Monday, May 31, 2004

Souvenir of Saddam 

Bush has the pistol that Saddam was clutching when he was captured mounted in the private study adjacent to the Oval Office.

A good trophy, in my opinion. It is reminder that we have succeeded in great and significant ways.

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Fighting Fascism 

BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis

Mr. Jarvis is right. Let's follow the lessons of WWII, and not WWI, and win this fight against fascism.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

If Bush were President in WWII with the Current Media 

This post is very funny; also, sadly, I think the national media is as short-sighted and foolish as this satire demonstrates it to be.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Crescat Sententia != Chicago? 

Crescat Sententia, long a bastion of University of Chicago eccentricity, where they proudly declare "Where Fun Comes to Die!", will soon lose all formal attachments to Chicago. One has to hope that they'll find a way to keep their ties to their glorious roots as Maroons.

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Friday, May 14, 2004

Future Weapons 

The Future of War: The Gauss Rifle lives! Several other very cool weapons are in the pipeline, including lasers, supercavitating torpedoes, a million round-per-minute cannon, and meteor-like satellite-deployed munitions.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Paying for College through Public Service? 

Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters write on NRO that Kerry's proposal to have the government pay the tuition of college students that are willing to "do[] things like teaching in urban public schools or working on homeland security" doesn't make sense because K-12 education in the United States is malfunctioning. They even say it's "elementary". In their conclusion they write

Perhaps there will come a day when there are significantly more students qualified to attend college than actually have the financial resources to do so. If that day comes, a plan like Kerry's "Service for College" initiative might make sense. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near that point, nor are we likely to be until we significantly improve the performance of our K-12 public schools.

I must admit that my interest was piqued by this article because I'm in college right now racking up a sizable amount of debt, so working for two years doing something worthwhile (which would also make my resume look fantastic) which also gets rid of my debt seems to be quite an appealing plan.

In fact, there is really no down-side to the plan at all (what's bad about helping students pay for college, debt that is acquired for this practically required commodity for success isn't that great), except for the fact that, assuming there isn't an unlimited supply of the two key quantities in question, money and political will, it is draining.

What the authors of this article, Mr. Greene and Mr. Winters, seem to be doing is arguing that attention should instead be given to the sorry state of primary education and the low percentage of graduating seniors (if the student graduates, always another key issue) are not prepared for college. They also argue that the plan isn't needed right now because more students aren't ready for college; what they're saying is that students who are going to college right now are finding a way to pay, even if it involves years of debt burdening them, so that assistance isn't necessary.

The problem with this piece, though, is that it does not state the first argument, and dances around the silliness of the second argument while not stating it directly either. The authors never write that the money that would go into Kerry's plan would be better spent elsewhere, if anywhere (I'm sure they want less taxes, they're writing on NRO after all); they contend that primary education already has enough money, so that's not the issue. If they don't think it's worth it to spend taxpayer money on the Kerry plan, they should say it, instead of simply implying it. They write, "[w]hat is clear is that improving K-12 education requires not more funds, but a fundamental change in how public schools operate."

Okay, so for the authors money really isn't the issue, political will is. But as I just said, they don't say that. They just explain that Kerry's plan is silly because primary education is broken, so we shouldn't worry about college education. That and college students right now can already afford college, "[p]erhaps there will come a day when there are significantly more students qualified to attend college than actually have the financial resources to do so." What the authors are saying, even though they don't come out and state it plainly, is that Kerry's plan would waste political will and money on students that can get by, no matter how hard it may be, paying for college now.

They also don't say that this plan would be a great or horrible way for students to offset the spiraling cost of tuition; in fact, I contend that they don't think such a problem exists, because if a students in college, financing it must not be a problem. Also,they don't propose a modification of the plan that would limit its usage to poorer students so the son of a doctor can't spend two years helping secure a nuclear power plant so the $160,000+ that his father spent on college for him is returned.

They really don't say much of anything; they don't provide a real critique of Kerry's plan or a clear, strong explanation of why Kerry's plan is innapropriate right. The fact that their arguments are so weak, absent, or assumed to be understood indicates that the authors are simply motivated by a partisan need to oppose all that Kerry says. They're posting the article up to say Kerry's plan is bad, but they don't prove why it's bad.

Maybe NRO will post another article on this issue with more depth and rigour than this piece; it deserves more of a discussion than this attempt to avoid serious discussion through misdirection and specious arguments.

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Striking at Sadr 

We hit a mosque in which a score of his insurgents were taking refuge, and killed them. Before doing so, we consulted with the leaders of Karbala; they loath him so much that they authorized the attack.

It seems that our waiting game is paying off; by letting Sadr remain for a while, we let him ruin his reputation with Iraqis. Now that he is hated, we may kill him.

I hope he is removed soon; in fact, I anticipate that he will be.

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Stand Resolute 

Instapundit has a link to a great letter by a soldier in Iraq that explains how we are winning the fight against Sadr and others like him, but to triump we must remain strong in the face of this adversity.

Read it.

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Vive la revolution? 

Drudge has some snapshots of the beheading up. I almost regret looking (as an aside, it makes me have a better appreciating for the horror of the French Revolution, which I'm reading about now).

That's what we're up against. I almost started to feel despair over the prisoner abuse, but now my heart has been hardened.

Airing that tape was a great mistake for those wishing to see the United States lose in Iraq, just as Instapundit reports.

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Rumsfeld Debate and Greater Implications 

Compare Mr. Safire's case for why Rumsfeld should stay with The Economists argument of why he should go.

Mr. Safire makes just as good of a case as to why Mr. Rumsfeld should stay as the Economist does on why he should go. Read them both and decide for yourself.

Mr Safire, though, brings up an excellent point in his column:

Torture is both unlawful and morally abhorrent. But what about gathering intelligence from suspected or proven terrorists by codified, regulated, manipulative interrogation? Information thus acquired can save thousands of lives. Will we now allow the pendulum to swing back to "name, rank, serial number," as if suspected terrorists planning the bombing of civilians were uniformed prisoners of war obeying the rules of war?

There is more here than simply the irresponsible acts of a few in the prison. The whole situation was caused by the need to interrogate aggressively which simply spiraled out of control.

The need to extract intelligence is still there. Mr. Rumsfeld, a leader that already knows more about what the DoD is doing to get intelligence than any other leader, is also the most qualified to institute reforms that allow us to interrogate aggressively while not torturing for pleasure.

Mr. Safire doesn't articulate this, but I think it's the key reason Rumsfeld should stay on as the Defense Chair. He is the best qualified to reform our intelligence gathering without crippling it and putting millions of Americans at risk.

Rumsfeld should stay.

UPDATE: Oxblog's David Adesnik doesn't voice whether or not he thinks Rummy should stay, but he does say that in light of the recent WaPo editorials that say that Rumsfeld did little to stop the abuse of prisoners, President Bush's unabashed praise of Rumsfeld is disturbing.

I'll review the editorials and get back to you on this.

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Corporations have the right to Free Speech as well 

The NYTs editorial page slammed Disney last week for choosing not to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's new film.

Mr. Eisner responds with a letter that the Times chose to print.

Mr. Eisner is right that Disney did not stop Mr. Moore from getting his film out, lots of distributors will jump at the chance to take his film, which will certainly make several million dollars of profit.

Disney has the right to decide what it will and will not distribute, just at Mr. Moore has the right to decide what he wants to make a film about.

The NYTs should realize that their stance on this issue is hypocritical, and betrays a favoritism that they have for Mr. Moore's political message. You can be certain that if a conservative movie was denied distribution by Disney, they wouldn't have such a damning editorial condemning the offending corporation.

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Cutting Teen Pregnancy 

The Observer | UK News | Oral sex lessons to cut rates of teenage pregnancy

While this finding that oral sex reduces the likelihood of pregnancy among teens, should such behavior actually be taught in schools?!

The social conservative inside me is crying out in pain when I read that article, even though its findings may be correct.

Parents should be the ones to make the decision on whether or not their kids know about condoms, oral sex, etc. It's their job to have the birds and bees talk, not some underpaid civil servant that's praying for the last bell to ring so that they can go out and smoke in the parking lot before heading home to watch the television all night...

(Just some hyperbole for amusement, I have nothing against teachers, and have encountered many fine ones in my life, as well as many not so committed ones).

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Hypocritical Take on Journalism 

Oregon Daily Emerald - University of Oregon news and sports - Esteemed journalist lectures on ethics

John Carroll, the LA Times editor, delivered an lecture on the ethics of journalism, and criticised what he calls 'pseudo-journalists'. He says that they mislead instead of reporting facts. His prime example is the FOX News channel.

Fine, I'm willing to accept that. But he doesn't use any other examples, like perhaps CNN or the NYTimes. Just FOX News. While Bill O'Reilly is obviously not a journalist, neither is Larry King. But we don't here that.

This is just another 'journalist' siding with the liberal majority of his colleagues to bash the side of their profession that they do not agree with politically. Maybe he should have his friends in the journalistic community look in the mirror and realize that despite their best efforts their ideologies blind and bias them just as much as those at FOX News, if not more so.

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Oxford Union Theft 

Found this interesting; it was sent to me via the UChicago Parliamentary Debate mailing list:

The last remaining evidence of what many see as the darkest day of the Oxford
Union has gone missing.

A framed copy of the order paper for the King and Country debate, in which
students voted by 275 votes to 153 against fighting for the nation, used to
hang behind the bar. It has been stolen, along with a large portrait of
Gladstone, a former president of the Union.

The vote, on February 9, 1933, ten days after Hitler became German Chancellor,
caused reverberations around the world. An irate Winston Churchill denounced it
as “that abject, squalid, shameless avowal”.

He continued: “One can almost feel the curl of contempt upon the lips of the
manhood of (the German, Italian and French) peoples when they read this message
sent out by Oxford University in the name of young England.”

The police may be called in by the current generation of Oxford Union leaders
if the order paper is not returned.

Georgina Costa, the Union president, said: “We are desperate to sort this out
and for it to be returned.

“It is a hugely important document. We just hope that this is a drunken jape
gone wrong. But if we cannot resolve this internally I will have no alternative
but to call in the police.”

Five former prime ministers, William Gladstone, Lord Salisbury, Herbert
Asquith, Harold Macmillan and Edward Heath, have been officers of the Union,
which was founded in 1823 as a forum for discussion within the university. The
1933 vote may have “encouraged Hitler in his decision to invade Europe”, the
Oxford Union says on its website.

Costa is distraught: “It is a nightmare. We must get it back.”

*According to what I have been told the suspicion falls upon an Irish team at
the IV but the Union are allegedly investigating. It's so funny considering the
rest of the carnage at the IV.

I think the conclusion that Hitler was encouraged to go to war by the resolution is going overboard, but the resolution itself was quite historic in a very sad way.

That said, it should still be returned.

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Is Charging the Torturers Fair? 

Soldier: Unit's Role Was to Break Down Prisoners (washingtonpost.com)

If what this GI says is true, then I don't know if throwing the book at her is fair. I think that these soldiers are the victims of the negligence of their superiors as much as the prisoners are the victims of torture. Despite the fact sending her to Leavenworth for much of the rest of her life may help to calm critics of the US, sacrificing soldiers that were irresponsibly placed in this situation by their superiors would be equally wrong. We should send their commanders to prison.

If the soldiers were ordered to 'break down' the prisoners for interrogation, and given little instruction on how to do so, then what do we expect? They are the product of a lawless environment which is not one that they created.

I don't want to see these soldiers used as scape-goats; everything I say hinges on what the charged soldiers are saying, but since it seems to jive with the testimony of others about he lawlessness of the prison, I suspect that what the GIs say is true.

Update: The NYTs has a lengthy, informative piece that details the lack of preparation that the soldiers had before being sent into Iraq to face a near impossible task of guarding and keeping subdued hundreds of prisoners.

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Friday, May 07, 2004

Chinese Government Limits Distractions to Youth; should we? 

China has shut down thousands of internet cafes for allegedly illegally admitting juveniles, which the government views as a threat to the education of youth. While I think it's obvious that the government will use any excuse to limit the exposure of their public to the ideas of the outside world like freedom and democracy, I think that most of the closures were probably because of juveniles accessing online content and games.

We wonder why there is a gap between the test scores of the US and other countries like China. Aside from the fact that in the US everyone is educated by the government, whereas in China only the gifted and priviledged in wealthy areas of the country get access to secondary education and beyond, the limiting access by students to distractions like computer games must have a measurable impact.

Is that a good thing, however? Even though it may increase their test scores and help them to succeed academically, is it the government's duty to limit such things as time spent playing computer games? Is this a question that we should be asking here in the US?

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Laser missile Defense Success 

This is really cool, and also good news for Israel. One step closer to the dream of Star Wars?

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The Western Mind 

As always, VDH reaches to the heart of the issue of the current battle of between us and our enemies; a must read. A few notable quotes:

so strong is this Western disease of wishing to be perfect rather than merely good. Such is the self-induced burden for all those who would be gods rather than mere mortals.

He gives us a path to victory, one that I know to our success.

What then are we to do when choices since September 11 have always been between bad and worse? We at least must have enough sense not to stand down and let Iraq become Lebanonized, Talibanized, or Iranicized, even though when all is said and done Americans will be blamed for bringing something better to the region. And yes, we need more democracy, not less, in Iraq and the surrounding Middle East in general.

We have to return to an audacious and entirely unpredictable combat mode; put on a happy, aw-shucks face while annihilating utterly the Baathist remnants and Sadr's killers; attribute this success to the new Iraqi government and its veneer of an army for its own 'miraculous' courage; ignore the incoming rounds of moral hypocrisy on Iraq from Europe (past French and German oil deals and arms sales), the Arab League (silence over Iraqi holocausts, cheating on sanctions), and the U.N. (Oil-for-Food debacle); explain to an exasperated American people why other people hate us for who we are rather than what we do; and apologize sincerely and forcefully once — not gratuitously and zillions of times — for the rare transgression.

Do all that and we can really complete this weird peace in Iraq.

I think one can get the feeling from that piece that VDH is getting fed up with all the meely mouthed, flipp-flopping, ignorant people out there that really, either voluntarilly or involuntarilly, don't have our best interests at heart when they open their mouths or start thinking and making decisions.

To hell with those that don't want a better world. It's not an easy task to win a war, so shut up and let those who are willing to sacrifice and bear the burden do so.

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Crass Comercialiszation Loses 

Amid Criticism, Baseball Drops Plans for Ads on Bases (washingtonpost.com)

Baseball will not have the Spider Man 2 logo on the bases during the games.

Throughout the article Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball, said that they didn't expect this sort of reaction.

Is the man really that stupid? Really. He must be a moron to not have anticipated a widespread negative reaction.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Redefining Kosher 

local6.com - News - Woman Reportedly Bites Into Live Bullet In Hot Dog

9mm bullets in Hebrew National hot dog. They're motto is "We answer to a higher power". 45 caliber, perhaps?

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The Economist Calls for Rumsfeld to Resign 

Economist.com | Iraq

I'm a bit surprised and disappointed by this. My gut reaction is that the Economist is being more than a bit rash here. But I'm going to ponder this for a while; if his resignation would have a great material effect in helping us win in Iraq and elsewhere both PR-wise and on the ground, then I'd support it. However, I don't think anything could satiate an Arab extremist, so Rumsfeld's resignation would do nothing but hurt the war on terror.

Well, what if Wolfowitz took over... ehhh, I'm dreaming, and I know it.

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History and Media Bias 

A great read from Oxblog. Check out the whole thing.

OxBlog: "
By the same token, a quagmire is what journalists honestly saw ten days into the invasion of Iraq and continued to see thereafter. If such journalists were more aware of their own history, however, they might developer a sharper eye for the direction of current events."

And that, my friends, is why one should study history. (Full disclosure: I'm concentrating in history. [Chicago just changed it's time-honored term concentration to the word 'major'. I hope they fix their mistake, because it certainly is a large one. Chicago seems to be drifting without direction...I'll write more on this later])

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Gasoline Price History 

Gasoline Price History

Fascinating, partly because of the gas prices, and partly as a psychological study.

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A Real Man 

Bush pauses to comfort teen

This makes me happy that Bush is President. Very happy. In a really fundamental, non-political way. I really can't explain it adequately.

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College Tuition and the GI Bill 

Peter Wood on College Tuition & John Kerry on National Review Online

An interesting read.

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Beyond Bias 

TCS: Tech Central Station - Welcome To The Post-Bias Media

Big Journalism admits to being biased. Beyond the bias, they're also characterized by this piece as just doing a lot of bad journalism.

An interesting read.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004

We must not withdrawal 

'Lowering Our Sights' (washingtonpost.com)

Anyone who is wavering needs to get some spine. Whether or not you supported the war, we can't leave now, no matter what the costs. Victory isn't going to be earned cheaply; let's at least honor those that have died by making their deaths not be in vain.

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Disgusting Cartoon 

Via Instapundit.com The comic in question is disgusting. The author should be ridiculed to no end.

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Saturday, May 01, 2004

MoDo like Soft Porn? 

Independent Women's Forum

Here shallow wordplay on top of shallow ideas is not clever, nor funny. Anyone that laughs at what she writes is not thinking, and is amused by the superficial, just like those that get excited by pornography without considering the exploitation of the actors allows such productions to be made.

Dowd is not a good writer; read a column that actually has some thought behind it.

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The Marines Know How in Fallujah 

Belmont Club

If this analysis is correct, we've got the situation under control already, and I think that this opinion is the correct one.

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