Saturday, November 29, 2003

When Anger Trumps Morals

I thought about Joe's post: Politics Trumps Morals referenced below. For lots of folks, I think it is not so much politics that trumps morals, it is anger about politics. When you are still blind with rage over Bush v. Gore (or Clinton v. Lewinsky) you can't see your own behavior rationally enough to avoid immorality.

To test this, image some policital event which would really enrage you, then imagine your reaction. Does immorality emerge?

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Nov 30

From BaySense, a post called, About BaySense (first post) which describes the blogs aims, to whit, a critique of the environmental movement by an insider.

From Joe's Thoughts, a post called Politics Trumps Morals, which advocates elevating ones morals above ones politics.

I Cried Too

This letter from a daughter to her father made me cry. Via a geek with a .45 post called Tears.

An Amusing Nobel Laureate

Via geek with a .45 meet the very amusing Dr. Kary Mullis. He really is a stitch. And don't miss the docto's web site.

The League of Liberals Games The Ecosystem

N.Z. Bear complains that some members of the League of Liberals are gaming the Ecosystem to improve their rankings. No, that's too obvious. I better not say that either. Gee it would be fun to say that but it's only true in a few sad cases. Better not say that, my side was caught doing it too....

Seriously, at least two members of the League are also very unhappy about this. This post was updated to reflect their displeasure. See the comments to N.Z. Bear's post as well as this.

So What Do The Iraqis Really Think About Bush's Visit

The Kansas City Star leads with this headline, BUSH DRAWS IRE, PRAISE FROM IRAQIS. Rascally registration required. Remarkably, they don't actually give any quotes which demonstrate praise. First Iraqi quote:
“He came for only two hours. He didn't see how the Iraqis are living and suffering,” said Fatima Star, 38, a housewife. “He doesn't care about the Iraqi people. He only cares about his troops.”
Second Iraqi quote:
“He wants to gain political favor from people in the United States before the elections,” said Mathil Aziz, 26, a teacher. “He cares more about his own personal interest than the Iraqi people.”
The third Iraqi quote was presented after a positive paragraph:
Others welcomed Bush's visit as a sign that he and the United States remain committed to reconstructing Iraq, even as suicide bombers and guerrillas kill American soldiers on a near-daily basis.

“Maybe the security situation will get better now,” said Haider Khadim, 29, a tailor.

Khadim and other Iraqis said, however, that they wished Bush had addressed the Iraqi people separately. Like the U.S. soldiers, Iraqis also need their morale boosted, they said.

“The U.S. Army has many leaders,” said Khadim. “But we don't have any leaders. We don't have anyone to follow. He should have given a speech to the Iraqi people, not just the American soldiers.”
Fourth Iraqi quote:
“Bush's visit to Iraq was a big illusion,” he said, sitting at an outdoor cafe with his wife. “No Iraqi should welcome him because there's no improvement in our society. Whether he came or not, we're still in a bad situation.”
Fifth Iraqi quote:
“American forces should stay here now,” yelled Aziz Al Yasseri, one of the rally's leaders, into a megaphone. “If they leave, who will take the responsibility for going after the terrorists?”
Only Clinton quote:
“I'm a big believer that we ought to internationalize this, but it will take a big change in our administration's thinking,” the former first lady said. “I don't see that it's forthcoming.”
I wonder what the Star News Services actually sent. Why does the headline promise praise and the body not deliver? I hope Bill Dennis at The Peoria Pundit reads this. I bet he can explain how this came about.

Instapundit notes positive Iraqi feedback.

Instapundit also has some praise for Senator Clinton.

Where Are Our Courageous Legislators?

Francis W. Poretto wishes we would get legislators with some courage, and explains why we need them. Be sure and click on the links, especially the second one.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Thanksgiving Remembrances From Our Curmudgeon

Francis W. Porretto remembers a Thanksgiving past in ways funny, philosophical, thankful and wise. My wife and my mom also liked this post. Mom says you could turn pro if you want to, Francis.

The Press Comes Through

My hometown paper, The Kansas City Star, had a section yesterday called Rebuilding Iraq. Thanks, folks! Can't find it on the web yet. I may have more later, post shopping.

The Fountain of Youth Is Shaped Like A Diamond

Francis is not the only great writer I read. Take a gander at Joe Posnanski's Thanksgiving Day column to find out how to be young again. Registration (darn it) required

We've Saved 13000 Lives In Iraq So Far

Bill Whittle does the math. We must stay in Iraq until the job is done. If we cut and run, we are encouraging attacks on American ships, embassies and even our soil. Ducking out on Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia taught our enemies to wait us out and take advantage of the bias in our press and our leader's lack of backbone. 9/11 was the direct result of our dishonorable actions in those places. Don't go unless you plan to win.

People, Not Policy

From the comment thread on this post on zero tolerence (scroll down a little) by the geek with a .45, I explained why I don't like laws:
Laws, processes, procedures, policies and regulations do not have brains. Students, teachers, principles, judges and parents have brains. Zero tolerence policies place people with brains in the service of objects without brains. This can't produce good results.
But the geek, in an excellent analysis, explains how laws should be used:
The way I explain it is that a policy/procedure or procedure AT BEST can be an IMPLEMENTATION of a PRINCIPLE that makes sense in a given CONTEXT to effect a desired OUTCOME.

The moment the context shifts, the policy/procedure is no longer valid, and the outcome is likely to be perverse.

On the other hand, a well founded PRINCIPLE can be applied to ANY context, and only beings imbued with sentience and good judgement are capable of that.

I've always found the assertion that a mere policy is somehow superior to the application of a root principle by the considered judgement of a sentient being to be offensive.
He's on the blogroll.

Good On Em Both!

George Bush visits the troops and counts coup on our enemies. Being appreciated by the man in charge is wonderful. Good for the president!

James R. Rummel on the same.
Kim du Toit weighes in.
John Cole has a round-up of the reaction from some of the most prominent lefty sites. Via Wizbang.
Cori Dauber on Rantingprofs explains that this visit is grandly symbolic (the bully pulpit is an important Presidential function) and gives the sourgrapes from the uninivited press corps. More sour grapes here and here.
The Peoria Pundit praises the President, and predicts unfounded complaints. His prediction comes true.
DaveL on Deinonychus antirrhopus gets the absurd reaction from Democratic Underground.
Courtney points out that the President may just have wanted to do a good deed. Via Wizbang.
Atrios reports and some of his commenters are disgusted. Via John Cole
Dean Esmay has the President's speech.

Senator Clinton visits the troops in Afghanistan. Let's keep them in our thought and prayers, too, along with our folks in Bosnia, Korea and Kosovo, among many other places. Good for the senator! If Hillary won the Presidency I think she would fight the war on terror well. There is steel in that lady's backbone. You can see it in her eyes. She reminds me of Tony Blair. They both will defend the West, but their domestic politics are resolutely against the little guy. I was hoping to see a mention of how she'd had a religious experience on her way there and was resigning her Senate seat in favor of missionary work in India, but no such luck.

Dean Esmay on the same.

Both of these trips made good use of the bully pulpit to raise morale for the troops out there and those of us who support the war at home. You can tell they were good ideas by both the positive and the negative reactions it gets and who makes them. These were classy gestures - and since this war is also being fought in our hearts and minds - important ones.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Strategic Beauty Of The Iraqi Campaign

Do you play chess? The battle against Hussein is such a fabulous move in the war against Arab Fascism because it works on so many levels. It's like moving your knight into a position where it is triply protected and it attacks five enemy pieces including the King and the Queen.

The case for battle against Hussein is thus:

1. We were already at war against him.
2. The ongoing war against him was tying up American resources anyway.
3. Iraq was a problem that hadn't been solved.
4. The solutions we were trying were showing few signs of working and there was increasing pressure to abandon them.
5. Keeping a large number of US troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to keep pressure on Hussein was expensive, unlikely to correct his WMD problem, very unlikely to result in his overthrow and even more unlikely to result in his replacement with a significantly better government.
6. Many of our troops were based in Saudi Arabia. This both upset Muslims who didn't want kufr in the Holy Land and demoralized our troops since the Saudi's treat kufr like excrement.
7. Iraq had WMD's and had used them in the past. They may have destroyed them before the war, but nobody on the left or right, in Europe or America believed this at the time.
8. Iraq supported terrorists with logistics, training and cash, including Al Quaeda.
9. Saudi Arabia is the biggest supporter of Islamic terrorism, especially ideologically.
10. Saudi Arabia had been our ally for many years and had fought alongside us in the first Gulf War.
11. As a democracy it is difficult and takes time to consider an ally to be an enemy.
12. Attacking Saudi Arabia could easily escalate in a major world-wide war with Islamic nations, and could go nuclear.
13. Saudi Arabia does have all that oil.
14. OTOH almost everyone hated Hussein.
15. Having all the Iraqi oil online will make the Saudi oil less crucial and it will lower oil prices which cuts their ability to fund terrorists and it will boost our economy which makes paying for the war easier.
16. It puts pressure on Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt.
17. It pays off fabulously well in a humanitarian way.
18. It allows us to address a root cause of Islamic hatred by ceasing to support repressive dictators and bringing the very best thing we've got, democracy, to the Arab world. This is a worthy, positive goal to shedding our blood and spending our money. Not just fighting Communism or fighting Fascism, but promoting democracy.
19. I really hate 'He may be a dictator, but he's our dictator'. If you bring up Uzbekistan, please realize that I don't like their government and wish we could dump them but we can't do everything at once.
20. We've actually been pretty good at midwifing democracies when we stick with it. Sometimes it takes a long time. Here's a list: The Philippines, Western Europe (which was very iffy after WWII), Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
21. We're also very good at creating repressive dictatorships when we bug out before victory: North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, Angola, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The battle against Hussein has risks. The second biggest is that we bug out before mutual victory. The biggest is that when we bug out prematurely we end up with something much worse. Mutual victory is a good government in Iraq with a healthy relationship with the US.

The biggest problem with Iraq is that it is a war. To many this is like saying the biggest problem with my plan for personal wealth is that it involves a murder. They are completely repulsed by war. My reply is that we were already at war with Iraq. It was just a low level war with a large amount of red on red civilian casualties (Hussein's strategy seemed to be to kill more of his own people to claim we were creating a human right tragedy).

I had read about and considered all this before the war, which is why my opinion changed from unsure to blood-thirsty war-monger. I don't think Bush deceived us, because I don't feel deceived. To me it seems like a no-brainer, but then I'm not actually a very good chess player, nor do I seem to have written any respected military histories.

I've never had to promote or sell a war to a republic. In addition, Bush could not emphasize all these points because they could have driven other countries into the Iraqi camp. Perhaps his sales job could have been better. It seems to me that Tony Blair is good at that sort of thing, and look at what a hard time he is having.

Is your stand against the Iraqi campaign a no-brainer for you? Are you repulsed by war? Do you have trust issues with Bush? Do you dispute most of my claims? Since there are so many positives, I think you have to discredit a lot of them as well as come up with some big negatives to convince me the Iraqi campaign is a mistake.

Steve Malynn points out that 1-8, 16-18, 21 and 22 of my points above are expressly addressed in the Joint Resolution that authorized force in Iraq. (I don't know where he got number 22.)

I've often heard cries for liberals to provide counter strategy if they don't like Bush's. It is very difficult to come up with a different strategy because, well, strategy is really hard. I do hear doves, both liberal and conservative, make intelligent arguments against the Iraqi campaign. Note that there is a difference between 1) intelligent, 2) convincing and 3) absolutely free of logical errors. #2 is harder. #3 is way harder. Not sure I've ever seen #3 on any side. Jerry Pournelle, who has written important works on military strategy, has some excellent arguments against it, which can be summarized as follows: This march (accidental or not) towards an American Empire will doom the Republic and make serfs of our descendants.

Jerry also offers alternative strategies.

Jerry cannot, however, be described as a leftist. Too bad more leftists don't read his stuff.

Note: I pulled this from the comment thread of two posts by Dean Esmay. I know this post isn't well written but I like it anyway.

Read the Palace Of Reason

Francis W. Porretto of the Palace Of Reason is the best essayist in the blogoshere. Don't miss a day.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Eat at Burger King/People to Browbeat

Burger King has a new breastfeeding friendly policy. People who complain about breastfeeding in public need to be browbeaten, castigated and possibly shouted at. Would you want to feed your baby in a fast-food bathroom? How inconsiderate!

Blessed Events

Mark at Web.Kafe has the best possible excuse for not blogging. Congratulations to Mark and Edita!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Nov 23

The New American Revolutionist tells how every single senator wanted to increase the federal budget, among other fiscal aggravations.

Free Market Fairy Tales complains about his fellow countrymen protesting in London.

I also like these non-political posts. Linus of Pepper of the Earth lists his favorite (and they are clever) Halloween costumes, and proves that he must be the one who picked the blog name.

Last we have Hailey Xie, a Chinese woman writing in English. Her topic is 'the boy flying like a roc', the most famous AIDS activist in China.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Range Report: Agulia .22 Colibrí

For National Ammo Day I bought 50 rounds of Agulia .22 Colibrí to try in my basement along with an assortment of other .22 LR to see what my H & R Sportsman break-top nine-shot target revolver and my Ruger 10/22 rifle like to shoot.

Colibrí is Spanish for 'Hummingbird'. This round has ballistics similar to a Crosman 2250 pellet pistol. It has a 20 grain bullet (a BB is 8 grains) propelled by the primer only, with no gunpowder. The published velocity is only 375 fps with a muzzle enery of 6 ft lbs.

Ruger 10/22 - 5 roundsThese five were shot from my Ruger 10/22 at a distance of twenty-one feet. The red sticker is one inch wide. I now have experienced a called flyer. If you exclude it, this is a half inch group. Since I aim just below the dot, they went pretty much where I wanted them to go. Boy, do I love shooting this rifle. Kim du Toit wasn't the only one to recommend it, but he (and my friends who did) were so right. It is super fun to shoot, and even a complete novice like myself can get reasonably good results. I did have repeated problems with feeding the Ruger 10/22, but this was to be expected, since the shortened bullet makes the round more like a .22 Short than a .22 LR.

H & R Sportsman - 4 roundsThese four were shot double action from my H & R Sportsman at a distance of twenty-one feet. That is a one inch group. Out of the shorter barrel there seems to be a much bigger drop, over two inches.

I also shot a couple at close range from the H & R, one at close range from the 10/22 and nine rounds each double and single action from the H & R at twenty-one feet. The sound was more like a loud "fft" than a bang with my hearing protection on. My family on other floors of the house said it sounded like hammering or hand-clapping. The furthest any of the rounds penetrated my backstop was through nineteen layers of corrugated cardboard and 24 layers of newsprint. I was able to recover 26 of the thirty rounds I shot.

I was very pleased with the results with one very important caveat: Ventilation. I probably won't shoot more than five rounds at a time until I figure out how to ventilate my basement properly. Breathing burnt primer is not for me. Still, this is a lot cheaper than the eight dollar range fee, and I can work on trigger control and sighting just fine at short range, so if you have any suggestions for ventilation please comment below.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Is Bush Weak In The War On Terror?

Ara Rubyan at E Pluribus Unum says Bush is weak in the war on terror. His claim is that Bush is not prosecuting the war vigorously enough, but he does not wish to give specifics. The post was a reprise of a comment he made in response to a question I posed in the comment section of this post on Howard Dean. (Way to hijack a comment thread, huh?) Further down, Ara complains he doesn't like the Democrats any better so far. I get the vague unsupportable impression he wishes McCain had won in 2000.

Monday, November 17, 2003

How the Democrats and Republicans Have changed So Much

Ron Luciano (I think in The Umpire Strikes Back) tells a story of how control pitchers can get the umpire to call pitches strikes which are not. He says they throw one on the corner, which you call a strike. Then they throw one ever so slightly farther outside, which you call a strike. Pretty soon you are standing in the dugout calling strikes.

Over time, the Democrats and Republicans have gradually mutated into parties barely recognizable from what they once were. People who stay loyal to their parties end up supporting things they wouldn't have dreamed of years ago. The Constitution is home plate, and they are both standing in the left-hand dugout. Bring it home folks.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

More Reasons To Home School

Mrs. du Toit has a fabluous post Children and Behavoir which tells a horrendous tale of Special Education gone wrong. Don't miss the comments section, which gives many more examples. Comment number 74 links to this description of the six soul-searing lessons public schools really teach. A true indictment, which might explain why, although I am addicted to learning, I have a real love/hate relationship with school.

Health Care Costs

My Canadian friend, the Show Me Canuck, has some nice points in this piece on Canadian and US drug prices. I am completely in agreement with him about patent length and meaningless follow on patents. The US Patent Office serves this country nearly as badly as the public school system.

As regards drug company advertising, well, I believe that is their right. It is also the government's right and your right and my right to refuse to purchase drugs from companies which spend too much on advertising.

As regards socialized medicine/required medical insurance he and I are very far apart. I think companies should not be allowed to provide insurance tax-free to their employees. Instead individuals should be able to buy however much insurance they want tax-free and not be forced to have the same amount. If I was a single man like my Canuck friend, I would only want to pay for catastrophic coverage, since I have to be nearly dead before I'll go to a doctor anyway and I am perfectly capable of treating nearly all my ills with over-the-counter stuff.

Many people in this country (I seem to remember Kim du Toit, for example, but can't find it on his or his wife's blog) choose to go without medical insurance, figuring they can manage their own health care costs, thank-you-very-much. And from the way I remember him describing it, I suspect he can.

I am not completely averse to government subsidies so that low-income families can afford reasonable medical insurance, but I would like to make a go at funding this through charitable contributions first. If we can't make that work then let it be subsidized, but I am in general very wary of government sponsored wealth redistribution schemes, since they seem always to degrade into voting oneself money. The Medicare Prescription boondoogle is like that. Sure, some poor old people will be helped, but so will all the rich old people and the middle class old people and the old people whose ungrateful kids should be helping them out. Who pays for it? Poor young people, among others.

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Nov 15

Collected Miscellany has An interview with John Derbyshire, with emphasis on his mathematical work, but enough about politics to wet that whistle, too. There were lots of other good posts, but I don't feel like writing about them this morning.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

George Bush Was Not AWOL

Baldilocks, who took a leave of absense from the Reserves, explains that this common occurence is not going AWOL.

She then goes on to explain why claiming that George Bush went AWOL is a dreadful insult to the intelligence of our man and women in the service. The claim he went AWOL is either born of ignorance (like ever so many claims) or it is utterly mendacious and repugnant.

George Bush did not go AWOL.
George Bush joined the military, he did not dodge the draft.
George Bush learned to fly fighter jets. Just learning to fly fighter jets in the 60's and 70's was more dangerous than most combat is now. (For American troops, anyway.)
George Bush's unit had been rotated to Vietnam when he joined.

Sure, this could all have been a complicated little game to serve in the military without much risk. Jessica Lynch says that's why she got into a supply unit, but no one is questioning her patriotism. Ain't politics grand?

Via Mrs. du Toit.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

My Dad, Veteran Keypunch Operator and Cold Warrior

Say Uncle has a great post about his Dad, the Vet.

My Dad was drafted into the Army around 1956 and served as a Keypunch Operator in Germany. I am not sure why they drafted him, since he was making artillery propellants for Du Pont at the time. He did not have many positive things to say about his service. He was drafted almost at the end of his Selective Service window and was older than his lieutenant. It sounds as though, in respect for his age he was responsible to keeping the furnace going during Basic Training and so he may never have actually fired his carbine.

When he came back he went to work for Bendix. He made lots of trips to Los Alamos, White Sands, and Lawrence Livermore Labs and he never would tell me what he worked on, but I guessed. Can you?

Thanks, Dad, for helping to win the Cold War. Detterence and containment worked, and I didn't have to go fight in a big war against the Soviets. I hope the war against Islamic fascism has even fewer casualties.

Kim Du Toit, Master of Nuclear Hyperbole

Warning: All links in this post lead to strong language. The previous sentence is often an understatement.

Kim du Toit has a now famous, crash his server post on the feminization of men and horrors of the Nanny state, with follow ups here, here and here.

Kim is dead accurate about the horrors of the Nanny state. Drugging our young men with Ritalin is particularly horrifying. I also hate the laws outlawing smoking in NY bars (I am allergic to cigarette smoke) and the proposed FDA menu regulations which will probably make it illegal to introduce a new dish until its calories are measured. (What's next, banning buffets?)

Actually I find Kim's style and his critic Philosoraptor's some what similar. They are both condescending and both insulting. Philosoraptor is more polite about it. Kim's essays are easier to read and better constructed and much more succinct. Philosoraptor rambles.

Mrs. du Toit had a useful comment in one of her defense posts:

"Kim, intentionally heat the debate with invective and hyperbole, challenging the very assumptions themselves in the language he used? NOOooo... heh heh"

I desperately need to understand her point.

I have been struggling with Kim's rants for some time now. Though I enjoy them very much, I cannot imagine handing them to my Depression-Era Democratic Mom and Dad to read. I would like very much to persuade them that the statism ensconced in the Democratic party (and, shudder, the Republican party for the most part) is incredibly corrosive to our Republic. However, I can't imagine them being persuaded by his favorite hang 'em from the utility-pole image. As a former Democrat, I find this imagery repulsive, off-putting and pretty well reprehensible. I thought of challenging Kim to a boxing match over it, but my wife pointed out that I have a family to feed, so please don't risk the injury.

Do I just lack imagination? Why would someone chose this style, and how can it be used to persuade?

Mrs. du Toit has other related posts here, here and here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

America First, Senator

I wish Senator Jay Rockefeller would read Steven Den Beste.

Did Walter's Loose Lips Sink Our Vietnam Ship?

Andrew, in the comments to Ara's A New Meme: The Press As Killers post, replys to my comments as follows:
Regarding Vietnam - Sloppy reporting such as telling the bare bone facts and showing the pictures? is that what you mean? If there are those still saying sloppy reportign contributed to the American failure they are in pure and hate-filled denial.

A country is the will of the people and we don't have a fucking king and royal court.

And I always ask this question - should journalists not report these facts. Is the job we're doing more important than American lives?

Lastly, I thought reporting on Iraqi civilian casualities was also going to sap American will. As also happened in Vietnam.

It comes full circle and you should sit and spin -- and think. (he says in the nicest possible way).
OK, Andrew, I thought about it, although without any actual spinning, and my number one problem with reporting in Vietnam was that they failed to report the Tet offensive as an American victory. But could they have done so? Perhaps not.

The North Vietnamese General Staff knew that the Viet Cong were finished as an effective fighting force. But I have no information to lead me to believe that the American General Staff knew that the Viet Cong had been destroyed. How could the press? Without this information, could the press have known enough about guerilla warfare to realize that Tet was an American victory? Maybe not. NVA/VC casualties were 45,000 dead and 7000 captured, with the number of wounded unknown. US/ARVN casualties were 4300 dead, 16,000 wounded and 1000 MIA. See here for my source.

So, even though the NVA/VC had surprised the US/AVRN, they had lost 10 soldiers for every one they killed. Westmoreland thought it was a victory, the North Vietnamese knew that their plans had failed, but Walter Cronkite and Lyndon Johnson lost their will to win.

I think they both messed up. In this, Johnson carries by far the greater burden, since he was the President. Lincoln, FDR and Truman would not have lost their will to win. But Cronkite was a uniquely powerful opinion leader, to whom there is no current analog. His stalemate broadcast completely failed to note the hard fought victory our soldiers had won at great cost. I think he, and the rest of the press, let America down.

All judgement calls, by someone who is well outside his area of expertise, your mileage will certainly vary.

I really appreciated Andrew's nicest possible way remark. I would have taken the spinning comment much more negatively than he meant.

Here is some more Vietnam wisdom from Jerry Pournelle's blog. See also Jerry's opinion that JFK messed up badly by killing Diem. And also, scroll down to see Jerry rebut some Colonel who compared Iraq to Vietnam improperly. I have a great deal of respect for Jerry, whose advice, with that of Stephan Possony, helped Reagan win the Cold War.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

An Old Meme - Thoughtless Reporters Kill Soldiers

Dean Esmay wants a new slogan: Thoughtless reporters kill soldiers. His WWII model is: Loose lips sink ships. I can't speak for Vietnam vets, but the one who defended my right to say stupid things for over twenty years thought the press lost Vietnam, so this is not really a new meme.

Ara thinks the meme is lousy. He wants Dean to prove it. I cobbled this post together from two comments to his post.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that sloppy reporting risks wasting soldiers lives by sapping our resolve and causing us to fail in Iraq. I want America to win, I don't like Copperheads, and I want the Democratic Leadership to want to win. I took the trouble to restate Dean's position to show that I agreed with the general sentiment and not that reporting was directly causing any actual deaths. I think the direct cause of death will always be a car bomb, missile, bullet or some other weapon. We have no casualties from paper cuts. Dean was trying to come up with a slogan, like 'Loose lips sink ships'. I think you will find the ships in question were bombed, shelled or torpedoed. None were actually sunk by careless conversation. As slogans go, the big problem with Dean's is that it isn't catchy, not that it fails to carry its meaning.

Sloppy reporting, by overemphasizing the American casualties and never mentioning our opposition's casualties, gives a real morale boost to the enemy, which causes American deaths. Sloppy reporting, by underemphasizing casualties among friendly Iraqi policemen and soldiers, misleads the American people into believing the Iraqis aren't helping out and don't deserve our assistance. That could prevent the US from providing the help needed to win over Iraqi hearts and minds leading them to join the holdouts, which will cause American deaths. Sloppy reporting, if it causes America to lose its nerve, could cause us to reduce our forces too rapidly, over-exposing the remainder, which will cause American deaths.

I think you will find many thoughtful people who believe sloppy reporting was a significant factor in the way America lost the Vietnam war and that it cost many American, Cambodian and Vietnamese lives. The Tet offensive was such a battlefield failure that the North Vietnamese General staff was planning big concessions in the peace talks until the American press convinced them it was a strategic victory. Imagine if the war had ended in 1968. Would any lives have been saved?

Ara often says he wants Bush to win the war, but it isn't his job to say how. Well, I want the media to get out of Bagdhad, get out of their habit of molding every story to a familiar theme and report the war. I am not trying to intimidate the mainstream press. I am trying to get it to report the things I get from non-mainstream sources. I say this as part of my job as a consumer of media and as an American citizen.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Blocking The Constition Is Next

Symantec's Internet Security 2004 blocks pro-gun sites (all the NRA sites, for example, including the NRA Institute for Legislative Action) but not The Brady Campaign or Good Bye Guns. Symantec's phone number is 408-517-8000. The only email I've found so far is, but maybe would contact the CEO (just guessing). Will pro-war sites be next? (War is violent.) George Bush's reelection site? (Some people think he's a racist.) They'll hear from me tomorrow during their office hours. Go to their web site and ask for one of their officers.

The Bill Of No Rights

This piece of satire is double-plus good. From its prolog, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people were confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights."

Safe-Storage Is Not Always Safe

Via Jeff at Alphecca, and Old Skool at Stop the Bleating! see this cautionary tale of safe-storage laws gone awry. Personally I prefer laws which encourage good judgement, rather than those which mandate a particular course of action. People have brains. Laws don't. In actual cases a law which seems sensible to many (zero-tolerance anything laws comes to mind) often produces truly stupid results.

Another Reason To Visit The Palace...

...if you like deliciously subtle humor. Look for the phrase "catastrophic renal backpressure" here.

Let's All Go Looking For Trouble

From Francis W. Porretto at the Palace of Reason comes these tales of wonderfully helpful people who are looking for trouble.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Econo-Legal Meditations On An Apple Jolly Rancher®

This morning my six year-old brought an Apple Jolly Rancher® to me (gained, as you might guess, from a cheerful walk around the block last night), having read and being concerned by this message:


I told her it meant to be careful not to choke, and she seemed happy.

I was intrigued. Economically speaking, are the burdens placed on businesses by what seem to be wildly out of control legal liability claims balanced by increased consumption due to decreased risk (or at least compensated risk) to consumers?

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Nov 2

On Teaching Your Wife to Drive a Five-Speed Sports Car or, What is This Clutch Thing Anyway?
wait. wait. don't tell me.
Legalizing Illegals
Bare-Faced Betrayal