obama should be going to Congress for authorization of the use of force under UN Resolution 1973. If he does not, it borders on abuse of presidential powers. President Bush I and II both went to Congress for such authorizations, which is the modern-day equivalent of the declaration of war that apparently has gone completely out of style.
If he fails to do this, he is setting precedence for future Presidents. No President has been happy with the War Powers Act that expressed the Congress' full intent of fulfilling its role under the Constitution of the United States, that it alone may declare war unless there is simply no time for it to meet.
Never has the press been so silent about this: this speaks volumes for the sycophants that appear to be in charge here. If the current President was a Republican, you'd be hearing about this in banner headlines.
Sometimes the absence of something is the proof that it exists.
President Obama has been quoted on this:
"The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," the memo quotes then-Senator Obama saying on Dec. 20, 2007.
In other words, President Obama is on record for stating that he does not have the power to do what he is now doing.
Ye gods. The sooner the 2012 defeat of President Obama at the polls, the better.
Donnerstag, März 10, 2011
The American people have been lied to since at least the Great Society programs of LBJ.
The mantras of "We can afford to..."; "The richest nation on the planet and we don't have..."; "We need to address the injustices of ..." are what is driving the deficits and the debt to unsustainable levels. Entitlements are the problem: pretending that they may not, can not and shall not be touched is a enduring political myth.
The reason that entitlement programs are called "The Third Rail" of American politics - touch and you die - is that when you look closely at them, the fabric unravels. Social security only works as a pay-as-you-go program when demographics and wage increases support permanent increases; Medicare and Medicaid only work when health care costs do not handily exceed the cost of living increases and only cover those who really cannot pay (as opposed to those who simply don't want to pay); the vast number of subsidies for successful interest groups and their lobbyists are like leeches, living off the life blood and ensuring their own success at the cost of their host.
If entitlements are not addressed now, when there is still a chance to do this with deliberation and with careful review, they will have to be addressed when the full fiscal crisis hits, after interest rates go up and the government has to pay significantly higher interest rates to roll over its debt.
The fiscal irresponsibilities are manifold and cross party lines. The sins of at least three generations of politicians - vote for me and there'll be pork in your district, money for nothing and your kicks for free (deliberate misquote, there) - are coming home to roost: pretending that they are not, that there is no 400lb gorilla in the room, simply pushes the final day of reckoning out to where that gorilla becomes a 25 tons gorilla that fills the room and leaves no other options than dealing with it.
The willful ignorance, the deliberate put-my-fingers-in-my-ears-and-say-la-la-la-la of the Democrat Party reflects the party's virtual total dependence on entitlements. Republicans are better in this aspect - middle-class subsidies such as tax breaks for mortgages have merged into the general landscape, rather than being something that the Republicans depend on to get their votes - but have their own home-made problems and sins of the past.
Unless the problem is dealt with - and as I have said before, only spending cuts will truly address the problem, as raising taxes to actually pay for everything would be onerous and ruinous - then the future of the country is at stake.
To take a slogan, so badly abused by the Democrats: "Do it for the children".
First of all, this.
The academics running the Obama foreign policy are doing active harm to the US: this will have repercussions. They can retire when Obama is defeated in 2012 and pretend that it wasn't them who screwed things up, but reality will tell another story and history can be so cruel.
To quote from the link:
The U.S. needs to issue a more public, unequivocal statement of support for authentic representative government. And find an active policy to go with it.
Only a U.S. president can lead this fight. But he has to (truly) believe in it. There is a school of thought, popular around the Obama foreign-policy team, that the world would be better off without the myth of American exceptionalism and burdens like these that come with it. If this government can't summon more than rhetoric or a U.N. resolution on behalf of 10 up-and-running democratic movements in the Middle East, that exceptionalism will wither. I'm guessing the world won't be better for it.
This is an moment where the only explanation - besides gross and widespread incompetence - is that such an epic failure is deliberately desired and planned. Such an abdication of US interests amounts to gross negligence and outright treachery, not merely to US interests, but to fundamental human rights and the case for democracy world-wide.
It is supremely ironic that it is the Democratic Party that is pursuing these goals. That party now appears actively moving to make its name as much a farce as "Democratic Republic" was for the Communist rulers of Eastern Germany. Orwell knew what he was writing about.
This also points to the end of the party. Fundamentally, the US government is broke: it is spending far more than it takes in (I originally wrote "earns", but that only makes sense of confiscation is the same as earning) and while it can leverage quite a bit of this spending by using the government's cash flow, at some point the numbers cease to add up and the party is over. This is as true of government as it is for private persons: the only difference is scale and time. Raising taxes, given the already heavy overall general tax burden, would be counterproductive: the only way out of the debt problem is for spending to be cut drastically.
Let me repeat that: the only way out of the debt problem is for spending to be cut drastically.
I've always referred to NPR since my Washington, DC days as "National Pinko Radio". The liberal bias was excruciatingly obvious, with liberal opinions masquerading as facts. The insular nature of their broadcasts, those whom they interviewed regarding issues (invariably heavily weighted towards whatever liberal/Democratic Party talking point story they brought), the issues chosen: All Things Considered is anything but inclusive, preferring to talk endlessly about health care and gay marriage.
In a time when the government is funding Poetry for Cowboys (and thank you, Harry Ried, for giving us all such a lovely pinata to bang away at!) whilst running up massive deficits and increasing national debt, it is time for someone to say that the party is over.
The party is over.
It is time for the government to stop trying to do good. It is time to stop the madness of financing Poetry for Cowboys, for financing the NPR, for financing luxuries in a time when it is hard to pay for the necessities. The party is over. The place needs to be cleaned up, the drunken guests who have shit in the pool need to be tossed out, the remnants of the orgy have to be disinfected and we need to get the stains out of the couch, carpet and drapes. It's time to stop wondering how someone smashed a banana on the ceiling and get out the ladder to clean it off. It's time to get rid of the slackers lying on the couch watching mindless TV - sorry, I repeat myself there - and get them to work cleaning up the mess they made. The house is trashed, the vases broken, no one knows what killed the goldfish (but the water is yellow) and someone thought it was really funny to make the cat drink a bottle of beer. Now morning has arrived and it is time to save what is left of the house.
It is going to hurt to cut the budget drastically: however, it is hurting right now to ask your average Mr. and Ms. America to pay for Democratic excesses and sheer incompetence when it comes to money. It is time to get our house back in order, to clean out the pigsty, repaint the walls after fixing the cracks and dents, get the washing machine and dryer running full time so that we can get back to normal. There's been a lot of damage done and we have to pay the bills, but this is not the time to head out golfing in the hope that someone else does the job.
Ye gods. It is time that the adults are back in charge.
Donnerstag, März 03, 2011
The single functioning mechanism that tells you everything you want to know about supply and demand is the price mechanism: left to its own devices (aka "The Invisible Hand", prices quickly develop that reflect true scarcity.
If you know the real price for a thing, you can also make the decision to transform that thing into something more valuable. Buy machines and you can turn inexpensive steel into gears and mechanical parts; if steel becomes more expensive, it makes sense to invest in order to use a scarce resource better.
This is fundamental, basic beginning Economics.
The German government, in all its wisdom - and given that it is a conservative government, there is actually some present, rather than what happens under socialist/green administrations - has come up with a real winner.
A tax on raw materials to force German companies to process raw materials better. See the Handelsblatt from today, first page.
Hmmm, you might say: what's so bad about that? Higher efficiencies are always a good thing, ceteris paribus, and if done right will add significantly to the bottom line.
The problem is that it will be the German government (or, more exactly, bureaucrats from the Environmental Agency) that decides which materials will be taxed and how much, rather than the market. That way lies madness.
Because German companies will be the ones investing their money, not the government. When the government gets it wrong - and it will, that is a fact of life - then German company investments will have been spent on the wrong thing, not because the company made the wrong decision, but because someone decided that it would be so.
That way lies madness. Seriously.
Prices are the only way to determine scarcity. If steel is heavily taxed, then other materials will be used; if all materials are heavily taxed, then companies will have to make decisions which materials to use based not on prices, but solely on technical grounds: that would, if anything, undermine the whole point of taxing materials at all.
It's not like German manufacturers are somehow incapable of producing goods with minimal usage of raw materials and the government has to give them a helping hand, as it were. If anything, they are better at it than most, if not almost all countries (I think that Japan is probably at the top there).
The argument of the Environmental Agency is that by forcing manufacturers to gain greater efficiencies now, their productive capacities will be that much more green and hence - hence! - more profitable.
What they are not taking into account is the destructive effect of misallocated capital, that investing large sums for marginal improvements only makes sense when indeed market prices force this.
Simply deciding what the price for something will be - and taxes do this - removes the rule of supply and demand from the production figure, leaving everyone to flounder.
Given that no less than 20% of German GDP is manufacturing (relatively high: US shows 13%, France and the UK 12%!) is generated directly in manufacturing, raising taxes here is extremely counterproductive at best and downright stupid at worst.
Oh, and inflation: the European Central Bank will blow steam from its ears if this affects overall prices. You can't imagine, even for a second, that German companies will not pass on these taxes in the forum of price increases: or is the German Environmental Agency then going to determine as well selling prices too?
Destroying the almost literal magic of supply and demand in determining prices in the name of a chimerical whimsy that the government can better tell what resources need to be better utilized is one of the surer ways of destroying an industrialized economy.
I cannot imagine that this will actually pass into industrial policy under the current administration in Germany: Chancellor Merkel may have questionable taste in Defense Ministers, but she is not lacking in common sense otherwise.
Leon Wieseltier writing at the New Republic on March 2:
As the dictators fall, the clichés fall, too. Cairo and Tunis and Tripoli are littered with the shards of platitudes about what is possible and what is impossible in Arab societies, in closed societies. Civilizational analysis lies in ruins. Idealism, always cheaply mocked, turns out to be a powerful form of historical causation, as disruptive of the established order as any economic or technological change, and even more beneficent. Stability, the false god of hard hearts, has been revealed to be temporary, chimerical, provisional, hollow, where the social arrangements are not decent or fair: the stability of injustice, though it may last a long time, is essentially unstable. It is delicious to see realists convicted of illusions, to hear them utter the words on which they used to choke. (If there is one thing that realists know how to do, it is pivot.)
The Arab uprisings have been heuristically useful: they have exposed a lack of intellectual preparation, a lack of historical imagination, a lack of moral aspiration, here at home. I count the president among the Americans who are sunk in stereotypes and dogmas, even if the good people at the White House want you to know that he is somehow a hero of this springtime. By now—after Tehran, Tunis, Cairo, and Tripoli—a presidential pattern has been established. Obama's reluctance to lead, and to establish the United States ringingly and incontrovertibly as the ally of the freedom movements, is owed to many things, but most of all, I think, it is the result of certain conventional assumptions about the historical agency of the United States in the developing world. In almost his every pronouncement about the valiant accomplishments of the liberalizing crowds in "the Arab street" (now an honorific!), Obama keeps insisting that we had nothing to do with this, that they did all this on their own, that Arab democracy must not be the work of the United States or any foreign power. He dreads the imputation of our influence. All his assurances of a new world notwithstanding, he is haunted by the ghost of imperialism.
Hat tip to the WSJ for that one.
The core belief system of the modern left - transnationalism, relativistic ethics, refusal to judge other countries yet permanently judge their own - is a intellectual fraud, a facade to hide the emptiness and meaninglessness of the academic. I studied in both the US and Germany and while there are those in academia who deserve accolades, respect and recognition, these are few and far between, More often you see those whose main claim to existence is the manipulation of the system, whose academic career, outside of endless faculty meetings where endless pontification replaces actual thought, is trivial at best and, in the greater scheme of things, irrelevant and a waste of human potential.
People with no actual knowledge of how the world actually works pontificate about imagined injustices and construct massive edifices with foundations of sand, based on fundamental mistakes and speculation replacing real knowledge.
Real scholarship is hard and has been replaced with sophistry.
Academia has failed us miserably, yet demands tens of thousands for the smallest of qualifications. What we have here is not a failure of the imagination, not an honest mistake or pardonable lapse. Rather, it is the willful denial, the conscious rejection of reality. Opinion is held to be more sacred than truth and facts.
The US today is without leadership. Political nature abhors such a vacuum.
First and most fundamental, the subprime crisis was caused by politicians wanting to break market laws. If you don't have money, you can't afford a house: requiring banks to make risky loans was to be subsidized by charging everyone else more to cover the costs.
Didn't work, was destined to fail and the perpetrators are oblivious to the damage.
Read the article at the link to understand that the problem is still there, still alive, still festering and that unless economic ignorance is thoroughly and ruthlessly made public, we will be condemned to listen to the Gods Of The Copybook Headings time and time again.
The real culprit is the idea that you can make laws that abrogate economic reality: the only way it works is fraud.
Read the link: suffice to say that we have met the problem, and it is the Left.
Dienstag, März 01, 2011
The UN Human Rights Council is about to come out, it appears, with a report on human rights in Libya (see here).
The Universal Periodic Review System of the UN is designed to treat each and every country the same way, objectively and via its peer group of member countries.
Of course, the irony here is that the UN Human Rights Council, created to replace the thoroughly discredited Human Rights Commission - which had been captured, as it were, by the worst offenders of human rights in order to white-wash what they were doing, has itself now been captured by the same offenders.
You see, the report praises Libyan human rights.
Yep, you read that one right.
Who praised Libya so strongly?
Those paragons of virtue: Iran, Sudan and Cuba.
Like I said, the timing couldn't have been worse for UN credibility. It couldn't have been better either: perhaps now people will understand that the UN is thoroughly corrupted and compromised, incapable of any sort of rational work.
The only rational for further UN funding is that there isn't any real alternative. But that is increasingly a straw-man argument: following that logic, the League of Nations should still be calling the shots.
The UN has fallen to the level of parody, failing to maintain integrity in any way, shape or form. The Secretary-General is too afraid of criticizing those states who richly deserve it, and more than happy to criticize those that are largely flawless in their international standing and relationships for not being subservient enough to the whims of the UN's General Assembly. Moral authority and integrity are sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and the vain, academic and ultimately foolish attempt at engaging thugs and robbers in "constructive dialogue" while at the same time giving them a playground where they can play the bully.
The UN is a failure, just as the League of Nations was a failure. Only fools and simpletons can expect it to play a realistic function in the years to come: it is a complete fraud, a waste of money, time and effort.
Remind me, someone, why we still pay most of the bills?