Work and Days

Political and Natural Landscapes

Thoughts on Global Warming

Actually I have no deep thoughts on the subject, since the argument that it is entirely human-induced doesn’t seem proven. (I still remember the “new Ice-Age” stories growing up in the media, a century following the Industrial Revolution.)

Instead, I look at the world empirically and locally. It has already been a cold autumn here in central California. It’s now raining and snowing in the Sierra. The water table has dipped, but that seems entirely due to population growth, not climate change.

Looking out the window from this farm, I have a couple of contrary thoughts. First, there are millions more people here than in the late 1950s, and, second, the air seems far clearer, at least the mountains are more frequently visible than was true of the 1960s and 1970s. The climate seems unchanged, though the summers feel more humid, and not quite like the scorching desert temperatures of my youth.

If we have damaged the environment hereabouts, it seems only in the sense that we are choosing people and suburbs over open spaces and farms. I regret that, but I am not yet convinced (as much as I would like it to stop and some part of the 1950s rural scene to endure) that these millions here have polluted the air, taken all the water, or fouled the environment. Again, growing up in the far more open 1950s the air seemed dirtier, organophosphates and organ chlorides were more ubiquitous, and the water table more polluted (in fact, the more farms go out of production in favor of houses, the less water may be consumed?).

All that is a long way of suggesting that I would like to find arguments to use against the blacktopping of central California, but am afraid it will continue since it may mean the air is no dirtier (surely less dust with fewer of our farms) and the water no more scarce—as long as we grant we cannot farm as before.

All that being said, I would prefer a month of the world of the 1950s hereabouts to a year in the present. I remember it was about 1973 when my grandfather remarked to me he had to find a long-lost key to the house front door. And I remember the local scandal when the paper mentioned someone was caught with a “morphine-syringe kit” and arrested on charges of having “drug paraphernalia.”

What a world lost.

Illiberal Immigration

I did some radio interviews this week on illegal immigration, and am quite surprised still how such an illiberal phenomenon is cloaked in doctrinaire liberalism.

Examine the institution on its merits: illegal immigration depends on the union-busting employer’s exploitation of cheap labor that cannot bargain or organize. The Left cynically sees a new politically dependent constituency that will need group representation, and supposedly show lasting thanks for the extension of entitlements (note the Left still bristles at illegal immigration from Cuba).

A tribalist fringe in support voices clearly racist triumphalism (cf. La Raza [“the race”]). A cynical Mexico hopes to export human capital, and then have distant helots send much of their wages home—thereby ensuring its expatriates will live in poverty in the US but allow Mexican elites not to spend housing, education, and medical pesos in central Mexico (cf. however, the government’s unique ability to attract wealthy white Americans to build second homes in Baja).

Meanwhile play-by-the-rules Asians and Africans wait for years in line and must show specialized skill to enter the US legally.

Presto! All that and more are considered “liberal” while its critics are smeared as “racists”, “xenophobes” and “nativists.”

History of the US Infantry

I just received a stunning volume, U. S. Army Infantry, published by the National Infantry Association (eds. retired Col. Bluhm, MG White, and LTC Newell). It is a massive book, replete with maps, photos, and a narrative spanning 1600 to the present that chronicles ground operations of the American infantry over four centuries—beautifully produced and written, with a forward by Colin Powell.


Target Obama

Expect the Clinton machine hardly to cease its ongoing character assassination of Obama. In the flurry around Bob Kerry’s Hillary endorsement, he managed to mention Obama’s middle name Hussein, and a three-generation familial association with Islam. In the past, Clintonites “touched” upon madrassas, drug use, and the kindergarten essay. Islam, the funny-sounding name, the African connection—when Hillary et. al get through with defaming Barack Hussein Obama, the public will supposedly think he is some sort of Idi Amin incarnate.

So much for the politics of personal destruction.

The BBC

I have been listening to the BBC while driving across California to and from the Hoover Institution. While the themes of the reporting are clearing leftish inspired, there is also a constant subtext of anti-Americanism in general, and in particular anti-Bush. But for all the stories about British nuance versus American cowboyism, it is hard to see how recent British moves—turning over entire regions last summer to the Taliban, fleeing Basra, or begging for return of the capture sailors—are models of either insight or courage.

With changes in government in Europe, we are witnessing an upside down situation, in which the French and German governments seem more pro-American than is the British, whether or not these are accurate reflections of current popular sentiments. On recent trips to Europe and in conversations here with Europeans, I often find the French and Italians more friendly than the British—but almost never see anyone point this out in print.

Defeat and Reconciliation

I recently did an interview with Peter Robinson on NRO concerning the reasons for the turn-about in Iraq. After listing the usual suspects—the surge, the change in tactics, the repulsion with al Qaeda’s horrific atrocities, Sunni fear of the Shiite government, fear of Iran, desire for the nearby stability of Kurdistan, etc.—I listed two others: the enormous and growing revenue from oil that is increasingly visible in the country, and the staggering losses of the Sunni insurgency mostly to the US military, and in lesser measure, to the Shiite militias.

Some readers complained about that, repeating the old canard, “there is no military solution”. But only the defeat and humiliation of the Sunni militias and Baathists allowed the present window of opportunity for political reconciliation. And again, what brought about the Anbar awakening was not some sudden mythical “reconciliation” but the stark reality that the Sunni insurgents had been repeatedly defeated on the battlefield, had no allies in al Qaeda, but future enemies with the Shia government, and saw a US ready to be magnanimous and solicitous of its security needs. Add the brighter alternative of giving in to share in billions of petrodollars and it was a no brainer.

The Clintonites and the classical arts of defamation:

Apophasis: “the raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it”, as in—”The issue related to cocaine use is not something the campaign is in any way raising.”

More on Bill Clinton

I watched Bill Clinton on Charlie Rose. Some random thoughts: Hillary’s staff’s rhetorical flourishes of denigrating Obama by claiming not to must originate with Bill himself, or are inspired by his modus operandi. The entire interview was classical praeteritio: He is not low-balling Hillary in Iowa by saying it would be a miracle if she won; he is not trashing Obama by mentioning he doesn’t have the experience to be President, etc.

He praises Hillary’s achievements during his administration; but one wonders why now, and not then? In the 1990s she was hardly in the news as such a key player—except for destroying the health care initiative.

He still has a bad temper, and turns beet red at the first indication he might be challenged (cf. the Chris Wallace Fox News interview). I will write about him for the TMS column this week, since his sudden presence in her campaign can’t be a good sign for her candidacy. The Rose interview shows that he’s completely undisciplined and can say anything at anytime—and already has on her campaign trail, whether falsely claiming he always opposed the war, or now suggesting that only his recognition in 1988 (pay heed! Barack) of his lack of experience (as opposed to his ongoing barely suppressed scandals) precluded an earlier run for the President. How thoughtful and courageous he was to have spared us an “inexperienced” Clinton as president in 1988.