Archive for May, 2007

Ashes

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

I haven’t commented on the John Ashcroft revelations. Needless to say, I think Sullivan has the best take:

But in case the import of this is not clear: John Ashcroft was way too moderate for these people. John Ashcroft.

Why stick with the Man Who Fears Boobies when you can go with the Little Legal Creep?

The Moral Question

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

You know, I’m sure the Republicans think that morality is a very important issue in politics. That they stand full force against moral relativism (which is the incorrect word they use when they mean “amoralism”).

So how come is it that when confronted with one of the biggest moral issues of our time — whether or not to torture prisoners because they might be terrorists — the supposed moral stalwarts fall behind weasel words and euphemisms (“enhanced interrogation techniques”), moral equivalence (“Al-Quaeda doesn’t observe the Geneva convention!”), fantasy (“We need Jack Bauer!”) and rationalization (“ticking time bomb”).

Why is that the only people who define a bright moral line against torture are the RINO and the Libertarian.

Kurdistan?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

Cato takes apart the idea of redeploying to Kurdistan. I’ve always felt this was something being tossed off by ignorami as a way to withdraw without withdrawing.

Another reason that this commentary misses is strategic. Kurdistan is land-locked. If Iraq turns ugly, the only way to get out is through Turkey. And I’m sure they’d be delighted to have tens of thousands of troops and thousands or armored vehicles marching through their country.

Cheap Power

Monday, May 14th, 2007

WaPo comments on subsidies for rural electricity concerns.

I’m part of a rural co-op. And I would happily countenance a 15% hike in my electricity rates if it meant slashing lots of government spending. I see no reason why people in Dubuque should pay taxes to keep my electric bills reasonable.

Reimporting Drugs

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Why is drug re-importation a bad idea?

There’s no question that Congress is responding here to popular will. But the long-term implications are palpable. If companies are forced by the U.S. government to continue supplying cheap drugs to countries from which they are then reimported to the U.S. — crowding out the higher-priced domestic supply of drugs — it’s only a matter of time until profits are insufficient to support the enormous costs of R&D for future drugs. No one wants to kill that golden goose, but there it is.

Let me sum this up for you. In order for senior citizens to get cheap Viagra, we, our children and our children’s children have to surrender new antibiotics for drug-restistant disease, new treatments of evolving Herpes and AIDS viruses, possible cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. We would be the first generation in two millenia to have worse health than our parents. And the Congress wants to give this to them.

I swear. AARP and the other special interests need to adopt an accurate symbol for their movement. I propose the image of an old man violating a baby. That would perfectly reflect what they are doing to future generations.

Despicable

Monday, May 14th, 2007

A school stages a fake gun attack. I’m reminded of an episode of Bullshit! where they stage a drug raid on a school to show the kids . . . something.

Because our public schools are doing so well at teaching the three R’s, they have time to indoctrinate students on living in a police state.

No

Monday, May 14th, 2007

This is a joke, right? Someone’s pulling a fast one on my birthday, no?

Please?!

Paul == Goldwater?

Friday, May 11th, 2007

There’s a buzz buidling up out there about Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Having now viewed the Youtube of the debate, I’ll agree that he clearly stood out from the pack, articulating the views that used to define the conservative-libertarian wing of the GOP. He also made Romney et al. look the panderers they are.

Right now, the buzz I’m hearing is along the lines of “well, I like him a lot, but he’s got no chance”. I can understand the pessimism, since the public likes their pander. But I don’t see why this excludes supporting him here and now. Maybe he’d have a chance then. Frankly, I’ve never understood this desire people have to vote for the “winnah” instead of the best candidate. Isn’t it better to go down in flames with the candidate you like? Especially in this case? It’s not like if you vote for Paul in the primary, you can’t vote for Romney or whoever in the general election.

A grass-roots surge for Paul would be yet another 2×4 to the head of the GOP. Judging by the tone of the front-runners, the smack upside the head they received in November hasn’t quite taken. Maybe if Ron Paul is running a close second come January 2008, they’ll get the message.

In any case, the comparison that jumped out immediately to me while hearing him speak was Barry Goldwater. And the more I think about it, the more I wonder if we’d be best served by a Barry Goldwater in 2008 – a candidate who emerges from the shadows to lose to a Democrat through no fault of his own (1964 was Kennedy’s martyrdom; 2008 will be Bush blacklash and Obamania). But in his defeat, he infuses the GOP with the conservative-libertarian spirit that needs to be refreshed from time to time. The spirit that will produce the next Reagan.

One can hope.

Rendezvous with Density

Friday, May 11th, 2007

No, that’s not a mis-spelling.

One of the tragic aspects of the Iraqi debacle is that it didn’t have to be this way. Iraq descended into chaos because of incompetent leadership (Rumsfeld and Bremmer, in particular) compounded by the utter refusal of the Administration to admit to any problems.

One of the people who comes off quite well in Cobra II is General David Petraeus, then commander of the 101st Airborne (from whose motto comes the title of this post). Petraeus, more than anyone, recognized the difficulties of governing post-war Iraq. Assigned to pacify the Sunni city of Mosul, he took off his body armor and met personally with tribal leaders to keep the city calm. It became a model for the region.

Had we had more men like David Petraeus and fewer like Don Rumsfeld, things might have gone differently.

So it comes as no surprise to me that he has spoken out against torture. From a general in the field, this is about as iconoclastic as it gets. And if you read between the lines, he’s not just addressing his men — but all the people who think torture is justified and/or effective.

He is absolutely right, not only in his moral stance but in his understanding of what needs to be done to win Iraq. I just don’t know that he’s going to get through to the rock-heads in the White House or the Right Wing Echosphere.

It just so happens that I recently watched Band of Brothers again. What is it about the 101st (and the 82nd!) that produces such fine men? They can bring both terror to the enemy and hope to the oppressed.

Debris

Friday, May 11th, 2007

I’m not surprised:

While by no means unique to California, pickup trucks and other vehicles piled high with improperly secured loads are a fact of life here, contributing — thanks to the laws of physics — to an estimated 140,000 cubic yards of road debris a year. That is enough to fill 8,750 garbage trucks, which would extend for 45 miles, said Tamie McGowen, a spokeswoman for Caltrans, the state transportation department. And it is increasingly hazardous, experts say.

In California, 155 people lost their lives in the last two years after accidents involving objects on highways, and states are beginning to address the issue.

A huge part of this is things falling off of trucks. And it’s not just big things. Sue has a nice crack in her windshield from an SUV kicking up gravel on the highway. And I’ve often been pelted with pebbles from trucks. Just the other day, we were driving in SA and a piece of metal flew up behind a truck and smashed Sue’s front light. It was only afterward that I realized an additional foot of elevation might have deposited it through the window and into my chest.

This is yet another example of how inconsiderate the drivers of big vehicle have gotten. Sue and I have been repeatedly cut off, forced into emergency lanes, pelted with unsecured sand or pebbles or forced to open our car door with a can opener because of some asshole in an SUV or pickup. It’s not enough that they are burning up all our fossil fuels and polluting the atmosphere. Now they’re trying to kill us by not securing their damned loads.

The GOP, Reloaded

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Daniel Hinninger argues that the GOP wants to reboot is politics.

No, ask yourself a question: do you think the GOP would be talking about rebooting and finding a new path had the voters not whomped them across the skull with a 2×4 in November?

At Last

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

A blow for decency.

Let’s Not Get Too Cocky

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of arguments like this lately.

Now, I know, I know: we face a dedicated, determined threat that’s so deadly, (so “existential,” man) that dangerous distractions like the Constitution and critical thinking must be suspended for the duration while we duct tape ourselves to our recliners and dutifully watch Fox News. But I can’t help thinking the Fort Dix plot is part of a pattern: that a good many of the players on Team Jihad just don’t seem all that bright.

Well, blowing yourself up is, by definition, not a terribly bright thing to do. But I have to disagree with esteemed Healey for several reasons:

  • First, I agree that the danger is being exploited by power-greedy politicians and we have gone too far in eroding our civil liberties. Terrorism, like Drugs, has come to resemble the hobgoblin Mencken warned us about. The Patriot Act was a collection of powers the government had always wanted — and suddenly had the excuse for.
  • But that doesn’t mean the danger isn’t real or that the stupidity of the recently-busted cells indicates anything. By definition, if there is a distribution of intelligence in terror cells, we will always break up the dumb ones first. Osama bin Laden is not an idiot and neither are the rest of the AQ leaders. And remember, the terrorists have to only be smart once. We have to be smart every time. There was an argument on Sullivan last week about 9/11 being a rare “perfect storm” of circumstances. Well, even if we buy that, how often can we afford a perfect storm? The next one might leave tens of thousands on the deck.
  • The reason to oppose violations of the Constitution, torture and the erosion of our liberty is not because terrorism isn’t a threat. It’s because they are ineffective ways of battling terrorism. And even if they were effective, the price is too high.
  • To be honest, I’m shocked we haven’t had more terrorist incididents in this country — in particular the more mundane and easily planned and executed shooting sprees and bombs they have used so often in Israel. We are, and hopefully always will be, an open and trusting people. You would think terrorists would be like wolves among sheep, especially if the Right is right on the “wussification” thing.

    Of course, it’s easier to bomb a country that’s only a few minutes’ walk away than one that’s across an ocean. But I keep wondering if the terrorist are coming over here to blow things up or shoot people and then losing the inclination. I wonder if after a few months or years or American TV and American food and American cars and American girls in American miniskirts, they’re deciding they’d rather just be Americans, in action if not in law.

    Homeland Defense

    Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

    The biggest pork barrel EVAH!.