Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Matador in the Mirror

One of the stupidest "smart" tales of all time is FailSafe.

For those of you who haven't read the book, seen the Henry Fonda movie, or the George Clooney remake, an eeeeevil military conspiracy decides to force the USA to knock out the USSR by nuking Moscow. The brave, sensitive American President, desiring only to avoid a Third World War, demonstrates America's commitment to peace by ordering the US Air Force to nuke New York City.

In the fairy tale, this works just fine.

The bulk of the American public rejected the advice of literary and cinema critics and avoided this insanity, but it's captured the imagination of the American Left for over fifty years. When Clooney sought to make a 2000 remake for cable he was able to draw an A-list cast for the project (which also tanked.)

I'm reminded of this when I hear the hissy fit Democrats and the press threw over Bush's speech on Iraq.

Some are angry because they think anybody who didn't participate on the actual 9/11 attack is not a legitimate target of the war on terror. Some are angry because they imagine there's an army of foriegners who'll fight our battles for us for the proper concessions.

Most are angry because Bush wants to fight, and wants to crush our enemies, and won't win a peace by demonstrating how vulnerable and harmless we can be.

Seeking security is arrogant and provocative. This is the leftist attitude recently articulated by Nicholas Ouroussoff in the "Appraisal: Fear in a soaring tower" in the New York Times:
What the tower evokes, by comparison, are ancient obelisks, blown up to a preposterous scale and clad in heavy sheaths of reinforced glass - an ideal symbol for an empire enthralled with its own power, and unaware that it is fading.

...Absurdly, if the Freedom Tower were reduced by a dozen or so stories and renamed, it would probably no longer be considered such a prime target. Fortifying it, in a sense, is an act of deflection. It announces to terrorists: Don't attack here - we're ready for you. Go next door.
Oh you pathetic tough guys! Your effective security measures just link you to all the effective security measures of the past. You just make it tougher for everybody else. Puh-lease!

Ouroussoff wails the loss of the "tension" present in the old design. I guess waiting for a truck bomb to take out thirty floors does give a sort of tension, but probably nobody, including Ouroussoff, really wants to pay the price of that vulnerability.

This is the sort of mentality that gripes about terrorists being recruited by the War on Terror. If only we were puny punk bitches, then Wahabist ghazis would become dentists instead of suicide bombers.

When in reality, having seen a bunch of goatherders from beyond the boondocks kill 2800 people in New York City, serious Americans have a much lower threshhold for foriegners holding "Death to America" summer camps. SoCal Pundit has a nice roundup of instances where Saddam encouraged terrorists and instances where leaders of both parties took notice and sounded off against him for it.

We could react to that and disarm and beg for mercy...

Until the Democrats prefer "Patton" to "Failsafe", they're not going to win a wartime election.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Road Trip

I just got back from a last-minute romp in San Diego. We went down there to watch the Dodgers tackle the Padres at home.

It was interesting, playing the role of invader. For about three hours I sat in tight-lipped frustration, but Dem Bums saved us from humiliation and actually won it in the 10th.

As one of my pals noted, the Padres fans are too classy to hate like the Giants. They actually started congratulating us on our win at the top of the 9th, way too early to give up on defeating the Dodgers.

I forgot any sunscreen until we were already seated, and I am typing with the minimum movements necessary from my Chinese-red arms.

Friday morning I awoke early and saw the latest Supreme Court decision in the headlines. Balls and Strikes has some good background. I think it's yet another destruction of the Bill of Rights as any sort of guarantee of absolute individual rights against government. And with campaign finance restrictions on electioneering, another example of liberal silliness re-enacting the worst excesses of Tammany Hall in the name of progress.

In Riverside County, developers are offering small businesses the lowest possible bid for their properties, explaining that if they don't sell directly, the city will take it in eminent domain for the same amount. They know this in advance because the eminent domain taking is coordinated with the private developer--legally, as the Court has affirmed.

"Fair market value" in real estate is a range of values, and to milk the best price for your property requires time. Eminent domain denies the owner that necessary time to conclude a better deal. That is why these developers go to the trouble to involve local government in their schemes.

As I've said before, I believe any human system can be reformed, but how much damage do we have to allow the Court to wreak, before the country will back serious reform?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Killer Bees!!

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- African honeybees -- also known as killer bees -- have entered Florida, and a University of Florida researcher says the aggressive insects may eventually spread throughout the state and move into other areas of the southeastern United States.

Glenn Hall said African honeybees have been found and stopped at ports in Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa since 1987.

"However, new finds in the Tampa area suggest that African bees are spreading and becoming established in the state, and they are being found farther inland from the ports," Hall said in a University of Florida press release. "We did not believe that enough bees could arrive on ships to form an established population, but they did so in Puerto Rico, and now appear to be doing the same in Florida."

But Hall noted that the bees are here to stay due to the warm climate and could affect the beekeeping industry and the pollination of many crops. That's not to mention the problems they could cause to public safety, recreation and tourism.


The dangerous thing about African honeybees is their instinctual aggression. American honeybees will pursue a foe until it is 100 yards from the hive, and not all drones respond to the chemical alarm thrown by a bee rupturing itself with a sting. All African drones that sense such an alarm will charge the target and they pursue for 400 yards. That's a quarter-mile, as the bee flies; if terrain or infirmity or youth prevent a human from running beyond that midair quarter-mile radius faster than a bee can fly, they've had it.

What's odd about African bees is that their instinctual combat pattern is adopted by American beehives they meet. The queen and drones are all genetically American, but suddenly react according to the pattern of genetically African bees. These bees are called "Africanized" bees.

That is why hives throughout Southern California were destroyed when the African bees began moving in. The lethal pattern of the African bee is spread much faster than reproduction could accomplish. It looks like Florida isn't yet aware of the fact that casual beekeeping in their state is now kaput.

An interesting aside: as an undergrad at UC Riverside, I took Entymology 101 as a lab science. One blazing day in the summer of 1997, we walked from our elderly lecture hall by the labs into the newer, airconditioned science buildings. There, in comfy theater chairs, we had an hour-long lecture by a different entymology professor. I don't remember his name, but his discussion of the killer bee has been with me ever since.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Jersey Joe With the Odds

Sen. Joe Biden was on CBS' Face the Nation this morning to let us know, in measured tones, that we've got 60% odds to win in Iraq only if we bring in the French and Germans and Egyptians, and force the elected government there to bring in the Sunnis. Otherwise, we'll be evacuating the embassy in 2006.

I doubt the French and Germans have resources we can't match; and after the EU constitution and budget debacles their governments might as well resign as sign onto deployments into Iraq. I think Sen. Biden also ignores the fact that the soveriegn government of Iraq can bring Egypt in, without asking our permission. And I guess he forgot that Sunni leaders accepted a deal on Friday, and I guess Bob Schieffer forgot to remind him.

I wish Sen. Biden would show the same fire regarding Iraq, that he showed backing John Kerry in the election. There was never any question of giving odds on a Kerry victory, or talking about the renewed tempo of Republican operations as proof Kerry was in trouble. In Washington, ambivalence on national issues is tolerable, but defeatism about the Party is unforgiveable.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Fun Partisan Evening

I had a great time at the Flag Day Dinner! [I'll post some photos when I have them ready.]

I'll start with a public service announcement:

MAPQUEST LIES. THERE IS NO SPRUCE STREET EXIT OFF THE CA-60.

Poor Justene of Calblog was one of those misdirected down the 215.
I had some fine purple prose about Riverside traffic--but that would just discourage you from visiting. I'll just say: call ahead.

We started off with very fine singing by a young lady, then heard introductory remarks by the author of California Conservatives for Truth on the need to expand our base through the Inland Empire through voter registration. Angel feels we're well placed to do so.

Sen. Bob Dutton gave a straight-forward exposition of the budget difficulties. I'll try to summarize his masterfully condensed explanation: the education lobby is demanding, in a year of $80 billion revenue, the same amount they received in 2000 when we collected $100 billion in revenue. The GOP is reluctantly willing, this year, to go $3 billion in deficit to provide for them, but Dems are now demanding a $5 billion deficit and acknowlegement that the dot.com-boom funding level is a permanent benchmark.

News to many of us is the move to create a union of past and present inmates of California's penal institutions. This will apparently shield fundraising and lobbying activities in Sacramento, that the Senator estimated at $78 million in 2006.

Off-the-record, Sen. Dutton discussed Arnold's political muscle and the various initiatives. I'm obligated to keep his conclusions regarding timing, tactics and priorities off-record, but I have no committment regarding the audience's relaxed and appreciative response. Wink-nod.

Michael Zak gave an erudite talk on the founding principles of the GOP, which to its leaders were not cynical "triangulation" but deep beliefs they felt required a firm champion; the Democratic response, ranging from filibusters to assassination; and the failure of the modern party leadership to acknowledge its heritage of liberty. He gave several examples from his book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, but could only skim the surface. It's available at www.republicanbasics.com. I purchased a copy and will enjoy it over the next week.

All in all, it was a fine event and the next time Angel throws one together I will plug it here for all it's worth.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Why Bother Investigating Schiavo 911 Call?

I don't understand why Jeb Bush is calling for this criminal investigation.

The Schiavo autopsy did not strive to affirm or challenge the decade of medical treatment Terri received before her death--in fact, the coroner relied on her records to discuss her capability to take food orally.

Some factions in this country, that believe the morally right thing to do with the severely disabled is to put them down like dogs, believe that it is enough to show she was severely disabled.

"See," they say, "she was irreversibly damaged. Therefore she would have wanted death, even if she didn't specifically ask. QED".

They are driven to insane Monkei rages when we reply "So what? YOU don't get to make that call."

I didn't join in accusations that Michael Schiavo tried to kill Terri, because I had no evidence of that myself. I did opine that he was a jerk who worked hard to kill her ASAP, based on what he said to the press. I don't think the autopsy found anything to make me take that back.

But some people who went pretty far in making charges have to step back from them.

Now Jeb Bush wants a probe into whether Michael waited too long get treatment for Terri before she collapsed.

Why bother?

To me it seems all a piece with the prosecutions of Robert Blake and Michael Jackson. Both malignant weirdos. Both in compromising situations.

But to get a conviction you've got to persuade a jury that your speculation as to their guilt is the only reasonable scenario. Prosecutors in both cases called for a leap of faith by a jury. The jury refused to hop.

I don't see how, after 15 years, you could persuade a jury beyond reasonable doubt, how many minutes Michael Schiavo took to call 911, and his deliberate intent in taking that amount of time. And with any uncertainty on those points, the jury will acquit. Just as they refused to convict Robert Blake with uncertainty as to who actually shot his wife, and they refused to convict Michael Jackson on the testimony of a confessed perjurer.

Justice, for Terri, will come by reforming the system so that death cannot be handed down so casually. It can't come by tilting at windmills.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Poll: Stupidest American

Who takes the cake?

Sen. Dick Durbin, who thinks Guantanamo Bay is just like a Nazi death camp...apart from all that death.

Brad Pitt, who apparently thinks being married to a Ten plus a One here and there on the side, would be like having an Eeeleven.

Jerry Buss. I feel responsible, I never did send Jerry my offer to deliver the same losing 2006 season for 10% of Phil Jackson's comeback salary.

I'm going to have to go with Rep. Walter Jones & Friends, for demanding the US withdrawal from Iraq begin October 1st of this year. I think Bush should make a counter-offer: a complete withdrawal of combat forces by March 29, 1973.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Aced One!

Hat Tip to Lex Communis. According this quiz, I score a 96%:

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.


I bet the question about the Pope is worth 60% by itself.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

From Beyond the Lunatic Fringe

Frank Rich, in the New York Times, laments the unwillingness of the "supine media" to run Bush=Nixon propoganda:
Only once during the Deep Throat rollout did I see a palpable, if perhaps unconscious, effort to link the White House of 1972 with that of 2005. It occurred at the start, when ABC News, with the first comprehensive report on Vanity Fair's scoop, interrupted President Bush's post-Memorial Day Rose Garden news conference to break the story. Suddenly the image of the current president blathering on about how hunky-dory everything is in Iraq was usurped by repeated showings of the scene in which the newly resigned Nixon walked across the adjacent White House lawn to the helicopter that would carry him into exile.
To Rich, this is how the news ought to operate, if the Administration hadn't beaten the spine out of them.
In the most recent example, all the president's men slimed and intimidated Newsweek by accusing it of being an accessory to 17 deaths for its errant Koran story; led by Scott McClellan, they said it was unthinkable that any American guard could be disrespectful of Islam's holy book. These neo-Colsons easily drowned out Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, both of whom said that the riots that led to the 17 deaths were unrelated to Newsweek. Then came the pièce de résistance of Nixon mimicry: a Pentagon report certifying desecrations of the Koran by American guards was released two weeks after the Newsweek imbroglio, at 7:15 p.m. on a Friday, to assure it would miss the evening newscasts and be buried in the Memorial Day weekend's little-read papers.
Newsweek made a specific allegation-that a guard had deliberately flushed a Koran down a toilet, which even Newsweek has acknowledged cannot be substantiated. And far from granting Newsweek absolution, Karzai and other Afghan institutions have firmly condemned them for false reporting.

Rich complains that nobody is paying attention to the 'smoking gun' from London:
The attacks continue to be so successful that even now, long after many news organizations, including The Times, have been found guilty of failing to puncture the administration's prewar W.M.D. hype, new details on that same story are still being ignored or left uninvestigated. The July 2002 "Downing Street memo," the minutes of a meeting in which Tony Blair and his advisers learned of a White House effort to fix "the intelligence and facts" to justify the war in Iraq, was published by The London Sunday Times on May 1. Yet in the 19 daily Scott McClellan briefings that followed, the memo was the subject of only 2 out of the approximately 940 questions asked by the White House press corps, according to Eric Boehlert of Salon.
Well. Here's the snippet that Rich is jumping on:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
If anybody actually read the memo, they'd find this on the next page:
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
Whatever "C" meant by "fixing intelligence and facts around policy", to the British Cabinet it did not suggest falsification of Saddam's WMD capability; such capability was a serious concern to the Cabinet and a factor affecting their cooperation with the Pentagon.

But it would be unfair to expect Frank Rich to read everything he writes about. He can't even count.
You are more likely to hear instead of how Watergate inspired too much "gotcha" journalism. That's a rather absurd premise given that no "gotcha" journalist got the goods on the biggest story of our time: the false intimations of incipient mushroom clouds peddled by American officials to sell a war that now threatens to match the unpopularity and marathon length of Vietnam.
Depending on whether you count the American Vietnam experience beginning with the deployment of Green Berets under Kennedy, or with the Gulf of Tonkin, Iraq has lasted less than a third as long. No matter how long you consider the Vietnam war to have lasted, it's apparent that we're in far better position three years into Iraq than we were in 1973 in Vietnam; for that reason, and because of the absence of the draft, this war is nowhere near as unpopular as Vietnam by any measure: polls, anti-war rallies, riots, desertion.

Informed people know that regime change was affirmed as US policy by Congress and President Clinton in the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998.

They know that the Security Council unanimously professed its belief that Saddam had not proven the destruction of his WMD program, with resolution 1441.

They know that active chemical warheads were found in Iraq by coalition forces.

They know that the Washington press corps is still blushing over hideous errors against its own code of accuracy and professionalism.

But they'd know these things because they didn't rely on the New York Times.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Benedict XVI Promotes Effective AIDS Prevention

Abstinence. It's foolproof against sexual transmission.

People who argue that the Church helps the spread of AIDS by not endorsing condoms ignore that fact.

They persist in imagining the same people who ignore the Vatican on fornication, will follow it blindly if it advocated they spend $2 per sexual contact buying a condom.

It's just another example of the outright hostility free-lovers have for anybody who says, "No thanks, it's not for me."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Jedi Master

Lex Communis has a series of links critical of the celebration of moral relativism in George Lucas' Star Wars sexology.

In Revenge of the Sith, Lucas tried to argue democracies elide from free societies to autocracy overnight. In interviews, he tried to cite the French Third Republic and the German Weimar Republic as examples.

In reality these systems first sank into a fug of moral relativism, where the highest duty of government was seen as avoiding extremes and balancing tensions. In practice, this is achieved by frustrating all political factions in the name of patriotism.

This negative political vision is the goal of a small minority, who refuse to align with factions built around agendas. It is therefore widely unpopular and inherently unstable.

At the first real crisis requiring resolute and committed action by the government, the leadership which has surmounted factionalism by avoiding decision, will be incapable of transforming from a passive authority into an activist government. It will therefore fail to resolve the crisis. The deeper the crisis, the harsher and more radical the popular rejection of the mediocre caretaker regime.

Lucas had a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate this, but unfortunately Lucas is among the minority longing for mediocrity. His psalm about the need to believe nothing too deeply renders this political fable a lame jeremiad against unfathomable Destiny that frustrates the best efforts of well-meaning relativists.

Silly rabbit, I want to yell, your system fell because it was built on sneering at the majority who gave a damn about results!

No, no, mutters the relativist, it is all a Greek tragedy of inescapable Doom. And then sulks in the ultrasophisticated melancholy of the postmodernist navelgazer.

I am too simplistic to appreciate the high Art of the vast-right-wing conspiracy of Fate.
To me, any man-made system fails through its human flaws, which are either curable with self-adjustment, or solvable with personnel changes.
Such is the eternal optimism of the American conservative. It used to be the message of Star Wars.

The spirit of the Jedi lives on in the United States Senate, where success is all about giving lip service to letting go while grabbing what you can with both hands.

Senator Clinton demonstrated impressive Jedi powers at her latest fundraiser. Like, communing with past masters:
"Now, I talk to Eleanor Roosevelt all the time, and she has never said there is any reason to only have one point of view," she said. "But apparently they have a different direct line."
Despite the blue apparition at her shoulder, Hillary does descend into Sith-like absolutes:
"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," Mrs. Clinton told the audience at a "Women for Hillary" gathering in Midtown Manhattan this morning.
There's a Sith legend about a guy from Arkansas who tried to regulate private enterprises' hiring policies with executive orders, went to the Supreme Court to argue executive privilege forbade any testimony about any White House transactions by anybody, and gutted the War Powers Act.
"I know it's frustrating for many of you; it's frustrating for me: Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them?" she continued to growing applause and cheers. "I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."
So we found in 1992 and 1996.
[Ed: On Wednesday Limbaugh said this point was being made by Democratic Senate staffers in private emails.]
Mrs. Clinton described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage over the Democratic minority.
Wouldn't that be "satanic"? Or in liberal Newspeak is "messianic" a synonym for immoral lust for power?
She also labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda.
Some simplistic minds might find this a sign of holding just one point of view. But really, any rational person would object to Congress trying to get work done. Right? No? You must have the wrong direct line.
Referring to Congress' Republican leadership, she said, "Some honestly believe they are motivated by the truth, they are motivated by a higher calling, they are motivated by, I guess, a direct line to the heavens."
Eleanor says they're nuts!
"We can't ever, ever give in to the Republican agenda," she declared. "It isn't good for New York and it isn't good for America."
Lucky how that worked out for her.
Imagine her dilemma if it was good for New York but bad for America, or bad for New York but good for America...
Suggesting some lines of reporting, she asserted that the Bush administration could not account for $9 billion in Coalition Authority spending in Iraq, and that the Food and Drug Administration had allowed religious and political bias to interfere with science-driven decision-making on reproductive drugs.
Yeah, who required ethics in medicine anyhow? Must have been some Jesus-freak.

If Hillary can't raise money in her own backyard without stooping to this, she'll be stumbling out of the gate in 2008.

Kudos to Patrick D. Healy for his report for the AP.

Note: The Daily Spork earlier noticed Hillary's drift to the Dark Side. And that of her audience.

Congrats!

To Master of None and the Daily Spork on their engagement!

To Prestopundit on the birth of his daughter!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Beyond Stupid II: Me

I really must have been tired last month.

I missed my own first blog anniversary!

What a difference a year makes. When I started this blog, in frustration over rampant defeatism, I was out of work and seeking to hone some computer skills as well as justify days spent online waiting for the phone to ring.

Today, I'm probably over-employed. It's difficult for me to post coherently on a daily basis. I work graveyard shift and live back with my folks (for now, though there are rumblings on the horizons about a migration of Notre Dame alumni into some 3-4 bedroom home in the Inland Empire).

I've learnt--and forgotten--quite a bit of HTML, joined a blogger league, and this summer will actually start attending some of its events.

Bush won his second election and is winning our second war. Terrorism is in retreat, democracy is on the march, and we have a new Pontiff.

The Dodgers begin the long road back. The Giants minus Magilla Gorilla are not even a sick parody of a contender. Neener neener!

The year ahead, for myself and the country as a whole, looks to continue to be prosperous.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Beyond Stupid

The UK is going to start taxing motorists per mile travelled.

I'm just an ignorant Yank, but I notice this is a totally new idea in Britain.
Meaning, they didn't do it in WWII.
Meaning, whatever financial crisis they're in right now, apparently is more expensive than standing off all of Europe and Japan.

Or, maybe it isn't about numbers. Maybe its a new generation of British politicians that can't bear to see any form of human activity permitted without slapping a tax on it.

It's in line with the European Value-Added Tax, which says that value exists independently of any profitable cash transaction. The VAT is a tax on costs, not profits. And now, the Brits will be taxed for the cost of shipping.

Such behavior can only succeed so long as foriegners are restrained from exploiting the artificially high cost of doing business in tax-laden Britain. I question how long America would agree to subsidize this tax.

A Classic To Be

Fellow BFL member Carpe Bonum steered me towards a great milblog, Avenger Red Six. Lt. Neil Prakash has been transcribing his Iraqi war journals into blog posts, and Carpe Bonum has them in a wonderful index.

Lt. Prakash assures us he is talking to a literary agent about a book. Good for him! It'll be worth every penny.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I'm Back!

Had to move everything down the hall. Seems that everything internet-related works fine.

I now have a northern exposure and the whole width of the house between myself and block parties, which has been a big help towards getting humane hours of sleep each day. It does tend to cut down on blog time.

I'll be attacking the pile of email in my window, checking some news, and then get back to regular posting.