Saturday, September 28, 2002

InstaPundit links to this story about the intercepting of uranium en route to Iraq, presumably.
I can already hear this being dismissed as no proof that we can't wait for U.N. inspectors to do their thing. Of course, we've already been that route, but to the left, we have to keep giving peace a chance, until the rest of New York goes the way of the WTC.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Peggy Noonan poses a good question about the current debate (not the meta-debate over politicizing the Iraq issue):

The opponents of war, it seems to me, must face the questions that flow from what we know.

If you know Saddam is wicked, know he's gathering weapons of mass murder, know madmen are likely to ultimately use the weapons they stockpile, and know, finally, that he wishes America ill, then why not move against him? And why not now? Wouldn't inaction be irresponsible?

But the administration still has questions to face, too. Among them: What has stopped Saddam from using the weapons he has, and has had for some time? Isn't it deterrence--the sure knowledge that if he launches missiles weighted with weapons of mass murder he can wave goodbye to Baghdad, to his own life and those of many, many of his countrymen? The era of Saddam the Great would end.

If we move against Saddam now, this inhibiting incentive is lessened or removed. What will stop Saddam from going out in a great blaze of "glory"? He can kill millions.

Why is deterrence no longer operable?

I would answer that it's not a question of deterrence being inoperable now, but whether it will be operable when Saddam gets nukes. Most countries who develop nuclear weapons are impressed enough with the destructiveness of them that they only use them as deterrents. But Saddam is crazy. Considering what he did with Kuwait's oil fields when he was forced to give them up, one must worry about what he'd do with a nuclear weapon. Sure, he has poisons and biological weapons, but they are pretty useless as a weapon, and they don't do as much damage as one would think. They are their own deterrent because they are likely to blow back in your face, whether they do any damage to the enemy. But nukes are a different matter. I'm not sure that he could be deterred from using a nuke after he's been defeated once again. Bombing Tel Aviv would make him a hero in the Muslim world, even if he dies as a result, and that might be enough for him.

Secondly, I'm not sure that this country would really make him "wave goodbye to Baghdad, . . . and those of many, many of his countrymen." There would be all kinds of pleas in behalf of the innocent victims we would have to destroy to get to him.

Have I mentioned that Scrappleface is on my A list?

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Instapundit remarks on Gore's Big Speech:
it's this unwillingness to take a position -- and too-obvious positioning to blame Bush if things go wrong -- that renders Gore, and many other Democrats (with the exception of some, like Zell Miller, John Edwards, and Joe Lieberman) so embarrassingly inadequate to the debate. It's opportunism, pure and simple. And it's the transparent and self-defeating opportunism of someone who has memorized the rulebook, but who doesn't understand the game.

This reminded me of the bogus insistence of the critics that we know the outcome before we start, including what kind of government will replace Saddam. That is the sophistry of cowards and it is the root of the dithering after the first attack on the WTC and other terrorist operations that encouraged bin Laden to go forward with the 9/11 atrocities. Brave and wise men gather as much information as they can, but they don't use uncertainty as an excuse for not doing what clearly is necessary. I'm really sick of the "chickenhawk" argument and the hogwash about the war being fought by the poor and ignorant classes. That went out with conscription.

Howard Kurtz's column today, is full of examples of liberals resorting to meta-issues, accusing their opponents of some sort of indecency in debate and demanding apologies, as though it were immoral for Bush to point out the Senate's failure to pass a homeland security bill is hampering his ability to protect the country. Kurtz buys that argument, but he's wrong. Politicians have been impugning each others' patriotism since democracy was invented.

Poor Tom Daschle. He's shocked, shocked and furious that the other party could behave "politically". It reminds me of the old saw among lawyers that when the facts and the law are against you, you should "baffle them with b.s."

I'm listening to NPR covering this. E J. Dionne says the Democrats are angry that Bush is "making this a political issue." But David Brooks rightly points out that this is really a meta-issue, not about what we should do in Iraq, but about how the other side is making its arguments. That pretty much nails it.

Daschle doesn't know how to campaign against Bush on the war, so he whines that Bush isn't being fair. Dionne calls it "demonizing" those who don't agree with his policy. I thought that was what politics is all about. Remember "Give-em-hell Harry" Truman, and his maxim, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!"? Daschle's problem is not Bush's rhetoric; it's that he's presiding over a do-nothing Senate and doesn't have a good policy of his own.

Michael Kelly didn't like Al Gore's speech on Monday. I mean he REALLY didn't like it. His criticisms are accurate, but he failed to include the fatuity of the audience who cheered Gore on. What a bunch of Rimmers.

Scott Ott is a one-man The Onion. Today, he takes on the U.N.'s approach to weapons inspections and Barbra Streisand's pretensions. On some of these issues, satire is the only reasonable response to the idiocy of the Left.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

After Gore's speech, there seems to be a meta-debate over whether he contradicted his earlier statements or not. Tim Noah and
Max Zawicky are defending Gore. Zawicky writes, "one can be committed to regime change without launching a full-scale invasion of a country.. . . The deeper point is that the Right fails to appreciate that Gore is in principle more interventionist than Bush. Gore has not renounced an industrial-strength effort to destroy Saddam. He is in fact proposing a more comprehensive commitment to that same end, one which more sensibly entails the prior neutralizing of Al Queda and the construction of an international consensus.. . . [H]is record, and that of the Clinton Administration, says to me that in fact they are committed to such a campaign."

Gore did say, "And, I believe that we are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion," but the problem with it is that it sounds a lot like Clinton's explanation of how he tried to get bin Laden, but it just never worked out.

Gore's speech reminds me of George McClellan, the Civil War general who was so good at organizing and training the army, but didn't seem to know how to use it. He too wanted to be president and wrote of Lincoln with the same contempt Gore has for Bush. And he was just as ineffectual as Gore and Clinton were.

I'll grant Gore's apologists that he didn't actually say he was against going against Saddam at all, but his proposal sounds suspiciously like the reasons Germany and France have given for not supporting us. It's a handy device to demand a coalition before doing what needs to be done, but only when you're trying to procrastinate. Of course, the meta-issue of whether Gore was being inconsistent is easier to defend than the main one, whether he should be more trusted to handle this war than Bush.

And then there's that incisive comment, "If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first, especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you." OK, let Gore organize the posse, and let Bush handle the gunfight.

Here's an article on biometrics and their "threat" to civil liberties. It quotes Dick Armey as being offended by the use of face scanning at Superbowl XXXV in Tampa:
"They basically intruded on the privacy of everybody who went to that game," said Armey. "My right to ambulate in a public setting should not be compromised."

I've never thought Armey was the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but you'd think he could understand the concept of expectation of privacy. I would also expect him to realize that living is a civil liberty that is now threatened by dangerous people who live in our midst, and that most of us put "privacy" a little further down the scale that that.

Here's another quote:
"There's something about the public space that everyone shares and that you can't withdraw from," Electronic Privacy Information Center Policy Fellow Mihir Kshirsagar said. "If my 7-11 chooses to use a face recognition scanner, I can go to another store, but I don't have that choice on a public street."

"There's something about ourselves that is being captured," Kshirsagar added. "This biometric identification will be linked to some kind of database. All of a sudden you have a pretty intrusive look into somebody's life."

"The problem, along with most other technologies that are being introduced right now, is that the technology is developing at the speed of light but the law that protects us is still in the Stone Age," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology and Liberty Program. "We're not luddites at the ACLU. We think that there are uses of technology that enhance liberty. Unfortunately, until we develop some baseline privacy protections, we're going to find ourselves opposing most uses of biometrics."

The first guy sounds like those primitives who think that taking photographs steals one's soul.

Personally, I think that privacy, as it is promoted today is not, and never has been, a right in the way that freedom of speech and religion are. Privacy is what you get in your bedroom, not in airports and stadia. I've never understood where this idea that we have a right to be anonymous came from. It verges on saying that we have the right to commit crimes, or pose as someone we're not, and not get caught.

Technology is nothing more than a means of extending the ability of humans, in this case face recognition equipment enhances the ability of officials to screen crowds for known criminals, something that guards and screeners are allowed to do already. And computers are, or will be, less likely than airport screeners to stop nuns and grandmothers and confiscate their fingernail clippers.

There are certainly uses of information about us which should be limited or outlawed, but looking at our faces shouldn't be one of them.

David Broder describes Bush as a "Radical Conservative," making the odd claim that:
But it is also part of a pattern of radical revisionism in basic governmental philosophy and structure engineered by President Bush, who is quietly rewriting the classic definition of conservatism.

The word, as this president uses it, has little or nothing to do with the traditional conservative inclination to preserve the status quo. Instead, it suggests a very bold and risk-taking readiness to reexamine, revise and restate basic tenets of government. It is a pattern that now pervades Bush's economic, social and foreign policy and makes this, in some respects, a truly radical government.

. . . You may think any one of these changes is wise or foolish. What is remarkable is that all of them have come in so short a time from the hand of a man whose campaign seemed so bland and whose election was so narrow. Bush is redefining what it means to be a conservative.

I realize that intellectuals prefer "liberal" to conservative, but I've never thought of conservative as meaning that you want to preserve the status quo. seems to agree:

con�ser�va�tive (kun-surv-u-tiv)
1. One favoring traditional views and values.

The distinction is important, because today things have gone so far from tradtional values, particularly those of the founders of this nation, that no true conservative would describe him/herself in Broder's terms. He seems to think that true conservatives shouldn't have any programs or policies, they shouldn't propose tax cuts, school reform, social security reform, or deal any differently with the threat of terrorism after 9/11. Nice straw man, but it isn't George Bush. What Broder doesn't seem to notice is that 70% of the nation agrees with Bush, especially about Iraq.

Tradtional values underly all of the policies Broder points to, especially the wisdom that it's better to shoot a mad dog than to wait for it to come and bite you. I think most Americans had pretty much despaired of having a government that does what they would do, but Bush has done more of that than anybody since Eisenhower, and they seem to like it.

Best of the Web reports:
Daschle, meanwhile, is accusing the president and vice president of "politicizing" the war. CNN reports Daschle is particularly miffed about Dick Cheney "urging an audience in Kansas to vote for a GOP congressional candidate because he supports President Bush" on Iraq.

This is the old bipartisanship argument in a new dress. During Clinton's impeachment, Dems argued strenuously that the Republicans weren't being bipartisan like they had been during Watergate. Of course, in Clinton's case this amounted to begging the question. Bipartisanship is nice but it isn't so good that people should give up their convictions for it.

Daschle's comments make me wonder what he thinks politics is all about. Here in Utah, the Republicans hold all the statewide offices, with majorities in both the House and Senate, and all but one of the federal elected positions. We get letters to the editor all the time from Democrats complaining that Utah has become a one-party state. If so, it's their own fault for not running candidates who can get elected. Nobody is going to vote for someone they don't agree with just for the sake of symmetry. Daschle seems to think there is some law that political pitches are supposed to be fair. Where has he been living?

The Democrats in Congress have made a conscious decision to support the President on the war against terror, and attack him on the economy which they see as their best issue. Why then blame the Republicans for running on their best issue?

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Here's something for the handwringers telling us that we will have vast casualties from urban fighting in Bagdad. One thing the war in Afghanistan should have taught us is that war has changed.

The Washington Post also describes Gore's speech as "forceful." They must have only read the transcript, because if the clip on NPR was representative, his speaking style would have put most people to sleep.

Then there's this:
If you're going after Jesse James, you ought to organize the posse first, especially if you're in the middle of a gunfight with somebody who's out after you.

I wouldn't think that "in the middle of a gunfight" is a very good time to organize a posse, but, of course, the gunfight hasn't started yet.

Did Gore ever see "High Noon"? Sometimes you can't get a posse when you ask for one. Then you just have to do what needs to be done on your own. I suppose Gary Cooper could have run and left the town open to the outlaws, but then there wouldn't have been a story worth making a movie out of.

Monday, September 23, 2002

The Road to Tolerance is indeed a difficult one. That's why we have to allow only the smallest minorities truly free speech.

At last, someone is doing something about all the senseless violence.