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September 24, 2004

A Matter of Time

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As long as the jihadis are adopting the tactic of attacking children by the hundreds (hat tip: Belmont Club), it's only a matter of time before we are fighting not against the jihadis, but against all Muslims. Protection of the children is a fundamental aspect of human behavior, and people will not long abide absolute monsters. Between the slaughter of noncombatant adults and the attacks on children, the jihadis are bringing us closer to genocide.

The only ways to prevent going over that edge are to defeat the jihadis utterly, or to reform their cultures to such a degree that they stop producing jihadis. Faster, please.

UPDATE: Bigwig makes the point better, and in the process says something crucial:

If [sic] fact, when it comes to the capacity for, as well as the sheer enjoyment of, violence and murder, the West is probably the most vicious culture the world has ever produced--a fact that, though fairly clear during the Crusades and in the 1630's, has been repeatedly forgotten in the centuries since--for in the centuries since, the West has repeatedly attempted to restrain itself.

This restraint is habitually misinterpreted as emasculation by the foolish and ignorant of the world. They see only a fear of the night in the mild-mannered stranger sitting in the corner, and fail to perceive that it's because he's a werewolf. The ignorant do their best to push him out of the door, while he, handicapped by the fact that he refuses to give in to his dark animal nature, puts up what resistance he can. The foolish urge the ignorant on, reveling in the incremental progress made. Woe betide them both if the effort succeeds, for what was pushed out into the night returns as a slavering beast, and it will make no distinction between those who pushed it out, those who cheered the effort, and those who merely stood aside.

With every attack they make Islamic Terrorists inch closer to such a conclusion, and they fact that they claim to welcome it is proof only that deep down they don't believe in such a possibility. It is not faith, but madness, and the culture that tolerates such a lunacy risks being devastated by a much more potent insanity at a later date, an insanity that the world might now see sooner rather than later--if the Russians love their children too.


It's a point I've made before, more than once:
For some reason, people around the world (even many in America) fail to understand that our surface civility is a result of our deeper understanding, seldom expressed, that Americans are able and willing to slaughter without mercy or limit when pressed. If they could understand that, they'd be less likely to press us. Because eventually, when the mask of civility falls away (as it did in the Civil War and WWII), there will be hell to pay, and we will be collecting the tab.

I fear we are near that point now. I feel it in my bones. How many more Daniel Pearls, how many more Nick Bergs, before America decides that it is us or them? And when we do, how many will graves will we leave behind when Johnny comes marching home?


Comments

Understanding why the jihadis hate so much would also help. So would honesly asking, "Do they have a reason for this much hate?"

In some cases, the answer is actually "yes".

I don't approve of the methods used, of course, but it's important to understand where the hate comes from and recognize when there's just cause for the hate. When there is, then it's time to do something about it.

Ask yourself -- how extreme would you become if the Russians invaded your town and wouldn't leave? Fight them for 10 or 15 years and see how desparate you become.

Neither you nor I have been there. We don't know what kind of desparation breeds after that long. So I think, "There but for the grace of god go I."

No, I'm not condoning the actions. But it's important to understand them.

Posted by: Joe on September 1, 2004 12:55 PM

Rattlesnakes and black widows have perfectly understandable reasons for being the way they are. They had no choice, it's the product of millions of years of abuse by the natural environment. I can't hold it against them at all.

But I'm still going to kill any of them that get near my kids.

Posted by: Karl Gallagher on September 1, 2004 01:17 PM

With all due respect, motives are irrelevant: only actions matter.

Here's the problem, though: what do you do with them? How do you stop the jihadis from killing? If the Russians were to pull out of Chechnya utterly, the jihadis would not go back to their homes and become peaceful and prosperous. They did not do so in Afghanistan or Algeria, nor anywhere else. In many cases, they come from countries which haven't been attacked from the outside (such as Yemen).

Understanding their motivation is not helpful, because their motivation is less outside factors than it is their radicalized and debased form of Islam, which commands them to kill kufr - that's you and me - anywhere they find them. Most of the jihadi combatants in Chechnya are not Chechens, but Saudis, Yemenis, Pakistanis and so on.

So what do you do? How do you solve the problem of jihadis killing non-combatant men, women and children? You either destroy them, or you change their culture so that they stop killing non-combatants, or you utterly wipe out the population in which they hide. The first two are preferable to the last. The last will come if a certain line is passed, and failure of the first two would make inevitable the eventual crossing of that particular Rubicon.

Posted by: Jeff on September 1, 2004 01:23 PM

Jeff,
I, along with Wretchard and SDB have been making this point to folks for some time: unless the Muslim world wakes up, a vanishingly small percentage of them will force us to wipe the religion and ALL its believers from the face of the earth. My favorite short version of this is what Gold Meir said many years ago about the Palestinians: we will hate them for what they make us do to THEIR children. (wish I had a citation for this, the only one I found was a quote of mine on another blog)

Posted by: Oscar on September 1, 2004 04:40 PM

Found the quote: a 69 press conference in London:
"When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arbs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons." She says it better than I remembered it.

Posted by: Oscar on September 1, 2004 04:46 PM

Joe,

The Chechens and Russians have a long history of warfare together. It took approximately 80 years for the tsars to incorporate the Chechens and they even made trouble under Stalin.

Yet at no time from the Imam Shamyl uprising to the declaration of independence by ex-Soviet general and nationalist thug Zhokar Dudaeyev did the Chechens ever do something like this.

For that you needed Radical Islamism.

Posted by: mark safranski on September 1, 2004 11:22 PM

You said:

"And when we do, how many will graves will we leave behind when Johnny comes marching home?"

Not nearly enough. We never do.

Posted by: Steve Johnson on September 2, 2004 01:56 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Blogs and Scandal

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The CBS presentation of badly-forged memos as evidence to smear President Bush has been pulled in a lot of directions. On the part of the libertarian and Republican-aligned blogs, as well as more than a few sane Democrat-aligned blogs, the issue has been the veracity of the documents: if the documents are unreliable, the charges are unreliable and must be discarded. This is leading many of these blogs to question the reliability of all mainstream media reporting. CBS, and the far-Left bloggers, seem to want to ignore the evidence and get right to the discussion of how much of a liar George Bush is - never mind about "evidence."

I reject (as would any reasonable person) the idea that accusations are sufficient proof of wrongdoing, and evidence is immaterial. Facts are requisite to truth, if not to Truth (which is really just another word for religion). While I have quite a bit of interest in the media reliability angle (indeed, my previous posts on this issue have mostly centered on that), I'm actually more struck by the undiscussed ramification: the effect of blogging on creating and sustaining a scandal.

Blogs are new, coming into their own only after 9/11, and this is the first event with national implications in which blogs have played a key role. But why? After all, the precursors of blogs existed during, say, the Clinton impeachment. USENET, personal web pages and email all fulfilled the functions of collaboration (USENET), communication (email) and rich content provision (personal web pages), and certainly a lot of people were online by the late 1990s. But there are some key differences, some ways in which blogs enhance communications and opinion formation well beyond what earlier technologies could provide.

USENET provides a meeting place, ostensibly divided by topic, for a large number of people. This architecture has two problems (even ignoring the fact that USENET is only text-based) with forming opinion and filtering good information out of the stream, both of which are overcome by blogs: noise levels and specialization. USENET has so many people talking in one place that the useful information (signal) is drowned in useless information (noise). The high volume of useless information hides the useful information one might be trying to find, and filtering and searching mechanisms are not particularly well-developed. In addition, any given newsgroup addresses only a narrow topic, at least in theory, so it is unusual to find a typographic expert, for example, reading a newsgroup dedicated to discussing military memorandum formats, and vice versa.

Blogs are not structured around topics, by and large, but around personalities. The fact that Rand Simberg blogs primarily about space access doesn't mean that he won't indulge his other interests. Because of this, there is an immense cross-disciplinary polinization of ideas on blogs that doesn't occur in other formats. Experts in one field often read blogs written by experts in another, and find items that intrigue them. This sparks off a chain of discovery and allows far more broad and deep information to come together than, say, USENET does.

Further, blogs have both active and passive filtering mechanisms built into them. A blogger who proves untrustworthy loses his audience. A blogger who doesn't provide useful information does not gain, or cannot keep, his audience. InstaPundit and others act as a filter by pointing to interesting information on other blogs. Most blogs maintain blogrolls, directing users to related information. Bloggers link to each other (as well as to non-blog sources), and trackbacks further enhance the connectivity on related topics. The comment mechanisms on many blogs further enhance the discussion. Finally, the use of blogrolls tends to result in the formation of communities with related interests or worldviews, which enhances the information flow. In each of these mechanisms, the key point is that the blogger has to have something useful to say, or he gets filtered out of each of these mechanisms over time.

But USENET has another problem as well: it's text-based. Being unable to easily provide rich content, it is difficult to make a point which has visual elements. Consider trying to do this on USENET. Personal web pages, of course, can and still do provide this kind of rich content, but it is provided in an isolated medium. Yes, Google provides a way of finding this information, but it's not self-selecting in the way that blog links are. So while USENET provides great connectivity of information, but no filtering and no rich content, personal web pages provide very highly-filtered rich content, with no connectivity.

Email provides directed, highly-filtered connectivity, but is non-public, so only the sender and recipients ever see the content. And, again, this content is not easily made rich: it's primarily text-based. Trackbacks and links provide the openly-available two-way discussion path that email lacks. (And mailing lists, while more publically-available, frequently suffer from most of the drawbacks of USENET.)

Blogs, by providing all of these mechanisms, can do something that until now only television, newspapers and magazines could do: blogs provide rich content, publicly available, filtered and analyzed and readily found. It is this that makes blogs such a threat to mainstream media: blogs can do everything journalists can, but generally blogs bring a higher level of subject matter expertise to the topics they cover than can mainstream journalists.

Given this, what impact are blogs having, and will they have in the future, on political scandals and for that matter on campaigns in general? It is pretty clear that blogs are at the forefront of the CBS document forgeries. The history of the beginning of that story is largely told at the New York Post. Basically, after "Buckhead" at Free Republic raised a question, bloggers took off with it, calling in experts and making their own tests. This signals something critical: blogs are capable of killing a scandal if the sources are not absolutely accurate. There is simply too much expertise available when you start playing six degrees of separation for a scandal to get away with unnamed sources and innuendo any more.

This will make negative campaigning much more difficult in the future. The filtering mechanisms on blogs will drive partisans naturally into blogs with similar affinities, and these groups will eagerly pounce on anything provided by the other side. If the negative charges are factually false, they will be disproved in short order. On the other hand, if the charges are true, the scandal could grow more quickly than it has in the past. Remember, it was Matt Drudge who broke the Lewinsky scandal, and that was what amounts to a personal web page at the time, without a network of blogs and the experts they can bring to bear.

UPDATE: Andrew Olmsted is following another line of reasoning: using blog-like decentralized methods for intelligence analysis. It's certainly worth thinking about.

UPDATE (9/14): Read this post by Bill Quick at Daily Pundit, which has a well-reasoned take on the incentives of the mainstream media and the blogs. (hat tip: Kevin Murphy)


Comments

Unfortunately, blogs are not about truth but about choice as I wrote in a recent post

http://www.theglitteringeye.com/archives/000253.html

leading not to consensus but to faction. The filter function you ascribe to Glenn Reynolds is quickly extinguished in favor of a switch function. There are several such almost completely discrete switches in the blogosphere e.g. Eschaton.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 13, 2004 01:49 PM

I thought of including Eschaton in the article alongside InstaPundit. While I despise Atrios on many levels, it is true that Eschaton serves a similar purpose, and there are other blogs from various political viewpoints which fit into similar "gatekeeper" roles.

However, I don't buy the Glittering Eye's analysis of factionalism. While it is true that bloggers have viewpoints, it is not true that they simply break down into red/blue. Glenn Reynolds, for example, is hard to pigeonhole into the same category as LaShawn Barber. While factions tend to seek their own, and there's a strong echo chamber effect at times, it's also true that in the center and at the particularly large blogs there is a lot of crossover.

To some extent, this doesn't matter, because we are living in a world where one side argues that facts and Truth are disconnected, and another argues that Truth isn't valid if established facts contradict it. This is hardly limited to blogs. Dan Rather, for example, was busy last week arguing that it doesn't matter if the memos are forged, because the memos raise questions that need to be answered. Ummm, ok. So if I type up a doc that says Dan Rather is a transvestite, does that raise questions that need to be answered? Hardly.

Until this fundamental schism in views of the nature of reality is healed, there will be issues not only in blogs, but in all media, where people are divided from each other at a fundamental level. However, the vast majority of people believe their eyes, and respond to logic over pseudo-logic.

As a result of all this, there is a definite filtering process that occurs. Even though there is not always an agreement in interpretation, the best evidence does become available.

Posted by: Jeff on September 13, 2004 04:04 PM

I agree that the red/blue is an over-simplification: I wrote as much in my post. But I think the middle (of which I'm a member) is actually rather small and the fervent partisans far outnumber them. Look at the numbers. The clearly partisan (although not necessarily doctrinally pure) sites get the hits. Moderate sites just don't get the number of hits.

I read both Glenn Reynold's blog and Eschaton (it's right at the level of my tolerance which stands to reason since I'm slightly right of center). I can't face either Daily Kos or Free Republic.

After an initial rough-sort by faction I don't think a lot of filtering goes on. What I see is honing of arguments. Dropping the unessential weak bits. Fine-tuning. As I wrote in my post: they don't even agree on each other's facts.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 13, 2004 05:14 PM

Great post. I will link to it in my "Blogs: mandatory marketing tools" article in vaspersthegrate.blogspot.com

Your comments, in IE 6, the lines are squeezed together, making them virtually unreadable. Is it my browser's fault? The effect is maddening. Too bad. Hope you can fix this problem. Have someone else check it on IE 6 browser.

Posted by: Steven Streight on September 18, 2004 01:50 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Too Funny not to Link To

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OK, this has to be the best take on the CBS forged documents yet. The mockery is fantastic.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

I Feel a Draft

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Politics simultaneously repels and attracts me. On the one hand, there is a truly sordid and destructive aspect to our elections, where the attempts to destroy a candidate's political opponent drown out any kind of attempt to find the right way to move forward on the problems and opportunities that confront us. On the other hand, I love strategy, and there is a huge amount of strategy in campaigns: when and how to make what statements and proposals; which groups can be cleaved to your base or separated from your opponents; how to remove your opponent's ability to act without seeming ridiculous.

Frankly, Bush is a master politician. Where Clinton, also a master politician, used a bludgeon and a smile (Now, I wish I could say that my evil opponent who eats babies in his breakfast cereal agreed with me that motherhood and apple pie are good, but I just can't get over how he always disagrees with me on these fundamental decency issues.), Bush just smiles a lot, makes a few self-deprecating jokes, and then trips his opponents while they are running with knives. It never fails to amaze me when Bush lets his opponents go on for months about his National Guard service, for example, letting them build up an intricate and massive myth and sell, sell, sell it - only to then release all of his records that utterly demolish the myth in a way that wouldn't have happened if the "debate" hadn't moved beyond the purely technical aspects.

There is another opportunity that the Democrats are creating for Bush (besides this one) by pushing the draft idea. Brief recap: Democrats have been sponsoring bills and making statements that the draft will have to come back, then blaming George Bush for secretly planning to reinstate the draft. Dumb, but if you don't pay attention it might score points on the margins. The Democrats are pushing this harder now, with spam mailings to college kids that are frightening them and their parents.

But this is a very dangerous game, because it's pretty apparent that Selective Service will never again be used by the US, at least not in any forseeable future. So all Bush has to do is wait until this screeching becomes really noticable, then call for the abolition of the Selective Service. Something like this should do it:

"Democrats in the House and Senate, such as Charlie Rangel, have been calling for reinstituting the draft. Frankly, this is a dangerous idea. America's armed forces have been fighting our enemies around the world since we were viciously attacked on 9/11, and have done so with an amazingly small number of casualties, both of our forces and of the innocent women and children among which our enemies cower. This unprecedentedly low level of casualties is only possible because of the relentless and realistic training we instill in our long-service volunteers. This cannot be done with draftees, who leave the force just as they begin to become effective.

Really, though, it's worse than this. Since Jimmy Carter and the Democrat Congress started Selective Service registration in 1980, millions of young men have been compelled to register themselves with the Federal government, and the cost has been staggering. It is simply not possible to operate America's armed forces with draftees, and it's not moral to keep up the charade of registering young men for a draft that will never come.

And that is why I am asking the Congress to repeal the Selective Service Act and disband the draft boards forever."

Something like that, after the Democrats are in a frenzy about it, is the kind of thing that kills an opponent. Let their fangs grow long, then chop them off. It's what Bush excels at, and apparently the Democrats excel at falling for it. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.

UPDATE: Andrew Olmsted had similar thoughts last night.

UPDATE: John Hawkins succinctly addresses the possibility of a draft: "anyone who tells you there is going to be a draft is dumb as a brick or a liar who's trying to mislead you. In either case, if they tell you there's going to be a draft, you can safely stop paying attention to them."


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Best Laid Plans

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The Glittering Eye has a wonderful post about the salient characteristics of bureaucracy, Gammon's Law, and how that applies to issues like education and health care.


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September 23, 2004

Uncommon Tongues

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George Bernard Shaw once famously described America and Britain as being "divided by a common language". When a "country" is united by different languages, it's far, far worse. (Hat tip: Pejmanesque)


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

New World, New Map, New Strategy

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Thomas Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map was the first serious attempt to redefine the world after 9/11, in much the way that "containment" redefined the world in the 1950's. I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through the book form, which is an expanded treatment of the original brief. In summary, Barnett posits that the Cold War rule sets of containment, collective security and mutually assured destruction (particularly once extended to the former USSR and China) ended the threat of great power war, leaving the world divided into two areas: the Core and the Gap. The difference between them is that the Core countries are globalizing, growing and interconnecting and ruled by a Kantian rule set, while the Gap countries are isolated, disconnected and failing.

The implications of this in terms of which rules apply in which places, and how to bring the world together so that everyone is in the core, in the hope of essentially ending poverty and war, are both deep and broad. And this mindset is taking over within the Pentagon, replacing the Cold War mindset. While I quibble somewhat with the PNM framework, it's really not on fundamental points: the PNM framework provides the necessary basis for policy formation in the Core states. (I'll have more on this after I finish PNM.)

It seems to me that the Pentagon has accepted the new world, but the State Department has not yet. In many ways the State Department is still acting like it's 9/10. Part of this has been institutional, and part of it has been a leadership problem from both Secretary Powell and President Bush. I don't know where Powell stands, but Bush by his actions seems to understand the new world that we are in. It remains, though, both to communicate this vision and to bring about consensus. I suspect that the largest block to developing a consensus will not be international, but domestic. At least until after the election, the Democrats are not willing to be serious about these issues.

If we can find a domestic consensus on how the world is working, and how we should approach it, I believe we can sell it abroad. Most of the resistance to the US policies since 9/11 within the Core nations seem to be based on a fear that the actions the US is taking within the Gap may not be limited to the Gap, and on a feeling that the other Core nations will lose access to resources and commercial contracts with Gap nations. Both of these concerns can be addressed, and I hope to see the President doing so soon.


Comments

The State Department is behaving as though it's 1980. It's not surprising. It's a universal human temptation to overvalue one's assets. The State Department is highly invested in the contacts and approaches they've created over the years and are reluctant to acknowledge either that their current contacts and approaches are less valuable than they used to be or that new contacts and approaches are easier to produce than they used to be and are being created without them.

Like all administrations the Bush Administration has difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time. Neither "Core" nor "Gap" are permanent immutable conditions. Should we be working harder to ensure that states remain in the Core or moved from Gap to Core. There's a real danger that Russia will move from Core to Gap (or more accurately that Russia will partition and significant areas enter the Gap).

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 16, 2004 09:03 AM

No doubt. One of my big problems with the PNM theory so far is that it's not broad enough: it doesn't address the fact that Core and Gap are not purely national. For example, the a significant portion of the European and American Left have a Gap mentality. How do you address that within nations, while you address nations and their characteristics?

I don't want to go into too much detail yet, because in part what I'm going to do is produce a critical review of PNM, and I want to finish it first. It's possible that there are mitigants later in the book to the issues I currently have with it.

Posted by: Jeff on September 16, 2004 09:10 AM

This touches upon a subject I've reflected on for many years. Over human history the species has pursued many economies and methods of social organization and although some economies and methods of social organization are more efficient than others and, consequently, tend to displace the less efficient some people are better suited for the old ways. Or just prefer them. Not everybody has the talents or interest to be "post-industrial". When we were separated by days, months, or years of travel it was one thing. But now we're all jumbled together by modern communications and quite a bit of friction occurring.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 16, 2004 10:13 AM

I rather feel that the "Gap mentality" you refer to is a rather romantic notion. Something like the observed fact that everyone who believes in reincarnation seems to have been someone famous in a past life ;-)

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 16, 2004 10:15 AM

Well, yeah, there's a lot of the bastard Rousseau in all of this, a kind of idyllic fantasy that unites the worst elements in the jihadis with the worst elements among the Western Left. But I think it really comes down to the ability to accept and adapt to change, as you noted.

In particular, I think that if you look at the flows that Barnett postulates, and think of their implications, the key feature of all of these flows is that control is impossible and change is not only inevitable, but inevitably will increase in rate. For the neo-Luddites and neo-Malthusians of the Left, this is anathema. It's also anathema to tribalists. In both cases, you must accept individual liberty (including that of women) over group identity, and that is frightening to many people.

I'm getting ahead of myself, since I want to tie this up with some other observations, but in general I think that you can categorize every person, institution and State based on how it handles change: is it adaptive, handling high rates of change easily; tolerant, accepting change where it sees a benefit and attempting to control the types and rates of change; or resistive, demanding stagnation in some place of perfection?

This ties together a lot of threads, such as why Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader have more in common with each other than with Bush and Kerry respectively. Or why France is more dangerous than Italy, and Iran more dangerous than Morocco. The case has to be made that constructive change at a macro level, and even random changes at a micro level, are good, and that leads to some approaches to solving the Terror Wars and also the schism in the soul of the West.

More anon.

Posted by: Jeff on September 16, 2004 11:18 AM

Maybe this would be a good time to post on one of the subjects from my operations research days: adaptivization. That's the principle whereby you build processes that facilitate change into a system.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 16, 2004 08:08 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Remember

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Remember.
Remember.
Remember.
Remember.
Remember.
Remember.

But fear naught.


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thanks for these.

Posted by: susie on September 14, 2004 09:02 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Who Guessed Forgery Was so Funny?

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Meg Ryan faking an orgasm

One of the best parts of the whole Rathergate mess has been the humor, such as the above image. But I'm with Mike, from whom I blatantly stole the image: what were we talking about again?


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

One Way to Tell...

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There's certainly one way to tell if CBS's apparently-forged memos were in fact created on an IBM Composer.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Must. Control. Fist. Of. Death.

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It took me a few minutes to calm down enough not to spew a profanity-laden rant. In fact, I'm not there yet. Hold on a sec.

OK, that's better.

I suppose I should have seen this coming: comparing George Bush to Hitler isn't working, but there has to be something that not tortured quite enough tortured artists and Leftist idiots can do. How about this? (hat tip: The Wild Hunt)

I'm slowly coming around to Steph's way of seeing it: this is just so pathetic it's actually funny. I mean, if people don't vote the way you think they should, it can't be that you are off the deep end of moonbattery, and your head is so far up your ass you can see your tonsils, can it? No, no! It must be...Satan:
Dubya 2004 poster: George Bush as Satan???
Now, since I've decided to go for outright mockery, I've called in my lovely wife.

Isn't it funny that it's "a tragedy in two acts"? At least they know they're going to lose, and lose badly, in November. And it's presented by the "Sacred Fools" Theater Company - well, at least they've got one right: they are fools. But they are honest: if you go to their site, they quite openly tell you "you are being lied to".

Oh, and while I'm at it, they need to fire the "artist" who made the poster: the invert pentagram on Bush's forehead doesn't have the proper orientation or aspect ratio to match the head it's purportedly attached to.

Now, if Bush is Satan, does that make Texas Hell? It would explain the summers. And Houston. And Eddie Bernice Johnson. Hey, my cats are cats from Hell! COOL!

They're going to have voter registration forms in the lobby. Now, imagine Steph talking with a really exaggerated East Texas accent:

"I was all set ta vote fer George Bush, but now that I know he's Satan, I guess I'll hafta go an' vote for John Kerry. He ain't Satan; he's just French. Well, mebbe I'll go on an' vote for Bush anyways."

If I lived in LA, it might be fun to go in costume. Nah; I don't want to give them any money, considering how they would use it.

What do you want to bet that if I put on a play with John Kerry dressed as a transvestite and talking with a fake French accent, I'd be the one they call intolerant and hateful? What would be the dialogue though? "I served in ze Viet Nam - but not on ze French side!"

Oh, forget it; they're not worth any more of my time.


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How do you reconcile Bush being stupid with Bush being an evil genius? The first attempt was Karl Rove. So Bush was stupid and Karl Rove the evil genius. This is another sally in that campaign. How to explain Bush being simultaneously stupid and an evil genius? Why demonic possession, of course. When Bush speaks it's stupid. When the demon speaks it's evil genius. Why do I have to explain these things?

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 14, 2004 08:34 AM

I mean, really. Once you've compared a guy to Hitler and Satan, where do you go then?

"Bush is Hitler! Bush is the anti-Christ! And, oh, I really hate his health care plan! And he was AWOL!"

Scheeze.

Posted by: bkw on September 15, 2004 03:21 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Stories, Families and Dreams

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From BlackFive comes this stirring message of patriotism and hope, and most importantly of understanding of this war we are engaged upon, from a Marine helicopter pilot in Iraq.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Debate Summary

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Kerry did a better job than I expected. However, expect the ads within a few days showing him saying "I've never changed position on Iraq" followed by him stating multiple conflicting positions.

Bush did about what I expected. Not great; not terrible. Failed to put in a few zingers he could have. Shame that.

I should have had more to drink. I think I'll go fix that.

Kerry is a smarmy ass. Bush is not as articulate as he should be.

Kerry didn't do well enough, I think, to move the polls in his direction, which is disastrous for his campaign since he's behind. We'll find out in a few days.


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September 20, 2004

Backgrounders on the Caucasus Situation

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After the terrible massacre at the school in Breslan, N. Ossetia, more information on the situation in the Caucasus is sorely needed. Fortunately, Dan Darling comes through at Winds of Change. And Rantburg has suggestions on Russia's options for response.

It seems to me that Russia's options are actually pretty limited. They don't have the military to do what we are doing, and neither we nor the Europeans have enough surplus force to fight on Russia's behalf, even though it would help us long-term. Russia doesn't have the economy nor the time to build up a military that could fight cleanly and win as we do. So I'd say the options are these:


There's one other option, though, which would play to Russia's strengths and weaknesses, and would solve the problem over the long-term. I haven't seen it discussed, but I hope that our State Department is raising it with the Russian government right now: Russia could unequivocally join the US in the Terror Wars. While there would be a bit of a bitter-pill of pride to swallow, the benefits for Russia would be enormous.

First, the Russians would be able to get US money and expertise to transform their military into a force capable of waging the kind of war that can actually defeat the insurrection by killing off the enemy combatants without leveling whole towns or otherwise turning the neutral population against them. Second, the Russians would get an inside line on all kinds of US technical, political and economic aid, which would greatly help their economy as well as their war efforts. Third, the Russians would get an in-depth intelligence sharing in both military and law-enforcement arenas, which again would help them immensely. Fourth, almost everything they'd have to give up (except pride) would actually be to their benefit.

Consider: By rotating troops through Iraq (and possibly other countries later, though most emphatically not Afghanistan or Pakistan), they would get experience working with the US in a combat theater that they could take back to their battles in the Caucasus. The capabilities they gain from this experience would be precisely those they now lack: how to fight a pinpoint war, so as to avoid angering the populace into supporting the terrorists.

While the Russians would have to give up lucrative nuclear contracts in Iran, the US could (and I believe would) compensate them for the loss of revenue in exchange for the intelligence value and the setback to Iran's nuclear program, making this a neutral matter from a monetary standpoint. Indeed, canny Russian negotiators would demand the US help to train and largely pay for Russian nuclear scientists and engineers to upgrade Russian plants and secure Russian nuclear materials. The US would likely consider this a bargain!

The Russians would lose diplomatic influence in the EU core states of France and Germany, but would gain influence with Britain, Poland, Italy and the US (among others) which would be more directly to Russia in any case.

The Russians would likely be required to wage a less brutal war in the Caucasus (to the extent that they can), but this is to their benefit in that it alienates the local population less than a savage war in any case.

It goes without saying that this would be a big win for the US as well, so I won't say it in any more detail.


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Jeff, nice post. I have suggested elsewhere that Jerry Pournelle's US-USSR co-dominium, which appear in several of his novels in the 70's and 80's might come about thanks to al Qaeda. The slight difference is that they get to play bad cop, while we play good cop (from an EU perspective: we will both always be bad cops from Islamofascist persepective - but who cares expect for a few tired US and EU Marxists?) AT one time, I thought China might join in, as they could put even more nasty feet on the ground than Russia, but I think that they will simply end up being next on the list after Riyadh vaporises.

Posted by: Oscar on September 5, 2004 09:21 PM

Jeff, that's exactly the kind of action I wrote about in my post What is to be done?

http://www.theglitteringeye.com/archives/000238.html

I sincerely hope the U. S. is taking the initiative in encouraging it. Closer engagement and cooperation with Russia is in the interest of both countries.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 6, 2004 08:54 AM

I seem to have wandered into some sort of alternate reality here. I mean, you are living in some other world.

First, you're advocating the USA give the russians money and weapons and technology so they can build up their army? What the hell? The entire cold war was designed to turn them into what they are now, and you want to build them up?

Second, you think we have the technology to kill off enemy combatants without flattening cities or turning neutral populations against us. If so, why the hell aren't we using it? That would be just exactly what we need in iraq.

Sure, materially russia would be better off as a US vassal-state, as long as we could afford to bail them out with money. But how long could we do that? We are hemorraughing dollars. We aren't providing what it takes for iraq, how would we provide for russia? And do we want to inherit their problems with china? If we accept their fealty it isnt just war-on-terror, we have to support them in vladivostock too. We're talking land war in asia, if it goes to fighting. Or maybe we'll need to help them ethnic-cleanse the chinese out of siberia. Or help the russians retreat....

We want those former russian provinces for ourselves. We want them as staging areas to invade their neighbors. We want their oil. We want to build pipelines across them. I doubt we want to give them back to russia, when there is no reason to think russia would be a reliable vassal at all. There's the problem with unreliable allies, the more you need their troops the worse off you are when they switch sides or play for themselves.

Your proposal sounds like it would solve a whole collection of problems if it worked. But it looks very very risky.

Posted by: J Thomas on September 8, 2004 03:49 PM

Actually, I seem to remember the purpose of the Cold War as halting the spread of and eventually reversing Communist imperialism. We seem to have done that for the most part. Never do I recall any intent on the part of the US to reduce Russia to a failed state, but it is currently heading that way.

I'd like to head that off, and make Russia into a successful and modern Western state. If they would accept our help - a big if - with such bedrock principles as free speech, rule of law and property rights, there would be an improvement in Russia over the long term. I want them not our vassal but our equal, and they could be so if they chose. Look at Germany and Japan: we don't leave our former enemies in the dust; we build them up to be free and powerful nations in their own right. This way, we make our enemies into trading partners, and excellent exchange by any measure.

This would not require much cash on our part, actually, since Russia has vast natural resources. If we could help them to extract and sell those resources without massive corruption - and again here we're back to property rights - then Russia would be able to pay to modernize itself rather quickly.

Your second point is inane. Anyone who has seen pictures of Dresden, Tokyo, Seoul, Grozny (or even Charlotte, NC at the end of the Civil War) - that is, anyone who has seen even pictures of a flattened city - would recognize the difference between that and the cities in Iraq right now. (Kabul is different: it was largely flattened during the decades of war before we got there, and it's beginning to recover now.)

The interesting thing about Iraq as well is how few Iraqis ended up in the resistance - a few 10's of thousands at most out of a population of 25 million. The vast majority of the resistance is foreign (mostly coming in through Syria and mostly funded by Iran), and the vast majority of Iraqis are neutral, passive or on our side. It will be a while before the Iraqis are able to reduce Fallujah, Ramadi, et al on their own, but they eventually will do so, ending the insurrection to all intents and purposes.

Your next, um, point bears so little resemblance to what I am advocating that I almost don't know where to start. I guess you mistake "join us" to mean "apply for statehood". That was not what I was suggesting. Nor do I think we want Russia's former provinces for their resources, though I suspect we'd buy them on the open market if they were available. Yes, we want to use the central Asian nations as bases; that only makes sense given their proximity to the jihadis and the states that support them. Wanting to rent bases from a nation is not the same thing as wanting to colonize them. Actually, I take back my earlier guess: I don't think you are confused by my argument; I think you are trolling (and possibly confused about how the world and the US work).

And, last point, risk is relative. There is virtually no interaction between nations that does not carry some risk. In this case, the risk for all concerned would be less than the risk of not acting together.

Posted by: Jeff on September 8, 2004 07:08 PM

Thank you! That is much clearer. So, you are not like a neocon who wants an american empire. You believe that we could live in peace and harmony with a russia that was equal to us. Got it.

I applaud your idealism. It is far too rare in these degenerate times.

I agree that millions of americans thought that the Cold War was about stopping international communism. But in practice it was largely about profits for large corporations. We wanted to keep third world nations trading with us and not with the soviet empire. And when one of our third world nations got uppity we could accuse them of communism before we disciplined them. Fervent communists weren't much more important to the russians than John Birchers were to us. In practice it was mostly empire against financial empire. We had found that colonialism didn't work; it cost too much to administer colonies, and it wasn't at all necessary. Each third world nation could have a little group of rich people who could control the whole thing for us, and it cost much less than imposing a government on them. In general we didn't use american troops to prop up the aristocracies, if a coup started, the plotters would ask us first if it was OK and we'd agree to it if they looked in any way better than the old guys.

Our planners don't want russia to be a failed state, but they also don't want russia to be an equal or anything near it. The better the russian economy goes the more of the world's oil they'll use, and the less will be left for us. Ideally we would finance their extractive industries, that provide us with oil and other raw materials, and in return for lots of oil etc we'd provide them with value-added goods that they couldn't make for themselves. So your first job is to replace our cynical geopolitical planners with people who will actually take democratic ideals seriously.

Then there's the small matter of setting up a russian democracy that wouldn't turn into an empire itself. Russia would certainly be susceptible to that, and the stronger russia got the more alarmed various americans would get at each little sign it might be heading that way.

I won't answer about the details now, maybe later, they aren't so important. But note that we've developed the habit of destroying buildings to get snipers. We take fewer casualties that way but it's hard on the landscape, we didn't take Fallujah because we'd have to level it and we did level a lot of the center of Najaf.

Anyway, I like your idealistic stand and I'd like it if there were more people like you.

Posted by: J Thomas on September 8, 2004 11:03 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Time to Say It

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With the available evidence - of which a small fraction is here, here, and here - it is now beyond reasonable doubt that Dan Rather and CBS are peddling forged documents as a key element of libelous charges against a sitting President; and I suspect that they not only know that these documents are fake, but that their refusal to provide indications of their sources and the provenance of the memos shows that the true source is either not credible as a witness to their authenticity, or is in fact a Kerry campaign or DNC operative or a CBS employee. Of the first part, that the documents are false, I am certain. Of the second, that CBS knows they are false, the only alternative is that CBS is complete unable to determine the credibility of information that comes to them (which makes them useless as an information source in and of itself). Of the third, that the documents' source would discredit the documents' authenticity, I am reasonably certain. Otherwise, CBS would have produced the source (given that there is no harm to the source if the documents are genuine).

Had CBS admitted the possibility of error, and made a forthright attempt to investigate (including the identification of the provenance of the memos), they might have been able to come out of this looking silly but not complicit. As it is, they've attempted to bury the charges under misdirection they would never stand for had it come from any elected official.

Dan Rather is either lying or a fool. CBS has no further credibility as a news organization, and any information whose only source is CBS must henceforth be assumed true until and unless another source confirms it from a separate line of evidence.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Wait a Minute!

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LGF did a Photoshop experiment: take one of the CBS memos, and change the levels. The crumples used as part of the aging process in the forgery show up. But, if this was photocopied as part of the aging process, wouldn't the crumples not show up on the photocopy? It seems to me that just the distortion would show up. (I don't have a photocopier and scanner near to hand, so I cannot check directly.)

If photocopying gets rid of the direct evidence of crumpling, then this was the original document presented by the forger to CBS, which means that whomever was the source for CBS (or at CBS; I don't think we can rule that out) was almost certainly the originator of the document as well.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

Look at the Map, People!

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You want to know why we're going to be in Iraq for decades, regardless of who wins the Presidential election? Look at a map! (It was Iraq or Egypt, and besides not being nearly as immediate of a threat, try occupying 80 million people (vice 25 million) - and trying getting international support!) Gerard Van der Leun lays it out in words in an excellent post taking a clear-eyed look at the strategic importance of our presence in Iraq.


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That's a good point, and seems to be something nobody wants to discuss. Kerry seems to hint at a rapid pullout, and Bush seems to hint at a 2006-2008 date ... yet we're building a huge embassy and large military bases as if we're going to be there for 50 years. I will take "a look at the map" over official statements any day.

Posted by: KAM Manager on September 26, 2004 05:56 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Morality and Mind

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There's an interesting discussion on morality at Steph's place, and an interesting trio of posts at the Glittering Eye, Brad DeLong's site and Matthew Yglesias's site. They aren't really closely related, but they are interesting when taken together.


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When I read DeLong's post I had a sudden flash of insight. I understood something that had puzzled me: the rather manic search for inconsistencies that appears to be common within a particular spectrum of opinion. I know about the post-modern thirst for authenticity but this struck me as being different somehow. Now I get it. DeLong seems to believe that inconsistency (frequently characterized as "not being serious") grants a license to deny respect and even humanity to the poor shlup so characterized and thus avoids the nuisance of actually having to address his arguments.

That's the ad hominem fallacy, of course. But what ground my grits was the condescension.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 26, 2004 01:46 PM
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September 18, 2004

The Buck Stops Over There Somewhere

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John Kerry's campaign is in enough trouble that they are already looking for scapegoats. Kerry, rather than uniting his staff around a common mission, is blaming them for the problems. Now, that's leadership.

Or something.

(hat tip to InstaPundit, who has much more)


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Corporate Liability

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Due Diligence has an exceptional post on why corporations have limited liability for their shareholders. This is the kind of issue that is too-frequently neglected by citizens in capitalist countries, and the neglect of these issues is what creates the kind of environment where communism can gain support. Well, well worth reading.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Yes, That's it Exactly

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Stephanie just summed up my thoughts about this election almost perfectly:

I watched the convention again last night.

And fell asleep in the middle of President Bush's speech. Yep, nodded right off.

The part I watched was okay. I understand that it got better when he started talking about foreign policy. I heard most of his domestic agenda. It was good to listen to, as I get so wrapped up in domestic security that I forget how much I actually disagree with the President. Ah, I remember now. Something about spending, spending, spending, funding, funding, funding ... legislating morality. ... Yes, that was it.

Still, the idea of Kerry winning sends chills of fear down my spine. Kerry, who is shocked and outraged that Dick Cheney has questioned his fitness to command. Good grief. This is an election. We're all supposed to question the candidates' fitness to command. Cheney, being the VP and in a position to know what it takes to be Commander in Chief, and a voter himself, has every right to question. That's the point! In an election, you do that!

I guess I can understand the outrage, though. It's not like John Kerry questions Bush's or Cheney's fitness to command the nation ... oh wait, they do? Hmmm. That's okay, though, because they're in office. And they're Bad Guys. Did I get it right? Am I getting the hang of this politics thing after all?


Here's the "almost" in "almost perfectly": she forgot to add that President Bush doesn't believe we should be able to question John Kerry's record either - or at least, not to spend money to question it on TV or radio - and to that end both signed McCain-Feingold (in an era of blatantly unconstitutional laws, this one still takes my breath away) and stated quite openly that he wanted all 527s banned. You know, those pesky organizations that aren't associated (theoretically) with any political party, who exist only for the purpose of gathering citizens' money together to broadcast their political opinions.

But I am a single issue voter: I'll worry about where the line is that would finally cause me to rise up in revolution against the government1 after I make sure that my kids aren't going to get blown up on the bus.

UPDATE: And Lt. Smash lays out the Bush Doctrine - the only reason I'm voting for him - quite nicely.

UPDATE: And Susan Estrich lays out the reasons why if the war weren't going on, I'd be voting for a third party instead of the Democrats. One quote from Susan: "The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough." And another from a different Democrat, Molly Birnbaum: "Imagine a way to erase that night four years ago when you (President Bush) savagely raped every pandemic woman over and over with each vote you got, a thrust with each state you stole". I'd hate to see what they think is mean, unfair or a flat-out lie coming from a Democrat!

1Hopefully "rise up" as in civil disobedience, and stating my opinion loudly. But if the government takes that option away, they should remember that we are still an armed society, and there is still enough hatred of tyranny here that a revolution is possible, as the Founders intended. I don't expect to see a violent revolution in my lifetime, but I do expect to see a time where widespread civil disobedience on the scale of the civil rights movement will be necessary.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Varifrank

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Varifrank has excellent articles up right now on the purpose of the Iraq Campaign, and its place in the Terror Wars and a rather snarky post on previous exit strategies from wars fought by Democrats. Go and read, already.


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September 17, 2004

Carville Apparently Drugged Before

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How else do you explain this (hat tip: Ramblings' Journal):

"They probably shot him up with something," the wild-eyed Ragin' Cajun [Carville] insisted Wednesday during an interview with radio host Don Imus.

Carville leveled the bizarre charge after claiming that Republicans had written Miller's speech, even though it contained lines Miller had used before and echoed much of the criticism of Democrats outlined in Miller's recent book, "A National Party No More."

But Carville insisted the renegade Democrat's speech was strictly a put-up job.

"They got that poor man in the twilight of his career and just used him," the former Clinton adviser insisted. "They said, 'Look, go up there and say this,' and they handed him a bunch of documents."

Carville claimed Miller didn't know "what he was talking about" in post-speech interviews, saying that's why he grew angry when challenged by MSNBC host Chris Matthews.

When Imus noted that the Georgia Democrat sounded "fine" when he interviewed him the next morning," Carville shot back: "They probably shot him up with something, you know. He just likes screaming at people."


I've never liked Carville. Let me rephrase that: I've always thought that Carville was the most ass-hatted example of the most vile species of political hanger-on, the partisan attack dog. But this is beyond the pale: at best it is delusional and at worst it is slander.


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Remember that Playboy cartoon from the sixties that showed a grubby little man with a fistfull of bucks exiting a building with a sign that read, "Artificial Insemination Donations?" That's Carville.

Posted by: Xixi on September 9, 2004 05:33 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Trust Me

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Jim Miller notes that the Killian memos story at CBS is likely not a departure from normal practice. From the recent "Israeli spy" story that came and went without a ripple, to the sensationalism surrounding the Abu Ghraib abuse stories, to a story on the Bradley IFV when I was a child, CBS's "standards" have been appallingly bad.

But it's not just CBS, because NBC got into quite a bit of hot water for faking a story on pickup safety, and it goes downhill from there.

And it's not just TV "news" that is at issue. One name for you: Jayson Blair. And if BBC radio mentions the time at the top of the hour, I check my watch first. Reuters and AP cannot even correctly use common English; thus terrorists are anything but.

So the question has to be asked: on what questions of fact can you actually trust the mainstream "news" organizations? I think that the answer has become: none of them.

Most "news" falls into three categories: editorial commentary (aka punditry), straight reporting, and investigative reporting.

Editorial commentary is just expressing an informed opinion; it's what the blogosphere specializes in. It's also what most "news" organizations actually spend their time doing, though they tend to say it's actually the smallest part of what they do. I have no problem with this, as long as editorializing is distinctly separated from reporting. My qualms begin when editorial opinions are inserted into the middle of other stories - as they often are - without any note that what is being said is not fact but opinion.

Straight reporting is simply stating observed facts, without any attempt to insert opinions or draw together strands of evidence. For example, "President Bush gave a speech before the United Nations yesterday, in which he [made certain statements]" is reporting, while "President Bush failed to convince UN delegates yesterday that his decision to invade Iraq was justified" is opinion-mongering. While most "news" organizations claim to do mostly reporting, anyone who reads or watches "news" reports can tell that most stories are largely punditry.

It is not difficult to separate out some of the punditry, but other editorializing goes by unnoticed. For example, choosing not to run stories if they contradict a newspapers editorial line (how many stories on the economy have you seen since it started improving?) is a way of hiding the truth while telling it. Then there are the outright lies and repeated failure to follow initial reports to their actual conclusion.

Investigative journalism is a hybrid, where observed facts are placed together in a sequence, along with supporting evidence and statements, to tell a story that is not evident from the individual disconnected facts. This is what "news magazine" shows like 60 Minutes, magazines like Newsweek, and some newspapers are famous for. But it is apparent from the evidence noted above that investigative journalism is far more selective and often even invented that we are led to believe by the mainstream media. It is this kind of reporting that is actually most susceptible to fraud, because it reports as fact some things which are not, while making inferences which may not be justified and leaving out critical disconfirming evidence. Unlike straight reporting, it is very difficult to separate out editorial opinion from fact in an investigative "news" story.

No one trusts a blogger, until that blogger has established a reputation over time by being right when he reports facts, ready to accept criticism when he is wrong, and honest when he makes a mistake. It used to be different with the mainstream media: we expected every journalist to be a Cronkite or a Murrow. Now we know Cronkite wasn't necessarily any better than Dan Rather. I only hope Ed Murrow and David Brinkley don't turn out to be equally off-base. Now we know that the mainstream media is no more trustworthy than any random person pulled off the street.

"Trust me," says Dan Rather while perpetrating a fraud. "Prove yourself worthy of trust, first," is the only rational response.


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September 16, 2004

AP 2004 or Pravda 1976?

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Your call. And still the mainstream media wonder why people no longer trust them.

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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

AP 2004 or Pravda 1976?

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Your call. (hat tip: InstaPundit) And still the mainstream media wonder why people no longer trust them.


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Frank Rich Concedes the Election on Behalf of John Kerry

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In an amazing bitter New York Times article (use BugMeNot to avoid intrusive registration), Frank Rich concedes the election to President Bush:

Don't believe anyone who says that this will soon fade, and that the election will henceforth turn on health-care policy or other wonkish debate. Any voter who's undecided by now in this polarized election isn't sitting around studying the fine points. In a time of fear, the only battle that matters is the broad-stroked cultural mano a mano over who's most macho. And so both parties built their weeklong infotainments on militarism and masculinity, from Mr. Kerry's toy-soldier "reporting for duty" salute in Boston to the special Madison Square Garden runway for Mr. Bush's acceptance speech, a giant phallus thrusting him into the nation's lap, or whatever.

Let me pause here for a brief aside on how interesting it is that the Democrats always seem to go for sexual imagery in describing non-sexual events, while at the same time bitterly wining about their equipment (by proxy with the imagery, of course). They must be really insecure for some reason. Anyway, breathe in the bitterness
Hence Mr. Bush was fronted by a testosterone-heavy lineup led by a former mayor who did not dally to read a children's book on 9/11, a senator who served in the Hanoi Hilton rather than the "champagne unit" of the Texas Air National Guard, and a governor who can play the role of a warrior on screen more convincingly than can a former Andover cheerleader gallivanting on an aircraft carrier.

[snip]

Mr. Bush implies that he just happened to slide on his own into one of the "several openings" for pilots in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 and that he continued to fly with his unit for "several years" after his initial service. This is fantasy

[snip]

Mr. Bush's imagineers have publicized his proud possession of Saddam Hussein's captured pistol, which, in another of their efforts at phallic stagecraft, is said to be kept in the same study where the previous incumbent squandered his own weapon of masculinity on Monica Lewinsky.

But with the high stakes of an election at hand, it's not enough to stuff socks in the president's flight suit. Mr. Kerry must be turned into a girl. Such castration warfare has been a Republican staple ever since Michael Dukakis provided the opening by dressing up like Snoopy to ride a tank. We've had Bill Clinton vilified as the stooge of a harridan wife and Al Gore as the puppet of the makeover artist Naomi Wolf. But given his actual history on the field of battle, this year's Democratic standard bearer would, seemingly, be immune to such attacks, especially from the camp of a candidate whose most daring feat of physical courage was tearing down the Princeton goalposts.

[snip]

The flaw in Mr. Kerry is not, as Washington wisdom has it, that he asked for trouble from the Swifties by bringing up Vietnam in the first place. Both his Vietnam service and Vietnam itself are entirely relevant to a campaign set against an unpopular and ineptly executed war in Iraq that was spawned by the executive branch in similarly cloudy circumstances. But having brought Vietnam up against the backdrop of our 2004 war, Mr. Kerry has nothing to say about it except that his service proves he's more manly than Mr. Bush. Well, nearly anyone is more manly than a president who didn't have the guts to visit with the 9/11 commission unaccompanied by a chaperone.


And so on. In any case, the Democrats have always eaten their own after a loss. It's just that this year, they seem to be starting early.


Comments

it is a nice rant, but I particularly liked this line:
"The truth is that Mr. Kerry was a man's man not just when he volunteered to fight in a losing war but when he came home and forthrightly fought against it, on grounds that history has upheld."

The only grounds on which Kerry's anti-war postion could be said to be upheld is the typical Dem reasoning that 2M deaths don't matter if the victims were somewhere to the right of Harry Bridges. We really need to push the line:

Kerry lied and 2 million died.

Posted by: Oscar on September 6, 2004 08:55 PM

Does Frank Rich see a phallic symbol when he looks at a mirror?

Posted by: donald hamilton on September 7, 2004 06:26 AM

I think Frank Rich would see sexual imagery in a car crash. Check out the Google results for "Frank Rich" + "sexual imagery" or "Frank Rich" + phallic.

Posted by: Jeff on September 7, 2004 08:53 AM

"Well, nearly anyone is more manly than a president who didn't have the guts to visit with the 9/11 commission unaccompanied by a chaperone."

Somehow the pieces you quoted don't look like a concession to me.

Posted by: J Thomas on September 8, 2004 03:52 PM

I thought the desperation was pretty evident, particularly in the paragraph I quoted, which says in part: "Any voter who's undecided by now in this polarized election isn't sitting around studying the fine points. In a time of fear, the only battle that matters is the broad-stroked cultural mano a mano over who's most macho."

Democrats eat their own in a failed election. Frank Rich appears pretty hungry to me.

Posted by: Jeff on September 8, 2004 06:12 PM

What's quoted here says:

1. All that matters for the undecided vote is who looks more manly. So the republicans are desperately trying to make Kerry look less manly and Bush look more.

2. But Kerry is far more manly than Bush and it will be hard for Bush to look it.

The part you quote says nothing about a failed election. "The flaw in Kerry is not ... bringing up Vietnam in the first place." Because he fought in vietnam while Bush was running away. Bush didn't even have the guts to face the 9/11 commission without somebody to hold his hand and prompt him. The quote implies that Kerry has a flaw, but it doesn't say anything about what the flaw is or whether it's something that would let wimpy-wimp Bush beat him.

Your quotes give no indication of a concession.

When I read the original article, it makes the further points:

3. The main thing that's worked for the Bush campaign to smear Kerry is using Fox news to do unpaid smears. Fox repeats the various lies over and over.

4. For Kerry to actually look more manly than Bush he needs to focus on the actual brave things he's done, including his efforts to help us stop pouring lives down the vietnam rathole. He can't expect to beat Bush at *acting* like he's manly -- Bush is better than he is at pretending. But Bush is only a pretender and Kerry is the real thing, and he has to show that.

Not a concession at all.

Posted by: J Thomas on September 8, 2004 07:11 PM

Perhaps the disconnect is simply that I cannot share the premise: whatever words might reasonably be used to describe President Bush, "wimpy" is not among them. When I read something so lacking in anything other than ad hominem as Frank Rich's piece, I tend to dismiss it pretty casually: anyone who wants to make an argument about issues should be able to do so without ad hominems, and if the issue is the candidate's character, an argument would require something more than bald calumnies thrown carelessly about. Bitterness and spite are not arguments in any meaningful sense, and that's all Rich's article contained.

So, given the lack of logic, the bitterness, the calumnies and the lack of any discussion of substantive issues, how to analyze Rich's column? Well, what it looks like to me is the kind of things Democrats have written in the past when they eat their own after a failed election. This, combined with the line where Rich acknowledges that there are no more voters to be won over on the issues, as he sees them, comes down to me to a pretty obvious conclusion that Frank Rich has decided that the election is unwinnable for the Democrats. Perhaps if I shared the premise that Bush is good at playing masculine but is really wimpy, while Kerry is the other way around, I would come to a different conclusion. I don't and I haven't.

I could make a good argument for Kerry's bad character. It's pretty obvious to me that there are only four possible explanations for John Kerry's numerous quick changes in position on many, many issues: he's an opportunist, he's not thought through any of the major issues at stake, or he is a moral coward unwilling to face disagreement from anyone. However, I do not care to make any of these arguments at present, because they are irrelevant since Kerry cannot pass my primary test: whether I trust him to try effectively to win the Terror Wars. However, any such argument would have to be based on all the facts of the matter, rather than just calling names, which is the best Frank Rich can manage.

Posted by: Jeff on September 8, 2004 11:45 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

There's a Slogan that Won't Work

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Vote for John Kerry, the confused person who can't make up his mind.

(In fairness, if you follow the link to the article Glenn is quoting from, you get quite a whopper from President Bush as well. Yet another illustration of how difficult it is to speak extemporaneously before a crowd and not end up looking like a fool.)


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Have Heart

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Jim Miller notes the difficulties that Republicans in parts of California face, and seems fairly pessimistic about it. I'm not, really. See, I lived in Oklahoma when it was a Democrat lock. In fact, it was considered a one-party State at the time. Some of the interesting things that happened that I personally observed:

I was denied the opportunity to register as an Independent. I was (illegally) told by the election worker that one had to register as a Democrat or Republican. When I expressed interest in instead registering as a Libertarian, I was told "that's not even a real Party." I decided to register as a Republican. The election worker (again, illegally) refused, and I ended up going to the county courthouse to register (as a Republican).

I worked for the State Republican Party (as a low-level telephone fundraiser - OK, I was telemarketing. It was a youthful mistake) during a gubernatorial campaign. A few weeks before the election, the Democrat-controlled legislature approved, and the Democrat Governor signed, legislation making poll-watchers illegal. This legislation differed from the legislation passed just prior to the previous election by only a few wording differences. That law had been found unconstitutional right after the previous election. I learned that the Democrats had done this every election for decades, and that every such law had been found unconstitutional...after the election.

I learned a lot about vote fraud. At one point, during the same election cycle mentioned above, there was a scandal where 30% of the ballots in one district - all marked identically and using the same pen, which differed from the kind of marker present at the polling place, and all of which voted for Democrats (not a straight ticket: each Democrat was individually marked) - were thrown out. The lone Republican on the county's electoral commission was convicted of the fraud and sent to jail.

Anyway, Oklahoma is now as dependably-Republican as anywhere in the US, and the same could happen elsewhere. In the meantime, all it takes to make things easier is a few high-profile lawsuits or a single big mistake by the Democrats, and the dam is broken. Places like California and Illinois are not as solidly Democrat as they appear, and eventually there comes a tipping point. (This also happens in the other direction, where for example the NorthEastern states went from Republican- to Democrat-controlled in less than a decade.)

In short, strict one-Party rule is not indefinitely sustainable at even the State level in the US.


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Those are cool stories.

I'd love it if you could find me a URL on them, especially the one about the lone Republican going to jail for it.

Posted by: cf on September 8, 2004 10:22 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Forgery?

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CBS (a dishonest, sleazy, biased and partisan purveyor of "news" if ever there was one) is probably not this crazy. I hope they're not this crazy. If their 60 Minutes hit piece on President Bush is based on forged documents, it will be the end of CBS as a viable news organization: with the Internet commentariat - particularly the blogs - at such a high level of competence and presence now, CBS will have frittered away the one asset required of a reporting organization: trust that the presented facts are not invented, even though they may be spun or misrepresented. I wouldn't give a snowball's chance in hell of Dan Rather keeping his job if he pushed this story and it's really based on forged documents.

Of course, I'm constantly disappointed by people's lack of ability to feel shame, so even if it's true it might blow over almost unnoticed outside of the blogs.


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If these are supposed to be "offical documents", then a criminal investigation might make it hard for it to "blow over".

Posted by: Oscar on September 9, 2004 04:41 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Bad Logic

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Let me make an argument, and let's see if it holds up:

I can create a document on modern word processing software that is a very close match (at first glance) to a document made on a 30-year old high-end typesetting machine that looks like a typewriter; therefore,

if document A matches document B, and document B was made on modern word processing software with its default fonts, margins and so forth, then document A must have been made on a 30-year old high-end typesetting machine.

In other words, if A can reproduce B, then B can reproduce A. It's just nonsense., and it's a shame that our schools have gotten so bad that the PC Magazine authors did not immediately realize that the argument was nonsense.

I would have been more impressed if they'd attempted to make the same document that CBS presented, but even so they have failed to match the documents, once the slightest investigation is attempted.


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Why are Jeffs' the only opinions published ??

Posted by: Thomas Paine on September 17, 2004 03:04 PM

Well, there are three authors on this blog. I am one (it's my site, my server, my design, etc), another is my brother Brian, and another is a friend who will currently remain nameless. I post all of the time. Brian posts occasionally, but does not have good internet connectivity from his home right now, and the other author hasn't yet decided to post anything, so I've left him completely off the site for the moment.

However, you will find other people's opinions also, in the comments. And if someone wanted to publish their opinions in the main stories - that is, to author articles on the site - I'd certainly consider it.

Posted by: Jeff on September 17, 2004 04:24 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Fallujah

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Every time I start thinking that the Pentagon, or the coalition leadership in Iraq, has a whole drawer of screws loose, I find out that I just hadn't thought about it the way they do, and their way makes sense. Example of the day: Fallujah.

I was completely in accord with the many commentators who called, last April, for Fallujah to be levelled if that was what it would take to kill the insurgency. I was utterly wrong, and here is why:

By allowing a few areas that were totally under the control of the enemy, and beating the enemy senseless everywhere outside those areas, the enemy was compelled to isolate himself from the general population of Iraq. It appears that in Baghdad the enemy's organization is still very loose, but in Fallujah and Ramadi the enemy is forming into not only a static defense, but a hierarchically-organized structure. In other words, our enemy has collected himself in a small number of places, has organized himself into units larger than cells, has given the Iraqi army and police organizations time and space in which to train and grow, and has given the majority of Iraqis not under his control a distinct sense of the stakes if they let the Baathists or jihadis regain control. None of this would have happened had we levelled Fallujah.

But there is another thing the enemy has given us by concentrating and organizing as a regular force: they've not just made it easier to find them, and easier to take them apart, they've also put themselves into a position where it will be Iraqi forces that take them out (my guess, Fallujah will not last as an enemy pocket until the January elections). This will provide both a definitive closure for Iraqis, and a measure of pride that they did this task for themselves, that they would not have gotten had we taken Fallujah in April.

If, in the process, we find serious documentary evidence leading to Iranian or Syrian control (and it's very, very likely that we will), a pretext for war is readily to hand. (Not that I think we need a pretext, but there are a lot of people who will want one.)


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Bull's Eye!!! I think you hit it four square in the middle. Yeah, I was upset too. Yours is the most succinct analysis and insight I have seen anywhere. Yep, let the mullahs keep digging their own grave.

Nov. 3rd? Boom boom time!

Posted by: metaqubit on September 16, 2004 07:16 PM

I've never been a member of the "level Fallujah" club (I gave my arguments back in April). The risk (beside the risk of the U. S. civilian authority losing heart due to the constant but low level of casualties among our military and the presidential election) has been that it also functions as a focal point for recruits. If the pool of insurgents is constantly growing, it's not a good thing.

I've read conflicting reports on how the handling of Fallujah was determined. Some say it's the military's idea. Some say it's interference from the U. S. civilian authorities. What's your take?

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 16, 2004 08:03 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Hell, Yeah!

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As a long-term system administrator (now systems architect), I recognize a kindred administrator soul when I see one. (hat tip: Accidental Verbosity) Yes, it's like that.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 15, 2004

Ossetia

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War Nerd has an interesting piece from mid-last month, on the situation in Georgia and South Ossetia. One minor quibble, to get that out of the way first: the best guns (in the field artillery sense) are South African. Russia's artillery probably comes second. But we've got better fire control.

More critically, though, how can you put together a discussion of the relationship between Russia, Georgia and Ossetia and not mention Chechnya and the Pankisi Gorge? It's really easy to criticise the US working with the Georgians - hardly the nicest bunch in the world - if you don't mention that we're helping the Georgians to fight al Qaeda in the Pankisi Gorge, something that the Russians are happy to have us do, apparently.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Pride and Anger

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After Zell Miller's impressive speech at the Republican convention, Chris Matthews attacked Miller, who came very close to demanding satisfaction. Senator Miller is from the South, and he's from the old Southern culture, which is an honor culture. Many people in the US and Europe don't understand honor cultures; they only know cultures of expedience that don't value reputation or respect, except maybe as talking points. They don't understand the role of pride, and assume that an insulted pride, and the rage and scorn it provokes, is nothing more than anger, and thus is unattractive and undisciplined.

Some people get it. Some people don't.

So, let's try to answer some questions, yes?

1. Why is Zell Miller so angry?

He's angry because the Democrat Party has abandoned him. His views used to be those of the Democrat mainstream, until honorable but misguided men like George McGovern and honorless and deeply foolish men like John Kerry destroyed the FDR/Truman/JFK tradition in the Party. Now, his views are considered by the Democrat mainstream to be so far beyond the pale that Miller can only be "vile, bigoted, evil" or "Darth Vader". So, not only have the Democrats abandoned beliefs once core to their Party - and still core to Senator Miller - they have made bitter accusations against him personally (long before his speech to the GOP convention) for not abandoning his beliefs.

2. OK, then why hasn't Miller switched to the Republicans? Why does he stay in the Democrat Party if he's so at odds with it.

Well, there appear to be two reasons for that: first, on domestic issues, he doesn't identify with Republicans (to about the same degree, as far as I can tell, as he disagrees with Democrats on foreign policy issues), and second, he apparently still feels loyalty to the people who brought him into the Democrat Party in the first place. If he changed Party, he would be abandoning them (presumably, at this point, their memory). I could be wrong on this, easily, but given Miller's background, personality and public statements, it seems to me to be a reasonable opinion.

3. Then he deserves what's coming to him!

Well, that is the very attitude that has him so insulted that he will openly call out a fellow Democrat and fellow Senator in public.


Comments

Oh, I "get" it. I understand exactly why he is angry at the Democratic Party. I'm angry for precisely the same reasons. I just thought his speech was a horror. It's not enough to bash Kerry from the right. I need more than merely that before I am going to give him a cookie.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten on September 3, 2004 04:10 PM

You know, for all the media going on about Miller's "rage" and how "over the top" he was, I'm just remembering the Al Gore speech a few months back that was full of "passion" when he was accusing the President of lying and betrayal.

Oh, well.

Posted by: Mark L on September 3, 2004 09:41 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Kerry's Ill-Considered Rhetoric

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Here is an excerpt from a John Kerry speech Wednesday:

The cost of the president's "go it alone" policy in Iraq is now $200 billion and counting. Two-hundred billion for Iraq? but they tell us we can't afford after-school programs for our children. Two-hundred billion dollars for Iraq, but they tell us we can't afford health care for our veterans. Two-hundred billion dollars for Iraq, but they tell us we can't afford to keep the 100,000 police officers we put on the streets during the 1990s.

Three hundred or more dead children in a Russian school, and Senator Kerry tells us we cannot afford to fight terrorism? Senator, we cannot afford not to fight terrorism. After school programs are not very useful when the children are dead.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Credibility

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The mainstream media is really just learning about blogs, as the blogosphere is ripping CBS to shreds over fraud in knowingly presenting forged documents to smear President Bush. Ignoring stupid and irrelevant comments about bloggers in pajamas, there are two charges to note: blogs don't have editors and they aren't held accountable for being wrong.

Well, as many bloggers noted, everything we publish is immediately scrutinized, and if we're wrong, we either take it back or die on the vine.


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"I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things"

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Betsy's Page points to this George Neumayr article on Dan Rather's version of "Truth", and how it's OK to lie to advance that "Truth" (the title of this post is a quote from Rather about Bill Clinton). I won't excerpt it - it's good enough to read whole - but the basic thesis is that Dan Rather thinks it's OK to lie about anything as long as the "good people" are lying and the "bad people" are the targets. It's yet another bit of evidence of the essential infantilism of the modern Left.

UPDATE: And Mrs. du Toit has a post on trust that is well worth reading, and only tangentially related to the CBS meltdown.

OK, I will excerpt one bit:

Perhaps Dan Rather's liberal defenders who now accept "core truth" fables owe author Gary Aldrich an apology. Shouldn't they now say to him, "Your story about Bill Clinton taking women to the D.C. Marriott, which predated the country's introduction to Monica Lewinsky, wasn't technically true but it contained a basic truth about Clinton. He was doing that sort of thing with women"? And shouldn't they also apologize to Mark Fuhrman? "Sure, you may not have followed every collection technique properly, but that's okay. O.J. was guilty," they should now say.

Donald Sensing talks about why this matters.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

It Will Get Worse

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With Kerry's standing in the polls rapidly tanking, and even once-solid Democrat states now up for grabs; having picked the lamest attack plan ever; with his supporters making ads that, as Michael Ubaldi points out, are a hairs breadth away from what sent Mildred Gillars to prison for treason, or just beginning to panic on the war; with his list of positions growing towards the infinite on any issue of note; facing a growing economy; with progress in the war of concern but not anywhere near inspiring panic; and with less than two months until the election; it is tempting to ask how Kerry's campaign could get any worse. Here's how: the Presidential debates are yet to happen. But won't that give the "intelligent, good debater, come-from-behind champion" a sure win over the "stupid, simple, cowboy who can't speak clearly at all"? Well, consider this:

MODERATOR: Senator Kerry, with Iraqi elections approaching in January and casualties among our soldiers rising continuously, will you bring our soldiers back from Iraq or continue the occupation?
KERRY: [actual answer does not matter]
MODERATOR: Mr. President?
BUSH: I would just like to know if that is the Senator's final answer, or if he needs a lifeline?

And there's game over. There is one thing - only one - that a politician cannot survive in a campaign: being the object of ridicule. And as with Dean's scream, Kerry's inconsistency on every issue has set him up to be an object of derision and scorn. All that's needed is a trigger, and Bush can pull it any time.


Comments

Apparently the Kerry campaign reads your blog, because Kerry just preempted your idea.

Bummer.


Posted by: Fredrik Nyman on September 21, 2004 01:31 PM

Ehh, what happened to the URL?

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040921/D8583PJG0.html

Posted by: Fredrik Nyman on September 21, 2004 01:32 PM

I had the blog set to not accept HTML in comments, to make life less fruitful for spammers. However, since the volume of spam has been going down (with diligent IP banning), I'll go ahead and reenable HTML in comments.

Posted by: Jeff on September 21, 2004 02:29 PM
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Things that Make me Drool

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My area of expertise is directory services, provisioning, identity management and enterprise systems design. That is to say, I specialize in putting together large computer and network infrastructures to host applications, which can efficiently and accurately control who is accessing the applications and how. One of the critical tools in doing identity management and provisioning is directory services, and the best general-purpose directory for small to medium (<5 million objects) applications is the SunONE Directory. Developed from the Netscape Directory Server, SunONE (in any of its many rebrandings: SunONE, SunONE Java System, iPlanet, etc) is a fast, easy-to-administer (especially critical in large environments) directory with a very good implementation of the RFCs.

The open source competitor to SunONE is OpenLDAP. It is closer to Innosoft's product, which was developed out of the same base code from UMich that was used as the basis for OpenLDAP. It is not very fast, quite difficult to administer in enterprise environments, and lacks a robust replication mechanism. (Anyone who wants to debate me on slurpd, please feel free. I have a passionate hatred for it, and a good rant is fun.) In other words, the open source alternative is fine for a hobbyist, but I wouldn't hire someone recommending OpenLDAP for a professional environment.

And that is why this is so cool. This is the same code base used for SunONE, and RedHat will release it open source. Even if the code has not advanced beyond its 4.x releases, it will have the self-storage of configuration, the admin console, the web admin tools, the replication system and the basic architecture that make this code such a powerful product. The major thing that is lacking is a true multi-master model of replication (this is also lacking in SunONE, which last time I looked still allowed only two masters, and required them to be in the same data center - not a winning plan for disaster recovery).

It may very well be the case that within a few years, the open source directory alternatives will outstrip all but the high-end X.500 implementations (eTrust comes to mind), making directories much more affordable in the enterprise, and allowing the efficiencies that directories enable to be pushed further down the food chain. I look forward to that.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 14, 2004

pacifist-anarchist-vegetarian revolution

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Ith from Absinthe and Cookies has a good find.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Kant get it out of my Head

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Mark Safranski of ZenPundit has been doing a lot of thinking and writing about the strategic situation, working with Tom Barnett's New Map theory. He has been exploring the implications of "the Gap": those countries which have not connected to the globalized world; "the Core": those countries which have been globalized and which are disengaged from meaningful threat; and the countries in the Core which are shrinking the Gap and providing the defense of the disengaged Core countries (essentially, this comes down to the Western nations in President Bush's "coalition of the willing"). Here is Mark's latest, on Kantian rule sets and the attempts of NGO's and International Law scholars to apply them to situations that cross the boundary, and the disastrous effects thereof.

If you aren't reading ZenPundit, and you are interested in international relationships, you should start.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Mr. Green Endorses Barack Obama

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Despite living in Chicago for most of a year, I don't know much about Barack Obama. I know that his original opponent, Jack Ryan, had his campaign implode over the most bizarre sex scandal ever (it involved no sex, and only himself and his then-wife). Obama seems to be a good speaker, but I've seen no policy reasons to think he'd be a good Senator.

On the other hand, I know a great deal about Alan Keyes, and wouldn't expect him to be a good candidate for any public office. But, really, I don't need to say why, because Mr. Green has certainly put it succinctly:

We endorse Obama for the sole reason that unlike Republican candidate Alan Keyes, Obama is not crazier than a shithouse rat.

Oh sure, there are lots of issues and such, but on the most important question, "Is this candidate totally and completely looney toons?", we believe that Obama fares much better than Keyes, who is absolutely batshit.

Obama for Senate: He's sane.


If I voted here, instead of just living here, I'd likely be voting 3rd party or write-in for Senate.

(hat tip: Baldilocks)


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Maybe I'll write myself in. "Obscure anonymous blogger Mr. Green".

Posted by: Mr. Green on September 5, 2004 10:18 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Killing Yourself by Killing the Messenger

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One of the things that has really struck me being in Chicago is the difference in the political/current events sections of the book stores. In Texas, you find 5 or 6 Noam Chomsky books and a book pointing out how wrong all of Chomsky's books are, a mix of opinions from across the spectrum, leaning slightly Left (primarily, I think, because more Left-leaning political books are published in general). In Chicago, it's Chomsky's entire catalog, plus Zinn, every copy whose title includes either "Bush" or "Republicans" combined with some variation of "Idiot" or "Liar" or "Pure Evil" and maybe one book that suggests that Republicans aren't actually evil, just deeply misguided and deserving of pity.

Well, now it makes more sense. In actual fact, I can kind of understand this on the part of the union: they're playing their political part. But, as with entertainers who shoot their mouths off on stage, there's a difference between what you do in your spare time and what you do on the job, and Borders should make a real effort at putting in place measures to identify and fire any of their employees who would so mistreat their property and their customers.

But on a deeper level, this is hurting the Left more than their opponents (they might go so far as to claim enemies). The sales of these books aren't dramatically reduced: the would-be buyers are just driven to go elsewhere to get their reading material. More importantly, what the Left ends up doing is directly harmful to itself, because they've put themselves in the position of third-world tyrants: by creating an echo chamber filled with like-minded voices where no dissent is tolerated, the Left never learns from its mistakes.

We see this all over today: in Dan Rather's credibility melt down as much as in John Kerry's campaign melt down. It starts when you deny opinions different from yours are worthy of consideration. It grows when you deny that inconvenient facts are first relevant, and later even meaningful. It begins to take over when you cannot accept the obvious facts of the world around you, and you are denying everything good and praising everything evil because somehow - you don't know how - what's good for everyone is bad for your self-deception and what's bad for anyone is good for your self-deception and you've got a problem with maps, and you find yourself red-faced and shouting into a void where only your ideological equals can even hear you. And those who hear you, frankly, don't care any more. At that point, you are no more than a virus in the body politic, offering nothing but destruction.

It's a sort of ideological suicide, because you can't adapt to the world and it passes you by. The Republicans did this in the late 1980s and early- to mid-1990s, and it's why I'm not a Republican. Even though they eventually excised Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson from any position where they could do further harm, much damage had already been done.

The Democrats are now in this same position, and the lunatics have taken over. And no one is listening to Kerry, who by the way served in Viet Nam, who is not even talking to reporters (who by and large share his views), but sitting alone in the dark with maps of a great victory that will never be.


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Around the San Francisco Bay Area, the book stores have even less diversity. It's all Chomsky and Dowd and michael moore and all the books that say conservatives are bad all the time. The big chains have a few conservative selections just so they can claim fairness, but the independent stores make no effort to stock anything other than viewpoints they believe in. If it were not for Amazon, this would be a nearly total ideological bubble. If it is burst by the election outcome, and it looks like it will, we'll have a lot of people in a serious state of shock and disillusionment.

Posted by: Penny Silver on September 15, 2004 06:08 PM
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President Bush's UN Speech

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The headline on the Washington Post's transcript of President Bush's speech to the UN yesterday is utterly wrong: "At U.N., Bush Defends His Decision to Go to War". Um, he did that, yes. It was a pretty small and pro-forma defense, though, in a speech that is notable for much more. What President Bush has done, in essence, is to articulate a formula for a new world order, based on Thomas Barnett's PNM theory (connectivity trumps all, and we can end major wars and terrorism by developing the most disconnected countries), and an incredibly optimistic departure for someone who came into office as nearly an isolationist.

I'm not going to take apart Bush's speech in detail - no time - but I do want to note that Bush is laying out here a future for the world that is a radical departure from theories held by the US prior to 9/11, and by Europe to this day. Essentially, the President is trying to formulate a world in which the spread of democracy and economic opportunity is the duty and responsibility of the developed nations, in which health crises like AIDS and tuberculosis are treated by the developed nations in order to remove their economy-killing effects, and where the peace is largely kept by regional forces. It's a sweeping agenda, and well worth the read.

It is my hope that the President will make a series of speeches focusing on the various aspects of this agenda, and in particular that he will sell it to the other developed nations. It would be a far better approach than the Axis of Weasels' opportunism and cynicism, or China's attempts to imitate that, or Russia's increasing isolation and belligerance. For that matter, it would be a far better approach than Kerry's cut and run policy.


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Was that Thomas Barnett's PMS theory?
Did you know a recent study completed at UC Berkeley found that the brains of liberals are shrinking on the average of 0.004mm in circumference per year. What would the size of your brain be in 20 years? It's called LMD (liberal mental disease). Hang in there, George Bush says "I'll be back."

Posted by: common on September 22, 2004 03:53 PM

Eh?

Posted by: Stephanie on September 22, 2004 05:50 PM
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The Limited Iraqi Insurgency

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I had the feeling from my reading that the Iraqi insurgency was much more limited both geographically and in other ways than the media generally report, but I am surprised by how limited it is geographically. Basically, if you extend the analysis out to the end of the invasion, you get the axis of casualties stretching from Falluja to Baghdad to Najaf to Basra, and that's about it. With Najaf and Basra now quiet (and Basra likely to stay that way), you get Shannon Love's map at Chicagoboyz. (hat tip: Jim Miller) You'd think that at least one of the news magazines, at least, would be able to provide this kind of analysis. Apparently not.


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Well, that's a chore I don't have to finish. I was working on the same thing. Heartless as it is to say it, the level of casualties we're seeing in Iraq are not tactically or strategically significant. But it is politically significant. If we had too candidates who both pulled their socks up at the reports (as it should be) it would be one thing. But Mr. Kerry is apparently an anti-war candidate again and Mr. Bush periodically shows signs of going wobbly as well. IMO it's like painting targets on our kids backs. Not to mention journalists.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 27, 2004 03:49 PM

It was astonishing to me. The way Iraq stories get reported you would think the whole country was up in arms. You would think it would be worth some reporter's while to go to Kurdistan and report the improvements there, if only as a human interest sort of story.

Posted by: KAM Manager on September 27, 2004 11:17 PM
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September 13, 2004

Can't Resist

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Here's a new feature of MS Word...
MS Word Clippy Assistant showing options for creating hoax memos
(blatantly stolen from Free Republic)


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Leadership Matters

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Michael Totten makes the hawkish case for Kerry. It's pretty weak, as Totten himself admits:

A hawkish case for Kerry is a tough case to make. He's a weak candidate. There is no getting around it.

To see the benefits of a Kerry Administration you have to look past Kerry himself. If he is elected a critical cultural and political shift will dramatically change the way the Democratic Party behaves no matter what he actually does while in office.


The argument, in brief, is that if John Kerry is elected, the anti-war idiots will basically go home and be quiet, as they were during the Clinton administration, and let Kerry do whatever he wants. Since it is inevitable that we'll be attacked again, Kerry will be forced by events to respond in some way.

OK, this is true as far as it goes, but it does not go far. First, I don't think we want to be making political decisions based on whether or not the anarchists and anti-globalization guys are in the streets. There's a technical term for where that leads: mob rule.

Worse, it is a huge assumption to make that John Kerry would react robustly to an attack. While I don't believe that a major attack would be ignored, or even a relatively minor attack in the current climate, by a putative Kerry administration, I do not trust their instincts to respond adequately.

After all, Bill Clinton could be said to have responded robustly to the embassy attacks: he attacked some of bin Laden's training camps and a possibly al Qaeda-related chemical plant which may have been producing chemical weapons. (I'm certainly willing to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt in such a case.) Further, Operation Desert Fox was a quite robust response to the provocations Saddam was making in the no-fly zones and by pushing out the UN inspectors who had been disarming him. Yet neither of these responses was adequate, as has been determined with the passage of time.

Worse, Kerry's public statements (to the extent you can extract a coherent narrative from them) are basically that the Iraq campaign was deeply wrong and the best thing we can do is to run away and give lip service to the new Iraqi government. Handling the War on Terror as an intelligence and law enforcement matter, and handling Iraq as not our problem, will not advance our security one bit; if anything they open us up to further attacks.

And worse, Kerry has ruled out pre-emption as a strategy for dealing with emerging issues. How, then, does he plan on handling Iran and preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons? Would he depend on the UN, after its ineffectiveness and irrelevance were demonstrated in Iraq and after the Oil for Food scandals? Or would he depend on the Europeans, whose reputations in foreign affairs also suffered from a deep unseriousness on Iraq, and who are similarly entangled in Iranian oil interests? Or, worst of all, would he depend on the Iranian Ayatollahs, who declared themselves our enemies decades ago and continually since then?

Frankly, I cannot conceive of a case where Kerry's response to an attack would be better than Bush's; nor can I determine a way in which his preventative approach would be more effective; nor can I determine a sequence of events that would somehow overcome the proven incompetence of the Democrats at handling international crises. This incompetence goes far beyond Kerry, deep into the heart of the Democrats' foreign policy thinking: the brain trust of the Democrats on foreign policy have moved out of the Democrat Party and into the Republican. There's a collective name for them, too: neocons.

The Democrats don't have a bench on this issue, which is why the last administration ended up with Madeleine Albright as SecState and Les Aspin as SecDef. If the best hawkish case for Kerry is to believe that a weak-charactered President and an inexperienced and (if Kerry's campaign staff picks are representative) sycophantic Cabinet will suddenly develop competence and a backbone when faced with a crisis, there's no real case to make.

UPDATE: See also the comments at Michael Totten's personal blog.

UPDATE: Actually, I should be clear. I think Totten did the Kerry campaign an excellent service. This article is actually the best case I've yet seen for Kerry as an acceptable candidate. I just don't buy it.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Let's All Vote

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Jonathan Freedland has written the latest in a series of calls for people from outside the US to get to vote in the US Presidential elections. (hat tip: Roger Simon) I won't include Mr. Freedland's "reasoning" - you can follow the link if you want to see it.

I was going to write up a long response, but Norman Geras has already done so, and it's a fine read, well beyond the scope I would have covered. Instead, I'll just make one short observation:

Anyone in the world can vote in the US Presidential (and other!) election in one of two ways: come to the US and become a citizen, or submit your country to US territorial rule and apply to the Congress for statehood.

If you're not willing to undertake the obligations of citizenship, don't expect the responsibilities and protections of citizenship.


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Heck, I'm skeptical about letting all American citizens over 18 vote. Are we not voting in sufficient numbers or are we over-enfranchised?

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 27, 2004 03:51 PM
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September 12, 2004

Here's a Hint

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When terrorists kill hundreds of children, shooting many of them in the back (and trust me, this is not the worst of what they did), it's NOT the fault of the security services and it's NOT a sign that negotiations and diplomatic solutions are called for and it's NOT a "local problem", despite what some idiots may thinksay.

Look, I'm really, really pissed off about this. We've got to stop saying "she asked for it" and face up to the fact that the jihadis are FUCKING TRYING TO KILL ALL OF US and they don't give a tinker's damn if they kill the little kids first or last. Hell, killing them first just makes it easier, I guess. At least, it got the Economist scared enough to go running for multi-cultural trans-nationalist shibboleths. Hey, if we can be desensitized to the brutal massacre of little kids this early in the game, we'll hardly squirm when they impale our sorry asses on a pole a decade hence.

And we'll fucking deserve it! Darwin wins in the end - he always does. It's simple truth: those who are matched to their environment survive, and those who aren't die. Well, as long as we in the West are willing to look in the cold dead eyes of a child and blame the security services instead of the monsters who shot the kid in the back, then we deserve to die.

One of the things that sticks with me is something my friend Nathan said: "A successful society is one where the last mother would if necessary die defending the last child." I hope we will be a successful society. I hate to think that we would willingly cede the future of humanity to the slime that perpetrated Breslan (hint to the Economist, I'm not talking about the security services).

And note that in the article it's never even mentioned that the killers were Muslims, that half of them were Arabs, that perhaps terrorism was involved somehow. No, no: close your eyes to that. That's a difficult problem to solve, and tips a lot of sacred cows. Let's instead talk about how long it took the Russians to response to an unprecedentedly brutal and inarguably no-win situation. Yeah, that's it.

Damn it, I'm so tired of this crap! How many of us - how many of our kids - need to lie dead on the ground before we decide it's OK to offend someone to stay alive??

I'd better stop now, because it'll just get worse if I keep thinking about this.


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I couldn't have said it better myself. Your post said things the way they needed to be said at a time when they needed to be said. I'm no fan of Putin, or Chechnya for that matter, but if the supposed enlightened among us can't see that this was beyond the pale for "freedom fighters" (a title the left slobbers over no matter who wears it as long as it's not a conservative or Western military leader) then you're right: we do deserve it.

Posted by: nemesisenforcer on September 6, 2004 02:18 AM

Damn, well said....maybe a few nukes will cure this animals....maybe if Mecca became glass it would open some eyes....

Posted by: on September 6, 2004 02:42 AM

I notice two things about the article: 1) there is no by-line, so there no one is taking responsibility for writing it and 2) the sub-heading "A local problem, not a global one" - where they do mention possible links to al-Qaeda, but that it's primarily a local issue. After all, this couldn't be part of the global war on terror.

Posted by: Mark L on September 6, 2004 08:31 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Hatred is Corrosive

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From the Left (too many examples to link to a representative one) or the Right.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Don't Piss Off Paladins

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After all, paladins specialize in righteous indignation.


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Yeah, I get a bit upset at times.

Thanks for the link. :)

Posted by: Banagor on September 21, 2004 01:14 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Upperclass Twit of the Year

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John Kerry looking like an idiot


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 11, 2004

Always Fight Back

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The lesson of 9/11, and the lesson of Breslan, and the lesson of the many beheadings in Iraq, is this: always fight back. The one relatively bright spot on 9/11 was the saving of the Capitol, by a few unarmed men and women who rushed their captors rather than letting them proceed. In Breslan, the terrorists were maybe 20, and held 1000 captive. Perhaps 300-400 of the captives were adults. Why did they not rush the terrorists? Certainly, some of them would die, but the scale would have been smaller than it ended up being and fewer children would have died.

These are not yesterday's terrorists, who would kill one or two people and then negotiate some kind of ending where most people got out alive. Now they want to kill, as gruesomely and frequently as they can. Fight or run, don't just take it. Die with your boots on. What could they do worse than beheading you, which they will likely do in any case?

Learn it, and learn it well: when terrorists attack, you are better off fighting back barehanded than letting them carry on. Even better would be to be armed, and fight back from a position of strength.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Innoculation

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Most everybody seems to be understanding the point of the current round of attacks on George Bush's Air National Guard service record differently than I do. Francis Porretto provides a case in point. The point, it seems to me, is not to denigrate Bush's service record to make Bush-as-President look bad, but to innoculate Kerry against charges about his service record. After all, if President Bush's record is less than honorable, who cares if John Kerry is exaggerating his service record?

Of course, this assumes that the media wants Kerry to win badly enough to manipulate stories in his favor, which we all know could not possibly happen with our objective (cough splutter - excuse me) "news" media.


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Of course Kerry's problem will then be: if the service records don't matter, what does Kerry have to run on??

Posted by: Oscar on September 9, 2004 01:03 PM
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Blogosphere Needs Editors

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It's true, you know, what the mainstream media says: the big problem with the blogosphere is the lack of editors (producers, if you are a TV "journalist"). Because, without editors, bloggers might fall victim to easily-detected forgeries and partisan hacks and might spin a mighty story around trumped-up insinuations of wrongdoing or incompetence1, constantly repeating already-debunked stories and unsubstantiated charges in a blatant effort to smear their ideological opponent, while repeating the talking points of their ideological counterpart verbatim.

Curious, then, that all of these problems of credibility overload seem to be with mainstream media outlets that do employ editors.

1Let me just state for the record, that having landed C172s, I'd be amazed if anyone flying under a military flight regime and in an F-102A stuck every single landing. (Perfect landings can be hard.) Anyway, just exactly how relevant is it to President Bush's performance as President that he went around sometimes? Furthermore, if this doesn't disprove the occassional allegations by mainstream journalists that it's only blogs that focus on irrelevant non-stories, I don't know what will.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Change in National Debate Topics

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If the new Gallup poll is close to accurate, it's time to stop debating "election issues" and start talking about how President Bush is going to use his second term to advance American interests.

UPDATE: Bigwig nails it - no pun intended.


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The Bombing Buddhists

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So let's say you were in charge of emergency planning for, say, a western Michigan county. You want to have some scenario that you can use to test the local emergency response system: are all of the departments able to communicate; how does the dispatching system function and what is your response time; can hospitals handle the incoming wounded; how do you deal with media and distraught families? What scenario would you use?

Perhaps jihadi terrorists have attacked in the area - no, don't want to upset the Muslims, who will immediately let you know that using any kind of Arab or Muslim group is completely unrealistic in the world today, especially since you've chosen a bombing of a school bus as the attack, and everyone knows that Muslims do not bomb buses or kill school kids. Guess that rules out the Bombing Buddhists and other religious groups, as well as any ethnic or national groups of any kind.

Maybe we could make up a group...how about People Against Yellow Buses And Children Knowing Anything - PAYBACK? No, too cutesy. How about Grandmothers for Social Security, whose motive is to free up money for Social Security transfer payments by killing the children who take up so much money to educate? No, too much danger of pissing off the AARP. How about the God Botherers, whose beef is against secular education? No, beyond the pale; religious people don't do that anyway. We need something plausible.

Who then can be safely demonized? Who is so beyond the pale that it is both realistic and unremarkable that they would turn to violence against children to further their agenda? Who would we realistically expect to take such an action against the innocent so that no one would be too busy laughing at the supposed motives involved that the scenario would become useless? I know, how about homeschoolers. (hat tip: Steph) I wish I were kidding.

The exercise, which will involve the aftermath of a supposed explosion on a school bus at 9:30 a.m. at Durham and Holton-Whitehall roads in Whitehall Township [in Muskegon County, MI], is being funded by homeland security grants awarded to several area school districts and Muskegon County.

Local school district transportation directors instigated the exercise because they wanted to test their abilities to respond to emergencies, said Tom Spoelman, transportation consultant for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. They eventually hooked up with Muskegon County Emergency Services, and planning for the event has been under way for about a year, Spoelman said.

The exercise will test not only school transportation directors, but also the Muskegon County Emergency Operations Plan, which involves many agencies throughout the county.

[SNIP]

The exercise will simulate an attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled. Under the scenario, a bomb is placed on the bus and is detonated while the bus is traveling on Durham, causing the bus to land on its side and fill with smoke.


It's a good thing that emergency response departments want to test their disaster preparedness. It's great that they feel the need to make it as realistic as they can, and that as a part of that they'd need someone with a plausible reason to do this. But come on, you'd be more realistic by far if you just assumed it was PETA protesting the serving of meat-containing lunches at the school. Never mind the most realistic threats: a lone psycho or an honest-to-goodness jihadi attack. No, no! Let's pick on someone who hates children: homeschoolers! They're probably Rethuglican religious wackos anyway - hey, there's a name for the group, too!

Bah!


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I just read about this in Michelle Malkin's TownHall.com article, and I am infuriated. It wasn't clear whether Mr. Spoelman or someone else was responsible for this statement, but everyone involved with the selection of the fake "terrorist organization" need to be fired or voted out of office (as the case may be). I hope that the national home schooling support organizations can get some coverage on this vicious attack.

If there is a silver lining to this dark cloud of hate speech, it's that the teachers' unions must be scared of losing their stranglehold on education. I hope that those fears are well-founded.

Posted by: Rich on September 22, 2004 11:43 AM

Home schoolers should be lauded for their accomplishments in this world. Not only are they better educated but better adjusted to life situations. It is the same theory of the one room school which I attended in the 50s. They best education , when I transferred to a private school after the school closed for lack of enough students, I was ahead in all subjects.

Posted by: on September 23, 2004 10:09 AM

I live in West Michigan and teach at a large public high school. Although this part of the state is mostly Republican, county officials, and local politicians are just as PC as anywhere else in the country, I imagine. The only people that anyone can use as a punching bag anymore are white, conservative, christians. You can call them anything, say anything, sneer and denigrate them, and we all have been trained to nod, smile, and silently agree. It's sick and it needs to stop. Can anyone imagine the outrage if this training event was set up to deal with an Islamic terrorist attack? CBS and others would be all over it.

Posted by: kjo on September 25, 2004 04:24 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Ex Cunabula ad Astra

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It looks like Paul Allen is getting together with Virgin Atlantic to form a venture that will provide private spaceflights by 2008. (hat tip: VodkaPundit) Paul Allen is the money behind Space Ship One, about to attempt the X-Prize. In other words, humanity is on the verge of venturing from the Earth's cradle into space to stay - out of the cradle, endlessly orbiting - and it will largely be due to one man's efforts - as most great advances usually are. So any time you are thinking of bashing Microsoft (which I often do, as well), at least keep in mind what it has enabled.

UPDATE: And a follow-on prize: $50 million for getting a 7-person orbital machine by the end of the decade. Excellent!

UPDATE: Virgin Galactic's web site.


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Ritual Seppuku

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Not content merely to slit their own throat as a "reputable" "news" organization, CBS is now apparently going to also fall on their sword. I was going to ask what's next, but then I realized how easy it is to tell: we just have to wait for the next issue of Democrat Party talking points to see what CBS will lie about next.


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September 10, 2004

"The Democrats' Manic Obsession"

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Political conventions in the post-Watergate era are mainly meaningless cheerleading events. Even before Watergate, moments of true importance (other than the selection of candidates) were rare. Next to Ronald Reagan's nominating speech for Barry Goldwater, though, I believe we may have to place Zell Miller's speech from last night's Republican convention. In much the same way that Reagan called upon the Republicans to discover their principles, so has Zell Miller called on the Democrats to discover theirs. Perhaps after they are trounced in November, they will listen. Here is the complete text:

Since I last stood in this spot, a whole new generation of the Miller Family has been born: Four great grandchildren.

Along with all the other members of our close-knit family, they are my and Shirley's most precious possessions.

And I know that's how you feel about your family also. Like you, I think of their future, the promises and the perils they will face.

Like you, I believe that the next four years will determine what kind of world they will grow up in.

And like you, I ask which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the backbone to best protect my family?

The clear answer to that question has placed me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party.

There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man's name is George Bush.

In the summer of 1940, I was an 8-year-old boy living in a remote little Appalachian valley. Our country was not yet at war, but even we children knew that there were some crazy men across the ocean who would kill us if they could.

President Roosevelt, in his speech that summer, told America "all private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger."

In 1940, Wendell Wilkie was the Republican nominee.

And there is no better example of someone repealing their "private plans" than this good man. He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft, an unpopular idea at the time.

And he made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue.

Shortly before Wilkie died, he told a friend, that if he could write his own epitaph and had to choose between "here lies a president" or "here lies one who contributed to saving freedom," he would prefer the latter.

Where are such statesmen today?

Where is the bipartisanship in this country when we need it most?

Now, while young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats' manic obsession to bring down our Commander in Chief.

What has happened to the party I've spent my life working in?

I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.

It was Democratic President Harry Truman who pushed the Red Army out of Iran, who came to the aid of Greece when Communists threatened to overthrow it, who stared down the Soviet blockade of West Berlin by flying in supplies and saving the city.

Time after time in our history, in the face of great danger, Democrats and Republicans worked together to ensure that freedom would not falter. But not today.

Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.

And nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.

Tell that to the one-half of Europe that was freed because Franklin Roosevelt led an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the lower half of the Korean Peninsula that is free because Dwight Eisenhower commanded an army of liberators, not occupiers.

Tell that to the half a billion men, women and children who are free today from the Baltics to the Crimea, from Poland to Siberia, because Ronald Reagan rebuilt a military of liberators, not occupiers.

Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home.

For it has been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the agitator, who has given us the freedom to protest.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, serves beneath the flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag, who gives that protester the freedom to abuse and burn that flag.

No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.

But don't waste your breath telling that to the leaders of my party today. In their warped way of thinking America is the problem, not the solution.

They don't believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.

It is not their patriotism -- it is their judgment that has been so sorely lacking. They claimed Carter's pacifism would lead to peace.

They were wrong.

They claimed Reagan's defense buildup would lead to war.

They were wrong.

And, no pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.

Together, Kennedy/Kerry have opposed the very weapons system that won the Cold War and that is now winning the War on Terror.

Listing all the weapon systems that Senator Kerry tried his best to shut down sounds like an auctioneer selling off our national security but Americans need to know the facts.

The B-1 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, dropped 40 percent of the bombs in the first six months of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The B-2 bomber, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hussein's command post in Iraq.

The F-14A Tomcats, that Senator Kerry opposed, shot down Khadifi's Libyan MIGs over the Gulf of Sidra. The modernized F-14D, that Senator Kerry opposed, delivered missile strikes against Tora Bora.

The Apache helicopter, that Senator Kerry opposed, took out those Republican Guard tanks in Kuwait in the Gulf War. The F-15 Eagles, that Senator Kerry opposed, flew cover over our Nation's Capital and this very city after 9/11.

I could go on and on and on: against the Patriot Missile that shot down Saddam Hussein's scud missiles over Israel; against the Aegis air-defense cruiser; against the Strategic Defense Initiative; against the Trident missile; against, against, against.

This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces?

U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?

Twenty years of votes can tell you much more about a man than twenty weeks of campaign rhetoric.

Campaign talk tells people who you want them to think you are. How you vote tells people who you really are deep inside.

Senator Kerry has made it clear that he would use military force only if approved by the United Nations.

Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending.

I want Bush to decide.

John Kerry, who says he doesn't like outsourcing, wants to outsource our national security.

That's the most dangerous outsourcing of all. This politician wants to be leader of the free world.

Free for how long?

For more than 20 years, on every one of the great issues of freedom and security, John Kerry has been more wrong, more weak and more wobbly than any other national figure.

As a war protester, Kerry blamed our military.

As a Senator, he voted to weaken our military. And nothing shows that more sadly and more clearly than his vote this year to deny protective armor for our troops in harms way, far away.

George Bush understands that we need new strategies to meet new threats.

John Kerry wants to re-fight yesterday's war. George Bush believes we have to fight today's war and be ready for tomorrow's challenges. George Bush is committed to providing the kind of forces it takes to root out terrorists.

No matter what spider hole they may hide in or what rock they crawl under.

George Bush wants to grab terrorists by the throat and not let them go to get a better grip.

From John Kerry, they get a "yes-no-maybe" bowl of mush that can only encourage our enemies and confuse our friends.

I first got to know George Bush when we served as governors together. I admire this man. I am moved by the respect he shows the first lady, his unabashed love for his parents and his daughters, and the fact that he is unashamed of his belief that God is not indifferent to America.

I can identify with someone who has lived that line in "Amazing Grace," "Was blind, but now I see," and I like the fact that he's the same man on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning.

He is not a slick talker but he is a straight shooter and, where I come from, deeds mean a lot more than words.

I have knocked on the door of this man's soul and found someone home, a God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.

The man I trust to protect my most precious possession: my family.

This election will change forever the course of history, and that's not any history. It's our family's history.

The only question is how. The answer lies with each of us. And, like many generations before us, we've got some hard choosing to do.

Right now the world just cannot afford an indecisive America. Fainthearted self-indulgence will put at risk all we care about in this world.

In this hour of danger our President has had the courage to stand up. And this Democrat is proud to stand up with him.

Thank you.

God Bless this great country and God Bless George W. Bush.


Comments

This one may be before your time, but the convention before Reagan's speech, Goldwater gave his "Wake up, Conservativs" speech, with results we see around us to this day.

Posted by: Oscar on September 2, 2004 04:44 PM
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More on the Russian School Attack

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I wrote yesterday about the terrorists capture of a school in Russia, complete with the taking of hundreds of children as hostages and threatening their lives. There is much more information at The Glittering Eye and Logic and Sanity. The Glittering Eye partially translated an editorial from gazeta.ru. Here is the important part:

The seizure of a school with children even for the present terrorist way is a scene that is completely out of line. It is not merely a challenge. It is the last straw. Christianity does not admit of blood feuds. But anyone who stakes the life of a child cannot be reckoned as human. These creatures may have no God, may have no people. This threat to kill a child is a renunciation of membership in the family of man, it is like killing your own mother.

Anyone who thinks that the actions of the jihadis are not driving the world closer to genocide is either not paying attention, or has no sense of history and particularly of the brutality of a decent man pushed past his limits.
The Russias may expect dreadful hours, even days. On the one hand there is a principle "don't make concessions to terrorists". For by this we only take the risk of further sacrifice. But on the other hand there is no principle by which one can sacrifice children.

It is in this reckoning that one renounces the humane. Because the Russian power is bound, in the first place, to save children, and in the second place to give such an answer that no one would think that this has been a successful experiment. If the government cannot do this, then what is it good for?


And gazeta.ru's editorialist puts his finger precisely on the terrorists' methods: make governments look weak and ineffective, and increase the chaos on which the terrorists feed. It's a hard position to be in, because the only options are to collapse or become brutal: the terrorists cannot be deterred, and they cannot be defeated without attacking the (non-combatant) populations that shelter and supply them. And if we adopt brutal methods, and attack civilians, not only will our own nature rebel against our actions, but the hardening of our hearts against this rebellion of our natures, in combination with more outrageous atrocities by the terrorists, could push us over into being monsters. Either way, we cannot get everything we want; the best we can do is survive with enough memory of honor to restore it afterwards. If we can first destroy the terrorists.

UPDATE (9/3): The crisis appears to have ended, bloodily, but not as bad as it could have been (much as the Moscow theater takeover ended). Russian rescuers were allowed inside to remove some of the dead earlier killed by the terrorists (not sure if these were the men blown up in the hallway, the non-walking wounded shot after the initial takeover, the men who were killed resisting, or the children and parents killed during the initial attack), and while they were inside, the terrorists apparently opened fire indiscriminately and set off a bomb that partially collapsed the roof. Hostages fled, and the Russian troops blew a hole in the wall of the gym to create an escape route. The total casualties are not yet known. At least one of the terrorists was captured, and more were killed. More at FoxNews.

UPDATE (9/3): More from Belmont Club, The Glittering Eye, Logic and Sanity and < a href="http://instapundit.com/archives/017580.php">InstaPundit.

I particularly recommend that you go to Logic and Sanity, which has the best coverage I've been able to find. (Better, in fact, than any of the mainstream media - who somehow still wonder why people have started ignoring them.)

UPDATE (9/4): The Command Post has information on how you can help.


Comments

It always comes back to the principle:
"Better to be judged by 12...." which you and I both like to quote. The same principle holds when you have to judge yourself.

By the way, I was thinking last night that that is the one REAL reason why Kerry would be a bad President, and Bush is a good one: both will make mistakes, but Kerry wants to be loved and admired by everyone, while Bush wants to be able to look himself and his wife in the eye every morning. He is willing to judge himself, Kerry is not.

Posted by: Oscar on September 2, 2004 04:40 PM

Jeff, you have hit the nail on the head. That's the reason the editorial struck me and the reason I translated what I did. Putin is under quite a bit of pressure to do something. He was elected to bring security and he hasn't been successful so far.

I wouldn't be surprised if the 2nd Chechnyan Campaign spread into Georgia and then who knows where.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 2, 2004 05:21 PM

I dont have words beacaouse it is very cruel
i am an indian i know what is terrerisom .o
but it is very cruel there need to take neccessary
steps against this.i am saying all these bacaouse
i love russia than my country

Posted by: anandsree on September 8, 2004 02:54 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Not Yours to Give

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Donald Sensing points to this startling anecdote about Davy Crockett. There is my problem with intrusive government summed up beautifully. What a shame, what a crying shame, that we pride ourselves on our liberties when we have allowed Congress and the courts to so usurp them that our representatives of only a little more than 100 years ago wouldn't recognize us as other than a happy tyranny.


Comments

But notice that until he stood up to speak, the bill was set to pass almost unanimously. It had started even then.

Posted by: Mark L on September 4, 2004 09:05 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Tax Reform Proposal

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Chaka Fattah, Representative of Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District, has proposed replacing the income tax system with a "transaction fee" - as far as I can tell, it's a VAT.

I don't know enough economics to compare VATs to other kinds of sales taxes, nor to determine if such taxes help or inhibit growth nor to what extent. With all of those disclaimers out of the way, I'd be very, very happy to see this proposal discussed. The income tax is a tyrannical way to generate government revenue, and inherently lacks limits. With both Republicans (including President Bush and Speaker Hastert) and Democrats now pushing for replacing the income tax with a better system, we might actually see movement on this in the next few years.

UPDATE: Reading through the bill, there are a couple of comments I have about this specific proposal. First, for all love please call it a tax! It's not a fee; it's a tax. Call it what it is.

It's actually not a proposal for a tax change, by the way. It's a proposal for a study to determine if it makes sense to change the tax system according to the set of guidelines laid out in the bill.

This bill does not actually propose a fee. Instead, it sets guidelines for the fee such that it would match the revenues generated in 1986. I'm not sure why that year was chosen; one would think you'd want to set the fee to match the last fiscal year before its passage. On the one hand, that's before recent tax rate changes, but it's also before the Internet boom and after Reagan's tax cuts. All in all, that might be a quite reasonable standard to use.

Sec.3(b)(4)(B) would have to go, I think. It's a list of suggestions for other uses of the fee. Proposing new programs and other reasons to generate more revenue - even good reasons like enforced paydown of the national debt - do not belong in a tax reform proposal. Those should be separately discussed, or they become stealthy ways of raising actual taxes.

I don't think you can exempt cash transactions less than $500 as a general category, because that would cause a shift in people's behavior that would reduce revenue with no real benefit. The better way to do it would be to exempt categories of spending, such as food and clothing purchases (and several others, I would imagine, such as charitable contributions) of less than $500. In reality, small cash transactions between individuals wouldn't get taxed, because they wouldn't be reported, but they could and should be collected by those entities currently collecting sales tax.

The problem, of course, is that as soon as you start adding exemptions, there's no real end to the exemptions that could be justified. In order to "protect the poor" you would have to exclude certain items, but drawing that line with so many special interests sending lobbyists and money to get their pet exemption, crafting reasonable exemptions would be very, very difficult.

I do like the idea of having a maximum rate of 1% for small transactions, but I'd prefer to see one rate above that, say a maximum of 3%. Otherwise, people will shift behavior for many large purchases, with deleterious economic effects. (Don't believe me? Go look up the "luxury tax" that was passed that killed domestic yacht building and new general aviation aircraft production. It was quickly repealed, but not quickly enough.)

Overall, I strongly approve of the idea of gathering the kind of information that the bill requires, including comparisons of economic impacts of this system versus the current system.


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Afghan Army

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Strategy Page has an interesting article on the Afghan Army. It doesn't discuss the use of the army, so much as the efforts to build it and how they are just now starting to pay off.

I'm mainly putting this here so Scott will see it, so I'll save commentary for later.


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It Warms my Heart

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It warms my heart to see idiots truly screwed on account of their own bad behavior. Love it.


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Coming to You Every Hour on the Hour

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Back in May, I noted (well before the Killian memos scandal) that while people might wish the blogosphere would overcome the mainstream media, there was something missing: information gathering:

Information gathering is the process of actually finding information, while information filtering is the process of determining which bits of information that you have collected are meaningful, rather than trivial. Information is all around us, but most of it is not meaningful except in very specific contexts. For example, if a city council passes a resolution against US involvement in Upper Slobonia, that is certainly information. However, it's meaningless in and of itself (though it may be meaningful if virtually every city council in the country does so, as it would be an indicator of public opinion).

The major media actually does not do a great job at these functions, mostly due to laziness as far as I can tell. For example, no one saw the Savings and Loan crisis coming. Why not? Because the reporters who could have gathered the information in the records offices of the SEC were too busy attending press conferences and parties and listening to what was being talked about to actually go dig up the information. What information did come to light tended to get filtered out as isolated failures or financial difficulties, because there were not enough data points being gathered until the crisis was already upon us.

That said, the major media do a far better job, at present, of information gathering than the blogosphere. There is no blog equivalent to the AP or the staff of the NY Times. Blogs excel at finding information in print - especially information published on the Internet, filtering it and disseminating it (see especially Instapundit), but the gathering of raw information is still all too rare.


While the blogosphere excels at analysis, as the CBS/Killian scandal demonstrates to any but the most oblivious observer, there is no mechanism for gathering information, categorizing it, and relating it to other bits of information. I've been thinking about how blogs could do this, and I'd like to throw out some ideas for general discussion.

The first problem would be the actual accumulation of information. To some degree, information could be culled from mainstream media sources (the mainstream media itself rarely generates news: most reports are recycled from other media). The problem is not in generating new information. INDC Journal did this in the Killian scandal by contacting Dr. Bouffard, for example. All that would be needed would be some information prominently posted giving bloggers pointers on how to contact people, and how to obtain and conduct interviews, and the amount of information blogs could collect would go up dramatically. While any given blogger may only do this a few times on a few topics, there are a lot of bloggers.

The problem, rather, is in how to collect and correlate information. Though there are bloggers everywhere, there is no place to centralize their information, and no way to judge it for reliability. It seems that we need a tool, with the following characteristics:


A much longer list of features could be added, but I think that this covers the essentials: it is necessary to have a place to store information and judge its effectiveness, to which anyone could contribute and from which anyone could draw, which would moderate the information to make it easier to make snap judgements on the reliability of the information. It would in general be somewhat like a wiki.

I'm curious as to what I'm missing that such a system would need, and whether such a system would be interesting enough to people to be used. If it was used, would it serve the purpose of enabling information gathering, and would that be robust enough to supplement or supplant the mainstream media? If it gathered sufficient information and judged it sufficiently well, would it allow blogs to provide primary information in sufficient quantities to become, effectively, news services rather than analysis services?

UPDATE: Dave Schuler comments at the Glittering Eye. He asks a question that deserves answering: "How does it differ from something like Technorati? Or some of the blog indices that have died on the vine over the years?"

There are structural differences, of course, but these arise from a deeper cause: purpose. Technorati and other blog indexing systems I've seen are intended to enhance information connectivity; that is, they exist to make clear non-obvious relationships between hypertext pages. If I link to a page, it's easy to go to that page, but it's a one-way relationship. If you are looking at that page, you HTML provides no facility to determine who is linking to that page. Technorati provides bi-directional browsing, as do trackbacks for that matter. This is a useful service, no doubt about it, and Technorati is useful despite its flaws.

What I'm looking for is a way of taking real world data and making it available, so that bloggers (and, hey, why not?, journalists) can use it to pull out information. This is much more than a mere structural difference from Technorati. It would not be hosted on the same kind of database or have the same front end, but that's minor. What's major is the way that the data is organized and rated (actually, Technorati doesn't rate information at all, except to note how many incoming links and sources, and how old they are, exist for a given page). Information wouldn't be gleaned from the relationships between pages, but would exist in the abstract. The two together - using this system to find information and Technorati to find commentary about that information - would be a powerful combination.

UPDATE: This seems like a good start for bringing SMEs together with people who need their information. (hat tip: Transterrestrial Musings) The intro post is here. I'm wondering about the rule against self-nomination, though, in that it is unlikely that many bloggers will know the areas of professional expertise of other bloggers. Still, this is a great idea.


Comments

One potential flaw in the sytem - if gathering primary information became the rule and not the exception, information resources and interview subjects could become overburdened with requests and thus drive sources underground in certain cases. Food for thought.

Posted by: Bill from INDC on September 28, 2004 12:01 PM

I'm not so sure that would be true - or at least, no more true than it is now. Certain subjects will be overwhelmed with interview requests and will refuse, as certain subjects now refuse mainstream media requests. I'm not convinced that there would be a net difference here.

Hopefully, such a service would not just revolve around interviews, though. I think you'd want to see observations as well. For example, collections of statistics, mapping and graphing of trends, original source documents, first-hand observations, collected data and the like should be the kind of data that's sought out. It's collecting and mining through the data (including that from interviews) that makes the idea powerful, I think.

I'm curious if you see other potential downsides as well, and what your thoughts are on my response on interviews.

Posted by: Jeff on September 28, 2004 12:23 PM

The problems is not information collection. Collection is driven by analysis. The collector operates with a hypothesis and then looks for info that proves or requires modification.

Your article suggests you are looking for a vast bin of information. Preferably nicely indexed. Remember any indexing system is organized around some hypothesis concerning the data. And today's garbage may turn out to be tomorrow's most important discovery.

Garbage is no exageration. Some of archeology's most important discoveries are found in ancient garbage pits. And, of course, penicillin was discovered on moldy bread fished out of the waste basket by Dr Arrowsmith.

Bloggers are analysts. We take the data other people use as proof for their theories and show how it can be seen differently. Look at what Belmont Club does with NY Times data today. Part of analysis is being able to judge the integrity of your data. The problem in the past is that all the data collectors and analysts worked for a small number of newspapers, governments or universities - usually in the same town (London, Paris, Berlin, Washington-NYC, Tokoyo). They knew each other and periodically traded jobs. There was peer pressure to not stray too far into left or right field. And this made for stolid, predictable analysis (like the stuff coming from the CIA, MSM, and the major colleges).

Bloggers are non-professionals unencumbered by the chains of professional group-think. They are not in the job trading business so they do not have to worry about offending a potential employer.

Bloggers are a source of raw informaton - especially Iraq. Iraq has blogs by terrorists, freedom fighters, kids, not-kids, soldiers, doctors, undertakers, mullahs, sheiks, priests, tinker, tailors, and spies all claiming to be on or over the ground in Iraq. Data doesn't come any rawer.

everyone with a PC can be a blogger and many are.
Each is an eyewitness to history. Each sees something or nothing. And sometimes seeing nothing is important. Check the blogs this morning. How many bloggers in the "wild, lawless, mess that is war-torn Iraq" were killed or wounded yesterday? How many had a shot fired across their keyboard? How many actually saw any action in person? On TV? What channel? What conclusion can a blogger draw concerning reportage on MSM?

Posted by: W Sol Vason on September 29, 2004 12:38 PM

Your point is well taken, but misses my aim. What I'm wondering is whether the mainstream media can be replaced by the aggregate of blogs. My analysis is that unless there is some system for collecting facts - given that the mainstream media is tainted and has been shown to both lie and be biased in its selection of which facts are reported - there would be no good way of doing analysis except as it's being done now. In other words, unless the media can be bypassed in the gathering of facts, it cannot be replaced.

I'm not sure that it needs to be replaced, but the media at least needs to be reformed. I think bloggers are helping with that already.

Posted by: Jeff on September 29, 2004 02:28 PM
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September 9, 2004

Playing with Fire

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The jihadis aim to provoke. They wish to make us act like monsters, perhaps because they need a monstrous society in which to thrive. They may yet succeed in awakening our particular inner demons, but for now it is thankfully still not possible to give an American unit orders to slaughter a terrorist's family or indeed village and have them obey it.

But that's not true of all of our allies, some of whom are Russians (often inept but often brutal) and Ghurkas (never inept and very tough fighters). So what are they thinking when they slaughter Nepalese and threaten to slaughter Russian children?


Comments

Jihadis often make me think of my younger brother who would try to provoke me just to get my attention, even if the end result was anger. Unfortunately for them, some dumb moves by a variety of American Presidents have set up the belief that they will get away with it next time.

Posted by: Oscar on September 2, 2004 04:46 PM

I* am a doctor and consider that it is good to save lifes. So what have done mujaheeds - this is saving lifes. Yes - saving much better lifes of moslems . It is obvious that Jihaad is going on in Iraq and uninvited kafeers come either to fight iraqis or support fighters. Actually no difference between them. They all are doing criminal job - it is wellknown that coalition forces killed thousands !!!! of innocent children. Their parents did not invite armed enemies and their supporters. All kafeers - do not come to Iraq.


Posted by: amir on September 5, 2004 01:11 PM

Brave words for someone in Azerbaijan. But don't worry: we'll find time for you, too, eventually.

Posted by: Jeff on September 5, 2004 05:49 PM
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"Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids"

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Teresa Heinz-Kerry's advice to disaster relief workers would be sad if it weren't so funny. (hat tip: One Hand Clapping)


Comments

Let them eat cake!

Posted by: scott on September 16, 2004 06:47 PM

Let them eat cake!

Posted by: scott on September 16, 2004 06:50 PM
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Unacceptable

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It is simply not acceptable for any American to:


The Democrats in general, and the Kerry campaign in particular, have done all of these things. As a result, I am going to alter my normal voting pattern in yet another way1: regardless of any other merits, I will not vote for a Democrat for any office - not even local offices - until the national Democrat Party pulls its head out of its ass. Even Democrats I would normally support (Zell Miller, David Boren, Joe Lieberman, some Texas Democrats for State offices) can abandon the Democrats for some other Party or forget it.

1The last alteration was to no longer vote for Libertarians for any Federal office, on the grounds that they oppose defending ourselves abroad.


Comments

The current Democratic challenger sold us and his fellow soldiers out in 1971-72. I really did not believe that he would do it to all of us in 2004.I was wrong. Miller is right.

Posted by: Margaret Holt on September 24, 2004 10:50 AM

Yes. It's past time to take such a stand. It is clear that many Democrats care more about obtaining power than protecting the nation. How has this happened? Does anyone remember the old cold war coalition? It was bipartisan, pro-freedom, and politics stopped at the waters edge. Where are those Democrats? Aside from Joe Liberman, I can't think of anyone in that party I can any longer respect. They are marginalizing themselves. Let's help them. No more votes for Dems.

Posted by: kjo on September 25, 2004 04:12 PM
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Real Life and a Preview

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The posts here recently have been short linking pieces, rather than the analysis that I usually do. Real life (ending my project, moving back to Dallas and starting a new project) intervenes. Coming soon, though, will be an analysis on the state of the world, how the Western Left and the jihadis are spiritually kin, Thomas Barnett's "Pentagon's New Map" theory, how to win the Terror Wars without sparking genocide or inciting the Chinese or Europeans to oppose the US, and ending state-on-state war forever. That's actually all one post, because they are all tied together. Look for it in the next two weeks.


Comments

Hmmm. I can see we've been thinking along similar lines. I just posted a short piece discussing the relationship between the collapse of empire and the struggle in which we find ourselves.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 27, 2004 11:58 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Who?

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Lileks today bleats about a rant by a mainstream journalist about how horrible bloggers are. (Note: not blogs per se, but specifically the people who write them.) I'll leave it to Lileks, Stephen Green - and doubtless a host of others - to pick this apart. I'm just struck by two salient differences between bloggers and mainstream media journalists.

The first difference is that there is no significant difference between Coleman's rant and the many rants that can be found on numerous blogs: it's mildly entertaining and devoid of serious thought. OK, most bloggers who rant put more thought into it than Coleman did, but that's beside the point: the writing in this rant, published in the (Minneapolis-St. Paul) Star Tribune is not notably better than that of many bloggers; nor are the expressed thoughts more original; nor is there any better sourcing (in fact, there's less, because bloggers link). Indeed (pun intended - keep reading), the audience for Coleman's rant would have been smaller than that of any of Glenn Reynolds' tossed-off quick-links, had it not been for the fact that Lileks (whom every blogger except Lileks considers a blogger) linked to it.

The second striking thing about this rant is the notion of identity. To a blogger - even a pseudonymous blogger like Wretchard - identity comes from the contents of our work. How many of my readers (about 1000 uniques per day during the week - it's a small but select group - know me personally? Maybe a dozen? And many of them have blogs, themselves.

By contrast, most journalists are not known by their names. Sure, some columnists are, and there are "journalists" like Dan Rather who are well-known as individuals, but this is not the norm. Most journalists are identified with their news organization. Who's Norm Coleman? Who knows? He's just some guy that writes for the Star Tribune. And rather than being able to see all of his work in one place, so we can judge it as a body and thus be able to trust Norm Coleman as Norm Coleman, we are asked as a matter of course to trust him because some middle management type at some company that publishes a newspaper decided to print his rant, probably with numerous changes which Coleman may or may not have even seen, rather than Coleman being solely responsible for his words. Me? I'd rather trust someone I can judge fairly, and who's responsible for everything published or broadcast under their name.

I don't happen to believe that bloggers can replace the mainstream media. But only in one respect: there's no system to gather and collate facts, which are (theoretically) the basis of all media reports except opinion columns. (I'm trying to figure out how this could be done, but I'm not yet convinced it could be.) What bloggers can and do add to the debate is a mechanism for filtering and fact-checking mainstream media reports, and a good bit of puncturing of over-inflated journalistic egos. Coleman should think about that for a while, but he probably won't.

UPDATE: I just realized I was calling him "Norm Coleman" instead of "Nick Coleman". Not sure if this reinforces my point or his...

UPDATE: It doesn't help mainstream media's credibility any when they write stories in a past tense, filed before the event they were supposedly about. At best, it's just shoddy use of tenses. At worst it's dishonestly posing as being a retrospective article (a statement of facts that have occurred) instead of the speculation (a statement of events scheduled to occur and guesses as to what might happen at the event).


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At best, it's just shoddy use of tenses. At worst it's dishonestly posing as being a retrospective article (a statement of facts that have occurred) instead of the speculation (a statement of events scheduled to occur and guesses as to what might happen at the event).

It's what comes of abandoning the where-what-when-who form that dominated newspaper writing for so long in favor of the narrative form that's in favor now.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on September 30, 2004 05:55 PM

That's a remarkably good point.

Posted by: Jeff on September 30, 2004 07:30 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 8, 2004

The Ultimate Ombudsman

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

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If you want an idea of why the mainstream media denigrates and fears bloggers, look no further than Glenn Reynolds. Bloggers hold the media to a higher standard, the one reporters claim for themselves rather than the one they follow. It's got to drive the reporters nuts.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

September 2, 2004

Trust

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

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Reporting of any kind depends upon trust. If you do not trust a source of information, the information is worthless; and by extension, the source is worthless. For the mainstream media, whose only job is to be trusted source of information, and whose financial health depends upon being a trusted source of information, losing the trust of the public means losing your advertisers and eventually your job and maybe your business.

Trust is built by a history of being right, a willingness to name sources and the credibility of those sources, reference to other trusted sources, including all evidence, and treating stories and audiences with respect. CBS has failed on each count: they have a history of bad reporting, refuse to name their sources for questionable stories or only name questionable sources, denigrate competitors, exclude evidence contradictory to their desired story and assume we're all idiots.

When it comes right down to it, I find I'd trust a blog whose authors I don't otherwise know, such as Powerline, before I would trust CBS, because blogs have no natural credibility: they must source their points and argue believably or they are ignored.

Tactical maneuver is no aid on a nuclear battlefield.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack