Saturday, May 20, 2006

Get FEMA On the Horn

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms."
- Reverend Pat Robertson (who else?)

Brownie never had that kind of info.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

After Reading "No Soldier Shall...", I Got Tired And Fell Asleep In Someone Else's House.

Tim Cavanaugh over at Hit and Run adds to the blogospheric browbeating of Gen. Michael Hayden with an unsurprising revelation - the former administration go-to on warrantless (i.e. illegal) domestic wiretapping hasn't the foggiest idea what the Fourth Amendment says:

Let the spy games begin. To force the issue even further (say, over the cliff) - without looking, try to guess how many abstract, ambiguous Legalese words lead from the hopelessly nebulous phrase "shall not be violated" to the positively Surrealist "no Warrants shall issue." If you guessed somewhere in the ballpark of zero, you've read more of the Constitution than the probable next spymaster-in-chief.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Hard Line vs. The Bottom Line

I've been turning over the implications of the article penned by my former bosses at Cato, Justin Logan and Ted Carpenter, on the Iran impasse. I am, unfortunately, persuaded. The perils of this sordid business are so morally and strategically crippling that it seems however our global authority might be defeated by military strikes, the future of permitting a nuclear Iran will be just as punishing to our influence in world affairs. And not merely in the respect that Julian Sanchez anticipates, pointing out that negotiating toward normalization will make a farcical spectacle out of America's non-proliferation policy. This move will force into light a terribly difficult dilemma for the sculptors of our war on terror. With this possible shift in policy, we will clumsily be renouncing basic premises of the neoconservative solution to terrorism. We have for years been vowing identical recourse to terrorists and the states who sponsor them. A deal with Iran is this proposition's antithesis. Right now, these are the only set of cogent principles on which our government seems capable of operating - this is not to indict a fact, but to state it.

But here is where things darken. Why not to strike at Iran is even more debilitating. It cannot accomplish anything. Unlike in Iraq, the initial strategic mission will almost certainly fail. It makes no sense to shred the tireless experimenting, war-gaming, and empirical analysis that goes into what is now an approximate (and fastidious) consensus among experts that the military option is anything but. That Fox News manages to trot out every Gen. McInerney copycat on its list of contacts to parrot the same non-information is not contrary evidence, but rather propaganda. What begins with narrow, well-defined priorities would very likely compel a nebulous ad hoc policy shift toward full-on regime change - for which hawkish policymakers are even less prepared than they were in the case of Iraq. That a preemptive shell game played with a maniacal regime would hedge its bets against the deployment of nuclear weapons within range of America's only strategic partner in the Middle East ought to be called what it is: a fool's errand. The military option is not an option. Politics must prevail, or the West is helpless against a nuclear Iran. The last two words of the previous sentence mean far more than they would in the absence of such steadfast commitments forthcoming.

Here's the Carpenter-Logan piece, in case you wish to avoid sleep tonight:

Thursday, May 04, 2006

'I Got a Fever....'

Here's something I can forgive myself for missing, preoccupied as we all are with the other priorities brimming over in the Republican agenda -"closing" the borders, grappling for cogency on Iran, scuttling the Rumsfeld coup, scrubbing away lobbying chicanery with the greased elbows of federal regulation, bribing consumers to calm down about oil prices and so on:

Sen. Grassley, standing athwart history, yelling "down with specialty hospitals!"

Everything you need to know about the state of Republican politics is supplied by the single issue of health policy. An enervated Republican president in a dismal state gets the opportunity to flex his muscle and make an eloquent case for something he's been promising to do for years - reform Social Security and expand HSAs - and decides, apparently after some careful deliberation, to drop that political clout into the hands of nimrods of Grassley's ilk, and instead work to defend the indefensible prescription drug entitlement. Impressive.

Small wonder that Democrats keep their brash confidence in running on issues like health policy, on which they have absolutely no position of any kind, period.

More righteous indignation, including a well-deserved shot at what seems to be the emerging Republican consensus on federally mandated (read: rectally administered) health insurance purchases, from Cato's Michael Cannon here:


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

And it's about time. If you haven't heard, Christopher Hitchens is now amidst verbal fisticuffs with the pompous and very often terribly unpersuasive history professor/blogger Juan Cole. The substantive matter is over Cole's apparently shoddy, laughably naive take on Ahmadinejad's designs for Israel. Cole's writing frequently bears the all too familiar affliction among foreign policy commentators of various schools of thought, which causes him to infer out loud some sophisticated political collusion among a quiet Jewish cabal in our government. I wouldn't attribute this idiosyncrasy to what is at issue between Hitchens and him - necessarily. Especially because what Cole seems especially incensed over is how Hitchens managed to 'pilfer' an e-mail he wrote laying out his apparently mistranslated interpretation of Ahmadinejad's statement about wiping Israel off the map. No biggie, says Cole; wrong, says Hitchens.

But the embarassing e-mail came, according to Hitchens, in an unsolicited forward from one of Hitchens' readers. Even assuming Hitchens' correspondent is an adroit hacker, what is obvious is that, while his fluency in Persian might be perfect, Juan Cole could benefit yet from looking up the meaning of the English word 'pilfer' in an English dictionary.