The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
This is what I'm thankful for:
Lt. John Gibson of the 82nd's 325th Regiment wrote his parents on his birthday this summer that "we are homesick and want to see our families and loved ones, but not at the expense of an incomplete mission. I know that a completely free and democratic Iraq may not be in place by the time that I leave, but it will be significantly under way before I am redeployed. I see things here, on a daily basis, that hurt the human heart. I see poverty, crime, terrorism, murder, and stupidity. However, I see hope in the eyes of many Iraqis, hope for a chance to govern themselves. I think they are on the cusp of a new adventure, a chance for an entire country to start over again..."
...When you talk to our wounded soldiers they say, astonishingly, that they don't regret the fight. Almost universally, they say they are anxious to return to their units as soon as possible. Most American warriors subscribe to the words of John Stuart Mill: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
Mad As Hell
I'm so angry about this I can barely speak: Bush Promises to Sign Medicare Overhaul.
It seems that fiscal conservatives have two non-choices out there: bigger government and much bigger government.
Enjoy those drugs, seniors!
The money is coming out of my son's paycheck.
Where does he work?
He doesn't work! He's only three years old.
Oh, don't worry, and please don't feel any guilt!
His brother will chip in too! He's six months old.
I'll try to raise them to be good workers, but it is going to be hard to teach them not to cheat on their taxes.
Every politician in Washington knows that Medicare's spending is unsustainable. They know that Social Security will never pay a dime to anyone who is currently under forty. But they won't be seeking election in 2030, so they don't care.
They have sold the future for their short term political gain. These are the same people who were
"appalled" by Enron's arrogance, yet they are doing something many times more criminal.
Only five senators (all conservative Republicans from the South and West) voted against this bill for the right reasons. They know that Medicare is out of control.
The other Senators voted against it because it doesn't take enough money from my sons.
Fiscal conservatives have lost this battle, but we're going to win this war.
The future for fiscal conservatism is bright in the US.
In Europe, the average person will be 55 in 2030. In the US, the average person will be 35.
Try to get elected telling a 30-year-olds that you need to raise taxes by 30% because social security is running out of money.
You'll be unemployed, and granny is going out on the street.
But that is an exaggeration.
What will actually happen is granny will be moving in with her children.
And this will alleviate another great non-crisis in America: the lack of affordable child care.
My sons may have some strange political views, but I can guarantee that they will be fiscal conservatives.
Their survival will depend on it.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Man gets "spam rage" over penis ad
By Adam Tanner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Call it spam rage: A Silicon Valley computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of the company he blames for bombarding his computer with Web ads promising to enlarge his penis.
In one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the state that made "road rage" famous, Charles Booher, 44, was arrested on Thursday and released on bail for making repeated threats to staff of a Canadian company between May and July.
Booher threatened to send a "package full of Anthrax spores" to the company, to "disable" an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and ice pick; and to hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their e-mail list, prosecutors said.
He used return e-mail addresses including Satan@hell.org.
In a telephone interview with Reuters on Friday, Booher acknowledged that he had behaved badly but said his computer had been rendered almost unusable for about two months by a barrage of pop-up advertising and e-mail.
Friday, November 21, 2003
The US-Europe Divide
This explains the differences between the US and Europe as well anything I've read:
Sometimes when the status quo is intolerable, the best answer is to chuck everything and strike out into the wilderness. If life in the slums of Europe is terrible, the best answer may be to save enough money for a steamship ticket and move to a strange land across the ocean, where they speak a strange language but where there's more opportunity. The great wave of immigration in the sixty years after the American Civil War was a filter; those who said, "It might be better!" were more likely to go than those who said, "It might be worse!"
Achievement builds confidence, and failure erodes it. The 20th century was far more kind to America than it was to Europe. America faced its challenges with a can-do attitude and generally triumphed, while Europe was devastated by two world wars and was the front line in a third (the Cold War), and became increasingly risk-averse. By the mid 1960's most of Europe had achieved a reasonably comfortable life, and the fixation was less on how it could be further improved as on how it might end up getting worse again.
Or, at least, "Old Europe" thought that way. The nations which were part of the Soviet empire during the Cold War, Rumsfeld's "New Europe", have been far more eager to take chances and embrace new ideas because their Stalinist alternative had been pretty crummy.
Politically, it all came to a head in response to the attacks on the US in September of 2001. The terrible events of that day made clear that the status quo in the world was intolerable. A radical militant Islamic group based in Afghanistan had reached out and touched the US, and 3,000 people died. They and others like them could no longer be ignored; the attack they did make was audacious and canny, but the only formal weapon used was the oldest weapon we know of: knives. There was a chance that in future they'd be able to get their hands on far more devastating weapons and might use them against us, and the probability of that looked to rise as time went on.
Old Europe's answer was caution. Go slowly. Try to negotiate. Cooperate, talk, use the minimum amount of force and interference and coercion necessary, so as to minimize the risk of unforeseen consequences of action. Embrace the precautionary principle; when unsure, do nothing.
President Bush embraced a far more comprehensive and activist solution, though for the first couple of years of the war it wasn't really formally acknowledged (because doing so would have damaged our chances for success). The key issue can be summarized by the word "destabilization"; one of the early arguments made in Europe opposing an invasion of Iraq was the fear that it might destabilize the entire region.
What those commentators may not have realized at the time was that this was not seen by American strategists as a negative consequence, something bad which might happen. Destabilization was their primary strategic means by which to win the war.
Europeans who feared destabilization feared what might come of it. There might be new wars. There might be economic consequences, especially considering the sensitivity of petroleum prices to the political situation in the Gulf. Existing business and diplomatic relationships might change. The situation could become extremely fluid, difficult to predict. It was better not to take the chance.
The American strategists saw the status quo as being unacceptable because they saw too great a chance that there would be future attacks against us, which would eventually be far more destructive. There was a greater degree of confidence in ability to respond to and deal with the unexpected. America was also far more powerful than Old Europe, and had more resources in more areas which could be applied.
Man Vs. Machine
Krauthammer even manages to make chess play-by-plays exciting, describing a match between Gary Kasparov and some supercomputer named "Fritz:"
In Game 3 the computer lost because, being a computer, it has (for now) no imagination. Computers can outplay just about any human when the field is open, the pieces have mobility and there are millions of possible tactical combinations.
Kasparov therefore steered Game 3 into a position that was utterly static -- a line of immobile pawns cutting across the board like the trenches of the First World War.
Neither side could cross into enemy territory. There was, 'thought' Fritz, therefore nothing to do. It can see 20 moves deep, but even that staggering foresight yielded absolutely no plan of action. Like a World War I general, Fritz took to pacing up and down behind its lines.
Kasparov, on the other hand, had a deep strategic plan. Quietly and methodically, he used the bit of space he had on one side of the board to align his pieces, preparing for the push of a single pawn down the flank to queen -- and win.
Meanwhile, Fritz was reduced to shuffling pieces back and forth.
At one point, it moved its bishop one square and then back again on the next move.
No human would ever do that.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
The latest news from Mars: PETA Delays Ad Poking Fun at Clay Aiken
NEW YORK — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has delayed a new ad campaign with the slogan "Get Neutered, It Didn't Hurt Clay Aiken (search)," while it waits to see if Aiken will apologize for negative comments he made about cats, PETA officials said Tuesday.
"If Clay Aiken intends on staying famous, he has to learn to take a joke," said Dan Mathews, vice president of the Norfolk, Va.-based animal rights group.
The ad features the crass puppet Triumph the Insult Comic dog (search) from "Late Night" with Conan O'Brien urging pet owners to spay or neuter their animals. The barb came from Triumph, but PETA allowed the ad because of an interview Aiken gave to Rolling Stone Magazine in June where he said he didn't like cats.
"There's nothing worse to me than a house cat. When I was about sixteen, I had a kitten and ran over it. Seeing that cat die, I actually think that its spirit has haunted me. I wasn't afraid of cats before. But now they scare me to death," Aiken told Rolling Stone.
Mathews said if Aiken will post a message on his Web site urging pet owners to spay or neuter their animals, and give an interview for PETA's Web site, the ad campaign will be modified to "Cut 'em off. They don't taste that great anyway."
Can't They Do Anything Without Spending Gobs Of Money?
Energy crisis? Why it's just a big excuse to spend money!House passes subsidy-rich energy bill
The House voted 246-180 for the bill, which Republicans drafted mainly in secret and which has something for almost everybody, including about $23.5 billion in tax breaks and billions more in straight subsidies to big energy industries, in hopes of spurring domestic fuel production.
The measure's official cost was pegged at $32 billion over 10 years by the Congressional Budget Office, but some independent analysts estimated it as much higher; Taxpayers for Common Sense put it at $95 billion. The discrepancy arises in part because the CBO does not include the potential costs of loan guarantees, and the bill would grant $18 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of an Alaska-to-Chicago natural-gas pipeline.
Senate Republican leaders are counting on the bill's parochial appeal to carry it to victory, but local concerns can cut both ways, and a bipartisan Senate coalition of fiscal conservatives, Northeastern Republicans, environmentalists and consumer advocates vowed to try to block the measure.
They will fail. In Congress, any kind of fiscal responsibility fails.
These people can get themselves so worked up about Enron, but they are doing something far worse.
And they do while our media watchdogs look on approvingly.
Solving The Black-White Education Disparity
Mortimer Zuckerman says what needs to be said: When it comes to educating EVERYONE in our society, the left is chasing mirages and promoting nothing of value. Only when society discards these sacred cows can the real important work of educational reform begin:
Mortimer B. Zuckerman: A hard look at what works
One might be pardoned for thinking that such (racial) disparities would have been reduced by all the efforts and money expended over the past 15 years. But the gulf is widening. Why? That's the most important question confronting our society today. (boldface is mine - JR)....Let's look at some of the basics.
"It's a question of poverty." Not so. Within identical income brackets, black students have much lower scores. More stunning is the fact that black students with parents who make $80,000 to $100,000 have lower SAT scores, 934 on average, than white students from families in the $20,000-to-$30,000 income range, who average 992.
"It is the lack of integration." There is no evidence that desegregation has substantially improved achievement. Even in integrated, upper-middle-class suburbs, such as Shaker Heights, near Cleveland, black students do much worse than whites, and few blacks pass proficiency tests with honors.
"It is because of inadequate spending." No, again. On an inflation-adjusted per-capita basis, education spending has doubled in the past 30 years with, at best, meager results. Cambridge, Mass., spends $17,000 per student--twice that of Boston--and the student-teacher ratio is the second lowest in the country. But black students there not only lag behind whites and Asians but scored lower than blacks in nearby communities that spent less than half as much as Cambridge did. Similar conclusions can be drawn from states like New Jersey and Kansas, both of which dramatically increased spending with little to show for it.
"Classes are too big." On the contrary, class sizes have shrunk since 1992, and there has been virtually no corresponding effect on black performance. California spent a fortune reducing class sizes from kindergarten through third grade, with few benefits. Indeed, the state had to hire thousands of additional teachers, putting poor kids into classes with instructors with less skill and experience.
"It's the teachers." No appreciable effect has come from having more certified teachers or more black teachers.
All too true. And so is Zuckerman's diagnosis of the problem:
Then why not impose rigor in our public schools? Their answer is that public schools are hobbled by inflexibility and the inertia imposed by big city and state public-school bureaucracies and by powerful teachers unions. Egalitarian pay scales based on length of service and the inability to dismiss poor teachers, along with the limits on a principal's freedom of action, make it impossible to incentivize better teachers and hire better principals.
How do you clean the bird shit and bat guano out these moldering school administrations?
One word: VOUCHERS.
The Osama-Saddam Link - Continued
Case Open - Why is the press avoiding the Weekly Standard's intelligence scoop?
It certainly would seem that a recent Senate Intelligence Committee memo linking Saddam and Osama would be big news.
But not with our media:
What's keeping the pack from tearing Hayes' story to shreds, from building on it or at least exploiting the secret document from which Hayes quotes? One possible explanation is that the mainstream press is too invested in its consensus finding that Saddam and Osama never teamed up and its almost theological view that Saddam and Osama couldn't possibly have ever hooked up because of secular/sacred differences. Holders of such rigid views tend to reject any new information that may disturb their cognitive equilibrium.
The New York Times has not reported the story (at least on the web), but its columnists are mentioning it:
Former spooks who convinced reporters that there was never any connection between Saddam's Iraqi regime and Osama bin Laden's terror network would forthrightly assert they were uninformed about the decade-long links that were revealed in the classified memo the Senate Intelligence Committee requested from Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith. (The secret memo detailing 50 instances has gone relatively uncovered by major media because it surfaced in the current Weekly Standard, but is the subject of an automatic leak investigation — yet another time-wasting mistake.)
People who said that there could never be a link are ignorant of history - even US history: Leaders who hate each other can put aside their differences when they confront a common powerful enemy.
Didn't it ever dawn on these people that most of the people we've fought since World War II were once our friends? We once fought alongside Kim Il Jong, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Noriega - and we even armed Saddam and Osama.
Why wouldn't Saddam and Osama do the same?
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Bush's Biggest Mistake - Coming Soon
All you need to know is that if the AARP supports something, it must be terrible for the country: Medicare Plan Covering Drugs Backed by AARP.
This thing is going to cost about five times what they say it will cost in ten years. It will hasten the end of Medicare certainly, but only because it will bankrupt the country. Haven't politicans learned anything about entitlements in the last 40 years?
But politicians are falling over themselves to support it.
I hate them. I hate them all.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
The Saddam-Osama Connection
Saddam would never work with Osama, right?
Sure they both hate the US and wish to see us all dead.
But you see, Saddam is a secular Arab and Osama is a devout Muslim.
We need to stop getting distracted in the War On TerrorTM and go after Osama!
There's no evidence of a link between them! Cheney tried to imply it, but he LIED!
Saddam? Oh, he's OK, just a little annoying, that's all..Uh Ohhhh..what's this?
Oh no. Another Democratic campaign tactic goes down the drain.
Intelligence Report Links Saddam, Usama
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (search) gave terror lord Usama bin Laden's thugs financial and logistical support, offering Al Qaeda (search) money, training and haven for more than a decade, it was reported yesterday.
Their deadly collaboration — which may have included the bombing of the USS Cole (search) and the 9/11 attacks — is revealed in a 16-page memo to the Senate Intelligence Committee (search) that cites reports from a variety of domestic and foreign spy agencies compiled by multiple sources, The Weekly Standard (search) reports.
UPDATE: A few months ago, many liberal blogs were pestering Fox News because a poll showed that a great number of Fox News fans believed that Saddam had something to do with the attacks on 9/11.
Everyone (that is every talking head) assured us that this idea - Saddam and Osama collaborating - was ridiculous.
I'm not a huge fan of Fox News (it is merely another voice in a huge universe), but it would seem some skepticism is order for the idea that secular Arabs would never work with Islamic fundamentalists. And for the idea that Saddam (Saddam Hussein (!), the man gassed 5000 people on a whim) was privately horrified by Al Qaeda and hated them almost as much as we did.
After all, Saddam has been generously (and openly) funding any asshole who kills Israeli children for years. Would he not feel the same hatred toward America (certainly with much secrecy)?
Should we make a distinction between Al Qaeda, Hezballah, Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, Saddam, Wahabism, Iran and Syria?
I think not.
They are all branches of the same tree.
We have to kill the tree. One way or another.
The other day, a friend of mine was complaining about the Republicans. I’m voting Republican now, not because I love them, but because I really hate Democrats.
To this friend, though, I might as well be Trent Lott.
The reason he hated the Republicans, he said, was their image of government: no sympathy for the downtrodden, no help for the poor.
He was interested in helping people.
Or so he said. I asked him: how often do you give money to charity? He looked confused, but then admitted that he rarely did.
My major beef with Democrats: though they don’t like to give to charity themselves (in general), they want to take MY money and force the government to “help” the poor with it, so that THEIR consciences will feel better.
Even large numbers of very affluent Democrats feel this way (remember Al Gore's tax returns?)
This has been a suspicion of mine for a long time. Now I have some proof (thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the link).
This is a table of the most generous states.
The red states – the cruel, heartless, red Republican states – give the most money to charity as percentage of their income.
The caring blue states – the loving Democrats – tend to be very stingy, despite their wealth. The three richest states – Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts – rank fairly low in giving: 16th, 35th and 30th, consecutively. They are Democratic bastions.
Why give to charity when you can force the government to do it for you?
The poorer Republican states are far more generous, and they dominate the top twenty:
Where are all the caring Democratic states? New Hampshire is dead last, Maryland is 32nd, and Illinois is 35th.
I prefer private charity. Private charities have two advantages: they can choose whom to help and they can induce shame.
Shame? How could I say shame?
I mean it.
The poor eighteen-year-old girl with two children, no diploma, and no husband does not need to be told that her poverty is not her fault. A wad of cash and society's confession of guilt does nothing for her.
She has to learn that these things - having children out of wedlock, quitting school - were mistakes. It may be too late for her (though maybe not), but her children need to look at her and say "there is no way I'm letting that happen to me."
This is how you fight poverty: teach people the path of success.
If a person stays in school, doesn't get pregnant, avoids addiction, gets married after the age of 25 and stays that way, the chances that she will be poor are nearly zero.
Charities often do this. Good charities take in the lowest of the low: people who admit their mistakes, have hit bottom and need a little help to (and are prepared to endure the shame of) getting back on their feet.
Government has no metric for contrition. It can only determine that anyone who falls below a certain income level or fits certain criteria gets a check.
This government function (welfare) requires limited shame from the poor, and, as a result, it serves as incentive.
Getting a government check and food stamps so that you can raise your baby in YOUR apartment on YOUR own might not sound like much of incentive to most of us. Particularly when the apartment is in a bad part of town.
But try running it by a poor twelve-year-old girl. It sounds like a continuous summer vacation, with a TV to watch and a cuddly toddler to play with! What fun!
My wife and I are not stingy. We give to charity regularly. But our non-charity expenses come first, mainly because they are not optional. Each month, we spend about $1700 on day care, $1250 on mortgage, $1500 on taxes, $500 on food, $400 on utilities, $250 on transportation, and $800 on retirement savings (which is a necessity for our generation, thank you baby boomers!). We don't ask for sympathy or "help." We are quite happy, even if things are a little tight.
There is not much left at the end of the month for chairty, but we do manage to give.
One charity we will never give another dime to is called IHN.
Instead of money, one week we gave our time - helping this charity out as volunteers. There were several people this charity was "helping." But it was pretty clear to us after an hour or so that this charity wasn't doing these people any good. It was treating these people like children - giving them a nice big place to play and feeding them expensive junk food (that I wouldn't waste money on for my family).
How, under such circumstances, can you expect people to grow up?
My wife and I left IHN so frustrated and angry that we could hardly speak. Far from fighting poverty, charities like IHN just accomodate it.
But they are light years ahead of government: Government - though its false incentives and wonderful programs- actually creates poverty for future generations.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Steven Den Beste:
Part of what we face is an implacable ideology, one rooted deeply in the past, one incompatible with the modern era, and one which finds our existence intolerable and wants us all dead. There are only two ways to defeat such an ideology: by convincing most of those who subscribe to it to change their minds, or by killing them.
It is ironic that the bloodthirsty Republicans are the ones who advocate a policy that will - hopefully - "change their minds:" the liberalization of Iraq.
The Democrats are embarking on a policy of ignoring them - a policy which will not work. Eventually, we will have to kill them on a large scale.
The Democrats will call their current policy "containment."
I call it genocide.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
It Was Bound To Happen....
Just when you think you work for a company full of smart people, someone misuses the "reply to all" feature and the dummies start coming out of the woodwork, notifying the entire company that they don't think that the e-mail was intended for them.
I had no idea that my company had a special employment program for retards. And a surprising number of them are managers.
These people can't figure out e-mail? Do Post-ItTM notes baffle them too?
Who Knew He Was Single?
Bachelor Number One is a candidate for the US presidency, naively pledging to rename the Defense Department the "Department Of Peace." He wants the US to implement a fiscally ruinous universal health scheme so that he can do to America what he did to Cleveland: Drive it into bankruptcy! Yes! It's Dennis J. Kucinich!
Mr. Kucinich, can you describe your perfect woman?
"As a bachelor, I get a chance to fantasize about my first lady," Kucinich said. "I would definitely want someone who would not just be there by my side, but be a working partner because I think we're in a day and age when partnerships are imperative to making anything happening in the world."
"And I certainly want a dynamic, outspoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world and for universal single-payer health care and a full employment economy," the four-term congressman told the forum. "If you are out there call me."
Too bad Barbra Streisand is taken.
More Corruption In Philly
And this time, Mayor Street is not involved: Dining in style, thanks to you all! From the Inquirer's most excellent columnist, John Grogan:
"Table for two, please," I said.
The tuxedoed maitre d' led us past the wood-fired grill, the slabs of aged beef, and the iced tubs of imported Mediterranean fish to a linen-draped seating overlooking the Delaware River.
We opened our menus.
"Wow!" my wife said.
"Pay no attention to the prices," I told her. "This meal is on the taxpayers of Pennsylvania."
Or at least we could pretend. We were at La Veranda Ristorante, the unapologetically high-end eatery near Penn's Landing. It's where State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (D., Phila.) managed to rack up $72,525 in dinner bills over a two-year period - 101 visits in all, sometimes with dozens of guests. Fumo charged it all to the people of Pennsylvania through a discretionary fund available to top legislative leaders.
The sad part is that no one will care. It's just expected in the city.
More Anti-Israel Bias
The Associated Press has compiled a list of terrorist attacks since 1998: Recent Terror Attacks Around the World.
Apparently Israel hasn't suffered a single terrorist attack in the last five years! Who knew?
Oh of course, the suicide bombers who blow up busses full of schoolchildren in Israel are freedom fighters! Or as NPR terms them: "militants."
Friday, November 07, 2003
Penn State Will Pay to Allow Students to Download Music
Maybe this is why college is getting so expensive?
The silly people who run school administrations are just looking for dumb ideas to spend money on:
Pennsylvania State University has agreed to cover the cost of providing its students with a legal method to download music from a catalog of half a million songs, in a departure from punitive efforts to curtail music swapping on college campuses.
The deal between Penn State and the newly revised Napster online service is expected to serve as a model for other universities. It comes as the music industry applies pressure on students and colleges in its antipiracy campaign.
Graham Spanier, the president of Penn State, said it was the first time a college had taken it upon itself to provide music to its students.
"It is unusual," Dr. Spanier said. "But today's college students have told us how important this is to them and with the record industry's new enforcement efforts, we think they'll be very excited to participate."
For some students, the deal may seem as though Prohibition has ended, and drinks are on the house.
Maybe the University just ought stay out of this.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Just Who Created This Rag?
Rosie O'Donnell Takes the Witness Stand to Defend Magazine Control
NEW YORK (AP) - Rosie O'Donnell took the witness stand Thursday to defend herself against a breach-of-contract lawsuit, saying she only agreed to start her now-defunct namesake magazine after being promised full creative control by the company now suing her.
O'Donnell was referring to a conversation with Daniel Brewster, chief executive officer of Gruner+Jahr USA, the company that published Rosie magazine from April 2001 through December 2002.
G+J is suing O'Donnell for $100 million, alleging breach of contract for walking away. O'Donnell is countersuing for $125 million, declaring that by cutting her out of key editorial decisions, G+J had violated its contract with her.
At the end of the day, there is still a giant turd on the floor. Somebody is responsible.
NPR Gets A Fortune, But Not Enough To Pry It From The Public Teat
Shouldn't this be a gift to the government, for picking up the tab all these years? If somebody gave a grant to the army, you can bet it would be!
No word on whether NPR will cancel the winter pledge drive: Philanthropist Joan Kroc Leaves NPR $200 Million Gift.
Vote For The Crook. It Matters.
Philadelphia has re-elected John Street.
Yeah, what can you say? Philadelphia's decline under the Democratic labor union thuggery hasn't been fast enough to convince most Philadelphians of their folly.
If you went back in a time machine and told a Philadelphian that in 2003 most commerce and business would be conducted on the city's periphery, away from the high taxes, bullshit regulations, shitty schools and bad neighborhoods that Philly has to offer, he would look at you in disbelief.
But, that is Philly 2003. The city - once a great financial anchor to the region - now only serves to provide cafeteria workers to the business complexes in the suburbs.
And it is only going to get worse.
Good luck Mayor Street! Maybe you will defy the trend: maybe you will find the utopia that has so far eluded every socialist experiment in the history of the world.
I doubt it though.
Wesley Falls Short
Wesley Clark speaks, and I'm listening:
For the sake of every member of our armed forces, we need a plan to end the conflict in Iraq. Retreat is not an option. Withdrawal would be a disaster for America, a tragedy for Iraq, and a crisis for the world. It would destroy our credibility, give terrorists a new haven, and throw the Middle East into greater turmoil. No matter how difficult it will be, we need a "success strategy."
Success won't be easy, but only success can honor the sacrifice of our soldiers and allow the troops to come home. Success means that Iraq is strong enough to sustain itself without outside forces. Success means that representative government has taken root. Success means that Iraq's economy and civil society are healthy again.
So far, so good. Tell us Wesley! What do we need to do?
Congress just gave the administration an $87 billion check to continue down the path that we're on. But President Bush still has no strategy to succeed. I do. Here's my "success strategy":
End the American monopoly.
We must call a summit of the leaders we've alienated, the people whose advice we've scorned, the organizations whose assistance we've turned down. Out of this gathering, we can build a new organization to replace the Coalition Provisional Authority and internationalize the face of the occupation.
And there endeth the lesson.
All Wesley can think of: we need to turn things over to France and Russia, the two countries who desperately want Iraq to to fail, so that they can say "we told you so." These two countries were still still selling weapons to Iraq after the UN embargo. Weapons that are now killing US soldiers.
Clark has quickly picked up the defeatist language of the American left.
He tries to recover a semblance of seriousness with these two pieces of advice: we must secure the borders and the ammunition dumps.
Uh, no shit General. Why don't you go see if you can scratch up some your courageous French troops to help out in those endeavors?
The Idiot Speaks...
Yes, Bush has spoken.
I agree that he's not that smart, and he is not a great speaker. But he said this and this is 100% correct.
And in times like this, we need a leader who will speak the truth, without fearing that we will offend someone (and if any Democrat has the balls to say something this true, I'll be listening. So far I've heard nothing):
There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture.
Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite.
Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selectively applying the law to punish political opponents.
Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media.
Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution.
Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.
And you can bet that the Arab dictatorships will hear, and fear, these words.
Bush doesn't get my vote because I think he deserves a PhD in political philosophy. No, I don't think he's "brilliant."
But Bush has something that the effete intellectuals lack: the simple faith that freedom is universally applicable. The crazy idea that democracy and capitalism will brighten the dark corners of the world.
And he has the guts to stand up to the tyrants who say otherwise.
Maybe Bush just has the sense to hire good speech writers.
But I can't think of Democrat who even has that.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
The Pussification Of The Western Male
Kim du Toit :We have become a nation of women
Excerpts (can't do it justice):
…Now, little boys in grade school are suspended for playing cowboys and Indians, cops and crooks, and all the other familiar variations of "good guy vs. bad guy" that helped them learn, at an early age, what it was like to have decent men hunt you down, because you were a lawbreaker.
…Now, men are taught that violence is bad -- that when a thief breaks into your house, or threatens you in the street, that the proper way to deal with this is to "give him what he wants", instead of taking a horsewhip to the rascal or shooting him dead where he stands.
…Now, warning labels are indelibly etched into gun barrels, as though men have somehow forgotten that guns are dangerous things.
…Now, men are given Ritalin as little boys, so that their natural aggressiveness, curiosity and restlessness can be controlled, instead of nurtured and directed.
….And finally, our President, who happens to have been a qualified fighter pilot, lands on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit, and is immediately dismissed with words like "swaggering", "macho" and the favorite epithet of Euro girly-men, "cowboy". Of course he was bound to get that reaction -- and most especially from the Press in Europe, because the process of male pussification Over There is almost complete.
In the 1950s, the TV Dad was seen as the lovable goofball -- perhaps the beginning of the trend -- BUT he was still the one who brought home the bacon, and was the main source of discipline (think of the line: "Wait until your father gets home!").
From that, we went to this: the Cheerios TV ad.
Now, for those who haven't seen this piece of shit, I'm going to go over it, from memory, because it epitomizes everything I hate about the campaign to pussify men. The scene opens at the morning breakfast table, where the two kids are sitting with Dad at the table, while Mom prepares stuff on the kitchen counter. The dialogue goes something like this:
Little girl (note, not little boy): Daddy, why do we eat Cheerios?
Dad: Because they contain fiber, and all sorts of stuff that's good for the heart. I eat it now, because of that.
LG: Did you always eat stuff that was bad for your heart, Daddy?
Dad (humorously): I did, until I met your mother.
Mother (not humorously): Daddy did a lot of stupid things before he met your mother.
Now, every time I see that TV ad, I have to be restrained from shooting the TV with a .45 Colt. If you want a microcosm of how men have become less than men, this is the perfect example.
What Dad should have replied to Mommy's little dig: Yes, Sally, that's true: I did do a lot of stupid things before I met your mother. I even slept with your Aunt Ruth a few times, before I met your mother.
That's what I would have said, anyway, if my wife had ever attempted to castrate me in front of the kids like that.
A Burden Too Heavy to Put Down
Well said, by David Brooks:
Um Haydar was a 25-year-old Iraqi woman whose husband displeased Saddam Hussein's government. After he fled the country in 2000, some members of the Fedayeen Saddam grabbed her from her home and brought her out on the street. There, in front of her children and mother-in-law, two men grabbed her arms while another pulled her head back and beheaded her. Baath Party officials watched the murder, put her head in a plastic bag and took away her children.
Try to put yourself in the mind of the killer, or of the guy with the plastic bag. You are part of Saddam's vast apparatus of rape squads, torture teams and mass-grave fillers. Every time you walk down the street, people tremble in fear. Everything else in society is arbitrary, but you are absolute. When you kill, your craving for power and significance is sated. You are infused with the joy of domination.
These are the people we are still fighting in Iraq. These are the people who blow up Red Cross headquarters and U.N. buildings and fight against democracy and freedom. They are the scum of the earth. And they are being joined in their lairs by the flotsam and jetsam of the terrorist world.
What will happen when the Iraqi people begin voting for their government sometime next year?
People like Um Haydar are going to turn it into a bloodbath. Be prepared.
Haydar doesn't want to speak with a ballot, and he certainly won't let others do so. The only thing he understands is force, which for him means using his power to keep others down.
The election is going to be a security nightmare. Polling stations will be bombed, and people will be killed for voting.
Democrats will say - in much gentler words - that the stupid Iraqis weren't ready for democracy (and btw, the war was a mistake...).
Will it work? Will thugs keep the Iraqi people down?
If history is any guide, it will not. People have an inherent desire to choose their own destiny, and to oppose thugs like Haydar. They will not let him win. They don't want another Saddam.
And when this election - this blood spattered, rambling wreck of an election - takes place, the Democrats will be complaining about people being disenfranchised by the violence, and they will complain that the Iraqi people aren't as liberal as we had hoped. They will be right on both counts: many people will be scared away from the polls, and the Iraqis are likely to elect quite a few stone age leaders.
But the Democrats will have missed the point: Iraq's mistakes will be Iraq's to make, and the rest of the Arab world is going to be asking why they are denied a similar opportunity to choose their own destiny.
The terrorists will be on the side of the decaying, embattled dictatorships (where they belong).
The terrorists thrive becuase they believe that they represent the voice of the people. Iraq, with luck, will expose for what they are: larval tyrants.
Power to the People! The Iraqi people! (You see? I really am a liberal at heart! Most Democrats no longer are.)
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
The Duke Reflects
I did not need to read this: Nearing 70, Mike Dukakis, now a professor, reflects on what he's learned.
Naturally, it is a quick article.
On foreign policy, he notes with some amusement: "I was accused in the '88 campaign of being a multilateralist, and they made it sound almost pornographic"; now, on issues involving Iraq and North Korea, "the guy in the White House is probably waking up to the fact that you need your allies."
Now let's think about this. Dukakis supported dramatic cuts in the US military, and end to much of its research, and a nuclear freeze. Now I will concede that the USSR was already headed down the toilet in 1988, but Iraq was rising. Its invasion of Kuwait was two years off, and it was about 3 years from a nuclear weapon.
What would "The Duke" have done? Would he assembled a coalition to protect Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait?
Or would he have fudged?
I say Dukakis would have pursued the UN route, crushing Saddam with the same sanctions that the dictator comfortably endured for 13 years. Maybe, if he were feeling brave, Dukakis would have sold some weapons to the worthless Saudi military so that they could defend themselves. It wouldn't take Saddam long to notice the weak, oil-rich nation just south of Kuwait.
The result? A nuclear-armed Saddam sitting on top of nearly half of the world's oil. Forget OPEC. We'd be dealing with Saddam. And he'd want more than money. He'd want revenge - particularly against Israel (for destroying his reactor at Osirak).
But The DukeTM has a gift for making this scenario sound rosy!
"If he had won the presidency, he says, "I think we would have had universal health care by this time."
In my liberal past, I voted for this bum, but I thank God he lost the election now. Part of the silliness of the modern left can be traced to the fact that they have never done any similar soul searching: they have never examined the folly of nominating Michael Dukakis and said "what were we thinking?"
America has: Dukakis (and Mondale and Carter) are almost universally viewed as some kind of tired joke (Will Howard Dean join this parade of losers next?).
The left needs to realize it: Dukakis was not done in by some right wing conspiracy or by his own inabilty to respond to the charges against him.
His entire philosophy was rejected in 1988.
And the sound judgement of the electorate was vindicated by events in the world.
The Democrats simply refuse to believe that world is a dangerous place, but the clue phone keeps ringing.
Would somebody just get the phone already!
Monday, November 03, 2003
Something's Rotten In Tehran
Attracted by the smell of a putrefying government, bugs assailed Mohammad Khatami, the President of Iran, at a public event. Another cleric attempts to remove one of the insects from Khatami's hat while he speaks to a crowd:
Gee, I Didn't See This Coming!
Let's get this straight: artificially low prices, sudden high demand = shortage.
Could there be a law in there somewhere? Nah!!!
Canada voices concern over drug sales to U.S.
(Reuters) - The Canadian government, finally reacting after an avalanche of U.S. interest, voiced concern on Wednesday that sales of low-cost prescription drugs to the United States might cause shortages in Canada.
Health Minister Anne McLellan urged professional associations on Wednesday to condemn the practice of Internet sales to the United States.
You can just hear the Democrats squealing about another lost campaign issue: "drug reimportations" follow the "dismal economyTM" right out the window.
And this still pisses me off:
40,000 in Oregon lose health insurance
EUGENE, Ore. — Roughly 40,000 poor people have been dropped from the Oregon Health Plan this year because of their failure to make monthly premium payments, some as low as $6 a month.
The departure of more than one-third of the 88,000 poor people from the state-subsidized Oregon Health Plan Standard program has far exceeded the expectations of many state officials.
Advocates for the poor say the premiums are too expensive for some people and the government may have overestimated the ability of people to mail a check.
"It's an enormous barrier," said Ellen Pinney, director of the Oregon Health Action Committee. "Let alone the $6, there is the whole issue of writing a check or getting a money order, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and putting it in the mail to this place in Portland that must receive it by the due date."
An "enormous barrier?" These people can't even pay the shipping on all the goodies the government wants to send them?
Oh, That Irrational Left!
If there is one thing people on the left generally know how to do, it is making protests signs. That talent is being threatened by their own irrationality:
100,000 protest plans to cut welfare in Germany
About 100,000 people took to the streets of Berlin yesterday to demonstrate against Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's plans to trim Germany's generous welfare state, the biggest show of public opposition to his drive to revive Europe's largest economy. Answering the call of labor unions and left-wing groups, a huge column of marchers snaked through downtown Berlin, chanting slogans against the government's plans and carrying banners such as "Poverty for all" and "Why take from the rich while we've still got the poor?"
The first sign, "Poverty for all," sounds like a pretty shitty rallying cry to me. I simply can't figure out the second one (maybe I'm just not smart enough to crave poverty...).
Leftists in all countries are fond of their slogans, even when they make no sense (i.e. "Violence solves nothing.") But usually they have a surface appeal (gee, wouldn't it be great if there were no violence?).
"Poverty for all" lacks any appeal.
Is this some kind of German oddity? Was something lost is translation?
Or has the left slipped off into a world of post-modern irrational thought? If so, they'll get the votes of most of the nation's English professors for sure.