Friday, March 28, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. proposes three priorities for US policy towards Russia, now six weeks away from Dmitry Medvedev's move to the presidency. "After Putin", a WSJ opinion article, suggests 1) more treaties, 2) protect the small neighbors (Estonia, Georgia, etc.), and 3) US-inspired improved governance within Russia. Our take: 1) stupid - treaties rarely benefit the US. The senator should know this. 2) Yes, protect all freedom-loving states threatened by a powerful neighbor, and 3) encouragement for less corrupt governance is noble, so long as this effort does not come at a cost to the US taxpayer, lessen our nation's security or require other US concessions. Senator Bidens comments re: #2:

The second priority for the West should be to protect the young states of Eastern Europe. The Kremlin invokes the amorphous concept of "sovereign democracy" to explain why Westerners should stay out of Russia's affairs. However, it ignores its own dogma when strong-arming other "sovereign democracies" in Russia's neighborhood.

The Kremlin has tried to force the collapse of democratically elected governments in Estonia and Georgia, and punished the independence of other neighbors by cutting energy deliveries. Russia also snapped up Serbia's state oil monopoly as payback for opposing a United Nations-backed deal to grant Kosovo independence. Any successful strategy for engaging Russia must ensure that the region's young states will remain both sovereign and democratic in the true sense of the words. A coordinated energy security strategy would be a good place to start.

In Tuesday's Best of the Web, James Taranto's WSJ daily, James touches on the reduced media attention to Iraq:

News organizations, by and large, are biased against American success in Iraq, as illustrated by this crass bit of editorializing from the Associated Press:

"Fresh off his eighth Iraq visit, Sen. John McCain declared Monday that "we are succeeding" and said he wouldn't change course--even as the U.S. death toll rose to 4,000 and the war entered its sixth year."

That "even as" clause is the reporter's opinion, not McCain's. Yet while this sort of thing still goes on, journalists have paid less attention to Iraq over the past year as the "surge" has succeeded in reducing violence. If the Harvard study is right, we may be looking at a virtuous circle: Less violence means less media coverage, which in turn means less violence.

Perhaps one day we'll wake up to discover that America won the war in Iraq months earlier, but no one noticed because the reporters were all busy with other things.

Another good catch, James!

We confess. We are having fun watching the Dems spiral in their own primary mess. But while good for the Republicans, these distractions are not good for the country. The country needs as much time as possible to compare the two sides and their priorities. Specifically, we need to hear and watch the Capitalism vs. Socialism debate.

Thursday's WSJ editorial does just this in their review of each candidate's solution to the mortgage 'crisis'. If centrally-managing the mortgage rates doesn't sound like socialism to you, wait until you see the after effects!

...Mrs. Clinton called this week for "immediate, bold" action "to unfreeze our mortgage markets." To that end, she would immediately freeze our mortgage markets. She wants a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures coupled with a five-year rate freeze on adjustable-rate mortgages.
Mrs. Clinton's proposals do at least fit her far simpler analysis of what went wrong in credit markets: Greedy Wall Street, and predatory lenders who made loans that were "designed to fail." Her remedy is thus to punish lenders and investors, while forgiving and subsidizing borrowers.