August 31, 2002
U.S. News' Paul Bedard reports
U.S. News' Paul Bedard reports that CNN offered the White House a preview of their al-Qaeda video tapes. The White House declined because CNN wanted exclusive, instant reaction from President Bush and Condoleeza Rice. There's no mention of the CNN offering the White House copies of the tapes for analysis.
A few weeks ago, I wondered aloud why CNN didn't hand over copies of the tapes to the government to help in the Islamist War. I wrote:
There's still no evidence that CNN gave the government copies, nor is there evidence that they didn't.
In trying to get an answer to my question here's what I submitted to Ask CNN:
I eagerly await their reply.
The NY Times covers the
The NY Times covers the argument over September 11th lesson plans. There are the infamous National Education Association plans, and now there is the response produced by Lynne Cheney, Bill Bennett and others.
"Lesson Plans for Sept. 11 Offer a Study in Discord"
I haven't bother following the
I haven't bother following the U.S.-bashing--I mean United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development. The talk is the same: evil multinational corporations are exploiting the Third World to line the pockets of the already super rich. The solutions are the same as at any other summit of this type: more foreign aid; a Tobin tax; drastic environmental regulations; barring genetic research. Protesters insult President Bush's intelligence, demand freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the end to free trade. This summit is like any other Lefty confab where the U.S. and capitalism is blamed for the world's troubles, while their solutions are risky, pie-in-the-sky, utopia schemes. But as Bjorn Lomborg notes, the world isn't in that bad a shape:
People, like most editorial boards of U.S. newspapers, who are too consumed by white liberal guilt ignore the facts and support Leftist solutions. It doesn't matter whether the solutions actually do what they're designed to do or help people. As long as we (i.e. the U.S.) "do something" their guilt is assuaged.
UK engineers worry that needed
UK engineers worry that needed natural gas will have to be imported. This isn't so bad from an economic standpoint. Who really cares whether the natural gas needed to heat homes or power electric generators comes from the British part of the North Sea or the Norweigan part? On a stategic level, however, energy dependence is more critical. If war or some trade dispute broke out between Britain and it's energy importers, they could hold the island nation hostage. So, it makes sense to have indigenous energy sources. Over the last two decades, what's been happening in Britain is increased natural gas dependence. Energy Minister Brian Wilson told the BBC, "It calls into question whether it was all that clever to go so heavily for gas over the last 20 years when our indigenous resource is so finite." This increased dependence may have been the result of low natural gas prices (implying that there might not be the potential shortage UK engineers fear), but I suspect the hand of government played an important role.
What's needed to allow more energy diversity is not subsidized renewable resources that Wilson admits won't play much of a role in the next 8 years. Instead, regulations and government interference must be reduced to allow entrepreneurs to experiment with new energy projects. Those could be wind farms, hydro power, and biomass. It could also include nuclear power, the cleanest, most economically sound energy source available.
"UK 'Running out of Gas'"
Patrick wants some data to
Patrick wants some data to number crunch with. He writes, "Crunching crosstabs is like crack to me." He needs a job with the census. But seriously, fill out his survey. It's quick, painless, and another worthless thing to do on the Web.
August 30, 2002
Does anyone know Eminem's beef
Does anyone know Eminem's beef with Moby? At the MTV VMAs, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog did a bit with Moby about it and tried to include Eminem. The white trash rapper snubbed the pooch. Then Eminem accepts an award and threatens to hit Moby. The Christian, vegan, placid techno-rocker has no idea what Eminem's problem is. On his website, Moby wrote, "i'm kind of stunned at the anger that he has for me seeing as i'd never met him up until last night."
How about this: Eminem is just a filthy jerk so high on himself that he thinks it's alright to verbally assault others simply because he's Eminem. He's just a bully. A really popular bully, but a bully nevertheless.
Back to the strike that
Back to the strike that almost was:
For what the owners wanted, they didn't cave like I expected them to. There will be more revenue sharing and the payroll tax will apply to payrolls above $117 million next year. In return, baseball won't contract until at least 2006 and the minimum salary will rise 33%. The AP story says mid-market teams are the big winners while big-spending teams like the Yankees are the biggest losers.
As for my Brewers, this will marginally help. No one outside the team knows how bad the team's financials are. The two-year-old Miller Park was suppose to allow the team to afford better players, but their payroll has been almost flat. Then there's the question of team leadership. Brewers president Wendy Selig-Prieb accepts poor performance. If she didn't they why does she stick with general manager Dean Taylor? The best chance for future Brewers success is a deep-pocketed owner who sees the team as a long-term investment or hobby rather than a cash-flow generator.
"Last-Minute Deal in Baseball Talks Prevents a Strike"
"Baseball Strike Averted"
John Gray was once a
John Gray was once a shining light in intellectual conservative circles. He backed Margaret Thatcher and wrote approvingly of F.A. Hayek. Now, Gray hopes for mass death "and by the year 2150 the biosphere should be safely back to its pre-plague population of Homo Sapiens - somewhere between 0.5 and 1 billion."
Daniel Klein critiques Gray's method of attacking classical liberalism in "The Ways of John Gray."
"Of Lice and Men"
The baseball season has been
The baseball season has been saved. Now, I can look forward to watching the Milwaukee Brewers lose 100+ games. No time right now to see if the owner's caved. More later.
"No strike: Players, MLB agree on deal through 2006"
August 29, 2002
If you ever saw Tora,
If you ever saw Tora, Tora, Tora or watched any of documentaries last year on the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, then you know the story about a U.S. ship sinking a Japanese sub. Well, the sub has been found.
"Japanese Sub Found at Pearl Harbor"
To: President Bush, Tom Ridge,
To: President Bush, Tom Ridge, and every member of Congress
Charles Mann's article is outstanding. So far our security response to September 11th have been whiz-bang techno fixes. Legendary cryptographer and computer security expert Bruce Schneier sees that kind of approach as brittle and prone to bad failures. His security solutions entail flexible, multi-layered levels with human judgement as the most important feature.
From the "You Learn Something
Leon Wieseltier on the remembrance
Leon Wieseltier on the remembrance of September 11:
Remembering heroism is important, but September 11 marks the one-year anniversary of the Islamist War, and no one knows when it will end. Afghanistan has been liberated, but it needs to be supported. Iraq is in the crosshairs. With its eventual liberation, the entire Middle East could be positively shaken up. Few know if Osama bin Laden is dead or alive. Either way, his spirit lives on in his violent followers who would like nothing more than to kill thousands more Americans. So, this September 11, we should all take a moment to honor the civilians, firemen, policemen, and soldiers. More importantly, we must look at the video of the planes slamming into the towers. We must look at the smoking ruins that made Ground Zero and the Pentagon eery places. We must look at the photos of people leaping off the twin towers rather than dying by fire. We must remember that there are people in the world who want radioactive craters scattered across the U.S. To truly honor those who perished on September 11th, we must win the war.
"A Year Later"
Unlike the vast majority of
Unlike the vast majority of webloggers (yours truly included), John Hawkins is actually doing some original reporting. He recently interviewed Middle East expert, Daniel Pipes--buy his new book.
Here's Pipes on moderate Islam:
Then there's Pipes' pessimistic view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
An Interview With Daniel Pipes
August 28, 2002
Posting will be sparse for
Posting will be sparse for a few days. I'm finally working some day shifts, so no late night/early morning weblogging binges. We'll see if I'm in the mood in the evening.
Amazon's stock hasn't been doing
Amazon's stock hasn't been doing to well since they announced free shipping on orders above $49 dollars. Now, Bezos and the gang have dropped the limit to $25. They must be feeling the hit from Buy.com. A free shipping war isn't what's needed for a company trying to be profitable.
"Opinion: Amazon's Slow, Painful Dip in the Free Shipping Pool"
August 27, 2002
Rudy Giuliani on what should
Rudy Giuliani on what should be done with Ground Zero:
He wants a library and museum on the site.
"Giuliani Reveals Thoughts on WTC Site"
There's a report floating around
There's a report floating around the Pentagon listing the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) Iraq has. Sources say Iraq has battle-ready chemical weapons. That's not a surprise, since Saddam has a history of using them in battle against Iran and on Kurdish Iraqis. Sources won't say how far Iraq is from building a nuke.
The report isn't enough to confince Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) that invading Iraq is necessary. Cochran told the Washington Times,
"Pentagon Brief Details Iraq's Arms Capability"
Ronald Bailey reports on the
Ronald Bailey reports on the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. As Bailey puts it "many of the measures favored by negotiators and activists would increase poverty, not alleviate it."
"A Summit Misconceived"
Courtesy of ScrappleFace (what's with
Courtesy of ScrappleFace (what's with that name?): Top 10 Reasons to Criminalize Homeschooling. My favorite is
August 26, 2002
Time to have some fun
Time to have some fun with Gar Smith, editor of The Edge. In an interview with CNSNews.com, Smith showed off his wacko, radical environmentalist beliefs.
On poverty, Smith said,
Smith doesn't mention the life expectancy in the poorest parts of Africa: Sierra Leona, 25.9 years; Niger, 29.1 years; Rwanda, 32.8 years; Zimbabwe, 32.9 years. Electricity could do wonders for the poor. Hospitals and clinics could provide medical care. Factories could produce farm equipment that would increase food production and decrease malnutrition. Needed medicine, pesticides, and chemicals could give doctors and scientists a chance to reduce the AIDS epidemic plaguing the poor in Africa.
A big complaint for Smith is that electricity "the fuel that powers a lot of multi-national imagery." Forget the life-extending benefits of zapping electrons, the world's poor must be protected from McDonald's golden arches, Nike's swoosh, or Coke's contoured bottle.
As radical as Smith's views on electricity, his plan to save the planet is even wackier. He wants economic meltdown.
Electricity and a robust economy are goods and only bads in the eyes of a well-off radical Green. In the words of Greenpeace founder, Patrick Moore, "It's that kind of arrogance that is coming from a movement that is basically white upper-middle class and is saying that it's neat to have Africans with no electricity."
"Environmentalist Laments Introduction of Electricity"
The White House thinks it
The White House thinks it doesn't need Congressional approval to attack Iraq. Fine, but things would go smoother politically if Bush asked for a resolution (or a declaration of war for us old fashion types).
On a related note, Vice President Cheney made the case for war with Iraq. "We will not simply look away, hope for the best and leave the matter for some future administration to resolve," Cheney told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
"Bush Aides Say Iraq War Needs No Hill Vote"
"Cheney Presses Case for Iraq Action"
August 25, 2002
John Hawkins catches law professor
John Hawkins catches law professor Jonathan Turley in a rather large exaggeration. John even got Turley to help him out.
"Does John Ashcroft's 'Camp Plan' Actually Exist?"
Yuval Levin reviewed Capitalism and
Yuval Levin reviewed Capitalism and Commerce (not yet published). Levin calls it "a full-throated defense of the capitalist worldview," but mentions that capitalism does not create the values that allow free markets to flourish.
"The Moral Case for Capitalism"
August 24, 2002
We're at the point where
We're at the point where using the word "Africa" to sell something is consider "insensitive." No one is saying it's wrong; it's just insensitive. The McAfrika hamburger is a marketing failure not because of the complaints from the P.C. crowd. It doesn't work because it's a stupid name. When I think of a hamburger, Africa doesn't pop into my head, even if the burger is served in a pita instead of a bun.
[UPDATE: The McAfrika is probably the talk the blogosphere now since Glenn Reynolds posted on it. He accuses Norweigan whiners of stereotyping Africans. He also found a picture of the burger. That thing would fall apart onto my lap after the first bite.]
The great Bernard Lewis delves
The great Bernard Lewis delves into why Osama bin Laden is still popular in the Arab world. His popularity comes from deep in Arab folklore.
If Osama is dead, but no body is found people will still follow him. It would be like the Shi'ite myth of the Tweleth (Hidden) Imam.
Orrin Judd doesn't like Lewis' Robin Hood reference.
Weird story of the day:
Weird story of the day:
I may have found my calling.
"Briton Wins World Air Guitar Crown"
A group at Baylor University
A group at Baylor University say adult stem cells (ASC) may not be a flexible at transforming into other cells as once believed. Research as shown that embryonic stem cells (ESC) also have their problems, but it gives ammunition to backers of (ESC). This is just one groups of scientists and their anecdotal evidence doesn't prove that ASC won't be as useful as ESC. But if it is discovered that ASC aren't as medically helpful as ESC, I won't be jumping on the bandwagon of embryo harvesting. My argument against harvesting embryoes is not utilitarian, it's moral. Since it's a Western value not to use other individuals as means to other's ends; and since I consider human life to begin at conception, then this new information surrounding ASC doesn't change my opinion. Just as we don't harvest organs for needy patients from prisoners (unless we're China), human embryoes should not become the biggest cash crop of the 21th Century.
"Adult-Stem-Cell Research Shows Some Limits"
August 22, 2002
Donald Sensing of One Hand
Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping is correcting webloggers he felt took far too much from the controversy surrounding Millennium Challenge 2002. He writes that the exercise was rigged, and that's not a problem.
Paul Van Riper found a way to sink the U.S. fleet in the Persain Gulf. Two things could have happened afterwards: 1. continue the game with the lost fleet, possibly denying troops needed training; or 2. you could "refloat" the the fleet and continue on with the game, noting in the final analysis the sinking. Going with the second option just makes more sense.
Then Sensing points out that the Army Times story doesn't appear accurate given that Marine Lt. Gen Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs told reporters that Van Riper didn't resign from the exercise.
Chuck Watson also has some insightful thoughts.
For the record, my concern was technological hubris. Van Riper found a way around U.S. military gizmos with a low-tech approach--sending messages with motorcycles and minarets. Such ingenious tactics must be respected by the military.
Brothers Judd, thanks for the
The New Republic adds onto
The New Republic adds onto Tom DeLay's speech for reasons to attack Iraq.
Not that hard to comprehend is it?
Courtesy of IMproPRieTies, here's a
Courtesy of IMproPRieTies, here's a link to the Army Times' article on Paul Van Riper and Millennium Challenge 2002. It's much more detailed about what the military thought was the purpose of the exercise and how Van Riper thinks military strategy should be developed.
"War Games Rigged?"
So far, the only mentions
So far, the only mentions in Big Media I've found of Tom DeLay's important speech is a little blurb in Howard Kurtz's latest column and one paragraph in the NY Times. The press is still talking about Brent Scowcroft's opposition to war, yet the best argument so far for war gets little attention.
"Bush Promises Patience on Iraq"
A Saudi banker blames Jews
A Saudi banker blames Jews for the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by September 11 family victims.
"Saudi Bankers Deny Funding Terror" [via The Corner]
August 21, 2002
Europe must just love Tom
Europe must just love Tom DeLay's speech on war with Iraq. [Go to this page and select "08/21/2002: The Imperative for Action" under Speeches.] I'm sure writers for the Guardian and Independent along with pols in Germany, France, and Belgium must have especially liked it when DeLay said,
Those Europeans also won't like this passage:
I'd love to say DeLay read yesterday's TAM post. He probably didn't, but this part of the speech certainly restates my argument for toppling Saddam:
DeLay even offers another reason to attack Saddam:
The evil tyrant has yet to pay a price for that crime.
Then here's a passage that sounds like DeLay took it from any number of webloggers:
These thoughts are so parallel to those by Glenn Reynolds, Stephen Den Beste, and others, that I'd love to know how influential warbloggers are with DeLay and his staff.
DeLay has made the case for toppling Iraq as well as any public figure. It's better than anything the President has said. even though the speech echoes the totality of the President's thoughts on Iraq. This speech should rally the pro-war crowd after a few weeks of anti-war hollering.
John Podhoretz calls Blue Crush
John Podhoretz calls Blue Crush the Flashdance of the 00s.
"Flashdanceing on Water"
Alright, the Milwaukee MEETUP didn't
Alright, the Milwaukee MEETUP didn't work. Maybe it was the weather. Nasty storms with wild lightning passed through tonight. I don't know if anyone showed up. A few people were in the cafe, but no one really looked like they were waiting for anyone. If you were there, sorry I didn't notice you. I was the dude in glasses with the white and green t-shirt. I'll try this MEETUP thing one more time next month. Heck, I'll even be the defacto host. Pick a place and we'll have a little confab.
This is a great start
This is a great start to James Lileks' latest:
I'll be at the Milwaukee
Yeah, crazy Cynthia McKinney lost.
Yeah, crazy Cynthia McKinney lost. Bob Barr lost too. Not so happy about that.
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on preemptive
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on preemptive strikes (reporter's question included for context):
Rumsfeld was worried that the question would be about Iraq so he used the moon instead. So, despite the Secretary's objections, let's apply his construct to Iraq. Would the U.S. avoid more innocent deaths (both American and Iraqi) by acting than by not acting? That's the crux of the issue. If Saddam wasn't developing weapons of mass destruction and didn't have a history of using them on enemies and his own people and wasn't allowing al-Qaeda members to currently stay in Iraq (Rumsfeld calls this "a fact") then destroying his government and liberating Iraq wouldn't be the right course of action. If Saddam weren't doing the nasty things he's doing, then he wouldn't be a threat to the U.S. and wouldn't deserve a nastier version of Desert Storm. But we know Saddam's history with chemical weapons. He used them in the Iraq-Iran war and he used them on Kurds. We know he's developing a nuclear weapon. We know Saddam is supporting Palestinian homicide bombers; and if al-Qaeda is in Iraq, then they're there with permission of Saddam. Rumsfeld said, "Well, in a vicious, repressive dictatorship that has -- exercises near-total control over its population, it's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country." So, Saddam has access to WMD, the desire to build even greater weapons, the will the use them; and he is allowing members of a vicious terrorist group safe-haven in his country.
If no U.S. military action occurred, what could be the result? A continued Saddam-led Iraq would, in time, build a nuclear bomb. There's no question. With a nuke at hand, what would Saddam do with it? He could wave it around and threaten countries in the Arab world to do his bidding. He could even become the leader of the Arab world with the strength and guts to challenge the West. It could turn into a real Clash of Civilizations. Or he could allow al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group to take the weapon or its technology and let them attack the West. There's even the possibility that Saddam could try his best to guard the secret to his newfound political power, yet fail to protect the knowledge and materials from terrorist groups. In the end, there's a good chance that anti-West terrorist groups would end up with a nuclear weapon or the ability to build their own.
With such knowledge in terrorists' hands, any city on the planet would be in danger of being vaporized. Suppose Seattle was the unfortunate target, and it was learned that the nuclear technology came from Iraq. The President would ask Congress for a declaration of war, and it would be quickly given. There would be war in Iraq with an American public so angry they wouldn't care how many Iraqi civilians died. Many would call for Iraq to be turned into a sea of radioactive glass. There would be no mercy and Iraq would be destroyed.
Imagining this scenario of inaction, let's count the bodies. Millions dead in Seattle. Millions dead in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers killed. All because Saddam was allowed to continue building WMD.
Now, if the U.S. attacks Saddam it could be quick and decisive. The biggest numbers I've seen have a potential U.S. force of 200,000 attacking Iraq. It could be less if an Afghanistan-style operation took place. It certainly would be less than the 500,000 troops of Desert Storm and significantly smaller than battles in World War II and Korea. With smart weapons and our highly trained military, Iraqi civilians would get killed--that's a tragedy of war--but they would be kept to a minimum. Troops on both sides would die.
With Saddam defeated, Iraq would start on its path to freedom. It wouldn't be guaranteed, and it certainly would be rocky (see Afghanistan). The U.N. sanctions would be lifted and Iraqis could start trading with the rest of the world.
Examining a scenario of action, we see that troops on both side were killed along with Iraqi civilian casualties. What we wouldn't see is the millions of corpses from a destroyed American city along with the millions of Iraqis who died in the U.S. ruthless counterstrike.
Would attacking Iraq be as clean cut as my thought experiment? No, the drama of real life always tosses in an unknown factor that could alter perceptions and assumptions. Nevertheless, these scenarios of inaction and action provide a reasonable place for continued discussion.
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace
August 20, 2002
It's great that CNN is
It's great that CNN is showing the al-Qaeda tapes. The public must know the extent our enemies will go to to destroy us. What I wonder is did CNN give copies of the tapes to the U.S. government to boster their intelligence? Last night, Aaron Brown said government officials were allowed to watch the tapes, but he didn't say if the officials got copies of their own. If CNN didn't offer copies, then their so-called neutrality helps anti-Western Islamists who would do anything to destroy the freedoms that allow CNN to do its job.
"CNN Shows al-Qaida Poison Gas Tapes"
What generals, military analysts, politicians,
What generals, military analysts, politicians, reporters, and interested citizens should take from Millennium Challenge 2002, a three-week American war game, is that technological arrogance by a superpower can lead to defeat. In the simulation, an enemy Arab force, named Red, abandoned sending orders electronically and used motorcycle messengers and code words from minarets. The result was severe damage of an aircraft carrier group and amphibious invasion force. An AP story says "Much of the Blue force's ships ended up at the bottom of the ocean." Now, those setbacks didn't stop American forces from victory, but it serves as a sign that a clever, quick-striking enemy could inflict heavy casualties. The effects militarily and politically could lead to American defeat. All this from some technique that bypasses American technological advantage.
What's disturbing are the comments from Red military commander and ex-Marine general, Paul Van Riper. He devised the motorcycle messenger tactic. He worries that Millennium Challenge was "an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue (friendly forces) `win.'" Van Riper felt constrained in the tactics and weapons he was allowed to use. The fleet Van Riper practically destroyed magically reappeared in order for the simulation to continue. That makes sense in order to fully evaluate all the people and operations that went into the war game. However, it gives all us war backers an understanding that American military power is not infallible.
August 19, 2002
The NEA suggests to teachers
The NEA suggests to teachers that they shouldn't assign blame on the September 11th attacks to any group because
Yet when it comes to teaching tolerance, the NEA points to a PBS lesson plan that blames the U.S. for internment of Japanese Americans and abuse of German Americans during World War II. Charles at Little Green Footballs call this "indulging in a virtual orgy of American self-loathing."
No mention is made that the U.S. fought to free Japan and Germany from ruthless dictators. Also, no mention is made that the U.S. established free nations in both countries in the wake of World War II. For the NEA and PBS, America can do no right. We're wrong in assigning blame to Islamist Arabs even though 15 of the 19 were Saudi Arabian nationals. We're wrong to assign blame to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda because no legal authorities have proved they're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. They ignore the fact that bin Laden practically took credit for the attacks, gloating tht he didn't expect the twin towers to fall. Also, we're wrong to come to the conclusion that there's a whole lot of anger toward the U.S. and the West in the Arab world. The dancing Palestinians in the streets on September 11th along with the endless stream of anti-West essays and the glorification of homicide bombers demonstrate the Culture of Death prevalent in the Arab world.
Heaven forbid that little things like facts get in the way of Leftist notions of tolerance.
"NEA Delivers History Lesson"
Those who don't understand the
Those who don't understand the vile nature of the Islamist threat must watch the how-to chemical weapons video. The video shows that al-Qaeda will use any weapon available to kill as many Americans (and her allies) as possible. Chemical weapons analyst, John Gilbert comes to this conclusion:
In the video, a dog is killed by some unknown gas. It might have been nerve gas, or it could have been cyanide. These evil people wanted to see how it would affect a living creature. First a dog, next an American?
How will those critics of a war on Iraq respond to this video? After seeing the video, you know damn well the Islamists have no compunction to using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Their goal isn't just war on Western terms. Their goal is to kill as many people as possible. After looking at the video, you know the Islamists won't stop with chemical weapons. If available, al-Qaeda would with no hesitation attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. What country has a beef with the U.S. and would be more than happy if al-Qaeda "accidentally" got a hold of a nuke? I'll give you a hint: the answer has four letters and it begins with an "I" and ends with a "Q." This tape reinforces the reason to liberate Iraq. A regime change would not only free Iraqis from Saddam's heel, but reduce Islamist terrorists' access to WMD.
"Disturbing Scenes of Death Show Capability with Chemical Gas"
The latest count has 2,819
The latest count has 2,819 deaths in the World Trade Center attacks with over 6,700 total casualties.
"WTC Victim Toll Lowered by Four"
I'm cleaning out my stash
I'm cleaning out my stash of bookmarked pages and found this essay by Hans-Hermann Hoppe summarizing the ideas of his most recent book Democracy: The God That Failed. In the essay, Hoppe likes Monarchy over Democracy for time-preference reasons.
Like Christian Michel, Hoppe goes the anarchist route advocating what he calls "natural order." (Hoppe is a pal of Anarchy Lew Rockwell.)
This feels too utopian. All problems seem to vanish in Hoppe's "natural order." It's too pat and doesn't take into account the future messiness Man always seems to get himself into. Nevertheless, it's provocative and throws plenty of stones at the "Democracy is the Goal" crowd.
"Democracy: The God That Failed"
August 18, 2002
Som is an electronic musician
Som is an electronic musician who creates lush, soothing tunes. Some carry the highly sincopated breakbeat of drum and bass, while other songs go with a mid-tempo 4-4 beat. What Som offers is melodic, chillout trance that is relaxing, enveloping, and satisfying. "Sweet" and "Whill" be tossed into any downtempo mix for tasty change of pace.
Fareed Zakaria cuts through the
Fareed Zakaria cuts through the mythology of the greatness of Democracy. We now live in an age where Democracy is the rule for more than 50% of the population, yet "half of the 'democratizing' countries in the world today are illiberal democracies." In these countries, the rule of law isn't dominant and many civil rights are abridged. Zakaria sees limited government--constitutionalism--as more important for freedom than democratic process.
He goes on to write,
[UPDATE: I'll add a link to Christian Michel's anarchist critque of Democracy. Although I see the need for a monopoly of force under jurisdiction of a democratic state, Michel notes that Democracy itself is no protection from tyranny:
Michel gave the speech at an ISIL conference I attended in France last year. I didn't get to see it live because I had to be in Paris the next day to catch my flight home.
"Why I Am Not A Democrat (I Prefer Freedom)"]
From Virginia Postrel's latest NY
From Virginia Postrel's latest NY Times column, Professor Sala-i-Martin gets to an important point about economic development and income inequality:
According to Professor Sala-i-Martin, as long as all strata are getting richer, who really cares if the rich are becoming more better off?
This point is vital to any discussion about the supposed need for government to tax the well off just so it can redistribute it to those not so well off. Economic growth isn't a zero sum game. There isn't one big apple pie and if the rich take a big slice, then that's so much less left for the poor. No, economic growth is when people better meet the wants and needs of others. Intel will come up with a new microprocessor that doubles the speed of their current chips. They will sell the chip at the same price as they initially sold the slower chip. If I buy that chip for my computer (assuming all things being equal), I'm better off because I have a faster machine to post interesting thoughts and download porn--I mean pictures of GOP babes. Intel's better off because they got the money from my chip purchase. We both benefited and are better off. Now, someone with little understanding of exchange could see the transaction as only benefiting Intel, because the Silicon Valley behemoth ended up with a few hundred dollars that was once sitting in my pocket. What that person misses is the little piece of silicon I got in return for the money I gave Intel. I think I'm better off with the chip than without, and Intel thinks they're better off with my money than without. We're both subjectively better off than before, or we wouldn't have entered into the exchange.
Next, this must be applied to globalization. Noam Chomsky and just about anyone who's written for IndyMedia think poor nations are being exploited by multi-national corporations. Workers in Third World nations toil in sweatshops while Americans get cheap khakis at The Gap or cheap trinkets in gas stations. But here's the dirty little secret: those workers want to work for them. For them, $2 a day is a lot better than the 25-cents they were earning plodding around in a rice paddy or digging a ditch. Sewing together a pair of wrinkle-resistant Dockers sure beats unemployment. Are these the greatest jobs in the world? Nope, not by a long shot. The hours are long, and the work is hard and sometimes dangerous. But what it is is a start to further economic development. No matter how much foreign aid is pumped into a place like Nigeria, an Intel microchip fabrication plan will not spout up and offer high five-figure engineering salaries. The most valuable resource developing countries have is cheap labor. In time, that labor pool will benefit from the knowledge and business practices of their multi-national benefactors, and they will move on to making more valuable goods and services.
An example of this is Taiwan. For years, they were used as sources of cheap labor. Many of my toys were stamped with "Made in Taiwan." As the Taiwanese economy has developed, they've moved into more technical areas. Many of the world's memory chips are produced there as well as durable goods (Dell notebook computers and HP printers) made by contractors. It's now at the point where business are moving their operations from developed countries like Taiwan to countries like Vietnam and Thailand where the labor's cheaper. Sure, people are displaced, but countries like Taiwan are better off from the international investment. The multi-national corporations are better off, but developing countries are too. The rich win; the poor win. It's a win-win and a good thing.
The premise of The Washington
The premise of The Washington Post's David Von Drehle and Juliet Eilperin on the GOP's anti-business rhetoric is flawed. Their first paragraph states,
They then give some quotes from Republican lawmakers crying out for executives to go to jail. This is a far cry from T.R.'s calls for expansive new laws and agencies to regulate business. Roosevelt got the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act passed into law. T.R. also ordered antitrust suits. The recent corporate fraud law passed is no where near the level of regulation T.R. advocated, and no one in the GOP is calling for anything like T.R.-style measures.
Far from the GOP turning on Big Business as the story's headlines states, Big Business is shrinking from politics this year. Von Drehle and Eilperin write,
GOP pollster, Glen Bolger is spinning a bit when he says, "As long as Republicans have a level of aggressive response and talk about how corporate wrongdoing should be punished, people are siding with the Republican message." However, the jist of what he says is correct. If the GOP offers a response to corporate corruption that doesn't look like they're giving crooks a pass, they should be fine. A more important message that must be honed is how to get the sputtering economy moving again. Unless bombs start falling on Iraq and tanks roll into Bagdad by Election Day, the economy will be voters' primary issue.
The reporters must be given credit for pointing out the most important races: the three Senate races in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Missouri. Whichever party wins the majority of those races will probably control the Senate (advantage: GOP).
"As Voters Seethe, GOP Turns on Big Business"
Judge Jeffrey L. Simmons in
Judge Jeffrey L. Simmons in Vinton County, OH told prosecutors they couldn't seek the death penalty for Gregory McKnight because the county couldn't afford the defense attorney fees. This is odd on a couple of levels. First, Judge Simmons is allowing questionalble financial considerations to trump justice. If the judge thought Vinton County could afford McKnight's lawyer fees, then it would be alright to go ahead. For Judge Simmons, the pursuit of justice isn't the most important factor here. Instead it's legal costs. Second, the judge performed a disservice to the victim's family. Too bad for Cynthia Murray, mother of Emily Murray, that her killer was found in a poor county. I'm sure that makes her feel better.
Now, I'm oppsed to State-sanctioned killing beyond defense. The death penalty is morally flawed while other means of punishment are available. But what Judge Simmons has done is determine county budget priorities instead of leaving that to officials who were elected just for that purpose.
"Citing Cost, Judge Rejects Death Penalty"
A former Palestinian Authority treasurer
A former Palestinian Authority treasurer calls Arafat corrupt. "I found out how he took aid money and contributions that were earmarked for the Palestinian people to his own account," Jaweed al-Ghussein told Ha'aretz. He's now in a British hospital after being relased from house arrest in Gaza. I'd love it if al-Gussein would tell the world how Arafat banked enough cash to make himself a billionaire. Enquiring minds want to know.
"Arafat Foe Calls Him Corrupt"
Yikes! The suit against all
Yikes! The suit against all those associated with al-Qaeda is $116 trillion(!). That's the mother of all lawsuits.
August 17, 2002
A Cuban rap festival where
A Cuban rap festival where performers are bashing the Communist government may seem like a threat to Fidel Castro, but reading farther into the story, you come across this quote from a member of Obsesion:
This isn't pop culture being used to topple the status quo. An American who performed at the festival reinforced that. "The black youth are trying to create space for their own identity. They are critical, but they are not bashing the revolution."
How did the Cuban government prevent rap from becoming a weapon?
"Cuban Rap Festival Starts with Social Protest"
Baseball players say they'll strike
Baseball players say they'll strike August 30 if a deal can't be reached with baseball owners. The snag in negotiations is the payroll tax. Players want it at $130 million, while owners want it at $102 million. The players are right when they say it will prevent salaries from rising as much as they would without the tax. The owners don't have the guts to ask for a real salary cap. Salary caps are in place in football and basketball and those players are continuing to see pay increases without constant labor conflicts.
A strike would be devastating. Football is in its pre-season, and that's already driving interest away from baseball. Many cynical baseball fans will shrug their shoulders and give up on the sport they grew up with.
"Baseball Is Two Weeks from a Strike"
August 16, 2002
Here's a great bit from
Here's a great bit from Mark Steyn:
The same can be said of most universities.
"How About a Little Diversity of Thought?"
Donald Rumsfeld on the re-opening
Donald Rumsfeld on the re-opening of the Pentagon's E-Ring:
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Franks
[UPDATE: Robert DeNiro was at Rumsfeld's briefing. Why, I don't know.]
August 15, 2002
America's most ferocious weapon has
America's most ferocious weapon has entered the Islamist War. Families of the September 11 attacks are releasing the legal hounds. They're suing banks, charities, and three members of the Saudi royal family. Hell hath no fury than a lawyer seeking a big payday. This is one instance where I hope the trial lawyers sock the defendants for everything they're worth.
"9-11 Families Sue Alleged Terror Financiers"
August 14, 2002
With the coming one-year anniversary
With the coming one-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, America seems to be "back to normal" as President Bush wanted us to be. While there's plenty of talk in the air of if and when to attack Iraq, most public discussion revolves around the stock market and corporate corruption. Democrats are focusing completely on the economy as their path to Congressional victory in the fall. Bar patrons wonder if pro baseball players will strike and if they really care. It may be collective denial or naive hubris, but it doesn't feel like we're at war.
Rod Dreher worries about America's mental state:
Dreher wants the networks to start showing the awful video of the planes crashing to the WTC. He also wants video of victims jumping from the towers to escape the fire and smoke. A visual jolt to the system is what Dreher is calling for.
How's this for a visual jolt. At The Bunker in the Town of Rochester, WI a special ceremony is planned.
I think Dreher would approve.
"America, Be Angry"
"Burning Bin Laden"
Mount Pleasant, WI's Plan Commission
Mount Pleasant, WI's Plan Commission ordered an owner of a Dairy Queen to repaint the resturant and pay a $50,000 fine. The crime committed was it was painted red, white, and blue without town permission. On Monday, the town board voted to nix the Plan Commission's punishment and put the issue behind everyone. "I introduced this motion because I want this issue to go away," said Supervisor Mark Gleason. Why it's the town's business when a business can paint their building and in what colors, I don't know. I'm sure it has something to do with "quality of life" or some other kind of schpeel that tramples on property rights. Maybe the dark sky people should jump on this. In a way, a building's color scheme could be considered light pollution.
"Town Attorney to Rule on Dairy Queen Colors"
James Bowman sees the strangeness
James Bowman sees the strangeness in the clash over UNC's required reading of Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations:
In the end, UNC isn't making students read the book to better understand Islam. It's all about political correctness and an inflated sense of piety. Bowman writes, "the UNC teach-in is all for the sake of making the teachers feel better, and more virtuous, for showing off their own tolerance in public."
At least there's one UNC Christian making sense on the Islam dispute. Fred Eckel doesn't have a problem with the required reading.
"A Kinder, Gentler Koran"
Alicia Colon went into a
Alicia Colon went into a den of pro-abortion GOP women and came away unnerved.
"No Such Thing as Moderate GOP Women"
A Washington, D.C. EMT believed
A Washington, D.C. EMT believed that she would be fired if it was discovered she was pregnant. So what does she do? She gets an abortion. What kind of mindset does it require to choose a job over a baby? The rationale is simple: the baby really isn't a baby; it's just a clump of cells. Even if it was a baby, a job is much more important. Does the sanctity of human life even exist for the unborn any more? Through dehumanization and convience millions of children are legally killed. Does human progress exist? Abortion and its blood brother, the Culture of Death, sometimes makes me wonder.
John makes a simple yet
John makes a simple yet reasonable case for attacking Iraq and finishing the Gulf War. [Page down to the paragraph that starts "Why Is Iraq Our Top Priority."] However, he gets a little carried away about the repercussions of Iraq's liberation and a democratic revolution in Iran:
This seems way too simplistic. Syria and Lebanon will roll over? I've heard no one make a case to remove the dictators of Syria and free its puppet Lebanon. And even if Washington officials have thought about it, would the American public support attacking Syria? Critics of another Iraq war have said that there's no direct link between Iraq and the September 11th. attacks. Therefore, there's no justification to invade. They're wrong, but imagine what more reasonable arguments they could make for not invading Syria. There's no link between Syria and September 11th., and no one thinks they're building nukes. Why would Syria roll over if it didn't think the U.S. would attack?
And what does John mean when he writes that Saudi Arabia will "have to comply once we have full access to Iraqi oil?" After Iraq has been liberated, will the House of Saud see the err of their ways and allow their citizens some semblance of freedom? It's not that simple. The Saudi royal family has no history of supporting human rights and has no intention of giving up power just because there's a democracy to their north.
John seems to think that an Iraqi war will solve many of the problems in the Middle East and end the Islamist terrorism threat. No, the Islamist threat has been brewing for years and years. It's the response to an Islamic world that has been economically, politically, and culturally defeated by the West (see Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong). The rage of the Arab street will not be placated by a liberated Iraq or the fall of the House of Saud. Cultural change within the Islamic world is needed. That means Muslims must find a way to treat women fairly, to understand the need to reasonably separate religion and government, and to respect and appreciate the power of human freedom. This will take time, decades, probably longer. Looking at it this way, war with Iraq becomes only a baby step.
Since much of the economic
Since much of the economic slowdown is because of a dramatic drop in capital spending (consumer has propped up the economy, although that's starting to falter), IBM laying off 15,000 workers because of "the recent decline in corporate spending on technology services" isn't encouraging for recovery.
"IBM Cutting More Than 15,000 Jobs"
My Blogcritics review is up,
My Blogcritics review is up, but you've already read it, haven't you?
August 13, 2002
An e-mail posted at The
An e-mail posted at The Corner describes the Milwaukee Brewers' lame attempt at entertainment:
As a distraught Brewers fan, the rabbit makes me cringe. I'm pretty sure if they found this guy in costume banging away on his pail on a street corner in downtown Milwaukee, he would be arrested and given plenty of psychological treatment.
President Bush takes a stand
President Bush takes a stand against excessive federal spending by not releasing $5.1 billion in an anti-terrorism bill. Vetoing the huge farm bill would have been more fiscally responsible, but it's more symbolic than Bush's economic forum. What we need to see is Bush calling for pushing up last year's tax cuts. That might inspire more business investment while helping immediately with cash flow.
"Bush Assures Summit Participants Economy Under Control"
John at Right Wing News
John at Right Wing News has a pretty good rant on blacks and the GOP:
Blogcritics is up and running.
Blogcritics is up and running. Today, there will be a chat with RIAA president Cary Sherman on the future of the music industry. My review of Willy Porter's latest disk isn't up yet. I know Eric is really busy with the wife and kids, but I'm getting antsy.
Australia is having an important
Australia is having an important debate over embryonic stem cells (ESC). Pro-lifers claim that scientists could go beyond harvesting stem cells to using embryoes for drug and cosmetic testing. The logic is sound if macabre. If it's alright to kill an embryo to get its stem cells, why not test the safety of cosmetics or the efficacy of drugs? The embryo is only a bunch of cells. How can moral qualms stand in the way of science and medicine?
"Pro-Lifers Say Embryonic Stem Cell Researchers Not Motivated By Possible Cures"
The worst burden from Alzheimer's
The worst burden from Alzheimer's disease is that on family members who watch their loved one slip away from them. CNSNews.com reports that Ronald Reagan no longer recognizes his wife Nancy. Say a prayer for both of them.
The sudden popularity of DVDs
The sudden popularity of DVDs over VHS tapes shows that "lock-in" may not be the anti-trust weapon some economists, lawyers, and policy wonks think it is. This has implications on the Microsoft anti-trust case. Paxton Hehmeyer writes:
"Rise of DVDs Casts Doubt on Microsoft Ruling"
August 12, 2002
Here's a treat. Alan Wellikoff,
Here's a treat. Alan Wellikoff, author of The Civil War Supply Catalogue, gives TAM a historian's view of Disney edutainment. It isn't pretty, folks. Thanks Alan, for allowing me to publish this. You may have earned the title TAM History Consultant.
"Today we came under attack by the combined forces of the Imperial (crackle, crackle, oooweeeooo, crackle)"
Walt Disney believed that history was best taught as entertainment, which is partly why Pocahontas enjoys more fame than the 1909 Payne-Aldrich Tariff. Of course, Mr. Disney advanced this theory way back in the 1950s, just as the country itself was beginning to take on characteristics of a fun park, with its wild frontier getting carved into a site map of Mickey Mouse suburbs and burger-themed miracle miles. However, as it's been just a few years since the Disney Corporation proposed to build an American Historyland not far from the site of the Battle of Bull Run, it might do well to consider just how that subject fares at the company's existing wonder worlds. One place to go is Disney World's Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida.
On my last visit, Disney's "American Adventure" stood like a neocolonial insurance company headquarters in the midst of nearly a dozen other national pavilions. In its lobby, tourists ignored revolutionary-era artifacts until permitted to enter a theater with seats that (unlike those at most other Epcot attractions) didn't move along tracks. The house was an admirably patriotic iteration of a Loew's movie palace, its stationary chairs redeemed by the "magical mix of motion pictures and Audio-Animatronics imagineering" that unfolded before their occupants.
Signaling the start of the American Adventure, house lights dimmed and music swelled as -- trembling slightly on their lifts -- robots rose. These weren't sinister cyborgs, but effigies of Mark Twain and Ben Franklin that -- appropriate to the mixture of past and present they represented -- were to be our cohosts for the performance. Although artificial as a couple of diet Yoo-Hoos, robots Franklin and Twain were astonishingly lifelike and performed their tasks with no less skill that might be found, say, in a junior high production of Our Town.
After introductions, Franklin and Twain yielded to a succession of fellow replicants from beneath the stage and a US history unfolded: Jefferson bantered amicably as he prepared a draft of the Declaration; silhouetted atop his horse Nelson, Washington contemplated nation-building at Valley Forge. Then, and in a gesture reminiscent of Jiminy Cricket snuffing out a candle in Pinocchio, George Washington Carver doused a lantern for the night on a Mississippi river raft. What's this, you say? G. W. Carver floating down the Mississip' on an old river raft? Well, I suppose it could've happened, perhaps on some well-earned break from peanut experimentation. But in iconographic terms, Carver riding a Mississippi raft is a bit like Huckleberry Finn working in a Tuskegee research lab. Sure, Carver's a genuine historic figure, but in American-Adventure terms, the ante-bellum river-rafting franchise belongs to the two greatest figures in American literature -- Huck and his runaway slave companion, Jim. Needless to say, these two have always been controversial figures, and only recently the scourge of a language police too horrified by 19th-century "N-word" usage to understand either the historical or the subversive political context in which they appeared. You'd think that Twain's cyborg might've lifted a servomotor in the defense of his characters. I've got a green-backed Franklin that says the old man himself would have done as much.
This little episode was a harbinger of the schizophrenic political correctness that informs the American Adventure. Partly, it's one that reinforces the postwar California progress-ideal for which the original Disneyland stands as a monument. On the other hand, it's a variation on Disney's customary telling of American history that's a bit like Cubby and Annette being replaced in the Mouskateer lineup with Charles and Mary Beard.
In the first instance, Andrew Carnegie, and other, less philanthropical robber barons emerge from beneath the American Adventure's orchestra pit to remind us that the progress ideal still so evident at all Epcot attractions had its beginnings in 19th-century Social Darwinism. Here, the indelibility of the Tomorrowland trust in technological progress trounces standard-issue political correctness. Thus, Disney's pro-tech article of faith is enough to save the memory of even Gilded-Age capitalists from the plundering cast of their popular image.
However, although he's cordial toward fellow android Twain, Ben Franklin's favorite author appears to be John Steinbeck, to whom he referred twice. Was this the Wonderful World of Historical Revisionism with Disney returning Franklin to us as a Pinkerton-fighting Wobbly in a cocked hat? Was a coy parallel being drawn between the embattled farmers who first fired the "shot heard 'round the world" and the migrant farm workers of Steinbeck's In Dubious Battle? Maybe so, but the American Adventure cannot be dismissed as simply an endorsement of Depression-era polemics -- for Disney doesn't just leave the stage to reconstituted colonial grape-boycotters like Franklin.
As part of history that diligently pays tribute to those political movements that have come into vogue since you, Fess Parker and I were young -- and as a likely sop to Epcot's many German and Japanese visitors -- the American Adventure covers both World Wars without any mention of just whom it was we fought, much less why we did so. Also, in a Magical Kingdom take on the revisionism for which American history texts have become so notorious, such denizens of the historical fringe as Chief Joseph, Susan B. Anthony, and even John Muir got full robot-and-set status, while even Honest Abe enjoys no more screen time than Say-Hey Willie. Why? Maybe it's because Lincoln's one dead white male whose animatron is doing nicely over at Disneyland, or -- as JFK also gets short shrift in this program -- perhaps it's because the American Adventure considers martyrdom more in the province of the Moroccan pavilion just down the street at Epcot.
In all, these weird couplings, additions and omissions attain a greater strangeness when limned in the cartoon style of early Disney histo-dramas - only this time the politics have changed. A clockwork Sally Ride flying the Discovery space shuttle through the heavens like Herbie the Lovebug wouldn't have been out of place here. Nor would a funicular Mike Fink polling down the Big Muddy in concert with Emiliano Zapata, Haym Salomon, Rosa Parks and Squanto. Their finale might proclaim Disney's dictum that in order to entertain, history must also be inoffensively p.c. -- for in its own way, Disney history is anything-can-happen day.
Email Alan at email@example.com
Copyright 2002, Alan Wellikoff
August 11, 2002
According to federal officials, scientists
According to federal officials, scientists doing stem cell research can experiment on stem cell lines derived after 8.9.2001--the day Bush gave his stem cell speech--as long as private money is funding it. Some like OxBlog's Josh Chafetz don't mind it, but for me this shows the need for a ban on this kind of research. Proponents can claim all they want about the possible benefits, and they might be right, but the method towards those benefits is barbaric and inhuman.
Notice this paragraph in the NY Times story:
Melton "derived new stem cell lines in his laboratory." Unless I'm mistaken, the only way I know to get new stem cells is by fertilizing eggs with sperm, waiting a few days for the zygote to develop, then extract them from the embryo resulting in its death. I know stem cells have been harvested from umbilical cord blood, so I suspect that's not where Melton got his stem cells from. You "harvest" those cells not "derive" them. He created human life just to snuff it out for his scientific goals. Sounds awfully Mengelian to me.
"U.S. Rule on Stem Cell Studies Lets Researchers Use New Lines"
A crass way of driving
A crass way of driving traffic to TAM is to link to a few shots of the lovely Ann Coulter, the Twiggy of the conservative world. Here's Ann living it up, adult beverage in hand. Here's Ann picking off Lefty webloggers who pissed her off (note the high heels with the shorts). Here are the four faces of Ann. Then there's Ann on Court TV.
The amount of Republican loveliness
The amount of Republican loveliness is beyond words. During the 2004 political conventions watch carefully when the cameras panned the crowd. I'll guarantee you see sexier women at the GOP's convention than at the Democrats'.
Republican BABE of the Week!
Bomb Iraq on September 11th?
Bomb Iraq on September 11th? It would certainly make for a memorable anniversary. Europe would go bonkers. Writers for the Guardian and Independent would go balistic over the blood-lusting Americans taking out their anger against oppressed Iraqi civilians (whether any were hurt or not). Warbloggers would cheer. Just don't do it for symbolism. Do it to advance the goal of destroying Saddam. If it's only to boost American morale, then it would look awfully Clintonian. Bush et al. must focus on the goal: liberating Iraq. If a September 11th. strike fits into that, fine, drop a laser guided bomb for me.
Dan Santow has some words
Dan Santow has some words of advice for memoir writers:
He arrived at this because at the end of Jerome Charyn's "memoir" Bronx Boy there's a disclamer that reads:
So, it's not really a memoir at all. The closest thing it comes to is fiction deeply based on personal experiences. Sounds kind of like Saul Bellow's Ravelstein, but at least his fictional tribute to Allan Bloom was labled as ficiton.
"When `A Memoir' Doesn't Really Denote a Memoir"
David Friedman has laid out
David Friedman has laid out the basis for reducing spam by selling access to your e-mail box. What is required is an easy-to-use program that takes care of the digital stamps and e-cash stuff (Hello, eBay/PayPal). One reason e-mail encyption isn't widely used is because it isn't easy to use. PGP may be the easiest, but all that public and private key business makes my head swirl, and I'm a rabid computer user. This idea is great on paper, but until it's developed into something practical, we're stuck with old fashion filtering.
"Mail Me the Money!"
It only took one column
It only took one column and I despise the Independent even more than the Guardian. What set me off? Adrian Hamilton's insipid piece the calls for the invasion of the U.S. Why? According to Hamilton
In other words, in order to protect the West from the Islamist and Communist threat (both China and North Korea), an American military build-up is immoral. Hamilton also claims Bush shouldn't be President because he didn't get a majority of the popular vote. I doubt Hamilton is aware that the U.S. has been under this sort of arrangement since the passage of its constitution. Ironically, an American leader at the time with the same surname would have spurned the suggestion of a purely popular vote for the Presidency.
But does Hamilton stop? No, he offers another reason for invasion.
Note the word "regime" instead of government, implying its illegitimacy. To Hamilton, the corporate scandals of Enron and WorldCom were born by the Bush administration. In fact, much of the illegal activity happened before Bush took office. Hamilton doesn't lambaste the Clinton gang for "poison[ing] its own people with corrupt capitalism." As for pollution, Hamilton thinks any disagreement with the environmental Left is cause to accuse Bush of poisoning people.
The column is tongue-in-cheek, but the attitude toward America is real and biting. Hamilton can't accept the fact that the U.S. is the world superpower. He is opposed to anything that appears to have a great deal of power--he calls Microsoft, Exxon, and General Electric the Zaibatsu. As a knee-jerk Leftist, his instict is to attack big boys and refuse to see the good they offer to the world. For Hamilton, the U.S. can do no right, but deep down, I think he realizes that the world would be worse off with a lesser U.S. That's what really bugs him.
"Yes, We Need a 'Regime Change' in this Rogue State..."
Patrick points out the same
Every once in a while TAM can get ahead of the budding political strategist.
I know I posted a
I know I posted a story on Jon Messner's hijacking of an al-Qaeda (al-Qaida?) website (pun intended), but Blogger's messed up my archives and Google isn't helping either. Anyway, Wired News has a report on how Messner did it. I'm still bummed that it took the FBI five days for someone with Net skills to talk to Messner. The feds have to hire lots of geeks and quickly.
Prof. Reynolds pointed me to
August 10, 2002
The British Film Institute's Sight
The British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine polled directors and critics on the best movie of all time. To no real surprise, Citizen Kane topped both lists. It's a great choice. The movie's epic in scope with great acting and innovative camera work. My only qualm with the lists is Hitchcock's Vertigo is on the lists while his Rear Window isn't. While not as unique in its production, the latter is more funnier, more entertaining, and Grace Kelly is a stunner.
"Citizen Kane is Best Movie, Directors, Critics Say in Polls"
August 09, 2002
Will we have a congressional
Will we have a congressional committee investigate how the Bureau of Economic Analysis messed up their estimation of corporate profits during the Clinton administration? Will newspaper editorial boards call for heads to roll at the agency like they would if another Enron or WorldCom is discovered to have cooked their books?
What the Commerce Department's correction does is destroy the Democrats' myth that President Bush's tax cut led to our present economic malaise and budget deficits. While the Clinton White House crowed about a vibrant, growing economy, in actuality corporate profits were already falling. In fact, the limited Bush tax cut may have prevented the recession from getting worse.
The Journal Sentinal doesn't even
The Journal Sentinal doesn't even consider Saudi Arabia a friend.
"Saudi Arabia, Friend or Foe?"
The University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina is in an uproar over a freshman required reading of portions of the Qur'an. Religious groups see it as forcing a religion upon impressionable minds. Bill O'Reilly compared the required reading to being forced to read Hitler's Mein Kampf.
The criticism is over the line. Part of what makes university life so satisfying is the opportunity to discover new ideas and mull them over. Being exposed to the Qur'an at a time when we're at war with an enemy who's beliefs are based on it is a good thing. Michael Sells' book Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations may be one-sided, but it is the beginning not the ending of a discussion of Islam and its relation to the world. Let's remember that these freshmen are adults. This is the beginning of a process where they can decide how much they want to learn about Islam. At a minimum UNC freshmen will partially "know thy enemy." Hopefully, they'll begin to see the important differences between militant Islamists intent on destroying the West and those Muslims who are trying to drag their religion kicking and screaming into the 21th. Century. After reading Sells' book they can move on to the fine studies of Bernard Lewis or the contrary perspective of an Edward Said.
"Qur'an Reading Assignment Stirs Passions for and Against"
"A Timely Subject -- and a Sore One"
Make your own Def Leppard
Make your own Def Leppard live album with these legit MP3s. "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages" aren't here, but "Animal" sounds good (even if Joe Eliot can't hit the high notes any more). Oh, by the way, the band also has a new album out.
Who would have thought developers
Who would have thought developers with a profit motive could think of a way to incorporate more green space in new communities? Reason Public Policy Institute fellow, Leonard Gilroy describes the approach:
Developers have found that "[m]any people would gladly trade lot size for proximity to natural scenery." What's preventing this kind of development from occuring more often is outdated local zoning ordinances.
"Conservation Subdivision Design: A Market-Friendly Approach to Local Environmental Protection"
August 08, 2002
Milwaukee's Willy Porter has come
Porter's live show is excellent. A few weeks ago at Milwaukee's Summerfest, I passed time waiting for another concert to start by checking out Porter. On stage it was just him and an acoustic guitar. Not much to see, but the power he brought forth from that instrument was amazing. On one song he picked and plucked enough to make a lesser guitarist's fingers fall off. The song was over and Porter just kept on going, diving into another one. Amazing.
Much of that acoustic virtuosity comes out in his latest self-titled album. The listener is bathed in fine, staccato picking on the first track "Breathe." From there his brand of acoustic rock continues.
It's an oxymoron but "Unconditional" is an urban pastorale. Porter describes the love of a mother on a train sitting with her baby and the love of friends to a man on his death bed. Gentle and moving.
Willy Porter has plenty of emotion and soul. Porter doesn't hold back with his wailing on "Everything but Sorry." His raspy but melodic voice caresses "Big Yellow Pine." On "All Fall Down" and "If Love were an Airplane" it lifts like a helium balloon in the harmonies.
But all is not serious on the album. "Dirty Movie" tells a voyeuristic tale of a couple making homemade porn. The chorus with falling bass line makes it the easiest song to stick in your head. There are plenty of pop hooks to keep you hummer long after the disk stops playing.
What ties all the songs together is Porter's acoustic playing. That's the backbone to every song. Neither the drums nor keyboards dominate any of the songs. They're there to add the needed rhythms and textures. Nothing distracts from Porter's playing and his vocals.
Willy Porter is more intimate than his live performance. Porter sounds like he's playing in a coffee shop or small club than a larger venue. Sometime, I would love to hear him capture the size of his live sound on an album.
U.S. troops in Bosnia bought
U.S. troops in Bosnia bought themselves better two-way radios than were issued to them. The Army's response was to confiscate them. Richard Hart Sinnreich writes:
"When the Troops Need Radios . . . "
"Let's Roll" may be the
"Let's Roll" may be the most transfused meme that came from September 11. It's good because it describes so well the American approach to problems. When confronted with adversity Beamer et al. knew what was at stake, and they acted. Todd Beamer's call to action led to the first American victory in the Islamist War. If Beamer and company had failed in their ad hoc mission, we would be mourning three airplane attacks. United Flight 93's target may have been Capital Hill or the White House; we will never know. It didn't happen because Beamer & company beat the bad guys.
"Let's roll" has become our battle cry. The phrase is our "Remember the Alamo!" and "Remember the Maine!" It's a call to do what must be done. It's inspirational. Making that phrase the motto for this year's Florida State football team is a sign of admiration to those who gave their lives in the sky over Pennsylvania. "Let's roll" isn't being used to sell cheeseburgers, SUVs, beer, or even FSU football tickets. Bowden is using those words to patriotically unite his players like the nation was united after September 11. Bowden's use doesn't rob the phrase of it's meaning. Beamer used it to urge his fellow passengers to the front lines. Bowden is using it so his players know what real courage is. Sounds like a fitting tribute to me.
Guys like Keith Olbermann may think anyone who wants to use the phrase should ask the Todd S. Beamer Foundation for permission, but those two words combined were around pre-September 11. Now, they've penetrated the very fabric of this generation's psyche. For sure, the phrase is being used tastelessly to sell schlock, but is it any worse than the oodles of ugly "United We Stand" t-shirts and stickers?
No one has control over the phrase "Let's roll." Not the Todd M. Beamer Foundation and not Keith Olbermann. No one needs permission to use the phrase. It's a part of the culture. Criticism for its misuse is necessary, but Olbermann hasn't offered anything beyond drunk FSU fans yelling "Let's roll!" at games.
The reason for the upgrading
The reason for the upgrading of a Qatar airbase is confirmed: the Saudis won't let us use their bases for an attack on Iraq. Prince Saud made it plain when he said, "We have told them we don't (want) them to use Saudi grounds." This decision isn't helping them maintain their claim to being our allies. There are too many connections between the kingdom and Islamist terrorism. Preventing us from using bases we built to protect them during the Gulf War is more evidence that they don't care much about the 70-year-old alliance accept when Saudi interests are on the line.
The Saudis also don't have the same goals as the U.S. in regards to Iraq. While President Bush has stated that Saddam Hussein is a menace who must go, Prince Saud only wants the return of U.N. weapons inspectors. Right now, Iraq is contained and Saudi Arabia isn't threatened by invasion. Thus the Saudis can afford to stand up the U.S. endearing themselves with the rest of the Arab world.
"U.S. Denied Access to Saudi Bases"
August 07, 2002
I didn't watch it and
I didn't watch it and don't plan to, but NRO's Rod Dreher writes about the Anna Nicole Show. The best part is his description of the blond tart:
"A Bust for Taste"
While pols and pundits are
While pols and pundits are yapping about if and when a war in Iraq will occur, the Bush administration appears to be prepping an air base in Qatar as a major platform for operations. With analysis from GlobalSecurity.org, satellite photos show hardened aircraft shelters, newly built parking areas for planes, and a possible command center.
What convinces me about the accuracy of the analysis is unnamed Pentagon sources are "not happy" with the pictures floating round the Net.
These pictures do show that the Islamist War is humming along. Even though there's been not major military action in many months, the President is focused on the goal of destroying Saddam. At the same time, building up a base outside Saudi Arabia tells the Saudis that the U.S. isn't dependent on them and will go to war despite their protests.
Eric Olsen is working with
Eric Olsen is working with a representative of the RIAA. He wants questions from passionate music lovers. At Eric's request "FORMULATE YOUR QUESTIONS FOR THE RIAA, AS SPECIFICALLY AS POSSIBLE."
Who are the greatest guitarists
Who are the greatest guitarists of all time? Total Guitar took a survey and came up with a list. The top three--Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton--are no-brainers. Only their order could be debated. Then we come to Slash at number 4. I don't think so, way too high. Metallica's James Hetfield (number 11) and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain (number 14) shouldn't even be on the list. They're not known for their guitar work. They're known for their songwriting and singing. No one went to a Metallica concert just to see Hetfield shred; he's not even his band's lead guitarist. As for Cobain, did he ever really play a guitar solo? Nirvana announced the arrival of alternative rock. Part of that included a lack of guitar solos which still plague rock music today. One person who didn't make the list and should have is Living Colour's Vernon Reid. His jazz-influenced chaotic leads were a reincarnation of Hendrix.
"Hendrix Voted Greatest Guitarist"
Andrew Sullivan is taking a
Andrew Sullivan is taking a break from weblogging, so now you have more time to read TAM.
Note to self: never live
Note to self: never live in a community where the condo association can dictate whether you can have an American flag on your mailbox. Nit-picky rules like this are even goofier than light pollution laws--and that's saying a lot.
Do the owners of the complex have a right to do this? Yes, but they make fools of themselves. Should the state legislature pass a law preventing rules like this? No. It's private property. Ogden and Co. who runs the community and the condo association can make stupid rules if they want. Residents just don't have to live there, while people like me can make them look silly and unpatriotic.
"Flag Flying not a Condo Freedom"
The backward nation of Nigeria
The backward nation of Nigeria will allow a travesty to happen if Amina Lawal is stoned to death. Her crime: she had a baby. Amina wasn't married when she gave birth, so she's considered guilty of adultery, and with the crime comes a death sentence. Human life in all its forms is sacred. But for fundamentalist Muslims the circumstances surrounding the conception dominate. Assuming she had access to such medical services, Amina could have had an abortion and no one may have found out about the pregnancy. Would the findamentalists be happy that the child was dead?
"Sentenced to Death for Having Baby"
August 06, 2002
Thomas Ricks points out that
Thomas Ricks points out that anti-Saudi views are present among "neoconservative foreign policy thinkers." But they're also present among webloggers who I think are more influential than anyone lets on. Glenn Reynolds has been quite vocal in his distrust with the Saudis. I've seen more anti-Saudi arguments in the Blogosphere than I've seen from foreign policy wonks. Here is a case where the wonks followed the webloggers.
Don't let your jaw drop
Don't let your jaw drop too fast. This conservative commentator is actually supporting a pro-union decision. A state labor commission ruled that the University of Wisconsin Hospital can't prevent union members from sending union-related e-mail. This is a sensible ruling. Since the hospital does allow limited personal e-mail use as well as use of phones and internal snail mail, union communication via e-mail should be allowed. It would also be really hard for hospital officials to ban it. It's better just to accept this.
"Blocking E-mail Ruled Unfair"
John Hawkins offers a fine
John Hawkins offers a fine look at how men only play a role in supporting a child. They have few legal rights to protect it as long as its inside the womb.
"Court Allows Abortion Over Father's Protest"
August 05, 2002
Jimmy Eat World gets a
Jimmy Eat World gets a good review in the local paper. The show was hot, sweaty, and fun. Power pop live never tasted so good.
"Jimmy Eat World a Sweet Pop Treat"
I don't know if Bill
I don't know if Bill Simon has the political skills to pull it off, but George Neumayr gives him a theme to hammer Gray Davis with: "Davis has viewed the public's money as his own." If Simon want's to win, he's going to have to throw as much dirt on Davis as he's receiving.
"Resisting the Anti-Business Riptide"
Lawrence Henry notes that few
Lawrence Henry notes that few lefties have grumbled with the volume and intensity over other government tip lines than they have with the anti-terrorist Operation TIPS.
"The Trouble With TIPS"
Great essay by Steven Den
Great essay by Steven Den Beste. There's plenty of good paragraphs I could pull out, but here's just one:
America and the West is more than willing to live peacefully with Muslims. Unfortunately, some Muslims view us as evil creatures to be destroyed. The situation becomes a brutal zero-sum game. One side must win, while the other side loses. Either the U.S. and the West destroys Islamism or they will continue to attack and kill us. To that end, Saddam must be destroyed or he'll offer Islamists horrible weapons that would be used on America. Kill or be killed, that's the tragic lesson.
August 04, 2002
It seems Jeremy Scahill, independent
It seems Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist, found the Donald Rumsfeld smoking gun. Back in 1983 and 1984, he had meetings with high-level Iraqi officials, including Saddam Hussein. During this time, Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iran. Today, Rumsfeld believes Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction--including chemical weapons--makes him a major threat to the U.S. Is Rumsfeld being a hypocrite? Why didn't he think Saddam was a threat back in 1984?
Scahill fails to put the Iraq-Iran War in its proper context. At the time, the Iranian Islamic revolution was 5 years old. The sight of U.S. hostages held in Tehran still burned in the public's memory, and Iran was the bigger threat. The U.S. took the Iraq side to stem militant Iranian Islam. Was it perfect, no, but in many cases leaders have to pick the better of evils. But in order to do that, leaders must maintain the flexibility to change sides. After the Iraq-Iran War, Iraq became the strongest power in the area. That was fine for the U.S. as long as it minded its own business. When Saddam decided he could take Kuwait, the U.S. had to alter it's Persian Gulf strategy and fought the Gulf War.
According to Scahill, Rumsfeld's sin was "the absence of Donald Rumsfeld's voice at the very moment when Iraq's alleged threat to international security first emerged." But the threat wasn't there in 1984 because Iraq was focused on fighting Iran. At the time, Iran was considered the greater threat. Let me reiterate, context is the key. Also what Scahill needs is a realistic approach to foreign policy.
"The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet"
August 03, 2002
The Washington Times named Milton
The Washington Times named Milton Friedman Economist of the Century. I won't go that far. He's definitely in the top three. As a defender of liberty, no one has been as dedicated and effective. But Friedman is within the orthodox mathmatical economic school with all its methodological problems. He wasn't the one to make the best economic argument against socialism--that award goes to Ludwig von Mises. He also didn't make the most important economic insight of the century. Friedrich Hayek's development of dispersed knowledge was built from Mises anti-socialism arguments (see his "The Use of Knowlege in Society"). When I search out free market answers to economic questions, I don't run to Friedman, I go to the Austrians. What Friedman has done to enlighten us on the effects of monetary policy cannot be ignored (see Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose). We also cannot ignore his ability to promote libertarianism to a broad audience. For all that, freedom lovers should be thankful.
"Economist of the Century"
Bill Moyers: "objective" liberal journalist
Bill Moyers: "objective" liberal journalist and former beaurcrat, NOW drunk driver. The roadside breath test gave Moyers a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit, yet he will contest the charge.
Even More Light Pollution than
Even More Light Pollution than You Can Wave a Light Saber At
John McMahon writes:
Let me state it again: the night sky doesn't disappear. It's still there. Just drive a few miles away from the lights and those twinkling, sparkly dots in the sky are the stars.
But John's statement revealed much about his thought. Dark sky advocacy is in the same rhelm as the anti-car, urban sprawl types. How dare people build houses with lawns and space. That reduces population density and increases car and SUV (the most evil device ever developed by mankind) use. The world is falling apart because people want new Targets and Wal-Marts near their homes while driving around in vehicles that get less than 20 miles/gallon.
My response is pretty simple: too bad. Lots of people do a lot of things that irritate the hell out of me. They do things I think waste time, money, and energy. Yet I don't organize people in my community or through the internet to wage political war. I have no problem with dark sky people using the power of persuasion, but to resort to county ordinances and state laws to mandate an aethetic preference (I'm rather fond of bright shining lights going up into the sky; the World Trade Center light memorial had an etheral beauty to it.) is repugnant to me.
Now, there are common sense situations where light can harm someone. A 50,000 watt floodlight into my bedroom window at 3AM every night would be irritating, but that's why there are local courts to handle disputes like that.
This will probably be the last posting on the subject for a while unless I find some new story to comment on. Please e-mail me any links and continue to add comments.
August 02, 2002
The Packers now have the
The Packers now have the Oneida Indian Nation as a major sponsor in the renovated Lambeau Field. The Oneidas run the local casino only a few miles from the stadium. I wonder what the NFL thinks about one of their teams financially tied to a gambling outfit. Sure, the casino doesn't offer sports betting because of the tribe's agreement with the state, but that could always change. It may not have been the wisest move to be so closely associated with a casino.
Packers Announce Major Partnership With The Oneida Nation
This has been a bad
This has been a bad few weeks for Bill Simon. He bumbled the release of his tax records, and now his investment company got hit with a big jury verdict for investor fraud. This is at at time when polls have him ahead of Gray Davis. Here's where lacking political experience is a disadvantage. Davis will pounce on this and try to link Simon to the corporate scandal in general. Simon will have to respond strongly, maybe even sling a little mud. How about bringing attention back to Davis and his problem with Oracle? Now is not the time to go soft and defensive.
"Simon's Campaign Takes a Hit"
The U.N. says there wasn't
The U.N. says there wasn't a massacre by Israelis in Jenin. The only ones left saying it are the Palestinians and lefties writing for the Guardian.
"U.N. Rejects Jenin Massacre Claim"
August 01, 2002
Light Pollution cont. In a
Light Pollution cont.
In a comment, Scott Griswold put light pollution in the same vein as air and water pollution. Light pollution isn't destruction of the environment. A 30,000 candle bulb isn't destroying the night sky. The stars, moon, and planets are still there. They just can't be seen because of the light. According to this logic the biggest light polluter is the sun. When the sun's shining during the day you can't see the stars, moon, or planets either. I think an ordinance should be passed banning the sun. It's obvious that the sun is destroying our God-given heritage of a dark sky. Wait, someone proposed just such a law. Frédéric Bastiat's "Petition from the Manufacturers of Candles" was in satirical support of candlemakers because the sun had an unfair advantage. Why not pass a sun-banning law because it deprives us from having a dark sky 24/7?
I'm being even more flippant because this really is a non issue. Some people really love a dark sky free from any hint of light. Unfortunately, the world around them changes and other people begin living nearby and illuminate the sky. Dark skyers don't want their world to change so they devise laws and ordinances to force their neighbors to accept their way of life. "Wasted light is wasted energy" and "Dark skies are our God-given heritage" they cry out. Do they ask their neighbors to turn down the lights? Do they try to persuade them to their way of thinking with their facts and logic? Do they consider buying the land or compensating their neighbors? No, they turn their aesthetic preference into an environmental issue. By calling it "light pollution" they claim moral authority. Evil people are poisoning the night sky with their halogen and neon. They run to county boards and state legislatures ensuring the debate becomes a zero sum game. One side will win, while the other loses.
This issue is on par with people opposed to scents and electricity-producing windmills. Instead of taking a live-and-let-live attitude, they insist on instituting their way, because they know best. Until I see something beyond aesthetic preferences (like linking Wal-Mart's parking lot lights to cancer), I will have little sympathy.
P.S. I'm flattered that Scott Griswold told his dark sky friends about TAM at the OutdoorLighting-Forum. Can I say the discussion has been enlightening even though we disagree? I think I just did.