Sunday, January 07, 2007
Monday, April 24, 2006
The Case For Democracy In A Nutshell
There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.
Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader's lifeline is the electorate's pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.
That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters....
For decades, a "realism" based on a myopic perception of international stability prevailed in the policy-making debate. For a brief period during the Cold War, the realist policy of accommodating Soviet tyranny was replaced with a policy that confronted that tyranny and made democracy and human rights inside the Soviet Union a litmus test for superpower relations.
The enormous success of such a policy in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end did not stop most policy makers from continuing to advocate an approach to international stability that was based on coddling "friendly" dictators and refusing to support the aspirations of oppressed peoples to be free.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001. It seemed as though that horrific day had made it clear that the price for supporting "friendly" dictators throughout the Middle East was the creation of the world's largest breeding ground of terrorism. A new political course had to be charted....
Now that President Bush is increasingly alone in pushing for freedom, I can only hope that his dissident spirit will continue to persevere. For should that spirit break, evil will indeed triumph, and the consequences for our world would be disastrous.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Illegal Immigartion: The "Pro" Side
There is a surreal quality to the freshets, streams, rivers, and oceans of words expended on the immigration issue, without a word on the big point.
Namely: American greatness and influence depend on immigration and assimilation. The U.S. is the only major country in the world growing at a moderate but geometric rate, while all the others shrink, including the two great peasant giants, China and India. (If you're an investor, bet on India.) Europe is turning into a theme park with fewer and fewer shows and barkers...
Read the whole thing.
Inside A Terrorist Bomb
The bombs that terrorists use are among the most evil weapons ever invented. The explosives are bad enough, but palestinians have chosen to add metal pieces to the bombs to increase their deadliness, and to deliberately wound as many Israelis as possible. These extras are manufactured in “metal shops” throughout Gaza and the West Bank, which is why you hear about the IDF firing missiles into “metal shops,” and see the owners bemoaning the loss of their factories and insisting they were not involved in the manufacture of bombs....
Remember this the next time the media profiles the bomber and his/her victim side-by-side.
(H/T Michelle Malkin)
The Alternative Minimum Tax: A History
Except for the desperate need of a more exciting title, the story of the "AMT" has everything going for it. The exciting elements include scandal, demagoguery, righteous indignation, frustration, failure and, most of all, unintended consequences. If we could only find the right screenwriter, it might have Oscar potential ... that is, if we could figure out whether to nominate it in the documentary, drama or comedy category.
During Congressional hearings in the late 1960s, then Treasury Undersecretary Joseph Barr famously disclosed that 155 wealthy taxpayers - people earning more than $200 thousand, equivalent to more than $1.1 million in current dollars - paid no federal income taxes because they were too cleaver utilizing the various exemptions, deductions and credits in our Byzantine tax code. In that more-impressionable era, this disclosure caused a sensation. In 1969, for example, more letters to Congress complained about the 155 rich non-taxpayers than complained about the ongoing Vietnamese war.
Predictably, the Congresspersons were shocked, simply shocked that this could have happened. They outdid one another in their zeal to condemn this outrage, enacting a "minimum tax" in 1969 which set the pattern for what has now become AMT.
The Definition Of Torture
Conservative News And Views:
Most reports start with the obligatory “In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world's most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions.” (thank you Sy Hersch) Then they launch into scathing attacks on “American abuses” at the prison.
But what is nearly ALWAYS missing from reports, is what actually constituted torture under the Saddam Hussein regime. In the MSM frenzy to BlameAmericaFirst™ reporting of real torture would only detract from the story line.
But, let us now examine what Abu Ghraib was really like, when the bad guys were in charge. In this NRO article a four minute tape distilled down from nearly two hours of footage details horrific acts of barbarism, common during the Saddam Hussein years. The transcript is graphic, the video unimaginable. And that is part of the problem, in this country it is impossible for us to imagine the cruelty that was commonplace in Iraq.
Read on for (gruesome) details. Here's an example:
The first film clip opens with the camera showing a man standing in a bland, mostly empty room. The camera pans down to show his right hand. Folded rugs are visible in the background. The clip jumps to footage of scrub-clad "surgeons" with rubber surgical gloves severing the man's hand at the wrist. First the skin is peeled away with surgical knives and tweezers; ligaments, tendons, muscle, and bone underneath are exposed. Then the gloved hands wielding the knives begin to slice, shredding through the sinews, slashing muscle, breaking bone, until the hand is ultimately detached and plopped onto a green cloth, as yellow, pulpy tissue spills forth.
This, my friends, is torture. To compare what happened at Abu Ghraib under Saddam to what happened under "US management" (as Senator Kennedy did). is like comparing a root-canal to major brain surgery.