4/05/2003

Number one reason to watch Fox News: "Fair and Balanced" coverage.
Number two reason to watch Fox News: Embedded reporter coverage (absolutely amazing!).
Number three reason to watch Fox News: Laurie Dhue
Andrew Sullivan weighs in with his take on the John Kerry "regime change" comment. He's right that:

The issue is his use of the term "regime change," as if the democratically elected president of this country represents an identical type of government as that which exists (at the time of writing) in Iraq.

But I think the right is still missing what is most objectionable about Kerry's comment. "Regime change" was absolutely stupid but no one can really believe that he wants the American democracy changed to an Islamo-facist dictatorship. Frankly, I think our emphasis on this makes us look absurd.

The real problem with Kerry's remarks is his willingness to echo the idiocy of the anti-war protestors. Kerry's has been trying to position himself as the Democrat who is most qualified to lead America internationally. Yet his use of the anti-war crowd's most extreme rhetoric puts this seriously into question. This is what our attacks on Kerry should focus on. Can we really trust someone so linked to these intellectual lightweights to guide future stages of the war on terror?
"Think about the irony . . ."
-Homer Simpson

Stupid flu. First time I've gotten it in years, but what pisses me off is this is the first season I received a flu shot.

4/04/2003

17 days.....that's all it took. Unreal.
Excellent article in today's Washington Times by Diana West discussing the lunacy of the Arab World's pathological hatred of the West. She writes:

Terrorists? Weapons of mass destruction? Never heard of them. "The U.N. has proven this claim is not true," another PA imam went on to say — to lie, actually. Mosque analysis has it that the American-led war is not just a so-called oil grab; it is also a campaign to put an Arab chicken in every American pot. The United States is "enduring now an economic crisis that nearly finishes it," the same imam added. "Hence it has no choice but to start a war . . . to raise the American standard of living." Maybe when British troops are done handing out water bottles in Basra, they could be redeployed to Main Street, U.S.A.
Then there's my personal fave: the "slap in the face which Iraq gave America." This is said to have occurred during the first Gulf War, when, the imam explained, "Iraq gave a knock-out [punch] to America, the result of which was that Pharaoh the father [the first George Bush] lost the presidency."


Both the left and the right see the importance of winning the hearts of the people of that region. Yet the left's (and Europe's) solution, solving the Palestinian "question" relies on the assumption that Arab anger, even if unjustified, is based on a reasonable analysis of the situation. Margaret MacMillan, in a good piece in today's National Post, implies as much in an examination of the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict. She writes:

Can the Middle East ever settle down without solving the trouble in Israel? It seems highly unlikely. Great powers helped to make the present dreadful conflict in Israel. I suspect that only another great power, this time the United States, can do anything to sort it out. And until it is sorted out that conflict will continue to poison relations not just between Arab and Jew, but between the Middle East and the West.

But what if, as West contends, Arab hatred is not based on logic but on a bizarre view of the world totally separated from reality? Can a people who truly believe that Jews were behind the trade center bombing or who make The Protocols of the Elders of Zion a made-for-TV movie hit really be convinced to accept a fair solution to the "occupied" territories? And more importantly, would any solution to this particular conflict really end Arab hatred for the West?

I'd argue no. Pathological hatred like that in the Middle East, hatred devoid of any basis in logic, is never the result of specific crimes that can be remedied and is instead something far more insidious than a simple conflict over land. It is a people lost in a world that exists only in their hate-filled imaginations where Jews and Westerners conspire to keep Muslims from their rightful greatness. As such, seeing Israel as the path to regional peace falls short because it portends to find a solution within the contexts of this alternative universe. Instead, as we are starting to do in Iraq, true peace will only appear once this fantasy realm is destroyed and Arabs are willing to accept the realities of the world in which they actually live.
The absolute stupidity of some people just amazes me.
Virginia Postrel is absolutely right:

"Come to think of it, if you're old enough to be a POW, shouldn't you be old enough to drink without a fake I.D.?"

Private Lynch "fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition," and yet can't have a beer when she gets back home.

Sad.
Frank Sensenbrenner points to the "Pithy Aphorisms" of the Ayatollah Khomeini. This is some really funny stuff. He sounds like a paranoid and possibly high Yoda.

First some gems to live by:

"We cannot reform our country unless we first reform ourselves."
"You correct yourself, your country, too, becomes corrected."


And on foreign policy:

"We would surely destroy all arrogant powers if we could have the power to do it."
"We have no fear of the superpowers. While we have no access to man-slaughtering weapons, our faith impels us not to be afraid."


So why do you hate the America so much?

"All of our distresses are caused by America."
"Our entire misery is by the hand of America."


But what about Israel?

"Our entire troubles come from America and Israel."

Thought those dirty Zionists were at fault somehow.

Economics:

"America wants you for your oil, wants you as a market, to take away the oil and sell you junk!"

And then there's some things that are just bizarre.

"Much of the men's services is due to women."
"Whenever one says "I", be sure his 'I' is evil."

BBC: Mosque may change name

A mosque named after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein could undergo a name change at the end of the war in the Gulf.

Amazing that this sort of thing even needs debate.

4/03/2003

Great list in the Daily Standard of some of the more ridiculous questions from foreign journalists at the daily CENTCOM briefings.

My favorites:

Kathy Shin (ph) of Hong Kong's Phoenix Satellite TV: On the second day of the operation, the coalition declared they have Umm Qasr secure. But a statement got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by the Iraqi information minister and with the pictures they have been showing us at the briefing indicates the coalition only targeted precisely on the military infrastructure. But Iraqi and also--Iraqi, as a matter of fact, Iraqi health minister said that the coalition have killed many of their civilians. So could you tell me who is telling the truth here and is this war all about image building?

Augusta Policinski (ph) of Polish Weekly: Do you receive information about increasing movement of antiwar protesters around the world? Does the information change your decisions, influence your decisions?

James Forlong of Sky News: Do you accept, given the footage that we saw today of the hearts-and-minds operations going on, the immense damage to that that incurs when incidents such as this checkpoint shooting take place? And do you also accept that a contributory factor to that may be that U.S. forces on the ground simply don't have enough experience of this sort of policing operation within an area like this?
The Command Post, which had its 1,000,000th hit today, has a new section on North Korea.
Nice! Rob Neyer, my favorite sports columnist and a guy, as they say, who's forgotten more about Baseball than I'll ever learn, says the Red Sox will win it all this year.
I agree that UN should have a role in Iraq after the Coalition pays the price in blood and money for its liberation. But I think that an issue of this importance requires lengthy negotiations and at least two Security Council resolutions.

4/02/2003

The strangest thing about reading about this war or watching it on TV is the references to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These are the rivers that you read about in history books associated with the dawn of civilization. They are names from the ancient past, but now they aren't ancient history, but simply rivers in a war zone. This makes me think about a few things. First, I wonder what a resident of Ur would think watching the 3rd Infantry fly by (the most primitive civilization and the most advanced). Second, while our technology has improved, we are fighting wars, just like the Sumarians were (6000 years and still no peace in the Middle East). Lastly, this is something of a coming of age for us (overthrowing a government in those river valleys) because most world powers throughout time have ruled this land at one point or another.
I keep hearing these stories of buses of suicide bombers and other people wanting to fight for Iraq traveling into Iraq. Why are we (or are we) letting them in? It seems to me if they are coming into Iraq to fight us, they are enemy combatants and subject to fire along their way to Baghdad.
Sen. Jim Bunning said this today about Peter Arnett:

"I think he should be brought back and tried as a traitor to the United States of America, for his aiding and abetting the Iraqi government during a war."

OK, either Bunning is playing this brilliantly, or he’s missing the whole point. We absolutely should be outraged, but we definitely shouldn’t try Arnett for treason – it would scare the rest of the pro-Iraq wackos back into hiding. No, left-wing nutjobs like Arnett and De Genova are wonderful for the right as other, more rational anti-war activists (I suppose there are some) are then forced to either reject one of their own or be tied by their silence to these absurd statements. If Bunning is just trying to fan the flames raging against Arnett, great, but I hope he’s not serious about prosecution. Come on Peter, talk more!

To paraphrase a common left-wing argument: “Every idiotic statement by the left creates a hundred new Charles Johnsons.
I finally got through the transcript for the UM affirmative action oral arguments. I'm not a fan of racial preferences, but I'll leave the full analysis to those more qualified. That said, if you see racial diversity by itself as a clear objective of higher education, affirmative action can be defended constitutionally. This position seemed to be that of Ginsburg and the rest of the left side of the court.

I, however, don't see the benefit of diversity as an undeniable fact but instead an opinion, however widely held, much like the benefit of generations of alumni and diversity of political thought. Once you accept that this is an opinion and views can be held on either side of the issue - even if the vast majority of Americans would hold one side as clearly wrong - affirmative action becomes illegitimate as we've said that, unlike discrimination against viewpoints, institutions have no right to color hiring or admissions decisions with their views on race. While, I realize that Powell's Bakke opinion did say that racial diversity could be considered a compelling interest, it sounded like Scalia and company really doesn't buy the definitive nature of this argument.

The best comment of the night, unsurprisingly, comes from Scalia:

“If it claims it's a compelling State interest. If it's important enough to override the Constitution's prohibition of racial distribution, it seems to me it's important enough to override Michigan's desire to have a super-duper law school?”

The smartest legal mind in the land said “super-duper.” Nice.
Charles Johnson makes the following comment:

"US forces have crossed the “Red Zone” around Baghdad for the final push into the city. If the Iraqis are foolish enough to use chem/bio weapons, this is the most dangerous time."

I don't know about the term "foolish." The CW, it seems, is that, as in the first Gulf War, the threat of an overwhelming response would be our countermeasure against a WMD attack. Yet, given the losses Iraqi units are already suffering, coupled with our (I'd say correct) desire to prevent civilian casualties, I don't know why Iraqi troops would be foolish to use chemical weapons. It is possible that those units with such capabilies lack the operational capacity to launch such an attack or that while the threat of Iraqi terror might be enough to prevent total capitulation the local commanders it might not be enough to force local commanders to attack. Yet from a overall operational point of view, I can't see the downside for Baath leadership in using WMD against American troops.
Dow's up 220 right now. I really think everyone on Wall Street secretly wants to be a general.
The Carnival of the Vanities is up over at Go Fish. Check out the best of the blogs for this week.

4/01/2003

Good thing that the fair and balanced media put as much research into uncovering where Clear Channel's funding comes as it did for ANSWER.
Why I hate big government. So, I'm really sick now with the flu, so I went to the drug store. There, unsure what would work best, I picked up a few different flu medications. When out the check-out, though, I was informed that three was the maximum OTC limit (I had four). I could not stock up on flu medications and have a variety in case I didn't think one was working (or I needed something non-drowsy) because big government didn't trust me.
Thoughts from American Idol:

First of, it was suposed to be disco. Why in the world do we want them singing disco? And the best performances were those who didn't sing disco.

Secondly, it would have been great if the marine would have sung "In the Navy".
I also finally saw James Woods' Rudy last night (yeah, I watch too much TV). Pretty good. It's a tough story to tell, but I think USA did a pretty good job with this very complex man. Woods was excellent, but more than anything else seeing the reenactment of some of the heroism of that terrible day is a poignant reminder of why we're fighting right now.
I watched Boston Public last night and for the second week in a row David E. Kelley used it as a platform to rant against the supposedly test-driven nature of our public school system. Yet this criticism is one of the true illuminators of the left's inability to translate noble sentiments and reasonable intellectual arguments into workable policy.

The essential liberal anti-testing position, at least as espoused by the cast of BP, is that teaching to the tests prevents students from truly learning, learning test-taking strategies instead of history and math.

Intellectually on this point, the left is correct. Forcing kids to take standardized tests every few years, or even one simply to graduate, is not the ideal means of education. Yet in today's world they are absolutely necessary.

Testing is needed to ensure some sort of standardized quality throughout the nation's (or at least a state's) school system. Kelley's Winslow High is one where all teachers are inspirational. I'd even allow, if we could guarantee that all students had teachers like those portrayed in his show, testing would be far less necessary.

But they're not.

Now this is not to say that most - or even many - teachers are lousy. I've been blessed with a number of fantastic teachers throughout my life - but I've also been stuck with a few who are awful. Just like any other profession you're going to have a wide spectrum of quality, and I find it amazing that some critics seem to think that a teacher's output should be the only career not subject to objective oversight.

Again, this is not to say even the worst teachers are willfully negligent. Consider a comparison to airplane mechanics. I think it's safe to say that no mechanic wants a plane to go down. Yet we would never let him go about his work unmonitored, and if gross incompetence were found he would be dismissed. Government regulation of airline safety is deemed essential for the welfare of the general public.

Yet Kelley and the rest of the anti-test crowd promote just this sort of freedom for educators. "Let teachers teach" is their rallying cry. But why should we assume universal competence in this profession when we demand government regulation and objective measures of success for many other crucial industries, from transportation to food-safety? I'm happy to get rid of the tests, so long as another method can be found to actually ensure that students are learning. Yet the left, incensed by testing, has offered no real alternative.

Criticism of policy while proposing workable alternatives is necessary for progress - bitching for the sake of bitching is modern liberalism.
Quote of the day:

Americans aren't slaves to history. Americans make history.
- Ralph Peters
This ESPN project is a great idea.
Brilliant piece by Andrew Sullivan, who uses a counterfactual approach to debunk anti-war criticism that Bush failed to prepare the American public for a long, hard war:

What if Cheney had gone on television and said: "Look, this is going to take months. Saddam's hardcore is highly trained, ruthless and will fight to the death." Wouldn't that have largely removed the chance - even if it were an outside one - of psyching out the Ba'ath leadership and possibly cracking the Saddamite machine at the outset? Part of what the administration was trying to achieve, it seems to me, was a psychological coup against the Baghdad leadership. If they could out-psyche the Ba'athists, convince them they were doomed, we'd have had much higher chances of winning this quickly and well. The problem, of course, was that the message designed for Saddam was also one heard by the domestic audience, and so was a set-up for disappointment.
Sorry for the lack of blogging this morning. Blogger’s publishing feature – as least on the free side – has been down.

3/31/2003

What I'm about to write may seem obvious to most of us, but to many, I think, it's a concept neither easily grasped nor fully accepted.

Flying back last night, I was struck by the amazing efficiency of the market system. For a few hundred dollars, I was able to travel thousands of miles across the continent in mere hours, something that for tens of thousands of years of human history was simply unimaginable. It's amazing that, through combining my fare with that of the other passengers, we were able to pay our share of the plane's capital cost, fuel, and the salaries of the crew.

But it was the chicken salad that I was served that I found most interesting, as something most passengers would only think about in passing is the best example of the glory of the market. The cost of the salad as a percent of my ticket was insignificant, yet consider what went into producing the product. A wide range of farmers grew the food, and then shipped their product to plants where it was processed. It was then sold by distributors to Delta (or probably a group like SkyChefs), where more employees assembled the salads in plastic containers that have their own production path, starting with oil being turned into Ethylene. And yet all of this cost me no more than a buck or two.

The magic of the invisible hand.

More incredible is that along this entire production chain none of the items were produced by altruistic motivations (as in the communist ideal) nor was any production done at the point of a gun (as in real-life communism). Everyone along the path to my salad worked because they got something in return - an entirely selfish motivation - and yet the end result was a reasonably-tasty dinner that cost me the financial equivalent of maybe 10 minutes of work.

Capitalism - it's efficient and nutritious.

But this leap, it seems, is difficult for many to grasp. Capitalism's strength is in harnessing man's essentially selfish nature to produce a greater good for everyone in society. Yet accepting this requires a leap of logic that, while common-sensical to most, proves difficult for people who are unwilling to acknowledge the usefulness of selfishness. Neither the lettuce farmer nor the plastic container manufacturer really had to care about my enjoyment between Dallas and San Francisco, yet in order to keep supply contracts with Delta (or whoever their direct customers are), they are incentivized to provide a certain level of quality.

The left, largely unwilling to accept this essentially negative portrayal of the human spirit, is thus unable to make this logical leap which explains their fascination with alternative economic models from socialism to communism, models that are dependant on a certain level of altruism to work. Yet as we've seen time and time again throughout history, once this communal spirit breaks down, governments must force labor to keep production chains operational. Capitalism provides incentives far superior to a gun to keep our factories working.
Opening Day!

I'm ready to reveal my picks for the upcoming season.

NL:

East - Braves - The Phillies are the in team, but I'm not willing to jump on their bandwagon just yet.

Central - Cards - I'd love to think the Cubs could pull of a dream run but as good as their young pitching might be, I don't think this is the year.

West - Dodgers - Maybe the hardest division to pick. I like the Giants and the D-Backs but a lot of questions linger in my mind about both teams. So I decided to go with LA, but I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the three take it.

Wild Card - Giants - Or the Diamondbacks. The west is going to be fun once again.

Playoffs - Cards over Giants, Dodgers over Braves, Cards over Dodgers.

AL:

East - Yankees - This one's killing me but if the Sox make the playoffs it'll be through the wild card. Too many questions. The rest of the division doesn't have a prayer.

Special AL East bonus prediction - The Devil Rays will finish out of the cellar for the first time in their history, topping the Orioles after a heated September battle.

Central - Twins - Although with Colon many pundits seem to be jumping on a White Sox bandwagon, I still think the Twins are going to be hard to beat. Frankly I think this is the easiest division to call.

West - A's - The hardest division to call and, like the NL west, one that promises to be exciting.

Wild Card - Red Sox - Pedro wins 20 and the defending World Champs are watching from home this October.

Playoffs - Yankees over Twins, A's over Rex Sox, A's over Yankees.

World Series - A's over Cards in 6. After finally getting through the Divisional series, the A's win it all.
Thought I had while flying back from Boston last night: If you're a vampire, and only a stake to the heart can kill you, wouldn't you just wear a metal breastplate?

3/30/2003

The more I hear coming out of the UN, the more I realize that Powell was not the right person to send. We needed to send Scarlet O'Hara.
I believe that Iraq will be the West Berlin of the war against Islamofascism, a beacon of hope, freedom, and wealth in the midst despair, totalitarianism, and poverty. May we go to the same lengths to build and preserve it that we did with West Berlin.
Thoughts from the pro-Saddam rally in Munich on Saturday:

I saw an absolutely priceless and telling image: there were two men standing next to each other talking, one had a star and crescent flag thrown over his back, the other was holding a stick with a big red flag that had a yellow star in the middle.

It was surreal to hear someone in a German square with a loud speaker yelling things while the audience chanted responses. I’ve seen stuff like that in videos of Munich in the ‘30s but to see it live…

Most of the people in the very small (couple hundred) group looked to be of Arab descent.

Some of the women in the large group of Polizei there were quite attractive.

I did see a “Kein Blut fuer Oeil” sign. The signs in general were pretty bad, slogans scribbled on cardboard. No color or creativity.

Some were waving rainbow colored flags with the word “Peace” on it. It must be frustrating to protest under a flag where the word is written in the language of the Great Satan.

Other than some sidewalk chalk by the University and the rally, I didn’t really see any anti-war signs. It seemed like the city was going about its normal business.
I’ve been to Munich three times now and this was the first that I didn’t go to Dachau. I have never enjoyed going to places like that because I don’t like to think about and see how evil humans can be. In school, I hated all the long discussions and projects on the concentration camps because, to me, it was self-evident that they were evil and that we should never allow them to exist again. I would never even think of supporting a government that did such things. But I guess the reason we had to hear all those lectures was because it isn’t as self-evident to everyone as it is to me. Not everyone automatically holds the belief that people should not be tortured and raped by their government. From SF State to Concordia to Brussels, students participate in hate and rally to defend those who rape and torture.

The most striking part, though, is that those who do not understand evil for the most part are from the left. Those who do not understand evil are those who require all of us to learn about how evil the Nazi’s were. It almost seems like statements in the classroom such as “Never again,” are not commands but pleading requests. The liberals continue to repeat these things in hope that one day they will have repeated it enough times that they will actually believe the statement and have the courage to do what it requires.

Of course, it could also be more sinister. The message could be not that rape and torture is evil, but that rape and torture by Nazi’s (the right) is evil. We learn these things in the classroom as a pre-emptive discrediting of the right, not because we need to ensure that they never happen again.

UPDATE: Same goes for Take Back the Night. The feminists enjoy rallying against rape and inventing new definitions for rape (you wake up and the guy is ugly), why are they not condemning a regime that uses rape as a law enforcement tool.

UPDATE 2: Same goes for capital punishment.
George H. W. Bush made two awful mistakes during his presidency that we are just beginning to see the effects of.

First, he did not oust Saddam. By not ousting Saddam, he a) allowed Saddam to become a symbol of resistance to the U.S; b) failed the revolts from the Iraqi people that were subsequently squashed with mass casualties; c) because of b, he lost the trust of the Iraqi resistance, which is creating problems today; and d) he allowed this issue to return to the hands of the U.N. where it stalled for 12 years, giving Saddam 12 more years of power, or torturing, and of killing. This was a horrible move on HW’s part.

Because of this, though, frustrating to hear the reporters talk about how the Iraqis don’t trust the U.S. when the reason the Iraqi’s don’t trust the U.S. is because HW listened to the peaceniks and the reporters.

The second mistake is that HW did not win the peace against Communism. While Communism has failed in practice, the idea has not been subjugated to the dustbin of history with fascism. What was needed after the fall of the U.S.S.R. was an absolute refutation of Communism so that followers of Stalin would be labeled in the popular mind with followers of Hitler.

Drawing from this second lesson, I think the most important thing W needs to do after victory is denounce the pro-Saddam movement for what it is. In other words, he needs to say, “I told you so,” loud and clear. It sounds childish but the people who are currently supporting an evil dictatorship need to be put in their place so that people will no longer support regimes that torture, rape, and murder their citizens. The most important part of “winning the peace” is to discredit those who wished Saddam’s regime to remain in power.