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French and Malian troops begin restoring control in Timbuktu
Today's Headlines
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-Short Attention Span Theater-
On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs - LTC(Ret) Dave Grossman
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6489 views] Top|| File under:

#1  There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.

I might change the analogy presented slightly. There are sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves. Put in a category in of "rabid or vicious dogs." This last category has to be put down.

It seems the sheep tend to want to force everyone to become sheep. That won't work and is naive because of the first statement above.

Prisons seem to be school grounds for criminals. Some of them become more adept criminals as a result of their stints in prison. Some make use of prison exercise facilities to bulk up and become far more dangerous than when they came in. They then go through the "catch and release" program and are released on society. Police, as well as the rest of us, need to be up to the task of coping with these hardened criminals and doing what is necessary to survive an encounter.

Interestingly, little is mentioned in the wake of the Sandy Hook murders about an earlier gruesome Connecticut crime which was committed by two career criminals. Dr. William Petit's wife and two daughters were murdered in Connecticut a few year ago. The criminals murdered, raped, and set on fire the family. Dr. Petit was the lone survivor and he was severely beaten as I recall. Suppose the family was sheepdogs and had been trained and armed? Maybe they could have survived. It seems the memories of sheep are short.
Posted by: JohnQC || 01/27/2013 10:42 Comments || Top||

Africa Subsaharan
Boko Haram: Last Gasps of a Killer Group
[ALLAFRICA] Back to Boko Haram! All thumbs should be pointing skyward for Nigerian troops who must be commended for rising to the occasion. Unused to counter insurgency and unfamiliar with fighting urban guerrillas, Nigerian troops have, under three years, succeeded in containing and localising Boko Haram.

There should be no surprises on the day Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is captured. Of course, he will appear sober, as most gangsters are wont to be and probably in disguise: no long, unkempt beard, no over sized chewing stick, no turban and probably spotting a French suit. Despite an increase in serial killings, he no longer appears to be in control of his group which is in complete disarray.

They may continue to target prominent and not too prominent northerners and continue in their unislamic practice of bombing innocent people in their places of worship but truth is that they have come to the grim realisation that they cannot win their misguided war. They have reached the end of the road and are desperately clawing at straws in their bid to avoid the deep blue sea. One instance of clawing at straws is the 19 January attack on the Amir (Emir) of Kano, Dr. Ado Bayero.

Northern Nigerians have serious issues with their traditional rulers and many wish to see traditional institutions abolished. Many see traditional rulers as part of their problems because most of them have been compromised: they do not speak for their people and have teamed up with politicians who mindlessly corner the common wealth. Some traditional rulers are happy playing court to politicians who come calling with bags of ill gotten wealth, and simply turn a blind eye to the many atrocities committed by the politicians.

Some of the juiciest government contracts are reserved for traditional rulers who see nothing wrong with indulging in monthly federal allocations that should be used to provide infrastructure for communities. Of course, their children pick some of the best jobs in the land without having to break a sweat. It is now an open secret in many communities in northern Nigeria that voters remain undecided until traditional rulers decree who they should cast their votes for.

Having failed to use religion to rally the people to support their wrong-headed campaign, Boko Haram must have reasoned that exploiting this genuine anger of the people against their traditional rulers would do the magic. This thinking informed the failed attempt on the life of the Shehu of Borno last year as well as the attack on the Amir of Kano, two traditional rulers who should feel genuinely insulated from allegations of greed.

Like the failed bid to exploit religion, the attack on traditional rulers is a desperate change of tactics, a counter-productive move that has further widened the gulf between the people and Boko Haram. Aside the usual Allah ya isa or God dey, or such invectives as azzalummai which people employ to describe their traditional rulers, very few right thinking Muslims and Christians of northern Nigerian extraction, despite their genuine anger imagine that killing traditional rulers is part of the solution to the many problems of the north.

Of course these are polluted, hateful and hate filled times but despite the madness of the moment, many northerners do not imagine that killing innocent Nigerians, Muslims and non Muslims, in their homes, in market places or at their places of worship or killing policemen, be they Christians or Muslims, is the way forward. Only criminals who read their religious books upside down do.

Like a bad dream, Nigerians will outlive the ongoing madness. The attack on Dr. Ado Bayero was probably intended to be a game changer. A punch drunk boxer will gasp for breath to muster all effort in the hope of landing a killer punch to turn the tables against a better prepared and more determined foe. That is what Boko Haram's daredevilry of 19 Januaryrepresents.
Posted by: Fred || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6513 views] Top|| File under: Boko Haram

#1  True, or wishful thinking?
Posted by: trailing wife || 01/27/2013 15:49 Comments || Top||

#2  You gotta ask?
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 01/27/2013 15:56 Comments || Top||

#3  wishful thinking. These guys are not on their last gasp of air at all ... Nigeria has a long way to go.
Posted by: Raider || 01/27/2013 21:16 Comments || Top||

Is Ned Ludd Writing For The Associated Press?
Interesting Powerlineblog dissection of an AP opinion piece on the seemingly permanent loss of jobs in the course of the Nobama administration. The premise is that technology is the reason the jobs have gone away, seemingly never to return.

As it happens, I was talking with the Little Woman (she's less than eighteen inches tall) about that very thing the other day. Banks have been replacing human tellers with ATMs. If you go to Home Depot you're expected, though not yet required, to check yourself out, using their automated checkout system. If you try to contact Comcast or Verizon or most any other company you get to poke buttons on your phone until you've managed to confuse the decidedly artificial theoretical intelligence, at which point you'll maybe be connected with a human and put on hold for forty five minutes.

The conversation wasn't, however, about technology. It was about a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $9.75, or about 30 percent over the current $7.25. What this means, as we tried patiently to explain to our 16-year-old grandson, is that to make up this difference either employees have to become 30 percent more productive or that 30 percent of the hourly wage earners have to be displaced, either by technology or by nothing.

Take your pick. The company -- whichever company it is, whether Wal-Mart or Joe's Gas Station & General Store -- isn't going to just suck it up and take a hit on profits. For one thing, Joe's probably making just over break-even, and that only by lying on his tax forms.

We've entered an age now where software (not computers) possesses a rudimentary intelligence. It's not self-aware, but it's aware of us. That's why we get "Press 1 for English, 2 para Español," followed by "Does your computer's screen light up?" usually followed by "I do not understand the word 'Goddammit!' Please rephrase your response." You can buy one of these programs for an initial layout of anywhere from $300 to several thousand dollars. That actually makes owning the idiot machine more cost-effective than hiring the illiterate high school child.

And now politicians want to make it 30 percent more cost effective to buy the software.
Posted by: Fred || 01/27/2013 13:19 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6501 views] Top|| File under:

Home Front: Politix
How Big Government Undermines Freedom and Prosperity
After hearing the criticism directed toward golfer Phil Mickelson for his modest comments about California's highest-in-the-nation tax rates causing him to consider relocating, I was left wondering what country we live in. Did you ever have one of those moments?

"If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent," Mickelson said. "So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do." He pointed to "drastic changes" that are driving his decision--an obvious reference to the income-tax hikes California voters placed on millionaires like him. Media and public critics were aghast and mocked this poor rich guy for his complaints.

The spectacle of Mickelson apologizing on Sunday, then doing so a second time later in the week, was the worst part of this spectacle. "I think that it was insensitive to talk about it publicly to those people who are not able to find a job, that are struggling paycheck to paycheck," Mickelson said.
See the article about about Rawls and his impact on attitudes.
To the AP reporter, Mickelson wasn't sufficiently apologetic: "He didn't apologize for what he said, only that he said it."
Mickelson is just trying to get his mind back in golf, so I don't begrudge him for using the lingo that our society requires from the chastened. It's now "insensitive" for a wealthy person to complain about a confiscatory tax rate as long as there are other, less fortunate people out there somewhere. That's not a healthy attitude in a free and prosperous society.

"A generation ago, the vitriol his comments triggered would have been surprising, and somewhat isolated," CalWatchdog's Chris Reed argued. "Griping about taxes used to be something of an American tradition. No more." This attitude, he notes, now comes from the highest level of government.

Consider the president's second inaugural address, which was a celebration of the wonders of government. The Democrats who run our state view private business as something ranging from a blight to a necessary evil that can be endlessly tapped to fund every new program they envision.

If you think the "blight" comment is an exaggeration, consider this: Recently, the California Air Resources Board sent out a press release celebrating a $300,000 fine it imposed on a business. The quotation from CARB's chief enforcement officer included this warning: "All business owners should pay attention to this case." That's like something uttered by a villain in an Ayn Rand novel.

I've always sensed a deep understanding that transcends left and right in America--you can make it big and enjoy the fruits of your labor. During the early days of the labor movement, the hard leftists never made much headway because of that deep-seated idea that, no matter how humble one's beginnings, an American can make it big some day.
Many no longer believe that's necessarily true.
Something has changed, even as our society has become wealthier. Sure businesses have to comply with regulations and millionaires need to pay taxes, but somewhere we've shifted from honoring success to envying it, from viewing government as a limited tool to achieve a few necessary things (infrastructure, enforcing the rule of law) to seeing it as the be-all and end-all of our society.

Why is it assumed by these moralistic Affluence Police that the rich are mainly greedy people who spend their money on luxury goods? Charities and non-profits are funded by wealthy people. Real capitalists invest millions of dollars into ideas and often create good jobs in the process. I have no idea what Mickelson does with his money, but it isn't any of my business. Given California governmental attitudes, one can't blame him for looking elsewhere.

For instance, during a recent Capitol press conference, the Orange County Register's Sacramento reporter asked Gov. Jerry Brown about the spending increases in his supposedly austere budget. Brown joked about there being no hope for Orange County readers, according to a Register editorial. Then he mocked "this doctrine that government is the problem," which he said is promoted by the "Orange County Register or whoever all these people are."

At the Capitol, the free market is viewed as an arcane joke. Yet I look at everything government does--at all those programs and bureaucracies and entitlements that Brown and Obama prefer. I see enormous debt, corruption, abuses of power, union-enrichment schemes, shoddy services, terrible attitudes, and an endless sea of scandal and greed. Just read the newspapers.

But the scorn should be expected. The state uses a static model for calculating revenues. It assumes that if you raise taxes by, say, 20 percent that the state will get 20 percent more money. In the real world, people move to lower-tax places or work less or hide more of their income, and the government gets 20 percent of a smaller pie.

If wealthy people keep leaving, then the state will have to pare back its budget. Perhaps the backlash against Mickelson is a sign of desperation by those who understand there might be limits to how many golden eggs the geese keep laying.
And a challenge to deeply held but not well-examined beliefs. That said, the right has some examination of its own that's overdue. Show me the private initiatives that have seriously and effectively focused on, say, inner city education alternatives/enrichment backed by internships or apprenticeships, and a visible trend for those grads to have productive careers and lives. Where are stories like this that are more than tokens, that give people a new way of envisioning a future?
Posted by: Beavis || 01/27/2013 12:25 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6528 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Show me the private initiatives that have seriously and effectively focused on, say, inner city education alternatives/enrichment backed by internships or apprenticeships, and a visible trend for those grads to have productive careers and lives.

I can't give you the kind of detailed overview you want, lotp, but Procter & Gamble invests both money and volunteer hours in enrichment and guidance programs for minorities in their hometown inner city schools. This and this are just some of their many initiatives intended to lead to increased numbers of employable minorities, whether in the STEM fields or business.
Posted by: trailing wife || 01/27/2013 16:19 Comments || Top||

#2  Seattle Times today skewered Phil; how dare he even consider leaving and how will he ever make it on the few mill he has left?
Typical libtard drivel.
Posted by: USN,Ret. || 01/27/2013 18:10 Comments || Top||

#3  Thanks, tw.

My employer has similar programs. But: it's not obvious that these have a large impact. If they do, it certainly hasn't formed the basis for outreach from the libertarian/right.

And that's the problem that lost the last election, in good part. The left has a compelling story about taking care of people through government. The libertarian/right doesn't have an equally compelling story about the private sector doing a better job by combining freedom with a helping hand for individuals that translates into social benefit overall.

The audience has been shaped to believe that surface equality of opportunity doesn't really translate into equality of opportunity at all due to significant inequalities in circumstance. And they are right to be skeptical, especially in the current environment. Unfortunately, the 'group' voices on the left shouted down the 'individual' emphasis Rawls intended, which exacerbates the demand that government step in. It's all well and good to talk about freedom trumping fairness, but for those who don't believe many of us *are* effectively free to shape our own lives, the message is disbelieved.

Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 18:22 Comments || Top||

#4  Show me the private initiatives that have seriously and effectively focused on, say, inner city education alternatives/enrichment

I'm a Protestant, but I'd still suggest the Roman Catholic parochial school system. Looking for others will be hard because the government has spent the last 80 years crowding them out.

internships or apprenticeships

fought by big government's BFF big labor at every turn

a visible trend for those grads to have productive careers and lives.

who in big government would get a pay increase if this happened? Perhaps if the black church hadn't been co-opted by big government the blacks might finally be having as much success as the much discriminated Catholics have had. But we'll never know because they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the big government.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 01/27/2013 18:38 Comments || Top||

#5  Coveting thy neighbor's goods used to be one of the 10 Commandments, no? Now it's the Democrat Party platform
Posted by: Frank G || 01/27/2013 19:20 Comments || Top||

#6  Run through all 10. Carefully. How many do government action subvert?
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 01/27/2013 20:17 Comments || Top||

Tin-Foil Hat Time? Or Gust Front?
Posted by: Mercutio || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6541 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Gust Front!
Posted by: Secret Asian Man || 01/27/2013 3:32 Comments || Top||

#2  The draft had some unseen benefits, but when fired upon they fired back.
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 4:10 Comments || Top||

#3  Isn't any appointment to a 'leadership post' in the US military subject to confirmation.

Couldn't a senator apply a reverse 'litmus test' just to quell these rumours?
Posted by: Elmerert Hupens2660 || 01/27/2013 4:30 Comments || Top||

#4  Can't say I'm surprised.
Posted by: g(r)omgoru || 01/27/2013 7:40 Comments || Top||

#5  A close examination of replacements might be revealing.
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 8:37 Comments || Top||

#6  It's not the leaders, but the ranks that are important. Why do you think they keep weapons in locked arms rooms and the basic load miles away while in garrison? Ever hear of 'fragging'?

Isn't any appointment to a 'leadership post' in the US military subject to confirmation.

Only specific General Officer billets. Otherwise assignments are per the system which is predicated upon the authority of the Secretary of the respective service. Commissioned appointments and promotions are subject to Congressional approval.
Posted by: Procopius2k || 01/27/2013 9:14 Comments || Top||

#7  There is a slight bit of paranoia reflected in the article. I'm not saying it couldn't happen. The Bonus Army (WWI vets and others) occupied Anacostia Flats in DC in 1932. They marched on Washington to try to obtain promised WWI benefits. The DC police fired on them and two marchers were killed. Hoover ordered MacArthur (Patton and Eisenhower were also involved) to march on them. Fifty-five marchers were injured and 135 arrested.

I would find it hard to believe that Obama would be so stupid as to embark on such attacks on Americans. Americans do not tolerate such naked aggression very well. I don't think many in the military would obey such orders that are clearly unconstitutional. I think many police officers in fly-over land would not obey such orders. You would have an insurrection that would be very costly and would likely go on forever. Like many insurrections, one does not know where they are going to end when they begin. I doubt anyone would be so foolish, but then again one never knows.

If one considers the difficulty we are having in Afghanistan and we had in Iraq, I think any moves against Americans as mentioned in the article would be a huge mistake with many unintended consequences. Consider what happened to despots such as Musollini, Kaddafi and Saddam for example.
Posted by: JohnQC || 01/27/2013 17:17 Comments || Top||

#8  IIRC MacArthur argued that the Bonus Marchers were devol into an potens existential,
"revolutionary" threat agz the US Govt, hence the need to send in the troops to clean 'em out at bayonet point.
Posted by: JosephMendiola || 01/27/2013 22:50 Comments || Top||

Ballot Integrity In the State of Washington
Posted by: Procopius2k || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6482 views] Top|| File under:

Home Front: WoT
P**ing and Periods - Straight Talk about Women in the Front Lines
Posted by: Frozen Al || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6485 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Excellent article. The blather that "all we want is an opportunity to compete for positions" is pure hogwash. It will never end at that. The gov't and military will [as they always have] insist upon verifiable results or numbers, which the system has always viewed as an indication of a program of successful inclusion. Commanders and leaders at all levels will be held accountable for inclusion. Failure will not be an option. While in the making for decades, this program will only be achieved by a dumbing down of established standards and capabilities. The feminization of the military along with it's destruction has taken a huge leap forward.
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 3:16 Comments || Top||

#2  In other news: Dallas Cowboy's wide receiver coach welcomes Lolo Jones saying she will give us the speed and running depth we've been looking for.
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 3:48 Comments || Top||

#3  So we up-armour a Winnebago, what's all the fuss?
Posted by: Shipman || 01/27/2013 8:40 Comments || Top||

#4  Do you recall the political storm created by the Commander in Iraq when he threatened to Court Martial the next female who got pregnant? For all recorded military history, men who have incapacitated themselves to avoid hardship and danger in the ranks have faced penalties up to death for such acts. However, as women have been added to the system and occupied even in just support functions critical position for which there are only ones and twos in the overall organization, the 'get out of jail' card provided by pregnancy has been played too many times. While hundreds of thousands of women have performed and serviced honorably, as any company or mid-grade officer and NCO can testify, thousands of others have played the system that would never have been tolerated had it been a male. Those company and mid-grade officers have been told repeatedly to shut up and get with the PC program. Now because a relative handful are pressing to break the senior officer position which are reserved to combat arms officer, another dysfunctional program that will give lip service to historical standards but will be operated by instead by EEO standards.

Way past the time that on a random basis, Congresscritter have to do a 4 month stint no higher than brigade level on the front lines. Consider it 'quality assurance' in making sure that the troops have the best training and security their government could provide. When that sapper attack hits the wires at Oh Dark Thirty, do you want the EEO in charge or people who can do the job?
Posted by: Procopius2k || 01/27/2013 9:07 Comments || Top||

#5  "women have performed and serviced honorably"

I'm sure you meant to type "served," P2k.


Posted by: Barbara || 01/27/2013 9:32 Comments || Top||

#6  " Do you recall the political storm created by the Commander in Iraq when he threatened to Court Martial the next female who got pregnant?"

Actually, I was (am) good with that as long as they also court martialed the father. It takes 2 to tango. (Might have to wait until the baby is born to verify DNA. Women do lie, you know.)
Posted by: Barbara || 01/27/2013 9:39 Comments || Top||

#7  Way past the time that on a random basis, Congresscritter have to do a 4 month stint no higher than brigade level on the front lines.

I'll second that. Let them get some skin in the game. Let them ask and answer the question posed by William Bennet in another posted article here: "The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"
Posted by: JohnQC || 01/27/2013 10:21 Comments || Top||

#8  You're correct Barbara. Me bad.

As for doing the DNA, I'm with you. However, the little 'loophole' is conjugal visits from spouses. Though maybe even in that circumstance in theater it might fall under - damaging government property? /rhet question

Posted by: Procopius2k || 01/27/2013 10:26 Comments || Top||

#9  First man that gets pregnant can be charged too...
Posted by: Bright Pebbles || 01/27/2013 12:03 Comments || Top||

#10  One doesn’t need any imagination whatever to imagine what will happen to women combat soldiers whom Islamists snatch from front line battle locations.

Unfortunately, the treatment of any soldier captured by Islamists will be savage. The question is how the response to those situations changes with the female hostage dynamic. The official line will be every possible action, as before, will be taken to rescue all captured soldiers - regardless of sex. But it’s foolish to believe rescue/negation procedures won’t be modified if the soldiers are female.
Posted by: DepotGuy || 01/27/2013 12:06 Comments || Top||

#11  negotiation = negation
Posted by: DepotGuy || 01/27/2013 12:09 Comments || Top||

#12  Way past the time that on a random basis, Congresscritter have to do a 4 month stint no higher than brigade level on the front lines.

Great idea! Kandahar, Bagram. NO! I'll pick the grid.
Posted by: Besoeker || 01/27/2013 12:16 Comments || Top||

#13  Make that Battalion level, E-2 duties.
Posted by: tipover || 01/27/2013 12:27 Comments || Top||

#14  the wymyns should have to register for selective service now
Posted by: Frank G || 01/27/2013 12:31 Comments || Top||

#15  "women have performed and serviced honorably"

Maybe it's time for a new MOS.
Posted by: SteveS || 01/27/2013 13:12 Comments || Top||

#16  Congresscritter have to do a 4 month stint no higher than brigade level on the front lines.

Just think about that for a minute or two. Would you want any of the current congresscritters watching your back? Standing guard while you sleep? Sharing your foxhole?

They would probably tax the foxhole you dig and then fine your for violating some obscure EPA regulation.
Posted by: CrazyFool || 01/27/2013 14:14 Comments || Top||

#17  You got a point or two there.
Posted by: JohnQC || 01/27/2013 15:56 Comments || Top||

#18  Apparently the Fed-DOD is proceeding wid the premise that 19th-early 20th Century "Mahanism" as per Rising Iran + Rising China, etal. = no major war anymore thru 2050 iff not 2100, only "peacekeeping" = benign/minor wars.

AFAIK the Army-Marines is still planned for downsizing in coming years to circa 550,000 plus-minus for BOTH - pragmatically then, allowing women to serve in combat is a way of preempting + alleviating anticipated shortages in OWG "PEACEKEEPING" manpower [Males] that the Fed-DOD KNOWS will likely occur, espec vee a PROTRACTIVELY BAD US-WORLD ECONOMY = US DEFICIT, DEBT-LED US BUDGET SHORTFALLS/CUTBACKS.


No major war anymore 2050-2100 because ...
- Nation/Region-specific economies are too troubled to start one.
- As per the US, US industries are now controlled by foreign Govts-Companies, hence the US cannot engage in unilateral or joint war widout the approval of same. AT BEST, A OWG-NAU SUBORNED AMERIKKA WILL NEED MANY MONTHS OR YEARS TO UNILATERALLY MOBILIZE IN FULL-SCALE FOR WAR.

As per OWG "PEACEKEEPING", USDOD = devol into a "1-1/2 Ocean" [less?] Total Force wid "2-1/2-to-3 Ocean" COMMITMENTS.

Reminds me of post-WW2 1946-1950 = FIRST KOREAN WAR + PRELUDE, when the US thought it could seriously or wholly demobilize from WW2 while opposing the rise + challenge of newly Nuclear, Stalin-led USSR to post-war Europe. NORTH KOREA LEADER KIM IL-SUNG BELIEVED THE DEMOBILIZING, EUROPE/SOVIET-FOCUSED, US "DIDN'T CARE" ABOUT POST-WW2 SOUTH KOREA, HENCE HIS INVASION OF SOUTH KOREA IN 1950.

Posted by: JosephMendiola || 01/27/2013 19:55 Comments || Top||


DPRK doing an IRAN doing a CHINA???

ARTIC > KIM JONG-UN = US reaction to the DPRK shows that the US has reached the LIMIT/HEIGHT of its wily dastardly anti-DPRK strategy.



The good news is that Amerikka's future OWG-NAU Peacekeeping Babe-Soldiers won't have to leave home = CONUS to fight an enemy(s)???
Posted by: JosephMendiola || 01/27/2013 20:05 Comments || Top||

Spengler: Israel's Choices and America's Failure
He opens with:
A number of commentators have drawn a parallel between Israel's national elections on Tuesday and the formation of a national unity government just prior to Israel's preemptive attack on Egypt in June 1967. Despite stern warnings to the contrary from the Johnson administration and being at mortal risk, Israel won the Six-Day War. The decision to strike was preceded by weeks of anguished debate. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to form the equivalent of a national unity government after the elections, with the moral authority to strike Iran.

A great gulf is fixed, though, between the Cold War environment of 1967, when the U.S. feared an escalation of a Middle East conflict into a global confrontation with the Soviet Union, and the world of 2013, where America's competitors have a marginal role in the Middle East. The Johnson administration feared that Israel might upset its Cold War calculus and give advantage to Russia. To some extent those fears were realized (Egypt's turn toward Russia culminated in the 1973 attack on Israel), but the advantage that America drew from its alliance with the region's strongest power more than outweighed other considerations. What does the Obama administration have to lose from an Israeli strike on Iran today? Nothing, it would appear, except its own illusions. It is much easier for Israel to disregard American warnings today than it was in 1967. Lyndon Johnson was genuinely sympathetic to Israel but concerned about spillover into the Cold War. Obama has nothing to lose but his illusions.
And then there's this delicious paragraph near the end:
While the Obama White House fiddles with utopian fantasies, the Middle East burns. Israel has a clearer shot at Iran than at any time in the past ten years. With the Assad regime holding on by its fingernails, the likelihood of retaliation from Syria is nil. Hezbollah's capacity and willingness to attack Israel with its substantial missile capacity is also limited by Assad's distress. The risk of war with Syria was always a limiting factor in Israel's capacity to reduce Hezbollah. With Assad weakened, Hezbollah is on its own. As for Egypt: I doubt if its army has enough gasoline to move a division of tanks to the Israeli border.
Posted by: trailing wife || 01/27/2013 00:00 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6478 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Israel will have to act as it sees fit to defend threats to its survival. Operation Orchard was a strike against Syria's nuclear facilities in 2007 and Operation Opera was a strike against Iraq's in 1981. There was a lot of squawking about it for awhile but it dissipated and very little was done in response by any country. It would seem that they did the world a huge favor.

While the Obama White House fiddles with utopian fantasies, the Middle East burns. Israel has a clearer shot at Iran than at any time in the past ten years.
Posted by: JohnQC || 01/27/2013 16:36 Comments || Top||

Home Front: Culture Wars
Sunday Morning Coffee Pot: The Most Influential Writer You've Probably Never Heard Of
by lotp

It was culture that won the last election for Obama and it is culture that we must influence if we want to change the course of the country. But if we are to influence our culture we must start by understanding it and how it got to this point.

When Barack Obama repeatedly hit the theme of Fairness during the recent campaign, it resonated with people in the middle of hard economic times. The libertarian and right side of the country never offered an effective counter to this meme, which appears to have taken them by surprise.

It shouldn't have. Liberal political thought has been steeped for several decades in a worldview around justice, fairness and equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity whose premises were laid by the most influential political philosopher you may never have heard of.

John Rawls died in 2002. His work isn't cited in court decisions and few today ascribe to the details of his positions. Yet he plowed the ground and planted the seeds that bore fruit last November and 4 years before that. Without knowing his name or examining his writings, most people under 40 (and many who are older) now accept as obvious truths the assertions he laid out and refined over several decades.

Rawls published his seminal work A Theory of Justice in 1971. The book had been gestating for nearly 20 years, taking shape as he used notes from the manuscript in the courses he taught at Harvard and while on a Fulbright fellowship at Oxford. It sold over 200,000 copies - a very high sales volume for a work in moral and political philosophy. In it Rawls set out to rescue liberalism from criticism on both the left and the right. His core premise was that inalienable human rights are the bedrock truth that must shape justice in society.

But what constitutes a human right? Rawls goes back two centuries to the Enlightenment, and specifically to Kant, as a starting place. The most basic civil and political right, he asserts, is to choose our own goals and to act on them. A just society must respect and actively guard that right. In this, Rawls was opposing Marxism and utilitarianism, two 19th century theories which each place the good of the whole over that of the individual. "Justice denies that the loss of freedom for some can ever be made right by a greater good shared by others," Rawls wrote.

But there is a problem we run into when putting the autonomy of individuals at the center of justice, and that problem is inequality. Inequality of family circumstances, education, physical and mental capabilities all mean that we are not in fact equally free to pursue our own ends. We are each either lucky or unlucky in what we have to work from. How then can justice be achieved, when inequality of circumstance inevitably limits the ability of some to choose and to act on their choices more than others?

Rawls asks us to consider a man or woman in what he calls the "original position" - i.e., utterly ignorant about his or her own situation. Rawls intends the original position to remove from our moral reasoning any bias in favor of ourselves. If you or I did not know whether we were wealthy or poor, male or female, young or old, healthy or ill, what social policies and rules would we consider the most just? He concludes that we would have to choose policies that assured that those in better circumstances have no benefit that doesn't also obtain for those who start in lesser circumstances. This is the only fair thing to do. The fairness principle, he asserts, must form the basis of a social contract for any just society. A just society is one in which people *choose* via a social contract to redistribute advantage so that all have a real chance at equality of outcome, because equality of opportunity is never actually a real situation in life without such a contract. Only this society is fair and therefore just.

Rawl's ideas stuck a chord with liberals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His books and papers reinvigorated many intellectuals by offering an alternative both to crude Marxism and to the unpalatable emptiness of modern critical theory which was then in full flower among academics. Rawls, it seemed, told them that they could - indeed, should - take bold action to remake society, and that they would be acting justly if they did so. A Theory of Justice is quite in line with the Great Society initiatives, with the rise of welfare and the civil rights movement, with environmentalism and a host of similar programs.

Rawls was not universally accepted on the left, however. A huge literature exists in response to his original book, critiquing it from all angles. Marxists pushed back, disliking the emphasis on individuals rather than social classes. A related criticism emerged as a result of the branching of literary critical theory into social, race and feminist critical theories. Each of these demanded not only a focus on group rather than individuals, but also a focus on inequalities between groups. In 2001 Rawls published Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, backing off of several positions in the earlier book (including a vision of religious diversity as part of the fair society).

Meanwhile the right was focused primarily on neo-liberal (i.e. free market) and monetarist economics, some of which had a libertarian focus on individual autonomy that simply ignored social context or inequality of circumstances entirely. The economically-oriented right stressed efficiency rather than fairness of opportunity, which they tended to define in terms of removing governmental limits on action. They were, in the short run, successful. The wage and price controls of Nixon and the signficant stagflation of Jimmy Carter's presidency gave way to growth under Ronald Reagan, which in turn fueled welfare reform and the dot com boom under Clinton. As far as the right/libertarians were concerned, their free market advocacy had been vindicated. The right didn't respond effectively to Rawls because they didn't feel they needed to. The rising tide of economic growth would lift all boats. Minorities and other disadvantaged people would inevitably migrate into greater prosperity and wellbeing. A virtuous cycle would reinforce itself as new opportunity overshadowed inherited disadvantages.

But the prosperity of the late 90s didn't last. The growing welfare state, a series of expensive wars and the aging of the huge Baby Boom generation all have intersected with major technology changes to create the crisis we are now in. And while that was happening, Justice as Fairness was permeating throughout academia and thence into much of the culture.

Which gets us to the emotional content of Rawls' theory and its continuing resonance today.

Rawls was doing more than theorizing intellectually when he worked out Justice as Fairness. He was responding to a series of events in his own life in which he was, inexplicably, lucky while others close to him were not. It's not just that he grew up with economic, educational and other advantages, although he did. It's more visceral than that. Two of his young siblings died after contracting illnesses from him, but he recovered both times. Men immediately next to him died during WWII, but he remained unscathed and went on to enjoy a rewarding academic career and happy marriage. Rawls came to see these experiences as emblematic of life at its foundation. Unless remedied, he observed, both unfairness and privilege tend to perpetuate themselves for those caught in or lifted up by them.

Listen carefully and you will hear Justice as Fairness everywhere you turn today. It forms the basis of the push for climate change treaties, of wealth redistribution (overt and indirect) by the government, and of columns criticizing Romney for rejoining the board of directors of Marriott rather than actively working for social change. It echoes more subtly in the firm conviction of many that they are not really, personally responsible for their own lives and the outcomes of their choices. It is shouted angrily in Occupy and anarchist riots. It appeals to people who are out of work through no fault of their own, or who grew up in urban poverty attending dangerous, poorly equipped and dysfunctional schools. It provides a tempting excuse for those who are in difficulty due to poor judgements, whose McMansions were way too expensive for them and are now being repossessed, whose union demands have bankrupted cities and companies, the young women who demand to Have It All without tradeoffs. It explains why Occupy protesters do not villify the wealthy 1% liberals who purport to support Occupy's goals, for such liberals don't justify their privilege and wealth as having been earned.

This is what we are up against. Justice as Fairness is not simply the product of envy, a misunderstanding many on the right rest in. It is a powerful theme infused into Western political thought as a result of Rawls' careful moral analysis and the intense responses his arguments triggered here and in Europe. However, the political impact of Justice as Fairness results not only from Rawl's careful analysis but also because it strikes a deep emotional chord with many people. It is this emotional response that Obama and others are playing on with great skill. Rawls influenced the thinking of an entire generation of intellectuals and academics who in turn influenced many of today's voters. Like Obi Wan Kenobi, Rawls was struck down by his various critics only to merge with the zeitgeist and become more powerful than ever.

What, if anything, can be said against Justice as Fairness? What does the libertarian/right side of the spectrum offer in its place? Whatever that message might be, it must resonate as deeply and with as much emotional impact if it is to be successful.

The very term 'liberal' promises freedom for new possibilities. The very term 'conservative' suggests an intent to preserve existing privilege and inequity. Perhaps we need a new start. Can the freedom of the individual to choose his or her own ends be preserved at the core of a new philosophy, a new party, that also recognizes and responds to the very real limitations that circumstances create for some while elevating others?

During the last few years the Tea Party and others have called for a return to self-reliance and neighborhood comity as the solution to social problems. But the small town/rural neighbor-helps-neighbor model is inadequate to the task. No matter how evocative references to such things are when they come from the mouth of Sarah Palin or in the form of the Romney campaign collecting plastic bags of miscellaneous goods for Sandy victims, they do not appear to be adequate to address the misery of inner city schools or the hopelessness of blue collar workers whose industries are being automated away. And Rawls is right: such circumstances do significantly limit opportunity for the people who are mired in them.

Inequality of circumstance is nothing new. The problem with the Tea Party message is, however, that it looks back to an old solution based on a situation that no longer obtains. We no longer have a physical frontier available for those who would risk leaving home and family to better their lives through independence, risk-taking and hard work alone. That is why the vision that fundamentally looks back to such days is uncompelling to many.

It lacks appeal to many young adults for whom it seems utterly out of touch with daily reality. Theirs is, after all, the cohort who are the most horizontally oriented (peer to peer relationships, information sharing etc.) of any generation in centuries of recent history. They live and breathe within global information networks, where the value of being connected in large systems is a given. The Tea Party is tri-corner hats and covered wagons crossing the prairie while they are collaborative online decisionmaking and nanoengineering. The Tea Party vision also fails to address the understandable concerns of Blacks who are now middle class but look around them and see their communities sliding fast back into poverty, and who are all too aware that many young Blacks have little realistic chance of escaping inner city hopelessness.

What new vision of Justice can we offer? Is there something from Rawls we can build on? If not, and if we do not offer some other compelling vision of Justice, Fairness will be the slogan that is used to justify a fundamental reworking of our country and every one of our institutions.

Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 07:31 || Comments || Link || E-Mail|| [6558 views] Top|| File under:

#1  Elsewhere on this page-
demonstrates the current state of application of Rawls' philosophy (not just the women in combat part, but extension of ADA to establish accomodations to allow disabled kids to participate on sports teams - how much enabling is too much?)
Posted by: Glenmore || 01/27/2013 11:13 Comments || Top||

#2  I think the question might be, how would one make and defend a judgement about 'too much'. I certainly agree that these things seem counterproductive for society, not only in the local instance but in the way they reinforce some assumptions.

Our challenge is to articulate an alternate principle we can defend - and, in particular, one that can resonate emotionally and intellectually with many people. One they can identify with.
Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 12:57 Comments || Top||

#3  The one they're identifying with now has not only been IMHO unfair to me, but grossly unfair to entire regions and industries. I only think they can pretend it's really fair out of either gross stupidity, gross malice, or a combination of the two. I could respond in depth, but until next weekend I am going to be too damn busy working the bilge pumps to do so.
Posted by: Thing From Snowy Mountain || 01/27/2013 13:49 Comments || Top||

#4  Rawls lost out to the 'group' vs 'group' wing of the left. Your group is seen as having advantages over other groups.

I don't justify it. I do note how prevalent it is and how much work we have to do to create a new narrative to displace that one, which is indeed hurting you and others Snowy.
Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 14:26 Comments || Top||

#5  What new vision of Justice can we offer?

None. As one of my law professors said, If you want justice go to heaven; if you want a decision go to court.

Justice like fairness ultimately is ultimately a vision, like truth or beauty. And it is also in the eye of the beholder. As Kennedy, not the first, said life isn't fair. Some how in the 50 years after his death we have become convinced that it should be and that we can make it so. And that we can stop the rising of the oceans and heal the planet.

A good look at the plusses and minuses of fairness is DHFischer's Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States . After reading it, I was convinced that I am a freedom guy.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 01/27/2013 16:46 Comments || Top||

#6  I'm with you, NS. Now: how do we reach the large portion of our populace that isn't?
Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 17:48 Comments || Top||

#7  I don't know.

I often wonder if the 17th century was one of those magical moments in history whose benefits we live off of until they're gone. There is a dwindling constituency for individual responsibility and accountability. The government is all too ready to make excuses for not trying so that it can enslave capture dependent voters. We are all too ready to sacrifice a liittle freedom for no secuirty.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 01/27/2013 18:42 Comments || Top||

#8  I haven't entirely lost hope in the young adult generation. But we do have to find ways to hook them and this last election go-round was a textbook study in how not to do that.
Posted by: lotp || 01/27/2013 19:23 Comments || Top||

#9  We do have some good folks on message,Rand Paul, Tom Cruz, Marco Rubio. They just need not to turn into dealmakers or clowns like Boehner, McConnell and Christie. And there is always the instinct of the young to reject the orthodoxy of their elders. But it is expecting a lot to choose freedom when so much "security" is being offered in exchange. I fear it won't happen until it is clear to the blind what an empty offer it is.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble || 01/27/2013 20:10 Comments || Top||

#10  Great essay, lotp.

I would argue that the pursuit of Fairness is what has driven down the Black middle class, consigned waay too many people to poverty (Go Great Society!) and made our public schools what they are today. It all sounds so appealing, but if you look at places where that game has been run, the fUSSR, China, Europe to varying degrees, the outcome is not pleasant, by which I mean piles of corpses, economic stagnation, gulags and general misery. Still, it sounds good.

There is no question Obama & Co did a great marketing job. Lotp is correct we need to present a better vision and do a better job of selling it.
Posted by: SteveS || 01/27/2013 23:19 Comments || Top||

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Sun 2013-01-27
  French and Malian troops begin restoring control in Timbuktu
Sat 2013-01-26
  Green-on-green clash in Khyber tribal region kills 32
Fri 2013-01-25
  AQAP #2 killed for the THIRD time in Yemen
Thu 2013-01-24
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Tue 2013-01-22
  French seize control of Diabaly, Douentza
Mon 2013-01-21
  Nigeria: Gunmen attack Kano emir's convoy
Sun 2013-01-20
  Algeria crisis: Hostage-takers 'taken alive' at gas plant
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Tue 2013-01-15
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Mon 2013-01-14
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