Monday, July 31, 2006

President Jimmy Carter

I'm writing a new book, tentatively entitled "Tales of a Neo-Con" tentatively scheduled for publication by John A. Wiley in the Fall of '07. President Carter comes off worst. I was once at Young Presidents Organization meeting in Australia. He was one of four keynote speakers. I was another. In the course of his remarks he said "The Soviets have never lied to us." It was mostly an American audience (70%-80%). Americans, on foreign soil, stood up and hooted and hissed at their own President. Deservedly so.

Descriptive Name-Changing

It's hard to know how people should described. African Americans have been known as "colored," "black," and many other words including the dreaded N-word. Jews are said to be "of the "Jewish community." People seem to be afraid of the word "Jew." I can live just fine being called an "American Jew."


It is said that we have criminalized our politics; and so we have. Decent people I know may be up for life sentences! It is said, further, white collar crime is as bad as violent crime. I don't believe that is so. The first law of investing is: diversify (if you can.) Violent crime is terminal. In my own extended family I have had many muggings and a wonderful sister-in-law who was murdered. I know others who have been murdered . It's terminal.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Two Heroes

Although I am regarded as a "neo-conservativee," two of my heroes were Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, great liberals of their time. Scoop said American foreign policy ought to have a good dose of morality it. We were the examplar nation in the world. Sometimes it got out of hand: the invasion to the Philippines was dumb, dumb, dumb --- although I've been there several times and I find it a wonderful place. But Scoop's view that realism and idealism ought to be our guideposts is largely accepted today. Hubert Humphrey believed that we ought to take care of old people in poverty, of the sick, of the children --- the least among us. We do that.

Staying Power

I am regarded, and am, a Neo-conservative. That is regarded by some these days as players who get us into dangerous wars all over the world. Bunk. In reality, I still have many liberal tendencies. When my book The Birth Dearth came out it preached big spending for pro-natal policies: flex-time, children's allowances, paid parental leave --- and yet the critics called it a "conservative" book. Nutso.


In the Sixties when hippies and anti-war radicals grew beards it was regarded as a radical statement. There was a lot of silly and dangerous stuff that went on --- hard drugs for example. But when I started growing grey I sprouted a moustache. People thought I was a Turk. Then it turned grey, and I grew a full beard. People thought I was a Rabbi. For a long time I shaved --- and hated it. Now I have a short grey beard. It saves me at least and hour a day!

The Three Most Important Political Men

As I see it the three most important men in American public life in recent years have been an odd trio: Jesse Jackson, George Wallace and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. They each had constituencies and could play a role in delivering them. My hero, of course, was Pat Moynihan with whom I worked with over the years in a variety of roles.

Press Secretaries

The appointment of Tony Snow was a masterstroke. No other Press Secretary to the President was a well-known commentator with his own following. Not Bill Moyers, not Ari Fliescher, not Marlin Fitzwater. It seems to me that there will be at least a few voters --- and it looks like the 2006 Congressional elections will be very close --- will say that if Tony says President Dubya is doing a good job, and explains why --- they will vote Republican in the Fall. BTW ours is not exactly a democratic system: California and Wyoming each get two Senators --- and we complain about the new constitution of Iraq. What has made America #1 is it's open and innovative culture.


I have had a love-hate relationship with baseball. I was I a wild Brooklyn Dodger fan in the 1940s (when Jackie Robinson --- who later supported Nixon for President (!) --- broke the color line.) Then Walter O'Malley moved the Dodgers to LA --- and I was crushed and lost interest. Later the NY Mets were established and I was a strong fan (Ed Kranepool was my favorite.)

I came to Washington DC and fell in love with the Washington Senators --- Frank Howard, manager Ted Williams and first-baseman Mike Epstein ("Super-Jew"). Then Bob Short moved the team to Texas. Not long after I wrote a column called "Snoreball" --- about how long and boring the sport was.

Now I am in love again. The Washington Nationals are in town with some truly exciting players: Alfredo Soriano, Ryan Zimmerman and manager Frank Robinson. Now the new owners are thinking of trading Soriano for younger draft picks. It will crush me.

The Most Important Elections of our Time

I think the Democratic primary elections of 1972 were the most important of our time --- and their results are still playing out. After Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was killed in 1968 (by Sirhan Sirhan a Palestinian who didn't like his pro-Israel position) Senator George McGovern entered the fray to h0ld the Kennedy delegates. There were anti-Vietnam riots in the streets of Chicago. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out in favor of the rioters, and against the procedures of the oldest political party in the world. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey won the nomination. As a sop to Humphrey a "McGovern Commission" was formed to create new party rules. These included quotas for women, blacks and other minorities.

McGovern, Humphrey and George Wallace got about equal numbers of popular votes. But McGovern's people (Rick Stearns was one) knew the rules best, and survived some challenges to who the legitimate delegates were.

So "McGovernism" came into play. It included all the "cause movements" --- civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, consumerism etc. Each had merit, and each was carried to excess.

That fight still goes on...


A guess I'm little old to realize it (almost 73) but I am becoming something of a naturalist. I saw Joy Adamson's "Born Free" the other night. The picture of the cobra arched to go after the lion cub was incredible. A recent story about how "Orcas"--- so-called "killer dolphins" tossing their young into the air to show off their young'uns to viewers on tour boats --- blew my mind.

Age and Survival

The role of luck in life is --- incredible. My father was on the way to the front line as a newly commissioned lieutenant in the Austrian army when the Armistice was declared. In the 1950s, I was Air Force ROTC, and had originally signed up for pilot/navigator/bombadier training (scared witless) and ended up as Airman Third Class serving in San Antonio (hardship post?) as the sports editor of the base newspaper. That was after World War II and before Vietnam. My son was in college shortly after Vietnam and drew a high lottery number. Other families --- by the luck of the draw have suffered grievously --- because their male offspring were born at the wrong time.


I grew up in a household that was very pro-Zionist. My mother's family came to Jaffa in 1904. When the first all-Jewish town was built (now Tel Aviv) the Jewish community drew lots to see who would get to live where. As I understand it they got second pick, and their house was two doors down from the "gymnasium" on what is now Herzl St. at the end of which is (was?) the Shalom Tower, known as the tallest building from the Nile to the Ganges. My grandfather was S. Benzion, for whom I am named. My late uncle (Nachum Gutman ) is probably Israel's most revered artist.
My father arrived from Austria after World War I as a "chalutz" (pioneer).
My mother came to study nutrition at Columbia University in order to go back to Palestine and be a cook on a kibbutz.
They met when they were both students at Columbia.
The Jewish settlers did indeed "make the desert bloom" --- although that notion is sometimes derided these days.
There had been some continuous Jewish settlement in Palestine (now Israel) since Biblical times. They have created one of the world's great centers of science and hi-tech. Ironically, the military spin-offs have been of great commercial value.
The Israelis, just want to be left alone. They don't want their "right to exist" challenged. They took in huge numbers of Jews from Arab countries.
The Arab nations liked the idea of keeping "refugee camps" as a symbol rather than accepting Palestinians into their vast territories.
Arab "Palestine" was an artificial creation by the Brits. They (and now the Iranians, who used be quite pro-Israeli) keep trying to drive the Jews into the sea.
It's not going to happen.

The Costs of Iraq

I recently attended a forum at the New America Foundation. The speaker said the Iraq War was the greatest military tragedy in history. How preposterous! Did he remember the U.S. Civil War? Or World War II?

So far --- tragically --- about 2,500 American volunteers have been killed in Iraq. That's fewer than the number that were killed by the Islamo-jihadist-fascists on 9/11/01. American military men and women are volunteering for third and fourth tours. Some think they have been taken advantage of; some of their Mom's are saying "Go to Canada." As far as I'm concerned, they can stay right here, get a general discharge, and go on with their lives.

In a limited way, under certain circumstances, America will be "the World's policeman" --- there is no other cop on the beat, although the Brits have been good allies.

President Bush is in political trouble on Iraq. That is to be expected. Free people don't like to go war. That is as it should be.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My New Book

My new book, tentatively titled "Tales of a NeoCon" (John A. Wiley) is expected to be published in the Fall of 2007. It's central point is this: That Neoconservatism has been given a bum rap. It is alleged that Neo-Cons seek out little wars to fight, getting America stuck in quagmires around the world. In fact, NeoCons believe in a mixture of foreign policy idealism and realism, generally accepted by most experts. And, in my judgment, the genesis of Neoconservatism came not from foreign policy, but from the eruption "crime in the streets" in the 1960s.

Immigration Debate

It is said that high end immigration (doctors, scientists etc.) is fine, but that the problem comes from "low end immigration" (the people who mow your lawn or wash your dishes.)
But we will get the fruits of high end immigration from wherever it comes. For example, a cure for certain diseases will fairly rapidly be available worldwide (slowed down somewhat by bureaucracies.)
But "Low end" immigrants cannot be replaced; someone has to be here to mow your lawn or wash your dishes. Which allows the men and women who pay for such services to engage in higher end work.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Justin Raimondo is dead wrong.

Lyndon Johnson used to say he was a free man, an American, a Texan and a Democrat — in that order. I believe Joe Lieberman has the same hierarchy of values, with the state changed.

Fifty or a hundred years from now the USA will be known in larger measure because we promoted and purveyed the values of liberty, democracy and human rights. Justin: You have a problem with that? The jihadist islamo-fascists want to destroy America through fear — fear of plagues (small pox, anthrax etc.) and through massive conversion to a religion some of whose adherents condone terrorism. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Demographics = politics = economics = power, influence and much less greenhouse effect.

Birth rates (Total Fertility Rates) — equal the number of children have fallen in every country of the world. Women in Greater Tokyo — 30 million people bear, on an age specific rate, give birth on average of 0.99 children each, below half the Reproduction rate of 2.1 children per woman in modern countries. This diminishment of population proceeds geometrically, not leaving many Japanese to make Game Boys, great cars, or miracle drugs.

The situation, if anything is worse in Russia: a TFR of about 1.3 , but with substantial emigration, alcoholism and suicide. Some smaller European nations may well “go out of business” as the demographers pungent phrase has it.

In China the “birth dearth” (my coinage) began earlier than elsewhere. Thanks to the crazed coercive one child family of China their future pensions will quite possibly be impossible to deal with — except with hemlock.

India is in much better shape. Fertility has come way down, but there is little worry of revolution by the masses and a buoyant spirit of entrepreneurialism.

In the cat bird’s seat in the U.S. America is growing more rapidly than any other major nation; from about 300 million today to about 500 million in 2300 according to the UN Population Division projections, which may well be low as U.S TFRs remain high (just barely below the replacement level) and which be under-stated. The 20th Century was called the “American Century.”

Sunday, July 02, 2006

John Kerry Is Wrong [Vietnam vs. Iraq]

Senator John Kerry has been comparing the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, and indicating that they are very similar; his conclusion is it’s time to get out. Not for the first time, Kerry is dead wrong. There are indeed similarities, but — notwithstanding what we read and see in the media — there are important differences as well. Let me offer a blunt appraisal.

It is not regarded as polite to mention it — almost no one does — but most of the grunts in Vietnam were draftees; in Iraq, they all volunteered.

On the Vietnam Memorial in Washington are about 58,000 names; in Iraq, the total number of KIAs is lower than the number of Americans killed on 9/11.

Those are pretty big differences. As for the similarities, they do, as I said, exist — but they don’t bolster Kerry’s case for withdrawal. The central similarity is that both wars were defensive efforts against a global foe. We were right to fear the expansion of totalitarian Communism. We lost that battle — actually the South Vietnamese Army lost it two and a half years after we disengaged — but we won the war. Wars, after all, are won by the party that triumphs in the final showdown: The Soviet Union has disappeared, and its satellites deorbited. In Iraq, our foe is jihadism, which likewise seeks global domination. To think that they can’t achieve this against a technologically superior West is simply a failure of imagination: One terrorist with a smallpox virus might be able to wipe out half a population. Another similarity has to do with our domestic politics. President Lyndon B. Johnson lost no opportunity to explain why we were in Vietnam: from major speeches to arrival and departure statements for important visitors. I was on his staff from mid-1966 to the end, and at parties and dinners in Washington I would repeat the president’s rationale with gusto. Many times, people would respond, “Gee, I wish LBJ would explain it that way.” Sound familiar? President George W. Bush always talks about Iraq — yet we keep hearing the same line: “Why doesn’t he explain the war?” With the exception of one paragraph (on the “ownership society”) Bush’s Second Inaugural was entirely devoted to the rationale for the war. It’s worth reading: a magnificent speech, right in the American grain, one that will be remembered for as long as liberty is an issue on this planet. And the rationale has not changed.

Like Vietnam before it, the Iraq war is often blamed on “neoconservative” ideologues (or their counterparts then) which is to say, people who think the game of purveying liberty is worth the candle of commitment.

In both wars, critics asked: “What’s the plan? What’s the exit strategy?” And in both cases, the appropriate answer was: Dunno; we’ll have to play it by ear and see what develops in the fog of war.

In both wars, much of the media coverage was crazed. My Lai involved a few hundred people, Abu Ghraib fewer than that. But these events dominated news coverage, which tended to ignore the larger meaning of what was going on.

In both wars, we were told our actions would hurt us in the eyes of the world. And so they did. Unfortunate. But we ended up as the exceptional nation, Number One, more influential than any nation in history, the City on a Hill, hearing anti-American language which boiled down to “Yankee go home and take me with you.”

The basic truth about our mission in Iraq is the same as that about Vietnam: We’re doing something important and positive in the world.

Be proud.