Random Musings: Marriage, Rich people, OWS, Khaddafy & Assad

Couple married 72 years, and die within an hour of each other.

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We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how the rich just keep getting richer. A new study suggests that might not be as true as it’s been. However, the commentator still can’t resist the standard party line that “fixing this disparity is the key to fixing the economy.” Is it? According to that logic and the chart given in the article, we should have had no economic difficulties during the 1970’s. I suspect comparing this chart to various economic indicators would provide very little correlation.

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 The Occupy movement is starting to get some rather bad press lately, and many on the right are crowing about how this proves Occupy is worse than even worst allegations against the Tea Party. And I have to agree that some of it does not look good. However, you can’t really compare the two movements in some regards. I have to be fair.

Much of the trouble we’re seeing with Occupy is the nature of their protest. The Tea Party never tried to occupy anywhere. They came, had their rallies, and they left all in the same day. Occupy is living on the street, some for over a month now. A bunch of strangers living together in a confined area in adverse conditions are going to have problems. It may even reflect somewhat positively on them that the problems aren’t worse.

That’s not to say that some of the accusations aren’t serious and, if true, inexcusable–if not criminal. But I suspect if you put Tea Party people together in similar circumstances for the same period of time there would be problems there, too. 

Occupy chose this mode of protest and, arguably, should have foreseen these problems, so that reflects poorly on them. But let’s not jack our high horse up too high, here. The problems they are experiencing in their camps are indicative of a failure to anticipate human nature, and while certainly not a point in their favor, are no more a refutation of their message than the few troublemakers at Tea Party rallies were a refutation of theirs. I know the urge for “payback” is strong, but let’s not go there.

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It’s funny how so many of the people who have been insisting on due process and humane treatment of both terrorists and dictators when Bush was in office are silent at best, doing victory laps at worst, over Mohammar Khaddafy’s murder at the hands of Libyan rebels. Don’t we have higher standards than that? Is it somehow okay because the blood isn’t on our hands, but rather on those of who we can dismiss as “people who just don’t know better”?

If that is the case, why are we so upset withIran for supposedly trying to hire drug gangs to assassinate a foreign diplomat on American soil? Doesn’t the use of intermediaries make it all okay? Drug cartels are violent people who just don’t know better. The blood wouldn’t have been on Iranian hands, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel bad about Khaddafy’s deathany more than I do about Bin Laden’s or Saddam Hussein’s. But I would feel better about it had rule of law prevailed. We don’t know the level to which Bin Laden was resisting or posing a threat, but it seems Khaddafy was in no position to fight back–and evidently didn’t. To their credit, it seems most of the rebels were calling for him to be taken alive. But somewhere along the line that discipline broke down. What’s the point of pulling him out of the hole and taking him prisoner only to shoot him later?

So I’m a bit bothered by the triumphant crowing I’m hearing right now. He was an evil man, and probably got what he deserved. But the proper attitude for a country that claims to believe in the rule of law should be satisfaction that his regime is ended, but regret that the rule of law was not observed.

Certainly all this credit-taking is unbecoming. Without at least some qualification of such statements we can only assume that it went down in a manner the credit-taker approved of; that had they been there they would have taken him off somewhere and executed him, too.

It may be a bit unfair, but I can’t help but make the comparison. Under Bush we captured Saddam, who was then given a trial and executed under the laws of the new Iraqi government. Under Obama we’ve had two leaders caught and killed with no trial whatsoever by anyone. This would be less alarming if Obama hadn’t run on being morally superior to Bush, and if his own party hadn’t been so adamant about imposing restrictions they themselves don’t appear to want to follow.

They seem to have forgotten that this was their chance to show America how it should be done. The argument seems to be “It’s more ethical now because it’s us doing it.”

Indeed, the liberal commentariat seems to be of the opinion that morality is now measured merely by success. As Timothy P. Carney points out:

The implication: If you objected to the President for illegally entering a war where vital U.S. interests were not at stake, you were wrong, because we killed Gadafhi. More briefly: Might makes right.

The liberal Center for American Progress made the same unliberal argument in August when Gadhafi lost control of the country, asking on twitter: “Does John Boehner still believe U.S. military operations in Libya are illegal?”

I remember when we decided to throw military support behind the Libyan rebels. The situation was not so cut and dried as we seem to remember it now. There were a lot of good questions raised about just who it is we’re supporting. They are still good questions today. Many opposed regime change in Iraq because we couldn’t guarantee we would be replacing the regime with something better. We still can’t guarantee that today in Libya.

Nor can we guarantee the results if we decide to assist the revolution against Bashir Assad in Syria, even though there is a much more clear-cut case should we choose to do so. I wish we would. Taking down Khaddafy’s regime was not difficult. He had no friends left in the world. It was a safe and easy little take-down (for us) that we should almost feel embarassed about being involed with.

Assad is not just shooting armed rebels, but shooting peaceful demonstrators in defiance of the UN. He is propped up by Iran, a dangerous rogue state with a lust for nuclear weapons and a stated goal of destroying the US. If we’re not prepared to take down our declared enemy, we should at least seriously consider rattling their cage by taking down their favorite proxy. Such a move would weaken Iran as well as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban, potentially helping stabilize the situations in Lebanon, Israel, Afghanistan and Pakistan, if not the entire Middle East.

Taking down Khaddafy has done little more than make Bashir Assad a bit more nervous. He’s already nervous, or he wouldn’t be creating his human shooting galleries. But showing weakness is one thing Assad can’t do right now, so accepting overtures from the West is not on his agenda.

If anything he will step up his violent campaign of suppression, hoping to put an end to the rebellion before America starts getting any ideas. Besides which, the bulk of Assad’s opposition comes through unarmed protest. There is very little armed and coordinated rebellion in evidence. Our strategy in Libya will not work if there is not a sufficient rebellion to support. If Assad can move decisively and quickly the window of opportunity may close.

The irony of this all is that our Nobel Peace Prize winning president could actually bring a greater measure of peace to the Middle East–not through the “smart diplomacy” he promised us, but by the force of arms he once decried. The danger right now, however, is that he might not finish what he’s started. Taking out Khaddafy but not Assad sends a conflicting signal to arabs yearning for freedom: “America stands with some of you. We’re not telling you which.”

It would also send a clear message to the repressive governments of the Middle East: “Crack down harder. If you let things get out of control we might have to come do something, and nobody really wants that.”