Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Mach 7 is good 

Jed Babbin on X-43A on National Review Online

Let's build a replacement to the SR-71.

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Will Condi stick it to Clarke? 

Mark Goldblatt on Condoleezza Rice & 9/11 Commission on National Review Online

Hopefully she'll show how she's the most articulate of all the Bushies.

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"Deflowering" Kerry 

Hidden in this amusing discussion of the daisy on Kerry's ski jacket is a discussion on the NYT's doctoring an image of him that they printed with the flower removed. If that happened, the NYTs is currupt, imho.

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A Rice Roundup 

Oxblog has a great discussion on priviledge in government. Check it out.

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Monday, March 29, 2004

Good News in Iraq 

Robert Alt on the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Dr. Kudair Abbas on National Review Online

The Ministry of Health has been officially transfered to Iraqi control by the CPA. Read this article, and see how we're on the road to winning in Iraq;)

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Good and Bad Terrorism 

Alexander Rose on Hamas on National Review Online

This article explains how Hamas, in striving for an unwinnable goal, the anihilation of Israel, and thus separating politics from the violence, is simply being nihilistically violent and foolish. A good read.

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Tough Decision 

Dennis E. Powell on Asteroid on National Review Online

So, what would you do if you were President and an asteroid might hit northern hemisphere? This article is important. There should be more planning and more done to ensure that such tough decisions are thought out in advance.

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Entrepreneurs are endangered species? 

Herbert Meyer thinks so. With all the chances for a small business to be fined or sued into bankruptcy by exploitative or foolishly selfish people out there, trying to create a job is risky and often not worth it. Without the entrepreneurs that drive our economy and the small business that employ 80% of the nations workforce, we're sunk. Mr. Meyer is right, we should make it easier for people to employ others. 'Tis truly a noble venture to give another man a chance to make his way in the world.

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I'm Back 

And I thought I should point this out; this article clearly lays out how Kerry would increase taxes for business despite his latest PR ploy. Democrats don't cut taxes overall. They just say they will to get votes.

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Iraq War Anniversary Documentary 

While the History channel may be descending into the abyss of airing entertaining, mass-targeted pieces that are not really historical, every once and a while they exhibit moments more like their glory days of the mid 90s. The documentary that they are airing (4 or 5 hours, I think) that details the entire Iraqi Freedom military campaign in detail is quite informative. It presents, with what I believe is no political bias (and in fact a slant that is slightly pro-military, which proves great in contrast to what the regular media has been giving us), a broad overview of the entire operation with discussion about the major battles, setbacks, and successes of the war. It gives us what the embedded reports could not, an overview of the conflict that shows us how well it actually went.

Watch it, and see how awesome the American military actually is, both in power and in bravery.

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Friday, March 19, 2004

Revenge Thinkable? 

Addressing the Unthinkable, U.S. Revives Study of Fallout

A program like this is essential, because there is no doubt that if the US was struck with nuclear weapons by a foreign adversary a nuclear retaliation was in order. In fact, when I saw the second plane hit the WTC, I think I mumbled something about glassing someone over in retaliation.

But, would such retaliation be just? Maybe we should consider that now before the uncontrollable urge for revenge pushes out such discussions.

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Thursday, March 18, 2004

America ruled by Aristocrats? 


Yeah, it seems so. W has money, Kerry has money. I suppose there are arguments to be made that wealth doesn't matter when one rules, or that it is even in fact an asset; however, isn't it dangerous that our elected officials have no real conception of or at least experience living an average American life?

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Kristof Quotes out of Context 

A reader of mine, Michael Alay (who has his own new blog) sent me an e-mail that pointed to a post that explains how Kristof, in his column yesterday (which I disected as far as his arguments for a national ID card go), took a quote by the eminent first amendment scholar Alexander Bickel out of context to defend his arguments.

Mr. Alay clearly shows that the Bickel quote is much less damning than it appears by itself in the surrounding arguments are analyzed.

I recommend that you take a look, and that Mr. Kristof take heart and write a more solidly-argued column.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

God Bless our Troops 

I'd like to thank the soldier that was reading my humble weblog just a few minutes ago on army.mil in Baghdad/Moscow time. If you're in Iraq, be safe. That goes for all the other readers in Iraq, and all our troops in general.

God bless you, and keep up the fantastic job. You're winning this war for us!

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On Target? 

Does Carl Rove have the Kerry Campaign's number?

I hope so, but I also believe that the current strategy is clever one, and sound as well.

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NYTimes 'Underperforms' 

The NYTimes was chosen as a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize selections ins far fewer categories than many expected.

My response is of course they were; the tripe they print is getting worse by the day, unfortunately. The paper of record should be doing much better.

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New Quote 

Since I was sick of the old one, I grabbed a new one from the quotations page and slapped it up there. There it will remain until it too inevitably becomes abrasive to me.

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Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark 

As Mr. Safire seems to say, we're being taken by the world to be Hamlet, a nutjob crusading lunatic; but, in actuality, much of the world, including the UN secretariat and several major European countries (freedom fries, anyone?) are Claudius, committing crimes in private for their own gain, and we, as Hamlet, are in fact right and just about much of what's going on.

Denmark is rotten indeed. Let's hope we don't get sucked into our own melancholy, but stay true to our self and right what is wrong.

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A National ID Card? Careful, please. 

Mr. Kristof make the case for a national ID card; well, he makes half the case.

He argues that the current system of state-issued drivers licenses is vulnerable to issuing cards to people who may produce easily-forged documents to receive a license. This is true, making a fake SS card or Birth Certificate isn't that difficult.

However, he doesn't explain how a national ID would work, and how it would make it harder to get one. He just assumes that it would be more difficult. I give him the fact that a national database with every citizen with their picture would make receiving a card harder, but certainly there would have to be a way to get oneself put into the system. How would new citizens apply? Would permanent residents receive one?

Unless the system is carefully constructed, there may be a weak link in it where forged documents could allow someone to get a national ID card, despite our best attempts. And then, because we assume the system is foolproof, the national ID could turn into a license to commit terror in the eyes of terrorists. Also, what if citizens try to commit terrorist acts, like members of a 'sleeper cell' could? Then the ID card would do little.

Also, Mr. Kristof argues that the federal government is already infringing on civil liberties with current ventures such as Camp X-Ray in Gitmo. Just to throw this out there: do we really want to give the federal government the power to have a national database and ID card if they're already infringing on our civil liberties? Won't this simply be another inch in the growing march towards a police state?

Mr. Kristof should explain in detail how such a system would work, because the effectiveness of such a system lies in the details; right now all he leaves us with is too many important questions unanswered. Making an argument for such a system successfully, only to see a poor implementation come about, would in fact only decrease the security of the people of the United States. Not to mention infringe on the civil liberties of everyone with no benefit of safety.

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Pay as you Go should Stay 

A Test of Seriousness (washingtonpost.com)

The pay as you go rule in congress that helped to balance the budget in the 1990s has passed the Senate, and has a chance of making it through a conference committee with the House, but only if the Senators that backed it will stand up for financial prudence.

They should. And the Bush administration should change its mind, and back the provision. If the War on Terror needs more money, the President can ask congress for it. We know they won't say no, so this measure is no threat to national security spending; all it's a threat to is superfluous spending, since if this is enacted whenever increases are made, cuts will have to be made or a real case for spending more will have to be presented.

Isn't that how it's supposed to work, anyway?

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Sniper Caught 

My Way News

He was recognized in Vegas by an individual who had seen the picture that was released to the media. Score one for technology.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

International Poll Data 

Summary of Findings: A Year After Iraq War

Some interesting numbers on foreign policy issues.

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Has Culture bested Religion in America? 

Alan Wolfe has a take on this, and believes that religion, specifically Christianity in many of his examples, has been molded by the cultural state of our country.

The question to ask, is "the populist quality of our culture, its short attention span, and its anti-intellectualism" improving our religion, or really much of anything else?

I think not. People should start to care about the world they live in and use their heads from time to time. The way in which someone can align with a group and not consider what such alignment means (like a political party's platform or the history and doctrine of a church) reflects how little thinking actually occurs in the average person's head.

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European Moral Nihilism? 

Mr. Reynolds posts on this, observing that Andrew Sullivan's claim that Europe suffers from complete moral nihilism is incorrect because while they cannot call terrorists bad guys or democratic leaders good guys, they can at least pass judgement on the US.

Europe will get what it deservers in the coming century and will be rewarded with a suffering, unglorious, and pathetic death as a world power.

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Iraqis Happier: Duh 

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Survey finds hope in occupied Iraq

The press may have been doing its best recently to hid this fact, but finally it is coming out that the Iraqi people are happier now than before the war. Duh. They don't have madmen and torture squads roaming the streets, they don't have summary executions, and they have new-found freedom that is increasing daily.

I'm sure their happiness increase even more as the transition to democracy picks up.

Score one for those that said the cause was just in support of the invasion of Iraq.

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The Fools in Spain (and elsewhere too) 

The Spanish Response (washingtonpost.com):
"Mr. Zapatero could not be expected to alter his view that the original decision to invade Iraq was wrong. But the reaction of Spain, and Europe, to this massive and shocking attack on its soil is crucial -- as is its response to the continuing challenge in Iraq. The two are inextricably linked: Whatever the prewar situation, al Qaeda's tactics now have made explicit the connection between the continuing fight in Iraq and the overall war on terrorism. Mr. Zapatero said his first priority would be to fight terrorism. Yet rather than declare that the terrorists would not achieve their stated aim in slaughtering 200 Spanish civilians, he reiterated his intention to pull out from Iraq in less equivocal terms than before the election.

The incoming prime minister declared the Iraq occupation 'a disaster' -- yet he didn't explain how withdrawing troops would improve the situation. Spain's participation on the ground in Iraq is small, but a Spanish withdrawal will make it harder for other nations, such as Poland and Italy, to stay the course. The danger is that Europe's reaction to a war that has now reached its soil will be retreat and appeasement rather than strengthened resolve. 'It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists,' European Commission President Romano Prodi said yesterday. Should such sentiments prevail, the next U.S. administration -- whether led by President Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry -- may have no alternative to unilateralism."

Indeed, the Europeans are fools if they think that terrorism will just go away if they ignore it.

More on this subject from Mr. Kagan:

In the coming days and weeks, Europeans will close ranks with Spain and express common European solidarity against al Qaeda terrorism. But there is a real danger that many Europeans will not extend the solidarity across the Atlantic. Some may argue, at least implicitly, that separation from the United States is one effective, nonviolent defense against future terrorist attacks.

Needless to say, that would be a disaster for the United States. The Bush administration needs to recognize it has a crisis on its hands and start making up for lost time in mending transatlantic ties, and not just with chosen favorites. The comforting idea of a "New Europe" always rested on the shifting sands of a public opinion, in Spain and elsewhere, that was never as favorable to American policy as to the governments. The American task now is to address both governments and publics, in Old and New Europe, to move past disagreements over the Iraq war, and to seek transatlantic solidarity against al Qaeda.
But the problem is not all on the American side, and neither is the solution. Responsible heads in Europe must understand that anything that smacks of retreat in the aftermath of this latest attack could raise the likelihood of further attacks. Al Qaeda's list of demands doesn't end with Iraq. The attack in Madrid was not just punishment for Spain's involvement in Iraq but for involvement with the United States in the war on terrorism. Al Qaeda's statement taking credit for the bombings in Madrid condemned Spain's role in Afghanistan, too. Al Qaeda seeks to divide Europe and the United States not just in Iraq but in the overall struggle. It seeks to convince Europeans not only that the use of force in Iraq was mistaken but that the use of force against terrorism in general is mistaken and futile -- just as Prodi is arguing. Are Europeans prepared to grant all of al Qaeda's conditions in exchange for a promise of security? Thoughts of Munich and 1938 come to mind.

The incoming Spanish government has declared its intention to move away from the United States and back to the "core of Europe," meaning France and Germany. Presumably Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder will welcome their new ally in Old Europe. But presumably they also know that dissociation from the United States in the wake of the Madrid bombings will be a disaster for Europe. If the United States cannot fight al Qaeda without Europe's help, it is equally true that Europe can't fight al Qaeda without the United States. If Europe's leaders understand this, then they and Bush should recognize the urgency of making common cause now, before the already damaged edifice of the transatlantic community collapses.

Giving the terrorists any ground will just invite further bullying and bloodshed. World War II is still in living memory, but the lessons that were taught about appeasement seem to have been forgotten by a continent that suffered much more than America.

Thinking in more domestic political termsDavid Frum thinks that the Spanish election results will hurt Bush in the short term, but help him in the longer run as people like Kerry are associated with fear and weakness stemming from fear:

I do not think it is healthy for any political cause to come to be seen as a coward’s cause. The Spanish vote may cause Bush and Blair some trouble in the short run. Very soon though it will lead the list of events that cause John Kerry and other opponents of the war to look frightened and weak.

And if al Qaeda’s success in Spain induces terrorist groups to mount further attacks at election season in the United Kingdom or Italy or Poland, the message will be even sharper – the terrorists want the political parties of the pro-American right to lose, as they did in Spain. Logically, then, that implies that the terrorists want the parties of the anti-American left to win. That has to be a very unwelcome implication for those parties. And if the idea ever takes hold that al Qaeda is planting bombs with a view above all to defeating George W. Bush …. Well let’s just say that even Senator Kerry, much as he delights in collecting the endorsements of foreign leaders real and imaginary, would very much prefer to do without Osama bin Laden’s.

Let's hope that their aren't any more attacks (even though there probably will be). Let's also hope that the Left learns that their stance on terrorism and Iraq are hurting their countries and will kill their fellow civilian citizens in the future. At least Mr. Bush's strategy brings the fight to the terrorists instead of letting them bring the fight to us as we try to fight a hopeless battle against the terrorist using a law enforcement strategy, as Mr. Kerry proposes.

UPDATE: Mr. Tagorda posts a word of caution to Hawks, pointing out that when the US pulled out of Saudi Arabia, this wasn't appeasement, even though bin Laden had been calling for it for years. He says we don't have enough data to draw conclusions as to what the motivations of the Spanish electorate were to vote Socialist.

However, he concludes

To be sure, terrorists would have used this tragedy to encourage and recruit supporters even if the Popular Party won. But their campaign is more persuasive at the heels of Socialist victory. The new government could eventually implement tough anti-terror measures -- perhaps even tougher than those of Aznar's group -- but the enemy will be stronger.

Isn't this what matters, that the terrorists will be reinvigorated by this, even if tihe Spanish people weren't calculating that the a Socialist victory would cause the terrorists to look elsewhere for their next target?

I disagree with Mr. Tagorda, though, and I do believe that the Spanish people were voting out of a fearful, incorrect belief that pulling out of Iraq would make them safer. When people fear, the terrorists win (hence the name terrorism, of course); I think they've won a victory here.

Mr. Yousefzadeh also has a large running dialogue on many takes on the Spanish elections.

In the comments to his post a reader posts an illuminatint response to commentary by Jessica Harbour that says GWB should go overseas to make his case to the world. The commentor writes:

My gut feeling to Jessica's suggestion (that GW go overseas and explain the American stance) is that the response from these countries would still be "No". They don't even regard GW as a legitimate person (let alone as the leader of the United States of America) and predictably, his words will fall on deaf ears.

I think he's right, the Europeans have written President Bush off as stupid and a cowboy, and are unwilling to actually consider his arguments. Isn't that a foolish way to act, not listening to the arguments made by the leader of the most powerful nation in the world? I think such a stance taken by the Europeans is yet another reason that their continent is in such decline.

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Sniper Identified? 

Warrant Issued in Ohio Sniper Case (washingtonpost.com)

The authorities in Ohio believe they have identified the sniper that has been terrorizing a stretch of US Interstate 270 the last 6 months; being from around that area, I'm glad to see that they have a lead, finally. Unfortunately, he is still at large.

In the WaPo's story they have a picture of the suspect, Mr. McCoy, so I initially thought that he was caught and this was his mug shot. But it's not, and I now realize what it is because of the background of the picture and it's fuzziness, because I've had the same picture taken. It's his drivers license photo uncropped. Evidently they store the digital photos used in a database. The wonders of technology..

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Monday, March 15, 2004

Et tu, Brute: Redux 

Caesar's Last Words Revisited

Is "Happy Ides of March" a greeting or a curse?

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Politics of Feeling are Killing Democracy 

Patrick Basham on Campaign-Finance Reform on National Review Online: "Proponents of campaign-finance regulations, led by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), had promised that we'd see less costly, less-negative campaigns better managed by the two major parties. The restrictions on free speech pushed by McCain et al were intended to reduce the power of independent political groups and special interests and return it to the candidates and their parties.

However, now that McCain-style campaign-finance regulation is a reality, the millions that may be spent on unregulated anti-Bush advertising illustrates what the campaign-finance cure-all has in fact produced. The parties and the presidential candidates have lost control of their own campaigns as a result of the soft-money ban.

Who's in the driver's seat? Special-interest groups, corporations, and labor unions who have retained previously donated soft-money funds. Prior soft-money contributions from wealthy individuals are flowing to independent campaign organizations instead of their previous destination, the national parties.

These "527 committees," named after a section of the IRS code, are exempted from the new campaign-finance regulations, most importantly the soft-money ban.

Ironically, the channeling of donations and advertising through non-party organizations will increase the number of these groups and the proliferation of non-party micro-campaigns. A large number of these campaigns will perform a series of one-off advertising attacks in specific races. These hit-and-run operations will all occur completely outside the control, but not the purview, of individual campaigns and the national parties.

The unintended and unforeseen consequences of the latest constraints on political speech serve only to further the journey of American political campaigning down a path seemingly anathema to the stated desires of the leading campaign-finance regulators. Perhaps it is time to stop looking to regulations to save our political system?"

Regulation is bad in politics; one doesn't want speech regulated, but that's what this is! The First Amendment is dying, and its ailment is the way in which people seem to have to use feeling when deciding how to vote, instead of their minds.

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Spain: Wow 

Spain Likely to Pull Troops From Iraq (washingtonpost.com): "Spain's new prime minister-elect today reiterated that Spain will withdraw its 1,300 troops from Iraq, unless the United Nations begins 'taking charge of the situation.'

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said 'the war has been a disaster, the occupation continues to be a disaster. . . . There must be consequences. There has been one already,' he said, 'the election result. The second will be that Spanish troops will come back.'"

Sorry, Spain, your new Prime Minister is an idiot who can only spew reactionary, untrue garbage; wait, you get what you deserve--I take back my condolences.

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Europe Challenges Microsoft? 

Europe Supports Antitrust Ruling Against Microsoft

This story has been building for a month now; I blogged about it a while ago, and in that post linked to a great story The Economist and NYTs wrote about this issue; they stress that the coming battle will be over Microsoft's inevitable efforts to take over the search market.

Alsco, even though it appears Europe might challenge Microsoft, there are still several hurdles that need to be cleared before a real battle will occur. Also, Microsoft might still win a fight, just as it did in the US.

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Spanish Electorate is Naive and Shortsighted 

NYTs has a story on the Socialist upset in Spain, which seems to have been supported by a groundswell of support stemming from grief of the terrorist attacks being directed as anger at the incumbent party for provoking the terrorists by assisting the US invasion and rebuilding of Iraq. More links here and here.

The Spanish electorate is stupid if they voted in this way, imho. Do they think it's a good idea to give the terrorists victory? Do they think that victory will not encourage further attacks that aim to get even more concessions and withdrawal from the west? The only way to deal with murderers is to give them their own medicine, and to show them that their tactics are futile. Then, one must give them an option other than the nihilism that they're directing themselves at: democracy and capitalism. The only way to do that is to put governments that are willing to adopt free practices in place.

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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Powell to Kerry: Back Claims With Names 

Yahoo! News - Powell to Kerry: Back Claims With Names: "Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) on Sunday challenged Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) to name the foreign leaders whom the Massachusetts senator claims want him as the next U.S. president."

Hmmm...maybe Powell is better than I thought; if he's saying that in public imagine what Rumsfeld is saying about Kerry in private.

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Broadening of Murder? 

Yahoo! News - Utah Woman Charged With Murdering Fetus

The woman in question has been charged with murder after she refused to undergo a C-section which resulted in one of her twins being stillborn.

This case should be followed, because if she is convicted, at least in Utah, smoking during pregnancy could also be murder.

While I think anyone who smokes while pregnant is horrible, I still find such an expansion of the definition of murder scary.

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Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq 

Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq

"The danger of promulgating the old mistruths about sacrificing blood for oil, reviving colonialism, and suggesting the operation in Iraq has led to disaster are manifold. First, ever-so-steadily, such invective wears away support for an action that, by any historical yardstick, was as successful as it was noble. The only peril to the United States in Iraq would be a unilateral withdrawal before stability and constitutional government are achieved. And the only chance of that disaster happening would arise from our own continual harping that wears down the will of the American people — and those asked to fight for us in the field.

The other worry is that there were, in fact, real concerns about the entire campaign that have scarcely been addressed. While the media hold conferences on university campuses about the morality of using embedded reporters, they have simply refused to discuss the real ethical crisis of the reporting of the war: that dozens of Western journalists sent censored news accounts from Baghdad in the months preceding the conflict and in fact during the actual fighting. Unbeknownst to us, their dispatches always were monitored carefully by "minders" and transmitted only through pay-offs and blackmail. None of this was known at the time — leading to the absurdity that on the day Baghdad fell journalists suddenly came clean over uncensored mikes, as if to say, "Oh, by the way, everything I sent out to you the last two months was sort of censored by the Iraqi Ministry of Information."

So here we are a year later. We fuss about the WMD "myth"; enemies scramble over its reality. We talk of our theft of third-world resources — and pay more for gas than ever before while the price of Iraq's national treasure soars. We worry that we are too involved abroad; those in Europe, Afghanistan, and Iraq claim there are not enough of us over there. And we scream at each other that we are not liked, even as those overseas express new respect for us.

No wonder, when asked for specific follow-ups about his general criticisms of the Iraqi war in a recent Time magazine interview, a resolute Kerry variously prevaricated, "I didn't say that," "I can't tell you," "It's possible," "It's not a certainty," "If I had known," "No, I think you can still — wait, no. You can't — that's not a fair question and I'll tell you why," — employing the entire idiom and vocabulary of those who are angry about Bush's removal of Saddam, but neither know quite why nor what they would do differently."

VDH in all his glory as usual; read the whole thing.

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Friday, March 12, 2004

Finals Week 

I've got a lot of writing to do in the next week, so to ensure that I don't fail any of my classes I'm going to have to scale back my posting for the time being. Please tune back in in a little over a week for resumed programming;)

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3/11 (washingtonpost.com)

I think the events in Spain yesterday prove that George Bush and his war on terrorism are right and just.

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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Arabs or Basques? 

Blasts Come Days Before General Elections

ETA, the Basque separatist group that is being blaimed for this attack that has killed over one hundred people, is denying that they are responsible for the attack. They say that it is most likely an attack executed by Arab terrorists.

I have a feeling that this is true; ETA has normally in the past called in warnings to their targets before attacks have occured, and takes credit for its attacks. The fact that they are denying it would either indicate a major shift in their policy, or their innocence. I am inclined to believe the latter.

If Arab terrorists are responsible, I think Europe is going to be in for more such attacks. Maybe this will wake Europe up and help them realize that the efforts of the United States in the Middle East are good and deserve the aid and assistance of all nations.

UPDATE: Here's a striking picture (from the NYTs website and credited to Reuters) of one of the train cars destroyed in the terror attacks today. I wonder how this was executed, since it appears that the blast went off inside the train. Suicide? Or some sort of package hidden in the train? Whatever it was, it was pretty powerful, the way it blasted such a clean circular patter into the train seems to indicate a very powerful device.

I guess we'll see who was behind this...


Oxblog is citing a report that Al Qa'eda affiliated group is claiming responsibility for the attacks in Spain. We'll see if this hold water, but I bet it does.

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Oh Grow Up 

The Perpetual Adolescent: "The greatest sins, Santayana thought, are those that set out to strangle human nature. This is of course what is being done in cultivating perpetual adolescence, while putting off maturity for as long as possible. Maturity provides a more articulated sense of the ebb and flow, the ups and downs, of life, a more subtly reticulated graph of human possibility. Above all, it values a clear and fit conception of reality. Maturity is ever cognizant that the clock is running, life is finite, and among the greatest mistakes is to believe otherwise. Maturity doesn't exclude playfulness or high humor. Far from it. The mature understand that the bitterest joke of all is that the quickest way to grow old lies in the hopeless attempt to stay forever young."

People should, generally.

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The Marines Have Landed---Run 

W. Thomas Smith Jr. on Marines on National Review Online

"Despite its detractors, the Marines have become a wholly American institution — like baseball players, cowboys, and astronauts — in the eyes of most Americans. Marines indeed may be extreme, but America loves them, extremism and all. And fortunately for America, her enemies in the war against terror will continue to shudder upon hearing, "the Marines have landed.""

While I may be an Air Force brat, and love the air force, I have an irresistable urge to reply to this in the proper way--


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House votes to Ban "Supersized Lawsuits" 

Chicago Tribune | House votes to ban fast-food lawsuits

The house votes to ban lawsuits that seek to leach money from fast food and restaurant chains with allegations that they cause obesity and health problems.

Good, I hope this becomes a law. What one eats is up to one's self. A bigmac is not addictive, and not maliciously marketed. Companies should not have to worry about being sued because their customers have no moderation when they eat.

Now lets get tort reform through.

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The Constitution of Britain 

The mother of parliamentary rows

The title of this article is apt (and the whole thing should be read); all the major fights for constitutional reform in Britian have been between the House of Lords and House of Commons. Just such a fight may occur now, although the outcome, if the battle continues, has been decided for a century.

The House of Lords has sent a bill that would create a Supreme Court of sorts for Britian (although it wouldn't have the power to strike down laws as unconstitutional) has been sent back to commitee, making it's passage before the next election unlikely. This has enraged Blair, who wants this reform badly. Blair may envoke the Parliament Act, a law passed nearly a century ago during another tusstle between the two houses over constitutional reform in which the Lords finally lost their power, which allows the House of Commons to bypass the House of Lords and make a law without consulting them.

This fight is bringing to light, as the Economist adequately explains, the creaking nature of the British Constitution, an unwritten agreement of tradition and liberal (classical) sense that helped to create one of the finest democracies in the world.

Should Britian have a written constitution like other major countries in the world (and even Afghanistand and Iraq)? Unless Britians want to keep putting their faith in a governent that is only liberal because of tradition, and keep hoping that it won't start to usurp their freedoms like the monarchs did in the past (Charles' Star Chamber is a famous example), then they should support the creation of a real constitution. By putting everything in writing the system will not be dependent on the whims of Parliament and her ministers, but on the rule of law.

Tradition is valuable, but one shouldn't put ones life and liberty in the balance just to preserve antiquated customs.

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Liberal Talk Radio Network to Launch 

Drudge: Liberal Talk Radio Network

Hah. I'll only believe that this will be successful when I see it. There's a reason why talk radio is conservative; it's because conservatives seem to like it and liberals do not. My theory is that conservatives just like to think and debate more about political issues, whereas liberals like to 'feel good'. While that's a gross stereotype, I think that it's not far from the truth, at least in explaining why talk radio is the way it is.

I predict abject failure for this venture.

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White Slaves 

A million Europeans enslaved - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics

An interesting historical fact is that more than a million white Europeans were enslaved by coastal pirates between 1530 and 1780; slavery is not a racial issue at its heart, at least partly.

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Yahoo! News - Robotic Legs Could Produce Super Troops

A staple of sci-fi becomes reality. I can't wait to see these deployed, it's a great idea that hopefully will help rescue workers as well as soldiers.

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U.S. Rules of Engagement Shift in Haiti (washingtonpost.com) 

U.S. Rules of Engagement Shift in Haiti (washingtonpost.com): "U.S. Marines sent to quell violence in Haiti have received new orders to seize guns from Haitians they encounter on patrol and to open fire, if necessary, to prevent further killings, the senior American commander in the region said yesterday."

More agressive rules of engagement are generally a good idea; just think back to Somolia and Mogadishu for an instance in which more agressive rules of engagement would have done a lot of good.

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War Deaths in Iraq Down 

Via Instaman, this report summarizes a piece done on Fox News in which a graph showing the number of deaths per month in Iraq clearly indicates that they are going down (just 20 in February, compared to 82 in November, 40 in December, and 47 in January).

I agree with Instaman that Iraq is getting better. Hopefully the electorate will realize this and reward the leader that is helping to bring a better state of affairs to the Iraqi people and more security to our country.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Libertarian Purity Test 

Libertarian Purity Test

Yeah, I got a 24. A soft-core libertarian.

A lot of the ideas on there struck me as 'nuts' to say the least. My objection with privatising everything is that the private sector can abuse its power just as well as the government, but at least with the government we have a sense of obligation to a tradition of law and attempts to put functions out in the open mitigating attempts to usurp freedom.

I just don't trust anyone with my freedoms.

I also understand that there is a reason that people form associations, because they're better than the anarchy that would ensue if we had roving bands of personal mercenaries protecting corporate guilds, which is some way to interpret a perfect libertarian world would be.

Ironically, in the perfect libertarian world your own liberty would imprison you. Nasty, brutish, and short is the half of it.

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Mr. Safire raises some concerns about how the line of privacy that protects our lives from undue intrusion is fluctuating due to government intervention both in and out of the war on terror.

I'm willing to accept a greater risk of terror attack if my private life is able to remain more secure. This is obviously not absolute, as I am unwilling oppose all efforts at reducing terror.

A greater public discussion needs to occur on what where the line of privacy should lie.

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Sonic Weapons in Iraq 

Sonic Weapons Deployed

I remember reading about such devices ten years ago when I was in grade school. It's nice to see that they've finally made it out of the concept stage and are being deployed.

The article on this indicates that the device (the creators are hesitant to call it a weapon) causes severe pain and may even cause some hearing loss. However, I think it deserves to be said, even though its obvious, that this device is so much better than bullets. If a building of thugs could be cleared out by this device instead of Delta Force with assault rifles, than a better outcome has been reached.

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Primary Turnout Low 

The NYTs is reporting that the turnout at the first 20 democratic primaries, including Super Tuesday, is the third lowest since 1960.

So, the Dems are angry, but only some of them are angry enough to actually show up at the polls.

The partisan in me hopes that their appathy continus; people who can't bother to care during the part of the election when issues are actuall hashed out don't need to be voicing their uninformed complaints later.

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Fat Ladies Need Not Apply 

Fat Ladies Need Not Apply

Let her sing!

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The WaPo is coming down in favor of more aggressive diplomacy that is directed in pushing the thugish leaders of the middle east into reforming their countries with more liberalism. It in fact even chastises the Bush administration for scaling back their goals of liberalism in the middle east due to a backlash of criticism that their efforts have faced.

The editorial concludes:

Administration officials nevertheless have reacted to the backlash by scaling back some of their ambitions. For example, rather than seek agreement on a "democracy charter" for the Middle East by the G-8 summit in June, the group of rich countries is likely to settle for embracing the agendas that emerge from the Arab summit and other regional meetings. A programmatic proposal being circulated among the G-8 governments is small-bore and familiar, emphasizing training and technical support for existing Arab groups and institutions, rather than promotion of fundamental change. Such a modest start might be worthwhile if it serves as the basis for a broad alliance among the United States, Europe and Arab reformers. Yet the Bush administration will not encourage transformation of the Middle East until it breaks with old-style rulers and old ways of thinking. Until it is prepared to use its considerable leverage with allies such as Mr. Mubarak to promote political freedom, as opposed to stability, its democracy initiative will lack credibility.

It's nice to see such balanced editorials coming out of a major newspaper. Again, let me trumpet the superiority of the WaPo to the NYT's. Hopefully one day soon the NYT'll finally reap the backlash that its been sowing and be dethroned from its dubious title as the 'paper of record'.

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Drezner on Outsourcing 

Mr. Drezner posts up a nice summary on why those who say that the economy is bad are wrong. Also, he notes that Bush has come down rhetorically in favor of outsourcing, most likely in response to those in congress that were making moves to penalize companies that outsource.

Bush's stance is much better than Kerry's, who has supported liberal trade in his voting record has been arguing against it in his campaign. Another flip-flop?

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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

More Polls 

Byron York on Election 2004 & Polls on National Review Online

Some interesting numbers reported on NRO. More people think that Kerry is running a dirty campaign than Bush, and Bush has a 10 percent lead on Kerry in the question who will win in November. Interesting.

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Bloggers: a check on the fourth estate 

In a recent Chicago Tribune column Mr. Wycliff recounts the tale of a journalist at the Tribune, Uli Schmetzer, being caught falsifying a source for a quote in one of his articles by an Australian Blogger, Tim Blair.

Mr. Wycliff concludes with the following:

"One last lesson comes to mind: It could be that technology already is providing us a kind of ultimate check in the form of the Internet. In the past, national and foreign correspondents could roam the country or the world writing stories about people who would never see their work. In the Internet age, there are fewer and fewer places where the Chicago Tribune--or the Waxahachie Daily Light, for that matter--cannot be accessed and read critically by people about whom we write. And that is a very good thing."

It is a very good development indeed; more power to the people is what the internet and bloggers are creating. Let the critique of the media continue. Let it be harsh, let it be merciless, let it be fair, and let it be dilligent; let it set the record straight and allow people to make decisions for themselves based on facts, not on the opinions and ideologies of the reporters and editors of a distant newspaper.

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Narcissism and Faith 

David Brooks writes the following in his Op-Ed column today:
"The flap over Gibson's movie reminds us that religion can be a dangerous thing. It can be coarsened into gore and bloodshed and used to foment hatred. But we're not living in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Our general problem is not that we're too dogmatic. Our more common problems come from the other end of the continuum. Americans in the 21st century are more likely to be divorced from any sense of a creedal order, ignorant of the moral traditions that have come down to us through the ages and detached from the sense that we all owe obligations to a higher authority.

Sure, let's get angry at Mel Gibson if he deserves it. But let's not forget that the really corrosive cultural forces come in the form of the easygoing narcissism that surrounds us every day."

I come face to face with this sort of belief every day here at the ivory tower (a tower of Babel, perhaps). There are many at college here that are agnostic, drifting in between the nihilism of atheism and the faith of religion. They express a belief in something greater than themselves, but nothing more than that. It always strikes me as a ludicrous position to take. If there is a higher power, shouldn't more respect than a quiet semi-acknowledgment be shown to it? It never seems to cross the mind of the agnostic that perhaps God expects something from man. To be fair, though, this fact doesn't seem to cross many Christian minds, either; many want to turn their religion into a feeling of goodness despite deeds, when in fact it is an obligation and commitment. It's a contract, a covenant, a pact, a friendship with God. And a friendship is a two-way street, requiring duty from both parties.

Life has responsibility. Religion too has responsibility. Perhaps more people will realize that life is more than narcissistic self-gratification and understand that true fulfillment (which may not even occur in life, as poor Job could have suffered if God had saved his explanation for when Job reached Heaven instead of giving it earlier) is going to cost time, commitment, heartbreak, and faith. Even a reason-bound atheist who takes the time to turns away from their blind narcissism that is justified by an unsolved proof of reason in their minds can notice this if they try. And by noticing this, perhaps they'll also notice the grand, unhuman sublimity in the world that is the mark of more than man. One that turns away from the hollow support of the self needs something else to carry them; faith is that support.

It seems to me that those that deny faith in favor of reason are denying their humanity and one of the greatest parts of life, as well as the acknowledgement that there is more than life.

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Civil Rights? 

Mr. Nordlinger writes:"Speaking of love and marriage, let me leave you with this: A reader of this column, reacting to an item about the gay-marriage debate, wrote, 'If marriage is a civil right, can I sue the government to appoint me a spouse?'

It just may come to that, homie."

If we're going to call marriage a civil right, than we'd better understand what that means, exactly, before we jump down a pit we can't climb out.

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New Poll 

Aside from the fact that a new poll written up on the WaPo does not state that it is of likely voters, but simply a national random sampling of adults, which does not give the poll much value other than as a way to sell papers (it was the lead story on the website this morning, so I presume it has a prominent place in the print edition as well), this question struck me:

Now, of the following list, which one will be the SINGLE most important issue in your vote for president this year: The U.S. campaign against terrorism, the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs, education, health care, Medicare and prescription drugs, Social Security, or something else?

The top three responses are US campaign against terror (17%), the war in Iraq (10%) [which is interestingly not much above several seven and eight percents for other issues such as education and social security], and the economy and jobs (36%). Why do people vote for president with their pocketbooks? The President really has little control over how the economy is performing, and how it performs in the future. It seems that this strange historical trend to vote out of the wallet is continuing.

However, for GWB, this should be good, because the economy is in good shape and improving; eventually the word will get out that the bulls are back and he will win in November with a healthy margin.

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California lawmakers propose lowering voting age to 14 for state elections

14 year olds voting? What a stupid idea. The critic that this article cites that says "There's a reason why 14-year-olds and 16-year-olds don't vote. They are not adults. They are not mature enough. They are easily deceived by political charlatans." is absolutely right. It takes emotional and intellectual maturity to take a stand on an issue and exercise the duties of citizenship responsibly.

There may be some exceptions out there (maybe), but I can certainly say that at 14, in the 8th and 9th grades, I was not ready to be voting. I wasn't ready for much of anything, I was still growing up. I think that this is true of most teenagers.

Lawmakers should instead be concerned about teaching students important subjects like history so that future citizens can make decisions with some sort of context and not entirely based on emotion and innuendo.

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Campus Policy: Censorship and Lies at the UofC as well? 

Joshua Elder on Affirmative-Action Bake Sales on National Review Online

The University of Chicago should have an affirmative action bake sale. I'll look into this at the next College Republican meeting and see what I can do. I'm interested in finding out whether or not the very vague policy that the UofC has towards speech would come into play. In the Studen Handbook, the following policy is outlined:

At the University of Chicago, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge, as is the right of all members of the community to explore new ideas and learn from one another. To preserve an environment of spirited and open debate, we should all have the opportunity to contribute to intellectual exchanges and participate fully in the life of the University.

The ideas of different members of the University community will frequently conflict and we do not attempt to shield people from ideas that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive. Nor, as a general rule, does the University intervene to enforce social standards of civility. There are, however, some circumstances in which behavior so violates our community's standards that formal University intervention may be appropriate. Acts of violence, and explicit threats of violence directed at a particular individual that compromise that individual's safety or ability to function within the University setting are direct affronts to the University's values and warrant intervention by University officials. Abusive conduct directed at a particular individual that compromises that individual's ability to function within the University setting and/or that persists after the individual has asked that it stop may also warrant such intervention. Even if formal intervention is not appropriate in a particular situation, abusive or offensive behavior can nonetheless be inconsistent with the aspirations of the University community, and various forms of informal assistance and counseling are available.

This doesn't seem like it would apply to an affirmative action bake sale; however, the clause that discusses violence could be twisted to shut such an event down if threats of violence and/or violence occured at a bake sale, even if such violence was not the fault of the event organizers.

During Orientation Week for first-years at the beginning of fall quarter last year, and presumably this year (although I'm not entirely sure), several sessions were devoted to a presentation and discussion revolving around the above policy. The presentation that was made was a "mock trial" in which two law students made arguments for and against allowing a white (what other race would you expect) hate-monger to come and speak at the University of Chicago about the religious organization he backed. The argument was whether or not he should be allowed to come and speak, even though the nature of his speech would not be hate, because of what he had said in the past.

The students participating in Orientation Week (including myself in fall 2002) discussed the presentation in a small session with other first-years and older orientation leaders who are more advanced in the college. At the end of the discussion ballots were cast and the results tallied (strangely I can't remember what the result was).

From this presentation it seems to me that The University would allow such a bake sale; what's interesting, though, is how such a stereotypical speaker was used as the straw man in this exericise. What's also intersting is how a vote was held--does this reflect that the University is willing to submit to a plebiscite and bow down to any group that is willing to make a lot of noise, even if they are promoting censorship? I suppose we shall see if a bake sale is held.

Turning to thet problem of affirmative action that Mr. Reynolds discusses, what's really great is the statement of diversity:

In keeping with its long-standing traditions and policies, the University of Chicago, in admissions, employment and access to programs, considers students on the basis of individual merit and without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or other factors irrelevant to participation in the programs of the University.

So, students will be considered on the basis of individual merit without regard to race, color, and national or ethnic origin. I always wonder what's left for determining "diversity". Obviously the ideas of indivudual students. But, isnt' race used as a method of determining "diversity"? Isn't such a method by defenition "racist"?

I'd love to get on the inside of admissions policy here once and see if they're as hypocritical as other universities, as "meely-mouthed" as Glen Reynolds puts it.

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Debate on Affirmative Action and Conservative Bias 

Over at Instapundit. A good read. I agree with Mr. Reynolds whole-heartedly that Universities are lying when they speak of diversity when all they really want is more of certain favored color groups attending their institution. I also agree that the criticism that points out a bias in academic hiring that is for liberals and against conservatives, whether intentional or not, makes a lot of sense and most likely occurs.

I hope that matters move in a better direction for conservatives, I'd like to be able to find a job as a history professor one day.

I must admit that the tigh job market in the field of academia combined with the likelyhood that I would be discriminated against because of my ideologies and viewpoints discourages me from wanting to pursue a career in academia.

Is it really true what was once written by an author in The Atlantic Monthly that any conservative that tries to pursue a career in academia is both "a hero and a fool"? I hope not.

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bushgirl.swf Very Funny

Yeah, well, watch that if you want to laugh and feel revolted simultaneously.

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Sunday, March 07, 2004

Jayson Blair Speaks, should we believe? 

The Paper Chase (washingtonpost.com)

I think that there's some fact behind his allegations of bribery, sex, drug abuse, and unethical journalism at the NYT.

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The Hobbit to be filmed 

My Way News

I didn't realize that this would occur. I'd like to see ol' Smaug done well, he was quite a character. "And my breath...death!" Kind of like after eating onions, maybe?

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The Tale of a Saudi Reformer 

Intruders in the House of Saud, Part I: The Jihadi Who Kept Asking Why

A must read article on the current state of Saudi Arabia and those that would reform her.

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Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Art of Criticism 

Jay Nordlinger expresses some interesting thoughts on criticism, specifially of the musicaly variety. An interesting read both for writes, music lovers, and the opinionated (If you're not in one of those groups, I'm deeply sorry).

He concludes with this quote, which I found especially pleasing (being a history major):

“We’re often told that we study history because it’s necessary—necessary to avoid the mistakes of the past. The past, we’re assured, can shed light on the present. Actually, it’s equally true that the present can shed light on the past—but be that as it may.

“The truth is—and we have to say this softly—we study history because it’s fun. Because we enjoy it. Because we get a kick out of it. And that’s okay.”


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Censorship stupifies; Education atrophies 

OpinionJournal - Taste: "A college professor informed me that a new textbook in human development includes the following statement: 'As a folksinger once sang, how many roads must an individual walk down before you can call them an adult.' The professor was stupified that someone had made the line gender-neutral and ungrammatical by rewriting Bob Dylan's folk song 'Blowin' in the Wind,' which had simply asked: 'How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?'"

This in an article about the editing of books to be politically correct in various ways. My fellow citizens are undoubtedly ignorant of history, their political system, and are most likely quite ignorant and stupid (words that are themselves politically incorrect) because of such works. It's too bad that most people learn about the world through such moderated sources such as textbooks and the newspaper (or through even lesser sources such as pop culture) and fail to have the initiative to learn on their own.

Maybe I can change that; at least the foreign policy society (which I should be attending this week) is working to further discourse (although among the already educated).

UPDATE: Here's an interesting piece that discusses parents demanding that their children be given a free pass to an A in school.

"I've had many depressing conferences on such subjects as why a particular student didn't earn a better grade and on why the course must include some content to be learned at home (i.e., doing the assigned readings). I've even had to explain to parents that yes, copying during a test constitutes cheating, and so does plagiarism. The common denominator in almost all of my parent contacts is this: whatever the issue is, they blame the school and the teacher. If a student's grade is low, it's because the content is too hard (funny, nobody has ever said that the content was reasonable but that I wasn't skilled at teaching it). If the student can't be bothered to do any homework, I'm told that all learning and practice should happen during school hours. If the student cheats, it's because I made it so hard that they had to. Two parents have even claimed that I told the students to cheat, and then punished them for it (i.e., they claimed entrapment)."

*Shudder* Oh, I hope that I find a professorship at a decent institution should I choose to pursue a Ph.D in history. It's a pitty that most people are stupid (at least the parents in that article are). Yeah, stupid. I'm sticking by that word. It has a simple, blunt effect that I like.

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A Middle Class President? 

Op-Ed Columnist: Clash of Titans: "There aren't too many normal people waking up in normal suburban split-levels assuming they should rule the world. But God bless the upper class. They've lost their legitimacy, but they haven't lost their self-confidence. "

Has this country ever had a common President? Anyone have a suggestion for a possible candidate as a "middle class president" from the past?

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local6.com - News - 3-Headed Frog Found

The wonders of nature.

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Monday, March 01, 2004

Christ has Appeal 

Box Office Mojo > All Time Box Office > Opening Weekends

'The Passion of the Christ' is #7 in the rankings for largest opening weekend for a movie, ahead of the likes of Return of the King (#9) [it opened on a Wednesday, so was hindered], and behind movies such as Spider Man (#1), The Matrix Reloaded (#2), two Harry Potter movies (#3 and #4), X2:X-Men United (#5), and Star Wars Attack of the Clones (#6).

What's interesting about this fact is that the market that is going out to see this movie is a market that is largely untapped by most mainstream Hollywood fair, as the major media has been reporting. My hope is that this will motivate studious to underwrite more movies that are willing to move beyond the formulaic tripe that we are subjected to year after year (New Line was rewarded for a lesser such gamble with the probable two billion dollars it will make from the LotRs movies).

I have yet to see "The Passion of the Christ", but the Christians that I have spoken to have enjoyed the film. It is undoubtedly one that requires knowledge and faith in Christianity to appreciate wholly. I expect that I will find it quite powerful and moving. I'll be sure to let you know after I see it if my expectations hold true.

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Iraq Improving 

Iraqi Council Agrees on Terms of Interim Constitution (washingtonpost.com): "The country's 25-member, U.S.-appointed Governing Council reached consensus on the 63rd and final article of the document at 4:20 a.m. local time, after more than 10 hours of almost nonstop negotiations mediated by the American administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, people involved in the meeting said.

'It's a historic document,' said Faisal Istrabadi, one of the lead drafters and a senior aide to council member Adnan Pachachi. 'Every single article, and each subparagraph, had the consensus of all 25 people in the room. . . . In the best tradition of democracies -- granted, we are an aspiring democracy -- we all compromised.'

The document, which will provide a legal framework for Iraq until elections are held and a permanent constitution is drafted, grants broad protections for individual rights, guaranteeing freedom of speech, assembly and religion, and other liberties long denied by the Baath Party government of former president Saddam Hussein. In an unprecedented step toward gender equality in the Arab world, the document sets aside 25 percent of the seats in the provisional legislature for women, council aides said."

While the provision setting a quota for women would not appeal to me in domestic legislation, such a provision in an arabic country is quite progressive. This, in conjunction with the statement (if true) that the diplomats compromised in their negotiations, seems to bode well for the future of Iraqi government and liberality.

I think that this news falls squarily in the 'good' category. Iraq is indeed improving, slowly but surely.

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LotR's Wins 

'The Lord of the Rings' Wins 11 Oscars, Including Best Picture (washingtonpost.com)


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