Tuesday, December 30, 2003


I haven't read all of Sheila Astray's Uzbekistan Essays, just the last, but it was so good I'm going to read the rest.

How To Protect Us From Terrorists At The Airport


Headline: Forum: The fish that threatened national security

Via The Smallest Minority. Warning! If you go to The Smallest Minority, do not scroll down. Photoshop can be very dangerous in the wrong hands.

We Are Responsible For Our Own Bodies

Two--Four explains why those who love freedom must embrace responsibility.

Can The Guard Innovate, Too?

We know that the innovative Special Forces have been a fantastic asset in the war against terror. But can National Guard units innovate too? Please? Pretty please?

It seems a Jefferson City guard unit got a couple of local businesses to make armor for its Humvees and five ton trucks. (Scroll down to Two Businesses Donate Armor Plating To Reserve Unit if the link is bloggered again.) Or go straight to The Kansas City Star. Rascally registration required - use blog1729@hotmail.com, password blog1729. Now the Army is keeping them from using the armor because it hasn't been tested. But it isn't all bad. The Army has agreed to ship the armor plating to Iraq. And Representative Ike Skelton and Senator Kit Bond are pressing Army brass to complete the tests in double time. Given the way these troops think 'out of the box', I wouldn't be surprised if the armor somehow ended up installed when they get to Iraq. "How did you get that done, Sergeant?" "You don't want to ask that question, Colonel."

Update: Winds of Change has much more, including a similar kit developed by a Reservist in Iraq. Thanks for the link, guys!

And here's an Alabama example.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

My Vote In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Dec 28

Self-composed complains about the utterly disgusting habit of discriminating against smokers in Banning Smokers. I think its far worse than smoking, myself.

My Word points out that Tolkien would have seen the War against Islamic Fascism as a clash of civilizations, where we must fight to save our way of life. He also point out, via John Rhys-Davies, that our own civilization is being degraded by crime and immorality, and if we don't start fighting that, Islam will deserve to win.

Dan at Pragmatic Conservatism opines on the capture of Saddam and gets a nice little war in the comments for his trouble.

Defensive Gun Use

Headline: Clerk Fires Shots at Robbers

Time: 6 AM, Christmas Day.

I'm afraid this isn't deadly enough to be a Kim du Toit righteous shooting, but Clayton Cramer might like it.

According to the Kansas City Star (rascally registration required) the same liquor store was robbed at 1 AM on Christmas. Their follow up story ran the next day. The Star did not mention a robbery at 6 AM, nor did they mention the clerk doing any shooting. They did mention that the three robbers stole three guns. Hmm. I wonder if these are the same incident, and if so, which reporter messed up.

This Makes Me Cringe

Headline: Woman Impaled While Trying To Hop Fence

Ewww. Be sure to look at the picture of the fence. Just the fence. No blood. No gore. Now my imagination is running wild. Ewwww. Man, do I feel sorry for the woman who was hurt, even though she may be a burglar. Pray for her.

The Right To Eat Leads To Starvation

David Horowitz discusses how socialist dictators and starvation go together. Now Zimbabwe has succumbed and six million are on the verge of starvation. It's odd that governments which emphasize the human right to own property have so much less hunger than those which emphasize the right to eat.

Via Mad Mikey and Nathan.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Spell Check II

Today I noticed the little 'ABC' icon with a checkmark in Blogger. I am awarding myself a We're All Clueless About Some Issues pass for all my past posts.

Christmas Forever

Michael Williams, Master of None, tells the story of Christmas in the context of eternity. I like it.

Crichton on Consensus Science

In this article Crichton debunks SETI, Nuclear Winter, second-hand smoke and global warming. Money quote 1:
There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period.
Money quote 2:
Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to
believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds?
He gives lots of historical examples where science is polluted by established interests resulting in disastrous consensus. Read it. Via Jerry Pournelle.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Listen to the dwarf

John Rhys-Davies is sensible on terror. Via the Geek with a .45 and many others.

Good News

My wife took a gun safety course on Monday which came with a range membership. No range fees on Ladies night! Thanks, honey.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

McNamara and Jerry Pournelle On Vietnam

Vietnam was a war we were winning, (and in one very important sense, did win) then Nixon threw away his political victory through rampant paranoia and dishonesty. With Nixon gone, the Republicans were too weak to protect the Vietnamese from the Democratic Congress who threw away the victory.

If you consider Vietnam as a campaign against the Soviet Union in the Cold War (Jerry Pournelle calls it the Seventy Years War below), it was a strategic victory. We destroyed incredible amounts of Soviet material, which they could ill afford.

As regards the Vietnam War itself: The Viet Cong were destroyed. The North could not mount a successful campaign against the South without massive losses leading to defeat. If we had supplied the South and provided air support as we had previously agreed the North would have lost the final campaign as well. I get my ideas on how we lost (and won) Vietnam from Jerry Pournelle, who helped Reagan win the Cold War. I'm sorry, but I trust a successful strategist more than all the liberal (non-military) historians or McNamara. McNamara was not doing a good job in Vietnam. Nixon did much better.

I skimmed McNamara's list of what went wrong in Vietnam. I regard these points as useful, worth contemplation and discussion, and entirely inadequate to invalidate Mr. Pournelle's analysis. (Search on Viet Nam to find the reference. Jerry does not use a blogging tool.) He was quite familiar with Mr. McNamara.

A quote from his analysis:
Well, I don't disagree except that we did not lose the war in Viet Nam. We accomplished what we needed, which was a long campaign of materiel attrition as part of the Seventy Years War. In 1973 we demonstrated that at small cost we could hold South Viet Nam forever, and bleed the North and their Russian allies white as we did.

The Democrats threw away a victory. We weren't defeated, we simply came home when the Democrats decided that having won it wasn't worth defending the Gooks with American blood and treasure. If that sounds harsh, I am sorry, but it's what happened. We had won. The border was stabilized in the sense that it took a large army to cross it and ARVN with U.S. supplies and air support could destroy any such large army. Every time and to the last man.
This post was cannibalized from the comments to this Dowingba post. But the comments continued so I will add the following (which has some repetition and refers to other comments).

If you dismiss Dr. Pournelle as a fantasy/sci-writer you dramatically underestimate his qualifications. When I said he helped Reagan win the Cold War, I wasn't kidding. He advised Reagan about the Cold War and Quayle about space policy, and is an honest-to-God heavyweight. You might as well call Churchill a journalist (which he was during the Boer War), or dismiss Roosevelt as a big game hunter. Your AWC professor is a worthy card, but I doubt either you or I can tell whether he can actually trump Pournelle or not.

I grant you the North had the will. Americans had the will, too, and would have kept it if our leaders had not failed us. First Johnson, McNamara and the defense department failed by running the war poorly from 65 to 68. Then Nixon failed by blowing up his own Presidency and his own party. Then the Democrats failed in 1975, when all they had to do was provide supplies and air power. At that point we had successfully Vietnamized the war, but they required American style material, air power and logistical support, which we abruptly and cravenly cut off. I cannot forgive the Congressional Democrats for dishonoring our commitment in this fashion. From whence do you think our reputation for having no staying power came?

If you consider the Vietnam War as a campaign in the seventy year war against the Soviets it was indeed a success. As you said, we did not defeat the Soviets by killing more of them. We did it first by containing them in Europe, Korea and Southeast Asia. Ask the Thais whether we contained the Communists in Southeast Asia. They'll tell you how thankful they were for what we did in Vietnam. Second, we won the war by out-producing the Soviets militarily. Vietnam helped by destroying fantastic amounts of Soviet material. Here's what Dr. Pournelle has to say:
For that matter, the Viet Nam war was not a guerrilla war after Tet, and treating it like one was a drastic mistake.

Viet Nam ended when we stabilized the area, and in 1973 an army of 150,000 marched south. That army had more armor than the Wehrmacht in the biggest battles of WW II. That army was defeated by ARVN, aided by US Air power, with fewer than 500 US casualties. That is a great victory. A great victory that no one pays any attention to. But note that it was the defeat of an invading army, armed with armor and artillery, fighting a relatively "conventional war".
Also look at what he says here:
Viet Nam, on the other hand, was part of the Seventy Years War, and may have been the critical campaign. It was a highly successful campaign of attrition, decisively won by the United States. I know that is not the usual view, but the effort to build not one but three major armored armies for North Vietnam, two of which were destroyed (one during the 60’s over time, the other in 1972 when the North sent down more armor than the Wehrmacht ever had in WW II, only to lose every last bit) and the third finally won when the Congress refused to help South Viet Nam in 1975 – the effort to build those armored armies, and in general to support North Viet Nam in that war was a major factor in the bankruptcy of the USSR. Without that campaign, the Cold War would probably still be going.

The cream of the jest was that the USSR decided they had won, and now knew how to project power, and thus could go into AfghanistanÂ…

I would argue that we had to be in Viet Nam as part of the Seventy Years War.
And here is what he said in a third reference:
About 10 years ago I did a lecture to the Air War College at Maxwell where I said that Viet Nam was a successful campaign of attrition in the Seventy Years War, and was in fact one of the decisive campaigns of that war -- and a mighty US Victory. The cream of the jest was that the USSR believed the US Left and convinced itself that Viet Nam was a Soviet victory. This encouraged them to believe they could project national power in our despite, and to go into Afghanistan, where they managed to be on the wrong end of yet another war of attrition.

Viet Nam was a US success because a great part of Soviet transport production including trucks and such was built in the USSR, transported at great expense to Viet Nam and destroyed by USAF. When North Viet Nam invaded the South in 1975 they had more armor than the Wehrmacht had at Kursk, and more trucks than Patton ever had in the Red Ball Express. This was all replacements for similar amounts of materiel destroyed in 1973 when the US at a cost of 663 US casualties aided ARVN in repulsing a 150,000 troop invasion -- fewer than 40,000 ever got back home -- bringing with it more tanks than the Wehrmacht had at Kursk and more trucks than Patton ever had -- none of which ever got home.

Viet Nam helped convert the USSR into Bulgaria with missiles. They neglected their own infrastructure to send materiel to Viet Nam for us to destroy.

In the 60's I had a 3-way TV debate with Allard Lowenstein and McGeorge Bundy. Allard finally looked at me and said "Jerry, you want to win it and get out." I nodded. "I just want to get out. But your friends there " -- he pointed to Bundy -- "want to lose it and stay in."

I was I think for the only time in my life in a nationally televised debate -- or indeed any debate -- silenced, because he was right.

Of course that was the right strategy: to appear to be losing and stay in. I doubt Bundy or Johnson or any of the generals understood that. I think Possony did. At the time I did not; it was only later that I realized that a war of attrition was precisely what would bring the USSR low, after which the threat to negate the missiles and turn them into just another 3rd world country brought them down.
The result of Vietnam was that we defeated the Soviet Union at a time when it and its allies ruled a third of the world and it possessed a utterly devastating nuclear power with many fewer casualties than WWII. A truly great victory that saved a lot of people from tyranny and death.

Do not underestimate Dr. Pournelle. Go to his blog and read his stuff. He (and his amazing readers) will broaden your horizons.

Sweet Sarcasm

Read this gratuitous note from Big Arm Woman at Tightly Wound.
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True Honor...

...according to Francis W. Porretto, demands both "honesty and constancy".

Sex, Abortion and A Surprise Topic

When Francis W. Porretto analyzes a difficult topic, it knows it has been analyzed.

Virtual Bubblewrap

Virtual Bubblewrap via Rocket Jones.

Are You Sure CNN Isn't Biased?

Isn't a Pundit proves that CNN didn't cover the big anti-terrorist/pro-American demonstration in Baghdad but did cover the smaller pro-Saddam demonstration in Tikrit.

The Last Word

I've discovered that if I'm patient I can have the last word in any comment thread.

Zero Tolerance = Always Stupid

The headline, "Teen suspended for taking Motrin", says it all.

Call Clay-Chalkville High School at (205) 379-3050 and ask for the principle. (I missed him, but I'll try again tomorrow and let you know what he says.)

Via the WSJ Opinion Journal.

Political Compass

Here is my favorite political quiz.

And here are the results. If you take the quiz, you can use my email address (winceandnod@yahoo.com) to compare our results.

My political map

Here is another good one.

My political compass
Economic Left/Right: 5.88
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.15

Here is a graph of my results.

I show up as a neo-liberal between Tony Blair and Milton Friedman.

Here is where the candidates are. My result sits on the horizontal line almost directly below George Bush.

As you can see, different questions produce different results.

Select Your Candidate

I hate the way these questions are worded, but here are my presidential results:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate. (100%)
2. Bush, President George W. - Republican (77%)
3. Libertarian Candidate (53%)
4. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (44%)
5. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat (42%)
6. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat (39%)
7. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (39%)
8. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (35%)
9. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (33%)
10. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat (30%)
11. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (29%)
12. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat (13%)
13. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat (2%)

Actually, Bush is my candidate. Joe Lieberman is the only Democrat who hasn't disqualified himself on the subject of the war on terror.

Pope Pleased By Passion

Peggy Noonan reports that the Pope John Paul II is impressed by the authenticity of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion". I am looking forward to seeing it.

Some Democrats Are Unpatriotic

Democrat Orson Scott Card explains how "this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates" could improve dramatically. His article also explains very well how disgusted I am with the same candidates.

Via Dean's World, Hell In A Handbasket and Tao of Dowbinga.

Useless Stereotypes...

It's time to stop criticizing politicians for their pronunciation and slips of the tongue. Sure Bush can't pronounce nuclear and Howard Dean said Soviet Union when he meant Russia. Let's judge them By The Content of Their Ideas. If you think your political opponents are stupid because of these kinds of mistakes, you are placing yourself in the same class of people who listened to Abe Lincoln's accent and called him a buffoon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Strom Thurmond...

... appears to be as thoroughly corrupt as either Clinton or Nixon. I guess there was more to the story than I thought.

UPDATE: Dean Esmay has an explanation of Mr. Thurmond's behavior which is more charitable.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Concealed Carry License not Poetic License

In the comments section of this Open Letter to Hawthorne Police Chief Stephen Port, Barry poetically noted that if he carried a concealed weapon "it would eat away at my sanity just as if it were emitting lethal radiation". Wow. Subsequently he got jumped on by a bunch of my fellow gun nuts who concluded he was nuts. I hearby issue Barry a license permitting him to carry poetic hyperbole either openly or concealed.

I don't think you are nuts, Barry, although you do appear irrationally afraid of firearms. I'm irrationally afraid of power tools, myself, but repeated exposure has enabled me to conquer that fear. Don't ask me about heights, though. Ladders make me shudder. I am also afraid of guns and roller coasters. Even so, I enjoy both. If you get the chance, try a firearm safety course sometime. At the very least you will learn how to unload a gun (it isn't as easy as you might think). And you might find out that target shooting is fun, so you won't think we're nuts when we wax poetic. Since that isn't likely to happen soon read "Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun:
What Bearing Weapons Teaches About the Good Life
" by Eric S. Raymond. It will show you a strong ethical basis for firearm use.

Via this post from Hell In A Handbasket.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

NPR and Gephardt Sound A Sour Note

My wife, who is still registered as a Democrat, turned off Dick Gephardt on KCUR 89.3 (NPR in Kansas City) and went to some local talk station (980 AM, actually). Neither Mr. Gephardt nor Liane Hansen, the NPR host sounded happy about Saddam's capture. When asked for his reaction Mr. Gephardt spent two sentences or less on the capture, then launched into a long spiel about how we could internationalize the conflict and how we should have internationalized it from the start. I want Mr. Gephardt to be an American first, a Democrat second and a candidate third. I will remember this. The chances of me voting for any Democrat this fall decrease almost every time I hear a Democratic official speak. Until 2000 I had voted for only one Democrat the previous twenty years. I just left a very unhappy message on someone's voice mail at this number:

Gephardt for President - National Office: 202-448-9300

His Congressional office (202-225-2671) didn't answer.

I think Ms. Hansen's style is generally subdued, but I have heard warmth in her voice before. Now I am listening to her braodcast to try to be fair to her. She just had some reporter from Bagdhad who just spent a lot of time talking about how unhappy the residents of Bagdhad are. Next there was some 'this is interresting' talk, and now there is some positive commentary. So this was a reasonably successful attempt by Liane to be balanced and I can hardly blame her for that. Even so I can hardly listen to NPR news anymore. Up through the end of 2001 I listened to NPR news every weekday morning and most weekend nights. I gave money to KANU 91.5 (NPR in Lawrence) this year because I still like a couple of their weekend shows, but I think that's going to stop.

NPR Main Number: 202-513-2000
NPR Audience Services: 202-513-3232

David Post has more about NPR on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Thank God for Fox.


U.S. Forces captured Saddam!
U.S. Forces captured Saddam!
U.S. Forces captured Saddam!

Reportedly he will go on public trial. As a practical matter, I hope he is executed. Dead dictators don't come back to Waterloo.

Via ABC: Got Him.
Via CBS: Saddam Captured
Via CNN: U.S.: 'We got him'
Via Fox: Saddam Captured in Raid Near Tikrit
Via MSNBC: Saddam Hussein has been captured in Iraq

Saturday, December 13, 2003

The First Amendment...

takes it on the chin. Neither the President, not the Congress, not the courts are devoted to the highest law of the land anymore.

A Canadian Offers A Practical Perspective...

... on Iraq Contracts and Canada.

When You Wildly Criticise the US Military...

...this gentleman may show you to be utterly clueless. He also can recognize a sane and helpful voice on the left.

My Vote In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Dec 14

HipperCritical has this post about an Arab Sammy Davis, Jr. in Israel.
Anti anti-war explains that the Iraqi campaign will succeed.

To Preserve A Right Takes Exercise

The right to bear arms derives from three more basic rights.

The first is the right to hunt. If you don't choose to hunt I'm cool with that. I've never hunted. But human beings have been hunting for thousands, if not millions of years. Animal products have been used for food, clothing and shelter. I have just as much right to hunt as any Bushman. He may use a poisoned dart. I'll use a rifle.

The second right is self defense. If you don't choose to defend yourself, I'm cool with that. Firearms are excellent tools for self defense. In nineteen out of twenty cases, simply brandishing the firearm is sufficient to defend oneself against a crime. If a bear has the right to kill to protect its cubs, I have the right to protect my children with deadly force.

The third right is the right to revolt when your government is too oppressive. If you don't choose to revolt, I'm cool with that. Firearms are quite useful for this. African-Americans have successfully defended themselves against the local sheriff (the government) and his Klu-Klux-Klan buddies many times this way. If you read the Second Amendment and its history you will see that this is the only reason the Founding Fathers gave for it. As successful revolutionaries against an oppressive government, they wanted to protect their successors right to do so when needed.

As I've said, you don't have to exercise these three basic rights if you don't want to. So far I have not needed to do so. But I want to keep and bear a firearm in case I ever do need to exercise them. I doubt I will have such a need, but I also exercise the right to preserve it for future generations. A right which is not protected will often perish. As a free man, not a slave, this is my duty.

(This was a comment I posted to this post. Congratualations, I just voted for you in the Showcase.)

The KC Star Gets Its Revenge

I don't know how the gods of journalism arranged this, but after all those negative posts, the KC Star got its revenge. We just had about four inches of snow, followed by another six today. I fired up the snow blower (thanks, Dad, for the starting tips and the three-quarters inch deep socket wrench) and was merrily clearing the driveway when it suddenly stopped. Every time I restarted it and engaged the auger it would die. I looked in the snow chute. It was clogged by something wrapped in orange plastic. Today's KC Star! I laughed out loud. Many times. I was able to rescue the paper from the jaws of snow-blower death with only a little wrinkling. Now I have both the news and a cleered driveway. Ha!

Paragraphs Plagarised...

... at The Kansas City Star. But nobody got fired...

A Garden Variety Protestor...

... gets garden variety jail time. It seems Bill Douglas couldn't follow a police officers's instructions. Consider the sign he was holding: "What Is Bush Hiding About 9-11? Stop the 9-11 Coverup!" I do not want to have a political discussion with Mr Douglas. We'd both get frustrated.

Heros Run Into Burning Buildings

The Peoria Pundit's old grade school principle helps put out a fire.

Comments About Wince And Nod

Leave general comments about Wince and Nod below.

An Example of Balanced Reporting?

The Pitch, a Kansas City Weekly, will challenge your ideas about slumlords. Is Charlie Willard a scofflaw slumlord, responsible for blighted neighborhoods, or is he a fiercely independent business man providing inexpensive housing whose personal messiness has carried over to his properties? Are city officials working diligently to make the city a better place to live, or are they aggressive busybodies with a penchant for persecution?

Two Businesses Donate Armor Plating To Reserve Unit

Two businesses in the Jefferson City (Missouri) area made sure some of our boys were well protected. Houser Millard Funeral Directors donated the money for the steel and Industrial Enterprises Inc. donated the labor, working overtime to make sure they were on time. By upgrading the doors and undercarriage on the Humvees of the 428th Transportation Company from one sixteenth inch to quarter inch steel plating, these fine companies protected our soldiers from the roadside bombs typically used against our troops in Iraq. And it only took three days!

Via The Kansas City Star. Rascally registration required.

I Will Keep Storing Body Parts At My House

But they'll remain attached, unlike this guy.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

My Vote In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Dec 7

Michael Froomkin properly castigates the Administration for unconstitutional detention. The erosion of our liberty continues....

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 investor-relations@symantec.com, but maybe john.w.thompson@symantec.com 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

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The Social Security Trust Fund Is Enron Writ Large

Megan McArdle presents the case that an IOU written to oneself is not a Trust Fund, even if you pay yourself interest. The bill comes due in 2013, when the government has to start paying off on that IOU. To do that we will, cut benefits, raise taxes, cut other spending or borrow the money. 2040 is meaningless. In other words, the Prescription Drug Benefit is the real quagmire. Can you say, "Increase the dole?" Dictatorship in America by 2020? Will the new word for tyrant be Bush, or Gore, Kennedy or Clinton? (Is it just me, or are aristocratic political families more common on the Democratic side? Or do they just get more play in the press? Come up with more future names for Caesar in the comments and I'll add them to the post. )

Via Instapundit.

Update: Francis W. Porretto came up with these, and I've commented on his lists:

Democrats: Kennedy/Shriver, Cuomo, Daley, Rockefeller (ignore Nelson; he was a sport), Clayton Powell, and Clinton, plus maybe the Longs of Louisiana. I'd add Gore. In Kansas we had the Dockings, but they never made it out of state.

Republicans: Bush and Taft. I'd add Dole, since if we consider Bill/Hillary we have to add Bob/Liddy. In Kansas we had Landon/Kassebaum, but again they never made it out of state.

I guess Al Gore is evidence that any state political family can go national.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Move On Should Live Up To Its Own Standard

Move On was started thus:
Censure and Move On was a bipartisan group of concerned citizens organizing around a single cause: reaching closure on the Clinton scandal. The vast majority of the American public understood that a continuing obsession with scandal will do great damage to our institutions, our economy, and our power and prestige in the world. We expect our representatives to understand this as well, and show true leadership.
So why are they sending out email critical of Arnold Schwartnegger's sexual escapades? Grrr.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

My Vote In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending Oct 4

Here is my vote in The New Weblog Showcase:

More on Mylroie and Manufacturing Consent

Busier Than A One-Armed Paperhanger

Jeff at Alphecca wants Kim du Toit to update his blogroll and answer all his reader mail.

I wrote to President Nixon when I was ten and he didn't write back either. I suggested he do everything he could for peace, including dropping leaflet bombs, which I thought I had invented. I did get a nice note from his personal secretary, Rosemary Woods, (of the eighteen minute gap) though. Maybe when Kim gets his own personal secretary she can answer all his Reader mail. I figure that will be sometime after he's opened the "Du Toit Museum of Firearm History and Shooting Range".

Monday, September 29, 2003

Micheal Moore Is Just Another Joe

I know Rachel Lucas hates him, but Micheal Moore appears to be just another Joe in this video clip. He does admit that his films are 'op-ed' pieces, which explains their deceptive qualities. Even so, just because you believe someone is frequently wrong isn't a reason to demonize them. I believe I am frequently wrong, and I hope no one demonizes me.

Of course Micheal Moore does demonize George Bush and John Ashcroft. By my lights George Bush is a lot like Bill Clinton politically (although I like George's character better) and John Ashcroft is a lot like Janet Reno. None of them take the sort of principled stand for our Constitution that I'd like. Please, Mr. President, veto a popular law and say "I would have liked the law if I didn't think it was unconstitutional." Wouldn't that be refreshing?

Via Instapundit.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I Hope It's Not Spreading

Steven Den Beste may have been hacked. Urg. I hope he gets things cleared up.

Are Gun Rights Lawyers Worse At Strategy Than Saddam?

According to Dave Kopel, the answer is yes, most definitely yes. The first case, Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove, is over, and the damage is done. The second case, Silveira v. Lockyer, has already done considerable damage to gunrights and may yet do more.

All judges are human. All humans are political and biased. We want our judges to be above politics and beyond bias, indeed we expect our judges to be above politics and beyond bias, but we want our lawyers to know better. Sorry, the U.S. judicial system is a political system. So, here are some things to remember, organized in a fashion to be chanted:

The judicial system is political!
The judicial system is political!
The judicial system is political!

Choose your venue carefully!
Choose your venue carefully!
Choose your venue carefully!

Choose cases that will win!
Choose cases that will win!
Choose cases that will win!

Work from small to large!
Work from small to large!
Work from small to large!

Grandstanding beginners, looking to make a name for themselves, are right out!
Grandstanding beginners, looking to make a name for themselves, are right out!
Grandstanding beginners, looking to make a name for themselves, are right out!

Via the Volokh Conspiracy.

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase - Week Ending 28 Sept

Here are my votes in The New Weblog Showcase:

Who Ate My Democracy?
I hate cruelty to animals
Caucasian Club

I seem to have got last weeks entries confused somehow. Hmmm.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

My Votes In The New Weblog Showcase

Here are my votes in The New Weblog Showcase:

Who Ate My Democracy?
Red Sox Nation
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Aftermath--The New World 9-12-01
The WTO disaster and the security threat within
Caucasian Club

Guns & Mothers on PBS

Have anyone seen Guns & Mothers on PBS? It is supposedly a balanced look between the Million Mom March and Second Amendment Sisters, but my wife said it wasn't balanced at all. (Next time, wake me up, dear!) They have a talkback section.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Is The California Recall Ruling A Symptom Of Constitutional Cancer?

Here is what James Lileks said on Wednesday about the Ninth Circuit ruling on the recall:
I wrote my weekly column about the California recall / 9th circuit thang, so I’m not going to write about it here. Except to say this: imagine you’ve been asked to complete the sentence “I’m pleased that that the courts have canceled the election before it took place, because . . .”

I wouldn’t know what to say. And I’m fascinated by those who leap to finish the sentence. They’re perfectly comfortable with the courts calling off a vote in advance. Wow: jaw, meet Mr. Floor.

04 is going to be bloody, and it’ll be bloodier still after that. This is the sort of stuff that infects the body politic to the point where people demand that we saw off a limb, because the smell is too horrid. This is the stuff that leads to Constitutional Conventions. I’m always slightly chilled when I read a paper from the Center of the American Experiment, because the name reminds you that this is, historically, just that. And as any scientist will tell you: experiments fail.
The best argument that I have heard against the ruling is that it falsely posits that the new voting machines will be more reliable than the old ones. I implement new systems for a living, and the new systems generally are more reliable than the old ones, but not the first time.

This attitude by judges that they can interpret the Constitution as they please without regard for its original meaning, because they are more modern and therefore know better has got to stop. It takes two-thirds of Congress and two-thirds of the state legislatures to overrule the Supreme Court when it decides to change the Constitution like this. Republicans should be against this because it violates the the principle of seperation of powers of the three branches of government. Democrats should be against it because it is rather autocratic, not Democratic at all. The people should be against it because it is tyranny.

I Hope We Win

Here are two facts. George Bush is the President of the United States. The United States is fighting a war on terror. Here is some common wisdom: If the electorate thinks the war on terror is going well, George Bush will be reelected. Below are three possible strategies, if you want a Democrat to be elected President.

The first is to hope the war goes badly. There are almost certainly a few Democrats who feel this way. I would conjecture, however, that if there were a machine which could reliably identify such Democrats that they would be kicked out of the party on a vote with a healthy majority.

The second is to believe this: The war is going badly, since Bush is known to be incompetent. Your belief might convince the electorate, or it might give you false hope. A simple comparison to Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI and the Civil War shows that the war on terror is going quite well, I think. So if you believe that it is going badly, please show me how, and remember the wars I'm comparing it to.

The third is to convince the electorate that the war is going badly even though it is not.

Like James Lileks, I hope we win. I am not happy with any of the three strategies above. If you are a Democrat please do not support those within your party who would embrace any of these three.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Is George Bush Like Honest Abe?

Our sacrifice in the war on terror has been nothing compared to the Civil War or WWII. We have already saved 15,000 Iraqis, based on the average rate at which the Husseins killed their countryman. Sure, it is an estimate, but I am truly convinced that many Iraqi lives have been saved. The American military, responding to criticisms about the way the Vietnam war was fought, has conducted and is still conducting itself in such a way as to minimize both American casualties and civilian causalties.

Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review Online places the Iraqi conflict in its proper perspective. Current Copperheads need not apply. Buck up, people. We are at the start of another long war like the Cold War, and for stakes that are just as great. If you don't like Bush, show me how you would win the war on terror and bring constitutional republics and the rule of law to the Middle East, or something just as good. Give me the grand Democratic (or Green, Libertarian, etc) vision for peace and freedom. Tell me how you think America and the Arabs can truly win, not just prop up the clearly destructive, despotic and tyrannical status quo in the Arabic world. America needs a strong, vibrant opposition party which will bring something wonderful to the table. I was born in Missouri, and I beg of you: Show me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

A Groom's Story

Read this very funny day of the wedding story.


A Plea To All Democrats

The Democratic Party Leadership is not behind the war on terror the way they should be. This is World War IV, folks. (The Cold War was WWIII.) The Bush Administration is trying to win this war before we have the hugh loss of life that we had in WWII. Already we have saved the lives of 15,000 Iraqis by ending the Hussein reign of terror. I am not saying there should not be dissent or disagreement, but an anti-war Democrat should not even be a surprise winner in New Hampshire as McCarthey was in '68, much less be a front-runner like Dean. This war is going extremely well, not like Vietnam.

David Horowitz says this very well at FrontPage magazine.com. Money quote:
It is a dark day for Americans when one of their two ruling parties cannot be counted on to support the flag when it is committed in battle, and when the battle is America’s response to a bloodthirsty aggressor with access to biological, chemical and perhaps even nuclear weapons.
I know that the 'No WMD' response will be forthcoming, so I ask you: Were there anthrax attacks in the US? Did Al Queda try to obtain a crop duster here? Did Hussein gas the Kurds? Did you support the Clinton attack on the 'WMD' factory in Somalia? Do you want to wait until a WMD attack is unleashed here before you respond?

Here is my plea. Stop supporting the Democratic Presidential candidates who would let terrorists strike again and again without ever attempting to shut them down. Remember that Bill Clinton, your best political strategist, said that Bush was right to invade Iraq based on the intelligence we had. Support Lieberman and Edwards, now.

Via Mrs. du Toit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

State-Run Health Care Can Be Dangerous

This story about a woman in Britain whose son in Spain got to the hospital before her was a horrible case, but is still just an anecdote. This evidence against state medical care is equivalent to school shootings as evidence against gun rights. You are more likely to be killed by lightning than you are to be killed in a school shooting, and I suspect that you are even less likely to experience an eight-hour delay in ambulance service. The cold-blooded reaction of the ambulance service spokesman (at the end of the piece) is just as typical for a privately run service afraid of a lawsuit as it is for a government run one.

I say this because my Canadien friend still think their national health care is better based on his experience. (He lives in St. Louis for the music, not the health care.) We need something stronger than individual experience to make our case against socialism in health care. My position is that we should stop allowing employers to exempt health insurance costs from taxes, start allowing individuals to exempt them, and stop subsidizing other countries drugs. I am chagrined that I have no assistance beyond my meager opinions to offer, but you should be used to that by now.

Via Kim du Toit.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Now How Do I Establish Residency?

Missouri passed a concealed carry law. Here is the text of the law. The entire law is interesting. Here are some points:

1. Several kinds of irresponsible shooting are illegal.
2. No guns in churches, election precincts, government buildings, schools, school buses or 'any public assemblage of persons met for any lawful purpose'. That last bit could be pretty restrictive depending on the definition. Urg. Anyone know how to look it up?
3. Many goverment officials plus 'corporate security advisors' are exempt from most restrictions.
4. It allows anyone over twenty-one to conceal a gun in the passenger compartment of their car as long as they don't brandish it, and they can transport a student to school, too.
5. All other concealed cary licenses are reciprocated.
6. Concealed carry licenses shall be issued if the applicant:
a. Is at least twenty-three.
b. Is a resident for six months, or is a member of the armed forces or his spouse stationed in Missouri.
c. Is not a felon.
d. Is not a firearms violator.
e. Is not a fugitive.
f. 'Has not been discharged under dishonorable conditions from the United States armed forces'.
g. 'Has not engaged in a pattern of behavior, documented in public records, that causes the sheriff to have a reasonable belief that the applicant presents a danger to himself or others'.
h. 'Is not adjudged mentally incompetent' or 'committed to a mental health facility'.
i. Has completed firearm safety training.
j. Has paid $100.

So how do I establish residency?

Thursday, September 11, 2003

An Anniversary Story on 9/11

Kim du Toit is right. Your eyes will not be dry after you read this story.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A Theory As To Why The Quality Of Political Debate Is So Poor

Human beings have good reasons to think badly, politically. Read this essay which describes why and how to combat it on a personal level. I suspect this theory can be tested scientifically. If it pans out, perhaps this essay should be taught in our schools and even in our businesses, since office politics probably works the same way. Maybe Francis Porretto at The Palace Of Reason knows some classical scholar who elucidated the whole theory before the birth of Christ. If any of you know of one, it would be cool to find out.

Via Tyler Cowen of The Volokh Conspiracy.

How Do We Improve The Candidates We Get?

Kevin at The Smallest Minority takes a cynical look at politics. There was a time when public service was considered a duty and some politicians served even though they didn't want to. We need to do something to make that happen more often. And figure out a way for voters to get the chance to elect honest men like Washington, Lincoln and Truman more often. Maybe we could select candidates for some offices randomly. Any ideas?

Monday, September 08, 2003

How The Third Republic Rotted From Within

I recommend Traitors Within Our Walls by Kim du Toit. It is worth noting that both parties harbor those who (though they often mean well) threaten this Republic (though they may not realize it). Rudi Guiliani, as much as I admire him, has never protected our right to bear arms, even though as a public official he is sworn to do so.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Unidentified Body Found, Foul Play Suspected

Melbourne, Florida (WBNN)

The body of an unidentified man was found today in an abandoned warehouse here. The man appeared to be of East-Asian descent and was wearing a Mao suit and a tatoo consisting of the letters BFP. The man had been shot twice in the chest with a .44 caliber weapon.

Anyone with information about this crime please call 321-409-2308.

Desecration By Obliteration

Rachel Lucas is furious that there will be no network coverage on the second anniversary of 9/11. So am I.

Why I Miss My Broadband

Do you know how much faster Rachel's dog pictures load with a cable modem? I'm so glad they love their new home and their old toys.

Posting Has Been And Will Be Light

I am on vacation in Milwaukee. We are here to visit the family, but intend to see lots of motorcycles in memory of a fine man, my brother-in-law, who loved Harley-Davidson. I miss my broadband.

Monday, August 25, 2003

No Evidence Clues In France

Headline: France to Israel: No evidence Hamas, Islamic Jihad are ''terror groups''

Wince to France: No evidence that miserable cowardly appeasement does anything other than cost innocent lives.

Via Hawken Blog.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Daredevil Refuses To Oust Aquaman

The Brain Stem, Wince's Brain (WBNN)

Attempts to recruit Daredevil to remove Aquaman from the neural protests around Wince's brain stem were rebuffed when the superhero invoked contractual issues. "I'm a Marvel Comics superhero," Daredevil explained, "Aquaman is a DC Comics superhero. We don't appear in each other's books and I'm not about to jeopardize my contract for this even if we are just ideas in someone's head."

Wince reacted to the setback stoically. "Daredevil is my favorite superhero. He never gives up. I was sure he could defeat Aquaman. I forgot Daredevil was a lawyer. I'd consult my own lawyer, but those guys can get you committed for something like this."

CELT Conference To Premiere In Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee (WBNN)

The first annual Consume Every Living Thing (CELT) Conference will be held this year in Knoxville. The conference is a joint effort of People Eating Tasty Animals (PETA) and Eaters Like Variety Especially Simians (ELVES). The conference sponsers are Best Friend Products of Knoxville and Prehensile Products, of Melbourne, Florida.

The BFP spokesperson, Jennifer, waxed enthusiastic about the conference, "America has long been blessed with organizations promoting beef, pork, poultry and fish. Now we have a forum for more unusual meats such as canine, simian and equine products. As an example, consider Wagglty Tail. Before CELT we didn't have a trade show of our own. Rumor has it our reclusive CEO will attend. I can't wait to meet him."

The PP spokespeople, Susie and Serenity were also enthused. "Our CEO, also a recluse, may also attend," said Susie, "I'm so excited!" When asked why Prehensile Products chose two spokepeople with the same firist initial, Serenity reported, "It's for the alliteration. Like Serenity sells Simian Sizzile or Susie sells Simian Sizzile. We wanted Dr. Seuss for the marketing department except he's deceased." The interview was somewhat disconcerting given that both Serenity and Susie wore the Prehensile Products company uniform, which features dark sunglasses and a Colt Anaconda in a shoulder holster.