Sean's Blog

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Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Michael Ignatieff has an excellent (and long) piece in the New York Times in which he argues that America is an empire. An imperial empire.

"Yet what word but ''empire'' describes the awesome thing that America is becoming? It is the only nation that polices the world through five global military commands; maintains more than a million men and women at arms on four continents; deploys carrier battle groups on watch in every ocean; guarantees the survival of countries from Israel to South Korea; drives the wheels of global trade and commerce; and fills the hearts and minds of an entire planet with its dreams and desires."

im·pe·ri·al ( P ) Pronunciation Key (m-pîr-l)
adj. Of, relating to, or suggestive of an empire or a sovereign, especially an emperor or empress: imperial rule; the imperial palace.
Ruling over extensive territories or over colonies or dependencies: imperial nations.

Having supreme authority; sovereign.
Regal; majestic.
Outstanding in size or quality.

I would not say that the US has an imperial empire by that definition. It's more of a pseudo-empire. To be sure, we're close. We used to be an imperial power but the territories that we control such as Guam and Puerto Rico are hardly the significant colonies one envisions when speaking about colonies. We are imperialistic to a point, but even Ignatieff agrees that many of the nations that are most beholden to us tells us to get bent occasionally:

"Nowhere is this clearer than in America's relations with Israel. America's ally is anything but a client state. Its prime minister has refused direct orders from the president of the United States in the past, and he can be counted on to do so again."

Here's Ignatieff's characterization of the US imperial model:

"America's empire is not like empires of times past, built on colonies, conquest and the white man's burden. We are no longer in the era of the United Fruit Company, when American corporations needed the Marines to secure their investments overseas. The 21st century imperium is a new invention in the annals of political science, an empire lite, a global hegemony whose grace notes are free markets, human rights and democracy, enforced by the most awesome military power the world has ever known. It is the imperialism of a people who remember that their country secured its independence by revolt against an empire, and who like to think of themselves as the friend of freedom everywhere. It is an empire without consciousness of itself as such, constantly shocked that its good intentions arouse resentment abroad. But that does not make it any less of an empire, with a conviction that it alone, in Herman Melville's words, bears 'the ark of the liberties of the world.'''

Indeed. American imperialism does not fit the leftists contemptuous definition.

"Yet it remains a fact -- as disagreeable to those left wingers who regard American imperialism as the root of all evil as it is to the right-wing isolationists, who believe that the world beyond our shores is none of our business -- that there are many peoples who owe their freedom to an exercise of American military power. It's not just the Japanese and the Germans, who became democrats under the watchful eye of Generals MacArthur and Clay. There are the Bosnians, whose nation survived because American air power and diplomacy forced an end to a war the Europeans couldn't stop. There are the Kosovars, who would still be imprisoned in Serbia if not for Gen. Wesley Clark and the Air Force. The list of people whose freedom depends on American air and ground power also includes the Afghans and, most inconveniently of all, the Iraqis."

Although he does it early in the piece, it's clear that Ignatieff very very reluctantly agrees that war with Iraq is probably necessary. "Virtuous disengagement is no longer a possibility." For me, that's the bottom line. We can wish and hope all we want, but we must do that thing.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek has a piece about Kim Jong Il, the North Korean dictator.

"Kim is “slippery,” “dangerous,” but “not delusional,” says former secretary Albright, the only high-ranking U.S. official to ever spend time with him. Seeking to “engage” the North Korean dictator, she traveled to Pyongyang in October 2000 and spent a dozen hours in “dialogue.” “He’s not a nut,” Albright tells NEWSWEEK. “He’s isolated but not uninformed.” Kim made a point of showing Albright his computer, which he uses to cruise the Internet (he also closely monitors CNN, mostly to find out what is being said about him around the world). Kim eagerly chatted with Albright about the year’s potential Oscar nominees from Hollywood and Michael Jordan’s comeback in professional basketball, in between delivering somewhat loopy lectures on economic reform. “It’s hard to tell what he wants,” says Albright. “He did talk about economic change and following the Swedish model, which makes no sense at all.”

Thursday, January 09, 2003

I fawn over Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column at least once a month. I love how he will take the time to discuss word usage, the coming Iraq war, Castro and Hollywood liberal's love for that brutal dictator, and bilingual education all in the same column. Here's my favorite piece from today's column:

"Finally, I was steaming recently over bilingual education, that crock. A lot of it is not bilingual education, of course: It’s monolingual education, in Spanish.

I used to work at a biggish firm, and when we put boxes and things out that we wanted thrown away, we were to write “BASURA” on them — that’s the Spanish word for “garbage.” The throwers-out, of course, would be Hispanic.

And this infuriated me. So we’re going to keep them in a linguistic ghetto? How will they ever be more than janitors, then (not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld and his friends might say)? They’re in this country: Let us write “BASURA” in Guatemala. And let us write “TRASH” in America.

Never got anywhere. And the amazing thing is: These white liberals thought they were being kind to Hispanics.

I think I took to writing “BASURA/TRASH” — a regular Berlitz, me! And a Schweitzer, too!"

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

This article is so familiar. I am sure I read it, but I don't know where. It's called, "A Liberal's Case for Bush's War" and the last couple of paragraphs are the most familiar. I especially like this:

"You folks just can’t get over the fact that Bush is unsophisticated. You dug yourselves a mighty deep hole in the ground. I understand the dilemma. If you change your mind on Iraq now, it raises an awkward question. How could a dumb guy like Bush figure it out before the smart set? This is a good time to remember the First Rule of Holes. When you’re in one, stop digging."

I love that line about the First Rule of Holes and even if I blogged this piece before, it's worth repeating.

I am no fan of rap, but I am interested in contemporary personalities and, if nothing else, Eminem is a certainly an important contemporary personality. MarriageMovement.org has a piece that asks: Eminem: Father of the Year?

John Derbyshire is nearly apoplectic over New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

"New York City actually does have problems, very serious problems. The 9/11 attacks wiped out 20 percent of the city's downtown office space — 16 million square feet. Firms are fleeing the city, with the encouragement of their clients, and of the federal government, which is nervous about so much of the nation's wealth being managed from one small and vulnerable district. The stock-market slide has caused a further cratering, with Wall Street jobs down eight percent since 1999. That 25-year-old bond trader has moved to Houston. His tailor, his restaurateur, his dentist, and his real-estate agent are short of a customer, in fact of many customers. The city faces a deficit of $3.5 billion in the fiscal year starting this July. Crime is rising, the city public schools are bedlams of illiteracy and violence, rent control creates a housing market with a top and a bottom but no middle, city hospitals are run by the porters' unions, and the streets are filling up with vagrants. Meanwhile, the city has a civil-service workforce one-seventh the size of Uncle Sam's. And Bloomberg is worried that illegals aren't getting their welfare checks! He thinks this is a problem!"

I saw Bloomberg in Times Square at midnight on New Year's Eve. He turned his head away from the lady he was about to kiss at the stroke of midnight so that the TV camera could get his full face. The lady clumsily kissed Bloomberg on his cheek. I was embarrassed for her. Those two seconds told me all I needed to know about the man.

John Fonte shows that Republicans overwhelmingly, and by a larger percentage than Democrats, supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"Although the Democrats controlled both houses of the Congress at the time, a much-higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the civil-rights bill. For example, in the House, Republicans voted for civil rights by a margin of 79 percent to 21 percent, 136-35. The Democrats' margin was 153-91 or 63 percent to 37 percent."

So why are Democrats able to accuse Republicans of being racist while completely ignoring the facts? Why has the media been complicit in continuing this Republican-as-racist theme? I really don't know except that Republicans oppose affirmative action. That seems to be the reason Republican's are vilified as racists. The fact of the matter, however, is that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was supported by the major civil rights groups of that era, explicitly makes the point that it is not intended to give preferences based on race, religion, color, or national origin:

"On April 9, 1964, Hubert Humphrey replied to the allegation that Title VII on employment discrimination would lead to racial preferences by stating, "It the Senator can find in Title VII…any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there."

To ensure that the bill would not be misinterpreted to promote racial and gender preferences, the pro-civil forces added an amendment to Title VII, Section 703 (j) that stated, 'Nothing contained in this title shall be interpreted to require any employer…to grant preferential treatment to any individual or any group because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin…on account of an imbalance which may exist…with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any race, color, religion, or sex, or national origin…in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons…in any community…or in any available work force….'"

Republicans are opposed to race based preferences because of principles. These principles are laid out in the Constitution and were reinforced with overwhelming Republican support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. History cannot be denied. Read the whole piece by Fonte.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Larry Kudlow supports President Bush's tax proposals:

"President Bush has surprised nearly everyone with his decision to propose a big-bang economic growth package that includes a 100% tax exemption on dividends received by individuals. Eliminating the double taxation of corporate dividends will raise stock market values, increase investor returns, and improve both corporate governance and corporate finance practices, in effect becoming the most significant pro-growth tax reform since President Ronald Reagan slashed personal income-tax rates twenty years ago."

President Reagan's tax policies were designed to encourage small business creation by rewarding the risk inherent in starting a business. We can thank Ronald Reagan's long term economic vision for the boom of the 1990's. Bill Clinton had very little to do with it, except that he mostly stayed out of the way. He did implement a tax increase, but he wasn't able to stand in the way of that train coming down the tracks.

Now President Bush is proposing a very similar tax package. He will probably have to compromise at some point, but overall President Bush's tax plan is very similar to Reagan's. The sad part is that the effects might not be felt until years from now and by then someone else will be taking credit for what he did. That's what Clinton did. He took full credit for an economic policy that he had very little to do with.

The Democrats (and some Republicans....President H.W. Bush called Reagan's plan "voodoo economics") were outraged over Reagan's economic plan and accused him of singlehandedly creating a runaway federal deficit (even though they helped by swelling government spending in the 1980's), but when the results of Reagan's policies were finally realized in the 1990's they took full credit where they deserved very little.

Monday, January 06, 2003

Mark Steyn is all over the British "total ban" on gun ownership. This is part of the "progressive" viewpoint on crime:

"After Dunblane, the police and politicians lapsed into their default position: it's your fault. We couldn't do anything about him, so we'll do something about you. You had your mobile nicked? You must be mad taking it out. Why not just keep it inside nice and safe on the telephone table? Had your car radio pinched? You shouldn't have left it in the car. House burgled? You should have had laser alarms and window bars installed. You did have laser alarms and window bars but they waited till you were home, kicked the door in and beat you up? You should have an armour-plated door and digital retinal-scan technology. It's your fault, always."

New York City had this same attitude towards crime in the late 1980's and 1990's. That was before Rudy Guiliani became mayor and proved the left wrong on crime. England will have to come to the same solutions, but it's likely that it will take many more years and a runaway crime rate before they will do something about it.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

The Boston Globe is reporting that US Special Forces and CIA operatives are in Iraq doing reconnaisance and performing laser guidance for attacks on radar installations.

This is really nothing new. Debkafile reported information very similar to this several months ago. I can't find the piece now, but Debkafile said months ago that US and British forces were in Iraq and that for all intents and purposes the war had already begun.