Saturday, October 02, 2004

Voting for Bush, Rooting for Kerry

Yep. You read right. This blogger is none too pleased with the theatrics of either candidacy. I find little solace in either man seeking the presidency. I'm dropping my usual deadpan third person style to speak colloquially in this essay because I'm angry, having waded through the last presidential debate.

I'm voting for the President because he appeals to my basic, cave-man instinct for picking who will lead me in a jungle rife with vipers and tigers: I think Bush is out to save my bacon more than Kerry, who is out to save his cherished, cultivated ideals from getting besmirched by the demands of the 21st century. Admittedly, it's a base assessment of the the President. The President does not appear to have a truly workable plan for engaging the enemy, or he can't articulate it. Arguably, the ball's been dropped in several ways, as we defer before Fallujans and Sadrites, and hope our trained Iraqi keystone cops can handle Death Inc. But my gut reports that Bush will bat a ball when it's pitched to him---where it flies is anybody's guess. Kerry will question if it is a ball that has been pitched, if its a fair pitch, and if his bat is legal. He'll puzzle over how many possible trajectories are acceptable to the 'World Community' so that the alleged ball that was possibly pitched might not offend whomever it lands upon.


Vote Bush. Yes---it might be certain quagmire, certain tragedy, certain death---certain fill-in-the-blank. But the gut says yes to conviction.

But if Kerry wins, I can nurse a nascent passion. For too long since 9/11 the Democrats and so-called liberals have occupied the peanut gallery, mocking and judging every move the President has made from their velvet armchairs. "Under our leadership, things would be quite different," they chide as they strike yet another pose. And so be it. Kerry as president means the other half of our fractured system gets its opportunity to pick up the fiddle and play 9/11's dissonant music. Of course, the fiddle has its own tunes, and it is managed more than it is played. I want to see this happen. I want to see some political credibility build on both sides of the aisle, or in absence of that, a serious reality set in. We won't hear a President Kerry babble on about Vietnam in the midst of this unfolding war, because it's nothing like Vietnam---it never was, and never will be. His Vietnam experience will offer little guidance when, for example, he's playing the shell game with the Iranians, waiting for the nuclear nut to reveal itself, with the free world as the stakes. Kerry as president will finally bury Vietnam. Good riddance.

I am fed up with a lopsided political system that has only one half of its elected officials talking partially sanely in the face of unique challenges, new realities and new enemies, while the other half spews utopian crazy talk, eschewing true responsibility. The Democrats having to face the music is my secret passion. Seeing John Kerry sweat and writhe by actually attempting cogency and commitment will give me no end of satisfaction. And some hope.

Perhaps with Kerry dodging bullets, he and his eviscerated party might actually start firing back with the heavy ammo---courage, commitment and vision. Our system might no longer be lopsided, such as it is today---and we could the see if firing with both barrels could make a difference. I'm not holding my breath.

I am close to not believing that my cherished country can address the deadly threats that lash its shores and metastasize in its cities. Credibility is about more than fighting an old war or talking tough in front of cameras on a Texan ranch. National credibility means closing ranks, and putting away fantasies to form a unified front against a rising plague of anarchy, fascism, and the colossus of death.

Fatalistically, I have less faith in Kerry than Bush. What I don't want to lose faith in is our whole civilization. And that's what's at stake.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cities of Darkness

Theordore Dalrymple wrote an essay for City Journal that is a damning indictment of the French multiculturalist nanny state. Vast state-subsidized concrete ghettos ring most French cities, peopled by immigrants and their descendents from North and West Africa. To say that a counter-culture has evolved in these cités would be an understatement. The most extreme of the extremists are incubating in socialist ant farms like those in France.

Here’s a few snippets taken from Mr. Dalrymple’s essay, The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris:
Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent... Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants...

...A Habitation de Loyer Modéré -- a House at Moderate Rent, or HLM -- [is] for the workers, largely immigrant, whom the factories needed during France’s great industrial expansion from the 1950s to the 1970s, when the unemployment rate was 2 percent and cheap labor was much in demand. By the late eighties, however, the demand had evaporated, but the people whose labor had satisfied it had not; and together with their descendants and a constant influx of new hopefuls, they made the provision of cheap housing more necessary than ever.

A kind of anti-society has grown up in [the HLMs] -- a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust -- greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years -- is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man’s “friends,” and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.

But [state entitlements are] not a cause of gratitude -- on the contrary: they feel it as an insult or a wound, even as they take it for granted as their due. But like all human beings, they want the respect and approval of others, even -- or rather especially -- of the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity... The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state’s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order.

No one should underestimate the danger that this failure poses, not only for France but also for the world. The inhabitants of the cités are exceptionally well armed. When the professional robbers among them raid a bank or an armored car delivering cash, they do so with bazookas and rocket launchers, and dress in paramilitary uniforms. From time to time, the police discover whole arsenals of Kalashnikovs in the cités. There is a vigorous informal trade between France and post-communist Eastern Europe: workshops in underground garages in the cités change the serial numbers of stolen luxury cars prior to export to the East, in exchange for sophisticated weaponry.
Some questions:

* If multicultural socialism is largely responsible for the rise of disaffected Arab and African immigrants---resentment for being given their rights and privileges rather than earning them---could the same phenomenon occur in Iraq or Afghanistan?

* What would be a cogent response of the US if a devastating terrorist attack was planned and mounted from a French HLM? Or its British or German equivalent?

* Would it be possible to undo the destructive cultures that have evolved in these ghettos?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Friends Like These

Last week during Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Alawi's visit to Washington, presidential candidate John Kerry's advisor derided the Prime Minister's office, questioning his credibility with Iraqis and the west. Having now declaimed the legitimacy of the first post-Saddam government in Iraq, the Kerry campaign must now propose who they would support. This week's national security debate should be most telling.

Joe Lockhart, Mr. Kerry's campaign advisor, said of the visiting Prime Minister: "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips." Add to Lockhart's philippic Kerry's Iraq strategy gobbledygook, and it appears that a president Kerry would not support the Prime Minister who has put his life on the line to promote democracy in Iraq. Will Kerry instead propose an Iraqi government staffed with UN-supported bureaucrats?

Imagine relations between Alawi and a president Kerry after his campaign's clear condemnation of the Prime Minister's legitimacy. Alawi must be praying for a Bush victory harder than anyone. Kerry appears to have already started the mental process of a pullout, even before he's elected president. Liberals have made it clear that the man they prefer at the helm in Iraq is Saddam Hussein. Short of reinstalling him, who could they possibly consider as the legitimate leader of New Iraq?

Suggestions of Mr. Kerry's Iraq plan are welcome.