Nobel Committee jumps the shark *and* nukes the fridge by handing Peace Prize to the European Union

October 12, 2012

While you were sleeping, the Nobel Committee that handed out the Peace Prize committed the greatest error in the history of their organization, handing the prize to the European Union. I can only say I am fortunate I had yet to eat my breakfast upon hearing the news.

There is no sugar-coating this, no discussion of “potential” or “sending a message” (although I think a message was being sent anyway). This was a complete, unadulterated, 99 and 44/100% fiasco. There are no words to describe the utter failure of this move, but I’m going to try using them to get as close as I can.

The committee claims that the EU “has helped to transform a once-torn Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.” Only a moron would even think to consider using these words – and I say that with deep regret to the offense given the mentally handicapped, the overwhelming majority of whom would still never be stupid enough to spout this dreck. As the eurozone falls into to heap of rubble, the “continent of peace” is seeing Germans and Greeks snipe at each other, Spain plunged into a national crisis as Catalonia plans independence, Italy run by an unelected technocrat at the demands of Brussels, and even Belgium – yes, Belgium, the host of the damned bureaucratic giant squid – grappling with Flemish demands for autonomy and even independence.

The statement itself justifying the fiasco is the perfect combination of high comedy and deep, ironic tragedy. To wit (Telegraph, UK):

In the inter-war years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made several awards to persons who were seeking reconciliation between Germany and France. Since 1945, that reconciliation has become a reality. The dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe. Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable.

Never mind that France and Germany are only two countries in Europe (or, to be exact, France and West Germany were one and a half for much of the period since 1945. The EU kept Paris and Bonn from drawing arms, but did nothing to reverse the imprisonment of East Berlin and the rest of Eastern Europe; that was NATO’s job (and as any europhile will tell you, NATO and the EU are not the same thing). Then, after Eastern Europe was liberated, this paragon of peace coldly and cruelly chose to let the Balkans bleed out, leaving it to NATO again to resist Serbian aggression (and even they came too late and arguably in the wrong place), and  the United States in particular to work with the forces of freedom in Serbia again Slobodan Milosevic.

But wait, there’s more!

In the 1980s, Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EU. The introduction of democracy was a condition for their membership.

Never mind that two of the three (Greece and Portugal) were democracies in the 1970s. Never mind that ending democracy and replacing it with technocrats elected by no one was a condition of continued membership for Greece and Italy. Never mind that surrendering economic sovereignty (and thus making “democracy” a useless shell of its actual self) was a condition of continued membership for Ireland and Portugal (with perhaps Spain on the way to Eurocratic occupation soon). No one in their right mind (and I would submit, hardly anyone in the wrong mind) would equate democracy with the EU today.

All in all, this is absolutely appalling, a desperate attempt to divert attention from the Eurocracy’s failures, downgrade America’s role in protecting Western Europe from the Soviet threat, and (admittedly this is speculation) perhaps even a heavy-handed attempt to influence Norwegian voters – Norway has an election next year, and the country remains firmly outside the EU by popular demand, something that must be thoroughly embarrassing to the “elites” on the Nobel Committee. If the European Union is what the ideal of “peace” has become; all I am saying is, “Give war a chance.”

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Elections matter – even in 2012

March 6, 2012

The Washington Post is writing in public what most conservatives have heard from some of their brethren in private (except in George Will’s case, where he also went public): better to write off the presidential election this November and move on to 2016. Granted what Will says publicly (focus on flipping the Senate and holding the House) and what the unnamed sources are telling Chris Cillizza privately (better to crash and burn now for a complete rebuild later) are not quite the same things, but I would humbly submit that neither should be entertained.

Both Will and insert-consultants-bending-Cillizza’s-ear-here cite the election of 1964, which has been stunningly rewritten as a “victorious defeat” reminiscent of the Republicans’ first ever effort to win the presidency (1856). The consultants see the ’64 race as a time when the party just hit rock-bottom and then . . .

Four years later, Republicans — showing their lesson learned — nominated establishment favorite and political pragmatist Richard Nixon. (Nixon had been defeated by John Kennedy in 1960 and declined to run in 1964.) Nixon ended eight years of Democratic control of the White House when he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the 1968 election.

This analogy has so many problems that I can only assume none of Cillizza’s sources actually lived through the 1960s. Admittedly, I didn’t either, but I have reviewed the accounts of several who did, and it tells a very different story of 1968.

For one, the “pragmatic” moderates and liberals in the GOP did not want Richard Nixon as their candidate. Nelson Rockefeller was their man, without question. It was the conservatives in the party (John Tower, Strom Thurmond, and others) who pushed for Nixon to come out of his self-induced, post-1962 retirement. The 1960s equivalent of the consultants whispering in Cillizza’s ear were terrified of Nixon being nominated (he had, after all, lost the nearly unlosable election for Governor of California in 1962). We remember Ronald Reagan as the conservatives’ choice in 1968, but Reagan was a “favorite son” of California until the day the convention opened. For much of the campaign, it was the Nixon and the conservatives against Rockefeller and the moderates.

Secondly, Richard Nixon hardly helped the Republican recovery – and probably damaged it. With the exception of Zachary Taylor, no president-elect in American history ever provided less support to his fellow party nominees in the year he won. Nixon’s 1968 vote (43%) was the lowest of any president-elect in over a century. Even as he won his 1972 re-election in a massive landslide, he became the only president to never deliver even one house of Congress to his party. By the time his second term expired (without him) in 1977, the Republicans were in worse shape than they were in 1968.

Finally, the Democrats used Johnson’s full term to dramatically expand government. Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, two-thirds of the entitlement monster that threatens to devour us (while the former has become the Democrats’ “model” for their health care end-state). This dovetails with Will’s assertion that the right might be better off letting the White House go in 2012. Johnson’s 1964 campaign made little mention of the massive expansion of government he was planning, but that didn’t stop him from doing it anyway.

Now, one could say that Obama – faced with a GOP Congress – could do less damage. However, two of the biggest government encroachments of the “aughts” – in campaign finance and Medicare Part D – began as talking points used by Clinton to brow-beat Republican Congressional majorities.

All of this is just in the domestic realm. We have said nothing of the foreign policy consequences. After romping to victory in 1964, Johnson moved forward on Vietnam in a manner so confusing, limited, and hamstrung that the entire GOP was united against him (even Rockefeller was more hawkish than LBJ). Meanwhile, as the 1970s progressed toward the event that in Will’s mind supposedly justified the ’64 drubbing (the election of 1980), Vietnam fell to the Communists, Cambodia was bled white by Pol Pot, Central America was sucked into the Cold War (with devastating consequences), and long-time ally Iran was abandoned by the Carter Administration and seized by a radical Shiite cleric who imprisoned his own people and built a regime that is still the scourge of the region.

Is that really the model we want to follow?

I understand the frustration so many on the right have with the current field. It was one of the reasons I waited so long to make a decision myself. However, just because the nominee won’t be perfect, or the campaign may become difficult, doesn’t mean you discount the importance of an election. An elected President Ford might have made the history of Iran – and by extension, the rest of the Middle East – very different. A re-elected President Bush the Elder might have put more focus on Afghanistan as the Taliban first stretched its muscles. President McCain would have reacted very differently to the 2009 Iranian protests and Hamid Karzai’s blatant election theft that same year; dramatically rewriting recent history in both places.

So, as fashionable as it may be to think or say otherwise, elections always matter. If they didn’t, no one would miss them.

This one matters, too.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

If I were Polish, I’d stockpile weapons . . . just in case

October 17, 2011

The Nazis and the Communists have come together to support Occupy Wall Street (Gateway Pundit).

The last time these two were in agreement, they erased Poland from the map for six years (it was imprisoned for fifty). I’d rather not find out what they have in mind this time.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Why the 1967 borders are not safe for Israel (Part 4)

October 3, 2011

The long-interrupted series on the history of Israel now – finally – picks up where it left off in the 1990s (here’s the Intro, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3): the decade that should have made clear why returning to the 1967 borders was not feasible for Israel. Sadly, it did not.

In 1991, fresh off defeating Saddam Hussein in Gulf War I, the United States decided it could bring Israel and the Palestinians together in peace. Two years later, Israel and America had replaced leaders (each newcomer greatly pleasing to the other’s elite) and an interim deal with Yassir Arafat was a reality. A final deal seemed on the way.

Then things got problematic.

Arafat put himself up for “election” as Palestinian leader in 1996 – and only an ex-DFLP terrorist backer was willing to provide token opposition – but by 1999 he decided to cancel all elections and enforce his rule via the guns of his Fatah organization. Palestine has seen four “elections” – ballots in which only members of the various terrorist groups active in the place (Fatah, Hamas, PFLP, and DFLP) were allowed to compete (and Islamic Jihad called for boycotts – thus even tainting that option). In short, rather than present to their voters records of good governance, Palestine’s “leaders” preferred intimidation and extreme nationalism to silence and intimidate opponents. This meant only those who also had guns and wallowed in extreme nationalism had any chance of competing for power – and thus the people were forced to “choose” between Terrorist Group A, Terrorist Group B, Terrorist Group C, etc.

While all of this was going on, America and Israel tried to make peace with Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, with increasingly generous offers.  All have been refused since 2000, since neither Arafat nor Abbas had a true mandate for anything accept appeasing the militants who kept them in power.

Today, Abbas is trying to get recognition from the United Nations for a Palestinian state without bothering to make peace – so he can have his state and the guns that keep him in office, too. Meanwhile, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, having won the corrupted “elections” of 2006. Neither has made any attempt to even acknowledge that Israel would remain in existence.

So, in effect, President Obama and his defenders, in calling for Israel to go back to roughly the 1967 borders, want her to watch a Palestinian tyranny under terrorist control spring up on both sides of her, while supposedly relying on a deeply conflicted ally with an unreliable history (that would be us) to prevent her from disappearing in a bloody massacre.

Should it really surprise any of us that she refuses to do that?

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Greece . . . or how NOT to do austerity

September 26, 2011

There hasn’t been mch discussion about Greece in the blogosphere. You see endless references to Greece as the poster child for all that is wrong about social democracy, Europe, or out-of-control deficits. Yet no one around here in cyberspace seems to have paid attention to how Greece is trying to balance its books. That’s unfortunate, because the Greeks are showing us all how not to do it – and neatly impugning the IMF and EU as a bunch of fools in the process.

Like most outsiders who didn’t pay close attention, I assumed Greece was going with a combination of crippling tax increase and painful service cuts. As it turns out, I was wrong . . . badly wrong. Here’s the New York Timesof all papers – detailing the missing piece of the puzzle:

Since 2010, the government has raised taxes and slashed pensions and state salaries across the board, in an effort to rein in the bloated public sector that today employs one in five Greeks. Last week, the government announced it would put 30,000 workers on reduced pay as a precursor to possible termination and would cut pensions again for nearly half a million public-sector retirees.

Notice something missing? That’s right, no bureaucrat has actually been fired. They’re hinting about it, but not actually doing it. The Times delves deeper (emphasis added) . . .

Critics say the country has failed to adequately crack down on tax evasion among the wealthiest segments of society — and failed to carry out more focused cuts because it is reluctant to take on some public-sector unions that protect a small, powerful cadre of workers who have deep ties to the governing Socialist Party.

It’s so blaringly obvious that even a Greek government archaeologist demands the government take on the aforementioned unions. When the folks on the public payroll are calling for that, you know something is seriously amiss.

Supposedly, the left-wing Greek government is finally considering letting bureaucrats go (Guardian, UK), but ths is nearly two years into the crisis, with nothing but sky-high taxes, a bloated public workforce with massive pay cuts, and no lightening of the heavy burden of government that helped cause this in the first place.

The lesson is abundantly clear: big government on the cheap is no better than big government high on the hog. So long as the size and scope of government is still huge, it will have the same damaging effects to the economy no matter how much money is “saved” by cutting everyone’s taxpayer-funded salary. Government power and influence must be reduced, not just the budget. Sure enough, the Greek Leviathan – even on half-pay – continues to erode the private sector , while tax increases are strangling it. Suddenly, the continued and unyielding opposition from the right-wing New Democracy Party in Greece makes more sense (although they did nothing do reverse state growth before they were bounced in 2009).

In short, Greece is trying to balance its government books while enlarging government’s role in the nation and its economy. Its repeated failure to make it work should be a lesson to all of us.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Run that by me again?

January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson, son for the late U.S. Senator A. Willis Robertson (D-Virginia), strongly hints that the earthquake in Haiti was a godly rebuke for a 1790s deal locals made with the Devil to help them throw off the French colonial yoke (ABC News).

Wow.  I know Virginians in general have been trained from birth to hate President John Adams, but gee whiz!

Things keep getting worse for global warming alarmists

November 23, 2009

As ClimateGate continues to reverberate (for all the details, check out my good friend Kate McMillan at Small Dead Animals), the alarmists took another massive hit (Calcutta Telegraph, India, h/t Kate):

None of the multiple computer simulations used by a UN climate-change agency for assessments of global warming appears good enough to predict how India’s monsoon will behave, two Indian scientists have said.

The researchers examined 10 simulations of future climate scenarios used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and found none could reproduce correctly the behaviour of even 20th-century rainfall.

. . .

Rajeevan and Ravi Nanjundiah, an atmospheric physicist at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and co-author of the paper, studied the capabilities of the 10 “best-performing” models developed by climate scientists in Europe, Japan and North America, ignoring seven models whose performance was worse.

The political irony is breathtaking.  This has become one more example how India – arguably the poster-child for the political left-wing anti-colonialism for over half a century – has become the roadblock to the former colonists’ (Europe in general, and in particular the UK’s East Anglia University) left-wing fantasies.

Anti-colonialism, welcome to the right!

In which I take issue with Jim Bowden’s pessimism on Iran

June 19, 2009

The Iranian uprising has created one of the more unusual situations in the blogosphere: Jim Bowden agrees with President Obama (Jim Geraghty), and I respond below by quoting Gandhi.  Interesting times, indeed.

Bowden attempts to throw some cold water on the notion that the Iranian uprising can bring genuine change.  While I would prefer he take the time to spell Mr. Mousavi’s name, he does make a point about how the fellow was part of the same regime that gave us President Ahmadinejad (or, as I prefer to call him, Mad Mouthpiece Mahmoud).  Indeed, for a time, it seemed Ali Khameini (the fellow who actually runs the Iranian regime) was counting on Mousavi to be Iran’s Gomulka.

However, I have good reason to believe that, should the uprising succeed (and I’m not saying it will), it has a much greater potential for change than Bowden recognizes.

For starters, any popular uprising like this must remind one of Gandhi’s famous phrases: “There go my people. And I must hurry to follow them. For I am their leader.”  There is no better expression to show how popular movements can establish a momentum and agenda of their own.

An exmaple from the recent past best shows how the people can make a wreck of the leader’s limited plans.  Eighteen years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev – the man whose vision was to make Communism look attractive enough to win the battle of ideas with American democracy – was deposed in a coup.  The Soviet revanchists, knowing full well Gorby’s deep unpopularity, figured the peoples of the USSR would simply roll over.

Outside of the Baltics, they were right – except for the Russians, who were inspired by their elected President Boris Yeltsin to oppose the coup.  Three days later, Gorby was “restored,” but the popular revolt that crushed his enemies within the CPSU quickly discarded him, turning his triumphant return into a humiliation.  By year’s end, Gorby was out of a job, and the USSR was out of existence.

Secondly, are more importantly, we need to consider Khameini’s view – especially now that he has demanded the uprising cease.  To quote Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola from The Godfather: Part II (which puts me on firmer ground, I think) – Michael Corleone: “One thing I learned from Pop was to try to think as people around you think.”

So, while Jim may not think Mousavi would make much difference, Khameini clearly does.  This is especially important because this is the same Khameini who allowed Mohammed Khatami to be elected and re-elected.  If Khatami could be trusted to provide cover for the mullahcracy, why can’t Mousavi?  Clearly, Ali Khameini knows something we don’t.

Again, look to history to see how events can change people.  On October 11, 1987, Boris Yeltsin was just another apparatchik aiding Gorby’s spit-and-polish-on-Communism scheme.  By October 13, he had become Russia’s first anti-Communist in sevnty years.  Likewise, Zhao Ziyang was a leading light in the Chinese Communist Party’s plastic surgery project – in the winter of 1988-9.  By the following fall, he was under house arrest, and had become a full-throated supporter of democracy.

What Mousavi has become is still not known, but the uprising begun in his name has clearly become the greatest threat to the Iranian Islamic regime in its thirty-year history, the regime’s own actions reveal it to be so.

Lest we forget, the radicalism for which Iran is infamous is a very recent phenomenon.  Before 1979, Iran was one of the most modern, pro-Western, and pro-Israeli nations on the globe (let alone the Middle East).  Khomeinism has created a whole slew of dissidents – among them Ruhollah Khomeini’s number two cleric, and even his grandson – and Khameini’s action is pushing the “reformers” ever closer to them.

The odds of the uprising succeeding are, in my view, slim.  Jim and I probably agree on that one.  However, should it succeed, the odds of it moving Iran in a more open and America-friendly direction are much higher today than they were on Monday (or even yesterday), and they’d be higher still but for the president’s maddening equivocation.

The dangerous rehabilitation of Chiang Kai-shek

May 7, 2009

Of all the historical figures for the Chinese Communist Party to exploit, the most unlikely would be Chiang Kai-hsek, the man who led the fight against it for over nearly fifty years. However, the CCP – while being brutal, cruel, corrupt, and devious – is also the shrewdest tyrannical regime on earth. Thus, anti-Communists are in the highly unusual position of being wary over the historical rehabilitation of the CCP’s most well-known enemy.

Chiang’s memory is riding the latest revisionist wave of history. Jay Taylor’s The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (reviewed in the Washington Post) is leading the way on this side of the Pacific, but as John Pomfret notes, “Mainland scholars of the Nationalist period have also written essays intimating that China would probably have been better off if Chiang had stayed in charge.”

On some level, this is a dramatic admission from the Communist regime, impossible at any point before 1976. However, this is 2009, meaning the newfound appreciation for the Nationalist leader is much less than meets the eye.

For starters, Chiang is almost always compared to Mao Zedong, rather than Hu Jintao or Jiang Zemin. For historical purposes, this makes a lot of sense. However, when attempting to use the past to explain the present, it falls woefully short for four reasons.

First, neither Chiang nor Mao were genuine democrats in any way, shape, or form. Both men were tyrannical rulers who merely different on the nature of the tyranny. Because Chiang sided with the anti-Communists during the first Cold War, too many assume that Hu and Jiang, by hewing closer to Chiang’s tyrant model, have surrendered the argument. This is far from true. Chiang’s brutality, his insistence on the Nationalists dominating the state and the economy, and his tolerance for corruption would make him quite comfortable in today’s CCP. In fact, Chiang himself managed to convince Joe Stalin that he was a dedicated Communist – to the point that the Soviets actually designated the Nationalists as their allies for much of the 1920s.

Secondly, Chiang and Mao shared an absolute refusal to accept Taiwanese self-determination. During their time, given the deep disagreement over who should control the mainland, that seemed a secondary issue. Today, with the Nationalist/Kuomintang Party having accepted Communist domination of the mainland, Taiwanese self-determination (which is not to say formal independence per se, but could include it) is the only protection the island democracy has left now.

Which bring us to the third reason Chiang’s newfound acceptance is problematic: Taiwan (or, for those who prefer it, the Republic of China) is now a vibrant democracy, something Chiang would never accept. What has inspired mainlanders was not Chiang’s rule over Formosa, but its transition away from Chiang’s rule.

If Taiwan is to have any hero, it should be Lee Teng-hui, but the cadres can’t stand him, so instead they encourage a Chiang boomlet. This has the added bonus of aiding the current Nationalist Party on the island, so as to block the return to popularity of Lee’s anti-Communist allies, the Democratic Progressive Party.

Finally, the Chiang boomlet does nothing to alleviate concern over the CCP’s continuing adventurism abroad. That Hu Jintao may be closer to the Chiang model doesn’t make the military he now commands any less dangerous (The Australian and the BBC). Nor does it lighten the dark shadow the regime casts around the globe (Brisbane Times and The Malaysian Insider). It certainly doesn’t mean improvement in the areas where Chiang and Mao were equally terrible, be it corruption (Agence France Presse via Yahoo and the Los Angeles Times) or cruelty to dissidents (AFP via Yahoo and Deutsche Presse-Agentur via Hispanic Business).

The CCP, contrary to what they would like us to believe, is still in serious trouble. American investors, fed up with tales of profits that never materialize (Forbes), are finally beginning to look to India as a profitable alternative (New York Times). The tainted export meme has shifted to drywall found in tens of thousands of American homes (CNN). Finally, the rural interior continues to be impoverished and plundered by the regime itself (BBC). In this context, it’s easy to see why the regime would want the world (and the Chinese people) to believe the Mao-Chiang conflict was all about semantics – and for those two men, it may very well have been just that.

For the rest of us, however, it is about freedom and tyranny – and which will prevail. The more we focus on how close Mao’s heirs have moved to Chiang, the less we notice that the people of the mainland and the island democracy have moved beyond both of them to demand (and in the case of the island, achieve) genuine freedom. Therein lies the danger of Chiang’s rehabilitation.

Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby

On Russia, John McCain, and why I will vote for him

August 9, 2008

Nine years ago, America engaged in its first and only military operation that I ever opposed – in Kosovo.  Having followed politics in the area that once was Yugoslavia, I greatly feared that U.S. involvement would galvanize the people of Serbia behind Slobodan Milosevic, and make it harder for Serbia’s democrats to remove him from power.  One of the leading supporters of that war was John McCain, and as much as I admired him, I thought he was completely wrong.

That was the spring of 1999.  Hardly anyone remembers Kosovo anymore, except in the Balkans, where the conflict destroyed Milosevic’s supposed invincibility and led to his downfall a year later.  Ever since, Kosovo was the one issue on which I was willing to admit that I was wrong.

Another one came this morning: Russia.

I saw America’s two most implacable enemies as the following: the Chinese Communist Party, and the amorphic Wahhabist-Ba’athist-Khomeinist alliance with whom we are presently at war.  Russia has been arming and arguing with the former (over territory and concern about Beijing’s slow-motion invasion of the Russian Far East), while aiding and fighting the latter (Iran and al Qaeda respectively).  Naturally, I have been ambivalent about them to say the least, but I have always felt one could deal with Moscow.  This was driven largely by al Qaeda’s invasion of Dagestan (a Russian region bordering Chechnya) in August 1999.

So, whenever McCain would discuss Russia, I heard what I didn’t want to hear.  I didn’t think Putinist Russia was a model for anyone; nor did I conside them a good actor on the world stage, but I did think McCain was being oversimplistic when he basically called the Russian Republic a modern enemy.

Well, Russia invaded Georgia today (CNN), largely because it didn’t like the fact that Georgia had had enough of the breakaway region of South Ossetia causing trouble.  The statement of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was particularly unnerving (CNN again, emphasis added):

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, quoted by Interfax, said Russians had died because of Georgian military operations in South Ossetia.

Russia “will not allow the deaths of our compatriots to go unpunished,” and “those guilty will receive due punishment,” he said. “My duty as Russian president is to safeguard the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they are. This is what is behind the logic of the steps we are undertaking now.”

Whether or not Medvedev is speaking for himself or being Prime Minister Putin’s mouthpiece, this is the statement of a dangerous rogue state – just like McCain said it was (NRO - The Corner)For the second time in less than a decade, I must admit that I was wrong, and John McCain was right.

I have serious disagreements with the man on many domestic issues, and there are many people I trust on national security issues, but John McCain has proven to be the one person I trust on foreign policy more than myself.  That is why he has my vote.


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