Mar 132013

Those of my fellow conservatives who think winning elections will fix things should read this article by Ivan Krastev, and ponder.

The nature of any political regime for self-correction is its major characteristic and it is the capacity of self-correction and public accountability that it is at the heart of any democratic advantage. There are now many in Kremlin who, on the contrary, think that excessive democratisation has been responsible for many of the problems that new country faces. Many envy ‘true’ Chinese authoritarianism. But the truth is that in many of its practices China is more democratic than Russia, and its decision-making is undoubtedly superior. Over the last two decades, when China was busy with capacity building, Russia seems to have been pre-occupied with incapacity hiding. When Western commentators try to make sense of the different performance of the new authoritarians, they would well advised to look beyond formal institutional design.

via Is China more democratic than Russia? | openDemocracy.

Sep 272012

As’s James Babb describes, this is nothing more than “obedience training.” The American people and travelers in general are being ‘broken in’ to accept their subservience in what represents the human equivalent of horse training.

via » Bizarre TSA “Freeze” Security Drill Caught on Camera Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

May 192012

The WSJ suggests that President Obama put in a word with the perps who are attempting to criminalize political opponents in Mongolia and Ukraine.

All this strongly suggests an effort by Mr. Elbegdorj to use raw government coercion to head off a legitimate political challenger—in other words, to criminalize democratic differences. A similar drama is also unfolding in the Ukraine, where former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been jailed on dubious corruption charges by the government of Viktor Yanukovych, who will also be showing up in Chicago this weekend.

(via Review & Outlook: Genghis Democracies –

President Obama is an unlikely ambassador for a healthy two-party system with minority rights and a loyal opposition, though.   His own use of power to bully political opponents has kept Kimberly Strassel busy writing about little else lately:

On the other hand, maybe President Obama would be just the person to explain things to Elbegdorj and Yanukovych, given that the three could easily see themselves as brothers engaged in a common struggle to consolidate power and oppress the people.  Maybe Elbegdorj and Yaukovych would be more likely to listen to one of their own who hasn’t gone quite as far as they have, than to a person such as Václav Havel (if  such a person could even be found anymore).

Apr 052010

Fascinating review of Ernest May’s “Strange Victory – Hitler’s Conquest of France”, by Alex Harrowell over at A Fistfull of Euros.

It turns out that that Hitler’s Germany was able to defeat France and Britain because Germany acted more like an egalitarian democracy, while France went in for authoritarian central planning. And then Germany lost the war because, after the first victories, Hitler insisted on tight control and central planning.

This story has a sort of tragic duality. The Germans won because they had been able to plan more like a democracy than democratic France or Britain – they constantly questioned their assumptions, criticised superiors, and threw out bad ideas – but they would never do so again, precisely because of their triumph over France. Hitler rapidly convinced himself it was all his own work, and the independent authority of the army was permanently destroyed.

Mar 112010

Great quote from George Will. He also tells us about a progressive president who once wanted to apply the same principle to his marriage.

Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens.

Feb 082010

I actually saw a bit of the Super Bowl, toward the end. And I saw that Green Police ad.

David Roberts at Grist wonders if it was aimed at teabaggers, but then rejects that idea and thinks it’s aimed at people like himself — self-righteous green moralists?

But why does it have to be one or the other? Why couldn’t it have been aimed at both, with a different message takeaway message for each of the two opposing groups?

Or maybe the takeaway message is that obnoxious greenies should buy Audis and make the company a lot of money, and then the teabaggers will be justified in their opinions of Audi drivers.

Nov 262009


No wonder the Obama administration seems to have such a narrow, constrained outlook on life.

I got the chart from Say Anything blog, which got it from The EnterpriseBlog, which says it came from a JP Morgan research report. But I like the post at the Say Anything blog because of the comments, especially those about the role of public workers. It seems some people got kind of defensive about it.

Oct 182009

The following is what I wrote in response to the Battle Creek Enquirer article, “State to hear B.C.’s voice : Forum gives area residents a say in Michigan’s future.” I was especially responding to the part that said, “Michael McCullough, general manager and executive editor of the Enquirer, said the goal is to rise above partisanship for the good of the state.”

Rise above partisanship for the good of the state? Yeck. Sounds way too totalitarian to me.

And now I see that John Schwarz is involved.

What we need is more partisan bickering, not any “rising above bipartisanship”. Partisan bickering is what made our country great. (Think back to the terrible things that the Adams and Jefferson factions said about each other. They were both right in their nasty, vicious criticisms of the other side, and their comments still apply. But we got a workable system out of it, to some extent because they wouldn’t let each other get things done.

Oct 102009

Blogger Mark Kleiman makes the case that Barak Obama is the right person to have been given the prize as ”the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

The problem is, there are many other contenders for that honor. To name a few:

  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Al Gore
  • Wen Jiabao
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Robert Mugabe
  • Vladimir Putin
  • Than Shwe
  • Manuel Zelaya

There is no question that Barak Obama also belongs in that list. But has he really done more than all of those worthies?

Sep 112009

Toward the end of Alexander Goldfarb’s “Death of a Dissident : The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB,” Goldfarb reports how after Litvinenko’s death, Putin claimed Litvinenko was a small fry and didn’t know any secrets; therefore the Russian government would not have ordered his death. (I’m listening to an audio version and don’t have the exact quote.)

Putin’s reasoning is lame, of course. There are lots of other reasons a dictatorship might want to be rid of an expatriate dissident than to keep secrets from getting out. It wasn’t for the sake of protecting secrets that Trotsky ended up with the sharp end of an ice axe in his head, for example. Even if Litvinenko himself talked in terms of secrets doesn’t mean secrets were the reason for his murder.

What I wish I knew, though, is what Putin thinks he’s doing when he makes such statements. Is he trying to fool people into thinking his government didn’t order the killing? Or is he just trying to corrupt people into taking such excuses seriously when everyone knows the reasoning is bogus. If people can be made to pretend Putin somehow makes sense when he says these things, even though they know better, they are in some measure submitting themselves to his psychological control.

That can happen, but is it what Putin has in mind when he asks people to believe outlandish things? It would be nice to know.