Saturday, February 16, 2002

Forgiving Libertarians-I spent some time this evening reflecting on my go-rounds with Will Hester earlier today and yesterday. This is a decent example of the often-heated debate between the small-l libertarian and conservative camps on sexual issues (and to a lesser extent on drugs). The two camps will be fellow travelers on economics, agreeing on the need for a smaller government, less regulation and a smaller tax burden; how much smaller is an open debate, but we agree on the direction. Where the two camps will disagree is on non-economic freedoms. Conservatives will be more likely to support laws banning self-destructive behavior, such as drugs and traffic safety rules (like requiring helmets for motorcycles or seat belt use in cars); libertarians will be more willing to give people freedom to do what they wish, even if it is destructive. On drugs, libertarians have some solid arguments. The "War on Drugs" hasn't worked well. The cost in people killed, man-years of imprisonment plus the man-years of police work spent putting people there are roughly equivalent to the lives saved of people avoiding drugs because they are illegal. Many straight-arrow conservatives such as William Buckley are pro-legalization on these grounds. I'm not there yet myself, but like Douglas Turnbull is on vouchers, I have a leg up on the fence. The two camps will also disagree on how to deal with STDs and teen pregnancies, with the liberal/libertarian camp less worried about the non-physical effects of extramarital sex and thus focusing on disease-prevention and contraception. The conservatives, especially the ones who take their beliefs against extra-marital sex seriously, will tend to dwell more on the non-physical (including spiritual) effects and lean towards trying to get kids to avoid extra-marital sex rather than protect them while engaging it, thinking that a message that tolerates extra-marital sex will encourage it. Liberals will frequently counter that plugs for abstinence are ineffective. The liberal/libertarian will "underweight" the non-physical effects while the conservative will "overweigh" them. Most people on both sides are looking out for the best interest of society as they see it, weighing factors differently. For instance, Will wants more emphasis on disease prevention while I'm looking after the short and long term cost of an more morally tolerant sex-ed policy. We're not going to change each others minds any time soon. However, as bloggers, we'll try to sway the undecided in our direction. However, we need to respect the person whose argument we're trashing and take any trashing we receive with a calm, forgiving spirit. "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those *&%#$% who trespass against us."

Condom Wars- Part III- Will Hester at Little Sanity has responded to my reply of last night. Before diving into Will Hester's second post, I'll admit that my dislike of the safe-sex paradigm is colored by the apparent disdain of my faith by many of its backers, and some of that frustration got fired at Mr. Powell yesterday. His scalp is safe for now as I de-clinch that Fist of Death. That being said, I still think the safe-sex paradigm is seriously flawed. Time for one more critique.
"Since when do teenagers need encouragement of any kind to have premarital sex?"
No, what they need is encouragement not to have it. Our modern culture's emphasis on sexual gratification didn't invent teen sex but it encourages (or fails to discourage) sexual activity.
Churches and mosques can be agents of evil as readily as they can be agents of good. I won't insult anyone's intelligence by giving the token example.
Nice straw man. Shall we debate the civilizing nature (leaving Islam out for now) of churches as a net force for good? Or do we take the church as a net zero?
Sexually transmitted disease has always been one of the great scourges of the human condition, and I agree that monogamous marriage systems such as that encouraged by Christianity are designed to minimize the impact of such disease on civilization. (Look at the role of syphilis in European history. Look at the reasons curiously neglected by your eighth-grade history textbook for why the Indians died off in such great numbers.) Let religious groups disseminate religious solutions; I simply believe we should follow Powell's example in our schools and teach real solutions to real problems.
Here's the kicker. Will want to err on the side of fighting disease and prefers "real" solutions to "religious" ones. I'd prefer to err on the side of putting in a plug for marriage and trying to discourage extramarital sex, which will prevent more social ills, including AIDS, over the long run. By the way, a program that can cut teen sexual activity is as "real" a solution as handing out condoms. People siding with Will on this one should take a look at whether their defense of the safe-sex paradigm is colored by a reflexive dislike of religion.

Canadian Premiers dissing Chretien on Kyoto The premiers of nine Canadian provinces sent an open letter to Prime Minister Chretien protesting his support for the Kyoto Protocols, stating that to implement them while the US doesn't would put Canada at a competitive disadvantage. Quebec's premier sided with the PM. They did so in Moscow, while they all were on a trade mission. Does Canada have the same political ethic as the US in that it's tacky to show up the PM/president while you're overseas? Chretien is pledging loyalty to the international commitment to slow climate change and the economy seems to come second. I can hear the sound of preparations for blogfire coming from the north. Mr. Penny, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Monkey, fire at will.

Bush to Euroweenies-Bring it on. This NYT piece is pointing out what many bloggers have suspected, that the White House doesn't care if the Europeans are backing away from the "Axis of Evil" rhetoric. It seems to help define who our friends and enimies are. I wound up adding "Euroweenies" to my Word spell-check list. I'll be using it more than one.

Bad news for the left-The Gray Lady is implicitly backing Judge Pickering, looking at how black Mississippians view him, a lot more favorably and accurately than the left activists in Washington. When the NYT is on board in pointing out a Borking, the good guys are in good shape.

Democrats 2004-Who Wants a Crack at Dubya?-Here’s a quick list of the people “the great mentioner” has anointed as possible candidates. The ones in parenthesis are ones that aren’t talked about but might come into play. Establishmentarians- Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Al Gore, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry Moderates-Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh (Zell Miller, Gary Locke) Wingers- Al Sharpton (Robert Reich) Right now, there are too many possible candidates. By the time the early primaries are over (and there won’t be too many late one anymore) there are usually no more that four people standing in a presidential primary. A moderate, one or two party-establishment candidates and a winger are about all the political ecosystem will support. The more candidates in the race, the less coverage the also-ran get, as news coverage wants to boil things down to a two or three (grudgingly four) man race. A key question any of these candidates will have to make is whether they can get the nomination and beat Bush. If that combination is not good, they may be better off waiting for ’08. Some of the heavier hitters may pass on the ’04 race like many major players like Bradley and Cuomo passed on ’92 when Bush pere looked too hard to beat. The five people in my establishment list will most likely get weeded to at most three by mid ’03, as exploratory campaigns will show the support isn’t there. Edwards, a southern liberal populist, has gotten some good early press and won’t be up for his North Carolina senate seat until ’06. If he’s not Speaker in ’03, Gephardt might decide to make the jump and have a lot of union support behind him. I don’t think Democrats will want a Gore-Bush rematch and Hillary still has enough excess baggage for many party regulars to be comfortable with her heading up the ticket. Thus, I expect both Al and Hillary to say “not this time” by Labor Day ’03. If Edwards and Gephardt pass on the race as well, Kerry might have an opening; otherwise, he’ll be on the sidelines as well. Both Bayh and Lieberman have been mentioned as possible candidates from the DLC wing of the party. Bayh’s seen a presidential primary up close when his Senator-dad Birch ran in 1976, doing well but not well enough, fighting Mo Udall for the liberal vote with Jimmy Carter getting the center-right of the party and winning. Evan’s more centrist than his dad, but doesn’t have much name recognition nation-wide. In a close race, a guy who can win a medium-sized Republican state (Indiana) wouldn’t hurt. Lieberman may have problems as a primary candidate. He had to backtrack on a lot of his more centrist stands as the VP nominee. He’s going to have a credibility problem in the both the primaries (is he really a good liberal?) and the general (is he as moderate as the media say he is?). Bayh doesn’t have that baggage, so he has an opening. If Lieberman passes on the race, Bayh has some political ecology to run in; otherwise, he’ll not have much room to maneuver and would likely pass on a race. An interesting wild card might be Georgia senator Zell Miller. A populist centrist, he might have enough appeal among Southerners and blue-collar union types to get nominated despite bucking the party line on many issues. If both Lieberman and Bayh opt out of the race, I think he might have a shot. One downside-his seat is up in ’04. Another downside- if I like him, the Democrats won’t. Sam Nunn filled this niche for years, but Miller is as down-home charismatic as Nunn was/is dull (smart, but dull). Outgoing Washington governor Gary Locke (the best of a weak lot of Democratic governors) might be an interesting candidate. An articulate young Chinese-American, he might be a fresh alternative if all the usual suspects decide not to run. Washington state people might classify him as more establishmentarian, but I’ll put him in the centrist camp, as he would fill that good-government niche if no one else wants to take it. On the left, Al Sharpton is looking to run. He will be a non-factor, as he doesn’t seem to have the appeal outside of a narrow base of black activists. The guy who might make things interesting on the left is Robert Reich (wouldn’t he be a good liberal blogger?). The former labor secretary is running for governor in Massachusetts this year. If he wins and is seen to be doing a good job (from a Democratic viewpoint, most bloggers will be in gag mode) in the early months as governor, he could run a low-budget campaign, getting a lot of good free media with his glib-but-intellectual personality (the debates will be fun if he’s on his A-game) and sneak in and win New Hampshire next door. Prediction- By January of ’04, Bayh, Gephardt and Edwards will be in the hunt, with Sharpton sniping from outside the auditorium. Fun time-picture Sharpton at 3% in the polls, demanding a seat at the debates. He’ll either make a mockery of the process inside the hall or have his pickets outside the hall trying to make the Nashua debate another Selma. Bayh does well but not well enough, with the early primaries going Gephardt 40 Edwards 35 and Bayh 25. When Bayh drops out, Gephardt is able to claim the party center in a spirited but not too nasty campaign. Dubya-Rice wins 53-43 in the general election over Gephardt-Bayh.

The Vast Left-Wing Keiretsu- Steven Hayes has a killer Weekly Standard piece on Bill Moyers and the interlocking financial pieces of the left. Hayes points out that Moyers is the president of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, getting a nice $200K/year haul for his work. If that name rings a bell, you’ve heard in on the contribution credits for any number of PBS and NPR shows. The Schumann Foundation also backs, as Hayes points out, leftist magazines such as The Nation, Mother Jones and The American Prospect and left-leaning policy organizations Sierra Club, US Public Interest Research Group, the Center for Public Integrity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Responsive Politics. Back in the Clinton years, Richard Mellon Scaife was vilified by the left as the linchpin of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, being a major donor to many think tanks of the right, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute as well as conservative pit bulls such as the American Spectator. This Hayes piece make a more compelling argument that the Schumann Foundation (and possibly other liberal foundations, there’s a good investigative piece ready for the taking) may be acting even more so on the left. Hayes’ piece seems to make the political left look like a Japanese keiretsu, with the big foundations as the banks, giving money to affiliates like PBS, NPR and the liberal action groups. The public broadcasters then use their money to give airtime and news-time to their liberal sister-groups and using their sister-group experts to put the proper spin on the news. Also, when multiple groups donate to put on a show, it makes things look broad-based when it may wind up being the same money coming from different angles. There’s an interesting piece there for the taking looking at who’s on the boards of these various PBS/NPR donor foundations and whom they’re giving to. I’m tempted to do it myself.

Blogger's back up-I've got a backlog of goodies.

Dubya-"I'm more popular than Jesus?"-Ben Domenech links this poll of college students putting Dubya ahead of God in a hero poll. I'm not sure I'd bring Jesus down to hero status, reserving that word for mere mortals. If we asked college kids straight up, "who do you respect more, God or Dubya?", God wins 70-30 and most of the 30 will be giving a can't-pass-on-that-straight-line smart-ass retort. Ben, how about "semi-pro?" I don't want to sound like a literary jock-sniffer, but I'm flattered when people with more experience at writing commentary are appreciating my work.

Starting a new feature-not a blog watch per se but a place to put interesting articles that I don't have a paragraph on but are worth saying to my readers-"This is interesting". THE CHECK-OUT LANE (12 items or less- no long lines) Mil-Sci 397- City Fighting- USS Clueless and Beauty of Gray continue their modern warfare series, focusing on Saddam making "discretion the better part of evil" and making it a city fight. Michael Ledeen's NRO Obit on Vernon Walters- good general and diplomat Gregg Easterbrook's New Republic piece on strategic bombing in Iraq- a good overview of bombing tech and strategy. David Brooks' Weekly Standard piece on the New Old Left and its reemergence after 9-11 (maybe since they were just about the only ones against the war)

"Can't run again, got nothin' to lose. Got those... term limit blues."- Interesting Fox piece on the effect of term limits on Lansing. The law passed in 1992 kicks starts effecting the state senate this year, thus making 70% of the senate ineligible to run. Governor Engler and Sec. of State Miller are term limited as well; Miller's running for a version of David Bonior's congressional seat. One point the bottom of this piece failed to note properly. Non-term-limited Attorney General Jennifer Granholm is running for governor, but the AG nomination can still be hers since it's decided at the party convention after the primary.

Quip du jour-"It's probably better to have 'em inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in. " Lyndon Johnson (Mr. Rahman would tell you to make sure where they're aiming) Edifier du jour- John 2:14-17
In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
(I don't want it turned into a subsidiary of the GOP or a Planned Parenthood clinic)

Friday, February 15, 2002

President Green Lights Yucca Mt.- President Bush approved the plans to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site. Nevada has the right to appeal the decision to Congress, and will likely do so. Congress then has 60 days to override Nevada's rejection. A going question in this case is whether the waste is safer left at the power plants "forever" or whether shipping it to a central location and storing it there "forever" is safer. Most experts point to the centralized local as the better of the two options. The locals, in this case Nevada, won't like a site and raise the standard NIMBY objections. I remember a decade ago, Michigan was part of a seven-state Midwest Compact for low-level nuclear waste. The idea was that storage facilities would be built to house the waste; as one site filled up, another state would host the next waste-containment facility. A southern Michigan site was chosen and Michigan balked, backing out of the compact. Now Michigan's stuck doing its own nuclear waste management. As much as Nevada will she-dog about it, the waste needs to go somewhere. It has to be in someone's backyard.

No jokes about firing squads-this one for real-Abduk Rahman, the aviation and tourism minister for the provisional Afghan government, was killed yesterday. The early take was that it was irate pilgrims waiting too long to fly to Mecca that killed him. Now, prime minister Karzai alleges, with eyewitness acounts, that some other government officials had Rahman killed, payback for a factional squabble within the Northern Alliance. Keep tabs on this one, as this could throw Afghanistan back into civil war if Karzai has to sack people who might not want to go quietly.

Condomnation. No, just a pointed disagreement-Will Hester at Little Sanity is back-taking me politely to task on my Colin Powell comments this morning. Welcome back, Will- excuse me while I take apart your critique.
Mark's comment that "a diplomat is supposed to represent his boss' position accurately and tactfully" is true, but somewhat off-kilter. The condom issue is not pertinent to Powell's duties as Secretary of State; Bush has certainly known for some time now that Powell is his own man with his own opinions, and I believe Bush has demonstrated that he respects his subordinates' rights to their own opinions. Had Powell waffled on this issue, he would have been dishonest to his own views. I don't think he was staking out an extreme ideological position. It's factually true that condoms are a way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Are they 100% effective? No. Are they a lot more effective than no condoms? Yes. Does promoting condoms in schools encourage kids to have more premarital sex? Possibly--that's a hot-button issue--but I don't believe history tells us that there was any shortage of premarital sex before the invention of the condom, or for that matter before the invention of movable type. The condom, and later the Pill, are prime examples of ways in which the ongoing victory of Western civilization (using technology to create freedom from the chaos of nature) has affected the sexual behavior of our species. So, in my opinion, to criticize Powell for his mild remarks is to practice an intellectually dishonest form of conservatism. To put technology that relates to sexual behavior (condoms, birth control pills, etc.) under a taboo is to do ourselves and our children a great disservice.
Let me make a tangent into the safer-sex/abstinence debate before getting back to Powell's comments. Some (OK, many) teenagers and adults will be sexually active outside of marriage. Is condom use a good thing to avoid pregnancy and STDs for those people. Yes, better than not using it at all. The problem with that approach is that it likely (I'm not up on the literature as I should be) will encourage teens to be more sexually active. If the message is ambiguous ("wait to have sex, but if you can't wait ...."), teenage hormones will be more likely to overrule common sense. Teaching abstinence in a public-school setting is hard since a large chunk of what we think about sex and marriage is religious in nature and thus ill-addressed in a public school setting. Biology and psychology argue against pre-marital sex as well as theology, but when the religious argument is knocked away, the remaining arguments have less force to counter teenage hormones. Many AIDS education programs, especially in the Third World, come from a secular background and will be at war with conservative churches. If you hold a Biblical view that sex outside of marriage is sin, teaching "safe sin" doesn't quite work. The AIDS activists will be chiding, with the government’s backing, churches to be permissive on sexual activity. This is where my beef with Secretary Powell come in. AIDS is a diplomatic issue these days, thus this is on his plate. We all knew he was a centrist on abortion; his wife's work with an abstinence-based program for girls led me to think he might be one of the few people who actually believe Clinton's "safe, legal and rare" construct. The tone of his speech might be moderate, but the message is very subversive. When the spokesman for the most powerful country in the world goes on international TV and says "forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas," he is giving governments in Africa and Latin America a thumbs-up to undermine the churches and mosques in their countries. Marriage is a key element to a stable society; extramarital sex is a destabilizing force. Those "conservative ideas" helped created the blessings we enjoy today. The safe-sex crowd gives indirect license to extramarital sex and helps undermine society. If I were running a sex-ed class with full liberty, I would talk about condoms, diaphragms, the Pill and other birth control methods. However, it would be in a context that God designed sex to be within marriage. The psychological and physical problems of extramarital sex point out that God's not just some killjoy- He has something better in mind. "Lying to young people about the existence or effectiveness of these devices, or even withholding information" isn't what I'm after. At the core, respect for marriage is what I'm after. An sex-ed system that can address the benefits of marriage (hard, but not impossible, in an a-theistic environment) while giving kids the story on birth control as well (if you don't tell them, their friends will) is what we need to shoot for. Once again, welcome back, Mr. Hester. I look forward to more give-and-take, hopefully on more pleasant topics than today's exchange.

Another Pro Heard From-Kevin Holtsberry seemed a bit hurt by being left out of my Ben Domenech post yesterday . I debated including Kevin as a pro writer, mentally noting that he did some Ohio Politics pieces for NRO in 2000, and opted not to. I appolgise for the oversight. I guess I have dreams of being a paid pundit/author some day and having some e-published writers liking my work gives me hope. If I hone my skills and get a few contacts at the commercial outlets via blogging, who knows? Even if that doesn't occur, the blog gives an outlet for my musings with positive feedback and a good learning experience.

Mr. Ford could name him corporate president-"Auto Exec Batch"-Charlie Batch's days in a Lion's uni are over. If there are no takers before June 1, he'll be cut, according to this ESPN piece. June 1 the magic capology day for cutting players, so that any future year's prorated signing bonuses get dumped into next year. The ESPN piece thinks Joey Harrington (not 70's bombshell Joey Heatherton) will be there at #3. I'm still hoping for David Carr. It's good pun bait, but it's happened before. While he was at Michigan, I suggested that Tai Streets be drafted by the 49ers so he'd be the Streets of San Francisco. It happened. I'm still waiting for Rodney Peete to hook up with the Vikings and create the Peete-Moss connection.

2/11 Solved-Joint Golds for the Canadian pair.-Damian provides the update

Raise your Steyns-Mark Steyn has a great piece here in the National Post with various Canadian figures figuring out figure-skating's 2/11 root causes. Some of the references may be too Canadian for some of us stateside, but it's a hoot.

"Coach. We've got our CB in Patton-He can sure backpedal" "What's his 40 time?"-EU Commissioner Chris Patton had an editoral in the Fianancial Times yesterday. Samizdata's Perry de Havilland discects the piece well, but I have some blogfire I'd like to add.
In the case of North Korea, the sunshine policy of Kim Dae-jung offers the best prospect in years of bringing real change. In the Middle East, we need dialogue, not isolation and further radicalisation of the Palestinians.
"Best prospect in years" is a great left-handed complement to the clueless dictators in the PDRK that now have a tiny amount of sense. "Dialogue." Translation-we talk, you shoot and bomb. Been there, done that, got the T-shirts and postcards.
In Iraq, for example, we must redouble our efforts to get the inspectors back in and to support the opposition to Saddam Hussein.
Redouble our efforts. 0.000000013*2=0.0000000026 Still rounds to zero. Patton, while slighty retreating from his earlier comments, still defines root-cause, limp-wristed diplomacy at its most cloying.

Was working through some cases this morning where two insurance companies paid the bill on a patient and we have to figure out who gets the refund. Doesn't happen too often, since in those "coordination of benefits" cases they'll much more likely to both deny than both pay. When I first came on board, I thought COB stood for Cost of Business, since we ate too many of those. I was reminded of the old baseball story. New Hispanic right fielder doesn't know English well. Center fielder yells "I've got it" on a high pop-up and Pedro plows into him. Center fielder learns to say "Yo Tengo." Now, Pedro backs off and the Anglo left fielder plows into him.

Not so Intelligent-Jason over at News for Christians has a number of good takes and links on the pros and cons (mostly cons) on Intelligent Design. ID gets sniped at from both sides. The recent Saletan article on Slate piece points out that ID is in many ways a conditional surrender of theists to evolutionary theory. I'm still trying to reconcile what Genesis says with what scientists are seeing, and this adds to the mix.

Warm Fuzzies-If you're in a squirrelly mood, check out this nice NYT essay on squirrels It won't stop McCain-Feingold or stop al Qaeda, but it's nice.

Are paleoconservatives Neanderthal and paleolibertarians Cro-Mag?- Comment on Kevin's take on paleolibertarians. There is a strain of libertarianism (would this be the paleolibertarians?) that calls for a minimalist foreign policy, enough to protect the homeland and that's it. If I remember correctly, 1980 Libertarian presidential nominee Ed Clark held such views. Add that to traditional libertarian stance on minimalist government and the paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives are just sniping over social issues and free trade. A paleolibertarian with a religious streak could be tolerable bedfellows with paleocons.

Circular Firing Squads Across the Other Pond (They Don't Use Rubber Bullets, either)- The bugged Chinese presidential plane story has a twist: The bug-placer may have been National People's Congress chief Li Peng, wanting to keep tabs on corruption charges against him. Three options: (1) We bugged it-and they uncharacteristically cut us some slack coming into a summit meeting (2) President Jiang Zemin's people bugged it and want to frame Peng for it. (3) Shock of Shocks-the story might actually be true. Contrary to my better judgment, I'll take the bait and take option three.

Circular Firing Squads Across the Pond- Interesting British flap involving some classic spin from the Transport Secretary's office. As best as I can piece it together, a press aide in the department named Jo Moore suggested burying some bad railroad stats by releasing them on the day of Princess Margaret's funeral. Allegations are flying around as to who said and authorized what, with cabinet members sniping at one another while covering their keisters as best they can. I imagine that the critics of NuLab are having good fun watching them squirm. Pity Natalie's on vacation; she'd be good for a well placed zinger on this one.

If She Had Said "Massachusetts", the Jury Would Deem it Justifiable-A Texas guy's on trial for shooting his girlfriend after she repeatedly said "New Jersey." The words Snickers, Mars and Wisconsin also make this guy go postal. Texas must not have an easy insanity-defense law.

Powell-Either hit reverse or hit eject--I'm in "must-control-fist-of-death" mode after seeing reports of Colin Powell's MTV outing, where he plugged for pro-condom education thusly.
It's important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you shouldn't tell young people about.
This is our head diplomat, dissing the majority of his boss' coalition. He could have made a softer stand, saying something like "It's much better to avoid premarital sex, but if people are going to do so, a condom will help protect against diseases," and that it should be part of a broad sex-ed campaign. That kind of statement would get his point across without waiving a red flag in front of his own coalition. This was undiplomatic speech from a guy who's supposed to be a diplomat. What's next, go to Riyahd and say "The Koran isn't worth the paper it's written on." The combination of what he said and how he said it is actionable, as a diplomat is supposed to represent his boss' position accurately and tactfully. Powell did neither here. Either Powell will have to backpedal like a cornerback or be shown the door by Dubya. This could get ugly.

The Race to 60- That's how many votes you need to invoke cloture and break a filibuster in the Senate. McCain-Feingold got 59 last go-round and Fritz Hollins, a no vote last time, says he'd vote for cloture if it came to that point. Watch arm-twisting be raised to an art the next few weeks. This New Republic piece lays out the endgame. However, it only takes one vote, called a presidential veto, to stop this, as neither body has near the two-thirds majority to override the veto. This thing is unconstitutional, so Dubya should play the bad cop and veto this thing. It wouldn't hurt him much (if at all, if he makes a plain and heartfelt case against the bill) in 2004 for reelection, and it would avoid the hard politics of having to get someone to switch their earlier vote.

Quip du jour-"Paul Revere made a great ride, but he wouldn't of gotten too far without his horse"-Gene Upshaw (in praise of fellow linemen) Edifier du jour-"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. ... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:1-2,14 (Word up!) Groaner du jour-The Lock Ness Monster somehow found itself floating below London Bridge. Nessie was quickly killed and turned into sausage. "It was the beast of Thames. It was the wurst of Thames."

Thursday, February 14, 2002

If You Don't Feed Her, You'll Hear Baby cc Whinin'-Aggies may not do bonfires, but they can clone cats. Texas A&M researchers showed off cc, short for copycat (hey, guys, save some puns for us) , a seemingly healthy 2-month-old.

Surrender Monkeys are OK, Swedish Gorillas are Not-An EU election-observer team was OK'd by Zimbabwe, but members from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands were vetoed for being too hostile to the Mugabe regime. The presidential election is March 9-10.

No, Jean, Canada Can't Do It Alone-Over in Moscow, Prime Minister Chretien said that the war on terrorism "has to be done multilaterally. If we try to do it unilaterally it will go absolutely nowhere." We don't expect the Canadians to do it themselves. The US will be more than happy to help.

Pro Scouts on the Playground-Checked out Benjamin Domenech's site after he e-mailed me with the Inigo Dubya correction. I recognized the name but couldn't quite place it at first-turns out he writes for NRO. The pros are now coming to watch me play. Scary cool. He even has me permalinked, getting a top-25 blog vote from a guy who's getting paid to write. Even scarier. I've been at this six weeks and the pros are noticing, first a link from Instipundit (on a so-so post) and now this Domenech permalink. What will six months bring? BTW-Good site, Ben. You're on my list now.

Comparitive Government 320-Why Shays-Meehan-McCain-Feingold Won't Work Many liberals use Europe as a model for elections, where each party gets a block of free air time and no more. This is largely due to the strong-party system used in parliamentary democracies. MPs are supposed to vote the party line or else. Since the party controls who's on the ballot, renegade members will likely not be a nominee of the party next election. There's little reason to have special ads for particular candidates since they'll be taking orders from the top until they themselves are running the party. Occasionally, there will not be a party line and a "free vote" will allow a MP to vote their own conscience. The parliamentary systems will then have a unified party running on a set platform, lending itself to national broadcast. American parties are very weak by European standards. Legislators are free agents, able to deviate from the party line to better reflect their districts. The only party-line vote is the one for organization of the body. The Shays-Meehan vote was an example, where 40 Republicans jumped ship when their leader had declared Armageddon on the bill. Thus, each candidate will have his own values to discuss in his own district, to either side with his party or to point out his independence. This makes it necessary to make individual campaigns for the House and Senate rather than one national campaign; the old Tip O'Neil line was "All politics is local." In addition, primary elections, rather than party appointments, determine the party standard-bearer, adding an additional layer to the election process. It could be possible to give each candidate a set amount of time on local media, but larger areas such as New York or Los Angeles will have a dozen or more congressmen; giving each the same amount of airtime would tie up the airwaves for weeks. Instead, we have decided to allow candidates to raise their own money rather than set up a cumbersome process of state-mandated air time. The issue at hand is people getting around the $2000/person donation limits ("hard money") to congressional campaigns. It is done by giving to the political parties or other groups ("soft money") who then run adds, typically blasting the opponent. Current campaign law does not allow these "independent expenditures" to say "Vote for Jones" or "Vote against Smith"; however, you can say that Congressman Smith is the Devil incarnate and allow the voter to think he should vote against him. If Shays-Meehan goes into effect, the independent parties can't utter Congressman Smith's name in an ad within 60 days of the election. "What happened to freedom of speech?" Well, the Supreme Court will get to weigh in if it becomes law, and will most likely strike down those provisions. Surpisingly, Democrats are the bigger beneficiaries of soft money. However, the absence of those soft money ads will make free media more important, and the Democratic-leaning press will have nothing but Republican candidate ads to counter their spin. The goo-goos who want a more pristine campaign like in Europe or Canada forget that most people aren't political junkies. They won't be reading blogs, watching C-SPAN or public-TV debates between the candidates. Where they get their information is via paid advertising. Shays-Meehan will get rid of a big chunk of information (true, often disinformation), leaving well-funded incumbents, who get good free media coverage by being the current congressman, with a huge advantage over a challenger. The plan will depress turnout (since people will have less information) and help incumbents. It's not going to go into effect. If Dubya doesn't veto it, the Supreme Court will. If you don't like that, redo the constitution to regulate speech and set up a parliamentary system.

"My name is Inigo Dubya. You shamed my father's name. Prepare to die."- Looks like President Bush is going to tidy up some unfinished business in Iraq. It looks like a good pickup line, if the WaTi's Julia Gorin and HawkGirl's any indication. Who said power is the greatest aphrodisiac? Earlier in the week, Powell said that there were no plans on the President's desk to attack Iraq. Silly him, they slipped it into a top drawer just before he came in. [Thanks to Ben Domenech who caught a typo-I had it Ignio originally]

The Civil War and the Velvet Divorce- After last night's essay, I was comparing in my mind the American Civil War with the breakup of Czechoslovakia. There are some decent parallels, with a industrialized north (the Czechs) having differences with a more agricultural south (the Slovaks). If the issue were simply economics, would the Confederacy be allowed to go its own way, allowing two English-speaking American republics? A joint history (no ethnic differences between the two to speak of) and the ferment of anti-slavery backers in the North made this less likely than in the primarily biethnic Czechoslovakia. Those two points made breaking up the US and allowing the South to go its own way, as the Rockwellians would suggest, very hard to do.

Pork Belly Futures Pit Secured-A farm bill passed the Senate yesterday with an ammendment that would ban meat packers from controlling livestock more that 14 days before slaughter. But they did add an ammendment allowing packers to use forward (a.k.a futures) contracts. I was worried about that, and they fixed it

Quip du jour-"The amazing thing about the Civil War isn't that America had one, but that it had only one"-Anon (Someone said that-Google ain't delivering-History buffs, help me out) Edifier du jour-Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 (And salemen think 20% is a great commission) Daffynition-"Whitman Sampler"-EPA field agent.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Picking up the Lincoln Gauntlet- Kevin wants me to pick apart Lew Rockwell.com's (an over-the-top, kick-the-cat make-Samizdata-look-statist libertarian, if I'm reading Jonah's columns right) Thomas J. DiLorenzo and his take on Lincoln. With Google at the ready, here I go. (1) "Lincoln was not an abolitionist." William Lloyd Garrison-Lincoln "had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins." He wasn't a fan of slavery and opposed it's expansion. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the two territories to vote on slavery, with "Bloody Kansas" voting for slavery. Lincoln actively opposed the KNA and campaigned for fellow "Free-Soilers". In his 1858 debates with Steven Douglas, he uttered this zinger-
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all the one thing or the other
This seems to be a statement that, given his other statements, slavery in the south would have to go in the long term. Garrison was an abolitionist zealot, and zealots look at the lukewarm as part of the enemy. Lincoln would be to slavery what Bob Dole is to abortion, not a fan of it but not their A-issue, either. That might not make Lincoln an "abolitionist", but he was modestly on their side. Lincoln was modestly bigoted and favored separation of the races. (2) Lincoln the big-government Whig-here's DiLorenzos take
When Lincoln first entered state politics in 1832 he announced that he was doing so for three reasons: To help enact the Whig Party agenda of protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare subsidies for railroad and canal-building corporations ("internal improvements"), and a government monopolization of the nation’s money supply. "My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance," he declared: "I am in favor of a national bank . . . the internal improvements system, and a high protective tariff." He was a devoted mercantilist, and remained so for his entire political life. He was single-mindedly devoted to Henry Clay and his political agenda (mentioned above), which Clay called "The American System."
The Whigs did support canal and road infrastructure ("Corporate Welfare Subsidies" in Lewspeak) to speed up Western development. The development of the American frontier would have slowed without the programs, thus creating more of a peasant class in the East and a more fertile ground for socialism had it not been done. The government expenditures for this infrastructure was a net plus for American freedom; DiLorenzo would find the Democratic world less pleasant. Whig patron saint Henry Clay was a protectionist. Northern and western industries wanted protection from British imports, while the agricultural South wanted more free trade to sell their cotton overseas. This was another, less mentioned, friction that helped bring about the Civil War. Drop back five yards and remember that the US was a developing country at the time; many of the "infant industry" arguments that developing countries use today to support protectionist policies are at play. The protectionism allowed a manufacturing base to develop, giving the US its military punch. As much as backing a protectionist policy runs counter to me as a free-trader, this policy looks to have made sense with two centuries of hindsight. Commodity exporting countries live and die by the market for the commodity, whereas a manufacturing economy is more insulated from swings in world markets. A weaker, commodity-driven US would have multiple detrimental effects to world history if we reran history with Rockwellian policies. A central money supply was superior to the chaotic system of bank notes that replaced it. That borders on a no-brainer. (3) The Civil War was illegitimate.
Moreover, Lincoln destroyed the most important principle of the Declaration – the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Southerners no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C. in 1860, and Lincoln put an end to that idea by having his armies slaughter 300,000 of them, including one out of every four white males between 20 and 40.
The "consent of the governed?"-only free males got to vote at the time, thus a majority of the governed couldn't even vote. Would succession have passed if a plebiscite of all adults were done? The Civil War was bloody, but continued slavery and a precedent of succession would have been worse.
Another Lincoln myth was that he "saved the Constitution." But this claim is an outrage considering that Lincoln acted like a dictator for the duration of his administration and showed nothing but bitter contempt for the Constitution
The Dictator Lincoln invaded the South without the consent of Congress, as called for in the Constitution; declared martial law; blockaded Southern ports without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution; illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned without trial thousands of Northern anti-war protesters, including hundreds of newspaper editors and owners; censored all newspaper and telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; created three new states without the consent of the citizens of those states in order to artificially inflate the Republican Party’s electoral vote; ordered Federal troops to interfere with Northern elections to assure Republican Party victories; deported Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for opposing his domestic policies (especially protectionist tariffs and income taxation) on the floor of the House of Representatives; confiscated private property, including firearms, in violation of the Second Amendment; and effectively gutted the Tenth and Ninth Amendments as well.
Declaring war assumes the Confederacy was legitimate, otherwise the president is commander-in-chief and can put down an insurrection.Lincoln did suspend Habeas Corpus during the war; "Imprisoned without trial" is what happens when habeas corpus is removed. Vallandigham was arrested for opposing the war effort after being voted out of the House, and later shipped off to the Confederacy. Kansas, Nevada and West Virginia were made states during the war, but the motives can be questioned. Newspapers and telegraph were under censorship rules. True, Lincoln wouldn't be a card-carrying ACLU member, but most of the items listed, when presented without spin, are honest efforts to win the war. The war effort was rough, and things such as Sherman's March would get one hauled to The Hague these days. (4) Lincoln's legacy of big goverment.
Henry Clay’s American System had been vetoed as unconstitutional by virtually every president beginning with James Madison. But as soon as Lincoln took office, with the Southern Democrats absent from Congress, it was finally put into place, literally at gunpoint. In 1857 the average tariff rate was 15 percent, according to Frank Taussig’s classic, A Tariff History of the United States. The Morrill Tariff more than tripled that rate to 47 percent and it remained at that level for decades. The National Currency Acts nationalized the banking system, finally, and lavish subsidies to railroad-building corporations generated the corruption and scandals of the Grant administrations, just as Southern statesmen had predicted for decades. Income taxation was introduced for the first time, along with an internal revenue bureaucracy that has never diminished in size. All of these policies put a great centralizing force into motion and were the genesis of the centralized, despotic state that Americans labor under today.
Granted, the post-civil war railroad financing was not well done. DiLorenzo makes the mistake of taking his pro-southern, libertarian and free-trade biases and inelegantly places them on the 1800s. The centralized banking system and tariffs that DiLorenzo rails about helped create today's economy. A Rockwellian world would have us looking more like Brazil than Britain.

Will the Real Chris Patton Please Stand Up-Patton seemed to have done a good job as the last British Governor of Hong Kong, but he seems to have been brainwashed by the EU beauzeaus since then. Now, he chastizes the US for an "absolutist and simplistic" approach to foreign policy. Tom Freidman brought his A-game this morning and gives him both barrels , while the Times of London, of all people, turns warblogger and continues the pounding.

Moody's Blues in Japan-Moody's is set to lower Japan's domestic debt ratings two levels, making it the lowest rated G7 country. More bad news for the Rising Sun guys.

MNR Debut Postponed-Chavez Acting Nice- ``I ask everyone to help me sheath my sword,'' said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he took a more conciliatory tone to defuse looming unrest. The two officers who called for his removal have turned themselves in to superiors. Things seem to have calmed down for now.

Dyslexic Agnostic-"Is there a Dog?"- New Zealand's Speights Breweries pulled an ad featuring a beer-fetching canine. Caption "In Dog We Trust." Clerics complained, of course. Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for the link. BTW-when's the last time New Zealand was in the news? It's the fogotten corner of the Anglosphere.

I'm Allergic to Smut. You Can Ask My Doctor- To answer Kevin's blogwatch question. I don't have Tom Lehrer's Smut on my hard drive. Since we've got the TWTYTW record, I did feel free to Napster some of the other Lehrer song into MP3 form. Not Smut, not Masochism Tango, but the cleaner ones. I figured that many bloggers, especially those of a more libertarian mindset, would appreciate Lehrer's work. By the way, smut is a farmland mold, and I am allergic to it.

Immolation or Innovation?While Canadians are POed at their figure skaters getting screwed out a gold medal, Canadian Industry Minister Alan Rock announced the Liberal government's new innovation strategy just below the fold. Man, this piece is a "target-rich enviroment" if there ever was one. Where do I start? [6:20PM Update-"Banana Counting Monkey ran a sortie an hour earlier" "There were still plenty of targets standing when I arrived, General"]
Relative to the U.S., the world's benchmark economy, real incomes per capita in Canada have been steadily falling over much of the last two decades.
Two decades ago. Let's see. We had Reagan, you didn't. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo.
When my daughter leaves university I want her to feel she can write her ticket in this country.... I want her to see this as a dynamic, interesting place that's on the move. I don't want her to feel that to be in an exciting work environment she has to go Chicago, New York or San Francisco
Atlanta, Austin and Pheonix aren't bad, either.
I reject completely and absolutely the suggestion that if we become more innovative and prosperous we will imperil Canadian values. Mediocrity is not a Canadian value. Excellence is a Canadian value
But is it a Liberal value? Doesn't seem to be from here.
We don't have to imperil our health care system, we don't have to imperil social justice, we don't have to imperil multiculturalism. We don't have to imperil any of the things from which we draw strength as a country.
If you want European socialist government, you get European socialist growth rates (or is "socialist growth rate" an oxymoron?). If you want American growth rates, you need an American governmental system. This is the guy the left wing of the Liberal party wants as its standard-bearer?

Back to Basics?-Interesting piece on Conservative Jewish leader Jerome Epstein's call for the center-right wing of American Judiasm to get back to scripture study, prayer and Sabbath-keeping. While their Protestant mainline analogs move to the left, they're moving to the theological right. Encouraging sign. Ash Wednesday Thoughts- For those of you who are taking extra care to draw close to God by being sacrificial during Lent (1)- Don't let the Ted Turners of the world get you down. We're not supposed to be ashamed of our love of God. (2)-Place your focus on God and not the sacrifices you're making (3)-Try to make the godlier attitudes you pick up a 24-7-365 habit, not just something you do in the gray days of late winter. Evangelicals are not big on Lent as a rule; I lean towards making devotion as much of a 24-7-365 thing as I can. However, I saw the good effects that Lent had on (recovering Presbyterian) Eileen last spring. She gave up chocolate for Lent and licked a craving in the process.

Bleeep, bleeep, bleeep-Daschle's Backing Up- The Axis of Evil is playing better than Democrats expected-Sen. Daschle's had to retract his criticism of the position. When a majority of Americans agree with Dubya on the issue, Democrats will turn to Plan B.

Ted Must Hop Around- 'cause There's A Foot Constantly In His Mouth- It wasn't the "Brave but a little nuts" description of the al Qaeda kamikazes (it's actually accurate, given al Qaeda's warped worldview) that got my ire in Turner's Brown address. It was the root-cause pandering that got me, blaming 9/11 on Third World poverty. Most of those guys were middle-class. Check out the hypocrisy at the end of this piece, where he first praises Gore as a great environmentalist then, when asked if he'd share some room on his big Montana ranch, starts defending private property. The Gores of the world want to all-but-take away private property rights, Ted.

Expect fewer posts during the day. While I have been noting the blog time on my time sheet as off-the-clock lunchtime, there's been too much of it, eating into the overtime pay. Expect a lunch burst about 11AM, but the other midday postings should be sparser than in recent days.

SermonWatch- When the title of the sermon, "Having the Eyes of Christ" went up, I was moved, especially given the porn blogging that we'd been having the previous day. I was in tears in prayer by the end of the sermon. Pastor Milton quickly brought up Matthew 6:22-23
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
How then do we develop good eyes? Focusing on things that are not edifying or fulfilling will get in the way of what He's got for you. To borrow the old (1979, that long?) Amy Grant song, we need to have our Father's eyes, eyes of compassion and empathy. I wouldn't call compassion and empathy components of a lustful gaze, or a afternoon watching a basketball doubleheader. Another quote he used hit me: "The focus of your eyes reveals the place of your trust." We shouldn't trust in a Unablogger babe, Jerry Stackhouse, Bill O'Reilly, Emeril or Instipundit, but God. Easier said than done.

Quip du jour-"It is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you a fool then to open it and remove all doubt"-anon. Edifier du jour-"As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. "-Psalm 123:2

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Palit's Hectogooglerant- Palit over at the Kolkata Libertarian went on a megarant, nay, a hectogooglerant when he saw this MSNBC piece on the INS commissioning private eyes to check on foreign students. Having had a lot of foreign friends in grad school, including one Indian ex-pat and a very godly Cameroonian guy who headed up our Intervarsity grad chapter, I can see where he's coming from. The foreign student is trod upon quite a bit; they can't work off-campus, they are taxed heavier by the IRS than native students if they're here for less than a two-year stay and are often resented by natives. This additional flak may be a bit too much, even in a post-9/11 environment.

How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Up North Once They've Seen Buffalo?- The Canadian government is looking into forgiving student loans for students who stay in Canada, trying to reverse a brain drain heading below the 49th. Industry Minister Alan Rock is co-heading this "innovation strategy" campaign. Al, is this an example of why Martin's toasting your rump in the leadership race? The idea that Canada is thinking of putting golden handcuffs on its college students shows Canada's in more trouble than it thinks. Sound the horn, OOOHGA, OOOHGA, the Loonie is about to dive deeper.

Circular Firing Squad, no, Squads- Now the Liberals have joined the Alliance in the interparty food fight game. The two new pledges in Animal House North are Finance Minister Paul Martin and Industry Minister Alan Rock. The feud is a bit of inside baseball over tighter procedures for party membership in Ontario, with Martin's backers wanting the stricter standards and Rock crying racism since the there is a Sikh contingent that is backing Rock. However, these two are fighting for position to be party leader and probably PM when Chretien steps down.

Changes in the Permalinks- Added a few links and got rid of a few that I'm not visiting as much anymore. I added Give War a Chance and News for Christians, which is reminds me of an evangelical Relapsed Catholic except with fewer posts and more commentary per post. One regretful deletion is Little Sanity. He's been hors de combat for two weeks. He'll get his spot back when/if he gets posting again.

Enron Teflon-As had been predicted, the Democrats can't get any traction against the president on Enron. They might have a shot at getting some finance reforms through because of it and some general anti-corporate bashing, but Dubya seems to be out of range.

Another Reason Not to Like the EU-Eurozone countries are supposed to keep deficits under 3% of GDP. German and Portugal aren't. but the EU has opted not to formally reprimand them, thus saving German face. Meanwhile, they decide to criticize the British (not in the Eurozone) for "imprudent" budget plans. Consistantly inconsistant, right?

Japan in Deep Doo-Doo-I'll admit I'd only been paying passing attention to Japan lately, but some of the headlines I'd been seeing today are mind-boggling. Anti-deflation packages? Japan has what they called in macro class a "liquidity trap." The discount rate of Japan's central bank is zero. "Banks, you need money. Here-take it, give it back when you're done with it." The bank-to-bank LIBOR rate for Yen loans is 0.05%, while the US dollar LIBOR is 1.84% as per the Financial Times site a few minutes ago. This means that monetary policy has shot its wad, aimed the cannons at the economy like in an old Godzila flick, and saw it just bounce off. "General-what do we do now?" This leaves fiscal policy, cutting taxes and boosting spending to try and jump start the economy. Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa doesn't even want to promise 1% growth this year. They may need to clear out some of the economic deadwood, by incouraging more imports and freeing up their retail sector, but it may take a new government to do that.

Rantburg has an interesting post on "Fourth Generational Warfare" critiquing a piece by al Qaeda insider Abu 'Ubeid Al-Qurashi. A couple of points hit home (1) Tweaking an old Eleinor Roosevelt line: "No one can make you feel terrorized without your consent." If the responce to attacks is "We'll teach those [explatives]" then the attack didn't have the desired effect. Minorities don't beat majorities if the majority is equally willing and able to fight. We need to allow righteous indignation to be a legitamite responce to 9/11 and future attacks. (2) We need to be more forceful in our own "evangelism," be it making apologetics for Jesus or Anglospherian values. Many liberals are afraid to show that our culture is superior in that it allows more people more freedom to enjoy life than other systems. Take a page from Berlusconi's book and not be bashful in pointing this out.

Vlad Tepes is Suing For Slander-UN war crimes prosecuter Carla Del Ponte labeled the acts of Slobodan Milosevic as "medieval savagery and calculated cruelty." Geez, Carla, don't hold back, tell us what you really feel. It's a refreshing difference for a thug leading a country to stand trial for his misdeeds rather than retreating to a villa in the Bahamas or the Riviara.

Another Tom Lehrer Fan Heard From-Dale Ammon over at Samizdata posts the lyrics to Tom Lehrer's Smut. I grew up listening to his That Was The Year That Was album, although I'm too young to remember TW3. If you don't mind fudging on intellectual property law, grab your Napster-equivilent and download some stuff of his. My Shays-Meehan Armageddon post used part of the chorus from Lehrer's So Long Mom as its headline. Other goodies include The Vatican Rag ("Two, four, six, eight. Time to transubstantiate."), Send the Marines ("We'd rather kill them off by peaceful means"), The Folk-Song Army (skewering the left in equal-opportunity satire) , Wehrner von Braun, and Who's Next. A couple of other naughty-fun pieces of his (not from his TW3 days) are Poisoning Pigeons in the Park and The Masochism Tango, as well as the Electric Company classic Silent E. The stuff is surprisingly fresh despite being almost four decades old.

Critique of the Death Penalty Critique-Bryan Preston over at Junkyard Blog has a good take on the recent study showing a 68% reversal rate in death penalty cases, pointing out that
the study's lead researcher is Colombia Law School Professor James Liebman, identified in the story as a "strong opponent of the death penalty." Well, it's doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the researcher is a strong advocate of a particular viewpoint, the study will tend to reflect that bias. Researchers in politically-charged fields tend to start out to prove their opinions are true, rather than follow the evidence where it takes them.
Preston goes on to argue for more use of the death penalty rather than less. At this point, before we draw too many conclusions from this study, we should apply Layne's Mandate and double-check Leibman's data and methodology. We've seen the case of Michael Bellesiles, who seems to have made up historical data to support an anti-gun argument for his book Arming America. I don't know if Liebman is making up data or selecting cases that lean towards his viewpoint. The public needs to be able to fact-check the arguments he is making before accepting it.

Why I an A Neocon-part I-(Cont.)-Adragna's first piece has this doozy
The absence of some sense of moral obligation -- this lacking not itself being objectionable -- just calls into question how far we can rely on individuals to do what's in the interest of society.
That lack of moral obligation extends to government. Government can help a vocal few at the expense of the overall population. On the right, you can see loophole creation as businessmen get friendly legislators to stick in things that aren't in the overall interest. Key congressmen of any party can slap in pork projects that may be nice for the folks back home, but are suboptimal uses of the public purse. On the left, you'll see key lobbies (like teacher unions blocking school reform or AIDS activists getting more funding that the number of cases would indicate) twisting the law to their narrow desires. Liberals will tend to think government is more honorable than the individual interest. Are we more moral as a group than we are as individuals? Not really. Peer pressure can shame us into being more generous but can generate an "everyone's doing it" mentality on amoral behavior as well. We shouldn't assume a moral or immoral intent on a government program just because its a government program.

Why I an A Neocon-part I-I'm going to zoom in on what appears to be the problem with Adragna's (the two links are just below) mindset. In the Tyrant piece, he states
What is necessary to civil society, though, is a proper balance between the public interest and individual rights, and I just don't see political libertarianism getting us there.
The problem with that framework is that "the public interest" is a mantle on which you can hang any number of pet projects. In the hands of big-government fans, "the public interest" gets translated into "screw (tax, regulate, confiscate from, verbally abuse) the rich, screw corporations, screw private property." If we agree, as Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, that we have the God-given inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, we then need to make a system to make that minimizes the barriers to our collective pursuit of happiness. Remember that everyone is greedy and self-centered in varying degrees, not just the fat cats that are the easiest to label. A guy struggling at a low-end job is also self-centered in wanting government programs add to his cash-flow. You might point out that he would likely get more joytrons from an extra buck than I would. However, that doesn't mean that I should be forced to let Joe Bergerslinger use my ATM card anytime he wants. A good way to look at a law is to measure the joy, or removal of pain, that a program creates and compare it to the pain that the taxes cause. Taxes (and regulations) will not only hurt the person paying the tax but will also affect their communities; the person taxed will tend to work and invest less, thus slowing the economy. One reason this is obscured is the factional nature of politics. Democrats will tend to cater to the poor (or people fearful of becoming poor) on economics. The rich guys (other than limo liberals who want to salve their guilt over being rich) don't count here, they're not voting for us. In an Us versus Them (I have a whole essay in me on Us versus Them, not now) fight, the pain inflicted upon Them isn't factored in properly. For liberals, the corporation and the rich are Them, while the poor are Them for conservatives. To have people look at a true (as true as humans can come up with) picture of the "public interest", they first have to understand the full ramifications of laws, both the plusses and minuses. I don't have a problem with government. There are some cases where government programs solve more problems than they cause. However, many of them do not, as many laws are net bogon generators. Weeding those bad one out is the trick.

"My blog ate my homework. Honest!"-Looked at the Tony Adragna piece, "Why Am I a Liberal..." that Kevin pointed to yesterday. I was in the middle of posting on it last night when Blogger when goofy and ate my pontifications. Tony's added an addendum, "Why Am I A Tyrant?" late yesterday. I'll need to read both before returning (carefully aimed to avoid civilian casualties) blogfire.

Let's Have the Lays For Lunch-NPR, at the top of the 6AM newscast, described Ken Lay as the "specially-invited guest" of the Senate. Like the pig is a "specially-invited guest" at a luau.

Quip du jour-"I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better."-Sophie Tucker(?) Edifier du jour-"While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." Matthew 26 6-11

Monday, February 11, 2002

Mil-Sci 397- Warfare at the Millenium-Professors Den Beste and Turnbull-Three good essays from Beauty of Gray's Douglas Turnbull (here's links to one, two and three) that give an wide-eyed but optimistic overview of the resources and tactics that the US can bring to bear. He's on target here, with a few minor quibbles on part 1. For instance (and he himself said in part 3 that he was a bit too optimistic in part 1) he places a bit too much stock in the US's technological edge being able to overwhelm a lesser foe-
Of course, this doesn't mean that smaller countries are wasting their money in buying military hardware, just that there's essentially no way any of them can compete with the United States. But most of them are trying to compete with other regional powers, not the US. To put it another way, India and Pakistan have no interest in being able to challenge the US military, but they have a very strong interest in being able to engage each other.
You don't have to win a fight; you can prevent one if you can be seen to be able to cause enough pain to make winning not worth it. The French nuclear "Force de Frappe" wasn't designed to defeat the USSR, just to inflict enough retaliatory pain to say "don't try it, Serge." Note the trepidation that many of us had before the Gulf War; the Iraqi military turned out to be a paper tiger, but the thought of a potential American bloodbath was there. A well-armed Chinese or Pakistani army, especally one with a nuke-tipped ICBM option, would give a future president pause before invading. The second piece, on guerilla/terrorist warfare, is solid. If you have the backing of the people, guerilla warfare works very well, like King Kong's Asian brother, Viet Kong (expert in gorilla warfare). The good guys can use guerilla warfare, too; if you forgot that, go rent The Patriot. Thankfully, no one's used sub warfare on the US since WWII. Iran could make life miserable if it wanted with subs. One thing that he touched on only tangentially is Anglospherian ethics. The reason we avoid bombing civilian areas is that we care about non-combatants. Out foes may not feel the same way; they're free to use their own people as shields and free to view everyone on the other side as part of the enemy machine. I'm thinking about one scene in Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid where Sundance(?) gets challenged to a fight. He asks "What are the rules?" His grizzled foe answers in bemused amazement, "Rules? There are no rules!" While Grizzly's doubled over in laughter at the thought, Sundance kicks him in the crotch. The US, like Sundance, is a quick learner, as we seem to have dispatched the Taliban with a daisy-cutter to the crotch while they were laughing at 9/11. The third piece looks at the US learning curve in the new environment. For instance, the US used Special Forces on horseback calling in air strikes in is a combination of 19th and 21st century tech. Turnbull spins off of a good USS Clueless item on unconventional warfare. There are various ways to kick a foe in the short-'n-curlies. Taking out utilities, psyops (worked in Panama), taking out the patron, etc are all part of the bag of tricks. Good reading. Good job, guys.

The Caracas Pigeons go "Coup, Coup"-Something may be going down-thank Instipundit for the link This week's Monday Night Revolution Theme-cue Hank Jr.
Are You Ready for a Re-volt A Monday Night Ri-ot We've got Denny, Al and Dan to get it kick-started. Caracas is a-raucous and Chavez wants a fight. All my rebel freinds are here for Monday Night.

Stop That or God'll Get ya-The Vatican got roasted for stating that illness is the result of sin. This isn't as crackpot as it sounds to most secular people. Stress is known to lower the immune system's capibilites. For instance, a recent study cited on Marketplace this morning showed that depressed elderly people tended to have more physical illnesses. If a person engages in behavior that he was taught to be wrong, he may have added stress, thus possibly leading to added illness. This "guilt stress" will be on top of any problems being caused by the physical behavior. I'd be more comfortable saying that sinful behavior can make a person more prone to illness. The hard-core libartarian would say "junk the religious crap and you'll remove the guilt". I'd say don't do those things you're not supposed to do, since most, if not all, immoral activities aren't healthy in the first place.

State of the NBA at the break- Quick thoughts on what's surprised me so far Major Good Surprise- New Jersey-If you suggested that the Nets would be leading the East at the All-Star break, you'd be asked for your supplier of weed. Kidd has transformed the club. Minor Good Surprises- Boston- living up to their potential Washington -His Airness still has it, making his team better Detroit-Stack and a bunch of role-players meshing- Have to like Barry's attitude, Cliff Robinson's Laimbeer imitation and Rebacca's 'do Clippers-Young pups starting to come into their own Minor Bad Surpises Utah-Stocktontomalone is showing its age, finally-my mom is bummed (they've been her adopted favorites for years) Houston-After losing the Dream, season's more of a nightmare than expected. Cleveland-Expected them to be much closer to .500 Miami- Full crater mode after giving up on Hardaway Major Bad Surprise New York-All that talent, and nine games under .500?

Why I Am Not a Libertarian?- Kevin points out an intreging post from Quasipundit's Tony Adragna entitled "Why I am a Liberal"-it would be better titled (sorry, Dr. Hayek) "Why I Am Not a Libertarian." Surprisingly, I don't disagree much with it at first pass. Either he's on to something, or my cold has brought back a relapse of neoliberalism. I'll re-read it this evening and see if I missed something. Kevin promises some blogfire on the topic. I'm up for the challenge as well, but not on a worktime blog. Film at 11.

Wellstone Doesn't Have as Good a Set of Abs-Norm Coleman offically launched a Senate bid against Paul Wellstone, with polls having Coleman a point back at 45-44. Coleman, who as the Republican nominee lost to Jesse Ventura in the governor's race in 1998, may be bit of a bland RINO, but he beats the heck out of Wellstone.

Ad Hominem Alert- Ms. Jones drops a 10-Meg on Nader's rousing 2.7% showing in 2000-
I don't think that a 2.7% of the popular vote in the last election is anything remarkable, especially if you consider that he got as many electoral votes as I did, and I didn't spend a single dime on my campaign. And I'll also bet that somewhere around 75-90% of that 2.7% were under the age of 22 and under the influence of dope in one form or another.
Emily, get it right. Most of them were either under 22 or stoned, not both.

Emily Jones' Diary-She's the promising newbie on the block over at Give War a Chance. Damian's in love (go get her, dude, I'm spoken for) and she's shown up on the MCJ's radar. She's a few days away from a permalink, but she looks like a keeper. She beat Jackson Murphy at Dispatches to the Python metaphor, showing that having an appreciation of Silly Walks borders on a prereq for blogging.

Bogometer gets pinned in Tampa- After dumping Tony Dungy, being jilted by Bill Parcells and jilting Marvin Lewis, the Bucs' front office seems to be in disarray as GM Rich McKay is ready to hit the eject button. The latest rumor has Marv Levy heading to Tampa. I like Levy quite a bit (he was under-appreciated in Buffalo) but I don't think he's an upgrade to Dungy. Not hiring Lewis will give the Bucs even more affirmative-action flak after firing Dungy and Levy deserves better than to have to walk past Jesse Jackson picketers.

Circular Firing Squad-The Canadian Alliance, the main right-of-center Canadian party, is having a food fight for the party leadership. Party leader Stockwell Day resigned as CA leader under fire from a large chunk of fellow MPs in order to have a fresh leadership election. Day and leading rival Stephen Harper (Grant Hill has fallen off the pace as Alliance members wonder if he'll ever stay healthy) are having a brawl as the leadership election approaches on March 8th. The latest salvoes have Day, who brings his Pentecostal faith into his politics, is accusing the more secularly-inclined Harper of "lashing out at religious minorities and anti-abortion supporters" in order to appeal to more centrist element of the party. Hopefully, the feuding right-of-center factions will coalesce around a presentable leader (at this point, Day seems damaged goods even if he might be a decent guy) that can articulate a clear but appealingly different platform from the Liberals. It doesn't look like it's happening.

The First Trip Went Under My Radar-Last year, 10 Israeli jets visited Turkey for joint air maneuvers. Three more US-Israeli-Turkish exercises are slated for this year. This may be a much more significant piece than the Beersheba attack of this weekend that was above the fold, for it signals the willingness of Turkey's secular-Islamic government to be seen on good terms with Israel. As the "war on terror" moves on, it will help our cause if we can bring Israel on board the coalition as an active member. In the Gulf War, we kept Israel on the sideline, even after getting Scudded by Iraq, so as to not tick off the Arabs in the coalition. With the Saudis this close to being persona-non-grata, the Syrians a likely associate member of the Axis of Evil if they don't reign in Hizbullah, and countries such as Jordan and Egypt likely biting their tongues and tolerating Israeli help, it is time to bring the Israelis on-board. One can picture the guys who invented the word chutzpah flying sorties on Baghdad and Tehran for southeastern Turkey. Think of that, fellow warbloggers, and have a good warm fuzzy at Saddam and the mullahs expense.

Quip du jour "The peasents are revolting!" "They most certantly are."-Mel Brooks among others. Edifier du jour-"They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'"-Matthew 25:44-45

Sunday, February 10, 2002

The Gold Medal in the 10K Classic Eurobashing goes to-Chris Johnson at the MCJ. He shows winning form in dissecting a EU proposal for Palestinian elections. Why Europeans Are So Scared of the Words "Axis of Evil" Dangerous Generality Alert-Liberals, especially secular ones, tend to discount human nature, having picked up the Marxist meme (contagious idea) that mankind is perfectible. Liberal diplomats will tend to assume that if we understand people and address their needs, that they will behave. It ain't necessarily so. Some people won't behave no matter how well you treat them. One working definition of conservatism (small c, libertarians can join in) is that "human nature has no history", and isn't going to improve. There will be greedy, selfish and (yes, Natalija) lustful people until the end of time. This is why the "Axis of Evil" line falls flat among European elites. Most of Europe (with the exception of Ireland) can be best described as post-Christian, as church attendance (which is about 50% in the US) is in the low teens in the UK, France and Germany. A good hunk of the population will show up at churches only for weddings, baptisms and funerals (hatching, matching and dispatching).The idea of a knowable God with clear concepts of good and evil are passe to most elites in Europe. Without that counterbalance, the Marxist meme of perfectibility has free rein. This underlying belief in perfectibility gives us root-cause prescriptions for most geopolitical issues-figure out what they need and they won't be hostile anymore. Sometimes, what they want is to kill you and take your property. Contrary to Natalija's thought, it's liberals who are more likely to assume that every thinking person will agree with them and that dissenting thought is insane or selfish. They will cling to the hope that further diplomacy and aid will bring the party around to a civilized status. It takes longer than it should for many liberals to realize that that best diplomatic instrument in many cases is a 2-by-4 applied upside the head. The EU hasn't gotten to that point over Arafat. Israel, and seemingly, the US, has gotten to that point with the PLO and that the PLO should be left to stew in is own natural juices.

Olympic Spirit-It you want to dump your inner curmudgeon-check out the Junkyard Blog post. Scoot down and catch a follow-up on the voucher debate while you're there.

Torchdown- I didn't get to see the pagentry of the torch-lighting Friday. At dinner last night, my mom commented that Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair had helped carry the torch in. I though that Eric Heiden, who swept all five 1980 speed skating distances, would have been a better pick than Jansen if you were doing speed skating. What I didn't know is that he had been offered to help but would only do so if he got the final leg to light the cauldron. A lot of words come to mind. Jerk is among the more printable. Busy day with lots of activity-don't expect any more posting until 9PM-ish

Quip du jour-"If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'."-Gary Templeton, after not being voted on to the All-Star Team. (Mr. Heiden must have been listening) Edifier du jour- "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works" Psalm 145:3-5 (Psalm 145 was the theme of our Refreshing Wind service Friday-that service was good) Groaner du jour- "Foolish athelete wins gold medal. He's so happy, he goes out and gets it bronzed." (The athlete used to have a country attached, feel free to substitute country of choice if needed)

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