Saturday, September 11, 2004

But She's Not There

The New York Times has a stable of writers who seem to be spiralling into dementia in their desperation to unseat George Bush. Paul Krugman, Nicholas Kristoff, and Frank Rich have all written columns laced with paranoia and vituperation in recent weeks, but Maureen Dowd can get just as nuts as any of them. Ms. Dowd's motto is never pass up an opportunity to insult someone. Unfortunately, her insults often make her look profoundly dumb. Consider this statement from today's column:

After 9/11, Americans want tough guys who will protect them from Al Qaeda. They seem to be willing to settle for an impersonation of tough guys by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who were so busy with their vanity war in Iraq that they missed critical opportunities to vanquish Al Qaeda and spent money on a foreign occupation that could have been used to secure American ports and come up with plans before the Beslan tragedy to protect children from terrorists.

Never mind the drive-by cheap shot about missing critical opportunities to vanquish al Qaeda (What opportunities did they miss? How does Dowd know they missed them? Does she have access to secret information?); never mind the unsubstantiated allegation that had we not been involved in Iraq our ports would be safer (In what way would they be safer? Are we spending less money on protecting our ports than we would have had we not gone into Iraq? How does Dowd know that deposing Saddam has not made this country safer?); the part of this paragraph that makes her look positively buffoonish is her implication that had we not invaded Iraq we could have prevented the Beslan tragedy.

If Ms. Dowd ever deigns to descend from her Olympian vantage at the Times to mingle with us mortals perhaps she'll explain for the benefit of those of us not blessed with her divine insight how, exactly, our invasion of Iraq diverted resources that would have saved the Beslan children. Is she suggesting that we would have had Marines stationed outside the Russian school when the terrorists arrived had they not been stationed in Iraq instead? Does she have compelling information that had we never gone to Iraq our spies would've penetrated Chechen terrorist cells? Does Ms. Dowd feel herself to be under no obligation to ground her claims in something approximating reality?

So that our readers know, Viewpoint has received word just this evening that in her next column Ms. Dowd will allege that had George Bush not invaded Iraq, Hurricane Ivan would not now be threatening Florida and scientists would have discovered a cure for cancer. Reason enough to vote him out of office, I say.

Rather <i>Agonistes</i>

The Belmont Club has an excellent analysis of CBS tactics regarding the apparent duping they suffered with allegedly fraudulent documents purporting to prove that George Bush had disobeyed orders while serving in the National Guard. Both the analysis and the comment thread which follows is fascinating.

For other takes on the unravelling scandal at CBS see the comparison of the questionable memo and a computer generated copy overlay at Little Green Footballs, and by all means don't miss the column by Mark Steyn, one of the funniest columnists in the business. Here's a taste:

Dan Rather and the elderly gentlemen at "60 Minutes" were all atwitter because they'd come into possession of some hitherto undiscovered memos relating to whether George W. Bush failed to show up for his physical in the War of 1812. The media had been flogging this dead horse all spring, but these newly "discovered" memos had jump-started the old nag just enough to get him on his knees long enough for the media to flog him all over again.

Unfortunately for CBS, Dan Rather's hairdresser sucks up so much of the budget that there was nothing left for any fact-checking, so the "60 Minutes" crew rushed on air with a damning National Guard memo conveniently called "CYA" that Bush's commanding officer had written to himself 32 years ago. "This was too hot not to push," one producer told the American Spectator. Hundreds of living Swiftvets who've signed affidavits and are prepared to testify on camera - that's way too cold to push; we'd want to fact-check that one thoroughly, till, say, midway through John Kerry's second term. But a handful of memos by one dead guy slipped to us by a Kerry campaign operative - that meets "basic standards" and we gotta get it out there right away.

The Whole World is Watching

On this somber day of remembrance Viewpoint suggests another must-read essay from the pen of Victor David Hanson. Every paragraph is a gem. Here's a sampling from The Whole World is Watching:

Ask yourself: What do a Russian ten-year-old, a poor black farmer in Darfur, an elderly pensioner in Israel, a stockbroker in New York, and a U.N. aid worker in Afghanistan have in common? In the last three years, they have all died in similar ways: Unarmed and civilian, they were murdered by a common cowardly method fueled by a fascist ideology.

The recent slaughters in Russia were the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of excusing or explaining away radical Islamic terror. If the Estonians can break away from post-Soviet oppression and free themselves from Russian authoritarianism without slaughtering schoolchildren and blowing up airplanes, then the Chechens can as well - but only if they wish to create democracy rather than an Islamic fascist state.

But there is something else going on here besides the cloak of so-called Chechen nationalism. The perversion not of religion per se, but of Islam; the singular method of suicide bombing rarely found elsewhere; the frequent resort to the unique grotesquery of beheading; the now-common display of abject incompetence on the battlefield coupled with craven slaughter of the noncombatant and civilian aid worker. At some point, the leaders of the Western world (if there are any left besides George W. Bush and Tony Blair) are going to look at all this madness worldwide and come to the bitter conclusion that there is a disgusting pattern: Not every Muslim is a fascist terrorist, but almost every fascist terrorist is a Muslim. Killers are not screaming "Hail Mary" when they machine gun children in the back, slit the throat of airline stewardesses, or blow pregnant women up on buses across the globe. And they are not the subjects of condemnatory fatwas in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Much of the Islamic Middle East continues to blame others for its own induced catastrophe, apparently unaware - thanks to the lever of oil it didn't discover, doesn't know how to develop, and uses to intensify rather than alleviate its poverty - that its entire culture is becoming an international pariah. Islamic young men on European flights are looked at with distrust; they are not welcome in Russia. China wants none of them. They are wary of visiting India. Australia learned from Bali. The whole world is watching - in disgust.

In short, the suicide bomber, the improvised explosive device, the car bomb, the televised beheading, the wacko fatwa, the sleazy propaganda streamer on the Internet, the new cult of death - all cowardly and lethal phenomena - these are now the innovations that the world associates with the Middle East in lieu of gene research, car production, or computer breakthroughs. If you look for gender equity in the Middle East, you won't find it in Arab Olympic delegations, Saudi schools, or the Iranian government, but in the opportunity for young women to blow themselves up right beside men. Indeed, killing infidels is the nascent women's-liberation movement of the radical Muslim world.

As fighters against armed Americans and Brits the flower of Islamic manhood is risible, succeeding only to the extent that they are willing to strap bombs to their sons and daughters and send them to grisly deaths. How can Muslims be anything but profoundly ashamed of what is being done in their name and in the name of Allah? How can they be anything but humiliated that their "warriors" are such savages? How many 9/11s, Balis, Madrids, and Beslans must the world endure before it demands that Muslims give up their dream of revanchism, world domination, and world-wide Islam or suffer the consequence of becoming complete and utter pariahs among civilized nations?

Wake up America!

God bless viewpoint, for it offers me an opportunity to vent an occasional rant now and then and perhaps I'll live a little longer as a result of it.

I have had the most difficult time understanding the importance of the issue of a trade deficit and finally I discovered exactly why it's a problem for every American today and even for future generations.

This revelation is so profound, so subtly insidious, that I feel compelled to share it on viewpoint. It's actually very simple.

We incur debt to foreigners which are excesses of imports over exports. The dollars earned by foreign businessmen usually are deposited in foreign commercial banks which deposit them in their central banks, which invest them directly in U.S. Treasury obligations or other claims and assets in the U.S.

It appears, on the surface, that you are not a part of this mechanism simply because you go to Wal-Mart and purchase some goods made in China at dirt-cheap prices but it is important to realize that the money you spend on those products go to Hong Kong and come right back with many other dollars for the purchase of U.S. Treasury bills, notes, or bonds. All of these are certificates of debt that you or your children are obligated to meet. In other words, the U.S. government is enabling you to participate in this mechanism and the majority of Americans don't have a clue of the consequences of their bargain purchases. In fact, those shrewd purchases only contribute to the hidden debt liabilities, via our government, that are adding to the hundreds of billions of dollars already owed!

To add to the problem, every good or service purchased from outside of the U.S. is one less item that needs to be manufactured here. This pressures American companies until they eventually lay off their employees or go out of business altogether.

Now here's the interesting part. Instead of allowing free markets to determine the value of the Chinese currency, China has pegged its currency value at approximately 8 of their currency units to 1 U.S. dollar. The effect of this is that as the U.S. dollar looses value against other world currencies which would make imports less attractive and our exports more attractive, the Chinese currency depreciates proportionally so their exports are always competitively priced when compared to American products. This guarantees that the trade deficit (and our debt obligation) will continue to widen until something dramatic occurs. They don't say "Buy American" for nothing!

We hear that all of this is because we, as a nation, must subscribe to the concept of "Free and Fair Trade". Well what's fair about China artificially manipulating their currency at our expense? Furthermore, what's fair about competition with a country that has zero labor laws? I read a news article about an investor who visited a Chinese company where they manufacture tennis rackets. It was evening when they walked into the manufacturing facility and the company owners had to turn on the lights of the facility which enabled the investor to see hundreds of people, previously working in the dark, stringing tennis rackets. Is it fair for America to compete on terms like that?

What's fair about trying to compete against companies in China that have no environmental restrictions against pollution and can operate much more economically than companies in the U.S. that must meet ecological standards set and enforced by our government?

The bottom line is that there is nothing fair about it and the only thing that's free is the free ride China is getting at the expense of Americans.

Just recently, groups have petitioned the Bush administration to bring a case before the World Trade Organization because the currency of China is generally considered to be undervalued by perhaps as much as 40%. This makes Chinese goods extremely competitive compared to U.S. goods. But the Bush administration quickly rejected the petition, declaring that it would not "retreat into economic isolationism" by bringing a case that could impose economic sanctions on Chinese goods.

This is totally unacceptable because America is being gutted at the speed of light yet the Bush administration is doing nothing whatsoever to impact the logical, disastrous conclusion. Sanctions are precisely the remedy for what is happening. Otherwise, nothing will change until an equilibrium is reached. The standard of living of every American is going to be reduced until it is comparable to the standard of living of people in China, and India, and Mexico. Once that happens, the trade deficit will be zero because foreign goods will no longer be attractively priced. Americans will be making the same products, in the dark, for perhaps $5 per hour. Just remember that during your next trip to Wal-Mart.