Strutting and fretting in an insane world.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
The subject line is "Want a Rolex? Try a Replica First!" How eminently reasonable!
If you don't like it, it doesn't work, turns your wrist green, Rolex is misspelled on the dial, think how much money you'll have saved by not wasting money on a real one!
French youth abandoning France
I noted that they're not moving to Germany. Is it coincidental that only Britain, Canada and New Zealand are mentioned as destinations?
Cindy Sheehan, I'm convinced, became an instant celebrity because she was a useful idiot for the left. They found her to be a great amplifier for their inanities against the war. No distortion, just louder. Of course, the reason she was anointed was that her son was killed in Iraq, and thus disagreeing with her makes one insensitive and cruel.
James Lileks no slouch as a loving parent himself, has challenged the tactic and dared to note the Emperor's state of undress: "Joe Trippi set up a conference call with anti-war bloggers, and Sheehan rolled out sheet after sheet of thin-hammered boilerplate."
The catalog of her activities and banalities is something that needed to be pointed out. There is nobody better to present it. Nobody familiar with his blog could accuse him honestly of not understanding her pain or the immensity of her loss.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Do you feel a chill?
Wesley J. Smith:
Scientists who want to testify in favor of a ban on human cloning are warned that if they do, their careers are over, that they will be branded "anti-science" and no longer be invited to participate in seminars or write book chapters. If they don't have tenure, they will never get it. If they do, they will be shunned, shunted to a corner and forced to teach "punishment" freshman classes, rather than their usual advanced or post grad courses.. . . (See here)So Science has now become the Church of Galileo's time. Thank goodness they only have the power to end your career.
I think the suppression of heterodox views in science on university campuses is as big a story as the suppression of conservative thought in the social sciences on university campuses.
I think the fuss over intelligent design bothers me not so much because I want to see it in the curriculum, as because I think kids need to be taught that scientific thought should always be open to questions. There are lots of gaps in the fossil record and we can't analyze the DNA of fossils. We've already learned that classifications based on structure alone may be misleading. There's always more out there waiting to be discovered. No science student should be taught that prevailing models cannot be questioned.
Recipe for democracy.
Austin Bay reviews First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea by Paul Woodruff, which is based on the proposition that controversy and danger are innate characteristics of democracy. He lists seven ideas that democracy "tries to express" whatever that means:
-- freedom from tyranny;I have some of my own, but I'd like to compare them with Woodruff's.
-- the rule of law;
-- natural equality;
-- citizen wisdom;
-- "reasoning without knowledge";
-- general education.
I've thought about what it will take for the Iraqis to succeed with a democracy, and this book sounds like something I should read. Now if I could get on one of those book review gigs where they send you free copies, like Glenn Reynolds has.
Bet on it.
Some global warming skeptics have bet a British believer ten grand that the planet will cool during the next decate.
It makes a lot more sense than betting the whole economy on the Kyoto treaty. The plain fact is that no politician with a lick of sense will support measure that cripple his country's economy. Of course there are lots of politicians without a lick of sense, because their constituents done have any either.
David Gelernter explains why Cindy Sheehan's behavior dishonors her son's sacrifice.
Mohammed Atta's innocent twin
Mickey Kaus vets a theory of Tom Maquire's that there were two Mohammed Attas, which would explain why Able Danger found him through datamining of public databases and also why the Pentagon didn't want to give it to the justice department:
3) Q: Why was the Defense department so skittish about passing on Atta's name.Read the whole thing.
A. That's understandable if, as Maguire asserts, the first, "Abu Nidal" Atta was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Pentagon spying on U.S. citizens was of questionable legality.
Resurrecting a bad idea
Mickey Kaus, an avowed Democrat, doesn't see anything wrong with John Roberts' opposition to 'comparable worth'.
Put simply, comparable worth would require that judges adjust market wages for jobs that were historically disproportionately male or disproportionately female.It assumes that this would be to the benefit of women, but there's no reason to believe that it wouldn't just harm men by adjusting wages down.
Not only was that a bad idea, but it has been discredited long ago:
All these arguments were made at length in neolib publications like the New Republic and Washington Monthly decades ago. Unfortunately those articles are so old they're pre-Google and pre-NEXIS.
With friends like these . . .
"As the U. S. stumbles in Iraq, . . .
What!? When did this become the conventional wisdom on the conservative side as well as the anti-war left?
I hate hearing about deaths of our troops, too. But I always believed this was going to take a long time. We have jumpstarted a debate on how to establish a democratic republic in a Muslim country, and we've asked the Iraqis to write a constitution in less than a year. That they're having trouble agreeing shouldn't worry anybody.
It's frustrating to see suicide bombing and IEDs and RPGs taking a continuing toll, but I believe that expecting no casualties is unrealistic. This is not Vietnam. We are not losing. We are making progress. We are not stumbling.
I don't know where this demand for instant success comes from, but I suspect it's brewed inside the beltway between journalists, bureaucrats and thinktank theorists. These types think they have all the answers and they vary from pull out now and cut our losses to more boots on the ground to invade Syria AND Iran. I agree that the administration needs to do a better job of shoring up support, but I think that those who support the war need to do their part and not just add to the criticism. We owe it to the troops to support them and let them know it.
Hypocrisy on Parade
Ted Kennedy is portraying himself as a Profile in Courage for demanding more documents from John Roberts' service as Deputy Solicitor General, "[t]o help us perform our constitutional duty."
Since when is it the constitutional duty of the Senate to dictate judicial philosophy? Ralph Neas and Nan Aron are cracking the whip and Teddy and Pat Leahy are jumping. All they lack is a schock collar.
The WSJ seems to agree.
Bolton is on the case
This is why we need John Bolton at the U.N.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Sheehan leaves the stage.
Her mother is ill. The question now is whether the mob will stay and try to keep the circus running without its star act.
Joe Scarborough, your term limit has been extended.
Joe Scarborough may run for Senate from Florida, against Katherine Harris. I think he'd have a better chance that she would. I have nothing against her, but she has been so savaged by the media that I don't think she can win.
Able Danger update
More Information continues to seep out. It's looking worse for the 9/11 Commission.
I don't support Congressional Hearings on this, but don't be surprised if we're still trying to assign blame in two years hence.
The Israel pullout
Hearing Yoni Tidi (sp?) today on Hugh Hewitt's program today, I got a real sense of the trauma the abandonment of the settlement in Gaza. Being the descendant of people who were driven out of their homes in Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois I can understand how difficult this can be, especially when it's supported by your own leaders. But the example of the Mormon pioneers, shows that God will not give you everything you want at the cost of denying others their freedom of agency, but he will bless your efforts. Israel will persist. God has decreed it, but we can't say what trials it will have to undergo as it does so. God will make his people pass through a crucible, not to punish but to refine. They must seek him and humble themselves before him, and he will not fail them.
The future of news
Hugh Hewitt calls it the information reformation. I don't know if it will really work out that way. He cites the near monopoly on blog humor by conservative bloggers and the launch of Power Line News an expanded version of the venerable blog. The Huffington Post is a liberal example, if it does better than Air America.
I don't think that blogs will replace existing news organizations but I think that the newspapers which survive will, with the exception of the NYTimes and the WaPo, do so based on local news and then only if they can make themselves profitable on the internet. I don't think people want to wait for the paper anymore for their information, and there is less need all the time to do so.
I think that RealClear Politics and other sites that aggregate/filter news reports and provide a range of comment will grow. My generation will probably be the last that reads actual newspapers.
Good news from Saudi Arabia
Al Qaeda's leader there is toes-up.
Muslims for the First Amendment
Just in time for the Roberts Confirmation battle!
Joe Biden has started a political action committee called Unite Our States. Isn't that a ripoff of Senator Hatch's hymn, Heal Our Land?
And didn't Biden screw up last time he ran for president by plagiarizing a speech by Tony Blair? Does he have any original ideas?
Does treason really mean anything anymore?
Eugene Volokh addressed the issue of whether statements like George Galloway's (comparing Baghdad and Jerusalem to two beautiful daughters of the Arabs who are being raped by Israel and the U.S.) could be the basis for treason charges.
Tony Blair has proposed measures to deport or denaturalize Muslim radicals who encourage, advocate, or glorify terrorism. Some American intellectuals are alarmed by the implications of such a policy for freedom of speech.Glenn Reynolds, however, isn't so sure:
It seems reasonable to me that those seeking asylum should be required to show some loyalty to the country they're seeking refuge in. And it seems reasonable to me that the civilized world ought to be taking action against those who agitate on behalf of terror, regardless of whether it is done through treason prosecutions or other means.Me too. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires us to take vipers to our bosoms who go beyond dissent and foment murders.
Sheehan's Public Nuisance
Sheehan's personal tragedy is degenerating into farce or worse. She has become a celebrity whose divorce proceedings hit the wires this week to reverberate in the great national echo chamber.If I felt that Mrs. Sheehan's request for a meeting with the President would help comfort her, I'd support it, and I think he would give it to her if he thought it would help. But I agree with Hoaglund:
A vigil by a war victim's mother should be an act of devotion that transcends political theater. Bush owes Sheehan the respect of the meeting she seeks -- if she demonstrates that she will show him the respect any elected president deserves.And if the people who are mobbed around her had any real sensitivity, they'd have stayed home with their phoney crosses and candles. This is another event like Paul Wellstone's memorial service, what should have been a time of reflection and sharing of sorrow has turned into a political rally full of hatred and fury.
As a political tactic, Sheehan's protest is likely to backfire, bringing other parents of troops who have died in Iraq out of the woodwork with support for Bush. They may not get the publicity she has gotten, because they won't go organize media events, but they will provide an answer.
There were reports yesterday about how the mobs along the roads in Crawford have become a nuisance to other residents. Does seizing on an opportunity to hammer a political opponent really trump the right to peace and quiet in one's home? I'm not advocating suppression of freedom of speech, just some common sense and regulation of time and place.
U.N. scandal dwarfs even Enron
Claudia Rosett has found that Enron was linked to the U.N. Oil for Food scandal:
[I]nvestigators for Rep. Henry Hyde's International Relations Committee have unearthed documents showing that shortly before Enron imploded in late 2001, the company, among its other deals, was shelling out millions, some of it into Swiss bank accounts, to buy Iraqi crude exported by Saddam under Oil for Food.Enron didn't deal directly with Saddam but it helped those he bribed sell their oil as a laundering middle man.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The attack is on
The MSM has launched its assault on John Roberts, with a story implying that he is a racist:
Just three miles from the nearly all-white community of Long Beach, two days of looting and vandalism erupted when Roberts was 15, barely intruding on the Mayberry-like community that was largely insulated from the racial strife of that era.Envision Andy and Opie walking down the road to the fishing hole wearing white sheets and hoods!
It was here that the 50-year-old Roberts lived from elementary school until he went away to Harvard in 1973, and that decade — as well as the rest of his life — is receiving intense scrutiny as the Senate gears up for its Sept. 6 confirmation hearings on President Bush's first Supreme Court nominee.The fourth paragraph provides a fig leaf of objectivity:
Some of the attention focuses on Roberts' civil rights record as Bush replaces retiring Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor, the key swing voter on affirmative action issues.
Roberts' criticism of racial "quotas" in some documents from his work as a White House lawyer has alarmed civil rights groups and some Democrats, who say he may be a partisan for conservative causes. Other memos from his time in the Reagan Justice Department portray an attorney who urged his bosses to restrict affirmative action and Title IX sex discrimination lawsuits.
It is hard to know how much Roberts' upbringing in this northern Indiana community on the shores of Lake Michigan influenced his views. Some say the fact that there were riots and restrictions on home ownership is not relevant at all.Some say it's not relevant, but the AP knows better and so should you!
The family purchased land a few blocks from the beach in 1966 and built an unassuming tri-level house. The Roberts property did not include a racially restrictive covenant, according to LaPorte County deed records, and the restrictions had begun fading away by then.Oooh. Sinister.
Other homes built decades earlier in the town had covenants.
The buried lede is in the very last paragraph and should have killed the whole story:
"I think it's legitimate to look at the past if it tells you anything about the person. But so what if there were race riots? Did he cause them? No. He was a 15-year-old kid. We don't shape the events that take place in our hometown."No kidding. Can you imagine what they'd be screaming if this kind of innuendo was used against a Democrat?
If the press is worried about its loss of trust and low poll ratings, it should take note of nonstories like this and clean up its act. What is scary is that journalists have become so isolated from normal society that they think stuff like this is what people want to know.
Update: And today Roberts is against equal rights for women, which is code for abortion. As I keep saying, the Supreme Court has made the judiciary into a third political branch, and we're seeing the campaign.
9/11 Coverup Commission
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney wrote a memo to her superiors in the Justice Department, reports the NYPost seeking to end the policy of not sharing intelligence:
[Jamie Gorelick] ignored dire warnings that its approach to terrorism was "very dangerous" and could have "deadly results," according to a blistering memo just obtained by The Post.I'd like to see the whole memo and the date of it, but if true, this supports the Able Danger allegations, but there are still questions about the sourcing for the story, if Jed Babbin is to be believed. Babbin guest-hosted Hugh Hewitt's radio program today. He reported that the source, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, was not in a position to know the facts in the story. I guess I'll wait and see. As John Podhoretz notes, it all comes back to Jamie Gorelick, who shouldn't have been on the 9/11 commission. The existence of Gorelick's rule is not in doubt, just the latest details of how it helpe prevent the the rounding up of Mohammed Atta's cell in NYC. We already knew that the FBI failed to connect the dots. If it had received the Able Danger information there's not much proof it would have made any difference. The story of John O'Neill should have settled the question, and the 9/11 Commission missed the whole thing:
Then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White wrote the memo as she pleaded in vain with Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick to tear down the wall between intelligence and prosecutors, a wall that went beyond legal requirements.
Equally troubling is that the 9/11 Commission, charged with tracing the failure to stop 9/11, got White's stunning memo and several related documents — and deep-sixed all of them.Stunning is an understatement.
With Gorelick and Janet Reno running things, I would assume that lower level officials would have been supporters of the policy. It just won't wash to blame 9/11 on the Bush administration. It takes so long to appoint anybody in Washington, a review of old policies and putting the new administration's stamp on these agencies takes years, not months. I think Bush waited far too long to replace George Tenet, probably because he didn't realize or couldn't prove the extent to which that agency was working against him.
We have a government full of people who are ideologically opposed to the leaders elected by the people. People like Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. We also have a media establishment who hate George Bush and have nothing but disdain for the people who elected him. If you get your news from the broadcast networks and major dailies, you're probably being brainwashed. The duty of citizens is to inform themselves, even when they have to search for truth.
Confronting hard truth and PTS
The WSJ also features a story about Army Major Peter Kilner who has been writing and speaking about the need for soldiers to deal with their feelings of guilt over killing in the course of duty:
Slowly, Maj. Kilner's writings -- which encourage officers to talk to their troops about the morality of killing in combat and the guilt that often comes with taking another's life -- have begun gathering a wide audience.I'm sure that the antiwar left will have something accusatory and outraged to say about this. During Vietnam the morality of killing was the argument of many protesters against the war, but I always felt that the real concern of those of draft age or with family in that age group was the fact that Americans get killed in war.
Instructors at a military-police school in Missouri have passed them around to spur discussions on the morality of killing. At the Army's school for newly minted chaplains in South Carolina, Maj. Kilner's writings are being incorporated into a new course to be offered later this year on how to counsel soldiers on the morality of war. Recently a battalion of troops from the 101st Airborne Division gathered to discuss his theories on killing prior to deploying to Iraq later this fall.
I also think that the experience of killing and seeing friends killed and wounded in horrible, gory ways explains why so many WWII veterans never spoke about their experiences to their families. The memories were too painful, and in those days men didn't cry. Now you see them on television documentaries, breaking down as they talk about those experiences, and your heart goes out to them. That's why we see them as heroes, and why they deserve our honor and respect. The parades and outpouring of support helped them deal with the sense of guilt over killing or surviving when others died. The troops returning from Vietnam didn't get that. Just the opposite. And theat is why I have no respect for pacifists and angry protesters like Cindy Sheehan who seem to ignore the nobility of serving one's country and liberating the oppressed and focus only on their own anger.
Another new internet term
"Spear phishing," according to the WSJ is a tactic used to train computer users to beware of phishing emails, in which a message appears to be from a trusted site, but isn't, and links the reader to a fake site where he/she is asked to enter personal data, such as his credit card information and passwords.
Sometimes it's pretty clear what's going on because the sender claims to be a business or institution you don't have an account with.
More than 35 million of these targeted email messages to steal critical data and personal information were launched in the first half of the year, according to a report this month from International Business Machines Corp. And use of these scams is soaring: The number of such email messages sent rose more than 1,000% from January to June, the company said.John Dvorak has a theory that people tend to treat computers and the internet as a form of "magick" as Arthur C. Clarke so famously stated. They give anything from a computer as automatically authoritative and trustworthy and seem to have a slavish response to any link that says "Click here," or "Open the attachment."
Some become anxious and worried when they're told not to open some emails.
Freedom fighters, huh?
Terrorists bombing fellow Muslims in Bangladesh, but you won't find the T-word anywhere in the article. Was this another protest against Western Imperialism? Yes and no.
Leaflets from the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh have appeared at the site of some of the blasts.But whom did they blow up? Fellow Bangladeshis.
"It is time to implement Islamic law in Bangladesh" and "Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries", the leaflets say.
An interesting aside about the report is that it demonstrates that some in the media have figured out that blogs and citizen journalism is valid, adding this invitation under the story:
Have you been affected by the bombs in Bangladesh? Did you witness any of the explosions? What do you think about Islamic militancy in Bangladesh? Send us your comments and experiences.They seem to have learned something from the personal reporting and photography done after the Christmas tsunami. Probably because of first hand accounts like this.
Do you have a picture to send? Email your pictures and video to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Where's the ACLU?
From a fundraising letter sent by David Horowitz this story:
Like so many -- too many! -- young conservative students in America, Ruth found herself being singled out for abuse by a professor who simply hated Ruth's political views. Ruth -- an A-student at Georgia Tech -- mentioned to her professor that she was going to attend the conservative conference sponsored by C-PAC in Washington, D.C.Since they're in the business of advocating new rights, shouldn't the ACLU be fighting for the right to be educated without political indoctrination?
Without batting an eyelash, the professor told Ruth "Well, then, you will probably fail my course." Can you imagine the arrogance and sense of superiority this professor must have assumed when she unflinchingly told Ruth she was going to see to it she failed?
Her next exam -- a subjective essay test -- was returned to her with a failing grade. Eventually, Ruth withdrew from her class.
The Dresden Moment
The Wall Street Journal on its main website, has a Op-Ed by a Japanese national, Fumio Matsuo, suggesting that the U.S. and Japan need some kind of reconciliation ceremony:
My conviction that we need a postwar settlement of accounts is triggered by memory of the way the city of Dresden marked the 50th anniversary of the Allied bombings that killed 35,000. I was surprised to see in attendance the military leaders of Germany's former enemies and representatives of the British Royal Family. It was clear that everyone had engaged in much back-stage diplomacy. Japan and the U.S., on the other hand, have never engaged in any meaningful discussion of their wartime actions, even though far more people (conservatively, 83,793) were killed by the U.S. firebombing of Tokyo on March 10, 1945, than in Dresden. This was the first of a series of indiscriminate bombings of 69 cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs. According to Japanese government estimates, about 510,000 civilians were killed. Yet Japan and the U.S. have never held such a reconciliation ceremony.I agree with him about the need for this kind of a meeting and joining in sorrow over the death and destruction of WWII, both for their own losses and those they inflicted. This is probably harder for the Americans because of the recriminations from our own intellectual elite for the past 60 years about the morality of the decision to use the atomic bombs.
I wasn't around at the time, but I sense that most Americans have a core sympathy for the victims of war on both sides. There have been many little reconciliations between veterans of the war who have reached out to express their personal sorrow for having to kill others even when they felt it was a just struggle. It's not guilt or feeling unjustified in their feelings at the time, but a deeper sorrow that such things as war exist, and that sense embodied in the poem, The man he killed. I think that a similar meeting between heads of state and high military officials might serve to give the people a chance to participate in that reconciliation and sense of regret that war takes such a toll and acknowledgment that individuals who are caught up in struggles between empires don't deserve the hatred that was felt during the time of war.
If you demonstrate, they will come.
That seems to be a key to getting press attention according to Chris Nolan. The problem is that people get sick of the whining pretty quickly. It's natural to feel compassion for a mother who has lost her son, but when it becomes apparent that she's using that loss as a platform for political purposes, I think most people are disgusted by it. After all, there are lots of families who have lost sons and daughters and don't try to exploit it to make themselves nation celebrities and political activists. The things she says about President Bush doesn't pass the smell test except for those who've already drunk the Koolaid. Most people understand that when a president commands the military to go to war, it puts a burden on him, and that attacking him as uncaring isn't fair. (I don't recall any video of him laughing until he notices the camera and immediately reaches up to wipe away a tear, but I realize that some people don't believe anything he says about sorrowing for the dead and injured soldiers.)
Coincidently, Best of the Web has a killer quote from John Kerry that makes my point, and recalls that last year, "Kerry sent triple amputee Max Cleland, who had been defeated in his 2002 Senate re-election bid, to deliver a letter to President Bush demanding that the president denounce the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Taranto coins a new term, Sheehanoia, and notes that it's "a sign of the desperation, not the strength, of the left in America. Publicity stunts are no substitute for an actual political program." I think that most adults in this country have thought about war and recognized that those who fight in our armed forces are not responsible for decisions beyond their pay grade and that it's better to fight terrorists somewhere else than here.
Is this progress?
A new device for altering your sense of balance is demonstrated as a means of remotely controlling a person wearing a special headset. There not being a huge demand for being remotely controlled, the device is being developed primarily for use by gamers and in flight simulators to more closely duplicate the feelings of motion. I imagine that it could give you the same sensation as riding on a roller coaster or taking off in a jet plane. I wonder if it could simulate weightlessness. Does it come with a supply of air sickness bags?
New word of the day
It's peloton meaning a closely bunched group of bicycles riding together. It's French for a small ball or pellet, also a small group of soldiers, like a platoon. The use as a bicycle race term is apparently too new for Dictionary.com. The linked story has a picture.
The transmogrification of the First Amendment
I don't know how I came upon this article, but I find the argument in it repugnant. Basically it argues that since the "the media made me do it" defense is not accepted, nobody who inculcates and incites violence should be held accountable. Only those who listen and obey are responsible. I think it's a matter of strict liability. If you advocate killing cops, or blowing up airliners, or assassinating other people, and other impressionable people follow your advice. You are a conspirator. The Clear and Present Danger rule argued against in the article is a limitation on responsibility for incitement, in that it says that the language or incitement or inducement or whatever must be such that it creates a clear and present danger that its urging will be followed before it can be prosecuted. At least that's what I think it means. So if you just rail against the infidels, invoke jihad as a religious duty and extoll suicide bombers as martyrs, but don't get more specific, you're safe.
Apparently even that is not lenient enough for the authors.
Some good ideas for bloggers
I hadn't been to Victor Davis Hanson's website for a while. When I visited again, I found some interesting innovations. His site isn't a typical blog. It's a collection of his various columns and essays, and a place to promote his books. But he has introduced some blog-like elements without losing control of his content or letting his website take control of him.
His page is broken into sections for New Commentary; featuring the opening of several of his recent columns and links to the whole columns; Books & Things, in which he features reviews and links to the work of others he finds significant; Lest We Forget, featuring a short comment on current events and a link to an earlier column or selection of VDH's writing which relates to it; Reader Response, in which selected questions and requests from readers are featured with VDH's responses, one per day; Across the Web, a collection of links to articles and columns he finds worth mentioning, a sort of blog of items selected by the editor, who is presumably VDH's employee, and lastly, Angry Reader featuring selected criticisms, objections and complaints accompanied by VDH's short responses.
These are sensible and useful items for readers and they make the site worth visiting often without consuming too much of Professor Hanson's time and attention. They also allow him to fit his website into his schedule. It's evidence of an orderly mind at work. I wish I could work that way.
Monday, August 15, 2005
I've noticed that some people who move to Utah think that everybody already here should adapt themselves to their ideas of what society should be like. Some of them move here because it's supposed to be a good place to raise kids, and then gripe constantly about Mormons and their values. It has occurred to me that some of the people who move here to get away from the problems in the places they leave immediately set about trying to make changes in this society which create the problems they are fleeing.
I wonder if this isn't the problem with a lot of intolerant Muslims, like those who bombed the subways and buses in London. They don't seem to understand that the freedom and opportunities that made them or their parent want to come to the West cannot be sustained in the kind of religious police state they want to establish. If Middle Eastern countries want to have modern economies, they have to get used to the idea of working in jobs that get one's hands dirty, and, further, they need to accept the idea that all people are created equal, and that tribal societies will always be held back by their own authoritarian structures and the authoritarian nature of radical varieties of Islam like Wahhabism and Jamaat-i-Islami. If God wanted us to be deprived of the power to make our own choices, why didn't he make us more like ants?
Forget global warming; We're being bombarded by nuggets of quarks of the "strange" variety, which could be left over from the big bang. They are said to be moving at 900,000 mph and are detected by coordinated seismograph readings from around the planet.
Who are they kidding?
Victor Davis Hanson wonders why we don't listen more to the statements of radical Muslim leaders. Me too, considering how many times I've seen the insurgents in Iraq described as "freedom fighters." Do freedom fighters vow to commit genocide? Do they assassinate captives? Do they promise to reinstate authoritarian regimes like the Taliban? Do they target and kill the very people they claim to be trying to free?
Glenn Reynolds makes a similar point about the threat these creeps represent to their own people. They're more like to repeat the mass murders and imprisonment that have followed our withdrawals from Southeast Asia.
The Discovery Channel will have a special
on Cosmic Strangelets, just as soon as the BBC or Canadians can produce one.
Don't mix alcohol with socialized medicine
The BBC reports that alcohol-related deaths have increased in the UK by nearly a fifth in four years.
Bob Novak reports that Roberts has sixty hard votes in the Senate. I hope he's right.
If the Democrats make a fight out of this, they shouldn't be given a pass for their next nominee like they got for Ginsburg and Breyer. If they want scorched earth, they should get it. I'd love to debate their criteria for confirmation.
Quote of the day
It's from John Scopes, and it nails the Evolution-is-not-in-question crowd:
If you limit a teacher to only one side of anything, the whole country will eventually have only one thought. ... I believe in teaching every aspect of every problem or theory.Indeed. I don't think that reasonable people want to prevent evolution from being taught, but they don't want it taught as revealed truth, either.
He's back from his Baltic and North Sea vacation, and blogging up a storm.
Lesson from Vietnam
Henry Kissinger has learned, thank goodness, from the disastrous pullout from Vietnam.
For a decision to withdraw substantial U.S. forces while the war continues is a potentially fateful event. It affects the calculations of insurgents and government forces alike, so that the definition of progress becomes nearly as much a psychological as a military judgment. Every soldier withdrawn represents a larger percentage of the remaining total. The capacity for offensive action of the remaining forces shrinks. Once the process is started, it runs the risk of operating by momentum rather than by strategic analysis, and that process is increasingly difficult to reverse.While leftists only see QUAGMIRE as the lesson of Vietnam, more intelligent people learned 1) that you have to fight to win, not to maintain a status quo, and 2) what Kissinger said, if you pull out without making sure your ally can stand up to the enemy, you deserve the blame if it then gets conquered.
This war is no longer against Iraqi resistance. It has become more like Vietnam in that the resistance is a proxy for Syria and Iran. They should be notified that we will not respect their borders if they continue to send money, weapons and fighters into Iraq. This is not a time to be setting dates for withdrawal; it's a time for America to get tough. If the Pentagon hasn't figured that out, we need to start firing generals and admirals until we find a few Pattons, Shermans and Grants. Everybody except the Vietnamophobics pays lip service to "we can't afford to lose this," but our media are drip, drip, dripping the message that this is a lost cause, despite the fact that more Americans are killed or injured by guns in this country than there are casualties in Iraq.
The Bush team needs to go on the offensive. If Rumsfeld has decided that this is unwinnable, Bush should replace him. I've been hearing that Rumsfeld has lost his resolve in this fight. I find that hard to believe. If we send more troops, they should be focused on sealing the borders of the country and not granting sanctuary to foreign fighters in Syria or Iran.
Survival trumps sensitivity
The Europeans are getting serious about fighting terrorism. Maybe there's hope for them after all.
Damned if you do. Dead if you don't.
The death of a little girl is being blamed on the police, not her father who was using her as a shield while he fired an automatic weapon at them. This is the same logic that says that people in Iraq who died for lack of medicine are the victims of the Western countries who were supporting sanctions against Saddam Hussein.
Oh, the humanity!
Those poor Palestinians! They can't even get a sandwich made. It must be the fault of Israel and the U.S.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
You can't trust eyewitness testimony all the time either.
Jonah Golberg comments on the reliability of public opinion and especially polls purporting to tell us what it really is. Clue: it's all in the wording and the black or white responses required.
The true threat to freedom
Michael Ledeen puts his finger on a more general problem than sharing of intelligence:
The usual mess, with the lawyers getting in the way of rational policy.I've seen this intimidation by lawyers firsthand. It's spread across the land, infecting school boards, bureaucrats and officials. It's destroying freedom of speech because a lawsuit you win can be more expensive than one you lose.
JJA: It wasn’t illegal, first of all. How could it have been? The "information" wasn’t proprietary, and it wasn’t secret. The data came from newspapers and magazines, they just analyzed it, and apparently they analyzed it quite well. There was no legality that prevented them from pointing out the significance of the data to anyone — law enforcement or Army cook. It’s just nonsense. Some prissy lawyer in the JAG undoubtedly lectured these guys about spreading sensitive information, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t decisive. Their superiors blocked the analysis for a much more important reason: It didn’t fit with what the policymakers wanted to believe.
It's intimidation like this that kept the German people from speaking out against the rounding up of Jews. It's a kind of prior restraint that the courts don't touch, because there's no one to litigate it. Some civil liberties the ACLU has brought us.
Insure domestic tranquility
Charles Krauthammer commits what must be blasphemy for libertarians by arguing that there are limits to what must be tolerated in a free society; advocating
situational libertarianism: Liberties should be as unlimited as possible -- unless and until there arises a real threat to the open society.Personally, I abandoned even that position some time ago. America isn't really all that tolerant anymore if you take into account our zoning laws and the power of single individuals to veto things like prayer in a public setting, and the practically unlimited application of the Commerce Clause to allow federal interference in local affairs.
What concerns me is the the loss of the doctrine of public nuisances. That should be all that is necessary to ban planting of flaming crosses on people's lawns, the Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois, vagrancy and panhandling by homeless people and a lot of other intrusions on the public tranquility.
Krauthammer anticipates the reaction:
Civil libertarians go crazy when you make this argument. Beware the slippery slope, they warn. You start with a snoop in a library, and you end up with Big Brother in your living room.I would add that it is refuted by common sense and the Preamble to the Constitution, as well.
The problem with this argument is that it is refuted by American history. There is no slippery slope, only a shifting line between liberty and security that responds to existential threats.
Update: Geoffrey R. Stone argues the opposite case, with citations to Felix Frankfurter and Learned Hand. They defend inciting to violence as free speech. I think that they would have distinguished the cases from the current situation, but if not, they'd be dead wrong. They typify the emphasis on the Bill of Rights at the expense of the Preamble to the Constitution, which should be read together. If the purpose of the Constitution is to insure domestic tranquility and some among us are encouraging and plotting terrorism against our citizens, the First Amendment has to recognize that there is a point at which speech changes from merely stating opinions into conspiracy to destroy the Constitution. Preaching jihad goes beyond mere passion in debate when it explicitly encourages bombing civilians.
We have been glorifying such second order rights as freedom of speech and privacy for so long in this country that we have forgotten that there are first order rights such as life, safety and a peaceful society that comes before them. That's why the Fourth Amendment protects us not from all searches and seizures, but only unreasonable ones. There is no absolute right to privacy. It is trumped by the need to stop crime.
To opine, or not to opine
Andrew McCarthy says the Senators should ask John Roberts everything they want to, but that he shouldn't answer all of them. The argument is that trying to pin down a nominee on how he/she would rule on a specific issue would intrude upon the independence of the judiciary. I doubt that it would. If I were a nominee, I'd just say, "There are two sides and state the issues on both sides. If they continued to press, I'd tell them to brief the matter for me, and when I had an actual case before me I'd consider it.
The worst feeling for an attorney is when you realize that the judge presiding over your case decides that this case is just like another one he's heard. You can tell his mind is made up because he starts granting objections and telling you "I don't want to get into that."
If Roberts wants to really give Ted Kennedy's blood pressure a boost, he should read and stand by this article on judicial restraint from 1982.