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Saturday, March 02, 2002
Quality Thinkers Not Yet Tuned Into Blogging

Yet another pastime in Greater Blogdom is now: Who Would I like to See Blogging That Doesn't Yet Even Know We Exist.

My preferences would be (in no particular order):

George Carlin
Umberto Eco
Donald Fagen
Victor Davis Hanson
Bill James
Spike Jonze
P. J. O'Rourke
Camille Paglia

And a special beyond the grave request for Richard Feynman, Frank Zappa, and Lord Kenneth Clark.

Has anyone else noticed that William Buckley has not yet made an appearance on The Blog That Dare Not Mention Its Name? Is it too weird, too low-brow, or too high tech for him?

Who's the Alpha Female In This Picture?

By now everyone has seen the picture that Happy Fun Pundit has posted here.

I'd copy and post it myself but I'd rather avoid the fate of the blogger who posted the towboat pictures.


Guess Who Else Wants to Run for President

Senator John Kerry blasts the GOP and President Bush over the war and their conduct over the conduct of 2004 Democratic Presidential Nomination wannabes.


Socialized Medicine?

Damian Penny has had a long thread running on some issues in Canadian health care caused by a physician refusing to treat some people becuase they are engaged in what the doctor considers self-destructuve behavior. As is my wont as a counter-puncher, here's Damian's latest and mine.

Even though there are problems with the US system, they are addressable -- but frankly, the poiticians and vested interests keep getting in the way. I can tell you from my experience living in the UK that I much prefer the US health care system to a "socialized" health care system. But admittedly, that may be because my profession virtually guarantees me and my family comprehensive healthcare coverage.

It really boils down to the classic argument at the extremes of dragging everyone down to the same level to guarantee some level of care or allowing market forces to work and accepting that not everyone will be served well. If it weren't for the suffering attendant to the latter choice, it would be a very easy call for an advocate of free markets like me. If you are going to give comprehensive health care to everyone based on "need", why not housing, clothing, education and employment as well? Why stop at health care? As you can imagine, I do not favor the implementation of this level of socialism. Nevertheless, I do feel that there should be a minimal level of health care for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

Strangely enough, I kind of agree with the fit guy in California to a small extent. If I (a taxpayer) am expected to bear the responsibility (cost) for your health care, why shouldn't I be expected to have some authority over how or why those costs are incurred? I tried to address the problems of uncoupling responsibility and authority previously in my blog here.

When confronted with problems whose alternatives are all less than perfect and whose solutions are seemingly intractable, I fall back on the fundamentals. I'll continue to side with the free market approach of the US that pushes the frontiers of medicine in ways that no socialized medicine system has or can. The benefit for the individual and the group seem to be better that way in the long run.

Tieing One On?

Stephen Green must have been celebrating with his new web host a little too much. He hasn't posted in over 24 hours after being the most prolific poster in this parsec for the last three days.

I Got Your Blog Right Here ...

Steven Den Beste in his magnificent USS Clueless discusses blog desciptors, but never reaches a final conclusion on what kind of blog he, or anybloggy else really is. While many blogs started in response to the events of 9/11 and probably are properly considered to be warblogs, I've yet to run into any blog that holds even vaguely to topics exclusively concerning the war. And if the war should someday be over, do they have to stop being warblogs? Some blogs existed prior to 9/11, so warblog would seem to be quite inappropriate for them, even if their focus changed substantially after 9/11. I've been spouting off for many years, but never had a good way to capture and inflict it on so many others before I discovered blogging a couple months ago, long after the warblog phenomenon began. So warblog is probably not the best descriptor for these pseudo-random, stream of consciousness, fourth wave, open book diaries written for reasons ranging from personal catharsis to vanity.

On a serious note in reply to one topic Mr. Den Beste raises about labels, one of the ways we cope with the vast number of elements in any set is to start pigeonholing them into more compact subsets we can deal with. Some people are better than others at keeping track of larger numbers of pigeonholes, and one's skills at actually placing the pigeons in the right holes tends to vary considerably over a population. I could pursue this further as a basis for various kinds of discrimination, but I'd rather move on to the non-serious notes.

I don't think Mr. Den Beste's blog is an attack blog. Maybe Charles Johnson is an attack blog with his tireless mission as an anti-idiotarian. Maybe I'm an attack blog as the Scourge of Richard Cohen (here, here, here, here and here).

Maybe sites that speak about blogs are blogblogs. And, of course, sites that speak to blogs blogging blogs are blogblogblogs.

Occasionally, when I find some truly useless blog that can do nothing but yap with a high-pitched whine and nip at the ankles of those much more worthy than themsleves, it is difficult to think of them as anything other than a weenieblog.

Personally, I think blog does just fine as a descriptor.

As for Mr. Dvorak complaining that bloggers are just a lot of wannabe writers -- is that supposed to be an insult? Of course I'm a wannabe writer, but I don't let that make me take myself too seriously. And as Jerry Pournelle says, the only way to become a writer, or at least a very good one, is to practice, practice, practice.

Do I smell fear?

It's Not Ev This Time, I Think

I have no way of knowing for certain, but I think the problems with blogging this afternoon may be caused by Amazon or PayPal, not by blogspot.


Great Moments in the EU Leading the Charge

Robert Mugabe's reign of destruction is entering its final phase.

Not wanting to be lonely in his final destination:

On the eve of the Commonwealth summit the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, has lashed out at Tony Blair, telling him to "go to hell" for criticising him in the Commons.

Great Britain as an imperial power. Hmmm, that's an interesting concept.

"What is this latter-day Blair imperialism?" he said. "We will defeat Blair on March 9 and 10. Blair will suffer defeat of his conscience, of his intentions, of the machinations Britain has to this day been displaying in favour of the MDC and against us." Mr Blair should "wash out his dirty mouth", Mr Mugabe said.

And about the EU (or the Commonwealth for that matter) taking the lead on something:

The ineffectiveness of the Commonwealth was underlined again yesterday when the organisation's executive arm - the Commonwealth ministers' action group, which is made up of eight foreign ministers - failed to reach an agreement on punitive measures against Mr Mugabe.

But to be fair, the EU did finally come up with new sanctions this week:

The EU has "finally acted on its threats and slapped President [Robert] Mugabe and his ruling elite with targeted sanctions"

And then there was this suggestion by Peter Tatchell:

The Commonwealth should issue warrants for the arrest of President Mugabe on charges of torture

Why? Because:

After months of prevarication, it is time the Commonwealth got tough with President Mugabe. That means sanctions, not mere words of condemnation. EU-style sanctions are not enough. It is now pretty pointless freezing Mr Mugabe's overseas bank accounts; while the world dithered, he almost certainly moved his assets to new safe havens. Although suspending Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth is of some symbolic value, it won't cause Mr Mugabe any sleepless nights. The most dramatic and effective sanction would be for Commonwealth member states to agree to issue warrants for the arrest of Mr Mugabe on charges of torture, under the UN convention against torture, which has been ratified by 120-plus countries. That would really unnerve him.

Oh yes, more sanctions -- but stronger than EU sanctions! We need to "unnerve" Mugabe, rather than say actually depose him. But then there's always the ultimate threat!

Most importantly, it would signal to him that one day he could be put on trial for crimes against humanity, like Slobodan Milosevic.

And we all know how well that's going.

Shadow Government Lurking in ... the Shadows!

So who thought that Dick Cheney was sitting alone in an undisclosed location all this time checking out the latest blogs?


The Al Queda Empire Strikes Back

Al Queda rises up and fights back in Afghanistan, killing at least one American and wounding others.

One American was killed and a number injured in an assault on Taliban and al-Qaida fighters regrouping in eastern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Saturday.

U.S. officials and Afghan sources estimate 4,000 to 5,000 foreigners who fought for the Taliban and al-Qaida remain inside Afghanistan.

"We've said all along that it is not over ... in Afghanistan and that for some time there would be pockets of resistance," Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Friday.

Senator Daschle, is there anything further you'd like to question President Bush on concerning the direction or spending on the war?


Hell's Angels Vow Revenge on Pagans

Apparently there was something other than a Main Line do in Philly the other day and as the Offspring sang, ya gotta keep 'em separated.

There's gotta be a great line here somewhere regarding the theological battle between Hell's Angels and Pagans, but I can't quite find it.

Downdate: It wasn't Philly but Lawn Giland.

What the Hell Is Wrong With the EU?

Not to be outdone by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, now Gerhard Schroeder has a hair dyeing controversy on his hands. This is worth suing over?

Show The Massacre

I've read a couple times this week that CBS is preparing to show a number of scenes from the carnage of the WTC on 9/11, and that they are starting to catch some flack for it. The opponents are generally opposed on the grounds that the families of the victims and the survivors have been traumatized enough. Strangely, I haven’t read any criticism for CBS trying to compete with Fox with their version of “When Terrorists Attack.”

I’m now on the last chapter of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Civilization by Victor Davis Hanson. In the chapter on Tet, Professor Hanson notes that American actions that were proper in the context of war but wholly unacceptable when viewed from the context of your living room were given lots of airplay and reportage by all facets of the media. Whereas, concurrent outright atrocities by the North Vietnamese were largely ignored or perhaps even suppressed by the media. Of course, this didn’t lose the war, since it’s quite difficult to not lose a war you never set out to win to begin with. But it did contribute to the overall malaise that afflicted perceptions of Viet Nam and contributed mightily to the moral self-righteousness of many opposed to the war. Professor Hanson also notes that broad support for the American Government’s conduct of the war stayed strong longer than most people remember now. There’s an interesting phenomenon to address there as well, but I digress.

Back to the WTC. Given the feelings in this country about the events of 9/11, it is hard to imagine that President will not continue to receive strong support for what has to be done. Disregarding the whack job anti-Americanism of Chomsky, Sontag, Fisk, et al, there is still something to be concerned about. The first cracks in the veneer of US solidarity in the war against terrorism have started to show up this week as some leading Democratic contenders for the 2004 nomination for President and their supporters have started to offer vague unspecified criticisms. Personally, I think if Senator Daschle has an idea or a specific criticism, then by all means he should air it. As Professor Hanson notes many times, the unique ability Western Civilization has of accepting and improving from self criticism is one of the hallmarks of our success. If, however, this is a general non-specific whinge meant to keep his name in the papers while starting to attack President Bush’s approval ratings just for the sake of his own political fortune, then it is reprehensible and needs to be nipped in the bud.

We are coming up on 6 months since 9/11 and the attention of some is beginning to wane. This is going to be a long war. If we are lucky, the war will not have too many periods of high intensity conflict and nothing truly dreadful will happen anywhere in the world. The best way to help assure this is to remain steadfast and resolute in our efforts to eliminate the threat before it can be effected. I don’t have access to Nexus, but I would bet that if someone checked, there will have been substantially more virtual ink spilled since 9/11 over questions and doubts about America’s culpability and actions regarding its conduct than that over the atrocities committed by the terrorists. Showing the WTC video can help remind anyone who cares just how dreadful and tragic the events of 9/11 were and still are.

I fell for those who don’t feel than can or should be subjected to this, but there is a fairly straightforward solution, for them at least. Don’t watch it. As for CBS, I think there are still some things better left to the imagination, no matter how dark. Hopefully they will be able to refrain from the most grotesque displays of carnage while still transmitting the horror and anger. Showing sanitized, standard fare, prime-time deaths without blood or suffering would probably be worse than not showing it at all.

If at this point you think there is some inconsistency in this position and my position regarding the tape of Daniel Pearl, well, perhaps there is. But I don’t think so. Because of the circumstances, we all got to know a lot about Daniel Pearl before he was brutally murdered. We know what his death meant to so many people, while the sheer numbers of all those who were slaughtered on 9/11 leave us numbed. I think it was Stalin who said, “Kill one person and you are a murderer, kill a million and you are a conqueror.”

Friday, March 01, 2002

Megan McArdle of Live From the WTC fame has made my day.

And brought fresh tears to my eyes.

As someone noted about James Lileks the other day, I don't know why I even bother. Just go here.

The 91% Solution

Ok, I too took the quiz.

Drum roll please...........

1. Latter-day Saint (Mormon) (100%)
2. Conservative Protestant (91%)
3. Islam (91%)
4. Orthodox Judaism (91%)
5. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (89%)
6. Liberal Protestant (86%)
7. Atheism and Agnosticism (85%)
8. Theravada Buddhism (82%)
9. Reform Judaism (81%)
10. Jehovah's Witness (79%)

I defy anyone to come up with something quite this schizophrenic, theologically speaking.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. V

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

I’ve heard that good things come in threes. That would explain Richard’s reversion back into standard form with his latest column, titled Joe Klein’s Tear-Jerker.

Back when "Primary Colors" was both a Washington obsession and a national bestseller

There’s no way I have of proving this but I would bet that it was probably just a Washington bestseller, but that it sold enough there to qualify for national bestseller status. I have become accustomed to your difficulty taking note of the 99% of the country that lives beyond the beltway.

Joe Klein and I were driving through the New Hampshire countryside during primary season. Klein, of course, was "Anonymous," but I didn't know that at the time. So when he asked me what I thought of his book, I actually told him: Not much. Served him right.

Richard Cohen – Scourge of Joe Klein. Ha! You’re just a Scourge wannabe. Leave it to the amateurs, like me, who have a passion for it.

Now Klein has come out with another "Clinton" book and all I can say is that it made me sad.

Well actually he goes on for another 679 words, but logic and consistency have never been Richard’s strong points.

It's not -- I hasten to add -- that I did not enjoy reading it or that -- I really hasten to add -- I did not find it informative and well-written.

This column is already – I hasten to add – tedious, and – I really hasten to add – pretentious, using the word “I” four times in one sentence.

It's rather that this book, titled "The Natural," is subtitled "The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton."

Miss Under what exactly would you have preferred? Miss Under the President Stood?

Oh, how wonderful, I thought -- the first revisionist book about the Clinton presidency.

My thoughts could hardly have been more different.

I expected a book that would tell me what I had overlooked, not seen, failed to notice.

Richard, it’s a book, not an encyclopedia, a city library, or

I expected to be instructed in the art of perspective, of where in the scheme of things to put Monica Lewinsky.

Bill certainly knew where to put Monica, in the scheme of things. And his instruction in the art of, uh, perspective, yea that’s it, has already been pretty well covered by Ken Starr.

I wanted that very much because, as anyone who reads my column must know by now, I like Bill Clinton and hate his enemies.

I like him, I really like him! Yes, yes, we know Richard. But this hate thing troubles me a bit. Can’t we all just get along?

It's not that nothing can be said for Clinton.

Well, that’s true. He had a significant hand in electing the first Republican led Congress in 40 years.

He smote the deficit, giving us the first budget surplus in 40 years.

Bullshit. He raised taxes, and that’s about it. Completely orthogonal to any acts he took, the economy took off, driven by low oil prices, the genius of people like Andy Grove, Bill Gates, and Jack Welch, the realization of all the business process improvements over the preceding ten years that made America competitive internationally, and literally millions of smart, motivated people who get out of bed every day, go to work and make business the business of America. I despise the sheer mendacity or stupidity necessary to state that anybody turning the knobs in Washington can cause the economy to take off. At best, all Washington can do is to take off the shackles and let people be free to take meaningful risks and enjoy the reward when they are successful. It was only the massive increase in tax revenues made possible by a burgeoning economy that took off before he took office that made the surplus possible.

He turned the Democratic Party on its heels ...

As noted before, Bill Clinton made the Democrats the minority party in Congress for the first time since Eisenhower was President.

... making it the party of fiscal prudence

Ha, ha, ha! Yes, the Democratic Party, home of those fiscal prudes Sen. Richard Byrd and Sen. Ted Kennedy.

-- he got not a single Republican vote for his deficit-reduction plan –

-- aka, his tax increase plan, with promised spending caps that never materialized --

… and he earmarked the eventual surplus not for tax cuts, as the GOP wanted, but to preserve Social Security.

It’s getting deep in here. Social Security taxes go into the general fund where all money is fungible. If Social Security were a truly separate plan like all other pension plans in the US, it would have junk bond status because of its Ponzi-scheme nature.

Agree or disagree, Clinton pulled it off.

Actually, that would be Monica.

He reformed welfare.

Puhleeze. Maybe I’d give him some credit for following through on a classic New Democrat idea if he hadn’t started bad mouthing it and promising to help repeal it as soon as he signed it.

He did so over the objections of some of his own appointees and friends -- maybe even his wife -- and it seems, so far, to have worked.

So his friends and wife were wrong, right? And so was he for that matter.

He enabled Democrats to talk about personal responsibility and not be vilified as racists or accused of blaming the victim.

Yes, only Republicans are racists.

He got a major increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, a virtual pay raise for many working people

“Virtual pay raise.” What a concept, even if I agree that it’s a good idea.

When he left office, he was beaten to a pulp

No he wasn’t, but he should have been by Monica’s father and a long line of other fathers and husbands he cuckolded.

... yet had the highest sustained job approval ratings since JFK

Bet you won't be able to say that in another couple years.

Can we stop right here and go back to 1992, Clinton's first presidential campaign? We are in the auditorium of a Chicago school, and Clinton is discussing education programs. He talks to the kids.

Boxers or Briefs?

He talks to their parents.

Have you met Terry McAuliffe?

He talks to the teachers.

I know you’ve met Terry McAuliffe.

For each, he has just the right tone of voice, the right approach -- a politically perfect pitch that has us, the traveling press, in awe.

It is always refreshing to hear one of the self-proclaimed fourth estate guarantors of our freedom frankly admit that their vaunted objectivity was horseshit from day one when it came to Bill Clinton.

And Klein is circulating among us, his eyes dancing, his head nodding: See? See?

Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

Klein, you see, was there at the beginning, one of the first to be seduced by Clinton

Now there’s a new angle that hasn’t been explored by the media.

So this new book by Klein is important because few know Clinton as well he does.

And fewer want to, if the stories of Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick are to be believed.

Even after Klein had smacked Clinton around a bit, their relationship continued -- and it continued even after Clinton left office.

Wow! Who knew?

But try as Klein might -- and I assume he tried -- everything Clinton did, his each and every accomplishment, recedes into the gray shadows when Lewinsky enters in blinking neon

Blinking neon? I thought it was in a thong and a blue dress.

Clinton departed the White House on a banana peel.

I’ve never heard it called that before.

It is probably too soon to give Clinton some sort of historical rating.

Oh no it’s not.

… and the role of scandal-addicted and sexually terrified media that have to be factored into the mix …

Sexually terrified?

But my overwhelming feeling was sadness. The brilliance, the talent, the consuming search for knowledge and information, the compassion that oozed from Clinton …

… amongst other things.

"In the end," Klein writes of this quintessential baby boomer, "Clinton's symbolic identification with the pathologies of his era may be destined to overwhelm the real accomplishments of his time in office."

Bill Clinton and all his enablers – you know, the sexually terrified who held him in awe as documented in Joe’s new book – degraded the office of the Presidency as they did their best to build and maintain a cult of personality centered on him. Once they made Bill Clinton their poster boy, the Democrats sacrificed their honor and integrity to support a human slug to avoid the political ramifications of his being impeached. They could have claimed the political high ground for a long time if they had kept their dignity and did what Senators Byrd, Lieberman, and Moynihan initially said needed to be done, but they copped out the man -- and woman. In the long run, do you think Clinton is going to be more ridiculed and despised for the things he said and did as President or the things he said and did as an ex-President? Every time Bill Clinton shows up in the papers now, it just further reinforces what a self-absorbed jerk he is.

How true.

And now people are talking about promoting his chief enabler for President in 2004.

How sad.

No kidding.

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. IV

(Ed. – The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

There can no longer be much doubt that Richard Cohen is aware of my existence. Why else would he generate three columns in a row that are to some extent coherent, consistent, defensible, and relatively limited in their intrinsic silliness. That’s not to say that there aren’t opinions in them that are largely without merit. But I didn’t go to Scourging school for 8 years just to pick on someone with whom I disagree. There are many people with whom I quite often find myself in disagreement, but it takes much more than this to merit a Scourge. The mission of a Scourge is to skewer and deflate the pomposity of a tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, and unable to see beyond the beltway pundit, i.e., Richard Cohen.

The 26 February 2002 column by Richard Cohen is titled Why Daniel Pearl Died.

Daniel Pearl was killed because he was a Jew. Many Arabic media outlets are corrupt and virulently anti-Semitic. Ultimately, government policies caused his death.

That’s a 24 word summary of what it takes Richard Cohen 780 words to say. Admittedly, I left out the references Richard Cohen makes to himself: Richard Cohen’s time in Beirut, the Hebrew pronunciation of Richard Cohen’s name, what Richard Cohen personally knows about Daniel Pearl, that Richard Cohen is a Jew, that Richard Cohen’s mother is a Jew, that Richard Cohen is an American journalist, that Richard Cohen is consumed with anger and sadness over the death of Mr. Pearl, and that Richard Cohen is not irrational in his belief that Mr. Pearl’s death was the inevitable result of policy. And that’s just the first four paragraphs.

Virtually everything else is merely a rehash of selections from the seemingly endless litany of absurdities offered up by the Muslim world these days.

As to the three points Mr. Cohen makes, certainly no one is going to disagree with the first that Daniel Pearl was a Jew. For his second point, if you are familiar with the Gallup poll about Muslim attitudes and beliefs then there is nothing new here. If you happen to have participated in the Muslim poll, then chances are nothing short of Judgment Day is going to convince you anyway. His third point has some potential, but it is effectively just stated flatly. There is no discernable attempt to connect the dots – there aren’t even any dots so far as I can tell.

Personally, I think Daniel Pearl was a target of opportunity that just had too many boxes filled in on his quota sheet. He was a Jew, an American, a reporter, young and photogenic, popular or at least well-known, willing to take risks, looking for trouble in Pakistan, and someone involved was probably familiar with his critical pieces in the past. Take out one of these factors and Daniel Pearl would probably not have been in a position to have been kidnapped and subsequently brutally murdered. Take out two of them and it is a virtual certainty that he would be alive today. I’m willing to keep an open mind and that perhaps Daniel Pearl’s death was the result of cowardly government policies, but there’s no argument here to support that contention.

There is one other statement that Richard Cohen makes at the end that I’m not so sure of. He states that Daniel Pearl was killed for his religion. Is this true? Does the statement “I am a Jew” mean that he is a Jew by birth or by conduct, or both? Would it matter to these monsters? If someone was a practicing Jew but not a Jew by birth to a Jewish mother, would they be thought of the same way by these murderers? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but perhaps someone can help me with this.

All in all, a weak effort in which Richard expresses his feelings about the murder of Daniel Pearl. There is a better eulogy offered by someone else that didn't know him here.

Thursday, February 28, 2002
My Apologies

I feel like I am letting someone down because I am not able to get to Richard Cohen this evening, and today's was a doozy! With all these new links, and presumably new visitors, I feel very badly about this. I even had one loyal reader call me a slacker because I did not post yesterday!

But dear readers, do not despair. I have recorded the words of Richard Cohen this week and begun making notes. Frankly, Mr. Cohen had me worried since he had written three consecutive columns that at least made some sense, even if I did not agree completely with them. But today, he's back to being the tedious, knee-jerk, pretentious, self-serving, unable to see beyond the beltway Dick who needs a thorough Scourging. I suppose I could try to slog through it now, but I'd really rather wait until I have the time this weekend to do justice to my task as the Scourge of Richard Cohen. The typos are getting frequent and my vision is getting blurry, so I must stop now. Real life is interfering with blogging...


Another Canape?

What if we could convince Stephen Green of VodkaPundit fame to toss aside his fetching fiance' and try to woo Natalie Solent of nataliesolent fame. Then she could be Natalie Solent-Green.


See, I Told You That You Can Buy a Thrill

The Professor noted today that Tony Pierce is auctioning off a chance to be blogrolled on his fine site. Bidding on E-Bay is now up to $15.50 for this chance of a ... month-time.

I have a vision of Miles putting the pipe in his mouth and telling Joel, "I don't have to pay for it."


I Can Picture Him With the Engineer's Hat On Now

Well, If they are going to shut down Amtrak anyway, perhaps $0 would be a better budget number.

By the way, everyone knows that Michael Dukakis is in charge of Amtrak now, right?


He Said, He Didn't Say

Ari Fleischer blames Clinton for Mideast violence.

Ari Fleischer does not blame Clinton for Mideast violence.

While I don't think you can lay it his feet, he certainly didn't help matters much as he strove for his leagcy burnishing Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Just imagine if Dick Morris had told him that rooting out terrorists would get him the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1997.

Maybe He Should Start a Blog

According to Roll Call today, Senator Ted Kennedy has been:

keeping a record of his own memories of the momentous events of the last four decades - taking notes during key meetings and dictating into a tape recorder at the end of particularly significant days - that will enable him to put his stamp on history someday.

I can't wait.



Another strong argument in favor of the death penalty.

Just When You Thought He Couldn't Say Anything Worse

According to this item on the Wizard of "Is's" world tour of Australia:

Clinton to dedicate life to redistributing world's wealth

He is becoming a sick parody of ... himself. What does he think he is, the ex-President of the EU?


Camp X-ray Prisoners Start Hunger Strike

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.


Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Stop it, you're killing me.

Sherriff's Deputy Training, Sir!

With apologies to Sgt. Stryker for the title, this was a dreadful story. I read another account that said the two soldiers thought the deputy was part of the exercise and tried to disarm him. If that's true, then his killing one almost-Green Beret and wounding another without being wounded himself at least speaks highly of his training and composure under stress.

It's still tragic for everyone involved.


It's A Glamour Profession

And now Moira Breen of Inapproporiate Response has made me one of her bi-weekly blog picks. I am truly humbled and still further honored. That's 8!

Only A Fool Would Say That

The biggest conceit of the "peace dividend" was that once the Cold War was over, there wouldn't be any more enemies.

Of course, if that were true then Marx would have been right to begin with regarding human nature.

Congress Attacks II

Senator Daschle is going for broke. I think he realizes that he's going to have to take some big risks if he wants to win the Democrat's nomination for President.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, in remarks immediately assailed by Republicans, said on Thursday there seems to be "expansion without at least a clear direction" in the administration's war on terrorism. "Before we make commitments in resources I think we need to have a clear understanding of what the direction would be," the South Dakota Democrat told reporters, reflecting a growing Democratic concern.

Not to be outdone in anything, no matter how stupid:

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, promptly replied: "How dare Senator Daschle criticize President (George W.) Bush while we are fighting our war on terrorism, especially when we have troops in the field?

Let's just declare him Caesar now, shall we Trent?

But then Sen. Daschle ends up by addressing the need for the expansion of the war and the clear direction that was so lacking when he started this train of thought:

The Senate majority leader added, "We've got to find Osama bin Laden, and we've got to find other key leaders of the al Qaeda network, or we will have failed. I think that it's critical that we keep the pressure on. We do the job that this country is committed to doing," Daschle said. "We're not safe until we have broken the back of al Qaeda. And we haven't done that yet."

One can only hope he wasn't trying to chew gum at the same time.


Congress Attacks!

Democrats in Congress have decided to start floating a trial balloon to see if Pressident Bush is vulnerable on the "war thing." Note the age and susceptibility to defeat of the people quoted in the article today. If this doesn't work out too well, they can always back away without too much damage done.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, grilled top defense officials at a budget hearing about the lack of an "exit strategy" in Afghanistan, their failure to capture al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and a widening global campaign against terrorists that seems to have "no end in sight."

Sen. Byrd is primarily angry that the $48B increase is not going to end up as some new monument to government malfeasance named after him in West Virginia.

Byrd and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) -- pro-defense mavericks who are staunch defenders of congressional prerogatives in foreign and military affairs -- focused on the open-ended nature of the war and its growing cost. "If we expect to kill every terrorist in the world, that's going to keep us going beyond doomsday," Byrd said. "How long can we afford this? We went [to Afghanistan] to hunt down the terrorists. We don't know where Osama bin Laden is or whether he is alive or not. We don't know where Mullah [Mohammad] Omar is hiding. . . . When will we know we have achieved victory?"

Senator Byrd may now be added to the growing list of people who don't seem to have a bleeping clue that the war on terrorism has to be fought on very different terms than anything we've been through before. In one sense, we may never achieve victory.

"We've got a deficit and we know it will exceed $350 billion," Hollings said. The administration, he said, seems to be arguing, "Since we've got a war, we've got to have deficits -- and the war is never going to end."

Why defense spending may reach 4% of GDP soon! Why that's almost as high as it was in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected President. Somehow, I think the cause of the deficit lies elsewhere.

Sooner or later, Hollings said, "this town is going to sober up."

Hmmm, they really do make it too easy sometimes.

"It would be a mistake to interpret the silence in the wake of September 11th as a sign of approval by all in the Congress of these unprecedented actions," said Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.), ranking minority member of the Armed Services subcommittee on research and development. "The administration's proposals raise very serious questions in the minds of many members on our side."

Well, that would be an improvement from the very stupid questions that normally take up their day.

Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.), another missile defense critic, said after the hearing that the Democratic barrage had not been coordinated beforehand.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Rule 1: I Don't Want To Catch Anybody Not Drinking!

Damian Penny took the philosophers test but needs help interpreting his results, claiming that he spent too much time drinking instead of thinking in college:

I was drinking when I should have been studying philosophy, so if someone can enlighten me as to what all this means, I'd appreciate it. (I do note that I'm the only blogger whose beliefs aren't 100% in line with Ayn Rand's, though.)

He obviously missed the point that one is supposed to be drinking AND thinking while in college. Perhaps Monty Python can help him understand what it all means:

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out consume
Shoppenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya
'bout the raisin' of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
on half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away,
'alf a crate of whiskey every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
and Hobbes was fond of his Dram.
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

Andrew Better Not Have Car Trouble in Alabama

As Andrew Sullivan credited the fine vivisection of Matthew Engel by James Lileks, he wrote:

It dissects the Guardian’s recent foray into Alabama (to report on all those moronic Yanks).

Having lived in Alabama for nine years, somehow I don't think they'll cotton to bein' called "Yanks" by Andrew, even if'n he was tryin' to be nice and all.


America, Why Are You So Hated?

By now everyone has read about the Gallup poll of the Muslim World which revealed that their tenuous grasp on reality has snapped. I guess that a finding that:

Sixty-one percent said they did not believe Arab groups carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks.

leaves me not giving a damn what they think.


Everything's Zen, I Don't Think So

What is the sound of one blogger posting?

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Richard Cohen Gets a Stay

Due to family commitments, an unscheduled dentist appointment, my boss flying into town tonight, and blogspot being slower than molasses, I am unable to bring you today's scheduled installment of the Scourge of Richard Cohen. I'll try to let him have it with both barrels on Thursday. Double your pleasure, double your fun.

An E-Mail From My Friend Buzz (With Whom I Am Definitely Not Through)

In response to my post below ending with "Sound familiar?," Buzz writes:

Yes, very much so.

If the two people in the discussion don't know each other very well or have never discussed the topic in question before, then the charge of "not being open-minded" usually says more about the person making the charge rather than the one being charged. And what it usually says is the person making the charge probably has a somewhat selfish and definitely uncharitable attitude to the other person in question. After all, how, exactly, is the person to know if the judgment just made by the "closed minded troglodyte" is based on unthinking prejudice or well thought out reasoning over many years, or someplace in between?

I agree with you. Having an open mind should mean you are willing to accept facts or reasoning that might contradict something you hold dear. The ancient understanding of philosophy is nothing more, or less, than the life dedicated to striving to see, clearly and gratefully, with the eyes of innocence, what is already given. But even acknowledging this last, seemingly obvious statement requires a certain humility or humbleness of spirit to appreciate. This is an attribute which is most certainly not universal among mankind, which may help give a real answer to your rhetorical question above.

He's A Crowd Pleasing Man

Steven Green of VodkaPundit fame linked to me today and said some kind words in an e-mail. To the best of my knowledge, he's the first to notice the blog and link to it without me pinging him or her first. It's possible that Andrea Harris of Ye Olde Blogge beat him to it, but I cannot really be sure. And Damian Penny of Daimnation! and Iain Murray of The Edge Of England's Sword have linked to me as well, so I've gone international! I think that's 7 now that I know of.

I'm not much of a vodka drinker, so I poured myself a wee dram of 19-year old Caol Ila Single Malt, to celebrate my success. To date, I've not invested much time in learning HTML, so I haven't made any modification to the blogspot template. Since I lack a web counter, I have no idea how many people have visited the site and whether they love it, loath it, or linger somewhere in between. Without the template modifications, I also cannot reciprocate the links, yet. But, feedback from about a dozen bloggers and a few friends has been encouraging and blogspot seems to be down more than I'd like, so I've taken Charles Johnson's advice and I've got my own website under construction. Until it is ready, I'll continue to post here.

As to the title of this post, if Mr. Green is going to get obscure with his Steely Dan references in a fine Columbian story, he's going to have to do better than this. Perhaps Damian can testify that one can, in fact, buy a thrill. Any major dude will tell you.

Sine Qua Non Pundit -- Missing Points Since ...

After posting the next item about Iain Murray's TCS article, Iain took me task task a little for missing the point. He's largely right, but then so am I, I think. Incidentally, I've edited the last post to replace "win a free television from Lloyd Bridges" to "win a free autographed picture of Lloyd Bridges" which at least makes a little more sense with the hyperlink.

Even if the NY Times editorial page writers were making a point that both happenings are extremely rare, they were still unable to get their statistical inference correct. I just tried to demonstrate why. If the NY Times cannot get the little things right, why should we believe them on the big things?

Monday, February 25, 2002
It's Harder Than It Looks

In today's Tech Central Station, Iain Muray has his inaugural "Dubious Data Awards." Mr. Murray does an excellent job of demonstrating some silliness on the part of the media regarding the hysteria concerning shark attacks last year. But, at one point as he is critiquing the NY Times over its coverage of shark attacks, he gives the Times credit for noting in an editorial that:

During the 1990s, when only five people were killed by sharks, 28 children were killed by falling TV sets. The Times editorial mentioned above concluded from STATS data that, loosely speaking, "watching 'Jaws' on TV is more dangerous than swimming in the Pacific."

But this doesn't seem quite right. According to the US Census Bureau, there were 60,253,375 children under the age of 15 in the US as of the last census. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that we can compress ten years of statistics into one year, and that 1 of those 5 people that died in shark attacks were children. For the sake of a little less morbidity, let's further assume that instead of dying due to a television falling on them, 28 children a year get a boo boo on their finger from a television, and instead of dying in a shark attack, 1 child a year who goes swimming in the Pacific Ocean wins a free autographed picture of Lloyd Bridges. I'm going to take a wild guess and suppose that, on average, at least 50,000,000 of these children watch television on any given day. It further seems likely to suppose that children who got a boo boo on their finger from a television were probably amongst the set of children watching television sometime during that day. So the odds of a child getting a boo boo on their finger from a television on a given day during the year are about 1 in 651,785,714. Now if one child swimming in the Pacific Oean won a free autographed picture of Lloyd Bridges during the year, then on average, for the odds of a child getting a boo boo on their finger to exceed the odds of a child swimming in the Pacific Ocean winning a free autographed picture of Lloyd Bridges, it would require that at least 1,785,714 children go swimming in the Pacific Ocean each day. Does this happen? I don't know. Perhaps on some days that number goes swimming in the Pacific Ocean, but every day?

Either way, my point is that it is far from obvious that this is an example worth celebrating as a good use of statistics in journalism.


Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I’m curious. Does anyone else get a strong sense of revulsion at seeing a new headline on the Drudge Report about every 24-36 hours about another Palestinian gunman killing civilians?

Here's a Couple People With Open Minds

Iain Murray and Tristan Laughter.

Didn't Ayn Rand Think Immanuel Kant Was a Real Piss Ant

From The Edge of England's Sword, Iain Murray posted this website that offers a short test to determine your philosophical predilictions. Iain claims to have nailed his pretty accurately with:

Kant 100%
Mill 97%
Rand 97%

Mine came out as follows:

Rand 100%
Kant 88%
Cynics 77%
Plato 75%
St. Augustine 69%
Prescriptivism 64%
Spinoza 62%
Mill 58%
Sartre 58%
Hume 56%

Not exactly what I would have anticipated, so I guess it's back to reading the inscriptions at Delphi for me.

It's a fun little quiz. Try it.


You Think He's Ever Heard of Salon?

CNN Executive Sees Fees for Online News.


Does Robert Fisk Have A Pseudonym?

There isn't enough time in the week to perform a vivisection on this hideous beast.

They Wouldn't Print It If It Wasn't True

Andrew Sullivan and the NY Times weigh in on blogging. Andrew gets it, the NY Times doesn’t. No surprise there. The NY Times really misses a lot of key elements of blogging. But, in my humble opinion, the worst is the last:

But even among those whose Weblogs have gained notoriety, there are some who see this trend as ephemeral. Take Mark Hurst, who created a Weblog,, in 1999 that he said attracted thousands of readers. Mr. Hurst, the president of Creative Good, a Net consulting firm in New York, eventually stopped posting daily remarks on the Web site and instead simply e-mailed a compendium of comments to a subscriber list that now numbers nearly 50,000 people. "If you want to communicate with people, e-mail it to them," Mr. Hurst said. "Don't force them to come to your site every day to read what you've written."

Blogging is a user-driven pull media, like a library, not a vendor-driven push media like direct mail. The obvious correlation on the web is that I will visit your site if I choose to go there - this does not constitute a hardship. Perhaps Mr. Hurst misattributed his loss of readership to the difficulty of making two mouse clicks. Bloggers don’t want to have to sift through on overloaded inbox every day with all the really interesting offers to make one part or another of their anatomy grow unnaturally to find something they are looking for. If everyone else did what Mr. Hurst does and sent their unwanted, and better left unexpressed thoughts, to me, my inbox would become worthless. Kind of like receiving all the unsolicited snail mail for my entire 5 digit zip code every day.

Ah Yes, Principle

The Washington Post notes the actual effect of the the Incumbent Protection Act:

As legislation to overhaul campaign finance laws nears final passage, leaders of both parties have launched all-out, last-chance drives to raise millions of dollars in "soft money" donations, which may become illegal by year's end. Their pitch to deep-pocket supporters is hardly subtle: Write us a big check now before the door closes on such political generosity.

Go to the article and note the look on Terry McAuliffe’s face. Doesn't he look just a little crazy here? What do you think he's looking at, and is this what a shit-eating grin looks like? The caption to the picture says:

To raise money, the DNC's Terry McAuliffe is promising potential donors perks traditionally reserved for presidential election years.

Donate now and you can be invited to this Z-List event:

And while Senate Republicans and the Republican National Committee are waiting until June to hold major fundraisers, Senate Democrats hope to collect at least $4.5 million this week at their annual dinner featuring party-switcher Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.).

Hope there aren't any future Enron's on that donor list. But like the US Marines, the DNC will adapt, improvise and overcome:

They are also undertaking "an education process with our donors," Palmieri said, explaining that large donations now will help the party adapt to the new campaign finance regime. McAuliffe plans to enlist the aid of potential presidential hopefuls in his fundraising drive. Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who chairs the Senate Democrats' campaign committee, said of the fundraising efforts: "I don't know if we can get any more intense."

Wanted: Politicians we will benefit from the latest “campaign finance reform.” Incumbents only need apply.


Whither Zimbabwe?

Lot's of news today.

From an unspecified source:

The University of Zimbabwe released results of a poll of urban and rural voters yesterday showing that some 20 percent of respondents intended to vote for the opposition Movement for Democratic Reform (MDC), 11 percent intended to vote for the ruling ZANU-PF and 60 percent refused to say how they would vote. Before the university could release further information, police banned researchers from further discussing the poll's results. Meanwhile, in an effort to increase security ahead of presidential elections scheduled for next month, the government has begun withdrawing troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

And then hot on the heals of this news, the Times reports this:

PRESIDENT MUGABE is said to be planning secretly his escape route out of Zimbabwe after his private polling predicted he could be defeated in next month’s elections. Fearing that his opponents might try to jail him before he had a chance to slip into exile, Mr Mugabe reluctantly agreed that overtures should be made to opposition rivals. The question remains where Mr Mugabe, who is thought to have suffered a recent stroke, will choose for his exile. Richard Cornwell, of the South Africa Institute of Security Studies, believes that he will elect to stay in Africa, even though he has cultivated government leaders in Malaysia, Thailand, Cuba and North Korea, among others. “African leaders are trying to persuade him not to rig the elections on March 9 and 10, and to go peacefully if he loses,” Mr Cornwell said.

But then, we also have this report from the AP:

The head of Zimbabwe's main opposition party faces charges of high treason after he was questioned by police Monday - less than two weeks before presidential elections - over allegations he plotted to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, his lawyer said. Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was questioned for two hours at a police station in Harare before being told the charges would be pressed, said his lawyer, Innocent Chajonda. He was then released and told he would be summoned later. In Zimbabwe, high treason is punishable by death. ... Last week, the European Union, frustrated its election monitors were hampered in doing their work, imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe and with drew the observers.

The EU continues to lead the way. And the US and now Canada will follow according to Damian Penny:

Canada edged away on Monday from the idea of applying Commonwealth sanctions against Zimbabwe in the near future, saying it wanted to see to what extent President Robert Mugabe interfered with an election set for next month.

Perhaps those in charge are too busy to read the papers.



When German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the U.S. was treating Europeans like "satellites," do you think he'd just finished listening to XTC?


Professor Hanson Lets Loose With Both Barrels

In two very strong articles today, Victor Davis Hanson makes it clear what he thinks about our "allies" in Europe:

Yet in the past six months, our European allies have been frittering away almost all of America's past positive sentiments toward the continent. After the European reaction to the aftermath of Sept. 11, I doubt seriously whether America would wish to intervene as we did in 1999 in Kosovo. Should there be chaos in the Aegean, should there be a falling-out between Russia and Eastern Europe, should there be a missile attack on a European capital from Iran or Iraq, should China make demands on the EU, there would now be zero support in the United States for the use of American troops abroad. As we have seen — thanks to Europe — Article V of NATO now means little, if anything. Nor is this growing reluctance to aid Europe a return to American isolation or knownothingism. Americans in contrast feel strongly about their obligations to Japan and Latin America, and their thawing relations with India and Russia. So the problem is not with us, but with the Europeans. And if the dividends of their new utopian and increasingly unfree EU are what we've seen in the present crisis, it may well be that we can only remain friends by being allies no longer.

... and our "enemies" in the Muslim world:

So a neighborly bit of advice for our Islamic friends and their spokesmen abroad: topple your pillars of ignorance and the edifice of your anti-Americanism. Try to seek difficult answers from within to even more difficult questions without. Do not blame others for problems that are largely self-created or seek solutions over here when your answers are mostly at home. Please, think hard about what you are saying and writing about the deaths of thousands of Americans and your relationship with the United States. America has been a friend more often than not to you. But now you are on the verge of turning its people--who create, not follow, government--into an enemy: a very angry and powerful enemy that may be yours for a long, long time to come.

Not much pussyfooting about here.


Picking Up Steam

On NRO today, Bruce Bartlett has an article on the changing nature of perception of Enron. Two paragraphs in, Bruce writes:

The first piece that caught my attention was by Richard Cohen, normally the Washington Post's most reflexively knee-jerk liberal columnist. So it was surprising to see Mr. Cohen defend former Enron chairman Ken Lay from the "verbal mugging" he just received before a Senate committee.

Bruce left out tedious, pretentious, self-serving, and unable to see beyond the beltway. Nice try, but Bruce is going to have to do better than that to displace me as the Scourge of Richard Cohen.

Caveat Emptor

Today's BOTWT offered the following item:

Red Alert
Harvard is hosting a "professor" from a Cuban "university," the Boston Globe reports. Although Mario Coyula-Cowley is happy to be making $50,000, rather than the $35 a month he made in Havana, he complains: "'There are too many choices. You go to the supermarket and there are 80 different kinds of cereal when you're just looking for oats. Or you make a call and you end up talking to a machine when you're looking for a person. Your health plan covers some drugs, but not others; in Cuba, it's all free." He might've added that you get what you pay for.

That last point is debatable. But I've found that "you don't get what you don't pay for" is usually true.

Sunday, February 24, 2002
Its Not the Legacy, Stupid

Tim Blair posted this article with the latest installment in the Wizard of Is's world tour.

Speaking at the 2002 World Congress on the Peaceful Reunification of China and World Peace in Sydney, Mr Clinton said this "brief moment in history" when the US had pre-eminent military, economic and political power, would not last. "This is just a period, a few decades this will last, and I think that all of us who are Americans should think about this and ask ourselves how do we wish this moment to be judged 50 years from now," he said. "And how would we like to be treated when we no longer have this pre-eminent position and we have to work in a cooperative fashion with others to a far greater extent than we have to do today.

This is so telling. While most of us are getting on with our lives and trying to figure out how to deal with terrorism, Bill Clinton is absorbed with what people will think about it as they reflect back in 50 years. Is this some truly twisted take on his legacy? While he's right that America won't stay on top forever, since nothing is static in nature, it is difficult to imagine any previous president of the US predicting the decline of the US within his lifetime. And I'd much rather focus on bringing the rest of the world up to our level than trying to drag the US down to theirs.

Bill's looking 50 years ahead, so lets' look 50 years back. After winning WW II in an epic struggle for survival and then struggling with the Korean War, would Harry Truman have ever said anything like this? What on earth is Bill Clinton thinking?

I Don't Mean That!

Have you ever been in a discussion with someone and been accused of not being open-minded because you made a judgment that is critical of something they’ve just said? Why is it commonly assumed that having firm beliefs that require making moral and ethical choices and judgments closes your mind? I always thought that having an open mind meant you were willing to accept facts or reasoning that might contradict something you believed or held dear, not that you must take a dogmatic approach that ignored or shunned facts that were inconvenient. Sound familiar?

What, Me Worry?

Remember MAD? Mutual Assured Destruction. Sure you do, it was in all the papers for years. It was the rationale behind the buildup of the massive nuclear weapon stockpiles of the US and the USSR (and the French, British, and Chinese). Sort of a literal implementation of overkill. Notwithstanding the current discord between the newest members of the nuclear club (Pakistan and India), all the members of the bounce-the-rubble club have been working to reduce their stockpiles in recent years to adjust to the new world order. While there is still an overwhelming capability to destroy an awful lot of civilization, we all seem collectively to be moving in the right direction. This is a good thing.

And then came 9/11. We may soon have to deal with the same paradigm with a different set of players. In Operation Desert Storm, I believe that the threat of using nuclear weapons was kept on the table in the event that Saddam resorted to the use of any of his chemical or biological weapons against our troops. For whatever reason, it seemed to be OK as long as Saddam used them against the Kurds within Iraq or in Iraq’s war with Iran, but I digress. After the anthrax attacks, a number of reasonable people began to wonder if we would be prepared to use our nukes if they turned out to have a state sponsor or source. If things start to look bad for him and Saddam starts lobbing SCUDs at Israel again, only this time with biological or chemical weapons on them, what then? If we are unable to locate the launchers, how far are we prepared to go to stop the attacks? My God, what will the EU say? If Dear Leader starts lobbing Taepo Dong-2 missiles at Japan, would we be willing to go medieval on him? My God, what if our ships are no longer able to dock in New Zealand? And if we did, would all the evil-doers then pull out every stop and let loose everything that is hiding in their Pandora's Box of evil? And how would we then respond to that?

Reports are that the US is running out of JDAMS and other materiel necessary to sustain the kind of conflict we've had in Afghanistan. Is this the practical consequence of the oft-mentioned degradation of the US's military capability? Could this cause us to move unconventionally if our hand was forced, and we couldn’t respond as we’d like to?

Granted, some of this is just scare-mongering hyperbole. But if we are dealing with people who are willing to die for effect, doesn’t MAD seem to fit the description of where we are heading? If we fail to kill every evil bastard willing to visit great harm upon us because of our unwillingness to use every weapon at our disposal, then will the terrorists have won?


I'm Sure Glad This Isn't My Responsibility

I know this shouldn't be an issue for a while, but what happens if a major hurricane starts to bear down on Guantanamo Bay?


O, Canada!

Congratulations to Canada for winning the Olympic Men’s Hockey gold medal today. Can't wait to see Damian's celebratory post, though he'll have to buy his own beer.

Several posts have been whinging about (or is that aboot) Canada's lack of Olympic success in hockey even though they invented the game. Until the introduction of the ESPN X-Game events in the Olympics, baseball and basketball are the only Olympic sports/events I can think of that were invented in the US, and the Brits would probably give us an argument on baseball with cricket or rounders. Where a game was invented means nothing as it relates to sustained international success, or at least not for long, just ask the Brits about cricket or soccer. And if your lament is based on your lack of success despite having so much of your national energy devoted to it, then perhaps the problem is really something a little different than you imagine.

Have You Hugged a Blogger Today?

My annual subscription to the Economist costs $125. I enjoy the Economist for a lot of reasons, including their intelligent, comprehensive view of the world that I can digest in less than 2 hours each week; their in-depth surveys on topics of interest; and their wry, dry, shaken -- not stirred --sense of humor. Come to think of it, I get much the same enjoyment from blogging, although it is virtually on demand, rather than via snail mail on dead tree. And any topic of interest can be pursued in greater depth immediately via the Internet, usually with helpful hot links the authors provide. This would seem to be a valuable service, and yet I haven't spent a dime on it thus far.

Almost all the good blogs out there appear to be done for the love of the sport rather than the filthy lucre, which is a good thing since according to the professionals out there, Ken Layne, Matt Welch, and Tim Blair, the beans ain’t all that bountiful. The only person who seems to be successful at this so far is Andrew Sullivan, but even with his level of success it might be hard to sustain one’s self on that alone. There doesn’t appear to be any available info on any blogger's level of success using PayPal, the Amazon Honor System, or credit cards directly, and while most of the better blogs include a method of helping the author out financially using one or more of these virtual middlemen, since it is strictly on a voluntary basis I'd wager that not a lot of cash is changing hands. Even the heavy hitters of Blogland probably don’t get enough traffic to sustain themselves on any subscription model similar to that tried by Salon, even though the content of a non-significant number of blogs is appreciably better than Salon. Joanne Jacobs wove a thread with some excellent links for a while that dealt with micro-payments as a way to fund these activities. Bottom line, if anybody is looking to survive by feeding blogs, they should keep their day job – or get one.

At least a little help is on the way. Since I value the blogs I frequent at least as much as my subscription to the Economist, I’m going to start donating $10 a month for the greater good of the blogosphere via PayPal. I'll just think of it as my monthly Blog Subscription fee. Which blogs, and how much of the $10 each month will go to them will be subjective and variable from month to month, and there's no reason I can think of to make any of it public. But, if I can make someone out there who damn well deserves a pat on the back feel a little better about the time and energy they commit to this enterprise, then it will have been worth the cash. Hey, I’m not trying to solve any of the great problems in the world. I’m just letting anybody whose interested know that there are people out here who care and value their contributions more than the 15 seconds it takes to send a congratulatory e-mail. And if this post can help encourage anyone else to do so, then so much the better.


I’m Shocked! Shocked to Find Censorship Going On Here!

China censor’s Bush speech. Hmmm, which freedom do you think they took most offense too?

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