Here's something from the Mohammed Image Archive, a reproduction of Islamic art.
Ok, I'm ready for my fatwa now.
While I was researching a blog comment I came across the most encouraging article advocating separating out ideology from analysis. It was an article examining nazi science and demonstrated pretty clearly why the standard narrative of naziism vs science didn't really hold water and how holding to that narrative made us understand the nazis less and made it more likely that their sort of government would be let loose into the world once again as a major threat.
I think that it is pretty generally accepted (if unremarked on) that there is absolutely no difference in the level of corruption of Governor Rod Blagojevich before and after his arrest. If anything, the arrest has probably reduced any actual Blagojevich corruption (though anything is possible). So what did his conversation partners know and when did they know it?
Specifically in the case of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who tried to steer the appointment and then famously said than nobody appointed in this process would be seated when did he come to his opinion that Governor Blagojevich was corrupt? And when will the press ask him? What other corrupt Democrats is Sen Reid willing to play footsie with until the indictments are announced? What sort of culture of corruption is being unearthed here?
I don't understand why the Israelis don't run ad campaigns between these violent dust ups with their more violent lunatic neighbors. We just had a 6 month "cease fire" where Hamas' Gaza Strip was the launch site of hundreds if not thousands of rocket and mortar attacks into Israel. I can see the theme now, "Thanks Hamas".
You take a cute kid, an innocent woman, an everyman dad and thank Hamas for their war crimes that will, some time in the future, doom their family to destruction and death.
"Thanks Hamas! By launching your mortars from my olive grove, Israeli return fire destroyed 70% of my orchard. I know I owe my family's hunger to you."
"Thanks Hamas! When you stationed your missile storage depot in the basement of our school. When our school is destroyed in the middle of the night we won't have to go to the trouble of getting an education."
"Thanks Hamas! By filling my children's ears with the glory of suicide bombing I've lost three of my children to a death that has sent them to the fires of hell."
A parallel Thanks Hezbollah! and Thanks Al Queda! campaign writes itself.
No doubt many media outlets will refuse to carry such ads. This just makes the campaign more interesting and gives it lots of free publicity.
The left is having minor orgasms over L.F. Eason III who retired rather than fly the flags at "his lab" at half staff in honor of recently deceased Senator Jesse Helms and in obedience to gubernatorial proclamation. Why did he do it? He repeatedly states in interviews that he felt "a strong sense of ownership" over the lab.
A government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people is not a government where the employees act as if they own the place. When you get this attitude, you end up with mandarins who slowly hollow out representative government by introducing and then nurturing the idea that the bureaucrats can do as they please, training their putative political masters to no longer insist on obedience and accept that they to have become supplicants to the bureaucrats.
We're nowhere near even halfway along in the process. Every once in awhile some gasbag like this Eason character steps out into the light and gets swatted down. But what's truly disturbing is that this is a problem that affects politicians of all stripes and nobody makes an issue of it. The DoD rebels against Clinton and the right quietly averts its gaze. State rebels against GWB and the left practically cheers them on.
It's gone on long enough that routine disobedience to political direction has become entrenched. People don't bat an eye when they talk about this or that political appointee being "captured" by their department and becoming the bureaucracies emissary to the President instead of the President's man directing the bureaucracy. It's a gathering storm, more serious than Iraq, though the slowness of the political disease's progression gives us a lot more time to ponder the problem.
In the meantime, two cheers for the governor of North Carolina who didn't put up with this. It could only have been better if they had not straight off offered early retirement.
So now the press is asking "tough questions" about Sen. Obama's relationship with Antoin Rezko. Color me unimpressed over Obama's denials about doing Rezko favors. Rezko isn't an isolated player but rather part of a corrupt machine. "Public Official A", Rezko's major political patron, has now been officially revealed to be Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Smart corrupt officials don't always do simple cash for favor deals, not in a place like Chicago which is crawling with corruption, not if they want to go national and want to be able to pretend to be honest. Smart corrupt officials use middle men. What if Obama wasn't paying Rezko directly but rather paying Blagojevich to pay Rezko? Blagojevich gives Rezko contracts, Rezko raises money and does little favors for Obama like his house deal and Obama votes the way Blagojevich wants and provides other, so far undiscovered, help to Blagojevich and crew.
Or perhaps it's the other way around and Blagojevich is the initiator, offering Obama the services of his pet fixer in exchange for votes and help reeling in the Chicago based black power block.
Once you get past the need for things to be nice and neat and only involve two people, the Rezko situation gets much more serious because the money can flow in nonobvious ways that will take years to unravel, long after the american people will have voted for the next president.
What a fine mess this country is in when the Clinton in the race might be the more honest Democrat.
So Wolfowitz resigned and now the tit for tat counterstrikes are starting. I think the whole thing is going to end up like the Plame scandal where the burning question of "who leaked" ended up removing significant protections for journalists at their own request. Hoist by one's own petard is what I see coming down the pike because for the first time in a long time, significant elements of the world elite have steadfastly pronounced that ethics actually matter and hounded out the head of a major institution on those grounds. Now how are they going to continue to enforce their code of omerta regarding everybody else's fun?
I just got a pretty nasty political attack in the mail.
Hurricane season doesn't start until June 1st, and we're already in trouble.
Tornadoes in Kansas. Fires in California, Georgia and Florida. Floods in Missouri. We simply don't have the resources to handle catastrophic events across our country.
Those resources are missing because of the war in Iraq.
Tell President Bush: bring our troops and equipment back where they're needed most -- here at home.
When the category five tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, approximately 60 percent of its National Guard equipment was gone because of the war. In a town that was 95 percent destroyed, the relief process has been hindered by lack of equipment, and Kansas is even more vulnerable if another disaster strikes.
Currently, the Kansas National Guard has 88 percent of its forces available, 60 percent of its Army Guard dual-use equipment on hand, and more than 85 percent of its Air Guard equipment on hand, said Randal Noller, public affairs officer for the National Guard Bureau. Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is a national partnership agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during governor or federally declared emergencies, Kansas has more than 400,000 Guardsmen available to it, he pointed out. However, Kansas has not yet requested assistance from other states.
So who are we to believe, the National Guard or some political operative, even if he is the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee? Tom McMahon wins when Democrats win, whether he tells the truth or not. This time, it seems like he's picked not.
An excellent suggestion from Hot Ambercrombie Chick on ridding ourselves of the political firebombers that infest modern US politics. She picks on Ann Coulter but the same advice (which boils down to ignore her and she'll go away) applies just as well elsewhere.
I agree with her as well that it's just not going to work. There's a great deal of entertainment value in sinking down into these slugfests and it really is hard to resist. Enough succumb that Ann Coulter's career is probably safe. Oh well, back to the drawing board...
Today Jesse Jackson published an op-ed so brazen in its bearing false witness that it's creepy. Jackson claims as bald fact without presenting any evidence, that both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 were stolen elections. As with all the best lies, it's done with a speed and as a side point that encourages you to just accept it without actually thinking too much on it. That independent inquiries have all confirmed the official result? That's a non-event. That a significant number of incidents were recorded where Democrats were caught suppressing the Republican vote, another non-event.
The cherry on top was that these lies are purveyed in an article talking about how we need to provide the reality of faith and not just the showy trappings. Rev. Jackson might want to stop bearing false witness as a necessary early step on working on the substance of his faith.
One of the great problems of today, it seems to me, is that we so often argue our points, right or wrong, from such a low level of knowledge that we can't help but make tremendous mistakes. How can you argue about whether a war is just if you don't understand either the politics that led up to the war or war itself? The answer is that you can't. That doesn't stop people from trying. Examining a few Catholic apologist sites leads me to believe that the great mass of english speaking catholics who go there are so fundamentally disconnected with war and war politics that they have lost the ability to say much of what is useful about Catholic Just War Doctrine (JWD).
You get misapplications of proportionality by mistaking what are the causes of war. You get plenty of magical thinking about what is possible in the avoidance of innocent civilian casualties. And you get all too often a refusal to examine whether the alternate choices available would have just made things worse.
The question is, how to fix it? If only there were some sort of basic knowledge exam that at least let you know what your basic state of knowledge was in the particular question under discussion so you knew how much you needed to know to discuss a question or theory intelligently or at least avoid the guarantee of error that near total ignorance brings.
Unfortunately, Wolfe uses several confusing terms that will lead most of his readers (those who are not intensely political and educated to the nuances) astray. Conservatism has always been about taking what is useful from the past and preserving it, adapting it so that it is useful for today but keeping the flame alive. What that past that is being conserved is changes from variant to variant. Jacques Chirac is a conservative. So is Jonah Goldberg, the fellow who coined the phrase "cheese eating surrender monkey" and hurls it so liberally at Chirac. This makes perfect sense once you take into account that Chirac is conserving the old european tradition of class, nobility, and privilege and Goldberg is conserving the revolutionary american tradition of mocking exactly those things.
It is this "conserving revolutionary liberalism" fraction that throws so many people for a loop. People cannot understand George W Bush unless they know that post 9/11 he is the second coming of the Radical Republican faction, which hearkened back to the old NE firebrand sons of liberty of the US colonial period. Bush is not the heir to Adams but of Thomas Paine without most of the eloquence.
Wolfe uses few of the signposts that differentiate one conservative faction from another and thus mashes up all the factions and picks out what is convenient to his aim which is propaganda, not education. Care is called for.
Bush explicitly ran as a compassionate conservative, a word which was pretty controversial on the center-right because of its implied concession to the leftist claim that preceding variants had not been compassionate. The word compassionate or variant do not enter into the article at all. Compassionate conservatism *is* more big government friendly than preceding variants. What it gives up in holding the line on government spending and program growth it tries to improve in demanded results. George Bush has famously not vetoed one bill in his presidency. What he has insisted on is that whenever a program is reauthorized, significantly changed, created, or funded at greater levels it come with a new set of tools to honestly and properly measure progress and a commitment that if those measurements show that the program is a failure it will either be reformed to work or outright killed in the future.
What George Bush has been doing for almost six years now has been setting up easy home runs for the next round of small government conservatives because the old liberal tricks of layering a new program doomed to fail on top of an old program that has already failed (but keeps getting funded) won't work when the entire government actually measures success and failure and holds programs accountable.
It is a long range readjustment of the country that is barely starting to bear fruit. NCLB educational reform, for instance, is putting the squeeze on incompetent and outright destructive mostly urban school districts that should have been replaced decades ago.
The article's treatment of Katrina is practically cartoonish. One would hardly know that the disasters all seemed to fall in the political jurisdiction of Louisiana and New Orleans while neighboring states hit as hard or harder didn't seem to have the same sorts of problems.
The Medicare Part D coverage is even less attached to reality. The truth is that Medicare was horribly broken. It's coverage of office visits and surgery but not pills meant that it couldn't be privatized. Some sort of drug benefit had to be included in the program before it would be sane to even consider whether there was a way to improve care by spinning it off to a private entity. Medicare Part D was akin to asking a bankruptcy judge for the ability to borrow more money to operate the company while it reorganizes. Virtually every bankrupt company does this and most judges approve those requests.
Wolfe ignores decades of failure to implement Medicare drug coverage including plenty of filibusters and filibuster threats on both sides of the aisle. Democrats had a hand in a great many of the provisions in this program otherwise it would have been filibustered to death, again.
The less said about Wolfe's Iraq analysis, the better. When all is said and done, Iraq will likely be on its feet faster (2003-??) than the US was (1776-1789). Militarily, right now it's one province down, 17 to go for handover. Politically, their constitution is set up fairly well and we're well into the unpredictable growing pains of forging a competent political class. Economically, recovery is well on its way.
Wolfe's description of the inner-Republican factional jockeying is just not serious. Of course there are different factions among Republicans. That's virtually embedded in the system. And each faction gets a bone so the coalition goes forward without the dogs turning on each other. Democrat factional jockeying is no different so either Wolfe is singularly uninformed or disingenuous.
Even the K Street Project analysis doesn't get things quite right. The lobbyists initially expected a rerun of the 1950s with the House soon tipping back to Democrat control. They thus continued to fund Democrats and Democrat causes as if "the present unpleasantness" would soon pass and the rightful lords of the House would soon return to their stations as committee chairs and Speaker. K street was disabused of that fanciful idea due to the K Street Project. Whatever abuses also came of it (and there appear to be many) there was an incestuous relationship of 4 decades that needed to be broken up and Tom Delay was the hammer that struck the blows.
Now you can buy my analysis as being correct or not on any of these points but at least now you know the other side of the argument, something you would not get from Mr. Wolfe's original piece.
Apparently, some idiot threated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on an internet chat room, saying that
"OK commandoes, here is your first patriotic assignment ... an easy one. Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and O'Connor have publicly stated that they use (foreign) laws and rulings to decide how to rule on American cases. This is a huge threat to our republic and constitutional freedom ... If you are what you say you are, and NOT armchair patriots, then those two justices will not live another week."
To say that its time to kill a justice is to say that not only is the Justice not fit to serve but that the Congress is too corrupt to do its duty as well. For the good of the country, the guys on the right need to root out and stomp on such irresponsible talk quickly and firmly. We don't need this.
I was listening to the Hugh Hewitt Show on the WIND-AM stream and heard the most extraordinary thing. Hugh accused a major international poll taker, John Zogby, of purveying anti-american propaganda for hire. Things absolutely shouldn't be left there. But the solution seems pretty simple. Call up a ME pollster or two and commission a poll with the right questions, the right methodology, do it transparently, and publish the results, letting the chips fall where they may.
For a national radio show like Hugh Hewitt to throw out accusations like this but not go out there and do some polling to determine definitively what's up is unfortunate. We should do better. The troops deserve it.
I've often said that it's imperative that restraining your own nutters is an important obligation of any faction. The American Mind provides an excellent example of how to do it.
This is not the first time that Ann Coulter has been slapped down like this. She doesn't write for National Review anymore, for example, because of past indiscretions. As long as the right in the US continues to apply discipline like this and the left does not, this country will continue its drift towards conservatism.
It's surprising how often a very little incident of corruption, once exposed, can illuminate surprisingly large illegalities if you just keep pulling on the connected threads. Thus the story of Kofi Annan's car. Or is it Kojo Annan's car? Or is it the UN's car?
Here is my precis of the known facts:
Kofi Annan sends $15,000 to his son to buy a car. The car is bought in Kofi Annan's name. The car is sent to Ghana under UN seal and without paying duty. What became of the car is now a mystery.
Here are a few questions I wish I knew the answer to:
What is the car's VIN?
Is that VIN registered in Ghana?
Who owns the car now?
How did it come to be in their posession?
Do you own anything else that was bought with a UN discount or crossed a border duty-free under UN seal?
I've no doubt that some journalists have chased down the VIN already but why not distribute it out to the little guys and see if maybe the darn thing pops up in some unexpected place.
I'm not too fond of Special Counsels but I also don't much like coverups of high crimes and misdemeanors either. And there seems to be evidence that the IRS and other arms of the executive were bent to the political will of the Clinton administration in order to persecute and harass Clinton's political opponents. If true, this would be patently unamerican and a scandal that would have truly merited impeachement had it been proven during Clinton's term.
We've paid for an investigation. We've paid for a report. We've paid to have that report modified and rebutted for a decade now. And in the end, Democrat Senators seem to have succeeded in getting the thing buried.
Release the report. We paid for it. We deserve to know what our money bought.
Here's a thought, if Democrats can say that Republicans "want to kill us" then calling Democrats traitors just became fair game. Maybe the Democrat party will repudiate Begala. Maybe this will make him an unemployable pariah. I don't know how the liberals would pull it off. After all, Julianne Malveaux hasn't been kicked to the curb after calling President Bush "evil" and a "terrorist". She's still got her semi-regular USA Today gig as far as I know.
The problem is that once people start tossing around the word treason, things will get even uglier. The Republicans are taking shot after dirty shot in the shorts for the sake of the country but it's unrealistic to expect them to do that forever. If the overheated rhetoric on the left doesn't get toned down, at some point somebody beside Ann Coulter is going to pick up the banner and call the Democrat party the party of treason. May the day reputable Republicans do it never come.
I just saw the National Review editorial on Schiavo's autopsy and despite my previous "finale" I can't let this pass. I understand where they're coming from but they're missing the point. The facts do matter. They're right that we don't have all of them but we do have more of them than we had before. The tussle over the denial of rehabilitative therapy, while not the end argument, was an important chapter over Schiavo's case and that's pretty much resolved in Michael Schiavo's favor. Whatever else, he seems to have decided right on that matter. It is important to be faithful to the truth and grant the other side (when they are right) their legitimate victories.
The ultimate question is at what point do you just let people go. Terri Schiavo stood close to the line but over time the line moved. Moving that line wasn't a good idea as we shall no doubt see in the future but the only way that we're going to have a hope of reforging consensus on the subject is by breaking our current political debating culture. The NR editorial doesn't do a thing to advance that and that is a real shame.
Every time a major scientific figure argues beyond the evidence in favor of a policy point under color of science they are committing pseudo-science. CDC Director Julie Gerberding is doing it over obesity. Aside from the disgusting possibility that we're trying to extend the prevalence of unscientific, outdated weight guidelines and spending tax money to increase mortality overall, Director Gerberding's also doing something else, discrediting science in general.
The entire scientific community has a responsibility to science itself to ensure that it is and remains a neutral player committed most of all to the truth and politics or pet theories be damned. When physicists maintain that commitment, they enhance the credibility of not only their own field but of scientists in general. The reverse is true. By attacking a legitimate study without coming up with any challenges to the actual data gathered, the message is given that science isn't impartial, it does have an ax to grind, and it's not to be trusted.
Is climate research honest? Is government climate research honest? Those are the important questions regarding climate research reporting but the NY Times seems to be much more interested in assuming the answer is yes and shutting down the other side of the debate.
In a tone of continued pique that somebody on the other side is permitted to tweak presentation at all, the NYT goes on and on about Philip A. Cooney doing his job and editing reports that were spun in a way that was inconsistent with Bush administration policy. There's nothing inherently wrong with keeping left-wing political types on USG salary during conservative administrations, that's why we have a civil service system instead of a spoils system. But the voters have their say and the people they elect (and those whom are appointed by those elected officials) exert a welcome democratic influence on what would otherwise be an untouchable mandarin system. The NY Times doesn't seem to like that and would rather that election results have no effect on what the government actually does except for a bit of front window dressing.
In the EU they call that system "the democratic deficit" and it is recognized as one of the most severe shortcomings of that multi-national institution. It's really sad to see the NYT seek to import that sort of problem to this side of the Atlantic.
Mark Steyn thunders
Today our head of state lands in, appropriately, Regina. This is still, technically, “Her Majesty’s Government”. But it is not mine.
As a convenience, our support for our legitimate governments are generally taken in an automated way. It is generally possible to stop this support. If we find ourselves in the unfortunate circumstance where our government is no longer legitimate, we have a choice and a civic duty to know the procedure and to avail ourselves of it.
Oliver Willis has a nasty bit of defamation in describing a Labor Department Letter telling union pensions to obey the law.
So, the Bush administration has decided that union opposition to social security privatization and benefit cuts is somehow a violation of the law.
The New York Times article on which all this is based makes it clear that this is in no way what is going on. I suspect that the unions tried to illegally strong arm the financial services industry through their pension funds and somebody at a brokerage had the courage to report it to the federal government. The letter is a gentle reminder that if pension funds get caught playing politics with union members' pension money, these pension funds could be taken over by the government and their present fiduciaries sent to jail.
It's very much settled law that fiduciaries can't reduce their members' rates of return just to make a political point. Willis doesn't seem to like the idea of enforcing this particular law much, especially when it's a Republican doing it so he just makes up a nasty accusation that somehow it's the Bush administration that is behaving out of bounds.
Why have two principal investigators resigned on principle? Why have their resignations been characterized in segments of the MSM as being resignations because their work was complete?
Something stinks. No matter where you stand on the UN generally, the UNSCAM scandal is a huge blot on the organization's reputation and with investigators resigning because they were not permitted to investigate properly, things seem to be taking a turn for the worse.
Harold Meyerson is really pushing the hypocrisy charge past all reason. He claims that Mexico City's PRD (hard left) mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is being shuffled out of contention for the presidency in 2006 by ginned up corruption charges. It's a wonder that Mr. Meyerson thinks his own credibility is worth muddying up due to his support of such a dubious figure.
If the Mayor's finance minister blows $3,000,000 on Las Vegas casino's the Bellagio is in league with Mexico's president and an international list of conspirators to take the mayor out of contention for the presidency. This is the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy writ large, with lots of hot rhetoric and no evidence whatsoever despite repeated promises.
If Mayor Obrador decides he doesn't like a judicial decision, he seems to have a regrettable tendency to just ignore it, whether it's to build a road that has an injunction in place against it or detaining Spanish workers putting up street kiosks under a legal contract Mayor Obrador doesn't like. The full Wikipedia entry has an entire section devoted to these and other controversies. Apparently, the federal prosecutor delayed prosecution until he, himself was at risk of indictment for obstruction of justice and asked for Obrador's immunity to be lifted.
So here we have some sleazy little land seizure deal, a prosecutor unaccustomed to actually prosecuting government figures on illegal expropriation of land, and Harold Meyerson makes it an international case of hypocrisy that President Bush hasn't protested the indictment of a personally popular mayor who is fond of spinning wide conspiracy theories and surrounding himself (at the very least) with corrupt figures who have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
That's just sad.
Leftist sneers about chickenhawks and the "fighting 101st keyboarders" are way over the top. For the past couple of days, I've been looking at a Jonathan Fund article that shows how wrong they are. You can't have a republic without proper elections and the governorship of Washington state was decided in a way that, frankly, stunk. The number of dubious votes far outweighs the margin of victory and they are overwhelmingly concentrated in areas controlled by Democrat partisans.
It would be just another example of a bad election were it not for SoundPolitics.com who has kept the issue alive, done extensive original research, and generally served as a rallying point for people who want their elections decided by the people, not by hacks willing to break the rules. That's a real defense of the republic. It's also something that really isn't the domain of our uniformed fighting forces.
The US has been accused of slipping away from a republic and becoming an empire in all but name. As long as we have honest elections, we will never actually lose the republic. The consequences of empire are too ugly to long endure. As long as citizens have enough tools to gather together and speak out, resisting the traditional tools of transitioning republics to principalities/empires we'll keep the republic that the founding fathers gave us.
Sometimes, the opposition really does want to do a Constitutional coup.
Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.
Robert Locke's recent article on libertarians is one big hit piece. That's not too surprising out of TAC but it's a useful forensic exercise to sort out the nuggets of truth that Locke uses to make the lies go down better. Locke calls Libertarians the "marxists of the right" and claims
But because 95 percent of the libertarianism one encounters at cocktail parties, on editorial pages, and on Capitol Hill is a kind of commonplace “street” libertarianism, I decline to allow libertarians the sophistical trick of using a vulgar libertarianism to agitate for what they want by defending a refined version of their doctrine when challenged philosophically. We’ve seen Marxists pull that before.
The high variability of libertarians is both an impediment to making blanket statements about the movement and a very positive sign of intellectual activity. If anything libertarianism consists of the fundamental proposition that on any given policy question, the libertarian can be spotted by his first impulse which is to ask why not solve the problem through a consensual, pro-liberty solution. The radicalness and the strength of the impulse are a separate issue. Difference there helps to identify flavors of libertarians. It is by no means shown by Locke that this first impulse towards liberty is wrongheaded, much less an evil like marxism. The closest you can get, I guess, is the dogmatic libertarian.
The dogmatic libertarian, like dogmatists of all stripes, doesn't bother actually considering the public policy question at hand, he has a lookup table which he plugs in a libertarian answer (or what he considers to be a libertarian answer) and just moves on. Differentiating between the dogmatic libertarian and other dogmatists is as simple as identifying the sources of his lookup table. If they are libertarian, he too is a libertarian, if a very unthinking one.
The difference between practical libertarians, and those who are impractical in one way or another does not lie in their libertarianness, in the common impulse to answer liberty as a first reaction at the posing of a public policy question. It is in what happens afterwards. Do you actually consider the question? Are you willing to acknowledge that libertarian solutions are not practical sometimes because the surrounding conditions are not yet ripe? How much real world pain are you willing to impose on society in order to force the development of libertarianism in the real world.
It is only those libertarians who are willing to take libertarian solutions and push them on the world in the face of unacceptable consequences that should be condemned (and I do condemn them). Those who would rather society be taken over by totalitarians than impose a draft, for instance, can be realistically likened to right wing marxists. They would rather lose all than compromise in the least and recover later.
Locke, however, dedicates his article to painting with a broad brush and tarring the practical libertarians right along with the impractical ones, the ones who would do america proud if they were to win power in government and the right wing marxists who unfortunately have an outsized influence in the institutional LP right now. It's unfortunate that Locke's email is not public. A short conversation would certainly clarify whether he's libeling the large bulk of libertarians on purpose or merely through sloppiness.
I was reading this article on a really bad love note to the North Korean dictatorship when something snapped. I got beyond venting spleen and went to the article in question and started hitting refresh, looking for ads that weren't for entities owned by the same company. After one false lead (careerbuilder.com, which is owned by the same guys) I found Vonage. Now I've got no beef against Vonage as a company. I've been planning to get their service for my wife's new business (I'm doing the tech development/deployment for her). I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't even know that their ad was running there.
Now they do.
I just got off the phone where I called their corporate headquarters. I was patched through to marketing after blasting the poor receptionist. The first marketing drone was so taken aback at the idea that Vonage advertising was supporting N. Korea that she patched me into the head of marketing's line. He wasn't in so I left a voice mail. I included my name, number, and a sincere hope that Vonage's corporate culture had nothing to do with the impulse to paper over the stomach wrenching nature of the totalitarian N. Korean regime, and that if they continued to advertise at the LA Times, I certainly would no longer consider using them for VOIP services.
1. Online ads are great for boycotters. You just click to follow the ad, go to the corporate information page and you have the address for letters and the switchboard for phone calls.
2. Make a call. Nothing beats the immediacy of it and if you are sincere, forceful, and the company isn't used to this sort of thing, you can end up giving your message to pretty high up the food chain.
3. Pick a company that you're actually using or considering using. If you're not in the target demographic for a company, your threats not to use their service or buy their product is just so much noise for them. Losing actual or prospective customers is another thing entirely.
And now back to my regularly scheduled off-line mayhem.
Whatever John Kerry hoped to do to strengthen the Democrat Party's "God Squad", he's apparently done more to piss them off, taking positions that are sure to offend both serious Catholics as well as Protestants who know their theology and their history. The remarkable achievement that we have in keeping sectarian violence out of the US is based, at least in part, on political leaders who are either knowledgeable enough to successfully manage to address God without ticking anybody off, or knowing their own ignorance well enough that they don't try and stay out of the theological debates. Kerry does neither and that's a threat to social peace that nobody needs.
M & R Homiller rightly noted that we had corresponded on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment earlier this year (early March, in fact) and I disparaged the idea in Too Cute by Half I. I had some vague memory of the incident but regret not crediting him immediately in my recent post on the subject. Mr Homiller suggests that I've changed my position. I really haven't. The problem was that back in March, such a petition would have been properly viewed as an aggressive attempt to smear John Kerry, reduce his electoral chances, and be viewed as a dirty trick. It would just have been one more bit of election year rancor. With the same questions being raised in a much more prominent forum, it's likely not to go away and the problem must be defanged with the maximum amount of discretion possible.
A lame duck session, a solution discreetly proposed on the suspensions calendar, something hidden away where it will cause the minimum possible fuss yet protect against further distractions is best. Doing the same thing prior to the conventions, prior to the fall campaign, prior to the vote of the people, that is just not the same thing and I continue to oppose such maneuvers.
In the end, the effort to keep the lid on might fail, but that does not mean that we should not try. The danger of blackmail demands this prudence.
The US Constitution's 14th amendment has a section disqualifying those who turn on the US:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Cramer's thoughts are derivative of Prof. Volokhs so I'll concentrate there. Where I disagree with the good professor is that he believes that Lt. Kerry's Paris trip was not that significant and it's the case that his domestic criticisms are what really matter:
Kerry, the argument goes, gave "aid or comfort" to the North Vietnamese by opposing the war, and by apparently meeting with a North Vietnamese peace delegation in Paris in 1971. One or both of these things (probably the former much more than the latter) may have emboldened our enemies and sapped our soldiers' morale, thus giving the enemy aid or comfort.
If John Kerry wins the election (and I pray he does not), this will come up in a growing crescendo over his four years in office. It won't be healthy for Kerry's term in office, for either party, for the country itself, but that doesn't mean that it won't come up and it doesn't mean that the people raising the issue won't have the law on their side. Too little is publicly known about Kerry's activities in Paris to be sure. And if French Intelligence recorded the conversation or even does a very good fake, this is something that they could use to extract concessions out of Kerry to avoid impeachment.
There really is only one cure. For the good of the nation, one order of business in a 2004 lame duck session (the session is already scheduled, I believe) would need to be for Sen. Frist and for Rep Hastert to introduce a bill conditionally removing any potential disability under the 14th Amendment for Kerry's 70s activism on Vietnam. It would set a tone of reconciliation while closing a potential opening for international blackmail and tinfoil hattery.
David Sucher couldn't believe that Michael Moore is in trouble with the Michigan state authorities for violating a Michigan statute that makes it illegal to offer anything of value in order to encourage voting. I don't find vote buying funny under any circumstances (though I do admit that Moore makes a good try at it) because I live around Chicago and my place of birth has an equally rich history of crooked elections. Breaking the habits that Moore is instilling takes hard work and a good bit of personal risk for good government crusaders.
Slate of all media outlets is noting that Michael Moore is also in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which means that in addition to state charges, it is only prosecutorial discretion that is keeping Michael Moore out of a federal courtroom where he could end up with a 5 year sentence. Justice Department prosecutorial discretion ultimately rests in the hands of the Attorney General, John Ashcroft so Michael Moore's freedom rests, in a very real sense, on John Ashcroft's sense of humor and mercy.
Professor Bainbridge has kindly assembled the current worrying trend toward electoral violence on the left. Republicans have been accused of supporting violence, but actual evidence of supporting black church arson and killing off seniors has always been decidedly thin on the ground. Now we're starting to get some pointed little reminders that putting up a Bush lawn sign or volunteering to be part of Bush's GOTV groups might actually be a risky proposition.
I won't hold my breath for anybody in the mainstream media to call Kerry to account for this sort of thing.
I have to dissent from Outside the Beltway's take on McGreevey's resignation:
McGreevey's crime is not that he is homosexual or even that he is a lying bastard who ruined the lives of his family in order to gratify his sexual desires and advance his political career. Rather, his offense was criminal abuse of his office to appoint his illicit lover, a non-citizen not even remotely qualified for the job, to a high government post. As director of homeland security, no less.
That's really defining deviancy down. This man betrayed two families, including innocent children that he fathered. While the corruption itself was sufficient for an immediate resignation, absent that political corruption, would it have been sufficiently forgivable for McGreevey to stay in office? I don't think so, though I do agree that the misuse of taxpayer funds and reckless disregard for the safety of NJ citizens in wartime is the easiest charge and more than sufficient to eject him from the statehouse.
One of the things not likely to be highlighted by many in President Bush's speech of last night is that since my last note on the subject another four ministries have been handed over to Iraqi control for a total of twelve ministries. I bet you didn't notice the strong media coverage of this good news either. And it's not like reporters would even need to exit the Green Zone to find this out. I'm sure that press releases were dutifully issued and dutifully ignored by those who have an interest in spinning negative news about the transition to Iraqi rule.
So if you're depending on news sources that verifiably aren't giving you important good news about Iraq, why are you wasting your time and money to continue to patronize them?
I've been reading stories from the left and the right on prison reform, especially regarding rape in prison for years. In the category of positive unintended consequences, one of the things that the horrible events over at Abu Ghraib seems to be provoking in the US is a strong impetus to accelerate prison reform in the US. The prison guard history of some of the MPs has shined a very unflattering light on the darker corners of that profession and americans don't much like what they see. It's not a central point, and doesn't lessen guilt on iota. But it does illustrate a sort of political hygiene ethic in american politics in that when abuses are discovered, it's not only the direct problem area that is the focus but related areas as well.
The Llama Butchers are spreading a meme, calling domestic supporters of Al Queda Copperhead Fedayeen. I think that'll eventually get shortened to simple Copperheads and I think they might be a little over broad in their criteria, they bring to my mind an important point. There are domestic supporters of the enemy on our shores. Who are they, and what should be done with them as they are uncovered?
At the far end of the scale, they are traitors an will go to jail for it. But there are lots of aiding and abetting that is done that fall far short of treason. And there are lots of people who don't particularly care for Bush who are very much part of the loyal opposition yet would be vulnerable to a charge of being a copperhead. So how do you differentiate? What's the criteria of being a copperhead and what are the legitimate defenses against being falsely smeared with the label?
This is an important topic and I'll probably return to it as I get my own answers but I think that a key part of it is to talk to those on the left who are most vulnerable to being swept up in any future hysteria and to engage them in nailing down a reasonable and workable method of short circuiting any action that goes overboard before the next terrorist mass carnage event demonstrates just how restrained the US has been after 9/11.
Gweilo Diaries shows that the PRC can show modern US machine politicians how to really steal elections. They're threatening public figures into resigning and fleeing with their families if they are pro-democracy, and threatening voters mainland families, prompting many phone calls of relatives pleading to vote pro-Beijing in order to escape persecution. That might be something your everyday banana republic might try but they have a disturbing twist, they are insisting that Hong Kong residents take their completed ballots and take a picture of them with their cell phone cameras showing how they voted and send them in order to save their families.
The PRC doesn't even need to send one thug to a polling place.
I've been challenged by an old friend to list some of the mistakes of the Bush administration. He thinks I engage in excessive cheerleading to the point where I never admit Bush could be wrong. So, here's a list in no particular order.
1. I think Bush has fouled up explaining an awful lot of things. This includes:
b. his space initiative
c. what the end of the GWOT would look like
d. Alaska drilling
e. and other items I'll probably think of after I hit send
2. I think that George W. Bush has failed to follow up on Social Security reform sufficiently, tort reform is just paid lip service, judicial reform to reign in legislating from the bench is a missed opportunity, and malpractice reform is a no show.
3. George W. Bush has failed to reform the State Department in any meaningful way and this is a serious failure when you have a bipartisan judgment that our State department is institutionally handicapped.
4. The steel tariffs were a mistake.
5. Defending our agricultural subsidy regime is a mistake too.
6. Tenet hasn't been fired yet. In general, too much dead wood is still around in various departments
7. Ashcroft needs to concentrate more on security/crime with actual victims
8. Too little fat has been cut in Bush's budget proposals
9. Greenspan is not God and not immortal. Bush hasn't gotten us ready for the upcoming post-Greenspan era.
10. Bush didn't veto the execrable copyright extension act.
I'll still vote for him come November.
Apparently I've been banned from the "Palace of Reason" or at least the Curmudgeon's Corner and lost a long distance friend who I still remembered fondly though it's been many a year since we've met. My offense is apparently a common one for me, trying to talk sense into people on my own side who've lost perspective and are spraying invective somewhat too broadly.
Since I can't write directly (and I wouldn't trespass by disguising my identity) I'll just say this. My hand is still out in friendship, Fran, if you'll calm down and accept it, I'm pretty sure we can talk things out privately or publicly, your choice.
PS: Fran, I didn't say what you say I said so if your words have been misinterpreted in our exchange, you're not the only one that happened to.
1. Chalabi cronies get sweet no-bid contract investigating UN
2. Bremer aids in UN oil-for-bribes stonewall, halting investigation
It looks like Bremer chose scandal #2 in this no-win situation. Chalabi wanted to get to the bottom of things and opened up his rolodex to (probably honestly) just figure out who was dirty. Bremer knows that in the current atmosphere in Washington, opening your rolodex and making a few phone calls is just not good enough. You'll get your head handed to you and the chances for a permanent failure in Iraq grow just a bit more with each one of those. So he halts things until a tender can go out and takes the heat until the paperwork is done.
So which scandal would you have taken?
The scandal at the UN just keeps getting worse. It was originally thought that the corruption was limited (limited? HAH!) to a 10% surcharge on all items. But now it becomes clear that 10% was the floor, the ceiling (if there was one) was an unknown higher number.
This means that everything that you've heard, everything you've felt about the UN corruption scandal was wrong, it's worse than you thought. But where did all the money go? This isn't just a forensic accounting question. It's a fundamental issue of how rotten is the present international order. And the answer to that question is the baseline starting point to answer the big issue. How multilateral can we afford to be?
HT: Dissect the Left
If the tortured Iraqi prisoners of Abu Gharaib were under active intelligence debriefing, if they were being interrogated while being tortured by guards, it is impossible to believe that they did not know about it. The consequences for legal reform to untie their hands will play out over the next few years and are likely to be pretty bad.
Every time Tenet or any other member of the administration will propose some sort of loosening of intelligence oversight that handicaps our operations, thoughts will turn to the poisonous culture that, at the very least, saw torture and did nothing about it. Whether more is wrong will come out in investigation but singlehandedly, the people at that prison have set back intelligence reform for years.
They need the book thrown at them too. People are going to die because of this foul up and the funerals will come in surprising forms and due to apparently disconnected events. But the root of the problem will be the betrayal of US ideals in an Iraqi hellhole prison.
The sad spectacle of US troops abusing prisoners demonstrates (once again) that democracy and freedom isn't about having a much better government than any other. It's about finding the bad apples relatively early, punishing them, and excluding them from further service so the rot doesn't spread. If Saddam Hussein was given a 25 year hard labor punishment when he first demonstrated that he was part of Iraqi rot, Lietenant, Captain, or Major Hussein would be a sad, disgraced figure in Tikrit trying to live down his shame for the rest of his life and Iraq would have been spared his rule.
1st world democratic republics have all the venality and nastiness floating around in their governments that other countries have. Their advantage is in their superior willingness to remove the rot. We are shamed by it. But we know that it would be worse if we covered it up. It is a heavy responsibility of citizenship and CBS did right by airing the story.
This is the central element of what has been so frustrating about false charges of abuse. The problem is real, it always has been. It is real everywhere because human nature is the same everywhere and everywhen. As wise men have said, human nature has no history. But crying wolf and falsely maligning soldiers makes it more difficult to sort the truth of abuse from the fiction of it. Fortunately, the system still seems to work.
If you're looking for a good article explaining exactly what all the fuss is about regarding the UN oil for food program, I found it. Here's a short summary of the importance of the affair
What lies at the core of this story is the United Nations, and how it came to pass that an institution charged with bringing peace and probity to the world should have offered itself up—willingly, even eagerly—as the vehicle for a festival of abuse and fraud.
Remember and consider this paragraph (and the explosive facts in the larger story) every time you hear calls for multilateralism and UN involvement and UN legitimacy. The US can't just prosecute and kill off the organization like it did with Arthur Anderson. So what were we supposed to do?
Update: The original rationale for this program was food and health supplies. By official count $15B of expenditures (not counting kickbacks in this part of the program) went to that amount on a total revenue of $65B. That means that less than a quarter went where it was supposed to (23.08%). How seriously would you treat a humanitarian organization that misdirected over 75% of proceeds?
What is wrong with the left in Germany? The indispensible Davids Medienkritik points out an odious example of modern day anti-semitism in regional German public TV. In his commentary he notes that anti-semitism has largely ceased to be a right wing problem in Germany and is now found largely in leftist political circles.
The left has no less an obligation than the right to stamp out anti-semitism and should be punished with the exact same severity when it falls down on the job. I'm looking forward to hearing about how the TV channel in question (NDR) got its head handed to them for this idiocy.
Earlier when I made a bunch of noise about people putting down those killed in Fallujah, I was only touching the surface of a deep pathology, the left's contempt for, and habit of dehumanizing, those it disagrees with politically. Indymedia doesn't pussyfoot around in it's story Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan. The underlying article is straight from the Washington Post but the comments from leftists are long and mostly vile. The name calling is fast and furious, many in the form of headline replacements:
"privileged millionaire, blinded by nationalist mythology, pisses away the good life"
"Capitalist chooses to kill innocents instead of cashing check"
R.I.P. Pat Tillman - don't blow it like he did
There are some decent people fighting back and looking to shame these people into some common courtesy but it seems a lost cause. I wonder when Kos will get around to condemning the 'dumb jock' story. Or will he applaud them for their creativity?
HT: Right Wing News
This morning, I read through Andrew Sullivan and found this item about a Republican in New Mexico who joked that censure was the only measure open to them to disapprove of a clerk who issued same sex marriage license "[o]ther than assassination".
If he was quoted correctly, he at best was having a very bad case of foot in mouth disease and, more likely, he's a horse's ass who should be put out to pasture as soon as possible. Grimace, grumble, I thought about posting on it but figured, eh, he's not worth the effort for a bad joke.
I now go and find Andrew Sullivan has a new item (about which I'll be writing another item myself right after this one) where he complains that nobody is condemning this moron. Well, consider him condemned for his poor word choice and unamerican association of violence with politics.
I can't imagine anybody decent who'd support the NM committee chairman on this in either major party.
I forecast that the political descendant of Oswald Mosley is out there somewhere in Christian Britain. Driving a lorry, perhaps, or running his shop, or practicing law in a small Home County town. Over a few pints with his mates at a pub, stories like this will get discussed. And, in a moment, he'll be leading black shirts again on Britain's streets- this time, focused not on "coloureds" or "Pakis" per se, but rather on mosques, islamic bookstores and shops, etc. It would make Liverpool fans appear civilized.
I'd suggest that UK muslims would be well advised to recognize this reality, and start acting according to the mores and laws of a civilized country. After all, the Brixton and Midlands race riots were not that long ago...
This is the kind of comment that I've been worried about since late 2001. It's a sign of fascist backlash and very dangerous in its own right. Fascism, if it ever revives will be as a consequence of the failure of liberal (in the broad, 19th century sense) policies to defeat terrorism and muslim cultural aggression. The cure will hardly be better than the disease and once again the free world will be plagued with dueling pathologies fighting over who shall consume freedom's corpse.
It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, a careful reading of history shows that we are in plenty of time to nip this in the bud before it gets past an intemperate web posting or two. But we should not be blind to the likely consequence of our failure as pro-liberty fighters against the Islamists. Being pushed back will lead to an impatient public tiring of our nuanced and respectful war. A Weimar scale collapse is not inevitable, but it is remotely possible.
We should be on guard.
I guess Glenn Reynold's has a quota because he's raising the issue of Clinton's used underwear tax writeoffs for a piece. You know you're scraping the bottom of the barrel when you hit that old bit of Clinton sleaze. A note to professor Reynolds: The problem with the Clinton donations were that they were itemized and ridiculously high. $3 for a used piece of underwear? That was the problem, not the actual donation itself. Poor people need underwear too.
The Kerry donation was a lump sum, one line donation, well within the normal paramaters of what a household could expect to toss in a year. Heck, you could reasonably get $87 for just one used suit if the original price was several hundred dollars. There are lots of character issues, lots of policy issues that Kerry is weak on. Donating $87 to Goodwill is not one of them.
From the fact that I comment on Steven Den Beste frequently, (though not as a cheerleader) regular readers would rightly gather that I highly respect him and his output. He has a justified reputation in and out of the blogosphere. The fact that I'm posting on a forum under Bruce Rolston's control when I certainly have the technical skill and resources to do otherwise speaks to my respect for him (born out of his OIF coverage). This leaves me in a bit of a pickle with these two crashing against each other.
I think SDB has defended himself well and given a rational reason for differentiating between Australia and France in the two instances of not dropping bombs. Unless SDB's not relating the true facts of the two situations, they are different and there's no fault in treating different behaviors differently.
On the other hand, there's the larger issue of Bruce's neologism jingopundit. In his first post using the term, I believe that he made things pretty clear that this is an attempt at political hygiene. That is to say, that the jingopundits do harm by getting essential details wrong no matter how right they may be on the larger questions like whether it was a good idea to go after Saddam.
I happen to think very highly of the idea of policing our own side. It is essential for us to survive as a free nation to refuse to get as sloppy as our opponents have been in characterizing issues. As the conventional political poles morph and change in odd and unexpected ways it is even more important that we not only get the big questions right but as many of the details as possible.
I do wish Bruce would take a bit of time out to rigorously define this neologism. Who is a jingopundit and what gets you on or off the list?
George Will's column on Clarke is notable not just for the skill he uses to take down Clarke but that he does double service by embedding in his critique of Clarke a call to pull the hounds back in. He recognizes, rightly, that there is both a failure in Clarke and his Republican critics. The whole mess has gone off the rails and it does not serve the country well.
Clarke has long served his country, and though I have my suspicions about his Republican registration, he certainly did a great deal more than a lot of people to highlight the post Cold War threat that actually emerged as the leading next generation problem. For that service he deserves a decent hearing, which he got, and then a quiet bundling out of town as his own contradictory and foolish partisan statements tarnishes his retirement pocket watch, his reputation that could have served him as an elder statesman in the community.
Will is right in reigning in excesses on the right, one of the more admirable parts of that portion of the US ideological spectrum.
Juan Non-Volokh notes a silly NYT article on the Scalia recusal mess. The new 'wrinkle' is that the authors allege that Scalia's purchase of a round trip ticket of which he only ended up using the return leg of the ticket was ethically wrong.
There is a twofold bait and switch going on here. The first is in the article itself when they compare the cheapest round-trip fares (which are always restricted) with the cheapest unrestricted one-way fare which is not usually the cheapest one-way fare. The second bait and switch is on the subject of ethics. Frankly, I don't care if Scalia takes a few extra napkins at McDonalds for his glove compartment. Strictly speaking though, this is an ethical lapse. The relevant standard (and where this discussion started off at) was an ethical lapse that was worthy of recusal, ie getting paid for not doing your job because of a conflict of interest.
There's no recusal worthy ethical lapse here, not even close. Did the airline specifically omit to enforce the ticket contract provision and charge Scalia the difference between the round-trip ticket and the one-way ticket in order to influence the justice on a court case in which they are not a party to? It's ludicrous to think so.
But we're in the land of extra ketchup packets from McDonalds here. It might or might not be a perfect ethical move but since when is perfect ethics at this level something we ask of our public servants? Now if the airline does not invoke its rights to raise fares under its contract, waiving that term, does that make Scalia's move ethical? How about if the airline invoked it and Scalia paid extra but didn't put that fact in his memo? What if the lowest comparable one-way ticket was less expensive than the round-trip ticket (sometimes they are) and the airline didn't nullify Scalia's round-trip ticket because then they would owe him money? In a purely speculative article with little to no actual reporting done, we're not even sure whether even the faintest wiff of an irrelevant ethical lapse was committed.
In short, it's just a hit piece. Move along, there's nothing to see here but the paper of record pimping its reputation out to partisan hacks.
When George W Bush came into office, there were a number of juvenile pranks played on the incoming staff. From destroying the W keys on keyboards at the White House to cutting phone lines to more serious vandalism like proposing last minute policy changes that were unsupportable by any US administration but would cause trouble with core Democrat groups when they inevitably were rolled back, this was a very contentious transition. In classy style, the Bush administration kept few records of the petty stuff and refrained from too much finger pointing about Clinton's last minute antics. But it did take a few weeks to undo the physical sabotage and several months to go through a thorough review of all the policy and regulatory sabotage.
So why is this ancient history of dirty tricks relevant today? Isn't it time to move on? Not so fast, as the period in question is crucial to the Clarke accusation that the incoming Bush administration was rudderless in the early part of the administration with regards to terrorism and that there was a secret Clinton plan handed over during the transition that the Bush administration refused to act on.
Given a civilized transition, this would be a serious charge. But nobody is looking back at the horrible partisanship of the transition period and asking the question, would it have been reasonable to accept a Clinton plan on much of anything, much less the vital issue of terrorism at face value? If one of Clinton's little policy jokes was embedded in this supposed plan (the Bush administration denies there even was a plan) it could have had long-lasting negative effects for the country.
I wonder whether Clarke, who must have seen the chaos from both sides as both a Clinton and Bush staffer, thinks of that period.
Possibly the best analysis on Clarke that I've seen to date (and while I'm not commenting much, I'm reading a lot) is by Thomas Barnett on his new blog.
My bottom line is this: until we break up and reconfigure the antiquated, Cold War-style long-range force structure planning system, all our strategic analysis inside the Pentagon will remain a slave to this process, thus preventing any serious reordering of our intelligence structure, its collection methods, and the processing and prioritization of analysis. The end product in this vast Pentagon planning pipeline remains a high-end, great power war-oriented force, and so the system continues to feed a view of the world that fits that desired end product. Check out the current threat analysis that justifies the Pentagon’s long range acquisition plans, and you will see China looming behind every “big bet” analysis. Al Qaeda and the GWOT are really nowhere to be found in this vision of the future, because they do not justify the preferred force structure.
This ultimately puts the ball in my and your court my fellow americans who read this. Ultimately, the things that get acquired are run through Congress and we're responsible for them and the pork barrel big ticket military purchases that they force on the Pentagon. He who pays the piper calls the tune and Congress has the power of the purse.
Now there's an election year analysis that would be welcome out of the 9/11 commission. Don't hold your breath on it's actually happing though.
I thought I'd stroll over to Hesiod after Bill Herbert's Cointel Pro complained about some piece. It was pretty much as bad as he was saying but I thought I'd wander around and see if this was just an isolated faux pas. At the top of the page I found a nasty bit of racism. The only thing that would have been worse was labeling a picture of a gorilla as Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell. It's a two photograph set with 'funny' captions of Bush with Cheney in one photo and Buh and Rice for the other. The photos are from the Dukes of Hazard with the corrupt sheriff being Bush, the political boss being Cheney and the sheriff's pet dog being Rice.
According to Hesiod, Rice is identified as a dog because she's very obedient (the dog in the show wasn't) and highly incompetent so no, identifying her as a sad eyed basset hound has nothing to do with the long and well established history of dehumanizing portraits of blacks that elites long used to aid in repressing them.
Pull the other one.
This excellent article on Iran's Great Game provided a lot of thought but this article will just note one item, the import of palestinian bully boys.
Can there be an importer without an exporter? Is anybody even bothering to talk to Yasser Arafat and get his official position on the Iranian elections and the evident use of palestinians as storm troopers for a no longer illegitimate regime?
There are a bunch of ways that the question could be asked and how Arafat could respond. The key is that Arafat is not used to such questions and he is not used to people taking him seriously as a democratically election national leader. So what could be a better way to expose him on an issue that has no possible links to Israel, requires him to at least pro-forma condemn one of his terrorist activity supporters, and provides the EU with something more than the same old, same old script coming out of the West Bank?
Matt Yglesias provides a nice example of how to clean up your own side's excesses and why it's vital that it be done.
He takes a stab at Paul Krugman for essentially going over-the-top and going for guilty by association/blood guilt (your uncle had business dealings with his cousin therefore...). I'll quote the reasons why:
Moreover, there's plenty of perfectly legit Bush-Saudi and Bush-Mideast hijinks in general that really can be established. When you throw something dubious and over-the-top into the mix, though, it's hard to take other charges seriously.
I happen to believe that Bush is currently the best choice for election to the Presidency. But it is incumbent that both left and right elevate the debate and maintain civility, not just for the sake of the country but for the sake of our own success.
In my previous posts touching on jewish responsibility for communism, I implied that there was such a thing, that the high proportion of jews in communist revolutionary movements implies something of a responsibility to clean up this mess similar to the generally accepted german responsibility to keep a weather eye on neonaziism . Well, who cares what motivates it but there are jews who rise up to that responsibility.
The post-communist cleanup, sadly, is least developed in the West, where many people have yet to come to grips with the reality that they spent a significant part of their lives excusing and even advocating a horror that rivaled the nazis. Every time I see a book, an article, or some social initiative to further that cleanup we take one further step away from the abyss.
This isn't what you think. It's not a hit piece on Matthew Yglesias, nor even a commentary about dogs. It's about debate and me violating a cardinal rule which goes something like "if you see your opponent shoot himself in the foot, don't stop him from reloading and continuing".
Matthew Yglesias has himself confessed to his canine dislikes so that isn't in dispute. What he doesn't seem to realize is that hating dogs is right up their with disliking babies, motherhood, hot dogs, and apple pie. It is used as a marker for the general humanity and good soul of an individual. In other words, the smart ideological debating opponent would be sure to troll for as much anti-canine sentiment as possible because for a liberal, hating dogs makes all his arguments for humanity and compassion seem just that extra bit inauthentic.
However, I'm just a softie some days so, Matt, if you can't bring yourself to love the beasts, at least stop embarrassing yourself and leave your subsequent readers blissfully unaware of your antipathies. It doesn't serve your cause well.
The entire Kerry/Winter Soldier Investigation thing has been bothering me ever since I wrote my earlier piece. I decided to jot this off to the Simon Wiesenthal Center:
Dear Rabbi Hier,
I watch and read with concern that Presidential contender Sen. John Kerry has recently (this year) taken the position that US soldiers in Vietnam committed horrific acts during that war that contravened the laws of war but, because these acts were known and condoned throughout the US military command chain they were not guilty of war crimes (though, perhaps their superiors were). To my knowledge his most recent explicit statement in support of this idea came in a taped interview on CNN's Inside Politics on February 19, 2004. A transcript can be found at the address below:
Sen. Kerry's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23, 1971 can be found at the address below:
They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
There is a terrible principle that must be defended, that war crimes can never be legitimized by the orders of superiors, much less simply having superiors condoning these acts. Irrespective of whether the testimony gathered by the Winter Soldiers Investigation are true or not, this is an assault on the very logic that has been held for decades in the case of the nazis and their horrific actions.
If Sen. Kerry thinks that soldiers raped, killed, desecrated bodies and committed other war crimes yet there should be no responsibility, no trials for the perpetrators of these acts, then it is no longer true that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, merely a convenient line which can be moved this way or that depending on who is in power. If you pick the right side, if you have enough power, you can get away with atrocities and never be called to justice.
Now I happen to think that Sen. Kerry is wrong, that the Winter Soldier Investigation is riddled with falsehoods, some of which have already been uncovered. But Sen. Kerry's position, no matter what the actual facts are, has moral implications and they demand to be addressed.
What do you say?
Who knows what they'll say but I'll relate any responses I get.
Matthew Yglesias is backing a misleading measure of how large the US government is in comparison to other countries. The US has an exceedingly unusual system in that it is federalized and that the constituting states in that federation are sovereign and have significant taxing and spending roles that impact everyday life.
So when he says that the current spending level in the US is only 18%, he's misstating the reality of government spending in the US by quite a lot as this is only the federal spending level and does not include states, counties, or municipalities who both take and spend a great deal of the national income.
A little tip, if a major party in a 1st world nation unifies around a statistic that sounds completely mind bogglingly stupid, check carefully. Chances are that you've misunderstood what's going on.
Burke's 'little platoons' are a central force in american life and largely what makes the entire american project workable. Here's an organization that might revolutionize elections by taking poll watching out of the hands of partisan volunteers and create a network of watchers who really just want an honest election from both sides.
Bookmark the site, especially if you live in an area (Florida, North Dakota, Chicago) where you think there might be trouble this election.
Clayton Cramer has a good primer on why libertarian ideas are not that popular. Unfortunately, the title stinks a bit. I think that libertarian ideas are tremendously popular and fit in with a wide variety of people. The trouble is actually with Libertarians, not libertarians.
Libertarians with a capital are the organized forces that try to advance the ideology of libertarianism. They are often noted as 'big L' as opposed to 'little l' libertarians who have an intellectual affinity to the ideas but are not devoted to them as the core organizing principle of their life. The big L types are infamous for having all the flaws of that are pointed out in Cramer's article. They are limited demographically, they are hostile to religion, they are a bit culty and nutty in that they take things to extremes and blackball people out of the movement for not being enthusiastic about legalizing crack whoredom.
But a normal libertarianism exists, and finds its home in both major political parties as part of both major electoral coalitions and all major religious and social organizations. There are libertarians who are Catholics, Jews, Orthodox, every major stripe of Protestant, and all the rest. This is a libertarianism that is largely quiescent. It is uncomfortable with state solutions but it will not bolt from the room in horror just because somebody proposes a government fix for a problem.
A practical Libertarianism, if we are ever to detoxify and make the party a viable vehicle for libertarianism's ambitions has to recognize that a suboptimal practical solution will always beat out an impractical optimal solution.
Libertarianism has largely been lazy. There is little work that I can see on the problem of the Libertarian legislator honorably working in a minority capacity. Current 'big L' types insist that he be a Dr. No, and not engage in the normal give and take of legislative compromise to vote for bills that are improvements on the status quo but not completely libertarian solutions.
This demand for ideological fidelity takes away a great deal of a legislator's bargaining power. If you understand Libertarianism, you can accurately chart his voting behavior in advance. Thus Libertarian legislators, where they exist, are part of the voting terrain. They are never actors that must be accommodated.
In issue by issue, a libertarian argument can usually be made the the libertarian solution will just work better. Libertarian solutions thus have a ready and waiting set of allies, the non-ideological pragmatists and technocrats. But Libertarians turn off these groups by insisting on selling the ideology instead of selling the solution using pragmatist terms. It is pure laziness because the point of the exercise is to close the sale and win the vote and that's not viewed as the important part of the problem by the dominant strain of Libertarians.
Ideology is a heuristic, a sort of shortcut, that simply isn't strictly necessary. If libertarianism is truly functional (as I believe it is), you should be able to inductively go through the entire set of social problems that are currently being solved by government and demonstrate libertarian solutions that will work pragmatically. In fact, this sort of approach is superior because you will tend to pay a lot more attention to transition problems and not swamping the polity's capacity to change but rather growing that capacity to change.
This isn't to denigrate the theorists. They are important because they provide the shortcuts and jargon necessary to create strategy quickly and to identify functional end conditions. The sales job of going out there and traveling the road between where we are and where theory would take us is where Libertarianism is currently weakest.
Iraq Now has a nice rundown of the major Russian and French individuals and institutions who were bribed by Saddam to support him during the sanctions period. He's absolutely right that the silence from the left is deafening. Sure, it's still early. For the purposes of national policy and international justice we should be waiting a great deal more before anything punitive should be done in response to this flagrant lawlessness and policy whoring.
But when has the left recently been eager to wait until all the evidence is in? Shouldn't they at least acknowledge that these are tremendously serious allegations that implicate large swathes of the anti-war coalition and that they should be investigated to separate out the corrupt opportunists in their own ranks? Don't they even care at how much they were made into chumps by a bunch of dishonest political prostitutes?
Why should anybody listen to them at all when they cry out about right-wing wrongdoing when they show themselves to be utterly indifferent to any messes that aren't easily identified with their political opponents? I don't have an answer to that. But all decent left wingers should. Too bad they apparently don't.
Glenn Reynold's links to an important article by Amir Taheri. In it Taheri notes that a great number of people identify Iraq as sliding into anarchy and becoming chaotic. On the contrary, Taheri points out that what arabs view as chaos are really the normal workings of a free society. In fact, Iraqi politics is a great deal more polite than some mature free societies are.
I've noted before that the enemies of freedom always try to label it anarchy and chaos. In fact, I have a series proposing a Department of Anarchy to enhance and institutionalize the pro-freedom impulse. It's both encouraging that Iraq is showing visible signs of a boisterous and healthy political culture. It's sad that so many other arabs seem afraid of the consequences, as if they do not trust themselves to take their place among nations as free people.
From John Ashcroft's Davos speech as commented by Jay Nordlinger:
And third, information. Simple information, he says — mere information — is a powerful enemy of corruption. He cites a striking example from Uganda: Only 28 percent of the money was getting to the schools for which it was designated. Then the government had the bright idea of publishing, in the local papers, the amount of money allocated to each school. Miraculously, the amounts actually reaching the schools climbed to 90 percent. So the mere publication of information caused the money for schools to triple.
There's much more worthwhile stuff there but I thought I'd mention just this one because the implications are profound. In a country racked by cynicism and corruption just publishing the actual figures of how much money should be getting to the school shamed and frightened the thieves into cutting their thefts.
More evidence of Bill Clinton growing into the traditional role of former president:
Often he talked in vacuities — vacuities well suited to an international conference (and, indeed, almost its native language) — but often he made direct sense. As he did last year, he praised the Peruvian wiz Hernando de Soto as the world's most important living economist — that he thinks so highly of de Soto, whose cause in life is property rights, and what they can do for every human being, speaks well of him. (Clinton also quipped that "some think 'living economist' is an oxymoron.")
And you may be interested to know that any time he referred to the Bush administration, or alluded to it, it was in a complimentary way. He told this crowd — again, a crowd that could use hearing it, especially from this source — that much of what we're doing, successfully, in the War on Terror never makes the newspapers. For example, "cells are rolled up," which you never hear about. The administration has achieved "cooperation with other governments" that is not "inherently sensational" but "has saved a lot of people's lives." You never hear about this bomb found in this container on this cargo ship destined for this port — and "I could give you 50 other examples."
But Clinton was very, very impressive — that's a plain fact, Impromptus-ites — and well worth listening to. As Dick Cheney, I believe, said, at the 2000 convention in Philadelphia: So much talent, so much wasted.
* One final word about Clinton, old slippery Bill: Just as you could never be sure whether he supported the '91 Gulf War, you can't be sure now whether he supported last year's Iraq war. You just can't — which is a little weird, don't you think, given that we all have opinions, and this is an ex-president of the United States.
The truth is that you're not supposed to be able to tell the political opinions of former President's of the United States on important matters of controversy. That Bill Clinton is keeping to that traditional script these days is a positive sign.
One of the big problems of communists is that they just won't stop. When you have a normal idea, you try it, you experiment with it in a few variations, and if it repeatedly fails, you stop trying it. You accept that the idea, no matter how noble sounding no matter how good it sounds, simply does not work.
The communists do not accept this basic proposition. One of the fundamental features of communism, one of its component memes is the idea that logic has its own class consciousness. This marxist idea of proletarian and bourgeoisie logic is a class of polylogism and while totally useless as a means of helping explain the world makes it ultimately very difficult to win an argument with marxists and creates a plethora of marxist variants, many of which do not formally recognize that they are marxist. In fact, class polylogism is probably one of the few essential memes of marxism.
When a marxist experiment fails, it is always the fault of the implementation. A priori, marxism is held to be blameless. It just needs to be tweaked better, adjusted and morphed into new forms, take on new labels, and be tried in a more conducive atmosphere. If it is in a theoretical discussion, the marxist's argumentation is at fault, he is not sufficiently class conscious, or alternatively the logical argument is simply dismissed as coming from an unhealthy social origin.
What's the point of all this hoary history? The fact is that, even today, old, thoroughly discredit marxist ideas are being recycled by virtue of an application of polylogism. Post-marxist movements of political economy still have to be examined, at least lightly, for signs that they are infected with this logic bomb.
Sasha Volokh's recent note on the inapplicability of marxist failure to an analysis of liberal economics rang alarm bells for exactly this reason. Liberalism, the modern variant anyway, shares some features with fabian socialism. Except in its third way variants of Clintonism and Blairism, liberalism borrows extensively from the socialists and can be taken as part of the same family.
But Clintonism itself seems severely wounded if not quite dead in the Democrat party of today. Old style appeals to greater government control, reregulation, and raising taxes were not greeted with horror when Gov. Dean proposed them. Deans troubles, rather are ones of personal character and a worry that he is too angry a messenger to sell the old time conventional message.
The closest adherent of Clintonism in the current group of presidential candidates is Joe Lieberman and he's on the right wing of the current crop of candidates. His DLC approach renders him likely unelectable in the Democrat primary.
Now fabian socialism is an odd bird. Many people on the right have misunderstood its timeline. Winston Churchill badly lost his reelection effort because of his insistence that you cannot have socialism without a gestapo. It wasn't until 30 years later that the signs of incipient tyranny seriously showed up with Arthur Scargill's proposal to institute limits on emigration in order to combat the UK's brain drain. And such proposals were rightly tossed overboard with the rise of Thatcherism.
But even though fabianism is extremely slow and gradual in its approach to implementing socialism, it merely delays the onset of economic collapse. It is just as unsustainable as more severe forms of this politico/economic idea.
I can't agree with the idea that liberalism has little to learn from the collapse of communism. To the extent that it continues to resist accountability and discarding failed ideas, it follows the marxian model to a T.
The UK Liberal Democrat party's spokeswoman on children just yesterday declared that she was a potential suicide bomber:
Many many people criticise, many many people say it is just another form of terrorism, but I can understand and I am a fairly emotional person and I am a mother and a grand mother, I think if I had to live in that situation, and I say this advisedly, I might just consider becoming one myself. And that is a terrible thing to say
Yes, it's a terrible thing to say. So why, Ms front bencher Lib-Dem MP did you go and say it? I can understand sympathizing with the palestinians, especially if you haven't looked closely enough to spot their warts, and thought enough about the situation to realize that a great deal of their troubles are self-inflicted.
Whatever god she claims to follow it certainly isn't one with much of a suicide prohibition. How can someone in a position of political responsibility, in a country with an official religion (and one with a strong prohibition on suicide to boot) make such a horribly evil statement?
The only minor bright side in the affair seems to be that she will resign her leadership post and be relegated to the back benches.
Andrew Sullivan notes the difference today between David Brook's column and Paul Krugman's effort. In this case, 'm entirely with AS (perhaps a step or two beyond him). Brooks showed a level of understanding and recognition of the basic humanity of the other side. Paul Krugman's column appeals to the tinfoil hat left with his sinister warning that Bush wants to "grab enough power that the consequences don't matter".
Without a coup and the overturn of the constitutional order, in 2006 the entire House of Representatives will stand for election as will one third of the Senate. In 2008 a new President will be elected along with an entirely new House and another third of the Senate. The voters can impose consequences then if Bush goes too far as they have imposed them on a great many Presidents since George Washington.
It's a gout of toxic leftist code talk, just as wink and nod slimy as if David Duke had given Krugman lessons. It's stoking up fears of a coup, raising the paranoia level on the far left as high as he can crank it. Unrealistic? It's at least as realistic as Krugman's accusations on race:
The most sinister example was the recess appointment of Charles Pickering Sr., with his segregationist past and questionable record on voting rights, to the federal appeals court — the day after Martin Luther King's actual birthday. Was this careless timing? Don't be silly: it was a deliberate, if subtle, gesture of sympathy with a part of the Republican coalition that never gets mentioned in public.
The truth is that we're all nervous. We're engaged in the first non-westphalian war the West has seen in centuries, since before there was a United States. Some things have to change to accommodate that but permanent restrictions of our liberty are not on the list of concessions a majority will tolerate. At the same time, we must win this war. David Brooks has understood that the requirements of bipartisan comity in wartime. There are decent voices on the left who can and do reciprocate that forming the responsible, loyal opposition. Paul Krugman no doubt thinks his ideological arson show is loyalty through dissent and no doubt he's right by his own lights but it's in no way responsible.
Ralph Peters is a new Clinton convert. He bubbles over about Bill Clinton's speech in Qatar on the future of US/Arab relations.
While President Clinton has a reality distortion machine better than anyone, I was encouraged by the fact that he seems to be turning down opportunities to criticize the present administration from foreign soil. That's part of the basic level of bipartisan comity that needs to happen but sometimes didn't in Clinton's early post-presidency speeches.
Is Bill Clinton growing up into a senior statesman? I hope so. Keep your powder dry anyway.
Debka again, this time with a report that the PA's treasury has been stolen by Arafat and there is no money to make payroll on January 1, 2004. If it's true (and I'm lugging my usual Debka rock of salt on this one) this essentially means that Arafat is guilty of treason. You can't just steal the national treasury and claim to be just a regular elected politician. Palestinian Authority corruption has a long and sad history but this is the icing on the cake.
In some ways I hope that it is true because it would expose the PA as fraudulent, a Potemkin village covering an Arafat dictatorship. If paychecks come from Arafat's personal funds (personal stolen funds, that is), there's nothing left. You might as well make him a crown and a throne, he's king in an absolute monarchy. "L'etat, c'est moi".
In any case, we'll know more in two or three days.
In my daily slog through the news, I sometimes write the author or the editor in commentary or correction. I figured, why not publish here as well.
Re: Why Democrats must not abandon the old stronghold
There was a glaring factual error in your article, Why Democrats must not abandon the old stronghold. The 2000 census has adjusted the electoral totals. Gore states lost several votes because of population shift so it would not be true that somebody who won Gore's states would be just four votes shy of the Presidency.
But beyond not understanding the current composition of the electoral college, the article is a throwback to a widespread '70s bigotry of assuming that the only reason for the south's move rightward is race. It is not. The Democrat party has completely lost its credibility on religious issues, abortion, and gun rights. This disproportionately affects the Democrat party's results in the south and west, the very areas that have been picking up population (and electoral votes) in recent decades. While you may disagree with southern attitudes about God or guns, it is irresponsible to write an article on southern political trends and ignore these facts on the ground. You've served your readership poorly. Agree or disagree with the Republican party but be a professional about it and get the story right. Misleading your readers won't help them understand the US.
I will probably disagree with Rabbi James L. Mirel much more often than I agree with him. But he does good work in this article promoting civility in political discourse. There's been too much misuse of language. Nazi, communist, traitor, evil, these are all terms that have meaning and need to be used precisely. When they are just words you fling at those you disagree with, it both makes civic progress more difficult while legitimizing the absolutely real holders of these labels. In other words, it's a two-fer dose of stupidity.
I have a feeling that I have a somewhat higher tolerance for strong language than the good rabbi but the rhetoric is too often crashing through even the lowest of civilized floors. We need to clean up our act without compromising our principles.
It seems that Cardinal Martino is being chided by the Vatican for engendering confusion between the Cardinal's personal opinion and the Vatican's official position on the capture of Saddam Hussein.
The Vatican has issued a reasonable statement, tactfully rapping a 'prince of the Church' over the knuckles without excessive humiliation. It makes one wonder about all the intemperate commentary that simply assumed that the Cardinal must have been relaying an official position. Retractions anyone?
Hellblazer writes here an anguished cry over the horrible budget process. His politics aren't necessarily my cup of tea but this is a situation that transcends party politics. Both parties do the same sad omnibus bills filled with unwise and unnecessary goodies (Democrats, most recently in 1992-1994, Republicans right now). Stuff like this disappears when exposed to the light of public opinion but the legislation is so big and it's so hard to figure out who did what and when that shining the light on these bad practices is hard to do and expensive.
But this, at heart, is an information systems problem. I've long thought that something tailored to the political process that functioned something like CVS for version control would be a useful bit of citizen oversight. After that, you just need someone to be ballsy enough on final passage to require an actual reading of the bill.
You run a diff (a listing command that highlights the differences between two versions of the same document, short for differential) to spot all the last minute pork that's been inserted and you light up the US Capitol switchboard like a christmas tree before they're halfway through the reading. Put a thousand calls in on the same subject demanding a no vote on the pork and you have a very cowed legisltor.
435 legislators can't stop the shenanigans. They don't have the tools or the manpower even if they want to do it. 10k of volunteers could if they had access to the legislation and version control to spot the last minute funny business. The tool is probably 40% written already in various open source repositories.
Note: I'm not talking about party here. This isn't about party. It's about taking control of out of control spending.
The main objection in discussion I've had on the idea of a DepartmentofAnarchy has been on the line that it is not original and has always been stymied by the natural forces that create "captured" departments, that sad process where the watchers become sympathetic to the watched to the point where they are in desperate need of treatment for their full blown Stockholm Syndrome.
The solution (now that it's stewed around the back of my head for a few months) seems simple, make the Department be headed by an elective officeholder. Of course this makes the actual creation of such institutions harder but it does give the people the ability to renew the institution as officeholders get 'captured' and no longer serve as effective promoters of efficiency, justice, and freedom.
A new article seems to put Cardinal Martino as something of a loose cannon that is going far beyond what the Pope, or most of the Vatican Curia wants to convey. The Vatican is in something of a bind as it is intensely scrutinized for any sign that could be used by Islamists as a rallying argument that the Pope is renewing the Crusades. In the history crazy world of middle eastern Islam, the Pope is the ultimate big boogey man and John Paul II has, wisely, refused to play into the waiting trap.
May the next Pope be as wise.
I understand that the habit of the Vatican has long been to take troublesome Bishops and promote them to clerical posts with little power and less visibility limited to doing the necessary work of signing paychecks for African missionaries on the Vatican grounds, for instance. Cardinal Martino, the scribe's desk is calling to you.
What do you do when Glenn Reynolds in a story debunking politicized environmental reporting, repeats one of the hoariest myths around of scientific persecution by religion. He's spot on in his linking, no argument there but the truth is that Galileo had a religious trial for his religious and unscientific views. The problem of Galileo's trial is important because it directly bears on the problem of the hockey stick and other politically convenient science that Reynolds is complaining about.
Galileo, like today's global warming partisans, was a man in a hurry. He believed in a theory, like warming theorists today do, for which he thought the evidence was persuasive, but that there was no definitive proof at the time (and simple definitive proof would not be found until 1838 long after Galileo's death in 1642 when the parallax problem was finally solved).
Galileo turned out to be right in the end but he insisted that religious authorities change their interpretation of scripture in advance of the evidence. That was a religious matter and properly put the whole issue before the Inquisition. The sin of the Church was that Galileo, being an impatient, abrasive, abusive man, succeeded in exceeding their tolerance and his temperment played an important part in his conviction. That's no way to run a court system and the 1979 examination of the problem settled the question of judicial malfeasance (if you need it in another language other than french or italian, use the fish).
The fact that Galileo was running in advance of the evidence and created a 400 year rift between western science and western faith in the process should be a cautionary tale and put us on our guard against scientists who seek to do the same today and run ahead of the actual evidence for their position. Some will ultimately be proven right, others wrong. But all will corrode the proper ethic of science and that's a real shame.
Thanks Misha, I've been having trouble fitting in all the blogs I have on my blog reading list. With your recent posted death threats, I no longer have to read yours so I'll have more time to read worthwhile publications.
And no, there will be no links. Google it if you really want to but the anti-idiotarian rotweiller won't get easy traffic from me. It shouldn't get traffic from you either.
I've gone on in the past about the obligation of muslims to reign in their extremists, their radicals, and their crazies. This obligation exists on moderates of all groups. The main reason why this obligation rests on the moderates inside the group is that they have unique insights not only into the extremists/radicals/nuts (from here on in exranuts) of their own group, they know how best to excise them without doing more damage than necessary to the larger groups goals and aspirations. Even when internal moderates (as is the case with muslims) are not in a particularly powerful position, it is preferrable to have them do the work. Outsiders are inevitably going to go at the problem like the bull in the proverbial china shop, clumsily.
In an example closer to home, the US has two disparate sets of exranuts to deal with on the War on Terror (we've got lots of other nuts too, this isn't an exhaustive list). There's the left wing surrender crowd who haul out pithy, disgusting phrases like "we support our troops when they shoot their officers". Then there's the "nuke Mecca and make the rubble bounce" crowd. Sanity lies between these two extremes. Steven Den Beste just got a letter from a muslim bull going through our china shop.
For americans, talking seriously about the use of nuclear weapons has a very powerful sobering effect. We've been living the longest with the reality of the capability to destroy the planet and while joking about it can keep the nightmares away, somebody breaking out sober battle plans ends all frivolity.
When we're the unchallanged top dog we tend to get lazy and sloppy as a society. We're just coming off a decade long bender (the '90s) where we were the undisputed champ and we're still dealing with the hangover from that period. Steven Den Beste's serious talk about how close we're dancing edge, to that decision point of having to launch a nuke or give up on being the USA is, in its way, a plea to everybody to get serious, cut the political partisanship, and get on with the business of dealing with a national crisis.
I just wrote about a hypothetical in which political considerations are getting in the way of enlarging the army to a size that is sustainable for our current threat picture. I firmly believe that the Democrat party has a faction that is so obsessed with President Bush and the 2004 elections that they'd think about the politics of it more than the national security angle. I worry that they have 41 votes in the Senate. Because of the disasterous consequences of even letting our need for extra divisions get out before the deal is done, I fear that nobody even dares to do a private whip count.
So we're stuck in a force resizing holding pattern. We simultaneously try to tamp down crises, digest Iraqi tyranny, downsize our military that's stuck in EU states and S. Korea, and manufacture as many free soldiers as possible waiting for the time when there are enough trusted Congressmen to get the bills through quickly and start raising our force levels fast enough to preclude anybody seriously trying to take advantage.
In the meantime, we have to negotiate between the Scylla and Charybdis of our own nuts as outsiders "oscillate between despondency and amusement" at our attempts at doing our own laundry (reigning in our own exranuts).
Michael Kinsley enters the clueless race when it comes to the intellectual backing for Bush's strategy. Hellooo Michael. The Naval War College's newrulesets.project started as a little intellectual experiment prior to 9/11 and radically ramped up in importance thereafter.
There's a natural human tendency to want your ideological or partisan side to win but it's dangerous to the stability of the nation if the opposition is too incompetent. I can see Michael Kinsley disdaining the new rule sets approach. I can see him dismissing it. But pretending it doesn't even exist is just too departed from reality to take any joy from. In fact it's downright worrisome.
Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for the story.
In the spirit of "only Nixon could go to China" Senator Zell Miller (D-GA) has just made charges of treason against Democrats something that can be discussed in polite company. Put very simply, this is a shocking development and on the par with Howard Baker (R-TN) asking "What did the President know and when did he know it". For a Democrat to call other Democrats traitors you know something is seriously wrong in the heart of Democrat politics.
For the preservation of their party, the Democrats better make heads roll over this or they're heading down the road to delegitimization.
On the surface, Europe has gone a bit ethno-crazy and bigoted. France's Chirac tells all of eastern Europe that they are poorly raised children, Italy and Germany are trading barbed insults and it seems only a matter of time before cries of 'perfidious Albion' enter into the fray (if I haven't missed it already being launched).
On reflection, the ethno follies seem to be more than just foolish expressions of national pride. These are serious thinkers, major movers and shakers that have guided their nations toward an ambitious european unity project that is breathtaking in breadth and depth. So what gives?
Ethnic name calling has a vast and storied existence in european culture on all sides. It has always been held in reserve by savvy politicians of all ideological persuasions who use it to create a diversion, an outside force to focus popular discontent on and safely vent without bringing down their own rule. So far, so good, and if the occasional war breaks out because of it, that's a growth opportunity if handled right. The EU project was in large part intended to cut out the wars because they ended up being bad for business as european states had gotten too good at it for the continent to survive another round.
But what about the need for a boogie man? The Turks, the US, non-EU european nations have all been good for awhile but life is getting tough for the EU politician.
The US is dangerous to trifle with post 9/11 as EU exporters and France's tourist sector are discovering. The Turks are toying with islamic politics and might possibly turn into a real threat for the first time in decades, and even non-EU states are starting to be tricky to insult as they enter the EU and gain international prestige as Poland has in Iraq (it will take some time for the germans to recover from the idea of sending troops to be under polish command). Russia is becoming all of Europe's energy supplier so kicking the bear, even when it's down, is not as risk free as it once was.
So we have cancelled vacations by Schroeder and "Spaghetti Head" headlines as the euro-press gets into the act. But why now? Frankly, the EU is in a spot of trouble and blowing off steam may save some politicians their jobs.
The ECB has announced it will no longer be dropping rates and criticized various EU states for not reforming their bloated social programs to something that might actually be sustainable given the EU's impending population implosion and relatively low economic growth rates compared to what they need to handle their greying population.
As tensions rise within EU nations because of needed reforms that betray social promises made in the past, look for infantile displays to have a renewed popularity. Let's just hope that the delicate task of distraction doesn't end up being taken too seriously.