Sean LaFreniere

Independent News And Political Commentary
Welcome to Sean's Blog blog | home | contact
The Blogger
Blogger Bio 
 
The Archives
Search This Site

Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

Support This Site
Favorite Links
World Trade Center Attacks
Bali Nightclub Attacks
Beslan School Attack
London Underground Attacks
Raddison Hotel Bombing
Katrina Hits New Orleans
Defend Denmark's Free Speach
The Anglosphere
Support Democracy In Iraq
Israpundit
Democracy Whisky Sexy
Chief Wiggles
Anderson Cooper's 360
The Command Post, making CNN look like the school newspaper.
Andrew Sullivan Dot Com
The Argus, Central Asian news.
Winds Of Change Dot Net
Free The Chief's Iraqi Generals
Michael J Totten
Blog Iran
Apostablog
Moderate Risk
Roger L Simon
free iran petition
victor davis hansen
Save Angel
Oregon Trip Check
iraq's election news
The Hitch
Game Of Life
 
Sponsored Links
Find info on VA loans and watch this video on the VA loan process.
 
News Links
Arab News Portal
Belfast Telegraph
BBC News
Dublin News
Edinburgh News
French News
German News
Iran Daily
Iran News
Iraq News
Irish Abroad
Irish Emigrant News
Irish News
Irish Quarterly
Israeli News
Jerusalem Post
London Local
London Times
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Pakistan News
Persian News
Roman News
Scottish News
Translated News
World Wire
 
Magazine Links
The Atlantic Monthly
The American Prospect
Commentary
Dissent
The Economist
Foreign Affairs
Front Page Magazine
Gawker
Harpers
Israel21c
Mother Jones
The National Review
New Republic
New Yorker
NY Review Of Books
Policy Review
Reason
Salon
Tech Central Station
Washington Monthly
Weekly Standard
 
Movie Links
Cinescape
Fandango
Film Jerk
McMenamins Theatres
Movie News - Trailers
Rotten Tomatoes
 
Sean's Political Dictionary
So that YOU know what SEAN is talking about when he opens his big mouth:

 

Conservative:

Date: 1831. From Latin conservare, for "to keep", "guard", or "observe". A Conservative relies upon family traditions and figures of authority to establish and maintain values. 

A Conservative puts group security above personal freedoms. 

A Conservative believes that successful use and maintenance of power proves God's favor for the government. 

A Conservative believes that social values, religious rules, and forms of governments may only be altered gradually. 

Stability and continuity are the goals of government.

 

Liberal:

Date: 1820. From Latin liberalis for "free". A Liberal uses reason and logic to set personal, social, and religious values. 

A Liberal places personal freedom above group security. 

A Liberal believes that governments rule by the consent of the governed. 

A liberal believes that governments may be changed or removed at the will of the people.  

A Liberal supports rapid change in the pursuit of progress and reform.

Freedom and Justice are the goals of government.

 

Note: a nation, and an individual, may move back and forth between these positions often. They rarely sum up a personality completely. And they should never be permanent blinders for anyone to view the world.

When a people succeed in a Liberal revolution, for instance, they often find themselves in the Conservative position protecting these gains. Similarly a person might have a Liberal view on public financial assistance and then move into a conservative position once these demands are met.

One might say that Affirmative Action is a prime example. At one point instituting Affirmative Action was a Liberal position, it was needed to reverse decades of discrimination following the end of Slavery. However, today the Liberal position might well be the ending of Affirmative Action, as it has largely completed its task and now stands as a stumbling block to truly moving the nation beyond race as a discriminatory trait. Meanwhile, the position of defending AA is now actually a Conservative stance (whether its so-called "liberal" defenders realize it or not).

Another way to think about this is that these terms describe a way of thinking about issues, not the positions on those issues. That is a Conservative might support a war because politicians they respect urge it, because the enemy scares them, and ultimately because it just "feels right". A Liberal might also come to support the war in spite of the position of authority figures and celebrities, not because it feels right, but because hours of research and consideration support the cause.

Neither is a "better way" of coming to a position, necessarily. Sometimes too much thinking interferes with a solid moral judgment, such as on the Abortion issue. And then other times only rational examination can skip over the emotional baggage and come to the most reasonable decision, as we see in the Abortion issue.

I realize this might be difficult for some people to accept after a long time of hearing party dogma on the issue. Personally I find value in BOTH positions. On some issues I am myself rather Conservative and on others I am quite Liberal. The same with the terms Radical and Reactionary, noted below. I found that stepping beyond these labels opened up my thoughts and cleared my head of a lot of bs.

 

Reactionary:

Date: 1840. From Latin reagere for "to act". A Reactionary uses government pressure as a means of containing and responding to changes in society.

 

Radical:

Date: 14th century. From Latin radicalis from radix for "root". A Radical supports social movements and political pressure groups as a means of affecting change in government.

 

The Right:

Date: early modern. The term comes from  English Parliamentary Rules; which place the party in power on the right of the Speaker. As the Conservatives held sway for a long time, the term Right came to be associated with the "Establishment" and thus with Conservative politics.

 

The Left:

Date: early modern. The party in Opposition sits on the Speaker's left. The Left came to be associated with labor movements, the lower classes, and socialist politics. It has also come to be associated with Liberalism. This was useful for Conservative politicians, and Socialists as well, during the 60's. But I find this to be a big intellectual and political mistake.

 

Capitol Goods:

Date: circa 1639. From the French from Latin capitalis for "top", used in French for "principal" or "chief". (1) : a stock of accumulated goods; especially at a specified time and in contrast to income received during a specified period (2) : accumulated goods devoted to the production of other goods (3) : accumulated possessions calculated to bring in income

 

Capitalism:

Date: 1877. An economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

 

Socialism:

Date: 1837. From Latin socialis for "friend" or "companion" or "associate". Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods; usually there is no private property; in Marxist theory this is also considered just a transitional stage between capitalism and communism and it is distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

 

Communism:

Date: 1840. From French communisme, from Latin communis for "common". A doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. It is the final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably. In its only examples of practical application, in the USSR, China, and Cuba it became a totalitarian system where a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production and the people are enslaved in production geared to support the power of this party.

 

Note: in Marxist theory these three systems represent a sliding scale, with Capitalism on the Right, Socialism in the middle, and Communism on the Left. A nation was supposed to move from one to the other over time. However, in practice few systems in the world have ever been purely one or the other. Most national economic models employ some of all three.

While the US and Europe are considered the paragons of Capitalism, they both retain many Socialist elements. Both the US and Europe offer state sanctioned monopolies of public utilities. The American Postal Service is a state owned enterprise, as are the European aerospace entities. Europe offers state run healthcare, as do many American states, and both regulate the health industry heavily.

Through out history Europe and the US have also held some Communist elements. The common grazing lands of town centers and the great unfenced Western plains were both representative of these traditions. One might say that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Dole are also holdovers from our more communal days.

On the other hand, while China has long been a paragon of Socialism / Communism, it still has many elements of free enterprise. They allow small farmers and craftsmen to sell excess production on the open market, they have private telecoms and industrial companies, and now they have a stock market, the ultimate symbol and apparatus of Capitalism.

When one system or the other fails to serve a nation, many proponents argue that actually the system simply was not implemented purely enough. However, attempts to purify these systems require a heavy hand in government, education, and economic practice. And this has led to oppressive regimes and brutalized citizens.

 

Democracy:

Date: 1576. From Greek dEmokrati, from demos "people" + kracy "rule". A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections; usually accompanied by the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges.

 

Republic:

Date: 1604. From Latin respublica; from res "thing" + publica "of the people". A government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who is elected by popular vote.

 

Note: that the root of the word Democracy is Greek, while the root of the word Republic is Latin. These terms are NOT antithetical, they do not even derive from the same language.

In common use they both have come to describe types of Liberal governments, specifically the one is a type of the other. It is possible for a nation to be a Democracy, but NOT also a Republic. However, a nation that is a Republic is ALWAYS also a Democracy. A Republic is a TYPE of Democracy.

The UK is a Democracy, but not a Republic, because of the Queen. Ireland became a Republic only after it dropped from the Commonwealth and replaced the Queen with an elected President

 

Fascism:

Date: 1921 From Latin fascis for "bundle" or group. Last, but not least, is this term, which actually combines the economic system and the political system entirely. In this system the state and large corporations merge, the rights of the individual are subordinated to the glory of the State, and all dissent is suppressed. It often utilizes a racial or religious cause to motivate the people into giving up their rights in the first place. These states usually rise out of an economic collapse or hardship with high inflation and unemployment.

 
Blogging Resources
Technocrati Link Cosmos
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
Site Meter
 
Blogroll This Site
(Copy image and hyperlink)
Sean LaFreniere
 
Support This Site

Thursday, July 31, 2003

ICC Reviewed And Trashed.

"Albatross get yer fresh albatross here!"


Michael Totten responds to the recent International Criminal Court indictment of Tony Blair by the Greeks for "war crimes". He rightly points out that any organization that chooses to make Tony their test case over Robert Mugabe is not an improvement over past tribunals. Meanwhile, what ever happened to reconciliation committees and amnesty laws?

In fact, how does the International Criminal Court hold up as an international organization? Is it something that will make the world a better place, especially for Americans? I don’t really dont think so and here is why...

The UN was the pet creation of the US (as was its League predecessor). Its purpose was to help us reign in "rogue nations" that might bring about another World War. But any sober American review must now conclude that the UN has become more of an albatross around its creator's neck than a handy tool.

The UN only appeared to "work" by riding on the coat tails of the US/USSR Cold War, which stifled any lesser conflict. The UN certainly didn’t stop any war that these two big boys allowed to go forward (as proxies for themselves, to be fair), such as Vietnam and Korea. And it did nothing at all to stop internal bloodshed in overlooked places such as Africa or Latin America.

After WWII, Breton Woods et al, the US held the purse strings of the world. The UN promised to be a tool that would allow us to dangle dollars, threaten embargos, and send troops as a way of stabilizing and developing the planet. But, it also served to increase American influence worldwide, at least for a while, and Europe is jealous of this influence.

The EU is quick to latch onto the ICC because it plays to its strengths in the same way that the UN played to ours. Today the EU has no army and little economic clout, but it has reams of bureaucrats and lawyers, it is also a favored tourist destination for many, especially Americans. They hope to use these strengths to compete with the US as the planetary authority, or “GloboCop”.

But the end result of this system will be that any Americans who have ever worked for the government, the military, or a multinational corporation (in other words, everyone) will think twice about going to Europe on holiday. The US will also refuse to put any men or money into EU sponsored (or perhaps any and all) peacekeeping ventures. And if the ICC ever tries to take on a popular US politician or military hero the ensuing trade war (thinking small) would ruin them (you think Freedom Fries hurt?). Thus European clout will only be diminished by their pet creation.

It seems too obvious to say, but only law-abiding nations abide by laws, by the Geneva Convention, or the UN, and the same applies to this so-called International Criminal Court. The nations that it was meant to control will refuse to extradite and only nations that already have strong legal traditions would even think to comply. But there are many reasons for even these nations to not go along with this new court, just as many civilized nations refused to enforce 16 UN resolutions on Iraq.

The ICC, like the UN, is a great idea… for other people. The UN helped the West (or the US as "the last man standing") to bring other nations “into the fold” (the same with WTO and GATT) of international intercourse. But nations such as Europe, then Russia, and now China already play in global politics and already have enough clout, they don’t need the UN and so they have little reason to comply or assist UN projects such as disarming Iraq.

The real stickler is when these bodies are used against their creators and supporters. The UN’s most noteworthy actions of late have been to refuse to support US enforcement of its own Iraq sanctions and the placing of hostile, non-democratic regimes on to “prestigious” human rights and non-proliferation committees, while giving the boot to the US, the liberal democracy that founded it. The ICC’s first big case is now against one of its own. The EU will soon find that the ICC, like the UN, is a great idea for other people.

The ICC offers the citizens of corrupt governments a chance to bring their own leaders to account. But the ICC is not better than the existing legal system of the US - or any other Liberal Democracy. It does not have a trial by jury of one’s peers (only a judge or group of judges, think "Star Tribunal"), it has a severely limited appeals process (only one chance and no US Constitution to back you up), and the citizens of THIS liberal democracy have little to say about the appointment of its judges (there are none from the US and no North American grouping in the pool of judges). Therefore, while justice for the citizens of some nations may be IMPROVED, it will only be DIMINISHED for our own. Thus we have no reason to comply or assist in the project. In fact, and this isn’t said enough, it may be illegal, i.e. unconstitutional, for us to do so.

If the EU wants to have more clout, more respect, and to begin to pull “rogue nations” (as they now claim we are) into its post-modern, supra-national diplomatic world it will need the assistance of the US, not the US as an enemy. The best move for the EU would be to recognize that the ICC is not a REPLACEMENT for the home legal systems of healthy democracies, but is rather an aide for the citizens of less enlightened places.

The ICC should come with built in immunity for liberal democracies, allies of the EU, and fellow members of the “Civilization Club”. But this would require a non-politically correct, non-relative, value-laden judgment by the EU, which seems categorically impossible. The system as it stands, like the broken UN that allows Libya to chair the Human Rights Commissions, will dangle around the EU's neck some day.

Sean: Thursday, July 31, 2003 [+] |
...
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Afghanistan Gets Back On Its Feet Part 2


INSTAPUNDIT'S AFGHANISTAN CORRESPONDENT, Professor John Robert Kelly of Boston University, reports that the picture in Afghanistan is better than media reports would suggest. Excerpt:
Firefights and skirmishes are not uncommon, but are now very vocally blamed by Afghans on ‘outsiders’ like the Iran-based renegade Hekmatyar, Al Qa’eda, Pakistan’s ISI or ‘insiders’ like Defense Minister Fahim. That Kabulis publicly complain about this action is invigorating proof of the transformation of the culture into a meaningful civil society. Bombings and attacks are considered as personal affronts to the notable progress achieved through the hard work of the citizens themselves—with little help from NGOs. Terrorism is viewed as a mark of the increasing frustration and desperation of the reactionaries still operating here. They’ve lost their main chance; now all the Islamofascists can do is to try to temporarily disrupt an increasingly civil society strongly committed to stability and peace.
I certainly hope that Afghanistan proves to be a model for Iraq.


Sean: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 [+] |
...
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
UN in Iraq?

Aziz at Unmedia comments on Steven Den Beste's Iraq War Outline. Aziz says that he feels "vindicated" in his anti-war position because no WMD have been found. He then calls upon Bush to return to the UN and ask for help keeping the peace in Iraq.

Check the record from the UN, it was widely understood that Saddam had a WMD obsession and this has never been up for debate. The only contest was over what to do about it. The French wanted to string Saddam along on near continuous “inspections”, mainly because it made Saddam pliable on advantageous oil deals to Elf-totalfina.

The "16 words" do not explode the Iraqi WMD question. It doesn’t matter if the French supplied fake Niger docs, because uranium is Niger’s primary export and Iraq did buy “yellow-cake” from them in the 80’s. Therefore Iraq’s meetings in Niger in the 90’s are a legitimate concern.

Meanwhile, there was much more to Iraq’s WMD program than nukes. The entire world knew quite well before the war that Saddam indeed used chemical weapons and has never proven that he has abandoned their development. This isn’t controversial for me to say, it’s just honest.

This attempt, after the fact, to justify one's past anti-war stance upon the now "proven fact" that there are not WMD stockpiles in Iraq is wrong-headed. The fact that we have not yet found actual chemical warheads is understandable and also beside the point. Iraq is huge and our hold there is tenuous, therefore no one should expect better search results than we get in California pot production and smuggling.

WMD of the quality and type that Saddam has used do not store well, but are quickly made. Therefore the real result of the WMD program in Iraq was simply frightened scientists. Rolf Ekeus, who was executive chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraq from 1991 to 1997 and is now chairman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reminds us that:

"This combination of researchers, engineers, know-how, precursors, batch production techniques and testing is what constituted Iraq's chemical threat -- its chemical weapon. The rather bizarre political focus on the search for rusting drums and pieces of munitions containing low-quality chemicals has tended to distort the important question of WMD in Iraq and exposed the American and British administrations to unjustified criticism."

Rolf isn’t confused about Iraq and neither is Hans Blix: "It's correct to say that the IAEA was fooled by the Iraqis," Blix told the Guardian newspaper in September. "But the lesson was learned. ... Not seeing an indication of something does not lead automatically to the conclusion there is nothing."

Prior to their departure in 1998, Ekeus' inspection teams had destroyed or made unusable 48 long range missiles, 14 conventional missile warheads, 30 chemical warheads, "supergun" components, close to 40,000 chemical munitions, 690 tons of chemical weapons agents and the al-Hakam biological weapons plant.

Hans was mustered into Iraq in Nov of 2002, only three years after Ekeus’ team found their stockpiles of illegal WMD. Yet, by his own estimation, more than 80% of Han’s inspectors were completely inexperienced. Famously, they once “inspected” a disconnected fridge filled with rotten food at a closed military installation.

Hans’s crew was worthless from the get-go. They spent a year “mucking about” and didn’t find anything, but rather than recall his previous comment about “not getting fooled again”, Hans stepped eagerly into his chosen role as defender of Baghdad. The US has been criticized for not uncovering stockpiles either destroyed or moved since the days of Rolf Ekeas, but it was Hans who had promised not to get burned twice.

The US has been widely criticized for not “getting the job done the first time” in Iraq, but taking Baghdad in 1991 was the UN’s card to play and they chose not to. Ensuring ceasefire compliance since 1991 was also a UN duty and verifying the end of Saddam’s WMD program was one of the cease-fire conditions. The failures in Iraq belong to the UN.

The UN’s peace-making and keeping powers appear to be very limited. Korea just “celebrated” the 50th anniversary of their UN-brokered ceasefire with cross-border gunfire and the restart of North Korea’s own nuclear weapons program. The UN has a lousy reputation for bringing and keeping peace and this is why the Bush administration has not been eager to hand over post-war Iraq anytime soon.

I do think the UN could have a positive roll in post-war Iraq and elsewhere. I just don’t pretend that a committee of more than 100 unelected representatives from third world authoritarian governments can offer even the appearance of moral aproval, let alone a logistical panacea, in democracy building in Iraq. The UN should be limited to facilitating food and medical aide programs.

Would more troops be handy on the ground? Sure, but the US can always call up the Nat’l Guard (which is happening in my home state as we speak), rotate troops from desk jobs, and gather more support from the more than 37 nations of the so-called “Coalition of the Willing”. We certainly don’t need the UN and Iraq may well be much better off with out them.


Sean: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 [+] |
...
Monday, July 28, 2003
Graham Cracker

This morning NPR News brought us some insight into Senator Graham's foreign policy views. They explained that Graham voted against the war in Iraq and is still more concerned about Al Queda and Hamas "sleeper cells" in the US. He told his colleagues that "blood is going to be on your hands" if action is not taken to foil terrorist attacks in America.

I would like to know exactly how the Senator would go about rounding up these sleeper cells and catching the foreign agents. If he thought we should not have gone to war in Iraq, but instead should have sent the FBI after sleeper cells, how does the one interfere with the other? The best defense is often a strong offense.

"The past six weeks, our patrols have gotten more aggressive, much more frequent," said Healey, the infantry company commander. “We were aggressive and out there, looking to preclude attacks," as a result of the new tactics, "It is a lot quieter -- about half as much contact as in May."

They began to see a significant payoff from the series of operations early this month, Iraqis began to provide more information about the resistance.

"The effect of all these operations was that walk-in human intelligence doubled from early June to mid-July. What's more, he said, "it was very good quality."

“I figure you can either sit barricaded in your base camp or take the fight to the enemy," said Lt. Col. Larry "Pepper" Jackson, commander of an Army outpost on the outskirts of Bayji, "Our key to success is staying on the offense.”

As it is, we have not had one single terrorist attack on American soil since we went on the offensive in the Islamist world, in Afghanistan and Iraq. We took the battle to the enemy and successfully refocused their efforts on holding on to their own turf, in the hills of Afghanistan and the Sunni villages of Iraq. Meanwhile Syria yanked the chain on Hezbollah, Iran on Hamas, and now Saudi Arabia on Al Queda itself… all largely out of fear that they might be the next Saddam or Mullah Omar.

But MSNBC reports that the Senator thinks that we should take on the remaining nations in the Middle East that have been cooperating, as noted above, in recent days.

He also said he would favor military action against alleged terrorist training camps in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. He named five groups he said the United States should target both inside and outside the country, including Hezbollah, Hamas, the Abu Nidal group, the Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Palestine Liberation Front. None of the groups has launched attacks in the United States, according to intelligence officials.
I wouldnt necessarily complain about a serious program against these groups. But this suggestion from Dean, while he snipes at a war that has seriously disrupted these sames groups and offers the only proven affective model for such a program, strikes me as disengenious if not calculated politicing.

In recent polls the three democratic candidates that voted FOR the war in Iraq, Lieberman, Kerry, and Gephart, have led the pack. So, it appears the voters disagree with Graham on the threats of the day.

And then we have Graham's position on the "16 little words" and impeachment. First Graham claims that Bush's entire case for the war was based upon the threat of eminent nuclear attack from Saddam and that this claim was supported solely by the uranium from Niger story. Then Graham claims that the uranium story was a lie. Then Graham claims that the GOP made lying an impeachable offense under Clinton. Therefore... and he weasely leaves the suggestion open ended.

First off, the case for war in Iraq was always much much larger than the rather crude logic of eminent threat (read Steven Den Beste's piece in the Wall St. Journal's Opinion Journal).

Two, the threat of a nuclear Saddam came from MUCH more evidence than just the Niger story, and in fact the Niger story was based on much more than the two French forged documents. And neither the Niger story nor the overall threat of Saddam's nuke capacity have yet to be overturned.

And lastly, the GOP did not MAKE lying grounds for impeachment, rather they took advantage of the fact that lying under oath is an impeachable offense. I must point out that, important as it may be, the SOTU address is not given under oath. So, I find the unstated assertion that Bush is "as bad as Clinton" to be rather implausible and, well, weasely.

Honestly, Graham is kinda an unknown quantity to me. If anyone can explain his views to me, please provide a link or a comment.

Update: John Cole at Baloon Juice shared my obvious post title, and alot of commentary, what other title could you go for with this canidate?

Sean: Monday, July 28, 2003 [+] |
...
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Reader Feedback, Corporate Rights

A “gentle reader” named Jimmy wrote to ask me to explain my idea that “corporations should serve humans, not the other way around.” He also asserted several starting premises for the discussion. I hope he forgives me for “boiling them down” for the purposes of space and lucidity…

Jimmy wrote: “A ‘corporation’ is a 'person' for the purpose of contracting.”

No, a corporation is a ‘legal entity’ which may enter into contracts. That both people and corporations may enter into contracts should not serve to confuse anyone as to which is which. People are made of flesh and blood. Humans have limitations, like a fixed lifespan. Humans have needs, desires, and values. It is very important to keep this in mind when discussing the “rights” of businesses.

“The primary function of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value by providing goods and/or services in the marketplace.”

No, the primary function of a corporation is to shield the shareholders from contractual liability. Any person, made of flesh and blood, can attempt to provide goods and services to a market. The only reason to incorporate is to remove personal legal responsibility for the actions of the person(s) who is(are) in business, especially for debts incurred.

“Investors put their hard-earned money at risk to form a corporation.”

No, investors put money (you have no idea if it is ‘hard-earned’) into a corporation to spread and limit risk to that money, while doing something more profitable than simply staying at home and counting it by candlelight.

“Taken a little less literally, your statement would seem to suggest that the people who work at corporations, or own stock, are somehow thereby dehumanized.”

That would depend on the corporation they work for and the work they do. Did you see the recent film “One Hour Photo”? The employees at Save-Mart were indeed dehumanized and acted accordingly, but not because they work for a corporation, but rather because they worked for THAT corporation and as mere line workers. It is also true that the corporation, and the work that it does, is separated from the human ownership, and their values and conscience, by the intermediary of stockholding. This is not a revolutionary concept, or even a “liberal” one. It was specifically sited by economists as a root cause of the Enron scandal.

“Slogans tend to obscure the truth. ‘Putting people before profits’ is a good example, because it presupposes that there are no people harmed when profits are removed -- just stockholders. Breaking away from such slogans and looking at the reality tends to make people realize that what they're really against is fraud, not against consensual market transactions engaged in by people.”

Yes, my comment that “corporations should serve people, not the other way around” was a “slogan”. I am sure you understood that I was not attempting to stump a position, but simply reminding people that I am, in fact, a Liberal (and no, I don’t mean a Libertarian). Meanwhile, are people harmed when a business loses profit? Sometimes. Although, I have worked for many Fortune 500 companies and the line workers rarely felt either positive or negative profit results in their paychecks. But indirect benefit, or outright bribery, is not the issue that I care about.

“So, what sort of things, exactly, do you think corporations should be forced to do differently?”

Well, this is a huge discussion that will not be answered in one quick reply. But, as a personal opinion and desire, what do I want to happen to corporations to ensure “social justice”? Well, to put it simply, I want to roll back the clock.

***

The origin of the corporation was in mercantilist Europe of the 17th century. The Dutch East India Company, later merged with the English East India Company, and the Hudson’s Bay Company are the most famous. But the first American colonies were also corporations.

The advantage of these entities was that capital was pooled and individual investor risk thus reduced. The purpose of these entities was to attempt long distance and long-term projects such as trade with India. As such they were very useful to the crown and were granted their special debt and legal status in exchange for assisting in raising money for wars, in waging privateer campaigns, and in settling new territory.

This public-private relationship was continued in early America nearly unchanged. A direct vote of the legislature would grant incorporation to a proposed business group. The test for chartering was whether or not the corporation would perform a service for the "public good." In return, corporations were granted "the power to purchase and hold property collectively, and the right to sue or be sued collectively."

These enterprises were also often granted monopoly privileges in the field of the charter, such as hauling cargo on the canal they would build. But important corporate limitations included a limited life span, usually a few decades; limited geographical area, one state or one foreign trade partner; and a limitation upon the number and types of “chambers” or branches and upon owning other corporations.

This all changed in 1815 when Dartmouth college challenged an attempt by the New Hampshire legislature to re-write the school’s charter. The college won and the court held that the charter was not an act of the legislature, to be re-written at will, but was rather a contract with the legislature, to be governed by contract law. From then on the corporation would not be viewed as a functionary of the state, providing goods and services that the state could not, but would come to assume an existence of its own. This severely limited the state's control of corporate abuses and we have been on a downhill slide ever since.

In 1896, New Jersey passed the revolutionary "General Revision Act," permitting unlimited market share, removing all time limits on corporate charters, and reducing shareholder powers. And in 1910 New Jersey repealed its rule baring corporations from owning other corporations. Other states followed suit and liberalized their corporate laws (and lowered their tax rates). In the ensuing “rush to the bottom” New Jersey was soon trumped by Delaware as the most pro-corporate state in the union. In 1899 Delaware passed its "General Incorporation Law" allowing corporations to write their own rules of governance. Today, nearly 60% of all Fortune 500 companies (especialy banks, which are not limited in the fees they may charge customers) are incorporated in Delaware.

Also in 1896, Corporations became "people". This fiction was created in the Supreme Court Case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company. It is often stated that in this case the court “decided” that corporations were people. This is not actually correct. The court case only decided an issue of local taxation on fenced land abutting the SP rail line.

The comment about the personhood of a corporation was made in the introductory remarks of presiding judge Morrison R. Waite as a way of avoiding any attack upon his subsequent tax ruling. Unfortunately these comments were more scandalous, and therefore worthy of print, than the verdict itself. And the next day it was this comment that appeared in headlines through out the country.

The idea of corporate personhood has become an element of political dogma for many. However, like the 1980’s SCOTUS case which upheld anti-Sodomy laws, not all “decisions” are “correct” and some are later reversed. I believe that this issue of corporate personhood can, should, and will be revised.

***

Why does it matter if corporate power has been growing by leaps and bounds over the centuries? Because the same qualities that serve to protect investors from financial risk also serve to insulate them from moral responsibility. This lack of morality is what makes a business inhumane.

The military expert Lt Col. David Grossman explains that the three qualities needed to increase lethality in warfare are protection, mobility, and the group… not necessarily firepower. Soldiers don’t like to shoot people. Most rifles found on Napoleonic battlefields were found fully loaded. An examination of trees at Civil War battlefields revealed that a lot of shots were aimed over the heads of the enemy. Place a rifle in the hands of a soldier, ask him to execute one enemy soldier, and leave him to do it alone and his nerve will usually fail him. But place a crew of nine men in a bomber high over the heads of the enemy and they can kill thousands.

Ok, companies are not armies in any real sense. But they do share many characteristics, even vocabulary. Today's businesses can travel the globe and change people's allegiances, attitudes, and welfare. How corporations are viewed by people and how they themselves view people matters a great deal.

I would like us to remember that the corporation is a human tool, not the other way around. I would like us to remember that people do the work, people benefit, and people suffer. When a company goes under it is not the same as a sports team losing a game, instead real people are fired and real retiree’s pensions disappear.

When a company builds a product that kills people it as not simply an act of the invisible hand of Adam Smith’s market place. Instead, a real designer, manager, and executive failed to act or acted evilly. When corporations behave badly some real people should probably go to jail. Bush's "torte reform" would end class-action suits as we know them by limiting damages and the number of petitioners. What would that accomplish? Did you see Fight Club? Brad Pitt's character's job was to determine which was more expensive, a recall or paying off the lawsuits, his job would get much easier after "reform".

I would like to see a return to strict rules governing corporate mergers and acquisitions. Despite talk of a “merger of equals” or a “pooling of interests” a merger is rarely a synergistic affair. Instead, one company merely shoots the other in the head and eats its carcass. At the very least they could call it like it is, and let the affair be taxed and judged accordingly.

I would like to see an end to private monopolies. Even to the point of creating a “socialist” entity to compete with a private monopoly. For instance, the only city in California with the lights still on during the Enron engineered “California Energy Crisis” was LA, because the city owned its own power company.

On the other hand, some industries, like garbage hauling naturally require a monopoly in order to ensure efficiency (you wouldn’t want nine garbage trucks roaming your neighborhood on a Saturday morning doing pick-ups). But such organizations also naturally require heavy regulation. We need to thus manage monoplies in America with out excited cries of "socialism" from the right wing.

I would like to see a return to the “charter for purpose” and the limited time frame. I want to know for what purpose a company is formed and how long it will be around, then let me invest in it and purchase from it as I will. At the end of the day its investors and customers alike would be able to clearly judge the performance of the company and its directors - their principles and their strategy.

Honestly, I am not an economist and I have not thought through all these options and ideas. But it is no accident that the most convincing and successful sci-fi movies in America focus on dystopian visions in which robots or businesses take over the world. Reestablishing human primacy over their creations, be they machines or ideas, is vital to ensuring a human future worth looking forward to.

Sean: Thursday, July 24, 2003 [+] |
...
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
The Market Allstars

- guest financial commentary from Jack Whitsel, banker and options trader

July 15 marked the 74th Baseball All-Star game and I followed the action on TV. As Hank Blalock belted the game-winning home run I could not help but make comparisons between America's two favorite past times. Playing the stock market and playing baseball have more in common than you might think.

Baseball loves the homer, no doubt, but serious fans know that the game is really won by base hits. Sure, every team has their sluggers and our portfolios should too, but expecting your star players to always step up to the plate and hit a homerun would be folly. Home run batters have a tendency to strike out more frequently than the base hitter. Over seven innings wins usually come from the quite line drives, not the occasional grand-slams.

This principal is shared by both baseball and investing. Investors that go for the fences every time they enter the market also leave the game losing most of their capital. An accumulated amount of base hits is much more likely to rack up a nice score in profits over time. When investing, particularly as a speculator, we should stick to this game plan.

There will be occasions where an opportunity will present itself for you to swing deep for centerfield. These should be studied with scrutiny. Going for broke may leave you broken. Also keep in mind, that sometimes when attempting a base hit, you may find yourself with a homerun. Like baseball, those are the most gratifying.

As in baseball, sometimes we have to make a sacrifice. Baseball uses this strategy to advance a runner on base at the expense of the current batter. Investment sacrifices are no different. Sometimes we have to dump our bad positions in order to use the capital for more profitable opportunities.

Baseball is also won by good defense. In the market, hedging your positions provides a strong defensive foundation. We have to keep a good eye on those fastballs and curveballs and be ready to adjust our positions accordingly

Even the best investors, like the best batters, strikeout from time to time. This does not mean that the game is over. We need to keep coming up to the plate of the best game in town.

Keep in mind that investing, like baseball, is a “learning” sport. It takes practice to get good at it and even old timers can learn something new. Remember to learn form your losers and gain confidence from your winners. And finally… try to have some fun out there. When it isn’t fun anymore, or you have too much riding on the game, get out

”All-Star Jack”

Sean: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 [+] |
...
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Justice...

Saddam's sons are history. Here is the inside scoop from the family friend of a soldier involved in the fire fight.

And here is a Reuters report on the incident. But American media has video!. Yahoo claims confirmation. And here is a detailed timeline of the events.

"After the firefight in Mosul, about 1,000 people gathered outside the smoldering villa, some expressing delight, others cursing the Americans. Hours later, gunfire erupted throughout Baghdad, making travel in the capital very dangerous. The shooting was believed to be celebratory as news spread of the sons' deaths."



I am a born and raised Democrat. I switched to the Green Party when I finally realized that the Democrats were owned by the same corp interests as the GOP. But when the Greens came out in support of Terrorists this last year it left me homeless.

I am still very Liberal... I believe that corporations should serve humans, not the other way around. I would protect the environment. And I would pay more to schools than to prisons. I also believe in Evolution and Gravity. I also support separation of church and state. I think this counts me as a Liberal.

But I also support fully our War On Terrorism, especially Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe they are perfect expressions of America's centuries long commitment to Liberalism, in fact.

And I, for one, am THRILLED that two murderous, rapacious, mental cases like Saddam's spawn are gone from the map... course I think they got off a bit too easy considering their past. ;)

Lots of other Liberals feel the same way... check Michael Totten and Roger Simon.

French Flames.

Saddam's sons are toast, what could top that? The Eiffel Tower spontaneously combusts.

"Two firemen came up the stairs carrying axes and wearing breathing apparatus. Then we saw an elevator going up and it was stuffed with firemen."

The important thing is that "Security service officials said nobody was hurt and that 2,000 to 3,000 people were evacuated".

And then the stock market closed up... the gods finaly smiled on us this day.

Update: Readers respond to BBC poll "Is the killing of Uday and Qusay a good thing?"
No. The death of Saddam's two sons is not the end of Saddam's dynasty. This is like igniting a fire. This is going to cause Saddam's loyalists to becoming more aggressive and suicidal towards the coalition forces in Iraq.
-George Oyemu, Canada

Non-judicial killings and target killings are against International law. I do not believe in the killing of human beings without trial. The US/UK forces had no legitimate reason to attack the people of Iraq and so the "intelligence" against Saddam's sons is questionable at best. It is sad when a human being is killed.
-Arshad Khan, Canada

Why not arrest them?
-Robert van den Heuvel, Netherlands

Predicatble leftist European post-modern appeasenick crap. Hey guys, 9 marines went to the door and asked to search the premises. They were denied. They returned with more troops and surrounded the building. Then the occupants began shooting at marines, who then shot back (per "rules of engagement"). This was NOT an "extra-judicial killing"... heck, there isn’t even a "judiciary" for it to be extra from. No matter what you think about the legitimacy of the argument for the war, war there is in Iraq. These guys were not civilians, nor simply criminal, they were murderers and torturers and the most feared symbols of a regime that has refused to go quietly. Killing them is a "good thing".

At least the Anglosphere gets it:
Apart from being tyrants these two also were hated by many top Bathists within the old regime. No one will shed tears at their demise. And it will be a big psychological blow to Saddam's supporters and a boost to those trying to rebuild Iraq.
-Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

I may only be in school still, but why can't the rest of the world see what I see. The war should have been justified with just the promise of removing an evil man from power and giving the Iraqi people a 2nd chance, not this "WMD" saga. The death of these 2 is a victory. I hope to visit Iraq someday when it's a nice stable democracy. (Thanks to the Coalition forces)
-Robert Langdon, Australia

Sorry, but good riddance. Draw a line under it and find Saddam. The US troops have done a brilliant job and deserve a pat on the back.
-Andrew K, UK

Yes. Who else is left there? Saddam is all alone now. He can't do anything.
-Meena, India

Yup, two down, two to go. It would be nice to get Saddam and Osama now. No, this wont magicaly solve all our problems, but it is a start, a good start. We are starting to get our turkeys back.

Update: The NYTimes has reaction from a Baghdad Barber shop...
When one critic of the occupation noted that the Americans had not added so much as a bar of soap to the monthly government rations that most Iraqis have been living on for years, his friend shot back, "As long as we are free from military service, I can do without soap for the rest of my life."

There was some grumbling that the sons of a president should not die this way, even if they had oppressed all Iraqis. One suggested it was a sad thing any time Muslims are killed by outsiders.

"I hope they are not dead," the barber said after a while.

"What are you talking about? I want them butchered, butchered," said his older brother Yasir, who had just walked in, drawing a finger across his throat.

I sympathize with people feeling bad, regardless, that symbols, chosen or not, of their country should be brought so low... but then again, these men brought themselves so low...

Sean: Tuesday, July 22, 2003 [+] |
...
Sunday, July 20, 2003
vs.

Canada...

Even Better Than The Real Thing?

Fisking CNN: a recent article on CNN worried the bejusus out of me. It appears that some of our lefty friends are once again taking off for Canada over a US-led war. What could this mean? Is it Vietnam already?

For all they share economically and culturally, Canada and the United States are increasingly at odds on basic social policies -- to the point that at least a few discontented Americans are planning to move north and try their neighbors' way of life. A husband and wife in Minnesota, a college student in Georgia, a young executive in New York. Though each has distinct motives for packing up, they agree the United States is growing too conservative and believe Canada offers a more inclusive, less selfish society.
Wait til they get to Canada and realize that Canadians are just like Americans in nearly every way that matters.

"For me, it's a no-brainer," said Mollie Ingebrand, a puppeteer from Minneapolis who plans to go to Vancouver with her lawyer husband and 2-year-old son. “It's the most amazing opportunity I can imagine. To live in a society where there are different priorities in caring for your fellow citizens."
Um, if you have to move to Canada to find a society that accepts "different priorities in caring for your fellow citizens" then you must have some darned strange priorities. I mean you cant find one out of 50 states that shares your views? And do you really think that Canada has all that different of priorities? Man maybe we ought to think about arming that border again.

For decades, even while nurturing close ties with the United States, Canadians have often chosen a different path -- establishing universal health care, maintaining ties with Cuba, imposing tough gun control laws. Two current Canadian initiatives, to decriminalize marijuana and legalize same-sex marriage, have pleased many liberals in the United States and irked conservatives.
Um. California and New Mexico both have serious legal marijuana movements and they too have had “initiatives”. Initiatives don’t always lead to legislation. Meanwhile, if you cant live in a country that doesn’t allow legal drug use… um, you are way more than just “liberal”, you might even need to seek treatment.

New York executive Daniel Hanley, 31, was arranging a move for himself and his partner, Tony, long before the Canadian announcement about same-sex marriage. But the timing delights him; he and Tony now hope to marry in front of their families after they emigrate to British Columbia.
Vermont and Hawaii both recognize gay marriages and it looks very much like the entire nation might soon get this right too. You don’t have to move to a different country.

"Canada has an opportunity to define itself as a leader," Hanley said. "In some ways, it's now closer to American ideals than America is."
Biggest horse crap slug this century. Canada was founded by the same economic immigrants that settled the US. In fact it was part of the same colonies as the New England branch. It got its first chance for differentiation when American colonists loyal to the crown moved north during the Revolution. That is, Canada was defined by the very refutation of American ideals. It currently is not even a Republic. It has a Governor General who can disband Parliament or push legislation and he/she is appointed by the British Crown. In fact, the Upper House of Canada's Parliamet is made up of 105 Senators appointed by the Governor General, who again is appointed by the Queen. They have all the powers of the Commons except they may not innitiate financial legislation. You can talk to me all day about how “the queen would never exercise that power", but I wont be impressed. The point is that Canada technicaly shares only its economic system and a general respect for Liberal political values with the US. Oh, it is a fine country, and in practice is little different from The States. But it hardly stands “closer to American ideals than America”, that’s a load of crap.

Though many gay American couples are now marrying in Canada, virtually all return home, hoping court rulings will lead to official recognition of their unions. Hanley's situation is different because Tony -- a Southeast Asian -- is not a U.S. citizen. The men worried that Tony could be forced to leave the United States after his student visa expires in two years: They were elated when Canada's immigration agency said they could move there as partners.
Right, so, rather than follow the rules and reapply for a visa extension or citizenship, these two find it easier just to move to Canada? Whatever. I wonder how well they will respect Canada's rules or follow their red tape?

Hanley, who works for a Fortune 500 company in Manhattan, doesn't know how the move will affect his career. "It's a challenge, it's scary," he said. "We'll have to drop everything we know here, go up there and figure it out."
Well, its just a guess, but I imagine the economic opportunities for a high power NY exec will not be quite as good in Canada. Not to mention, if you change your mind in a decade and want to move back, you will be in economicaly sore straights. Your Canadian home will not bring you as much equity as your Americane one, nor will your job pay as well, nor will you be able to retain as much of your income. Why? Well, I guess they are not closer to American values, like free enterprise and liberal trade, than America after all, eh?

Thomas Hodges, a computer systems major at Georgia State University, said his dismay with American politics started him thinking last year about going abroad. He recently wrote an article in a campus journal titled, "Why I Am Moving To Canada." "I'm thinking about Toronto, though I hear it's cold up there," Hodges, a lifelong Southerner, said in a telephone interview.
Um, not to be totally obvious or anything… but you live in GEORGIA!!! You nincumpoop. If you are upset that Georgie is too conservative, try Minnesota or California, moving to Canada is kinda going overboard.

Hodges, 21, complained about a "neo-conservative shift" in the United States and praised Canada's approach to health care and education. "The U.S. educational system is unfair -- you have to live in certain areas to go to good schools," he said.
Oooh, it’s totally unfair! You actually have to live in the state that pays the taxes that support the school, or you have to pay a little extra. I wonder how Canadians are going to respond to Americans who move up their and expect free education after having paid zero dollars to the Canadian tax system. Mmm?

Rene Mercier, spokesman for Canada's immigration department, said any upsurge in U.S.-to-Canada immigration based on current political developments won't be detectable for a few years, because of the time required to process residency applications. During the Vietnam War, U.S. emigration to Canada surged as thousands of young men, often accompanied by wives or girlfriends, moved to avoid the draft. But every year since 1977, more Canadians have emigrated to the United States than vice versa -- the 2001 figures were 5,894 Americans moving north, 30,203 Canadians moving south.
Right, so in the past the majority of Americans moving to Canada were technicaly criminals. Again, sorry Canada, we tend to send you those who have less than a high level of respect for the Rule of Law. And today more that 5 times as many Canadians move south each year. According to the logic of this article, or those quoted in it, that must be because America is so much closer to Canadian values than Canada, right?

Mollie Ingebrand, 34, said she has felt an affinity for Canada for many years, fueled partly by respect for its health care system. Her doubts about the United States go back even further, to a childhood spent with liberal parents in a relatively conservative part of Ohio. "In school I was always told this is the best country on earth, and everyone else wants to be American, and that never really rang true to me," she said. "As I got older, it occurred to me there were other choices."
Ok, so here the truth comes out, these people, and this article, are not motivated by any serious issues with American society or government. Rather, Canada was built up as an ideal by this woman’s leftist parents. And now she is moving because of the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq. For her, moving is itself an act of American politics, and this American press coverage makes it all worth the while. Again, she grew up in a “relatively conservative part of Ohio”. So this is just more of the politics of alienation. Why not move to a more liberal part of Ohio, or another US state?

Her husband, George, 44, has spent little time in Canada, but said it seems to offer a more relaxed, less competitive way of life. He has no qualms about leaving his law practice and selling the family's upscale home in Minneapolis. "I don't idealize Canada the way my wife does, but I'm ready for an adventure," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to be facing. That's what I'm reveling in."
Ah, I see, so this move isn’t an act of desperation by a persecuted political minority. Rather it is “an adventure”, as are most moves by most people who are wealthy lawyers and businessmen who decide to “get out and see the world” and live someplace exotic and new for a while.

The Ingebrands have completed the first batch of paperwork to apply for Canadian residency, hoping their talents and finances compensate for lack of specific job offers. As Minnesotans, they look forward to Vancouver's wet but mild climate: "Green all year, no mosquitoes," Mollie said.
Hey, look at that, paperwork, just like here in the states! They hope that being rich will compensate for their not having any job offers? WTF? My wife and I live a few hours from Vancouver, one of our favorite cities on Earth. We wanted to move there to experience something new, just like these folks. But we were not likely to give up our US citizenship. We just liked the scenery and wanted the switch for a while. Guess what? If you don’t work in an industry that Canada is strapped for, at the moment, like health care workers, they don’t let you in. Thinking that you can bypass this because you are rich, that is a classically American attitude. I am sure Canada will welcome you and your values right in. Oh, and like I said, I live near Vancouver… you aint getting away from mosquitoes (there is even a Vancouver watershed called Mosquito Creek, at least do a little research bub) and the summer months may be nearly as hot as in Georgia (with out the humidity). You will escape Minnesota’s grueling winters, but then again, you could have got that in California.

At Georgia State, Hodges said some conservative schoolmates have challenged his proposed move to Canada, saying he would be abandoning his homeland. Conversely, Mollie Ingebrand says some of her friends -- people who share her left-of-center views -- argue that she should stay at home to battle for changes here.
Right, either way, Conservative or Liberal, if you have a problem with American politics your moving to another country isn’t likely to solve that issue. Times change, people change, politics in a Democracy are mercurial. These people who say they are moving because America is shifting too far to the right are reactionary jerks. Listen, we just came off of 8 years of Clintonianism. Boo hoo that Dubya won and has had three years of his four year term. America lists back and forth, left and right. It is a healthy, good thing. I wouldn’t want to live in an America ruled solely by either the GOP or the Democrats, by either the left or the right. That is a kind of distopia that I can live with out, thank you. But the one American value these people seem to discount is that you CAN have a different view than others, you don’t have to move out, and you will get your day in the sun someday soon enough… well, these people wont, they are moving to Canada… the one party (leftist) state.

"I've been there and done that," Molly said. "I don't want to stay and fight anymore. I can have that bittersweet love for my country from somewhere else."
Um, no… it wont be your country anymore. Bu-buy.

+++

Listen, Canada is a great country. And they are (usually) wonderful neighbors. But I want to break some of the Leftist mystique on the idea that Canada, or any European country, is “closer to America’s ideals than America” or are even merely “better places to live”. I have heard this for a while now, and when I question my friends on the facts they usually come up empty. So, lets take a look at this.

-

Canada has a great health care system? Bullcrap. Most Canadian doctors move south immediately after receiving the free or subsidized education. Why? Because we pay more and they have less red tape to wade through. My own general physician is from Alberta. He used to work as the team doc for a major sports franchise, but he gave it up and moved here because nothing else made economic sense. So, how good can their medicine be if their best and brightest doctors live and work in the US?

Meanwhile, Canada has one-tenth the population of the US and brings in less than one twelfth the GDP, at less than one trillion (US) dollars, and their personal per capita is $10k less. Thus the support for medical innovation and infrastructure is way higher in the US. We have larger universities, better teaching hospitals, and more advanced specialty clinics. And most Canadian cities are right up against the US border, near large US cities like Seattle, Chicago, and NY. Thus most Canadians have to cross the border for advanced medical treatment, the same as Arab and African elites.

Although Canada’s health care cannot compare to that of the US for medical advances or efficiencies, please note that this is NOT an argument in favor of HMO’s and the US medical system in general. It might well be that if the US switched to Canada’s system we would all be better off. But that is not my point here, rather I am arguing that your personal level of care will not go up by moving to Canada (or France).

-

And if you truly think that Canada, France, or Scandinavia has a wonderful, thriving, and totally equitable, socialist economy (and society), you need to do some serious research.

In fact, many of the largest corporations that you are used to buying products from at the mall (how about your Ericsson cellular phone or your blue-tooth enabled stereo?) come from large publicly owned (that would be “privately owned” to a Socialist, that means listed on a stock-market) companies from Scandinavia. Not very socialist are they?

And you might be interested to know that Sweden has recently gone through an entire revamping of their tax structure and business laws. Why? Because their economy was tanking. Companies such as IKEA were even relocating overeas. So what did they do? They liberalized the rules for laying people off, they cut corporate tax rates, and they ended some state subsidies for poorly performing industries. Not very into social justice are they?

Europe and Canada have their own wealthy corporatists and monopoly industrialists. And they have just as many millionaires and billionaires. However, they can also keep their titles of nobility and inherited lands. Every country in Europe except France still has a monarch (actually France still has several competing monarchists, including a Bonaparte “pretender”, they just don’t have official government recognition). Not very into equality are they?

Canada has been ruled by Jean Chretien, a lawyer, for more than a decade. Recent scandals included the fact that Chretien’s son had significant financial stakes in several oil companies with contracts in Iraq. A Privy Council scandal in which favorable contracts were awarded to companies with close ties to government leaders. Several provinces have also had to sue the government in Ottawa for failure to pay their portion of provincial health care costs. Then there was the complete and utter failure to handle the SARS outbreak in Toronto. Canada also has its own problems with police misconduct and minorities. Not very clean and honest are they?

A final nail in the lefty dream’s coffin should be environmental practices. Canada is enormous, bigger than the US, but with a smaller population. Their western frontier did not “close” in the 1800’s and they still have the wildcatter’s mentality when it comes to natural resources. Canada is infamous for its strip mining, clear-cut logging, and oil drilling. They also over fish maritime fisheries and have horribly polluted rivers. Not very green are they?

Meanwhile any discussion of other so-called Socialist benefits between the US and Canada (or Europe) is inherently unfair since the US spends so much money on the defense of Canada and Europe. Arguing with me on this one is dead in the water… Canada just suspended its entire navy because they cannot afford it (and don’t need it since we guard their shores for them –out of our own self-interest). And Britain, who refuses to let America do all the heavy lifting, strains mightly under the weight of their social services system.

-

Is America all that different from the Canadian and European economic reality? We have companies with government granted monopolies, Waste Management, for one. We bail out our most important industries with public funds, Chrysler Automobiles and American Airlines. And we use tarrifs and subsidies to protect our farmers and steel workers. And you want to talk about unions? Again, they are not perfect and we are not that different.

+++

My point is not to needlessly tear down Canada. As I have said before, and I meant it, Canada is a great country with some wonderful people… who are very nearly identical to Americans in most ways, from consumer habits to politics. But we should not make them into a fairy tale image with which to beat the US over the head. They are just like the US in many good and bad ways.

In fact, for all this talk of the differences between the US and Europe all I see is smoke. On both sides of the Atlantic, and the US-Canada border, you have shared expectations, desires and values. We all trade in a mostly Free Market, we all claim respect the Rule of Law, and we all honor a Free Press just as much as we complain about it.

Whether you are a Frenchman or a Californian you expect to be able to own private property, to build what you will on it, and to post a no-trespassing sign. You expect to drop by the local coffee shop or tavern and grab a paper wherein you will find the very latest on local and national government scandals. And you also would like to have free medical care, free education, and a guaranteed pension. But ultimately you value your right to protest, to march, and to vote for these programs and their political champions.

There are other, differences, aesthetic differences to be sure. Just look at any photo of Southern France, the beautiful countryside filled with picturesque stone villages and dotted with ancient castles and cathedrals. But I don’t give credit for not throwing away or rebuilding good stuff with garbage. Boston and all of New England have similar attractions and the French are just as likely to build a Pompidou Center as NY to build the Guggenheim.

We all value a beautiful built environment… but developers, on both sides, are not building much of it right now… so whoever has more of the old stuff comes out ahead. This is an issue of jealousy, not a difference of values. Ask any American eager to visit the Rhineland this summer why they are going and they will likely mention the scenery, the food, and the music. Meanwhile, ask any German why they are going to Miami this summer and they will likely mention the scenery, the food, and the music. We do tend to value the same things.

-

The only real difference that I can find is that the US pays for and uses a large military to protect all of the above. Because we spend more on these necessities, Europe and Canada get to experiment with more health care, education, and pension subsidies than in the US. And because Canadians (and Europeans) are essentialy unarmed, Muslim extremists do not see them as a threat, yet. And that is it, the largest single difference of the two societies is that they will not/cannot fight for their own values. Is this a reason to move and what does it say about those who do?

Western nations are all beset with scandal and intrigue just like anyone else. But we have more of an opportunity to clean ourselves up than most other non-Western nations. Putting Canada (or Europe) upon a pedestal, moving to their fair shores, and disrespecting the US is not the best way to achieve change within the US... and if you don’t care about achieving change, or if you are tired of political struggle, then maybe you DO belong in the Old Country (or its last colonies). But dont be too suprised if it turns out to be much the same as home.

Sean: Sunday, July 20, 2003 [+] |
...
Saturday, July 19, 2003
White House Brawl

CNN reports that police were called into to hawl off unruly Democrats who threatened to derail a GOP coveted vote on pension reform. Luckily for the rest of America, this is NOT a police state.

According to a Democratic aide, the police came, scratched their heads, referred the matter to the House sergeant at arms, who told the committee members to work it out themselves. The Democrats eventually left.
I don’t know how important the brawl itself was. The GOP committee chair claims that a Democratic Congressman made threats to another GOP congressman. Anyway, what I found significant is what the cops didn’t do. Good for you boys. Now, if only our politicians would act as grown up as our cops.



Sean: Saturday, July 19, 2003 [+] |
...
Friday, July 18, 2003
The Anglosphere Tony Goes To Washington

Any reader of imperial history knows that order and disorder are traditional British concerns. As are human rights and liberal political values. As are the meaning and role of America and its relation to the mother country.

Tony Blair dropped in on Congress this week to interrupt our regular partisan struggles for money and power to reminder us of the real world out there. In a stirring speech he asks us not to shrink before the world "street" but to stand by our own values. Because our values ARE the values of the world.

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere--anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
On a quibble I note this line, "Our new world rests on order. The danger is disorder. And in today's world, it can now spread like contagion." And I shudder.

Yes, what he said is true. Yes, this is another way of stating Kaplan's premise that the world is divided into spheres of light, and spheres of dark, order and disorder. Sure... but then again, variety is the spice of life, diversity is a good unto itself (right Supreme Court?).

Even as we work to fight terror, to support the Rule of Law, and uphold universal values we must remind ourselves that this is efficacious. We do it because it makes our life easier. But order is not an unmitigated good.

We must preserve room in our ordered, democratic, consumerist societies for anarchy, dissent, and alternative lifestyles. We must preserve ancient ways and ancient values, where they are desired. Otherwise the world that we preserve with order may not be worth saving.

But I am sure we all already knew that. Right?

UPDATE: only slightly off topic, check this survey, hat tip to Court Schuett, what Baghdad really thinks, three months later.


Sean: Friday, July 18, 2003 [+] |
...
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Democratic Dementia (And Leftist Lunacy)

I think I finally have the Democratic Party all figured out.

Back in the 90’s I flew to Southern California to visit my grandparents. I have been flying down to SoCal for visits like this one since I was a grasshopper. I didn’t know then that it would be my last visit to them in their own home.

I didn’t focus my stay on spending time visiting. Instead I took day trips, I visited my uncle, and I even drove down to San Diego for a night on the town. In hindsight I wish that I had spent more time talking with them.

Then again, maybe I didn’t want to talk more. During that stay my grandfather began peppering conversations with insulting racial comments. They would follow upon some denunciation of the political scene or even after complaining about the weather. The funny thing is that they were always said under his breath, in a knowing aside to me, hissed like he knew they were wrong.

This was entirely unlike my grandpa. In his working days he served a Los Angeles community as an elected official for 30 years. He spoke Spanish and got along very well with his neighbors even as the old neighborhood filled with blacks and Latinos. I believed that he truly held no racist opinions. So what about now?

Well, like I said, that was the last visit to the folks in their own home. Shortly after my grandmother asked my uncle for help. Grandpa’s health was failing and they needed to move somewhere closer to family, like my mom. So my uncle sold their house, ordered a moving truck, and up they came.

I drove down and said hello as many times as I could. I helped move some of the furniture from their home into the retirement apartment and I made sure all the pictures on the wall were level. Grandpa once had an eye for art and I didn’t want him fussing.

Grandma seemed very appreciative and thanked me many times. We had some good talks and I was happy she was closer to our home. But Grandpa, who was nearly 6 foot and 220 pounds, much still muscle at 80 years old, backed away from me one day and told a nurse that I was going to “beat him up”. What was that about?

Soon enough we were told that Grandpa was suffering from dementia and had been for some time. Then we were told it was full time Alzheimer’s. Grandpa forgot that he smoked, which was incredible. Then he forgot who grandma was, which was horrible.

He ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Evidently this is a common "end of days" for Alzheimer's patients. Maybe they forget to cover themselves when they are cold or to come in out of the rain, I don’t know. When I saw him last in the hospital he was trying to get up and leave, he didn't even know that he was sick.

He gripped my hand (ouch, still like a vise) and mouthed, "Help me". But there was nothing that I could do except ask the nurse to keep him comfortable, as if that were possible. My grandfather was out of control and beyond assistance. Finally, on Sept 10, 2001 he passed away - yup, the day before 9-11.

A few days ago a Lefty friend of mine pulled me aside, looked at me conspiratorially, and then hissed “do you know what our problem is [with terrorism]? It’s the f-ing Jews!” I recoiled in horror, literally. Then I managed to follow up with a lame “Well, what do you want them to do, move into the sea?” The conversation petered out quickly.

What was going on? Why was my Liberal friend suddenly talking like Pat Buchanan? Had he lost his mind too? Is dementia catching?

I think mental illness can be triggered by losing control or facing defeat. My grandfather left politics and the public world, but he still saw terrible things on TV every night. Similarly, the so-called “peace camp” lost the war against the war and then had to watch it live.

The Democrats lost the Presidency and Congress. They have had a hard time standing up to the GOP on the hill. And PR assaults aimed at Dubya appear to just wither and die.

Today the Left is “in the wilderness” and is looking for someone to blame. After 9-11 they can't blame their fellow Americans. Someone else must take the fall, and for nearly all of recorded history everyone has had the same scapegoat, “the f-ing Jews”.

How about comming up with a plan and some decent canidates? Rather than trying to knock down others, how about standing up and offering a convincing alternative? If there isn’t a cure for this insanity soon, then the Democrats might well pass away the night before (or after) the next election.

UPDATE: Michael Totten and I appear to have had the same itch and to have scratched at it in the same night... French Dementia.

UPDATE: For those who think it is unfair that I ascribe anti-Semitism to the Democratic Party as a whole, here is an echo from within the party:
Toni Goodale, a Democratic Party fundraiser in New York who is Jewish, says anti-Semitism is more than a memory. "I know it's out there because nobody thinks I'm Jewish," says Goodale, who is married to an Episcopalian. "I hear the disparaging remarks that are made." She says people talk about "what's going on in the world" and suggest that " 'maybe all this wouldn't be happening if we didn't have to worry about Jews.' "
This is not an isolated issue for the Democrats, or those on the Left. Blaming the 'other' is a common theme for the vanquished. When the GOP was on the other end of this stick, in Nixon's day, he blamed the 'liberal media' and for the next several years it was the GOP who was “in the wilderness”.

My specific point is that I find anti-Semitism, or the tolerance of such, within the/any party to be a huge turn-off. But the larger point is that blaming others rather than proposing an alternative is a disease of the mind. In order to have political relevance and personal appeal it needs to be cured.

The Dems need to formulate a positive approach to the world and then advocate that position, not simply pull away from people (like Israel) and snipe at Bush's perceived faux paus (like the Nigeria debacle). I used to voice this complaint about the GOP, their rejection of international engagement in Kyoto and the non-pro treaty. But lately they seem to have a better "road map" than the Left.

FEEDBACK AND UPDATE: Feed back from readers and bloggers... Oliver at Like Kryptonite To Stupid complains that I was equating Democratic political opposition, any at all, to anti-Semitism. Ummm... well, me thinks the good Oliver misread my post... probably because of the framing from Heretical Ideas, where Alex Knapp suggests that I am being disingenuous to complain about common political infighting.

I was not equating Democratic opposition to anti-Semitism. I was equating Democratic anti-Semitism to anti-Semitism. And I wasn’t being disingenuous either, politics is politics and it should be bitterly contested. I would expect this from either party.

If you have a principle then stand on it and don’t give into the phony baloney about “bi-partisanship”. But hating Bush is not a platform, neither is appeasement, and neither is racism against Jews. And when I find anyone from either party acting bigoted against Jews or homosexuals, right or left, I will call them on it.

Rather than sniping at the other party, or blaming another nation for our "war on terror", we need to be "forumalating a plan". What plan do the Dems have except complaining about Bush? When at least a dozen of the Dems have to cross party lines in order for Bush to appoint a judge, pass a tax cut, or log a forest, it is the Dems who look disengenious.

I don’t know why Dems can’t see that this is a Democratic problem. Maybe it is because it is not all Dems. It has been rightly pointed out to me by Mike Silverman, in a correction, that the problem is only partially a Democratic one and rightly sits with the Leftists. While I agree that it isnt fair to conflate the too, as Mike notes, the Dems are quite responsible for not helping me to make the distinction.

If you read the press in Europe, as Meryl Yourish points out; then have a conversation with a Lefty here at home, like Roger Simon describes; you will know exactly what I am talking about. The Left has become reactionary and closed-minded. It will not tolerate dissent amongst its ranks. And both Iraq and Israel are hair triggers to pull.

What I quoted was a real conversation that I had with a real Democrat, one echoed a dozen times over. I live in Portland, OR. We have ELF and PETA hq’s here and are famous by the GOP as “the Beirut of the West” for giving Republican politicians a hard time. And for that, I am proud.

But the comments blaming the Jews for the “war on terror” are real and really come from Democrats. Yes, as some have pointed out to me since this post went up, there are many mullet heads that also hate Jews and are pretty vocal about it, but I expect that from them. I do not expect it from a tweed-wearing humanities professor.

Democrats fighting back?! I wouldn’t complain about that. I have been waiting for it for years. The lack thereof was why I voted for Nader. But how you fight back also matters.

Slinging inaccurate mud will only get us all dirty. Yet, I don’t know how many conversations I have had with Dems who simply say “That darned Bush!” And when I ask them what exactly he has done that they are upset about they can only start and stop with the war in Iraq.

In fact, when questioned about Israel or Iraq they come up blank. To be fair, some of the professors that I am referring to did not specialize in the Middle East. And the average working Joe has also likely never looked into the history and practice of Islam, they are too busy with real life. But when you claim to have a political stance based solely upon opposition to the war you look pretty worthless when you don’t know what a Baathist is, let alone if you really should be supporting him.

This is ludicrous! There are many solid reasons to oppose Dubya. How about his effort to stack the courts with extreme right-wingers, how about so-called “tort reform”, how about bankruptcy reform, how about them tax cuts, and what about the environment? But I don’t hear these complaints from my Leftist friends.

By all means fight back Dems. But you can’t criticize Dubya for being anti-Arab when you tolerate anti-Semitism in your ranks. And you can’t win an election just by tearing down the other guy. Show me what you stand for, tell me a reasonable story as to how you came by your ideas, and show me that you can stand firm to your ideals. And maybe I will come back to the fold.



Sean: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 [+] |
...
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
The Benny Plan For Israel/Palestine

LGF and The Leftist Mullah bring forth an interesting debate on a new peace plan for Israel/Palestine.

The Israeli Tourism Minister, Benny Elon, suggests declaring Jordan to be Palestine, and making Jordan responsible for the people of the Territories, but retaining Israeli control over the land. Any Palestinians who wish to may move across the Jordan river. And to sweeten the pot and encourage Jordan to accept this responsibility, the US, the EU, and Israel are to invest heavily in Jordan/Palestine.

Yes, this would end up “giving” the Territories to Israel, so I think that Benny’s plan smacks of ethnic cleansing. Then again, nearly every nation state on Earth today is the product of past ethnic cleansing. The Franks displaced the Goths, the Celts the Picts, the Saxons the Angles, etc, etc. Ethnic cleansing is not an unmitigated evil, as most leftists would have one accept, but is instead a natural activity of all men. Carving out a little chunk of the planet is what we do, as a species.

The question one should be asking is, what about ethnic cleansing? What are the net effects on all parties? And is there an alternative?

Benny's plan might look similar to Hamas’s stated goal of “pushing the Jews into the sea”. But is it? If the Jews lose out to the Arabs in Israel/Palestine what happens to the people, where can they go? Back to Europe or Russia as refugees, as strangers in a strange land? What and await another Holocaust? The Hamas plan is not just ethnic cleansing; it is one step from genocide.

On the other hand, what happens if the above plan succeeds, what happens to the Arab refugees of the WB and Gaza? They would end up in Egypt. Syria, or Jordan. Aside from the obvious loss of property (which isn’t worth much in its present condition, is it?), what suffering is entailed in moving to a fellow Islamic and Arabic neighbor? True, they may not own any land in Jordan, but a major part of the above plan is economic assistance and even “reparations” to the displaced.

Actually, to be fair to Benny we should note that he does not propose wholesale “transfer”. In fact he merely suggests that the citizenship of Arabs living in the territories should be Jordanian while the civil administration of the land should be Israeli. I am not sure how this would work, but I think I see why this appeals to Benny, when Jordan last ruled the WB it became a staging area for terror attacks and even open war. And I guess Israeli administration wouldn’t be much different than what the Palestinians have had before or have now.

Then again, actual citizenship in a state would bring with it a great many benefits, not the least being solid UN representation. And the effect of living on land “owned” by Israel could be minimal, not much worse than Jews living in ghettos in Germany, except that Jews aren’t Germans and Israelis aren’t NAZIS. But I would love to see a clause whereby Arabs living in the Territories could eventualy also get dual Israeli citizenship and all that entails.

A key benefit of Benny's plan is that it resolves the issue of accountability and responsibility. Israel ended up in charge of the Territories by default, by winning the '67 war. Per Geneva Convention and UN rules they have been looking for a responsible party to negotiate a final settlement ever since. But the Arab states never want the Palestinian issue resolved, it works to their benefit just like it is now. Benny would end all this by declaring Jordan the political sovereign of the people in the Territories.

The benefit of making Jordan responsible is that it resolves another major conundrum for Israel... that is, currently there is little coercive pressure that can be brought against the Palestinians in order to hold them to any Peace Plan. They have no economy, no government, no army, no infrastructure, nothing of their own. But Jordan has plenty to lose if they fail to uphold their end of any bargain.

And lastly, there is a major benefit to the Palestinians in Benny's plan... finality and surety, not another plan, but a real future. In the current situation a small minority of militants can hold the majority of Palestinians hostage to their rage and intolerance. Any peace plan can be, and will be, destroyed by any lone bomber infiltrating Tel Aviv. But this plan would eliminate the power of the single rebel by settling the status of all Arabs in the Territories forever. Any bomber would simply be a criminal, to be treated accordingly by either Israeli or Jordanian authorities with no complaint from the "international community". This is an end to the claims that suicide bombers are working for "the people". Even if this isnt the full goal of militants of today it might be just enough for the Palestinians of tomorrow. To misquote Lenin: "permanence has a quality all its own."

So, I think the plan could work. If it isn’t perfectly “fair” to all parties, at least it isnt brutal to any either and it might even be beneficial to some. Ultimately the net result of Benny's plan would appear to be less painfull than any other plan or the status quo. But, in the end, sadly, I think it is doomed… because Israel is building a wall along the Green Line. I think this simply cements current borders and a future state of separation between these people, not the cooperation that Benny’s plan would require.

Are there any other plans that anyone would suggest? Or are we to watch one more "road map to a plan for further negotiations towards a definite goal someday in the future..." fail once more with another Hamas bombing and another IDF incursion?

UPDATE: Jewish Apology found here.

Sean: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 [+] |
...
Saturday, July 12, 2003
The Osama-Saddam Connection

They said it wasnt there, they said Bush lied, they said... anything they could to avoid the truth. Here it is, the truth.

He asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists. He said, ''Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow.''

So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

It is what we all knew, even if we were loath to say it for fear of aiding and abetting Bush, of COURSE there was a a link between Al Queda and Saddam. Why WOULDNT there be?

On the front page of the paper's four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his ''Revolutionary Council,'' together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

There is your axis of evil right there. They all share a common rallying point, Palestine. They all share a common enemy, us. It is too bad that we spent so much time pretending that they didnt, lives might have been saved long ago.

Read more here....

I wrote about this back in April, see Connecting The Dots.

UPDATE: William Safire supports the linkage in the Novemeber 24th New Yorker.

Sean: Saturday, July 12, 2003 [+] |
...
Friday, July 11, 2003
Gambling On The Market

Guest Financial Commentary from Jack Whitsel, reformed banker and market speculator...

"Sitting in my hotel suite in Las Vegas, waiting for my wife to finish with her Turkish bath, I have a great view of the nameless masses scurrying along The Strip below. What a perfect time to offer some market advice to the people. After all, there is a very popular belief that investing in the market and gambling are one in the same.

Take for instance the recent reduction in interest rates. The majority of the market was betting that the Fed would lower the rate by a full half of a point. But the rate only dropped by a quarter of a point and the market expressed its displeasure by diving into the red end of the pool.

Wall Street really wanted that half point drop in order to keep stoking the market fires. The "Bulls" are now predicting an additional rate drop of a quarter-point at the very next Fed meeting. And market analysts are indeed gambling that this cut will keep the market soaring, never mind the fact that the Federal Reserve has dropped rates 13 times in the past 30 months to little effect.

Still, with the DOW and Nasdaq back to pre-9/11 numbers, investors are starting to pour money back into their 401k's and mutual funds. These individuals are the biggest gamblers of all. They are betting that, since we really never saw a market correction, none is in the works for the near future. I bet they are wrong.

What you are watching is called "sheep mentality”. As the market edges forward with money from large institutional investors, "the sheep" (the little investors) will begin to pour their money in too. When all the sheep are in, the big investors will bail out. And the sheep will have entered the market when the prices were at their highest. You can expect more lost saving accounts and drained retirement funds from this game.

So, if your financial adviser is telling you to aggressively get back into mutual funds, fire that weasel immediately. Unless you are into hedge funds (which love bad times), you should be very mindful of the average mutual fund. My advice to small investors is to place the majority of your holdings into hybrid funds that combine the safety of treasury securities with high grade corporate bonds.

Speculators, such as myself, are buying “put options” like crazy while still flirting with “Long positions. Mixed earnings reports will be released all through July and we need to be ready to swing both directions. But for now, I must head down for some real gambling... at the Baccarat table."

-“Black Jack”, Vegas, July 2003

Sean: Friday, July 11, 2003 [+] |
...
Thursday, July 10, 2003
BBC Lards On The Private Commentary And Calls It News

In a recent article supposedly providing an objective update on the status of troops, the BBC slathers the piece in its own anti-American bias. The title says it all...

War-weary troops long for home

Then the article goes on to detail what can only be described as a brutal murder with not one negative adverb or adjective. In fact, the BBC offers quite the compliment to the killer and suggests that this one man caused the entire US military to tremble...

"[Body armor] provided no protection whatsoever from the man who walked through the lunch-time crowd, put a pistol to the back of the soldier's skull, and pulled the trigger.

The killing was an audacious strike that forced the US military planners here to once more re-think their strategy across Iraq. [bolding is mine]"

The reporter goes on to brand the US forces as "occupiers"

"It is a complex, messy and badly defined battlefield that is driving the Americans ever further from the very people they are supposed to be liberating, and sapping morale at the same time. [this attact marked] the point at which America turned from liberator to occupier."

The BBC reporter even ties the entire Allied effort in Iraq to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, here he is being un-sublte to say the least...

"But that is not the kind of clear "roadmap", to borrow a term..."

Note below that the reporter suggests that the US hopes that Iraq will be "oil-rich", as if it were ever in doubt. What he is really doing is not-too-subtly reminding the reader that Iraq has oil and not-too-subtly suggesting that the US wants it (has wanted it all along).

"And so, the question of an exit strategy has now become central to the issue of flagging troop morale... It exists in broad theoretical terms - the plan is to set up political structures, draft a new constitution, hold elections and then pray that the result will be a Western friendly and oil-rich government in Baghdad.

Apparently the BBC is unaware that the fastest route to Iraq's oil would have been for Bush to have announced that Saddam had truly disarmed and then pushed the UN to end sanctions way back on his innaguration night.

**

In a related article the BBC quotes "annonymous sources" and attributes their sentiments to the government at large, attempting to suggest that the government now no longer believes that it will find WMD in Iraq.

"The statement comes despite senior Whitehall sources telling the BBC they no longer believe actual weapons of mass destruction are likely to turn up in Iraq. BBC political editor Andrew Marr says "very senior sources" have virtually ruled out the possibility of finding weapons in Iraq."

The Beeb makes this claim despite being told by the PM's staff that it is simply untrue.

"This is another BBC exclusive based on another anonymous source."

The Beeb's man at Whitehall does admit that:

"The assumption is that Saddam Hussein for whatever reason destroyed them or hid them beyond finding before the war started, and there's no doubt also in their minds that they will turn up interviews with scientists, paper documentation and so on."

Through out the article the Beeb attempts to portray a verbal reversal by the government, claiming that they no longer speak of actual WMD, but now products of programmes.

I have to note that weapons are indeed products of weapons programs. I also have to note that even the quotes used by the Beeb do not suggest a government change of wording...

"He is absolutely confident that we will find evidence not only of weapons of mass destruction programmes but concrete evidence of the product of those programmes as well."

I would also point out that both sides, the Iraqis and the Allies, issued CBN suits to their soldiers.

And yet it is extremely probable that Saddam ordered most of the actual weapons material and other evidence to be destroyed long before the first Allied soldiers put their boots to the ground. I mean its not as if he didnt have a clear "road map" that war was comming and months to prepare.

I think that suggesting that either Blair or Bush "lied" about having evidence of WMD is simply a put on. We know that all sides had every reason to believe that Saddam did have them and would use them. Ask Iran, ask the citizens of Halbja, ask the UN inspection teams after the Gulf War, or just ask the Iraqi defectors.

In one last masterstroke of Goerbels-like propaganda tweaks the BBC creates this innocent enough photo sidebar/banner for their general news front page... notice the simple act of association here...



The Beeb is going to try its damdest to make something of this all... I recall the cartoons during the war of a car filled with kids asking "Is it Vietnam yet?" The updated version should now read "Is it Watergate yet?"

UPDATE: A Swedish UN Weapons Inspector weighs in...

This combination of researchers, engineers, know-how, precursors, batch production techniques and testing is what constituted Iraq's chemical threat -- its chemical weapon. The rather bizarre political focus on the search for rusting drums and pieces of munitions containing low-quality chemicals has tended to distort the important question of WMD in Iraq and exposed the American and British administrations to unjustified criticism.

Bizzare political focus... indeed.

Sean: Thursday, July 10, 2003 [+] |
...

Copyright (c) 2003-2008 Sean LaFreniere

Top

Copyright 2003-2009 by Sean LaFreniere