February 29, 2004

Just some more Mac stuff..

Anand Lal Shimpi is a very savvy guy with a popular hardware site, who's been blogging his switch to a Mac. I'm just posting this morsel as a correction to a common misunderstanding�I'll have it up my sleeve the next time someone tells me Macs won't work on a Windows network....

...I realized today that I hadn't touched on network interaction between Macs and PCs yet so let's talk about that. Networking was horrible under desktop PC OSes until Windows 2000/XP, but now we've all been spoiled with networking that just works. This directly corresponded to my expectations when I tried networking the G5 with the rest of my PC-ridden home network. OS X's Windows file sharing is made courtesy of samba, and although I've heard many criticisms about samba - under OS X it just works. I didn't bother burning any of my old documents, music, etc... off my old PC, instead I relied entirely on OS X's ability to see my PC's shared folders to get my much needed files onto the G5. As you can probably guess, if things hadn't gone smoothly my first blog would have been a much more complaint-oriented one :) I don't know why this impresses me, but the fact all of the 6 PCs I've got on this network right now can be seen by the G5 (and vice versa) is something I definitely appreciate. Gone are the days when Macs and PCs didn't like to cooperate, it truly is a harmonious hardware home here.

I bought a HP Laserjet 4000 years ago, and it's served me well. The problem is that it's a parallel port model and the G5 has no legacy ports: what a great test for Windows printer sharing under OS X :) OS X had no problems finding the printer on my network and I've been using it ever since. Drivers were already available on OS X, making the process as painless as possible. Now onto CD burning and imaging...

Printer sharing under OS-X still amazes me, though I've been using it for several years now.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:08 AM

The whole world a labyrinth?

...In short, if youth is not quite right in its opinions, there is a strong probability that age is not much more so. Undying hope is co-ruler of the human bosom with infallible credulity. A man finds he has been wrong at every preceding stage of his career, only to deduce the astonishing conclusion that he is at last entirely right. Mankind, after centuries of failure, are still upon the eve of a thoroughly constitutional millennium. Since we have explored the maze so long without result, it follows, for poor human reason, that we cannot have to explore much longer; close by must be the centre, with a champagne luncheon and a piece of ornamental water. How if there were no centre at all, but just one alley after another, and the whole world a labyrinth without end or issue?
-- from the essay CRABBED AGE AND YOUTH, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted by John Weidner at 9:09 AM

February 28, 2004

Dragon Ladies

U-2's were in the news when I was a little boy, when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union. So I find it amazing and delightful that those odd and beautiful planes are still defending Freedom's Wall. Here are some pictures, taken at an "undisclosed location" in Southwest Asia.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 PM

February 27, 2004

The wee folk, the little people...

Since I've been calling people "partisan midgets," I thought I ought to justify myself a bit and say why I think I shouldn't be called a "midget of the ultraconservatives" or some such.

Firstly, I have some general principles and ideas on the direction I think America and the world ought to be moving in. And I try to make them clear to readers, so I can be criticized if I'm inconsistent. And I try hard to be consistent. For instance, I'm openly a free-trader, and therefore I have to give Clinton high marks for NAFTA, and I've criticized Bush for the Steel Tariffs. Likewise, I'm a Wilsonian interventionist, and my support for Iraq, (and my contempt for bogus "International Law,") is extended to also supporting Clinton's equally "illegal" intervention in Bosnia. (I didn't pay much attention at the time, having no blog to sharpen my wits, but I remember hearing Rush Limbaugh complaining that we had no vital national interest in Bosnia, and thinking, "Screw it, lets do it! No one's gonna fix this if we don't.")

Midgets abandon their principles if it means agreeing with somebody they don't like. Such as the lefty waterflies who used to criticize the Taliban, and Moslem intolerance of women and gays�until the minute that put them alongside Bush.

Nothing brings on my contempt like pundits who don't reveal the general ideas behind their words�it's almost impossible to pin them down on inconsistencies. Nothing arouses my sneers like having to guess where someone is really coming from. (Of course I may be unfair sometimes, when I criticize a single blogpost without being familiar with a person's other work�they may have clear and consistent principles I'm not aware of.) Lowest of the midgets are those like Josh Marshall, whose guiding principle is "Republicans bad. Democrats good."

And in areas where I don't have my philosophy worked out, such as Immigration or Gay Marriage, I usually keep my mouth shut, though I'm sorely tempted to skewer lefty hypocrisies. (I did once comment on Gay Marriage here with follow-up here)

And the people I would tend to refer to as Partisan Lilliputians won't debate! They make some assertion, I answer with a long list of facts and opinions and sophistries, and the cowardly weasels scurry away (and then make the same assertion a week later, with the blasé air of one stating something that's been generally accepted and is past the point of needing defense!) Slytherins!

By the way, is there a technical term in the lexicon of logical disputation for someone picking out and demolishing one small error in a long argument, and then walking away slapping the dust off their hands and acting as if they have won a "debate," and there's nothing more to say? That kind of debate I do get.

Actually, though I long for rational debate, I suspect many of those I criticize are like those lefty columnists last year, remember them? The ones who wrote those WHY I HATE BUSH columns? "I hate the way he walks. I hate the way he talks. The curve of his earlobe makes me want to disembowel myself with a red-hot putty knife..." O-KAY. Do not rattle the cage, folks...It might hurt itself dashing against the bars.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:58 AM

#146: The bugle call of partisan hackmanship

P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

Paul Krugman's last bastion of academic respectability rests on his consistent defense of free trade. Hence the protectionist talk coming from the Kerry and Edwards camps must make him cringe. Nevertheless, in The Trade Tightrope (02/27/04), he once again answers the bugle call for partisan hackmanship by making excuses for Kerry on the trade issue (Edwards, apparently, is too far overboard even for Krugman). The result is one of those "just watch the silver screen folks, and don't pay any attention to that man behind the curtain" deals. Read this column if you must. It's pathetic.

There's one howler:

"Put it this way: there's a reason why the two U.S. presidents who did the most to promote growth in world trade were Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, while the two most protectionist presidents of the last 70 years have been Ronald Reagan and, yes, George W. Bush."
What on earth is he talking about? And this is his last sentence! So the column ends with a breathtaking assertion followed by not one word of justification.

What's the name of that public editor again? Okrent, or something? His position is that when facts are presented in error, they must be corrected even if they are camouflaged in opinion columns. Fair enough, but then he has to deal with the Krugman loophole. Outrageous assertions made without any facts don't require corrections!

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 AM

February 26, 2004

Midget Moles Won't Stay Whacked...or, NewsMax of the Left

It's a funny thing about the people who still see the Plame affair as emblematic of the monstrous evil of the Bush Administration. That is, even if the story is true, even if someone in the administration did uncover Plame, there are a whole bunch of other fishy things that happened. But the people who pretend to be appalled by a shocking attack on the brave men and women of the CIA, don't care about ANY OF IT. Not unless it can be used to hurt Bush. In fact the whole story started in just that partisan way, with Wilson instantly accusing Karl Rove of the deed, and later admitting he had not the least evidence of it.

SO, what are some other things that happened, which ought to ALSO be generating outrage, if those "outraged" parties were actually interested in national security?

How about the fact that the original article went almost unnoticed? The person who did the most to reveal that Plame was CIA was her husband, Joseph Wilson, who is bitterly partisan against Bush. It was Wilson who trumpeted the matter to the world. Wilson was using this supposedly sensitive information for partisan purposes. Why no outrage about that?

And the CIA confirmed Plame's identity to reporters. If her identity really was an important national security secret, why no outrage about that? And if it wasn't important, the whole story is nothing.

And Plame was supposedly doing sensitive stuff under her own name! And not living a low-profile life. What kind of national security malarky is that? Where's the outrage?

Wilson was sent by the CIA on a sensitive national security investigation to Niger, requested by the Bush Administration. And the minute he gets back, he writes a virulent anti-administration article in the NYT. Uh, is this how the noble CIA operates? So subtle, so secretive? Where's the outrage from people who claim to care about national security?

And the NYT's James Risen said his contacts in the CIA told him Wilson was sent because the CIA had no interest in finding yellowcake. In fact they apparently sabotaged the mission. Where's the outrage from our national security buffs? And even if Wilson had tried his best, the mission was set up to have almost no chance of success. Without money for bribes, without agents already in place, without even much time, there was no way he was going to pry out such extremely toxic information. Where's the outrage from those who are pretending to care about national security? (And there were some suspicious contacts between Iraq and Niger. It's still perfectly possible the yellowcake rumors were true. But our national security fans seem to have no interest in that either.)

And there's another reason I think the people hammering on this have no interest in truth. And that is (if in fact it happened) the most likely explanation for such a profitless move is pure stupidity. Remember when the Clintons were found to have boxes of the FBI records of Conservative notables stashed in the White House? It sounded dreadfully Nixonian! But in fact the guy who did it was a nitwit, and there was no conspiracy at all. Every administration has some flaky stuff happen�remember there are thousands of hastily-assembled people involved, and all of them operating at manic speed. Serious people let the matter drop�NewsMax is probably still frothing over it.

Serious people know the administration is doing its best in a very complex and difficult situation. And making mistakes like any human organization. Serious people offer constructive criticism and thoughtful commentary on the big picture. Partisan midgets see only the few details that fit their hobbyhorses, and ignore anything else.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 PM

Code of the Woosters...

It's not my style to have a tip-jar, but if you like this blog, you might donate a few shekels to Dean Esmay. He's in a bind, and he very generously helped me (as he's helped many others) to move my weblog from the sloughs of Blogger to Movable Type.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:47 PM

"the very same vitriol"

This is the sort of thing to keep in mind, when "Progressives" extoll the glorious 1960's, and the heroic antiwar movement:

...As a spy chief and a general in the former Soviet satellite of Romania, I produced the very same vitriol Kerry repeated to the U.S. Congress almost word for word and planted it in leftist movements throughout Europe.

KGB chairman Yuri Andropov managed our anti-Vietnam War operation. He often bragged about having damaged the U.S. foreign-policy consensus, poisoned domestic debate in the U.S., and built a credibility gap between America and European public opinion through our disinformation operations. Vietnam was, he once told me, "our most significant success."... � Ion Mihai Pacepa [link]

And back in the '60's, a working definition of "McCarthyite" (or "Right-Wing kook" or "John Bircher") would have been "someone who thinks the antiwar protesters are fronting for the KGB>"

Posted by John Weidner at 12:07 PM

like spoons falling out of the burglar's pockets...

Alan Sullivan writes about the "implosion" of illicit nuclear arms programs as a result of the liberation of Iraq. Some of these things were new to me.

I wasn't aware that Pakistan's nuclear scientists are being mysteriously murdered, apparently to keep them from talking to us (Of course that would be great cover if WE we killing them.) And I wasn't aware that "...rumors are rife that President Musharraf has effectively surrendered his nuclear keys to Americans." Cool, if true.

Progress is being made. A LOT of progress. And it's happening because we invaded Iraq. As expected. The "neocon" plan; hit one rogue nation and things will start to shake loose. Like cops raiding a gang headquarters, we didn't know what we were going to find, but we knew there'd be something.

And, as usual, "activists" are swarming to defend the gang from "police brutality," though they never give a thought to the victims of gang brutality. And, as usual, they pretend to be worried about "constitutional rights." But what they really don't want is law and order, because it is a prerequisite to economic progress, and will lead to poor people escaping poverty, and escaping the need for a vast apparatus of welfare and government, all dominated by leftists.

It's just the same in the wider world. Leftists pretend to be shocked, SHOCKED that the President "lied to us" to justify invading Iraq, (with all the while WMD's appearing 'round the globe like silver spoons falling out of the burglar's clothes when they are shoved against a wall) But I remember a year ago those cries that Iraq was going to be ruined by Kentucky Fried Chicken! They pretend to care about the UN, or the Treaty of Westphalia, or the sanctity of "International Law." But those are lies; it's Bush, and bourgeois capitalism, and democracy, and the freedom to buy a bucket of KFC that they hate.

...None of this would have happened without the invasion of Iraq. Soldiers who fell in this cause died with honor. They have bought the world an opportunity to evolve toward more benign systems of governance. No matter what his failings in domestic policy, Bush the Younger has earned the approbation of history....

* Correction: I goofed, it's Iraqi nuclear scientists who are being murdered...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:10 AM

February 25, 2004

No risky leap to the next step up...

Wretchard writes:

...In the two generations since the end of the Second World War more than a billion people were abandoned to anarchies and tyrannies euphemistically called "developing nations". Most of them, little more than a stamp and a seat at the United Nations, have already ceased to function -- the 50 "stateless zones" of Tenet's speech. If left to the leadership of men like Osama Bin Laden, these steerless multitudes can snuff out the living nations, as growing entropy blots out a system. The logical response would be to seize control of the movement ourselves, to raise the disaffected masses against their own tyrants. It is step President Bush has vowed to take but it is so audacious and regarded so cynically by the left that it would be a wonder if the world actually took the only path that can save it...
Fortunately, though the Left is cynical and wants desperately to halt the march of freedom, it has nothing to say. No plans, no dreams, no hopes. Only endless sour complaints (that they won't defend in the arena of ideas.)

The next time you hear someone say "Bush lied," remember that what they are really saying is: "I have nothing positive to offer. No vision of hope. No plan for progress. No risky leap to the next step up..."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 PM

Too hot to handle...

Bryan Preston writes about the similarities in terrorist bomb-recipes around the world, and about the much-neglected question of how Oklahoma City fits in to the world terrorist picture...

...So Mr. Murad was found in possession of a notebook with a new thought about truck bombs--substitute nitromethane for fuel oil to make them more powerful--and his notebook can be dated to a time when Terry Nichols was known to be in the Philippines, which was where Murad was arrested. And that very design change showed up first in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, just a few months later.

Interesting. Even more interesting is a scrap of evidence found in an abandoned al Qaeda safehouse after the fall of the Taliban:

A bomb manual found in Afghanistan contained a recipe for an ammonium nitrate-based bomb marked with the handrwritten notation "Was used in Oklahoma," according to the New York Times.
So there's the science--a new design proposed in an al Qaeda manual shows up in Oklahoma City, and then in subsequent bombings known to have been engineered by al Qaeda elsewhere around the world. Will America's artful investigators ever make the obvious connection?...
No way. There are hot potatoes, and then there's way too hot to handle...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:21 PM

Backfired...I just love it

According to this Boston Herald story, a letter campaign by students, at the behest of school officials, has backfired in a most delightful way...

...If I didn't think a charter school was necessary, these letters have convinced me the high school was not doing an adequate job in teaching English language arts,'' [School Board Member] Schaefer said.

�����Despite the letter-writing campaign, which Schaefer said was orchestrated by school officials, the Marlboro-based Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School as well as new charter schools in Cambridge, Lynn and Barnstable were approved yesterday.

�����Opponents vowed a renewed campaign against the controversial public schools, which compete with traditional districts for state education dollars.

�����``We're going to pursue this legally and through the Legislature,'' said Kathleen Kelley, president of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers...(via Betsy Newmark)

Using school children this way is despicable. And I'd guess the "controversial" is only in the eyes of the Teacher's Unions. And the stuff about "competing for funds" is misleading. The funds go with the students, and a school that loses students get less money, but also needs to spend less, because it needs fewer teachers and staff.

Of course, to the unions, providing livings is the whole purpose of the school system...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:59 PM

The first prize was a death sentence...

Don't miss, don't miss, a splendid article, by a poet who fled from Soviet tyranny, only to find a new Leningrad right here in San Francisco...

...Throughout the fall semester the �Writers on Writing� class desecrated two things I hold dear: literature and America. It was a constant assault on my dedication to literature and my literary taste, and an insult to my love for this country. Not only were we forced to buy a bag of crappy books (except a few) with a price tag of around $200, but almost all these �writers� and �poets� presented on the lighted stage of the huge auditorium week after week used the opportunity to express their hate and contempt for America. Throughout the semester only a few talented exceptions abstained from expressing their political opinions.

If I have expertise in anything in this life, it is literature. I came from the Soviet Union, where literature, especially poetry, was a serious and deadly business. The second national prize for poetry in the USSR was five years in prison. The first prize was a death sentence, as seen by the fates of Nikolai Gumilev (execution by firing squad) and Osip Mandelshtam (a hungry death in the Gulag).

Night after night we typed for Samizdat (underground press) on primitive typewriters the smuggled poems of my friend Igor Guberman, who had been sentenced to five years in a prison camp. Kneeling on all fours (I was so pregnant at the time that I couldn�t sit), I read a book by Nadezhda Mandelshtam�the widow of the executed poet�that was brought into the country as contraband by some brave foreign visitors. The possession of this book was an offense punishable by law. The hostess begged me to leave, scared that I would go into labor right there in her apartment, but I finished that book understanding that this was my only chance to touch this dangerous copy....

- - - - - - - - - -

...Finally, it was America that paid our way out. The Jackson-Vanik amendment forced the Soviets to allow some groups to emigrate in exchange for a cheap grain trade agreement. Jews were the bargaining chip when the USSR was on the edge of starvation.

Divided by the number of people they finally let go, how many kilos of grain were paid for me? Or my mother?� What was the price in grain for the Moscow boy who became a student at Stanford and invented Google? Or another boy, who became the managing editor of this magazine? Or for the Russian taxi driver?...

By the way, The Jackson mentioned was Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson, a great man and a Democrat, back when it wasn't ludicrous to link those concepts. Many of the original "neocons" were staffers for Senator Jackson.

SF State U is less than half a mile from us. (Every year we have one lovely June day marred by the much amplified voice of someone like Willie Brown giving the commencement address) I bet you could find hundreds of people there who think the Soviets were just victims of bad press...

Thanks to Alan

Posted by John Weidner at 12:00 PM

A bigger threat than Osama...

Cori Dauber comments on today's NYT:

...What does it take for people to take this seriously? The top three intelligence people in the country (the head of DIA was there as well) just said that we are in as great a risk of attack as we were last year, and of course last year we were in great a risk as the year before. Why does no one seem to want to pay attention? Why isn't this front page news? Someone is crazy here, and I don't think it's me. We have just been told we're at risk of another terrorist attack and that doesn't seem to grasp the media's attention. That just staggers me. It makes me want to grab someone by the lapels and shake them. WHAT ABOUT THIS STORY IS DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND? WHYT ISN'T THIS YOUR TOP PRIORITY? WHY DO I SEEM TO BE THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THIS IS IMPORTANT?...
What's important is to hurt Bush. Since terrorist fears would help him, they aren't "news."

The hate (and I use the word advisedly, because I think it fits the facts�if I'm wrong give me some evidence) these people feel for Bush has nothing to do with rational argument or facts. If 50 Scuds loaded with VX were found in Basra tomorrow, neither the NYT nor any of the "Bush lied" crowd would apologize or change their thinking in the least.

Their visceral loathing of Bush is because he symbolizes the thing they want most to avoid�that in a democracy the vote of the person who mops the floor counts just as much as the votes of journalists or intellectuals.

The New York Times has been called the"Flagship of the Eastern Liberal Establishment." It's been, for a century or more, a bulwark of the idea that, even though the masses can vote, the nation is really guided by a smaller group characterized by good breeding, taste, and intellect.

And their visceral loathing of Bush is because he symbolizes just the opposite. And not just symbolizes; his domestic program is built around the theme of giving choice to ordinary people in many areas where they are now under government control. And he's pushed his program tenaciously from the beginning. It's no wonder that collectivists everywhere see Bush as a bigger threat than Osama...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:59 AM

February 24, 2004

Rough around the edges; quite normal...

I was fascinated by this article on Russia today. It puts Russia's many problems in perspective, and refutes some doom-sayers, by making comparisons with other nations at the same level of development...

...Russia's economic and political systems remain far from perfect. But their defects are typical of countries at a similar level of economic development. Russia was in 1990, and is today, a middle-income country, with GDP per capita around $8,000 (at purchasing power parity) according to the UN -- comparable to Argentina in 1991 and Mexico in 1999. Almost all democracies in this income range are rough around the edges: their governments suffer from corruption, their judiciaries are politicized, and their press is almost never entirely free. They have high income inequality, concentrated corporate ownership, and turbulent macroeconomic performance. In all these regards, Russia is quite normal. Nor are the common flaws of middle-income capitalist democracies incompatible with further economic and political progress...
One reason many people tend to portray today's Russia as a disaster and a failure is that most people didn't realize what a failure the Soviet Union was. It put on a brave outward show, with cosmonauts, parades of tanks, Olympic athletes, etc. But in fact its economy was rotten from top to bottom, decrepit, crime-ridden and impoverished.

One reason our view was distorted was that the Soviet Union was analyzed and described for us by experts in government and the academy. And since the very premise of the Soviets was that things would run better if controlled by�yes, you guessed it�experts in government and the academy...our analysts tended to paint a rosy picture.

One of the many debts we owe to Ronald Reagan, is that he pushed the CIA and others to start looking for evidence of Soviet economic failure. He knew it would be there, and in fact, we had a LOT of such evidence. But it was in the form of many obscure pieces that had always been ignored because they didn't fit expectations. That was the beginning of a return to sanity and American values, after decades when our leadership was drugged by the idea that Socialism was a workable alternative to freedom.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 PM

Bush Glacier--grinds exceeding fine...

Security Workers on Merit

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stepped into line with a commonly accepted practice in corporate America: tying pay increases to performance and the type of job performed...

...Salaries will be structured according to the type of work, a person's experience, and job location - and, notably, not by seniority. And in the case of a national emergency, the president can waive labor agreements....

...DHS began putting together 180,000 employees from some 22 government agencies in 2002. When a similar restructuring is complete at the Defense Department, about half the government's 1.8 million civilian employees will have made the transition to the new merit system. That's costly in the short term, but cost-saving in the long run...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:29 PM

Quote of the day

From OpinionJournal

...Mr. Nader is best understood as the inventor of today's nexus of liberal politics and trial-lawyer opportunism. His network of organizations have long been suspected of taking trial-lawyer cash, but it is impossible to tell because Mr. Nader refuses to disclose their financial backers. Yet just like Senators Kerry and Edwards he denounces the influence of sinister "special interests." It's a little ungrateful for Mr. Edwards to now upbraid the man who did so much to make the Senator's own fortune and political career possible....
I wonder if there's a bigger scoundrel than Nader in today's American politics.

'course the Weidners can't complain too much, since most of Charlene's work is battling the tort monster that Ralph did so much to create. It's sort of like that famous economics fallacy, about how breaking windows is good for the economy, because it gives work to glaziers...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:23 PM

Political Process corrupted by...

Phil Fraering writes to me, re the recent rantings,

Why am I reminded of that scene from Casablanca?

"I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that POLITICS has entered the political process..."

"Your grant money, sir."

"Thank you."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 AM

February 23, 2004

We HAD a consensus...

I'm going to mention this again, because it is really bugging me.

One of the 637 lies about the Bush Administration now being pushed by lefty apologists and bloggers, is that President Bush refused to seek consensus on the liberation of Iraq and the War on Terror. That he just went off on his unilateral lonesome, and didn't "reach out" to Democrats and others. And thus the country is "divided."

This is a lie.

We had a consensus.

Before Bush became President, and to a large extant through 2002, the policies advocated by Democrat leaders were virtually identical to the policies Bush is following now...

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force � if necessary � to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."�Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line." �President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program." �President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." �Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 [Go here for a heap of quotes like this.]

The Dem leaders, with the utmost cynical dishonesty, dropped their previous policies down the memory hole, and dressed themselves in new ones, and then complained that Bush was "unilateral" and closed-minded.

And Democrat apologist/bloggers, even if they had supported our war efforts before, instantly internalized their new marching orders, much like Communists of old used to blithely switch positions on order from Moscow, even if the new policy was the opposite of what they just been pushing. And, come to think about it, notice how much that "failed to reach out" line resembles that constant Leftist position of the Cold War, that the Soviet Union (or China or N Vietnam or whoever) really wanted peace and friendship, but had had their shy overtures harshly rebuffed by the Western powers...

* UPDATE: Still. one has to feel some sympathy for the poor Dems. Bush is a man who says what he's going to do, and then does it. Can you imagine how bewildering that must be to a guy like John Kerry? Bush says, "We're gong to invade Iraq." Then he invades Iraq. Then all the Democrats drop their jaws and cry, "He tricked us!"

Posted by John Weidner at 12:41 PM

February 22, 2004

suppressio veri

Kevin Drum writes about a Report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, (UCS) on suppression of scientific evidence by the Bush Administration. Well, I'm definitely against the suppression of scientific data for political ends, and all are welcome to criticize such, even if it's my party that's guilty.

BUT, Drum's contention that this is some sort of new thing, undreamed of until the coming of those horrid Conservative Luddites, is this week's big steaming pile of poop. It's a LIE, something that Drum specializes in. And it's not just a lie, it's a stupid lie. It's an insult to my intelligence.

The politicization of science has been going on for a long time, and it's groups like UCS that have been the worst offenders. They are not neutral observers, they are not truth-seekers, and they are highly politicized. And they feel they should be the arbiters of what is "science" is and what is not. Their political "party" is Transnational Progressivism, (Tranzi) which is the latest morphing of Socialism. (And Socialism is the modern morphing of the ancient idea that elites should rule, and the common man should obey. And the reason for the "transnational" part is that 20th Century experiments with rule-by-elites within nations have repeatedly been embarrassed by the prosperity and freedom of neighboring nations, and by the propensity of the common folk to flee the "worker's-paradise"--in ways varying from brain-drain to leaky boats. So this New Socialism seeks above all to undermine nation-states�especially the US, which has been the biggest embarrassment of all.)

Scientific research itself often has a funny way of sabotaging the political programs of all sorts of groups, both Left and Right. And when people like Bjorn Lomberg have pointed out that scientific research contradicts the Environmentalist party line, groups like UCS have no problem with attacking and vilifying them, and trying to suppress their conclusions. That's a bit of Stalinism that I'm sure Drum has no problem with at all.

I just encountered a bit of Tranzi supressio veri today at Alan Sullivan's blog.

...No, I'm not talking about color preferences for house-trim in South Florida. I'm talking about the fatal effects of hot water on reef coral. The phenomenon is called "bleaching" because coral colonies turn white when most of the individual polyps have died. It's the living creatures in those calcined houses that make corals colorful. While it's certainly true that reefs are sensitive to disturbance, I find it suspicious that one sees so much press about coral dying and none whatsoever about its recovery. To judge from the media, all the coral in the world must have died several times over. Few people know that severe bleaching episodes in the Indian and Atlantic oceans have been followed by surprising bounce-back...
Bounceback? First I've heard of it! Bet you won't find that in the NYT, or NPR. They routinely protect us from inconvenient facts. But of course that kind of protection is OK, because groups like UCS have already decided what scientific truth is, and Leftists have absorbed the official version like a dye. To suppress a bit of environmental good news is a sort of "higher truth." Lenin would have approved.

And government departments tend to become strongholds of Tranzi science. Their products, such as EPA Reports, may simply be scientific evidence. They may also be carefully edited selections of evidence designed to further a political goal. Suppressing a report can sometimes be suppressing truth, and sometimes suppressing lies.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:40 PM

February 21, 2004

America did the right thing....

Those of you who think Colin Powell is a Clinton/Kerry/Chirac/StateDepartment type of appeasement-weasel who just went along with liberating Iraq because he was a "good soldier" should just shut up and read this speech, given yesterday at Princeton. Here are a few snippets:

...I've been to northern Iraq. I have visited a city called Halabja. It was in 1988, on a Friday morning, that 5,000 people were murdered in their homes by a chemical weapon, by gas that was delivered by Saddam Hussein, delivered on his own people, and five thousand people died.

I've been to their memorial. I've seen their graves. At that time he had the intention, he had the programs, he had the delivery means and he had the stockpile. Intention, programs, capability, stockpile.

You can have intention, you can have programs, you can have capability to deliver. He may not have the stockpile at the moment. But there was no doubt in my mind, in the President's mind, or any of us who have thought about this and examined this, that there was no intention on his part not to have the intention for such weapons and programs...

...The President understood that. Prime Minister Blair understood that. Prime Minister Aznar understood that. Prime Minister Howard understood that. Prime Minister Berlusconi understood that. President Kwasniewski of Poland understood that. So many other nations understood that.

We weighed all the consequences. The President acted. The other leaders acted, decisively and appropriately...

...And Dr. Kay connected some dots out of all of this, dots he connected on his own: �we know that terrorists were passing through Iraq. And we know now that there was little control over Iraq�s weapons capabilities. I think it shows," he said, "Iraq was a dangerous place�I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought.�

His conclusion: �I personally believe the war was justified.�...

... Not only have coalition forces rid the world of a regime that was simultaneously building palaces for its pampered and digging mass graves for its innocents, the object lesson of the war has led to some important successes in the non-proliferation area.

So don't let anybody be confused by the debates that are going on. America did the right thing....

Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 PM

I wonder if they have good Afghan restaurants...

I was bemused by the thought of all those Somalis shivering in the Twin Cities, but now Charlene just informed me (this is real-time blogging here, folks) that the largest Afghan-American community is in nearby Fremont, California! I had no idea...

(I do know, however, that the woman who gives President Bush his haircuts is from Afghanistan...a nice bit of trivia.)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:25 PM

Somebody's thinking..

AOG writes:

I came up with a great money making idea, for anyone out there looking to score some cash.

In corporate America today, there are plenty of �diversity� programs that attempt to hire more minorities of various types. The key question is, what makes some one a member of these minorities? It seems to be the case that it�s primarily self-identification: if you tell the corporate recruiter that you�re [ethnic], then you are as far as the corporation is concerned. I�ve looked for years and never found any legal basis for determining or disputing such a claim. However, the problem is that the recruiter can�t ask you and it seems a bit awkward to blurt it out. The standard technique is to have a key award on your resume that indicates your ethnicity.

Here�s the idea - sell those awards! You set up a website as an institute or foundation, make up some blather (or copyright infringe it from some other website). Once you�ve got that set up, you charge people an �entrance fee� for participating in a contest for an ethnic award. Oddly, it turns out that every one who applies wins! Then the participant can honestly put on their resume �won Best [ethnic] Rising Star Award, 2004�. Of course, you�d need a set of stock phrases for the award, with a few web pages for each. Charge $20 or $50 for the entrance fee and go....

What's needed is a disadvantaged ethnic group with blonde hair and blue eyes...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:36 PM

Lies coming...be ready

Be prepared. Keep this up your sleeve to answer the LIE that our Democrat pals are going to be spreading...In fact already are spreading: That the GOP Convention in New York was scheduled to take cynical political advantage of 9/11.

The New York Post writes:

...The mayor asked both parties to hold their conventions in the same city for the first time since 1972. At the time, we thought it a great idea - one that would serve as a vote of confidence in New York's future after 9/11.

Indeed, Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe was approached first, with former Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo actively backing the city's efforts.

But McAuliffe wasn't interested - unless the Democrats were given an exclusive and the GOP shut out, that is.

In other words, McAuliffe wanted to make sure that only his party could reap whatever political benefits might accrue from holding a convention here.

But when Bloomberg rightly wouldn't play that game, McAuliffe made a few snide remarks about how the mayor should rejoin the Democratic Party and then shuffled off to Boston - home of the Red Sox (and Teddy Kennedy)...

(via Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:33 AM

February 20, 2004

This gave me my best laugh in a weeks...

...The event that I've been pitching [fundraiser with Karl Rove speaking] was tonight and it was really fun. I got to Eugene, the event space, about 20 minutes early. I was on the host committee and so was getting a coveted photo taken with Karl Rove. Scott had emailed me that there were going to be the usual corny protesters outside, so I was expecting the small crowd gathered across the street from the place. I walked in and checked my coat and while I was doing that I heard someone say 'Karl is going to talk to them!' I walked over to the door and looked through the glass and indeed, Karl Rove was crossing the street to go talk to the protesters. Everybody watched and whispered 'what is he doing' as he walked over to them. The crowd shifted down the street as he approached them. I watched some of the protesters take his picture. It was stunning.

Later on, when I met him to take the photo, I had to ask: 'what did the protesters say to you?' He said 'they ran away, they wouldn't talk to me.'

The story's here, by NY blogger Karol. Thanks to Brian T.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:07 PM

Equivalence

James Webb, Vietnam vet and writer, has written an article that says that for Vietnam vets, Kerry and Bush are both unattractive. I won't try to debate his assessment of the liberation of Iraq�he calls it "arguably...the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory." Time will tell.

But what's interesting to me is that his criticisms of Kerry are made with very specific and vivid and disgusting examples of how Kerry lied about our soldiers in Vietnam and aided our enemies. But his Bush criticisms are generalizations without any examples. "And yet his actions in Iraq, and the vicious attacks against anyone who disagrees with his administration's logic, give many veterans serious pause...." OK, give us an example of a "vicious attack." Webb doesn't. Which veterans has he asked? How did you find this out? He doesn't say.

Or there's this: "At the same time, those around Bush, many of whom came of age during Vietnam and almost none of whom served, have attempted to assassinate the character and insult the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them. Some have impugned the culture, history and integrity of entire nations, particularly in Europe, that have been our country's great friends for generations and, in some cases, for centuries...." So where are the specifics? Where are the quotes? Give us an example! I suspect he can't. That "patriotism" thing is a common lefty canard, never accompanied with examples.

(My guess: Webb moves in the sort of trendoid New York circles where just mentioning the words "Bush" or "Reagan" or "middle-class" are witty sallies that have people rolling on the floor. No facts needed.)

And there's also an egregious case of LYING WITH STATISTICS.

But in the zero-sum game of a presidential campaign, to go after Kerry is to give a free pass to Bush, whose actions then and now deserve no prizes. Recent statements defending Bush claim that the National Guard was not a haven for those who wished to avoid Vietnam; but it clearly was. According to the National Guard Association, only some 9,000 Army Guardsmen and 9,343 Air Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Considering that nearly 3 million from the active forces did so, one begins to understand why so many of America's elites headed for the Guard when their draft numbers were called.
There are a couple of things wrong here. First, the ANG is much smaller numerically than the NG. So the number sent to Vietnam is proportionately much higher. Second, all modern forces have many more non-combatants than fighters. For every guy on the front-line, there are 5 or 10 support troops. But, as I understand the history, the ANG was rotating pilots into AF units. They weren't sending any flapjack flippers or medics or clerks. Statistically, that's a very different animal...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:50 AM

February 19, 2004

Wearing baseball caps that read SWAT in homemade letters...

[NY Times] BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 19 � A bad day is when (1) you get arrested (2) by the people who once worked for you and (3) they tell you exactly what they think of you.

Muhammad Zimam Abd al-Razzaq was having a really bad day. Mr. Zimam, a former interior minister under Saddam Hussein and an enemy of Iraq's Kurds, was No. 41 on the American occupation force's most-wanted list in Iraq.

He was in his house in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Saidiya on Sunday, when a squad of Iraqi police officers showed up around lunchtime. No burly, locked-and-loaded American soldiers to hunt down the dangerous; no, this was a bunch of Iraqi cops barely old enough to shave, wearing baseball caps that read SWAT in homemade letters...

The flavor of this story is bizarre and dreamlike and blackly comical, with Keystone Cops jumping up from the floor one after another with their accusations while Mr Zimam is offered tea and coffee on a comfortable couch�Al Jazeera apparently filming it all...

(Thanx to OxBlog)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 PM

Topping Metternich...

This has got to be the stupidest article of the week, by Fred Kaplan, in Slate. The author thinks Colin Powell is falling apart because he has failed as Secretary of State.

Is Colin Powell melting down?

It's hard to come up with another explanation for his jaw-dropping behavior ...last week before the House International Relations Committee. There he sat, recounting for the umpety-umpth time why, back in February 2003, he believed the pessimistic estimates about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. "I went and lived at the CIA for about four days," he began, "to make sure that nothing was�" Suddenly, he stopped and glared at a Democratic committee staffer who was smirking and shaking his head. "Are you shaking your head for something, young man back there?" Powell grumbled. "Are you part of the proceedings?"...

First of all, what Powell was doing was acting like a grownup. The staffer was performing with childish discourtesy and deserved a much worse spanking than he got.

When I was growing up, if I or any other child were to mouth-off in public, any nearby grown-up would have squelched us immediately. And gone to our parents if it seemed necessary. Nowadays they probably wouldn't dare, for fear of a rebuff or a lawsuit. When your lefty pals talk about the "conformist 1950's," and how pleased they were to trash them, this community support for good manners and behavior is a lot of what they were jettisoning. If bad manners and a general coarseness are the norm today, you can, as they say, thank a Liberal.

Anyway, back to Powell.

...As George Bush's first term nears its end, Powell's tenure as top diplomat is approaching its nadir. On the high-profile issues of the day, he seems to have almost no influence within the administration. And his fateful briefing one year ago before the U.N. Security Council�where he attached his personal credibility to claims of Iraqi WMD�has destroyed his once-considerable standing with the Democrats, not to mention our European allies, most of the United Nations, and the media...
You've noticed, I'm sure, that we haven't invaded anyone for almost a year now. Pretty much everything that the Administration is doing out in the world is diplomacy. And our diplomacy has been very successful so far, and looks to be in good shape for bigger triumphs in the future. Colin Powell may end up in the history books looking like the greatest foreign minister since Metternich. This is failure?

To a lefty-pundit, of course, it is. To him, Powell is the only hope within the Administration of blocking the bloody march to "war-after-war" planned, supposedly, by the Neocons. His job is to thwart the President's policy, to sabotage it, to force it to be more Clintonian. The thing is never expressed so baldly of course�the conflict is always described as being with Rumsfeld or Cheney. But people in the know always report that GWB is the one who makes the decisions, and he's really the one who people like Kaplan want to stymie.

It probably never even occurs to Mr Kaplan that success for a Secretary of State should lie in loyally implementing the President's policies. Not when the President is a Republican and a Texan. "Success" is being popular with pundits and Europeans and those who cherish the UN. Just as it probably never occurs to him that Congressional staffers should not be making mock of the President of the United States, even if they disagree with him. (And, I'd guess, it doesn't occur to him that children who are impolite should be reprimanded. Pope's line pops into my head: " This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings...")

The whole point of the so-called Neocon plan was diplomacy. The whole point was avoiding wars. And now that we've cleaned Saddam's clock, diplomacy is working like it hasn't done in decades. Every week seems to bring some new tale of a tyrant suddenly grown more reasonable, or some regional conflict newly amenable to negotiation. Colin Powell is an important member of an extremely successful team. Therefore he is a success. I don't know what he would personally like to see happen; I find him very opaque. But it doesn't matter! His duty is to give the best advice he can, and then support whatever decision is made.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:09 PM

There's also "Insourcing"

This editorial points out something very important....

While outsourcing has captured current attention, it is not a new phenomenon. If the term is defined as jobs operated by U.S. companies in foreign countries, the current total is 10 million positions, or 7 percent of domestic U.S. employment. Further, there's been an upward trend in the number of outsourced jobs since the mid-1990s, when trade barriers were significantly reduced following the signing of the NAFTA and GATT agreements.

What is less well publicized and understood is that "insourcing" also occurs in our economy. Insourcing happens when foreign companies establish jobs in the United States.

The latest statistics show insourcing accounts for over 6.5 million jobs nationwide. Although this is less than the number of outsourced jobs, the gap has actually narrowed in the past quarter century. That is, there's been a recent trend of foreign companies adding jobs in the U.S. faster than U.S companies have increased jobs in foreign countries....

(Thanks to Daniel Drezner)

Posted by John Weidner at 3:09 PM

Art thoughts...

* UPDATE to earlier post on Iraqi sculpter: In honesty I have to say I find this statue artistically banal. But I far prefer its sincerity and decency to the tastes of our artsy-fartsy intelligentsia who would gladly watch Kalat's countrymen gassed or shot or fed into the shredders, if it would help preserve their despicable lefty elite club in power.

Prissy scum. Just thinking about them (and the "art exhibit" I saw recently, consisting of a pile of sticks dumped on a museum floor) makes we want to throw the contents of every "Museum of Modern Art" into a landfill, and replace them with bronze castings of George W Bush's cowboy boots. And send everyone who thinks "found objects" are art, and worthy of federal subsidies, off to Iraq to help sift bones out of mass graves. That'll give 'em some found objects to think about...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:52 AM

February 18, 2004

25,000 Somalis living in Minnesota...now don't that beat all!

...For decades, the building served as a repair shop for streetcars. Later, it became a machinery warehouse. Then, a little over four years ago, a Palestinian émigré named Basim Sabri spotted it, and the posted For Sale sign, while driving down Pillsbury. Sabri, who had already built a small empire of residential properties in the Whittier and Uptown neighborhoods, snapped up the dilapidated building for the fire-sale price of $169,000. It was his first venture into commercial property, and he wasn't exactly sure what to do with it. With limited funds, Sabri began rehabbing the heating and plumbing. Around the same time, he noticed the dramatic influx of Somali immigrants in the Twin Cities. It struck him: He would build a souk--the Arabic word for a mall or bazaar--to serve the Somali community. It was a novel idea. At the time, Sabri says, there were no other Somali malls in Minneapolis--or, for that matter, in North America.

"The word travels very quickly in the Somali community. Very rapidly," Sabri recalls. "I met with the coffee shop guys. Before you know it, I had a whole tribe of Somalis wanting to rent. I'm filled in no time." One draw was the relatively inexpensive rent: about $375 a month. And once foot traffic was established, other Somali entrepreneurs--many of whom had been merchants in the old country--were clamoring for spaces of their own...(link. Thanks to BroJudd)

Remember that charming moment when it was noticed that black Americans have higher average incomes than Swedes? So, any bets on when Somalis in the Twin Cities surpass the French?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:42 PM

February 17, 2004

"My art teacher would hate it!"

It makes my head spin to think about the scorn that our intelligentsia and "artists" would heap on this if it ever came to their attention. It won't of course, since the members of the newsmedia are part of the same club, and shield us from such things...I took the pix from a 4ID web-site (link). My daughter saw this and instantly said, "My art teacher would hate it!"

Statue of kneeling American soldier, by Iraqi artist Kalat

FORWARD OPERATING BASE, Tikrit, Iraq � When he was forced to fashion statues of Saddam Hussein on horseback, the Iraqi sculptor had no idea that someday he would melt them down to create a memorial for American soldiers....�The toppled statues were cut up into pieces by members of the 555th Engineer Group and spirited quietly to the artist, Kalat, who reshaped the chunks of bronze into a likeness of an American soldier being comforted by a small girl as he mourns a fallen comrade....

...The artist, who fears retaliation from former regime loyalists for his work with the Coalition, spent several months sculpting and casting the statue. Though he created the original statues of Saddam along with another artist, he created the 4th ID memorial through his own design, said Anderson.

�����The sculpture is based on a scene many in Iraq have witnessed in one form or another. A soldier kneels before a memorial of boots, rifle and helmet � his forehead resting in the hollow of his hand. Behind and to his right stands a small Iraqi girl with her hand reaching out to touch his shoulder....

Well the Weidners thank you, Kalat, and to hell with "Art."

(Thanks to Brian Tiemann, who had a good comment: "You won't be seeing this in Doonesbury anytime soon." )

Posted by John Weidner at 12:23 PM

#145: Health care is socialism's last stand

P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

Most observers would agree that the battle between capitalism and socialism during the last two decades was won by capitalism. As a means of developing, producing and distributing goods and services it proved to be far superior to socialism, and as a medium of technological innovation and adaptation to changed economic circumstances it was unmatched. So that debate is over, right? Well, not quite. When it comes to issues concerning health care socialism is alive and well. Apparently, on such important matters, the market system is not to be trusted. Thus, while no one would suggest we need universal, affordable BMWs, no politician can deny we need universal, affordable health care. The fact that the policies required to provide free BMWs would destroy a company seems lost on those advocating similar policies to care for our health.

Because of this dichotomy, Paul Krugman in The Health of Nations (02/17/04 can, in one sentence, acknowledge that US health care is the best in the world and then, in a subsequent sentence, imply that health care should be affordable to all and then, in yet another sentence, claim that the means to get from here to there is to crack down on prices received by drug companies and health insurance companies. There's not a word about the returns on investment that are necessary to keep financing innovations in health science and technology, or drug research. In fact, an apparatchik in the old East Germany could not have put it better. Somehow when it comes to health care they get away with it.

There is a sensible, market-based solution to the US health care problem and the Bush administration is sort of moving down that sensible road. But since Krugman says he will "talk more about alternatives for health care in future columns" we will wait and see how his solutions evolve before discussing this further.

But one thing is clear. Health care is socialism's last stand.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:28 AM

February 16, 2004

Happy birthday, George...

My anxious recollections, my sympathetic feeling, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom.

--George Washington

Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 PM

"His abilities and anticipated future assignments make him a valuable asset"

This made me grin. Apparently the scurrilous and stupid attacks on President Bush's Air National Guard service have backfired�a lot of people are now becoming aware that Bush got glowing evaluations as a fighter pilot. That's the sort of stuff he's too classy to boast about or even mention, but Terry McAuliffe has done us the favor of publicizing it. Hee hee hee...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:07 PM

February 15, 2004

Jimmy Breslin is such a jerk.

(From Newsday) ...His whereabouts have nothing to do with it. What matters only is that Bush was in the National Guard in Texas because he was dodging the war in Vietnam. In those days, if you were in the Guard, you were not called for Vietnam...

Bush wasn't in the National Guard, he was in the Air National Guard�a very different thing. Men from his unit were fighting in Vietnam when he joined. If he had trained on F-100's he probably would have gone. F-102's turned out to be useless over there.

... What matters to all our senses is that he is a president who struts around as a war hero,

Never did any such.

..who dodged Vietnam and most of the National Guard drills

DID do most ANG drills, did miss some at a time when the AF was shedding excess pilots, and when F-102's had been taken out of service�and that after 2 1/2 years of active duty...

...and who with less shame than anybody we have had maybe ever,

Can one say "Bill Clinton?"

sends your kids to a war that he ducked as if he was allowed to do it by birth....

'cause we elected him to do just that, which is really what Breslin hates. He had no objections when Clinton sent people into danger in Kosovo.

...The picture of him playing soldier suit on an aircraft carrier, the helmet under his arm like he just got back from a run over Baghdad, marks him as exceedingly dangerous...

Guess what, fool, if you flew on a jet to a carrier, you also would be required to wear a flight-suit and helmet. It's safety gear, not a uniform. And Bush took it off after landing. Yikes, does that carrier trip torment the lefties! I shall cherish it in my heart forever for just that reason.

They pretend to be upset because there was something illegitimate about it, but what really chews out their livers is that Bush was obviously right at home with our service-people, and extremely popular. Unlike certain other presidents, nobody had to be ordered to be friendly to him!

It's pathetic that lefty media types who normally ignore our military, and certainly don't want their own children to join, suddenly now value combat service above everything. If some upset gives Dean the nomination they will instantly decide that only physicians should make life-or-death presidential decisions!

AND, do you notice the huge gap in all the articles of this type? Something missing? If there's an article on poverty, aren't there always quotes from some poor people? Isn't a disaster story is always accompanied by quotes from the hapless victims? So why don't Breslin and his fellows go to an Army base and gather some quotes from those unhappy soldiers who are being sent to die by a "guy who ducked the war?"

In fact I think Mr Breslin should be required to visit some bases. He would pick up some very colorful quotes!


(thanks to Cori Dauber)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 PM

Good news, plus a big disappointment...

Lt Col. Hammad
Lt. Col. Suliman Hammad, left, describes the attack on an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps compound to Capt. Mark Zahaczewsky, right, an Army intelligence officer from Washington, D.C., as Spc. Khaled Dudin, an Arabic-speaking medic from Chico, Ca., aids in translating. Army Times photo

Wretchard notes the good news in this article on the attacks on police stations in Falluja:

...No American troops were involved in the fighting. Officers from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed a 10-minute drive away could hear the battle clearly. They offered help but [Lt Colonel] Hammad said it wasn't needed. The Americans did provide additional ammunition and weapons, including light machine guns...
I'm still not sure the Iraqis are ready to handle representative government, but there's no doubt they can slaughter terrorist scumbags if they decide to...I vaguely remember reading of this incident as "police station overrun in Falluja.", with the implication that things were, as usual, geting worse. But in fact five places were attacked, and the Iraqis said, "no help needed, just send more bullets..."

[Update: Bill Quick has it right: "We've won in Iraq. The rest is just taking out the garbage - and shooting it."]

Not-good news
Unfortunately, the much touted British methods of pacification, so nuanced and superior to those ham-handed insensitive US Army methods, seem to have resulted in Basra becoming thug-city. Here's the story, read it and weep...Sounds like the Brits are too multi-culti and sensitive to actually choose between good guys and bad guys...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:12 PM

Tell him a joke on Saturday, and he'll laugh in church...

Our friend Dave wrote this post in January, and I just now noticed the joke of the title...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:44 PM

A couple of good thoughts...

From Hugh Hewitt

...In short, most of "elite" media in America is practicing a steely resolve not to dignify the Kerry allegations absent some "proof," while relentlessy probing President Bush's ANG record of three decades ago.� The hypocrisy is so enormous that it defies categorization, though not explanation:� Standards for Beltway media differ when the "scandal" involves a man of the left than when it involves a man of the center-right...
Bush's Guard service started with 2 1/2 years of active duty. But he's a "draft-dodger."

Steve writes:

....Actually, that's the wrong way to look at the situation. The question is not why are there not more conservatives in academia. It's more relevant to ask: why are liberals under-represented outside the school system? Is it an indictment of their inability to survive in the business world? Is it proof of the old line "those who can, do... those who can't, teach"? What skill do members of academia - such as philosophy instructors - actually possess that allow them to survive outside the sheltered walls of the school system?....What would they/could they do to earn a paycheck?....

Posted by John Weidner at 1:29 PM

Iowa and Iran�seperated at birth?

Mark writes about one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and on the strenths and weaknesses of being highly specialized...

Mastery
Last week, I wrote a biography for Dan Gable. Because the sport at which Gable excelled was wrestling, most have not heard of him, but within the sport he is a legend. That's him over there on the right, pictured with his Gold Medal from the 1972 Olympics (in which he went undefeated and, indeed, didn't give up a single point - much to the dismay of the Soviets, who had vowed to "scour the country" looking for someone to defeat Gable). His story is an interesting one, but one thing I'm not so sure I captured in my piece was just how obsessed with wrestling he was. He lived, ate, and drank wrestling. When asked what interests he has besides wrestling, the first thing he says is "Recovery" (of course, he has to be completely exhausted to partake in that activity). How he managed to start a family, I will never know (perhaps he wasn't quite as obsessed as I thought). It made me wonder if being that good at something was worth it...
I don't know much about wrestling, but it seems like an odd and fascinating world. I once studied jujitsu in a small way, so I don't feel totally bewildered. One thing I do know, is that in Iran and that whole Central-Asian region, wrestling is a very big deal. (see my post here, with also a recommendation for a book Neal Stephenson wrote under another name, featuring wrestling, and Iowa, and terrorists...)

I strongly urge that when the time comes that we re-open diplomatic relations with Iran, Dan Gable should be our ambassador.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:31 PM

February 14, 2004

Soldier of fortune, northwest Jack...

A Stormcock is a Missel Thrush, found in Britain and Europe. The Welsh call it "pen y llwyn," the head or master of the coppice. It's known for its song, and for fierce defense of its family and territory against larger birds. Here the poet glimpses one through a hole in her roof...

STORMCOCK IN ELDER

In my dark hermitage, aloof
From the world's sight and the world's sound,
By the small door where the old roof
Hangs but five feet above the ground,
I groped along the shelf for bread
But found celestial food instead:

For suddenly close at my ear,
Loud, loud and wild, with wintry glee,
the old unfailing chorister
Burst out in pride of poetry;
And through the broken roof I spied
Him by his singing glorified.

Scarcely at arm's-length from the eye,
Myself unseen, I saw him there;
The throbbing throat that made the cry,
The breast dewed from the misty air,
The polished bill that opened wide
And showed the pointed tongue inside:

The large eye, ringed with many a ray
Of minion feathers, finely laid,
The feet that grasped the elder-spray:
How strongly used, how subtly made
The scale , the sinew, and the claw,
Plain through the broken roof I saw;

The flight-feathers in tail and wing,
The shorter coverts, and the white
Merged into russet, marrying
The bright breast to the pinions bright,
Gold sequins, spots of chestnut, shower
Of silver, like a brindled flower.

Soldier of fortune, northwest Jack,
Old hard-times braggart, there you blow!
But tell me ere your bagpipes crack
How you can make so brave a show,
Full-fed in February, and dressed
Like a rich merchant at a feast.

One-half the world, or so they say,
Knows not how half the world may live;
So sing you song, and go your way,
And still in February contrive
As bright as Gabriel to smile
On elder-spray by broken tile.

-- Ruth Pitter

Posted by John Weidner at 9:10 PM

singles, young people, homosexuals, sophistos, and trendoids...

Richard Florida caused quite a stir with The Rise of the Creative Class , his theory that economic growth was strongest in hip and bohemian places that attracted creative people. Trouble is, though the media loved it, it's pure malarky, as shown in Paths to Prosperity, by Joel Kotkin...

....Today, economic growth is more likely to be found in areas dismissed by Richard Florida and his media supporters as barely worth living in. It�s not likely that this correction will be trumpeted with anything like the fervor of Florida�s original claims, however, because many journalists prefer his original perspective. In fact, a whole industry has arisen over the last decade to promote the premise that economic growth directly follows �quality of life� factors that appeal to singles, young people, homosexuals, sophistos, and trendoids. What really matters are dance clubs, cool restaurants, art museums, and hip shopping districts, many writers agreed.

If you go to today�s new growth hot-spots, however, you will find few of those supposed prerequisites of prosperity. Instead, in a land like the Inland Empire you will see single-family homes, churches, satellite dishes, and malls. These are places where households, not singles, dominate the economy. These are cultures attractive to ordinary families. And therefore to business people....

If Richard Florida were right, this town would be a roaring bonfire of entrepreneurial energy. But he's wrong.

(thanks to Brothers Judd Blog)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 PM

February 12, 2004

It's not Bush he hates, but what he symbolizes...

Kevin Drum comments on President Bush referring to himself as a "wartime President."

...Who the hell does George Bush think he is, anyway? We haven't had a "wartime president" since FDR, and there's a good reason for that: you're only a wartime president if you act like you're at war. That means placing the country on a wartime footing, putting aside petty politics to forge a bipartisan wartime consensus, and telling the nation in no uncertain terms that sacrifices need to be made. George Bush has done none of those things. In fact, he's done exactly the opposite, sending the message loud and clear that this war is as trivial and inconsequential as it's possible to be, all the time treating it as little more than a partisan club with which to beat his enemies...
Some odd psychology here. Projection?

Drum's implication that the Democrats would like to forge a consensus or put aside petty politics is simply a lie. Go here for a Lonnng list of Dem leaders who spoke for strong action against Saddam for all the SAME reasons Bush has used--and are now attacking Bush for doing exactly what they advocated. We HAD a consensus and Dems abandoned it. And think of the Democrats on the Intelligence Committees, who had access to exactly the same intelligence Bush had--and are now claiming that Bush lied to us. That's a lot lower than "petty."

And Drum shouldn't be so quick to mention FDR, because there's a BIG difference. FDR didn't have to "forge a bipartisan wartime consensus." Republicans supported our war effort whole-heartedly starting with Pearl Harbor. They had plenty of criticisms, as is appropriate for an opposition party. But nobody doubted that they were 100% in favor of American victory, even if it helped the Democrats. And unlike today, nobody needed to worry whether the war would be fought vigorously if Dewey were in the White House.

And hey, I think the President SHOULD demand sacrifices�just because it will be SO pleasing to watch Kevin Drum and the Democrats cheerfully cooperating and supporting the President. Right.

And the idea that it's only a war if the country is put on a "war footing" is either ignorance or an opportunistic bit of lying. Many of America's wars have been fought without much adjustment for the country as a whole. And what sort of sacrifices or "war footing" does he want? Are our soldiers drilling with broomsticks because they lack rifles? What are we lacking that a country on a war footing could provide? And do Drum and the Democrats promise cross-their-hearts to SUPPORT the President if he asks for a "war-footing?" Let me pause while I laugh until I barf.

And the idea of Drum or any Democrat criticizing the President for treating the war as "trivial and inconsequential" �my sarcasm skills aren't up to that one. But I'm very glad they would like to see the War intensified and fought more vigorously and more widely. I look forward to them URGING the President to go on the attack and start some serious bloodshed.... [It would in fact be SPLENDID if the Dems were a real opposition party urging the prez to get more serious about the war. But how can Drum have the NERVE to talk like this when only anti-war Dem candidates have even a chance to be nominated?]

And you know what�if Bush were really using the war as "a partisan club with which to beat his enemies," he would be talking sort of like....THIS BLOGPOST! But he never does that. Never once. It's not Bush who's beating up the Democrats, it's the American voters. And what Drum hates is not really George W Bush, but what he symbolizes�the American People, who are, in ever increasing numbers, repudiating him and his sclerotic party.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:07 PM

better ambassadors than the "human shields' were...

An interesting WaPo article on a side-effect of our being in Iraq:

... Anti-Americanism is not what it used to be in Iran...Iranian pilgrims returning from Iraq are spreading admiring stories of their encounters with American troops....

...Thousands of Iranians have visited the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala since the war ended. Many have expressed surprise at the respectful and helpful behavior of the U.S. soldiers they met along the way.

Leila Araki, waiting in the back of a Renault sedan as her husband peddled shoes, recalled that her mother-in-law somehow lost her money on the road to Karbala. She said a U.S. soldier reached into his pocket and handed her taxi fare back to Najaf.

"This is something quite contrary to what we have been told about Americans," said Araki, 31, who was told of Americans flashing thumbs-up and saying, "Good, Iranians."

"They were really surprised. I would never be this respected and well-treated even in my country, by my countrymen."

Esmaeil Omrani told of a relative with asthma struggling to breathe in the dust of Najaf. A young American in full battle dress advised him to switch inhalants, then gave the pilgrim his own, plus an extra for the road. "Everybody liked them," Omrani said.

Hossein Amiri related a similar story from a thirsty relative given water by a U.S. soldier outside Najaf when the city was closed by a car bombing...

It's pleasing how the Islamic fondness for pilgrimage is coming in handy to spread that old destabilization...
We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further; it may be
Beyond that last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 PM

We're holding the good cards...

I started to write a comment to this post by Alan Sullivan, but it kinda got out of control, so I'll just post it myself...

Thought-provoking, but I really can't go along with you here. You're painting a world where the good guys drift along in confusion while the bad guys are cunning and active. Maybe, but I don't buy it.

WE'VE abandoned diplomacy in Iraq and started rearranging things at gun-point. The other countries are scrambling to find some way to appease us before we decide to abandon diplomacy with them. They need to appease us and at the same time they are willing to anger us to prevent a democratic Iraq, which really scares them. THEY are the ones caught between a rock and a hard place. THEY need exit-strategies.

And maybe the Iraqis will be cowed and disrupted by bombings. But that will be a big change from the recent past, where they've been murderous and capable of absorbing huge losses in war. And freedom is a Ent-draught that can call forth new reserves of energy and toughness. I'm thinking that having foreigners killing hundreds out of a population of millions is a good way to produced a lot of really pissed-off bloody-minded Iraqis. And since we are building up their police and army and militia as fast as we can....

And maybe the Iraqis don't want to live together in a single state, but, apart from the Kurds, I don't see much evidence of that. I don't hear any Iraqis complaining that Iraq is bogus. Or proposing partitions. Or saying that visiting Basra is like going to another country. There are probably only a handful of Iraqis still alive who remember any other name or shape for their country. If I were an Iraqi I'd probably think that one of the world's greatest river valleys was the natural center for a great nation, and the only thing bogus is that some pieces of MY country were given to Syria and Iran and Kuwait.

And our goal here is not to please the Turks. It's to have a free and prosperous Iraq as a huge object lesson to the whole Middle East. We want people in Iran or Egypt or Arabia to be thinking: "Wow, those Iraqis just voted in a new government. And people are getting rich there, and everybody has DSL. And the kids are setting the new styles, and getting real educations instead of this religious stuff. And their efficient western-style army has to turn away recruits. And it scares the hell out of our so-called leaders..."

And sure that's high-stakes poker, and we could fail in a variety of ways. But if we win, we win big, and we're holding good cards. We've finally got men running things instead of boys, and our government is stable�the chances of Kerry getting elected are slim to nim. Now is not the time to talk about exit strategies, it's the time to ratchet-up the pressure.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:12 AM

February 11, 2004

increasingly perilous fiscal future

For the umpteenth time, Andrew Sullivan bugs me by telling us we are on the edge of disaster...

One more reason to be worried about the U.S.'s increasingly perilous fiscal future is that it could well jeopardize the war on terror - which will need real resources for the foreseeable future....
I don't think Sullivan here is coming from any realm of rational calculation. He reminds me of people of my parent's generation who were scarred by the Depression. (Or a man I met once who had been in a Japanese POW camp, and kept piles of canned food in places like behind the sofa). Truth is, by current world standards, neither our deficits nor our national debt are excessive. And while our debt is growing, our assets are growing apace. And our assets are much larger than our debts. I recently noticed a figure for the amount of money just in American mutual funds�it was about a trillion dollars more than the national debt...

Charlene and I have a mortgage, and other debts, and some worrisome obligations, like putting kids through college. Sometimes it seems like we are being crushed with debt. But in fact, we could cash in our IRA's and pay off all our debts tomorrow. Or sell our house and pay off our debts and have a large sum left over. And part of our debt comes because we are investing in our businesses. This involves risks, but will likely leave us better off in the long run.

That's where this country is. We borrow money to be able to do more things. Some frivolous, some good investments, such as the War on Terror, the winning of which will pay off hugely in the future as the world becomes more stable and prosperous and more able to buy our products. And we can borrow money because many people both here and abroad think the US is a good investment and not likely to ever default.

NOTE: This is not an argument in favor of big government. We could be even more prosperous than we are without the burden of an obviously overweight public sector.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 PM

a huge glut of pilots

I recommend the WaPo Letter to the Editor (mentioned by Glenn Reynolds) by another pilot from Bush's unit. I've read more than a few memoirs by pilots, and this stuff rings true.

�...There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2� years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and me) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren't getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys.

����The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush's tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one's life...

The desperation of the Democrats is making them look pathetic, and their willingness to feed on the dead bugs at the bottom of the lake is becoming embarrassing.

There's also this to put things in perspective...

�...There was a huge glut of pilots in the Air Force in 1972, and with no cockpits available to put them in, many were shoved into nonflying desk jobs. Any pilot could have left the Air Force or the Air Guard with ease after 1972 before his commitment was up because there just wasn't room for all of them anymore...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:47 PM

February 10, 2004

#144: Brother, can you spare a dime?

P. Krugman
KRUGMAN TRUTH SQUAD

During his interview on Meet the Press last Sunday, President Bush commented with a sly smile that the improvement currently underway in the US economy was "just about right" What he meant, we think, is that in an election year having a strong economy that is getting stronger is more important than having an economy that is just strong. We agree and the momentum of this expansion is likely to continue for many months, if not years.

So what's with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (02/10/04) by Paul Krugman in which he focuses on what he terms the "grim job picture." It's pretty simple really. As we've said before, employment is the last arrow in his quiver. While all economic recoveries are a little different they have in common that employment growth lags other indicators. In this particular recovery, despite it's strength otherwise, job growth is lagging more than usual. This is perhaps because labor productivity growth is so strong or because 9/11 and other geo-political shocks have made employers more cautious. Whatever the reason, Krugman is pounding on the jobs issue for all it's worth. The trouble is, it's not worth much. It's temporary! By the time the election rolls around the job picture will be as bright as the rest of the economy. And that's why Bush was smiling.

There are a couple of howlers:

1. "For a while, that famous 8 percent growth rate seemed to be just what he needed. But in the fourth quarter, growth dropped to 4 percent."
Dropped to 4 percent! Dropped! Who's he kidding. A year ago Krugman would have though 3 percent impossible.
2. "The only seemingly favorable statistic is the unemployment rate, which has recently fallen to 5.6 percent, the same as in November 2001. But how is that possible, when employment has grown more slowly than the population, or even declined? The answer is that people aren't counted as unemployed unless they're looking for work, and a growing fraction of the population isn't even looking. It's hard to see how this is good news."
Actually, it IS good news. If Krugman kept up with the research literature on employment trends he would know that as countries become wealthier the age of retirement becomes lower. There seem to be no exceptions to this trend, even in workaholic countries such as Japan. The reason these people aren't looking for work is because they are happily trading some "stuff" for more time off. Maybe PK should join them after November.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at 9:39 AM

February 9, 2004

Fiction can't match things like this...

John Galt, at the CPA, posts this curiosity

...The second notice is even stranger. So strange, that I'll just post it rather than try to explain it:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTICE
NO. 01-A047
DATE: 29 JAN 04
*******************************
Looking for "Original" Nooses from Abu Gharaib execution chamber

The Ministry of Human Rights has been asked to establish a memorial museum at Abu Gharaib prison. Cafeteria grapevine says there is an individual in one of the trailer camps that has one of the original nooses, and intends to take it home as a souvenir. Such an item is actually property that belongs to the Iraqi people, and would be an excellent addition to the memorial museum.

We are asking for an anonymous return of the noose, no questions asked.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:12 PM

Oil-for-Food Program

My friend Frank sends this WSJ Article, and writes:

Wow. They are starting to connect the dots on how this "Friends of Saddam" deal worked within the Oil-for-Food program. The UN was either completely incompetent (best case) or thoroughly corrupt (most likely case). The nuts and bolts of the transaction procedures were designed to be abused. They didn't even require the name of the end-user of an oil purchase. Just the middleman. And the pricing was left up to Iraq and the dealers. These are the basic ingrediants for the skimming, that financed the bribes, that kept the whole program afloat and perpetuating itself. Incredible.

This site may need a password. If so, buy a copy of today's WSJ. This could lead to old Kofi himself before its over. Not to mention old Jacques. And old Vladimir.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:37 AM

diversity of opinions...

Harm pointed out this gem:

KIRTLAND, OH�Lakeland Community College near Cleveland, Ohio, has removed a professor of moral philosophy from his classes as punishment for refusing to hide his religious identity from students. The college threatened Dr. James Tuttle, who espouses traditional Catholic beliefs, with dismissal because he made statements on his syllabi and in class that disclosed his religious faith and how that shaped his personal philosophy....

...Dr. Tuttle's problems began in March 2003 when he received a copy of a student complaint forwarded to him by Dean James L. Brown of the Arts and Humanities Division at Lakeland. The student complained that Dr. Tuttle mentioned his Catholic beliefs too often for the student's taste and suggested that he be given "counseling for tolerance."

In an effort to address this issue, Dr. Tuttle decided to add "disclaimers" to the syllabi of two of his classes informing students that the professor was "a committed Catholic Christian philosopher and theologian," so that students would know in advance about his perspective. The statement also encouraged any students who felt uncomfortable with Dr. Tuttle's views or methods to feel free to talk to him outside of class.

On April 21, 2003, Dr. Tuttle received a letter from Dean Brown saying that he was "more bothered by [Tuttle's] disclaimer than by anything I read in [the student]'s complaint." Dean Brown went on to suggest that Dr. Tuttle "would be happier in a sectarian classroom." In punishing Dr. Tuttle for including the disclaimer, Dean Brown stated that he would reduce Dr. Tuttle's course load for the next semester to only one class (thereby reducing his pay) and would subject him to classroom monitoring by a fellow professor before reaching a final decision on whether to actually fire him....

STUDY QUESTIONS:

If Tuttle were a Moslem, would he find himself in trouble?

If Tuttle were an Atheist, (which is also a faith, not something that can be proved) would he find himself in trouble?

If Tuttle claimed that moral philosophy required opposition to President Bush, would he find himself in trouble?

If Tuttle was the only black or hispanic professor in the department, would he find himself in trouble?

Is "counseling for tolerance" the optimum strategy for promoting diversity by eliminating wrong opinions?

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 AM

February 7, 2004

Bush Glacier slowly grinds rock to powder...

A web site is now up where parents can access the comparative school data mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. Six states so far, the rest soon.

Power. Knowledge is power. Power to the people...to the parents. Power slipping through the fingers of bureaucrats and unions.

...Using the site's interactive tables, a parent could type in a Virginia ZIP code, for example, to see a list of schools in Arlington County with the Standards of Learning test results from each school. The results are sorted by enrollment, percent of economically disadvantaged students and the percent of students who showed adequate yearly progress in reading and math proficiency. The Web site also displays statistical snapshots of data from each state, including participation rates in the testing on which the results are based...
If a child's school isn't performing adequately, parents will be able, by law, to request another one. This could be big, folks.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:35 PM

"dripping with condescension"

The Washington Post has had the honesty to publish a damning review of a book by one of their own writers, The Perfect Wife, a book about Laura Bush by Ann Gerhart. (I couldn't find a link--the quote is from an article by Noemi Emory.)

...Does the phrase "dripping with condescension" strike you as excessive? It's not. It describes accurately the slant Gerhart brings to her evocations both of the South and of Texas, and of the 1950s and '60s, in which Laura grew up...

...Her take on the place is that Texas is a strange asylum populated by childlike folk whom she describes in a sort of white-darky dialect that is every bit as offensive as the original version. Here she is describing Laura's mother, Jenna Welch: "She is much loved, and she gets around quite ably, Jenna does, for a woman born in l9l9." Does she? Lawsy me!

Laura grows up, and one day leaves Texas, but to Gerhart, things only get worse. She marries--the horror--a Republican politician, whose loathsome ideas she is forced to support, if just indirectly, by backing him. Gerhart's view of Bush seems expressed best by someone she describes as a "civic leader" in Austin: "George is a very likeable man if you divorce him from his politics," it being a given that these are uncivilized.

As Gerhart comes to believe that Laura is in fact an intelligent, cultured, sensitive woman, she reads into Laura the beliefs Gerhart thinks are the only ones possible for cultured and sensitive women, which is to say, her own....

(via Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:24 AM

February 6, 2004

slimed...

When our Lefty pals dump their usual choking gas of lies and insinuations over the Administration and our military, the Blogosphere gets busy debunking them. But the lies come back again and again, and even if they don't there is left a sort of bathtub ring of doubt and ugliness.

One of the lies that has been repeatedly debunked is the "crony-capitalism" of the Halliburton Corporation. Halliburton is doing the same things now that they did under the last few administrations...because they are good at them, that's their specialty. And their profits are not all that large, and the contracts are given by career bureaucrats, not politicians.

Debunking doesn't matter, the Josh Marshallish slime will cling to them forever. As my tiny morsel of balance, I'll quote a bit of this. Let you see those nasty Capitalists at work...

By RUSSELL GOLD, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

HOUSTON -- In a shuttered J.C. Penney store here, more than 500 job recruits sat at long tables and leafed through packets of information. John Watson, a staffing supervisor for Halliburton Co., welcomed them with a somber introduction.

"I'd like to start out by saying we've already had three deaths on this contract so far," he told the workers, who had signed up to support the U.S. military in Iraq. "If you're getting any pressure from home, if you have any doubt in your mind ... now is the time to tell us. We'll shake hands and get you a plane ticket home."

By the end of that early January week, four of every five recruits would be packing to leave for a one-year stint in Iraq. There, in the largest mobilization of civilians to work in a war zone in U.S. history, they drive trucks, deliver mail, install air conditioners, serve food and cut hair...

Halliburton, which has an open-ended logistics contract with the Army, has 7,000 workers on the ground in Iraq and is bringing another 500 each week to Houston. It posts fliers at truck stops and takes out banner ads on job-listing Web sites. Most recruits come in by word of mouth. So far, Halliburton has plenty of takers...

During a week in Houston, the new hires are trained in the use of chemical-biological weapons suits. They get physicals to make sure they can handle desert living. An accountant explains that they have to spend more than 330 days outside the U.S. to avoid federal income taxes. If the recruits pass their physical and background checks, they are issued military IDs and are dispatched directly from Houston without a trip home for a final goodbye....

"So far, Halliburton has plenty of takers." Sure they do, these are Americans. I wonder how many Belgians are lining up to join the UN in Iraq?

Posted by John Weidner at 9:37 AM

Of course the reality is as silly as the parody...

This is very funny, a parody of the "Democratic Underground' site.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:18 AM

February 5, 2004

"A closing net of doom"--Churchill

President Bush gave a speech yesterday at the opening of an exhibit in Sir Winston Churchill's honor at the Library of Congress. PowerLine comments:

...These are excerpts; the speech is worth reading in its entirety. Very few, of course, will read the President's inspiring words. Most, if they hear of his speech at all, will receive it through the media filter, as in this Reuters account, which begins: "Casting himself and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the spiritual heirs of Winston Churchill, President Bush defended their decision to go to war against Iraq, despite the unraveling of U.S. and British claims relating to Iraq's banned weapons." You get the picture.

But for those who actually listen to the President, it is easy to recall why he has been, and may yet be, for some time, the greatest spokesman for freedom of our generation...

Amen, brother.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:15 PM

Hard questions...

A snippet from Orrin Judd:

...Very amusing moment today on Fresh Air--Terry Gross was interviewing Egyptian publisher and human rights activist Hisham Kassem. She noted that he had supported the Iraq War before it started, in the belief that it would bring reform not just to Iraq but the whole region, and she wondered if he'd reconsidered. He answered that he hadn't, that the war had in fact brought democracy to Iraq and was having a liberalizing effect throughout the Middle East. She asked for examples, which he proceeded to cite, saying there were really too many to go through in their entirety. Then, not knowing when she'd dug her grave deep enough, she asked if the Kay report had called the war into question. He answered that he didn't care about WMD nor think it was the primary cause of or justification for the war, that getting rid of the regime was sufficient unto itself. Her disappointment at the improved prospects for freedom in the Arab world was palpable. How have liberals worked themselves into such a perverse position?...
How indeed? Fascinating question.

I'm reminded of one of Emma Lathem's delightful mysteries, which are set in the world of business and banking. In Murder Without Icing, a cellar-dwelling hockey team suddenly starts winning games, and heading for the championships. Then the star player is murdered!

It turns out in the end that the owner of the team is the murderer. Why? Because his business empire is held together by the appearance of solvency, and by promises to his many creditors (many more than anyone realizes) that they will be paid soon. He knows that as soon as it gets into the news that he owns this now-valuable team, each of those creditors will be asking for payment. And when they don't get it, they will no longer be satisfied with promises...

That's where the Dems, and the Left, are now. If the world starts asking hard questions, they will be revealed to be bankrupt. They can't even express pleasure that a genocidal fascist dictator has been overthrown, or that children in Afghanistan can fly kites again...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:19 AM

February 4, 2004

"satirical"

Concerning the "satirical" anti-Republican photo exhibit at Lehigh Universiity that Steven den Beste writes about. Conservative students shouldn't make complaints, that's a game you can't win. Either it's "Art," and so criticism is censorship. Or it's "satire," and whatsa matta, you got no sense of humor?

What they should do is fudge-up their own photo exhibition. And guess what, it could be a lot closer to "true." Clinton with Lewinsky, of course. Lieberman voiding the absentee-ballots of overseas servicepeople. Bull Connor as member of the DNC, (as he was)...

I vaguely remember something like this from a few years back. Leftist students created some sort of Apartheid shantytown, blaming Capitalism for South Africa's problems. Complaints were ignored, so Conservative students countered by building a 'Berlin Wall," with their own propaganda. The administration immediately decided that all such displays were unacceptable.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:19 AM

February 3, 2004

winding down, for a good reason...

The Democrat accusations of Bush being AWOL are pretty silly�the term AWOL only applies to active duty, and National Guard attendence is often spotty.

But, in case you are concerned, PowerLine makes an important point. The chronology is important here. When Bush joined, the war was at its height, and pilots from his unit were serving in Vietnam. He would have expected to do likewise.

But the war was winding down. (And the program that rotated Guard pilots into combat was ending.)

...In April 1970, President Nixon announced the withdrawal of another 150,000 soldiers. By the end of 1970, American troop levels had declined to one-half their peak level. By May 1972, when Bush moved from Texas to Alabama and his attendance at National Guard training became spotty, troop levels were down to barely more than one-tenth of their peak. In January 1973, President Nixon announced a peace agreement with North Vietnam, and in March 1973, while Bush was working on the Alabama campaign, the last American soldier left Vietnam.

I have no doubt that by the time President Bush moved from Texas to Alabama, he was playing out the string in terms of his National Guard commitment. At that point, it was obvious that he wasn't going to Vietnam. Demobilization was the order of the day. At the time when the Democrats allege that Bush was "AWOL" and a "deserter," his involvement in the Air National Guard was indeed winding down, for a good reason: the war was over. But he finished out his commitment and was honorably discharged.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:19 PM

"a junk science-fueled attack"

From Fox, a debunking by Steven Milloy (of JunkScience.com)

Already-confused dieters are no doubt reeling from reports this week of a new study linking a high-carbohydrate diet with weight loss.

Rather than well-conducted scientific research, though, the new study appears to be merely a junk science-fueled attack by government nannies on politically incorrect low-carbohydrate regimens like the Atkins Diet.

�In the midst of the low-carb craze, a new study suggests that by eating lots of carbohydrates and little fat, it is possible to lose weight without actually cutting calories ? and without exercising, either,� reported The Associated Press this week.

�Revenge of the High-Carb Diet ? Ha! It Works, Too� was the Reuters headline.

But unlike the sensationalistic media, which tend to limit their reporting of new study claims to regurgitated press releases and sound bites from study authors, I actually read the study in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

It didn�t take long to discover why study subjects on the high-carbohydrate diet�lost weight ? they ate fewer calories!...

The Atkins Diet evolved and grew popular outside the walls of Big Government and Big Science. So the "nannies" hate it and attack it instinctively, just as they hate any sort of privatization. (Thanks to Craig Newmark

Posted by John Weidner at 6:11 PM

The Reagan of our fantasies..

This, by Orrin Judd, is thought provoking and kinda funny...

.... One of the most entertaining aspects of the Right's current sniping at George W. Bush is that it's a virtual replay of 1984, except that now Ronald Reagan is no longer the Right deviationist but a principled paragon of conservatism. Mr. Bush is thus measured against a Reagan who is nothing more than the figment of their imaginations. Take any issue that Mr. Frum mentions here and George Bush's record--not just his rhetoric--is more conservative than Ronald Reagan's.

TAXES: After winning his big tax cut, Ronald Reagan went back and raised taxes. After winning his big tax cut George Bush has cut them twice more.

TRADE: Ronald Reagan proposed free trade agreements but I don't think ever secured one on his watch. Meanwhile, he got "voluntary" import quotas on Japanese cars. Mr. Bush's temporary tariffs are minor by comparison to the car quota, while he's negotiated a series of free trade agreements since getting the Fast Track negotiating authority which had been denied his predecessor for several years.

ENTITLEMENTS: President Reagan, an old FDR Democrat, had spoken in the past of privatizing Social Security but not only did he have no plan to do so, he even helped prop up the current system. George Bush doesn't have the Senate votes to pass his first step in the privatization of Social Security but snuck school choice through in No Child Left Behind and both means testing and Health Saving Accounts in the bill that included the prescription drug program.

SOCIAL ISSUES: The limits on embryonic stem cell research funding and the partial birth abortion bill are more significant pro-life measures than any Ronald Reagan ever enacted, while the use of executive orders to farm out social service to faith-based organizations is unmatched by any similar measure during the Reagan years...

Along the same line, I wonder what's happening with Bush's easing of the rules for private firms to bid on government work? (I blogged about it here, in November '02) Anybody know? It's the sort of thing that's going to be slow to show any noticeable results�one of the main changes was to require government agencies to make decisions within one year, rather than five!

If Bush made ringing give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death Conservative declarations, he would frighten a lot of people and galvanize the opposition, and accomplish much less. Instead, the complaints of Conservatives just become part of his smoke-and-mirrors. He quietly says he's going to do something, and then he quietly does it, but what gets noticed are the ridiculous howls of Conservatives threatening to "punish" him by voting for a Democrat...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:30 PM

They are going to make it explicit...

Natalie Solent blogs about how Ryanair was sued because they charged a passenger for the use of a wheelchair.

The usual stupid mess, neither side looks very good, we all know the story... But here's the kicker:

...Ryanair lost. However it has taken a sweet little revenge: they are to impose a 50p levy for wheelchair provision on every ticket and, crucially, they are going to make it explicit. You know if I didn't hate Ryanair so much I'd quite like them sometimes. The BBC says, "By so publicly linking the cost of assisting disabled travellers to increased ticket prices, it is a decision that is likely to anger disability campaign groups. " Indeed, though disability campaign groups might feel a certain embarrassment when stating their exact objection to Ryanair's small gesture towards educating the public on costs and stimulating better-informed debate...
Oh, the possibilities. The price of this ladder includes approximately $2.00 for insurance against frivolous lawsuits and $1.50 for government-mandated paperwork.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:27 AM

February 1, 2004

"booster configurations vary"

Jay Manifold speculates with the sort of speculations that go to my head like wine (or it could be the hot-chocolate-with-copious-dollop-of-rum that Charlene just made with the bain marie she recently scored for a mere frizzle on eBay) Speculation: Why not replace the Hubble Space Telescope with multiple small cheap space telescopes???

...I infer that a relatively simple space-based telescope should cost about 150 times as much as a ground-based amateur telescope of the same size. Grazing over to this page, I note -- after wiping the drool off my chin -- a price of $10,749 for a 25" 'scope. Once again applying the cube-of-aperture relationship, then multiplying by 150, I arrive at a figure of only $6.3 million for a 1-meter telescope in space.

Well, er, except for launch costs....

- - - - - - - - - - -
...Notwithstanding that the above are approximate figures -- the asking price is rarely obtained in the current depressed launcher market, booster configurations vary, and performance varies significantly by orbital altitude and the latitude of the launch site -- we may reasonably expect to pay no more than $12 million for the launch. I note that one of the least expensive vehicles, the Dnepr, could launch several such telescopes at once if they could somehow be fit inside its payload fairing.

I conclude that less than $20 million could put us well on the way to launching one or more space telescopes before Hubble ceases operation. Compare perhaps half a billion dollars for the cancelled Hubble-maintenance Shuttle mission....

A small space telescope could still do the job of a much larger earth-based telescope. I have no idea how time on the Hubble is allocated, but I can feel confident that it isn't used for out-of-the mainstream projects. Sort of like the early mainframe computers�there was no way to be playful or inventive with them.

Think of Jay's project as the equivalent of the coming of the mini-computer...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 PM

It's "Superbowl Sunday"

Baseball is what we were,
Football is what we have become.
-- Mary McGrory

Posted by John Weidner at 6:17 PM

In your sleepy eyes I read the journey...

THROUGH NIGHTMARE

Never be disenchanted of
That place you sometimes dream yourself into.
Lying at large remove beyond all dream,
Or those you find there, though but seldom
In their company seated�

The untameable, the live, the gentle,
Have you not known them? Whom? They carry
Time looped so river-wise about their house
There's no way in by history's road
To name or number them.

In your sleepy eyes I read the journey
Of which disjointedly you tell; which stirs
My loving admiration, that you should travel
Through nightmare to a lost and moated land,
Who are timorous by nature.

--Robert Graves

Posted by John Weidner at 5:34 PM

Balanced news...

Cori tips us off that at the very bottom of this gory article, 3 GI's Among 12 Killed, after you read past the severed arms and legs, you find this:

...Despite the violence, there were signs of progress on Saturday. Officials at Iraqi's central bank announced they had granted licenses to operate in the country to three foreign banks: Standard and Chartered, HSBC and the National Bank of Kuwait.

If the banks open on schedule, in mid-March, they will be the first foreign banks in Iraq in decades..

Of course it's not NEWS that banks are moving money and operations into Iraq. No no no. Not worth mentioning on its own. Stick that stuff in after the 'splodeydopes...

Posted by John Weidner at 5:21 PM

You can't outrun the history train, bub....

President Bush, speaking at the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy.

...Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba and Burma and North Korea and Zimbabwe -- outposts of oppression in our world. The people in these nations live in captivity, and fear and silence. Yet, these regimes cannot hold back freedom forever -- and, one day, from prison camps and prison cells, and from exile, the leaders of new democracies will arrive. Communism, and militarism and rule by the capricious and corrupt are the relics of a passing era. And we will stand with these oppressed peoples until the day of their freedom finally arrives.

Our commitment to democracy is tested in China. That nation now has a sliver, a fragment of liberty. Yet, China's people will eventually want their liberty pure and whole. China has discovered that economic freedom leads to national wealth. China's leaders will also discover that freedom is indivisible -- that social and religious freedom is also essential to national greatness and national dignity. Eventually, men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will insist on controlling their own lives and their own country...

The Left will fight a long and ugly rear-guard action to preserve "rule by the capricious and corrupt," but they are the past, and we are the future...Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive...Yes yes yes. And tho I can't actually call myself young, it gives me a most charmingly youthful feeling to be laughing at stuffed-shirts and fogies and prune-faces.

"liberty pure and whole."

Posted by John Weidner at 2:50 PM

viewed through a certain lens ...

Cori Dauber writes:

....Reporters tell people who the candidates are "as people," that rquires a master narrative, and once that narrative is in place (Gore dissembles, Bush just ain't that smart) that is the lens through which the campaigns are viewed. As Bill Krystal noted the other day, if Bill Clinton ("brilliant but disorganized") misspells potato, it isn't even a one-day story. It was a mistake, he must have been tired, or distracted, man needs more caffeine, what's the big deal? If it gets any coverage it's as a cute and humanizing moment. If Dan Quail ("empty suit") misspells a word, the campaign can't shake the story...
She speculates about the likelihood that a lot of information about Dean and Kerry was ignored by the press because it didn't fit the "master narrative." Dean raising heaps of money fit, Dean spending it recklessly didn't fit, and so was ignored.

I once read a fascinating account of the CIA under Reagan. One of Reagan's people started asking the question, Suppose the Soviet Union doesn't work? Do we have any evidence of that?" It turned out that there was a LOT of evidence. Stories of food riots and industrial strikes. The evidence had been ignored as long as our "master narrative" was that the Soviet Union was a superpower much like us, and the question for the CIA was to assess its strengths.

Probably something similar happened with the WMD's in Iraq. No one thought to ask "Do we have any evidence that Iraq's weapon programs are Potemkin Villages?" The curious aflatoxin story might have fit that bill.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:04 AM

slipping down the food-chain

Head Lemur writes some interesting stuff commenting on Richard Bennett's post (see previous)

...In an organization with a 100 members, it breaks down like this. There are 5 near the top who do all the work, 15 who are available and willing to do what needs to be done if they are recognized and pointed in the right direction. These folks will bring home the bacon.

The other 80 are groupies and are necessary for their monetary contributions. They get warm fuzzies from belonging, can be bought with a mousepad, and when called upon always have unbreakable prior engagements. The good news is that they can be sheared with surprising regularity. From the PTA to the Deaniacs, this is what happens...

Charlene and I used to be the sort of people who could, sometimes, be found in that "top five" group. Then one day we discovered we had three children, and we also discovered that we had slippid down into second-tier group.

Then came the calamitous discovery that we were parents of three teenagers!...and also that we are probably de facto members now of the "groupies." We've received no mousepads yet, but there have been various "autographed" pictures of Bush and Cheney.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:04 AM

Pruning needed...

Richard Bennett who's done a lot of Internet political organizing, writes tellingly about the Dean campaign...

...Briefly put, Dean's problem is the Deaniacs. The Internet-driven campaign has enabled him to amass a large following, but they're primarily unbalanced people, fanatical followers, extremists, and wackos. In my experience with Internet-enabled activism, these are the kind of people most attracted to online chat and email wars, so an organization that's going to use these tools to recruit has to prune the weirdos before they run off the mainstream people...

...So politics, even in the age of the Internet, is still about people, not about technology, gimmickry, or gadgets, and most of the people are moderate, deliberate, and fairly sensible. Dean learned this the hard way, and the only thing that can save his campaign now is the fact that few people are paying attention to what's happening in Burlington or on the Stupid Network.

A telling fact in all this was Dean and Trippi's failure to believe their own campaign rhetoric. They said the campaign was energizing new voters and bringing in new volunteers to work the campaign, but they obviously didn't provide them with the kind of training and direction that's appropriate for political neophytes...

"Training and direction?" That's so 2002...

I suspect we have all had the experience of moving away from some Internet forum or comment-list rather than try to reason with or out-shout some coarse creature.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 AM