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October 24, 2004

Book of the Dead

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Witches celebrate Halloween as Samhain. Samhain, pronounced SA-win or SA-vin, marks the end of harvests with the slaughter of livestock before Winter; the start of the Winter (and Dark) half of the year; and the time of completion, when plans begun in Spring are finished. It is a time of endings, and it is a festival of the dead, where we celebrate those who have gone before us.

This year, our family celebrates the lives of two relatives who passed this year.

Virgie May Walls (nee Medcalf), age 66, my aunt. One of the most musical of a musical family, Virgie was also athletic (she played basketball in high school, in fact) and loving, a most wonderful person.

Kathy Latham, age about 75, Stephanie's grandmother. Kathy was the only great-grandparent who survived long enough for our kids to meet her. We went to Alabama in the Spring, where her children, grand-children, and great grandchildren had all gathered for a week.

They are both missed.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 23, 2004

Map-Reading Issues

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Dave Schuler at the Glittering Eye has two posts on Barnett's Pentagon's New Map, here and here. I have, actually, similar issues with Barnett's theory. Essentially, it is a great briefing, with a core of real truth, that misses my vision of what's happening in the world by a very, very small amount. Here is the core of Dave's take on it:

The problem with this definition is that it doesn't fit at least three of the putative members of the Core: Russia, China, and India. And these three members constitute, what, half of the human race? Commenter Mark Safranski [ed note: ZenPundit] makes an interesting distinction between New Core and Core at large. In other words, new Core members that aren't yet fully integrated and Core members that are integrated. The implication of this is that Core and Gap aren't distinct categories but constitute a spectrum of connectivity with differing degrees of Core-ness and Gap-ness.

I guess I still don't find that too helpful. What I'm looking for is a decision process. I feed you a set of economic, legal, social, or whatever characteristics of an unnamed country and you tell me whether the country with those features is in the Core or the Gap. Without such a decision process all you have is a denotation of the Gap. They're a collection of countries that are in the Gap because they're in the Gap. And without such a decision process there's no real way of determining how countries now part of the Gap can be incorporated into the Core.


Barnett defines the Core countries as those that are globalised or globalising. The Gap countries are those that are disconnected and not connecting. So, Haiti and Saudi Arabia are like each other because they are not connected in any meaningful way to the rest of the world, while China and India are unlike those countries because they have extensive trade connections, population flows (mostly temporary in both cases, but some permanent migration from India and a little from China), and so forth.

Within the Core, state-on-state war has been made unthinkable. For most Core nations with causes for war with each other, there is a nuclear deterrent effect (which is why I'm glad India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, so long as Pakistan is ruled by a sane and forward-looking ruler). But for the vast majority of Core nations, there's simply no remaining basis for war. What, for example, would England and France fight about, that they couldn't get easier and cheaper by trade or negotiation, or couldn't simply live with? Thus the Core is inherently stable and free of open warfare, though certainly not of conflict. The ordering principle, then, is to bring states into the Core, to shrink the Gap.

However, these definitions of Core and Gap were actually backed into. What Barnett did was to take all of the places where the US had been involved in post-Cold War conflicts, and draw a line around them. Hmmm, he noted from similarity to earlier work on a different project, the areas inside that line are exactly the ones which are not globalising. Brilliant insight, and very useful. But since Barnett was searching for the killer one-page picture to get across a complex idea, the PNM has some oddnesses. Israel is in the Gap. North Korea is not. That's simply not a rational way to divide the world.

So there are some real strengths to PNM in predicting where conflict will likely break out, as long as some oddnesses are taken into account. But there is a deeper flaw in PNM as a theory of organizing the current conflict: it only incorporates a part of the conflict. In addition to the open and covert warfare between the Coalition and the jihadis, there is a conflict within the West, between those who seek to strengthen and defend the West, and those who wish the West to fail utterly and fall sufficiently into ruin that they would be put into power as an act of desperation.

This group does not have a formal name, unless you count perhaps "anti-globalization", which is a simplification. In fact, this group consists of a wide variety of different organizations, from anarchists to transnational progressivists to unreformed Stalinists to neo-Malthusians to neo-Luddites to anti-capitalists. In effect, it is the furthest of the extremist Left.

Now, this group, which I tend to think of as the "anti-Enlightenment Left", is not inherently dangerous. What makes them dangerous is that their arguments are generally couched in language designed to appeal to the moderate Left sympathies, and it does so successfully. Saying that you want Saddam to remain in power because the alternative is likely to be a free democracy is not a winning argument, while saying that Iraq is a sovereign country and as long as it hasn't attacked someone outside Iraq we have no cause to attack Saddam can be a winning argument; it's certainly more palatable. Because the extreme Left can use rhetoric (particularly in an age where many Leftists have been intellectually reared on Chomsky and Derrida) to push the moderate Left to support or oppose actions in ways which sound good (fairness is a common argument for example) but which actually destroy the underpinnings of the West in general, and the US in particular. In order for these groups to gain power, individualism in particular must fall, and with it must fall capitalism and the supporting doctrines (like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness) that empower individuals.

Note the similarity to terrorism. Absent state sponsorship, terrorism is not particularly threatening, because the terrorist cells are small and incapable of the sophisticated planning and training that is necessary to carry out mass-casualty attacks. But the jihadis are able to appeal to more moderate Muslims, with arguments about Israel, memories of colonial domination, and appeals to certain aspects of Islam (such as doctrines about women and non-Muslims and their respective rights). These arguments carry enough weight that it is relatively simple for jihadis to get shelter, concealment, aid, comfort, time and space to operate, and various other benefits (including propaganda) from Muslims who themselves actually disapprove of the methods of the jihadis, but not their cause.

But Barnett's theory is a theory of states. If a state is globalising, there's no threat to drive the military's organization or use. PNM gives insufficient guidance to how to approach non-State threats, both the subversive elements of the West (the anti-Enlightenment Left) and the jihadis. And there is a commonality between them. There are reasons why Pat Buchanan (not a Leftists, but a populist neo-Malthusian nonetheless) sounds like Ralph Nader, and why both of them sound like Ayman al Zawahiri in their ideas of how the world works.

But you won't find the answer on a map.

I have been thinking a lot about this, and reading a lot (including Barnett, Tommy Franks' American Soldier, and The Lexus and the Olive Tree (an excellent look at globalization), and I have an operating theory of how the world works, and some ideas of what we need to do in response to the changed world we live in. As soon as I can convince myself that the fact that the way to deal with the world if I am right happens to correspond well to my preferences of how to deal with the world anyway, which were formed during the Cold War, does not mean that I am trying to form a theory which merely fits my preferences, I'll have a longer post on the topic.

I will leave you with this question, though: how do you convince an ideologue that he is wrong?


Comments

Excellent post, Jeff. It's really remarkable how you and I are tracking on this. I'm just finished up the book version of PNM and working on a more complete commentary post. I think there's another way of looking at the anti-Core integration forces that neither you nor Barnett have considered. Until I've got that post written here's another way of considering the same question as you examine in this post. What's the unit of measure for membership in the Core? The state? The ethnic group? The town? The block? The individual? It's not a trivial question since it lies at the root of quite a few of the problems in the world today.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on October 17, 2004 05:52 PM

And I'll answer your question: you don't convince an ideologue. You neutralize him.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on October 17, 2004 05:55 PM

I think we are tracking very closely, and it's fun from my side to watch. The answer you gave is the same as I would make: some people you can't convince, you just have to kill them to stop them. And your hint about the level of entity that constitutes the Core or Gap is also along the way that I'm thinking: states are important, but they're not uniquely important.

I'm starting to think that you and I and Mark Safranski should write a book...

Posted by: Jeff on October 17, 2004 08:08 PM

Great insights, especially the labelling of the hard left and the connection between how they operate and the infowar tactics of the jihadis. As to convincing the ideolouge, remember "You can't reason a man out of something he wasn't reasoned into."

Posted by: nemesisenforcer on October 18, 2004 01:57 AM

Ah, writing a book would be fun !

TM Lutas had an excellent PNM related concept - " implicit villain " for the residents of the Core who align themselves to support ( directly and indirectly as Jeff outlined very well today) the "Gatekeepers" in the Gap like Saddam.

And some of these folks aren't ideologues - they are simply corrupt.

Posted by: mark safranski on October 19, 2004 12:00 AM

how do you convince an ideologue that he is wrong? Slap him in the face with a trout..SMACK!

Posted by: Beech on October 19, 2004 09:05 PM

It takes a long time to convince an idealogue. Typically, you and he will have very different starting assumptions. As these are the axioms of his argument, they are the foundation of his logic, and inherently unprovable. Therefore you cannot reason him out of them.

So you have to set up thought experiments. You have to divorce your logic from his reality: i.e. you must enforce a new set of axioms for him to use, and follow the logic to new (for him) conclusions. This would never work if it were a real argument about the world; it must be couched as a thought experiment.

Over time, with enough thought experiments and appropriate starting axioms, a light might go on somewhere.

Now, of course, you have not convinced him of anything, you've just broken his world view. I can't imagine this line of reasoning working in normal circumstances. It is far to intensive and time consuming for each individual idealogue.

PS

Posted by: Storminator on October 24, 2004 09:08 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Yearning for the Mud

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John Kerry stands for nothing but election. Gerard van der Leun, in one of the most powerful essays of this political year, explains why.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 22, 2004

They told us we were shooting a Greenpeace commercial!

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Clearly, I don't agree with the message here, but it's absolutely hilarious. It's a shame that Kerry supporters don't take themselves less seriously more often. Heck, it's a shame that most people in politics don't take themselves less seriously more often. (hat tip: The Wild Hunt)


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

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Francis Porretto takes on comments by Rosie O'Donnell. If that's not the biggest rhetorical overmatch in years, I don't know what would top it.


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Well, yeah, but I did try to be gentle!

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto on October 26, 2004 04:48 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Castro's Fall

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Not being a fan of the State Department for various reasons, it is rare for me to praise one of their officials. (Actually, that's backwards: if I had more occasions to praise its officials, I'd likely be more of a fan of the State Department.) Anyway, here's a praiseworthy excerpt from Richard Boucher:

QUESTION: Did you hear that Castro fell?

MR. BOUCHER: We heard that Castro fell. There are, I think, various reports that he broke a leg, an arm, a foot, and other things, and I'd guess you'd have to check with the Cubans to find out what's broken about Mr. Castro. We, obviously, have expressed our views about what's broken in Cuba.

QUESTION: Do you wish him a speedy recovery?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

QUESTION: No? Do you wish him a speedy demise?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave the man's health alone. I think our view --

QUESTION: Would you have preferred that his injuries be more life threatening? (Laughter.) People have come out, including your former boss --

MR. BOUCHER: I know.

QUESTION: -- and said things like, well, we hope the actuarial tables catch up with Mr. Castro. Are you disappointed that he wasn't more seriously wounded?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to express that kind of disappointment. I think, you know, the events speak for themselves. The situation in Cuban is of our primary concern. The situation of Mr. Castro is of little concern to us, but unfortunately of enormous importance to the people of Cuba, who have suffered very long under his rule. And we think that the kind of rule that Cuba has had should be ended.

QUESTION: Do you think if he stepped aside -- that's an "if" question, of course -- whoever succeeds him would provide any policy more to the U.S.'s liking than Castro has?

MR. BOUCHER: It would be highly speculative for me to say that at this point, except to note that we do think the people of Cuba deserve democracy. They, like everybody else in the world, deserve a chance to choose their own fate and future, and that the Secretary of State co-chaired an effort on behalf of this Administration last year to identify what we can do to hasten that day and what we can do when that day comes to support the people of Cuba, as they have found their own democracy, which is something we have strong confidence that they will someday be able to do.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 17, 2004

Criticise This

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The Stryker gets a lot of grief, due to its light armor and weaponry, its size and any number of other factors. Traditional armor guys seem to think that up-armored M113s would do a better job at the role Strykers are designed to fill. The biggest criticism, bar none, has been with the armor protection and survivability of the platform. This kind of incident should put paid to those particular criticisms. While Strykers can be destroyed, like any vehicle, they are a lot more survivable than initially believed.

It seems to me that Stryker does what it is supposed to do: offer reasonably survivable transport and fire support to light units, allowing the military to deploy more firepower faster than it could otherwise. Perhaps it could be improved, but we'd be better off looking at how it could be improved than just throwing up our hands and saying no, no, no.

UPDATE (10/14): StrategyPage has more.


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You wrote:

It seems to me that Stryker does what it is supposed to do: offer reasonably survivable transport and fire support to light units, allowing the military to deploy more firepower faster than it could otherwise. Perhaps it could be improved, but we'd be better off looking at how it could be improved than just throwing up our hands and saying no, no, no.


The Stryker has been deployed to Iraq in a way to play up to its strengths; it's mainly used to patrol urban areas and isn't being put in the sorts of situations where a traditional tracked vehicle might be put.

This is all well and good, but if the US winds up going to war with Iran in the future, and the Strykers have to move from the cities into the mountains in the border areas of Iran, they might be at a strong disadvantage compared to more traditional tracked vehicles.

Also, the "rapidly deployable" comment you made: is it really any more deployable than a Bradley, if it can't fly on the C-130 (and I've seen comments from people working for the Air force to this effect), and can only fly two to a C-17, the same number as the Bradley?

(Although a caveat: Whether the "medium" force in question is equipped with modernized variants of the M113, the Stryker, the Marines' LAV, or some sort of shrunken Bradley, it may be transported by air, but it probably isn't going to be kept in ammo, fuel, and spare parts by air.)

Posted by: Phil Fraering on October 15, 2004 08:47 PM

Ack, I meant to say "in a way that plays up to its strengths." Which may be the right thing to do...

You might also find this interesting; I ran across it while trying in vain to find the dimensions of the Stryker MGS variant:

http://www.murdoconline.net/archives/001034.html

Posted by: Phil Fraering on October 15, 2004 08:54 PM

I think we should have taken a good, hard look at the BTR-80. I mean a US version, with real armor, no turret, but keep the big nobby tires... I mean, the F-15 was designed by fighter pilots, the M1 was designed by tankers, the stryker was not designed by infantrymen.

I once had a .50 cal ring mount that had a guided missle launcher tandem with the gun. It was cool...
I still like big nobby tires.

Posted by: Beech on October 19, 2004 09:18 PM

OK, I just looked at the picture. I will just say this... I still dont like it. So there. ;p

Posted by: beech on October 19, 2004 09:33 PM

I don't think the Stryker is perfect, by any means. I do think it's a good deal better than it's frequently given credit for. You should write up a post on the topic. You do have an account, after all.

Posted by: Jeff on October 19, 2004 10:51 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 16, 2004

Chica-GO

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Well, our time in Chicago is coming to an end, after 9 months. I will dearly miss it. Steph tells why (more here). It's odd: I've never liked cities; I've always preferred the country, even to suburbs. Yet here I am in the heart of one of the largest US cities, and I love it.

There are more green spaces here than in Dallas, and the presence of the lake means a lot of fountains. There are more parks in a smaller area than in Dallas. You can live downtown here: there are restaurants, places to buy things (everything from Sears to specialty boutiques - no Wal Mart or Target stores, though, downtown), universities, museums, a zoo, Wrigley Field and more and more and more - all within a relatively small area, that you can easily get around walking or taking the very safe and convenient public transportation. It's as if all of the good attractions of the DFW area were crammed into an area the size of DFW airport.

And the weather is much, much better.

I'm going to miss Chicago.


Comments

That's funny, I moved down to Dallas from up there, and while Chitown is nice, I would NEVER say:
"And the weather is much, much better". I dont miss that part of the Midwest at all....

Posted by: Oscar on October 6, 2004 08:16 PM

The weather is BETTER? In CHICAGO? C'mon!!

Posted by: belml on October 7, 2004 10:52 AM

We had an unusually mild winter last winter. And we had a California summer. So Jeff really lucked out. IMO the only place that has consistently worse weather in the country that we do in Chicago is the Texas panhandle.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on October 7, 2004 11:14 AM

Dave - got it in one! There was a C&W song popular years ago "Happiness is Lubbock Texas in the Rear View Mirror." And weather is a big part of it.

Posted by: Oscar on October 7, 2004 02:33 PM

You, Steph and my husband love the weather in the midwest.

Egad.

I like it fine here. In fact, if I never see snow again, I would be perfectly happy. Perfectly.

Posted by: Susie on October 8, 2004 06:18 PM

No, really! In TX, the crappy weather is from heat, and lasts 8 months. In Chicago, the crappy weather is from cold, and lasts about 4 months. You can always put on more clothes to get warm, but there's a limit to what you can remove to cool down.

Posted by: Jeff on October 8, 2004 08:08 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Take a Hefty Dose of Perspective

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This just infuriates me. Now some Wiccans are going the way of some Christians, and decrying Halloween celebrations and decorations because of their religion. Fantastic! Great! Lovely!

Look, I can understand: if you don't have a healthy and balanced view of yourself or your religion, any kind of stereotypical depiction is going to drive you nuts. But the answer to that is to develop a healthy and balanced view of yourself and your religion, not to get up in arms over someone else's celebration.

People are not going to suddenly start having huge bonfires, roasting pigs, and dancing to the glory of the Old Ones just because some school - or even all schools - stops putting up plastic hook-nosed hags. This isn't the Burning Times, and we need to not act as if it is. If we do, what will we say to anyone when the real Witch burners - and yes, there still are some who would happily burn Witches - come for us?


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It's part of the culture of outrage. Rather than majority rule we have “rule by the outraged”—whoever is the most outraged gets their way. Now that's a formula for civility.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on October 22, 2004 05:35 PM

Culture of outrage is getting closer and closer to mob rule. We have abandoned our Republican roots in the name of Democracy and it's having a bad impact.

Posted by: Mark L on October 22, 2004 06:34 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

A Hopefully-Temporary Condition

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Usama bin Laden appears to be more alive than I'd hoped, but about what I'd expected. Hopefully this condition will be temporary.

Interesting that he hasn't changed his appearance. This means that he is probably in what he considers a safe area, which would just about have to be Iran or his tribal area in Saudi Arabia at this point.


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Or, given the state of our boreder security, the Aladdin in Las Vegas.

Posted by: Tony Iovino on October 30, 2004 09:46 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

Systemic Contempt

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Stephen Green expresses, better than I myself could, why Democrats have lost my vote for anything until they reform themselves. Please read; it's important.

I still think that we'd be better off as a country if we pulled so much power away from the Federal government that national elections went back to being personally meaningless, but I guess I'd settle for us all at least following the general rules.


Comments

Facing my first election in Texas it's not hard to avoid voting for a Dem. My problem is it looks like I may wind up voting a straight Republican ticket and I don't like the Reps enough to be happy with that. Know any Libertarians who deserve a vote?

Posted by: Karl Gallagher on October 14, 2004 04:02 PM

Why does no one protest the efforts, mostly "legal" in states where the democrats control the government, to keep Nader off the ballot.

I always thought America was a country where anyone could become president. But if Nader cant even get on the bsllot, then no one can.

I personally hate Nader but I feel the essence of democracy is choice. Anyone who limits our choice for no other reason than to build his own power commits lese majestie and is an enemy of democracy.

This is one more example of how the democratic party is trying to destroy our nation.

Posted by: sol vason on October 15, 2004 02:14 PM

Karl, I'm sadly out of touch locally. I need to educate myself fairly quickly though, especially since I'll need to vote early because I'll be out of state on election day.

Sol, I do despise the Democrat efforts to keep Nader off the ballot. I don't want Nader anywhere near the Presidency, but I want that to be fairly done. On the other hand, there will be no fairness in elections until the major parties have the exact same funding rules and ballot access requirements as everyone else.

Posted by: Jeff on October 15, 2004 03:58 PM

A good observation, Jeff. Frederic Bastiat said as much: "If the law were restricted to protecting all persons, all liberties, and all properties, is it not clear that those who vote could not inconvenience those who cannot vote?" (from The Law)

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto on October 15, 2004 08:07 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 12, 2004

ABC Joins Newsweek and CBS

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and, let's face it, the vast majority of the mainstream media. In what? Deliberately slanting news to influence the election. Ed Murrow is indeed turning over in his grave.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

Let's Try Freedom

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I discovered Bob Hayes's "Let's Try Freedom" blog after getting an email from him. An excellent blog, of which the most interesting recent posts include:

A reminder of a citizen's responsibilities to defend their Republic. This is a point that cannot be made too often, and one of President Bush's greatest failings in my eyes is that he is too government-oriented to have made or to make a call for citizen participation in our collective defense. Glenn Reynolds calls this idea "a pack, not a herd." Reynolds gives as an example of this philosophy the perfect case of the ball dropped: the Washington, DC snipers. Why did the mayor or the governor not call out the militia? This was the perfect time and place for it. And as Hayes notes, it is our responsibility as citizens to take on these burdens for our own and the common good.

A reason why he switched from pro-choice to anti-abortion. On a moral level I agree with him here, and in fact have flipped my position on abortion in the same way, and for similar reasons. On a political level, though, if we can't have a political debate and come to a reasonable compromise (and we cannot do so as long as the Supreme Court mandates a solution and everyone else accepts that solution), I would rather the Federal government be kept completely away from abortion, than have the Federal government able to mandate a single nationwide policy.

A four-part defense of the electoral college here, here, here and here.

A rather unconventional take on the proper behavior of hostages in Iraq. It's one I happen to agree with: if you're captured, fight. At least don't give them the propaganda.

Definitely a new addition to the blogroll.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

The Pagan Case for Re-Electing President Bush

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Beliefnet is going to have two writers make the Pagan cases for the election of John Kerry and the re-election of George Bush. I would like to address the latter here.

It is difficult to make a generic Pagan case for voting for any candidate for office: Wicca is as different from Greek Reconstructionism (both Pagan religions) as Mormonism is from Wahabbist Islam (both Abrahamic religions). Different Pagan groups differ widely in their beliefs and morality, and thus on what issues are of import to them. For example, while Wiccans are extraordinarily concerned with the environment, this is hardly the case for Greek Reconstructionists. While I believe that George Bush's environmental record is actually quite good, when examined rather than blindly railed against, discussing the issue in detail is only of merit to a subset of Pagans.

There is one issue that is important for all Pagans: separation of church from State. On this issue, I believe that George Bush - who after all once said that he did not think Witchcraft was actually a religion - is easily portrayed in scary tones, but actually not at all dangerous. Why is this? Because President Bush believes in individual Liberty.

If the government has the power to regulate group social interactions (which is a characteristic policy position of collectivists), then the government's position on religion is dangerous: the government can determine which religions are valid and which are not, and can thus restrict religious freedom. But if government does not have the power to regulate group social interactions, then the government's position is irrelevant: the government cannot prohibit your exercise of religion, nor compel you to belong to a particular religion.

While you might think that the fact that the Constitutional language on religion is clear, the government has over the last 75 years taken to ignoring the Constitution regularly. For example, who could interpret "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" to mean that it is OK for Congress to make a law restricting the ability of citizens to advertise in support of or opposition to a particular candidate for public office? Recently, the Supreme Court did just that.

The practical upshot of this is that whomever holds power in the Federal government - and in particular the President and the majority leaders of both Congressional chambers - by and large determines the degree to which individual Liberty is upheld. While the President made a terrible error in signing McCain-Feingold, he has so far steered far away from interfering in religious issues, and is likely to continue to do so.

While Senator Kerry is not particularly a believer in individual Liberties, preferring the betterment of society as a whole, under his "benign" management, it is also true that Senator Kerry is quite unlikely to support any position that would restrict Pagan practices. (Always assuming, of course, that such a position wouldn't confer immediate political benefits to the Senator.)

So if neither President Bush nor Senator Kerry is likely to prohibit, restrict or regulate Pagan practices, and if Pagan beliefs are so divergent as to prohibit a single Pagan view of whose policies would be better, on what basis is a Pagan to choose their candidate for President?

We are not only Pagans, but Americans. As Americans, we are targeted by the jihadis for murder (actually, this is worse for Pagans, because what slim hopes of mercy a "person of the book" might have are nonexistent for Pagans). Who would do a better job of protecting us against the jihadis?

During the Clinton administration, we were attacked in 1993 at the World Trade Center, in 1995 and 1996 in Saudi Arabia, in 1998 at two of our African embassies, and in 2000 in Yemen. Our response to these attacks was sufficiently underwhelming that Osama bin Laden decided America would surrender to al Qaeda if only we were hit hard enough in America. The result of that limp response was 9/11. There has not been a successful terrorist attack in the United States in three years, despite repeated attempts. John Kerry wants to return to the pre-9/11 policy of treating terrorism as a crime, rather than an act of war.

We are not only Pagans, but parents. As parents, we are concerned about the safety of the community; we are concerned about the quality of our children's education and our ability to choose their educational course. Who will do a better job of providing our kids with a safe community and an accountable educational system?

The Democrats want to extend voting rights to felons. How will they secure our communities while coddling criminals? The Democrats are in the pocket of the teachers' unions, and oppose not only school choice and homeschooling, but even such minimal measures as accountable teachers and schools! How then can we trust the Democrats with our children's education? By contrast, the Republicans generally support homeschooling, have been trying very hard to get school choice programs in place, and have been the primary proponents of No Child Left Behind, which (while flawed in some ways) has been the most effective program yet devised to improve public education within its current structure.

We are not only Pagans, but taxpayers. We want to be sure that money we earn, we keep. We want to be sure that the government can do those things only government can do (such as providing for the common defense), and that beyond that government does not act. We want to control our own charitable giving, not to have money forcibly taken from us and given to others without our ability to control or direct the use of that money. Who will do a better job of ensuring that we keep as much of our money as possible?

President Bush has obtained four tax cuts in four years. Senator Kerry promises to raise taxes. President Bush believes that money we earn is ours, and Federal funding should be limited. Senator Kerry believes that the government should have the unilateral right to take as much money from us as it needs, in order to fund an ever-expanding list of handouts, many intended primarily as vote-buying schemes for his Party.

We are not only Pagans, but consumers. We want to be able to get the things we need of the quality we want at the lowest possible price. Who will best ensure that our economy works as efficiently as possible?

Senator Kerry believes in protectionism to aid the favored few. President Bush believes in free trade to benefit everyone. Senator Kerry rails against outsourcing as if jobs were a zero-sum game. President Bush praises economic efficiencies gained by moving unproductive and low-paying work to places where it can be done better and cheaper (and in the process, raising the average wages of the countries to which those jobs are outsourced as well as getting us cheaper goods, so that our money goes further). Senator Kerry thinks we are (or should be?) working in below-minimum wage industrial sweatshops. President Bush promotes the high-paying information economy.

I don't believe that President Bush is perfect, not by a long way. But I do believe that as Pagans, and Americans, and parents, and taxpayers, and consumers, that we will be much better served by four more years of President Bush's careful stewardship, than by four years of John Kerry's active misrule. And I do know that in this election, I will be voting for George Bush.


Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 11, 2004

Heh

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John Hawkins has posted a basic guide to computer maintenance. Since he explicitly refused to consider Mac maintenance in this, I'll do it for him.

1) Get a Mac
2) If you have a problem, and you can't solve it by quitting and restarting apps, reboot
3) In the remarkable situation that you still have a problem, reinstall the OS. Yes, over the existing OS. No, it won't kill your programs; Windows does that, but not Mac. It should take about 20 minutes.
4) Oh, and his tips on spam are fine. Those work for Mac users, too.


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Perfect!

Posted by: beloml on October 6, 2004 10:03 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 9, 2004

Too Much Not Enough Involved

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Expat Yank makes a fine point that I've thought about myself from time to time: even if the US were to go isolationist and pull back its forces from around the world, it would not be sufficient to silence America's critics. After all, keep in mind what Bush was criticized for in his foreign policy before 9/11: disengagement from the world. President Bush on assuming office began to pull the US out of the toughest situations abroad, declaiming any "peacekeeping" role, and in particular utterly rejecting the concept of "nation building".

Yet we were not praised for our farsighted wisdom in letting others do what they want, but were instead derided for disengagement. Even now, when we are engaged broadly in the Middle East and (lesser known) Africa and Asia, we are criticised for not being in the middle of the Israeli/Palestinian problem, and for not having already solved every problem in sub-Saharan Africa, and for ignoring any number of problems in the world. And at the same time we are castigated for being too involved in the world, for taking on problems that should be left alone.

It comes down to this, and this alone: anti-Americanism is no more rational than anti-Semitism, and nothing that the US can do or not do will silence our critics. John Kerry can make, should he be elected, any policy changes he wants, and our critics at home and abroad will smile as they stick the knife in, rather than frowning as they stick the knife in. This actually is very liberating: we can take the actions we need to take to defend ourselves, to remake the world, and to help our allies, and the volume and vituperativeness of the criticism will not change. Effectively, we are immune to criticism on foreign policy, so long as we remember that our critics are responding to our existence and our status, not our actions.


Comments

Jeff, that's not the half of it. You might want to check my post "Jacksonians, Hamiltonians, and Wilsonians at War". American hard power has two components: military power and economic power. Even if the U. S. were to remove itself from the world militarily, her economic power would remain. And if we were to reduce our economic presence (we can't eliminate it—we're the largest trading country in the world), American soft power—making people want what you want and the power to set the agenda—would still remain.

It was American soft power that Qutub warned of. And it's a power we just can't abrogate.

Posted by: Dave Schuler on October 2, 2004 05:53 PM

It is not liberating if you don't believe it, and I am sure Kerry and many of his ilk don't believe it. For them it is very crippling: they keep trying harder to no effect.

Posted by: Oscar on October 4, 2004 12:20 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

More Government School Issues

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Francis Porretto presents two interesting vignettes on government schooling. The first points to an article about Virginia schools teaching about Islam. While the article is a bit overwrought, it strikes me as interesting that any hint of Christianity or Judaism in the schools is utterly forbidden, while Islam is somehow a fit subject for study. Not very consistent that.

The second points out the motivations behind public schooling, and the obvious places it leads. Basically, given that schools and bureaucracies are both inherently authoritarian, schools tend to promote statism. Not a difficult leap, there, but it's probably true that not many people have thought about the connection.

I told Stephanie just last night that it seems to me that as we've increased schooling in this country, we've actually ended up decreasing education, with the peak probably having come some time between about 1910 and 1940. Since WWII in particular, the tendency of schools to engage in faddish behavior, combined with the Gramscian "long march through the institutions" that began in the 1960s, has led to a dramatic drop-off in academic standards and performance, combined (not coincidentally) with a rise in politicization of and activism in the classroom.

Yet more reasons why my children will never attend a public school.


Comments

It is sad that schools no longer teach a whole lot. Mostly either PC crap or 'learn how to pass a test so I get my raise/bonus/etc...' All the more reason why we homeschool.

Posted by: Crusader on October 20, 2004 10:48 AM

Yep, mine neither. I had quite enough when I was there, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: Jay Solo on October 20, 2004 11:55 AM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

October 1, 2004

Iraq So Far

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Wizbang provides a summary of Iraq so far, starting before the invasion and continuing until now. The summary is comprehensive and well-written, and a worthwhile big-picture antidote to the sensation-seeking coverage of most media and the frankly dishonest sloganeering of the Kerry campaign and its allies. While the piece has some flaws, such as not discussing the success of the US in hunting down former regime leaders or to discuss the problem of finding Iraq's stockpiles of weapons dispersed throughout Iraq before the war, that should not detract from the achievement. For a one-stop discussion of the case for war that Bush actually made (broader and deeper than the media and the Kerry campaign credit), the pre-war situation, the effect of Turkey's refusal to allow 4ID to attack through Turkey into northern Iraq, the looting and options available at the time to stop it, disasters predicted but avoided, the beginning of the insurgency and the efforts to combat the insurgency to date, this is the best place to go that I have yet found.


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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

You Get What You Vote For

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I'm hearing a lot of people lately "reasoning" that Kerry will be just fine, because he "can't afford" to pull out of Iraq, "knows better" than to do so, or some other claptrap. I just have this to say: if John Kerry is elected president, it will be my fondest hope that he has noble goals for America and succeeds - particularly that he succeeds in defeating terrorism and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to terror-supporting states.

But, and this is a rather large "but", I don't expect it. When Bill Clinton was running for President in 1992, it was obvious to anyone paying attention that he was a relentlessly self-obsessed womanizer and a compulsive liar. Whether or not you think he was a useful or effective president, it's pretty hard to deny he's exactly what he seemed like during the campaign.

Similarly, Kerry has been quite consistent on a few points of both policy and character. A Kerry administration would shrink from conflict where America's interests were at stake, would abandon our coalition partners and suck up to the French and Germans instead, and would give the UN an effective veto over US foreign policy. Kerry would shrink the military, stop or dramatically slow procurement of new weapons and equipment, hobble our intelligence services, allow Iran to get nuclear weapons and quite probably withdraw from Iraq before actually securing a victory there. Kerry would always choose bigger government and higher taxes over all other considerations, and would do his best to enact the most Leftist agenda ever attempted by a president. All the while, he would smugly enthuse about how all of us proles just don't understand his intelligence and nuance. Kerry will claim that everything good is his doing, personally, and everything bad is the failure of some underling or political opponent.

Go ahead and vote for him if you think that's best, but don't go acting all surprised later.


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We've already seen what a quagmire Bush got us into.

Posted by: on November 1, 2004 01:26 PM

My guess is that the "quagmire" in Iraq today is like the "homeless problem" in the US in 1992: as soon as the election is over, it's going to stop being a quagmire and we will suddenly start to see what's really happening. (Right now, that view is barely available through the mainstream media organizations, and you largely have to look at what Iraqis and coalition troops are saying to get anything other than doom and gloom.) Once the election's over, the issue no longer matters as much to the press, and will recede in importance and coverage. This is particularly true if John Kerry wins, in which case the media will declare that the violence suddenly ramped down because Kerry won.

Eh, wake me when it's over.

Posted by: Jeff on November 1, 2004 02:20 PM

The only quagmire I've seen lately is in the main stream media...

Posted by: Bart on November 2, 2004 03:48 PM
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Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack