Friday, May 23, 2008

Why The Left Scares Me...

One of our Democratic Senators who is always amongst the leaders for the coveted title of “Intellectual Midget of the Senate” has weighed in on the war on terrorism. Senator Joe Biden has an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal. The central theses:

At the heart of this failure is an obsession with the "war on terrorism" that ignores larger forces shaping the world: the emergence of China, India, Russia and Europe; the spread of lethal weapons and dangerous diseases; uncertain supplies of energy, food and water; the persistence of poverty; ethnic animosities and state failures; a rapidly warming planet; the challenge to nation states from above and below.

Instead, Mr. Bush has turned a small number of radical groups that hate America into a 10-foot tall existential monster that dictates every move we make.

The intersection of al Qaeda with the world's most lethal weapons is a deadly serious problem. Al Qaeda must be destroyed. But to compare terrorism with an all-encompassing ideology like communism and fascism is evidence of profound confusion.

Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. Messrs. Bush and McCain lump together, as a single threat, extremist groups and states more at odds with each other than with us: Sunnis and Shiites, Persians and Arabs, Iraq and Iran, al Qaeda and Shiite militias. If they can't identify the enemy or describe the war we're fighting, it's difficult to see how we will win.

The results speak for themselves.

On George Bush's watch, Iran, not freedom, has been on the march: Iran is much closer to the bomb; its influence in Iraq is expanding; its terrorist proxy Hezbollah is ascendant in Lebanon and that country is on the brink of civil war.

Beyond Iran, al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 – are stronger now than at any time since 9/11. Radical recruitment is on the rise. Hamas controls Gaza and launches rockets at Israel every day. Some 140,000 American troops remain stuck in Iraq with no end in sight.

Because of the policies Mr. Bush has pursued and Mr. McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure.

This is the standard world-view of the American Left, and no matter how many times I hear it or read it, it still staggers me. It boils down to two articles of faith:
  1. The terrorists attacking our nation are not a serious, much less existential, threat; they are most appropriately dealt with by police forces, not the military.

  2. The world is more dangerous today than it was eight years ago, because of our aggressive war on terror.
It's very difficult for me to believe that any informed person would believe the first article – there is simply too much hard, verified evidence to the contrary. I'm reminded of the many stories about the Jews who refused to leave Hitler's Germany, simply not believing that the Nazi's intended them great harm. But at least those Jews had the excuse that solid information was hard to come by. This is not the case today...

The left's second article of faith could simply be shameless electoral pandering, but based on a number of conversations I've had with true believers, I think that many of them actually believe this. They seem to think that because they're saying over and over again that the world is now a more dangerous place, that it really is more dangerous now. Never mind those huge arrays of pesky facts to the contrary (especially the one that's most important to me: we have not had any successful terrorist attacks on U.S. territory since 9/11). That's all ignorable in the face of their relentless repetition of what they apparently want to believe: that fighting back against the evil of terrorism makes the world worse.

It's depressing to read things like Biden's bilious bullshit, and realize that something like half of my fellow countrymen would agree with it...

G4B Bug...

It seems a number of gas station pumps have the “Gas at 4 Bucks” (G4B) bug:

Mom-and-pop service stations are running into a problem as gasoline marches toward $4 a gallon: Thousands of old-fashioned pumps can't register more than $3.99 on their spinning mechanical dials.

The pumps, throwbacks to a bygone era on the American road, are difficult and expensive to upgrade, and replacing them is often out of the question for station owners who are still just scraping by.

Many of the same pumps can count only up to $99.99 for the total sale, preventing owners of some SUVs, vans, trucks and tractor-trailers from filling their tanks all the way.

As many as 8,500 of the nation's 170,000 service stations have old-style meters that need to be fixed — about 17,000 individual pumps, said Bob Renkes, executive vice president of the Petroleum Equipment Institute of Tulsa, Okla.

I haven't seen this myself, but I have seen another phenomenon: gas pumps that limit the total purchase to $75. At $4+ a gallon (that's what we're paying in San Diego right now), that means I can't fill my gas tank at a single stop. I'm fairly certain this is an arbitrary limit configured into the pumps, but I've run into it at a surprisingly broad range of gas stations...