31 December 2009


It is hard to believe we are already a decade into the 21st century. For those of us who have been around awhile it is the future, but it hasn’t turned out quite as anyone expected because such things are unpredictable. We certainly live in a time of technological wonders, particular in personal communications. But personal computers and cell phones have been around since the 1980’s, though in a more primitive form. The main difference for consumers is in audio-visual areas as a result of an increase of processing power. On the other hand we’ve gone nowhere in space for decades except for discoveries in the universe that the Hubble telescope has revealed. Medical progress has been exceptional, largely due to the now-threatened American health care system.

The economy, on the other hand has largely flatlined for most people. The stock market is more or less where it was when the decade began and many people feel they have made little material progress. But growth will almost certainly resume in the near future on a more sustainable basis provided that inflation does not spin out of control, which is almost inevitable unless the government slashes spending and stops printing money.

We can look back on a happier time at the turn of the century, when celebrations around the world occurred magnificently without incident. Then our biggest worry was Y2K, before the arrival of the age of terror in 2001. Yet as awful as terrorism is, the war is asymmetrical and no standing army threatens us anywhere. The “American century” is far from over, really beginning only after World War II. It has been a time in which the world has enjoyed unprecedented progress and prosperity thanks largely to the American umbrella. No more benevolent power has ever dominated world. This should continue well into this century if we intelligently address our current problems, which will happen over time as long as we remain an open society. All that troubles us should balance out in the long run for nothing is more resilient than a free society, and so I end this year on a somewhat optimistic note.

30 December 2009


In posing this question from the standpoint of a head of state Machiavelli clearly thought it was better to be feared. When President Obama was elected there was an international outpouring of “love,” following the departure of the fearsome George Bush, culminating in the Nobel Peace prize. Obama has done everything possible to encourage this sentiment, opting for multilateralism, dialogue, closing Guantanamo, ruling out “torture,” effectively apologizing for his predecessor, etc.

But while western Europeans may be enthralled, our enemies remain unimpressed, for this has only reinforced Al Qaeda’s notion that Americans are weak, vulnerable, and can be worn down in the long run. “Change” has engendered new “hope” that we can be defeated. Terrorists know they will be treated kindly if caught and now be turned over to the dysfunctional U.S. justice system.

In this case is it not better to strike “fear” in the hearts of our enemies? Killing them alone will not work because they want to be martyrs. What we need to do is make them face the most horrific circumstances possible from their standpoint. How about assigning them aggressive female guards and whatever else they would view as a fate worse than death Let them face what they perceive to be hell on earth. Let them fear us. Let us not hear any more about “our” values, which only generates contempt on their part. We should terrorize the terrorists. Only then will we gain their respect. It is nice to be loved when possible, but in this case it is better to be feared.

28 December 2009


If the federal government uses the logic of its shoe-bomber strategy then it would follow that we may all have to drop our drawers at airports due to the underpants bomber. In case you forgot, the reason we all have to take off our shoes to get on an airplane is due to one guy who tried to blow up an airplane with an explosive in his shoes. He was stopped by passengers, and again passengers handled the underpants man, yet now security will be further "tightened." Yet according to Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, the "system" worked. Sure. That's why they were so good at coordinating terrorist lists. Given the ineptitude of government our primary line of defense is ourselves.

If we weren't so squeamish about "profiling" maybe we'd have a more effective security system. Instead we have grandmothers being scrutinized and forced to remove their shoes. All the security apparatus in place makes flying ever more miserable and humiliating, yet the underpants man still got through. Fortunately this time he only burned himself. But it makes no sense to continue to harass normal people equally instead of focusing on potential threatening characters.

On the other hand this incident also indicates weakness, stupidity, and lack of imagination on Al Qaeda's part. Despite all the various doomsday scenarios we have effectively suggested to them, they are still apparently focused on airplanes (and secondarily trains, as in London and Madrid). There is a remarkably consistent profile of terrorists so far. Like the 9/11 bombers, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an Islamic male, came from a relatively affluent background, and was educated in the west. They all became alienated from societies that are so obsessed with multiculturalism and self-loathing of "liberal" elites that they no longer believe in themselves, and so discourage others from doing so as well. There is a self-destructive death spiral gripping Europe and the American left.

How much confidence can we have in this administration's ability to protect us from terrorists when it won't even acknowledge that there is, or ought to be, a continuing "war on terror?" We cannot always count on our enemies being so inept and must recognize that these attacks will continue. Next time we may not be so lucky. It is time to stop wasting resources, profile the likely attackers, and recognize the fact that, despite softer euphemisms,whether we like it or not, these people are at war with us. The only way to be rid of this menace is to ruthlessly pursue and destroy them.

21 December 2009


As Air Force One returned the President from a conference on global warming to a blizzard in Washington my skepticism on the subject was further increased. We are supposedly facing a global catastrophe within the next century and this is gospel for many people. Indeed they approach it with a religious fervor that tolerates no contradictory information, such as the fact that temperatures have dropped in the last ten years, the models are faulty, and long-term prediction is almost impossible.

But suppose there was some certainty about rising sea levels. Wouldn’t it make sense to limit and reduce development along threatened coastlines? Instead we have a truly nutty EPA declaring that carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas, is a threat to our health. Tell that to the plants. This is yet another prescription for seizing control and wrecking the entire economy. The logical answer would be more plants, stopping the destruction of rain forests, planting trees, etc. in ways that might actually benefit people.

Of course we have a choice of disasters, each as plausible as the worst global warming scenario over the next hundred years. There is more certainty in the likelihood that the social security and medicare systems of the western world will go bankrupt in the coming decades. Volcanoes could erupt spewing toxic matter into the atmosphere and blotting out the sky. An asteroid could strike the earth as in previous mass extinctions. Sunflares could erupt and destroy our atmospheric shield. A new plague could emerge that could wipe out much of the population. Or we might all simply transfer ourselves into cyberspace.

The point is that no one can predict what will happen over a century into the future. The only certainty is that the future ins unknowable. The more likely scenario is that we will somehow muddle through, experiencing neither the best nor the worst of anything as we always have up until now.