Featured Blog, I: Posse Commentariat
When Generals Attack
Bradford Plumer /April 13, 2006
Fred Kaplan has a good column about the recent spate of retired generals calling for Donald Rumsfeld's head. On the one hand, no one wants to see a repeat of the 1960s, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff, against their better judgment, failed to speak up and dissuade Johnson and McNamara from hurtling the country into Vietnam. If military leaders think something has gone badly awry in the Pentagon, the public should probably know.
On the other hand, it's perfect reasonable to get a bit leery when generals suddenly start speaking out against civilian government. During the 1990s the military became quite politicized—a development that Bill Clinton, ironically, helped start when he took the unprecedented step of getting endorsements from 20 retired generals in his 1992 campaign, to counteract his image as a pot-smoking draft-dodger. Just like they do now, Democrats made a fetish of men in uniforms. The flipside was that once in office, Clinton was loathe to challenge his generals—they had more credibility on security issues, after all.
The upshot was that the military enjoyed inordinate influence over a not-insignificant part of foreign policy during the '90s. Partly that was because the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 made the made the military more powerful by making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff "principal military advisor to the president, the NSC, and the secretary of Defense." Partly that was because, by all accounts, Les Aspin and William Perry were relatively aloof and inattentive Defense Secretaries.
Whatever the cause, the military seemed to have more sway than usual. Colin Powell felt free to write a Foreign Affairs article describing "his" foreign policy in early 1993 and the military went into open near-revolt over lettings gays in the military. Later on, the Joint Chiefs opposed the land-mine treaty because it would hurt our readiness in North Korea; they opposed the International Criminal Court for fear that U.S. soldiers could be prosecuted—an unlikely event, but whatever; they opposed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and pushed for missile defense systems over the objections of the rest of the world; they opposed the ban on child soldiers. And the president caved on all of these issues. Read the rest at Bradford Plumer...
Featured Blog, II: Roadkill
When Foreigners Drive
Twenty Major / April 17, 2006
Foreign nationals make up just nine per cent of the workforce, they account for 25 per cent of the deaths on Irish roads.
The solution is obvious, isn't it? Just don't allow foreign people to drive over here. I'm sure most of them come with a driving licence from their own country and just swap it for an Irish one. So when Władek or Dobrosław or Franciszek arrives here they should be banned from driving until they have lived here for at least one year.
Let's face it, most of them arrive here with little or no English so reading road signs is nigh on impossible at first. They confuse 'Clonmel 34km' and think it means 'Drive like a mad cunt around this corner' or 'Stop' with 'Plough into oncoming traffic'. As well as that most of them come from countries where they drive on the right so they're just like cats.
If you have a cat and you move house you must keep your cat indoors for a period of time so that their internal radar/homing device reconfigures itself to their new location. It's the same with Eastern Europeans. They're coming over and not adjusting. They're landing at Dublin airport, getting into a car and before you know it they're involved in a massive accident. I'd suggest most of the time it's caused by them driving on the wrong side of the road because they're simply not reconfigured to Irish life. You wouldn't let your cat out on the first night in your new home so why would you let a Polish or Latvian person drive as soon as they come to Ireland?
Seeing as they all get all kinds of benefits as soon as they arrive anyway some kind of discount travel card shouldn't be too much of a problem for when some busy-bodies try and insist they need their cars to get to work. Once they, like a cat in a new house, have adapted to their environment then they can take an Irish driving test and if they pass it then they can have a car.
Surely, after seeing this statistic, nobody could argue that it wasn't for the greater good and it's not discriminatory, it's simply common sense. These people can't understand words without many Zs and Ks and very few vowels. It takes them time to get used to the complex nature of the English language. If we can decide that a person is too young to drive until they're 17 it's not racist to decide that a person is too foreign to drive until they can understand road signs and maps and other drivers hand gestures. Read the rest at Twenty Major...