Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Annapolis is not Munich

Let's get serious. The Annapolis conference will not accomplish its stated purpose (although it may have benefits that no one now wants to discuss publicly) but it is not Munich. Here are six reasons why:
1. Israel is the strongest military power in the Mideast. No one else comes close.
2. Israel, with the support of the United States, two months ago pulled off a stealth raid on some sort of facility of in Syria. (Would Neville Chamberlain have helped the Czechs bomb a German munitions plant in 1938?)
3. Yet Syria is still attending the conference. That must make for interesting conversation in the men's room.
4. Despite the public posturing (Arab leaders assume if they are photographed shaking Olmert's hand, they will wind up like Anwar Sadat), who do the Saudis and the Gulf States fear the most?
a) Israel's nuclear weapons
b) the US Navy
c) a nuclear armed Iran.

5. Israel and the faction of the PLO of which Abbas is, for the moment, the nominal leader, have agreed to agree. Ho hum. No one- not Condi Rice nor George Bush nor Olmert nor any of the Quartet, the Arabs, or Abbas- expect any results. The can has merely been kicked down the road. Given the alternatives, that is not a bad option.

Abbas is in the same situation that Arafat was. One can debate whether he can control the Palestinian groups who send splodeydopes to Tel Aviv discos, but chooses not to; or whether he really wants peace but can not control the "militants". It makes no difference. What stops Palestinian terror is good Israeli intelligence, police work, and the IDF. Abbas is irrelevant.

6. What's the point of Annapolis? Maybe it is just feel- good photo ops. Maybe it is a wish that talking can't do any harm and may do some good.
Maybe it is about more than Israel and the Palestinians. See #4 above.

I heard a couple of talk radio callers today suggest that Olmert be replaced with Netanyahu. I don't like Olmert either, but I get pissed when the French or Germans try to tell Americans who we should elect as President.

There is a story that President Reagan decided not to attend Andropov's funeral when he was told he would not be allowed to dance on the grave. Olmert has been in politics long enough that he probably does not care that the Arabs will not shake his hand. Yet if I were Olmert, or George Bush, I would like to shake Assad's hand, look him in the eyes, grin, and squeeze just a little harder.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What does wartime look like?

One benefit to living in DC is that the lunchtime professional /civic group rubber chicken meetings tend to have more interesting speakers than in , say, Topeka. Last week at an engineering group, the guest speaker was in charge of new construction for the Department of State. "I try to protect our employees from incidents like this", he noted. (1998 US embassy bombing, Nairobi.)
Later on he said "this is wartime." I had heard the same statement a week before from the Director of Public Works at one of the large Army bases near DC. He could not understand why local transportation and environmental agencies were not more cooperative with the Army.
From their perspective, they are right. I have to disagree.

If we were really at war we would be rationing gasoline and tires.
We' might be rationing meat and sugar.
We'd probably be rationing computer chips.
There would be a draft.
We'd have secure borders. There would be still be a lot of resident aliens working here but we would be keeping track of who and where they are.
Taxes would be a lot higher; government services, for most of us, would be a lot lower. Few would complain.
Bipartisanship would mean something. Politics really would stop at the water's edge.

The State Department employee made another comment, in passing, that makes me
wonder if he had heard something recently that stuck with him, or if he had
just been to one too many security briefings that week.
We need to prepare the American people to respond to chemical and biological attacks. The government has not done a very good job of that and we should. It 's
going to happen.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ron Paul: America's Paul Belien?

Ron Paul was first elected to Congress in a 1975 special election. In the next five years he ran several fiercely contested races for the seat, against the same opponent; as I recall he won in '75 , lost in '76, won in '78 and '80. I was a volunteer in his first three campaigns.

Paul's supporters were mostly very conservative Republicans- people who had not yet forgiven Eisenhower for beating Robert Taft in the 1952 presidential primary; and for whom Barry Goldwater was an even greater hero than Ronald Reagan. Paul 's supporters also included a fervent group of gold standard libertarians; I heard several long lectures on von Mises economics. ( I'm an engineer: Zzzzzzzz.)

Now, this was Texas in the mid 70's; it wasn't Birmingham 1962, but it wasn't politically correct California of 2007 either. We used to entertain ourselves at college by calling one of Houston's two Dial a Nazi recorded phone messages. One claimed to be the Texas branch of the American Nazi party; the other claimed it was the Houston Klan chapter.

There were a few folks among Paul's volunteers who, if you talked to them for very long, were quite upfront about their white supremacist views. They sounded a lot like the recording on the Dial a Klan line.

I never understood Dr. Paul's appeal to those folks. I never heard him say anything remotely racist. On the other hand, while volunteering for a half dozen other candidates in the mid 70's, I never ran into anyone else who was as viciously racist as those few folks in the Paul campaigns.

So stories like these are not a surprise:

Ron Paul and the neo Nazis

Paul responds on Nazi gold

Hutton Gibson for Ron Paul

Neo Nazi organizes Ron Paul Youtube gaming

Is Ron Paul the American equivalent of Paul Belien and Vlaams Belang? Paul has supporters in his current Presidential campaign who are 9-11 truthers; he also has supporters who are white supremacists or neo Nazis. His failure to distance himself from them does him no good. And his supporters' response to these stories is a coy wink. It's either

If people who hold views that the candidate doesn't agree with, and they give to
us, that's their loss


I just wonder how difficult it is to get a PO box in W. Palm Beach under someone
else's name (or even just lie on the online donations) especially seeing that a
very prominent member of the anti-Ron-Paul squad that made a point to land on
Fox News and call Ron Paul 'cerifiably insane' (and then went on to brag about
it) also happens to live in... wait for it... W. Palm Beach, FL.

(Both comments from the first link above)

People, people. You can't have it both ways. Get your story straight. And if Paul's campaign can't keep track of who is giving them money, they will be in big trouble with the FEC.

UPDATE: "Vlaams Belang" corrected. My humble apologies.