May 10, 2004


Among stuff I should have mentioned earlier, here’s Rep. Maxine Waters:

"Everywhere we go we seem to make a mess. We've created a mess in Iraq. Our soldiers are dying everyday. Now we find we are violating the prisoners. We're treating them worse than so-called Saddam had treated them."

So-called Saddam? And from Mark Steyn, a terrific piece on so-called John Kerry’s latest dodging:

When Kerry talks about ''any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation that takes American jobs overseas,'' he's not referring to someone who ''takes jobs overseas.'' Perish the thought! He's all in favor of taking jobs overseas. It wasn't him who attacked all those ''Benedict Arnold CEOs,'' just his ''overzealous speechwriters.'' And the minute he discovered it was going on, he called them to say, ''Look, that's not what I'm saying.''

I mean, OK, it was what he was saying in the narrow technical sense of words emerging from between his lips, day after day, night after night, all through primary season. I had a quick rummage through the Nexis database, and found a mere 746 citations for Kerry and the expression ''Benedict Arnold.'' I myself have personally been present on three occasions when he attacked ''Benedict Arnold CEOs'' who ''take jobs overseas,'' and on two of them he didn't have a TelePrompTer or even a script. He just stood in front of us and the words came out of his mouth, almost as if they were what he himself believed.

For Australia’s sake, please vote against Kerry. Glenn Garvin has a wonderful article in the latest edition of Reason:

In 1983 the Indiana University historian Robert F. Byrnes collected essays from 35 experts on the Soviet Union -- the cream of American academia -- in a book titled After Brezhnev. Their conclusion: Any U.S. thought of winning the Cold War was a pipe dream. "The Soviet Union is going to remain a stable state, with a very stable, conservative, immobile government," Byrnes said in an interview, summing up the book. "We don’t see any collapse or weakening of the Soviet system."

Barely six years later, the Soviet empire began falling apart. By 1991 it had vanished from the face of the earth. Did Professor Byrnes call a press conference to offer an apology for the collective stupidity of his colleagues, or for his part in recording it? Did he edit a new work titled Gosh, We Didn’t Know Our Ass From Our Elbow? Hardly. Being part of the American chattering class means never having to say you’re sorry.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 10, 2004 03:57 AM

Didn't Benedict Arnold sell out former comrades-in-arms to further his own interests? Mmm...

Posted by: SoCalledCurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 04:24 AM

I'll do my part for Australia -- I'll vote for Bush!

Posted by: The Real So-Called JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 04:45 AM

The Real So-Called JeffS: You're definitely a current-cake to the Duke of York China!

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 05:18 AM

Trans: You're switched on to what's needed old friend.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 10, 2004 at 05:19 AM

I hope you've all noticed the banner ads at the bottom of the Mark Steyn piece.

Posted by: Peter Briffa at May 10, 2004 at 06:03 AM

Kerry enjoys a lavish lifestyle base on his wife’s $500 million of Heinz stock. 72% of Heinz employees work outside the US. Most of Heinz's "outsourced" employees make far less than their US counterparts.

Maybe Kerry’s wife told Kerry’s speech writers: “Shut up about Benedict Arnold CEOs already”

Posted by: perfectsense at May 10, 2004 at 06:11 AM

perfectsense — Kerry is also personally a major investor in dozens of companies that outsource jobs, including one company that specializes in nothing *but* outsourcing...

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 10, 2004 at 06:41 AM

SoCalledCurrencyLad — People of Kerry's class don't have comrades, don'cha know. They have staff, underlings, employees, lackies, peons... any and all of whom are disposable.

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 10, 2004 at 06:47 AM

Kerry, clarified — Day by Day

Posted by: Richard McEnroe at May 10, 2004 at 09:06 AM

On the general topic of trade, free and not so free, Dave Barry recently had a very funny piece published in the Washington Times on Outsourcing:

So outsourcing is here to stay. Which leads me to my announcement: Starting today, I will no longer personally write my column. It will be produced by foreign humor workers, who, rest assured, are highly trained.

Found the link on the impressive

Posted by: TimT at May 10, 2004 at 11:08 AM

Re the Glenn Garvin article, Australians might find the 1998 book "Breaking the Codes, Australia's KGB network 1944 - 1950" by Desmond Ball and David Horner very interesting.

It shatters some fondly held beliefs of our Left about the cold war and those "imaginary" spies supposedly invented by anti communists to help win elections in the 1950s.

Posted by: Pencil at May 10, 2004 at 11:57 AM

"We don’t see any collapse or weakening of the Soviet system."

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Posted by: rinardman at May 10, 2004 at 12:16 PM

Tim, you're wrong. In fact, this week a group of arms control academics, former officials, experts, and European consultants is planning to hold a press conference to publicly eat crow for their preposterous prediction of a new nuclear arms race following abrogation of the ABM Treaty.

Just kidding.

Posted by: IceCold at May 10, 2004 at 12:45 PM

I always looked at those people who thought the Soviet Union was the ultimate in societies, and this did no wrong, with a certain pity. Starry eyed idealists, one and all. Not that being an idealist is wrong, but that final dose of reality is as painful as passing a kidney stone, and sad to watch. Until then, you couldn't shake them loose from those beliefs.

Not all of them (mentally) survived the fall of the Soviet Empire. They are still around, spouting anti-capitalist propaganda with the same fervor, but a much looser aim.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 10, 2004 at 01:00 PM

Is Kerry that stupid that he thinks people are so stupid that they won't think he is stupid because of the stupid things he stupidly says he didn't say? Must be good to know you're not so stupid that you have to vote for him.

Posted by: slatts at May 10, 2004 at 02:07 PM

Right place this time, slatts?

Posted by: Razor at May 10, 2004 at 05:49 PM

Two observations:

(1) Rhetorical blather notwithstanding, the Bush regime is the most protectionist administration since Herbert Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff into law in 1930. The FTA is actually a triumph for protectionists on both sides, which is why so many economists are unimpressed with it. Kerry might not be any better, but there is no reason to think he'd be any worse.

(2) Your denigration of the "chattering class" only stands up if you can quote anyone from your side who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall etc. My recollection is that the then-Bush Administration, which contained eminent Kremlinologists such as Condi Rice, were completely caught off-guard by these events, which shattered the foreign policy paradigm that had been painstakingly erected over the previous 40 years. Anyone who wants to challlenge this might like to quote the exact time in 1991 that Condi advised Pres. Bush to seek closer relations with Boris Yeltsin in preference to Mikhail Gorbachev. You didn't need to be a left-wing academic to look like a chump in those days.

Posted by: tim g at May 10, 2004 at 06:36 PM

[sarcasm on]

I must say that I am shocked...SHOCKED to find an American University professor mentioned in that article.

Posted by: Josh Heit at May 10, 2004 at 06:39 PM

tim g: you have pulled two things out of your ass: the "your side" bullshit, and the idea that somewhere in this post is a claim that "our side" knew all along that the Soviet Union would collapse but those silly profs wouldn't listen. No such claims were made in this post so congratulations on arguing with points that weren't made.

To explain further: the political affiliation of the academic in question was not mentioned, but from what he wrote he sounded like the typical glum, the-end-is-near conservative of the times. Conservative academics did and do exist, and they can be as silly as leftwingers. The general viewpoint of most of them was that the USSR and the rest of the Soviet Bloc was here to stay for at least several centuries, and soon we would fall because we were just too godless and weak.

As for anyone here claiming to have predicted that the Soviet Union would fall apart before it did: find me the post on this website where anyone said that. The problem with the academic position today is that they are acting as if a) no academic ever went around praising the USSR, only McCarthyite Rethuglican Hounds are to blame for this slur upon their group, and b) the USSR wasn't "really" communist, so it's collapse didn't invalidate Marxism one weeny bit.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 10, 2004 at 08:30 PM

I meant "its" collapse. It's early over here. (Correct this time.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 10, 2004 at 08:31 PM

Well duh - I worked with a South African fluent in Russian chappy who used to read the official USSR stats on agricultural production as well as other industrial data and he was always amazed that the USSR didn't implode earlier in the game just because of the sheer mess the stats revealed. Mind you the same stats were available to the 'intelligence' community who were supposed to be feeding the pols and any savvy investigative reporters could have had access to the same information. The most telling of the statistics on the state of the Union was the down-spiralling of longevity. Gloom and doom were writ large in the USSR and it was there for all without an agenda to see.

Posted by: Millie Woods at May 10, 2004 at 10:07 PM

Well, Andrea, you're right - Garvin doesn't make that explicit claim. However, I would have thought that if he is writing an essay sneering at the folly of those who thought the Soviet Union was rock-solid, he is claiming some sort of superior insight on his own part; it seems a reasonable inference to make, otherwise it seems mighty churlish to ridicule people who were only expressing the majority viewpoint at the time. ( "Hey, what about those dumb 10th century peasants thinking the earth was flat! What a crowd of numb-nuts!")

And your critique of me arguing non-existent points would be more valid if you didn't take a bunch of flying leaps yourself. "...from what he wrote he sounded like the typical glum, the-end-is-near conservative of the times." You can read between the lines but I can't? And what's more, there is apparently just one "academic position" about the former Soviet Union? Richard Pipes and Noam Chomsky would both be surprised to hear that.

And mind your language. If it's really that early over there you shouldn't be cursing.

Posted by: tim g at May 10, 2004 at 11:08 PM

tim, the stability of the USSR was not the point--of either the pro or con side. What WAS the poit is that there is a population of academics who did and do engage in the most anmazing mental calithenics to avoid admitting the myriad wrongs of communism.

The comments regarding the solidity of the Soviet system are examples of how utterly wrong the apologists for horror turned out to be--not that someone from the 'other side' predicted the communist downfall.

Further, the 'other side' didn't really have to predict the end of communism in this, what they had to do was affirm the need to fight against it, as the left's tactic was to get us to aquiesce to the inevitable. I think that this affirmation of the need to fight communism was more than evident from numerous sources.

Posted by: jack at May 11, 2004 at 03:33 AM

"...the left's tactic was to get us to aquiesce (sic) to the inevitable"

Ah yes, the "left", the "chattering class", "academics". Where would we be without all those wonderfully useful collective nouns?

Did you read the contributions of all 35 academics? Bear in mind that all we are getting here is Garvin's summary of Byrnes's summary of their conclusions. Were they all card-carrying members of the 'left', as you would define it? I'd be very surprised if more than a few of them weren't totally convinced of the need to fight communism, but in 1983, before Gorbachev had even come to power, they thought it might take just a little longer than eight years. But, never mind, so far as Garvin is concerned, they all get lumped together in the same "collective stupidity".

I think the real point here is the arrogance of commentators like Garvin who use the wisdom of hindsight to smugly denounce people that they just don't like all that much.

Posted by: tim g at May 11, 2004 at 10:32 AM

One who predicted the fall of the USSR was Andrei Amalrik, in a book called "Will the USSR Survive to 1984?" It did, but it did not survive much longer. Sadly Amalrik was killed in a car accident before he could witness the fall of the Commies.

There were at least two other people I know of who, in the early 1980s, predicted that the fall of the USSR would come soon. Neither of them were Russian speakers or specialists in studying the USSR. One was a French demographer. The other was Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at May 11, 2004 at 11:11 AM

Ronald Reagan? Well, yes and no, I think. Much of America's Cold War policy from the Kissinger era onwards was predicated on the assumption that the Soviet Union was here to stay and American geopolitical strategy was best directed at efforts to contain Soviet-style communism rather than defeat it, given the latter option carried the risk of destroying the world in the process. I know that Reagan took a much harder line rhetorically than his predecessors - "ash heap of history" and all that, but this wasn't really reflected in actual policy, which was much more cautious and didn't diverge too far from the Kissinger realpolitik model.

I don't think Reagan or anyone in his administration anticipated the effect of the forces unleashed when Gorbachev went down the perestroika road. Not surprising, given that Gorbachev certainly didn't anticipate it either.

Posted by: tim g at May 11, 2004 at 02:46 PM

Tim G - You are incorrect. The Kissinger policy was called detente and was based on the parity of strategic forces that the USSR had attained in the late '60s. Their continued buildup threatened to see them achieve superiority by the late '70's early '80's and Reagan recognised that this would be a disaster. Thus, he rejected the status-quo of the Ford and Carter administrations and began a massive buildup in US forces to match the Soviets. While they may have been able to keep up in the production of tanks, planes, missiles, and boats, the Soviets were absolutely blindsided by his Star Wars program which was based on technologies the Russians knew they had no hope in matching. They tried to make their economy more innovative but this only served to undermine central planning - and the rest is history. While he may not have believed he would live to see the USSR collapse - he certainly intended to do everything he could to help it along that path. The contrast between this, and the previous policy of 'getting along', is pretty stark in my view and he deserves most of the credit for bringing it about. To me, it is comforting to see that the left treats Bush in much the same way they did Reagan, if Bush is half the man, and I think he is, the free world is in good hands!

Posted by: Sean at May 11, 2004 at 03:50 PM

tim g: shove it up your bunghole. Is that better?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 11, 2004 at 08:32 PM