5/16/2003

I think this is interesting:

"Do we need to have more growth?" asked Martin W. Hüfner, chief economist at HypoVereinsbank in Munich. "We already have our refrigerators, we already have our cellular phones, we already have our second cars. We'll be content if we adapt our expectations to the new reality."

Germany has negative growth (their loosing their cell phones, refrigerators, microwave ovens, color TVs) and an acceptable solution is to "adapt to the new reality"? Likewise, growth can enable us to feed starving people in the world, but instead we should let them starve and ban GM foods? Likewise, Saddam kills and tortures thousands of his own citizens, but we should just let him continue?

In my travels to Europe over the years, the biggest difference I noticed between Americans and Europeans is contentment. Europeans are more likely (not "all") to be content with the status quo than Americans. This has advantages and disadvantages. If you are truly content with what you have, you will live a more enjoyable life than a discontented person with more stuff. However, without the discontented, without the people who struggle for change, there is no technological or societal progress. Whether it is an oppressed people revolting for their freedom, a poverty stricken family getting on the boat for a new world of opportunity, victims of discrimination saying "we will overcome", or a greedy nerd trying to come up with more stuff for us to buy in order to fill his wallet, progress comes from those who do not accept the status quo. And unless enough Europeans band together to realize that socio-capitalism (combination of socialism and capitalism) and appeasement are not benign ways out, but rather harmful strategies in the long term (negative growth, war, and all that other good stuff that has led to dark ages in the past), unless enough Europeans become discontent with the status quo and push for change, there's not much hope for their future.

Note: Europe refers to countries whose land once was either partially or entirely part of the Holy Roman Empire. Europeans are the people currently living in those lands, who have ancestors that also lived in those lands.

5/15/2003

DLC head Al From takes on the Dean's wing of the Democratic party in a memo co-written with unofficial Edwards advisor Bruce Reed (via the Note):

"What activists like Dean call the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party is an aberration: the McGovern-Mondale wing, defined principally by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home. That's the wing that lost 49 states in two elections, and transformed Democrats from a strong national party into a much weaker regional one."

Nice.

Here's the most interesting part:

"The real tradition of the Democratic Party is grounded in expanding opportunity and economic growth, increasing trade, standing up for a strong national defense and for America's interests in the world, and strengthening community at home."

Free trade? Strengthening community? Strong Defense? This isn't the third way - this is the Republican way.

The fight between the two wings for the soul of the Democratic party is going to be to watch develop. Clinton, though his once-in-a-generation political skills, was able to propose moderate policies without the left actually realizing what he was doing. Or maybe he had the middle fooled into thinking that he was enacting moderate policies while all the while, in reality, pandering to the left? But I guess that's the point - no one really knows the truth.

Either way, it took a level of skill not possessed by any of the Forgettable 9.

That means that the eventual winner will likely have run on policies detestable to a large segment of the Democratic party. Don't believe me? Look again at From's note, and try to imagine the ANSWER crowd holding up signs that read " Lieberman for Free Trade and F-18s."

There is one thing that could prevent any serious schism - the shared hatred both sides feel for President Bush. While alone this won't bring victory, as we saw in 2002, it could be the one thing that prevents a major rupture in the party.
First China refused to admit the disease even existed.

Now they're threatening those who break the SARS curfew with death.

5/14/2003

This week's Carnival is up over at the Inscrutable American - with neat little graphics included at no extra charge.
Interesting poll (via Drudge):

With still almost a year to go before the primaries, the Democratic candidates for President are not yet well-enough known for most respondents to volunteer any of their names. Only 34 percent of people can offer the name of at least one of those challengers - including only 36 percent of Democrats who say they can.
Of those people who can name one, Joe Lieberman - who ran for Vice-President on the Democratic 2000 ticket - is the name most frequently recalled. John Kerry is next.


Lieberman was named by 9% of respondents.

I don't know who I blame more for this ignorance - the Democrats for fielding such a forgettable group or the American people for just not caring.

I don't know the solution either. Better candidates? (Wait, we have them - they're just called Republicans). It's not an education issues, because knowing a candidate's name involves nothing more than watching Fox News for five minutes. This is more of a cultural issue, with people simply not caring as much about elections as do our contemporaries in other countries.

This is not all-together negative. Certainly it would be nice if all voters were well informed over a year before the general election, but our complacency reflects Americans general ambivalence towards government as a whole. Europeans are better informed, in part, because they see their government as an integral part of their lives. Americans, however, haven't ceded nearly as much power to their leaders and thus don't focus as much energy on picking them. This doesn't seem like a bad trade-off to me.
What's that other sound?

Silence from the vast majority of Western Liberals over the latest atrocities by third-world thugs.
What's that sound?

Men everywhere cheering.

5/13/2003

I've avoided giving my thoughts on Annika Sorenstam's entry into the Colonial because, frankly, I've got mixed emotions. Obviously I wish her well, and I think Vijay's comments were, if not wrong, at least incredibly stupid. But I can't help having misgivings.

Supporters are saying that she isn't trying to break down barriers, but that she - as the greatest woman golfer perhaps of all time - just wants to see how she'll do. Yet I think that's the root of my concern.

Like I said, I wish her luck. But her desire to play strikes me as pretty selfish. As the dominant woman golfer in the world, it seem see has at least some obligation to help her own LPGA tour - if for no other reason than her own fiduciary well-being. Yet this event can do her home tour nothing but harm. Yes, fans all know the LPGA doesn't feature as high of a caliber of golf as does the men's PGA, but do they really want this fact slammed back their faces when the finest athlete ever to grace that tour is beaten by the likes of Stewart Cink?

And what if she does well? Again, I really can't see any upside for the other women out there. At best, she'll become a slightly bigger draw for the LPGA. But what happens if now other women decide they need to make the jump to "test themselves?" Are you going to have a generation of young female golfers who decide to join the lower level men's tours instead of the LPGA? Certainly few would make it, but again, do we want the LPGA to be looked upon as a minor league for the Nationwide Tour?

Does this mean Annika shouldn't give the PGA a try? I don't know. At least pre-tournament, she's getting a lot of good press and the Colonial will certainly be helped out, especially now that Tiger is out. Yet I still wonder if the game would be better off with her being content to simply dominate the LPGA.
BBC: US vows to find Saudi bombers.

Wait - shouldn't it be the Saudi's trying to find the bombers?

Oh, that's right, they're funding the bombers . . .
Daniel Pipes explains why Syria feels it can push us around now, and what we should do to make it stop feeling that way:

That's when Powell visited Damascus to complain about Syrian purchases of Iraqi oil in violation of U.N. sanctions, winning what the State Department spokesman called a "direct commitment" from Assad to desist. But the illegal imports continued and even grew. In reaction, Washington not only didn't penalize the Syrians, but soon dropped the entire subject.
To compensate for this mistake, the administration now needs to communicate to Syrian leaders its seriousness of purpose. Fortunately, it has a powerful tool at hand: the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act.


He continues:

Should the Assad regime continue these policies, the Engel bill would (among other provisions) ban most U.S. exports to Syria and bar U.S. businesses from operating there. Introduced just a month ago, it already has 85 co-sponsors in the House. Engel tells us he is confident it will pass - unless the administration actively lobbies against it.
Powell has acknowledged using the bill to pressure Syria to make improvements, so logically he should now want to see it enacted into law. It offers him exactly the right mechanism to convince Assad & Co. that they need to make fast, deep, and lasting changes.


In international pissing contests like this, the loser is usually the side who can no longer afford to continue escalating the conflict - who finally does what his opponent can't or won't do. I agree that the threat - and even the implementation - of sanctions is a prudent course. But what happens if Assad decides to re-raise? Are we ready to take the next logical action against Syria once sanctions fail? Honestly, I don't know - and I'm worried that Assad is willing make that bet.

5/12/2003

Very sad:

The Ugandan army is still seeking a group of rebels who abducted more than 40 trainee Catholic priests over the weekend.

But the worst part:

The director of Lacor seminary, Mathew Odong, told the BBC's Network Africa programme that he fears those abducted may be forced to become LRA fighters.
Self-described "centrist" David Adesnik has a brilliant response (link Bloggered) to Michael Totten's OpinionJournal editorial on the deficiencies in modern liberal foreign policy. Totten argues that liberals today have little knowledge of what really goes on in the world due to their desire, as buliders, to solve problems at home first:

The right side of the blogosphere laughed uproariously when antiwar protesters carried placards that said "Peace in Our Time" The left just didn't get the reference. It's not that the left is stupid. Rather, because liberals are builders not defenders, liberal intellectuals focus on internal problems rather than threats from outside.

Adesnik, very correctly, links this to the Democratic party's lack of vision in foreign affairs. But, he notes, liberalism is not inherently - unlike what Totten seems to assert - incompatible with a dynamic and intellectually powerful foreign policy. Indeed it is conservatism that has suffered throughout most of the 20th century with muddled and inconsistent arguments. Looking back at the dawn of modern American power and the foundation of liberal foreign policy, he writes:

Yet Wilson also recognized that most governments at the time were not democratic and would not become so. Thus, he sought to project democracy onto the international stage by creating the League of Nations. Its purpose was to create a forum for "world opinion", which Wilson believed would be an unfailing opponent of war. While this approach has considerable merit, critics point out that the people of the German Reich overwhelmingly supported war when it was declared in 1914, as did the citizens of most other nations.

So what changed? Why is "Wilsonian" today most likely to be a term used in derision describing either weak-kneed multilateralists or overly-optimistic democratic (small-"d") interventionists?

Answer: Vietnam. I am extremely surprised that not a single response to Totten's post recognized Vietnam as the event that has done more than any other to shape modern liberal foreign policy (or lack thereof). In addition, almost no one mentioned the liberal approach developed by Jimmy Carter, who explicitly described his anti-interventionist multilateralism as a response to the lessons of Vietnam.

Adesnik says that to regain its international focus, modern liberalism must return to its Wilsonian roots:

Ultimately, what the Democrats need is a successful president from their own party who can demonstrate the efficacy of a Wilsonian approach to national security. In that sense, Bill Clinton did his party a tremendous service. But his achievements in Bosnia and Kosovo have now been overshadowed.
The road ahead for liberal foreign policy will be long and difficult. But there is a Wilsonian light at the end of the tunnel.


Adesnik, of course, is correct. Unfortunately, I think even he underestimates the significance of Vietnam to the modern liberal. It was not, as he suggests, merely a turning point in strategy for the Democratic party, where multilateralists assumed the helm as to prevent another Vietnam. It caused, instead, a fundamental rejection of the notion of America’s fundamental moral superiority – a rejection that America is John Winthrop’s “City upon a Hill.”

This is not a small distinction I’m attempting to draw here. The isolationist-realist tension that existed for much of the century within conservatism was very real, but simply reflected two solutions to the same underlying premise – the primacy of American interests worldwide. Thus when Reagan moved to bridge the gap between the two factions, it was a relatively simple task.

Post-Vietnam liberalism, however, does not share an underlying paradigm with Wilsonian liberalism. Vietnam, to many on the left, destroyed the notion of the universality of American values. Recent battles over globalization have confirmed this outlook, as liberals fight against the “Americanization” of native cultures.

Yet it is this belief in American culture that lies at the heart of Wilsonian liberalism. The promotion democracy, property rights, and basic human liberties around the world necessitates the removal and rejection of other ways of life. This is antithetical to modern multiculturalism, a staple belief of the post-Vietnam liberal.

What does this mean for the future of liberal foreign policy? Well, there are a couple of ways of looking at it. First, if you ignore the partisan implications, Wilsonian liberals should be very happy. Bush and the neocons have largely accepted his vision and, at least for the next several years, American foreign policy will look more like Wilson’s vision than Nixon’s. Once your adversary accepts the superiority of your argument, as Bush has done with Wilsonian internationalism, haven’t you won?

But what about Democrats? Are they relegated to a forced silence on international affairs due to their lack of vision? Not necessarily, but it will require strong leadership. Adesnik sites Clinton as an example of a party leader attempting to return to this Wilsonian ideal. Perhaps this is true in his direct actions, but Clinton never attempted to fundamentally reform post-Vietnam liberalism, to explain to his constituents why the freedoms we enjoy here in America are universal. He never explained that, while no nation is perfect, the United States is far closer to that ideal than any other country. It is only once liberals address that issue that they’ll be able to return to their Wilsonian roots – or reject them for an entirely new ideology. Unfortunately, most seem content to simply ignore the question.
Comically absurd:

High school senior Blair Hornstine bagged a 4.689 GPA while classmate Kenneth Mirkin clocked in right behind with 4.634. But their school’s attempt to give both students—who will be entering Harvard as members of the Class of 2007 this fall—the title of valedictorian has prompted Hornstine to sue, claiming the school was discriminating against her as a disabled person.

Total amount sought: $2.7 million!
Amy Amatangelo, writing on MSN's entertainment page, says that before the end of the current season, "Kate and Jack need to make out on '24.' People, I don't care if we're in the midst of an international crisis. I was promised a romance. I want a romance."

Regardless of whether or not Jack is able to save the world, we do know that Ms. Amatangelo is going to be pissed if Kate doesn't find true love.

What a lovely perspective on the nature of sacrifice and emotional satisfaction.
Very interesting:

African and Caribbean immigrants experience greater rates of educational, professional, and economic success than native-born blacks. African-born blacks are among the most successful immigrant groups in the United States in terms of education and per-capita income. With more success, perhaps these immigrant groups have less to blame on "white America" – or in another panelist’s phrase, "white supremacy." Alternatively, perhaps the refusal of immigrant groups to embrace victim status explains part of their success.

Why haven't we heard more about it? Because it advances no one's political agenda. Black leaders and other liberals have no incentives to actually improve the lives of minorities, while conservatives are terrified of any arguments that could be used to paint them as racists. So statistics like this just sit, collecting dust.
Just saw in this morning's Journal that John Larroquette is starring in a new comedy on NBC this fall. Good to hear. His self-titled show, which ran for a couple of seasons after Night Court ended, was a truly underrated production.

5/11/2003

Okay, here's my post for the week...

Read Day by Day.
Kris Murray has a great little piece on anti-Americanism:

Oh sure, I understand that some people have perfectly reasonable reasons to dislike America. We are not a perfect country, individually or as a whole. But I've also come to suspect that many of the most avowed anti-American folk share the exact same ideals that Americans do. We believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc., etc. We believe that everyone should have a basic chance to work hard and do good. We go to church regularly. We give to charities more than most people on the planet. Our system of government is of, by, and for us - meaning our politicians answer to their constituency first, their party second. Our society is high-trust. Private property rights are very secure. And contrary to most Europeans cherished belief, all Americans have access to healthcare here (just not insurance and the government covers that gap with medicaid - as it is doing right now for my sister).

In short, America is a good place. These anti-Americans sneer and use McDonald's as an example of our culture. Such shallow intellect only makes the anti-Americans look both snide and ignorant at the same time. It's sad in a way. America, as well as other Anglosphere countries, holds itself to a high ideal of behavior. When she doesn't perform to that ideal, her own citizens will beat themselves up over it (the main source of native anti-Americans). The truly awful countries on this planet, the ones everyone should be anti- about, have no ideals of behavior, no moral compass to guide them And yet, these (non-native) anti-Americans blithely hate us and embrace them. In my opinion, that's really just lame.


There is a lot in common between the criticisms of America, the Catholic Church at the height of the sex scandal, and Bill Bennett’s gambling issues. All three (well, at least the first two) have legitimate flaws and some criticism of them is certainly justified. Yet all three face a barrage of attacks far beyond critiques of specific errors. Why? Because anti-Americanism, like attacks on the Church and Bennett, are about taking down an institution that dares to set itself up as an example to the rest of humanity – a “city on a hill,” the “holy” Church, and the author of the Book of Virtues.

Notice that critiques of America never address the specific glories raised by Ms. Murray or that attacks on the Church never discuss the works of charity it does. Similarly, Michael Kinsley writes that Bennett’s troubles “has lit a lamp of happiness in even the darkest hearts.” Yet other than disliking him for being Drug Czar, a position where he was charged with only enforcing policies made by elected officials, Bennett’s critics have largely avoiding attacking specific claims made in his books. Why? Because like the other two groups, even Bennett’s critics realize he is basically right.

What does this say about their critics? If the Church, America, and Bennett are not wrong in their views on morality and society, the only explanation for the critiques can be that they don’t want anyone even attempting to set an example for the rest of humanity. Is that really the world we want to live in?