Thursday, June 21, 2007

Do The Short Form

If the Bush gang had been paying handsomely for expertise, tens of thousands of Americans would be frantically studying Arabic in the hopes of cashing in on the big bonanza.

Do you see that happening? I didn't think so.

How The Trouble Began

It has become abundantly clear to me that the viability of the nation-state depends on attaining a size sufficient to maintain internal markets and deal with the world economy. This, of course, is exactly the opposite of our advice for foreigners, which since the Treaty of Versailles has been for them to fragment into ever-smaller statelets.

With this clue in hand you may now return to your regularly scheduled stately appreciation of history or anguished assessment of world events.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Really Big Mistake

A most appalling aspect of Israel's attack on Lebanon was the fundamental irrationality. One of the world's great trading peoples attacking one of the world's oldest entrepots- what's wrong with this picture?

What the Israelis needed to do, from the beginning, was to make Lebanon their best friend in the region. They needed to provide aid to raise the per capita income of the Lebanese to that of the Israelis, surely a modest enough goal. This would have provided a buffer state to the north, expanded the overall size of the Israeli market economy, and given them a much better card to play with Syria.

In a broader sense, the Israelis needed to tell the people of the region, "We have become one of you". Perceiving themselves as an island of western modernity in a sea of sub-standard peoples was, in retrospect a mistake.

It took no crystal ball to predict that the mid-east would face serious problems, internally, in integrating with an industrialized west- an integration that could not be evaded, due to the oil. If it was necessary to the establishment of Israel to dispossess the Palestinians, the first acts of the new state should have been directed to making that right for the Palestinians. A vigorous program of relocation payments and co-optation would have gone far to alleviate this now-bleeding sore.

Historically, the Jews have combined awesome commercial abilities with an inward-turning sociology of faith. They have secured many footholds in important markets that they subsequently lost. Let us hope this is not so for modern Israel.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Mug's Game

When I reflect on my life with the telephone, it's been a loser. Most of my phone calls have been made trying to get something done, something which eventually only was done because I sent a letter or tracked down the malefactor personally.

As for what the phone does to your romantic life, the less said the better.

The hell with it. Don't call me, I'll call you.

From Digby's Comment Thread

"The Bush administration liked to say that the grown-ups were in charge. Well, when I'm President, the President is going to be a grown-up."

It's Howdy-Doody Time

The most striking aspect of the Bush administration is that, given a choice, they make the choice a five-year-old boy would make.

Which should it be, boring diplomacy, or playing war? Let's play war!

Should we stay at home and eat fresh nutritional food, or go to MacDonalds? I wanna go to MacDonalds!

Should we use our space program to launch satellites and study Earth, in the hopes of preventing global catastrophe, or go to Mars? Let's go to Mars!

Faced with the demands of others in the U.N., should we negotiate a compromise, or take our marbles and go home? Take our marbles and go home!

When every warning is blinking red, and your intelligence chiefs have their hair on fire, will you work tirelessly to prevent an attack on America, or go ride your bicycle? I'm going to ride my bicycle!

Amazingly, this plays well with Bush voters. In 2004 a correspondent to the local paper said he liked Bush because Bush reminded him of his "cowboy heroes", and went on to make it clear he wasn't referring to real cowboys, but to the cowboys he'd seen in the movies and on tv. A 50-year-old man who still hasn't figured out that his "cowboy heroes" were actors, riding through the backlots of LA film sets.

Like I said, the mentality of a five-year-old boy.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lincolnesque

Is Bush Lincolnesque? In terms of virtues, not so much. But when it comes to mistakes, Bush has enlarged on a classic Lincoln blunder.

When the Civil War began, Lincoln announced a blockade of the southern ports, a term used in a war between belligerents, instead of announcing that he was closing the ports of the south, as a legitimate government would do with the ports of a region illegally in rebellion. This was all the hook the British needed to hang their hat of blockade-running trade on.

Bush took this mistake to a new level when he announced a War on Terror instead of demanding that international law enforcement round up the criminals. That, combined with the invasion and subsequent mistreatment of Iraq, gave the terrorists legal standing in the world of warfare. When the Bush gang renounced the rule of international law they put themselves, legally speaking, on the level of the terrorists.

For Americans, this is all kinda like watching your wife strip to her panties and jump in the mudwrestling arena. But nowhere near as fun.