Monday, April 28, 2008

Dick Morris Says Hillary is Running in 2012. . .

Does Hillary want to beat up Obama so that he can’t win the general election in November, assuring McCain of the presidency so that she can have a clear field to run again in 2012? . . . if McCain wins, she would have to be considered the presumptive front runner for the nomination, a status which she might parlay into a nomination more successfully than she has been able to do this year.

Every day that she stays in the race and punches Barack Obama, she must realize that she is decreasing his chances of getting elected in November Each time that she waves the bloody shirt and says that only she is strong enough to fight the war on terror, she obviously raises doubts about Obama’s strength and leadership. . .

Every time she criticizes him for not switching pastors or for saying downscale white voters are bitter, she raises issues that are very destructive to Obama should he win the nomination.

. . .

In 2004, it is pretty obvious that Hillary did nothing to help John Kerry beyond giving a speech at the convention and waging a token campaign on his behalf. Bill did even less. Their goal was obvious: they wanted Kerry to lose to Bush so that Hillary could run in 2008. Is she playing the same game now? Only time will tell.

Looks like the estimable Mr. Morris could almost be channeling El Jefe. Say, maybe the very intelligent Mr. Morris is a reader of the Kingdom of Chaos ? Yeppers, you guessed it: faithful readers of this blog know that El Jefe said something very much like this FIRST (back on the 22nd):

. . .it's on the cards now that Obama is the nominee. Hillary's most interesting and often most admirable character trait is that she always fights and never, ever gives up. If Obama wins in November, the chances that Hillary can ever be President, four years or eight years hence, or at any other time, are vanishingly small. Can she ever give up this wish-dream she's been single-mindedly chasing (like her husband), for virtually her whole life ? I wonder if, whatever she says now or later, she can ever support an Obama candidacy ? Should Obama be the Democratic nominee, is it possible that Hillary, in her secret heart, might somehow see it in her interest for McCain to win come November ? Is she capable of being that devious ?

Heh, heh, heh. Great Minds Think Alike, and all that fun stuff. Come November, it could be that Mr. Morris and I will both be saying "told you so."

So, How Many Divisions Have You Got ?

Those who cast the votes, they decide nothing. Those who count the votes, they decide everything.

Joseph Stalin, as quoted in Memoirs (Boris Bazhanov, 1992).

How many divisions has the Pope got ?

Stalin (again), when asked at Yalta if Pope Pius XII should be consulted about post- war arrangements in Europe.

Zimbabwe's fractious opposition parties have united in calling for dictator Robert Mugabe (defeated in March's parliamentary and presidential elections) to honor last month's election results, and leave power. The Movement for Democratic Change's presidential candidate, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, suggests that Bad Bob take an "honorable exit." Mr. Tsvangirai has also called for the UN Security Council to send a special envoy to rap Mugabe on the knuckles and get him to vacate the premises.

Beg pardon friends, but it's not going to work. Mugabe's army, police and gangs are intimidating and threatening the bureaucrats into nullifying the election results (which still aren't released), and scaring, beating and killing your supporters. Asking for help from the UN is a joke: the General Assembly might as well be called the Dictator's Club; and the democracies do not control the Security Council. Recent past history (think Saddam Hussein) should prove to you that there is no way Russia and China are going to allow the Security Council to take action against a "President" no matter how dubious his claim to office. Oh, they (and the EU) will no doubt send an envoy or a commission or something -- complete with stationery -- sent-off by blessings from the requisite Great and Good; which will produce a beautifully written, glossy report, parsed by lawyers to be read by accountants, that nobody will ever read.

The US and Britain can't help you -- that looks too much like the big white powers (and former colonial powers, at that), leaning on a "heroic" revolutionary leader. Too bad Mugabe's a communist, and not right wing. If Pinochet had been your dictator, you'd have a chance. Appealing to South Africa will get you nowhere for the moment, unless your refugees become more of a problem than is already the case. Brothers, you are on your own.

You're going to get nowhere legally. Mugabe and his stooges have proved that, haven't they ? Mugabe's rule is based on naked force, and the fear of the bad man and his henchmen as to what you're going to do to them when (not if) they fall. But that's for the longer term. At the moment, Mugabe and his friends have the cards. I wish it was different. You can emigrate, accept it, or fight. Good luck.

Friday, April 25, 2008

NYPD Detectives Acquitted

Three New York Police Department (NYPD) detectives have been acquitted of all charges in the killing of Sean Bell, on his wedding day as he left a bachelor party at a strip club. This resolution of this very emotional case is going to be, to put it mildly, controversial. An AP report is here, and a New York Times account is here.
In a nutshell, the shooting happened after the police apparently overheard a conversation between Mr. Bell and others outside the strip club; concluded that Mr. Bell might be going to his vehicle for a weapon; and confronted Mr. Bell after he got into his car. The shooting began when Mr. Bell did not raise his hands when commanded, and tried to leave the scene (striking one detective and another unmarked police vehicle while doing so). Mr. Bell then died in what the AP piece linked above calls a "hail of gunfire" -- 50 rounds from five policemen (three were charged, two were not).
I have not followed the case closely, and I'll leave the serious discussion to those who have. But given the facts as they are being presented this morning, this sounds like a deadly mixture of circumstances: early morning and darkness (the shooting occurred at 4:15 a.m.); suspicious officers (the club was being investigated as a prostitution venue); Mr. Bell's failure to understand his situation (he may not have understood that the people carrying guns asking him to get out of the car were police); the overheard conversation (the police may have gotten it wrong, or taken what was overheard out of context); semi-automatic weapons and a sketchy situation suddenly turning violent.
The type of weapon carried by the police may have been important. One of the officers, Detective Gescard Isonara, who fired 11 rounds, carried what the New York Times describes as a "Glock." I am assuming that this refers to the one of the several variants of the Glock 9mm pistol. The weapon, produced in Austria, is used by police and military forces all over the world. I further assume that the other officers had similar weapons. My point is that the Glock is a semi-automatic pistol (sometimes called a self-loader). When the weapon is cocked and fired in semi-automatic mode, each pull of the trigger chambers the next round, and the weapon can then be fired again without the need for working the slide to cock it.
The AP piece says that Mr. Bell's companions that night (who were wounded), testified that "the maelstrom erupted without warning" and the prosecutors tried to show that Mr. Bell and his friends were "minding their own business" and that the police were "inept, trigger-happy aggressors." The defense contended that Mr. Bell and his friends were "drunk" and the police believed that they were "armed and dangerous." There was also testimony about another man who fled the scene, and who may, or may not, have been armed.
Maybe both sides were sort of right ?
The police approached Mr. Bell believing he was "armed and dangerous." Mr. Bell, minding his own business, may have had no idea that the people approaching his vehicle were police. The police were undercover: maybe Mr. Bell saw the guns before the badges and fled from people with guns, not knowing they were police ? In any case, Mr. Bell seems not to have comprehended (remember, it was dark, very early after a long night and he'd been in a club) that he was in an "official" situation where he needed to stop, and to cooperate; and he did not appreciate quickly enough that he was in a situation in which he needed to be very careful.
It sounds to me very much like, when the situation outside the club went bad, that the police confused shots fired by their fellow-officers (the officers were in "different locations" on the street, the verdict said) with non-existent return fire from Mr. Bell. The sudden escalation of the situation, loud reports from five pistols in darkness, fear and a moving vehicle striking another all could have combined to make the officers think that they were under fire; so they simply kept pulling triggers, quitting when they ran out of ammunition, or there was a long enough pause between discharges to think. With semi-automatic pistols in the equation, there could be (and apparently was) quite a bit of shooting, very quickly.
Reading our newspapers at the breakfast table, or staring at the computer from the comfort of our desk-chairs, it's easy from hindsight to criticize the officers, conclude that they were trigger-happy, and should have had the book thrown at them. But 99 percent of us reading this have never been walking targets; never been watching a club where we've been briefed that illegal activity might be going on; never confronted somebody whom we think might be "armed and dangerous;" and, hearing bullets suddenly fired in darkness and anger -- never been scared absolutely to death trying to work out who was doing the shooting, where the shooter was, or what to do next. Would any of us -- given the situation presented to the detectives -- have done any better ? Avoided a death ? We'd all like to think so.
But the police turned out to be completely, tragically, wrong. Mr. Bell should not have died. To everyone's sadness, there is no way to undo that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The "Bradley Effect" and Closing the Deal

Going in to the Pennsylvania primary, the Real Clear Politics average of Pennsylvania polls showed that Pennsylvania voters preferred Hillary to St. Barack of Obama by about 6.1 points. Most of the polling data put Hillary's lead from between three and seven points.
Yesterday, Hillary substantially outperformed these predictions: as of this morning, it appears that she defeated Obama by about ten percentage points in terms of total votes cast. When Florida and Michigan are factored in, Mrs. Clinton may well lead Obama in terms of total votes cast -- which considerably improves her chances of getting superdelegates to dump St. Barack.
But lets go back to the polling. Of the polls taken in Pennsylvania just prior to the election, only the Zogby poll of 675 likely voters (taken on 20-21 April) was close to being accurate -- nailing the actual results almost dead on. What's going on ?
Blogging Caesar gave us a possible explanation yesterday, warning us that the "Bradley Effect" would be in play in Pennsylvania. The "Bradley Effect" refers to the possible explanation for a tendency (when there is a white candidate running against a non-white candidate) for the non-white candidate to score below the result predicted in the polling data. This is theorized to occur because, supposedly, white voters lie to the pollsters to avoid being perceived as racists.
Possibly this effect was in play yesterday, but it is equally possible that voters are simply getting to know Barack Obama a little better. The primary process is normally for vetting candidates, but in the process we have seen this year, Obama was practically the Democratic candidate before anybody knew what happened, thanks to much of the big media being convinced that St. Barack was the new Messiah.
Maybe the romance has been too fast to make it easy to close the deal; and Democrats, on the cusp of handing their party over to a total newbie, are having a little buyer's remorse ? The Democrats may now be wondering if St. Barack is the Messiah or McGovern; if he's Jack Kennedy, or Adlai Stevenson ? Either way, "Mr. Change We Can Believe In" might be a leap of faith too far.
Whatever. For those of us happily on the outside, it's a time to make up some popcorn and watch the cash get spent. Bash on Democrats.

A Win is a Win

Hilla wins Pennsylvania -- she's ten points ahead of St. Barack of Obama with 85 percent of the votes in, which is fairly convincing. The Real Clear Politics blog has an excellent Pennsylvania thread going, which got me up to speed really quickly. I'll be curious to see the post-mortems and analysis showing us exactly who voted -- in particular: (1) what Philadelphia did; (2) how much white working class support St. Barack got; and, (3) how much of the Obamanation -- all the new voters the cult boasts about signing up -- actually turned out.
The spinning has already begun: the Hilla spokesman wants to know why St. Barack couldn't win in Pennsylvania with all his alleged advantages. As RCP Blog points out, that's a very good question, considering all the cash that Obama poured into the state. Then again, Obama really has the cash to burn, doesn't he ?
I believe that Obama's still the nominee, but I hope the Democratic chaos continues for awhile. Thinking for later: the McCain organization needs to think on making the Democrats fight for Pennsylvania. But can they find the money ?
Hillary and her campaign have done a workmanlike job with poor cards. She has much to be happy about tonight: she's probably delayed the superdelegates closing down the process, and she's got another couple of weeks to hope Obama slips on the soap, or that some smoking gun from his past turns up. Question is, though, how's her money holding up ?
Actually, that's just one question. The more interesting poser is -- what is she really planning ? Looking at the numbers, she cannot now hope to win the nomination without Obama's collaboration in his own destruction. Either Obama slips -- makes some ginormous gaffe that even the Obama-worshipping media slaves notice, or Hillary has to hope she can profit from some other latent flaw in the Great One's past (like the William Ayers business) that we don't yet know about.
But barring that kind of disaster, it's on the cards now that Obama is the nominee. Hillary's most interesting and often most admirable character trait is that she always fights and never, ever gives up. If Obama wins in November, the chances that Hillary can ever be President, four years or eight years hence, or at any other time, are vanishingly small. Can she ever give up this wish-dream she's been single-mindedly chasing (like her husband), for virtually her whole life ? I wonder if, whatever she says now or later, she can ever support an Obama candidacy ? Should Obama be the Democratic nominee, is it possible that Hillary, in her secret heart, might somehow see it in her interest for McCain to win come November ? Is she capable of being that devious ?
But all that's in abeyance for the moment. For now, as far as Hillary's concern, she's still in it, and a win is a win. (Also true for the Heir -- his team won tonight's baseball game).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Quick Call

Polls are closed in PA, and no quick call from CNN or Fox. Fox, in fact, has the race "too close to call."
Has Hilla underperformed ? If so, she's toast.
Off to Heir's baseball game. The rest of you, stay tuned.

"If McCain Wins, Conservatism is Dead"

A unnamed respondent to my Pennsylvania post thinks that whatever happens this election cycle:

GOP ultimately loses--
McCain is a LIBERAL Republican!!!
If he wins, conservatism is dead.


My working assumption is that the commenter thinks that either Obama or Clinton would be preferable to McCain, because if the "liberal" McCain wins, conservatism is dead.

Conservatism is an instrument, not an idol or religion. The more important question is what happens to our country. We are conservatives because conservative policies are best for our country, and for no other reason. If it's a choice between what's best for the country, and what's best for the conservatism as a movement, then the devil take conservatism.

Whatever we think of McCain, there are ample reasons to prefer him to the alternatives. Obama or Clinton in the White House will certainly lose us the war, not rebuild our military, cripple our intelligence capabilities further, and assist the Lilliputians in tying down Gulliver by subordinating American policy to that of other states and international organizations.

Both Obama and Clinton would hobble the American economy, by extending existing welfare entitlements and creating new ones (such as nationalised health care) that we cannot pay for, and that will destroy opportunity and economic growth. The Democrats thus favor repeating the folly and decadence of socialist Europe, rather than looking to our own history, and to more successful economic examples in Asia.

Socially, Obama, Clinton and their poisonous liberal friends and adherents are on the side of all the forces in Hollywood and academia making for rot in our culture. I do not argue that Republicans, at the moment, are necessarily better: but they can hardly be worse than the Democrats. If you hate McCain (and those of us who are for him) so much that you want a liberal Supreme Court for another generation, combined with the exaltation of judges over legislators; more power for lawyers and for public employee unions -- then by all means pull that lever or dimple that chad for Obama or Hillary.

I have never argued that John McCain was perfect. He probably wouldn't have been my first choice. There may be better choices another day. But McCain is what the opponents of the Left have, today. I have maintained, and continue to maintain, that John McCain is a conservative. John McCain needs no words of mine or anybody else to vouch for him: his voting record in Congress, and his military service in Vietnam prove both his conservatism and his patriotism. So McCain's hacked-off some of our self-appointed movement popes. What of it ?

Maybe conservatism is dead. Maybe it dies if McCain is elected. I don't for a minute believe it, and neither should you, but the fate of conservatism is a secondary, even a tertiary issue. We are all in our own small and individual ways the servants of our country, which by the deeds of those who came before us lived long before any of us; and, by God's grace lives today; and, by God's grace will go on and on for our children and theirs long after we are gone. But we must take care of what we have been given, as best that we can. For me, Obama or Clinton are not up to that duty.

Folks, Ronald Reagan was a very great man. But he's gone now, and we're left to carry on. We don't carry on by worrying more about the "movement" than the country.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Prediction

I think Hillary wins Pennsylvania, possibly by a larger margin than predicted.
Hillary's going to draw a lot of rural voters who normally go Republican. Meanwhile, Obama takes Philadelphia with its big black vote by a huge margin. The decision is probably with the Philadelphia suburbs.
Real Clear Politics puts Hilla ahead, on average, by 5.4 points, but deciders in the day before the election have tended to break for her. Finally, St. Barack appears to have gotten a little bit of dirt on his halo over the past week or so. (Depend on it: we haven't heard the last of William Ayers).
The big media and the left wing glitterati have tried, and so far failed, to bury Hillary, but just because they're mostly disgusting and crazy, they're not always wrong: and they're probably right about the long term picture for the Democratic nomination. But not yet. My horseback guess is that, in general, Hillary looks better than she did last week, but is still fairly toasted whatever happens with Pennsylvania. The 24 bizillion dollar questions are: how much money has she got, and what do her fundraising numbers look like ?
Meanwhile, a "top insider" in the Hilla camp has given Drudge a red-siren exclusive that purports to show "internals" -- that is, inside campaign polling -- showing Senator Clinton as up by 11 points, propelled by a "strong coalition of middle-class and religious voters." This is interesting, it may even be true, but it sounds a lot like a strategic leak to build excitement by using the media to make news and turn out the Hilla voters.
Anyway, I think Hillary wins, but maybe not as big as Drudge's sources claim. Say, Hillary takes Pennsylvania by 8 points.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

200th Birthday of Napoléon III

Emperor Napoléon III, in the uniform of a Général de Brigade, in his cabinet at the Tuileries Palace, Paris (about 1862, Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin). The painting is in the Musée National du Château de Versailles.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Napoléon III, Emperor of the French. Born the third son of Louis, King of Holland (brother of Emperor Napoléon I) and Queen Hortense (daughter of the Empress Josephine by her first husband); the Emperor proved unequal to the great burden he took up: hope of the Bonaparte dynasty, would-be reconciler of the heritage of the French Revolution with monarchial Europe. Defeated by Bismarck, he died in exile, haunted even on his death-bed by the shame of his own, his country's and Europe's catastrophe at the Battle of Sedan -- his last words, spoken in delirium to his friend and loyal physician, Henri Conneau: "Etiez-vous à Sedan?" (Were you at Sedan ?).
I had more to say about the Emperor, to whom I give higher marks than many of his detractors, but on second thought, that will be for another time. Instead, for Napoléon III's 200th birthday, I will leave you with a link to a beautiful rendition of Partant pour la Syrie, a popular song at the Emperor's court, written by his mother, Queen Hortense.

Friday, April 18, 2008

18 April 1942: The Doolittle Raid

Today is the 66th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, which is more fully discussed in a previous post, here. Pause a moment in your busy day and remember the brave aviators (and the sailors who sped them on their way) who took the fight to our enemies under grim and desperate circumstances.

Falling or Being Pushed ?

There have been all kinds of stories in the American media the past several days about Mrs. Clinton's apparently fading prospects. These stories have appeared at the same time as greater anxiety among Democratic party insiders and supporters that a decision between St. Barack and Hilla be made, now.
It's natural that the Democratic leadership would want clarity and a rapid decision, but what of the supposedly independent mainstream media ? Are Senator Clinton's prospects really fading in the minds of voters ? Or are we really just noticing that the hive-minds that make up American big media have come round to the conviction that Hillary needs to go and the blood-letting end, lest the beyond-the-pale Republicans actually stand a chance this November ?
I'm on the outside, and personally, I hope St. Barack and Senator Hilla cut each other to pieces. It's all the same to me. But the question about the media is important. Does the press really give us news, or (despite all the computers, television and paper) are we all just being left deaf, dumb, blind and guessing ?
I think we know the answer, but it's still interesting to see the evidence, from time to time. For the record, I think Hillary's had it, also, but more because the media is part of the story, making it, rather than reporting it.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why is Cheney Smiling ?

The Washington Post and others tell us that there is lots of buzz on the web speculating about what Vice-President Cheney might be smiling about in a recent photograph. The reflection in the Dark Lord's sunglasses is obscured. . .
El Jefe knows, El Jefe has an exclusive. Inside the mind of the Sinister One (Star Wars music playing in background) . . .
At last, at last my precious, the new, improved Karl Rove Death Star is almost ready, so powerful it can wipe out Berkeley, the editorial page of the New York Times and end welfare as we know it. And yes, yes, put a sock in Nancy Pelosi's mouth. Heh, heh, heh, that will be the end of Luke Skypreacher Obama, Han Soros, R-2-Dean-Scream and all their rebel friends. My new apprentice Darth Hillary has at last realized the power of the Dark Side. . .
The funny part is, some of the lefties probably believe this.
Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale

Today is the anniversary, in 1904, of the signature in London of the series of agreements known as the Entente Cordiale ("cordial understanding") between the French Republic and Great Britain which formally ended the European rivalry between the two countries that largely defined 18th and 19th Century Europe.
Although neither the entente cordiale nor the later Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 were, on paper anyway, military alliances, they turned out to be so in fact. These agreements, particularly the entente cordiale, had immense geopolitical implications. The real target of all this treaty making and good feeling was, of course, Imperial Germany. As long as Bismarck remained German chancellor, the guiding principle of German foreign policy was to keep the new German Empire's number one enemy -- France -- diplomatically isolated. The Germans kept the French on ice by bending over backwards to keep on good terms with the Russian Empire (despite disputes in the Balkans) and by avoiding antagonism of Britain.
The new Kaiser, Wilhelm II, fired Bismarck in 1890. For a lot of reasons, it was time to fire Bismarck, but the Kaiser really blundered when he let the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia lapse -- and gave the French their diplomatic opening. In 1892, the French concluded an alliance with Russia (actually a military convention) -- hemming-in the Germans on two sides.
Still, the Germans and their Austro-Hungarian ally were more than a match for France and Imperial Russia. But Kaiser Wilhelm moved on from losing the Russians to alienating the British: he was entirely too chummy with Britain's enemies in the Second Boer War; and he backed Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz's mad scheme to build a really big German Navy. It was not so much that the German Emperor really sought a serious quarrel with Britain, he simply confused bumptious nationalism with foreign policy.
Quite naturally, the British got interested in better relations with Germany's enemy France and France's new Russian friend. The Entente Cordiale constituted the first fruits of better relations with France, and in 1907, Britain tidied-up its often acrimonious relations with Russia through the Anglo-Russian Convention of that year. None of this amounted to any kind of formal military alliance as far as the British were concerned, but staff-talks with the French and closer and closer cooperation between all three powers followed. . .
When Gavrilo Princip supplied the match on that terrible day in Sarajevo, all the old powers, tied into blocs by treaties, collectively riven by old and new hatreds -- exploded and went down together. Tirpitz's big fleet did the Germans no good: the British choked Germany's imports anyway. Russia's loyalty to its treaty with France did them no good: the Tsars and the Russian Empire went down too. France's Entente Cordiale and later alliance with Britain probably saved it in 1914 and 1917 -- at the cost of a whole generation of young men. Find their monument at Verdun.
As for the British, they got to see the Germans go down, at the cost of a million dead and the bankruptcy of their Empire. The signer of the Entente Cordiale for Britain, the Marquess of Lansdowne, destroyed himself politically in 1917 by publishing a letter correctly arguing that continuing the war would destroy civilization, and calling for a negotiated peace. The British and French alliance, at the end, was bailed-out by the United States, brought forward to take a world role the country neither wanted nor was suited for. The real winners of the First World War were the radicals and crazies: Nazis, other loons of various stripes, Communists.
But this day in 1904, all that was in the future. In London, Lord Lansdowne, and the French Ambassador, M. Paul Cambon, signed their papers, and no doubt adjourned for some good champagne. Just a month later, in Bohemia, Archduke Franz-Ferdinand's wife, Sophie, gave birth to their third child. Both mother and father had a date with murderers in Sarajevo. Meanwhile, all unknowing, millions of others (busy in the streets, fields and schools of Europe and America) while Lansdowne and Cambon did their business, had horrible dates of their own.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Foreign Policy as Social Work

Hillary Clinton, who for some unknown reason thinks that she is qualified to be President of the United States, said today that President Bush should boycott the opening ceremonies of this summer's Beijing Olympic Games, because of ". . .the violent clashes in Tibet and the failure of the Chinese government to use its full leverage with Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur."
Senator Clinton thinks that gratuitously slapping the diplomatic face of one of our largest foreign creditors, not to mention insulting a major military power, is one of those precious "opportunities for presidential leadership." Somewhat like, I suppose, St. Barack of Obama's ideas on invading Pakistan. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who doesn't have to be responsible for anything, agrees with Hillary, and thinks Bush should stay away. Maybe Mrs. Pelosi needs to visit Syria again.
I'm sure the Chinese Foreign Ministry will be real impressed with our concern over Darfur and Tibet next time we want them to buy our Treasury bills (or refrain from, God forbid, dumping them suddenly); hold off on selling Iran weapons, or not use their veto in the UN. We have plenty of real problems with China, which is going to be a much, much more dangerous great power rival for the United States than the Soviet Union ever was in our wildest nightmares. Given our current real and our future probable difficulties with China over matters like, um -- oil, debts, balances of trade, resources, the Taiwan Straits, Korea, not to mention Chinese arms and diplomatic cover for every anti-American tinpot on the planet -- why would we deliberately look for more trouble ?
Because to liberals, the real world is trivial. To the left, the only foreign policy issues that are worth making a crisis over are those from which the United States can derive no conceivable benefit. This tempest in the tea-house surely fills the pot -- stirring up trouble with China for the sake of Tibet: a place that has never in modern memory been independent, and which (absent a war) has about as much chance at independence as South Carolina (less, actually) -- sounds like a sane foreign policy move to me.
Are the Democrats on the same planet as the rest of us ? No, stupid question, they're still in orbit around Planet 60's, where every crisis is Selma in another form; where Nixon never resigned, and all problems can be solved with a big faculty senate meeting and lots of touchy-feely facilitators. For the Democrats foreign and military policy are not tools for accomplishing real tasks that are in the interest of the United States, but exist simply as tools to bash the evil right wing, and as cost-free vehicles of social protest.
There are valid reasons for the US to regard China as a hostile power, and there are definitely quarrels with the Chinese that we need to have. But over Tibet and Darfur ?

No Absolut Vodka

My first reaction to this was that I'll never drink Absolut vodka. That was my second, third and fourth reaction also, and I'm sure plenty of patriotic Americans feel the same way.
The now-notorious Absolut map, is part of an ad campaign Absolut was running in Mexico. This campaign showed reality in an "Absolut" -- that is -- perfect world, where the Reconquista has gone forward, and Mexico has gotten back all the territory it lost following the 1836 Texas War of Independence; the 1846-1848 Mexican War; and the 1854 Gadsden Purchase.
Absolut has cancelled the ad campaign, and says it apologizes. Sorry, but for me, that does not cut the mustard: the injury is the same and now the ad campaign probably has tons more publicity than its makers ever imagined. Now Absolut is caught between people like El Jefe who are angry about the ad, and its targeted audience that probably liked it.
In any case, I think that the Absolut Map deserves more thought by Americans than the anger and revulsion of a simple emotional reaction. Revanchism is a very real historical and political force -- and one for which Americans have no ready frame of reference. Pressed to explain its ad, Absolut pointed out on its blog that "was based upon historical perspectives and was created with a Mexican sensibility." Unlike most of the rest of the world, Americans have never, ever, been in the position of losing territory to foreign neighbors. Since the founding of the Republic, US territory (save for the temporary exception of the secession of the Confederate States) has only increased, and Americans have never found themselves, as have our Mexican neighbors, on the losing end of a peace treaty that extorted part of the national territory at gunpoint.
May that perspective never change. But it is dangerous and naive to think that the Absolut Map is absolutely beyond the realm of possibility, and it is stupid to think that patriotic Mexicans might not feel that the history of our common border is a little less of a closed subject than patriotic Americans think it is. For hundreds of years until 1945, Breslau, Konigsberg, and Stettin were German cities. The River Pregolya was once the Pregel; and the Kaliningradskiy Zaliv was for centuries known as the Frisches Haff. Then, the Germans blundered royally, and the names, borders and inhabitants changed, the boundries being redrawn in blood. This was common in Europe: a Frenchman could have been born in Metz in 1850, become a German in 1871, lived long enough to be French again in 1918, then if especially long-lived, be a German again from 1940-1944, and then back to being a Frenchman.
Don't kid yourself that it can't happen here. Of course it can -- it has throughout history, and if it does, don't blame the Mexicans. No shame on them for taking whatever opportunities history gives them. It's up to us, every day, to keep our place in the world. Shame on us and on our children if Texas ever becomes Tejas or Mexico ever owns the Gunnison River. The future is never certain, and always up to us.

Monday Morning

The affairs of El Jefe's vast empire sat unattended this weekend, after El Jefe adjourned to his hacienda in the provinces on Saturday afternoon, accompanied only by his cat FLINKY. (SWMBO, the Heir and the other cats stayed in Ciudad El Jefe).
El Jefe didn't do much productive beyond yardwork, plus some fiddling with yard equipment, reading and enjoying the peace and quiet. The weather was as splendid as it gets in south-central Texas. Perhaps this evening I'll add a photograph to this post. Enjoyed most of a splendid bottle of Merlot with dinner Saturday (Becker Vineyards, Merlot (2006)). The Merlot went down very well with a ginormous New York Strip and some mushrooms.
I have possibly said in here before that I don't watch much television. I've never seen American Idol, Survivor (is that still on ?) or any of that sort of thing. (Yes, yes, I'm pop-culturally dead, I know it. But I'm warped enough to think that's a good thing). However, I do watch movies on DVD, as well as old television programs that have been re-released on DVD. Thanks to the Heir and SWMBO, I now have a complete set of Magnum P.I. -- my favorite TV program ever; and I have recently started to watch Hawaii Five-O, (Magnum's forerunner), which is at last available in DVD. Watched an episode last night -- supposedly the first episode in which Steve McGarrett utters the immortal line "Book 'em !" Even if you can't stand cop dramas, Five O's worth a look just to see the huge mid 60's automobiles and the loud 60's clothes. The scenery will no doubt remind many late Boomers and early X'ers of childhood.
Alas, the real world didn't go anyplace, and I'm back in it. Got up early this morning and drove back into Cuidad El Jefe in time to take the Heir to school.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Zimbabwe's "Election" Proceeds

With Mugabe beaten at the polls, the real Zimbabwe election is underway even now. Time reports that Mugabe is apparently trying to negotiate a dignified exit, or figure out a plausible way to steal the election. Everything depends on the military and police: boiled down, will the troops shoot, or won't they ?
If Mugabe steals it, it will probably be through the mechanism of some type of runoff. This way, he can say that he has allowed the process to proceed, but that the opposition just fell a little short. But this is a bad option for him -- it's taken too long, and it's too obvious he's lost. Trouble is, he has no good, safe options. If he steps down, he opens himself to legal proceedings and prosecutions; if he fights and steals the election, he might lose everything, and wind up strung up (as he deserves) outside his palace.
Even if the dictator wins, he loses. When the Maximum Leader has to blatantly steal elections after the votes are cast, and so obviously make a mockery of the process (instead of successfully manipulating it from the get-go) -- the dictator has already lost. The dictator is forced to depend too much on brute force, and he becomes his servants' captive: favored with their loyalty only so long as he can buy it. They may get a better offer by lunchtime.
But, for Mugabe, are there really alternatives ? One of the downsides to the modern mania for "truth commissions" (as in Chile and South Africa) and the growth of international human rights law is that it is harder for countries like Zimbabwe to get rid of their dictators. Why should the Boss, no matter how despised he may be, voluntarily give up power ? There's no percentage in being reasonable if the reward is not an ignored but comfortable retirement to write memoirs, gamble and drink someplace; but lawyers, harassment, prison and humiliation for the rest of your days. One wonders if Augusto Pinochet would have chosen to honor the election results that unseated him as President of Chile had he accurately foreseen his future as a plaything of crusading judges and the international left's favorite hate object ?
Maybe the modern trend to prosecute former Mr. Bigs gives the loved-ones of dead victims of the dictators some feeling that justice has at last been done. However, as a practical political matter, it makes it harder for the still living to get rid of their dictator. If prosecution's the result of stepping down, why not go down fighting ?
In the present case, the prospects of peaceful change are possibly aided by Mugabe's status as something of a former left-wing icon. He can probably expect more respectful treatment by the lawyers and media than somebody like Pinochet. The cases are indeed different: Pinochet left behind a prosperous country much richer than when he shot his way into power. Mugabe's Zimbabwe has 100,000 percent inflation. But Mugabe's a Marxist revolutionary (although to his credit, he did end minority rule in Rhodesia, only to bless his country with one man, one vote, once). By contrast, Pinochet was an Army general who revolted against another (incompetent) left-wing icon. In the real world, that's a big, big difference, and maybe the only reason there is any prospect of Mugabe's being induced to put down the gun and leave quietly.
UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph reports this evening that parts of the military leadership are negotiating with the Movement for Democratic Change (opposition) candidate, Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai (winner in Saturday's balloting). The parties are discussing the terms under which the dictator would agree to leave. Mugabe is looking, the piece says, for a dignified exit and immunity from prosecution. God grant that it be true. If it is, the participation of the military leadership tells me the jig is up. Naturally, Mr. Tsvangirai denies that any such conversations are taking place.