Saturday, March 13, 2004

When Laws Multiply, Justice Divides....

This post by the Geek With a .45 is so important, I stole the title. He links to this Fox News article.

The federal criminal code is 1,400 pages. Read it lately? The federal tax code is 17,000 pages is 700 forms. Federal regulations exceed 75,000 pages. God save me from all these laws. How can I follow so many?

Boy Am I Tired Of People Calling People Liars

In the comment thread to this Ara Rubyan post I try to persuade shep to stop calling Bush a liar. I contend that he can't prove it and argue against his points. Next I'll have to find someone (hopefully someone as reasonable as shep) who's calling Kerry a liar and try to persuade him to stop. My last two comments follow.

Thank you for indulging me while my thoughts gel. My biggest problem with your argument is that it appears to be a recycled ad hominem attack from the Iraq debate. Instead of arguing that the war is wrong or the strategy is poor, argue that the Administration is lying. Like all such attacks, it is not precision guided. If your argument was true, since I support the war, I must either be a liar or a dope. Not just me, but folks I admire, like Den Beste and Hanson. I don't think I'm reacting to an attack on Bush's support of the war. I'm reacting to an attack on mine.

It's too bad really, since your argument can be transformed (with considerable work) into an argument that Bush was mistaken when he took us into Iraq. This can in no way be misconstrued as ad hominem. Your difficulty is that the strategy appears to have produced good results already.

Your first point seems to boil down to complaining that the Administration did a poor job of explaining a complex situation to the public. This is not a lie and given human nature I can't see the solution. The problem at its root is that the public has other things they want to do rather than examine complex national security issues. Some are good, like child raising, others less good, like obsessing about the Scott Peterson case. Most people are quite content to leave complex issues such as this to their elected representatives. I, for example, have been happy to leave the complexities of agricultural policy up to our government.

Are you contending that our Republic no longer functions? Was Congress fooled? Did their staff gather all the publicly available information and analysis such as the stuff I read? Was information withheld from their staff? Did the Congressmen and Senators properly examine the information their staff supplied? I'm afraid that your attack has even less precision than you might desire. It also paints all those Democrats which voted for the Resolution as either liars, dopes or cravenly afraid of contrary public opinion, when it was their plain duty to evaluate this serious national security matter on its merits, not on poll results.

Your second point appears to be that the Administration improperly linked Saddam and Al Qaeda. But the Administration was careful not to overstate their evidence. And the relationship did exist, as postwar evidence shows. We went round and round about this on Dean's World. Don't forget the press speculation on the subject. I've never seen an Administration claim that Saddam was involved in 9/11, and you've certainly not quoted one. The Washington Post did find this:
A number of nongovernment officials close to the Bush administration have made the link more directly. Richard N. Perle, who until recently was chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, long argued that there was Iraqi involvement, calling the evidence "overwhelming."
But you can't blame the Administration for anything Richard Perle says. This point is merely an unsubstantiated suspicion on your part because of these poll results. Here's the Post Story interpreting the results. Note this:
Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University professor of linguistics who has studied Bush's rhetoric, said it is impossible to know but "plausible" that Bush's words furthered such public impressions. "Clearly, he's using language to imply a connection between Saddam Hussein and September 11th," she said.

"There is a specific manipulation of language here to imply a connection." Bush, she said, seems to imply that in Iraq "we have gone to war with the terrorists who attacked us."

Tannen said even a gentle implication would be enough to reinforce Americans' feelings about Hussein. "If we like the conclusion, we're much less critical of the logic," she said.
I'm sorry, but a gentle implication does not rise to the serious level at which you are accusing Bush.

Your third argument was that the Administration exaggerated the dangers. This is clearly a difference of opinion on the face of it. Of course someone who did not support the war would make this claim. This isn't even deception.

Your fourth argument was that the administration was already committed to invade and just looking for the most marketable rationale. I'm afraid I did not state my objection to this strongly enough. I believe that overthrowing Saddam by force was excellent strategy against terror on September 10, 2001. And on the ninth. And on the eighth. And on every day back to the end of Gulf War I. The 9/11 attacks made this clear. Prior to 9/11 we thought of the Arab people as if they were just like us. 9/11 made clear that their culture was profoundly different. Failure to remove Saddam weakened us in their eyes. If the Administration had a good idea, and a new event occurs which makes it apparent that the idea was even better than they thought, it is their responsibility to LEAD us. What you are complaining about is a virtue, not a flaw.

Your fifth point (this time I can count) was that they were insincere in their presentations and commitments to Congress and the UN and “spun” the public over the rationale for war. I'm sorry, but "insincerity" and "spun" are too vague for me to really credit this argument as valid, not to mention the mind reading aspect.

I suspect that we have both dug our heels in on this one and will not move. You don't have a smoking gun. I can't prove a negative. We can go on to other topics if you like, unless you've got new evidence.

Oh, and shep, perhaps we should both swear off examining each other's mental state. We aren't very good at it.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The Assault Weapons Ban Is A Fraud

Tom Diaz, of the pro-gun-control Violence Policy Center says, "If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another" in "reducing death and injury." What this means is he wants a ban on all semi-automatic weapons. No more skeet shooting, huh? He says that semi-automatic weapons fire almost as fast as automatic ones. Well, pump action weapons and revolvers fire almost as fast as semi-automatic weapons. Lever action weapons fire almost as fast as pump action weapons. And bolt action weapons are almost as fast as lever action. Don't worry, sportsmen, the gun control nannies are coming for you next.

Tom Diaz won't mention the skyrocketing crime rates in Britain and Australia, where gun control has done nothing to keep criminals from getting firearms. He won't tell you that the street price for illegal firearms in Britain is barely higher than at gun shops here, even though Britain is an island. And he won't tell you how we can prevent gun smuggling when we can't prevent cocaine smuggling.

Via The Volokh Conspiracy.

I'm A Liberty Geek

My Libertarian Purity Test score was 59, so I'm a medium core libertarian. I mainly vote Republican, though.

Via The Volokh Conspiracy.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I Luv KC: BB's Lawnside BBQ

If you want the best blues club in Kansas City, rather than the best all-around music club, you should drop by BB's Lawnside BBQ. I enjoyed it when I visited, but the best recommendation I can give is really that of my friend Bill Rosmus. Bill plays a fine amateur blues guitar himself and is often privileged to jam with St. Louis blues legend Bennie Smith. The recommendation isn't anything Bill says, its just seems that every time he came up for work from St. Louis he stopped by BB's Lawnside BBQ. It was also odd how often it was for the Thursday night open jam session. And how he always brought his guitar. And how the next day he was tired but happy...

As before, send me an email if you are ever in Kansas City and I'll tell you how to get to BB's Lawnside privileged, and if I can swing my schedule we'll enjoy some fine Kansas City ribs.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

I Luv KC: The Grand Emporium

The Grand Emporium is the best little music club in Kansas City. From their website:
Since July 1st, 1985, the Grand Emporium has been Kansas City's premier live music venue. We feature both national and regional blues, reggae, rock, zydeco, jazz and swing seven nights a week!
My spouse, who has great taste in music, introduced me to the Grand Emporium relatively early in our courtship. We've danced to zydeco, blues and the King of Tex - Mex rock n roll, Joe King Carrasco. Boy does that joint jump.

Send me an email if you are ever in Kansas City and I'll tell you how to get to the Grand Emporium, and if I can swing my schedule we'll buy each other a brew.

Kim Visits Dachau

The echoes of Dachau, like sonar, reveal true shapes in the present.

Peaceful Dodge City

Kim du Toit points out that the murder rate in Kansas cow towns was actually quite low.

Monday, March 01, 2004

I Luv KC: Saigon 39

Saigon 39 is the best Vietnamese restaurant I've ever been to in Kansas City. I love their food, especially their fantastic nouveau cuisine spring rolls. They are not fried and the filling is made entirely of fresh, crisp vegetables. They are served cold, with peanut sauce for dipping. You may never eat spring rolls like them anywhere else. I know I haven't. I don't know the names of any of the other dishes, since I never went there with anyone who knew anything about what we were eating, but everything I tried tasted great. I ate lunch there many times when I worked downtown. Saigon 39 is not downtown, but it is close, near KU Medical Center.

Send me an email if you are ever in Kansas City and I'll compromise my anonymity to introduce you to Saigon 39. Actually, even if you don't like Vietnamese food, if you're in KC, send me an email. I'm not picky enough to be a connoisseur, but I've tried almost every kind. I also can recommend good music spots, churches and other useful stuff. I love this city, even though it isn't much in the grand scheme of things.

Adapted from my comment in this very tenuously related thread at Dean's World.