Category ►►► ¡ Rabanos Radiactivos!
January 7, 2012
Does Social Santorum Trump Fiscal Santorum?
It's not an easy question for a non-conservative anti-liberal like myself to answer. First, I enthusiastically support some of Rick Santorum's social positions -- he promotes a more robust civil society; supports restricting legal marriage to traditional, one man-one woman; and he has offered bills to expand funding of adult stem-cell research and application.
But I recoil in horror from others, notably his demand that schools teach the "scientific alternative" to evolutionary biology (by which he means the thoroughly un-scientific and misnamed "intelligent design"); and he is completely opposed to embryonic stem-cell research funding, without consideration that such research can probably be done without destroying the embryos. (I'm using Wikipedia's list of some of his positions, though I did backtrack as much as possible to the primary-source interviews and Santorum's own site.)
But considering the second part of the question -- whether his positions on social issues are so extreme as to drive me away, despite his fairly good fiscal and foreign policies (which are at least somewhat better than Romney's) -- I'm on firmer ground. Santorum supports House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI, 96%) spending-cut plan and pushes for moderate reforms to Medicare and Social Security, but nothing spectacular like privatization (too bad). On the foreign-policy front, he supports the War Against Radical Islamism (WARI) and wants to bomb Iran's nuclear sites (good if he can pull it off, bad if he tries and fails).
So which side wins? Although I am appalled by what a friend of mine refers to as Santorum's "Flat-Earth Catholicism," I just don't think it would ever come up in a Rick Santorum presidency, not substantively. I doubt any state is going to attempt to outlaw "sodomy," adultery, or contraception; and even if it tried, surely the opinion of the POTUS would matter little if any in the ensuing court fight.
Where the social stances might really matter, however, is in the election itself. I'm not worried that President Santorum would install a "Nehemiah Scudder" style prophetic theocracy (though 2012 is the very year the Rev. Scudder takes over, according to Robert Heinlein's "future history" timeline!); but a great many voters might fear just that. Irrational, yes; but elections rarely turn on rational and logical cogitation alone. Would Santorum's goofier social stances so frighten away voters not on the religious right?
Yes, probably some. But how many? Fortunately, most of Santorum's apostasies from the norms of modern thought are fairly technical in nature, such as the distinction between science and so-called "intelligent design," which looms very large indeed within the real scientific community but likely induces nothing from the mass of voters but a puzzled "Eh?" Most of the social positions will just zoom along below the electoral radar.
I believe the biggest danger would be Santorum's suggestion that, contrary to the Supreme Court's decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, Americans have no fundamental right to privacy. Such a stance may make sense in a technical, legal sense, at least as the Court clumsily expressed the thought in the case in question; but the vast majority of Americans passionately believe that there exists a fundamental core of individual liberty, inside of which government may not legislate.
The Court shouldn't have called it "privacy;" and it certainly shouldn't have concluded (in Roe v. Wade) that the right of "privacy" includes the right to abort zygotes, foetuses, and even babies within minutes of being fully born. (Actually, I believe that last position is an abomination even under Roe; my, what progress we have made!) Ne'theless, nearly everybody agrees that there is an irreducible shell of personal liberty surrounding every man and woman that protects him from a totalitarian government run amok.
I can prove my case with a single example: Does anybody believe that it would be constitutional for a state to enact a law proscribing how many times per week a husband and wife are allowed to make love in their own home?
If you answer No, then you necessarily believe that (a) such a law breaches that fundamental core of individual liberty, the irreducible shell; and (b) there are inviolable limits to federal and state government beyond those explicitly written into the Constitiution.
To the extent that voters believe Rick Santorum's dismissal of a "right to privacy" means he rejects the irreducible shell of personal liberty described above, said voters will be very likely to vote for Barack H. Obama over the "theocratic" Rick Santorum.
Santorum's vital task, then, is to reassure Americans that his thinking on what most people envision when they hear the word "privacy" is still aligned within the mainstream of modern thought; that he does not advocate government control over aspects of life that the huge majority believe belong to the conscience of the individual, not the diktats of a Council of Experts.
If Santorum can assure voters -- including the arrogant author of this post -- that he is not a "Flat-Earther" on any social issue that really counts, then we might be persuaded to support him more than Mitt Romney. That is, until and unless Santorum's campaign collapses like all the other not-romneys before him.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
March 13, 2011
A friend of mine from college days is simply salivating all over Farcebook about the possibility, which seems to excite him no end, that Japan might suffer a nuclear disaster, as the Fukushima Daiichi (Fuku-I) power plant suffers twin meltdowns.
I think his idea is that this event will surely cripple the nuclear industry... and maybe it will force the entire world to dismantle all the nukes! Perhaps we can replace them with bird-friendly windmills.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 95% Dem), who should know better, opines that the Fuku-I crisis should lead us to "put the brakes on" building new nuclear power plants:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., says the administration should assess the scenarios that led to the serious Japanese reactor problems before issuing permits for new U.S. nuclear power plants, Politico reports.
"We’ve got to quietly -- quickly put the brakes on until we’ve absorbed... what’s happening in Japan," Lieberman said Sunday on CBS’ "Face the Nation."
(He also says, "I don’t want to stop the building of nuclear power plants;" handsome is as handsome does.)
So let's assess the reasons for the meltdowns and see how they could affect us. I think it fair to say that if the fifth greatest earthquake in recorded history happens to occur eighty miles offshore of a nuclear power plant, triggering a thirty-foot wall of water that directly strikes the plant at 500 miles per hour, then there is a pretty good chance the reactor may be damaged.
Likewise if a previously undetected volcano erupts nearby, showering the plant with lava; or if a meteorite strikes it dead-on; or if aliens from Arcturus ("fourth brightest star in the sky!") shoot it with a death ray. And there's really not much you can do about any of these, other than dismantle all the nukes and shiver in the freezing dark.
(Imagine how many people would have died if the Fuku-I site had been a high-rise apartment complex instead of a nuclear power plant!)
All right, Joe, we've assessed the scenarios. And now, since nothing could have withstood such a tsunami -- and since tsunamis are completely unpredictable more than a few hours in advance -- let's just get back to the business of building a massive number of new nuclear power plants... preferably Generation IV plants, like integral fast reactors and pebble bed reactors (or at least Generation III+), none of which, I suspect, would have melted down the way the ancient and aging, 1960s technology, boiling-water reactors at Fuku-I have done.
March 9, 2011
The Pulse of the Axis of Evil
Nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NEMPs): In a single explosive EMP flash, detonated 400-500 km above the surface and thus impervious to most of our ballistic missile defenses (BMDs), we could lose nearly the entire communications network -- including broadcast television and radio, cable and satellite channels, shortwave and microwave broadcast, and cell phones (which are simply UHF radio phones); all modern unshielded electronic devices -- including computer microprocessors, the internet, hard drives, video- and audiotape, televisions, radio receivers, radar installations, missiles that use sophisticated guidance systems, and microprocessor implants in cars, microwave ovens, thermostats, and the like (some vacuum-tube technology would be spared); and even the nationwide power grid.
All it takes is an enemy ruthless enough, and little-enough concerned about retaliation, to get his hands on such a device, mount it on a missile, and "pull the trigger."
And according to ABC News, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is just this close to developing an NEMP; and North Korea has already used non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NNEMPs) against American and South Korean forces in the Korean peninsula... and shows interest in exporting such weapons to radical Islamist countries and organizations:
The North is believed to be nearing completion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, if exploded 25 miles above ground would cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, radio and radar, experts say.
"We assume they are at a considerably substantial level of development," Park Chang-kyu of the Agency for Defense Development said at a briefing to the parliament Monday.
Park confirmed that South Korea has also developed an advanced electronic device that can be deployed in times of war.
The current attempts to interfere with GPS transmissions are coming from atop a modified truck-mounted Russian device. Pyongyang reportedly imported the GPS jamming system from Russia in early 2000 and has since developed two kinds of a modified version. It has also in recent years handed out sales catalogs of them to nations in the Middle East, according to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo.
(This post is dedicated to all those on the Left -- and the "Realists" on the Right -- who mocked George W. Bush for including North Korea with Iran and Iraq in his original "Axis of Evil" speech.)
Detonating an NEMP high above North America would devastate not only power and communications but the economy (obliterating internet-based financial transactions and electronically stored financial data), transportation (disrupting electronic monitoring and control of everything from traffic signals to freight-train switching to commercial air traffic control), and even our military, much of which relies heavily on GPS navigation and site determination -- though United States forces do still train extensively in low-tech navitation and warfare. The electromagnetic pulse would wash across the entire continental United States, plus the southern part of Canada and northern Mexico, like a tidal wave of voltage-lava, melting all the circuits in its path unless specially shielded.
Such a strike would be utterly devastating, resulting in trillions of dollars in damages... and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths, both direct (from crashes) and indirect, from loss of medical records, the inability of emergency services to respond to life-or-death situations, utility and power shutdowns, and economic dislocation. Recovery would likely take decades. And there is absolutely nothing we can do at this time to prevent or even mitigate it; shielding every electrical circuit in the U.S. heavily enough to resist an NEMP would dwarf the cost of all natural disasters and terrorist attacks of the last century combined.
A nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack starts by detonating a nuclear warhead in the high atmosphere; this produces a burst of gamma radiation, which triggers beta rays -- that is, high-energy electrons moving at more than 90% the speed of light -- between 20 and 40 km altitude. The gamma radiation is deflected at right angles by the Earth's magnetic field to create an oscillating electric current in the atmosphere. And this oscillation in turn generates a pulse or burst of electromagnetic energy. [Beta-ray correction per commenter Count to 10 on the Hot Air rogues' gallery cross-post. Thanks!]
When this EM firestorm strikes the surface, it will have a peak power density of 50,000 volts and millions of megawatts, easily enough to fry most modern transistors and microcircuits. Since the pulse from detonation to peak value takes only 5 nanoseconds (five billionths of a second), and the entire first component (E1) of the EMP effect is over at about 1 microsecond (one millionth of a second), protection technology -- designed for much slower lightning strikes -- generally cannot react quickly enough to save the delicate printed circuitry that run our electronic devices these days. Any modern device without thick passive shielding will likely be destroyed or severely damaged.
There are additional secondary effects of an NEMP, dubbed E2 and E3, that are respectively similar to lightning strikes (E2) and electromagnetic storms caused by very severe solar flares (E3); surge-protectors can ordinarily handle those -- unless they are compromised, damaged, or destroyed first... which is exactly what phase E1 of a Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse attack accomplishes. Thus the E2 and E3 phases are often much more devastating than are natural lightning strikes and EM storms.
So far, the North Koreans have not detonated any NEMP device; the EM pulses they have used to jam or damage our GPS and other electronic devices are non-nuclear, and their range is much more limited; but the principle is the same. NNEMP weapons (non-nuclear) use a non-nuclear method to generate the initial burst of energy, generally chemical explosives; the energy front is sent through wave-shaping circuits or microwave generators, thence through an antenna:
This is the second time North Korea has sought to interfere with military communications. Pyongyang is thought to have been behind a failure of GPS receivers on some naval and civilian aircraft during another joint military exercise in August.
South Korea's minister of defense at that time had reported to the Congress, warning that the North poses "a fresh security threat" capable of disrupting guided bombs and missiles by sending signals over a distance of up to 60 miles.
However Russia, which sold North Korea the non-nuclear devices that it has used against South Korea and its allies (including the United States), also has an arsenal of the nuclear version; the only force we have to rely on to safeguard against North Korea getting its hands on an NEMP is the basic "decency" and "good sense" of Putin's post-Soviet paradise. Color me unreassured.
The effect of an NEMP detonated over the United States would be catastrophic; but what would be our response? More appropriately, what are we doing to prevent it from happening in the first place?
I'm sure nuclear scientists have tackled the technological aspect of the threat; but we could also begin shielding vital systems, switches, and lines; infiltrating our own Korean-speaking and -looking agents into the DPRK to find out how far they've gotten, rather than overrelying upon intelligence-sharing from the Republic of Korea (South Korea); and even using backchannel communications to warn North Korea's sponsors (mainly Russia and China) that if Kim Jong-il actually utilizes one, we will consider it to be a nuclear attack on the United States -- and we will respond appropriately, both against North Korea and anyone we believe helped them. Or might have helped them.
Obviously, much of the anti-EMP research is heavily classified, and I have no idea how far we've gotten. Is there a wide-area techie defense against an electromagnetic pulse? But I'm far more worried about the political aspect: Simply put, I do not trust the Obama administration to do anything effective on either front. I don't believe they are taking the threat seriously; President Barack H. Obama surely believes that his peerless "smart diplomacy" with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, coupled with his slavish kow-towing to Red China and Russia, will induce the DPRK dictator to back away from his threats to wipe America out via a nuclear EMP.
And even if Kim -- or his looming successor, Kim Jong-un, a.k.a. "Lil' Kim" -- committed the unthinkable against us, what would the Obamunist do about it? He has shown himself incapable of responding to a military threat, incompetent at running a war, and averse to the point of revulsion to defending the United States or retaliating upon our attackers. More than likely the president would issue a very stern diplomatic communique through the proper channels (once radio communications, television broadcasts, word processors, and teleprompters were brought back online); file a criminal and civil complaint in the International Court of Justice at the Hague; and furiously tingle his bell.
And even more likely, that is what Kim believes Obama would do (and not do); which makes it ever so much more probable that North Korea will go right ahead and use the first NEMP they acquire against us... or at least threaten to use it unless Obama capitulates and gives Kim -- well, whatever he demands, again and again. Nothing works better than nuclear blackmail, when you have an anti-American coward and weakling in the White House.
If there is a God, and if He believes we're on His side, then let's hope He ensures that the DPRK does not get a nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon; at least not until we have a president who takes seriously the primary duty of the office: to protect American territory, the American people, and America itself from violent attack by foreign princes and terrorists.
Otherwise, "American exceptionalism" will take on a new and very tragic meaning.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
November 30, 2010
Stuxnet Speculations and Wild Guesses
I have no access to any information beyond unclassified media reports about the Stuxnet supervirus/superworm that has infected and largely frozen Iran's nuclear-enrichment program; but that won't stop me from making intelligent (?), semi-informed speculations and wild leaps of faith, in service to the science-fiction spirit embodied in this attack upon our greatest enemy by the world's first fully weaponized malware.
First of all, I am completely convinced (by discussions mostly here) that the malware was systematically developed by a black-ops skunk works that is part of some government... not by a lone-wolf genius, not by hackers, and not by a multinational corporation (unless it was working for some intelligence agency).
That reduces the source down to the usual targets. Iran claims it was attacked by Israel and the United States, and I think they're absolutely right. The other countries that might, might have the know-how to pull it off -- Russia, China -- have no plausible motive for doing so; while those countries that would be overjoyed to see such computational destruction of Iranian nuclear plans (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Eurostates, maybe India) really don't have the ability to weaponize malware to this extent. At least that's my opinion, take it for what it's worth.
Looking at the timeline, I see that the code was first discovered in Iran's enrichment hardware in June 2010. It must have been kicking around in less secure systems for many months before that, propagating and "adapt[ing] like the Borg," as commenter TimesDisliker in that Patterico comment thread put it; Symantec checked their archives and found a sample of Stuxnet going back a full year to June 2009. Symantec estimated that the actual development of the code would have taken about six months (early January, 2009); but they added the following disclaimer that pushes it back even further:
We estimate the core team was five to ten people and they developed Stuxnet over six months. The development was in all likelihood highly organized and thus this estimate doesn’t include the quality assurance and management resources needed to organize the development as well as a probable host of other resources required, such as people to setup test systems to mirror the target environment and maintain the command and control server.
Considering the blazing speed that characterizes military, bureaucratic, and administrative planning sessions and operational set-up, it's hard to imagine the total development process, from "Gee, wouldn't it be great if..." to a Stuxnet supervirus ready to be unleashed upon a hapless Ahmadinejad, taking less than a year's time -- at least back to June 2008, assuming that 2009 sample from Symantec wasn't already months old before they stumbled across it, and assuming the development didn't take longer than a year (including "bureaucratic standard time"). Therefore, the project must have started in the waning months of the George W. Bush administration, if not even earlier in Bush's second term.
Minor sub-thought: I was just on the phone with a friend, maintaining that, while Bush may or may not have known about it, I believe President Barack H. Obama was completely ignorant of Stuxnet; I think he was kept totally out of the loop for reasons that seem obvious to me: No one would trust the Obamacle or his minions with such intel because it would have been sent straight to Eric Lichtblau at the New York Times (or to Julian Assange at WikiLeaks), denounced as yet another Bush-era "crime against humanity;" or at least the Stuxnet developers would worry that it might. (Can we say Barack Manning? If you don't get that snark, look up "Bradley Manning" on Wikipedia.)
My phone conversationalist argued that Obama would have to have known, since he would have to have approved the project, would have been briefed on it by his subordinates and reports, and would have to be kept inside the loop. But the fact that the project likely started during the Bush administration removes those objections: Obama didn't need to approve it because it was already approved and funded by George W. Bush. Obama wouldn't have been briefed, because the outgoing administration probably never told the leftist, ideological, Iran kow-towning political appointees of the incoming about the ultra, code-word classified virus for fear it would be "Lichtblaued" the next week.
Barack Obama not only could have been kept out of the operational or even reporting loop, he should have been kept out. His national-security appointments alone reveal his unseriousness and fecklessness on the subject of the War Against Radical Islamism:
- Consider Janet Napolitano as our joke Secretary of Homeland Security;
- Leon Panetta as our hapless Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
- Hillary Clinton as our ersatz Secretary of State;
- Bob Gates, who has become the "Les Aspin" of the twenty-first century, loving the military but afraid to play with it lest it get broken;
- Gen. James Jones, outgoing National Security Advisor, who spent his tenure alternating between being ignored by the president and crushing on Hillary;
- Counselor Thomas E. Donilon, incoming National Security Advisor, whose major qualification for the post appears to be that he served as lawyer lobbyist for Fannie Mae;
- And Attorney General Eric Holder, who has his own, personal defintion of "black ops."
Nobody on that list could ever have pulled the trigger; thus nobody in his right senses would hand over the keys to the Stuxnet program to the gang who couldn't shoot, straight or otherwise. Hence I seriously doubt that the Obamacle knew thing-one about this mission.
If we did collaborate with Israel on this project, which makes sense, I have an inkling of how that partnership shook out: I'll bet we supplied the ultimate software -- we're the chaps with the technological sophistication -- while the Israelis supplied the real-time infiltration and implantation of the supervirus.
We know to a near certainty that Mossad agents and local Iranians ideologically turned or bribed by Israel have penetrated the Uranium-enrichment program and other elements of Iran's nuclearization; where else would Israel have gotten all the targeting information for Iranian nuclear reactors and development sites, from Osirak in 1981 to Natanz and other sites today? Israel has a much more urgent motivation and better personnel to infiltrate Iran... native-born Iranian Jews working undercover in Tehran, for example.
In my fevered brain, I envison one Mossad agent, working with the CIA, discovers the Stuxnet malware he has been awaiting in that Belarusian company computer, having finally slithered its way into Iran, modifying and improving its code as it crawled. The agent arranges to be called in to eliminate the infestation. He cleanses every trace of it from the firmware -- but not before downloading the evolved version of Stuxnet into a thumbdrive.
He passes it through a series of cutouts to another Mossad agent, this one working at one of the major nuclear facilities -- perhaps in the same capacity as the evildoer Bradley Manning (I won't dignify him with his former, and obviously disregarded rank in the United States Army... and if you followed instructions above, you know by now who Bradley Manning is!) But instead of downloading classified documents to hurt his own country, this Mossad hero uploads the Stuxnet malware to Iran's nuclear computers to protect his real country, Israel, from nuclear annihilation.
(Note that even the anti-Bush CIA would probably love the Stuxnet project. Their vigorous and subversive objection to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq stem from the CIA's parent entity, the State Department: Like State, CIA has a penchant for diplomacy and spycraft, not belligerency and warcraft. But this sort of thing is right up their traditional alley... more akin to the sneaky and precious moral ambiguity of John Le Carre than the straightforward fighting of David Petraeus.)
Finally, Iran would love to retaliate against us in the same way we attacked them (as I believe we did, and thank heavens!) -- with a rewritten version of Stuxnet that will attack our computers at the Air Force Global Strike Command or somesuch. But I don't think they have anywhere near the technological capability even to understand the fractal complexity and Borg-like adaptability of Stuxnet, let alone monkey with it to produce a counter worm. They're not very good at high tech; they even have to buy their missile technology from North Korea, roundabout from China.
But they're absolute wizards at creating jihadist cells, sneaking bombs into Western countries (including the United States), and inducing radical Islamists in Hamas or Hezbollah to blow themselves up in "martyrdom operations"... and that is how I believe they will strike back at us for this cyberattack, not with bytes but with bombs. Moreover, if I were Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I would plan an attack not in New York or Los Angeles, nor Chicago nor Washington, D.C., but rather in America's heartland, the Midwest. In particular, I'm very nervous about an attempt to bomb, shoot up, or otherwise attack the largest shopping mall in the United States, in Bloomington, Minnesota: the temptingly named "Mall of America."
Great Caesar's ghost, but I hope local and federal lawn-forcement officials tremendously beef up security there, as well as other malls, sports stadiums, concert arenas, amusement parks, and tourist sites. If Iran flies into a rage and decides to kill Americans in as great a number as possible, I strongly suspect they will strike at the everyday lives of American civilians next time, not the well-guarded military and government elites, and not at Wall Street financiers.
August 12, 2010
All We Are Saying - Is Give Nukes a Chance
Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos attended the solemn commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing that, coupled with the second bombing at Nagasaki, ended the Pacific theater of World War II and almost certainly saved millions of both American and Japanese lives. This was the first time the American ambassador had ever joined the memorial.
The annual commemoration plays to the anti-Americanism of many young Japanese; many of them are under the impression we attacked them out of the blue, while they were peacefully minding their own business... an ignorance fostered by the near blackout of the history of that war in Japanese primary and secondary schools.
But Mr. Roos attended Lowell High School in San Francisco and graduated from Stanford University, and he has no excuse; surely he learned at least something about our reasons for using nuclear weapons. You know, that whole "fascist military dictatorship bent on regional hegemony by force of arms, allied with Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany" stuff. And surely he must realize that had we not had atomic bombs, as they were called then, we still would have invaded the Japanese "mainland" (the island of Honshu), at a cost nearly incalculable in human lives and materiel.
So one might reasonably ask the ambassador why he not only attended the commemoration, but also joined Hiroshima's Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba's call to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Roos' mere presence lent the imprimatur of the Barack H. Obama administration to the clarion call; but the ambassador went above and beyond to make clear the Obamic policy:
Hiroshima's mayor welcomed Washington's decision to send U.S. Ambassador John Roos to Friday's commemoration, which began with an offering of water to the 140,000 who died in the first of two nuclear bombings that prompted Japan's surrender in World War II....
"We need to communicate to every corner of the globe the intense yearning of the survivors for the abolition of nuclear weapons," Mr. Akiba told the 55,000 people at the ceremony.
Mr. Akiba called on the Japanese government to take a leadership role in nuclear disarmament toward "turning a new page in human history."
"I offer my prayers to those who died -- we will not make you be patient much longer...."
Mr. Roos said the memorial was a chance to show resolve toward nuclear disarmament, which Mr. Obama has emphasized as one of his administration's top objectives.
"For the sake of future generations, we must continue to work together to realize a world without nuclear weapons," Mr. Roos said in a statement.
Just as a general question, has any anti-nuclear "peace" activist ever sat down and thought through what would happen if somebody waved a magic wand and made all American or all Western nukes "softly and suddenly vanish away?" I guess radical activists like Roos and Akiba -- who, I suggest, see no distinction between nuclear weapons in the hands of America or Britain and similar weapons in the hands of Iran, Syria, Red China, North Korea, Russia, or Venezuela -- would mindlessly shout, "We would finally have world peace!"
But why would anybody think that? Nuclear weapons did not exist until the end of World War II, the most destructive war in human history; which is ironic, because their very existence is testimony to the fact that their lack obviously does not create peace. So why would their disappearance?
- Let's take the most likely case first: Will aggressor nations abruptly mend their ways if, say, the West unilaterally disarmed itself of all nuclear weapons? The suggestion is especially risible, especially given that we already did unilaterally disarm ourselves of chemical and biological weapons -- yet the global bad guys manifestly did not follow suit. I think we can reject this policy choice out of hand.
- Even if the evil-doers running those countries named above agreed to such insanity, does anybody honestly believe they would abide by their agreement and not cheat? They always cheated in the past with impunity, so why stop now?
But suppose for some miraculous, occult reason Iran, China, et al, did dismantle their entire nascent or operative nuclear arsenals. Where does that leave us?
Every one of those countries has an active and persistent program to develop, deploy, and use chemical and biological warfare (CBW). By contrast, as noted above, we destroyed our own capability.
So if Iran, Syria, Red China, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela each knows that it has CBW capability, but the West does not, then that will make the former less inclined to attack or threaten us? (Why, because they're too gentlemanly to use WMD threats to extort political power and treasure?)
But lets ship the whole hog: Assume the utterly absurd, that the nations fingered above agree to drop and destroy all WMD they may possess, and they actually do it. They somehow obliterate the knowledge from the computers, storage centers, and even the minds of their weapon scientists. Their nukes are all gone in a flash (perhaps I should use a different metaphor), taking their chemical and biological weapons with them. So then we'll finally have peace -- right?
Don't be hasty. Most of those thuggish nations have already shown a marked propensity for ordering suicidal human-wave attacks against their enemies, throwing hundreds of thousands or millions of their subjects into the maw of death; and the leaders didn't shed a single tear, because they simply don't care.
They are functionally sociopathic, even solipsistic, seeing the peons not as human beings like themselves but as inanimate weapons to be used, then discarded when broken. To claw one's way to the top of such a regime, one must first become "comfortably numb."
But Americans are not comfortably numb, and we would never use such tactics. We won't even go back to the WWII strategic bombings of, e.g., Dresden or Tokyo, which only kill the enemy by the hundreds of thousands! So what are we to do when the enemy is not so solicitous, swarms across the border at us, but we haven't any asymmetrical response -- such as nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons to stop him?
I suppose Mr. Roos' answer is: We surrender.
You cannot "give peace a chance" by unilaterally disarming; the proper term for that is to give subjugation to evil a chance. A simple Gedankenexperiment: Suppose Israel were to adopt the Rules of Roos and divest itself of all its weapons of mass destruction. The Arab and Persian response to such humility, brotherliness, and trust would be to... what?
I think we can all guess the grisly outcome of such an adventure in idealism. As Sachi says, The absence of war does not always mean peace; it can also mean surrender and enslavement.
The international Left objectifies war, just as the domestic Left objectifies violent crime. To avoid having to deal with evil and the messiness of real human beings and murderous regimes, the Left pretends that all violence is caused by the existence of certain technologies: Ban the technology, and war and crime will screech to a halt!
Nuclear weapons in all their manifold forms -- bunker-busters to destroy enemy WMD, trip-wire defenses against human-wave attacks, nuclear-tipped Trident missiles on submarines to deter any thought of launching a sneak attack, even neutron bombs to kill an enemy force occupying a site whose destruction would unleash another holocaust, such as the Grand Mosque in Mecca (the siege already happened on November 20, 1979, and could certainly happen again) -- such nukes are merely weapons, tools. They do not start wars any more than pistols commit crimes.
But the Left considers such technologies bad, because they give the West an "unfair advantage" over our enemies, both secular socialist (China, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela) and also the jihad-besotted radical Islamists in the ummah, the Left's new ally.
"Progressives" are upset that the United States doesn't suffer as many casualities and deaths as do the regimes we must fight. It's as simple as that. So our new Ambassador to Japan, John Roos -- whose sole qualification for the job appears to be raising half a million samolians for Barack H. Obama's campaign -- now wants to even things out by crippling the lone remaining world hyperpower, the United States of America. Progress!
Hope and change, readers; that's what America voted for.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
April 19, 2010
Emptying My Thimble
Over on my favorite blog, Power Line, Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk has a series of posts called something like "emptying my spindle." The phrase, for those of you younger than Scott (i.e., born after 1907), a spindle is a vicious spike sticking up out of a flat base; the idea -- horrific even to imagine in today's Nerfworld -- is to take important memos (printed on paper!) in one's hand and jam them onto the spike with a lusty whack, where they will stick... along with your hand, if your aim be unsteady. Having been "dealt with," said memos are promptly forgotten until until Doomsday.
To empty or clear one's spindle is thus to go through one's old business and respond belatedly to urgent matters that should have been taken care of months ago. Scott uses the phrase to mean going back through his voluminous file of posts he meant to make but didn't, and write some quick and pithy abstract of his thoughts on the subject, jamming two or three hundred essays into a single post, like a fossil-rich sediment layer.
Well, I don't have a spindle-full of such ancient pith, but I think I can scrape together at least a thimble-full of comtemporary stories about which I have a milliliter or so of fresh pith. So here goes nothing!
A man, a plan, a genocide -- Ahmadinejad!
Secretary of Defense and Bush leftover Robert Gates says President Barack H. Obama has no plan for what to do when Iran gets its nukes. Doesn't that make your chest swell with ideological pride?
A memo from Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the White House warned that the United States lacks a nimble long-term plan for dealing with Iran's nuclear program, according to a published report.
Gates wrote the three-page memo in January and it set off efforts in the Pentagon, White House and intelligence agencies to come up with new options, including the use of the military, The New York Times said in its Sunday editions, quoting unnamed government officials.
But of course, now that Obama's own SecDef has called attention to the gaping hole in our nuclear policy -- whoops, forgot all about that Iran thing -- surely the White House is rushing to rework our strategic posture to take into account this fairly likely scenario, yes? Well, not exactly:
White House officials Saturday night strongly disagreed with the comments that the memo caused a reconsideration of the administration's approach to Iran.
"It is absolutely false that any memo touched off a reassessment of our options," National Security Council spokesman Benjamin Rhodes told The Associated Press. "This administration has been planning for all contingencies regarding Iran for many months."
Ah, contingencies. So what contingencies are in place to deal with a nuclear Iran?
One senior official described the memo as "a wake-up call," the paper reported. But the recipient of the document, Gen. James Jones, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, told the newspaper in an interview that the administration has a plan that "anticipates the full range of contingencies."
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, who did not confirm the memo Saturday night, said the White House has reviewed many Iran options.
"The secretary believes the president and his national security team have spent an extraordinary amount of time and effort considering and preparing for the full range of contingencies with respect to Iran," Morrell said.
Well, that certainly clears the air!
This is one area where President Obama actually has an opinion beyond voting "present." The man is so pure and adamant in his hatred of nuclear weapons that he refuses -- on principle, one must surmise -- to think about them... even to the extent of how to respond if the world's most beligerent and most anti-democratic, and most Jew-hating regime on the planet perfects them. To plan a response is to accept the existence of atoms, which is anathema to the Obamacle.
Rather, the administration's policy appears to be cajole, beg, threaten... wash, rinse, and repeat, ad infinitum. And if Iran doesn't listen?
Gates and other senior members of the administration have issued increasingly stern warnings to Iran that its nuclear program is costing it friends and options worldwide, while sticking to the long-held view that a U.S. or Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would be counterproductive.
See? "Stern warnings": They do have a plan after all.
Renewing his bows
Speaking of the One Himself, Barack Obama has been bowing recently to all and sundry. From the Heisei emperor of Japan, Akihito, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, to President Hu Jintao of China, Obama has groveled to them all.
This chaps my hide. What's next... will our president crawl on his hands and knees, scourging and debasing himself (or more likely George W. Bush) in penance for America's sins?
But I tell you this: The day Obama bows to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, I will forever refer to the Windy City community oorganizer as "President Hussein."
You may think it petty; I see it as symbolic... let the world know that he will have chosen up sides.
The mad tea-bash
Bill Clinton, in a fit of retro triangulation cleverly timed to remind us why we really don't miss that administration, has just equated tea-party rallies to the Oklahoma City bombing:
"What we learned from Oklahoma City is not that we should gag each other or that we should reduce our passion for the positions we hold - but that the words we use really do matter, because there's this vast echo chamber, and they go across space and they fall on the serious [read: Democrats] and the delirious [Republicans] alike. They fall on the connected [liberals] and the unhinged [neo-conservative running-dog imperialists] alike," he said.
He warns the country against that lunatic fringe of "tea partiers" who hurl incendiary rhetoric like "Taxed Enough Already" and "repeal the bill." But here's the point missed by throwback leftists such as Mr. C.:
"I'm glad they're fighting over health care and everything else. Let them have at it. But I think that all you have to do is read the paper every day to see how many people there are who are deeply, deeply troubled," he said.
He also alluded to the anti-government tea party movement, which held protests in several states Thursday. At the Washington rally, Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota railed against "gangster government."
Clinton argued that the Boston Tea Party was in response to taxation without representation. The current protesters, he said, are challenging taxation by elected officials, and the demonstrators have the power to vote them out of office.
No, actually, they don't; at least in most states, voters cannot recall their U.S. senators and representatives willy nilly as they please (nor do I wish they could). To set the record straight, we have the power to vote some of them out of office six months from now... but not right now.
Alas, in the upcoming demi-year, the Progressivist supermajority can do incalculable and irreversible damage to the United States of America. And we haven't even mentioned the horror that will attend the lame-duck session following the election, when scores of Democrats will know that their careers are ruined anyway... so why not be hanged for an entire abattoir of swine as be hanged for a single sheep?
Clinton says he isn't asking for us to censor ourselves, just tone down the demands; but freedom of speech includes not only the right to present the case for fiscal sanity, but also the right to do so colorfully and dramatically.
When the Left regularly drops F-bombs and N-words, plays the race card like a permanent joker, flashes its get out of jail free card to be exempt from all consequences of its actions and its own violent rhetoric, and encourages its members to confabulate wild, unsubstantiated urban legends for no reason other than to paint Republicans as ogres and cannibals... then why should the anti-Left be restricted to mild, hesitant argumentation, accompanied by much apology and forelock tugging?
I say, unconstrain your rhetoric, so long as you target the real culprits. Let the Left start responding with rational and logical debate, instead of special pleading and threats. Let a thousand points of light bloom. That may not be the Chicago way, but it's the American way.
Frame by frame
I had a fascinating revelation yesterday, what I shall call an "utterly obvious profundity."
Sachi and I were driving through an old section of town, one that was more or less intact from the twenties and thirties. As I looked at the buildings, I abruptly realized something: That world really was just as colorful and three-dimensional as today's. It's just that our only visual window into that world -- movies -- has a narrow aperature and happens to be in black and white.
While Cagney and Bogie and all the rest pursue their violent courses within a noir world of shadow, the real inhabitants of that spacetime locus wandered through the same colors, more or less, as we do today. (By the same token, when Enrico Casuso sang, his voice was not scratchy and drowned out by vinyl or wax hiss; that is simply an artifact of the recording medium.)
Perhaps this just proves my own banality; but I believe more people than myself subconsciously envison yesteryear as we've always seen it on late-night TV: grainy, black and white, occasionally silent, always narrowly constrained to the TV's dimensions... and constantly interrupted by adverts for Cal Worthington and his dog Spot.
My thimble is empty. Tally ho.
April 6, 2009
Obamunism - Through the Eyes of a Child
Well, I think we all knew, somewhere in the back of our collective minds, that Barack H. Obama was planning it; most of us just thought it was so ludicrous, so retro, that he would never really propose it.
But now he has. Great leaping horny toads, it's Dr. Helen Caldicott's unilateral nuclear disarmament all over again:
Just hours after North Korea launched a long-range rocket, President Barack Obama called for "a world without nuclear weapons" and said the United States has a “moral responsibility ” to lead the way, as the only nation ever to use them....
The president directly addressed the Cold War history of this former Soviet bloc city, calling the remaining nuclear weapons “the most dangerous legacy” of that era.
He again pointed to history to say that America must lead. “As a nuclear power -- as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon -- the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said.
Obama proposed doing so by reducing America’s arsenal, if not altogether eliminating it; hosting a summit on nuclear security; seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and pursuing a new agreement aimed at stopping the production of fissile materials.
Also, he proposes gathering up all vulnerable nuclear material -- or “loose nukes” -- within four years. That’s an issue Obama also worked on in the Senate, with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).
As we all know, the only reason that Russia, Red China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and soon to be North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons is self defense against the United States... and if only we would unilaterally eliminate our nuclear arsenal -- ¡ Si, su puede! -- these other countries would no longer fear us -- and they will surely follow suit. As the New York Times succinctly sums up the theory:
Mr. Obama said that his administration would “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in its national security strategy, and would urge other countries to do the same. He pointed to the agreement he reached last week with President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to begin negotiations on reducing warheads and stockpiles, and said the two countries would try to reach an agreement by the end of the year. He also promised to aggressively pursue American ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which in the past has faced strong opposition in Congress.
It is a strategy based on the idea that if the United States shows it is willing to greatly shrink the size of its atomic arsenal, ban nuclear testing and cut off the worldwide production of bomb material, reluctant allies and partners around the world will be more likely to rewrite nuclear treaties and enforce sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
That is, if America weakens itself by unilaterally dumping its nuclear weapons, then other nations will feel more empowered to aggressively enforce already existing sanctions against rogue nations. But why? By definition, "already existing sanctions" already exist; if our allies are not willing to enforce them now, why would they be more willing if we become weaker? Does Obama truly believe that the world defies us because we're too powerful? Does he believe that we're evil, imperialist warmongers oppressing the world, causing them to resist us the way that the Jedi knights resisted the imperial storm troopers of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader?
This is magical thinking at its most emblematic: There is no obvious connection between the United States eliminating its nuclear arsenal and Pakistan following suit -- the latter is far more concerned about India (and vice versa) than about us -- or North Korea and Iran abandoning their own nuke hunt; they see nuclear weapons as their route to power in their own regions or protection against their own enemies. It's silly storytelling, jaw-dropping narcissism, and childish "wishing on a star" to imagine that every other country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons is only driven by fear of America's nuclear arsenal.
But if there is any other reason why they want to be members of the nuclear club, then our reduction or even complete nuclear disarmament will have no effect upon them at all... except perhaps to encourage them tenfold: It's easy for third-world countries to believe that if they have nukes and we don't, they will no longer be third world -- they will be the first world; they will be the masters!
The childishness of this Obamic policy betokens an equally childish worldview, full of good guys (who are always good) and bad guys (eternally bad), superficial understandings, a view of history based more upon melodrama than reality, and magical thinking.
Heroes and villains as world actors
The One is the Lightbringer, whose devoted acolytes are trying to spread the "good news" around the globe (America alone is too small a stage). There is no "in-between," only a vast sea of unenlightened souls awaiting but a touch, a glance from the Obamacle to fall into the rapture.
The Bad Guy in Chief is George W. Bush, of course; and all Republicans are his henchmen. We are consciously evil, in that we sit around and cackle about our latest evil plans, perhaps chewing on the odd pinky or two. (Note that there is another shadowy group of conspirators who may be the real villains in this piece, "working the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan put it; we'll get to them in a moment.)
The great advantage of such hero-villain thinking is that it forces an automatic devaluing of opposing viewpoints: Of course you don't think government should take over the economy... you're a Republican! You want to kill and eat the poor anyway.
Superficiality as a guiding principle
Obamunism is centrally focused on a series of superficial and (upon analysis) meaningless catch phrases, slogans, and jingoisms: hope, change, the One we have been waiting for, audacity, coming together, post-partisan, post-racial, diplomacy, an end to torture, and so forth. While each of these words or phrases could impart meaning in other contexts, as Barack Obama and his apostles use them, we have no earthly idea what he means. Hope for what? Change from what to what? The One we have been waiting for -- to do what?
Even "diplomacy" is an empty concept by itself: Gandhi practiced diplomacy; so did Hitler.
Bear in mind, the more superficial a policy, the more ill-defined and vague, the less able critics are to attack it. It assumes radically different dimensions in the mind of each person who hears about it... and each tends to envision it in a way that resonates with him, personally, satisfying that specific individual's wish-fulfillment fantasies. It's very, very tough to tell someone that his dreams are unrealistic and unattainable; he tends to react emotionally -- and sometimes violently.
The heroic epic as public policy
When Obama and his fellow Democrats recount history (particularly the economic history of the United States and the history of the conflict in the Middle East), it's clear their "understanding" is based not upon what actually happened but upon what should have happened to make things more coherent and plot-driven, like a novel.
We didn't have a financial crash because of foolhardy (and bipartisan) government policy to encourage poor people to buy houses they couldn't afford, regulation and oversight that was badly written by Congress and poorly implemented by several administrations, and increasingly complex financial instruments that few people understand, including those who invented them. No, it's much more gripping if there is a vast banking conspiracy -- or as a disturbingly large number of Obama appointees would see it, a vast Jew-banker conspiracy). The conspiracy (or "lobby") controls everything behind the scenes, like a bad John Grisham melodrama (sorry for the redundancy).
This reductionism is signalled by the use of capitalized terms beginning with "Big," personalizing the enemy without actually naming them: Big Tobacco, Big Carbon, Big Business, Big Money.
And the continual conflict among Arab countries is not driven by a religious interpretation of Islam that demands constant "jihad;" that's boring... and it smacks of racism, too. But if everything bad in the entire region is driven by a single rogue villain (Israel) which causes all the problems for the sole purpose of "taking over" -- an alien presence that exploits the traditional peoples of the region -- well then we have an enemy we can focus upon, a much tighter plot to follow, somebody we can actually defeat!
Conspiracy mongering is always based, at core, on a sense that the universe should really be more coherent, more linear, and more dramatic than it actually is. It should follow literary rules of plot development, causality, a climax, and a satisfying denoument. Here is where Obama's man-crush on Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers becomes the synecdoche of his worldview. It's not very satisfying if blacks are doing badly because they have a lousy culture, or if kids aren't being educated because they have egregious work habits and have never enjoyed thinking. It's much more thrilling if Republican big business has busily been suppressing children's education because they need more worker-drones for capitalist imperialism -- and Whitey has been holding down "people of color" for a thousand years.
(By a curious coincidence, among much of Obama's inner circle, it appears that both plots have the same conspirators, the same villains: Jews. As antisemitism rises across the rest of the globe, it now finds a sympathetic ear at the highest levels of the American government.)
The Childe Left hate and fear complexity and constructive chaos more than anything in the world (just as literal children do); they also project this fear onto the Right, pretending that it is conservatives who embody "black and white" thinking, and liberals are the ones who understand shades of gray... but the Left's actions and policies belie the proclamations of maturity and wisdom.
Waiting for a miracle as grand strategy
Obamunism, and its larger parent New Leftism, deeply believe in the "magic bullet" theory of governance: For every intractable problem, there is a single, simple solution that will solve everything -- which has been missed by generations of previous, unenlightened souls, leaving its discovery to the hero of the saga. Some hitherto unsuspected connection exists between (seemingly unrelated) events A and B; Doing A will, as if by miracle, bring about B:
- Many times in our past, and currently in the rest of the world, governments tightly control the economy via wage and price controls, overtaxation, heavy-handed regulation, union boosterism, and "five-year plans." This has never resulted in an economic renaissance, but generally recession and depression. But wait -- that's because it wasn't done by the One! This time, under the encyclical circulated by Barack Obama, when the government seizes control of the economy, it will cause the greatest economic boom in American, nay world, history... and the world will forever revere Obama as its champion eternal. (Don't ask how; it just will. And of course you're skeptical... you're a capitalist.)
- Unlike all previous diplomatic overtures, when the great man just sits down and talks to his fellow world leaders (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Raul Castro, Ayman Zawahiri) -- when he explains to them that, unlike the previous regime, the current administration doesn't want to conquer and annex their lands, kill their children, and violate their women -- then the light from his heart will shine through, and these national leaders will realize that they need fear America no longer. They will all fall into each other's arms (in a manly way, I mean), have a good cry and a wonderful laugh, and all will be well. Nuclear warheads will be beaten into solar-power plants, war will be obsolete, the Jews will be driven into the sea, and all will live happily ever after. "And guns and swords and uniforms lay scattered on the ground." Barack Hussein Obama is, quite simply, the One that Ahmadinejad has been waiting for.
- Due to stubborn resistance and ignorance, generations have closed their ears and stopped their eyes to the deadly, global peril of man-made climate change. But as soon as Congress enacts the divine vision of the Obamacle -- instantly, the world will cool, the seas will subside, the harvest will be bountiful, and disease and famine will be driven into the void. The word of the king is the blood of the land. We won't even have to wait for the policies to take effect... directly the word is uttered, the Earth will shake, the sky will brighten, and peace and plenty will rain upon all -- equally -- like manna from heaven.
Achievement without effort; success without setback or disappointment; like a Michael Jackson video, Captain Eo points his finger and a bolt of lightning obliterates the bad guy in a puff of CGI. It's magic!
Obamunism - through the eyes of a lizard
It took me a while to realize it, but it's the childishness of Obamunism that irritates me more than any other element... its reduction to heroes and villains, its soap-bubble superficiality, its melodramatic story telling, and the magical thinking that underpins all the rest. Our country is ruled by the inmates of an excessively permissive and progressive preschool.
The entire Obama administration needs a long time-out. Alas, what we're more likely to see is a time-out from history for the entire country... followed by a very rude and deadly awakening.
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