Sunday, December 24, 2006

Up, Up and Away!

What perfect timing. Only yesterday I was reading Joseph Pearce debunk the notion that a rising GNP shows that everything is great. "GNP is the total price . . . of all traded goods and services in a country during a year. Any economic activity that does not involve a monetary transaction is not included. On the other hand, any activity that involves the spending of money is included even if it has a detrimental effect in socioeconomic terms."

Today, I saw a column by Kevin McCullough arguing that we must be winning in Iraq -- their economic growth is through the roof!
The nation and economy known as the new Iraq is succeeding, and those who dispute this are simply lying.

Call it whatever you'd like - a quagmire, a country torn by violence, the next Vietnam, etc. - but it is dishonest to say is that this nation is not a success. Government corruption, uncontrolled militias, and (as the drive-by media likes to remind us) daily attacks using improvised exploding devices - but it is not an economy going under.

McCullough doesn't dwell on how much of the economy is devoted to providing security, selling burial plots, or procuring the weapons of war and terror. If somebody in Baghdad sells a stick of dynomite or a blasting cap, that adds to the Iraqi economy but will greatly detract from the wealth and well-being of Iraqis.

There is a class of people in the punditocracy who will never admit that the Iraq war was a failure of the Bush administration, the neocons and the broader political Right. They will attempt to blame the media, antiwar activists and Democrats (too many of whom shamefully went along with the war). I find it encouraging that many Townhall commentors don't buy McCullough's argument -- although Freepers, being willing to swallow any rightwing crap imaginable take a much more positive view of the article.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Small is Beautiful

The good folks at ISI Books sent me an early Christmas present today in the form of Small is Still Beautifulby Joseph Pearce. On January 8, 2007, I will be participating in a group blog, Small is Still Beautiful to discuss the book. Over the next couple of weeks -- in between downing egg nog and unwrapping collectable Malibu Stacy dolls -- I hope to be able to post some comments about the book. Right now, I will include a bit of Crunchy Cons author, Rod Dreher's cover blurb:
E.F. Schumacher shows where liberals and conservatives go wrong, and Joseph Pearce makes Schumacher relevant for a new generation -- one that despaerately needs to hear Schumacher's message. Pearce shows why "small is beautiful" is the only sane and humane response to our insane "supersize me" culture

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Webb Derangement Syndrome . . .

My first reaction when I read something like this (Virginia Sen.-elect Jim Webb said President Bush is a 'failed president'. . ."), is to ask myself, "what will the freepers say?" They rarely dissapoint:
. . .

This Webb punk is way too hot and will make himself look like a major jackass, very soon . . .

"senator made clear his antipathy toward Bush"

Now, right here and now, let me make clear my antipathy of this dimwitted, boorish, immature and impudent demokaRat. . . .

I was at a party last weekend, and Webb's son came home from college. In the hallway, Webb called out, "Hey, son! How was school? Now come over here and let me suck on that d*&%!" He said it was a custom he picked up overseas. Freaky. . .

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

War For Elba

I was pleasantly surprised to see a review of Look Homeward America in the January issue of Reason, where Bill Kauffman was briefly employed in the 1980s. The review was written by John McClaughry, who is the subject of a chapter in Kauffman's America First! The review is mostly positive, but it takes a strange turn towards the end. McClaughry writes that "none of us can flee from the . . . menacing fact that in a cave in Pakistan, a coffeehouse in Cairo, a mosque in Riyadh . . . well armed and inventive villains really, really want to kill the peaceful people of Elba, New York."

I have read and heard much about the aggressive designs of Islam in the last few years and generally believe it to be true; but I have noticed that most of the actual aggressing -- the dispatching of invading armies and ships, planes and missiles have gone in the other direction. Osama bin Laden became a problem for the United States after we established bases in Saudi Arabia. The Bush administration's response to bin Laden's mass murder of Americans was to make a token effort to attack him in Afghanistan and then launch and invasion of Iraq. The crowd that supported that invasion is now calling for war against Iran. There are numerous justifications for our foreign policy -- spreading democracy, access to oil, enhancing the self-esteem of neocons -- protecting Elbans is not among them.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Miller/Dole in '08

This Jonah Goldberg column has to be experienced to be believed. It is the sort of thing I would have enjoyed reading in study hall -- complete with doodles of Goldberg's dream chopper. He mentions Airplane! and makes a War Games reference. He uses a phrase, "gormless popinjays", that should only be deployed by the most skilled of writers. All of this is to help him make the point that voters are tired of politicians with names like Gore, Clinton and Bush.

I especially enjoyed this little factoid:
The Republicans have the higher hurdle because Bush fatigue is more acute than Clinton fatigue these days -- owing to the simple fact that Bush is in office right now (though remember: there's been a Bush or a Dole on every Republican presidential ticket since 1976).

I'm not sure what he gains by including Bob Dole, who has done nothing to add to Bush fatigue. He could have just as easily -- and just as relevantly -- said that there's been a Bush or a Dole or a Nixon or a Miller on every Republican presidential ticket since 1952.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Failure is an Option

Scott McConnell surveys the wreckage of neoconservatism in the December 18 American Conservative and concludes: "The millionaires who fund AEI and the New York Sun will not abandon neoconservatism because Iraq didn't work out. The reports of the movement's demise are thus very much exaggerated. " I think he is right. In the world of politics and punditry, merely being completely wrong doesn't mean that you lose your positions of power and influence.