Demagoguery

Getting to Yes,” Matthew Yglesias, Tapped, http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/01/index.html#005235, 14 January 2005.

Social Security Fight,” by Chad M Schuldt, Clean Cut Kid, http://cleancutkid.com/index.php?id=140#cmt, 14 January 2005.

A South Dakota democrat blogger and a national democrat blogger agree: the time for honesty has passed.

Instead, led by Tip O’Neill, the party waged a campaign of ruthless, partisan demagoguery that not only blocked the Reagan proposal but also drained the Reagan Revolution of most of its momentum and seemingly imperiled the entire GOP project. It was then that the White House got interested in a compromise, and it worked out a reasonable personnel roster for a bipartisan commission to study the problem. They came up with some recommendations, which were then implemented, and everyone went home and fought about other things. The point, simply put, is that you only negotiate from a position of strength

Clean Cut Kid agrees

Like I wrote earlier in this post … this will be like shooting fish in a barrel. President Bush wants to cut promised guaranteed benefits. Democrats do not.

Because increasing benefits along with prices is a “cut.” Great start on the demagoguery, Chris.

The New Israel

Abbas Ready to Meet Security Commitments,” by Mohammed Daraghmeh, Associated Press, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20050113/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians, 13 January 2005 (from Little Green Footballs).

Hamas doesn’t want to eliminate Israel. Hamas is a realistic political movement,” Yousef said, in a marked departure from the group’s previous calls for the Jewish state’s destruction.

The question isn’t whether Sheik Yousef is lying. Of course he is. Hamas wants to destroy Israel.

What matters is that reality has changed. Ultimately, reality alone determines rhetoric and action. The Bush/Sharon plan, together with Arafat’s death, have changed reality in Israel, Gaza, Judea, and Samaria. Reality now says Hamas has to talk peace. Reality now says Hamas is in more danger from real forces if it opposes Israel than it is from murderers if it keeps to the old line.

Bush and Sharon have changed reality in Israel. We are winning.

The Hallway

‘The Hallway’ on WuzzaDem,” by “John,” WuzzaDem, http://wuzzadem.typepad.com/wuz/2005/01/the_hallway_on_.html, 11 January 2005 (from The Corner).

A hilarious parody of NRO’s The Corner..

BREAKFAST [Wuzz]
Had oatmeal this morning, used milk instead of water. Makes it a little more creamy, and, I suspect, more nutritional.
Posted at 10:29 AM

RE: BREAKFAST [JFW]
Pop-Tarts for me – and don’t you mean “nutritious?”
Posted at 10:32 AM

BAD MORNING [John]
Damn! I buy brand new pair of shoes with a deep, waffle-style sole, and the first time I walk out of the house with them on my feet, I step right into a…

Read it! Read it! Read it!

No Shrum Zone

Dominant Strategist for Democrats Ends Consulting Career,” by Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/politics/13shrum.html, 13 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

On the heels of yesterday’s news that his firm was hired by Senator Dayton (after Dayon fired his own staff), Bob Shrum quits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 – Bob Shrum, one of the dominant Democratic political strategists and speechwriters of the last three decades, said Wednesday that he was ending his formal consulting career and moving to New York, where he would write and teach at New York University as a senior fellow.

“I wanted to reflect on what I’ve done, not just keep doing it,” Mr. Shrum, 61, said in an interview. “And I wanted to draw lessons from what I’d seen and draw implications for the future.”

He leaves Washington with a mixed record, having served as an adviser on 26 winning Senate campaigns, perhaps more than any other consultant, but also eight losing presidential campaigns, which may also stand as a record.

Maybe he wanted to teach so he’d have more time to blog?

But seriously, it is confusing news. Displace Dayton’s crew, and then bail? I don’t understand.

Minoritization

Letting Go of Roe,” by Benjamin Wittes, The Atlantic Monthly, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200501/wittes, January/February 2005 (from TKS).

The Democrats are already losing the abortion debate. There are more single-issue anti-abortion voters than single-issue pro-abortion voters. Tim Roemer, an anti-abortion politician, is a front-runner to the DNC Chair. And now the liberal Atlantic Monthly is harkening the end of Roe:

Unless the president nominates someone the Democrats deem it not in their interests to oppose, the nomination process will become an ugly spectacle in which a single narrow issue pushes to the sidelines discussion of the broad array of other important legal questions the Supreme Court handles. And that process will cast abortion-rights supporters as intolerant of those who disagree with them—or even those they fear may disagree with them.

The Democratic Party is a minority party. Every time they fight for their core issues, they fall further into a hole. So does the DNC betray its loyal supporters and further alienate America, or flip-flop and be seen as spineless?

It will be fun to watch.

Evolutionary Dogma

Ga. Evolution Stickers Ordered Removed,” by Doug Gross, Associated Press, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uslatest/story/0,1282,-4730889,00.html, 13 January 2005.

Macro-evolution, the creation of a new species, is only fact,” by “spunky,” Democratic Underground, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=102&topic_id=1147838&mesg_id=1147954&page=, 13 January 2005.

Another defeat for states, sciences, and common sense

ATLANTA (AP) – A federal judge on Thursday ordered the removal of stickers placed in high school biology textbooks that call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” saying they were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The disclaimers were put in the books by school officials in suburban Cobb County in 2002.

“Adopted by the school board, funded by the money of taxpayers, and inserted by school personnel, the sticker conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling…

Predictably the article babbles off into gaimisms, but what was the judge saying? That presenting a point of view tells some people they are outsiders? Schools have been pushing propoganda for ages. From historical viewpoints, to social science theories, to idiotic message posters, to Goals 2000 P.R.

The real question is, what was the federal reason for stopping Georgia from placing the following message in science books:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

This is true. Facts are data points. Theories are models that explain data points. Evolution, meaning the historical change of species over time, is a theory. So is Newtonian gravity. For years we thought Newton was right, until observations shows series problems with his formulae.

Science is all about approaching material with an open mind. Buying into politically-correct evolutionary theory is not science, unless the student sees that its supported by the evidence.

I’m Catholic. The Church has, for centuries, taught that Genesis should not be taken literally. I believe the fundementalists are making a number of serious mistakes, and that their opposition to historical evoultion is one of them. But I don’t see how using public schools and federal courts to attack them with all the elegance of a chainsaw helps matters.

An atheist Master of Science in Physical Anthropology agrees

Macro-evolution, the creation of a new species, is only fact if someone has actually witnessed these fruitflies turn into a new species of fruitfly, incapable of mating with the previous species of fruitfly.

Perhaps this has been done and I am unaware of it, but I’d have to see a link to a scientific journal to believe it.

The choice for the federal courts and public schools is: should they teach free taught of dogma? By prohibiting disension of evolutionary theory, we know what they have chosen.

Evangelical Lutherans

Lutherans Release Report on Homosexuality,” by Pauline J. Chang, Christian Post, http://www.christianpost.com/article/church/1830/section/lutherans.release.report.on.homosexuality/1.htm, 13 January 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

(Insert the stereotypical “The best decision made by a Lutheran since not swallowing the diet of worms” joke)

The Studies on Sexuality Task Force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) released its long-awaited report on the contentious issue of homosexual ordinations and the blessing of homosexual unions on Thursday, January 13, 2004. The report, which took nearly four years to draft, addressed the two questions that have been causing greater rifts within the conservative and liberal factions within the 5-million member denomination: Should homosexuals be ordained and should same-sex unions be blessed in the church?

In regards to the two questions, the task force recommended the church maintain its current stance and refrain from ordaining homosexuals and blessing their unions.

Specifically, it recommended the church “continue to respect the pastoral guidance of the 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops regarding the blessing of homosexual relationships” and “continue under the standards regarding sexual conduct for rostered leaders as set forth in “Visions and Expectations” and “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline.”

The 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops states that clergy should not bless homosexual unions within the church since there is a “basis neither in Scripture nor tradition for the establishment of an official ceremony by this church for the blessing of a homosexual relationship.” It also said it did “not approve such a ceremony as an official action of this church’s ministry.”

For those without German or Swedish relations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church is not “evangelical” in the current sense of the word. It is a mainline protestant denomination which has been declining in numbers and influence for years, like the rest of the mainliners.

Upholding the 1993 statement is a victory for two reasons. First, it obviously blunts the homosexualist advance. While accept homosexual unions would help undermine ELCA’s reach, a rejection of the 1993 statement nonetheless would help to normalize them.

Second, it gives hope to those who wish to see the ELCA eventually welcomed back into a Catholic communion. The statement uses the phrase “neither in Scripture of tradition.” The sin qua non of Lutheranism has always been sola scriptura. Not only a statement, but a reaffirmation, that puts scripture on the same level as [T]radition is great news (now to get them both Capitalized…)

Concert of Asia

Re-Envisioning Asia,” by Francis Fukuyama, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/international/20050101faessay_v84n1_fukuyama.html, 6 January 2005 (from Simon World Asia by Blog thru Danwei).

Dr. Fukuyama echos Dr. Barnett’s calls for an Asian NATO. The first approach to to ignore John F. Kerry’s myopia and continue with the Six Party Talks

The White House has an opportunity to create a visionary institutional framework for the region. In the short term, it can do so by turning the six-party talks on North Korea into a permanent five-power organization that would meet regularly to discuss various security issues in the region, beyond the North Korean nuclear threat. In the long term, Washington will need to consider ways of linking this security dialogue to the various multilateral economic forums now in existence or under consideration, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the ASEAN-plus-three group, which was formed in the wake of the Asian economic crisis and includes China, Japan, and South Korea; and the developing free-trade areas. Asian multilateralism will be critical not just for coordinating the region’s booming economies, but also for damping down the nationalist passions lurking beneath the surface of every Asian country.

But Fukuyama looks beyond the current crisis and sees the power balance of a united Korea (with the typical Chinese-Japanese tensions)

Several recent incidents have brought latent tensions to the surface. Despite burgeoning trade between China and South Korea, relations recently became strained when government-sponsored Chinese researchers asserted that the ancient kingdom of Koguryo, which 2,000 years ago stretched along the current China-North Korea border, was once under Chinese control. The ensuing fight had to be papered over with a five-point accord negotiated by the countries’ foreign ministries. Beijing’s motives for allowing publication of the article are unclear, but they may have been related to rising nationalism in China and loose talk in Seoul about founding a “greater Korea” that would include not just the North and the South but also the more than 2 million ethnic Koreans currently living in Manchuria.

Meanwhile, the growing economic interdependence of China and Japan has not mitigated nationalist passions, but exacerbated them. At an Asian Cup soccer game in August 2004 in Beijing, Chinese fans screamed, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” at the winning Japanese team, forcing it to flee China. This event followed on the heels of several other ugly and apparently spontaneous displays of anti-Japanese feeling and outrage over the use of hired female “companions” in southern China by 300 Japanese businessmen.

Heightening security concerns threaten the Japanese-South Korean relationship and could spark an arms race. Ten years ago, while doing research in Tokyo, I was told by a number of officers in the Japanese Self-Defense Forces that in the event of Korean unification, the combined military of North and South Korea would be close to ten times the size of Japan’s. If Korean troop strength did not fall dramatically at that point, they said, Japan would have to take appropriate defensive measures. Not only does this risk remain, but today there is the added factor of North Korea’s nuclear weapons–and what a potentially united Korea would do with them. In a recent Tokyo Shimbun poll, 83 of 724 members of the Japanese Diet said publicly that Japan should consider becoming a nuclear power in light of the North Korean threat, an assertion that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

The solution is clear: multilateralism. Fukuyama goes onto endorse a two-tracked approach. As with Europe, there should be a security organization encompassing both regional players and the U.S. If we are going to build on the current Five Parties, this military alliance would encompass Japan, a united Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, and possibly Russia. There should also be an Asian “EU” which melds together the economies of Japan, Korea, and China.

This is smart. Directly participating in a swaydo Northern Pacfic Treaty Organization and working with an Asian Union, the U.S. can banish disconnectedness and hook the Asian powers in a permanent peaceful system. Because of American leadership, war in Europe is unthinkable.

Dr. Barnett once said Asia today is just like Europe, except a paranoid and bitter East Germany (North Korea) is hanging on. We may be closer to an ever-peaceful Asia than we realize. NPTO and AU — let’s go!

A Genius Speaks

The Third Baath Coup?”, by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/third-baath-coup-if-as-i-have-argued.html, 13 January 2004.

Neo-Baathism in Iraq,” by “mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/neo-baathism-in-iraq-juan-cole-had.html, 13 January 2004.

Zen Pundit is a genius. The first time I went to his site, I scrolled through and chalked him off as a Tom Barnett knock-off. No more. He read the same article I did and came up with a much, much deeper understanding of the situation. Making it doubly embarrasing is that I agree with his assessment. So why didn’t I think of it?

First, Juan Cole’s analysis (with emphasis for what I thought was important)

If, as I have argued, the Baathists along with some Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) allies are behind the guerrilla war, what do they want? They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy.

A third Baath coup is no more inherently implausible than the first two. The Baathists probably have access to some 250,000 tons of munitions which are still missing. They know how to use them, and have been the managerial class, and many are Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with substantial military experience.

And this is my problem with the idea of just having the US suddenly withdraw its military from Iraq. What is to stop the neo-Baath from just killing Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim Jaafari, Iyad Allawi (who is rumored not to sleep in the same bed twice), etc., all the members of the provincial councils and the new parliament, and then making a military coup that brings the party and its Sunni patronage networks back to power?

I think this coup would look more like the failed 1963 effort than like 1968, and has the potential to roil the country and the region for decades. The tanks and helicopter gunships and chemical weapons that the Sunni Arab minority regime used to put down the other groups are gone, and it is not clear that car bombs, Kalashnikovs and sniping could substitute for them. They can probably take the Green Zone and the television stations if the US abruptly withdraws, but could they really put down the South effectively again?

And now… the genius

A Neo-Baathist Iraq – which really means an Iraqi version of Sierra Leone or Somalia is not in American interests. Or in the interests of any of Iraq’s neighbors except perhaps Syria who would gain influence in the Sunni heartland.

Cole has correctly identified, in my view, some key truths about the situation in Iraq. That most our enemies there are driven by the idea of Sunni-Baathist resurgence. That they recruit along lines of family-clan-tribe clientage networks. That the brain of the insurgency are the surviving elements of Saddam’s SSO, Mukhabarat, MI, Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen who are following the old Soviet unconventional warfare doctrine of Spetsnaz forces ( hardly unexpected since Baathist Iraq had a Soviet model military establishment grafted on to a ME society with a decades long relationship with the USSR and Russia ). Soviet Spetsnaz doctrine called for “ Deep Operations”:

Soviet Spetsnz unit personnel however, like the Zarqawri Jihadis, were atomized individuals. The neo-Baathist Iraqi insurgents are not, as Cole pointed out with his reference to clientage networks. You catch and identify one individual chances are extremely high that other adult males linked to the captive by family and marriage ties are also involved. This is the insurgencies Achilles heel. This is also why aggressive Counterinsurgency tactics will put a dent in the insurgency, the culprits are naturally more identifiable unlike with Marxist guerilla movements.

The political bullet to bite is that we have to accept that a fairly significant portion of Iraqi Sunnis are really ” the enemy” now in the same sense that the Germans and Japanese were during WWII and act accordingly. Some of this is our fault for mishandling the occupation but mostly its a vicious group of political gangsters determined to shoot their way back to power and dominance over the Kurds and Shiites. Let’s stop sugarcoating things and face reality – the Sunnis by and large want a new dictatorship that will secure their priviliges once again.

Any prospects for broad-based democracyin Iraq will fail- or even maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity – unless we can isolate the more politically backward Sunni dominated areas from the rest of Iraq and put the insurgency on the defensive.

Sistani and the Kurds need to face that fact as well.

I agree.

Anti-Muslim Violence

Sistani’s representative killed southeast of Baghdad,” China View, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-01/13/content_2456774.htm, 13 January 2005.

More anti-Shia terrorism by the anti-Iraqi insurgents

BAGHDAD, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) — An aide to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, was assassinated along with his son and four bodyguards on Wednesday night southeast of Baghdad, sources said Thursday.

Sheikh Mahmud al-Madahaini, his son and four bodyguards were shot dead by unidentified gunmen as they were returning home from a mosque in Salman Pak after performing the evening prayers, the sources said.

Madahaini is Sistani’s representative in Salman Pak, an ancient town 20 km southeast of Baghdad.

Another aide of Sistani, a cleric working in Sistani’s office in Najaf, was also found dead on Wednesday. The name of the victim was not immediately known.

The killings were apparently a fresh warning unleashed by insurgents to Sistani, who has been calling for restraint among the Shiite Muslims in an effort to turn their weight into a political one through the nation-wide elections.

The Ba’athi-Salafists do not want democracy. They know that they are an increasingly hated minority. The Ba’athis have terrorized the Iraqis for decades, and the Salafists have just gotten started.

The tDAxp eXPerience