June 30, 2002
THINGS I LEARNED AT THE...
THINGS I LEARNED AT THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN BLOGGER BASH: Doug Dever and I get places on time.
Jeff Goldstein does not, even if he's organizing the event. However, he is among the funniest guys I've ever met.
Stephen Green has Perfect Hair, looks a bit older than the picture on his site, really does drink vodka, and can't win at pool because he's so great at sinking the 8-ball that he can't wait until his other balls are off the table. The VodkaPundit had to leave early with his fiance, if I heard him correctly, to meet his best man and his (the best man's) wife at a strip club. I am not making this up.
I also met Ope, Ben Fischer, Andrew Olmsted, and a bunch of other people whom I sure I'll remember once I read other people's accounts of tonight. All of them are very cool people. I went straight from the bar to Kinko's to get in the first of the postmortems. (This post will probably be tagged in Central Time, by the way, so subtract an hour to see what time of night I'm posting.)
June 29, 2002
AXIS GRINDING: The North Koreans sank a South Korean patrol boat today.
The North Koreans insist the South fired first. Do you trust a government with a Department of Propaganda and Agitation?
AND TO THE REPUBLIC
AND TO THE REPUBLIC: If you want to read commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance decision, you might want to seek a blog by someone who could possibly care less. I direct you to Brink Lindsey, who I completely agree with.
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER...
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE (NOT) DEAD: Found a Kinko's, and I've got some time to blog before getting ready for the Blogger Bash. Northeastern Colorado was flatter than I'd expected; it wasn't like that scene in South Park where the terrain (and season!) changes immediately at the border with Nebraska.
June 27, 2002
ON THE ROAD
ON THE ROAD: Headed west to Washington state, via the RMBB in Denver. Posting will be extra-light for several days.
June 26, 2002
GUARD OUR LIBERTY
GUARD OUR LIBERTY: The Cato Institute's Robert A. Levy, who knows quite a bit more about constitutional law than either Steve Chapman (who's Chicago Tribune column on this topic I linked to the other day) or I do, has an excellent analysis of the incoherent policies of the Bush administration toward detainees, where the pattern seems to be that non-citizens get lawyers and citizens don't. His basic point is that Congress ought to have more input, which is a theme I'm working into some drafts-in-progress that may find their way into print in the coming months.
June 25, 2002
YOU'RE SO WRONG, MARCIAL
YOU'RE SO WRONG, MARCIAL: A Spanish blogger left a note in the Comment board for "DO THE MATH" below about Palestinian deaths. He seems from his blog to be a decent enough fellow, but this is what happens when people are fed a steady diet of the European press.
Palestinian deaths are in no way, shape, or form morally equivalent to Israeli deaths. It amazes me that this still isn't obvious to some people, but lets run through it again, shall we?
First off, I'm pretty sure many of the deaths in that figure are terrorists who blew themselves up. My figures for the number of 9/11 deaths don't include the hijackers, for what I hope are self-evident reasons. A few are targetted assassinations of terrorist leaders. I support the assassination policy, but even if you dispute the morality of those, surely you won't argue they are equivalent to the deaths of children killed on their way home from school for the crime of being Jewish. (At least one of the suicide bombings occurred in a neighborhood of anti-Zionist Hasidic Jews. They don't believe a Jewish State should exist before the messiah arrives, don't serve in the Israeli army or attend Israeli government schools, and often hold Palestinian Authority passports. Just being Jewish is bad enough-- statehood is an afterthought to Jew-hatred, you see.)
The deaths of Palestinian civilians are not the same as the deaths of Israeli civilians, either. Every Palestinian non-combatant who has died has been killed by accident; every Jewish non-combatant who has died has been killed on purpose. Any death is tragic, of course, but the moral difference between accidental and intentional deaths is well-established. Even reckless endangerment-- which I would argue the Israelis have for the most part not committed, and in fact have been almost absurdly restrained in their actions-- is generally considered a lesser crime than murder.
Marcial ends his comment with "We fight for peace too." I'm not sure what he means by "we." The European Union gives money to the PA which funnels right into terrorism, so maybe that's what he means. I assure you, Marcial, that the terrorists aren't fighting for any "peace" in which Israel exists-- and if my tax dollars were being used to buy their bombs, I'd be livid.
HOME NEWS:I'm in the process of packing up all my worldly possessions to drive out to Washington state for my internship with Liberty. I've decidced to take a small detour along the way to the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash.
I offer free designated-driver service to anyone at the Bash with a comfortable couch who wants to save me the price of a motel for the night.
ABOUT TIME: I agree with Rich Lowry's take on Bush's speech outlining the "freedom, democracy and peace first, state second" approach. Finally, a coherent Mid-East policy. Could have come months ago, though.
There won't be a lasting peace in Israel before Iran, Iraq, Syria, and "Saudi" Arabia are each reformed, with or without blood; that's where the support for terrorism comes from. This is why this isn't so hopeless a time in Israel as it might seem; now that the direct threat to the U.S. posed by radical Islamism is clear, those reforms are more likely to be effected.
June 24, 2002
DO THE MATH
DO THE MATH: There have been 70 suicide bombings in the past 21 months. By my count, there have been 275 deaths as a result (plus many injuries).
That's 275 killed in a country of roughly 5 million. On September 11, about 3000 people were killed in a country of roughly 278 million. Per capita, the Israelis have therefore suffered over 5 9/11s, or a 9/11 every four months.
The government that was entwined with our attackers is no longer in power. Why is Arafat?
June 23, 2002
BUSH LOSING FOCUS?
BUSH LOSING FOCUS?: A war on fat America? What happened to being a "uniter, not a divider?"
I'm trying to decide which is dumber, the war on fat or the war on drugs. We have a real war to fight, against Islamism. Let's concentrate on that.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, ANDREW
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, ANDREW: And many more.
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK
CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK: Rumor has it Saddam Hussein might step down and let his son take over to diffuse the threat of a U.S. attack.
Qusay Hussein is as much a mass murderer as his father, and just as intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Whether he or his father is the nominal leader of Iraq should have no bearing on our war plans.
The Times of London article linked above says that Qusay's older brother Uday is thought of as a "playboy." Yeah, if by "playboy" you mean "psychopathic maniac." This article, from Maxim, of all places, profiles Uday and Qusay at length. Uday likes to rape, torture, and murder women snatched from the streets, and can't be trusted with power because he'll occassionally cut out the throat from a friend of a family at a dinner party. Qusay's the "cool-headed" one-- he merely orders the execution of 2000 political prisoners in one day.
ANOTHER SENSIBLE SHOES LIBERTARIAN
ANOTHER SENSIBLE SHOES LIBERTARIAN: For libertarians without combat boots, the Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman is a breath of fresh air. In today's column, he explains why dirty bomber Jose Padilla isn't entitled to the rights of a criminal-- but still ought to get a trial at some point. The Trib's registration is too complicated to be worthwhile, but someone-- not me, I just guessed-- has registered an account with name and password both "xxxxxx" for your convenience.
June 22, 2002
RETARDED: That's what the majority ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia is. Scalia's dissent is a thing of beauty, though:
But the Prize for the Court's Most Feeble Effort to fabricate national consensus must go to its appeal (deservedly relegated to a footnote) to the views of assorted professional and religious organizations, members of the so-called world community, and respondents to opinion polls... Equally irrelevant are the practices of the world community, whose notions of justice are (thankfully) not always those of our people. We must never forget that it is a Constitution for the United States of America that we are expounding.Stevens (who wrote the majority opinion) cited an EU brief-- why not cite a brief from one of the many countries where they execute not only retarded murderers but retarded innocents?
Scalia goes into some 1700s English Common Law for context, a section I found most entertaining. It seems the profoundly retarded, who could not be punished for crimes because they were considered incompetent, were called "idiots," whereas the less severely retarded (like the defendant in this case) were simply "imbeciles," who could be held responsible for their crimes. This was set down in part in the Law of Idiocy and Lunacy. The straightforward naming conventions are refreshing, aren't they? I was jarred even to see "retarded" in the morning papers today-- I wouldn't have been at all surprised if the headlines were about execution of the "mentally handicapable."
June 18, 2002
LOVING PARENTS: Read about the latest suicide bomber's "very happy" father and this proud mother who kissed her son goodbye before his suicide attack. Then tell me why punishing them is in any way off-base.
FOUND AN INTERNET CAFE
FOUND AN INTERNET CAFE: Sporadic posts to follow.
June 17, 2002
BE BACK LATER
BE BACK LATER: Posting will be even lighter than it has been for the next week; I'm off to the Pacific Northwest to find an apartment, and I don't know whether I'll have internet access at all. If I don' find a computer out there, I should have new posts next weekend.
Incidentally, there was an unfinished movie-related post that was accidentally published for most of yesterday, which may have puzzled some readers. That may or may not be finished some day.
June 16, 2002
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY: The good news is that the President has already authorized the CIA to use lethal force in taking out Saddam Hussein. The bad news is, our top secret plans are all over the Washington Post!
June 14, 2002
KILLING THE DEATH TAX
KILLING THE DEATH TAX: Here's the best case I've seen for eliminating the estate tax. Not only is it a net revenue loser (reason enough to kill it), but it hurts the moderately wealthy far worse than the superrich, who because of superior estate-planning actually pay less in estate taxes. The moderately wealthy often don't expect to have as much money as they do before it's too late to shelter their savings as efficiently-- which really means introducing the correct inefficiencies into financial planning to ward off the taxman, which of course translates into inefficiency in the macro-economy: capital diverted into tax compliance costs, less growth, fewer jobs, and in the end less tax revenue. Legislators protest against estate tax cuts (most recently killing a bill to make the phase-out in 2010 permanent) because they can't "afford" it, but the estate tax costs more than it raises.
June 12, 2002
THE POWER OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
And why not? Democrats ought to be looking to Tapped for ideas; it's where to go for some of the sharpest thinking on the left (sort of like the sharpest scissors in a first-grade art class, but still...)
HOME NEWS: I just scored an internship with Liberty magazine, which should be great. This'll likely mean more frequent bylines for me in the mag-- I'll give you a heads up for them here, as always. Or you could just subscribe.
June 10, 2002
THESE CRIMINALS TODAY
THESE CRIMINALS TODAY: John Gotti's death reminds us of a time when murderous crooks had style. Now Chicago street thugs feel they have to convert to the Religion of Peace, join al Qaeda, and plot radiological bombings to get noticed.
THE CONTINUING DECLINE OF THE...
THE CONTINUING DECLINE OF THE EURO-LEFT: Leo Le Brun celebrates the trouncing of the Communist-Socialist coalition in parliament. Le Pen's fascists took a beating, too. With Chirac's new power under the Gaullist majority, will he actually respond to the electorate's concerns about violent unassimilated Muslim immigrants? Time will tell.
June 09, 2002
A SAD, PAINFUL BEATING
A SAD, PAINFUL BEATING: "Iron Mike" barely landed a punch in last night's Lewis-Tyson fight. That raging animal-- let's face it, we paid the Pay-Per-View fees to see if he'd go crazy again-- was like a kitten, and was a good sportsman afterwords, to boot. It's almost as if he's only an effective fighter when he's unhinged. (In Holyfield-Tyson II, Tyson came out powerfully in the third round and seemed to be winning for the first time in the match-- then he started biting, and got disqualified.)
The guy sure can take a punch. It hurt to watch many of the hits he took from Lewis. By the time he went down in the eighth, he was a bloody mess. Before the fight, we (those I watching the fight with) were repeating John Derbyshire's line about Lennox Lewis, "unlike Mike Tyson," being "clearly a member of the human race." At the end, everyone just felt sorry for Tyson.
IRANWATCH: Michael Ledeen argues (again) for supporting the next revolution. Some of the nuggets he sprinkles in this OpinionJournal piece you'll already know if you've been watching this space, but there are some new ones, too.
June 08, 2002
THREAT ASSESSMENT: Brian Doherty's Reason profile of John Ashcroft is mostly fair, but I was disappointed to see yet another libertarian fall into an intellectual dishonesty trap over this quote, taken widely out of context:
We need honest, reasoned debate; not fearmongering. To those who pit Americans against immigrants, and citizens against non-citizens; to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists - for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies, and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.By selectively editing that to "Those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty... your tactics only aid terrorists," Doherty, like countless writers before him, makes it sound like Ashcroft called everyone who disagrees with him a terrorist. In reality, Ashcroft called for "honest, reasoned debate"-- and got dishonest attacks.
That's a shame, because there are some reasonable critiques the AG deserves, and they get drowned out by all the panic. Ashcroft has violated federalist principles and squandered resources that might be better-used on the terrorist front with his assaults on physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and medical marijuana in California. Doherty lists these in a sidebar, unfortunately mixed in with some other spurious statements, particularly about secret tribunals (has Doherty heard of classified evidence?).
MY EXPANDING EMPIRE
MY EXPANDING EMPIRE: Stephen Green added me to the VodkaPundit Blogroll! Welcome new traffic.
June 07, 2002
GREAT MOMENTS IN COMMUNIST JOURNALISM
GREAT MOMENTS IN COMMUNIST JOURNALISM: I believe copyright law is still a mostly unknown form of property rights in the People's Republic, so the Beijing Evening News feels it can print word-for-word translations of other papers' articles. This time they lifted this-- from the Onion.
You get caught pretty fast if you cheat off someone with all the wrong answers.
June 05, 2002
THE MENACE OF ORGANIC FARMING
THE MENACE OF ORGANIC FARMING: If organic farming became the global standard, two billion people would starve to death. Ron Bailey has the goods on the pseudoscience and inefficiency of the dangerous movement against conventional farming and genetic engineering. If organic food were any better, that would be one thing-- but it's usually not.
Making better food with old farming techniques for a niche market is a worthy goal, though. Back in August, The Nation ran a cover story on Slow Food, a movement to protect specialty farming in Italy. The magazine's editors probably thought this was a triumph of the Left because Slow Food had its roots, in a weird way, in local Communist parties, but reading closely, it becomes clear that the Slow Food people are fighting the kind of globalization The Nation usually approves of-- EU power-grabs and one-size-fits-all regulations-- and welcome "virtuous globalization," i.e. free trade with people who will buy their high-quality products.
INTO THE FRAY
INTO THE FRAY: ZionBlog has been called disgusting and immoral by OxBlog and VodkaPundit for his belief that Israel should kill suicide bombers' families. (OxBlog and ZionBlog have a follow-up exchange which you can scroll up from those links to read.) I wrote about holding suicide bombers' families responsible a while ago. After one webzine rejected the piece, I shelved it (in part because the situation seemed a bit less dire as, contrary to what I wrote in the piece, the military incursions actually did seem to stop the attacks for a time shortly after I wrote the piece). This seems like a good time to dust that argument off; though I think some official process would be preferable (and imprisonment, rather than capital punishment, might be suitable), and I wouldn't embark on this lightly, I do think there is a case for corruption of blood as a deterrent. Check out my thoughts.
June 04, 2002
DANCE, TOM: This "Tom the Dancing Bug" cartoon, which Tim Russert pulled out on Meet the Press two Sundays ago, pricelessly lampoons Daschle's grasping-at-straws attacks on the White House. (It is starting to look like the intelligence community failed majorly, but wasn't that clear by noon on September 11?)
Of the alt-left cartoonists, Ruben Bolling is the best. Even Tom Tomorrow has some flashes of insight. Too bad they doubtless get confused with the vile Ted Rall.
You can gauge them by their immediate reactions to September 11: after one surreally strange comic, Bolling showed he was as pissed as everyone else; Tomorrow had one "words fail me" strip, followed by something a little squishy, but thoughtful. Rall gleefully joined the hate America movement immediately, saying the Palestinians were right to cheer on the Towers falling.
See elsewhere in the blogosphere for more on what a lying moron Rall is.
June 02, 2002
NETIQUETTE: Before quoting the email I got from Josh Marshall, paraphrased in the item below, I asked him for permission. He said he'd prefer a paraphrase, just to keep in place an assumption that posting private emails isn't kosher. He thanked me profusely for showing the consideration to even ask.
This is a point that should be repeated explicitly: if someone doesn't want an email made public, it shouldn't be, and you ought to ask first Of course, be careful what you share with whom in email. The general assumption is that private emails aren't 100% private, only as private as a conversation, which gossips repeat all time; you know which of your friends can't keep their mouths shut. Use the forward button with the same discretion as you would with things your friends tell you, but only post verbatims on the public web with permission.
Learn your manners from me, kids, not from Tim Noah!
WHY COULDN'T LITTLE MISS MUFFET...
WHY COULDN'T LITTLE MISS MUFFET CROSS THE TURKISH-IRAQI BORDER?: There were Kurds in the way! I made that joke up when I was eleven or twelve, and I'm telling it now because of this sentence in Joshua Micah Marshall's "Bomb Saddam?" piece: "But if one of the darker scenarios began to unfold--a restive civilian population, a Kurdish declaration of independence, an Iranian mobilization to the east--then we would have to choke off resistance fast." I've developed some sympathy for Kurdish nationalists, especially since reading Jeffrey Goldberg's piece on the Kurds and the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in the March 25 New Yorker, so I fired off this email to Josh Marshall:
I read with interest your piece on Iraq in the Washington Monthly. I was puzzled in one place where perhaps you could elaborate:Marshall replied it was the irredentism that worried him-- an independent Kurdistan would be an instant territorial threat to Iran and, more importantly, Turkey.
you list "a Kurdish declaration of independence," along with "a restive civilian population" and "an Iranian mobilization to the east"-- as "one of the darker scenarios." As I understand it, the Kurds are semi-autonomous, very anti-Saddam, and far further along at building the framework for a democratic government than most nationalist movements. Are you worried about regional instability caused by dismemberment of Iraq (hostile Arab minorities in the new Kurdistan or irredentist Kurds in Turkey or Iran, for example)? Am I missing some other way Kurdish independence might be a net negative?
If you've been following my "IranWatch" items, you know that I think Iran should and will fall apart pretty soon. Kurdish irredentists might actually help the pro-democracy Persians along by further weakening the Islamic Republic.
Turkey is a different matter. The Kurds in Turkey, though terribly persecuted, have in my mind forfeited their right to independence until their terrorist attacks against Turkish civilians end permanently. (Caveat lector: the link on "persecuted" is by Kurdish nationalists and the link on "terrorist attacks" is by the Turkish government-- both seem fairly credible, though.) Perhaps a phased-in annexation of Kurdish Turkey to a free Kurdistan, predicated on an end to violence, could actually ease tensions. Turkey could be nudged along with trade incentives, perhaps. I'll admit this would be a diplomatic miracle, but we can always hope.
LAUGHING AT LARRY
Speaking of Marshall, he's that rare treasure: an honest liberal. Recently he changed his mind about the wisdom of removing Saddam while writing an article about it-- he now thinks it's a good idea, but still faults neoconservative hawks for glossing over strategic questions, and his piece is very good, even if some (but by no means all) of his criticisms of the neocons are cheap-shots. He and I had an email exchange as I was writing this post; I'll post that above as soon as he gives the okay.