I Guess Joe Won't Be Putting This Sign on the South Lawn

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Charles C. W. Cooke points out that the Horror of War Doesn't Remove Its Necessity. ("Gifting" this article didn't work for me this morning. I'll try again later.)

If I may be so indulged, I would like to journey deep into the Cave of the Abundantly Obvious and return in possession of a time-tested truth that, apparently, needs a timely reiteration: that, in every conceivable circumstance, war is horrible, but that, in some circumstances, it is necessary nevertheless.

I mention this because I have come increasingly to suspect that the most vocal critics of Israel’s conduct since the abomination of October 7 are unable to get past the first proposition. Push the average Palestinian-flag-wearing campus protester to explain the cause of his present vexation, and, once you have got past the ersatz hierarchies and inscrutable ideologies that inform his worldview, you will be told indignantly that Israel is engaged in a “genocide” — a term that, as far as I can detect, is being used incorrectly as a synonym for “death, destruction, and tragedy.” Or, to roll all that into one term: that is being used incorrectly as a synonym for “war.”

It is reasonable — imperative, even — for human beings to disdain war. War represents failure. War is ruinous. War renders as normal conduct that, properly understood, our civilization exists to impede. It is not reasonable, however, to consider war to represent the only failure among the available alternatives, to conclude that it yields the only form of ruin, or to determine that the conduct necessary for its prosecution is the only intolerable act. At root, Israel is engaged in a war against Hamas not because Israel is insensitive to the calamities that such wars ineluctably bring, but because Hamas has proven itself to be a violent, depraved, totalitarian outfit that sits beyond the reach of international diplomacy or academic therapy. That many innocent people will be killed as a result of Hamas’s being violent, depraved, and totalitarian is tragic, but that does not transmute those consequences into a “genocide,” it does not make a dispositive case against Israel’s decision, and it does not set the very notion of violence beyond the pale.

Another term used falsely, and solely, against Israel: "apartheid".

Also of note:

  • Those were the good old days… Bjørn Lomborg remembers them well: When the Only Problem Was Climate Change.

    Rich countries, global institutions and the private-jet set haven’t always been obsessed with climate change. Their preoccupation began in the early 1990s, at the end of the Cold War. That wasn’t a coincidence. The Soviet Union fell, communism was vanquished, and peace prevailed among major powers. As Francis Fukuyama brashly claimed, history had ended. All that remained was fixing climate change.

    Proponents of climate action advocated ending reliance on the fossil fuels that had powered two centuries of astonishing growth. These activists conceded that this would cost hundreds of trillions of dollars but insisted that massive renewable-energy growth was in the pipeline. This would be the last great push to a glorious future.

    How naive. Time hasn’t been kind to the idea that climate change was humanity’s last problem or that the planet would unite to solve it. A rapid global transition from fossil fuels is, and always has been, impossible. There are several reasons that make it so.

    Unfortnately, the word "nuclear" doesn't appear in Lomborg's article. Instead he suggests we (I assume he means governments) "ramp up investments in green innovation."

    Like artificial photosynthesis!

  • Crude inference based on limited observation. Michael Munger recalls a classic "Get Fuzzy" comic involving The Magic Food Cupboard. (And invokes the classic Arthur C. Clarke observation: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”)

    I have some New York friends whose views of “where food comes from” are not different from “the magic food cupboard” in the comic. Food comes from the grocery store: every time you go there, the shelves are loaded, and the produce racks are bursting with fresh, appetizing fruits and vegetables. Of course, my friends will concede that those things are all put there, and it’s not literally magic.

    But it might as well be, since my friends also believe that all of this could be done better, faster, and cheaper, by a different kind of magic. For them, that magic is called “socialism.” Food “should be free,” just as it is for the cat and the dog in the cartoon. If only we abolished capitalism, food would be more plentiful and less expensive. 

    That’s their theory. Like I said: magic.

    Goes double, or maybe triple, for any good or service provided by government for "free".

  • "Nice little social media company you have here. It'd be a shame if something … happened to it." Robby Soave says government censorship-by-proxy is on the move again: Feds Resume Talking to Social Media Companies While SCOTUS Hears 'Murthy v. Missouri'

    Following revelations about the extent of the federal government's pressure on social media companies to suppress dissenting opinions, the feds broke up with Meta, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube. Cybersecurity experts now frequently complain about the lack of coordination between the government and the platforms, warning that social media users are vulnerable to misinformation about elections, foreign interference, and other woes.

    But the platforms might be receiving late-night "you up?" texts from federal agents once again. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D–Va.) told reporters on Monday that communication between the federal government and social media sites is back on, according to Nextgov and The Federalist.

    In fact, Warner said these communications had resumed in the midst of oral arguments for Murthy v. Missouri, the Supreme Court case that will decide whether the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Biden White House had violated the First Amendment when they pushed social media sites to remove disfavored content. The justices seemed at least somewhat skeptical, viewing the government's actions as mere attempts at persuasion rather than coercion. That skepticism has apparently given the feds the green light, with Warner acknowledging that "there seemed to be a lot of sympathy that the government ought to have at least voluntary communications" with the platforms.

    Hey, I got an idea: maybe "government" should get its own damn website.

    Oh, wait, they did that.

    I guess "government" would prefer to "voluntarily persuade" private companies to censor their content.

  • On a related note… Kevin D. Williamson notes what caused things to get really bad: Long (Political) Covid. I have some issues with whether he should distinguish between small-l and big-L [Ll]ibertarians, but let's ignore that:

    Who were the libertarians? Now—when the movement has reached its nadir—seems like a good time to consider the question.

    I recently received an email from an old friend, an esteemed academic who is foundering miserably in retirement and senescence. Like many men of his kind, he has taken up politics with a social-media-driven religious devotion and, having tried Donald Trump on for size for a few years, has undergone a conversion to the cause of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who, like Donald Trump, has vermin on the brain. 

    Kennedy is, of course, a charlatan and a huckster, but more to the point here is that he is a left-wing charlatan and huckster—a man with a view of government and national life that is something akin to that of Sen. Bernie Sanders or an old-fashioned campus Marxist. My old friend is—not was, but is—a doctrinaire libertarian, one of those gentlemen I could go to and commiserate about what a terrible idea the Interstate Highway System was and why we don’t really need an FDA. Oh, sure, Bobby is all wrong about the economics and most everything else, he’ll say, but—and I’ll bet you know where this is going—he got it right about COVID-19 and the vaccines. Donald Trump, he’ll tell you, went along with the worst abuse of American civil liberties since Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended habeas corpus, practically turning these United States into a medical gulag. 

    KDW has some tough things to say about Libertarians and also libertarians.

  • And finally… New Hampshire's only President is generally considered to have been one of the worst.

    (In case you were confused: Jed Bartlet was fictional. Also misspelled.)

    So my attention was drawn to Lawrence W. Reed's paean at the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE): Why Franklin Pierce Vetoed a Bill to Earmark 10 Million Acres of Federal Land for 'Indigent Insane Persons'

    The only US President from the State of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce (our 14th) cast just nine vetoes during his years in the White House, from 1853 to 1857. Five were overridden but not his most eloquent one. It’s one of my favorites, so here’s the story.

    On May 3, 1854, President Pierce took great pains (and many pages) to justify his rejection of a bill to grant federal land or the cash equivalent to the States “for the benefit of indigent insane persons.” In the course of performing his Constitutional duty, he confessed feeling “compelled to resist the deep sympathies of my own heart in favor of the humane purpose sought to be accomplished.” He was concerned that he would be misunderstood and castigated as a man without compassion.

    The bill proposed to set aside 12,225,000 acres of federal land. Ten million of those acres were earmarked for the benefit of the insane, and the remaining 2.225 million were to be sold for the benefit of the “blind, deaf, and dumb,” with proceeds parceled out to the states to build and maintain asylums.

    Well, good. As bad a Pierce was, he just moved ahead of Joe Biden and Woodrow Wilson in my personal presidential ranking.