Towards A Good Samaritan World

Thursday, April 20, 2006

IN DEFENSE OF BLAIR

Geoffrey Wheatcroft thinks that:

It might be the moment for an Englishman opposed to the war to explain why, for some of us here, Blair comes out of Iraq not better than Bush but much worse.


First, Wheatcroft explains Blair's reasons for going to war:

[Blair] knew that Washington was going to invade in any case, and he believed that 'it would be more damaging to long-term world peace and security if the Americans alone defeated Saddam Hussein than if they had international support to do so.' So he told one London journalist, telling another that he was worried about an American drift toward unilateralism and that his mission was to embrace Bush so as to 'keep the United States in the international system.'


Here's why he thinks this is a bad reason:

The harder these arguments are looked at, the more curious they seem. You don't say: "My big brother is a crazy kind of guy. On Saturday night he likes to get blind drunk and drive through town at 90. It would be more damaging to peace and security if he acted alone than if he had my support, so I'll go along with him for the ride." Either Washington was doing something wise and virtuous, in which case it should have been supported for that reason, or not, in which case should have been restrained and, if necessary, opposed.


But if "Washington was doing something wise and virtuous," that is NOT a sufficient reason for the British to get involved. If Brits want Saddam gone, and they know that the Americans can remove him by themselves, why should the Brits sacrifice their blood and treasure to bring about something that will happen anyway? Blair's reasoning presumes that toppling Saddam is a good thing, and gives a reason for British involvement. But the reasoning makes sense even if you think that the Iraq War is, all things considered, a bad idea, in the sense of not being worth the costs and risks even though it's a good cause, it still makes sense for the British to be involved if the Americans are going to do it anyway, and the effects will be less bad if the British are involved, than not. Of course, if the Iraq War were really like drunk driving, the British should be involved. Maybe Wheatcroft thinks it is, which doesn't do much credit to his judgment. But Blair didn't think so, of course.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"A simple, unambiguous lie." That's what Rocky Mountain News columnist (and a former colleague of my dad's) Paul Campos calls the Republican ad campaign which claims that "Reid's Democrat allies voted to treat millions of hard-working immigrants as felons, while Republican leaders work for legislation that will protect our borders and honor our immigrants."

But no, it's not a lie; rather, it's two truths put together in a highly misleading way. Reid's allies voted against an amendment that would downgrade illegal residence from a "felony" to a "misdemeanor." Then they voted against the law with the "felony" language, to their credit; but, in the words of a certain Democratic leader, "they voted for it before they voted against it," and that makes the statement in the ad (misleading but) true. As for the second statement, "Republican leaders" is a diverse group. Bush is tainted a bit by the rumor that the "felon" idea came from his Justice Department, but given his passionate rhetorical support for immigrants I won't believe he's to blame for this unless we get some real proof. Bush is a "Republican leader." He's working for some sort of amnesty (though he won't call it that) and a guest worker program. McCain is also a "Republican leader." He's certainly working to "protect our borders and honor our immigrants."

I'd call the Republican ad, not "a simple, unambiguous lie," but perhaps a form of penance, expressed in the strange and sordid language of politics. We've turned the corner so quickly and decisively that now we're attacking our own law, trying to smear our opponents with the stigma of it! That's assuming that Republicans have really repented, or rather that the evildoers who spearheaded HR4437 have forfeited their influence within the Republican Party and that leadership is passing to Bush, McCain, and the other Republican good guys.

It even occurs to me... no doubt this is far-fetched but it's fun to speculate... that Bush DID slip the "felon" language into the law through the backdoor, for the same reason that the Democrats voted to keep it in the law: as a way to humiliate wicked anti-immigration hardliners... That would really be delicious. Assuming, of course, that the law (or rather, resolution) doesn't actually become law.

It might be even better if it DOES become law, and that a lot of do-gooder priests and teachers and other charity workers do jail time, get their faces in the newspapers and the history books, and stain the anti-immigration cause with the ignominy it deserves, forever. I'm starting to sound like Lenin: the worse, the better...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

McCAIN: GOP FRONTRUNNER?

This piece sums up the latest on McCain '08. Like a lot of other sources the argument is that McCain is moving right to court conservatives:

If McCain is to win the support of the GOP faithful, he needs to shed his image as an undependable maverick. And he is clearly working to do just that. Even the White House communications director would not have defended Bush as vociferously as McCain recently did on Meet the Press. Whenever possible, McCain is jumping to the president's side to demonstrate that he is now a reliable team player.

But McCain isn't the only one doing the moving. The Republican establishment is showing unmistakable signs of edging his way. When you see Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi taking McCain down to the Gulf Coast to look at hurricane damage and fawning over him at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Memphis, while vying with Mississippi Gov.Haley Barbour to see who could suck up to McCain more, you know something is up.

A cynic might say that Lott and Barbour have visions of a running mate slot or a Cabinet post dancing in their heads. And perhaps they do. But the idea gaining greater currency within the GOP is that McCain is the only Republican who could defeat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election--or that he would at least have the best chance of beating her.

The $64,000 question is how much McCain might jeopardize his potential general election support among Democrats and independents by bonding so publicly with the Right, including on his upcoming trip to Lynchburg, Va., to deliver the commencement address at the Rev.Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.


But one thing is left out: immigration. McCain is a liberal on immigration, maybe the hottest issue of the day. To my mind, McCain's courtship of Jerry Falwell is probably related to the sudden salience of immigration. Since McCain could lose conservatives on this issue, he's trying to gain voters from the Christian right. I'm no fan of Jerry Falwell, but there's nothing about Falwell that's 1/100th as bad as the border fences and mass deportations that anti-immigration conservatives are contemplating. If you have to pick your friends among the less savory elements of the conservative coalition, Jerry Falwell is way better than Pat Buchanan. Go McCain.

Friday, April 14, 2006

REPUBLICANS TRY TO OUTBID DEMOCRATS' CYNICISM

Democrats behaved disgustingly in the Social Security debate last year. President Bush made a good-faith effort to tackle one of America's most serious long-run problems. He was willing to make the system considerably more progressive. Democrats refused to negotiate; it was demagogue, demagogue, demagogue.

A bit unsavory but perhaps tactically justifiable was their behavior last week, when 191 Democrats voted to leave the "felon" language in HR4437, a bill drafted by wicked House Republicans who wanted to label illegal immigrants and those who help them criminals. It turned out that the public, though it has a good deal to learn about immigration, was conscientious enough to be horrified by this, so now the "felon"-Republicans are backing away from the law they just passed. More damaging was Harry Reid's deliberate sinking of a compromise bill in the Senate which would have given millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. Credit for the passage of a big immigration bill would probably have gone to Bush-- who raised the issue and has been agitating about it-- and paid big dividends to non-"felon"-Republicans with the Hispanic vote. Reid's move seems like a cynical way to keep Hispanics' votes without taking any risks for the benefit of their undocumented brethren.

So now, all of a sudden, the Republicans are cynically trying to blame Harry Reid for the "felon" bill, in an effort to make the Democrats' cynicism backfire:

"Harry Reid is not an honest broker in this debate and has proven he will manipulate the issue at any cost," RNC spokesman Danny Diaz said. He would not disclose how much the group spent on the radio campaign.

The 60-second spot says in Spanish that Reid "blocked our leaders from working together" and blames Democrats for legislation that passed the Republican-controlled House that would make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges.

"Reid's Democrat allies voted to treat millions of hardworking immigrants as felons," the ad says, "while President Bush and Republican leaders work for legislation that will protect our borders and honor our immigrants."


I wish them luck. It's good to see Republicans turning against their own bill. And it would be nice to see Harry Reid suffer for obstructing a Bush agenda that a more decent Democratic party would find much to admire in. And on the other hand, the more congressmen roast in the flames of public indignation for the bill they passed, the better.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

DID YOU KNOW...

That the United States is the world's most educated country? See the "educational attainment" table. (It's possible some mini-states like Luxembourg are excluded from the list.) As of 2000, the average years of education of the adult population over 25 stood at:

United States: 12.25

United Kingdom: 9.35

Germany: 9.75

Italy: 7.00

France: 8.37

Japan:

Israel:

Afghanistan: 1.14

Russia: 10.49

India: 4.77

Pakistan: 2.45

Indonesia: 4.71

Brazil: 4.56

Mexico: 6.73

Iraq: 4.34

This may explain a good deal of the trans-Atlantic gap. Americans are smart enough to see through socialism, Europeans aren't. It's interesting that the Russians, too, are more educated than the western Europeans.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I WAS THERE

At the Washington, D.C. immigration protest, April 10, 2006. Probably the most inspiring spectacle of my life. My account of the event just got published over at Tech Central Station: Proud to Be (Almost) American.

Making history.

Monday, April 10, 2006

MARK STEYN IS SO COOL. I can't even tell whether he's for or against illegal immigration in this column, but he sure blasts our ludicrous immigration system out of the water:

In Michelle Malkin's book Invasion, she recounts the tale of two fellows who in August 2001 pulled into a 7-Eleven parking lot in Falls Church, Va., in search of fake ID from the illegal-alien assistance network that hangs around there. Luis Martinez-Flores, who'd been living here illegally since 1994, took them along to the local DMV, supplied them with a fake address and falsely certified they lived there. The very next day, the two guys returned with two pals of their own, and used their own brand-new state ID on which the ink was not yet dry to obtain in turn brand-new state ID for their buddies. A couple of weeks later, all four of them used their Virginia ID to board American Airlines Flight 77 at Dulles Airport and plowed it into the Pentagon.

Think about that. From undocumented illegal alien in the 7-Eleven parking lot to lawful resident of the State of Virginia in just a couple of hours. Wow. Say what you like about Luis Martinez-Flores, but he runs one efficient operation.

By comparison, say you've got two kids under 5, and you'd like to bring over a nice English nanny to look after them. Name of Mary Poppins. Good references, impeccable character. If you apply now, there's a sporting chance the process may be completed before your children's children are in college.

Given that the new immigration "compromise" bill retrospectively approves all the millions of people who've been through the super-efficient Luis Martinez-Flores immigration system but without doing anything to improve the sclerotic U.S. government immigration system, maybe it would be better just to subcontract the entire operation to Senor Martinez-Flores and his colleagues. It would certainly be cheaper. The extensive Undocumented American support network manages to run it out of the back of the car from a parking lot without a lot of air-conditioned offices full of lifetime employees on government pensions, and given that the net result is exactly the same people who'd be living here anyway, why not go with the lowball bid? Legal immigrants to the United States can only envy the swift efficient service Messrs. Hani Hanjour and Khalid Almihdhar received outside that 7-Eleven.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why withdraw from Iraq when casualties are declining all around?:

81, 76, 50, 49, 43, 25

What are these numbers? This week’s Powerball winners? A safe deposit combo? New numbers to torment those poor b*stards stranded on the island in Lost?

No, they’re the number of troops that have died in hostile actions in Iraq for each of the past six months. That last number represents the lowest level of troop deaths in a year, and second-lowest in two years.

But it must be that the insurgency is turning their assault on Iraqi military and police, who are increasingly taking up the slack, right?

215, 176, 193, 189, 158, 193 (and the three months before that were 304, 282, 233)

Okay, okay, so insurgents aren’t engaging us; they’re turning increasingly to car bombs then, right?

70, 70, 70, 68, 30, 30

Civilians then. They’re just garroting poor civilians.

527, 826, 532, 732, 950, 446 (upper bound, two months before that were 2489 and 1129).


Beneath a facade of chaos, is a polity coalescing?

A RIGHT TO MIGRATE

My latest pro-immigration article is up at Tech Central Station. An excerpt:

Thoreau is right that civil disobedience can vastly empower a minority that is willing to take risks and make sacrifices for a just cause, in the context of a liberal state which is not willing to commit atrocities against non-violent people. Mahatma Gandhi led a successful movement for Indian independence by means of satyagraha, an Indian version of civil disobedience. He succeeded because the British were not willing to kill on a large scale to maintain their rule of India, and because Gandhi and others in his movement were too brave to be diverted from their purpose by lesser punishments, like imprisonment.

It's a safe bet that the American people would not countenance the massive coercion and violence -- the Berlin Wall at the border, the long trains full of deportees, the raids of peaceful suburbs, the tearing apart of families, the repression of peaceful protesters, the jeers of "ethnic cleansing" from around the world -- that would be necessary to block or reverse the natural process by which migrants are drawn from poor, low-opportunity countries to the thriving economy of the United States. The question, then, is whether illegal immigrants and their sympathizers have the courage and conviction to organize civil disobedience until they force lasting change.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

STRANGE NEW RESPECT

A bit of strange new respect from the left for Bush for his stance on immigration is long overdue. Of course, it has to be given grudgingly, with a conclusion like this:

So perhaps a more enlightened Republican friend will come to Bush and say this. "Your presidency isn't hanging by a thread; your presidency is already over. You staked it on the war in Iraq, and you lost. Even if Republicans do hold Congress this fall, they will never again acquiesce to your wishes. Your hopes of passing any kind of agenda are over. So think about your legacy. If historians say anything kind, it may be that you helped the Republican Party--which benefited so shamefully from the civil rights backlash--lay down the burden of race. Politically, you are going to lose either way. Why not do it with dignity?"


Are lefties under the impression that they're saying something meaningful when they write that the Bush presidency is "already over?" Bush will be president for two-and-a-half more years. That's two-and-a-half more years in which a President Kerry won't be passing up a hugely expensive health plan, or raising taxes, or surrendering in Iraq. That's two-and-a-half more years in which Bush, if he has the courage, can be a bulwark against the isolationist tide. That's two-and-a-half more years, probably, of strong economic growth, with Bush at the helm.

And heck, even if the Republicans lose Congress in 2006, they gained seats in 2002 and 2004, under Bush. Two out of three ain't bad. Clinton proved that a president whose opponents can control Congress is most definitely relevant.

So why does it sound clever to write that the Bush presidency is "already over"? Because some people get a buzz out of denying well-known facts. I wish pundits would drop this juvenilia. Bush's presidency is going to last another two-and-a-half years, and that matters, a lot.

Anyway, though, it's nice to see a Democratic publication letting go of its snobbery for a second and giving some credit to Bush. If more of them start doing this, I might start to have a little bit of respect for the Dems.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Egyptian cartoonists counter-attack against the Danish cartoonists... (hat tip Andrew Sullivan)

It's remarkable how tenacious this outrage has been. The Muslim world-- of course it's an over-generalization, but given the weakness of Muslim liberal resistance to the Islamist agenda in this case, it's justified-- is really determined to dictate to the West what people can and can't write or publish here.

Bush used to say that the terrorists "hate our freedom." It was widely derided and even I thought it was a bit extreme. But it contained an essential truth, and indeed in some ways it didn't go far enough: most of the Muslim world, not just the terrorists, is offended by our freedom of speech, in particular, by our lack of censorship.