Sunday, August 31, 2003
Tons o' links: For the Krugman curious, Donald Luskin has a plethora of interesting stuff. Start here and work your way down.
Friday, August 29, 2003
Racist group helps politician: Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante has refused to denounce the racist group MEChA, instead identfying it as one that helps develop leaders.
Earlier, Bustamante was questioned pointedly about his membership as a college student in the Chicano activist organization MEChA, or Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. The group's strident rhetoric urged retaking the American Southwest, among other things.
Asked if he still supports MEChA's goals, Bustamante suggested the organization is fairly tame.
"I think ... what takes place in those organizations is to provide student leadership. For me and many, many others, we were running for student government. That's how I got here today."
And the KKK helped Sen. Robert Byrd, so it's all good.
Of course, Byrd has denounced the KKK...
It's too early to say yet if this story has legs -- it should, but one never knows.
Krugman's liberal talking points: The latest Paul Krugman diatribe isn't anything we haven't heard before. Krugman has three basic columns: the economy's bad and it's Bush's fault; our foreign policy is bad and it's Bush's fault, and; I stubbed my toe and it's Bush's fault.
I understand that Krugman doesn't feel bound by the most basic journalistic principle: accuracy. So, I'll set one lie that he continues to repeat straight.
Still, even the government of a superpower can't simultaneously offer tax cuts equal to 15 percent of revenue, provide all its retirees with prescription drugs and single-handedly take on the world's evildoers — single-handedly because we've alienated our allies. In fact, given the size of our budget deficit, it's not clear that we can afford to do even one of these things. Someday, when the grown-ups are back in charge, they'll have quite a mess to clean up.
Well that would ignore these facts reported just this week:
Most nations standing firm in Iraq
VIENNA, Austria - They're talking tough - and standing firm.
Nations that have sent forces to help keep the peace in postwar Iraq have no immediate plans to draw down or pull out despite mounting casualties, eroding security and a growing wariness of the potential for a quagmire.
From Slovakia to Singapore, coalition governments are steeling their resolve. Others are offering more than troops, such as Hungary, which says it's open to a U.S. proposal to train up to 28,000 Iraqi police cadets at one of its military bases.
"To run away from this conflict only means to turn a blind eye to reality," said Cyril Svoboda, foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which has 312 personnel stationed at a military hospital in Basra, in southern Iraq.
"It is important for us to stay in Iraq," he told the Pravo newspaper this week. "One must confront terrorism. No country today is considerably safer or less safe than another."
Bulgarians take control of Karbala
Military control over Iraq's second holiest Shiite city, Karbala, has been handed over to a Bulgarian military governor as Washington again reaches out to the so-called new European democracies for help.
U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Matthew Lopez handed over control of Karbala to Bulgarian Lt. Col. Petko Marinov, whose 250-member force will begin patrolling the city, according to reports on Tuesday.
"We welcome you today for the transfer of authority of the city of Karbala between the Marines of 3rd Battalion 7th marines and the Bulgarian battalion," said Lopez.
As well as the 250 Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Karbala, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Marinov will be in charge of Polish troops and U.S. marines serving in Karbala.
And from earlier this month:
In handover, Polish troops see chance to shine
Camped in the shadow of one of Saddam Hussein's grandiose palaces, adjoining the maze-like ruins of ancient Babylon, a vanguard unit of Polish soldiers is preparing the way for that country's biggest military deployment since World War II.
Three hundred Polish officers are already here, and a total of 2,300 Polish troops are scheduled to arrive soon in south central Iraq to help relieve the US First Marine Expeditionary Force, which seized this ground during the war and has watched this heavily Shi'ite region south of Baghdad become relatively stable.
Beginning Sept. 1, the Polish soldiers will lead a peacekeeping force of 10,000 troops from 18 countries that will monitor this region of Iraq during the nation's hoped-for transition to a democratic government.
Single-handedly? Obviously not.
A real laugher: Yesterday's Washington Post had an article by Howard Kurtz on "comedian" Al Franken and his new book.
The article is interesting, and sure ensure that conservatives ignore Franken's book. Anecdotes about Franken ambushing Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot and Franken offering to fight National Review's Rich Lowry in a parking garage demonstrate that Franken's book isn't even marginally serious. [Rich, next time Franken calls and wants to fight you, send him my way. Ask Ramesh, he'll vouch for me, I can take him!]
As was noted earlier, Franken himself has a little problem telling the truth. Which is why the final quote in Kurtz's piece is so hilarious.
But in writing such a strident book, doesn't he risk being branded the sort of ideological warrior he spends so much energy attacking?
"First of all, I'm funny," Franken said. "It's done for comedic purpose. And I don't lie."
I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "lie" is...
Paying your dues: The American Journalism Review has a good article on paying your dues in journalism. The article came out in March 2003, but for those aspiring journalists it accurately describes the way a journalism career usually works. It also makes clear that the Jayson Blairs of the world -- their first job is as a reporter at the New York Times -- are an abberation.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Fidel Castro goes to heaven...: Thanks to NRO's Jay Nordlinger for this one:
Castro dies and goes to heaven [bear with us]. When he gets there, St. Peter tells him that he is not on the list and that, no way, no how, does he belong in heaven. Castro must go to hell. So Castro goes to hell, where Satan gives him a hearty welcome and tells him to make himself at home.
"Then Castro notices that he left his luggage in heaven and tells Satan, who says, 'No hay problema, I'll send a couple of little devils to get your stuff.'
"When the little devils get to heaven they find the gates are locked — St. Peter is having lunch — and they start debating what to do. Finally, one comes up with the idea that they should climb over the wall and get the luggage.
"As they are climbing, two little angels see them, and one angel says to the other, 'Would you look at that? Fidel has been in hell no more than ten minutes and we're already getting refugees!'"
Taxes in Alabama: The Wall Street Journal's John Fund has an article on the effort to significantly raise taxes in Alabama by appealing to the public's religious beliefs.
Fund's key paragraph:
How would Jesus tax the state? Well, no can say for sure. But it's a safe bet that waste, duplication of services and pork-barrel spending aren't in line with being good stewards of resources. The poor are best served by government if its resources are used wisely and prudently, while the private economy is allowed to grow and create a wealthier society that can then be more generous in both public and private expenditures.
Read the entire article for a look at the strange bedfellows that this proposed tax increase has created.
Gray Davis' word magic: Robert Musil explains how California Gov. Gray Davis does verbal prestidigitation.
Bad journalism: The New York Times again lets its editorials work their way onto the news pages. As reported on Fox News and Timeswatch.org, a Times article by Elisabeth Bumiller purports to find dissatisfaction with Bush's performance by conservative religious people.
At the same time, some religious supporters of Mr. Bush say they feel betrayed by promises he made as a candidate and now, they maintain, has broken as president.
And who is the only Bush "supporter" they quote?
"After three years, he's failed the test," said one prominent early supporter, the Rev. Jim Wallis, leader of Call to Renewal, a network of churches that fights poverty.
Well, it turns out that Wallis is in fact a Democrat and is a Bush supporter only in the same sense that Howard Dean is a Bush "supporter."
Critics of Call to Renewal said the letter's signatories are far-left political ideologues. They say the letter does not represent the feelings of all church leaders and their congregants.
“These are liberal religious leaders from the get-go. Looking over the list, I would say it would not be a stretch to say only 10 percent of them voted for Bush, and even that 10 percent wouldn’t admit that to their friends,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“I’m sure he’s cognizant of their concerns, but the president knows where these people are coming from,” Land added.
Lou Giovino, a spokesman for the Catholic League, said it's notable that Call to Renewal emerged during the tax cut debates, a severely partisan issue on Capitol Hill. Wallis was often seen railing against the Republicans alongside Democratic leaders at the height of the fight.
Will there be a correction from the Times? Don't bet on it. A correction can't fix this article -- only a retraction can.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Our friends the Saudis: Stephan Schwartz has an informative article on Saudi support for terrorism. There's little in it that hasn't been said before. But if you haven't been closely following the relationship between Saudi Arabia, terrorism, Wahhabism and the United States, then the piece an excellent summary.
Episcopal Church aftermath: Christopher Johnson over at the Midwest Conservative Journal is on top of the fallout from the Episcopal Church's decision to confirm actively-gay Bishop Gene Robinson.
Irrelevant NOW?: If there was any doubt that the National Organization for Women no longer represents any significant number of women, then this clinches it.
Today, Women's Equality Day, the National Organization for Women's Political Action Committee is proud to announce our endorsement of former Ambassador and Senator Carol Moseley Braun for President of the United States. I'm pleased that the National Women's Political Caucus also is announcing their endorsement this morning.
Roselyn O'Connell, president of the National Women's Political Caucus (left) and Kim Gandy, chair of the NOW Political Action Committee (right) jointly announced their groups' endorsements of Carol Moseley Braun on Aug. 26. Photo by Lisa Bennett
With our endorsement comes access to NOW's hundreds of thousands of contributing members and over 500 chapters across the country—and the support of thousands of volunteer activists who are dedicated to supporting feminist candidates with their contributions and volunteer time.
To receive NOW/PAC's endorsement, a candidate must demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to the entire range of women's rights issues. After considering the positions and past records of all the candidates lined up to challenge George W. Bush, one candidate stood above the rest for her lifetime commitment to feminist ideals and her 25-year record fighting for the rights of women at the local, state, national and international levels. We are particularly excited when out of a field of strong progressive candidates, the strongest feminist candidate is also a woman.
Watch for this to have zero impact on Moseley-Braun's poll numbers. NOW has reached a new low in futility. What little political capitol it still had has now been tossed in the shredder.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman demonstrates this fact yet again.
In short, Krugman believes that California's economy is bad -- and it's Bush's fault.
Then Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger concurs.
Krugman says to himself: "I can't be agreeing with a Republican."
Then Krugman comes out with a column saying California's economy is doing great.
Can anyone still believe that Krugman's economic analyses are nonpartisan?
This is funny: A picture is worth a thousand words, or, at least in this case, is like the muse, inspiring a thousand words. (It's a figure of speech -- I didn't count).
More evidence of anti-Catholic bias?: An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal on the Ten Commandments debate includes this note on the federal judicial nomination process and the ideology/religion litmus test being imposed by the Senate Democrats.
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, one of the few state officials providing some adult supervision on the matter, is unpersuaded. "The rule of law means that no person, including the chief justice of Alabama, is above the law," he said last week. "We all must obey the orders of these courts even when we disagree with those orders." By the way, Mr. Pryor, a nominee for a federal judgeship, is currently being blocked by Senate Democrats who claim he can't be trusted to uphold the law on the federal bench. His willingness to stand against Justice Moore in the face of public anger gives the lie to that claim.
Not that the mainstream media will acknowledge Pryor's action -- or question his detractors about it.
Ten Commandments silliness: It's issues like this that bring out the nuts on both sides of the political/religious spectrum.
First off, Judge Roy Moore's installation of the monument and his subsequent press conferences have been nothing more than political grandstanding. His installation of the monument is not about the Ten Commandments as much as it is about his own ego.
Over the past four decades there has been a concentrated effort by the courts to remove religion from public life. If you want to make a stand against the anti-religious path the courts have been taken, protect something that's been around for years that's being threatened -- don't try to install something that will stoke the ire of the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. A better focus would be on the courts kicking the Boy Scouts out of Balboa Park here in San Diego because they are a "religious group" or the lawsuit over the cross atop Mt. Soledad by sensitive atheists that are emotionally crushed every time they see that symbol (atheists = vampires? You decide.)
Of course, this issue also brings out the nuts on the anti-religious left.
The Society for Professional Journalists listserv used to be a place where you could discuss career direction, how to do various kinds of reporting, advice on handling sources, etc. Well, it hasn't been a place for that for the past couple of years. Now it is more of a liberal echo chamber of conspiracy theories and, occasionally, incredible ignorance.
Which brings us to Arvind Kumar, someone who is a frequent poster on the list, yet uses only a pseudonym and apparently has no journalistic background or experience.
On a post discussing the Alabama Ten Commandments controversy, Kumar enlightens those on the list with this insightful analysis:
If Christians in USA had their way, they'd go about firebombing medical clinics. American Christian values are no different from Muslim values in many respects. It is just that they manifest themselves in different ways.
1) Both Muslim fanatics and American Christians believe in not making a graven image of the beasts or fishes or god or humans. Mullah Omar refused to allow anyone to photograph him so as to not break this commandment. The Government of Bush will cage anyone who does scientific research clonig/stem [sic] cell research)
2) Many Muslims argue that wearing the burqua [sic] actually shows the strength of the woman. As you might know, I
posted a sample letter to the editor of Knoxville News Sentinel a few days back where the Bible thumper argued that submissiveness in a woman shows her strength. Bible belters are still debating whether women are human or sub-human in nature.
3) Both believe in harvesting souls for their religion. Both believe in using force to achieve this aim. In fact, both groups go about killing people who do not convert to their religion. The Christians do it with the help of the Churches in the Bible belt and their Governments. A few days back, I posted links to news items related to the US/UK sponsored terrorism for the sake of harvesting souls. Muslims call it jihad.
Kumar goes on, but it's important to point out that 99 percent of journalists (even though they hold liberal beliefs) don't believe Kumar's claptrap. Even some of the typical anti-Bush/anti-religious participants on the list have taken Kumar to task for his ignorance regarding graven images and exactly what one is.
I don't really participate much in the discussion there anymore -- it's a waste of time. Too many of the participants are in their own little world and any challenge to their wisdom is met with insults and threats to get one "evicted" from the listserv.
Just a reminder, these people are out there, and they don't think much of anyone who's not an ultra-liberal atheist.
Letter of the day: Today's example of the silliness of some letter writers comes to us from Ralph Porter of Portland, Ore., regarding the murder of defrocked priest and convicted child molester John Goeghan.
Regardless of the crime committed, isn't putting someone into an environment in which he can be strangled to death cruel and unusual punishment?
One wonders if Mr. Porter has ever read his local newspaper's crime briefs?
Monday, August 25, 2003
Punishing California: Thanks to a combination of profilgate spending in the late 90s, the tech bubble and the refusal of California legislators to say "no" to the voters who continually want somehting for nothing, Californis is facing an economic crisis. The focus of voters' ire is, of course, Gov. Gray Davis, but people are beginning to raise some questions about frontrunner (in some polls) Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.
Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin, in a column last week, first brought the issue of Bustamante's membership in MEChA as a college student into the mainstream media. I know there was a chapter of MEChA on my college campus, but I never really paid them much attention -- I thought of it as more of a Latino social club.
Well, it's not exactly that. Check out SDSU's MEChA page here. Clicking on the El Plan de Aztlan, will get you this, which includes:
1. Awareness and distribution of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán . Presented at every meeting, demonstration, confrontation, courthouse, institution, administration, church, school, tree, building, car, and every place of human existence.
2. September 16, on the birth date of Mexican Independence, a national walk-out by all Chicanos of all colleges and schools to be sustained until the complete revision of the educational system: its policy makers, administration, its curriculum, and its personnel to meet the needs of our community.
3. Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every school, every available man, woman, and child.
4. Community nationalization and organization of all Chicanos: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán .
5. Economic program to drive the exploiter out of our community and a welding together of our people's combined resources to control their own production through cooperative effort.
6. Creation of an independent local, regional, and national political party. A nation autonomous and free - culturally, socially, economically, and politically- will make its own decisions on the usage of our lands, the taxation of our goods, the utilization of our bodies for war, the determination of justice (reward and punishment), and the profit of our sweat.
Sounds like something that could come out of a white supremacist site or Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.
Hopefully Bustamante will feel compelled to disavow this sort of divisive racism, but don't hold your breath.
I was going to vote for Bustamante, for two reasons:
First, a Republican governor can do little more than a holding action against the Democrat-controlled legislature.
Second, it is better to allow the Democrats to really drive the state's economy into the ground and make the political climate more hospitable for all Republican candidates.
Now I'm re-evaluating my position. I cannot vote for someone with direct ties to a racist organization. -- even if he is the type of governor California deserves.
Larry Flynt and me: Or at least his polling company. Just spent about 15 minutes on the phone with a polling company asking my opinion on the California recall and the possible candidates to replace Gov. Gray Davis.
This is the second time in about nine months that I've gotten polled. The last time was about a rather dull proposed bond measure for building a new communications center for the city of La Mesa. This one, at least, was more interesting.
In order to get some initial impressions, it wasn't apparent for the first five or so minutes exactly on whose behalf this poll was being done. It was the standard poll questions, trying to get a feel for biases, favorables vs. unfavorable
And then there was the big Larry Flynt push.
Larry wants to offer amnesty to all illegal aliens currently in California, and then "close the border to illegal immigration." Well, it sounds nice, but there's a couple of problems.
First, the governor cannot offer amnesty -- that's a federal power
Second, the border is a sieve -- we've been trying to keep the dang thing closed for decades -- it's not possible without a sea change in enforcement, including hiring legions more Border Patrol agents.
Third, hiring the aforementioned Border Patrol agents is a federal job.
The other amusing thing was listening to the script read by the surveyor rail against "conservatives" and "right-wingers." For the most part it's pointless to quibble with the poller -- they're only reading a script they're paid to read, but I'd certainly like to debate whoever wrote the thing.
The script extolled the virtues of a "lovable smut-peddler" who "literally took a bullet for the First Amendment." Sorry, Flynt took a bullet not for the First Amendment, but for his own pocketbook. Hustler magazine is not a noble publication that contributes to political discussion or the betterment of American life.
Flynt also wants to expand and tax "gaming" (the PC term for gambling here in California), which, Bill Bennett excepted, is largely a tax on the poor. But the way you hear Flynt's spinners tell it, he wants to solve California's budget problems without hurting the "regular people," but that's what those taxes would do.
I did my best to push Flynt's negatives up so maybe he won't campaign too hard and I won't have to see him on television or listen to him on the radio.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Why wait until now? The Treasury Dept. announces that they're freezing the funds of five groups believed to support the terrorist group Hamas and the funds of six "top Hamas leaders."
Why did we wait until after the latest bus bombing vefore doing this?
American legal "thought" leads the way: During the past few years one of the "hot" topics of discussion in the African-American community has been the possibility of the federal government paying reparations to the descendants of slaves.
It is, of course, ridiculous to demand payment from people who never owned slaves to people who were never slaves themselves. But this creative legal "thought" spreads around the world.
A group of Egyptians is planning a lawsuit against "all the Jews of the world," for theft of gold, jewelry and other valuable items when the Jews fled Pharoah's Egypt several thousand years ago.
The Egyptian "lawyers" are attempting to calculate exactly how much was "stolen."
"If we assume that the weight of what was stolen was one ton, [its worth] doubled every 20 years, even if the annual interest is only 5%. In one ton of gold is 700 kg of pure gold – and we must remember that what was stolen was jewelry, that is, alloyed with copper. Hence, after 1,000 years, it would be worth 1,125,898,240 million tons, which equals 1,125,898 billion tons for 1,000 years. In other words, 1,125 trillion tons of gold, that is, a million multiplied by a million tons of gold. This is for one stolen ton. The stolen gold is estimated at 300 tons, and it was not stolen for 1,000 years, but for 5,758 years, by the Jewish reckoning. Therefore, the debt is very large…
"The value must be calculated precisely in accordance with the information collected, and afterward a lawsuit must be filed against all the Jews of the world, and against the Jews of Israel in particular, so they will repay the Egyptians the debt that appears in the Torah."
The legal "scholars" also refer to Exodus 35 as the list of things "stolen" from Pharoah. Of course, the same verse would appear to exonerate the Jews, because it lists items given to God.
4Then Moses said to all the people, “This is what the Lord has commanded: 5-9All of you who wish to, all those with generous hearts, may bring these offerings to Jehovah:
Gold, silver, and bronze;
Blue, purple, and scarlet cloth, made of fine-twined linen or of goats’ hair;
Tanned rams’ skins and specially treated goatskins;
Olive oil for the lamps;
Spices for the anointing oil and for the incense;
Onyx stones and stones to be used for the ephod and chestpiece.
10-19“Come, all of you who are skilled craftsmen having special talents, and construct what God has commanded us:
The Tabernacle-tent, and its coverings, clasps, frames, bars, pillars, and bases;
The Ark and its poles;
The place of mercy;
The curtain to enclose the Holy Place;
The table, its carrying poles, and all of its utensils;
The Bread of the Presence;
Lamp holders, with lamps and oil;
The incense altar and its carrying poles;
The anointing oil and sweet incense;
The curtain for the door of the Tabernacle;
The altar for the burnt offerings;
The bronze grating of the altar, and its carrying poles and utensils;
The basin with its pedestal;
The drapes for the walls of the court;
The pillars and their bases;
Drapes for the entrance to the court;
The posts of the Tabernacle court, and their cords;
The beautiful clothing for the priests, to be used when ministering in the Holy Place;
The holy garments for Aaron the priest, and for his sons.”
The Living Bible, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1997.
Of course, the Egyptians would also have to ignore the following verse: Exodus 12:35-36
And the people of Israel did as Moses said and asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord gave the Israelis favor with the Egyptians, so that they gave them whatever they wanted. And the Egyptians were practically stripped of everything they owned!
The Living Bible, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1997.
So, really the Egyptians have only God and themselves to blame.
However, if the lawsuit ever actually goes forward, the Jews could always claim the valuables as reparations for their generations of slavery.
Bad, bad BBC: Josh Chafetz responds to critics of his Weekly Standard piece here.
The Economist also finds BBC's reporting (specifically that of their "star" reporter Andrew Gilligan) to be wanting. The BBC management is also taken to task. Remember guys, it's the cover-up that gets you.
Read it and weep: Social Security is going to tank, and the politicians continue to dither. With each passing year the cure becomes more fiscally painful. From Pete du Pont's Wall Street Journal column:
Unless something is done, the Social Security Administration will have no choice but to cut benefits. The impact of those reductions will start falling on baby-boomers. People born in 1955 won't see any benefit reductions until they are 83; then they will fall off the cliff. But if you were born in 1970, you fall off the retirement income cliff when you are 68, shortly after retirement. Those born in the 1980s will never receive the benefits retirees get today.
Du Pont's proposed solution is Personal Savings Accounts. Don't hold your breath. Politicians are more concerned with getting re-elected than actually dealing with a problem.
Read the whole column.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Blame America First: It's a rare day when a New York Times op-ed columnist is outdone by one here at the San Diego Union-Tribune, but James Goldsborough has accomplished this difficult mission.
I read the Times' Bob Herbert column last night, knowing well that I would get another quagmire diatribe because of this week's terrorist bombing of the U.N. compound. Herbert doesn't disappoint, quoting unnamed U.N. diplomats blaming -- America First!
At the United Nations yesterday, grieving diplomats spoke bitterly, but not for attribution, about the U.S.-led invasion and occupation. They said it has not only resulted in the violent deaths of close and highly respected colleagues, but has also galvanized the most radical elements of Islam.
"This is a dream for the jihad," said one high-ranking U.N. official. "The resistance will only grow. The American occupation is now the focal point, drawing people from all over Islam into an eye-to-eye confrontation with the hated Americans.
"It is very propitious for the terrorists," he said. "The U.S. is now on the soil of an Arab country, a Muslim country, where the terrorists have all the advantages. They are fighting in a terrain which they know and the U.S. does not know, with cultural images the U.S. does not understand, and with a language the American soldiers do not speak. The troops can't even read the street signs."
Of course, this is a denial of the facts -- something which should be expected by the U.N. and its mindless bureaucrats.
If the "resistance" is growing, why are these attacks only taking place in the "Sunni triangle?" As was reported in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, the public in the southern part of the country don't see this as an occupation. They only ones resorting to attacks and this type of terrorism are Islamic terrorists (Ansar al-Islam and al Qaeda) and Baathists who no longer have their privileged status.
As far as the "terrorists having all the advantages" goes, well, that doesn't stand up to the laugh test. The Iraqi Army had "all the advantages" too, and that got them... oh, yeah, their butts kicked. American forces have superior firepower and superior training. Those are the biggest advantages.
The American people still do not have a clear understanding of why we are in Iraq. And the troops don't have a clear understanding of their mission. We're fighting a guerrilla war, which the bright lights at the Pentagon never saw coming, with conventional forces.
Well, the readership of American newspapers has been declining for years, so maybe that explains why the "American people" and the "troops" don't understand why they're there -- if that is actually true -- which it isn't.
Beefing up the American occupation is not the answer to the problem. The American occupation is the problem. The occupation is perceived by ordinary Iraqis as a confrontation and a humiliation, and by terrorists and other bad actors as an opportunity to be gleefully exploited.
So sayeth Mr. Herbert, from his New York office. You'd think that someone who writes for a newspaper would read one every once in awhile. Once again, I reference the aforementioned Journal article for evidence of how "ordinary Iraqis" perceive the situation.
And it gets worse: James O. Goldsborough's column is notable because he almost makes Herbert seem reasonable by comparison.
What terrible irony that the United Nations, which stood so steadfastly against George W. Bush's war, should be the target of Tuesday's suicide attack in Baghdad. Turning on your defender is an act of total desperation.
In a war that makes no sense, targeting Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. mission leader in Iraq, is like targeting Mother Theresa. A man of great humanity, he was in Iraq to help save the situation into which Bush has placed our nation. To the bombers, however, he was just one more faceless symbol of foreign occupation.
Your "defender?" Yes, this is the same U.N. that won't open the books of its vaunted "oil for food" program to public scrutiny. The same U.N. that allowed Saddam Hussein to build palace after palace under U.N. sanctions while his countrymen died from a lack of food and medicine.
Certainly the bombers attacked the U.N. compound because it was a soft target and because there were foreigners there. What Goldsborough fails to understand is Islamist terrorists don't care if you're a Westerner working with the U.N. on humanitarian needs or an American -- you're not a Muslim so you should be dead.
As several U.S. and British reports have indicated recently, Bush's war will inevitably lead to an increase in worldwide terrorism. It has animated and coalesced terror groups, drawing them into Iraq as they once went into Afghanistan.
Reports where? The Nation? This sort of statement presupposes that had the U.S. just accepted 9/11 and done nothing in response then terrorism would have declined. A laughable assertion. The only ways to reduce terrorism around the world is to kill the terrorists and institute regime change in nations that harbor and support them.
This problem, of course, is precisely what the U.N. Security Council worried about. However much Bush's advisers may have disliked Saddam Hussein, war and occupation were always likely to create more problems than they solved.
The Bush administration has lost all sense of reality about Iraq. This is perhaps human nature: One tries to defend bad choices by plunging in deeper – what's called "averaging down" on Wall Street and "doubling up" in gambling. The "Charge of the Light Brigade" mentality is strong among decision-makers back in London or Washington.
We're still in the middle of this, but it's interesting that Goldsborough has already done his pro/con list and found the cons heavily outweighing the pros. It would be interesting to see this list and determine how thorough Goldsborough's work is.
Examine Bush's use of the word "terrorists" to describe those attacking U.S. forces. What makes people opposing occupation of their land terrorists? Was French, Yugoslav and Greek resistance to Nazi occupation terrorism? Was Native American resistance to white "manifest destiny" terrorism? Is Palestinian resistance to Israeli settlements on the West Bank terrorism? When defeated fighters take up other means to oppose the occupier, do they become terrorists? Who are the terrorists in such situations?
Terrorism is sometimes defined as war against civilians, but what if the civilians are illegal settlers? War should be fought only by professional armies, but scorched earth tactics are common to every war.
Here's where Goldsborough starts to get disgusting -- and stupid. Does the top foreign-affairs columnist for the Union-Tribune really need someone to explain to him the difference between Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and America today?
Goldsborough has also bought into the Reuters construction that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Hamas and Islamic Jihad are perfectly justified in killing children on buses returning from Jewish holy sites. This sort of moral equivalency is not only flawed -- but insane. One wonders if Goldsborough believes that Israel has a right to exist, since that is exactly what these Palestinian terrorists aim to undo.
We learned recently from the Union-Tribune's James Crawley that the U.S. military used chemical weapons (napalm-type) against Iraq in a war fought putatively to deprive Iraq of chemical weapons that may not exist. Who is the terrorist?
Goldsborough attempts to stretch the language here to pint the U.S. as evil for using incendiary weapons. Yes, the napalm-like munitions use chemicals -- but they don't use chemicals to kill -- they use fire. That's akin to saying that Hellfire or Maverick Air-to-Ground missiles are chemical weapons because they contain rocket-fuel chemicals. A very lame argument.
Bush has us in a no-win situation, and no fiddling with words will make things better. This war was conceived by those in the administration who believe it is America's job to remake the Middle East according to their design, and such projects have no record of success in our time. To compare Iraq to postwar Germany or Japan is absurd. Bush's war is imperialism by another name, and the distinction is lost on Iraqis.
It's "imperialism by another name?" Then it's not really imperialism then is it? We have no desire to occupy Iraq for a moment more than is necessary. We don't want to "steal" Iraq's oil or any other natural resources. What we want is a stable democracy that doesn't threaten its neighbors, doesn't torture and kill its own people, doesn't require American and British pilots patrolling "no-fly" zones in perpetuity, and doesn't support international terrorism.
Why is comparing Iraq to postwar Germany or Japan absurd? Is it because Arabs are a lesser intellect than Germans or Japanese? Why exactly can they not be given the opportunity to create a functioning democracy? Goldsborough would probably hate this, but it sounds something like the "soft bigotry of low-expectations."
After some reference to historical parallels which may not be accurate or appropriate, Goldsborough comes up with this laugher:
What makes our times different is the United Nations. We must establish rules, said the World War II victors, led by the United States. We will create a Security Council which alone will have the authority to make war. When a nation starts a war of aggression, the council will act to stop it.
It hasn't worked that way in practice because council nations tend to be the major aggressors, but at least the U.N. Charter provides a benchmark for war legitimacy. The council overwhelmingly believed Bush's war was illegitimate and would make a more dangerous world, and so it has.
Follow the logic, we should depend on the United Nations to take care of these things because that was what it was designed to do even though it never really quite worked.
If the U.N. Charter provides a benchmark for war legitimacy -- then it's a pretty poor one. This is the same group that has Syria and Cuba on its human-rights commission. I'll reference once more this graphic, created before the war:
The United Nations is in an awkward situation. Iraq is not Kosovo where the council helped stop the fighting and create the peace. In Iraq, America brought the fighting and ruined the peace.
A "peace" where ordinary Iraqis, including children, are murdered en masse? A "peace" requiring U.S. pilots to brave anti-aircraft fire daily to protect Kurds and Shiite Muslims from their own government? A "peace" requiring us to turn a blind-eye to Saudi perfidy? That's some "peace."
The council knows after Tuesday's bombing that even if Bush agreed to hand over authority in Iraq to the council, as in Kosovo, which he won't, U.N. troops would be no safer from attack than Americans.
Which is evidence that "occupation" is not what this is about -- it's about Islamic terrorists who want to kill non-Muslims -- whoever they may be.
America is engaged in a futile process, which anyone with a sense of history could foresee. Our authority is resented, and anyone we elevate alongside us will become an equal target. Our forces live behind walls and wear armor outside them. We are an occupying army attempting to foist our ideas and ways on an ancient people known for its xenophobia.
We should not be surprised that the situation is unraveling.
And a comparison of Iraq to WWII Imperial Japan is "absurd?" Goldsborough just described postwar Japan perfectly. Well, I guess consistency is the Hobgoblin of little minds.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Roadmap to nowhere II: Once again, the death cult commonly known as "Palestinians," has forsaken their desire for their own state in order to murder Jews. Tuesday evening, a murderous racist strapped a bomb to his body, along with bits of metal, and walked onto a bus and detonated himself -- killing 20 (so far) and wounding more than a hundred.
As I watched the news reports last night and read various Web accounts, I got increasingly furious at the utter senselessness of the murderous act. Any peace between Israel and the Palestinians is dependent on a majority of both groups wanting peace. While poll after poll and election after election has shown that the Israelis are willing to work toward peace and the creation of a docile, non-threatening Palestinian state, the peace-loving, death-cult Islamists have shown that their only goal is the destruction of Israel and every Jew they can find.
The Palestinians have not negotiated or performed in good faith. This dispatch from the Associated Press is ample evidence of that fact.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, facing growing international pressure to clamp down on militants, convened an emergency Cabinet meeting Wednesday to decide how to respond to a Hamas suicide bombing that killed 20, including five Americans.
The Cabinet did not announce a decision after its two-hour session, except to say the rule of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be enforced. The final say is up to Yasser Arafat and top PLO officials, who will meet later Wednesday with Cabinet ministers. [emphasis added]
So much for the new leadership required by Bush's roadmap. Yasser Arafat was supposed to be marginalized and Mahmoud Abbas, the "new" Palestinian "prime minister" was supposed to be in charge.
At the end of the AP dispatch it includes these divergent responses to the tragedy.
The blast, just across from a synagogue, blew a hole in the bus roof and shattered the windows of a passing bus. Rescuers used blowtorches to remove some of the wounded.
Crying children with tattered clothes and bloodied faces were led away. Doctors leaned over a bloodied infant in an ambulance. Paramedics treated the wounded on the sidewalk, and body parts were strewn amid broken glass.
In an Israeli prison, Palestinian security prisoners applauded and passed out candy when they learned of the bombing, the Israel Prisons Authority said. Inmate leaders were sent into isolation and the rest had their TV sets removed as punishment, the authority said.
There will be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians in my lifetime -- I've said that before. The repeated attempts at peace -- Camp David, Oslo and the latest roadmap -- were well-intentioned, but ultimately a waste of time.
Palestinians don't want peace -- and it can't be forced upon them.
An effort needs to be made to change in the language of the debate -- this will not be easy due to the tilt of the liberal media. There should be no more "occupation." Instead, there should be a "war" between Israelis and Palestinians -- this is exactly what's going on there now, but it's not called that.
The belief has long been that the Palestinians will truly want peace when they can no longer stand war. During the past few years, though more than 2,400 Palestinians have been killed, it hasn't hurt enough. The Palestinian people still believe they can "win." Until they are disabused of that notion, there can be no peace.
Once the war is won and the Palestinians beg for peace -- be it in 5 months, 5 years or 50 years -- then generosity along the lines of the Marshall Plan can be shown. And the world will be a better place.
Mini-review: "Adaptation": I finally saw the critically-acclaimed movie on DVD the other night. I concur with the selection of Chris Cooper for the Academy Award for best supporting actor. He did an excellent job as an eccentric orchid thief. Nicholas Cage also did a good job playing dual roles of twin brothers.
I can understand the pain the screenwriter character went through as he was attempting to write his screenplay. I understand it, I just don't want to go through it. The angst was much too much for much too long. It's an interesting film, but not one I'd want to watch again.
Best line of the movie: "Here you go. The killer's a literature professor. He cuts off little chunks from his victims' bodies until they die. He calls himself 'the deconstructionist'."
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
City leaders get clue: The city of Oceanside has settled a lawsuit brought by four people arrested for preaching on city streets.
Under the terms of a compromise, Willis said, the city agreed in federal court in San Diego to have a judgment entered against it but admitted no fault.
Oceanside police arrested the men as they preached to passers-by Aug. 3, 2002, at Pier View Way and Coast Highway. Police said they acted on the complaint of a nearby business owner.
The men were members of West Coast Baptist Church in Vista, which, said the Rev. Philip Clark, its pastor, has sent preachers to the streets of Oceanside for 30 years.
Clark said yesterday that church members have continued preaching despite the arrest and a phone threat "to keep our blankety-blank preachers out of Oceanside."
Police said the case stemmed from a citizens arrest on behalf of the business owner who found the preaching annoyed her customers.
I don't believe that this method of evangelism is particularly productive, but slapping the cuffs on these individuals -- including a Navy petty officer -- was stupid.
People in glass houses...: shouldn't be throwing stones. Fox News reported yesterday (even though the Web dispatch is datelined today) that liberal "comedian" Al Franken is apologizing to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Why? Well, it appears Franken has a little problem with the "truth."
Comedian and left-wing activist Al Franken has apologized in writing to Attorney General John Ashcroft for asking him for his personal story of remaining abstinent before marriage. In June Franken wrote a letter to Ashcroft on Harvard University stationery, telling him the story was to be one of many he had already received from several conservative leaders…including Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson (search) and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice (search)…for a book about abstinence called 'Savin' It. Thing is, Franken never had permission to use Harvard's stationery, he never received any accounts from any conservative leaders, and, what's more, he was never working on such a book to begin with. He does have a new book, though. Its title: Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them: A fair and balanced look at the right.
You've got to admit, it takes some guts to write a book assailing liars, when it turns out that you're a "big, fat" liar yourself.
Monday, August 18, 2003
On the ground in Iraq: The Wall Street Journal publishes a column by Lance Cpl. John R. Guardiano, a Marine serving in Al Hillah, Iraq. Guardiano's experience is contrary to what most of the mainstream media would have us believe about what's going on in Iraq.
In fact, there is another Iraq that the media virtually ignore. It is guarded by the First Marine Division, and, unlike Baghdad, it has been a model of success. The streets are safe, petty and violent crime are low, water and electrical services are almost universally available (albeit rationed), and ordinary Iraqis are beginning to clean up and rebuild their neighborhoods and communities. Equally important, a deep level of mutual trust and respect has developed between the Marines and the populace here in central and southern Iraq.
I know because I'm one of those Marines. My reserve unit was activated before the war, and in April my team arrived in this small city roughly 60 miles south of Baghdad. The negative media portrait of the situation in Iraq doesn't correspond with what I've seen. Indeed, we were treated as liberating heroes when we arrived four months ago, and we continue to enjoy amicable relations with the local populace.
The "Arab Street" I've meet in Iraq loves--that's not too strong of a word--America and is deeply grateful for our presence. Far from resenting the American military, most Iraqis seem to fear that we will leave too soon and that in our absence the Baath Party tyranny will resume. This sentiment is readily apparent whenever we venture into the city. We don't make it far outside of our camp before throngs of happy, smiling children greet us.
There's a reason why you hear very little of America's successes and the progress that is being made daily improving and rebuilding Iraq -- the only reporters on the scene are war reporters.
Pre-Great-Northeast-Blackout-of-2003 every time an American soldier was killed it was mentioned prominently in every newspaper, every evening newscast and on all the major-media Web sites -- as it should be.
But the reporting from Iraq is like having a newspaper with only a cops reporter. Yes, a cop-shooting will get prominent coverage, but there's so much more that's happening in every community. A look at the White House report on Iraq [Adobe Acrobat required] offers an excellent source of potential stories for education reporters, business reporters, government reporters, health care reporters and media reporters.
But you don't see these pieces in your local newspaper or on the national news.
When covering big news stories, unfortunately, too much of the media falls back on reporting the "who, what, where, when" and doesn't follow-up with the more important "how" and "why."
The media can't see the forest for the trees -- and don't expect that to change anytime soon.
Interesting report factoid: While reading through the White House report on progress in Iraq, this item jumped out at me:
3. The top 12 financial supporters for the renewal of Iraq are (in descending order): the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, Norway, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Kuwait.
It's interesting what prominent nation is missing, oui?
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Bad, Bad, BBC: Josh Chafetz, an Oxford University student, outlines the journalistic malpractice going on at the once-respected British Broadcasting Corp.
Tolerance vs. Acceptance: I once had an argument with a former co-worker who thought that the two terms were interchangeable.
Mark Steyn has a great article in the Jerusalem Post [relatively painless registration required] that recounts some rather outrageous violations of free speech in Canada and overseas regarding homosexuality. No, it's not the gays who are being muzzled, rather it is anyone opposed.
Whatever happened to "live and let live?" If I can live with the occasional rustle from the undergrowth as I'm strolling through a condom-strewn park or a come-hither look from George Michael in the men's room, why can't gays live with the occasional expression of disapproval?
Christian opponents of gay marriage oppose gay marriage, they don't oppose the right of gays to advocate it. But increasingly gays oppose the right of Christians to advocate their beliefs. Gay activists have figured that instead of trying to persuade people to change their opinions, it's easier just to get them banned.
Disturbing, but increasingly true. Much like campus speech codes have used "harassment" as a cover for stifiling non-PC speech.
Playing the race card in Texas: I've written before about the brouhaha over redistricting in Texas. Democrats complain that the move is a power grab -- which it is. But it's also the way politics work. From my previous post on the subject:
Texas was redistricted by a court after the Democrats managed to halt a redistricting plan in 2000. Texas was allotted an additional three seats -- all of which were made GOP seats -- leaving the Democrats with a 17-15 advantage in the Congressional delegation.
This in a state where every statewide office is held by Republicans.
This in a state where Republicans hold large majorities in both houses of the state legislature.
Let's compare the Texas situation to California, where the inverse is true. In California, the Democrats hold a large majority in both houses of the state legislature and every statewide office.
What does California's delegation look like? 33 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
So, Republicans want the state's Congressional delegation to be representative of the political views of the state's residents. Democrats don't. Who's opposed to representative government now?
Anyway, the Texas Democrats have fled to New Mexico to prevent a quorum -- the only way they can hope to stop the redistricting plan. Republicans are attempting to punish them with fines and revoking of political perks.
So, what's the Democrats' response to this news?
"They've added measures which will make it difficult for our legislative staff back in Austin to continue to serve our constituents," said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. "It is unconscionable that these white Republicans would attempt to hurt our constituents even while we are making our stand to defend Texas." [emphasis added]
Let's just ignore the slam that "Republicans" want to hurt people. It's even worse, it's "white Republicans!"
Whoever comes out on top in the "Freddy Vs. Jason" fight will face the "white Republican" for the title!
Don't know much about Canada: You gotta love this correction in today's Union-Tribune:
A story yesterday about the massive power blackout that rolled across the Northeast, Midwest and southern Canada, misidentified Ottawa as the capital of Ontario. In fact, Ottawa is the capital of Canada.
I had nothing to do with this mistake, but it does go to show you that much of America is ignorant about basic facts about our northern neighbor.
We get results: Press attention and outrage at the San Diego Border Patrol "leadership" that issued a memo barring enforcement of immigration laws in most of San Diego has resulted in the order being rescinded.
Yesterday's announcement was made from the office of Robert Bonner, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
A review of the memo "determined that it was an overly broad and restrictive statement of Border Patrol policy in the San Diego sector," bureau spokeswoman Gloria Chavez said. "Commissioner Bonner has directed that the memorandum of Aug. 8 be rescinded."
Of course, there are still those extremists/anarchists who feel that much of the Western United States is just another part of Mexico.
Benjamin Prado of the Raza Rights Coalition said the quashing of Veal's memo means that immigrant-rights groups must redouble their efforts to monitor the Border Patrol to prevent human-rights violations.
"If they do raids in our communities, we're going to have a presence," Prado said.
That's right. Enforcement of immigration laws = human-rights violations. Some people just don't get it.
Thursday, August 14, 2003
More on Tapped: Now I know why I don't read Tapped that often -- I don't have the hours in the day to spend on much of this drivel.
SCHWARZENEGGER'S GAMBIT. Tapped should be clear about our basic position on the California election: California voters wanted a stupid recall provision in their state laws, and some of California's voters wanted to dump the current guv. If California's voters are also dumb enough to elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, they will get, as journalist Martin Walker once wrote of Bill Clinton and the Boomers, the governor they deserve.
Why is this comment interesting? Well, first there's the issue of where blame should be allocated.
California voters wanted a stupid recall provision in their state laws...
The mechanism for recall was put into the state Constitution in 1911 as part of progressive reform measures.
Complaining about this makes...(liberals/conservatives) ... liberals look stupid.
Also, all of the stupid individuals responsible for this mechanism are dead. How does that make living Californians look bad?
and some of California's voters wanted to dump the current guv
Well, according to Gallup, 64 percent want to dump the "current guv," including 40 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of self-described "liberals!"
Where are we going with this?
If California's voters are also dumb enough to elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, they will get, as journalist Martin Walker once wrote of Bill Clinton and the Boomers, the governor they deserve.
Ahh! California voters are stupid! I should have guessed -- of course, what does that mean? California is one of the, if not the, most liberal states in the country. In the last election, Gore got 53.45 percent of the popular vote to George W. Bush's 41.65 percent. Ralph Nader, also on the liberal side of the spectrum got 3.82 percent.
According to these rankings based on House and Senate voting records, California is either the 7th most liberal state (Senate) or 13th (House).
So, California is liberal and stupid!
Tapped also makes this curious statement:
Where's the beef?" worked for Walter Mondale. It can work for Gray Davis (or Cruz Bustamente). Time for a reprise of "Where's the beef?"
This is amusing. It "worked" for Mondale in the Democratic primary, but he got his butt kicked in the general election. So it obviously didn't "work" all that well.
Stop, please...: My side hurts. Tapped says we need help in Iraq with troops from countries such as .... France.
A moral pygmy like Rep. Bob Ney might be pleased he got french fries banned from the House cafeteria, but Tapped bets your average soldier sweating it out in Tikrit right now would trade Ney's infantile sense of self-satisfaction for a brigade or two of French infantry.
A brigade or two of French infantry? The same French who are apparently dying by the thousands because the temperature is about 104 degrees?
Tomorrow's forecast for Baghdad: 114 degrees.
King Arthur to Black Knight: What are you going to do? Bleed on me?
Question answered: Nearly two weeks ago I pointed out a story in the San Diego Union-Tribune about the Mexican consulate in full-outrage mode because some illegal aliens had been arrested within a block of the consulate.
My question a the time was: "Just how large is the radius around the consulate within which Border Patrol agents are prohibited from enforcing immigration laws? "
Well, I've got my answer.
The answer is the checkpoints on I-5 and I-15, at the border and on public transportation.
So, if you're an illegal alien and manage to get across the border, you need not worry about the pesky Border Patrol as long as you stay in San Diego County and don't ride the bus.
If that insanity isn't bad enough, just look at some of the hypotheticals that are now in play when it comes to law enforcement.
(Shawn) Moran (communications director for Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council) said the order effectively bars agents from stopping to talk to suspected illegal immigrants, even if they recognize them as criminals who have been deported in the past.
"If we're going down the street and we see somebody we've deported for child molestation or some other crime, even if they're walking down the street holding some child's hand, there's nothing we can do about it," he said.
This is just plain nuts -- and Bush had better do something about it.
Step One: Engage brain: Earlier this week I pointed out some thoughful responses to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest attack on the Bush administration. One of the things I linked to, but didn't highlight, at the time was Krugman's assertion that U.S. troops in Iraq were being issued only two 1.5 liter bottles of water a day. Because this is insufficient, soldiers are dying from heat stroke.
As Phil Carter pointed out, that was not wholly accurate. Troops are being issued two 1.5 liter bottles of water daily in addition to all of the water they need from "water buffaloes," trucks with purified, but not very tasty, water.
Well, today Krugman responded by printing a letter to Stars and Stripes from a soldier complaining that he was only getting 2 bottles of water daily.
Phil Carter has again responded with this succinct point: "Quotation does not necessarily equal fact-checking."
Again, I don't dispute this fact -- I've seen it in Pentagon press briefings, and I've talked to Army logisticians who say this is true. But what he doesn't say is that his unit also has a supply of unbottled water -- "tap" water if you will. I stand by my original contention, because I've fact-checked it, that a soldier will die in a desert environment on 3 liters/water a day. (The same is true in a cold weather environment, actually) I've led soldiers in the frozen hills of Korea and in the hot Mojave Desert, and I know how much water it takes to keep them alive under body armor and full battle rattle. 3 liters/day would result in a lot more than 2 heat casualties in one MP company -- it would result in a dead MP company.
Let me illustrate Carter's point in a way that might get through to Krugman. As a hypothetical, if I made a post which stated: "Paul Krugman drowns puppies" and my friend Don Luskin linked to it and quoted it -- that doesn't make it accurate or truthful.
Don Luskin has also made some phone calls and done some fact-checking of the obvious. [Seriously Don, you had nothing better to do?]
Krugman's closing salvo in his defense of the indefensible was: "Critics, do your homework."
The problem isn't with Krugman's critics, the falsity of Krugman's 3 liters/day claim is apparent on its face. The problem is that Krugman doesn't realize how much 3 liters of water is. [That's something Taranto and Krugman have in common -- difficulties with the metric system.]
Here's a helpful photo of four 710 mL water bottles -- or 2.84 liters of water:
Professor Krugman, engage your common sense. Do you really believe that someone can survive in a desert environment where the temperature is commonly well over 100 degrees on that much water? While running around in full battle gear? Doing strenuous activity?
Krugman, engage brain.
The field is set: There are 135 candidates to replace Gray Davis as governor of California.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Recognizing your shortcomings: The Washington Post's Robert J. Samuelson examines the New York Times' response to the Jayson Blair scandal and finds it wanting:
The Blair affair was treated as a stand-alone mishap. Here is a culture of arrogance. The thread that connects the Blair scandal with the Times' other lapses is overconfidence -- a faith that it can't be "out-thought." If the Times were serious about self-examination, it would have assigned the task to outsiders. It is hard for insiders to be too critical of their organization for both psychological reasons (their assumptions may be part of the problem) and economic self-interest (they may censor themselves to protect their job).
The Times is a good and sometimes great paper. But it is not perfect or infallible. The humiliation it suffered from the Blair scandal did not produce much humility or learning. Until it's as tough on itself as it is on others, it will not deserve the "significance" now so often accorded it.
Don't expect the Times to take the criticism to heart.
Changing definitions and identifying the problem: The New York Times' Bob Herbert blames California's extraordinary fiscal woes not on the state's free-spending legislature and governor, but (surprise!) on President George W. Bush.
First, an issue with the newspeak of the American left. Economist and Nobel laureate Robert said the Bush tax cuts are "redistributive in intent and redistributive in effect." Only in the loony left economics universe is allowing people to keep their own money "redistributive." Apparently because the government prints those dollar bills, all of the money is really the government's to start with.
Herbert then goes on to blame California's job market and homeless problems at Bush's door -- instead of where it belongs -- in Sacramento.
The president and his advisers could have learned something about the real world if, instead of hanging out at the ranch, they had visited a city like Los Angeles (or almost any other hard-hit American venue) and spent time talking to folks who have been thrown out of work and, in some cases, out of their homes in this treacherous Bush economy.
The job market in California worsened in July. More than a million people are out of work statewide, and there are few signs of the optimism that Mr. Bush is feeling.
Officials at homeless shelters in Los Angeles, as in other large American cities, are seeing big increases in the number of families seeking shelter because of extended periods of joblessness. The pattern is as depressing as it is familiar: the savings run out, the rent doesn't get paid, the eviction notice arrives.
Tanya Tull, president of Beyond Shelter in downtown L.A., said the percentage of families in her facility had climbed from about one-third to more than half because of the employment crisis. The breadwinners can't find jobs, she said, "so they're losing their housing."
Why is the job market so bad in California? Could it be the out-of-control costs of workman's compensation insurance? High taxes? "Non-discrimination" laws that force businesses to consider cross-dressing job applicants? Frivilous shakedown lawsuits against small businesses?
How about housing in California? Rents and home-prices are high because of Bush's economic plans!? That conveniently ignores the fact that prices were rising astronomically long before Bush took office. It also would ignore the fact that affordable condos weren't built for decades because of a slew of lawsuits against condo-builders. Super-stringent environmental regulations and "slow-growth" initiatives also forced housing prices sky-high.
No, Bush is the only possible explanation for this human tragedy -- in a liberal's (closed) mind. The simple answers are the only ones necessary on the Times' op-ed page.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
PC, racism and Cal Poly: The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has posted a transcript of the kangaroo court proceedings against Cal Poly student Steve Hinkle. [Adobe Acrobat Reader required. HTML highlights here.]
For those of you unfamiliar with the case, Hinkle walked into Cal Poly's multicultural center to post a flier advertising a speech by conservative Mason Weaver. Some students were offended by the poster and challenged Hinkle. Hinkle offered to discuss the flier with the offended students, but instead of having a discussion, the offended students decided to call the cops. When it became apparent that the offended students were infringing on Hinkle's First Amendment rights, the campus administration decided to "get" Hinkle by accusing him of "disrupting" a meeting.
The hearing officer's report [Acrobat Reader Required] largely ignores the facts of the case, namely that Hinkle was never told that there was a "meeting" going on that he was disrupting and that all of the contemporaneous statements were that the flier's content was what was offensive.
For the intellectually challenged administrators at my alma mater, here is the test: If the flier Hinkle had been posting had been for a free ice-cream social, would there have been any judicial action against Hinkle?
From reading the full transcript (all 125 pages), the answer to that question is obviously no. The entire incident was prompted by the content of Hinkle's flier.
Cal Poly President Warren Baker, you'd be wise to show some leadership, dismiss the charges against Hinkle immediately and apologize to him. Until that happens, don't expect any donations from me.
Death Cult update: The "cease fire" between Israel and the terrorist organizations supported by the Palestinian people officially ended today when a pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up in Israel and the West Bank.
Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attacks. The groups say they're responding to a raid by Israelis two days ago on a Hamas bomb-making lab.
The fact that Palestinians were making bombs during a cease-fire seemed to evoke no public outcry from the Bush administration or Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian PM.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, there will be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians in my lifetime. There needs to be a conscious effort to rid the Palestinians of their death cult mentality. No one is making an effort -- and even then it will take decades to change a Palestinian culture where the highest hope is to kill yourself -- and take a few Jews with you.
Krugman and the troops: I wasn't in the mood late last night to deal with Krugman's latest screed. When I read the article, the first thing that came to mind was: "Troops are complaining -- this is news?" I remember reading some of Stephen Ambrose's books and recalling that troops were complaining then.
Krugman attempts to play the complaint that not enough is being spent on defense (concerns about that budget deficit have miraculously disappeared -- for the moment).
A couple of individuals have done an excellent job picking apart Krugman's latest bit of tripe.
Phil Carter, a former military officer, over at Intel Dump does an excellent job and highlights this little bit of wisdom:
1. Krugman starts his column with a description of American woe in Iraq -- based on the griping of a soldier about food.
A few days ago I talked to a soldier just back from Iraq. He'd been in a relatively calm area; his main complaint was about food. Four months after the fall of Baghdad, his unit was still eating the dreaded M.R.E.'s: meals ready to eat. When Italian troops moved into the area, their food was "way more realistic" — and American troops were soon trading whatever they could for some of that Italian food.
This should bring a smile to any veteran's face, because it's a time-honored tradition in the Army to gripe about food. In fact, they taught us as new lieutenants that your soldiers probably had a real problem if they weren't griping about their food, and that such gripes about Army chow were a sign of good morale. Frankly, I'm not a fan of eating MREs for 4 weeks straight, let alone 4 months. But I'm not too concerned when I see this gripe in the news... in the pantheon of Army b*tching, it's pretty low.
Robert Musil points out that Krugman selects quotes out of context with the larger point of the source material.
As usual with Herr Doktorprofessor's more striking complaints, there's not much provided to back them up - and the sources that are cited in context don't say what the quotes he chooses from them at first seem to say. He quotes the Newhouse News Service as reporting: U.S. troops in Iraq suffered through months of unnecessarily poor living conditions because some civilian contractors hired by the Army for logistics support failed to show up. But he omits the Newhouse article's qualification: conditions have improved. Worse, although Herr Doktorprofessor serves up this article to support his contention that it is Bush Administration officials who intervened to "privatize" something that the Army wanted to keep for itself, the article seems to say that it was the Army, not Bush Administration officials, who misjudged the logistics: "We thought we could depend on industry to perform these kinds of functions," Lt. Gen. Charles S. Mahan, the Army's logistics chief, said in an interview. No evidence is provided to support Herr Doktorprofessor's insinuation that the relevant Army policies of the Bush Administration differ from those of the Clinton Administration. But, even if the Bush Administration has moved further into privatization, there is no evidence adduced that the SNAFU's are anything more than new systems being worked out. Herr Doktorprofessor's argument seems to be: There were some problems, therefore the military should do everything for itself. Without evidence that privatization is being persued for extra-military purposes, he is simply absurd.
There's more at both places -- check 'em out.
Monday, August 11, 2003
I was wrong: Just watch some liberal blogger Dowdify my title there and parade it around. I believed when the Senate went on its August recess (sounds like elementary school, doesn't it?) that the discussion of the judiciary committee Democrats and their attacks on certain nominees and their "deeply held" beliefs would die down.
National Review Online's MIchael Novak has a new column on the issue.
Novak also outlines a brief, non-religious basis for being pro-life.
In fact, in regard to abortion — and abortion was the one issue brought up again and again by Democrats in the judiciary committee — it is a matter of Catholic faith that one does not need Catholic faith to make a judgment about the evil of abortion. All that is required is some basic knowledge about biology. What is killed in an abortion is undeniably human, a being with an individual genetic code separate from that of its mother and father. It is a human individual. Unless it is killed, it will grow into a full-grown woman or man, perhaps even a senator. It does not take rocket science, and certainly not faith, to know that killing a human individual for one's own purposes is not right.
The article is really only peripherally about judges and the Democrats' litmus test -- it's more of a primer for the non-religious. Too many agnostics and atheists believe religious belief cannot coexist with reason. They're wrong, of course, and their beliefs about the religious are informed only by willful ignorance.
Am I supposed to by sympathetic?: One of the useful idiots, aka human shields, who went to Iraq is now being fined "at least $10,000."
Retired schoolteacher Faith Fippinger is, of course, refusing.
In her response to the charges, she wrote the government that "if it comes to fines or imprisonment, "please be aware that I will not contribute money to the United States government to continue the buildup of its arsenal of weapons." Since she won't pay, she said, "perhaps the alternative should be considered."
The alternative is 12 years in prison.
Oh, and if your curious, was this "human shield" protecting an orphanage? A hospital? A school?
An oil refinery.
She knew she'd be safe. After all, the war was all about getting oil.
Friday, August 08, 2003
Oslo redux: The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer has an excellent article on the "Road Map" to nowhere.
More on the Episcopal Church: Good article over at OpinionJournal.com by Katherine Kersten notes that churches shouldn't be like political parties -- trying to be inclusive as possible for the sole purpose of getting more people under the tent. I seem to remember something about "narrow the gate."
Also, the Midwest Conservative Journal has a round-up of responses from members of the Anglican Communion around the world -- it doesn't bode well for the unity of that church.
I would have been more surprised had the Episcopal Chuch had held fast to their Biblical faith. The first sign of something wrong in a chuch is found in their seminaries. Awhile ago, long before the current church meeting, Bill O'Reilly had a theology professor from an Episcopal seminary on his show to talk about the nomination of Gene Robinson. O'Reilly started off the interview by referring to Romans 1. O'Reilly didn't even get to the specific verse. All he got out was "Romans 1" and the seminary professor told him that she didn't want to talk about the Bible.
Let me say that again: "the seminary professor told him that she didn't want to talk about the Bible."
Wishful thinking: It can be interesting from time to time to see how people find this site. Thursday evening at 9:44 p.m. an AOL user from the Central time zone found this site by googling: "it was a hoax uday and qusay are still alive"
Yes, all those words appear in my archives, they're just not very close to each other. It's also nice to know that it was the 104th hit on Google -- not very high up.
I tell you, there's just no convincing some people.
Cinema Paradiso: After sitting on my entertainment center for nearly a month (isn't Netflix great?) I finally got around to watching the new version of "Cinema Paradiso." Usually the director's cut is better -- i.e. "Blade Runner" -- in this case, however, the original is the one you should watch. I think leaving some things unanswered is better than the answers you end up getting.
Anyway, if you rent it watch the old version (the DVD has both versions on it) -- it has a much greater emotional impact.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Well that's one heck of a mistake: From today's New York Times corrections desk:
An article on Sunday about attacks on the American military in Iraq over the previous two days, attributed to military officials, included an erroneous account that quoted Pfc. Jose Belen of the First Armored Division. Private Belen, who is not a spokesman for the division, said that a homemade bomb exploded under a convoy on Saturday morning on the outskirts of Baghdad and killed two American soldiers and their interpreter. The American military's central command, which releases information on all American casualties in Iraq, said before the article was published that it could not confirm Private Belen's account. Later it said that no such attack had taken place and that no American soldiers were killed on Saturday.
Repeated efforts by The Times to reach Private Belen this week have been unsuccessful. The Times should not have attributed the account to "military officials," and should have reported that the command had not verified the attack.
What will be the fallout from this mistake? Surely the Times knew that a private wasn't a spokesman. Privates are never spokesmen -- unless everyone else is dead (chain of command you know). When I covered Vandenberg AFB, the spokesman was usually at least a 2nd Lieutenant, sometimes a Major or a Lt. Colonel. In rare occasions it was the Air Force equivalent of a Sergeant.
Does the Times have another Jayson Blair in its house?
I'm a Lileks kind of man: James Lileks takes on the Episcopal Church with regards to the standards that they have for their bishops. Now, there are Biblical reasons for opposing the leadership of an actively gay man (or woman) in any Christian church. Lileks lays out an excellent case why the Rev. Gene Robinson should not be given a position of leadership irrespective of his sexual orientation.
Perhaps I the only one who winced at this: “God has once again brought an Easter out of Good Friday.' said Rev. Gene Robinson after his election as the first openly gay bishop. Good heavens, man, why don’t you just do the full James Cameron: hop up on the cross and shout I’m King of the Jews!
This story has irritated me from the start, and it has nothing to do with Rev. Robinson’s sexual orientation. The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me. Marriages founder for a variety of reasons, and ofttimes they’re valid reasons, sad and inescapable. But “I want to have sex with other people” is not a valid reason for depriving two little girls of a daddy who lives with them, gets up at night when they're sick, kisses them in the morning when they wake. There's a word for people who leave their children because they don't want to have sex with Mommy anymore: selfish. I'm not a praying man, but I cannot possibly imagine asking God if that would be okay. Send them another Dad, okay? Until you do I'll keep my cellphone on 24/7, I promise.
Who are you to judge? is the standard response, and I quote Captain James T. Kirk when asked the same question by Kodos the Executioner: who do I have to be? I’ll tell you this: my nightmare is losing my daughter. The idea of leaving her on purpose is inconceivable, and I don’t care if Adriana Lima drove up the driveway in a '57 BelAir convertible, tossed me the keys and asked me to drive her to Rio, it ain’t gonna happen. I made a promise when I married my wife, and I made another when we had our daughter. It's made me rather cranky on the subject of men who don't stick around. They're letting down the side. They're reverting to type. They're talking from their trousers.
I know, I know, his daughters love him & support him now. So what. Hitler’s dog went to his funeral. (No, that doesn’t make sense, but it’s my favorite wrench to throw in conversations this week.) If he’d cast off his family to cavort with a woman from the choir, I’m not sure he’d be elevated to the level of moral avatar – but by some peculiar twist the fact that he left mom for a man insulates him from criticism. It’s as if he had to do it. To stay in the marriage would have been (crack of thunder, horses neighing) living a lie, and nowadays we’re told that’s the worst thing anyone can do. Better to bedevil other lives with the truth than inconvenience your own with a lie. Right? If others are harmed in the short run, eventually they will be happy because you’re happier. Right?
I don’t think it works that way with little children. I don’t think they understand why Dads leave – and so they make up their own reasons and spend years looking for evidence in other people.
Heard an interview with Rev. Robinson this afternoon, and he used a phrase that set my teeth on edge: he referred to partnerships as “life-intentioned.” A wonderful weasel word, that: intention. The escape hatch is built right in. It’s as if the intention to stay together is equal to the expressed promise to stay together. But it’s not. Everyone had a faithless lover who did you wrong, and usually blamed everything but free will. It just happened, you know. Wasn’t intending to cheat, but . . . it just happened, okay?
Tonight I told my wife that I now regarded our marriage vows not as a solemn promise, but an expression of my intentions.
Ever seen those “Bringing Up Father” cartoons where Jiggs flees the house, trailed by a fusillade of rolling pins and frying pans?
Lileks should definitely be in every newspaper in America.
Not-so subtle bias: When this Boston Globe article came over the wire last night I was dismayed but not entirely surprised. The article is a rather long one regarding the Episcopal Church rejecting the adoption of a liturgy for same-sex relationships. (Though, today the Episcopal Church OK'd a "compromise" that some don't consider a compromise -- but that's a different issue).
I did my senior project nearly a decade ago on the Los Angeles Times' coverage of abortion. One of the analytical measurements I took was who was quoted first in the article and how far down in the article quotes were. In that study, I found pro-abortion activists were usually quoted first -- and high up in the stories -- and pro-lifers quoted second (or sometimes third or fourth) and usually much lower in the story.
The Globe article is much worse than anything I recall encountering so long ago in my analysis of the Times. In a situation where there are liberal and orthodox wings of the Episcopal Church at odds, the orthodox side doesn't get a voice in the Globe article until the last paragraph. Here are the quotes in the piece in the order they appear:
Bishop Peter J. Lee of Virginia spearheaded the successful effort to drop a provision calling for the development of national rites, saying it would be ''a sign of concern for those who voted against Canon Robinson'' and would demonstrate ''extreme pastoral sensitivity during a time of discord.'' (Third paragraph)
Bishop Mark S. Sisk of New York, who supported Robinson's confirmation, supported Lee, saying that bishops need to recognize that ''our actions do have an impact around the world.'' (Fourth paragraph)
''There are gay men and lesbian women all through this church who are creating families, who care about the church, who want to be contributing members of the church and want to be respected for who they are,'' said Bishop Otis Charles, who came out as a gay man after retiring as bishop of Utah. (Fifth paragraph)
Bishop Alfred C. Marble, the retired bishop of Mississippi, declared: ''In my heart I believe gay and lesbian persons are who they are, just as I am who I am, and if that is not a sin . . . then it cannot be a sin to honor same-gender relationships.'' (Sixth paragraph)
''We're very pleased with the resolution as passed,'' said the Rev. Michael Hopkins, a member of a group called Integrity. (Seventh paragraph)
Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts said he regretted that the resolution does not require development of a national liturgy that could be debated at the church's next triennial convention. ''But it does move the discussion along and make it a priority for the life of the church to carry on a discussion about this,'' he said. (10th paragraph)
The president of the American Anglican Council, the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, acknowledged that the bishops seemed to be trying to mollify conservatives like his members after the collision over Robinson. ''The bishops seemed to show some restraint, rather than going whole hog,'' Anderson said. (12th paragraph)
But a conservative theologian, the Rev. Canon Kendall S. Harmon, said the measure does seem to give official recognition to the fact that some bishops are not waiting for the national church to act on blessing same-sex unions. ''People who are already doing it are going to keep doing it, and we're just going to admit that they're doing it more explicitly,'' he said. (13th paragraph) [This is the first identified conservative, and his is the eighth quote in the story. However, the quote doesn't say why the resolution is opposed by conservatives, instead it is unbiased analytical quote. Anyone, including a liberal, could have said the exact same thing.]
''Publicly, many of the [international] bishops are very distressed, but privately they know we have to speak out of our cultural context, just as they do,'' Shaw said. (19th paragraph)
''The Anglican Communion will hold together,'' Charleston said. ''What you are seeing is the honest reaction of people who are hurt, and their first impulse is in many ways to cry out. . . . But pay careful attention to what has happened in our past.'' (20th paragraph)
''Though many of you are celebrating, many of us are in mourning,'' Harmon said. (24th paragraph -- still haven't said why there is opposition)
The Rev. David H. Roseberry, rector of a prominent Episcopal church in Plano, Texas, resigned as a deputy from the Diocese of Dallas. Roseberry's parish is planning to host a gathering of conservative Anglican leaders in October. ''I believe that this convention has done something that is outside the revealed will of God as found in the Scriptures and the historic teaching of the church,'' Roseberry said. (26th and FINAL paragraph)
This is a poor job of writing and editing, but sadly typical of an ideologically homogenous newsroom.