Monday, February 28, 2005

Some thoughts on Ward Churchill

A lot has been made of Ward Churchill based on a single phrase. To get a better idea of the man, you can listen to him speak here. This is an hour long and a 7 meg download. For those who don't want to invest an hour, I will hit the high points.

This was from a public appearance on February 8, 2005. I don't know where it took place but from the audio there was an enthusiastic crowd complete with someone banging on a drum. It has sort of a tent revival feel to it.

While Churchill says that he does not need to apologize or exclaim to anyone, he does say that he was only talking about the "technocrats" in the building, not the food service workers or the children or the rescue workers.

He then goes on to a rambling "connect the dots" analogy. He mentions current mismanagement by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (I'll agree here but I'm for limited government anyway) and Wounded Knee. He talks about the number of children killed in Iraq by the sanctions (he mentions George H. W. Bush who established the sanctions but not Bill Clinton who enforced them for 8 years). He then skips to the use of nukes on Japan and the firebombing of Tokyo. This was done to "show Japan who is boss". (The fact the we were at total war with Japan, that Japan attacked us, and that bombing of civilian populations in WWII started with Japan's ally, Germany, bombing England during the "Blitz" somehow escapes him. Interesting omissions for a history professor.) He also mentions the subjugation of the Philippines a century ago and finally ends up with the Dutch "renting" Manhattan from the Indians, slaughtering them later, and playing soccer with their heads at the location where the World Trade Center stood. As a side note, he mentions that Wall Street is named after a slave enclosure. (see notes at the bottom) This he feels draws a pattern of the US as a killer of foreign children so it was only natural that someone would strike back. Palestine is also mentioned.

He feels some sorrow for the deaths of the innocent workers who died on 9-11 but no more sorrow than he feels for the dead children in Iraq.

He then takes questions from the audience. In response to one question he says that this is the start of an attempt to get dissenting voices out of the colleges.

Someone says that he supports Churchill's right to free speech and asks if Churchill supports his right to march in the Columbus Day Parade. Churchill says no because his 9th Amendment rights supersede the questioner's 1st Amendment rights. The convoluted explanation is that the 9th Amendment says that rights not mentioned are left to the people, that human dignity is therefore protected by the 9th Amendment, that Columbus violated human dignity, and therefore freedom of speech does not apply to anything to do with Columbus. (The hypocrisy here is overwhelming.)

Someone else pointed out that most of the students were more likely to be technocrats than food service workers. Would that make them "Little Eckmans"? Yes.

In all, probably too much has been made of Churchill. He made a catchy soundbite but his message is the same as is found across campuses - the US is bad, Bush is bad, capitalism is bad. I list of people defending Churchill can be found here. It doesn't take much digging to find that they are all part of the same anti-America movement. For example I found the link to Churchill's speech at a site linked from Ohio State University professor Mark Grimsely's blog. Grimsley linked to a video about the Project for a New American Century. This wraps up every conspiracy you ever heard about the Military/Industrial Complex and the NeoCons into tight little package.

Despite what I said above, I'm going to spend a little more time talking about Churchill. Some people's lives are not really meant for close scrutiny. Churchill is a good example. His claims to Indian ancestry are dubious even though they were his main job qualification. Now it turns out that he copied someone else's art and sold it as his own.

Remember Kerry's medals? We never did hear the whole story on them. No one even cared while he was a back-bencher in the Senate. No one bothered looking into the history of "Jeff Gannon" either.

Historical notes on New York:
Churchill distorts early New York history so badly I needed a separate entry just to set the record straight.

First, we are talking about events that happened nearly 400 years ago and were done by Dutch. To blame America for this 150 years before the Declaration of Independence is absurd.

Did the Dutch buy Manhattan or rent it? Churchill mentions a "handful" of beads. This refers to the story that Manhattan was bought for $24 worth of beads. This account was published in the 2nd quarter of the 20th century and was based on a period account that the beads were worth 60 guilders. The exchange rate at the time (the 20th century) turned this into twenty four dollars. The hundreds of years of inflation were ignored.

In the early 17th century, 60 guilders was more than an average worker earned in a year - as much as double. That means that the beads and trade goods cost something in the order of $10,000 - $40,000 based on today's wages. That's a lot of money for temporary rights to unimproved property.

Churchill says that Wall Street is named for the wall that surrounded a slave compound. He is mixing up two different periods. Originally, the entire colony had a protective wall around it with a road running along the wall. This is what Wall Street is named for.

By 1700 a large portion of New York's population was African slaves and a slave graveyard has been found on Wall Street.

Churchill says that the Indians tried to reclaim their land and the Dutch, to be certain of their claim, killed the tribe, took their heads, and played soccer with them on the site of the WTC. Again, he is confusing multiple events. The incident involving beheading Indians happened years later in 1643 as part of a war between the Dutch and the Indians.
During that bloody 1643 war with the Indians, a group of soldiers paraded through New Amsterdam's streets after an attack on a Canarsie village. The soldiers had beheaded some of the fallen Indians and carried the heads on long poles. As they paraded past Ariantje, one of the heads fell and landed at her feet. With a burst of enthusiasm she gave it her best kick and off it flew, to the dismay of many in the crowd who blamed her family for the war and also looked down upon her savage behavior.
Note that not everyone supported the war and that playing soccer with a head was unacceptable to the adults.

Here's where Churchill got the WTC reference (same link as above):
FOOTNOTE: The June 27, 2004 edition of the New York Times carried an extensive article on the history of the property where the World Trade Center was located. The article stated that, "...Damen, for example, its first European owner, played a critical role in a decision by the early Dutch colonists to massacre Indians living at two nearby settlements, igniting two years of warfare." It went on to state, "Damen died about 1650. His heirs sold his property to two men: Oloff Stevensen Van Cortlandt, a brewer and one-time soldier in the Dutch West India militia, and Dirck Dey, a farmer and cattle brander. Their names were ultimately assigned to the streets at the trade center site. Damen's was lost to history.
So a child who lived on the WTC site kicked an Indian head like a soccer ball, earning some conpempt for her parents. Churchill is playing fast and lose with history. He tried to establish that the WTC was built on bloody ground and 9-11 was the natural progression but he is mixing and matching his facts to do this.

Pretty sloppy for a department head.

Getting Serious About Global Warming

For all of the talk about the Kyoto Protocols, they will do nothing to stop Global Warming (assuming that human-induced Global Warming is even happening). When politicians and scientists will admit this they add that Kyoto is only the first step. If they are really serious about stopping Global Warming then there are several things that need to be answered:

If Kyoto is only the first step, what is the second step? Do politicians really think that we can roll back emissions to 1900 levels? How about 1800 levels? It would take that to do any real good. Considering the population increase over the last couple of centuries, that would mean a tiny carbon allowance per person. Is this even possible? Remember that anything less than this will not stop global warming, only slow it slightly.

One of the big flaws of Kyoto is that it imposes limits only on the developed nations. China and India have no limitations and can even sell credits to the developed nations. Are they willing to buy into Kyoto II? Again, if they are not then there is no point to the entire exercise.

Everyone is fixated on carbon dioxide. This is only one greenhouse gas. There are others. Some of them absorb much more heat than carbon dioxide and are easier to eliminate. Methane is an example. Why are these being ignored completely?

There are also gases that have a reverse-greenhouse effect. Sulfur dioxide is one. It s produced by burning high-sulfur coal. Sulfur dioxide emissions were nearly eliminated by legislation passed in 1990 is response to acid rain. The most comprehensive study on acid rain, which was released later that year, sad that it was not the problem that environmentalists made it out to be. Most examples of lakes and ponds turning acid were the result of pine forests regrowing after being cut down early in the 20th century. It is seldom recognised but the US has more forests now than it had 100 years ago. The few lakes that actually were becoming acidic due to acid rain could easily be treated with lime as a fraction of the cost of reducing sulfur emissions.

Keeping this in mind, if we went back to burning high-sulfur coal without expensive scrubbers we could offset the effects of carbon dioxide.

Can we have a real assessment of the effects of Global Warming? I remember reading one that the Department of Defense did in the mid-1990s. (I'm going from memory here so I might have the wrong department.) The projected effects on the US would be an increased growing season and fewer frosts. Some farmers would need to adjust their crops, adopting crops currently grown by farmers a few hundred miles south of them. Some animals might migrate north. A few forests might be adversely affected since forests spread slowly. The overall effect on the US of a temperature increase of 5% was projected to be an economic growth.

Environmentalists had a fit over this report. Their immediate response was to focus on the forests that would be affected. When this failed to motivate people, they started making stuff up. Warming suddenly became the worst thing that could happen. Disease and pests would follow. Considering how many people move to the Sunbelt for the warmth. I never heard of anyone moving to Ohio from Florida because they wanted to get away from the bugs and disease.

It gets worse. The Day After Tomorrow, last summer's bomb of a movie was based on a real theory that enough fresh water from the melting poles would shut down the ocean currents causing an ice age. Could this happen? Not likely. The currents are caused by gravitational forces.

What about other weather phenomena? We are told that we will have more hurricanes, tornados, etc. Will we? No one has any idea. Hurricanes feed on warm ocean currents but they are disrupted by el Ninos.

The real likely effects are beneficial to most of the planet's population. Not only that but numerous studies have shown that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide causes plants to grow faster and be generally healthier.

So, we need an honest appraisal of Global Warming, good or bad? You will not get this from the Greens. Any change is bad and, as I pointed out in my last post, they are using the issue to gain control over people's choices.

So we should be looking at alternatives, both by reducing gases that hold in heat and by increasing the gases that allow heat to escape. We need to be honest about the reductions actually needed and the effect on the world's population by meeting these goals, and we need to appraise the effects of warming, both good and bad.

Instead we have European countries buying credits from the third world for a zero net effect on carbon emissions and politicians patting themselves on the back for making the world a better place.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Global Warming?

My wife was part way through Michael Chrichton's State of Fear when she asked me if what Chrichton said was true? She knew that there were problems with Global Warming but she had no idea of the extent.

Spoiler - The premise of the book is that an environmental organization is having trouble raising the $40 million it needs per year. Global Warming isn't scaring people enough so they try some other tactics. The change the term to "Rapid Climate Change" and attribute all unusual weather to Global Warming, even cold. They also pressure scientists whose work does not support warming to reword their papers (lie). Eventually they employ environmental extremists to create "natural" disasters to coincide with a conference.

How much of this is true? The part about the eco-terrorists is fiction and the organization, NERF, doesn't exist. Much of the rest is straight from science journals.

For example, here is an article with a geological timeline. Anthro-centric beings that we are, we tend to look at recorded history as being most of time. It isn't. Ice ages and warming periods have always happened. Current notions on Global Warming start with the idea that climate somehow stabilized 1,000 years ago or so and no longer changes naturally. The core of that belief if the "Hockey Stick" graph showing global mean temperatures for several centuries. Prior to the Hockey Stick it was assumed by historians that the world had a warm spell around 1000-13000 followed by a cold spell leading into a modern warm spell. The Hockey Stick shows a fairly constant temperature until the late 19th century. There is a sudden sharp climb forming the blade of the stick.

The Hockey Stick has been disproved numerous different ways but it is still quoted as a proof of the human-induced warming trend.

Just as in Chrichton's book, natural events are being turned into evidence of Global Warming. The Antarctic lost some huge ice shelves in the last few years. Is this due to warming? Not according to this article.

The high-profile collapse of some Antarctica's ice shelves is likely the result of natural current fluctuations, not global warming, says a leading British expert on polar climates.

This surprising finding is supported by analysis of data from the European Space Agency's ERS-1 satellite, according to Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College London. The data, measuring changes in ice thickness across the Antarctic ice sheet using the polar orbiting satellite, show areas of growth from snowfall are as common as areas of decline.

This is a contrasting picture to one based solely on the northern Antarctic Peninsula - a shark's fin of land jutting out from the body of the continent, and reaching to just 750 miles from Chile - where there has been a drastic increase in temperature, thinning of ice sheets and collapse of ice shelves.

[...] "Taken as a whole, Antarctica is so cold that our present efforts to raise its temperature might be regarded as fairly puny. Change is undoubtedly occurring: in the collapse of the northerly Peninsula ice shelves, and elsewhere in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, where the circumpolar current appears to reached the ice edge and is eating away drastically at the ice shelves. One cannot be certain, because packets of heat in the atmosphere do not come conveniently labeled 'the contribution of anthropogenic warming'.

"But the warming of the Peninsula has been going on for a considerable time, and the pattern of regional change is variable, and neither of these is favorable to the notion we are seeing the results of global warming".

Note the phrasing in this excerpt:

The professor continued: "I am not denying global warming. For instance, Greenland, in the northern hemisphere, does seem to be going. But Greenland's ice cap - Greenland is quite far south - is a last survivor from the ice age and only its height protects it. The more that cap melts, the more it will continue to melt as it gets lower and warmer. But Antarctica is different. Even in the Arctic I am skeptical of some claims that 40 per cent of the sea ice has already vanished, and that what remains is drastically thinning
Notice that he gives Greenland as an example of Global Warming then dismisses it in the same sentence? Greenland's ice cap is not natural, it is the result of an ice age .

Last Fall four hurricanes hit the southern US. This happened because a stagnant air mass in the mid-Atlantic prevented the storms from following the usual trajectory. That didn't stop a leading climate researcher from saying that Global Warming was to blame. Here is an angry column about this and other such lies.

It appears we have now entered a phase of the global climate change debate wherein scientists feel free to trumpet their personal bias even if it runs contrary to evidence compiled by the scientific entity they represent or, even more astounding, if it runs counter to research results they themselves produce!

Or possibly scientists cannot get funding unless they make these claims.

Putting aside all of this, what if Global Warming is real and it is caused by humans. What can be done? The Kyoto Protocol, even if the signatories live up to their commitments, will do nothing. Individual countries have pledged to limit emissions. They will do this by either moving the source of their emissions elsewhere or by buying credits from poor countries. Luxemburg shut down its generators. Did it stop using electricity? No, it now buys it from elsewhere.

If we were serious we could burn more high-sulfur coal. Sulfur dioxide holds less heat than carbon dioxide and it is much more efficient at it. Many computer models show that global warming has not happened yet because of sulfur dioxide emissions.

Or we could cut methane emissions. Methane holds 20-30 times as much heat as carbon dioxide and it has commercial uses. Keeping a pound of methane from escaping an oil well is equivalent to saving 25 pound of carbon dioxide.

So why aren't greens celebrating all this? As Daniel Sarewitz and Roger Pielke Jr. wrote in The Atlantic back in July of 2000: "A central tenet of environmentalism is that less human interference in nature is better than more." And the great symbol of non-interference has become reduction in CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide, which makes life on this planet possible, became the poster child for the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the like of all human interference with Nature.

The Greens love Global Warming. They always hated cars, yards, public parks (unless closed to the public), and anything else that allows people choice in their lives. CO2 reduction gives them everything they ever wanted. All they have to do is convince the world of it.

This goes back to the socialist causes that the Greens are descended from. Greens are often referred to as "watermelons" - green on the outside and red on the inside. Socialists always believed that choices were bad. The state would tell you where to live. They would design the building you live in, etc. The Kyoto Protocols and their possible follow-ups will give governments far more intrusive control into everyday life than Communist Russia ever had.

In a junk-science related matter, breast implants are back in the news and are being fought.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is again preparing to review the science concerning the safety of silicone breast implants

Though the scientific data will, once again, point to the safety of silicone implants, it’s not clear that the science alone will drive the panel’s decision.

All the new data reaffirm a 1999 report from the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluding that available medical and scientific evidence does not associate SBIs with cancer and other systemic diseases. But as is often the case where activists and personal injury lawyers are involved, having the science on your side isn’t always enough

[...] But the FDA never rejected silicone breast implants. The agency simply requested more long-term safety data. The October 2004 study’s average 12-year follow-up among more than 7,000 women would seem to fill the bill -- as do several other epidemiologic studies with maximum follow-up times ranging from 23 years to 30 years. The claim that there aren’t long-term data supporting the safety of SBIs is flat-out wrong.

I’m not surprised by the distortions in the letter pushed by NOW and the other groups -- NOW is known to have had ties to personal injury lawyers involved in the multi-billion dollar breast implant litigation.

What's the fuss?

The left is so upset about Gannon/Guckert I keep wondering if I am too quick to forgive the Bush administration. But no matter how I look at it, I still don't see what the fuss is.

Ok, he used a pseudonym. So what? Wolf Blitzer has also used the names Ze'ev Blitzer and Ze'ev Barak.

He's a partisan Republican. Helen Thomas used to scold the Bush administration in the form of questions. Does this mean that partisans are ok as long as they are anti-Bush.

He got a press pass when Maureen Dowd didn't. Except he got day passes and she wanted a permanent pass. The big surprise here, at least to me, is that Down thinks of herself as a reporter who covers the White House. My impression of her for years has been a columnist who picks up stories from the wire service and writes her opinion of them. Kind of a blogger without links.

He was given access to classified information/he was responsible for the forged memos. There is no proof for either claim.

UPDATE: I forgot about this one:
He should have been denied a press pass because there are gay web sites registered under his name (his real one). Why are background checks done? I thought it was for security, not morals. Just as other reporters have used other names, columnists working for respected news organizations have a checkered past. Newsweek has a columnist who has posed for Playboy more than once and produced videos for them. One contains a bit of bondage. I am referring to Patti Davis whose column I quoted recently. Her background might not be quite as racy as Gannon's but she did both under the same name.

Marc Cooper gives some more reasons why we have already devoted too much space to the story.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Iran Invasion?

The liberal blogs are abuzz with rumors that Bush has already signed orders to attack Iran in June. This started with former weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Ritter hates Bush. Prior to the invasion of Iraq he insisted that Iraq did not have any WMDs (he was right) and that we did not have the forces need to invade Iraq (he was wrong). He has been writing columns criticizing Bush ever since. His most recent pronouncements are:

Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia’s Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
Before you get upset about this, let's have a breath of sanity. In this case it comes from an unlikely source - Eric Alterman's column on MSNBC. Alterman went on tour without a power cord to his laptop so a guest blogger is filling in. This blogger, Siva Vaidhyanathan, seems to have all of his marbles and possibly some that Alterman lost.

Among other points, Vaidhyanathan points out that Ritter has burned his bridges with the Bush administration. Although the radical blogs assume that he has inside knowledge, he is probably just selectively quoting Seymour Hersh.

He gives other reasons that we are unlikely to get into a war with Iran:
  1. No soldiers left.
  2. No money left.
  3. The Pentagon does not see any way to take that country (and its nuclear facilities are spread out and defended) and understands that Iran has many ways to strike back in places like Beruit, Tel Aviv, and all of Iraq.
There's lots more. Read it before Alterman finds out.

What about the Iraq election?
Ritter said an official involved in the manipulation was the source, and that this would soon be reported by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in a major metropolitan magazine -- an obvious allusion to New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh.
Proof to be given later by a third party? I'll believe it later when I hear the proof.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash Day. From the BBC.

The month-old Committee to Protect Bloggers' is asking those with blogs to dedicate their sites on Tuesday to the "Free Mojtaba and Arash Day". Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both in prison in Iran.

Ok, I missed it by a day. Sorry.

Democrat Maurice Hinchey has turned an army of right-wing bloggers into a quivering mass of indignation.

More like quivering from laughing.

Hinchey suggested that presidential political mastermind Karl Rove is behind the fake documents that brought down several top executives at CBS. The controversy led to the early retirement of longtime anchor Dan Rather, many believe.
There is more than a little paranoia here. Anything that goes wrong for the Democrats has to have been a plot by Rove.

Rove would have been a fool to have tried something like this. First, who would have thought that it would work? CBS's own authenticators recognized that the documents looked like they had been written in MS Word. If CBS had done a decent job of authentication they would have uncovered major problems and pulled the story. Granted a good con man counts on the victim not looking too close but Mapes and company violated all standards. Would Rove count on that?

And if Rove had planted the documents, there are several ways that it could have blown up in his face. The forgeries were uncovered so quickly because CBS posted them on their web site. What if they hadn't? This is just too convoluted.

And does anyone think that Kerry could have won on this issue? The voters were judging Bush on his four years in office, not on his military record. Kerry was the one running on his time in the military. Bush did not drop in the polls during the brief interval between the CBS story and its unmasking (unless you read conservative blogs, this took 3-11 days depending on your news source) and even if he had, he still had two months to recover.

Reportedly one reason that CBS ran the story is because the White House didn't deny it. I recently realized why they didn't. Bush and company realized that issuing a denial just kept negative stories in the news cycle longer.

Look at Kerry and the Swift Boat Vets. The original ads were barely funded and there was a complete media silence on them (except for blogs) until Kerry started fighting back weeks later. Then the story was suddenly everywhere. Had Kerry ignored then the MSM would have followed his lead and conservative bloggers would still be complaining.

In the meantime, the originator of the story, Bill Burkett, is complaining about how treated him.

But what do they (the Democratic Underground) really think of us?
Welcome to the National Security State, the global arbiter of perpetual war, police state tactics and the militarization of society on all levels. It's a place where the state religion hawks Jesus wearing an Uncle Sam hat, driving a gas guzzling Humvee with little plastic flags attached to the door and a gay couple, recently married in the People's Republic Taxechusettes, dragged behind in chains that are attached to the rear bumper.

The National Meal is a fat laden, high calorie, low nutrition blob of dead, imported cow flesh, made possible courtesy of the patent protected products of Big Pharma and the destruction of the Amazon River Basin. Just the thing to feed the teaming masses of bloated and lethargic teenagers who have not yet found their proper place in the ranks of cannon fodder slated to fight future "preemptive" wars for their Neocon masters.
This goes on and on. I'm not sure that there is a facet of American life that they approve of.
Newsweek has a column by Patti Davis on stem-cells. It starts out with a story about someone who paid $10,000 for stem cell treatment but died anyway. She goes on to say:
If the Bush administration, which has blocked federal funding for stem-cell research, had any compassion or even any logic (notice I said “if”—I don’t believe this administration has either), Tom Hill’s struggle to live would serve as a wake-up call. Particularly because his is only one of many stories.
Patti is spending too much time listening to her brother, Ron. Bush did not block federal funding for stem-cell research. On the contrary, he was the first president to approve such funding. The point of contention is that the funding can only be applied to lines already existing in 2001.

The Reagan family has spent a lot of energy fighting Bush over this. In the process they have totally muddied the issue. Nancy insists that stem-cell would have saved her husband. Alzheimers is very low on the list of potential cures. Ron stood before the Democratic National Convention and claimed that stem-cells were a magic potion that could cure nearly anything. Now Patti misrepresents Bush's policy and attacks him based on this misrepresentation.

I don't know what the late president would have thought about all of this but I suspect, given his opposition to abortion, that he would have sided with Bush.
Which is true?

  1. Universities are a haven for free exchange of ideas where unpopular opinions should be celebrated.
  2. university students are at a fragile age and need to be protected from speech that affects their self-esteem.
Defenders of Ward Churchill say that #1 is correct. Churchill's opinion that the 9-11 victims deserved death is excused as just another viewpoint.

Critics of Larry Summers go with #2. Summers is the president of Harvard who crossed a line when he suggested that some men might have inborn advantages when competing for science positions at the top of their field. An examination of what Summers said can be found here.

We like to think that #1 is the correct choice but most colleges and universities have instituted speech codes. If you use a racially charged term, or even one that is perceived to be racially charged regardless of common usage, you are subject to disciplinary action.

I suspect that the actual choice is
3. Universities have become polarized and are only open to politically correct opinions.
Consider this - Summers was suggesting possibilities. He never said that he believed that ability is gender-specific, he only threw it out as one of three points of discussion. Never the less, there is some scientific justification for this statement. The article I linked above points out that, when you chart intelligence, women tend to be clustered near the mean and men have a slightly higher number of people at the fringes - both at the high and low. If you are talking about top positions that require the top .1% of ability then men are more likely than women to qualify.

Contrast that with Churchill's ideas. There is no science involved here, only raw politics. He believes that globalization and international trade are evil. This means that anyone involved in world trade deserves to die (apparently even the maids changing sheets in the hotel in the World Trade Center).

If Churchill's statements are ok then so are Summers'. If Summers crossed a line then so did Churchill. But Churchill is the only one being defended by liberals. The only reason I can see for this is that they agree with Churchill but not Summers.

The test of free speech is not how strongly you defend the people you agree with, it is how you defend the people you don't agree with.

I think that there should be some limits on academic freedom and that Churchill is skating on the edge but Summers should be on protected grounds. My reasoning is that Summers has a basis for the ideas he threw out.

The left-wing blogs have been buzzing over a reporter named Jeff Gannon whose real name is James Guckert. This leaked into the MSM with Maureen Dowd writing a column about it.

There are several facets to the story. The first is that Gannon got admission to White House press briefings. Both Dowd and the Daily Kos had been turned down and complained loudly. What they didn't acknowledge and might not have realized is that Gannon only got day passes for specific events while they had been turned down for "hard passes" which are much harder to get.

There has also been some confusion about Gannon's first pass. He currently works for Talon News but previously worked for GOPUSA. Both news services are owned by the same person. The fact that Gannon's first pass was issued before Talon was formed has been given as an indication that something is not right. In fact, he was working for GOPUSA at the time which qualified him as a reporter.

BTW, GOPUSA has a conservative slant but no affiliation with the GOP.

The next thing was the discovery that Gannon was a pen name for James Guckert and that Guckert has some gay-oriented adult content web sites registered under his name. Dowd spent most of her column complaining about not getting a press pass while someone with gay adult web sites did. I think that there is an assumption that all Republicans hate all gays. The same attitude came through when they outed Cheney's daughter. Yes, some Republicans are intolerant of gays but I don't think that most are and Kerry admitted that his positions on gay were about the same as Bush's.

The final thing was the suggestion that Gannon/Guckert was responsible for leaking Valerie Plame's name. As it turned out, her name had already been in the press before Gannon/Guckert wrote about it.

For a complete summary of the whole affair, see here. JustOneMinute examines all of the twists and turns and shows how little there is to the story.

My favorite whipping boy Keith Olbermann also wrote about it a couple of times, most recently here. Olbermann picked up the DailyKos viewpoint that Guckert is a Karl Rove plant.

As long as I'm ragging on Olbermann, I'd like to point out his more recent column. It seems that back in December he quoted Kerry's head lawyer in Ohio as saying that Bush won. A conspiracy-minded woman took Olbermann to task for repeating such a wild accusation.
This wasn’t the first complaint email I’d ever gotten, but it was the first out of hundreds of similar tone that actually reminded me of the late Senator Moynihan’s observation that we can all have our own opinions, but we can’t all have our own facts.
I think that this is hilarious. Olbermann spent most of November and December reporting on how the election might have been fixed. He repeated statistics showing that Bush couldn't have gotten as many votes as were recorded. He quoted professors who said that it was mathematically impossible for Bush to have won (it turned out that these were grad students who didn't understand the equation that they were using). He went on at length about how a repairman must have loaded a special program to throw the recount in an Ohio county. Sometimes he posted two entries per day.

In short, he was off the deep end and he fed other people's conviction that Kerry actually won the election.

And he complains about other people's grasp of reality.

This article on TechCentralStation traces when the Democrats stopped supporting democracy. It s well done but it missed an important moment. Last April, Kerry announced that stability was more important than democracy. He even made some statements in support of Cuba's crackdown on dissidents, something to the effect that the dissidents brought it on themselves.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Flogging a dead horse. Here's another example of a story moving from the left wing noise machine. a few days ago the Daily Kos suggested that the forged Bush memos originated with Karl Rove and passed through a conservative reporter using the name Gannon. Now, according to Little Green Footballs, this theory has been picked up by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). His proof? Well, if Bush actually was a draft-dodger then this would have helped him therefore it must be true.

Had Hinchey bothered studying Bush's record he would know that:
  1. There was no waiting line for fighter pilots so Bush did not need help getting into the TANG.
  2. Bush inquired about serving in Viet Nam but didn't have enough flight time.
  3. By the time Bush requested an early discharge, the TANG had a surplus of pilots and was glad to get rid of Bush.

But he would prefer to keep spreading unfounded speculation as fact.

There's an article on TechCentralStation on the roll of the loyal opposition. The Democrats plan to pursue what they see as a Gingrich strategy - opposing everything that Bush proposes. They have threatened to "break the back" of any Democrat who dares to compromise with Bush.

The article points out that this was only half of Gingrich's strategy. The other half was a long list of ideas - some good and some bad. The Democrats have nothing like a Contract With America to offer, only the status quo.

This reminds me of Kerry's strategy on Iraq. During the Fall he kept insisting that Bush had done the right thing but in the wrong way and that he would do better. How? He could never give a specific. We were simply asked to trust him.

(After the election he finally came up with a specific, that Bush shouldn't have used Saddam's army to keep order. He probably did not suggest this during the campaign because it is easily shot down.)

In the strange world of politics, "conservatives" are now the idea people and "liberals" are the ones fighting change.

My mother heard Hillary making positive statements on the war in Iraq. Hillary is trying to position herself as the moderate successor to Bill. This may work although she was always rumored to be to his left. More importantly, Howard Dean made his big splash in 2003 y running against Clinton moderation. Will the Democrats be willing to nominate a moderate candidate in 2008 or will they insist on another liberal? We will not know for another four years.

In the meantime, there are a couple (here and here) of Condi for President sites. I don't know if a black woman Republican can win but the country could do worse.

It's hard to gauge Colin Powell's success as Secretary of State. Clinton's two appointees were so bad that anyone looks good in comparison. I think that Powell did a fairly good job. Relations with China were terrible in 2001 and they are much better now. For a while it seemed like India and Pakistan were going to nuke each other and he calmed them down. Libya shut down its nuclear program.

Still, the initial reaction to Condi is to treat her as a superstar. Reportedly she already smoothed relations with Europe. Also, with Powell, there was always the chance that Bush might undercut him. That is unlikely with Rice.

Powell was a political appointee - his appointment made Bush look good in 2001. Rice, on the other hand, is one of his closest confidants. It should be interesting to see how the next few years go.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Followup to my post on the Iraq election. Back when Allawi visited the US he was dismissed as a "puppet" and a "thug". Had he won the Iraq government would have been dismissed as Bush's puppet regime. Now that Iraq's largest ethnic group won the most seats in the election, it is being spun by the Washington Post as a disaster for the US.

Yet the top two winning parties -- which together won more than 70 percent of the vote and are expected to name Iraq's new prime minister and president -- are Iran's closest allies in Iraq
He's an article that shows just how misguided the Washington Post article is:
Only three of her 21 paragraphs reference material dissenting from her thesis; however, they’re powerfully undercutting to her premise nonetheless:

  1. A leading prime minister contender, Adel Abdul Mahdi, argues for no Shiite or Islamic government;
  2. U.S. and regional analysts agree that Iraq will not be a likely surrogate to Iran;
  3. and Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, rejects Iran’s theocracy as a model.
Here's a different column making some of the same points.
One could note, for instance, what Iraqi Shiite leaders have actually been saying since their election victory, which is that they have no interest in or intention of copying the Iranian model or in making Iraq an ally of Iran. Adel Abdul Mahdi, a top Shiite leader, told CNN exactly that. He also insisted, "We don't want either a Shiite government or an Islamic government." Abdul Aziz Hakim, the leader of the Shiite alliance that won 48 percent of the vote, has pledged a "government of national unity," and already it is clear that bargaining among Iraq's constituencies is likely to produce a government with strong Kurdish as well as Sunni participation

And here's a column from someone in the middle of the Bush/FDR debate.

On the "Jeff Gannon" story, columnists and bloggers frequently specualte that "Gannon" was given press credintials so that he could pitch softball questions to the President. Obviously Clinton did not need to plant reporters. Not when he could get a network anchor to gush:
If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners
After losing some big posts earlier this week I'm posting in small chunks.

A few days ago Keith Olbermann questioned how freedom of speech was being applied. His blog reads:
Ward Churchill says some detestable things about 9/11 victims, so the Governor of Colorado wants to squeeze him out of the University there. Marine Corps Lieutenant General James Mattis tells an audience in San Diego “it’s fun to shoot some people,” particularly in Afghanistan, and his superior officers ask him to please not say stuff like that again. Eason Jordan makes a remarkable gaffe, implying that the U.S. military is hunting journalists. He backs off within moments of the remark, apologizes, and still gets forced to resign from CNN. Brit Hume and other political commentators twist Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words to make it look like he would’ve supported President Bush’s partial privatization of Social Security, and nobody corrects their journalistic blunders, let alone resigns.
This is an apples and oranges (and bananas) comparison. Now that Ward Churchill's ravings have become public he has become an embarrassment to the University of Colorado. Do they agree that office workers are as bad as murderous Nazis? Does the Governor support this sentiment?

Olbermann continues:
But universities and colleges — particularly public ones — are designed to collide popular, mainstream ideas, with contentious, contrarian ones (and unlike ballclubs, they are not private institutions, from which anybody can be fired for just about anything that embarrasses or harms said institution — also known as the ‘boomerang’ caveat to free speech). Hell, I had a professor at Cornell whose version of American history started with his explanation that the constitution was the elite’s successful attempt to co-opt the rights of the citizens. Students stood up in the lecture hall and swore at him. Now that was a marketplace of ideas.
The world has changed since Olbermann was in college. Universities are no longer havens of free speech. Most universities now have speech codes. Certainly the President of Harvard discovered that his speculations were not covered by free speech. This is much more relevant than any of the other incidents that Olbermann strings together but he ignored it.

Freedom of speech never existed in the military. Why was this even included in Olbermann's list.

Eason Jordan did not make a single misstatement that he quickly took back. He has been asserting that the military targets reporters for months. Now that this has gotten out the military might start revoking access to CNN. This sounds like a good reason for CNN to distance itself by firing Jordan.

This brings us to Brit Hume. This is a tempest in a teapot. If you follow the links you find that what Roosevelt described may not be what Hume implies but neither is it the modern Social Security. Roosevelt was suggesting that people should be able to pay extra amounts into Social Security in order to get a higher return after they retired.

Is this a fireable offence? Olbermann thinks so but he gives his motivations away here:
The Fox News folks, of course, specifically Brit Hume, squeezed the whole FDR thing. ‘Media Matters For America’ has done much of the legwork on breaking this down, and both on his radio show and at his website, Al Franken has done much of the publicizing.
Media Matters and Al Franken? Both Media Matters and Franken's Air America were founded as a left wing echo chamber to counter Fox News Rush Limbaugh. A so-called MSM reporter is quoting a left-wing propaganda machine.

The rest of Olbermann's column is just window dressing. The main thrust has been taken straight from Al Franken.

Good thing Olbermann's ratings are so bad. I'd hate to think that many people take him seriously.

UPDATE: Olbermann's post got picked up by Media Matters (who he cites as a source). This in turn was picked up by the Daily Kos. And they talk about the right-wing echo chamber.
What should we think about the Iraq elections? Some people from both sides think that it was a defeat for Bush because "his" candidate did not win. I don't think so.

The election went just as predicted - the Shia Alliance got the biggest share but not enough. The Kurds got the next largest share and will probably form a coalition with the Shias. Allawi came in third.

Certainly an Iraq governed by Allawi would have been easiest to deal with but it would also have given the impression of being a puppet government. The fact that the US-backed party came in third gives the election legitimacy. No one can point to it and say that it was fixed.

This should also help the new government govern. Iraq's two largest ethnic groups control the government. That should help build popular support for the government.

Also encouraging - Sunni leaders have admitted that they made a major mistake by boycotting the election. That means that they accept the election results, also.

If the election was no more than a single step in creating a democratic government then it at least seems to have been a big step.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It isn't that I'm ignoring my blog - I was not able to post for several days. Blogger "upgraded" their software causing some undocumented enhancements (I got errors when I updated). I lost some long posts. Now that it is back, I'll have to recreate them.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I made a couple of posts about the Democrats/Progressives and their views on breast implants. It is worth looking at the history of implants.

There are two types on implants used today. Both are silicon shells. One is filled with silicon gel, the other with sterile water. The gel gives a more natural feel. The water-filled implants are supposed to be harder, giving an artificial feel to the breast (I've never felt one myself). The gel-filled implants are only available women having reconstructive surgery. Women who get cosmetic surgery have to take the water-filled ones.

Back in the 1970s and 80s most or all implants were gel-filled. Then a woman came down with crippling joint problems after receiving implants that leaked gel into her body. She concluded that the gel caused her health problems. Her story got enough coverage that other women with implants and joint problems heard about it and came forward. The FDA re-evaluated the implants and issued new rules. Dow, the maker of the implants, was sued and agreed to a huge settlement.

This is the limits of the Democrats knowledge about implants. There is a lot more to it.

First, studies were done on the incidence of joint problems for women with implants and women in general. No increased risk was discovered. Millions of women have implants so hundreds of them will develop a fairly rare condition. They would have developed it anyway.

The FDA acknowedged that implants are safe. They never withdrew them from the market. They only limited who could get them. This was made on ideological grounds, not medical ones.

As for ideology - an early tenet of feminism was that women should be judged for their brains, not their bodies. Beauty contests and breast implants angered feminists.

A few thoughts here:
  • intelligence is as much an accident of genetics as beauty so why prefer one over the other?
  • Beauty seems to be a universal trait. Numerous studies have shown that there is a universal standard for beauty. This implies that attraction to beauty is an inborn trait. Trying to socialize it out of men will not happen.
  • The TV audience for beauty pageants is around 80% women. Feminists have never squared this with their assertion that the contests are a meat market for men.
  • Most women who get breast implants (not counting stripper) insist that they are doing it for their own self-esteem, not because they want to look better for men.
Keep in mind that the Democrats and the feminists embarrassed each other's values. That means that a properly socialized Democrat thinks that breast implants are bad regardless of health concerns.

Last year one of the manufacturers of silicon breast implants petitioned the FDA to allow them to be used again. They produced a number of studies showing no risk to the recipients. The FDA was expected to allow this but, unexpectedly, turned them down - apparantly for ideological reasons.

The Democrats'/Progressives' reaction to breast implants is symptomatic of a larger problem. They combine a mind-set from the 1980s with some flawed science and turn it into a cause. Look at other issues that they treat the same way - global warming, gun control, school vouchers, world trade, mass transit, acid rain, and a host of other environmental issues. In each case, the Democrats' ideology and a poor understanding of the issue combines to put them on the wrong side of the issue.

Republicans/conservatives do this somewhat, also, but not as often. One reason is that conservative think tanks take a close look at issues. Another reason is that the left tends to be more reactionary - they look for things to get upset about. Conservatives are more skeptical.

This doesn't always apply but conservatives are more likely to get upset about religion and moral questions rather than bad science. The creation/evolution debate is one where conservatives are on the wrong side.

A friend was in the American Communist Party in the late 1960s/early 1970s. He dropped out because they spent so much time justifying the policies of the USSR that they never came up with any policies relevant to the USA.

There is an old saying that "perfect is the enemy of good enough." When pursuing goals as a political party you start losing people once you reach that "good enough" state. The major causes of the Democratic Party - labor rights, racial equality, gender equality, environmental protection - have all made significant strides. While activists pursue "perfect", many of their foot soldiers have proclaimed "good enough" and gone on to other issues.

This left Howard Dean flailing last year. He was trying to appeal to traditional Democrat values but he got no traction from them.

This is why congressional Democrats are left opposing Bush without offering anything of their own. They want to return a mindset that predated Clinton moderation and triangulation but that leaves them stuck in the 1980s.

So we have well-meaning Democrats dismissing all women who want breast implants as strippers and insisting that research on the subject cannot possibly be correct.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

My last post mentioned Eric Alterman making fun of Senator Coburn for quoting studies that indicate that women with silicon breast implants tend to be slightly healthier than women without. He repeated this in Alternet where it got picked up by the Democratic Underground. There are now 1000+ comments, almost all of them going on about how stupid Coburn is. Every now and then someone says something like "Don't know why, BUT MAY ACTUALLY BE TRUE." These posts are immediately shouted down.

It doesn't take a lot of time with Google to find that Coburn was quoting actual studies by reputable organizations - places like Harvard. That's what I did last night before committing myself publicly. Too bad these idiots are so busy calling names that they don't bother to check their facts.

The Democrats are falling over themselves these days in their rush to be negative. Don't take my word for it, Joe Klein thinks so too. (The quote is from Time's pay site but Wizbang has it for free)

The day after the President's speech, the party's congressional leaders gathered at the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial to carp. How 70 years ago! "Progressive" Dems - and I use the term advisedly, since liberals seem more interested in preserving the past than in discovering the future - are right to admire Roosevelt. But the Roosevelt they worship is a bronze sculpture, frozen in time. The real F.D.R. was a gutsy innovator. The current Democrats resemble nothing so much as the Republicans during the 25 years after Roosevelt's death—negative, defensive, intellectually feeble, a permanent minority. There are reasons to oppose this President - arrogance abroad, crony capitalism at home - but undifferentiated opposition is obtuse and most likely counterproductive. The Democrats' current crudeness is a function of their desperation, and the imminent ratification of Howard Dean, the least charming presidential candidate in recent memory, as their party chairman only serves to punctuate the problem.
Are we going to invade Iran? This is another lie that the Democrats and the Progressives are telling - that we are about to invade and that Bush will reinstate the draft because of it.

Let's look at the issue more closely.

Reasons to invade:
  1. Building nukes
  2. Sponsor of terrorism
  3. Charter member of the Axis of Evil
  4. Islamic theocracy
  5. Oil money

The first two are legitimate reasons but not very good ones. The others are sometimes given by Bush-haters.

Reasons not to invade:
  1. No UN sanctions or history of hostilities with the US
  2. Has not invaded any neighbors or tried to assassinate any Presidents
  3. The government has wider support by the general population than Iraq
  4. Reform seems to be happening on its own as a slow pace
  5. No commitment to regime change in Iraq under the Clinton administration
  6. Our military is too small and overcommitted
  7. Iran is #3 in the Axis of Evil after Iraq and North Korea
Between the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq we were in an uneasy truce punctuated by daily missile exchanges. There was a long list of UN resolutions that Iraq had broken. None of this is true in Iran. We would not be invading a country that we had been fighting for more than a decade.

The big point of contention is #6. Iran has a bigger population than Iraq. We do not have enough troops to invade and occupy it. A draft will not help. We would have to train and equip the troops. We don't have enough armored vehicles for Iraq to say nothing of Iran. We would have to build them as well as establishing the draft. That pushes any possible invasion years into the future. Bush would have to be laying the foundations now for an invasion in 2007. He isn't. No groundwork, no invasion. It's a simple equation.

The Democrats must know this, at least the smart ones (there are still Democrats who can think for themselves, aren't there?). So this is just another lie about the President.

At least the Democrats are tackling one of society's biggest problem - low-rider jeans with boxers hanging out above. The principal sponsor is a black Democrat in the Virginia House. So far it has not made it to the Senate and presumably it will not pass there.

If it does, I wonder if Eric Alterman will make fun of it or does he only do this to Republicans?

It's going to be a long four years. The Democrats seem to have decided to oppose Bush by lying. A lot.

For example:

During the 1990s there were several proposals for reforming Social Security made by Democrats. These involved investments in the private sector and some of them were similar to Bush's proposal. All of that is forgotten in the rush to accuse Bush of trying to dismantle Social Security.

Prior to 2003, everyone said that Saddam Hussein has WMDs. Even Saddam himself hinted that he had them. Now the line is that Bush made it all up. Regime change was the stated policy of the US government when Bush took office. The only reason that Condolezza Rice's confirmation was held up was so that prominent Democrats could rail against Bush and Iraq.

Someone in the Justice Department wrote a memo to Alberto Gonzales. Now, somehow, the Whitehouse council is being blamed for actions by the military. Again, it ws nothing more than an excuse to rail at the President.

None of this will help the Democrats capture the White House, Congress, or state governments. It only serves to make them feel better about themselves.

This brings me to a column by Michael Totten. Back during the Gulf War, Totten was against it because of the outside possibility that he might be drafted.

Looking back, I'm embarrassed, even if Baker's rationale was offensive and stupid. My own "analysis" was thin adolescent gruel. A genocidal totalitarian regime would have been allowed to swallow the harmless country next door if Bush 41 had listened to me. It wasn't my finest or most sophisticated moment. Baker's absurd justification for his position did not excuse mine.
Some of my more moderate friends, both pro- and anti-war, asked me why I felt so compelled to protest every day. Well, I told them, because I was alienated and scared. Alienated because my view was so much in the minority. Scared because I would have been among the first, not the last, to be drafted if it came to that. Joining the protest movement was a way to surround myself with people who were on my side, who shared my detestation of war, and who could viscerally relate to my fears. I knew very well we were all tilting at windmills. I protested because it made me feel better.
That's what's going on in Congress right now.

Eric Alterman is getting downright embarrassing. First he was on TV with Jeff Jarvis talking about the Iraq election. Jarvis mentioned that there are some pro-American blogs by Iraqis. Alterman replied that these must be CIA plants. They've been feuding since then. Jarvis's point is that there are people in Iraq who would kill bloggers if they thought that they were CIA plants.

Alterman admits that he has not read any Iraqi blogs and knows nothing about them but insists that the CIA is likely involved.

More recently, Alterman has this to say:

Then last week the most embarrassing new member of United States Senate, Tom Coburn said:

I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that.

And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows.
In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier.

Alarmingly, Coburn is a licensed physician.
Again, Alterman writes without any idea of what he is talking about. A licensed physician quotes the science on breast implants. This should be fairly common knowledge. The FDA almost re-approved silicone breast implants recently after studies showed that there are no health risks associated with implants (the backed off unexpectedly from political pressure). In his haste to show how Republicans attack science simply shows that Alterman prefers anecdotal evidence to scientific studies.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

It turns out that there were large demonstrations in the US in support of Iraq's election. I missed that somehow. I thought that I watched the news on Saturday and I know I checked news sites.


Conspicuously absent were the anti-war groups. Even though this was a step towards peace, they skipped it. One might conclude that these people were more interested in being anti-Bush than anti-war.

A quick check on International Answer's web site shows press releases about protests at the inauguration and the State of the Union but nothing in between.

The same is true for They have links to their opposition to Social Security reform, Tsunami relief (finally), anti-Sinclair Broadcasting, and election fraud. As far as they are concerned, the Iraqi election did not happen.

On Monday's Daily Show, Jon Stuart admitted that, if it turned out that Bush's policies were right, Stuart's head would implode. I wonder if Dan Rather's will, too?

On Tuesday, Stuart showed a clip from John Kerry's weekend interview on "Meet the Press". Kerry was so nuanced left Stuart speechless.

A year ago Democrats showed that they were willing to do what it takes to defeat Bush. They thought that this meant nominating a candidate that they didn't believe in because they thought that his war record would give him credibility against Bush. After all, anyone would be better than Bush, right?

Kerry still thinks that he has a chance in 2008. He doesn't. He got 48% of the vote in an election that was a referendum on Bush. A lot of those votes would have gone to a sock puppet had it run against Bush.

Few Democrats actually liked Kerry and fewer like him now. Many think that it was his mistakes during the campaign that cost him the election. Others are sure that he won an electoral victory but didn't follow through by demanding a hand recount. These are the hard-core activists and they will not support Kerry again. He can go back to being a back-bencher.

The real question for 2008 is how far the Democrats will go to win the election? Will they nominate a moderate? Can a moderate make it through Iowa and New Hampshire?

Many pizza places have a policy known as redlining. They draw a red line on a map showing where the delivery boys are most likely to be attacked and they refuse to cross the line. The lines are drawn according to crime statistics but they usually include ethnic districts. Black activists hate red lining because is makes it difficult for most blacks to get pizza delivery.

This brings us to Social Security. The retirement age is 67. The life expectancy for a black man is 68.8. If the retirement age is raised then most black men will never get a cent from Social Security.

This is the sort of issue that Democrats usually raise. What happens when a Republican raises it? Bill Thomas (R-CA) did and this is the Democrats response:

Do you believe that the amount of a person's Social Security check should be tied to the color of that person's skin? Of course not. But the Republican Party's point man on Social Security in the House is strongly recommending consideration of just such a step. On Meet the Press yesterday, Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA) raised the possibility of linking Social Security benefits to a person's race -- or even gender.

Ill-conceived, dangerous ideas about Social Security are nothing new to the Republican Party. But no idea is more dangerous or patently unfair than linking Social Security benefits to a person's race and gender.

We can disagree about which ideas should be on or off the table when it comes to the Bush plan to overhaul Social Security. But surely every American can agree that there is no place in the Social Security debate for linking the amount of a Social Security benefit check to the race or gender of the person receiving it.

Because Thomas mentioned race they deliberately misrepresented what he said. There's lies, damned lies, statistics, and Democrat fund-raising letters.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Iraq is just like Viet Nam, right? The DailyKos is quoting stories about voter turn-out in Viet Nam in 1967 and drawing parallels. Not to mention Ted Kenedy's recent rant. Not so says Christopher Hitchens (with references to Monty Python.
I suppose it's obvious that I was not a supporter of the Vietnam War. Indeed, the principles of the antiwar movement of that epoch still mean a good deal to me. That's why I retch every time I hear these principles recycled, by narrow minds or in a shallow manner, in order to pass off third-rate excuses for Baathism or jihadism. But one must also be capable of being offended objectively. The Vietnam/Iraq babble is, from any point of view, a busted flush. It's no good. It's a stiff. It's passed on. It has ceased to be. It's joined the choir invisible. It's turned up its toes. It's gone. It's an ex-analogy.
Over at TechCentralStation, Pejman Yousefzadeh has a few words for Ted Kenedy's call for an immediate pullout.

Make no mistake: Reconstruction would fail if Senator Kennedy's words were transformed into policy. A withdrawal of as many as 12,000 troops "at once" would give Iraqi citizens increased reason to fear for their lives. If we take it as a given that American troops are indeed overstretched -- as many Democrats and others have claimed that they are -- how much more burdened will they be if Senator Kennedy's call for an immediate partial withdrawal gains respectability and becomes influential? How much easier would it be for the terrorist insurgency in Iraq -- headed by a high profile member of al Qaeda -- to undermine the creation and success of any democratic Iraqi government if the insurgents see American manpower as depleted as Senator Kennedy would want? How much easier would it be for the insurgency to plan future terror operations aimed at either making Iraq ungovernable or turning it into the same kind of terrorist base camp that Afghanistan was in the Taliban era if the terrorists could count on all American troops leaving Iraq by a date certain and knowing that after that date, no serious military force would be present in the country to counter the depredations of the insurgency? And how seriously would the Arab world -- or the international community in general -- take America's commitment to a new Iraq if we "dramatically" reduced our embassy in Iraq, and publicly showed that we have no confidence whatsoever in the future of the country, or, for that matter, in the future of the Middle East as a whole?
Frank Gaffney, Jr also questions a pullout:

The problem is, exit to where? The truth is, whether we like it or not, the United States cannot exit the global war being waged against us by Islamofascist terrorists and their allies, any more than we can stop the world and get off it. In fact, were America actually to heed the siren’s call – issued by Sen. Kennedy before Sunday’s remarkable election in Iraq made doing so, at least for the moment, unimaginable – and retreat from the Iraqi front in that war, it would simply assure that we will be fighting these enemies far closer to home and, indeed, in all likelihood here.