Texsanity

Saturday, October 25, 2003


GUNS AND BUTTER

I read and article in Equire this morning at the barber shop in which the author, talking about radical Islam, wrote that "you can't stop ideas with bullets". Well, yes and no.

He was suggesting that we need to address the "root causes" of Islamic discontent starting with our support of Israel against the Palestinians. The suggestion being that the intifada is fueling radical Muslim groups throughout Asia. This assertion echoes the chattering of many on the American left both in and out of government. The Democrats, along with the French and Germans, think that only by understanding "why they hate us" and addressing those grievances can we restore peace and order in the post-9/11 world; guns and bombs are not enough.

They are right about one thing: any strategy that relies only on military force is doomed to fail. There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world - and a great many of them young; a lot of suicide bombers can be generated out of that population. But focusing on Israel as the culprit is wrongheaded.

Why, for example, do Pakistani Muslims hate the Indians? India is no great ally of either Israel or the United States (we've always been more closely aligned with Pakistan) - so why the enmity? It's religious and territorial. Neither the Israelis nor the Indians are Muslim and they occupy territories that the Muslims covet. I understand that these are some of the "root causes" of their discontent (the other primary cause being the failure of their societies to create successful economies and raise their standards of living); I simply disagree that these causes are the result of incorrect US foreign policy. The Treaty of Versaille was a "root cause" of the discontent of the German people but it didn't justify their support of Hitler and their attempted extermination of European Jewry.

The irony of the current political situation is that while Democrats scream loudest for non-military actions to win the war on terrorism when economic aid to rebuild Iraq is proposed they object to it. Is forcing the administration to add to the Iraqi debt burden really the best way to convince the Arab world of our good intentions? How successful can Colin Powell in asking other countries to contribute to Iraqi reconstruction when, in essence, their contributions will be used (indirectly) to pay off US loans?

The Bush administration realized after 9/11 that the United States could no longer straddle the fence and tolerate Muslim extremist groups and their terror tactics. We have the economic and military strength to fight this war now; each year that goes by, with the population of the Muslim world increasing and that of the West decreasing, our advantage lessens.

To fight now, battle by battle, at the times and places of our choosing, imposes a financial burden but a relatively light one as World War's go. After all, most Americans have felt no effect from the fighting - no gas shortages, no rationing, not even higher taxes. Spending money on the reconstruction of Iraq now and using our influence to create a modern economy and democratic society in the center of Islam will save us enormously in terms of wealth and carnage in the future. So we endure a trickle of casualties now in order to save us from a torrent of them later - sounds like a good strategy to me.

This is my central beef with the Democrats - they stand up in Congress and make speeches denouncing Bush because he wants to spend 20 billion dollars this year on the rebuilding of Iraq but isn't willing to create an expensive new health care benefit for relatively wealthy (compared to the rest of the world) Americans that isn't a one time charge but a continuing commitment. Or because he doesn't want to accelerate the increase in education spending...or [insert reference to favorite cause here]. I even heard the meme recently that the federal tax cuts have increased the taxes on the poor and middle class because the states have had to raise property taxes to make up for what Washington hasn't collected. They have to argue it this way because the Bush tax cuts have lowered taxes on everybody and have made the federal tax structure more "progressive". Of course, what keeps the states from collecting taxes from the rich at whatever rate they please has yet to be explained.

Cheap, slimy and stupid. These people want to run the country? No thanks.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003


The "Krugman-Mahathir Strategy"

The Krugman truth squad keeps shining the light on the New York Times' favorite cockroach:

"But why isn't Krugman taking credit for the splash he made in September 1998, when he was still the enfant terrible of international trade theory? At that time, in his September 1998 article for Fortune titled 'Saving Asia: It's Time to Get Radical,' he called for emergency currency controls. Shortly after its publication, Mahathir implemented Krugman's 'radical' recommendations. In a Slate article a year later, Krugman bragged that this had become known as the 'Krugman-Mahathir strategy.' Why the silence now?

Perhaps Krugman is ashamed of some of things he did and said back then as, it appears, he should be.

In a November 8, 1998, article for - yes - The New York Times Magazine, Krugman dealt with, among other things, the impact of currency speculators in precipitating economic crises of the type that rocked Malaysia between 1997 and 1998. Once again he wrote of Mahathir's anti-Semitism - but in 1998 he didn't refer to it as 'inexcusable.' He agreed with it:
When the occasional accusation of financial conspiracy is heard - when, for example, Malaysia's Prime Minster blames his country's problems on the machinations of Jewish speculators - the reaction of most observers is skepticism, even ridicule.

But even the paranoid have people out to get them. Little by little, over the past few years, the figure of the evil speculator has reemerged.

And who's the example of the 'evil speculator' given in the very next sentence? George Soros - a Jew."


There's no question that Krugman should be ashamed - both of what he did then and what he is writing now. But then that would assume two things: 1) that he is morally capable of feeling shame and 2) that he's intellectually capable of understanding how irrational his editorials truly are. That would be giving the cretin waaaay too much credit. We just have to accept the fact that in Krugman we are dealing with a spoiled child throwing a temper-tantrum...albeit one with the editorial page of the New York Times as his pulpit.

I hope that the boyz at the Tymz enjoy changin' those mad diapees!


IT'S THE IDEOLOGY, STUPID

James Lileks rips Collen Rowley a new orifice hopefully it will allow some common sense to leak in.

Colleen Quote: "For, distilled to their essences, security and liberty are very intertwined, if not the same thing."
Lileks" Fisk: It's going to be hard to shave around the lump on my jaw I just got when it slammed the floor at Mach 2. If John Ashcroft said "Security and liberty as the same thing" these people would dump lunch in their drawers."

And so on.

I'm getting sooo tired of the wailing and gnashing about Ashcroft and the crushing of dissent. Colleen Rowley doesn't think we're "freer today than at any time in the history of human freedom"? Then how does she explain the fact that I can write about whatever the hell I please, post it on the internet and have others read it and discuss it without any cost to me? And lest some wiseass suggest that it's because I'm expressing popular or officially sanctioned viewpoints (right!) just think about the offerings of Indymedia or the Democratic Underground. Hell, Michael Moore can publish an anti-Administration diatribe full of lies and half-truths and the damn thing is a best seller.

So tell me again about the chill wind of repression blowing through Amerikkka today.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003


BREAK OUT THE STRAIGHT JACKET - KRUGMAN IS ON THE LOOSE

Cornfield Commentary (thanks LGF) does a number on the
terminally moronic Paul Krugman. It's not really fair to pick on poor, insane Pauly, after all, Krugman has become so obsessed in his hatred of George Bush that he'll say almost anything, no matter how ridiculous, to connect something negative to the President.

"This is easily the stupidest thing Krugman has ever written, if not the stupidest thing ever written. To suggest that the anti-Semitism in the Muslim world is a result of our War to Liberate of Iraq is imbecilic beyond belief. Has Krugman forgotten how the Muslim world has treated Isreal these last, oh, 55 years?

No, he simply ignores it, just like he ignores recent history. He ignores the Palestinians dancing in the street after the World Trade Center collapsed, and he ignores the popularity of Mein Kampf in the Palestinian Territories in the months following 9/11. Clearly, much of the Muslim world would hate us regardless of the War to Liberate Iraq.

Furthermore, Krugman ignores Mahathir’s history of making anti-Semitic remarks. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes of Google searching to find this article detailing Mahathir’s long-time hatred of the Jews. It extends all the way back (at least) to his 1969 autobiography in which he wrote “The Jews ... are not merely hook-nosed, but understand money instinctively.” In 1991 he accused leaders of Australia’s Jewish community of plotting to overthrow him, and in 1994 he banned the movie Schindler’s List from Malaysia because he felt it was pro-Jewish propaganda."


In the deranged world of Planet Krugman, George Bush is responsible for everything. "The Devil made him do it - poor Mahathir (or as I've seen him referred to - Mahitler) has to pander to Muslim anti-semites (isn't that redundant) because Bush started the war in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein". Makes perfect sense if you've been standing on your head smoking opium...or write editorials for the New York Times.

Krugman actually wrote: "When times are tough, Mr. Mahathir also throws the Muslim majority rhetorical red meat.". Poor Jews, why is it when any tin-pot dictator needs an enemy to rally his people against they get the target placed on their heads. When Hitler needed to unify the Germans - trot out that anti-Semitism. To Krugman, this is simply "rhetorical red meat".

I wonder if Krugman would have passed it off so easily as a meaningless political device if Ariel Sharon had made similar comments about Arabs. Like, "Mr. Sharon thinks that to cover his domestic flank, he must insert hateful words into a speech mainly about Jewish reform. That tells you, more accurately than any poll, just how strong the rising tide of anti-French and anti-Islamism among Jews in Israel and America has become." (my substitutions in bold) My guess is that Krugman would have been absolutely spastic in his denunciations of the remark and would have blamed Bush for his blind support of Israel even though the Administraiton would have certainly condemned it (just as Bush condemned Mahathir's speech).

How can anyone take this lunatic's pronouncements seriously anymore? Please keep this man away from sharp objects!


IT'S THE TEACHERS, STUPID

Jim Schultze: has a great article about public education in the latest Dallas Observer:

"These numbers are the mean math scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills for a certain set of elementary students in the Dallas public school system, measured annually from third to sixth grades. In that four-year period, this set of students dropped from the 63.19 percentile to the 21.89 percentile, a plummet of 41.3 points. Like all the kids in Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, these children started out above average. But these real-life kids wound up in the toilet.

Now ask me why. Were these poor kids? Minority children? Country youngsters? Kids from broken homes? Children of drug abusers? Children with learning disabilities?

The correct answer is none of the above. These numbers are the human scar tissue of bad teachers. The kids in the group described above were the ones unlucky enough to draw the worst teachers in their schools for four years in a row."


According to Schlutze, the research of Dr. William Sanders (University of Tennessee) shows that the 'greatest common denominator" among underachieving kids is that they have poor teachers. And the damage that is done is permanent; getting a good teacher later on doesn't allow the child to catch up.

"When the effectiveness data is released and then carried to parents by firebrands like himself, Fish says, "two things happen. First of all, everybody wants to get his kid in with the star teacher, Miss Jones, who's teaching math to Mexican kids. And second, you have to pay Miss Jones about a hundred grand a year to keep her, which blows away the whole industrial labor concept" that has ruled public education for too long."

Wait a minute, what a novel concept. Rewarding people who do their jobs well with increased compensation as an incentive for excellent performance and penalizing the lazy and incompetent by getting rid of them. Sounds a bit like free-market capitalism, doesn't it?

Good luck getting Reg Weaver and the NEA to line up behind any reform like, say, competition. The teachers union has effectively torpedoed innovative new enterprises like Edison Schools and voucher programs which would give parents the option to choose the kind of education that their kids will receive. To the NEA reform is good as long as that means pumping more taxpayer funds into a failing system but competition is something that is good for other people.

As Schultze documents in his article, the education establishment won't even release the data on how kids are doing so that parents can make a well-informed decision on the types of school district policies they want to support. The ony reason for continuing to keep parents in the dark is to protect failing teachers and administrators. Same old, same old.

I applaud Fish for his efforts. Public education in this country is not going to improve until control of it is ripped out of the NEA's cold dying hands.


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