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December 20, 2004

Mea culpa

For those of you (poor, misbegotten souls) waiting for me to opine on the issues of the day before forming your own views, I apologize for the light blogging of late. What with the holidays, the elections won, and a lack of hard news, it's been hard to summon up the mojo to write. However, here is a quick roundup of what's going on and what I think about it.

  • Delaying Iraqi elections would be a terrible idea. Of course, it's hard to hold elections during a period of civil unrest. But what the editorial board of the NYT (and its enablers at the UN) don't seem to grasp is that delaying the elections is the primary strategic goal of Zarqawi and the Sunni/Baathist resistance in Iraq. Handing them a huge tactical and propaganda victory by postponing the elections would only re-invigorate their flagging insurgency and lead to further senseless violence. Thankfully, our President understands this, and will remain steadfast.

  • Kerik -- yawn. Who cares? The journos who are saying that his appointment demonstrates weakness in the administration's vetting procedures (which, of course, it does) or are playing up the Giuliani/Bush tensions, are merely trying to find something to write about. Personally, I'd thought that the major challenges facing the new Secretary of Homeland Security were primarily bureaucratic and managerial. While Kerik may have been a good cop and had demonstrated his ability to lead and inspire law enforcement types, that is perhaps only 30% of the job. The bigger issue may well be trying to knit together the crazy-quilt patchwork of formerly independent agencies into an effective anti-terrorism system. I'm not sure that this would have been Kerik's strong suit.

  • Social Security reform: essential, and I think we are making progress. My prediction is that the final resolution will involve optional private accounts (heavily regulated as to permitted investments, eligible managers, etc.) for younger workers, an increase in wage ceilings for employment tax payments (aka a tax on the rich), explicit federal guarantees of the "transition costs" to fill the gap between current liabilities and reduced future contributions to the old-style (and mis-named) "pay as you go" system, a safety net of guaranteed minimum benefit levels, some tinkering with the cost of living adjustment formulas to de-link them from wages and limit them to CPI changes, and assurances that benefit levels from current and future retirees under the present system will not be reduced.
Finally, my prediction for next year's big story will be domestic unrest in Saudi Arabia. As Peter Brookes wrote today in his syndicated column (as opposed to his twice-weekly NYT gig) Osama bin Laden and his terror-loving pals are going to make a tactical retreat from their goal of restoring the Caliphate in light of their post-9/11 reverses. Like the Soviet era revolutionaries in the 1920s, Al Queda is going to focus on creating an Islamic redoubt in one country -- Saudi Arabia -- rather than spread their limited resources on global jihad. While this is going to bad for oil prices in the short term, long term this is good news since it brings the fight back to its roots in twisted Wahabbi theology.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

December 20, 2004 at 12:17 PM | Permalink


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