View 742 Thursday, September 20, 2012
The story of the terror attack on our Consulate in Benghazi continues. The President continues to refer to the silly video although it is now clear that it had nothing to do with the planned attack other than some fortuitous cover story. The attack employed heavy weapons and was clearly planned long in advance; the date September 11 was of course significant. It is still known why there was essentially no security provided for the Ambassador or why he was sent unprotected to an undefended consulate in an area considered volatile and dangerous. Clearly there was a significant failure of the intelligence community, but whether that was at the information interpretation level is another matter. Intelligence communities did not make the decision to send the Ambassador to an undefended compound. There may be an intelligence fault in protecting the existence and location of the ‘safe’ house where the Ambassador was killed, but the very fact that the consulate was so vulnerable that a ‘safe’ house was needed is probably significant.
It is not clear what the United States policy on the Middle East is, or has been since the President’s Cairo speech.
I am no Middle East expert, but I will continue to defend the general principle that American interests are better protected by expenditures on our Navy and on the development of domestic energy resources, than on military operations in that area. As to the Benghazi operation, had we had a helicopter assault vessel – even an elderly Iwo Jima class such as the Tripoli – in the region the outcome might have been different; and the need for some kind of mobile security intervention force in Benghazi was completely predicable and in fact was predicted.
And the story continues to develop.
I can recommend Holman Jenkins Wall Street Journal article “How 1950’s Eyes Would See the Election” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443816804578004370724409206.html I do not accept his conclusion that entitlement reform is extremely unlikely, but he makes this point:
To cut to the chase, tax reform is the only serious reform we’d hold out hope for today. Entitlement reform, for a lot of reasons, is a political mirage in consensus America. But tax reform can still go a long way to restarting growth, righting the fiscal ship and preparing young people to save for their own old age and health care.
A corollary to consensus theory is an element of chaotic unpredictability in our politics, as parties and leaders, in maneuvering around the center, raid each other’s voters, steal each other’s clothes, pre-empt each other’s winning ideas.
Does that make tax reform more likely under Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama? Literally, it may be impossible to say from current rhetoric and the alignment of political interests.
That leaves only the character of the candidates themselves—Mr. Romney, who delivers transactions, and Mr. Obama, who delivers speeches. Hmm . . .
His conclusion is that the election is important because one of the candidates is more likely to do what he has said he would do than is the other. Reminds me a bit of Newt’s Contract with America.
Yesterday I commented on Thomas Sowell’s essay on tax cuts and the “trickle down” theory so beloved by derivative economists. As Sowell noted, there is no such theory; there is a caricature of a theory, coupled with a deliberate distortion of the reasoning of Treasury Secretary Mellon, that somehow became accepted as an economic theory although no one can find any trace of anyone who actually presented or believed it. Sowell’s essay presents an interesting critique of the “peer review” process that tends to govern modern intellectual life. That was not the ostensible purpose of his economic essay on taxes and revenues, but it may be more important than his original purpose. We find ourselves in a world in which a caricature of a theory is presented in major economics textbooks as if it were real and actually held by someone; it is then criticized as if the refutation of this straw man were a valid intellectual exercise.
This goes on in intellectual disciplines other than economics, and is one of the major threats to the rule of rational thought.
Sowell’s essay may be found at http://www.tsowell.com/images/Hoover%20Proof.pdf Recommended.
© 2012, jerrypournelle. All rights reserved.