May 31, 2005

like flightless birds....

Something that's really come to fascinate me is how many left-leaning folk I encounter who are unable to argue their views in a persuasive way. Mostly, I think, because they came of age in a world where leftish pieties were just taken for granted, and never criticized. They are like flightless birds that evolved on some island without predators. Their arguments are flabby, and they can't make a case. (This is especially common in my generation, who came of age at the high-water mark of Big Government Liberalism.)

As an example, Jon Carroll, writing in the SF Chron, has a goofy outpouring of self-pity for the poor journalists, under attack by "zealots." I'm just going to Fisk a small part of it...

...The media are under attack because we try to find stuff out...

No, you are under attack ("being harshly criticized" is a more accurate phrase) because you DON'T try to find stuff out. For instance, two journalists have recently accused the US military of "targeting" journalists. The criticism being made is that they have presented no evidence. If journalists really wanted to "find stuff out," they would be diving into these stories, looking for the facts. If true, it would be the story of a lifetime for some reporter.

...We are under attack because we say what we believe to be true...

Here's a crazy suggestion: Why not write only what you can demonstrate to be true, using evidence?

...(Even more annoyingly, we are protected by the Constitution.) We are a reality-based institution in a faith-based culture, and we are paying for it...

Don't whine about the Constitution, nobody's taking your rights away. Do you think you have a constitutional right to be immune to criticism? And "reality-based?" You were just saying that you write what you "believe to be true." That sounds like faith to me.

...Journalists die doing their jobs, which is more than you can say for lobbyists, TV commentators or corporate lawyers...

What's that got to do with anything? Soldiers die a lot more often, and nobody seems to be holding back in criticizing them. Actually, this sentence fragment is so peculiar one could do a whole blog-post on it. Let's see: Lobbyists and corporate lawyers. Everybody "knows" they are evil. TV commentators are lumped with them, so, they're also evil? Journalists are contrasted with these, so journalists = good? And which lawyers or lobbyists are criticizing journalists? ...I don't get the connection.

...The problem is that we are fair-minded. We know that we make mistakes. We want to get better...

This is a straw-man argument. Journalists are not being criticized for making honest mistakes, but for making dishonest mistakes. How do you tell the difference? It's not hard! Honest mistakes will be distributed randomly. Honest mistakes while covering, oh, say, Donald Rumsfeld, would on average be just as likely to make him look too good as to make him look too bad. See, that wasn't very difficult. And the other problem is, you don't get better. At least I haven't seen any evidence of it.

...The fair-minded have no chance against zealots...

Nonsense. In the realm of argument and debate the zealot has no intrinsic advantage; everyone must marshall facts and logic to support their case. In fact the zealot is often at a disadvantage, because he can't imagine that the other person's view has enough validity to be worth understanding. He is often reduced to name-calling and unsupported assertions, because he can't craft an argument. Hmmm. Who might fit that description around here.....

...Zealots lie because the ends justify the means, and we say, "Oh, gosh, we're going to investigate and strive and improve."

So, uh, how exactly have you improved? Or is that just something you say when caught?

... Are the zealots going to investigate and strive and improve? Of course not: They have an agenda, and the agenda does not include self-assessment. The zealots are working out of the Che Guevara handbook, friends...

All assertions and name-calling, with not a crumb of evidence to back it up. Journalism's critics are zealots, who believe "ends justify the means?" So where's the beef? Examples? Logic? Names? Facts?

Carroll's piece is not just flabby polemics, it's poor writing. He should have started with a shocking example of an actual "zealot" attacking journalists unfairly. Then maybe contrast with an actual journalist investigating mistakes, and "striving to improve."

(Thanks to Captain Ed)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:32 PM

How far will this "sensitivity" crap go?

From Kathy Kinsley,

Beer 'Ganesh' brews storm in US: The Times of India

Washington, May 19: A California brewery’s decision to withdraw a beer named after the elephant-God Ganesh from the market has not quenched the desire of Hindu activists to seek damages for "hurting the sentiments of Hindus worldwide".

Brij Dhir, a Golden Gate University law student and attorney licensed in Mumbai, says he is going ahead with his class action lawsuit seeking $1 billion to compensate Hindus worlwide for the "emotional distress" they have suffered...

Law student at Golden Gate University. Uh huh. I kinda remember them from my book-selling days. Not exactly top-drawer. Is this some kind of student project? "For your final exam, sue somebody for a billion dollars. If you collect more than $100, a check for your professor's share may be submitted in lieu of your exam paper..."

There's something odd and ironic about this sort of foreigner coming to America to sue Americans for being insensitive. So, there's no insensitivity in India? Have you filed any lawsuits in Mumbai for insensitivity, Mr Brij Dhir? If an Indian brewery came out with Jesus Christ Beer, would you rush back to Mumbai to sue them for "hurting the sentiments of Christians worldwide"? Of course not, they'd just laugh at you... Only America is stupid enough to put up with this idiocy, due to the lefty America-haters entrenched in so many areas, including the courts. (And the same American lack-wits who want us to grovel and cringe in sensitivity to other religions would probably take a bottle of that Jesus Christ Beer and put it in a glass case in an art museum, with a little spot-light shining on it...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:09 AM

Just in case you were listening to those...

...charmin' folks who say our efforts in the War On Terror are just waste and warmongering, here's teetering domino #38:

CSM: Democracy gains in Ethiopia, a key US ally in terror war
Initial results Monday show opposition parties have won at least 174 seats, up from 12.

(Thanks to OJ)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:16 AM

May 30, 2005

What an age we live in!

Darius Peterson III, right, gives the thumbs-up to his dad, Maj. Darius Peterson, after receiving his diploma from Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Ga., on Saturday. Maj. Peterson and fellow 3rd Infantry Division soldiers watched the ceremony via video teleconference from Iraq.
From Army Times
Frontline Photos, May 23, 2005

Lewis Levine / The (Hinesville, Ga.) Coastal Courier / AP
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press

Posted by John Weidner at 1:38 PM

"But grief is not the end of all..."

This is the conclusion of a Memorial Day Address by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., May 30, 1884 (Thanks to Orrin):

....But, above all, we have learned that whether a man accepts from Fortune her spade, and will look downward and dig, or from Aspiration her axe and cord, and will scale the ice, the one and only success which it is his to command is to bring to his work a mighty heart. Such hearts--ah me, how many!--were stilled twenty years ago; and to us who remain behind is left this day of memories. Every year--in the full tide of spring, at the height of the symphony of flowers and love and life--there comes a pause, and through the silence we hear the lonely pipe of death. Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier's grave. Year after year the comrades of the dead follow, with public honor, procession and commemorative flags and funeral march--honor and grief from us who stand almost alone, and have seen the best and noblest of our generation pass away.

But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death--of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen , the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.

Holmes himself was wounded several times in the Civil War.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

May 29, 2005

Our commanders...

For Memorial Day, I recommend a piece, The Commanders, by Jim Lacey, in NRO, about the leaders in our military. It's especially apposite right now, with scoundrels heaping dirt on our soldiers just to advance their anti-Bush agendas. (Or even more hateful, using faux-concern, of the "Support Our Troops: Surrender Now" variety.)

...For those who have not experienced it, it is almost impossible to explain the depth of feeling that commanders feel for their organizations and the people within them. I have seen infantry commanders who are absolutely fearless in combat break down crying when giving up their commands and moving on to other assignments. I know dozens of officers who have already done one or more tours in Iraq who cannot watch the news because they feel guilty about being safe at home while their comrades are still in danger. I have met dozens of officers who are volunteering for second and third tours in Iraq, simply because young Americans are fighting and dying there and they feel a deep need to be with them.

Those with no familiarity with America’s warriors might say they just like fighting and killing. Those people have never spoken to an officer who has been in a hard fight. They have never heard the cracking voice as he relates the difficulty of looking at people, whether enemy or ally, killed as a result of his orders. They have never heard the anguish of a leader replaying for the thousandth time the loss of one of his own. They did not hear an armored company commander answer a question about how he felt about having his soldiers rebuild schools after fighting to seize Baghdad literally days before. He said, “I cannot tell you how great it feels to be able to stop killing and start helping people.” Such is the overwhelming compassion of those who fight our wars...

Especially interesting to me was his descriptions of colonels, even generals, routinely joining the men on patrols. That's what leadership is like. This has actually been a fairly common thing in our history. World War One was famous for "chateaux generals," but that didn't happen in the AEF. General Pershing made sure all staff officers spent time on the front lines..

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 PM

May 28, 2005

3½ years left..should be enough time.

Michael Barone:

It pays to take a look at the books George W. Bush hands out to his staffers. Last year Bush's book was Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, which argues that countries that do not protect individual rights cannot be reliable partners for peace. You could hear Sharansky's arguments in Bush's extraordinary second inaugural speech in which he promised to promote freedom and democracy in the Middle East and around the world. Bush's critics like to mock him as the sort of person who never read books. But he does, and his reading has consequences.

This year Bush has been handing out copies of
The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Kang Chol-Hwan. This is the harrowing story of a man who returned with his Communist family to North Korea to help build a Communist state and who was instead imprisoned. In the past Bush has denounced the North Korean regime as tyrannical and has been chided by some foreign policy experts for what they consider his allegedly impolitic bluntness. But his championing of The Aquariums of Pyongyang suggests that he is more determined than ever to undermine a regime that is probably the world's worst violator of human rights....

Bush has 3½ years left...I'd say the Beloved Socialists should start getting their hideaways and Swiss bank accounts ready. They're toast. Maybe Jimmy Carter will welcome them to his peanut farm.

They really are the worst human rights violators. They have concentration camps where 25% of the inmates die each year. So it's gonna be an especial treat to watch lefties and "peace activists" and the general crew of brain-dead Bush-haters doing everything they can to preserve the NK Gulag, and the socialist monsters that run it. Because of course, Bush is an evil man for interfering with the perquisites of a "sovereign nation," and upsetting the delicate balance of the Peace of Westphalia. And undermining stability--we can't have that.

And violating "International Law." I'm never sure what this "International Law" guff really is; I don't remember it being ratified by the Senate. But I've picked up enough hints and clues to be sure that its job is to hinder the USA and help dictators and terrorists...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:17 PM

as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me…..

Betsy Newmark, a teacher, has a good post on how NCLB is shaking up public schools. This quote is not specifically on NCLB, but on how people don't get serious about making changes without serious carrots and sticks...

...But after the new [South Carolina] law was passed tying bonuses to improvement, things really changed. Suddenly, we implemented some real changes. I was teaching in a magnet school where middle school students could take three electives a quarter. We had talked for years about requiring kids with low reading and writing skills to take targeted electives. Now, finally, this was put into place. The principal moved some money around to hire a couple of teachers whose sole job was to work with those students. We tried new computer-teaching programs that targeted specific weaknesses in reading. We began new math electives to reteach basic skills. An afterschool tutoring program and even some Saturday classes began. And, guess what, our school, which had a mix of academically gifted students and neighborhood kids who had low skills, started to see some nice improvement in the basic reading and math skills of those lower-achieving students. What was so noticeable to me was the difference in the administration's actions from the period of time when the state was just setting goals for improvement with no teeth behind those requirements, and afterwards when a carrot-and-stick approach was implemented. We wanted those bonuses for showing substantial improvement. And the stick was the threat that schools that didn't show improvement would have to have state officials come in and oversee every aspect of our school if we didn't improve.

So, that is why I supported No Child Left Behind. I abhor the idea of the national government getting involved in local issues like education. However, now that NCLB has been implemented, schools across the nation are discovering the inspiration that the carrot-and-stick approach to accountability can have to force administrators to focus on raising the achievement levels of those students who previously were getting left behind....

I also don't think education should be the responsibility of the Federal government. BUT, if that's what it takes to solve the desperate problems that afflict public schools, then DO IT. If terrorists took over a school, no one would complain about Federalism if the US Army came to the rescue. Our public schools have been taken over by lefty thugs who are destroying children's lives to preserve their own perks and power. The Democrat Party has blocked all meaningful school reform for decades, because the so-called teacher's unions are about the biggest contributors to the party's coffers. They are murderers! Leaving minority children without the tools to succeed in life, leaving them trapped in hell-holes of crime and poverty...that's murder. And everyone who votes Democrat is complicit in murder, and has blood on their hands.

And if President Bush bludgeons our schools into actually teaching children to read and write, without regard for the niceties of Federalism, I say we should support him...and I'm thinking of Bill Quick, and his excellent compadres, who have been complaining that there have been no conservative or "libertarian" victories, and Bush has "done nothing for us." The hell with that! People are in chains, and Bush and his team are breaking into dungeons, and setting people free. Around the world, and right here at home.

For people of the Right to stand aside and sneer while Bush is struggling to break the strangling monopolies of the government schools is wrong. It's equivalent (though less loathsome) to those cold-hearts who seize hungrily on the abu Ghraib abuses or the stupid "Bush lied" line, to try to preserve the Middle East as a sinkhole of poverty and oppression and torture and terrorism.

Take a look at these NYT (yes, even they can see it) articles on the successes of NCLB and charter schools. (Thanks to Kaus) They spell hope for future generations, and for the future of our country...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:57 AM

May 26, 2005

always follow the manual...

Daily Telegraph...The men's claim that they were tortured at Guantanamo should also be set in the context of the al-Qa'eda training manual discovered during a raid in Manchester a couple of years ago. Lesson 18 of that manual, whose authenticity has not been questioned, emphatically states, under the heading "Prison and Detention Centres", that, when arrested, members of al-Qa'eda "must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security investigators. [They must] complain to the court of mistreatment while in prison"....

SO, what does this say to us about the people who are repeating those claims?

Posted by John Weidner at 5:47 PM

fundamental rights?

I caught on the radio while driving something about a NY District court judge ruling against tobacco smoking at a private club, for a once-a-year pipe-smoking event. The real kicker was that his opinion said that the Constitution grants no fundamental right to smoke tobacco! Uh huh. Yet by some mysterious alchemy it grants a fundamental right to abortion...

I can imagine that judge sitting around with his cronies talking about how those conservatives are joyless puritans who want to meddle in people's private lives...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:06 PM

pain relief...

Wretchard writes (and if you follow his blog, you're aware that he knows):

I'd have to say that Amnesty International's Report claiming the US is the world's worst human rights violator condemns itself far more than it does the United States. Anyone who has lived in the Third World or any of the places which Amnesty International purports to care about knows -- and I mean knows for a fact -- what police abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, etc. really are and that it cannot be compared in any wise to the "Gulag" in Guantanamo Bay. Moreover, anyone who has lived in such places knows that the last place where victims can find practical help is from Amnesty International.

Like all non-profits, Amnesty quickly came to be driven by the need for donations, just as businesses are driven by the need for sales. Amnesty is selling a product, and they tailor the product to the market.

Amnesty International is actually selling two related products. One product is relief from White Liberal Guilt. Guilt because we in developed nations are prosperous and have freedom from fear and oppression, while other places are hell-holes of poverty and tyranny. Donations provide the illusion that one is doing something, while not really changing anything.

Now a visitor from another planet might ask, "SO, if your country is prosperous and free, why aren't you happy and proud, rather than guilty? And why aren't you eager to spread these benefits to the less-advantaged?" The problem is that Liberals are a set that is almost the same as the set that believes that prosperity and justice does (and must) flow from the actions of experts, working in government or large organizations. This widely-held belief is, in fact, insane, and is contradicted by evidence on every hand. Prosperity flows upwards from ordinary people, and flourishes where regulation is minimal and where new ideas and enterprises are allowed to destroy large bureaucratic old ones. Justice flourishes where the voters can correct abuses.

Which brings us to "product" number two. If you believe something that's insane, and you are bombarded by evidence daily that your deeply-held beliefs are crazy, than you need pain relief! A vast industry has arisen to provide it. Amnesty International is one of the providers, and its real job is to tell people, "You're sane, the other guys are crazy." Hence the gobbledygook about America being the world's worst human rights violator. Or the silly stuff about America being a fascist country (when Republicans are in the White House).

Posted by John Weidner at 9:18 AM

Up and down...

Reuters--Euro falls to 7-month low vs broadly-robust dollar

So where are all those people who were telling us that the weak dollar meant something profound? Empire on the edge of collapse, etc, etc?...... [Thanks to Orrin]

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 AM

May 25, 2005

#182: A "guest" writer's opinion...

P. Krugman


Paul Krugman is so boring to us these days we thought we would have a"guest" writer of a sort give some perspective on this wacky guy. The following is a Fortune magazine interview with N. Gregory Mankiw the outgoing Chairman of the the President's Council of Economic Advisors. Read the whole thing from the link below.

In this segment Mankiw is being asked by writer Peronet Despeignes about outside views of how the President's office works.

Q: How do you deal with this view of the decision-making process there? What do you hear from professors here at Harvard?

A: There are a lot of preconceived notions from people in the media who write stuff based on no knowledge at all. There are a lot of people who just make stuff up.

Q: So you often read the paper and slap your forehead?

A: Let me give you example. This is as I was arriving [as the new chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers]. Glenn Hubbard, my predecessor, was leaving. I read one of Paul Krugman's New York Times’ columns, and he said something like, "Hubbard said he was leaving to be with his family, but you could see the knives sticking out of his back." The suggestion was that he's being kicked out. I knew that wasn't true. I knew I got the job in large part because Glenn recommended me. So here we have Krugman sitting in some office in New Jersey making a supposition about what's going on in Washington and then writing for the New York Times, with readers presuming that he knew something.

Q: Krugman is a very respected economist. What are your thoughts on his transformation into a columnist?

A: I had Paul as a teacher at MIT. And when I was at CEA in '82 and '83, he was there as well. I was a junior staffer in the Reagan administration. Two members of the senior staff were Krugman and (former Harvard economics professor, Clinton Treasury Secretary and current Harvard president Lawrence) Summers. At that time he was a brilliant economist. I thought he'd win a Nobel prize. I think there's a good chance he still will. His early work on international trade theory deserves it.
It's strange what's happened since then. When he became a New York Times columnist, he decided to abandon writing about economics as an economist does. He's very liberal, which is fine—most of my friends at Harvard are liberal—but whenever someone disagrees with him, his first inclination is to think that person is either a liar or a fool. It's amazing to me that an academic would behave that way. The one thing that I value about academia is open-mindedness, the premise that all ideas and different points of view should be considered. No one has a monopoly on the truth. The one defining characteristic of a good professor is to be open to all viewpoints.

Q: How do you explain what you describe as this change in Krugman?

A: I guess if you're a columnist, you want to be widely talked about and be the most e-mailed. It's the same thing that drives talk show hosts to become Jerry Springer. You end up overstating the case because it makes good reading. The problem is that economists by their nature—with a lot of "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" in their prose—can make boring reading.

[Krugman could not be reached for comment by presstime.]

We love the Jerry Springer analogy. Sorry we didn't think of it ourselves.

[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 10:30 AM

May 24, 2005

Good cop, bad cop...

This CSM article about reform in Syria is just a bit more of what I said was going to happen. By toughness in Iraq we have gained the moral capital to advance peaceful change around the globe...

...Some speculate that Lebanon's Cedar Revolution that erupted after Mr. Hariri's death could begin to inspire a Jasmine Revolution, named for the plant that blooms throughout the country, to press for democratic change in Syria. And these activists insist that US pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's regime is crucial to their success.

"A large reason that reformers are looking to the US to put pressure on [Syria] is that it gives them cover to put pressure from below," says Joshua Landis, a Damascus-based specialist on Syria.

"They can say we need radical change to protect the nation because if we don't do this,
Americans will come in with a two-by-four and try to destabilize Syria," he says... [my emphasis]

Of course the cop trick would work better if the bad cop seemed even more dangerous. Bush should be chewing the carpet at strategic moments, and raving and threatening to annihilate our enemies, and sow their land with salt. But he can't, it's politically impossible. Too many Americans are just too STUPID to get it*. And a lot of others are so MORALLY BANKRUPT that they would gladly flush the Syrians down the toilet if it would hurt Bush and the Republicans.

(Thanks to Orrin Judd)

*Especially women. There are so many women who seem to think the way to seek peace is to be weak and have good intentions, that I sometimes wonder if it was a mistake to give women the vote. (On the other hand, a bellicose woman is a thing of beauty.)

Posted by John Weidner at 5:25 PM

May 23, 2005

splendid landscape with slug...

A friend e-mailed...

All the pissing and moaning by our side (e.g., Power Line) seems way off. This deal is no different than if the Dems had simply thrown in the towel unilaterally and allowed an up-or-down on Owen, Brown and Pryer. In fact, that is all they COULD DO. They didn't have the votes to DO otherwise. So when these three are confirmed, Frist will bring up the next three or four. I thought the goal here is to confirm judges, not to banish the filibuster, per se. Am I missing something?

Logically I think you are right, and this deal is better for us than them (as it should be, since we are in the stronger position). We compromise on procedure, while they've tacitly admitted that their claim that the candidates were unacceptable "extremists" was a bunch of baloney. But I think we were totally in the right, so we've yielded something something to the side that's wrong, and done so because some of our own senators are flakes, which is sure to gall a lot of people. Probably this is a temporary thing, and will be moot as our majority increases and the conservative tide rises. Lordy, think of the compromises we were making a couple of years ago!

And the filibuster is IT. That's the last weapon they've got. Whereas the new things we can come up with—bills, proposals, nominations, rule-changes, regime-changes—are LIMITLESS! YES!

My only nightmare is McCain as the Republican candidate. I think if he were I would just withdraw from the public realm altogether, maybe become a Taoist hermit. For me he's a Banana Slug. He makes my skin crawl, more than any Democrat.

I think I'll blog this. It's a great help, when feeling all creepix and banana-sluggy, to have a public forum to express oneself...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:43 PM


CSM – Somit Basak's tutoring style is hardly unusual. The engineering graduate spices up lessons with games, offers rewards for excellent performance, and tries to keep his students' interest by linking the math formulas they struggle with to real-life examples they can relate to.

Unlike most tutors, however, Mr. Basak lives thousands of miles away from his students - he is a New Delhi resident who goes to work at 6 a.m. so that he can chat with American students doing their homework around dinnertime.

Americans have slowly grown accustomed to the idea that the people who answer their customer-service and computer-help calls may be on the other side of the globe. Now, some students may find their tutor works there, too.

While the industry is still relatively tiny, India's abundance of math and engineering graduates - willing to teach from a distance for far less money than their American counterparts - has made the country an attractive resource for some US tutoring firms....

Surprise, surprise, the teacher's unions hate this. Ha ha, couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch. Those vile animals have sacrificed the students' needs for their own at every turn, and now they get cut out of the loop. NCLB's the reason for some of the tutoring, so we have yet another reason on the long list of reasons to thank President Bush.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:37 PM

Lunatic numbers...

Shannon Love has a must-read post, Number Gut:

When I was in college, one of my professors used to complain that too many of his students had no "number gut."

A number gut is an intuitive feel for the possible magnitude of a particular number that describes a particular phenomenon. A good number gut tells you if the results of some calculation are at least in the ball park. People develop number guts through experience with particular phenomena but they also develop it just by doing a lot math by hand. When you do math by hand, you have to do more physical writing to deal with very large numbers so you develop a kind of visceral sense of scale. The coming of calculators, however, destroyed this physical relationship, leading many budding scientists to make gross errors of magnitude without realizing it.

The lack of a number gut destroys any sense of context for numbers that describe a phenomenon, leading people to casually accept as valid statements that a little double-checking would show to be just plain silly.

For example, there was news story published back in the late 80s that reported that the state of New Jersey produced 50 billion used tires every year which caused a huge environmental problem. The story got widely disseminated before somebody pointed out that since New Jersey had a population on only around 8 million, 50 billion tires a year came out to 6,250 tires per capita per year. The story got play because the editors had no intuitive feel for the significance of 4 orders of magnitude difference between the size of the population and the tire consumption.

Which brings me to the subject of the
Lancet Iraqi Mortality Survey (LIMS) [free reg].....

I won't spoil the suspense by telling you what she says about the LIMS. It's assorts well with the New Jersey tire story. Go read...

(Thanks to Brian Tieman)

Posted by John Weidner at 4:48 PM

May 22, 2005

"to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror"

There's a great piece in our own SF Chronicle, Leaving the Left, by Keith Thompson. (Thanks to PowerLine)

....My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point.....

It's just fascinating to me to watch people of my generation encounter the simple truth that the world has changed from what they grew up with, and either change their thinking, or.......freak (as we used to say).

I can't claim for myself any superior flexibility or wisdom, since I spent the last third of the 20th Century wishing things would change, and thinking wistfully that there wasn't much hope of getting out of the mud we were in. So of course it's easy for me to adjust. My own reaction to the changes happening now is, "Duh. It's about time..."

Posted by John Weidner at 9:35 AM

May 20, 2005

Your petroleum...hand it over...

Patrick Ruffini is having a Darth-Vader-as-Republican photoshop contest. I like this one, that Patrick did himself. there's a larger version that shows the details better, such as the picture of Hugh Hewitt on Vader's chest...

Ruffini's Darth Vader as Republican
One has to put up with so much pathetic Bush-is-Hitler whimpering; might as well laugh at it....

''We're an empire now, Luke, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.... Bwahahahahaha..."
--Darth Bolton

* Update: Why do we bother? How can you satirize people who are already living breathing caricatures?

...The liberal advocacy group was preparing to spend $150,000 to run advertisements on CNN over the next few days - and to spread leaflets among audiences in line at multiplexes - comparing Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, to the movie's power-grabbing, evil Chancellor Palpatine, for Dr. Frist's role in the Senate's showdown over the confirmation of federal judges...[link]
Posted by John Weidner at 10:23 PM

They call it the "Royal Fern"

To make room for some changes in the garden, I dug up my Osmunda regalis today, and put it in a pot. The common name for this beauty is "Royal Fern," and never was there a plant name so apt...

Osmunda regalis, Royal Fern
I hadn't realized how big it had grown until I had to lift it out of the ground. It's about 7' wide. It dies back every winter, and ts return is one of the treats of Spring.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:41 PM

May 19, 2005

By Any Means Necessary

Wretchard has a post on the shocking maneuvers of Canadian PM Paul Martin to cling to power. It's part of a larger picture...

...What characterizes much of the Left today as exemplified by behavior from George Galloway to Paul Martin is the increasing necessity to maintain their position By Any Means Necessary. While that is dangerous and infuriating, it is a reliable indicator that they have lost control of the system. Things just aren't working the way they used to. And that, despite everything, is cause for hope...

Things are indeed not working like they used to. And I suspect that it's not just the loss of power that is causing desperation on the left, but the loss of a world-view. The whole 20th Century can be seen as an experiment, dedicated to finding some alternative, any alternative, to the rule of the marketplace, which means the rule of ordinary people expressed in their buying decisions. (Not just economically, but also the marketplace of ideas and lifestyles.) Inevitably the experiments always lead to embracing government, because only government can over-rule the marketplace. There have been lots of other things tried, syndicalism, Fascism, cooperatives, and communal movements such as the Kibbutz. None of them led anywhere.

If I had to point to a mentor in my thinking, it would be Peter Drucker. Drucker pointed out long ago that developed societies are writhing on a sort of Procrustean Bed, because there are only two ways that they can make decisions; either by the state or by the marketplace. And neither is really satisfactory. (And of course every society is a blend of those two. Neither exists in a pure state.)

I've written about the 70-year Cycle in American politics, but that cycle is embedded in a larger world-wide trend. The New Dealers took power in 1932, but they didn't emerge from nowhere. They were part of the great 20th Century experiment in government dominance over the marketplace. More specifically, the New Dealers were people who had been intoxicated by our brief period of draconian economic regulation during WWI. The high-point, and mid-point, of this larger cycle was WWII, when governments everywhere seized vast powers, and seemed to achieve great results. And the young people of that time, formed by that experience, would bring the movement to catastrophic over-reach in the 60's and 70's.

The "left" in our time is almost identical with the set of people who are in denial, to either a large or a small amount, about the failure of the great 20th Century experiment. (Not the same thing, Andrew, as a belief that there are jobs government does best. Of course there are.) Reality is constantly impinging on their denial, and their world-view is threatened. Which explains, I suspect, a lot of the craziness we see now. It's unhinged, when you lose an American election, to claim that your opponents are fascists, bent on creating a one-party state, or a "theocracy." That's the kind of talk that comes from psychological distress, not from any rational calculation.

I highly recommend Drucker's book Adventures of a Bystander, especially the chapter on the astonishing Polanyi family, five brilliant siblings dedicated to finding an alternative to the Procrustian Bed...

...Karl Polanyi was the fourth of five children of equally unusual parents. The Polanyis—father and children—were the most gifted family I have ever known or heard of. They were also the most achieving family; every one of them had success and impact. But what made them truly remarkable was that all of them, beginning with the father in Victorian days and ending with Karl and his brother Michael in the 1960s enlisted in the same cause: to overcome the nineteenth century and to find a new society that would be free and yet not bourgeois or "liberal"; prosperous and yet not dominated by economics; communal and yet not a Marxist collectivism. Each of the six, the father and five children-and the mother as well-went his or her own quite separate way, but each in search of the same goal. They reminded me of the Knights of the Round Table setting out in search of the same
Holy Grail, each in a different direction.

Each one found an "answer"—and each then realized that it was not "the answer." I know of no family that was so successful, measured by the standards of the world, and such a failure when measured by its own expectations. But I also know of no family in which every member was so full of life, of interest, of vital energy. And Karl was the most interesting, the most vital, the most energetic—at least of the four or five Polanyis I got to know personally...
Posted by John Weidner at 10:56 AM

May 18, 2005

Remarkable six months ago, unimaginable 2 years ago, boring today...

Jonah Goldberg writes, about the recent news that Assad is promising to "begin legalizing political parties, purge the ruling Baath Party, sponsor free municipal elections in 2007 and formally endorse a market economy":

It is just amazing how what would have been remarkable six months ago and unimaginable 2 years ago becomes boring today. This is from page A 10 of The Washington Post. Obviously, there's room for skepticism and pessimism. But sheesh...

Longstanding dictatorship announces possible democratic reforms, and they stick it on page 10! Crazy. Why? Because they don't think it's news? Or because they can't bear to admit the splendid blessings that are flowing from the decision to go for regime-change in Iraq and Afghanistan? Either way, this bit of news-placement is an astonishing tribute to President Bush. (And to me of course, since I said repeatedly that the Iraq Campaign would lead to peaceful changes. But that's OK, I will be content just knowing I was right, and they were wrong. Heh heh heh.)

This must be a bitter time to be a "realist" or an elitist. No doubt we will hear soon that the Syrians "aren't ready" for democracy, and that that horrid Bush is imposing monstrously upon the hitherto-fore happy and untroubled little brown people and spoiling their siestas. But that's not gonna work. Over the last few decades countries have been democratizing at a rate of 1.5 per year! That's a tsunami, and the stick-in-the-muds are standing on the beach and saying, "Look at the poor fishies flapping on the sand. Bush's fault!"

Posted by John Weidner at 7:44 PM


It is of course a well known thing that ultra-conservatives like me are joyless, neo-puritanical, censorious, and close-minded.....

Lacking in joi de vivre....

Also of course terrified of change, dissent, diversity, nuance, ambiguity and French food.....

(Not to mention racist, sexist, and homophobic....)

BUT, (and this will astonish you)....

I want one of THESE....

Na-Cord fish skeleton Extension Cord

魚骨型電源延長コード。 いよいよアメリカでも発売する グローバルスタンダードインテリア

Na-Cord Fish Cord (Original color) Fishbone-shaped electric extension cord.This cord makes a cool addition to your room or office and will soon be available in the U.S.A

(thanks to Zannah)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:12 PM

a minor clarification...

In my recent post 9 lines someone commented that the Marines were insensitive to use the call sign "trinity" in a Moslem country. Another commenter just added:

Actually, the call sign "Trinity" has nothing to do with Christianity. The proper unit name for that particular Marine unit is the 3/3....usually something along the lines of the third company of the third brigade so for short they say "Trinity" over communication lines. It saves time, keeps the commo lines open and makes it harder to be tracked by using your comm signal. No offense was meant by any means to the host nation.

I think the whole "sensitivity" business is pretty bogus, but still I'm glad to hear that our guys are doing the right thing, and not following my style: "in Operation 'Jesus Saves,' Crusader Company will leave Fort Calatrava, advance to objective Blessed Virgin, and destroy all Saracens. The password is 'Santiago,' and the response is 'Lepanto.'

Posted by John Weidner at 8:57 AM

"Philosophically correct"

Glenn Reynolds posted this, sent by a reader:

Chris Matthews was turning himself into a pretzel last night trying to rationalize the legitimacy of the Newsweek story and essentially ended up with the opinion that even if the reporting was factually incorrect, because of the Army's previous abuses it was philosophically reported correctly. It was, basically, the Dan Rather argument...

"Philosophically correct," huh. What exactly, one wonders, is the "philosophy" he's referring to? Probably a certain sort of one that's desperate for stories like this, so creeps like Matthews can cry, "Free, free, I'm home free! I get to betray my country and stab our soldiers in the back even as they are fighting to protect me, and sneer at at the fools who love America, 'cause I got my "Abu Ghraib Get-Out-of-Patriotism-Free" card! No facts needed, baby, 'cause we is "philosophically" in-the-groove."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:59 AM

May 17, 2005

"one life from the late twentieth"


Dusty and brown on some forgotten shelf
a century hence—or two, let dreams be grand!—
this wry and slanted gloss upon myself
has slipped into some stranger's browsing hand.
A woman, maybe, growing old like me,
or a young man ambitious for his name,
curious about my antique prosody
but pleased to find our motives much the same.
He cannot know—nor she—what this one life
from the late twentieth craved, or cost, or found;
he will forget my name; but mother, wife,
daughter, has struck a chord, sings from the ground
a moment to his ear, as now to yours,
for what is ours in common and endures.

      --Rhina Espaillat

(From Where Horizons Go. Many thanks to Tim Murphy)

Posted by John Weidner at 11:32 AM

Scourging and scorching with wit and logic.....

Tom McClintock (remember him?--He hasn't gone away) writes in the LA Daily News on the curious question of how we can spend what is really a lot of money per student, and yet get poor schools and endless cries of poverty...

...So I will begin by excluding from this discussion the entire budget of the State Department of Education, as well as the pension system, debt service, special education, child care, nutrition programs and adult education. I also propose setting aside $3 billion to pay an additional 30,000 school bureaucrats $100,000 per year with the proviso that they stay away from the classroom and pay their own hotel bills at conferences.

This leaves a mere $6,937 per student, which, for the duration of the funding crisis, I propose devoting to the classroom.

To illustrate how we might scrape by at this subsistence level, let's use a hypothetical school of 180 students with only $1.2 million to get through the year.

We have all seen the pictures of filthy bathrooms, leaky roofs, peeling paint and crumbling plaster to which our children have been condemned. I propose that we rescue them from this squalor by leasing out luxury commercial office space. Our school will need 4,800 square feet for five classrooms (the sixth class is gym). At $33 per foot, an annual lease will cost $158,400....
....Since our conventional gym classes haven't stemmed the childhood obesity epidemic, I propose replacing them with an annual membership at a private health club for $39.95 per month. Finally, we'll hire an $80,000 administrator with a $40,000 secretary because, well, I don't know exactly why, but we always have.

Our bare-bones budget comes to this:

Do read it all....

(Thanks to Richard Bennett)

Posted by John Weidner at 9:20 AM

May 16, 2005

It's a tribute...

Newsweek spreads a rumor with reckless carelessness, and 15 have died so far. Roger Kimball of The New Criterion writes:

Here's a question: Why is it that all the stories you read in Time-Newsweek-The New York Times-The Washington Post-Etc. or see on CNN-The BBC-CBS-NBC-Etc., why is it that all their stories about Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, etc., why is it that the presumption, the prejudice, the predisposition never goes the other way? Why is it that their reporters always assume the worst: that we're doing dirty at Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., and are primed to pick up and believe any rumor damaging to the United States?...
(Thanks to Glenn Reynolds).

Why? WHY? For the exact same reason "historians" in academe obsess over the "sins," such as slavery or killing indians, of America's founding fathers. It's their EXCUSE. They are aligned with a philosophy that has casually shoveled tens-of-millions into concentration camps, and has left every country it has touched in economic ruin.....and so they feel a little twinge of compunction, and hurry to defame the country that actually gives people freedom and justice in more abundance than any other.

It's a tribute to America; their desperate need to tear us down.

Same with the journalists. Their hammering on "Bush lied" and abu Ghraib is a tribute. They have no real answer to why they are against freedom and prosperity, and the recent liberation of 50 million people. They have no answer to the question "What are you FOR?" So they seize hungrily on any flaw in Bush or America, as if it were a lifeline, and dance around like Gollum with the Precious...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:33 AM

May 15, 2005

What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales....



We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage
And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die,
We Poets of the proud old lineage
Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why, -
What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest,
Where nevermore the rose of sunset pales,
And winds and shadows fall towards the West:
And there the world's first huge white-bearded kings
In dim glades sleeping, murmur in their sleep,
And closer round their breasts the ivy clings,
Cutting its pathway slow and red and deep.

--James Elroy Flecker

Posted by John Weidner at 8:55 AM

May 14, 2005

"Kevin. It was for me, and people like me"

Minh-Duc reflects on the way lefty intellectuals freaked over Bush's apology for Yalta, and has an answer for them....

...But most of those people are dead [writes Kevin Drum]. So who was the reference aimed at? Not just the Latvians, that's for sure. Bush is a master of using codewords in his speeches, and inserting Yalta into this speech wasn't a casual decision. It was there for someone. Who?
Kevin. It was for me, and people like me. The little people who had to live the consequence of power politic between the giants. For the people of Latvia and Eastern Europe who had to live under Communism, it is not easy to forget the event that lead to their immeasurable suffering. They were freed just recently; the wall just came down in 1989. Most of them still have painful and fresh memory of those day.

Unlike liberal Western academics, I did not have the luxury of studying tyranny as an academic subject from afar; my experiene with it was close and personal. I was only one year old when the Paris Peace Accord was signed. To this day I am still bitter about it. It was long ago for most people, mere history. But it is fresh in my memory since I had to live it. For most of my childhood, I lived under Communisst tyranny, the one that born out of Paris 1973. I still remember having to listen to VOA and BBC clandestinely, having to turn the volumn just enough so that it can only be heard if I put my ears next to the speaker. I still remember the food shortage of the late 70's and 80's, the one that result in my malnutrition. I still remember growing up for years without my father, for he was in jail. I still remember the fears and paranoia of living under a police state....

Whole buncha people want these things forgotten. It's just history, ho hum, boring, much better to study things that are relevant, and up-to-date. Couple billion people had to live in the poverty and misery of totalitarian police states? It just happened, dammit, and it was decades ago, and there's no connection! No connection between a certain philosophy and mass-murder and tyranny. And anybody who suggests it is obviously a fascist. So there...

Posted by John Weidner at 2:28 PM

May 13, 2005

I'm not a "nationalist."

Someone suggested I'm a "nationalist" recently. I don't think that really fits. My feelings are perhaps best expressed by what Lincoln said in his Eulogy on Henry Clay:

He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory, of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that freemen could be prosperous.

"The United States of America" is a set of ideas, not a territory or a race or a volk. There are lots of people living in foreign lands, who are Americans in good standing, because they "get it." It was Steven den Beste who wrote about this, and posted this great quote from an essay by Peter Schramm:

[My father] gathered my sister, me, and my mother up, and, in the middle of the night, we walked to Austria. I was not yet ten years old. When I asked him where we were going, he said: "We are going to America." I asked "why to America?" He said the following: "We were born Americans, but in the wrong place." It took me a while to understand what that meant. It took a lot of study of some great philosophers, of the American Founders, of Lincoln. I received four degrees for the effort and I slowly came to understand. My father always understood.

Perhaps someday America will change, and become just a nation. And perhaps a few people will resettle in Martian caves, with battered e-books in their hip-pockets containing the Federalist Papers. And they will be the True Americans. (Myself, I would go a bit further, and say we Americans are the True Englishmen. Our revolution was fought for the "Rights of Englishmen," and our ideas haven't really diverged very far from what we thought then, while England has become a pale shadow of what it was.)

If you are a Leftist, you MUST be anti-American. You MUST oppose the idea that is America, because that idea is utterly opposed to collectivism and statism, and opposed to the belief that our rights are granted by government, or that the interests of "society" are worth the sacrifice of the individual. Many Leftists won't honestly acknowledge their enmity, but resort to sneaky formulas. and claiming to be "against nationalism" is one of them. It's a lie of course, none of them are bothered by French nationalism, or Swedish nationalism, or criticize when a Russian proclaims her love for her "Motherland."....

Actually one of the tricksy formulas for disguising leftish anti-Americanism is nationalism. You can say you love America, meaning things like Jazz, or "the simple workers" or Cajun cuisine, or kosher delis, or the beauty of the mountains and the prairies, etc. Sure, of course, we all do, but that's not America.

More by den Beste:

...You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

That is a difference so profound as to render all similarities between Europe and the US unimportant by comparison. But it is a difference that most Europeans are blind to, and it is that difference which causes America's attitudes and actions to be mystifying to Europeans. It is not just that they don't understand that idea; most of them don't even realize it exists, because Europeans have no equivalent, and some who have an inkling of it dismiss it contemptuously...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:51 AM

May 12, 2005

A good statistic to keep in mind...

...when you hear a certain sort of person rant about the dreadful plight of the Palestinians, and pretend to be deeply concerned about a certain Middle Eastern group lacking a homeland:


182,000 Kurds are still unaccounted for...


Posted by John Weidner at 3:08 PM

Quote du Jour..

...It is the peculiar genius of Third Way solutions like the Ownership Society that they use the mechanisms of government authority to make individuals independent of the State. The Right will squawk about your being ordered to save for retirement by the government but the Left is absolutely frantic over the prospect of everyone owning a stake of their own in society.
Orrin Judd

"Absolutely frantic." I''d say that hits it. Think of some poor schlep who mops floors for a living, getting a monthly statement from Fidelity or Vanguard! He may not be too bright, but some small light bulbs are likely to come on. He will be less ready to believe lying politicians who tell him that "the corporations" are responsible for his problems, if he owns part of some of them.

A little fantasy pops into mind...the janitorial crew is drinking coffee in their break-room, down in the sub-sub-basement. The resident Bolshie starts to spout the usual balunky about the evil Oilyburton Corporation and its war-profiteering, and Marcus says, "Don't gimme that shit, man, my Halliburton just dropped another 10 points. I'm gonna sell it and find sumpin' wit profits!"

Posted by John Weidner at 8:53 AM

for your magazine...

For a bit of ammunition in upcoming arguments, you might want to note this post, by PowerLine, in which they refute the oft-repeated line that:

...As a colleague on the Texas Supreme Court, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales once criticized Owen for an "unconscionable act of judicial activism" by restricting a minor's access to abortion...

Owens' dissent in the Jane Doe case was based purely on questions of appellate procedure. Gonzales' criticism was obviously aimed at a different judge's dissent that hinged on interpretation of the law...

Also good ammo to have on hand:

Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, responds on NRO to one of the liberals' pet arguments about the law --that those who reject the liberal version of a "living constitution" would not have reached the correct result in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that declared segregated public schools unlawful. As Whelan notes, Michael McConnell, now a court of appeals judge, refuted that argument ten years ago. Whelan demonstrates that current attempts to revive it are wrong in all particulars...
Posted by John Weidner at 7:12 AM

May 11, 2005

The importance of arrogance...

TMLutas writes...

I'm going through Ars Technica's Tiger review. The first thing that surprised me (in a good way) shows up on page 5, launchd. This really shows the benefits of Apple arrogance and anal retentiveness as applied to longstanding Unix world problems.

Launchd does just that, it manages startup of the various system services in a unified fashion instead of the "patch on top of patch" system that Unix has lived with for decades. As somebody else described it
late last year "Launchd is kinda init, mach_init, xinetd, cron, System Starter (seems very nice indeed, drop XML files into a dir saying I want to receive network connects on this port, start at this time, when load is so low etc)". Launchd is represented in the article as an open source project but I couldn't find it. It should be available as part of Darwin, though so the fact that it's not listed separately is not very important.

The absolute arrogance of thinking that you can swim against the tide and change something that basic and functional to the operation of Unix and get enough people to go along with you is breathtaking. It's also a core differentiator and competitive advantage of Apple.

It will be interesting to see where this leads. I'm not a Unix guy, but I'm savvy enough to be aware of it underneath me while I use my Macs. Using OS-X is sort of like riding in one of those little decorated gondolas bobbing atop a very large elephant. If I were young and had lots of spare time I'd learn to ride the elephant itself.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:34 PM

Pygmies using angled light to cast long shadows....

Change is hard. We are creatures of habit, and when things change we keep doing the same old things for a while. (Some people are driven almost crazy by change. It's interesting to watch the foaming hatred now against Bush, because it's so similar to the venom aroused by FDR and Lincoln, on the two earlier occasions in our history when party dominance changed.)

One interesting (and maddening) thing has been the slowness of Republican leaders to realize that we are now the majority party. This article by Tony Blankley, An Awkward GOP Spring, says that the reality is finally starting to sink in...

....It was a sorry picture indeed: A city full of large, ivory tusked, bull battle elephants driven to fear, distraction and goring each other by the braying of a pack of mangy jack asses.

But the Democrats appear to have overplayed their hand. The tactic of "boo" must be used sparingly, preferably when it is dark and preferably directed at unsuspecting targets. After the donkeys with alligator masks on have jumped out from behind the Capitol columns three or four times in succession in broad daylight shouting "boo," the Republican elephants have begun to realize that the only danger to them is if they stumble down the steps in response to the "boo."

The Democrats are powerless to do much of anything in national politics of a functional nature. All they can do is malfunction and hope to induce the Republicans to join them in their malfunctioning. By using angled light, the Democrats have been able to spend the winter and spring casting a larger shadow than their actual stature would justify.

Slowly, the Republicans have come to notice that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself. As FDR explained: "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Finally, the advance has begun....

One good thing is that Bush is so busy that the Dems have to defend on dozens of different fronts. Which leads them to use the same old tactics over and over, so that the absurdity becomes patent to all with eyes to see. Dems claim every judicial nominee is "out of the mainstream." (Sort of like, "all the children are above average.") And for every nominee some Anita Hill clone shows up to claim dreadful behavior long long ago (which somehow wasn't worth mentioning previously). If they have nothing to say they say they have "questions." "Hrumm hrumm, ahumm, ah have serious questions about this nominee. Ah have doubts!"

Posted by John Weidner at 4:58 PM

9 line

From milblog Firepower Forward, a gripping story of soldiers watching as Marine friends call for a medavac....

...The big flat screen television in the operations center resembles a teenager’s compute monitor with multiple text chat message windows open at any given time and even though they are all encrypted and secure most of the time the messages that flicker across are just as benign. Not this time. I read the last message
“TRINITY: Stand by for 9 line.” [9 lines is the format for medevac requests]

We in the LTF aren’t in the medevac business, and no longer supporting Trinity, we had no part, but the people gathered at the screen because we had worked with these guys for the past 3 months and we had made a lot of friends. Absolutely powerless, we stood and waited for the next message to pop up.

“TRINITY: Line 1 – ##A, AA, ########” The series of numbers and letters that popped up reflected the grid coordinates of where the marines wanted the medevac to land.

SPC Stogner copied the coordinates and began to plot them on one of our wall maps.

As we waited the following lines, I scrolled back through the messages to see what had brought them to this point.

Having taken some fire from a hillside, the marines had pursued and seen the attackers disappear into a cave. Close air support was called, but the A-10s aren’t built to flush thugs out of a hole in the mountain, nothing is, except Marines.

“TRINITY: Line 2 - ####, Trinity.” It was the radio frequency and call sign of the Marines at the landing site.

The smoke cleared, and of course the Marines had to go in. The firefight ensued, the TIC was reported and soon after word came that there were 2 US WIA. 9 Line to follow.

“TRINITY: Line 3 – 2 critical.” Now I was worried. This line was supposed to be the number of patients by precedence.

It wasn’t only the word “Critical” that concerned me, but the fact that they had used it. There are only five different words that should be used here, each with a specific meaning to the medics as to the severity of the injuries. "Critical" isn't one of them. It was a break from protocol and uncharacteristic of the consistently professional, by-the-numbers behavior I had always witnessed from these guys. I could only imagine what was happening on the ground, and I prayed that it wasn’t a sign of panic....[thanks to
Winds of Change].

These guys are fighting for YOU. And ME. They are fighting the jihadis who are streaming into Iraq and Afghanistan from every stinking hell-hole of the Middle East. It's good and important that they should; the genius of the Iraq Campaign is that the terrorists have to fight for the heartland of the Muslim world. They have to come out into the open where we can kill them, rather than plotting new 9/11's in the dark.

Our troops are defending US, all of us. And defending ALL the peaceful people of the world, including those of the Arab and Central Asian world (who suffers the most from the Islamist animals). They are doing noble and heroic work, risking their lives to protect the weak.

Which is why I want to puke thinking of the lefty weasels who heap scorn and sneers on our forces....and not out of conviction (though even that would be vile), but purely for reasons of domestic politics...

Posted by John Weidner at 3:20 PM

Generic blogpost title: "Democrats resist attempts to reduce voter fraud."

PowerLine writes about voter fraud in Wisconsin...

...There is no way to be sure whether more than 11,000 votes--less than 10% of Kerry's Milwaukee margin--were fraudulent. But it is entirely possible that voter fraud swung Wisconsin into the Democrats' column.

As we've said before, it is only a matter of time until voter fraud determines the outcome of a Presidential election. (Indeed, this may well have happened in 1960.) It could have happened last fall; that it didn't was entirely a matter of luck.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republicans are trying to adopt a photo ID requirement for future elections. So far, their effort has been successfully blocked by the Democrats...

You could take that last sentence, remove "Wisconsin," and make it into a keyboard shortcut to add to stories from all over the country. You could also have one that says, "Democrat legislator says minorities will be disenfranchised."

Posted by John Weidner at 7:40 AM

May 10, 2005

People who've been under the boot understand freedom...

It's very sweet to read about the warm reception that the Bush's have received in Georgia. They understand. They know what its like to be without it. Freedom is on the march and America under President Bush is leading and helping. What a contrast the jubilant Georgians are to the sour negativity of our local leftists...

From Publius Pundit...

...At first glance you may think you’re witnessing the Republican National Convention all over again. But if you saw President Bush speak just now, you would know that he was winning the hearts and ears of a crowd of jubilant Georgians. When recalling all of the October pre-election polls reflecting how much the world hates the United States and especially President Bush, it would seem odd to the outside observer that over 100,000 people would wait in the heat, for hours on end, before impatiently breaking through police barriers just to hear Bush speak. In reality, however, it isn’t so far-fetched. Due to American support for freedom and democracy in the region during and after the fall of the Soviet Union, countries from the Baltics to the South Caucasus hold the United States in the highest of regards...

George and Laura Bush in Georgia
This picture borrowed from Gateway Pundit

and there's a great post by the Anchoress...

Posted by John Weidner at 6:35 PM


This photo was taken by Michael Yon (thanks to Michelle) who writes:

Major Mark Bieger found this little girl after the car bomb that attacked our guys while kids were crowding around. The soldiers here have been angry and sad for two days. They are angry because the terrorists could just as easily have waited a block or two and attacked the patrol away from the kids. Instead, the suicide bomber drove his car and hit the Stryker when about twenty children were jumping up and down and waving at the soldiers. Major Bieger, I had seen him help rescue some of our guys a week earlier during another big attack, took some of our soldiers and rushed this little girl to our hospital. He wanted her to have American surgeons and not to go to the Iraqi hospital. She didn't make it. I snapped this picture when Major Bieger ran to take her away. He kept stopping to talk with her and hug her.

The soldiers went back to that neighborhood the next day to ask what they could do. The people were very warming and welcomed us into their homes, and many kids were actually running up to say hello and to ask soldiers to shake hands...

That there are Americans who think we should surrender to those murdering animals is just unbelievable. One suspects that Iraqis aren't real people to them, just abstractions...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:04 AM

a certain view of the world...

My friend Frank e-mails this:

I was in a French science museum and happened onto an exhibit of the Model T. The Engish translation of the exhibit comment was as follows:
"The automobile remained a craftsman-built luxury vehicle until 1908 when the America carmaker Henry Ford began manufacturing the very first mass-produced car, the T, thanks to the development of the production line. In the space of twenty years he sold 15 million of them, completely disrupting the American way of life in the process."
Posted by John Weidner at 6:44 AM

May 8, 2005

Follow-up to critics...

John Tierney has written a follow-up column to answer critics of his earlier one, where he compared his Social Security return with that of a Chilean friend. Chile has "private accounts." The critics piled on him about the "risks" of the stock market, and he responds with the political risks of leaving your retirement in the hands of politicians, who can change things in the future...

...You can call the Democrats irresponsible obstructionists, but they're just following the first rule of politics: get re-elected. It's the same rule followed by the politicians from both parties who have spent the baby boomers' retirement money. Why set aside money for 2017 if it could be used to woo voters and campaign contributors for the next election?

I can't protect my pension against political risk, but Pablo can help protect his against the risks of the stock market. As he approaches retirement, he can gradually shift his money out of stocks and into bonds, like the ones that financed the private road between Santiago and the port city of Valparaiso, which will be paid off by tolls. The Chilean pension system has billboards along the road proclaiming, "Your savings are financing this highway, and this highway is financing your retirement."

Those billboards have been on my mind. My pension depends on 535 politicians who will be asked to vote for steep tax increases or budget cuts that they fear could cost them their jobs. Pablo's pension depends on people driving between Chile's two largest cities. (Thanks to
Betsy N)

The talk of the risk of the market is mostly BS. Short-term there is risk. Long-term, if you have a good broad-based portfolio, you do not have risk, unless the entire economy goes into long-term decline, in which case there will also be greatly increased political risk, since the money simply won't be there to pay for political promises.

Either way, it all really depends on the economy, and what's the biggest risk to that (apart from things like asteroids)? Bad political decisions, that stifle growth with taxes or regulations or confiscations. And what's the best way to prevent them? Make everybody into owners, so they start to get a clue, that "the corporations" aren't evil parasites sucking their blood, as certain political flavors would like us to believe, but businesses that they are part-owners of...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:35 AM

May 7, 2005

Camping on Angel Island...

An awesome 36 hours...

Camping on Angel Island
Charlene and I and a couple of good friends just came back from one of the coolest camping trips ever. Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, has a handful of campsites you can walk in to. We spent Friday night at one, and except for some park rangers we had the island to ourselves...

We hiked about 2 miles from the cove where the ferry lands (backpacking lite, with wine). On weekends the campsites are much in demand, but there were no other campers yesterday. We had the usual ingredients for a good time...friends, food, good weather and a beautiful spot.

BUT, what we hadn't anticipated, having only hiked and picnicked there before, was the surreal and oneiric experience of sitting in our campsite on a quiet and rustic slope and simultaneously seeing the intense urban vista of the Bay Area spread before us. Especially at night. There we were, cooking our s'mores over the campfire as we looked down on a parade of lighted ferries and tugboats and tankers, while beyond them the gazillion city lights of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco blazed. And yet it was dark enough for us that the stars shone quite brightly. This poor picture does NOT do it any justice...

Nighttime on Sf Bay

If someone asked, "What did you do on your trip?" I'd have to reply, "We mostly just stood there and stared in awe." I can't imagine there are very many places in the world where one could do something like this.
Tanker by the Bay Bridge

Posted by John Weidner at 7:13 PM

May 6, 2005

fewer workers supporting same number of pensioners...

From the NYT:

Many investors knew it was coming, but they did not expect that two of the nation's biggest issuers of bonds would be reduced to junk status so soon.

As a result, Standard & Poor's announcement at midday yesterday that it was cutting its credit ratings for both General Motors and the Ford Motor Company set off a selling spree in the corporate bond market....

Hmmm. How about a little thought experiment. Why are GM and Ford in trouble? Because of the overwhelming burden of promised benefits, pensions and healthcare, made to retirees.

Suppose, instead of promising things, they had put part of each employee's paycheck into something like, oh, a 401-K? (401-K's didn't exist when GM's and Ford's pension plans were started, so let's give this a different name. Er, maybe "private accounts?") If they had done that, they wouldn't be broke right now!

They'd still have problems, but much smaller ones, and they would have flexibility. If the company shrank, it wouldn't be in the position of having it's liabilities grow in proportion to its size (fewer workers supporting same number of pensioners).

You can see where I'm headed. Social Security is the same sort of mess. (And tens-of-thousands of other schemes around the globe.)

You don't need abstruse theories to explain why I like President Bush. I've got a long list of reasons, and being the first president to dare to tackle the SS debacle is high among them...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:54 AM

May 5, 2005

Called their bluff.....

Neil Cavuto of Foxnews writes:

Sometimes you learn a lot when someone goes off the record because — sometimes — they go off the reservation.

A Democratic congressman talked to me after seeing my interview with New York's Charlie Rangel on the issue of Social Security.

"You don't understand, Neil," he said. "This Social Security issue is our party's issue. A Democratic president came up with it. Who the hell is a Republican president to destroy it?"

"But it's broke," I say.

"I know," he shoots back. "But there's no politically wise way to fix it."

He's brutally blunt and he's brutally aware the president has called Democrats' bluff:

They wanted the rich to get less. Under the president's plan, the rich will get less.

They wanted something close to "means-testing." Under the president's plan, those with means are tested.

They wanted the poor protected. Under the president's plan, they're more than protected.

Yet with each overture — with each bow to his opponents — his opponents bow out.

"It's a dead issue, Neil," this congressman explains. "It's killing the president in the polls for doing it. Why should we join him? What's the upside for us?"

"Oh, I don't know," I say. "Maybe saving the system your hero FDR invented?".......

Useless, useless, useless (Democrats that is).

Posted by John Weidner at 2:48 PM

May 4, 2005

hook, line and sinker...

PowerLine is deconstructing the stories of much-feted-by-leftists anti-war activist Delgado....

...What bothers me, though, is that Herbert apparently made no attempt to verify Delgado's charges. Delgado describes horrifying conduct by American G.I.s, and says it occurred routinely. Conveniently, however, he never names names--never identifies the soldier who whipped Iraqis with an antenna, or kicked a six year old boy in the stomach, or shot unarmed prisoners. So it's hard to know exactly where to go for the other side of the story. Still, it would have been easy to call the 320th and go from there. I suspect that anyone Herbert talked to would have something to say about Delgado and his sensational charges.

There are at least three reasons why Herbert should have checked out the other side of the story before swallowing Delgado's story hook, line and sinker.....

Haven't we heard all this before? Guy named Kerry was cheered and celebrated by the anti-war crowd when he said our soldiers routinely committed war crimes? Of course the stories were lies, and have been thoroughly debunked, but they are still believed by a certain sort. And Kerry actually ran for President. And if we hadn't had the New Media and the Internet to give the Swift Boat vets a voice, he might be President....

Posted by John Weidner at 12:03 PM

the truth is out there....I think.

In the recent Squad Report, Scott comments:

I wanted to post about your journal entry on 4/15/05 about Krugman. I get into debates online in forums all the time with liberals, and they give very specific data about how much better european countries are than us, and how we are "37th" on the list of the best health care systems in the world. What do you do when they have specific details, and we just have general, common sense concepts?

Does anyone know where specific information has been collected that supports the common sense and anecdotal evidence we've all encountered?

UPDATE: You know, thinking about this, it's really scary how normal this question is. We don't even find it strange that the sort of people we would label "liberal" or "leftish" would collect and cherish information that makes other countries look better than ours.

As part of your basic education, everyone should glance at this article, by David Brooks, Among the Bourgeoisophobes. It traces the roots of the way Americans and Jews came to be symbols of "bourgeois" evil and greed. This has become so much a part of leftish thought, and everybody's thought, that we hardly notice it. We don't notice how bizarre it is that leftish Americans have the unshakable conviction that other countries have superior health care (even though none of them travel to those countries when they are sick). Nor do we see how weird it is that the so-called-Palestinian "cause" is worth millions of man-years of protest effort and propaganda, while other Middle Eastern minorities, often much worse off, are ignored...)

Posted by John Weidner at 6:51 AM

May 3, 2005

Quote O' the Day...

...Americans must always remember that for us sovereignty is a one way street--ours is inviolable; yours depends on what you do with it.
      --Orrin Judd
Posted by John Weidner at 12:11 PM

humourless martinets

David Gillies writes:

Further to Bill's post on the comedy stylings of Laura Bush's at the White House Correspondents' dinner, here's a thought experiment. Make two lists of US Presidents of the last fifty years or so. On one side put those that have been able to take a joke at their own expense. On the other side put the humourless martinets:

List A:
Dwight Eisenhower
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
Bill Clinton

List B:
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Any coincidence those three are the worst post-war Presidents?

I agree on the listings, and I think it's interesting that none of the three were elected in an equal contest, where voters had two pretty good candidates to chose from. LBJ came in because of the assassination, Nixon perhaps mostly because the "silent Majority" was disgusted with the Democrats, and Carter of course only because voters were disgusted with Nixon (and Ford's pardon of him)...when things are fairly equal the prissy humorless pedants lose. Am I thinking Gore/Kerry/Mondale/Dukakis? Funny you should ask. McCain? I'm not sure. Anyone have an opinion? I find him loathsome, so I probably can't judge him fairly....

Posted by John Weidner at 10:53 AM

"like the rightful inheritor of a lost estate"

I love this piece by Charles A. Coulombe, on red state politics, blue state tastes...The details are different, but It captures our own feelings very well...

...Here are its basic symptoms: on the one hand, my politics are firmly fixed on the right. So far as I am concerned, abortion is murder, gay marriage is an exercise in insanity, government supervision of my every move is dictatorship, and taxes are just too bloody high. Gun control is simply a way of disarming the citizenry, and the declining birth-rate will destroy social security and beggar us all. So too, on a more a-political plane, I prefer the Tridentine Mass to the new one, and wish women wore hats to church. So --- perhaps I should move to Kansas or Texas?

By no means! Because while my convictions might land me in the rural Midwest or South, my aesthetic tastes keep me firmly bound to the liberal enclaves of the West Coast and the North-East. Where in Odessa, Texas or Manhattan, Kansas would I find the Thai restaurants, Korean barbecues or Shabu-Shabu houses I crave? The theater, and opera? The huge libraries and architecture that feed my soul?

Even my religious needs are better served in cities than in the country: most large cities (save Los Angeles) have at least one “liturgical parish,” where Tridentine Masses are offered, or at least Gregorian Chant, Polyphony, and/or orchestral Masses are served up. Even in the L.A. area, I can still take in a weekly Tridentine Mass, or else a liturgy from one of the innumerable Eastern Rites established here (Coptic, Melkite, Maronite, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, and many, many more). In the great Red Zone, you are stuck with whatever the local priest gives you, and however conservative the feelings of the communicants may be, they will have to make do, often enough, with clown Masses and altar girls....

Of course the frustrations of living among liberals who have their brains on "lock-down," to avoid any insurrectionary thoughts, is considerable. What to do? Coulombe has a good suggestion...

...So for all these, and many more reasons, I am firmly anchored to urban realms, despite the anti-smoking laws, pornographic ads, and just plain insane civic governments to be encountered there. Yet I am acutely aware that I must self-censor my conversation or else endure uncomfortable silences when I bring up an unpleasant truth. How do I cope with this?

I find that field trips to the deepest center of the blue-state city in question, to where it started, help a lot. When I go, for example, to the statue of King Charles III in Los Angeles’ Old Plaza, to Bowling Green in New York, or to the Old State House in Boston, I am reminded that my views on things both Church and State were, to a great degree, shared by the founders or earliest leaders of these towns. Whatever has happened since, there is a commonality there that echoes down the centuries. At moments like these, I do not feel like a red state exile in blue state Babylon; rather, I feel like the rightful inheritor of a lost estate. All my annoyances fade for the nonce, and I leave refreshed and ready for the ideological battles that lie in wait at the next cocktail party...

Interesting idea. The old brick buildings of Jackson Square still have the iron shutters used in Gold Rush days...And I live close to where the last duel was fought in California...They might be useful meditative antidotes to the Tranzi idiocy of lefties, (who hate all wars, except those not fought by the US or Israel...)

Posted by John Weidner at 7:58 AM

#181: Krugman "gets it"

P. Krugman


Programs for the poor are “poor” programs. That has been a mantra of the left for as long as we can remember. This is shorthand for the concern that if better off people are allowed to opt out of social programs, those programs atrophy from neglect and become only for persons who are poor or otherwise dependent. Paul Krugman gives a full exposition on this view in A Gut Punch to the Middle (05/02/05). Fear and loathing practically oozes out of every paragraph. The reason is simple. Modern liberalism depends on expanding dependency, not contracting it. To them, dependent people are assets. And assets must grow, not shrink.

The reason Bush’s “progressive indexing” of future Social Security benefits is a gut punch is because it threatens to free not just middle class workers, but also lower middle class workers, from the dependency they have been in for years. A reform that encourages people to invest in personal retirement accounts and depend less on Social Security is a major step toward an ownership society. But the problem for Democrats is that people who own things are no longer reliable Democrats. Krugman gets it! The fraction of the truly poor is small and getting smaller and the importance of Social Security will become smaller too if modest wage earners can become more independent. So the real gut punch here is to Krugman and the liberals, not to workers of any income level. The reason for all the teeth gnashing is concern that Bush will divide their troops.

The good news is that overall the liberals are losing these days. What we are witnessing should be viewed as death throes. Even the “limousine” liberals that Krugman hangs out with are shrinking in number and are now confined largely to boardrooms and editorial staffs of media elites, Hollywood and the west side of Manhattan. To us the interesting question is which rats will abandon this leaky boat? And when? Well, Hillary is certainly looking for a gangplank already. In
Squad Report # 176 we reported Krugman’s expressed dread of another Clinton candidacy. So we are betting that the Krugster will “go down with the ship.” He’s what American’s need. An irrelevant loser they can depend on.

[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 7:27 AM

May 2, 2005

#180: "Our system is hard to describe, but it’s hardly private"

P. Krugman


It’s more of the same in Paul Krugman’s latest demagoguery A Private Obsession (04/29/05). He begins with yet another attack on the U.S. healthcare system, this time by claiming it is the most “private” in the world. Once he’s pinned on the “private” label, he then trashes the system and blames all of its ills on…drum roll please….being private.

We have two obvious objections: First, the U.S. system is private only in the sense that private organizations, employers or employer contracted organizations such as HMOs, write the checks. But such a weird system as ours is made possible only by heavy government subsidies, for example, treating employer contributions as nontaxable income. Without these subsidies (and other strings-attached rigidities) the system would have collapsed years ago. Second, and more fundamentally, one thinks of a private system as one in which the market is allowed to operate and consumers are free to spend their dollars on whatever they want, including healthcare. Clearly, that’s not happening in the U.S. Our system is hard to describe, but it’s hardly private.

Krugman pointed this out himself just two weeks ago in Passing the Buck (04/22/05) as he tried to explain why our system is so dysfunctional:

“An important part of the answer is that much of our health care spending is devoted to passing the buck: trying to get someone else to pay the bills”

He’s exactly right. Except he then draws exactly the wrong conclusion. When someone else pays the bills, consumers over-consume, providers misallocate and you end up with a mess like our current healthcare system. We agree with Krugman on that much. But his solution, universal health care, is even worse since that is the ultimate example of “someone else” paying the bills. In that case, the “someone else” is the government.

That’s why we like the part of the President’s plan that includes health savings accounts (HSAs), which would be an important step toward putting consumers in charge of their own healthcare spending. They might, for example, choose to pay minor health care bills out-of-pocket and use the bulk of their healthcare budget to buy catastrophic health insurance. Or, they might spend more on life style changes and other preventive healthcare practices that qualify them for lower health insurance generally. In either case consumer demand would drive the allocation of services as is the case in most private transactions.

Krugman, of course, is bitterly opposed to HSAs because-–you guessed it– they're private!

[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 9:00 AM

May 1, 2005

Odious light...

You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light.

--Vicomte de Chateaubriand
Posted by John Weidner at 6:48 PM

Paint your home every summer?

From Just One Minute, a bit of clarity...

...To illustrate my concern with an example - homeowner's insurance covers catastrophic losses because they are infrequent and (for most of us) unaffordable. An easy way to think about it - homeowners each put aside a small amount in a reserve which is paid out to the rare unfortunate who experiences a fire. This turns a large, unpredictable, unaffordable expense into a small, predictable one.

But homeowners insurance does not cover the cost of re-painting the home - that expense is predictable and affordable (or not). Furthermore, if it were covered by insurance, there would be a tendency to "overconsume" - some people would change the color of their home every summer at the expense of the other participants in the "paint insurance" pool.

Similarly, auto insurance covers accidents but not oil changes.

Yet health insurance is in crisis if folks don't have coverage for routine visits to the doctor?....
Posted by John Weidner at 7:36 AM