Archive for April, 2009

While Homeland Security frets about “right-wing extremists” and CNN expresses horror at comparisons between Obama and Hitler, real problems are threatening our security at an alarming rate.  Caroline Glick talks about the imminent collapse of Pakistan.  Think for a moment about what it will mean to have nuclear weapons under the control of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

One of the few convictions that still unifies national security strategists across the ideological spectrum is that it would be a global calamity of the first order if al-Qaida gets its hands on nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, due to the rapid demise of nuclear-armed Pakistan as a coherent political unit, this nightmare scenario is looking more possible than ever. Indeed, if events continue to move in their current direction, it is more likely than not that in the near future, the Taliban and al-Qaida will take possession of all or parts of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal….

Given the failure of the US’s political strategies of securing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal by supporting Pakistan’s government, and fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, it is becoming apparent that the only sure way to prevent the Taliban/al-Qaida from taking control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is to take those weapons out of commission.

The US has two basic options for accomplishing this goal. It can send in forces to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear installations and remove its nuclear arsenal from the country. Or, it can destroy Pakistan’s nuclear installations. Both of these options – which are really variations of the same option – are extremely unattractive. It is far from clear that the US military has the capacity to take over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and it also unclear what the ultimate effect of a military strike against its nuclear arsenal would be in terms of lives lost and areas rendered uninhabitable due to nuclear fallout.

As Glick notes, the problem with Pakistan parallels the problem with Iran.  Soon, two sets of extremists may have nuclear weapons.  The result will be devastating to the security of the free world.  The probability that the weapons will be used to attack Israel, the United States, U. S. bases, or targets in Europe is extremely high.  Even if they are not used, they will give extremists a tool for blackmailing all of the above.  They will encourage other nations of questionable intentions and stability (e.g., Saudi Arabia) to develop nuclear weapons to restore the balance of power.

Someone needs to start making some hard decisions.  “Gird your loins,” indeed.


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I attended both Austin Tea Parties on Wednesday.  The first, held at City Hall around lunchtime, drew about 1,500 people.  Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams and Governor Rick Perry gave outstanding speeches.

Don't Mess with Texas Tea Party, Austin

Don't Mess with Texas Tea Party, Austin

There were some excellent signs, including this one, which was my favorite:

Stop Rewarding Failure!

Stop Rewarding Failure!

Margaret Thatcher quotations are always good:


We had protest babes.  And, as you can see, the crowd was not “lily-white”; in fact, it looked pretty representative of Austin.


We also had people who were especially good with puns.


There were many more people—around 6,000!—and many more signs later this afternoon at the State Capitol.  The picture of Obama as leader of GM is priceless.



The children got into the act, too—sometimes with signs that were a bit too big!


A lot of the signs had thoughtful, much-needed messages:


Heroes of the Alamo

Heroes of the Alamo




Some gave interesting diagnoses of the problem, and proposed solutions.



We had protest babes here too:


A few people seemed more concerned with guns than economics.


Once the crowd started moving, it stretched all the way from the steps of the Capitol to the Colorado River.



Spirits remained high as we crossed the bridge to dump the tea in Lady Bird Lake.




UPDATE: My friend Lefty has an excellent slideshow here, with a better shot of the Obama/GM sign.  And you can download a video of the crowd singing here.

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texas-flag“Don’t Mess with Texas!” reads Drudge’s headline. Governor Rick Perry affirmed Texas’s sovereignty:

“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”

A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government’s constitutionally designated powers and impede the states’ right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

It also designates that all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.

There will be a tea party protest tomorrow, April 15, at 11:30 at Austin City Hall, where Governor Perry, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, and others will speak, and another at 4:00 on the south steps of the Capitol.

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Happy Easter!

A blessed Easter to you all. From Pope Benedict’s Easter homily:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the Apostle’s invitation; let us open our spirit to Christ, who has died and is risen in order to renew us, in order to remove from our hearts the poison of sin and death, and to pour in the life-blood of the Holy Spirit: divine and eternal life. In the Easter Sequence, in what seems almost like a response to the Apostle’s words, we sang: “Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere” – we know that Christ has truly risen from the dead. Yes, indeed! This is the fundamental core of our profession of faith; this is the cry of victory that unites us all today. And if Jesus is risen, and is therefore alive, who will ever be able to separate us from him? Who will ever be able to deprive us of the love of him who has conquered hatred and overcome death?

The Easter proclamation spreads throughout the world with the joyful song of the Alleluia. Let us sing it with our lips, and let us sing it above all with our hearts and our lives, with a manner of life that is “unleavened”, that is to say, simple, humble, and fruitful in good works. “Surrexit Christus spes mea: precedet suos in Galileam” – Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee. The Risen One goes before us and he accompanies us along the paths of the world. He is our hope, He is the true peace of the world. Amen!

And, from the Easter Vigil homily:

Thus at this hour, Saint Paul speaks to us with great immediacy.  In the Letter to the Philippians, he says that, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, Christians should shine as lights in the world (cf. Phil 2:15).  Let us pray to the Lord that the fragile flame of the candle he has lit in us, the delicate light of his word and his love amid the confusions of this age, will not be extinguished in us, but will become ever stronger and brighter, so that we, with him, can be people of the day, bright stars lighting up our time.

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Obama Overseas

Sometimes, I have many thoughts that I’d like to put down in this blog. Other times, I watch in wonder, feeling unable to put thoughts down until a coherent pattern emerges from what’s going on around me. For the past two weeks, I’ve been watching Obama tour the world and reorient American foreign policy. At first, it seemed to be something of a campaign trip marred by obvious gaffes (the DVDs, the iPod, the bow to the Saudi King, etc.). Eventually, however, it became clear that, as Caroline Glick says in a brilliant article, Obama was announcing that America will no longer act as the world’s policeman. Pax Americana is over.

Somewhere between apologizing for American history – both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US’s nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America’s missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, “Don’t worry, be happy,” as he leaves them to Moscow’s tender mercies; humiliating Iraq’s leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world’s aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

As Glick notes, this is a betrayal of America’s most reliable allies. It is also a betrayal of the United States. Obama responded to North Korea’s missile launch by renouncing not only our pledge to defend Japan but also our plans to install missile defense interceptors in Alaska. He thus made it possible for North Korea to use its nuclear weapons to blackmail Japan and the United States. This is just one example of how Obama made the world a more dangerous place. Dr. Sanity, unfortunately, isn’t exaggerating:

In less than a hundred days of an Obama Administration, we have, in the spirit of hope and change, has enthusiastically embarked on a path that is leading the entire community of nations into a a “global tragedy” of epic proportions.

Consider the profound shift that Obama has initiated. The United States has now effectively switched sides on a wide array of global conflicts:

  • Japan –> North Korea
  • India –> Pakistan
  • Iraq –> Iran
  • Israel –> Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, et al.
  • Poland, Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Georgia –> Russia
  • Colombia –> Venezuela

Now these conflicts have some interesting things in common. In each case, a democracy faces a threat from a totalitarian regime. In each case, there is a profound moral asymmetry to the conflict. If the totalitarian state were to lay down its arms and back away from the conflict, there would be peace. If the democracy were to lay down its arms and back away from the conflict, it would be overrun. In short, these conflicts really are one side’s fault. So perhaps it’s more insightful to describe the shift in America’s foreign policy in these terms:

  • Democracy –> Totalitarianism
  • Defenders –> Aggressors

As Glick observes, the left is thrilled with this change in orientation. The United States has announced that it is no longer a defender of human freedom. And the left applauds.

There are several lessons to take away from all this, I think. First, it’s become clear that the left really is fundamentally hostile to human freedom. Leftists talk as if they are the defenders of civil liberties, human rights around the globe, etc. Yet in every global conflict they take the side of those who quash civil liberties and violate human rights. I can only conclude that the talk is either insincere or based on the foolish fantasy that if the United States were friendly to bullies they would stop being bullies and become like us.

Second, the Obama administration is at best naive, operating on the basis of such a fantasy. But it may something much worse than that. Glenn Reynolds famously said about some opponents of the war in Iraq: “they’re not anti-war; they’re just on the other side.” Think about the peace movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Some of those people were naive, thinking that if Britain and the United States disarmed and made enough concessions to Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler, there would be peace. But some were Soviet or Nazi sympathizers. Some were Soviet agents. Is Obama naive enough to think that if America disarms and appeases aggressors they will stop being aggressors? Or does he want the aggressors to win? Is he, in short, on the other side?

These are dark times for those of us who believe in human liberty. And they are going to get a lot darker.

UPDATE: The Other McCain takes issue with me, pointing out that there’s a big gap between announcements and the reality of policies—budgets, alliances, aid, information transfer, military cooperation, etc.—and that Obama’s words have changed any of that.  It’s a good point.  They haven’t—yet.  It’s far too early to tell whether and how extensively they will.  I’d like to think that U.S. policy is like a supertanker, hard to shift onto a different course.  But the State Department, the CIA, and other relevant agencies fought Bush policies so extensively that I’m concerned that much of the bureaucracy is eager to shift policy in the ways Obama has outlined.

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