July 25, 2005

Small break...

I will be out of town for a few days. Check back Sunday or Monday...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:45 AM

I drive a Ford...

Interesting article in the LAT, Parties Are Tracking Your Habits, on Republican Party skill at finding and targeting voters who are likely to change their affiliation.

...Bourbon drinkers are more likely to be Republicans; gin is a Democratic drink. Military history buffs are likely to be social conservatives. Volvos are preferred by Democrats; Ford and Chevy owners are more likely Republican. Phone customers who have call waiting lean heavily Republican.

Strategists said that cross-referencing such seemingly disparate data can produce powerful correlations — and draw a roadmap for targeting messages to specific voters. Where a voter lives, what car she drives and what magazines she reads are all used to predict her position on specific issues.

That approach was particularly effective for Republicans in New Mexico, where Bush gained 12 percentage points among Latinos in 2004, helping to secure his narrow victory there.

The GOP's micro-targeting advantage marks a historic shift, strategists said. Republicans traditionally faced a stiffer challenge finding their voters, who tended to live in rural and exurban areas, while Democratic voters were often concentrated in urban precincts....

Lots of people right now are day-dreaming of destroying Karl Rove, so they can go back to the world they once knew. Of course he's just one manifestation of a party that leads in thinking and planning. If he disappeared today, it wouldn't change things much.

Liberals certainly do drive Volvos (and drink Blix), we see them around here all the time, with their Kerry/Edwards stickers. They are probably showing their affinity for Sweden and the Euro-Socialist third-way experiment, which is going to "work" so much better (and more tastefully) than those chaotic free markets and unbridled greed. So 20th Century. Sooooo too late...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 AM

July 24, 2005

Recruiting children...

From the Hindustan Times:

Fierce fighting in recent months has devastated the ranks of the Taliban, prompting the rebels to recruit children and force some families to provide one son to fight with them, a US commander said.

The fighting has fractured the Taliban's command structure, preventing the militants from regrouping, even though there has been an upsurge in violence, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, the US military operational commander in Afghanistan, said in an interview on Saturday.

Despite the setback -- more than 500 rebels have been killed since March -- the militants are likely to step up attacks in the lead-up to crucial September 18 legislative elections, he said...(thanks to

Things to keep in mind. Wars escalate! Clausewitz pointed this out long ago. Typically wars do not get easier as you go along. The fighting is often most fierce just before one side collapses. (This was the pattern for us in the World Wars, and of course the Tet Offensive) Don't believe those who say that, since such-and-such fighting has not diminished, our leaders have lied about our successes. And once the enemy collapses, don't believe the inevitable lies about how they obviously never were much of a danger, so no credit is due for the victory.

Of course the difference is, that in past wars (except Vietnam) the people telling lies to try to hurt America were foreigners.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:07 AM

July 23, 2005

Today's quote

Does John Kerry really want to be talking about releasing documents? I'm way over that--since W won--but still...reminds you of the time Ted Kennedy talked about water torture...--Kathryn Lopez, in The Corner

Poor poor Kerry. Every coupla years he plays at doing something "senatorial," but as far as I know none of them have mattered in the least. A wasted life. He might have served usefully on a school board, or been a figurehead for the Audubon Society...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:20 AM

July 22, 2005


WASHINGTON — Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security...

...I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief — protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."...

His employees? HIS EMPLOYEES???? Who the hell do they imagine the CIA works for? Valerie Plame Wilson works for George W Bush. Who just happens to be the elected leader of the United States of America.

These jerks are prating about the Constitution, but somebody needs to tell them that they are supposed to be defending the Constitution by obeying their country's elected leaders with loyalty. And alacrity. It was Plame who was jeopardizing national security.

The moment it became clear (and it has become abundantly clear) that Plame and her faction were undercutting our intelligence-gathering efforts for partisan political ends, the whole bunch should have been fired. Or better yet put in jail.

In fact, we should discharge at least half of those sneaking sneering utterly useless elitists of the CIA. And then tell the rest of them they have six weeks to pull up their socks and start working for AMERICA, or it's hit the road, Jack. There are other options. Open-Source intelligence aggregation would probably work a hell of a lot better.

This is all so crazy. "Rogue CIA agents" are the hoariest cliché of trashy fiction and Hollywood. And now we actually have some, clearly running a disinformation campaign to wound America, and our lefties, who have been demonizing the CIA since as long as I can remember, think it's just ducky. Anything is OK if it hurts Republicans. What frauds they are. What utter pompous shams.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:38 PM

Adventures of those far-travelling lemmings, part 392

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15 - Add personal computers to the list of throwaways in the disposable society.

On a recent Sunday morning when Lew Tucker's Dell desktop computer was overrun by spyware and adware - stealth software that delivers intrusive advertising messages and even gathers data from the user's machine - he did not simply get rid of the offending programs. He threw out the whole computer.

Mr. Tucker, an Internet industry executive who holds a Ph.D. in computer science, decided that rather than take the time to remove the offending software, he would spend $400 on a new machine....(Thanks to
Jeff Powell).

I won't get into the contentious issue of rather PC's or Macs are better, but I have to say there's hardly a week goes by when I don't see evidence that contradicts the idea that PC's are cheaper than Macs. (Yes Scott Chaffin, I know YOU can build a 5-buck PC in a cigar box, with parts scavenged from broken garage door-openers. But I mean, for the ordinary Joe who just needs a machine that works.)

The "Internet industry executive" in the story probably thinks he's saving money, but what's his time worth? Or your time, or mine? How many hours do you have in your life, that you want to throw some away? I guess you could say this guy is saving time by tossing his CPU rather that fighting malware, but why even live in the swap if you are not an alligator?

I've been using Macs since 1985, and currently have 6 running on a network, and I've never encountered a virus in my life! I've never purchased or used anti-virus software. How many hours has that saved me? What are those hours worth?

Posted by John Weidner at 12:22 PM

Enough of politics, let's get to what's important...

Charlene and I had a good invigorating tussle last night with Dave, Andrew, Scott and Allison, about grammar. (A subject about which we all care, except Scotty probably thought we were crazy) In particular, the question of whether, when you put a quote at the end of a sentence, the final punctuation goes inside or outside of the last quote marks.

Andrew, postmodernist-destroyer-of-all-things-ancient-and-beautiful, argued for outside. Allie, Charlene and I clearly are hard-wired as insiders, and were deaf to his notions. Sensible Dave pointed out the logical awkwardness you have where the quote and the sentence have different punctuation. Quote: "Victory or death!" Sentence: Why did he say "Victory or death?"

Thinking about it, I agree with Allie; you have to re-write the sentence...

Posted by John Weidner at 10:00 AM

July 20, 2005

Is this guy smart or stupid? I'm not sure.

Kieth Thompson has a new piece on his movement away from being a leftist. He's interesting, and also aggravating for the obtuseness he displays. How could anyone who hasn't been living at the South Pole be surprised that left-leaners were not pleased with Iraq's election triumph? And conservatives were?

...Watching Iraqis weep with joy while dropping ballots into voting boxes and lifting ink-stained purple fingers toward the sky recalled Washington’s words to his men on the banks of the Delaware, “Remember now what you are about to fight for.”

To my amazement, most of the commentators celebrating Iraq’s step toward autonomy were conservatives. By contrast, most self-declared progressives seemed strained to get beyond vague affirmations of Iraq’s electoral “attainment.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi used this curiously disinterested noun repeatedly in remarks that carried all the enthusiasm of a wake. If this was a funeral, who or what had died?...(thanks to
Betsy N)

Interesting word note there: Iraq’s electoral “attainment.” It's hardly possible to find a positive word that's less positive than that! Perhaps Nancy's less brainless than I thought.

Well, people on my end of the spectrum certainly weren't amazed that Pelosi and Co weren't happy that the Iraqis were happy. we expected it. In fact, each of the triumphs of freedom that we have witnessed in recent years brings an extra fillip of pleasure to people like me, as we think of lefties biting into lemons. And for extra fun, how, if you mischievously press them, they will have to say, "Of course I'm happy that Syria has pulled out of Lebanon....BUT...."

Posted by John Weidner at 10:15 PM

July 19, 2005

Just thought this was interesting...

Peter Robinson writes in The Corner:

A couple of decades ago in the Reagan White House, John Roberts and I had adjoining offices, and we've kept in touch, in a desultory way, ever since. What can I tell you about him? That he's one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Devout but light-hearted, a devoted husband, and the doting father of two adopted children. And so thoroughly modest that I had no idea of his reputation for brilliance within the legal community--I'd supposed he was a pretty good lawyer, but knew no more--until the President nominated John to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

We'll all have to wait for the slicing and dicing of John's legal work to form views of his judicial philosophy, but I can tell you from personal knowledge that what we have here is a thoroughly marvelous human being...

A Bush kind of guy, I suspect.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:48 PM

"humanitarian or compassionate grounds"

I wish someone would just put Canada out of its misery.

The Supreme Court of Canada says Leon Mugesera helped incite the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 and should be sent home to face trial.

But Justice Minister Irwin Cotler says Canada will not order Mugesera extradited unless it gets a binding assurance he will not be executed if convicted of the crimes...

...Cotler says Mugesera can still appeal to the immigration minister to remain in Canada on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.

Mugesera has lived in Quebec for more than a decade. (Link thanks to John Koetsier)

And the really aggravating thing is that Canadians probably feel that coddling a mass-murderer puts them in a position of moral superiority. And you know, if they still go to church, I bet it's the modern sort where they always pray for "justice." (Instead of, you know, those silly old things; salvation, forgiveness of sin, God's help for missionaries, etc.) Glecchhh.

Posted by John Weidner at 4:06 PM

As to what Mr Tancredo said...

I don't think it's a very useful or smart idea. (To bomb Mecca if the US gets hit with a big terrorist attack.)

On the other hand, it is very good for certain people to be aware that America is much more dangerous than our normal behavior might lead them to believe. For their own good.

America is not a fake democracy, like European countries, where you get them same ruling-class crowd no matter which party you vote for. It's often pointed out that this or that congressman is a drooling idiot, and perhaps some of them are...but what this also means is that our congress-critters don't all come from a few Ivy league Universities. Skull 'n Bones doesn't get you far in American politics.

Which means that, here, voters get a real choice. The Emir of Q'uu-Bai and the Pasha of P'zumba should be be aware. We are perfectly capable, if we get angry enough, of electing Mr Tancredo President, and telling him to collect some scalps.

I think a better threat would be that the next 9-11 will result in two more "Iraqs." And if the attack is bad enough, the first country to be democratized and Globalized will be Arabia. That's something that will scare people like Osama bin Laden. We should let certain people know, in a polite diplomatic way, that they are in real danger of having Barbie Dolls for sale at the Medina WalMart

Posted by John Weidner at 8:01 AM

July 18, 2005

Would you rather share a foxhole with one of these guys....or with

AWESOME. Amazing picture...

Iraq suicide bomber disarmed
The guy in the pickup truck is a suicide bomber, shot and wounded by Iraqi police. The two standing men are from an Iraqi explosive ordnance detonation team. They are disarming the suicide belt! Unbelievable. Hopefully they will squeeze some useful information out of the murdering fascist scumbag, to justify the risk to those brave men. The story is here. thanks to Chrenkoff.

There are many dangers on Iraq's horizon, but if the Iraqis can avoid them, they could well be splendid allies in a few years, and end up helping us clean out various terrorist pest holes. (By dangers I don't mean terrorists; it's clear that the Iraqis aren't going to be cowed by them. I mean things like socialism, nihilism, multi-culturalism and other soul-destroying infections they might pick up from Europe, or the UN, or even from us if the Democrats get back into power.)

Posted by John Weidner at 8:12 PM

Exactly right...

Barone has another good one....

Titus Oates was once a name every schoolboy knew. Oates was the disgraced Church of England clergyman who, in 1678 and 1679, accused various English Catholics of a "popish plot" to assassinate King Charles II and take control of the government of England.

On the basis of the testimony of Oates and a few other similar characters, more than a dozen Catholics were found guilty and executed. Priests were arrested and held indefinitely, and Catholics were excluded from Parliament.

Then, as the trials went on, it became clear that Oates' detailed charges were all lies. His name became a synonym for liar....

Barone has a good list of the lies of a certain contemporary Titus Oates. Go take a look.

On a historical note, I am a great fan of Samuel Pepys. I have an interesting book, The Ordeal of Mr. Pepys's Clerk, about the involvement of Pepys in the Popish Plot. Shaftesbury wished to arrest Pepys on false charges, but Pepy's had a clear alibi. So he was forced to settle for Pepys's clerk, Samuel Atkins, who was accused of complicity in the (still) mysterious murder of Sir Edmund Bury Godfrey. But the target was Pepys, and he only as a means to the real target, the catholic Duke of York, later James II.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:17 PM

Splendid summary...

You probably already know about FatSteve's link-filled timeline of the Plame/Wilson kerfluffle, but if not, consider it a don't-miss.

Or just give the whole matter a miss, since it was obviously bogus from the beginning. The person who did the most to "out" Plame was her husband. Suppose your spouse was coverrrrt CIA, do you publish a controversial op-ed in the NYT, one that's going to focus the world's attention on yourself? And when Novak published his column, which merely said Plame worked for the CIA, no one paid any attention until Wilson screamed to the world that his wife was an agent and had been exposed.

Posted by John Weidner at 10:13 AM

worked then, works now...

Michael Barone is always worth reading. His latest is: Bush well on way to meeting deficit promise.

So the deficit—the federal budget deficit—is declining sharply, more sharply than just about anyone in mainstream media anticipated. According to figures from the Office of Management and Budget, the deficit is projected to decline from $412 billion in 2004 to $333 billion in 2005, a 19 percent decline. OMB further projects, obviously with less certitude, that it will decline to $162 billion in 2008.

If so, that will mean that George W. Bush will have more than kept his promise to cut the deficit in half in his second term. Back in February, OMB projected a 2005 deficit of $427 billion...

Well, we told you so. But intentional blindness on this subject is still alive and healthy. I remember back in the 1980's conservatives pushing the Laffer Curve, and liberals plugging their ears and saying "La la la I can't hear you." As Orrin said somewhere, "We laffered all the way to the bank."

Of course it worked then. (Remember how the Reagan deficits were going to crush America, and leave our children in poverty?)

And it worked for JFK. (Funny thing, how when Dems are in the WH, prosperity gets happy names. The "Go-go Years?" Remember? If it's a Republican, then you have "Decade of Greed." The prosperity Reagan brought us actually continued into the 90's, but a Dem got into the WH, so instantly "greed" disappeared.

I shudder to think what the coming prosperity will be named, once the libs reluctantly acknowledge that it exists...

Posted by John Weidner at 9:01 AM

July 17, 2005


The San Francisco Bd of Supervisors has voted not to support Senator Feinstein's efforts to bring the Battleship Iowa to SF as a naval museum.

God, how I despise those limp-wristed America-hating national-defense-hating lefty pimples. I hope the Iowa goes to Emeryville, capitalism's last refuge in the North Bay. (Actually, it may go to Stockton, of all the crazy things. Eternal shame shall be upon San Francisco.)

WORD NOTE: The reason San Francisco has "Supervisors," rather than aldermen or councilmen, is because SF is both a city and a county. Counties usually have supes, and that's the name that stuck here.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:06 PM

"Here, let me stick this knife in you"

Trey Jackson quotes John Podesta on Meet the Press, talking about the Plame affair:

Podesta: ....At the end of the day this isn't about Pres. Clinton, this is about the Bush WH, this is about the war in Iraq. This is about the fact that whether it's Dick Clarke or Joe Wilson or Gnl. Shinsheki or Max Cleland or Joe Wilson, the motus operandi is if you criticize this WH, if you suggest there is another point of view, you're attacked. You're smeared...

What a weasely cowardly thing to say. No, it was not about the "Bush WH," or about the war in Iraq. It was about very specific accusations that a White House official had committed a crime. And now that that line of attack is falling apart, now that the charges look more and more phony, do they apologize? Say they were wrong? NO, suddenly now it's "about the Bush White House." What the hell does that mean? Who knows?

But suppose I accuse you of a crime. Suppose I try to put you in jail, and gloat over visions of seeing you marched off in chains. And then when I don't have any evidence to back the accusation up, I say it's "really" about your rotten personality. Is that slimy, or what?

And suppose, when you point out that I'm making a false accusation, and refute me with logic and facts, I then whine and snivel that you're always "attacking" people, and "smearing" them just because they have "another point of view."

"Another point of view!" What amazing effrontery. "Here, let me stick this knife in you. Just my little point of view, you know. Just "suggesting" it."

What cowardly worms. Wormtongues. To try to nail someone on a charge amounting to treason [Google Rove+treason, see how many hits you get!] and then when somebody fights back with facts, to blubber that they are suppressing "other points of view." Yecccch. He forgot to add "censorship," "wrapping themselves in the flag," and "suppressing dissent."

Posted by John Weidner at 6:45 PM

all your clicks are...

Our good friend Scott Thorpe has just started a blog, Spot Marker. He's already got me thinking, with a post [7-15, no perma-links] about how Google is pack-ratting ALL of it...

I have been chatting with some guys over at Google about how they manage their data. The concern is that Google doesn't delete info you want it to. Google is collecting email's, cookie data(what websites you go to) and personal info you use to sign up with them. With the information they are retriving from each individual they can target exactly what kind of person you are. There has never been a better source for learning the behavor of a human being.

"It's data that's practically a printout of what's going on in your brain: What you are thinking of buying, who you talk to, what you talk about."

Ref: [
link to article]

Well, I never signed up for anything, and now I won't. And our network is used by family, friends, and visiting neighborhood children, so I imagine a record of our searches wouldn't make much sense to data miners.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:58 AM

July 16, 2005

Gotcha! This must be number 336

Nixguy also had this photo, from 7-14, of Bush and Rove leaving a helicopter.

Rove and Bush leaving helicopter
I assume they are facing a crowd of reporters. So what ARE Bush and Rove thinking? "Thanks for the lift to the Briar Patch, Br'er Fox?" Or maybe, "Should we tell them who really outed Plame? Just to watch them shrivel?"

It's cruel to laugh, and cruel for them to look so smug. But the press has mostly transformed itself from being journalists to being Democrat Party highbinders, nakedly playing politics and trying to destroy Republicans. So they deserve to be humiliated and scorned and made monkeys of.

Thank you, Mr Rove!

Posted by John Weidner at 8:14 PM

Republicans, he said, "want to kill us."

Our friend Frank sent a link to this article, on Paul Begala's crazy rant, which lots of people have been discussing.

....Begala was featured at the first-ever Campus Progress National Student Conference, which was designed to provide campus liberals with the tools necessary to fight the conservative movement. The event also drew former President Bill Clinton, for whom Begala once worked as an advisor....

....Begala's presence on the panel created a stir when he declared that Republicans had "done a p***-poor job of defending" the U.S. Republicans, he said, "want to kill us."

"I was driving past the Pentagon when that plane hit" on Sept. 11, 2001. "I had friends on that plane; this is deadly serious to me," Begala said.

"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say that."....


  • This is pure raindroppery. This is what I was writing about. I can't get angry, because I think Begala, like a lot of people, has been driven loony by changes in the world that they lack the intellectual tools to handle.
  • How sloppily people talk--in that last paragraph it's impossible to be sure which "theys" refer to terrorists, and which to Republicans. Maybe in his head also.
  • They want to provide "tools to fight the conservative movement." But they're just preaching to the converted.
  • Factually, it's so wrong it's preposterous. Our tax receipts have been trending upward ever since...well, check out the graph in this post by NixGuy. I guess if I were a liberal I'd be losing my marbles too...
  • And, assuming that Begala really believes what he says about tax cuts, what must be the psychological consequences of believing something but getting no confirmation from the real world? Strange.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:47 PM

I think this makes sense...

Om Malik writes;

A few months ago I wrote that start-ups are missing out a big opportunity by not addressing the Mac market first. Mac users are early adopters and amongst them are many bloggers/media people who can help create the buzz for the product. Apparently someone was listening - Michael Robertson’s latest effort, The Gizmo Project....

Mac users are probably less jaded, just because fewer new projects are aimed at them. Or so I suspect. So a start-up has a better chance of being noticed and talked-about in the Mac realm...(thanks to The Apple Blog)

Posted by John Weidner at 3:17 PM

July 15, 2005

In other news, America is losing...

This sounds like an ordinary Iraq combat story, right? Not even news, since it doesn't make America look bad, right?

...While Tschiderer was relaying information to the truck commander of his M114 Humvee, an enemy sniper team prepared to engage him from inside of a cushioned silver van being used as a mobile sniper’s nest. This nest was lined with numerous bed mattresses to muffle the sound of a Dragonoff sniper rifle fired through a hole just big enough for the shooter to engage his target of choice.

Tschiderer was knocked to the ground from the sudden impact of the sniper’s bullet. The bullet only seemed to have fazed this Soldier as, adrenaline pumping, he sprang right back up in order to take cover and locate the enemy’s position...

What's different? YOU CAN WATCH IT HAPPEN! Here's the video.

I guess the snipers were doing the filming, to send as a little present for their pals in the mainstream media and the appeasement Democrat Party. Cue solemn-anchorman-voice-more-in-sorrow-then-in-anger: In other news, more evidence tonight that the Iraq war is a quagmire, as fresh insurgent troops defeat beleaguered dispirited American occupiers...

Actual result, our guys captured the scumbags, and Tschiderer was uninjured, due to his body armor. Not news.

Links to Army Times story, and long version PDF
Thanks to Michelle

Posted by John Weidner at 3:52 PM

Iraq invasion incites anger of "Arab street!"

Quote doo zhoor:

Bin Laden had the sympathy of the world after 9/11, and he squandered it. Just pissed it away in the name of foolish foreign adventures! He must be ruing the day he ever went into Iraq.

Tell me about it. That's Best of the Web, writing about the recent polls taken in various Moslem countries...And by the way, isn't it cool, how polling is now done everywhere? So when America-hating Jew-hating "experts" on campus or in the (anti)Democratic Party proclaim that the "Arab street" hates—wait for it, this will surprise you—America and Israel, we can go in AND FIND OUT THE TRUTH! Yay! Ha ha ha.

And just now I've thought of an answer to those people who complain that there's no way to know when the War on Terror is won. It's like the Cold War against communism. It was won, intellectually, when the only place in the world that Marxism was still respected was on American campuses. It will be the same with Islamo-fascism. People in Arabia will be voting for the Free-Trade Party, while our lefty jackasses ooops, sorry, pro-fess-ers, will be lauding the heroic Arab people's resistance against American hegemony...then we will know the War is over.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:59 PM

Captain Queeg, remember him?

The Anchoress writes:

I think I wrote about a week ago my suspicions that the Karl Rove whirlwind was yet another Bushian “rope-a-dope.” The WH was too silent, and they were doing what they ALWAYS do - allowing the press and the Democrats to get wild, shrill, over-confident and over-the-top, and then allowing the cards to show...

Makes a lot of sense. You gotta figure the press/Dems will be attacking the White House over something. So why not lead them on to attack where you know you're in a strong position. Maybe, maybe, even a position where the real villain will turn out to be a reporter! How sweet.

Now you might say that it's a bit unfair for Br'er Rabbit to play so upon the dishonesty of Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear. But if the press was to do it's job, and try to report the truth (Ha ha ha, ain't I a card!) instead of constituting an anti-Bush hatchet squad, they wouldn't get into these little situations...

There's a comment I liked on her post too:

3. The Dems have become Captain Queeg, rolling the silver balls in their hands, rambling about Bushitler, Dick, Darth Vader, Cheney and Karl, the Emperor, Rove stealing the strawberries, I mean elections. They are madly searching for the “truth” and will look under every rock and in every corner until they find it.
Posted by John Weidner at 8:25 AM

July 14, 2005

Names matter...

I was writing recently about the importance of names, (here, and here) and how Verizon ought to lock-in a cool name for EV-DO before some competitor does it. (How awkward it would be if the name were "Sprinter!") John Gruber has a detailed post on how Apple has moved very nimbly to add podcasting capabilities to their iPod/iTunes/ITMS constellation. They did not invent the name "podcasting," but it's perfect for them, and they've moved with surprising speed to lock-in the advantage...

...But names do matter. And what makes this so delicious for Apple is that the more popular “podcasting” becomes as the name for publishing audio via RSS, the less likely it will be that a new name will ever take hold. Which leaves Apple’s competitors — including Microsoft, Sony, and the various other gadget-makers producing Windows Media-based players — in the extremely uncomfortable position of choosing from the following courses of action:

1. Embracing the word “podcasting”, even though it contains the name of the competitor they’re chasing, and which name subtly implies that podcasting is meant for use with iPods, which implication sort of further implies that every other digital music player is just an iPod knock-off. I mean, can you imagine Apple using a term like “walkmancasting”, “dellcasting”, or “wincasting”? It’s embarrassing.

2. Devising and using a new term for “podcasting” that doesn’t use “pod”. Good luck with that, considering that everyone — everyone — who is publishing podcasts is already calling them “podcasts”.

[Update: According to
this story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft employees are pushing “blogcasting” as a “pod”-free alternative.]

3. Ignoring the whole podcasting phenomenon.

There are no other options. The best-case scenario for Apple’s competitors is for this whole podcasting thing to turn out to be nothing more than a fad. That makes #3 a reasonable course of action. But if it isn’t a fad, they’ve got to choose between #1 and #2, both of which are marketing nightmares. And these guys are all already in a deep hole, marketing-wise, versus Apple and iPod...

"implies that every other digital music player is just an iPod knock-off..." Exactly. And once a name "sticks," you pretty much can't change it.

Posted by John Weidner at 5:07 PM

Raindrop Theory...

[Post updated several times] I've started to write various intricate expositions of the Raindrop Theory (not a great name, but it's stuck in my head), but none of them have quite jelled. So I think I'll just write a simple version, so at least I'll have something to point to.

My theory, which seems to me to explain a lot of the odd things happening in politics these days, (things I'm always harping about, here on the blog) is that many people have never developed a political philosophy. This is especially true for my generation (Baby Boomers). We came of age in a time when it seemed to many Americans as if the big questions had all been answered. Settled. So we just absorbed that world as if it was unchanging and uncontroversial. (This is of course how we all learn much of what's in our heads; we just pick it up from our parents or peers, or from "conventional wisdom," and never scrutinize it. We don't have time to debate everything.)

When I was young it seemed to many people that the system sometimes called 'big-government liberalism" had been conclusively shown to be "truth." Settled. Beyond debate, typified by the way Nixon said, "We are all Keynesians now." Or the way LBJ could launch a "War on Poverty" without being greeted by a storm of derision, as would happen today.

There really wasn't any conservative critique of the dominant liberal paradigm, at least not one that ordinary people encountered. I don't remember any such during my college years. Goldwater's challenge was widely dismissed as kooky, and Reagan wasn't on stage yet. So a great many political things were just accepted, the way we accept without conscious thought that the sun shines, that smoke rises and raindrops fall from the clouds.

But a lot of what those people absorbed doesn't work any more. Times have changed. The Industrial Age is over, the Atlantic Era is over, inflation is gone, Europe is a hollow shell, the Cold War has been replaced by the WOT, and the Republicans are now the dominant party. And it's no longer true that Democrats are the party of the young and the cool, the party of minorities and free spirits. And the Republicans are no longer the bland white-bread party, stuffy and stodgy and isolationist.

So there are a ton of changes that are impinging on people''s minds, if only subconsciously. And they can't deal with them rationally, because they never learned to THINK about them. Never realized they were opinions, or temporary conditions, not "the way the world works."

Which is why "Raindrop Theory' is a bad name. I meant it to suggest how any of us might freak out if raindrops suddenly started falling upwards. Actually we are all so accustomed to scientific wonders and paradoxes, we might just calmly wait for the PBS show that explains why raindrops fall up...But many people are NOT accustomed to expect social and political change. Not on the scale we see now.

And the results are millions of "Bush-haters," foaming at the mouth and apparently actually believing that a malevolent plague is emanating from the White House. But only because of Bush, not because anything has changed. They seem to think that if Bush (and Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld etc) disappeared, then things would go back to "normal." Back to the 20th Century. (They are wrong, poor creatures. Bush-is-Hitler is mere crackpottery. But it shields them from worse news, which is that the Bushies are just normal American conservatives, normal products of this age, and there are LOTS MORE like them coming up from the minors)

Partly this can be explained by the 70-Year Cycle. When party dominance changed in the 1860's and in 1930's, there were lots of Lincoln-haters, and FDR-haters. Still, the freak-out seems to me much greater this time. Perhaps because there are a lot more educated people, who have their self-esteem wrapped up in their ideas. And partly because big-government liberalism was a philosophy of the Industrial Age, which is passing away. The Information Age is not being kind to people who believe in large organizations directed from the center by experts and managers.

Posted by John Weidner at 2:46 PM

You watch the hand that's waving the wand...

Watch Rove. Watch the giant puppets. Meanwhile, unnoticed, the good guys slip another win under the radar...

Gleneagles Outcome Major Energy Triumph for Bush:

...The totality of Bush's victory was cloaked by the outrageous rhetoric of French President Chirac, who claimed major U.S. concessions at Gleneagles. ''We have noticed a shift in the American position,'' he said, contending Bush has isolated his country in rejecting the Kyoto pact.

But Chirac's claims are contradicted by what really happened in Scotland. U.S. negotiators insisted on removal from the summit's communique language describing global warming as ''an urgent threat to the world'' requiring ''immediate action.'' Also eliminated were references to melting glaciers and rising seas, plus an audacious effort by France to link Europe with pro-Kyoto U.S. cities and states (mainly California and New England)...

California and New England, huh.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:42 PM

July 13, 2005

I'm working on strengthening my peace conciousness through peace practices...

I thought the HuffPuff was too silly to be worth mentioning. But I just saw at The Corner a link to Greg Gutfeld, who's a Huffington poster parodying the other Huff's! This is very funny:

....“With an irresistible mix of moral relativism and false consciousness, THE HUFFPO GUIDE TO GOOD AND EVIL helps me handle any debate involving terrorism - or any subject dealing with evil!” - Greg Gutfeld, 40, writer, pet owner and part-time Pilates instructor. “Passing judgment is so expensive! This seminar teaches me how to make everything relative - so I don't have to defend my country - or my relatives!”....



“Terror should never be rewarded, but what if what the terrorist wants is what is right? What if what is a 'win' to the terrorist is what is right? Do we refuse to comply simply because the terrorist has acted?”

From Deepak!

" …it would be naive to take the simple way out and call this an example of pure evil and depravity….Unless we accept this fact, we will continue with our madness of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

Show us Deepak!

“Terrorism also festers because of a lack of education, toxic nationalism, ignorance about the outside the world, and deep economic disparities. Twenty thousand children died yesterday of hunger-related causes around the world, twenty thousand will die today, and twenty thousand tomorrow.”....

The best part of the jest is that his quotes aren't parodies; the poor hapless loons actually write this galumpf! To quote a little more Depak Chopra: “Millions of people are ready to join in harmonious interaction with Nature -- and with our own complex inner nature -- to create a world of peace, harmony, laughter and love. Let us strengthen our intention to create that critical mass of peace consciousness….Each one of us can help create this critical mass by becoming the embodiment of peace conciousness through peace practices"... I bet that even Scott Ott couldn't equal that.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:27 PM

Thoughts while in the dentist's chair...

If you are going to the dentist to have your tooth drilled on, it's helpful to have some interesting and positive thought to focus on...that helps one to ignore other things that are happening.

And as I was driving to the dentist this morning, I caught a bit of Rush Limbaugh, and he talked about how the Dems have been ginning up one stupid "scandal" after another (most of which are already forgotten). Why? Because they have nothing positive or constructive to offer the country, and they know it. It's desperation. It's weakness and floundering. And even if Karl Rove were dragged off in shackles to Leavenworth, that would not change. And it worked! The trip to the dentist was much less painful than it would have been if I'd felt pessimistic.

By the way, certain Dems have been trying to make comparisons between their obstructionism now, and that of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans under Clinton. But there's little similarity. Then Republicans also were supporting various measures they felt would help the country--think Welfare Reform, NAFTA, GATT--and we were for them even if they helped the Democrats and Clinton politically. And remember Contract With America. Republicans were offering a program, and asking people to vote for them for that reason.

And while we were certainly obstructionist against HillaryCare, that too could be viewed as a positive move. We were obstructionist because there were issues at stake that we Republicans believe in. A gigantic socialistic power grab by the government would have been bad. Very bad for America. (We Republicans are not always principled in politics. I make no such claim. But our beliefs tend to influence what we do.)

Of course maybe the current blocking of Social Security reform by the Dems is principled too. Maybe their principles are opposed the idea of ordinary workers having investments for their retirement. Maybe their principles declare that other people, little inferior people, should not invest in the stock market (even while they do so themselves). It's hard to say, since it is very hard to find out just what their principles are. If they have any...

Posted by John Weidner at 1:58 PM

This is turning into a lot of fun....

There's a good editorial in OpinionJournal (as you've probably already noticed) with a different view...
Democrats and most of the Beltway press corps are baying for Karl Rove's head over his role in exposing a case of CIA nepotism involving Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. On the contrary, we'd say the White House political guru deserves a prize--perhaps the next iteration of the "Truth-Telling" award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr. Wilson before the Senate Intelligence Committee exposed him as a fraud. For Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign. Thank you, Mr. Rove....
The whole mess has been a silly waste of time from the beginning, since the law in question was clearly never intended to "protect" CIA employees who work at comfy desk jobs in Langley. Anyone watching the CIA parking lot could have found out where Valerie Plame worked. BUT, exposing lefty media mendacity is a priority these days, since their political shenanigans have moved into the realm of undermining our country in time of war. They should be EXPOSED again and again. And the big question of course, is, why is Judith Miller going to jail rather than reveal...what? What is the NYT covering up? John Podhoretz suggests...
...But what if that's not right? What if the original source for the "Wilson got the job from his CIA wife" was, in fact, a reporter? After all, we know that the vice president's chief of staff, Lewis Libby, has testified he learned of Plame's identity from a journalist. Wilson had gotten very cozy with a couple of them -- Walter Pincus of the Washington Post and Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times among them. What if he spilled the beans to enhance his own standing in the story somehow, to bolster his supposed findings? What if -- and here's where it gets really interesting -- what if the real object of interest where Fitzgerald's investigation is concerned is now none other than the jailed Judith Miller of the New York Times? What if she let it all slip and in the giant game of telephone around the nation's capital, Miller was the original source of the "Plame's in the CIA" info?...(Thanks to Byron Preston)
What I start wondering is, is this another Tar Baby? Are Karl and George laughing as Br'er Bolshie tries to toss them into the briar patch? (Thanks to Ethan Hahn, who e-mailed to remind me of the earlier post. In which post you will see that I thanked Ethan Hahn for reminding me of yet an earlier post. Recursive I think is the word here. Or maybe infundibular.)
Posted by John Weidner at 9:46 AM

July 12, 2005

the Moral Low Ground...

Cliff May writes...

Two possibilities and a world of difference between them:

1) Rove knowingly exposed a covert CIA agent as a way to “punish” Joe Wilson.

2) Rove was asked why the Bush administration would send someone like Joe Wilson to Africa on a secret mission for the CIA. Rove answered: “We didn’t. His wife works at the CIA. She got him the assignment.”

If it’s (1) Rove did wrong and probably deserves to be prosecuted.

If it’s (2) Rove was merely telling the truth to a reporter about a curious situation -- unusual perhaps, but hardly criminal or even scandalous.

I know which I think is more likely. I’m not sure that will matter much to the MSM which smells blood in the water.

They smell blood, because they are the Media Wing of the Democrat Party. This has nothing to do with "news gathering," or journalism, it's naked politics.

But my guess is that the Left has blown its credibility in so many ways, that they won't be able to do much damage. They've lost any claim to the high ground, by opposing, with pompous moral posturing, everything the Administration does...including the most idealistic and beneficial, and including the heroism and sacrifices of our military. People who would gladly put Saddam back in power if it would hurt Bush, are in no position to get huffy about Karl Rove.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:05 AM

July 11, 2005

Ka-boom. Repeat 200 times.

My son Rob showed me an intriguing video. It's a re-imagining of Project Orion, on a contemporary mission to Mars.

Of course no one savvy enough to read Random Jottings needs to be reminded what Project Orion was...

Posted by John Weidner at 8:28 PM

I'm not alone...

Glenn Reynolds just mentioned that the Insta-Daughter is reading The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. That was the book that sent me skidding off of the main highway of normal life. And even more so, the sequel, Mr Bass's Planetoid, with the stunning spooky wind-swept illustrations by Louis Darling.

Such as this, of the sinister Prewett Brumblydge, discovering an astonishingly heavy meteorite...

Prewytt Brumbledge

When I discovered Eleanor Cameron's books, in maybe 1960, there really wasn't any science fiction for kids. It was a revelation to me...

Here's Tycho Bass, in an illustration by Robert Henneberger...good, but not a genius.

Tycho Bass
Mr Bass kept much useful information in a big notebook called......Random Jottings!

Posted by John Weidner at 10:33 AM

Good cell-phone resource...

I did a lot of Googling when I chose my new phone, an LG VX-8000. The results were disappointing, and various questions went unanswered. And when I got the phone (which I love) and read the manual, they were still unanswered.

The place I should have been at was PhoneScoop.com. It has scores of reviews, and a busy forum of VX-8000 users. My biggest question has been: Can you upload photos via a USB cable, rather than paying Verizon to e-mail them from the phone? The silence on that one was, to use le cliché juste, deafening! Verizon doesn't specifically say it's not possible, they just let you infer it.

Turns out, yes I can. Bitpim is the software to use. [Open Source; Windows/Linux/Mac OS-X; works with many CDMA phones.] And eBay has inexpensive cables. (I don't have my cable yet, so I can't be sure all this will actually work.)

Speaking of forums, I'm always surprised at how hard most people find it to clearly communicate questions or answers. Or even just write a Subject Line that will attract the one person who might have an answer. If your Subject Line is "Help!!!!" or "PROBLEM," busy people may just skip over your forum post, rather than waste time on what will probably be of no interest. I sure do.

* Update: I got my cable, and all seems to work as advertised. BitPim is a touch awkward by Macintosh standards, but no real problems so far...
Posted by John Weidner at 9:45 AM

Once again ignored...

Yet once again, Stephen Hayes gives us new evidence of Iraq/al Qaeda connections. Once again the so-called "press" ignores the story. Even the AP, which obtained the info with a FOI request, downplays it almost comically.

One has to pity the poor Lefties, so desperate to maintain the illusions that justify disloyalty and appeasement.

Posted by John Weidner at 7:57 AM

July 10, 2005

#186: "Is “pessimism” now some sort of religious faith?"

P. Krugman


It’s been months since Paul Krugman has written a column on the sad plight of our economy. We’re sure all Squad readers know why. The U.S. and world economies are doing pretty damn well. Even Krugman’s buddy, Stephen Roach, over at Morgan Stanley has thrown in the towel. As Roach put it:

“As a card-carrying pessimist, I am now being chided for expressing any
optimism.  My newfound bullishness on bonds, in conjunction with a more
upbeat assessment of Europe, has sparked a howl of protest from the
pessimistic crowd.  It's high time for the pessimist to play a more
even-handed role in shaping the macro debate.”

Chided? Pessimistic Crowd? This leads us to ask some questions: Is “pessimism” is now some sort of religious faith? Or is it a clandestine brotherhood complete with torch lit meeting rooms and secret handshakes? Is Roach now in danger of being “read out” of the club? Will Krugman, as pessimist-in-chief, stop quoting him in his columns? Should be fun to watch but we were frankly surprised that Roach felt it necessary to explain his revised views in terms of a break with the faithful.

In the mean time Krugman, much like Al Qaeda, has moved on to softer targets in his columns. His latest crusade is obesity. In Free to Choose Obesity (07/08/05) the villain is clear–big food, and the answer is clear–big government, but beyond that Krugman has little to say about what specific solutions might be. There is little wonder why. When you go much beyond labeling and education, things get silly fast. How about floor scales at Burger King, McDonalds and Wendy’s along with wall mounted height detectors. When customers’ height/weight ratios are over the “obese line”, they have to go to the salad bar. Or how about a government inspection program much like the Department of Agriculture’s meat and poultry system? Can anyone imagine a candy bar going down a government inspection line being checked for violating a regulatory sugar limit?

We also think obesity concerns should begin at home. If Krugman were slim and trim himself he would at least have some credibility on this subject. But he’s not. He’s a pudgy academic. In fact, if Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury doughboy, and one of “big foods” most famous icons, were to grow a beard and take off the chef’s hat, he would be a spitting image of the Krugster himself. So what’s PK’s excuse? Was he misled by big food advertisements into thinking Twinkies were not fattening? Is he a victim? Like we said, when you get into the details things can get pretty silly.

[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 12:06 PM

Bag stuffed with books; clothes optional...

Now here's a quandry I have often found myself in...

Headed out, after confronting my usual packing problem. I have an obsessive fear of being caught short on reading material on trips. I don't know what this phobia is called--am I a bibliodeficencyphobic or something like that?--but it's a major crimp in my travel. Sure, I tell myself, this thick novel should be enough to last me a week. But what if it doesn't engage my interest? What if I have more time on my hands than I thought and get through it relatively quickly? Better take something else. But what if that other book proves very skimmable and it lasts less than a day? Better take something else. But what? What if I take the wrong thing, and feel the urge to read something else instead? And on it goes until I've stuffed my bag with so many books--the vast majority of which will go untouched--that I've got to worry about how to fit all my clothes.

I rarely go out, beyond my neighborhood, without a book. What if the car breaks down, and I have to sit and wait for a tow truck?

Posted by John Weidner at 8:35 AM

July 8, 2005

Fisking a creep...

...who's a bug too small to stomp, but it makes me feel better...[Thanks to Mike]

THE DAY AFTER THE FIREWORKS By James Carroll | July 5, 2005
WE KNOW what July 4th is. What about July 5th? After the fireworks, the music, the rhetoric of freedom -- what then? The party is over. Not for AMERICANS, you jerk. We love this country 365 days a year. Can we think about what, exactly, we were celebrating? YES, I could tell you at great length. Waste of time of course. Today's date puts the question of how high-flown American ideals square with the quotidian reality of what the nation is becoming. Becoming? Oooh, I get it. Republicans are in power, so America is "becoming" evil, corrupt, unjust, racist, etc...

No need to rehearse here the red-blue arguments over youth-slaying wars (first Iraq, now Afghanistan?) that are justified by the banner of red, white, and blue. No, they are justified by murderous attacks by terrorists (who would never slay a "youth," of course. Only American wars are "youth slaying.") The roster of illusions that pass for national security doctrine -- preventive war, nuclear posture, unilateralism -- has slipped beyond debate by now, with citizens and politicians alike having signed onto one slate or another. You, I suppose, dwell on a higher plane, and look down on the illusions of mere mortals. The growing US awareness, sharply reflected in polls, that the Iraq war is a loser (or perhaps even wrong) Funny how polls taken in Iraq don't say anything of the sort is simultaneously stymied by a mounting drumbeat for more American troops No, there's no such drumbeat to fight insurgents whose only casus belli is the presence of American troops. Care to back that up with some evidence? You aquainted with these guys? Did they tell you that? From such contradiction we, the people, last night took refuge in the treasured euphoria of patriotic display. I feel confident that you were not tainted with any euphoria on the Fourth of July.

But what about today? In assessing post-celebration realities of the national moment, it may help to recall that America has never been an innocent nation...Of course not, we're grownups, and have been all along. "That innocent nation" line is always a stupid preliminary to a sophisticate's sneer.

[I'll skip over a long section on how WWII was ugly, depressing and marred by American (of course) racism, blah blah blah]

....A new American tragedy is unfolding in Iraq. Not even its supporters pretend to see glory in this war now, and who imagines anything like ''victory" any more? Actually we've already achieved numerous elements of the eventual victory. The beginning of the first real Arab democracy, the end to future threats from Saddam's weapons programs, the entire climate of ME politics beginning to change and open, AND the ending of the tens-of-thousands of murders and tortures and rapes that were happening every year in Iraq (you liberals of course don't care about mere foreigners, but some of us do, and think this is...well, "glorious" is not too bad a word. Also heroic, and heartwarming.)

But if an iconic American image of the Iraqi struggle emerges, it will probably not resemble the Iwo Jima statue because amputation and mutilation have become hallmarks of the GI experience of the ''improvised explosive devices" that ambush them. IED's don't ambush soldiers, terrorist murderers do. What would the Rosenthal image be if the Marines had lost their arms? 3 or 4 of those guys WERE KILLED soon after the picture was taken. With today's far better care they might have LIVED, despite, perhaps, amputations. For each of the roughly 70 American soldiers killed in the month just past, many others are gravely maimed. What of them? What of the people who jumped from the WTC rather than be burned to death? What of the commuters just blown-up in London?

The ''bursting in air" of July 4th is an implicit glorification of war. VICTORY in those early wars meant that hundreds of millions of people could live in peace and prosperity and freedom in America. YOUR ancestors probably fled unhappy places to find opportunity here. You sneer at glorification? I say bring it on. On the day after, can we think of those combat survivors who will carry the real cost of the Iraqi war in their bodies forever? We will think of them with profound respect and gratitude. Emotions you have no clue about. And how can we think of those American daughters and sons without thinking of their even more numerous Iraqi sisters and brothers? Why don't YOU think about the children Saddam's thugs used to torture and kill in front of their parents? Or dump their bodies on the doorstep with a video-tape of them being tortured and raped. That's the side YOU are on, you worm. The SAME TORTURERS are the "insurgents" you think are given a "casus belli" by Americans, and whose evil you gloss over so blithely.

What kind of nation does our flag fly over now? Not a less innocent one, because American innocence was never the truth. Not one less reluctant to go to war without a good reason, because we have foolishly credited bad reasons in the past. But now the nation lacks even that. As our president demonstrated last week, we have become a people who wage unending war -- killing and maiming our young ones and theirs -- without being remotely able to say why. This is the pure essence of what makes lefties loathsome. Only Americans "kill and maim," nobody else. In fact we're the only ones who wage war. The rest of the world is one big passive victim.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:40 PM


From Northeast Intelligence Network:

REPORT: One UK Bomber Was Recent GITMO Release

7 July 2005; 12:54 ET: Preliminary reports from a source inside the Pentagon indicate that one of the operatives involved in this morning's bombings in London was recently released from the prison at Guantanamo.

UPDATED 10:35 PM ET: A clarification was made by the source providing this information, noting that "one of the bombers who is believed to be involved in this attack was recently released from the prison at Guantanamo, Cuba." The source did not elaborate about how the suspect was reportedly identified so early, although suggested he was onboard bus 30 that exploded outside of the British Medical Association at 9:47 local time. We are continuing our investigation..[via Winds of Change].

If this pans out, it will be interesting to see if the same biscuit-brains who have been castigating America non-stop for imprisoning cuddly Talibs in the torture-dungeons of Guantanamo Bay, will also complain because we release them! Blame Bush...either way.

Posted by John Weidner at 1:14 PM

July 7, 2005

"Unfortunately, the Europeans' devastating urge to do good can no longer be countered with reason..."

Don't miss this interview with Kenyan economist James Shikwati, For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid! An amazing blast of good sense...

....SPIEGEL: If the World Food Program didn't do anything, the people would starve.

Shikwati: I don't think so. In such a case, the Kenyans, for a change, would be forced to initiate trade relations with Uganda or Tanzania, and buy their food there. This type of trade is vital for Africa. It would force us to improve our own infrastructure, while making national borders -- drawn by the Europeans by the way -- more permeable. It would also force us to establish laws favoring market economy.

SPIEGEL: Would Africa actually be able to solve these problems on its own?

Shikwati: Of course. Hunger should not be a problem in most of the countries south of the Sahara. In addition, there are vast natural resources: oil, gold, diamonds. Africa is always only portrayed as a continent of suffering, but most figures are vastly exaggerated. In the industrial nations, there's a sense that Africa would go under without development aid. But believe me, Africa existed before you Europeans came along. And we didn't do all that poorly either.

SPIEGEL: But AIDS didn't exist at that time.

Shikwati: If one were to believe all the horrorifying reports, then all Kenyans should actually be dead by now. But now, tests are being carried out everywhere, and it turns out that the figures were vastly exaggerated. It's not three million Kenyans that are infected. All of the sudden, it's only about one million. Malaria is just as much of a problem, but people rarely talk about that.

SPIEGEL: And why's that?

Shikwati: AIDS is big business, maybe Africa's biggest business. There's nothing else that can generate as much aid money as shocking figures on AIDS. AIDS is a political disease here, and we should be very skeptical.

SPIEGEL: The Americans and Europeans have frozen funds previously pledged to Kenya. The country is too corrupt, they say.

Shikwati: I am afraid, though, that the money will still be transfered before long. After all, it has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, the Europeans' devastating urge to do good can no longer be countered with reason. It makes no sense whatsoever that directly after the new Kenyan government was elected -- a leadership change that ended the dictatorship of Daniel arap Mois -- the faucets were suddenly opened and streams of money poured into the country....

Unfortunately, that "urge to do good," like most welfare systems, is mostly about feeling good, and feeling like a superior being who gets to help the inferiors. The real design is keeping the poor in dependency, so the donor can continue to feel superior indefinitely.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:17 AM

July 6, 2005

This is good...

NEW YORK TIMES (Reuters) - Republicans in Congress have launched a new effort to speed up executions in the United States by limiting the ability of those sentenced to death to appeal to federal courts.

The ``Streamlined Procedures Act of 2005,'' introduced into the House of Representatives by California Rep. Dan Lungren and in the Senate by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, would limit the ability of defendants facing the death sentence to have their cases reviewed by federal courts in what are known as habeas corpus appeals.

"You see delays in death penalty cases where they are allowed to drag on for 15 or even 25 years. Defense attorneys have come to believe the longer they delay, the better it is for their clients,'' Lungren said in an interview.

"We're trying to ensure that habeas corpus is not used as a reason for interminable delays and that defendants get one bite of the apple and not multiple bites,'' he said.

Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee considering the bill, conceded there was little chance of blocking it in the House. "The House has been very supportive of anything that would strip the innocent of a fair hearing. This bill will ensure that more innocent people will be put to death,'' he said in a telephone interview.. (Thanks to Orrin).

Not to mention a whole bunch of guilty ones. The idea that 15 year's delay is a "fair hearing" is insanity. Liberal insanity. And the idea that convicted criminals should receive vast quantities of our sympathy and public money, while the poor victims should be forgotten and despised, is liberal moral sickness. As is the idea that convicted criminals should be referred to as "the innocent."

This is the same lefty sickness that fawns over Yasser Arafat and other terrorist murderers, but cares nothing for the poor Israeli children that get shredded. Or sobbed about the shacks of poor blacks in apartheid South Africa, but now says nothing when Mugabe bulldozes the houses of a million or so people. Or snivel about some cop-killer being executed, while caring nothing for those who live lives constricted by fear of crime.

When liberals talk about justice, they mean an excuse for nauseating moral preening and posturing, combined with cold-hearted indifference to the sufferings of the victims.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:22 PM


Instapunk has a long post for Canada Day, contrasting Canada and the US...Poor poor Canadians. It must be hard to have much of a self-image when foreigners don't consider you worth loathing...

...Does all of this tell us anything about ourselves? I believe so. But for the miraculous wisdom and courage of our founding fathers, the United States might be just like Canada, with a population of 30 million enervated Europeans, an incompetent socialist government, a social and cultural history lacking in brilliance or innovation, and a role in world politics as irascible pawn of the United Kingdom. Indeed, we might be several such nations, 7 to 10 million strong (or weak), quibbling and sniping and sneering at one another from sea to shining sea. Look at Canada with fresh eyes. It's what we could easily have settled for, a passive mediocrity destined to be a footnote in the history of man. Thank God for the road we took instead, and the giants who built that road so long ago...

I would go along with John Adams, who thought the US was "independent" before 1776, that the change happened inside us, and the Revolution merely confirmed it. And I think Canada was a sleepy backwater then and destined to stay that way. Immigrants by the millions were pouring into our ports because this is where it was happening! (To use a 60's metaphor.) I would not want to underrate the courage and wisdom of the founders, which was extraordinary by any measure. (Including the hatred of contemporary academic "historians," whose unflagging efforts to denigrate them testify to their greatness.) BUT, every "golden age" is seen to arise out of a time of vigorous commercial growth and military pride. It's was the growing strength and wealth of America that called forth those great men. And still brings them forward to lead the empire today...

Even if our armies had been crushed by the British, American growth would have continued. Even at the height of Britain's military commitment, they could only cover small parts of the 13 colonies. And even during the Revolution, our population was growing, and settlers, the Scotch-Irish especially, were trickling westward over a hundred different trails, creating new and very democratic communities, defeating savages, clearing land, and creating a culture new to the earth. British armies in New York or Charleston would only have irritated Americans to a fury, and made a future revolution inevitable.

Canada is like that Greek town founded on the opposite shore from Byzantium. Canada is Chalcedon.

Posted by John Weidner at 11:52 AM

July 4, 2005


I'm feeling very low this Fourth of July afternoon. The thought that, in wartime, it should be necessary for Americans to praise this country, and to defend her against hate-filled attacks from other Americans, is just sickening. Crazy!

It's especially vile that so many attacks are coming from members and leaders of the Democrat Party. Because, you see, all the great American wars of the 20th Century were Democrat wars. And in every one of them, we Republicans supported our country with warmth and whole-heartedness. We never stood aside and sneered at "Roosevelt's war," or "Wilson's war," or "LBJ's War." They were America's wars. Ours. What a bitter pill to see how we are repaid now.

And, knowing our history, I know that in all our wars (and in every war) mistakes are made. And I happen to know that our mistakes in past wars were huge compared to anything happening now. Mistakes that cost thousands of lives in an hour. And Republicans never distanced themselves, and called them "Democrat mistakes." They were our mistakes, America's, and they were the inevitable result of the fog and haste of war.

So I'm sickened by the way lefty Democrats glom hungrily onto any mistake (real or imaginary) our forces make. And how their eyes light up and their cheeks glow when they can criticize America. And how an abu Ghraib gets 10,000 news stories, while deeds of bravery or kindness by our troops are lucky to be mentioned in some little home-town paper near the Army base.

And the moral preening, the smug condescension, as if they are in some superior sect unconnected with America. Yeccch. You lefties are moral midgets. You are for nothing, only against. You have nothing to contribute but sneers. You aren't worthy to live in this great country...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:16 PM


A sunrise convoy in Iraq

The picture doesn't fit logically with "Taps," since it was taken at dawn. but the mood is right...(From Stryker Brigade News)


Day is done, gone the sun
From the hills, from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
God keep.
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.

For the story of "Taps," go here. Thanks to Orrin Judd.

Posted by John Weidner at 8:46 AM

Fourth of July...

This is a photo I've posted before. (Here's the companion photo with Elizabeth running with the flag.) Just the thing for the Fourth of July.

Returning soldier wrapped in flag
Army Special Forces reservist Maj. David Menegon, who has just arrived, at the Old Greenwich train station in Greenwich, Conn., is greeted by his sister, Elizabeth Menegon. He had been deployed to Iraq for 14 months.

Mel Greer, Greenwich (Conn.) Time / AP photo From Army Times, 4/2/04

Posted by John Weidner at 8:21 AM

"Funny how it works out that way when you let down your guard..."

Subsunk comments, at Belgravia Dispatch:

....Additionally, in 1989 the military recognized that the upcoming generation held insufficient male children to meet the usual recruiting percentages and maintain the Cold War sized military. All the Service Chiefs sent out messages to their people urging them to help out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, parks, public forums, etc.. to ensure the military maintained a good image among the younger generation. Otherwise there wouldn't be enough kids of military age interested in maintaining even our all volunteer force at even these reduced levels. We are still in the middle of this crunch today.

No draft, no massive recruiting bonuses, --- nothing will fix this problem. We have the size military we can sustain, period. To suggest otherwise is to ignore the demographics. To fix this you needed to make lots more babies. Life would be different here now if that had happened. I don't remember when this baby bust will be over, but it won't be soon. I know. I was there. I saw the QDR reports. I had friends discussing this info. It was in the newspapers, and we were frequently talking about it. We were there. We didn't think it was smart, but we had no choice.

Again, in 1997, no one but your military was paying attention, but you couldn't get any more money to solve this in those years. Peace Dividend, you know! Now you've got the military you have today. The Reserves and Guard were intended to get called up for years if we went to war. Whataya know, it worked out that way. Too bad all our enemies are trying to gang up on us at once. Funny how it works out that way when you let down your guard....

It's utterly stupid to blame Bush for the size of our military, and imply that all was hunky-dory in the Clinton years. Your military's always going to be fine if you won't fight for anything. Terrorism wasn't a problem in the Clinton years either. Ignore problems and they don't exist.

Appeasers and Bush-haters have a double bonus these days. They get to criticize Bush, claiming we need larger forces (thought they would have opposed him bitterly if he had tried to increase military spending before 9/11) and at the same time have a great excuse for doing nothing. "We shouldn't fight anywhere, because, gasp, what if we had to fight somewhere else?" Everything that happens is an excuse for inaction.

And we should be very thankful, this 4th of July, for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has worked tirelessly for reforms that will allow our forces to be more effective with smaller numbers.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Posted by John Weidner at 7:59 AM

July 1, 2005

"This time next year..."

Alan wrote, concerning Bush's speech:

...In particular he had nothing to say about the Shiite versus Sunni conflict within Islam, into which the US has now blundered with little sense of strategic purpose. From sectarian strife in Pakistan to political murders in Lebanon, Sunni terrorism has one common denominator: its financial and ideological impetus comes from the Wahhabi sect that rules Saudi Arabia.

The car-bombers of Iraq are not just 'foreigners' as the President dubbed them. This is another evasive euphemism, like 'terrorists.' The suicide killers are Sunni foreigners. Shiite Iranians are not murdering Iraqi civilians....

I happened to read that just before I read this, from the Mark Steyn interview:

...There’ll be other changes with the Iraqis in the driving seat, rather than a Bush Administration that has to keep one eye out on whether Dick Durbin’s going to blubber all over the Senate floor again. Baghdad is likely to be far less squeamish about its enemies than Washington is. I don't just mean in the sense of that TV show they have over there, the one where they broadcast the interrogations of captured insurgents, which is the only reality TV show I enjoy watching. I'm also thinking of the Syrian border, where Iraqi troops are much more likely to exercise their right of hot pursuit than the Americans are. This time next year, it could be Iraq destabilizing Syria rather than the other way around...

Ooooh, let it be so!

Tough talk is pleasing, but what are we doing? What's Bush doing? Well, smack in the heart of the mostly-Sunni Arab world, we are creating, what? A Shi'ite democracy, with great economic and human potential, with huge oil reserves, with, if our training succeeds, the first real army in a modern Arab nation. We're creating Iraq, and we're training Iraq. If I were a cynical person [delicate souls should stop reading here] I'd say the reason our troops are in Iraq is to attract terrorists. Not only to kill them, but also to teach Iraqis to hate them.

We are, I think, (hope, suspect) creating new allies. Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan...especially Iraq. "This time next year." Maybe. Maybe the Saudi border too. Alan's Shi'ites are passive, are people who get killed. But there's no reason it has to stay that way. Building the Iraqi Army has been painfully slow, but it seems to be happening.

* Update: Iraqi blogger Shirko (link thanks to Michael Totten) demands regime change in Syria. Iraqis have lots of good reasons. As do lots of Syrians. Advice to President Bush. The best way to learn something is to teach it. A good confidence-building exercise for the Iraqis: Destabilize Syria, then teach them how to hold elections and how to try and hang former tyrants.

Posted by John Weidner at 12:21 AM