Saturday, January 10, 2004

Jeff Jarvis asks:

So what if a President appointed a Secretary of Interaction whose job it is to encourage an open exchange of ideas and understanding.
I guess that's how people know you're a liberal. Your ideas all involve creating a new federal agency. Does anybody really think a president would use this as anything more than a polling tool?

Consider Bill Clinton. He used his polling not to develop new ideas, but to give the impression that he was more centrist than he really was. What if this new Secretariat had received a post warning of some terrorist attack that later came to pass? That message would be gone from the system before anybody could ask why they hadn't seen this coming. All the same techniques that make public comment hearings long and boring, in Jeff's words, would be used to make the system return the result the president wanted it to.

Maybe the real political spectrum should be divided between realists and idealists. Most conservatives and libertarians believe that power corrupts, which is why they advocate smaller, more localized government. Although conservatives would probably support more governmental power than libertarians, I think that I've seen enough to say that the founders were wise to recognize the need for a national government, but not to trust it too much, leaving most of the government to the states. Now, I would say that we suffer from mission creep in all three branches of national government. What is ironic is that they supreme court is reaching out to limit government of duly elected representatives, while the other two branches are steadily gathering more power away from the state and local governments to themselves.

Be that as it may, I think that liberals are losing numbers as their traditional positions are shown to be ineffective. The libertarians seem to be the swing group of the future, sometimes agreeing with liberals, sometimes with conservatives. I don't think that things are going to get any simpler very soon .

I feel so much safer.

Clark says he can keep U.S. safe from attacks
Wesley Clark said yesterday the two greatest lies of the last three years are that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks couldn't have been prevented and that another attack is inevitable.

He said a Clark administration would protect America in the future.

"If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people," Clark said in a meeting with the Monitor editorial board. "We are not going to have one of these incidents."
And how's he going to do that?
Clark, a retired Army general, envisioned a future in which Americans "have more confidence in ourselves as a people." He continued: "Nothing is going to hurt this country - not bioweapons, not a nuclear weapon, not a terrorist strike - there is nothing that can hurt us if we stay united and move together and have a vision for moving to the future the right way."
I guess that would eliminate future elections, wouldn't it?

Via Hugh Hewitt

I love this story.

Why do they think the Soviet Union collapsed?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

The Report of criminal behavior by American troops

The main reason I have trouble believing it is that so many from the Arab street seem to have a impulse to make up a story and stick to it, especially if it is the kind that gets play on Al Jazeera and supports Islamist stereotypes of the Infidels. However, there are details in Zeyad's report that don't sound made up.

Whatever the case, I hope that the military will get to the bottom of it ASAP, and that whoever did this terrible thing will be punished. I hope they weren't Americans, but if they were, they deserve to be turned over to the Iraqi courts. Americans, as far as I have seen, wish Iraqis well, and would like nothing better than to bring our troops home, but not if it means dishonoring our pledges or allowing the lives lost to be in vain.

Dan McCleese, the chief scientist of the Mars program at JPL, and Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator at NASA, were also on Charlie Rose last night, discussing the latest mars landing.

In the past few days NASA has had 2 billion hits on its website. Weiler had an interesting comment:
Question: To those who say, "Why do we go to Mars?" you say what?

Answer: We go to Mars not just for the science. That's for sure. That's the way we sell the program to the American people and the Congress, but it's more than just the science. I think these rovers are going to prove to be extremely exciting to America's kids, especially school kids.

In the last couple days we've had over two billion hits on the internet on the NASA webpage. That is more in a couple days than NASA got on its webpage the entire year of 2003. And I'll bet you most of those 2 billion hits came from kids.

We talked about the Apollo Program a little bit. I wouldn't be sitting here in this chair today if it weren't for the early manned spaceflight program. I was inspired by watching thos astronauts go up into space when I was a kid--to become an astronomer. I even set a goal to be able to work for NASA some day.

A whole generation was inspired by the early space program. We need to get more kids thinking about being engineers and scientists for our ecomic and other type futures, and I think that this rover program is one way to do it, because I would like not just to see all the science done, I want to see the science that we promised completed in about three months. There is some thought that the rovers might last longer than three months. Once we complete that science program. O ne of the mosts exciting things for me when I saw the first image was this is a flat terrain with very few boulders, very few obstacles. I would like to put the pedal to the metal, so to speak, and let the rovers do some real exploration.
I'm down with that.

Watching Jonathan Alter

on the Charlie Rose show, I'm getting the impression that he's trying to build the case for stopping Dean. The other panelists were Mark Singer of The New Yorker and Mark Halperin of ABC, both of whom seemed to be full of stuff we all pretty well know: Dean is a populist, plugged in to the grassroot upset about Bush, and shoots from the hip. He's also well funded and organized. I don't think the party insiders can stop him. What can they offer any candidate now that soft money is out?

This may be the biggest unintended consequence of McCain-Feingold, to weaken the parties as a vetting and filtering mechanism for selecting candidates. They have already been rendered less influential because of state primaries and the rise of campaign consultants.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

James Lileks in Arizona

Whoa, boy. You're not too far from Utah down there. Remember the ending of Raising Arizona?

Come to think of it, James' life is starting to take on the tones of the Coen Brothers' movies: Fargo, now Arizona, the Big Uke (OK, so Lebowski's more of a Polish name). Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Life in liberal paradise.

Could this kind of disrespect for the freedoms of others, even freedoms that will help maintain the social security and othe entitlements, be the reason many liberals are becoming libertarians, they can't stand other liberals, but don't want to join anybody who would support traditional morality? Of course, libertarians don't believe in government entitlements or high taxes. So they have a something in common with conservatives.

James Lileks ain't bleating . . .

due to deadline pressures. He's missing a shot at a target as big as a blimp. Starkman isn't a professional pundit, thank heaven, but one wonders about the pros who chose to give him a platform to make a fool of himself. Of course, he has to compete with Dean and Clark.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Dean's Job Program

I hope it's too late to stop him from getting the nomination.

Check out the photo

Scoll down.

Is Prof. Volokh assaulting a straw man?

As far as I'm concerned he is, but he probably does have a lot of correspondents who makes the points he dismisses. I would hope they aren't lawyers, though. As far as I'm concerned, the courts in the past 50 years have expanded the First Amendment beyond what it should be. That's why I'm a conservative, not a libertarian. I think, as he notes, that Congress does have the power to prohibit loudspeakers in D. C. residential neighborhood, but I also believe that local governments have the right to prohibit vagrancy and offensive demonstrations like flag burnings and attacking other peoples' religion when they're trying to celebrate a wedding, or desecrating religious garments. These are presently being denied to residents of Salt Lake City and its visitors. And they wonder why downtown Salt Lake is losing businesses.

Military's internal debate on use of Special Ops

via Hugh Hewitt.

We've got a lot of trained people who are champing at the bit to put that training to use against terrorists. It's an interesting issue, especially when we need to cut costs, but it could blow back big time if the hunter-killers act on reliable intel that turns out to be bad.

The troops in the Battle in Mogadishu portrayed in "Blackhawk Down" were highly trained and heroic beyond belief, but it turned out badly. On the other hand, this is a war, and we can't always have the security of knowing that we know what's waiting for us. It would be much easier if the people would give the president a firm, unmistakable mandate, but it won't be given via our mass media.

My own predilection would be counterinsurgency, yes; snatches, yes; but go slow on the assassinations. Remember the empty bag in Baghdad on the opening day of the war and the number of body parts found in the crater. If you kill somebody, he or she will have to be identified, and you'd better be sure it was the right target and there was no other way. I think we passed that test with Uday and Qusay, because they fought back. Notice that their father was smarter than that.

Of course, if you kill the bad guy, you don't have to deal with demands that he be tried in an international court.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The ADT (Parent company: Tyco International) National Trophy goes to:

The team ranked No 2 by the BCS, LSU. I don't really mind companies sponsoring these things, but this is getting kind of ridiculous. There seems to be something incongruous about the NCAA rules enforcing the "amateur" status of college athletes, then plastering "Nokia Sugar Bowl" on their uniforms, and selecting the Ford Built Tough play of the game, awarding the ADT National Trophy, yadda, yadda, yadda.

And, by the way, Nick Saban is now the highest paid coach in college football, with a clause in his contract awarding him one dollar more than the previously highest paid coach, Bob Stoops of OU, if he wins this game, and both will surely be offered much more to coach in the NFL.

I'm sure that some of his players will make some money by going pro, but most won't. In the arguments over who's really Number One, maybe someone should question whether a system so awash in cash has any business being so puritanical about the financial purity of its athletes. I don't know why it matters, except as a sociological curiosity and a marketing ploy. If you're a Big Ten fan, do you really care whether USC or LSU is No. 1? Ultimately it boils down to a means of attracting interest and advertising revenues, and nothing more.

When I see the huge crowds that show up for NFL games, especially in outdoor stadiums in Green Bay, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New England in December and January, and pay a lot of money for the privilege of yelling themselves hoarse

Nokia wasted their money

I'm watching the Sugar Bowl. There are ads featuring Snoop Dog talking to himself, Terry Bowden, the TCU Hornfrog mascot and some contest I can't figure out. I go to the website they're promoting,, and, ta-da, "Server Error in Application." Thinking it might be due to the fact that I use Mozilla, I tried it again with IE. Same result. I hope their cell phones work better than this.

Update: I finally got it to load. Snoop looks like a pimp with bad taste. The script is taking forever to run. Bling! It's a gimmick to gather email addresses to spam. I gave it my spam address.

These ads would be considered racist if they didn't feature a rapper. "Who dat?" indeed! I haven't heard that since Amos 'n Andy.


Green Bay over Seattle. It's too bad one of them had to lose. The best game of the day.

What goes around comes around. The Colts embarrassed the Broncos. Maybe they should trade names.

My vote of the teams who've played so far is for the Carolina Panthers.

The BS Championship game: Just started. Oklahoma may be the best team in the country, but strength of schedule doesn't tell you anything about how good a team is. USC and OU both lost games they shouldn't have, but USC's loss wasn't in a conference championship game.

This just has so many things wrong with it, James Carvell, the BCS hype, the few seconds of silence while we pray for the troops, not that there's anything wrong with that, except that it seems kind of phoney juxtaposed with "multiplatinum recording artist" Jessica Simpson singing the National Anthem, the Ford Truck giveaway. John Saunders begins by noting that OU, LSU and USC (Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the BCS) "all deserve to be here, but three doesn't go into two."

I give the ABC commentators credit for facing the controversy, but the BCS logic just doesn't hold up. Terry Bowden says that all the teams in the BCS agreed to these rules at the outset, which only means that they all bought into a moneymaking scheme. Fine, but don't try to tell us that it really means anything. The analysts are telling us that prior experience playing in a dome on artificial turf could make the difference, so is the winner the real champ or just the champ in a dome on Astroturf? If the NCAA approves this system and opens it to all conferences, fine, but it still won't tell which team is the best in the nation. There are too many variables.

I think what bothers me about this is that it encourages the crazy emphasis on winning. Fans boo their own teams and act like spoiled children, yelling insults at players and demanding coaches' heads if they don't win, win, win. What happened to rooting for your team, win or lose, and good sportsmanship?

Update: It's a good game so far, but all turnovers in the first three possessions. LSU looks better in the first 9 minutes, but remember, that's in a dome on artificial turf. OU looks rattled.

Gimli gets it, II

John Rhys-Davies on The Science Channel:
We should go to Mars because we need to stretch ourselves. We need constantly to find interesting answers to the really big questions. Going to Mars also would give us a slightly bigger survival footprint. I mean, one good comet, or one good meteorite hit, could end life as we know it here.
The video clip was recorded at a meeting of the Planetary Society where members watched the landing and initial pictures returned by Spirit, the latest Mars rover.

More proof that all politics is local,

and that the European version of international justice is a joke.

This is the mirror image of a traditional Soviet show trial, a well-deserved prosecution that manages to make the defendant look like he's being railroaded. And Wesley Clark is boasting of his association with it, and endorsing it for prosecuting Saddam. You just have to read it. Trying to add anything to Mark Steyn's commentary is like attempting to rewrite Groucho Marx:
Up to the moment Saddam popped out of the spider-hole, the international jet set's line was that deplorable as Saddam's rule might be -- gassing Kurds, feeding folks feet-first into industrial shredders, etc. -- it was strictly an internal matter for the Iraqi people. The minute the old boy was in U.S. custody, the international jet set's revised position was that gassing Kurds, feeding folks into industrial shredders and so forth were crimes against the whole world and certainly not a matter for the Iraqi people.
Read it.

With allies like this . . .

The New York Times News Service reports:
The Pakistani leaders who denied for years that scientists at the country's secret A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories were peddling advanced nuclear technology must have been averting their eyes from a most conspicuous piece of evidence: the laboratory's own sales brochure, quietly circulated to aspiring nuclear weapons states and a network of nuclear middlemen around the world.

I love these guys and their families. I can only apologize for recognizing them too late, largely due to the negative image of the military among our media. No more. I'm grateful and proud of these men and women.