Politics

Will I remember?

The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.

Sometimes I think I ought to spend my writing time exclusively documenting things that I know, so that thirty years from now, when the political machines have finished rewriting history, I'll still have something true and good to read about my nation.

The quote above comes from my commander in chief--via a column by Liz Cheney--who apparently believes that the world cast aside the Soviet regime and its policies much as children on a playground may reject a rope swing in favor of a basketball--"This no longer amuses; let's do something else." In doing so, he dismisses the thousands and thousands of Americans (and our allies) who dedicated (and occasionally lost) their lives to our security during the Cold War.

The disconnect from reality is stunning--or would be if the last few months hadn't made me somewhat numb to it.

In April, I posed a question on the bulletin board I used to frequent asking whether our President had so far turned out as everyone had hoped. I think it a little telling that other than "hope" comments, the highest praise offered him at that time was that he wasn't W and thus wasn't in the news all of the time for his gaffes. Apparently, the bar for our nation's leadership is pretty low.

Sig

Perverse thoughts

I've recently subscribed to Victor Davis Hanson's feed after seeing him constantly quoted in some of the other blogs I read. I appreciate his ability to succinctly summarize some of the same problems I keep running into:

I do not understand at all this going into debt for almost another trillion dollars, and then immediately promising to balance the budget soon (like blowing off your foot near an emergency room), or how “stimulate” differs from “borrow”, or why the more noble victim is the one who sought to borrow too much for too much house and then defaulted, rather than he who chose to borrow less for less house and paid his mortgage on time each month and now subsidizes the less responsible. (The former apparently will still have the larger house, the latter the smaller.)

That from Perverse Thoughts About This Perverse Recession, which I recommend in its entirety.

We live in interesting times.

Sig

Destimulation

This is where a large federal government takes you. This is where you go when you say that nothing is beyond the reach or responsibility of the national government. It's why we had a federal system in the first place. It's not robbing Peter to pay Paul; it's robbing Peter and Paul to fund community-based law enforcement initiatives to prevent robbery.

Inauguration

I didn't see it all, so somebody tell me--did he see his shadow?

Sig

I might as well request the Easter Bunny`s e-mail address.

[Originally posted at Vox Veterana on 28 AUG 07.]

Is there any place where legitimate, well-intentioned, respectful, intelligent, and rational discourse about politics and military affairs can occur?

I don`t mean the narcissistic mutual admiration societies where we all sit around talking about how barking mad the other side is--I mean an actual (by which I mean virtual, online) place where you can have a reasoned debate with unlike-minded individuals and at least maintain some semblance of civil conversation.

One of the legitimate criticisms often levied against the military weblog community is that we tend to act as an echo chamber. It`s hard to know how much of that is just navel-gazing and how much is legitimate unfied concern over a major topic--particularly when it`s hard to agree what even constitutes An Important Thing. [Witness the whole Beauchamp saga.]

Comments are often full of "You are so right" and "God bless you and the troops" and "Free Viagra Prescription" (damned spambots) with the occasional "Bushitler and his thugs will all rot in hell" comment thrown in for good measure. Some of the better sites will have some respectfully dissenting opinions, but these are noteworthy for their rarity.

[Now, to be perfectly fair (which I do only when I have 3:1 odds), the military weblog community is far from the worst offender in this area. But just because other parties *coughhippies*cough* might do it doesn`t absolve us of responsibility to promote the common good.]

I guess I`m just not terribly comfortable with the journal-as-debate-forum model. One pompous blowhard (me) gets to write something, and then normal people tell him/me why he/I is/am full of crap in the comments section. It`s powerfully slanted my way, which would be a problem if I were not right all of the time.

But Sig, the argument will go, they can always open their own blog. And that`s true. But now the power relationship is reversed, and I`m leaving nasty comments about their grammar and personal hygiene and political views. In neither case is a reasonable and even-keeled discussion possible.

Maybe I`m hoping for something which can`t exist. But I recall some rousing good discussions Back In The Old Days--in my case, text-based BBS networks and moderated UseNet groups from the mid-90s. Where do people go for discussions now?

This is not a rhetorical device--I`d really like to know.

Sig

Intolerance notes

A long boring post about CoG, political intolerance, and proposition 8.

C'mon people, it's multiple choice.

It's a civics quiz:

Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen? The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%. Can you do better? Questions were drawn from past ISI surveys, as well as other nationally recognized exams.

Gah. 49 percent?

So I tried it.

You answered 30 out of 33 correctly — 90.91 %

Average score for this quiz during November: 77.6%
Average score: 77.6%

I probably would have got those other three if I hadn't been too busy in school learning about how socialism is the wave of the future. To be fair, a few of those questions were kind of tricky. "What would a government do if..." Wait--a smart government or a dumb government?

[Courtesy of the David Boze blog.]

Sig

This is depressing.

Do you really think they cherry-picked these people? I thought it was rather instructive that they were more familiar with the Republican candidates than the Democrat candidates.

Sig

Let's agree not be crazy.

Neoceocon has a great article on avoiding the dangers of Obama Derangement Syndrome. I have already been accused of this, in essence if not in name, for asserting that I will not vote for Obama in 2012. (Apparently it's prejudicial to disagree with a political agenda and believe that you'll still disagree with it in four years.)

Her basic argument is that we should not take counsel and direction from our fears about what an Obama presidency will do, but instead focus on evidence as it arrives. It's good advice.

Here's the first batch, from a since-removed Change.gov posting of President-elect Obama's agenda for urban policy:

Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

The bitter gun clingers at NRA-ILA have a summary here, along with a cached copy of the agenda so you can read it yourself.

The cached page also had the bit about raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour. Let's have a moment of silence to admire the stupid.

I was going to buy a pistol, but now I'm wondering if I shouldn't save for a so-called assault weapon before they skyrocket in price--and then become unavailable.

Sig

Well, crap.

Oh well. It happens. On the positive side, I am unlikely to be called up to help put down riots in Seattle or Olympia, so that's something.

Sig

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