Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ron Paul: The Electable Dark Horse

Today's column:

No matter what news we get out of Iraq, someone will offer it as proof that “we're winning”, so we absolutely cannot bring our troops home right now. My favorite place to find neocon cheerleaders is the corner over at National Review. Therein I read: “Violence is plummeting. But much of Iraq is a complete mess, a horrible mess... But it is imperative that we not stop now; it’s clearly starting to work.” This is a pretty good example of how to defend an indefensible policy. Next week, I'll read: “The infrastructure of Iraq is improving. But certain sectors are seeing increased levels of violence... But it is imperative that we not stop now; it's clearly starting to work.” I don't know how you argue with such illogic.

Ignoring its reliance on rhetoric alone, the argument belies the facts; we are not winning in Iraq, and actually have no idea what winning entails. Locutions to the contrary allow misguided conservatives to assuage their guilty consciences, but they are ineffectual in producing victory amidst certain defeat. While a stubborn contingent clings to faith in King George, by and large, the people have had enough of him and his little war. Seventy percent of Americans now believe the war to have been a mistake.

The steadfast faith of the neocons, though it is remarkable, is not the most noteworthy thing about the miscreants. Instead, it's the fact that one plank, which exists nowhere in the republican party platform—interventionism—is now the sole grounds for determining which candidates are acceptable. Thus a consistent and reputable conservative, indeed the only one in the race, Ron Paul, is persona non grata because he opposed the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani—a pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay marriage, pro-affirmative action, pro-illegal immigration, big government liberal—is acceptable because he knows we must Stay the Course and Defeat Terror. If it wasn't for his stance on foreign policy—which is actually identical to Hillary Clinton's, though she has the intelligence to be more discrete about her warmongering—Rudy would be a good fit for the democratic party.

In his defense, it is posited that Giuliani is more electable than Paul, who is still largely unknown. But this argument is as tautological as those offered to keep us on the war path in Iraq; and it too is in stark contradiction with the facts. Poll after poll shows that Giuliani is trailing to Clinton; even if he is more “electable” than the rest of the major republican candidates, he is still a loser. It is worth noting, too, that political power is worthless without principles. The republicans captured Congress and the White House under Bush, but were unable to make any significant gains because they put all their money on a pragmatist who didn't hesitate to betray those who put him in power.

It is true that Paul fails to register in the polls, but this is largely due to the code of silence which surrounds his name, especially among purportedly conservative commentators. Of course he's going to be deemed unelectable if he's not going to get any favorable press outside of strange corners of the Internet. If those who stumped for Rudy vilified him as the traitor to the republic(an party) that he is, or even if they started to ignore him as they do Paul, his “electability” would dissipate rather quickly. It bears mentioning that in recent memory a relatively unknown governor of Arkansas went on to become President of the United States.

This comes as a surprise only to the neocons, but Bush's war is not popular. Any candidate who aligns himself with the President is doomed to defeat. Meanwhile, someone who opposed the war, unlike Hillary, should be able to do quite well with independents and sensible democrats. Ironically, the oft ignored Ron Paul is not only the most conservative candidate in the republican race. He is also the most electable.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Obama for the lose

People generally like the fellow, but he's never really had a chance:

Barack Obama, struggling to gain ground on rival Hillary Clinton in the 2008 White House race, faces a delicate dilemma in trying to bring down the Democratic front-runner without spoiling his upbeat image.

After launching his campaign with a burst of excitement, the first-term Illinois senator is mired more than 20 points behind Clinton in national polls and trails by smaller margins in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire barely two months before the first contests.

And again:

Memo to the Democratic presidential candidates: You can still beat Hillary Rodham Clinton, but you better act fast...

She's so strong, in fact, that the race has become about her. And Democratic operatives from presidential campaigns past and present say the only way for any other candidate to win the nomination is to make an even stronger case against her.

"If this were a wedding, we'd be at the 'speak now or forever hold your peace' part," said Steve McMahon, who advised Howard Dean in "If you're a candidate hoping to get past her, the time for nuance and veiled references has passed."

Obama is a young guy, so he should be able to emerge from the rubble none the worse for wear, and if he bides his time, he'll be able to run in 2016, assuming the republic is still around then. (Look, the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. I'm not going to prophesy beyond that date.)

The question is whether or not Obama will play along nicely enough to get the nod to be the vice-president--assuming he wants the position. It might be best for him to fade back into the senate. I'm not so afraid of Hillary that I'll sign up for Rudy like many conservatives are suggesting that we do, and as more will assuredly do as the campaign gets closer and closer to its inevitable end, but I'm also not optimistic about her reign as queen. The Clintons attract scandals like I attract women--actually, they probably attract them oftener. Getting wrapped up in Hillary's administration could see Obama's reputation tarnished.

Rudy and the Huckster

Pat Buchanan isn't buying into republican Rudy:

A Giuliani presidency would represent the return and final triumph of the Republicanism that conservatives went into politics to purge from power. A Giuliani presidency would represent repudiation by the party of the moral, social and cultural content that, with anti-communism, once separated it from liberal Democrats and defined it as an institution.

Rudy offers the right the ultimate Faustian bargain: retention of power at the price of one's soul.

I like and respect Mr. Buchanan, who might be called, with some justice, the last conservative. It's good to see he's unwilling to sell his soul. But I'm still waiting to see who he backs in the race. My hat has already been thrown in for Ron Paul, but Buchanan will probably wait until closer in the election before he decides who to support.

It's becoming increasingly clear that not only can Rudy not beat Hillary, but he's unlikely to prove a strong enough candidate even to pose a challenge to her ascendancy. I don't think the republicans are necessarily interested in winning, but it's imperative to make it look close when you throw an election.

Huckabee has been getting some press, but it's unclear whether he's going to be given the VP slot to appease the religious right, or whether he's going to be given a shot at the presidency. And while he gives the appearance of being to the right of Giuliani, McCain and Romney, and probably Thompson, the Huckster has a bit of a nasty reputation:

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."

Mr. Huckabee's reluctance to surround himself with conservatives was evident as governor, when he kept many agency heads appointed by Bill Clinton. Zac Wright, a spokesman for incoming Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, was asked this year why 15 Huckabee agency heads had been retained. Most of them were "Clinton people," he replied, not "Huckabee people." Mr. Huckabee told me many of his agency heads had "apolitical" responsibilities.

I suggest that it might not behoove the republicans to appoint someone who is in anyway positively connected to Bill Clinton since the reason we're supposed to vote republican is so that we can defeat his wife. Still, he's polling at twelve percent, which tells me that the religious right hasn't ruled out the possibility of being duped again into supporting a faux-conservative.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Trumpeting the Trivial

Today's column:

In last week's Lode, Steven O'Dacre penned an article about the Pastafarians, a group of Tech students who subscribe—or perhaps don't subscribe—to the tenants—or non-tenants—of a parody religion, whose deity is the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The monster, I am told, bears resemblance to the Judeo-Christian God, though I suspect a stronger link to Bertrand Russell's teapot. The group's raison d'etre was summarized by O'Dacre, paraphrasing the group's vice president: “creationism, whether or not one believes in it, is not a science, and should not be taught in a science classroom”.

I was blown away. I didn't know they still taught anything in the public schools. Worrying about kids being brainwashed into believing in creationism is nothing more than a waste of time. If our schools demonstrated that they were even vaguely capable of educating children about anything, I might be wary of fundamentalist doctrine taking the place of “science”. It is amusing that, prior to the secularization of the schools, public educators taught non-denominational protestantism in the classroom, and—wonder of wonders—the students weren't eminently stupid. Now that we've done away with all that infernal love your neighbor nonsense, the schools have been able to concentrate on the important subjects.

Thus, according to the National Geographic Society, eleven percent of 18-24 year old Americans cannot find the U.S. on the map; eighty-seven percent can't find Iraq, and forty-nine percent can't find New York. Heaven forbid the cretins believe in creation.

Frankly. the creationism/evolution debate utterly fails to excite me. Evolution can—supposedly, and unconvincingly—explain how we got from primordial ooze to the present diversity of life forms. It cannot even pretend to deal with the origin of the ooze. I'm agnostic, and quite bored, with theories which claim to delineate just how we arrived here from the First Cause.

Anyway, as the Pastafarians point out, creationism is not science. Fine. Don't teach it in science class. But while we're purging speculation from the science department, let's get rid of evolution, too. It's not as if it's a real science either.

Consider: I can verify Newtonian physics through simple experiments. If I push a ball off of my desk, I know it will hit the ground and give evidence of the theory of gravity; I can even calculate the ball's final velocity if I wish. The same does not hold true in regards to evolution. If we have an ecosystem, no one will be able to predict whether or not speciation will take place, or in what manner. Claiming that “the strongest survive” is platitudinal; it is true, but it is not science.

Vox Day notes, “it could theoretically take as little as 20 years to forcibly evolve a species of mouse into a species of elephant given the rate of darwins observed in the laboratory and the number required for that level of transformation. And yet, after 150 years of constant refinement, evolution still appears to be more smoke, mirrors and revision of the historical model rather than the foundation of a predictive one.”

In other words, while both creationism and evolution offer explanations for what may have happened, ultimately, neither is falsifiable because neither is testable; hence neither is scientific in the sense that a true science like physics is. Neither side is able to make a prediction about the elusive future—creationists because they believe creation was a one time affair, evolutionists because their model is not predictive.

Meanwhile, a public school in Maine has decided to hand out birth control pills to eleven year olds. Boy, I'm glad we got the Bibles out of the schools. One of these things is the greater threat to civilization: teaching creationism, or the fact that children are attempting to have babies. See if you can guess which.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Ron Paul party

...doesn't have all that many chicks:

Though not exhaustive, I did go through the last 200 names. A whopping 83% of donors were men, 14.5% were women, and 2.5% I couldn’t determine from the name. Readers should comb through this list to confirm these numbers. (Emphasis in original.)

Sheesh! Those odds are worse than at at the engineering school I attend. No offense to that fourteen and a half percent, but we're still going to have to take your right to vote away. I'm open to other suggestions, but libertarianism just isn't moving into the female demographic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Stabbing Art to Death

Today's first column:

Most of my favorite authors have the distinction of being deceased. This is especially true in regards to writers of fiction. Now, my affinity for the dead is not born merely out of an intellectual snobbishness, nor even out of cantankerous conservatism. I find four reasons for my antipathy towards most modern writers.

First, there is a saying that good writers borrow, and great writers steal. Shakespeare, I am told, told but one original story. The rest he borrowed—or stole—from lesser playwrights, who could only gain fame vicariously by The Bard's refinement of their work through his genius. In examining great art, it is astounding how often we find writers drawing mightily from his predecessors. Dante's Commedia, the greatest poem ever written, abounds in references to the Bible, Italian history, Virgil, Ovid, and Thomistic thought. Without the influence of good art, modern writers drown in the shallow waters of their own torpid imaginations.

Second, and related to the first, language has been thoroughly degraded. English, for instance, is exquisitely rich. Slightly different words have slightly different meanings, and in the hands of a master, subtle renderings can be wrought. The effects of this degradation can be readily seen in vacuous pop culture, but also in literature. Occasionally, a competent writer is discovered, but it is rare to find one who wields the language with beauty and ease.

Third, it must be admitted that, as the Good Book says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.” Even supposing that a good author emerged, he would almost certainly be buried under the wealth of mediocrity that pervades modern literature; his craft would be ignored, and we could only hope a later generation would discover him. It is not accidental that such a fine columnist as Fred Reed must publish his own works on the web, since no one will syndicate him.

But the last reason, and I believe the most important one, is the gradual disappearance of the religious atmosphere which is integral to the novel. Atheist author Camille Paglia agrees: “Great art can be made out of love for religion as well as rebellion against it. But a totally secularized society with contempt for religion sinks into materialism and self-absorption and gradually goes slack, without leaving an artistic legacy.”

As Henry David Thoreau put it, “The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten.” The greatest characters in literature struggled with issues of morality. Any decent artist paints a moral dilemma: man fights to become better than he presently is. Without religion, standards of morality fade, and we are left with dull stories of self-actualization, sufficient to amuse only a people already spiritually dead.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Threat That Actually Is (Part III)

Today's second column:

History teaches that mass immigration—migration—is always a terrible thing for the host population.” - Vox Day

Two weeks ago, we demonstrated that, Pearl Harbor notwithstanding, there was no real threat posed by the Japanese during WWII; and last week we showed that, the rhetoric of career politicians and the ghost of 9/11 to the contrary, the terrorists pose no real threat to the American way of life. The real threat, which is being ignored by all of the major presidential candidates, is a result of our de facto policy of open borders. Presently there are an estimated 20 million illegals in the U.S. Most of them, we are assured, are honest and hard-working; “they do the jobs Americans won't do”. But this is empty rhetoric. It is also beside the point. A country which cannot control its own borders is in severe danger of losing its identity. If our borders are not secured, our destiny will be shaped, not by the people through their elected representatives, but by the capricious hordes who squat on our land. The unmitigated invasion by illegal immigrants is changing the United States irrevocably, and for the worse.

To the aforesaid history we turn. In his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon writes: “[The emperor Valens] was informed, that the North was agitated by a furious tempest; that the irruption of the Huns, an unknown and monstrous race of savages, had subverted the power of the Goths; and that the suppliant multitudes of that warlike nation, whose pride was now humbled in the dust, covered a space of many miles along the banks of the river. With outstretched arms, and pathetic lamentations, they loudly deplored their past misfortunes and their present danger; acknowledged that their only hope of safety was in the clemency of the Roman government; and most solemnly protested, that if the gracious liberality of the emperor would permit them to cultivate the waste lands of Thrace, they should ever hold themselves bound, by the strongest obligations of duty and gratitude, to obey the laws, and to guard the limits, of the republic.”

This almost sounds familiar. Valens, kind Roman that he was, allowed the Goths to escape the Huns and stay on Roman land. Within two years, the Goths revolted; the emperor and two-thirds of his army were killed at the battle of Hadrianople. The Roman Empire in the west was never the same. One hundred years later, it was dead.

Now, our present day aliens won't necessarily prove as violent as the Gothic hordes. And yet, Bush's refusal to fulfill his constitutional duty to protect this nation's borders is no less ignoble than were the actions of Valens—nor is the result likely to be any better for the host country. We would be wise in remembering that much of the southwest originally belonged to Mexico, and that history books south of the border teach that parts of our land rightfully belong to Mexico. We ought also consider the statement of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in his most recent state of the nation address: "Mexico does not end at its borders. ... Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico."

One cannot escape a profound and palpable feeling of disgust with the elites, who would trade American sovereignty to ensure cheap labor for the plutocracy. We are busy warring on Terror, non-threat that it is, and the one threat—real, substantiated, historically precedented—is being completely ignored. It is the Reconquista all over again, only this time the Moors are giving Spain their land back for free.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ignoble prize

Al Gore manages to win a peace prize for being a huge hypocrite. I'm sorry, that came out wrong. I meant to say for making up lies. I just can't seem to get this right. Oh well.

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth...

"We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Dr Gray said.

It's foolish now, and it's only going to look more foolish as we enter into a cooling cycle. I live way too far north to consider that a good thing, but I will enjoy seeing Gore's reputation thoroughly ruined when the earth starts getting colder.

The Nobel committee should get back to work giving peace prizes to people who deserve them. Like Arafat.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reply to Troutsky

I've been stumping for Ron Paul for awhile. Troutsky gives me his take on the man:

Saw Paul speak (finally) on the Newshour and am now even less impressed.It is great that certain new ideas are being introduced to the wider public but when done by someone so inarticulate with so many contradictory positions... (choice is a states right issue? I thought abortion was murder?)(are gun rights a state issue?)Was he talking flat tax? This primary race is shining a needed spotlight on the intellectual incoherancy of the Republicans and conservatism in general.

As always Troutsky, thanks for the reply. Let's examine a few of your points to see if we can't put Paul into the proper light.

First, let it be said that it is unlikely that you would agree with all of Paul's positions. He's a libertarian; you're a socialist. There isn't much in the way of common ground there. But there is some, and in comes in the form of a commitment to non-interventionism. If Iraq is the most important issue of the upcoming election cycle, agreement on that issue can help span an otherwise uncrossable idealogical chasm. It's worth remembering too that while Paul's support is still very limited, he's raising a fair amount of money, and word is slowly getting out. In short, while his shot is slim, he has the best shot amongst the anti-war candidates.

I don't think Paul is inarticulate, but he's not an exemplary orator. He does, however, understand his own position, positions which are invariably formed by his strict adherence to the constitution. Thus, to Paul, "choice", the legality of abortion, is a state's right. This is the correct constitutional position. The Bill of Rights was never intended to apply to the states. The bill adumbrated that which the federal government could, or could not do, and, under the tenth amendment, left all other powers to the states. Whereas abortion appears nowhere in the constitution, the ability to regulate or legalize abortion falls to the respective states.

The problem with Roe vs. Wade from a Christian point of view is that it legalized a form of murder. The problem with Roe to the constitutionalist is that it overstepped the constitution and allowed the federal government to grant a "right" that it had no right to grant. The proper thing to do is to either amend the constitution to allow everyone in the United States the right to an abortion or return the regulation thereof to the states.

The same applies to the right to bear arms. States may do whatever they wish, but the federal government is not allowed to restrict a constitutional right. Thus different states have different laws regarding the right to conceal and carry. This is an ingenious compromise by the founders, one not sufficiently appreciated by far too many people. The states become republics to themselves; one may be liberal, one conservative, and the people may find a state to their liking wherein to dwell. At the same time, the federal government provides a basic defense of the states. In this way, as de Tocqueville observed, the citizens of the United States achieve the benefits of both small and large states, an utterly sanguinary position.

Returning to Troutsky, I find it eminently unfair that Paul is being lumped in with other conservatives, so-called. The idealogical consistency is nonexistent for the majority of candidates, both republican and democrat. Paul is extremely consistent, drawing on the constitution, that which our president's swear an oath to defend, for his positions. Show me a similar consistency from any of the other candidates and I will consider taking them seriously, even if they erroneously and immorally believe in interventionism.

What happens...

...when the troops don't support the troops?

“There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight,” retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told a convention of military journalists on Friday...

“From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the administration’s latest surge strategy, this administration has failed to employ and synchronize the political, economic and military power,” Sanchez said.

Continuing changes to military strategy alone will not achieve victory, rather it will only “stave off defeat,” he said.

I don't think the Lt. Gen. goes far enough, but this is a good start. If we're marred in a quagmire, which we are, do we pull out, or do we stay the course? Keep in mind that, according to the general's own admissions, staying the course will last forever. This is nothing new for a country that is still guarding South Korea's borders, but there is a difference--and the usual problem. First, we don't have Iraq's borders secured. Defending South Korea's borders presents a much easier task, in the sense that it's even possible. Defending Iraq's borders is, so far as I can tell, utterly impossible. And, of course, there is always the question of why we must defend border which are not our own at all. Our duty is to protect our borders, something which has not been done, and something which few candidates--Paul and Tancredo--promise to do; it is not to protect those of other countries around the world.

Following the neo-con rhetoric is too painful for me to do, but it will be interesting to see how they treat Sanchez. The options, as always, are: 1) ignore, 2) spin, or 3) defame.

K-Lo of National Review, has chosen curtain number 2:

I hope Congress doesn't miss this part: "America has no choice but to continue our efforts in Iraq."

The General says we have to stay, so we have to stay. Only if he said we had to leave we could have ignored him. But his comments, the one's K-Lo wants us to focus on, don't make a lick of sense when parred with his view, which is substantially correct, of the situation in Iraq. We have no chance of victory; we can only "stave off defeat".

As Ron Paul asks, how long must we stay in order to "save face"? The Congressmen is absolutely right, and appreciates the point that the general misses: if there is no chance of success, then the best we can do is postpone whatever adverse consequences await the Iraqis, and thus it is imperative that we remove our troops--on the double. Instead, our soldiers continue to die, just so the neo-cons, and the stupid representatives who lacked the courage to stand up to them, can save face.

It is interesting to note that the very people who insisted that this wasn't anything like Vietnam are now worried stiff that if we remove our soldiers from the region, a bloodbath of Cambodian proportion will ensue. Well, which is it? Are we in Vietnam again, or aren't we? Undoubtedly there will be some carnage; that's par for the course for the middle east. But we don't know that there will be a bloodbath. Indeed, as Ron Paul points out, the very people who are insisting that a massacre will occur are the same people who told us it would be a "cakewalk". He quite reasonably asks, "Why should we believe them?"

Again, if there is no hope of success, our commitment to the region is nothing short of foolhardy. Keep in mind that there is no hint of such hope, just the usual nonsense, bereft of any actual objective rubric--the surge is working because there are fewer American deaths; there are more Al-Qaeda deaths; we have such-and-such a province under control.

I hope Congress doesn't miss this part: "There is no question that America is living a nightmare with no end in sight."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mercer on Paul

Happy Ron Paul t-shirt Friday! What? You don't celebrate Ron Paul t-shirt Fridays? My sincere condolences.

On point

Wishful thinking aside, when it comes to Iraq, Huckabee and the rest of the Republican candidates for president, bar Ron Paul, are at odds with the American people. According to every conceivable poll – Gallup, Rasmussen, ABC News/Washington Post – most Americans now oppose the war in Iraq, deem it a mistake and "support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within the next year."

Reason one Ron Paul is more electable than the rest of the republican candidates. I didn't say that he would win the nomination, only that if he runs against the dreaded Hillary, he has a shot at swaying some moderates and even liberals in order to win. Mercer understands:

[Ron Paul's] stance on Iraq makes him appealing to voters from the left, the (real) right and the center. He can thus also lower the Republican Party's considerable attrition rates. Like or dislike him, Ron Paul is the only Republican presidential contender whose position on Iraq comports with that of the American people – and hence with electability.

Now, we shouldn't support a candidate strictly because they are electable. I've voted for losers of elections before; if I vote again, I'll probably vote for some more people who don't have a shot at winning. But it's interesting that while Giuliani is busy claiming that he beat Hillary, and that he's the only candidate who can do so, polls show otherwise. I'd support Paul anyway, because of his principles, but surely it makes no sense to support a candidate who is not only less electable than Paul, but also holds values antithetical to those few remaining conservatives.

This may surprise conservatives, but bar Tom Tancredo, Paul is also the only candidate who'll seriously reduce undesirable immigration. Here, as on Iraq, Americans are united. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, "enforcement approaches with no increase in legal immigration" were the most popular policy options among a majority of voters. "Seventy percent of voters said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to double legal immigration."

Here we have reason number two. Americans don't like taxes, and they don't like Big Government--unless of course they are the beneficiaries thereof--but these aren't the important issues in the upcoming election cycle. Iraq and immigration are. It speaks strongly and unfavorably for our system of government that the only candidate who understands what the majority of Americans do is an oft-ignored stranger in his own party.

But it also underscores the huge support for the Paul campaign. His candidacy is truly unique in that people of all idealogical molds are coming to his side. Yes, we libertarians are grateful for the emergence of someone who takes our ideas as seriously as we do, but there aren't that many libertarians. Something else is going on here. And it's not going away just yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Radio show

I've been meaning to do this for some time. I've been involved with the college radio station on campus for quite some time now. Forgoing my usual admixture of punk and metal, I'm running a talk show from 12-2pm on Fridays on WMTU FM Houghton.

Just click on listen to stream the audio, and remember that Houghton is, for some crazy reason, in the eastern time zone.

They're starting to talk about him

The folks over at NRO aren't ignoring Ron Paul as much as they used to be:

Wars can be financed in ways that lead to inflation, and inflation can further impoverish the poor. But there is no immutable law that makes it true in all times and places that wars lead to inflation and immiseration, and I think that the argument that it is true in our time and place is pretty hard to sustain.

Nonsense. Our wars are costing 1 trillion dollars, all said and done. Unless we're going to cut services, or raise taxes, in order to balance the budget, we're going to cause inflation. You can blame Socialist Security and other entitlement programs if you wish, but we're not any good at losing wars on the cheap, so the military industrial complex deserves a large extent of the blame.

I'm still far from convinced that Paul is going to get the nomination, but he's still hanging around, and people are not taking to any of the major Republican candidates. They might nominate Giuliani anyway, but Hillary is going to slaughter him. So much for pragmatism in politics.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Threat That Ain't (Part II)

Today's column:

Last week we examined the myth of Pearl Harbor. It was demonstrated that, despite the casualties that resulted from the attack, the United States was wrong in assuming that Japan was a real threat. In this light, we'll now turn to look at 9/11 to see how it too has been cause for overreaction by the American government.

My goal here is to put atrocities into the proper historical context. I readily admit that both Pearl Harbor and the attacks of 9/11 were morally indefensible. Those who died fully deserve the tears which the nation shed on their behalf. Yet context is important, especially in a nation whose grasp of history is, at best, mediocre. For over sixty years, the myth of Pearl Harbor has percolated through American thought until belief in it is all but ubiquitous. If possible we should prevent the further dissemination of falsehood.

History may very well treat Colin Powell better than the Bush administration did. In any event, he grasps the point. In an interview in GQ magazine, Powell asked: "Are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"

In demonstrating that Islamic terrorists present a threat to our way of life, people always point to 9/11. But a single attack which harmed, in numerical terms, a mere fraction of one percent of the nation's populace can hardly be construed as a threat to the American way of life. This seems callous to say, and perhaps it is, but we ought to remember that we live in a nation that sees 100,000 people murdered annually—and that's before we start tallying the unborn. While there are those who, forgetting—or perhaps simply choosing to ignore—that truth is immutable, insist that 9/11 changed everything, this belies the facts. Americans changed some of their attitudes, and government became ever more intrusive in its quixotic quest to prevent another attack, but our way of life prevailed. We did not cower inside of our duct-taped sarcophaguses; we went out and bought homes, worked our jobs, and generally contributed to the economy like good little Americans.

Bush can credit the Orwellian Patriot Act and “bringing the war to the terrorists” for preventing “another 9/11” but reality paints a different picture. By refusing to abide by his constitutional duty to defend the border, Bush has admitted that the whole War on Terror is a complete farce. If Bush took the threat posed by the terrorists as seriously as his overblown rhetoric implies, he would move to prevent any potential terrorists from occupying the country and attempting another attack. Since the border remains unsecured, it's ridiculous to believe that Bush's not-so-benevolent dictatorship is to be credited with keeping us safe. Occam's razor suggests that the terrorists aren't attacking us because they don't wish to.

Returning to the myth of Pearl Harbor, a solitary act of terror does not always denote a sign of strength; often it is indicative of its absence. The terrorists used planes to strike because a full-scale invasion by a traditional, or even guerrilla army was impractical and would have been ineffective. Instead, the terrorists flew planes into buildings. This unconventional maneuver worked because it struck with genuine surprise.

The threat posed by the terrorists, like that posed by the Japanese navy, is non-existent. Insofar as there is a clear and present danger to the republic, it lies in our porous borders. We'll examine the real threat next week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hill and Paul

Obama isn't doing very much to make the nation believe he's a serious candidate. He's now trailing by 33 points.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has jumped to an astounding 33-point lead over Barack Obama, topping her main rival among every major slice of the electorate and widening a dominating advantage she has held all summer.

As always, this is only astounding if you supposed the magic negro had any chance to begin with. He didn't. Hillary had been anointed long ago to be the next queen of the republic.

Meanwhile, Ron Paul raised 5 million dollars last quarter, five times that of Mike Huckabee. Both the mainstream media and those who stump for the neo-cons are going to continue to ignore him, but he's not going to go away. I'm not saying Paul is going to be the nominee, but he's already lasted longer than anyone would have hoped, and whereas Obama is going straight backwards, Paul is gradually picking up steam.

The only way I'm going to lose that bet I didn't make--because gambling is illegal--about Hillary becoming the next president of the U.S. is if the Republicans get smart and nominate Paul. They probably won't, but that's one non-bet I wouldn't mind losing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Threat That Weren't (Part I)

Today's column:

Somewhat recently, I finished Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. The book is an alternate history. Instead of winning WWII, FDR is assassinated, whereupon the Americans and their allies suffer ignoble defeat at the hands of the Germans and Japanese; instead of a cold war between Russia and the U.S., Japan and Germany divide the latter allied power and become ensconced in a cold war of their own. Dick is a wonderful writer, albeit one who tends to make too frequent use of fragments, and the book is well worth a read. Yet the premise of the book is ultimately unsound. Fortunately, this does not undermine the book for two reasons: first, because of its bizarre conclusion, and second, because science fiction has always been more about the implications of a particular idea, rather than the plausibility of the idea itself.

But while incredible ideas are fine for science fiction, they can be dangerous if we accept them as feasible when they are not. Pretending that the Japanese were even vaguely capable of defeating the U.S. and occupying the west coast is nothing short of ridiculous. The myth of Pearl Harbor, the “date which will live in infamy” is firmly implanted in the minds and hearts of Americans. But it is, quite simply, not true that the American naval fleet was destroyed on that fateful day. Indeed, far from it. Historian Paul Johnson notes, “the Pearl Harbor assault achieved complete tactical surprise but its strategic results were meager... most of the warships were only damaged or were sunk in shallow water. Their trained crews largely escaped... The American carriers, far more important than the elderly battleships, were all out at sea at the time of the attack...” Far from crippling, the attacks merely awoke the sleeping beast, helped jump start a sluggish economy—thus giving rise to another myth: that Keynesian economics actually work—and put America on the war path.

But what about the threat posed by the Japanese after Pearl Harbor? FDR thought it serious enough to intern 112,000 Japanese-Americans, but in this, as in so many things, he was dead wrong. The Japanese posed no real threat to the United States. We were justified in striking back at them as they had deliberately attacked us, but there was never any real doubt that we would win the war. After the United Stated joined the allies, Winston Churchill observed in his memoirs: “Ultimate victory was certain.”

The Japanese fleet was in firm control of the Pacific, but the limits of their economy—just ten percent of that of the United States—ensured that the latter would eventually gain naval supremacy. More importantly, there was never a chance that the Japanese fleet would mount a successful invasion of the west coast of the United States. If we consider Operation Overlord, that is, the invasion of Normandy, the impossibility of such a feat becomes clear. Quoting again from Churchill: “The concentration of the assaulting forces—176,00 men, 20,000 vehicles, and many thousand tons of stores, all to be shipped in the first two days—was in itself an enormous task... It seemed most improbable that all this movement by sea and land would escape the attention of the enemy.” To expect that surprise could be maintained while a fleet of at least that size was transported across the ocean requires madness—or fiction.

In short, looking through the lenses of history, there was no reason to intern Japanese citizens; neither was there a case for using nuclear bombs on a country that, after the Battle of Leyte Gulf, had seen its fleet utterly destroyed.

On a related note, it has been six years since the twin towers fell, and in that time we have heard a good deal about the threat posed by the terrorists. Yet it is entirely possible that the threat of extinction at the hands of Al-Qaeda is no more real than that which was presented by the feeble Japanese fleet. We'll entertain this prospect next week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No Real Surprise Here

Drudge may be done with his radio show, but his website goes on. Now he reports:

**Exclusive Tue Oct 02 07 08:49:02 ** Hillary Crushes Obama in Third Quarter Dollars: $27 MILLION, Sources Tell DRUDGE REPORT... $22 Million Raised For Primary.... With 100,000 New Donors... Developing...


But this is only a surprise for people who actually believe that Obama has a chance. Hint: he doesn't. It's just as well since he'll be no better for the republic than Hillary. His primary role is to distract the votes from Hillary's inevitable capture of the presidency. This is especially important this election cycle since the republicans are, with the exception of Ron Paul, too dull to hold the attention of the masses.