My own personal musings, wonderings, thoughts, and results of personal studies. Also, occasional comments on world events.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I'll be in New Jersey until Friday. I'd like to say that I'll post some in the meantime, but previous experience doesn't seem to make that all that likely. When I leave town, I have a tendency to isolate myself from the world. Still, it's a possibility. I suppose that if I do post, you can just consider it extra-free ice cream.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Cause I'm the panderer ...

... yes, I'm the panderer. I pander around, around, around, ar-ouuuuuuund.

Enlightening observation

In an post about how the French went out of their way to annoy the Cubans, Juan Gato had this little morsel:

International relations, it turns out, is little more than junior high with really pointy sticks.

Not that, in this instance, there's anything wrong with that.

A pack ...

... Not a Herd. (As Glenn Reynolds like to say.)

One of my favorite scenes in all of moviedom is from Spider-Man. Near the end of the movie Spidey is hanging by a web from a New York bridge, Mary Jane is hanging from around his neck, and with another web, Spidey is holding up a cable car full of small children to keep them from plummeting into the river below. The Green Goblin is on his glider swooping back and forth trying to kill Spidey. It's clear that Spidey is done for ... and then, out of no where, a crowd of ordinary New Yorkers starts throwing stuff at the Goblin, thus allowing Spidey the time he needs to save Mary Jane and the kids. As they are throwing you hear one guy yell, "You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York!" and another scream, "You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us!"

It's a great scene in the movie, but it also illustrates something great about the people of this country. Most of us, when the chips are really down, will go out of our way, even risk our lives, in order to save others.

I'm reminded of the construction and iron workers in New York on 9/11 who, realizing that a) lots of people were in trouble and b) they had skills that might be useful, dropped what they were doing and rushed to ground zero to help. It's true that many policemen and fireman risked, and in many cases, lost their lives that day. They are true heroes and nothing can detract from that. What interests me today though is not the people who had dedicated their lives to helping people, but the ones who hadn't. Those people who, having no obligation to do so, dropped everything and ran off to risk their lives.

I'm not suggesting that this type of self-sacrifice only exists in America, but I know it exists here in ways and extremes that sometimes give me chills.

It's just one of those things that makes me proud to be an American.

This would give liberals nightmares

Kay Daly wants to put Ronald Reagan on the two dollar bill. Heh.

Mel Gibson, Historian?

Joshua Claybourn has some thoughts about Gibson's newest film about Jesus.

One of his points echoes something that bothered me when I first heard of the project; Gibson decided to do the film entirely in Latin and Aramaic, but truthfully, some of these scenes probably should have taken place in Greek as it was a language spoken both by the Roman rulers and most of the Jewish subjects.

Bad Advice

Chris Regan has this to say about the latest non-scandal:

Whoever advised Bush and everyone else to apologize for a completely truthful State of the Union Address should apologize to Bush and resign. That was the worst political advice I've seen in a very long time -- much worse than the original advice to include the 16 (now infamous) truthful words. It may be that the apology damaged the credibility of the President far more than the original statement.

He's right of course. In this instance, the best thing to do would have been to stick by your guns. Now the Democrats smell blood and they're just going to keep circling.

The rest of Regan's post is pretty good too. Read the whole thing.

All's not quiet in EUroville

If anything, it seems to be escalating.

Monday, July 14, 2003
Boot Scoot Boogie
Oops, I guess the "truce" is off

A Palestinian attacker stabbed three people in Tel Aviv early today, police and rescue workers said, the first terror attack in an Israeli city since Palestinian groups called a truce on June 29.

The attacker tried to enter the "Tarabin" restaurant along the seacoast in south Tel Aviv in the early hours of the morning, said police spokeswoman Shlomit Hertzberg.

He struggled with a security guard and stabbed him in the neck, she said.

The owner of the restaurant threw a chair at him, and the attacker began to flee along the seaside promenade, with the guard and owner in pursuit.

The attacker stabbed two more people before the guard shot the Palestinian in the legs, Hertzberg said.

Stabbed? Are these guys running out of guns and bombs? If so, I guess that's a good sign.

It's worth it

That's GedankenPundit's response to the estimated cost of the war in Iraq.

More on the frustration of conservatives in the Republican party

Yes, I've talked about this before, but it can't hurt to do it again. After a lengthy post on the lack of conservatism in the GOP, Tacitus had this to say:

What's there going to be to vote for in '04 if the choice is between two unrepentant statists with similar policies on the war? At least the Democrat will presumably be better able to wheedle troops out of the Europeans. I'm purposefully overstating things (looks right now like the Dems are heading for the land of the shrill, which may well produce candidates who are soft on the war, in which case the decision is easy), but this isn't a hypothetical danger. I want my Republicans to be Republican, not redefine what Republican is and expect me to follow. In a case like that, my response is the same as Reagan's when his hitherto-beloved Democratic Party lurched too far left for his conscience to bear: I'm not leaving you -- you left me.

I share Tacitus's frustration with the current state of the Republican party. (See here and here.) I say again though: What's the alternative? When Reagan became a Republican, the choice, it seems to me, was rather obvious once he finally realized he couldn't stomach the policies of the Democratic party any longer. Alas, the situation is different now; this time, the more conservative of the two major parties is starting to shift too far to the left. If they leave me, where do I go?

Tacitus is by no means alone in this frustration. I've seen many voice similar concerns lately.

I'm long since convinced that we have a problem. What concerns me is that I can't think of a viable solution and I haven't seen one proposed by anyone else. Should we withhold political and monetary support from the Republicans? Will that really gain us anything but Democratic victories? Should we switch parties? To what exactly? The Libertarian Party in America is a bad joke. The Reform party died a quick death. Where can we go.

I don't know about anyone else, but I can't imagine myself voting for any Democrats on the national level anytime soon. (The only time that I can recall voting for a Democrat was in a state senate race in which I had learned something rather unsavory about the Republican candidate.) As bad as the Republicans have gotten, the Democrats are far worse. The only Democratic Presidential candidate that I think I could possibly vote for is Lieberman, and I doubt I could vote for him. (The difference between the man who ran for Vice-President and the one currently in the Senate convince me that he's something of a political chameleon. That doesn't exactly lead me to trust him.) In fact, the only Democrat on the national scene that I could seriously see me voting for is Zell Miller; I often disagree with him, but he's fair minded and, above all, trustworthy. (His continued refusal to switch parties, even when offered handsome incentives considered in light of the fact that he's not all that popular among many in his own party has caused me to hold him in high regard.)

So, once again, I ask: If conservatives must leave the GOP, what's the alternative? I really want to know.

Ah, Stratego

I just noticed this post by Jonah Goldberg:

Simply because I can't imagine there will be another opening anytime soon, I must get something off my chest: I think Stratego is one of the greatest board games ever invented. Obviously, it doesn't rank in the top tier with such timeless classics as chess, Monopoly and Scrabble (and please, let us not have a long discussion of chess -- a game I love but despise reading about). But Stratego definitely deserves high placement in the second tier. It is certainly better than Life and I would argue it is even be better than Risk, since Risk is too dependent on dice.

I haven't played Stratego in (roughly) 12 years. I loved it as a child, but it's often a long game requiring a great deal of strategy I had trouble finding people to play with me. I had one friend about my age who I played with as well as my grandfather. The friend moved away and my grandfather died when I was in eighth grade. Based on my experience, I'd have to say Jonah's right to place the game so highly.

On a related note, it always seemed that the harder it was for me to find someone else to play any given game with me, the more enthusiastic my grandfather was about playing that game. Looking back from a more mature stand-point, I'm not sure if it was because we genuinely had similar tastes in games, or just that he wanted to spend time with his grandson. I suspect it was some of the former and a lot of the latter.

Regardless of the reason, he would play anything with me. We played chess, Stratego, Atari 2600 games. Any and every game I was interested in, he'd play it with me. If no one else wanted to play, he dove in all the more eagerly.

I remember setting up my Atari at my grandparents house and playing some alien invasion game. He was convinced that something would happen when we reached 100,000 points. We took turns playing for what had to be at least 6 hours one night handing the joystick back and forth when our hands would get too tired to play. We played, and played, and played. Finally, after hours, we got 100,000 points and ... absolutely nothing happened.

I don't know if he really thought anything would happen, or if he just wanted an excuse to spend time with me. Either way, for a ten year old kid, what better way was there to spend time than playing a game you love with your grandfather.

Of all the things I miss about my grandfather, probably the thing I miss the most is the time. The time he would set aside that was just for me was the kind of gift that no amount of money could buy.

Yes indeed, I miss that a lot.


Some days, Pearls Before Swine is just a great strip.

Ah, those carrier pigeons

Diana West takes a look at the world. Well, the way it was a century ago.

Watch out Henney Penney

Peter Brookes makes a pretty good case that the sky isn't falling.

He's got a point

I'm not sure I agree with all of John Leo's newest column (it seems a bit alarmist), but I've got to admit that I liked this line:

Here's a useful rule of thumb about international conventions, U.N. documents and the findings of foreign courts: Any time an American judge cites one in an American court, something alarming is probably about to happen.


Not encouraging

An IRA terrorist has been captured. In Israel.

Sunday, July 13, 2003
I think I'm going to puke

Disney is preparing to release a movie called "Buffalo Soldiers" which is expected to paint the military in a pretty bad light.

What bothers me far more than the content of the movie is the name. The original Buffalo soldiers were the 9th and 10th Cavalry. These were the first black cavalry soldiers in the U.S. Army. Just a few years after the Civil War, these brave men fought to defend a country that wasn't even sure it wanted them yet. For the title these brave men fought under to be debased in so petty a way makes me ill.

For more information on the Buffalo Soldiers, look here.

Still working on that "freedom of the press" dohickey

One of the (intentional) sticking points in any negotiations to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the so-called "right of return". The idea being that a lot of Arabs were displaced in the 1948 war and they, or their descendants, should be allowed to reclaim their old property.

That sounds perfectly fair until you consider that a) the Arabs started the war and b) the number of Arabs who would end up "returning" is now something like 3 million. That's important because Israel is a fairly small nation; it only has a population of about 6 million. An influx of an additional 3 million people in a very short amount of time, the majority of which have at least some antipathy towards Israel would essentially destroy the country. It's simply not practicable.

Nevertheless, Arab leaders have always insisted that there can be no peace without the "right of return". Since they know that this is one of a very few items that Israel simply cannot allow, or even compromise on, all such proclamations are essentially say that there can be no peace as long as there is a nation of Israel. To put it another way, the idea of the "right of return" is one of the weapons in the arsenal that Arab leaders intend to use to destroy Israel.

That's why this story isn't terribly surprising:

A mob of about 100 Palestinian refugees stormed the office of a Ramallah polling organization yesterday to stop it publishing a survey showing that five times as many refugees would prefer to settle permanently in a Palestinian state than return to their old homes in what is now Israel.

The protesters pelted Khalil Shikaki, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, with eggs, smashed computers and assaulted the nine staff members on duty. A female worker was treated in hospital for her injuries. "This is a message for everyone not to tamper with our rights," one of the rioters said.

Dr Shikaki, a leading West Bank political scientist, was undeterred. He said he was still putting the survey results on the centre's website and seeking the widest possible exposure. "These people," he said, "had no idea what the results were. They were sold disinformation."

The poll, conducted among 4,500 refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Jordan, was the first to ask where they would want to live if Israel recognised a right of return.
<>Only 10 per cent of the refugees chose Israel, even if they were allowed to live there with Palestinian citizenship; 54 per cent opted for the Palestinian state; 17 per cent for Jordan or Lebanon, and 2 per cent for other countries. Another 13 per cent rejected all these options, preferring to sit it out and wait for Israel to disappear, while 2 per cent didn't know.

So let me get this straight, a group conducts a poll that finds that only 10% of Palestinians would exercise this "right of return" if they were given a choice and a mob storms the building assaulting both person and property? And why? So that no one can "tamper with [their] rights". Uh-huh.

I suspect that the real reason is that if it actually becomes common knowledge that almost no Palestinians actually want to exercise this so-called right, Arafat will lose one of the major excuses which have been historically used to avoid signing a peace treaty.

On another note, if a people is capable of leveling this kind of violence against someone who dares print something they don't like, do they really deserve a state?

I'm just asking.

Heh ...
... just about covers this.


Jimmy Carter has found a use for the U.S. military he can get behind.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has urged the Bush Administration to commit 2,000 U.S. troops to an international peacekeeping force for war-torn Liberia.

I'm still undecided about whether we should deploy troops, but this doesn't make me feel any better about the idea.

I wish he was wrong ...

... but he's not. Josh Claybourn had this statement in the middle of his post on the absurdity that is the coming lawsuits against the food industry:

Show me a culture that blames its obesity on addiction and I'll show you a culture in decay.

Yes, our society is in decay. I don't think we're on the edge of the abyss, but we're heading in that direction. The lack of personal accountability is one of the signs that we're on that path.

All things come to an end. The American Republic is no different. The question isn't whether our country, as it stands now, will fall, but when this will happen. Truthfully, I don't expect it to happen within my lifetime, but if we don't have a renewal of the values (I'm not getting in to listing them, that's another post entirely) that got us to where we are, the end will come far before it needs too.

Yeah, I know that's not very encouraging, but I call them as I see them. By the way, I know that's not exactly where Josh was going, but it's where I ended up.

Saturday, July 12, 2003
The sacrificial lamb

I just saw this in the Guardian:

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, facing rising public anger over the pace of democratic reform, said yesterday he was prepared to resign if the people willed it.

'We are not masters of the people but servants of this nation. If this nation says we don't want you, we will go,' Khatami was quoted as saying by the government-owned daily, Iran. 'That is the way a society should be.'

That sounds all well and noble, except for one thing: While the Iranian people are frustrated with Khatami, he is not the primary problem.

Blocked by conservative clergy who have vetoed his reformist agenda under the country's theocratic system, Khatami has struggled to reassure an increasingly frustrated public that his cautious approach will succeed.

That's the problem. Iran may have the form of a republican government, but it doesn't have the substance. All the important decisions are made by unelected religious leaders who overrule any law, reform, or even hobby which they deem to be "un-Islamic." You can have all the resignations you want from people further down the ladder, but it won't mean anything. Until the Ayatollah and his mullahs go, the people of Iran will not be free.

Looks like reality has set in

According this article on, the new Belgian government has realized that Belgium does not, in fact, have jurisdiction over the whole world. What I mean is this:

BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt took office as head of a new liberal government Saturday and immediately agreed to replace a war crimes law that has soured Belgium's relations with the United States.

The 15 ministers headed directly from a swearing-in ceremony at King Albert's royal palace to a first meeting that agreed to supplant the 1993 law which has been used to target leaders from the United States, Britain, Israel and other countries.

In new bill, which is expected to be approved by the legislature in the coming weeks, only cases with a direct link to Belgium will be considered, ruling out complaints like those filed after the Iraq war against British Prime Minister Tony Blair and leading U.S. officials headed by President George W. Bush.

There's more, but the gist is that the new government seems to think good relations with Britain and the U.S. is more important than trying to prosecute the world. Since the law was pretentious in the extreme anyway, this is a good thing.

Not bad

Well, I just got back from LXG. It was actually pretty good. I'm not sure how to do any sort of a review of this movie without spoilers, so I won't try.

I will point out a couple of things. Literary references abound, as you might expect. Sean Connery in a movie with a character known as "M" was amusing. People spent a lot of time talking about the digital Hulk, but I hadn't heard much about the effects for LXG. I still haven't seen Hulk, but from what I've seen, the digital effects for Mr. Hyde were equally impressive.

I've got to admit that there are a couple of plot points I had trouble following and the editing for some action sequences was so jumpy that it was hard to follow at times. Regardless, if you're looking for a fun action movie, you could do much worse.

Sometimes it's good to be relatively unnoticed

Steve Den Beste has posted about his e-mail overload.

I don't have anywhere near his readership, but on the plus side, 4 site related e-mail is a heavy week for me.

Good old Mark Steyn

I'm hoping this is a parody, but it's hard to be sure anymore. (Link via Tim Blair.)

Friday, July 11, 2003
Something that bugs me about Star Trek

I've enjoyed Star Trek since I was a child and I've liked all the spin-offs. However, there are some things that bug me. One of them is the Roddenberry inspired antipathy toward religion. Religion is rarely mentioned, and when it is, it is usually an alien religion. Even then, religion is rarely looked on with a friendly eye. The only religion I can think of that is usually treated with a friendly eye is that of the Klingons. That's not to inspiring either. In one episode of TNG, Worf explains that the Klingon's gods were killed by Klingon warriors because, "They were more trouble then they were worth." Perhaps the Klingon religion was only looked on favorably because it was atheistic in nature." Actual Earth bound religions were rarely mentioned and almost never favorably.

I bring this up because right now I'm watching the Voyager episode "Good Shepard." The name was chosen because Janeway tells Seven the parable of the Good shepherd. Even then, she didn't call it a parable, didn't mention Jesus, didn't say that the story came from the Bible. Why is it that in Star Trek, even when they want to use a biblical illustration, they can't bring themselves to mention the Bible favorably?

Just asking.

Sure, that sounds like a business expense

Fox has this report:

WASHINGTON Agriculture Department (search) employees used government credit cards to pay tuition for bartender school, to buy Ozzy Osbourne concert tickets, lingerie and tattoos and to make a down payment on a car.

Based on a random audit of 300 cardholders, the department's inspector general estimated that 15 percent of the 55,000 USDA employees who carry the government credit cards or 8,250 employees made a total of $5.8 million in purchases other than for bona fide travel expenses. The audit covered a six-month period from Oct. 1, 2001, to March 31, 2002.

Mind you, this was in a random audit. That means they weren't looking for anyone in particular, yet they found all this. Oh the joys of governments and bureaucracy.

Oh how the stupid have fallen

One of the local TV stations has a consumer reporter who is on, to the best my knowledge, every night. I just saw an ad for his report tonight. It said he had gone "undercover" to find a business selling fake IDs. Now I haven't watched the report, but if the story is as advertised, the criminal in question has got to be very stupid. I personally find all the local news broadcasts insipid and hardly ever watch them, but even I could recognize this guy. How can you get caught by an "undercover" reporter who's on TV every night?

I'm amazed.

Thoughts on leaving the Republican party.

Josh Claybourn seems to think that I'm reading too much into the NR column I linked to yesterday. He writes:

It seems most people are viewing this statement in black and white terms, when it shouldn't be. Alternatives do not have to be joining another party altogether. It can be withholding activism for a candidate, not giving financial contributions, and perhaps even using a protest vote on occassion. One can abandon the Republican party while still voting for the best of all evils.

I pounded out some paragraphs responding to his objections and expanding on my thoughts. Originally I wrote it as a comment for his site, but by the time I was done I decided it needed it's own post. Anyway, here it is.

Here's my problem: It seems to me that even if conservatives don't outright join another party, any support they hold back from the Republican party increases the likelihood of victory by the Democrats.

No matter how infuriating I find many Republican politicians, they are still, on the whole, far better then their counterparts in the Democratic party. Unfortunately, I can't find a viable alternative to supporting the Republican party that doesn't increase the chances of the Democratic party. If I knew of one, I'd jump on it, (as I've said before, I'm a movement guy, not a party guy) but given our system of government, I just don't see it.

Our winner take all system has the advantage of insuring victory by one party or the other which avoids the problem some parliamentary systems have. Those systems often find it difficult to create a majority coalition to run the government; even when a coalition is formed, it is often composed of parties with radically different long-term goals who are only allying temporarily out of convenience.

On the other hand, our system stymies the rise of new parties as many people are reluctant to leave a party they despise to form a new party because they know that a) the new party has no chance of winning and b) doing so increases the chances of a party whom they absolutely abhor coming into power. At least under a parliamentary system, a new party has a chance of getting some of what they want very quickly, thus allowing them to establish a political foothold.

Overall, I prefer our system to all the others, but it does tend to favor the existing parties.

On a related note, let me give one example that highlights my frustration. Paul Cella pointed out a Robert Novak column about President Bush's stance on a prescription drug plans. Here's the portion Cella quoted:

The White House has made clear the president will sign any prescription drug bill arriving from Capitol Hill. Bush thereby has removed himself as a player in an epochal battle over this country,s health care, undermining the optimistic scenario. No realistic conservative can devise a way to kill this bill. The question is whether Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's inexorable march toward a government-controlled health care system can be slowed.

Cella responded:

This must be why I voted for a conservative presidential candidate: so I can reap the glorious benefits of socialized medicine, and an expansion in the size of the federal government unlike anything since Lyndon Baines Johnson.

I've got to go with Cella on this one. I like President Bush, but on domestic policy he's often wrong. I'm afraid that's because he's more concerned with perception than policy. Whatever the reason, the result is that our domestic policy often comes out looking like Democrat-Lite.

Furthermore, I don't understand why the President is unwilling to use the veto. The veto, or even the threat of it, can be a powerful policy tool. Too often though, the President forfeits this tool as he has in this case by declaring in advance that he will sign whatever version of the bill that hits his desk. As far as I know, the President has yet to use his veto on any bill, no matter how bad it is.

What good is it to have a President who is supposedly on your side if he refuses to veto bad bills?

The upshot of this is that conservatives have every right to be extremely frustrated with the Republican party, including, in some instances, the President. The problem is, as I said before, I just don't see a viable alternative.

Note:I fixed some spelling and grammatical errors.

Who am I to argue?

Bryan Preston thinks the Democrats have lost their minds.

Hmm, diddley, diddley

John Hawkins raises an interesting question about the ethics of using military technology now coming down the pipe.

Here, here

I loved this quote.

He knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men

Juan Gato aptly points out that when evil things are done by people, it is because of their humanity, not in spite of it.

He wasn't trying to make a theological point, but I will. Christians see someone who decides to shoot up his fellow workers in a plant and know that is the result of The Fall, that time in our past when Man walked away from God. Ever since, humanity has been doing horrible things to each other. It is this fallen state of mankind that necessitated Christ coming to earth, dying, and rising from the grave in order sanctify us and allow us to return to God.

Gato says:

There is this foolish notion that bad, evil actions should not be attributed to the person. They are things that happen and the person was carried along by external influences that had little to do with their humanity. Nope. Sorry. Waking up in the morning and choosing to shoot a bunch of people has everything to do with this man's humanity. He made the choice. To try to ascribe it to victimization, or even to call him a monster, is an attempt to excise the icky from humanity to make ourselves feel better. This is why I cannot call someone a monster when they do extreme evil. No, they are a human as much as me, responsible for their choices.

Attempts to separate horrible deeds from the humanity of the one who performed it aren't just wrong-headed, they're dangerous. If we refuse to see our Fallen State as part of who we are, then we won't be able to see the necessity of being saved from it.

One of the steps toward salvation is to recognize that you are a horrible sinner capable of the worst kind of monstrosities. As long as you remain in denial, you can never confess your sins and can never repent of them. If those things are left undone, you will die in your sins.

Redefining the language

Tim Blair points out an interesting use of "diverse".

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Very Interesting

Brian Micklethwait has a very enlightening post on the current state of New Labor in Britain.

I am so angry

Joel Mowbray has another article outlining the horrors of the State Department when it comes to kidnapped children in the Saudi entity.


The National Review editors argue that it may be time for conservatives to abandon the Republican party. What they don't do is tell us what the alternative might be.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003
I'm speechless
On my more pessimistic days ...

... I start to wonder if the Bill of Rights isn't too long. I mean maybe they should have cut the whole thing off after the first five words. (Think about it.)

Just thought I'd share.

I suppose there may be more ridiculous examples of legislation gone wrong ...

... but I'd be hard pressed to think of one off hand. This one was hard for even me to believe. (Link via Kevin Whited.)

Well said

Dustin at LegalGuy has a good essay describing why libertarians should not be happy with the decision in Lawrence. (Via How Appealing)

Reports of her death ...
... have been greatly exaggerated. It seems that a Florida radio host announced the death of Congresswoman Katherine Harris on the air. One problem: She was speaking on the house floor at the time. Oops.

Yeah, that will go over well

Max Boot argues that the U.S. needs a colonial affairs office. He may be right, but I doubt it would ever happen. Just think of the stink that would be raised. Boot himself admits that you couldn't use that name, but let's be honest here, people aren't stupid. If we do as Boot suggests and set up an agency based on the British Colonial Office, things are going to hit the fan. Choosing a different name isn't going to change that.

All of that is very sad too. How many good ideas in Washington are shot down because of how many people would over-react? I suspect a great many.

I'm disappointed

I read this Roger Carstens article hoping it would convince me that we should intervene in Liberia. It did not. Which is not to say that I oppose. I'm still on the fence. I could go either way.

Still, to read an article in hopes that it would convince and be disappointed, that's pretty bad.

Well said

And what would a day of support for Iran be without a column by Michael Ledeen.

Freedom for Iran

Today has been singled out as a day for bloggers to raise awareness for the issue of Iranian freedom. I'm going to try to do that by pointing out some articles that I thing shed light on things.

The religious leaders in Iran have assumed so much power for themselves, that some in Iran have accused them of making themselves out to be gods.

More than 250 dissident intellectuals and clerics have mounted an unprecedented challenge to Iran's ruling mullahs, all but accusing them of heresy by portraying themselves as God's emissaries on Earth.

Their one-page open letter, issued after nearly a week of student-led protests in Tehran, is an extraordinary attack on the founding doctrine of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

The late Ayatollah Khomeini instituted a system known as velayat-e-faqih, or "rule of the Islamic jurisprudent", whereby religious leaders took over temporal rule of the country on the grounds that they were best qualified to apply Islamic law.

But the dissidents' letter, published in the reformist newspaper Yas-e-nou, declared: "Considering individuals to be in the position of a divinity and absolute power . . . is open polytheism [in contradiction to] almighty God, and blatant oppression of human dignity. People [and their elected legislators] have the right to supervise fully their rulers, criticise them, and remove them from power if they are not satisfied."

The 252 signatories included two aides to the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami - Saeed Pourazizi, an official in the president's office, and Saeed Hajjarian, who is widely regarded as the architect of the president's reform program.

Religious minorities are often impressed in Iran. Take, for example, this article detailing the treatment of Baha'i who want an education.

Let's not forget that the Iranian government supports terrorist organizations.

Media is so tightly controlled in Iran that the best way for many people to get news is from a station in California.

That's all I've got for now. I think it would be an understatement to say that I will be very glad when the day comes for the mullahs to fall from power in Iran. I'll be much happier, in fact, then when we liberated Iraq because it looks like the people of Iran will do this on their own. If they are able to establish a free society under their own power, it will be that much better. After all, liberty is much better cherished when it is won than when it is given.

Might be something to it

Phillip Bradley points out that 8 out of 10 countries on CATO's list of the most economically free have something in common. I won't spoil the surprise; go forth and read.

They don't "Get" it

Josh Claybourn has some good points on why the Quality of Life Index isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Of course, there's always Tim Blair's take.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Let's try this again

This story set me off:

Turkey's military on Monday bitterly condemned the U.S. army for seizing commandos in northern Iraq in an incident that underlined souring ties between the two NATO allies.

The arrest of 11 special forces officers on Friday and their release two days later also highlighted Turkish military concerns about its role in Iraq and its influence at home.

Turkey has had small detachments of troops in northern Iraq since the 1990s pursuing Turkish Kurdish separatists.

"It turned into a major crisis of trust between the Turkish and U.S. forces and became a crisis," the head of Turkey's powerful military General Staff, Hilmi Ozkok, told reporters.

They're right about one thing; there is a crisis of trust here. We told them in no uncertain terms to keep there troops out. (That was the price they paid for denying us use of their airspace and a northern front.) Yet somehow, the Turkish military just keeps sending in commandos. Some of those missions were apparently designed to assassinate Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq.

Now Turkey is trying to have their cake eat it too. After refusing to help us during the invasion, they still want to be able to send troops across the border at will. When they get caught, its our fault because we caught them.

Of all the nerve!

Glad we cleared that up


Optimism 101

Alina Fernandez Reveulta, daughter to Fidel Castro, thinks the world is waking up to the oppression in Cuba under her father:

Fidel Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez Reveulta has spoken out against her father, condemning the cruelty and inhumanity of his regime. "I Think that the last wave of repression against the Cuban dissidents is an example of the reality of Fidel Castro's regime. The United States and the European Union should now take a firm stance in the defence of human rights now that it is clear that they are been violated in Cuba," she stated.

I'd like to believe this is the case, but the truth is that there have been many events over the years that should have woken the world up to the horrors of Fidel. None of them have done a thing. Somehow, I think the idea that the recent oppression is going to change many minds. Still, optimism has its purposes.

I don't really see what the big deal is

... I mean it's not a surprise or anything. Still, I wonder if this means her sainthood is revoked.

I'm just saying is all.

Wendy McElroy is about to get a lot of hate mail

I seriously doubt that her column comparing Political Correctness to 1984 is going to go ever well in some quarters. That shouldn't stop you from reading it though.

Does Liberia confuse you?

When a liberal who opposed military intervention in Iraq champions it in Liberia, do you have trouble understanding their position? John Hawkins has, I think, an unfortunately accurate explanation:

You see the American left has a very different approach to using the military than the American right. Liberals believe that using America's military to further American interests is immoral. Moreover, the idea that an American President would decide to use American troops to further American interests is so repugnant to the left that any good that might come out of that exercise of American power seems insignificant by comparison. So to lefties, using America's military in places like Bosnia & Liberia is good because we have no real interests there, while using our military in places like Iraq & Grenada is bad -- even if we do good work there as well -- because we also benefit by our actions.

Read the rest.


Dale Amon has an interesting post on the possible effects of suborbital aircraft. I particularly liked this part:

Suborbital aircraft are no revolution in aerial warfare. They bring no completely new capability to the USAF. It is advantageous to the aircrews. I am sure they will very much appreciate flight times of 1.5 hours instead of fourteen and up. As to those on the recieving end... I don't much think they care what time the bomber took off and how long it flew before sending them off to Valhalla.

Grey Out?

It looks like thing are about to get interesting in California.

LOS ANGELES, July 8 — A ballot initiative to recall Gov. Gray Davis of California appeared increasingly likely today as proponents claimed they had submitted more than enough signatures to put the issue to voters as early as this fall.

Supporters of the recall movement said they had turned in 1,088,000 petition signatures by Monday and were preparing to submit an additional 300,000 by the end of the week. State law requires 897,158 valid signatures to place a recall initiative on the statewide ballot.

Recall organizers said they had a sufficient cushion to guarantee an election and had ceased gathering signatures.

"It's a done deal," said Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from San Diego County who has bankrolled the drive with more than $1 million of his own money and who has announced his intention to run for governor to replace Mr. Davis. "The signature collection has stopped."

While I've got to admit that seeing recalls of people I think are doing a bad job is kinda fun, on the whole I don't really like the idea. It seems overly democratic to me. The whole idea of our Republic is that we elect people to do a job and then we let them do it. We may do all we can to influence theirdecisionss, but barring the office holder committing a major crime we should pretty much let them be.

You wouldn't think this needs to be said

... but apparently it does: The views of foreign judges don't have any bearing on what the Constitution does or does not say! 1 This really chaps my hide.

1The only exception I can think of is British common law up to the point of the Revolution.

The Constitution Must Die

When I read that phrase in Jonah Goldberg's newest NRO column I was for some reason reminded of a truly awful movie, "The Pope Must Diet". That's what free association will get you.

Any way, Goldberg's column is an excellent defense of the idea of "dead" Constitution.

I just couldn't pass up quoting this:

Now, of course, I don't actually want any harm to befall Justice O'Connor and I would be truly dismayed if Justice Scalia's head exploded. And, yes, I'm exaggerating when I say Justice O'Connor can single-handedly (single-mindedly) make the American charter mean whatever she wants, but we really do need something dramatic to signal to the public that the Supreme Court is pretty much making stuff up as it goes.

Sad, but true. Now go read the rest.

Monday, July 07, 2003
This will make you mad

Two years for shooting a cop? I wish this was a joke. (Link via Oxblog.)

We the people

Eugene Volokh has a great post about changes in the Constitution. He launches off of a Pat Buchanan piece which, unsurprisingly, leaves a few things out.

Question: Why does anybody listen to Buchanan any more? I haven't really paid any attention to anything he said in years.

Another question: Who changed, Buchanan or me? I used to think Buchanan was pretty reasonable, but over the last 6 or 7 years I've come to see him as a blustering, slightly crazy windbag. Is it me or him?

Note:Post updated to fix spelling.

I'm still torn

Ted Carpenter has an NRO column arguing that we should not send troops to Liberia. Here is one of his points:

There is suffering going on in numerous places around the world. Indeed, the scale of human misery is far greater in such places as the Congo, Cuba, Myanmar, North Korea, and Sudan than it is in Liberia. From a moral standpoint, how can the Bush administration justify intervening in Liberia while declining to use force in those other cases? Yet if the United States intends to intervene everywhere bad things happen, our military will be busy in perpetuity. Humanitarian intervention is, therefore, an impractical, bankrupt policy.

Even some advocates of intervention in Liberia seem to shy away from the logical implications of their policies. Typically, their arguments include a disclaimer that the United States cannot intervene everywhere, or that America cannot be the world's policeman. But then they blithely go on to suggest making Liberia an exception.

The problem with that approach is that the list of potential exceptions is as numerous as the advocates of the doctrine of humanitarian intervention. In the early 1990s, proponents made Somalia an exception. A few years later it was Haiti, then Bosnia, and then Kosovo. Now, advocates of intervention in Liberia compete with those who believe America should take action to end the suffering in the Congo or Myanmar.

Given all the potential "exceptions" to the rule that the United States should not try to be the world's policeman, America would end up in that role by default. Indeed, if the Bush administration follows the advice of the lobbyists for humanitarian intervention, the United States will not only be the world's policeman, it will be the world's armed social worker.

This is a good point. I've said before that I wondered if America didn't have a moral responsibility to try to spread the blessings we have here around the globe. I didn't say it then, but it was concerns much like Carpenter's that keep me from clinging to that idea whole-heartedly; practically, we can't do what we did in Iraq everywhere. It would mean perpetual war. Even if we had the resources to engage in such a mission, the morale of the people, and especially of the troops, simply couldn't handle war in perpetuity without a direct threat to our own nation.

From a strictly practical view, we simply don't have the resources or the will to do such a thing. The only rational thing to do is to decided not to act unless our own interests are at stake. It sounds cold, but it's necessary. People will always have reasons why we ought to make an exception this time The problem, as Carpenter points out, is that once you start making exceptions, it's difficult to know when and where to stop.

On another note, I have to admit that I know practically nothing about Liberia so I must plead ignorance on the issue of whether or not we actually should send troops. I do want to make a point though; I keep hearing people talking about sending U.S. "peacekeepers" to Liberia. People, people, YOU CAN'T KEEP THE PEACE IF THERE IS NO PEACE TO KEEP! The place is at war. You have to make peace first before you can keep it.

Sorry, just had to get that out of my system.

A bit much

Bruce Bartlett is really tearing into Bush over the proposed prescription drug plan. He's probably overly pessimistic and the Nixon analogy was over the top; still he's got some good points.

Not quite right

The local NBC affiliate out of Oklahoma City runs these ads for their news division in which they talk about a recent big story and point out that they covered the story first.

I just heard an ad that said, "A police chase ends in a four car crash, you saw it first on News 4!" Maybe it's just me, but that seems a bit macabre.

Sunday, July 06, 2003
Things I Learned at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale

1. Phoenix is HOT! I knew that intellectually, but it's something you can't really appreciate until you're there.

2. At Mayo, the tend to give you several appointments a day.

3. The best way to fill that time is going around begging people to work you in early.

4. As a result, you sometimes end up sitting in waiting rooms for hours at a time.

5. The chairs aren't really rated for a 3 hour wait.

5. If you get tired of sitting in the chairs and decide to lay on the floor, the staff really freaks out. Apparently everyone was afraid I'd passed out.

6. If you're not pregnant and somebody says they want to do an ultrasound on you, it's a wise thing to ask what exactly they want to take an ultrasound of. (Trust me on this one.)

7. If someone says they want to run an EMG test, the appropriate response is to punch that person in the face and run.

8. I have trigeminal neuralgia, hemicranium continuum, and supimpocal benign idipathic proxismal hemicranium.

9. I'm allergic to practically everything.

Anyway, the neurologist started me on some new medication. With any luck, this will do the trick. I'm feeling some better so far, but it's too early to tell for sure.

Note: This post was updated to correct a spelling error.

I'm back!

I have returned. Blogging should resume shortly.