28 January 2005

You can't stop if you don't start

I don’t want to appear to be picking on the Arch-Blogger but I think he’s mistaken when he writes:

There was a time when the Left opposed fascism and supported democracy, when it wasn’t a seething-yet-shrinking mass of self-hatred and idiocy. That day is long past, and the moral and intellectual decay of the Left is far gone.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But I’m afraid it doesn’t conform to the actual historic record. The American Left did support the Communists against the Fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. But they certainly did not support democracy during World War II.

When the Third Reich invaded democratic Poland in September of 1939 the American Left did not call for support of the Poles. Nor did they call for support of the Danes and Norwegians when Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway in April of 1940. They maintained solidarity with the isolationist America First Committee when the Germans invaded democratic France and the Low Countries in May of 1940. There also wasn’t a peep from them as the Soviet Union, in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, occupied parts of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, etc.

In fact it wasn’t until Germany violated that pact and invaded the Soviet Union that a rift began to form between the isolationist Right and the Left. Three months after the invasion Norman Thomas, chairman of the American Socialist Party, announced his break with the America First Committee and threw his support behind intervention in the European war against Germany. I think the record here is clear: the Left wasn’t supporting democracy, it was supporting socialism. And, in my opinion, that was the beginning of the consensus that enabled the United States to enter the war.

So, Glenn, when was it that the American Left supported democracy? Or did you have some other Left in mind?

The Glittering Eye

I think the Left paid some lip service to democracy, by which I think they meant “we can do as we like, you pick up the tab”.

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Punish them! Punish them!

[source, source]

Settlers who came to Australia 50,000 years ago and set fires that burned off natural flora and fauna may have triggered a cataclysmic weather change that turned the country’s interior into the dry desert it is today, U.S. and Australian researchers said on Tuesday.

Their study, reported in the latest issue of the journal, Geology, supports arguments that early settlers literally changed the landscape of the continent with fire.

“The implications are that the burning practices of early humans may have changed the climate of the Australian continent by weakening the penetration of monsoon moisture into the interior,” Gifford Miller of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who led the study, said in a statement.


People are also blamed for killing off 85 percent of Australia’s huge animals, including an ostrich-sized bird, 19 species of marsupials, a 25-foot-long (7.5-meter) lizard and a Volkswagen-sized tortoise.

Some experts have suggested climate change caused by burning killed off these species, rather than direct hunting by human.

Clearly, according to modern environmentalist standards, these people should never be trusted with land again. I await such a statement from the Green Party in Australia.

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Forget the body guards, I want my Marla Maples clone

[source, source]

Libya on Friday will unveil its most sweeping proposals for economic reform in 35 years as part of a new national strategy aimed at ushering the country into the modern economic era, Libyan officials said Thursday.

The multi-pronged initiative would streamline government, speed up privatization and liberalize the media sector in a bid to begin a transition from what remains essentially an authoritarian regime to a more liberal economy that is competitive in the region, Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of the country’s ruler, Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, and Abdulhafid Mahmoud Zlitni, the chairman of Libya’s National Planning Council, said Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

A number of Western advisers, including Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School and Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning economist, have agreed to work with Libya in the transition to craft an efficient framework for implementing the changes over the next two years.

“The old times are finished and Libya is ready to move onto the new stage of modernization,” Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi said in an interview. “This will be conducted in a well organized manner that ensures new openness and ownership by the people of Libya, not a small class of oligarchs like Russia or Egypt.”

“We are determined,” he added. “But of course success can only be measured by the implementation.”

More big news, this time from Libya. I think of a few things when I read this:

  • The Colonel’s sons have apparently realized that it’s a better life to be Donald Trump in America than Saddam Hussein in Iraq
  • Some talk is cheap, but this isn’t — going back now would be expensive
  • Some credit must go to President Bush, who’s shifted the cost/benefit calculations for being a dictator
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Talent prefers the iron hand, not the velvet glove

[source, source]

The Bush administration unveiled a new personnel system for the Department of Homeland Security yesterday that will dramatically change the way workers are paid, promoted, deployed and disciplined — and soon the White House will ask Congress to grant all federal agencies similar authority to rewrite civil service rules governing their employees.


A raise or promotion — moving up in a pay range or rising to the next one — will depend on receiving a satisfactory performance rating from a supervisor, said officials with homeland security and the Office of Personnel Management.


Leaders of federal employee unions, however, immediately denounced the new DHS system and any plans to expand it government-wide. They said the system would undermine the morale of homeland security employees and make it harder to attract and keep talented workers. [emphasis added]

Oh yeah, that’s certainly been a noted feature of pay systems that reward talent over seniority.

Back in reality, this is very big news that’s going to fly right under the radar. It does seem to be some vindication for those who claimed these changes at DHS would serve as a foot in the door for similar changes in other parts of the federal bureauocracy.

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