Saturday, August 27, 2005

Somebody call PETA!

Someone has developed a hamster-powered cell-phone charger.

Friday, August 26, 2005

She's out of her depth.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said "If Bill Clinton is the answer, it must be a dumb-ass question." I was reminded of that when I saw a clip in which a reporter asked Cindy Sheehan what she would tell the Iraqi people about why she was pulling our troops out. She is really not a scintillating intellect, and her statements just keep piling up evidence that she doesn't know what she's talking about. The answer that she lost her son in the fighting in Iraq, doesn't wash as an explanation for the absurdities she utters daily.

Why does this one angry woman command more authority that the hundred of other wives and mothers of soldiers who have died and still support they were doing? Of course, whe doesn't except in Mainstream Media Land, where reporters have been getting away with this for years. You see it every all the time; some journalists dismissing blogs because their writers aren't 'professional' journalists, but how hard is it to just report the facts available and keep your own interpretation of them to yourself or your own blog?

To witness the sophistry for yourself, just google her name and read the headlines. What is shocking to me is the number of them that accuse Bush of smearing her. I haven't heard him or anyone in his administration say anything other than that he disagrees with her. I am criticizing her, along with many others on the right, but doesn't "smearing" mean your comments are false, irrelevant or unfair to her? I haven't read or heard anything that wasn't based on her actual statements and criticisms of the president.

This poor woman is being used by the anti-war factions with no apparent concern about the fact that she sounds like one of the people quetioned on Leno's feature, Jaywalking? They continually state flatly that Bush is too stupid to be president, but what does using Sheehan as your spokesperson say about your own intetllect?

Why not just answer the question?

It occurs to me that the objections to intelligent design are from slightly differnet camps. One is scientists who fear that it will supplant teaching of evolution, which I very much doubt. The other is people who see such teaching as an intrusion of religion into government, which I think is also overblown. Then there are people who just don't like the idea of some intelligence out there which could have designed all this and shepherded its development, because they fear the implications of such an idea.

Ed Larson is quoted as follows:
Intelligent design, despite its proponents' claims to the contrary, isn't modern science. It's part of that rebellion against it. Scientists look for natural explanations for natural phenomena. Their best explanations, if they survive rigorous testing, become scientific theories.

Intelligent design, in contrast, is a critique of all that. Its proponents may challenge the sufficiency of evolutionary explanations for the origin of species but they have not — and cannot — offer testable alternative explanations. The best they can offer is the premise that, if no natural explanation suffices, then God must have done it. Maybe God did do it, but if so, it's beyond science.
This doesn't sound like science to me. He's saying that once scientists have announced a theory, the burden shifts to doubters to prove it wrong, not just by asking more about how the theory works, but by proposing "testable alternatives." But it doesn't really work that way when other scientists critique some theory. They pose objections all the time, without being told that they have to prove otherwise. And the easiest thing in the world is to define terms so that they don't allow any alternatives. That's why the "it's not science" objection is misleading. If sounds more like, "I'm a scientist and I have this theory, which explains the evidence we have, but you're not allowed to criticize it unless you can affirmatively disprove it. And any other explanation isn't science by definition."

I would really like to know how the statistical analysis of the many random mutations in the proper series to result in the present profusion of life. I read somewhere that the chances against the proton being stable are greater than the number of atoms in the universe, or was it possible combination of the atoms in a single enzyme that life depends on. The answer would be that, since we see all this complexity and luck, the probabilities worked out in our favor, and for all we know there are an infinite number of parallel universes in which no life exists. Still, it strikes me as more like the number of times you could flip a coin and have it land standing on edge 10 or 100 times in a row. There's some possibility, but how long would we have to live to witness it? As I've noted before, scientists are always showing us rocks they claim were made by early man as tools, and I take their word for it that Clovis points don't just occur naturally. But why doesn't that beg the question of why they don't apply the same logic to, say, DNA coalescing out of the primeval soup?

If evolution is so solid, why shouldn't it be possible to explain this to our schoolchildren without just saying this is how it had to be. Aren't some bright kids likely to ask the question? And do we really want to teach science by telling them to just take our word for it? You don't have to endorse religion to answer it scientifically. I suppose you could say that the ods against it are irrelevant because the fossil record proves what happened, but that strikes me as evasion. The worst way to answer honest questions is to get irritable and accuse the one who asks them of trying to violate the separation of church and state.

My Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan

It won't be as long as Cliff May's. Here it is:
Dear Mrs. Sheehan:

President Bush will not be meeting with you again. It is quite obvious that the "questions" you want to ask him are rhetorical only, being posed to attack his policies and to form the basis for to publicize yourself and your opinions against our war on terrorism in Iraq, not to elicit any new information. Since your past comments have included demands for Israel to leave Palestine, accusations that American troops are contaminating Iraq with nuclear material, and characterization of the terrrorists who killed your son as "freedom fighters", it appears that any answers President Bush would give you would be rejected by you and your friends in and other groups who have been funding your protests. Therefore, I can only conclude that you have been unhinged by your grief and that another meeting with the President would only result in your being subjected to cruel criticism and ridicule.

The President has a busy speaking schedule and is not available for Democrat media events.

John Roberts' true self emerges.

The WaPo is reporting that John Roberts, editing a speech for President Reagan, changed the term "Civil War" to "War Between the States." Think about that for a moment.

Does the term "racist" come to mind?

Me neither. Must be a really slo-o-ow news day.

More on the Air America scam

Evan Cohen, who certainly qualifies for as a "person of interest" in the case, has disappeared. If I wanted to drop out of sight, I'd be guesting on Franken's show. Nobody would find me.

Balancing the scales

Pat Robertson is an idiotarian, but his latest screwup brought this guy out of the woodwork:
Pat Robertson has succeeded in vaulting himself to the No. 1 spot on the list of reasons why there should be complete separation of church and state in this country. This man was a serious candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2000. It is not too much of a stretch to envision the possibility of his having been nominated by the Republicans and his having won in 2000 with the help of his fanatical conservative Christian Fundamentalist followers. What an American dystopia that would have been!

I can envision bands of Christian Fundamentalist death squads roaming the East and West coasts of the U.S. searching out openly gay and lesbian people, Unitarians, French chefs, "Hollywood types," poets, writers, artists, evolutionary biologists and anyone else who they feel is an "elite."

Man smart. Woman smarter.

Not according to this study. What do 5 IQ points amount to? I've never known IQ tests to be that precise. How you feel on a given day could change them that much. They certainly don't measure a lot of qualities that make for success in life. Mine in in the 130s, but I sure don't feel very smart.

Good for John Thune

The BRAC has voted to save Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. Political? I don't know. Probably. But then what happens in Washington that isn't political?

Demonstrating what?

I remember thinking as I perused photos of the doings at Camp Casey yesterday, that it looked like there was plenty of money sloshing around. I'm sure Cindy didn't pony up for that tent that looks like the Denver airport or the row of Porta-potties, or all those little white crosses.
There is real reluctance to talk about whose [sic] paying. And the PR machine that's promoting Cindy Sheehan. But not everyone here is completely comfortable with it.

Gold Star mother Karen Meredith went to Crawford from Mountain View. Her son Ken Ballard died last year.

Karen Meredith: "Sometimes things don't feel quite right to me. They don't feel wrong but maybe that's how they do it in the marketing business."

ABC7's Mark Matthews: "You feel you're part of a marketing business?"

Karen Meredith: "Possibly. Yeah I think so."
I wonder how many well-paid activists are involved.

(HT: Instapundit)

There but for the grace of Gog,

the NYTimes could be next in line. It's a light hearted report that the movie industry is sucking gas. It's not really as if they didn't know how to make money. (Hint: stop insulting your audience!) Michael Medved has shown that G and PG rated films aimed at family audience, reliably make more money while PG-13, R and NC-17 rated films take in markedly less. It seems contrary to the idea that movie-making is a business. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas make the case all by themselves. It seems that Hollywood makes movies for the critics and for its own appetite for breaking down moral boundaries. One begins to think that the industry did better when it was censored.

He what?

George Stephanopoulos advocated assassination of Saddam Hussein in a Newsweek column in 1997. Of course, he's no Pat Robertson. Apparently the press thinks Robertson is more influential with the Bush administration than Stephanopoulos was with the Clinton team.

In any event, they must be glad they didn't listen to him, because now that they're so sure that Saddam was never a threat to anybody, it could have been embarrassing to have offed the man.

Funny how one's perspective changes when one is out of power.

Mars has . . . gullies!

They were created by liquid water. Why this is such a big deal, I don't know. The article says that when liquid water reaches the surface, it immediately boils away. If they found some algae or something like it, it's not as if it would be a huge surprise at this point. More like a huge disappointment if they don't find it.

If they do, they might want to suppress the evidence, for reasons Prof. Reynolds details. Imagine all the money and effort to get there, only to have the Sierra Club file suit. Considering that Earth has microbes far beneath its surface that live thousands of years or longer, breathe minerals in the rocks, etc., there could be life there, whether we find it at the surface or not. Maybe we have evolved to a dead end, the stage where intelligence appreciates how it has outcompeted everything else, suffers survivor's guilt and ommits suicide. In that case, forget Mars. Forget the new frontier. It's immoral for us to continue to follow the imperative of our natures.

Update: To prove the final point, the London Zoo has opened a new exhibit with "eight humans prowling around wearing little more than fig leaves to cover [sic] their modesty. . . 'We have set up this exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species. . .'

If they have a reason to oppose him,

why do they keep demanding more of Robert's work product. Here's a proposal. How about PFAW or NARAL's attorneys publish all of their privileged memos to their clients? I mean if they're really "for the American way," why should they object to releasing this stuff?

Remember the flap when Democrat memos in the Senate's computers got into the hands of Republican staffers? The exact same arguments apply. They were financed with taxpayers' money. Why shouldn't they be public?

No good deed . . .

goes unpunished. Not only can't the MSM report the real war, but it can twist a story into a slur. For a group who constantly complain about the pressure from the blogs, they sure keep shoveling them fodder.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Taking it up a notch.

Hugh Hewitt is rocketing onto the national stage. He was featured in a New Yorker article, and has taped an interview with Tim Rutten of the LATimes. Good for him. I think this is a policy everybody should have when dealing with MSM types. Their reputation precedes them.

Bolton's bolt from the blue

It sounds like he's doing what Bush appointed him to do. The smooth functioning of this machine could use a good shovel full of sand.

This is why we must stay the course

Hugh Hewitt read this entire post by Michael Yon. This guy is right up there with Michael Kelly, but right there at the fight as well. He is a gifted writer, and he understands this war in an elemental way that stirs the soul, and recalls Shakespeare's words for Henry V before the battle of Agincourt:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Americans haven't all lost the warrior creed. It lives in men like LTC Kurilla and the members of Deuce Four.

Where do we get such men? Where will they come from if the likes of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Cindy Sheehan prevail in this country?

This is how the Iraqis will learn, if ever, what freedom and independence mean. I come again to the distinction between those two words. We are not there simply to deliver freedom. Our task is much greater. We are trying to bring Independence to these people. Our diplomats can't give it to them; it must be taught. It is our valiant warriors like LTC Kurilla who teach them.

Update: After rereading this, I realize how melodramatic it seems. I'm sure that the men Yon writes about would be more modest. This was not a battle on the scale of Agincourt, but I can't change my feelings about the heroism it shows or the importance of Iraqis understanding that independence is earned, not given. But even more, I feel an urgency for Americans to understand it, as well. As Glenn Reynolds put it, "Thank goodness for the blogosphere, as you won't see this kind of reporting anywhere else."

What you will see is rendered bizarre by Yon's coverage: Code Pink demonstrating outside Walter Reed hospital and Cindy Sheehan being feted as a heroine. They want Bush out and our troops back home, but something about the thought of pulling out at this point strikes me as an insult to the sacrifices of men like LTC Kurilla and his men. I'm watching Laura Costas of Code Pink mixing it up with Sean Hannity and Marc Morano. It's tawdry. To realize that our troops watch this and think this is how the folks at home are treating their mission, makes me ashamed for us all, and thankful for our warriors. May we never let them down.

Update: Captain Ed calls attention to the fact that the young terrorist taken captive had been captured before and released by a judge. I assume it was an Iraqi judge, but I'm not sure. The Iraqis, at least their judges, may be slow learners. May they figure it out before we leave. But, even if the Iraqis fail in this endeavor, the U.S. has not failed; Colonel Kurilla has not. He taught the Iraqis by example and face to face, ignoring the risk. He understood the mission. Failure and shame do not attach unless we cut and run, as demanded by the useful idiots of Camp Casey and Code Pink.

If you want peace, keep up your deterrence?

Peggy Noonan says we should scrap the base-closing on better safe than sorry grounds.

Why, oh why, did we ever agree to destroy all those nuclear warhead and nerve gas shells!?

I don't know what to think. We have entered a new phase of national defense. Our very openness has become a means for attacking us. People seeking martyrdom will not be deterred by conventional arms or WMD. Will keeping these bases open protect us from terrorism? I wish I knew.

Since 9/11, we have been living in an age of heroes and villains. I don't think that we have enough of the former to keep all these bases open.

I wish I could explain how all of this resonates with me because of The Book of Mormon. It has many chapters describing warfare, which people wonder about when they consider that the book is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." We are taught that the book was written and preserved precisely for our time. The implication is that to win against evil, both from our enemies at the gates and from the enemies among us, we must turn to God. Those who consider that Constitutional blasphemy remind me of the King Men, the group who attempted to overthrow the civil government in a time of war and destroy democracy and freedom. This war is about our future as an independent nation. Note that I didn't say "a free nation." Freedom is derived from independence. That is what we should be shouting from the rooftops. Independence from anyone but the true and living God, and dependent upon him after all we can do for ourselves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Goodness!

That's what Ralph Neas says he said to his director of public communications after he perused John Roberts' resume after his nomination was announced. Then he discovered that Roberts was a integral part of the Reagan destruction of all our rights and the Constitution. Aren't we glad Neas is out there protecting us? [How many votes did he get in 2004? -ed.]

Before that, he'd never heard of the guy? Neas speaks as if he were so reasonable and mainstream that nobody could disagree with him. He's kind of like Pat Robertson that way. His rhetoric is aggressive, assuming facts not proven, such as that "mainstream" thinking agrees totally with PFAW. Note also how the innovations in constitutional interpretations of the past 75 years are included as part of our founding document, but any return to earlier interpretations would be "judicial activism," taking away our God-given rights, etc., and that anyone who thinks Roe v. Wade was a bad decision is a "dangerous radical."

The first lesson of sophistry is to be the one to characterize the positions in the debate by claiming the high ground. Claiming that your opponent is trying to undo progress is one way of doing this. Another is to use loaded phrases or loading empty phrases with the way you use them. "Reproduction rights" is such a phrase. Seen by itself, one would assume it refers to the right to reproduce, i.e. to have children. But as used by Neas and his ilk, it means the right of a pregnant woman to abort her fetus without any grounds whatsoever. This right must be accepted because women become pregnant through no fault of their own, and are victimized by the fact that they, but not men, are the ones who are inconvenienced by unwanted pregnancies, or so it is implied.

It is true that men have long been able to impregnate many women and then move on because it was difficult to identify them or because the pregancy itself was somehow shameful to the mother but not to the father. However, societies continue themselves through natural reproduction, and therefore have a vested interest in their birthrates. It would seem to me that the society has an interest not only in the birth of new citizens, but also their being raised under optimal conditions.

Steve Vincent's death

His wife defends him against claims that he and his translator were having an affair. Who's to say what his killers thought and why the killed him, but it appears that the charge that he didn't understand the culture appears to be scurrilous.

The Dog-days

Glenn Reynolds and his readers consider why Bush looks so tire.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

While Veterans Cheered

President Bush spoke to a convention of the VFW today in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake's mayor, "Rocky" Anderson, was participating in a protest demonstration against Bush and the war in Iraq. Rocky's a squirrel all right, but he'll never fly. He's a former ACLU attorney who made enough money to launch a political career in the only area in Utah he could get elected, then promptly began trying to run the state. He's firmly in the Cindy Sheehan wing of the Democrat Party.

I'm proud to be an early adopter.

I hope the New Yorker piece will get his show picked up by a radio station I can pick up out here in the boonies. When that happens, Hugh will truly have "made it."

Monday, August 22, 2005

Washington Journal

C-Span is a wonderful idea. Too bad it doesn't reach more people. It's show Washington Journal begins at 5:00 a.m. where I live. Hence I don't catch it that often. Yesterday, however, I caught a segment with Reuel Marc Gerecht, taking comments from listeners. He was amazing patient giving scholarly answers to harebrained seminar callers, some of whom were reading statements. He only got one call asking a genuine question. The rest were people pushing their own explanation of world events, generally built around a conspiracy theory involving George W. Bush. A few were right wingers with their own conspiracy theories. I'd have told them they were flaming idiots and gone to the next caller.

C-Span is, as I say, a wonderful concept for presenting events as they happen, especially in Congress and Washington, and permitting the people watching to response. The problem is that it attracts idiots like a dead carcass attracts flies. As it bounces from Democrat to Republican callers, the bitter invective and differences in assumptions are amazing.

As a news medium, C-Span is about as pure as it can be. Its hosts never insert their own views. I have no idea how Brian Lamb votes, and I think that most of his viewers think he votes with them. He's like the Eliza computer program, which merely reflects the user's comments in the form of questions which elicit more, sort of a psychoanalyst to the nation.

Listening to Mr. Gerecht, I had a profound sense of failure. He patiently explained his observations and analysis over and over, albeit in language that goes on and on until you're not sure you know what his point is. Toward the end, an older woman called in and accused him of evasion and obfuscation, demanding that he just answer the questions. He had no response. I agreed with the caller. I've read several long articles by Mr. Gerecht that discuss, analyze, consider, review, etc. until the reader is unsure of what the author's conclusions are, or at least what his argument is.

None of this mattered, however, because the callers were focused on their own arguments, not his.

The next hour featured Ralph Neas, he of the crooked eyebrow. I changed channels.

Right now, I'm listening to Michael Medved joust with callers whom he has invited to explain why we're in Iraq, if not for the reasons Bush has oultlined. It's like shooting skeet, and Medved never misses. The answers are as predictable as clay pidgeons: to steal/control oil; to benefit his family and friends in the oil business; to divert attention from our failure to capture bin Laden; to avenge his father; to carry out his vendetta against Saddam. Medved's object is to show his listeners the emptiness of leftist claims, but of course, their minds are never changed. I don't know whether he's accomplishing anything but heartening conservatives. This approach only works with an occasional honest individual who thinks it over and is willing to follow logic.

Talk Radio Decline

Wasn't it inevitable that people would get tired of it? I can't stand Dr. Laura, and I never did listen to Rush that much. I listened to Michael Medved for a while before I got tired of his formula of bringing on goofy people who have said or written something outrageous and then arguing with them. Bill O'Reilly just gets more arrogant every day.

I'm a fan of Hugh Hewitt, because he seems like a guy I'd enjoy hanging out with, and he has the better guests than anybody else. But most of his guest hosts bore me to tears. A conversation with interesting people is more interesting than any monologue or series of callers who get 15 seconds to express themselves.

Talk radio soared because it served a market that all the other broadcasters were ignoring. AM radio wasn't the choice for music listening and was looking for something to revive it. Then Roger Ailes came along and found the key. Now the field is glutted with talk hosts and we're seeing a shakeout.

The Gift of Journalism

Via Glenn Reynolds:
“These [people sending cell phone video to the news media] are not journalists, and that scares me,” says Steve Schwaid, head of programming and news for NBC’s owned-and-operated stations. “How do I know what training they’ve had and what their relationships are?”
Don't worry Steve, most people don't trust you that much to begin with or think that you're particularly objective, or even very smart.

Pat Robertson

I've always detested him. He says nasty things with a big grin that never leaves his face. It's a mask. His very name is synonymous with insincerity.

Woodstock at Crawford

I've had a feeling that a lot of the left wing rage against Bush was driven by memories of being activists in 60s and 70s. I kept seeing people as old-looking as me at rallies and demonstrations, spouting off with irrantional rants, trying to relive their youth. This seems to be going on down at Cindy Sheehan's mob scene in Crawford, Texas, complete with old protest singers. I've seen gray haired, middle-aged women protesting by shedding their clothes, not realizing that they weren't the nubile sylphs they were at 20, and bald men with pony-tails. And I thought I was pathetic. These are the people who felt so empowered back then by participating in pointless activities like demonstrations and seeing them covered on TV. What they forget, as Ann Althouse points out, that they lost elections back then, too. And they still can't understand and become angry and annoying, just like in the good old days.

Norm Geras pops their balloon, by reminding us that the people we were fighting and are fighting today were the kind who put their own people in prison camps, and tortured or murdered millions of them.

First Frist, now Hagel

If Chuck Hagel is hoping to run for president, he's blown it. He doesn't understand his national party.

We may lose the battle,

but may already have won the war. Maybe it doesn't matter if Iraq can't get it's constitution settled. We've already planted the idea that democracy can work throughout the Muslim world.

That doesn't mean we should be accepting an Islamic state just to meet a deadline. If I were Bush, I'd be stopping this talk right now.

Outside the "Mainstream"

Manuel Miranda:
One of the little imperfections of our American political system is that the qualifications of an excellent lawyer like John Roberts are judged, and often subjected to vituperative questioning, by politicians who are manifestly unfit for the job. Two of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Dianne Feinstein of California, are not even lawyers. You can tell by the questions they ask, how they ask them, and, in Ms. Feinstein's case, her look of incredulity after a nominee gives a straightforward answer any law student would give but that Feinstein deems "out of the mainstream."
Blunt, but spot on.

Read the whole thing. One way to appreciate George Bush's intelligence, is to compare him with the Senators who will lead the fight to torpedo John Roberts.

When you hear the phrase, "outside the mainstream," think "not of the body" and remember the followers of Landru.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Another Kobayashi Maru Scenario

George Will:
There has never been any reason for expecting the "international community," that frequently invoked and rarely useful fiction, to dissuade Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
I guess, if your only other option is to bomb a Russian client, why not give the EU a chance?

Will doesn't endorse any particular course, just parades the bad choices. It's a gloomy day all around.

Charles Krauthammer and Max Boot aren't particularly upbeat either.

What's wrong with the Corner?

It sounds like conservatives are losing heart, and faith in Bush and the majority party in Congress. Andy McCarthy and Michael Ledeen sound ready to renounce the effort in Iraq because of reports that we may be giving in to Islamic law being enshrined in the constitution.

Update: This may be what's doing it.

I'm shocked, shocked . . .

that that the Iraqi constitution is proving more difficult to resolve that we hoped. The U.S. is pressing for compromise, as it should, but I hope it isn't dictating too many terms. Maybe we should give them a list of the basic requirements. That would spur a national debate in the U.S. and maybe the Iraqis could fight it out politically.

Some are saying this dooms the GWOT to failure. It has always been touch and go, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel. If our ambassador is pressuring to allow the primacy of Islamic Law, he should be recalled and told to knock it off. If he isn't, this is a negotiating ploy.

This brings up one of the internal contradictions in Islam. It has no priesthood and says that all Muslims are equal. But I don't think that the Koran specifies who should rule and who should be the judge under Sharia law. Therefore, like Christianity and Judahism, the scholars have moved in to fill the void and become inordinately powerful and autocratic. The Kurds are right to worry about Islamic Law being adopted by the state, unless it is decoupled from the various flavors of Islam. The concept of Dhimmitude should be abolished. We want the Sunnis to be involved but not to dominate everybody else.

The weird attacks on Roberts

Underneath Their Robes rounds up blogs discussing whether John Roberts is gay, including the arguments that he didn't marry earlier and hasn't had any affaires with younger women after marrying. I guess that means if you're ambitious, adultery is a good career move.

All of which begs the question, if he were gay, would it hurt or help his chances of confirmation? The liberals and libertarians certainly couldn't oppose him.

Are politicians useful?

Tim Worstall illustrates the dishonesty of people who think that government is the solution to everything and then rail when programs like the Bureau of Indian Affairs is such a disaster.

He had me hooked with his first paragraph:
My reaction to politicians tends to wander around a little between what I consider to be the only three possible options. Laugh at them, ignore them, or experience a (so far repressed) desire to have them tap dancing on air from the nearest lamp-post. There's no grand philosophic underpinning to this attitude as I don't do philosophy, partly because I don't understand what people are talking about. There's also the rather unkind thought that while engineers, in the last few thousand years, moved on from pointy sticks to bridges, skyscrapers, spaceships and the pop-tart, those who study more weighty matters are still pondering the nature of reality, just as their forebears were those thousands of years ago. It simply seems obvious to me that politicians can't actually do anything very well.
Who hasn't had that thought?

He goes on to demonstate that "progressive intellectual" is an oxymoron, using Paul Krugman as a case in point. He also provided two links to the blog of Jim Glass which was immediately added to my list of must-reads.

He ends with this:
There are only three valid options, derision, hatred or ignoring [politicians] in the hope that they'll go away. Others may come to Libertarianism by other routes but for me it's just life, a natural part of the way the world works. Politicians can't actually do what they promise to do as they are incompetent. Thus we shouldn't ask them to do anything very much.
I can't go that far, because it implies that democracy can't possibly work, and that society would be better off without it. But what would replace it? The main problem with modern democracies is that politicians have learned that they can buy votes with the voters' own money. Once the New Deal arrived America started downhill.

In many ways, I agree with Worstall, but not with his wholesale contempt for politicians. They are the creatures of the voters and generally are no better than their constituents.

Despite all its distasteful results, I think democracy in America has worked pretty well. If we fail to make it work, it'll be nobody's fault but our own. We generally have had better leaders than we deserved, which is not a reason to dismiss all politicians as Worstall does, and indicates that the founders understood what they were doing. Somehow they instilled enough understanding in the people that they have not allowed a military coup, nor a bloody chaos like France's revolution. Maybe it was the fact of our frontier and rich resources, but that would suggest that Russia should have been as successful as we have been. We have not been interested in building an empire, only spreading the system that has made us free and prosperous.

Sometimes, as I watch the people we've elected, I wonder how they ever got elected and manage to stay elected. If we all adopted Worstall's cynicism, though, nobody but people who expect handouts would vote. (Maybe that's becoming true.) There is still enough of a residue of patriotism, citizenship and love of freedom to keep us going for a while yet. We've stopped instilling those things in our children, though. Time will tell.

Another phoney war?

After all the worrying by civil libertarians about Tony Blair's measures to crack down on terrorism, they should be reassured by this appointment. But I'm not.

With all deliberate speed

The talk of the panel on Fox News Sunday was worry that the Iraqis will miss another deadline in completing their constitution. As is typical, Juan Williams characterized it as a failure for the Bush administration and called for an exit strategy, meaning a date to pull our troops out. Fred Barnes rightly pointed out that the issues involved are tough ones and may take a lot longer to work out completely. He says they should "kick the can down the road," and give the people a governmental structure that provides for public self-determination and which protects the rights of all three major groups and balances their powers in the government that finally emerges, and leave the most contentious ones for continued negotiation.

Brit Hume pointed out that we can't press them too hard, but we can't tell them to take all the time they want, either. This point needs to be appreciated by the American people, and kept in mind as the media turns up the attacks on Bush for not hitting these deadlines, and when Bush dismisses their complaints and then promises that it's almost there. This is a stage that requires patience, but we can't give them the impression that our patience is infinite. The casualties taken my our military are very low, but there is that strange argument at work that one death is too many. And there is the Cindy Sheehan line that "This country [I assumes she means America.) isn't worth dying for," so a fortiori neither Israel nor Iraq are either. The MSM continues to eat away at our resolve with it's constant fretting and emphasizing failures, without reporting the successes and progress being made.

We need resolve, not the impulse to cut and run whenever we lose another soldier. We ought to read In Flanders' Fields and keep faith with those who have given the last full measure of devotion. We should understand that the measures advocated by jerks who second-guess the military, have been vetted, as all military options are, and there is a reason they weren't adopted. There will always be experts on the sidelines who would have used more troops, deployed them differently, or given Saddam more time, etc., but they aren't in command. Those who are bear a huge burden that the others don't. If strategy and tactics fail, there will be plenty of recriminations. Why start before we know whether they've succeeded or not?

Dealing with guerrilas is a tough problem, and we have yet to solve it completely, but that isn't a reason to run out on people who have trusted us. Sooner or later, we need to find a way to defeat these tactics and terrorism in general, because it is the strategy and tactic of the new enemy, and it will be used until we figure out how to defeat it. We should appreciate that the situation in Iraq is also an opportunity to work on the problem under real war conditions. The impulse to flinch and run is human, but it must not be allowed to control us. Each war teaches new things, but the media and the anti-war types are determined only to see Vietnam, which this is not. We are not fighting the last war. Our training and equipping of the Iraqi military and security forces and continually reminding them that we won't have their back forever--those are some of the lessons we learned in Vietnam. Another is that we have to affirmatively defeat the enemy, whether it be the Viet Cong, the NVA, the Baathists, Al Qaeda, Iran or Syria, and not just drive them back where they will regroupt, resupply and pick up more warriors and then come at us again.

We're still a superpower but without the consensus of our people and the resolve to see our fights to the end, our military power will be paralyzed and useless. We tolerate a determined chorus from our free press. There's nothing we can do about that but keep countering their deadly counsel and defeatist rhetoric with exhortations to have courage.

Those who demand instant withdrawal or dates certain for it, make no sense, except to people who didn't want us to be there in the first place and whose interpretation of Vietnam ignores the human disaster our abandonment of the South caused.

Arguments for sending in more troops has the disadvantage of making those we help cling to our military strength, yet resent our presence, as Germany does. It also makes for even more casualties from terrorist attacks and problems of force protection.

I have no military training or experience, but it seems to me that we are vulnerable to two things, the ability to kill our troops and destroy very expensive armaments with IEDs and cheap weapons, like RPGs, and, secondly, our inability to control of national borders to stop Iraq's meddling neighbors from sending men and materiel to aid the guerillas. We haven't been willing or able to control our own borders here at home, but we really need to figure out how to do it and we shouldn't give up in Iraq until we have figured it out. Fortunately, we don't necessarily have the same constraints in Iraq that we have here. We can shoot border crossers there. It will take better technology, but also new methods to stop the infiltration.

For example, what would happen if we had UAVs like Predator running constant surveillance of the borders and destroying anything and everything that breaches them unless it's identified as friendly? I mean besides the U.N. and the E.U. condemning the tactic. Wouldn't that force all traffic through the checkpoints we establish? Surely there would be horror stories of innocent Bedouins getting killed, but that should be acknowledged up front and getting the word out that those aircraft cannot and will not distinguish people on camels from people in motor vehicles or on foot.

Another terrorist plot foiled in London

It was to be a gas attack on the House of Commons. Will this go down in history like Guy Fawkes.

Slow news day.

It must be tough to have to write stories day after day about somebody as non-newsworthy as John Roberts has been all of his life? Dana Milbank tries, but fails to make Roberts' distaste for Michael Jackson, back in 1984, sound like--what, racism, fogeyism? Actually for most people, given recent events in Jackson's history, it sounds like pretty good sense. Anybody who could watch fifteen minutes of an interview with Jacko and not think he's got severe personal problems, is not qualified to be appointed the the Supreme Court. I guess if Jackson gets convicted of child molesting later, and appeals it to SCOTUS, Roberts can recuse himself.

Wouldn't it be easier just to tell Milbank he doesn't have to file a report on every box of documents?

Old news

A former aide to Colin Powell says his involvement in preparing Powell's presentation to the U.N. about Saddam's threat to the world was "the lowest point" of his life.

CNN waves this around like a scalplock. Why? It seems to be something about journalists to want to update old stories, especially when they have no current value except to suggest that the Democrats should have won the elections. Do we really need more proof that our intelligence agencies screwed up? And is there any significance that this is being reported at the same time the Able Danger story is getting a lot of play. As I noted earlier, would it have changed anything if the FBI had received this data? Probably not. John O'Neill tried to stop Al Qaeda, and was basically forced out of the FBI. Would it have mattered if he had received the Able Danger material. Probably not.

I guess it's one of those debating points you can use on your Republican associates. Mickey Kaus did something similar the other day, pointing out that bloggers' (and John Podhoretz's) claim that the 2000 vote recount wouldn't have changed the outcome if it hadn't been stopped by the Supreme Court, which in turn was cited as a criticism of Paul Krugman's taking the occasion of Katherine Harris' bid for the Senate to remind everybody that Gore would have won if the election system wasn't so crooked.

Who cares? Is anybody going to go back and change things, or is it important just for those times when you want shut some jerk up? Like if he blames Carter for the hostage crisis, you can say "It wouldn't have happened if we hadn't installed the Shah and supported his brutal regime."

And Gore would have won, too, if the Supreme Court hadn't interfered (with the Florida court-ordered recount)! To which someone will surely bring up the view that Kennedy won in 1960 through vote fraud in Texas and Illinois.

All of which somehow proves that we should pull our troopss out of Iraq RIGHT NOW!

Journalism is the first draft of history, but couldn't we quit rewriting it and get on with the new news?

Like Cindy Sheehan.

No, actually, they are.

Terrible, that is.