Monday, November 25, 2002

WhoseTen Commandments?

Politics makes strange bedfellows. Tonight I'm ready to sleep with Pat Buchanan and a bunch of Southern Baptists. The controversy revolves around the Ten Commandments. The courts command that these simple words represent an establishment of religion, and thus must be purged from our public places.

Would anyone object if The Code of Hammaurabi were posted on the courthouse steps? Of course not. And that's 282 laws, also inspired by a God, name of Marduk. Magna Carta is already posted in many courthouses, and is considered the basis of our codified system of laws, and was promulgated by a King with Divine guidance and permission, not to mention authority. But it's not in the Christian Bible! The Ten Commandments are, and the display of ANYTHING that is in the Bible will cause... what? Morality might break out?

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all recognize these laws as holy commandments, it's true. And the Hindus make do with only seven, but those cover the same territory. Buddhists never complain about religion, as they eschew even the existence of an almighty being, and mostly keep their opinions to themselves, but there is not a single commandment that is not congruent with the teachings of Gautama, or the Tao. So is it who must be protected? With the possible exception of the rule against adultery, who would contest the fact that these are (at least nine) rules that we could all use?

In a courthouse, of all places, display of the precursors of the laws that are upheld therein are completely appropriate. Are the Atheists and Secular Humanists really offended by this material? Why? and, more important, why should their offense to these simple rules trump the greater need of all of the rest of us to believe in something so grand?

This case is not over yet. If the Governor backs the Judge, and the marshals are given the order to remove the Ten Commandments, what will G.W.Bush, born-again Christian, do? Those Marshals work for him.

It sounds to me like we might have a little clash of civilizations right here in the good ole U.S.A. Actually not. One civilization, against so-called progressives who eschew the thought that there could ever be a being greater than themselves.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Kabul Recovers. Slowly

The people of Kabul, a place I know well, are some of the most self-sufficient in the world, living in a laissez faire economy that the most devoted libertarian would love... in theory. All of these American Randians and Anarchists, Posse Commitatus and Harry Browne Libertarians, have a philosophy that sounds really good to the really fit. Survival of the fittest always has sounded like less of a good idea to those who feel a little more, well, marginalized. Now, go and read how those under the margin deal with it. They actually seem to be holding up quite well, considering, but they could use a little help.

These people are just like you and me. Racially polyglot, but primarily white skinned, dark haired, proud people (There is a theory that the Pashtuns are descended from the Jews). They know that the world owes them nothing. They make do with whatever they have, and thank God for what little they can obtain. Many live on bread and tea. And they survive, some even thrive, under conditions that would make many Americans commit suicide.

Our Army on the scene is ready to help with the reconstruction of the infrastructure. Yet president Bush remains uncomitted to this. It is the one area where the democrats are ahead of the president in the war against the anticivilization contingent. The Pentagon says:
"Since September 11, I think everyone understands that we have a stake in the future of Afghanistan that is not simply nation-building for the sake of the Afghan people, it's security-building to prevent terrorists from returning," the senior official said. "That's not a mission we ever thought about before for the United States.
Meanwhile in Congress, they voted $3 billion for Afghan reconstruction, more than Bush asked for, and much more than he seems intent upon spending.

We, who are so fit, who have so much, must make a bigger contribution to the plight of the Afghan people. Whether through charity (my choice) or encouraging our government to spend more (which should warm the heart of all of you liberals out there) we, who consider ourselves so civilized, must make a greater contribution. Just read this excerpt:
But much of the internationally pledged aid has yet to materialize, Baz complained, while tens of thousands of Kabulis remain in highly vulnerable conditions that will only worsen this winter. At least 100,000 of them, like Kandi Gul, are squatters living in abandoned ruins that provide little more than shelter from the wind. "My son spends all his time looking for work, and I'm too old to go out," said Gul, whose relatives recently squeezed into one room so an even more desperate family could share their drafty abode. "We have no future here, but we don't have enough money to go back to Pakistan either," she said. "Only God is keeping us alive ."
Whether from enlightened self interest, or a personal desire to show a little rochmonis, we all have to do something. Anything. And soon.

... [Update] Dan Hartung of lake effect has some suggestions on where to send money. I republish it here without comment or endorsement other than to say that I have no reason to doubt Dan.

There is relief, and there is reconstruction. The choice is every individual's to make, of course, but here are a few:

Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund from the World Bank link

America's Fund for Afghanistan's Children, the one trumpeted by Bush during the war last fall, and administered by the American Red Cross; for the most part it has purchased food and supplies which are sent there. link

US-Afghan Reconstruction Council is a clearinghouse that lets you direct your funds to specific regions of the country or aspects of reconstruction. link

Afghans 4 Tomorrow is a group representing professional class Afghan expats, which sends most of its money to schools. link

If corruption is your main concern, think in terms of tangibles -- school supplies aren't very convertible, for instance. Construction of things like highways and buildings isn't going to be corruption-free (nor is it, necessarily, anywhere), but at least a highway can't mysteriously walk off.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Freedom vs. Order

There is a great debate today between republican conservatives and the libertarians and young conservatives who gave them the power that they have today. As a person who believes in freedom, it pains me to say that my side is about to lose this debate. Power is about to trump freedom, and the conservative movement will be the loser.

On one side we have the social conservatives, supply side, free market conservatives, and old time Republican party hacks like Rush Limbaugh and Bishop Hatch. These people are the ones who reflect the current republican party future. On the other side are the young conservatives, who can not bring themselves to be called conservatives or even republicans, but so abhor the democrats that they refer to themselves as libertarians. Add to that believers in small government and constitutional freedom who find a lot more to vote for on the libertarian side of American politics, but would rather vote for a republican winner that a libertarian loser. This is the group that is about to realize just how great a mistake they have made.

In the end, the republican party is a party of statists, who, just like the democrats, feel that there are a host of problems that can be cured if only the government, THEIR government, has a little more power. There are differences here, but, from where I sit, they are trivial. The big idea is that, in order for the government to acquire more power, we the people must give some up. Today Jonah Goldberg outlines how we should be happy that we are as free as we are, which, to me, sounds just like the argument that slavery was a wonderful transition time for the blacks, since that is how they paid their passage to the New World.

It may be a disappointment to see what a statist Goldberg has become, but it is not that at all. He his showing his republican feathers at the time that his party has achieved great power. The republican agenda is heavy on prayer in schools, restricting a woman's freedom over her bodily functions, and military strength as a route to world domination. Now, don't get me wrong. I like world domination. Especially when it is my side that dominates. But, like sausage, the process of its genesis is unpalatable. Mandating weapon systems that the military doesn't want and abandoning old allies who become less useful as time goes on are all a part of world domination, and it sucks. Sometimes I read Harry Browne describing how we should have stayed out of the wars of the 20th Century and it sounds right. Of course, as a Jew I applaud the entry of the U.S.A. into WWII, but as a rational thinker I realize that his thesis is correct: if we had sat out the 2 World Wars, Korea, and Viet Nam, we would be a much freer and safer people today.

In the same issue of National Review Randy Barnett explains that the republican party should give a little more of what libertarians want. Fat chance. Bush is every bit the statist and prohibitionist that Clinton was. His agenda of military conquest is incompatible with personal freedom for Americans, and his determination to pursue a war without end promises to give the government more power every year it continues, whichever party is in charge. For there is very little difference between the two great national parties.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

How I Dealt With D.A.R.E.

My son is now in the sixth grade, and had some problem with DARE, when the program was offerred in the fifth grade. He claimed that they made him act out scenes where he was made to feel like an idiot, such as wearing his clothes inside-out and acting out little passion plays where drug users were caricatured and lampooned. He also reported that the police officer who ran the class was not telling him the truth, as his mother and I had related the truth about drugs to him. I did a little research and found out that the program is permissive i.e. they must seek out parental permission, by law. They did not do so at his school and, I gather, rarely ask for this legally mandated permission. I went to the school and presented them with a letter revoking "any implied permission" for his participation in the DARE program. Not surprisingly, they complied immediately, asking no potentially embarrassing questions.

The result has been entirely positive. Every time the DARE officer came to his class, he was released to the library, and was able to do his homework. His classmates were jealous, as I was able to hear on one occasion. And the experience made him proud of his dad for sticking up for him, which any parent of a pre-teen boy can use a little of. The other parents I discussed this with mostly gave me an "attaboy," plus some of "where did you find the guts," but none followed suit, so far as I know.

My own objection and fear about the DARE program is about the misrepresentations and lies that the police, who are the instructors of the program, spread regarding drug use. The children were told that ALL drugs are bad, and are not medicines, which are good. Not explained, and left for the impressionable young to find out for themselves, is that this is a bald lie. Medicine would be in the stone age if not for Morphine, and my State (Washington) is one that has made Marijuana legal as a medicine. Some kids in the class take Amphetamines for certain learning disorders and discipline problems, etc.

When will the Drug Warriors realize that lies just don't cut it in the real world. I will bet anything that my son will be better prepared to deal with the realities of drugs than any kid whose parents allow the schools to render instruction on this very important subject in an untruthful, immoral way. My son's teacher explianed to me that she considered my wife and me to be her "partners" in the raising of my child! It is frightening to think that there may well be parents who have turned the raising of their children over to the Secular Humanist teachers, and also to Police who are not trained or credentialed to teach children.

What is so wrong with telling a child the truth? Such as, drugs make you feel good, and usually will not turn people into homicidal maniacs upon first use. What is wrong with relating the truthful reasons that drug use is bad, and must be avoided if at all possible? I can truthfully relate to my sons that drug use starts out as a pleasurable moment, followed by falling grades, inability to achieve one's goals, and ultimately to jails, institutions, and an early death. This way, what I tell them will be verified by what they will eventually see in the schools that they will attend as they get older. They will be armed with the most powerful tool for dealing with life: knowledge. The truth. I believe that my sons can make the right choices if they are armed with the correct tools with which to do so. Telling kids that they will turn into thieves and rapists upon smoking their first joint will not survive their first contact with a non-raping, non-stealing marijuana user. Moreover, knowing that I told them the truth about first use will encourage them to believe what I told them about further use. Some of these kids have already told me that DARE was a joke. I believe that drug abuse is very serious. I can not allow something so serious to be left to teachers and cops, especially when their approach is based on lies and making jokes about drug users. And that is what DARE is apparently all about.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Was J.F.K a Dope Fiend?

Slowly, historians extract bits of information about major figures, and the past acquires more and more context and texture. Now we hear about how:
Racked with pain, President John F. Kennedy turned to a cornucopia of drugs - including painkillers, stimulants and anti-anxiety pills, his secret medical records reveal. Historian Robert Dallek got unprecedented access to documents from the last eight years of JFK's life for his upcoming biography, "An Unfinished Life." He found that at various times Kennedy took codeine, Demerol and methadone for pain, the stimulant Ritalin and anti-anxiety drugs meprobamate and Librium
Some may be sanguine about this, but today, anyone who is on uppers, downers, and tranks, all on the same day, is considered a "dope fiend," a term of art meaning someone with a very significant substance abuse problem. Barbiturates and methadone, in particular, have come under federal regulations over the last few decades that would put anyone who is being prescribed such a pharmacological regimen under Drug Enforcement Administration scrutiny. A single doctor prescribing these three substances to a single patient today would very likely lose his license.

Now, personally, I think that these government regulatiuons over cognitive freedom are obscenely intrusive and unconstitutional, but I wouldn't hire a person taking this melange of dangerous and addictive substances to manage my mail room, let alone to a position where his judgement would make a difference to the profitability and survival of my company. Now I can understand why JFK played russian roulette with all of our lives in his handling of the Russian missile threat in Cuba. The Testosterone alone is nototious for its psychotomimetic properties, causing a condition called in the vernacular as "'roid rage'" meaning a certain volatility of behavior. Add to that uppers in the morning, tranks in the evening, seconal at night, and methadone all day and his substance abuse really explains a lot. To me at least.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

What Next for Afghanistan?

Regular readers of this space know that Afghanistan and its people inhabit a special place in my heart. The Afghan people are warm and kind to strangers, regardless what you may have heard. They are not war mongering loonies, just people like you and me who want nothing more than to be let alone, to live their lives and raise their children. But today, they are being left alone by the West, and our worst fears about the region may be about to be realized. As we learned in Viet Nam (did we really learn?) one can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to failing to support our friends.

It isn't even money this time. After Taliban fell, the international community pledged billions of dollars in aid to the war-ravaged country. But the Bush administration is failing to lean on our allies to ensure that they pay up. The result of this penury may be a disaster, not only in the region, but for all of the enemies of Taliban and al Qaeda world wide. The results of the recent Pakistani elections were a disaster for freedom loving people everywhere, with religious fundamentalists winning widely, but especially in the border areas of Baluchistan and the Northwest Territory. President Musharraf may be in mortal danger, as he has survived six assasination plots already. An Islamofascist government in Pakistan is bad news for us, but worse news for Afghanistan, as the loonies taking over in Pakistan feed the insurrection in that impoverished land. Which would bring us right back to where we were last year, with total lawlessness giving our enemies a base from which to operate against us.

Reports from the once and future war zone are not encouraging, unless you are a Taliban fan. And it seems that, rather than a return to Taliban rule, the long sought Pashtunistan may now become a reality. In case you are wondering, that means a country made up of the south and east parts of Afghanistan, plus the western part of Pakistan, with Pakistani Nukes and North Korean missiles to deliver them. If you liked Taliban, you're gonna love Pashtunistan. And its happening right now, because we in the West refuse to pay the bills for food, medicine, and a few roads and bridges, plus of course an army and police force for the Afghan nationalists currently in power in Kabul. Exactly one year ago, Indian columnist Rajinder Puri wrote this:
Hordes of Pushtuns stream into Afghanistan from Pakistan to fight the war. A bigger number streams into Pakistan from Afghanistan to escape the war. With each passing day the Afghanistan-Pakistan border gets more blurred. It could soon disappear. If that happens the ethnic realities of Afghanistan will assert themselves. A government, any government, imposed on Afghanistan by outside powers, would then start to fall apart. The world will recall and recognise that Afghanistan is an artificial nation. Different tribes, speaking different languages, in a remote and rugged territory, were cobbled together into a nation. This was done at the end of the Great Game played in the nineteenth century by Imperialist Britain and Tsarist Russia pursuing their respective interests.

As a medieval, tribal Afghanistan, battered by history, staggers into the twenty-first century, nationalist aspirations are bound to assert themselves separately in the various ethnic groups. The Pushtuns are Sunni Muslims with a tribal history that precedes Islam. They are known as the Beni Israel ? the sons of Israel. Israeli researchers of the Amishav Organisation, investigating the Diaspora, have confirmed that Pushtuns are ethnic Jews.

The Pushtuns inhabit southern Afghanistan up to the Hindu Kush mountain range that divides it from the north. They are most densely clustered in the Jalalabad and Kandhar regions. The Taliban do not reflect the Pushtun ethos or attitude. But with the help of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, they have used terror to usurp power and subvert Afghanistan.

The Pushtuns have a long and honoured tradition of money-lending that is anathema to fundamental Islamic tenets. The true icon of the Pushtuns was Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, compatriot of Mahatma Gandhi. He demanded an independent Pushtunistan free from theocratic Pakistan. As the big powers led by America attempt to create a modern, multi-ethnic Afghanistan, they will eventually confront a resurgent Pushtun nationalism. The world might then have to reconcile itself to the division of Afghanistan.

This is a tragedy in the making, that is of such importance for the world that it can not be underestimated. The cost of this thing only goes up. As they say, pay now, or pay (much more) later. The Afghan people do not want a continuation of war, or the breakup of their country. A little help today might save us an awful lot later.

(For a more detailed vision of the post Taliban South Asian and Middle Eastern world read this.)

Friday, November 15, 2002

Nancy Pelosi, Conservative Catholic

That's what she said. In liberal San Francisco, says the new democrat leader of the House of Representatives, she is seen as a liberal conservative. This is the level of veracity that we can expect for the next few years. This from a pol with a 100% rating from the liberal interest groups. I have always said that anyone with a 100% rating has a serious neuronal deficit. If one's brain is plugged in and the switch is turned on, there is a tendency in human mentation for a certain variation, an individuality of thought. There is no difference, in my view, between political and religious fundamentalism. The fundamentalist mind set betrays a loyalty to a movement that requires the abandonment of independent thought. The requirement is a commitment to a set of "beliefs" that allows no questions, or variations from a rigid set of committee determined norms. Fundamentalists do not allow, in themselves or in others, independence of thought.

How does such a mind deal with unique situations? Isn't this the basic reason that the left has been unable to deal with the Terror Threat? On 9-11 we were presented with an event that challenged us all with a sea change in the world as we had come to know it. Until September 10th, 2001, we had been starting to believe that history was over, that war and endless conflict had been replaced with prosperity and long life. Our great problem for the new century was going to be bringing the more benighted parts of the world up to our exalted level. A movement was brewing to conquer and civilize Africa, for God's sake! And now, all of a sudden, we have to grapple with being under attack. With a paradigm shift in which the citizens of the most powerful and safest nation in the world were the targets of a new kind of warfare. And the liberal fundamentalists had no idea how to respond. Love, peace, and happiness were no answer to bloodthirsty fanatics that were eager for entry to their whorehouse heaven, and the ticket that they needed was our blood on their hands. Independent thought was needed. Pelosi and her ilk are incapable of independent thought. Their herd mentality could only think to run, hide, and blame themselves.

The right, in its response, answered with a strategy born of its own fundamentalism, to be sure. G.W.Bush is a religious fundamentalist himself. But that is a debate for another day, and I have written about this before. But for the purpose of this essay, suffice it to say that we can thank God that the right's impulse to smite their enemies was exactly the right response. Irrespective of how it was arrived at, the only way to fight a foe who has the moral certainty of a religious fundamentalist is with a little moral certainty of our own. We must fight, or we surrender. Liberalism wants us to negotiate with the monster. Nancy Pelosi, the new leader on the democrats, is the poster girl for liberalism. The American electorate must, and shall, deny power to such a mindset. Choosing Pelosi may prove to have been a tragedy for the democrat party. It certainly gives We the People a clear choice.

Thursday, November 14, 2002


Since I decided to profile, in this space, some of the lesser known blogs I have been astounded by the sheer quantity of great work that is being done out there. I for one am not surprised that this body of work is done by hobbyists; the opposite is true. Hobbyists are not hacks, and have little entrenched interest to protect. When a blogger screws up, well, he just screws up. There are no editors to complain about it, no subscription department to threaten one with Armageddon. We can't be fired, but we do have to live up to our own expectations, and I, for one, have a very high standard for myself. That is why we are so quick to issue corrections and link to alternative points of view. If the work doesn't stand up, so what... just blog on. (I never remove a post to this site) Learn and grow, get better, or not. Maybe practice makes perfect, maybe practice makes permanent. But one gets plenty of practice writing a blog!

There are, of course, quite a few bloggers who maintain their blogs in some measure to support, by symbiosis, their regular writing gigs. But even there the work has a quality that the paid word can not surpass. Compare the blogs of, say, Lilleks or Sullivan with their paid work. Very different, more relaxed, still more the flavor of a hobby than a career. And, there's nothing wrong with a certain mixing of one's hobby with one's career. I, for instance, have begun instituting blogs as a communications medium in my real career. I have no dreams that anyone will be paying me for my writing, at least not for a very long time, and lots more practice. (Now, if I could only learn how to type, I could practice more!) But I have no compunctions about taking what I learn here and making a buck on it. I do, however, have somewhat of a problem with trying to make money here. Maybe I would if my stuff was a bit better. I don't mind if others manage to make some dough. I have been known to leave tips, and have bought a fair few books through bloggers' Amazon accounts. But one can go too far in the quest for the legal tender. For a sample, click on over to Daily Pundit. Please. I know that Bill can use the money, and he has threatened to stop blogging if he can not figure out how to make a buck at blogging. And, if you know what you are doing, the ads on Bills blog are optional anyway. His blog is not. I stop in at Daily Pundit every day.

Jim Miller's Political Blog has one of the best, most concise roundups of the most popular, or, at least, the most necessary blogs out there, here. Those offerings which I choose to review here, in this space, are the more esoteric, deeper, less necessary but more enjoyable.

Can We Believe DebkaFile?

I have been reading DebkaFile for years, and have found that their reports have mostly been correct, but a little edgy. I am loath to accept things that I read there unless they are confirmed in other, more mainstream, sources. But they have been consistently reporting, for weeks now, the presence in Iraq of American and British forces. In recent posts here and here you can read about battles raging in the Tigris and Euphrates valley, and their coverage of this and similar actions go back to September 20th. Items such as this
One Iraqi response to heightened US-UK-Iranian military activity in the southeast has been to set fire to the marshes. The flames seething under the surface have produced belching black clouds that are carried by wind south and east to threaten an ecological disaster on a scale recalling the Kuwaiti oil well fires Saddam set in 1991.

The black haze limits visibility for US spy satellites and reconnaissance planes tracking Iraqi troop movements, impedes US-UK aircraft and helicopter bombing sorties against Iraqi forces and obstructs airborne support for the US-led ground forces in the field.

Our sources in Tehran report that the black smoke has reached Iran’s southern oilfields and is slowing down production.
are typical. What are we to make of such reports? Debka is shielded by references to "our sources in Teheran" and "Debka's military sources" so they have plausible deniability (has that statement become a cliche already? Thanks, Ollie.) and can not be taken to account for what they say. Other sources, such as Strategy Page point to the "operation Early Victor '02" exercise, which allows that 1400 U.S. troops are in the region, but seem to account for their location as being within Jordan. The mainstream media cover this subject not at all (if I missed something, let me know. So, what are we to believe?

For one thing, Debka accurately revealed the presence of American and British special ops troops in Afghanistan long before anyone else had the story. But they also had Chinese soldiers fighting on the side of the Taliban, and foresaw a million man Russian Army prepared to enter Afghanistan. If the Chinese were there, I have not read of it elsewhere, and if a million Russians were planning to be peacekeepers, they ended up staying at home.

What is clear is that Debka is either a source for intelligence, disinformation, or misinformation. Take your pick. probably all three are true from time to time on this site. Still, it can make for interesting reading....

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

What Are The Democrats?

I was pondering just this question when I came upon this piece by Joe Klein in Salon this morning that gives more than a few clues as to the answer. The article is in the form of a letter from Klein to Robert Reich, who last night on O'Reilly was beside himself trying to get Bill to define "Left" for him, as if he himself didn't know. The short form: today's democrats exist solely as a counterpoint to the republicans. The Democrats are, at least lately, a coalition of leftists, socialists, unionists, and so-called "new democrats" who are really well at home among the republicans, but just can't bring themselves to say so. Thus, when Klein says:
Some say move left. Some say move right. Both are right and both are wrong. If we're to have a vaguely interesting national debate, the Democrats have to move forward—away from the boring, tiny, and tactical issues, and language, and interest groups that the party has championed in recent years. This will mean a change in style as well as content. Above all, it will mean an extremely risky change in focus from the beloved and reliable geezers to the edgy, cynical, apathetic young people. The electorate has to be expanded. But the most valuable cache of votes isn't to be had in the poor neighborhoods....
What he is revealing is that the donks will say and espouse more or less anything that will allow them to tap into a suitably large group of voters.

Meanwhile, Klein admits that:
The Republicans are never so masochistically introspective; they never seem to question their essential beliefs, even when they get clobbered
which means that Klein recognizes that the GOP does have a core set of beliefs that vary little, whether they prove to be tactically effective or electorally disasterous. Of course, flush with last week's big victory, expect the pack to move incrementally toward the right. Don't, however, expect that they will abandon any of their core constituency groups, the way B.J.'s DLC abandoned the hard left and the welfare moms.

Still, it is gratifying to see the sort of self-flaggelation that the dems are going through today. Thank goodness that such advice as this
Last week, Nancy Pelosi—the very sort of political anachronism the party should studiously avoid—launched her campaign for House minority leader with a self-delusional whopper: "The Republicans are the party of the special interests," she said. "The Democrats are the party of the people." What nonsense. It was the Democratic Party's obeisance to its special interests—specifically, to the public employees unions, the trial lawyers, and the AARP—that helped lose the election. Organized labor forced the party's disastrously witless position against the homeland security bill. The trial lawyers insisted that punitive damages be included in the terrorism insurance bill. The AARP has backed the Democrats' foolish and expensive prescription drug plan. (The Republican plan, which targets only those seniors who can't afford to buy their medicine, is, literally, far more progressive—as you know, Bob, a version of this plan has been successfully implemented in Massachusetts.)
will be ignored by the party leadership.

The disaster for the democrats was engineered by those who valued electoral tactics over core beliefs. It seems that we can expect more of the same. It's a good thing, too. Otherwise, the party could splinter into its various constituencies and, thus fractured, would no longer stand as an effective opposition to the republicans. If the right had the nation in the same kind of control vise-grip as the left has had for the last few decades, the effect would be just as bad, IMHO.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Weepy Docs Prognosticate

A group of British political doctors, who call themselves Medact, predict over four million casualties in any war with Iraq, according to Reuters this morning. I mention it here not because I question their motives, although I do, and not to question their competence to make this prediction, although they admit on their web site that they are incompetent to make this prediction, but rather I wonder how it is that such a meaningless press release is made public by Reuters and Yahoo news, and has already been picked up by Cox News service, and no doubt will receive much wider distribution as time goes on.

If you read the press release, all you will find is a depiction of a worst-case scenario, in which Iraq launches a WMD attack on Israel "and perhaps other countries," and receives a nuclear retaliation from Israel, or perhaps another country.

Medact, the British affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, is in no way qualified to make these predictions. They boast absolutely no experts in military strategy on their staff, but declare that they are an organization dedicated to spreading information on "the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare." If we need to listen to doctors bloviating on this subject, do we need to allow Mayor Rudi Giuliani to perform surgery upon our appendix? Or get General Al Haig to do a root canal on one of our molars? I guess so, since these are the same people who protected B.J.Clinton's right to act as a gynecologist upon interns in the White House. If doctors can do politics, politicians must be qualified to do medicine.

In fact, no one is qualified to make such predictions. There are too many variables to even make an educated guess. This is just a story that they are telling. Why do they stop at four million casualties? I'll tell you why. They are in denial about the Iraqi threat. Their judgement plan can only see our side using the nukes, and refuses to factor in the much greater probability that the Arabs are the ones most likely to use nuclear arms. One nuke in New York or Washington could easily blow their prediction out of the water, but illuminating the reality that the world is facing today is not the point of this organization. Only white Christian western civilization is capable of such destruction, in their world view. This we know. What we will find out, in the next few days, is which news organs are willing to be complicit in their pacifist campaign. The only problem with pacificism is, it presupposes that one's foe is civilized. Our's is not.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Character Counts

Neil Cavuto on Fox News made a statement at the end of his show tonight that is priceless. It's too good to excerpt, so I quote it here in its entirety.
Simpleton. Moron. Twisted syntax. Dumb ideas.

Those were some of the kinder things said of the president. Not "this" president. I'm talking president Ronald Reagan.

He was also dismissed as an intellectual lightweight.

He was also lampooned as a puffed up idiot.

He was also crazy like a fox.

You'd think the so-called intellectual elite would wake up. The people you dismiss today have a way of running circles around you later.

I'm not taking sides here, just making a point. When arrogant people make disparaging remarks, watch out. They're not only rude, they're wrong. And they're mean.

Did Ronald Reagan ever once rip their syntax? Did he ever once make fun of their predictions, or once demean them for their views?

The same applies to President Bush.

After all the hurtful things written and said, did he ever once call them clueless? Ever once call them vapid? Ever once call them not up to the job? No, he did not.

Here's something the elite don't get, but the good people of this country do.

Character counts. Being decent counts. Understating yourself counts. Trudging on when others are carrying on counts.

Not boasting, or carping, or criticizing, or demeaning, or snickering -- all that counts.

This isn't a Republican issue. Or Democratic one. This is a human issue.

Tables have a way of turning on those who think they know, but don't. Versus those who say they don't know, but do.
Members of the intellectual elite that Cavuto references in the piece should take this to heart, but they won't. Cavuto, like Bush and Reagan, are beneath the radar of those who consider themselves the elite. These men are far too decent to be counted among the elite. Far too real. These elites consider themselves better than the rest of us. But they are not better. Just separate.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Election News: The Good and the Bad

Now that the election is over, we can sit back and ponder the good, the bad, and the ugly news in American politics contained in the election results. First, the good news. The B.J.Clinton wing of the donkey party is the big loser, so therefore we should be hearing less from the likes of Terry McAuliffe and B.J. himself, and more from the looney left part of the party represented by Ted Kennedy, Charles Rangel, Barney Frank, and Hillary Clinton herself. The donks will have to be true to their base, which is a most appropriate appellation considering that their appeal is to the baser instincts of humans such as class warfare, serving the "victims" and "minorities," (such as women and women, who are neither a minority nor victims), and depicting lovers of freedom and a return to constitutional government as lovers of pollution, death to all non-farmyard species, and a certain glee at the suffering of the downtrodden.

What's so good about this "good" news? In my opinion, this turn of events shall serve to afford the American electorate a cleaner choice between the parties, a rhetorical divide that has been blurred in this last decade of minimal difference between the donkeys and the pachyderms.

The bad news is that, with the donks moving to the left, the packs will be free to pursue their true desire, which is a bigger, more powerful government of their own design. Today, Jonah Goldberg in gloating over his party's victory, says
The first thing the GOP should do is get the homeland-security bill and the terrorism-insurance stuff taken care of right away.
In case you forgot, the Homeland security bill will create the largest federal bureaucracy ever conceived, and "terrorism insurance stuff" is code for taking an insurance product that is available on the free market and attaching to it a government program with a bureaucracy to determine "fair" rates and subsidize the premiums.

If there is a philosophical difference between the democrats and the republicans it is too subtle for me to discern. At most there is a difference of style, which is, in my opinion, put into the debate as a way to attract votes, rather than a philosophical desire to make government smaller or to make our people more free.

And that's what makes it so ugly. these are our choices. Any candidate that is attractive to someone like me is marginal at best. Even when a good candidate manages to get elected, it is only a matter of one or at most two re-election campaigns before he is submerged into the incumbent party, or, like Jesse Ventura (who is far from my ideal candidate) retires before he becomes part of the problem.

I will have to be satisfied with an election result that is less bad than we might have had. And I am. Very much so.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Pre-Election Day Musings

As I sit here on the eve of the 2002 elections, I can't help but wonder what it all means. Whether the Donks extend their lead in the Senate or lose their plurality by one seat or two, does anybody really see a diffeence? OK, the passsing of control to the GOP will grease the skids for some judges to be confirmed. But history shows that the party in power can not predict how its nominees will perform once ensconced on the federal bench. The single party that almost all of our elected legislators are members of is the party of incumbency. But:

All of this needs to be taken in context. In Reason magazine online this month, there is an article about the different approach of the government to violent crime. England is about to take steps to protect the public:
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government plans to combat crime by extending those "restraints on personal liberty": removing the prohibition against double jeopardy so people can be tried twice for the same crime, making hearsay evidence admissible in court, and letting jurors know of a suspect’s previous crimes.
Wow. They already have repealed the right to refuse to testify against yourself, they have video cameras everywhere, run by and managed by the police, and they are amassing a DNA databank of as many citizens as possible, with a goal of getting DNA on file for "everyone."

So we can quibble about the lack of choice in our elections. But, with that magnificent document, the Constitution, to protect us from the venal, self serving members of the incumbent party, no matter who we elect today, it could be a lot worse.

Friday, November 01, 2002


Over 200 years ago, Scottish historian Alexander Tyler, studying the Athenian democracy, made these observations that have always fascinated me, for their (hopefully mis-) application to today's America:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again into bondage."
It is to be hoped that Tyler's observation will not finally apply to our great nation. But when one looks at today's fight between those who would vote themselves largesse (the Donks) and those with their finger in the dike (us) it would seem to be an evenly matched battle.

Today's leftist actually believes that they have no ideology, that their wholesale reclassification of huge groups of Americans into a victim class worthy of largesse from the public treasury is pure common sense. The fact that the poor and the downtrodden do not benefit from cash giveaways is lost on them. I saw a black leader on television last night forced to argue forcefully that his people were inherently inferior, in that they could not succeed without cash and affirmative action.

It is a sad state of affairs, and I don't know what the final outcome will be. But make no mistake; leftists and other enemies of freedom believe that they are right, and that it is we who are the evil ones. They believe that any trick or device is warranted in the pursuit of their vision of equality, which I call class and race warfare. They believe that any wrong has a government solution. Not a community solution. Not a religious solution. Not a family solution. If a teenager misbehaves, if a family is poor, if the public schools fail, these misguided fools actually believe that the government can fix things. The fact that government has failed over and over again to fix anything remotely like this does not convince them of their folly.

They must be defeated. That is why I support Republican candidates for office. I seldom agree with them. But they are the only contenders for power who support even limited freedom. They are the only party that recognizes that there is evil extant internationally that must be stopped. When I watch the Clintons and their ilk at a memorial service, delirious with the power that the death of their friend may bring them next Tuesday, I fear for the future.

Strange as it is to hear me say it, vote Republican. Please.

Blog Reviews

The blogosphere is a crowded place, with a lot of great stuff to read. While the Professor is a great place to start, there are tens of thousands of blogs and other sites that are worthy of eyeball time. Almost all blogs have a blogroll of sites that the writer recommends, but there is very little context, so one is left to following links, or going to sites that are dedicated to review. My readers don't come here for reviews, you come here for a fresh look at issues. In that vein, I plan to present here, from time to time, a review of sites that I consider outstanding, and well worth your time. Feel free to submit sites to me that you think might be worth a look and, if I agree, I will spread the word. I'm looking for sites that are not only excellent, but new or little known. That said, allow me to present:


This site is apparently from Amsterdam, with a decidedly economic and European point of view. If you like to read about European politics through the lens of economic policy, you will love this blog. While the writer, "qsi," bemoans his increasing verbosity, the site is peppered with wonderfully concise observations, like:
And with any politically-driven process, rational economic decision making, as it might happen in a free market, goes out the window in order to advance the Grand Schemes of politicians.
There's an excellent exposition of the reasons why the Euro is doomed:
The strains on the euro have been there right from the start, but tectonic plates of European politics and economics are close to producing an earthquake. It's not going to be the Big One yet. To throw in the towel so soon after the euro's creation is politically unthinkable, even if it were economically rational to do so.
Here you can read examples of how a nominally capitalist liberal democracy, such as Holland's, can stumble on their lawmakers' incipient socialism, such as this:
In a an amazing display of economic illiteracy, the Dutch Labour party proposes a new law that would force banks to maintain branches in rural areas. The wave of rationalization and consolidation means that many smaller branches are being closed by the big banks. In a mind-boggling display of statist thinking, the Labour party want to force banks to keep a minimum of branches open, with at least one branch per three kilometers or 10,000 inhabitants.
There is plenty more here, such as the impending crackup of the Pin Fortyn government, a nice bit on how the Saudi economy is about to implode. All of this comes with a plethora of links, and a strong dose of good humor along with all of the good sense. Very well written, if you can put up with his English strain of english, with their propensity to screw up all of the collective plurals. While I would dispute that he is verbose, he is prolific; if you click of the link, be prepared to read the whole thing.