Monday, February 04, 2008

Council Winners

Watchers Council winners have been posted for the week of February 1.

First place in the council went to Energy Independence -- What It Am And What It Ain't by Joshuapundit, which makes a case for synthetic oil and oil shale as the next step.

Votes also went to About Those "Lies" by The Colossus of Rhodey, and How to Lie About Lying by Big Lizards, both of which deal with the Center for Public Integrity's study that claimed to chronicle 935 "false statements" by the Bush Administration leading up to the Iraq War. (My take on that bit of journalistic deception is here.)

Both posts noted the big media turning a blind eye to the partisan source of the study, and both noted that the carefully chosen "false statements" quickly became "lies" in the anti-administration outlets and even some media that should have known better.

Dafydd did what I did and read through some of the list and found many if not most of them were either quotes wrenched out of context, statements that were generally believed to be true at the time on all sides but have not since been upheld (which would be "false statements"), or else matters of interpretation where anti-war views color the reading of the record. Rhodey took a different approach, gathering up similar statements from Clinton Administration leading lights in the 1990s. But I think this is flawed, because at that time Saddam really was actively developing WMD. So those statements were accurate in a way that post 2000 statements probably were not.

Bookworm Room also got votes for The Media, Richard Scaife, and the Never Ending Soros Connection, which starts off on the same topic as the above two and then goes into a catalogue of the rap sheet against George Soros.

Votes also went to Complicit by Soccer Dad, about the chaos in Gaza, and to Orwell's Britain Is Halal Toast by Wolf Howling, a thoroughly researched and written post about the threat to Britain from an assertive and unassimilated Muslim population, and what has caused it.

The problem that the UK is having with the radicalization of its Muslim population is so severe as to be the worst of any nation in Europe. The problem got that way through years of Britain's practice of a virulent type of multiculturalism in accordance with which Britian uncritically tolerated the radical sects of Salafi / Wahhabi / Deobandi Islam. And even now, the Labour government is showing no intention of changing its approach.

Labour is burying its multicultural head deep into the dhimmi sands. Specifically, the Labour government has decided to stop calling Islamic terrorists "Islamic terrorists." Instead, the UK government will henceforth label Islamic terrorist activities as "anti-Islamic." One would be hard-pressed to find a better example of Orwellian doublespeak.

Outside the council, the winner was The Conclusion We Dare Not Face by council alumnae Dr. Sanity.

I'm glad this post didn't wade into the Quran and attempt to prove something about the living religion based on the text. Posts that do that, written by non-Muslims, usually go astray. But one problem I have with the post is, I'm not sure what the "conclusion" in the title is.

In one place, the question is asked, "Is Islam compatible with a free society?" Presumably the conclusion we dare not face is, "no." In another the forbidden conclusion appears to be the reverse of "a moderate, reasonable Islam is possible." In another, though, it seems to be the reverse of "Islam can change," and a citation from another blogger makes the verboten "no" the response to "the way to defeat international jihadism is to spread democracy."

They are related, but not the same. The poster's clearest statement of the forbidden conclusion seems to be this:

Islam itself seems more and more incompatible with Western values; even antithetical to them. But still, we could live with that if they were not hell-bent on converting us to their medieval religion or alternatively, killing all infidels who refuse their path. The Mullahs and Imans; the fanatics and barbarians; the petty despots and tyrannical kings of Islam around the world -- are all united in their evil vision for all of mankind--and no olive branch; no amount of appeasement; and no appeal to reason and good will seems capable of bringing them into the fold of humankind.

The interesting point is made that President Bush's policies do not conform to this view at all, and are opposed by people who have reached the forbidden conclusion. "Bush stubbornly believes that he must negotiate a path that will still answer YES to the strategic question."

Another incongruity in the post is that, in one quoted citation, Barack Obama's middle name is supposed to be a hidden thing -- "pushed underground" by his backers -- but in another it is what lands him support, because of "the unconscious appeal" ... "to the hope that we can all get along."

Votes also went to A Moral Core for U.S. Foreign Policy by Derek Chollet and Tod Lindberg (my nominee); and Be a Victim! Or Else! by Classical Values, which opens with Bruce Bawer's latest piece and goes on to visit some of the recent home front flare-ups in the clash of civilizations.

Other votes went to The Muslims of Europe Charter by Gates of Vienna; On Term Limits and Government Power at Somewhere On A1A ..., John McCain's Open-Borders Outreach Director: The Next DHS Secretary? by Michelle Malkin; Treaties and Executive Agreements at Outside the Beltway; and The Audacity of Questioning Obama's Commitment to Israel at American Thinker.

Also getting a vote was Capitalism Doesn't Work, Mr. Gates? by Lawrence Kudlow at Rasmussen Reports. I give Kudrow credit for taking up Bill Gates' speech at Davos, which was one of the most important statements made so far this year and a worthy topic for debate. It got drowned out here in the primary election chatter, unfortunately. I meant to weigh in on it, but never did. Kudrow did the right thing.

I don't think his dismissal of Gates call for a "kinder capitalism" to aid the world's poor is justified, however.

A guy without a college degree who invented a new technology process in his garage that literally changed the entire world, a guy who took advantage of all the great opportunities that a free and capitalist society has to offer and got filthy rich in the process, is now trashing capitalism and telling us it doesn't work. What chutzpah.

For all his do-good preaching, Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class over the last decade. ... Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.

Free-market capitalism, I've come to accept, is the best way to grow a global prosperity without completely dismantling civilization and human nature and starting over from something else. Any attempt to corral it under deliberate management quickly collapses into nightmare, as even a single national economy is too complex for any one, or any committee (shudder) to manage, and the temptations incumbent on controling so much wealth and power is too great for the weak human will.

Yet I don't think we ought to mistake capitalism for a positive good. It works in the way biological evolution works on species: with reactionary slowness, terrible suffering, and colossal waste. Its driving force is self-interest, which is a nasty balance of greed and fear. The lowest impulses, yet the most potent ones. It's nothing to be proud of, even if it gets the job done.

And it works best when both elements -- fear and greed -- are at work on both the capitalist and the producer. If the rise of domestic populism and international communism (and, briefly, fascism) as seemingly viable alternatives to capitalism had never happened, would the bosses in the United States have been willing to quickly give in on issues such as the 8-hour day, pensions, health-care coverage, and paid vacations? Is it coincidence that the collapse of that horrid sham alternative represented by the USSR coincided with the loss of bargaining power by workers against bosses in the U.S., and the incremental give-back of what had formerly been thought of as workers' privileges (and now can only be found, it seems, in the contracts of public school teachers)?

Capitalism has gone global. No nation, even America, can stike fear any longer in the bigger bosses; they can take it all overseas. For this mindless, instinctual system to keep working at its best, the level of fear they feel has to be global, too. And Gates is right to feel something in a world where media allows the some people's gross opulence to be discovered by people whose children die of preventable diseases. If there's a touch of fear in his benevolent words, so much the better for capitalism.

I think Kudrow's contrast of free-market economics to "the command-and-control, state-run economics experiment" of the old Soviet Union is a false dichotomy.