Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Archive for February 2005

Soft Power in a Post-9/11 World

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The ever-indispensable Victor Davis Hanson takes a look at European soft power in Opinion Journal, and makes an astute observation:

After September 11 all that one-sided way of doing business is in jeopardy, well aside from eroding American public support for either bases in Western Europe or NATO itself. George Bush turned out to be not just a bombs-away Texan, but a visionary of the Woodrow Wilson and FDR stripe, who risked his re-election, the American economy, world oil markets, and his entire legislative agenda on spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, well beyond the wildest dreams of any European utopian.

If this idealism works, liberated Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians and others might see the U.S. as principled as Europe proved conniving in the days of Oil for Food and extracting oil concessions from Saddam. America, in other words, is learning far more about soft power than the still disarmed Europeans have about hard power. The USS Abraham Lincoln and its supporting flotilla, not the EU minifleet, did the heavy lifting after the tsunami.

If the Europeans lack both hard and soft power, where does that leave them? VDH notes the problems with sclerotic bureaucracies, high unemployment, aging populations, muslim immigation, etc., etc. Europe could end up joining the third world, which would be a very bad thing. Under such circumstances, one can see the US needing to save them from themselves yet again, which is perhaps one of the best arguments for maintaining US troops in Europe. It’s a must read.

Written by martinipundit

February 28, 2005 at 10:50 am

Posted in GWOT

On Condi’s Wardrobe

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Has the Washington Post totally lost its editorial mind? In a poorly written puff piece, staff writer and fashion fetishist Robin Givhan spends paragraph after paragraph discussing the Secretary of State’s sartorial choices:

Rice’s coat and boots speak of sex and power — such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.

Note how the author is pushing those stereotypes herself (she was last seen with a case of the vapors over a parka).

I don’t think she would been breathing so hot and heavy over Colin Powell’s wardrobe – nor objectifying him in this way. Seems to me there’s a word for that …

Written by martinipundit

February 25, 2005 at 10:23 am

PC TSA and the GWOT

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Unconsidered Trifles has a nice piece on how Mohammed Atta would still be able to board a plane. The TSA likes to think it’s making us safer, but I can recall several instances where I – who in no way fit the profile of the 9/11 hijackers – have been searched. On one occasion, the TSA agent took an interest in the Bible I carry in my briefcase which is small and zips closed. As she unzipped it, I asked her how many terrorists carry such things. She calmly replied that the TSA doesn’t discriminate to which I replied, “I know.” She clearly grasped from my tone of voice what I thought of the TSA policy. What was also clear was that she understood by her response that I did not fit the description of a terrorist but was prepared to go through the motions anyway.

Among the failures of the Bush Administration is a failure to show Norman Minetta the door. Go check it out.

Written by martinipundit

February 24, 2005 at 4:18 pm

Posted in GWOT, Politics

Lone Star Wackos

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There are wing nuts and then there are lone star wing nuts:

The separatist Republic of Texas group, which largely dissolved after an abortive uprising in the Davis Mountains left several of its leaders dead or in prison in 1997, has reformed, and is again pushing its message that Texas should be a free and independent nation, 1200 WOAI news reported today.

From a newly established ‘capitol’ in the east Texas town of Overton, Daniel Miller, President of the Republic of Texas Interim Government, says a desire to be free, combined with ballooning concerns over rising taxes and property rights, will convince more Texans to support a ‘referendum’ on whether Texas should become an independent nation.

“We’re seeking a referendum to allow the people of Texas to vote on independence,” Miller said. “We’re looking forward to the benefits of Texas independence, where Texas stands as a nation among other nations.”

Some people clearly have the time on their hands to read up on this.

Written by martinipundit

February 24, 2005 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Idiotarians

Pope John Paul II Back in the Hospital

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The Pope has suffered a relapse:

Pope John Paul II was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance Thursday suffering fever and congestion from a relapse of the flu, the Vatican said. The 84-year-old pontiff had the same symptoms of the breathing crisis that sent him to Gemelli Polyclinic on Feb. 1.

Not a good sign.

Update The Pope has successfully undergone surgery where he was given a tracheotomy.

Written by martinipundit

February 24, 2005 at 9:59 am

Posted in Church

A Good Idea from Government (Gasp!)

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It happens from time to time. Government has a good idea.

Massive curtains were drawn yesterday at the scene of a tractor-trailer rollover on Interstate 93 north in Somerville, where MassHighway utilized its newest weapon against traffic snarls caused by rubber-necking drivers.

Seven-foot-tall by 10-foot-wide screens made of piping and vinyl material have been in use since late last year, intended to obscure accidents from passersby and keep drivers moving, officials said.

This is a problem everywhere, and I experienced two such slowdowns only yesterday – one of which was for a flat tire for all love. Of course, human nature being what it is, we’d all slow down to wonder what the screens were for …

Written by martinipundit

February 24, 2005 at 9:55 am

Posted in General

More on European Democracy

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Extending the meme we noted from Paul Johnson below, Janet Daley writes in the Daily Telegraph. To Johnson she adds the insight that the Europeans tried it and found it wanting:

Europe has pretty much given up on the whole undertaking now: we tried it and it ended in the Terror. We went through our phase of proselytising democratic revolution with Bonaparte and look where that ended. Spreading freedom? All that amounts to is killing off one generation of autocrats and replacing them with another. Trust the people? They are just as likely to follow a fascist demagogue as to perpetuate the sacred principle of justice.

Better to make your cynical peace with the worst aspects of human nature than to pretend that free men will always choose good over evil. Much better to make a mutually profitable trade-off behind the scenes than to expose political decisions to the popular will. What evidence is there that the people actually know what is best for them? Most charitably, the European philosophy of government – shortly to be permanently installed under the EU constitution – is paternalistic. At worst, it is arrogant and authoritarian.

But whatever it is, it no longer has a belief in real democracy of the kind that Americans recognise – government of the people, by the people and for the people – at its heart.

One might also add that the fallout from the failures of those experiments – a truly shocking amount of war and bloodshed – has sapped whatever vitality the Europeans might once have had, and the rest got on a boat and emigrated to the United States. But one look at the Netherlands will remind us that there is a people waiting to take over.

Written by martinipundit

February 23, 2005 at 9:00 am

Posted in Eurofollies

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