Thursday, June 30, 2005

Physics questions

Okay, because I have an hour drive each way to work, I get to think a lot. So now I need some help from you scientifically minded sorts. Here is the question set up:
Say one space ship is travelling at 60% of the speed of light (not accelerating) towards another spaceship also travelling at 60% of the speed of light towards the first ship. They both shoot lasers at the other (low power, just need the coherence) and measure the speed of light. I know that both will find the speed of light is still c, or 300,000 km per second.
Now, here is my question: As they pass each other, they would view the other ship passing by at the speed of light because with relativity, nothing can go faster than the speed of light. But, if they try to plot where the other ship will be after they pass, won't they be off by 20% short? i.e. The observers would say that in t time, the ship that passed us should be at x point. But the reality is that the ship (using Newtonian physics) would really be at x + 20%.
Or would they plot out the speed of the other ship at the speed of light, and then be overestimated in the predicted position by 40%?
Any help would be appreciated by my less than able mind.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why Iraq

Matt at Left in the West is using many of the same arguments that have been used about not going into Iraq, and how Saddam had nothing to do with 9-11. Okay, I'll agree that Saddam had nothing directly to do with 9-11 but so what?
Suppose that you had a magic button, push it once and Poof! Osama bin Laden is gone. Is that the end of terrorism? How about if you push it again and all of his lieutenants are gone. Is that the end of terrorsism? Or, push it again, and everyone who was ever associated with Al Quaeda is gone. Is that the end of terrorism? The short answer: No!
Al Queada and OBL are subsets of the larger problem: Islamo-facism. Did terrorism exist before 9-11? (Am I starting to sound like Donald Rumsfeld? You betcha!)
Al Quaeda is but a subset of the larger problem. Most of it is supported by the regimes of the Middle East as a way to keep a restive young male population from deciding to overthrow the established ogliarchys that are in power. After all, is it not easier to blame Israel, America, colonial powers etc., rather than to actually address the problems that they are facing. The advantage of being a victim: "It's not my fault, it's really some other person's over whom I have no control, but I can kill them." No need to examine deeper than that, since any such examination would be rather painful.
However, as I wrote about a year ago and put on this blog, there is a way to win this war, and that is through the reformation of Iraq. As I said before, Iraq is the best choice for reform in the Middle East. It is strategically in the center, it has direct access to Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam's holiest shrines, and it has a unique population that is well educated.
Already, we are seeing the results; Syria is withdrawn from Lebanon. Iran is about 18 months away from having another revolution. Believe it or not, we are making progress.
Yes, terrorists are going to Iraq to battle the Americans. So, would you rather that they were going to Des Moines? Iraq seems to be the flypaper that attracts the Islamo-fascists to battle American soldiers who are trained to fight, rather than here at home, where the civilians are blithely ignorant about dealing with a tactical situation.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Ct. Declares US Constitution Unconstitutional

Flash! Embargoed news, not to be released until 10:00 a.m. 28 June when Justice Souter will announce the decision.
In a surprise announcement, Justice Souter announced a decision of the Supreme Court for a case that they had not been asked to decide. Justice Souter, announces that after a review of International Law, specifically, the Constitution of the former Soviet Union, and the Constitution of the Republic of Iran, that the US Constitution is unconstitutional. Souter, appointed by President Bush 41, said that the problem with the former US Cosnstitution, was the emphasis on individual rights and a limitation on the powers of the government.
"This is counterproductive to good governance, and the greater public good," Souter said. This Court has been going on this line of reasoning for quite some time. "We find that the Constitution was fine for 18th and 19th Century America, but it was quickly becoming irrelevant to the changes in our country that we have experienced in the last 40 years." "As we noted in Kelo, 5th Amendment rights to private property are incompatible with the need for local governments to sell it to developers who will be able to generate more tax revenue for the governing entities. All of the rest of the Amendments to the Cosnstitution are overruled as well, except for the 3rd Amendment, and then only as it applies to homes of the judiciary."
We also find that the division of authority between three branches to be highly inefficient, so we are striking Articles I and II, and outlawing the executive and legislative branches, Souter said. "Look, he saId, we are getting tired of everyone complaining about the logical inconsistencies of our rulings." "In fact, some of our critics are a real pain!" "We are the US Supreme Court, dammnit! We can do whatever we want and there is nothing anyone can do about it." As Souter noted, "You don't get to be a Supreme Court Justice without having more brains than anyone else." We are tired of having to rely on the old doctrines like stare decisis.
"We will just let you know what you will be allowed to do, and that will be the end of it."
Souter's opinion was unanimous on a 5-0 vote. The other 4 justices were unable to be located for comment. Rumor has it that they were arres. . .

Respect for the Law? Hah!

Read this, it says very well that we have ceded our rights to the tyrannhy of the few. Like I have said before, the authority that we gave to courts was with the understanding that they would respect us. The tool that they were supposed to be using was the usage of "a political question, not a legal one," to avoid the traps that they have set for themselves.
Ah, but power corrupts, and quibbling over minutae corrupts the most.
For instance, I just had a case involving the right to a speedy trial. Picked the client up from a public defender, who did a good job up to that point. My client had been held in jail for 321 days before he would have gone to trial. As I was preparing my brief, I was talking to my non-lawyer wife trying to explain what was going on with the law. I told her that the analysis is triggered by 200 days without a trial, and that the burden shifts to the State to prove that there was no prejudice after 275 days. My darling wife asked the silliest, and at the same time most brilliant question; Well, if more than 275 days have passed, why is the rule not being followed?
I tried to explain how our Supreme Court had been diluting the right for so long, that it was meaningless. That all the State needed to do to disprove prejudice, was to say that there was no prejudice. And the case law supported their assertion.
But why doesn't the State have to follow the rules? The answer is, that it is inconvenient to provide Constitutional protections. So, the State which makes and enforces the laws, refuses to follow the laws. We are really gettin ready to get into a mess if we don't watch out for our individual rights, because no one else is interested.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Media and the truth

Found this interesing survey. Whenever I have been involved with a major news story, I am always amazed at how it is reported. You begin to get a sense of the surreal, that what you thought happened, didn't really happen, because it is so different from what you see reported.
Now, maybe, the piece that I was involved in was too small to adequately represent what really happened. Or, maybe, that two different people, (me and the reporter) came at the same story from differing perspectives, and saw the same thing through different lenses of our own perceived reality.
One of my friends who is in TV news told me "The camera doesn't lie." I guess that he was correct, but I think that the corollary to that statement is that it doesn't tell the whole truth either. For instance, take a news shot of a mob on camera. If you were to back up from the view, would you see that the camera zoomed in on only one small group which filled the viewfinder to the exclusion of others who were not participating in the same way? Which is the truth? Paradoxically, could both be the truth?
When I was stationed in Europe, I was often in areas that did not receive AFRTS the American TV station. So, I had to watch the German news. The difference between the German and American news is that the American news almost always had video images with a voice over explaining what was happening. The German news at the most would have a still photo, while the commentator explained what was happening. Much like the famous attempt to discredit Reagan by showing him in front of friendly crowds with lots of flags, while the reporter told of all the problems he was facing, the result was that the Republicans loved the piece, because we see before we think, and we apparently tnink before we listen.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

On the Flag Burning Amendment

So, in spite of everything that's going on in the world, the Republicans in the House felt that it was necessary to ban the burning of the American flag. I am of mixed opinions of this.
During the war in Viet Nam, I remember seeing smuggled film of our POWs being held in the Hanoi Hilton clandestinely displaying a home made American flag. At the time, I couldn'g understand why they were using their resources that we knew to be limited, to making this flag. It was only during my Survivor Instructor training that I came to appreciate why they had done that.
As part of our training, we had to undergo expanded Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training. The Air Force has a specially created compound on Fairchild AFB that they use for this type of training. We were made to wear hoods over our heads, and walk to different locations by putting our "paws" on the criminal in front of us and follow them to where ever we were to go. During the day, we were kept in isolation in small cubicles, where the guards would come around and make sure that we were not sleeping. The whole time, we were made to listen to Chinese music, which, if you are Westerner, is rather grating with its quarter tones, and shrill voices. If you really screwed up, you would be put into the "box" which was only a little bigger than a filing cabinet.
I learned though, that if you were put into the box, (it was used to check for claustrophobia) you could actually sleep until they pulled you out. They eventually caught on and quit throwing me into the box, no matter how many times I begged and pleaded not to go there.
We were also subjected to interrogation, where we were expected to admit that we were war criminals, and indocrination classes. It was a real hoot, and the guys who ran the camp were very good at doing what they did. You quickly came to a psychological point of believeing that you were in a POW camp. (Logically, I had to know that it was just training, but, perhaps because of my youth, I really did believe that I was in a camp.
At night, we were made to do labor outside. During the entire time, the flag of some communist country was flying and spot lit so that we could all see it at all times. One of our tasks was to build a reinforced "garbage pit" in the middle of the camp. We learned that it was really going to be used as a gun emplacement to shoot at our aircraft, a clear violation of the rules of war. One guy would carry a sandbag over to the pit being built, and I would then pick it up and carry it back out to where it started. I never learned who the guy was that was carrying the sandbags to the pit, but that SOB was working my ass off!
We had no sense of time, and never knew how long we were in there. We were always placed into our cages before it got light, and with sleep deprivation, never knew what time or even what day it was. We knew that something was wrong one day, when the sun started to come up and we were still outside. The camp Commandant called us into formation and told us that the American aggressors were coming, and would murder us, since we had learned the truth about the peace loving People's Democratic republic of something or another. Therefore, we were to be made to march to a "safer camp" for our own protection. At the time, I was thinking that this was my best chance for escape. We were made to put the bags over our heads, and then told to do an about face. We were then told to remove our bags, and the US flag was flying on the pole where the other one had been all that time, and they started to play the Star Spangled Banner. I will not lie, I was bawling like a baby when I saw my country's flag.
Later, when I was in the Army, I had a First Sergeant who said that if you didn't have tears in your eyes when you heard the national anthem, you were a "goddamned commie." It is really only those who have been outside our country and faced the loss of protections that we take for granted who can understand what the flag means to us. I know that for most Americans, it is just a piece of cloth, or a symbol of all of the wrongs that we have done to this world. But to me, it is a symbol of hope, and belief in the future.
So, now they want to make it a crime to burn the flag? One of the things I served in the military for, was to protect diversity of opinions, even if they are idiotic opinions. I may not agree with what you say, in fact, I may think that you are a moron, but I am obligated to protect your right to say it, otherwise my morinic opinions could be subject to being shut down as well.
Let's keep the Constitution free of this, but a piece of advice, don't go burning the American flag in front of the VFW. They may exercise their opinion of your opinion by kicking your butt.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Winning the war in Iraq

In spite of the bumper stickers, war is not inherently evil. It is catalytic in nature, in that it provides the opportunity for change. The war in Iraq is the catalyst which can change how Islamo-fascists are dealt with, and whether we will suffer future 9-11 attacks.
Almost two hundred years ago, Carl von Clausewitz outlined three ways to win a war:
Destroy the enemy’s army; destroy their ability to make war; and destroy the enemy’s will to engage in war. Of the three, America has always prevailed in the first two, but has been mostvulnerable in the last item.
Mr. bin Laden, as a subset of Islamo-fascism in gneral, has declared “holy war” on the West and the U.S. in particular. Perhaps we should do him the courtesy of acknowledging that fact. When Osama bin Laden ordered the attacks on the people in the airliners and the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon, he was attacking our will to make war. The method that he chose was based on the realization that he could not compete toe to toe and destroy our military, nor could he affect our ability to make war. Therefore, he has to exploit our one vulnerability, which is also a strength of our democratic process.
Psychologists know that people will believe what they want to believe. After the
bombings of the embassies in Africa, the withdrawal of the American forces in Somalia, and the lack of response after the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, Mr. bin Laden probably believed that we would withdraw completely from the Middle East as a reaction to the attack on September 11th and the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Mr. bin Laden most likely looked to history and our war in Viet Nam as support for his assumptions. Faced with the only logical and remaining tactic, he had to attack our will to make war. This decision was based on a misunderstanding of the American will, and has had disastrous results from what he would have predicted, as shown by Afghanistan, and the subsequent invasion of Iraq. The fact that we have reacted in the manner that we did is probably very disconcerting to his Weltanshauung.
The senior Democratic leadership, as embodied by Senators Kennedy and Byrd, have alleged that Iraq is now President Bush’s Viet Nam. Aside from the psychological and partisan aspects of the charge, they offered nothing in support of their assertions to prove their argument. But suppose hypothetically, that they are earnest in their assertions. Is Iraq another Viet Nam? The short answer; that it is only if the political leadership allows it to be.
In Viet Nam, American forces never failed to prevail on the battlefield. We were instead defeated by the lack of national will at home to continue the fight. Historians point to the Tet offensive as the turning point for American support for the war. However, a review of polls taken about the popularity of that war showed that American support for continuing in that conflict did not fall below 50% until after the start of withdrawal of American forces, and the instituting of Vietnamization as official policy.
At the Operational level of war, there are no similarities. Viet Nam was conducted during the Cold War, when both we and the former Soviet Union would probe at the outside of our spheres of influence, but dared not to risk open confrontation with the other nuclear armed superpower. Viet Nam is geographically situated next to the People’s Republic of China. After our experience in the Korean conflict, we were naturally wary of carrying the conflict to the enemies’s homeland and inviting a repeat of Chosin.
In Iraq, there is no threat from a competing superpower. The most significant threats in the immediate area are Iran and Syria. Both of those nations are having a problem with their own domestic politics, and are not in a hurry to challenge us militarily. Additionally, Viet Nam was being supplied with arms and training from the Soviets and Communist Chinese. In present Iraq, there are no massive arms shipments that will be able to challenge us in the air by a surface to air threat, nor on the ground through the use of armored and mechanized forces as the final consolidation of the North’s power against the Republic of Viet Nam in 1975 demonstrated.
It is the area of strategy, which provides the greatest contrasts between Viet Nam and Iraq. In Viet Nam, we were engaged in what was principally a defensive strategy. We were looking to protect the status quo of a communist North, and (supposedly) democratic South.
Defensive strategy works well when there are two powers of equal strength with no urge to expand. In Viet Nam, America was the stronger power, and North Viet Nam the weaker. Although the North was attacked repeatedly from the air, it did not have to defend against a land invasion. This freed up its forces to act offensively, and placed the Americans in the position of ceding the initiative to the enemy.
Additionally, in geo-strategic terms, Viet Nam held no particular value to America beyond the political implications of the domino effect. Iraq, on the other hand has tremendous influence on America for one very important reason: because of its location. Sitting in the midst of some of the world’s largest known oil reserves, and adjacent to the holiest sites of Islam, and the birthplace of Islamo-fascism, it is the culminating point of why there is a war on terrorism.
Although not discussed much, it is possible to view the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq as probably the greatest advance in geo-strategic thinking that America has ever done.
Iraq differs from our (supposed) allies of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in a number of important areas. Iraq’s population prior to the First Gulf War used to be the best educated and largest middle class in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have no real middle class, because of the distribution of petro wealth. For those who have served in the region, there is another, perhaps impolitic observation: The Iraqis work hard, the Saudis and Kuwaitis do not seem to be as interested in labor, and import all that is needed.
Because of its educated middle class, and the natural affinity of the Middle East culture to mercantile exchanges, Iraq is the only country in the region which can provide the impetus for democratic change that President Bush has called for. By assisting Iraq in its transition to a sturdy democratic society, adjacent nations will have to confront their population’s questions of why the Iraqis can develop a stable and democratic nation, and their countries have not. In addition, through the Hadj, more Iraqis will come into contact with Moslems of other nations,
and will be able to plant the seed for democratic development beyond their immediate borders. All of these predictions are based upon the U.S. “Staying the course.”
Strategically, there is one major similarity between Viet Nam, and Iraq. In both of these cases, there was a militarily inferior foe fighting against American public opinion. President Johnson was said to have abandoned his reelection campaign when Walter Cronkite, the man America trusts the most, came out against the war. President Nixon campaigned on a platform of “Peace with Honor,” but instituted the withdrawal of American forces, and the handing off of military responsibility to the Viet Namese. As mentioned above, that was the tipping point which caused the shift in popular support for the war. In the present war, we have suffered over
1700 casualties. At the present rate of attrition, it will take two more years to equal the numbers who died on September 11th.
If the American political leadership has the courage and strength of conviction to see this conflict through to the end, we will prevail. The real test of the war, is whether the Iraqi “resistance” can sway the leadership, or if our leadership will be able to be as strong as the American people in seeing this through to the end. Failure of will by the leadership will result in further 9-11s. Continuing until the Iraqis are able to develop into a stable, democratic and progressive nation will offer the greatest chance to change the world, and dramatically reduce the pernicious threat of future terrorist attacks.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Liberals versus the Left

Too often, we use a version of shorthand to declare that Republicans are conservative, and Democrats are liberal. This seems to be totally at odds with our present day politics. Conservatives are bent on the preservation of the status quo, (See the Tories in Merry Olde England) and liberals are for the empowerment of the individual and human rights for all.
Using Social Security as an example, the Democrats seem bent on preserving the status quo even while they admit there is a problem with it in the future. Republicans are trying to change it to allow individuals to decide how to develop their own retirement plans. Therefore, using this example, Democrats are conservative and Republicans are liberal.
Other examples might be the War on Terrorism. Democrats seem to be saying that it was better for Saddam to keep on murdering his people, and for the Taliban to execute women who did not wear the Chador. Republicans, leading the fight for the removal of these atrociouls regimes are advocating democracy. Again, the Democrats appear to be conservative and the Republicans liberal.
In the article linked above, the author makes some really good points, although I think that she may be going overboard on some of them (the role and utility of fiminism for example). The real issue seems to be that the Left has hijacked the term liberal.
If the basic definition of being Left is to believe in a collectivist or statist solution to problems (health care, minimum wage, centralized government control of education, affirmative action etc.), does that not come into conflict with the liberal definition of empowering the individual? As an outside observer, the Left seems to be saying that the individual is basically corrupt, greedy and evil, and it is only the government that can rein in these evil impulses. Yet, isn't the government made up and run by individuals?
Maybe, what the real problem is, is that the current political debates have nothing to do with principles and everything to do with politics.
For instance, think that President Bush was wrong to go to war with Iraq because he did not have the approval of the U.N.? Then to be honest to one's principles, why weren't the Democrats upset by Haiti, Bosnia or Kosevo?
How about the Downing Street memo. Think that Bush lied about the presence of WMDs? In 1998, when Saddam ejected the inspectors, most of the Democratic leadership called on President Clinton to use force on Saddam to remove the weapons that they all thought were there. I suppose, if you are enough of a conspiracy theorist, Bush and his cronies were able to manipulate the intelligence to fool Clinton and the Democrats while he was the governor of Texas.
As the article mentions, "anti-isms" (race, sex, class, etc.), which lends itself to a highly personalized and moralistic version of politics" are used as the battering ram against anyone who is not Left.
So, what is the difference between Left and Right? The best way to test a theory is to take it to its logical extremes. The Left believes in a collectivist, state controlled, suboridination of the individual to the benefit of the whole. (Think Stalinist Russia) The Right believes in the same things (Think Nazi Germany).
It's time for Liberals and Libertarians to offer a real third path that empowers the individual while at the same time holding them responsible for their actions that affect others.
Probably will never happen, since both the Left and the Right rely on unthinking robots, and have enough power to overwhelm the individual who thinks, but it is nice to dream.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Gitmo and the Geneva Conventions

Okay, the Bush administration now says tht the "Detainees" at Gitmo can be held in perpetuity. Many are decrying this decision, saying that it violates the Geneva Conventions.
Seems to me, from my ancient memories of the Law of War, they are specifically not protected by the Conventions. In order to get the protections, you had to be a member of an organized force, easily identifiable by uniforms and/or equipment. Violations of these rules could be punished by execution.
The whole reason that civilized countries abide by the rules of war, are so that their prisoners are treated humanely. Think about how the terrorists treat their prisoners - beheading, and contrast that with how we treat our prisoners - humiliation. To say that these are equivalent (See Sen. Durbin) is to make a mockery of the discussion.
After years of therapy and counselling, you can overcome wearing panties on your head. Try to overcome being beheaded.

WSJ on what is wrong with the Democrats Today

I agree with much of their analysis. Whatever happened to the Scoop Jacksons, the Moynihans, for that matter on free trade, the Gepharts? I remember one friend of mine, who was in the news business used to get so mad at me, because I would say that I was a Democrat too, a Sam Nunn Democrat, to which he would just scoff and say that Nunn wasn't really a Democrat. (The beginning of the litmus test maybe?)
Anyway, the WSJ has this quote that I really liked:
Many conservatives have watched the left's hostile takeover of the Democratic Party with great joy. We don't share that enthusiasm. The country would benefit from two vibrant parties competing on innovative freedom-enhancing initiatives. The problem is that the Democrats are running on empty when it comes to policy ideas other than big government, and this lack of competition has had deleterious effects on Republican behavior, as witnessed by their lack of any spending discipline.

Howard Dean observed recently that he hopes to "galvanize the Democrats into being the party of individual freedom and personal responsibility." That's a wonderful idea--just the kind that would put the Democrats back on the road to national viability. But that leaves unanswered the question of how a party that opposes voluntary personal accounts for Social Security, school choice for parents, tax and welfare reform, free trade and limited government broadly defined can sell itself as the freedom and responsibility party.

The Problems for Liberals and Foreign Policy

Interesting article. I especially liked this part:
Liberalism needs a generation of leaders who realize that they have been cheated in their Wilsonian bargain; the community of liberals defends the rights of states, but the community of states does not reciprocate by defending liberal values. Leaders willing to challenge the idea that Wilsonian means are the only legitimate path to liberal ends would ignite the debate within liberalism that Beinart wants. Eventually, liberals would decide which Wilsonian commitment -- defending the absolute power of states within their domestic realms, or defending the final authority of supranational institutions -- should be relaxed when abused. They would choose a direction for advancing their revolution, either from the bottom-up, actively pursuing the transformation of illiberal governments into forms more liberal, or from the top-down, participating only in international forums that pay heed to liberal principles. They would find their way to a path for engaging the outside world.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Future Primaries

The Hill reports that Gov. Richardson of New Mexico is looking at creating an early Western based primary system for the next presidential election.
I have long felt that to offer the greatest opportunity to a candidate, we should have a five month primary season. The first, will consist only of Iowa and New Hampshire. You are not going to change these two, even if they are relatively unrepresentative of the national body politic. Of what interest to Florida are corn prices and milk subsidies?
The next months primaries would be the 12 least poplulated states, followed the next month by the nation's next 12 least populated, etc. until you reach the last primary, which would be the 12 most populated states.
The advantage of this method, is that ad buys in low population centers are really cheap. Plus, candidates could meet real people face to face. By the time they reach California, the only people they meet are reporters and handlers. It would also force a candidate to have a broad compaign strategy rather than just Iowa or New Hampshire. By spreading the wealth, from Alaska to Rhode Island, it would take more organization than a one state strategy.
The advantage for the most populous states are that they will have seen a candidate perform for 4 months, and still have the ability to swing the deciding factor to one candidate or the other. After all, California or New York alone have more votes than the first group combined.
If you like this idea, let's all send a message to Gov. Dean and Gov. Richardson for the Democrats, and those of us in Montana can relay it to Marc Racicot for the Republicans

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Social Discourse

A while ago, Dave Budge was commenting about certain remarks left on "Left in the West." (Link above) I enjoy Matt's site because of his perspective, while different than mine is still interesting. So, the news of the day was that Howard Dean has been exploding all over the news, and I pasted a quote from Peggy Noonan in the WSJ which pointed out that you would never hear Bush saying the kinds of things that Dean has been running.
Afterwards, someone pointed out the following:

That’s such a load of BS. Lowering the level of political discourse?

How about telling a US Senator to ‘Fuck Off’ on the senate floor and then saying the next day that you feel good about it?

How about raising hysteria about attacks on Christians or ‘people of faith’ as if the Republican Party has a corner on God?

What about introducing homosexual hate amendments to state dockets in order to get the gay bashers out in force?

What about the mythology that the Republican leadership willingly propogates that Democrats are lazy freeloaders? (Even though the Democratic Party is the party of blue collar workers and farmers.)

What about Bush’s proclimation that “you’re either with us or against us” in reference to the investigation of 9-11 (Good vs. Evil?)? How does that help the world political discourse?

So when O’Rielly, Coulter, Pat Robertson, Frist, Delay, Cheney, Pat Buchanan, Rush, Oliver North, Newt Gingrich, and Sean Hannity deliver comments similar to ones within the speech you quoted above (, those raise the political discourse? I used to be a Republican and they are so full of shit and hate and bigotry and fear. The party of hate and fear. They would not do it? They do it everyday.

I am amazed at the amount of anger on the part of the Left. I would like to point out that the quotes lifted from Ms. Noonan's article were left by the supposed leadership of the Democratic party, which is different than that cited by the commentator above for the most part. Even then, I don't remember Frist, Delay or Cheney, the only party leaders he mentioned, as saying anything so offensive as Dean, Reid et al. Okay, Cheney did say "Fuck off" to Leahy after some pretty rude comments by Leahy in public, and Cheney's remarks were to Leahy himself, not necessarily intended for public consumption.
As to the attacks on people of faith, seems to me that Schumer has made it quite clear, that if you are Catholic, and believe strongly, you are not fit to sit on the federal bench with the idiots who would allow the prosecution of granny for using marijuana. The anti gay initiatives were started after the Mass. Supreme Court decided that it took too long to change minds, and judicial fiat would do just nicely thank you. And Lord only know what we would do without the visual image of rich Republicans versus poor Democrats.
Somehow, all that is supposed to justify the vitriol. Beats me how. I guess it goes back to the playground level of discourse, "He started it first." To which my Dad always replied, "I don't care who started it, stop it right now." And I am supposed to take their arguments seriously because of what again?
Lately, I feel that I can rarely have a civil discussion with Democrats anymore. In fact if someone finds out you are not a Democrat, you are instantly labled Republican. No sense wasting time on any other variant of political orthodoxy. Otherwise intelligent people will cease to consider any view different than their own if you do not adhere to the rigidly prescribed beliefs of the Democratic party. Galileo, watch out!
Democrats have changed though. It used to be whenever I pointed out logical contradictions, or flaws in their facts, the answer was "Well this person I know, who is a lot smarter than me can answer your questions." Thereby absolving themselves from having to think about the issues I raised. Nowadays, however, their answer seems to have changed to "You won't confuse me with your skewed logic and facts." All the while ignoring the obvious contradictions.
I predict as they get angrier and angrier, they will withdraw into their own little shell, pretending that the rest of the world no longer exists. They will be abetted by the rest of us who do not feel as angry as they do and will nod politely, like we do when we meet any crazy person, then hustle away before they become violent.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Check out this blog. The young woman is smart, witty and definitely gorgeous. She is the future for political thought, and I am willing to follow her anywhere.
Takes a little while to load, but it is well worth it.


If you do nothing else, you have to read this. I found this at Tech Central, and the way he explained it is far more clear than anything that I have tried to do.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

SCOTUS and marijuana

Okay, I have had a day to cool off, but I am still pretty ticked about the recent decision on medical marijuana. (Full disclousre - tried it, didn't like it, prefer to be a happy drunk). The interesting thing about this opinion though is Scalia's concurrence.
Understanding Scalia, is like playing three dimensional chess while blindfolded. Yes, he did side with the majority on allowing the feds to persecute medical marijuana users. However, if you read his opinion, what he says is that the state of the law as it exists today requires that the feds get involved. The strict constructionist construct of using the law. He pointed out that while it does not make sense to implement the law, the way the Supreme Court has been reaching and expanding the commerce clause, that this was an inevitable result, and that more will follow.
Sort of like Cardinal Richelieu, he has stirred up a fight which will result in something that is different from what he says, but more likely to achieve what he wants. The interesting thing, is that he could have said the same thing while being in the minority, but instead, chose to side with the majority.
Now, why my Liberal friends should be concerned: Sure, all four of the liberal justeices sided with the government in upholding this expansion of federal intrustion into private lives. What about if Congress passes a restriction on abortions beyond the first trimester? Under Scalia's reasoning, the majority is bound to the notion that the government has the right to do so, and to overturn such a law would be in contravention to their decision.
I am looking for a petard company, because I think that there will soon be a great need for more them on which to be hoisted.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A New Constitutional Amendment?

I propose that we enact an amendment to the Constitution, which will read in its entirety, "Congress shall make no law."
Why do we need this? Because we are adults, and should act like it.

What is the Democratic Party saying?

Interesting take on the part of the guy who wrote "What's the matter with Kansas?" I think that he is too stuck in the belief in the class system to accrately evaluate the problem.
The US is probably the least class based country that I have ever been to. In England, your father's station in life, your accent and your education are determinative of your future. Germany has the same problem, although, perhaps to a lesser extent. Don't even get me started on any of the counrties in Asia that I have been to.
Here, on the other hand, we are less respectful of anyone because of who their father is, or how much money that they have. Americans are more willing to believe that no one is better than they are because of any artificial benefits conferred by lineage, wealth or education. We don't hate people for being rich here. In fact, Almost every American wants to be rich.
Even among the poor, who are defined to comprise the bottom 20%, there are few who will remain permanently in that class. Most people will move up or down the socio-economic levels based more on factors they control - i.e. hard work, education, drug or alcohol abuse, criminal prosecutions, than on their birth.
Because I am old, I have learned a few truisims. Most famous ancestors have crappy descendants. The third generation of a family that has gotten rich is more likely to blow the entire fourtune that their grandparents created. Throw enough money at the problem and the problem will get rich.

Media Bias?

In this article, Senator Kerry is complaining about the right wing media. There are some other examples (Alter's What media bias?), that purport to show that the MSM is really a propaganda organ for the right, wealthy whites.
I would propose that you can make a systematic evaluation of any media to determine whether or not bias exists.
First, look for articles that describe Democrats and Republicans. Which has the unnecessary adjectives - "Radical, Liberal, right or left wing. Count up the number and see if there is parity between the two parties.
Next, look for articles that describe a politician doing something wrong. My bet is that in more than 90% of the cases, that if the politician is a Republican, you will be told that in the first three paragraphs, and a 75% chance that it is in the first paragraph. Now if you checked the same politician doing the same thing who is a Democrat, I bet that the earliest you would find their political affiliation would be in the 4th paragraph.
Columbia School of Journalism - where are you to test my theory? Oh yeah, they already have their minds made up.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Murphy's Laws of combat

One of the things about soldiers, is that they can find some of the most interesting ways to express a truism. The above link captures just a few of these truisms, and is worht the chuckle. My favorite was not included in this particular list: Don't worry about the bullet with your name on it, worry about the one addressed "To Whom it May Concern."