Saturday, May 15, 2010
Leftists and the armed forces
I have long argued that the difference between Left and Right can only be understood psychologically rather than ideologically. Leftists run on pure emotion. Conservatives have emotions too but they are governed by reason as well.
Leftists will use ANY argument that suits their emotional needs of the moment. They have certain recurrent themes in their arguments -- such as "poverty" being the cause of all ills -- but such themes are little more than verbal tics. They are not a serious attempt to explain anything.
A rather hilarious proof of that is that Leftists for quite a while after 9/11/2001 explained Muslim antagonism to America as being caused by poverty -- even though Osama bin Laden is a billionaire! The Leftist mouths uttering such nonsense were clearly not engaged in any serious way with thought or any sincere effort to understand.
And one of the things that Leftist emotions will never engage with is the army. Leftists just can't understand why anybody would LIKE being in the army and Leftist governments will always cut back military funding if they can plausibly do so. Australia's Leftist government has done so this week, even though there are frequent calls on the Australian army for overseas deployments to various theatres of conflict, Iraq and Afghanistan included.
Yet lots of people DO like being in the army, including women. In my far-off military days the corps with the longest waiting list was the WRAACS (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps). Each corps has a certain "establishment" -- meaning that the corps can only enlist as many people as they are allocated by the defence bureaucrats. So a popular corps will often have a waiting list of people waiting for a vacancy in the establishment. And LOTS of women wanted to get into the WRAACS.
And that continues to this day. Even exceptionally attractive women often love the army. G.I. Jill won a beauty contest as Miss Utah but still was keen to get back to military duties. And Miss England (aka "Combat Barbie") at the moment is keen to get back into army uniform too. And my most recent bride spent 9 years in the army and you can see what she looks like here (scroll down).
And who could be more privileged than a member of the British Royal family? But it IS a military family and Prince Harry in particular is well known for his devotion to the army and his keenness for active service. He even once said of his very attractive girlfriend, Chelsy, that he loves Chelsy but the army comes first! I doubt that any Leftist mind could comprehend that! I can, though.
Left to right above: Prince Charles, Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry. Photo from earlier this month
And in the most minor of ways, my own totally undistinguished military career shows a little of that spirit too. In the Vietnam era I was at a university in Brisbane where there were vast anti-Vietnam rallies. So I joined a local army reserve unit. While most of my fellow students were marching around with placards, I was trying my best to acquire some military skills. And I enjoyed it immensely.
After completing my first degree, however, I moved down to Sydney and naturally assumed that I would join the Sydney reserve unit of my corps. But they were "up to establishment"! They had no vacancy for me. So did I just say "too bad!". No way! I went on full-time duties with the regular army instead! The regular unit of my corps had vacancies even if the reserve unit did not!
I can't imagine that any Leftist would understand that. Personally, I think they are inadequate people who are simply too cowardly for the army. They will of course think that I am simply stupid but as I have a Ph.D. and 200+ academic publications that explanation would be as silly as their "poverty" explanation.
Obama is going Greek
In Greece the bill has come due for a life of fairness at the expense of growth -- and the rest of Europe is not far behind
One of the constant criticisms of Barack Obama's first year is that he's making us "more like Europe." But that's hard to define and lacks broad political appeal. Until now.
Any U.S. politician purporting to run the presidency of the United States should be asked why the economic policies he or she is proposing won't take us where Europe arrived this week.
In an astounding moment, to avoid the failure of little, indulgent, profligate Greece, the European Union this week pledged nearly $1 trillion to inject green blood into Europe's economic vampires.
For Americans, this has been a two-week cram course in what not to be if you hope to have a vibrant future. What was once an unfocused criticism of Mr. Obama and the Democrats, that they are nudging America toward a European-style social-market economy, came to awful life in the panicked, stricken faces of Europe's leadership: Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown, Papandreou. They look like that because Europe has just seen the bond-market devil.
Daniel Henninger discusses Europe's economic stagnation, noting that President Obama's health-care and energy policies will surely make us more like Europe.
Podcast: Listen to the audio of Wonder Land here.
The bond market is a good bargain—if you live more or less within your means. The Europeans, however, pushed a good bargain into a Faustian bargain, which the world calls a sovereign debt crisis.
In the German legend, Faust was a scholar who sold his soul to the devil many years hence in return for a life now of intellectual brilliance and physical comfort. In our version of the legend, Europe's governments told the devil that, more than anything, they wanted a life of social protection and income fairness no matter the cost. Life was good. A fortnight ago, the bond devil arrived and asked for his money.
In the U.S., the Obama White House and the Democrats have decided to wage politics into November by positioning the Republicans as the party of obstruction, which won't vote for things the nation "needs," such as ObamaCare. Some Republicans voting against these proposals seem to understand, as do their most ardent supporters, that they are opposing such ideas and policies because the Democrats have pushed far beyond the traditional centrist comfort zone of most Americans. A Democratic Party whose current budget takes U.S. spending from a recent average of about 21% of GDP up to 25% is outside that comfort zone. It's headed toward the euro zone.
After Europe's abject humiliation, the chance is at hand for the Republicans to do some useful self-definition. They should make clear to the American people that the GOP is "The We're Not Europe Party." Their Democratic opposition could not attempt such a claim because they do not wish to.
The state of Europe can be summed up in one word: stagnation. Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president who just agreed to monetize the debt that Europeans can't or won't pay, noted in a 2006 speech that "over the period from 1996 to 2005, euro area output grew on average 1.3 percentage points less than in the U.S., and the gap appears to be persistent."
Angus Maddison, the eminent European historian of world economic development who died days before Europe's debt crisis, wrote in 2001: "The most disturbing aspect of West European performance since 1973 has been the staggering rise in unemployment. In 1994-8 the average level was nearly 11% of the labor force. This is higher than the depressed years of the 1930s."
Stagnation isn't death. Economies don't die. Greece proves that. They slow down. Europe's low growth rates allow its populations to pretend that real, productive work is being done somewhere by someone. But new jobs are created slowly, if at all. Younger workers lose heart.
Economic stagnation is a kind of purgatory. Once there, it's not clear how you get out. The economist Douglass North, in his 1993 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, said that one of the vexing problems of his discipline is, "Why do economies once on a path of growth or stagnation tend to persist?" Japan also seems unable to free itself from stagnation.
The antidote to stagnation is economic growth. Not just growth, but strong growth. A 4% growth rate, which Europe will never see again, pays social dividends innumerably greater than 2.5% growth. Which path are we on?
Barack Obama would never say it is his intention to make the U.S. go stagnant by suppressing wealth creation in return for a Faustian deal on social equity. But his health system required an astonishing array of new taxes on growth industries. He is raising taxes on incomes, dividends, capital gains and interest. His energy reform requires massive taxes. His government revels in "keeping a boot on the neck" of a struggling private firm. Wall Street's business is being criminalized.
Economic stagnation arrives like a slow poison. Look at the floundering United Kingdom, whose failed prime minister, Gordon Brown, said on leaving, "I tried to make the country fairer." Maybe there's a more important goal.
A We're-Not-Europe Party would promise the American people to avoid and oppose any policy that makes us more like them and less like us.
Barack Obama vows $180bn to overhaul nuclear weapons stockpile
The mid-terms have REALLY got him spooked. A desperate last-minute dash to the center is now well in evidence
President Obama has committed the US to spending more than $180 billion (£122 billion) over the next ten years to overhaul its nuclear warheads and to modernise some of the bombers and submarines that carry them.
With the announcement of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start) with Russia, and the downgrading of America’s “nuclear posture”, Mr Obama said that no money would be spent on a new generation of long-range ballistic missiles. Republicans warned that they would not support the Start agreement unless the existing stockpile was upgraded.
Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defence, and Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, are due to give evidence in support of the treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week. In anticipation of tough questioning the Obama Administration sent Congress a classified report on plans for the nuclear stockpile.
An unclassified summary of the report on plans for the nuclear stockpile released by the White House reveals that the Government is to spend more than $100 billion over the next decade to sustain existing “nuclear delivery systems” — intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers and submarines. Research is also under way on a new strategic bomber and ballistic missile-carrying submarines.
The declassified summary also discloses that Mr Obama intends to spend $80 billion in the next decade on sustaining the arsenal of nuclear warheads.
A report on plans for the nuclear stockpile shows that the United States has 450 intercontinental ballistic missile silos and will keep 420, all with a single warhead. It also has 94 strategic bombers, with 60 being kept under Start; and 14 strategic nuclear submarines. Under the new treaty the US will keep all 14 submarines but the number of missile tubes will be cut from 24 to 20, and no more than 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles will be deployed at any time.
Crock Tock is a new site that is well worth a look. He keeps VERY up to date with current news and commentary -- from a distinct conservative perspective.
Elena Kagan 'outed' as lesbian: "The Wall Street Journal was attacked for using a 1993 image of Miss Kagan, who was nominated for the top court by President Barack Obama this week, holding a bat during her time as a teacher at the University of Chicago. Critics have claimed the sport is regarded as a "lesbian" pastime in the minds of many Americans and the picture was used to allude to rumours about her sexuality. John Wright, of gay newspaper Dallas Voice, told Politico: "Personally I think the newspaper, which happens to have the largest circulation of any in the US, might as well have gone with a headline that said, 'Lesbian or switch-hitter?'." In an attempt to lay the issue to rest, friends of the former dean of Harvard Law School have publicly said she is not gay"
Obama’s natural choice of Kagan : "It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority.”
Obama’s rationing man : "While much of Washington is focused on President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Republicans are gearing up for a confirmation battle over another Obama nominee who promises to put health care back in the spotlight. At issue is Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor with a self-professed love affair with Britain’s socialized health care system. In his writings and speeches, Berwick has defended government rationing and advocated centralized budget caps on health care spending.”
Resolve and repeal: "On Tuesday, West Virginia Democratic primary voters ousted an incumbent who has been in the House since 1983 — partly because of his vote for Obamacare. That legislation is also at issue in a special election this month for a Pennsylvania House seat the Democrats have held since 1974. In that race, both candidates say they opposed the passage of Obamacare, but the Republican is running to the Democrat’s right by saying that he will vote to repeal it. The message from these campaigns: Opposition to Obamacare is a winning cause. But House Republicans are not yet doing enough to capitalize on the discontent in order to elect Republicans to office and, more important, raise the likelihood of an eventual repeal. The House Republican leadership ought to get behind a simple, one-sentence bill to repeal Obamacare — now.”
Some economic realism at long last in Spain: "Mr. Zapatero is taking action to address the root cause of his nation's fiscal dilemma: excess spending. For years, Spain had doled money out of the public purse with such abandon that its deficit reached 11.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2009. Mr. Zapatero will now impose a 5-percent across-the-board reduction in government salaries. Ministers will take a more substantial, but mostly symbolic, 15-percent cut. More importantly, the government will freeze pension benefits and eliminate a number of non-essential benefits. A total of 13,000 unnecessary government employees will be cut loose." [With 20% unemployment even a Leftist government gets desperate, it would seem]
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 11:02 PM