Friday, December 29, 2006

Why what we say matters

It had been awhile since I checked out Iraq the Model, and so I found the article that I am referring to down just a little bit. Titled "It's in our interest to make them understand..." Omar is saying many of the things that I have felt, but lacked the coherence to put them to paper like he has. Perception is everything when it comes to foreign policy. If your opponents perceive you to be strong when you are not, they will be more careful just because it is ambiguous. Conversely, if you appear weak, they will plunge ahead in misadventures.
The article details how the Middle East has taken the Democratic take over of Congress to be the first step in our surrender. i don't think any Democrat is actually advocating surrender. They just want us out of there now. But for the listeners in the Middle East, that is the same as surrender. I predict that there will be an upsurge in violence in the coming months as an attempt to convince us that we were correct to abandon Iraq. Unfortunately, it will be our soldiers and Iraqi civilians who will pay the enhanced price of our change in direction.
As Omar said:
The ideology of the extremists believes in "either victory or martyrdom" and now they think they are closer to the former and this will be used to attract more of the reluctant to the camp that considers itself close to victory and we'll see intensified media efforts invested in this field.
What I want to say here is that now I believe more that I must disagree with those who claim that wrong American policy breeds extremism, and now I believe more than ever that wrong signals that might be interpreted as weakness are what can be exploited by the enemy to give more credit to extremism especially under the current circumstances.

Now the fanatics in the Middle East will be able to point to the Tehran Embassy, the Marine barracks in Lebanon, Mogadishu, and now Baghdad as examples of how to bring the Americans low.

Maybe they are right.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sometimes, Ya just gotta wonder

At the above link is James Taranto's Best of the Web latest installment about those who "didn't work hard enough" or Charley Rangel's refugees from poverty. What astounds me about this is how insensitive they (Rangel/Kerry) are. But I suppose they are playing to an audience that is used to hearing this sort of BS.
I have even had good intentioned and well educated friends of the Democratic persuasion relate the same nonsense to me, which was rather flabbergasting, since they knew that I had served long enough to retire. I suppose it fits their mold of how the world should be. But I would suggest that they consider an alternate story line in order to broaden their perspectives.

Having just read this, I realize that the same problem that I have with some Republicans acting in a patronizing manner towards poor people is just the same as what the Democrats are doing to the military.
Obviously, there is only one solution to all of this. Draft Democrats to serve in the military, and Republicans to take care of the poor, addicted and mentally ill.
That will never happen, but my next solution would be to have everyone who doesn't know what they are talking about to just shut up!!!

This is ridiculous

So Donald Trump and Rosie are having a public hissy fit. For the life of me, I can't figure out why anyone would care. But surprisingly, (or not so, if you are a cynic) more people are interested in this than anything else going on in the country.

How pathetic. And yes, they too have the right to vote.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Look for the Union Label?

Some may know (but most don't care) that I have signed on with the State Office of the Public Defender. The program went fully active on last July 1st. However, prior to becoming active, public defenders in both Missoula and Billings (who were county employees) held a vote to determine who would be the union that represents us at the state level. So, I never had a chance to vote for a union that was brought in before the enactment of my job, and now I will have to pay dues to said union. WTF?
I find it ridiculous that lawyers have unions. I am a professional, in that I exercise a skill for the best interests of my client, without regard for outside pressures. I am a member of a group that requires specialized training, and required me to pass a test and to be examined and found worthy first, in order to exercise my skills. Skills that the majority of the public are prohibited from doing.
What I want to know, though, is what in the heck is this union going to do for me? Are they going to say that I have too heavy of a caseload, and that if management doesn't reduce it we will go on strike? Let me tell you, the courts can and will impose punitive sanctions for failing to do my job, even if the union does call a strike. What about if some other union is picketing the courthouse, am I going to be allowed to cross the picket line? And if I don't who goes to jail for failure to represent my client?
As i understand it, we are supposed to be having a decertification vote next June. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This is too funny

Click on this link if you are a blogger, or read blogs.

I love the part about "written by fools, to be read by idiots."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The problem with ideology

Meagan McCardle lists her disappointment with PIRG work as the basis for her turning from liberal to libertarian. I think that the future of libealism (as opposed to Leftism) is going to be libertarianism. The reason for this is the difference between ideology and values.
For the most part, I have always believed that all human organizations become so large and unwieldly, that they begin to destroy the very reasons for their creation, in order to continue their existence as they perceive it needs to be. One of the examples cited in her comments was unions paying sub minimum wage to protest Wal-Mart wages, which are above minimum wage already.
The only organization that I can think of which hasn't fallen into this trap is the US Army. Upon relfelction, I think that is because the Army trains to accomplish something that it hopes will never happen. So, you have an orgainzation that seems to be doing something pointless. While some may argue that because it is pointless, it should not be done, I would argue that is pollyanish at best, and extremely dangerous at worst. Pure pacifism requires surrender to anyone immoral enough to demand it and willing to employ force to accomplish it. This is a surrender of your basic values for the purpose of upholding those values. A worthy contradiction, don't you think?
But getting back to the Army. The thing that held it together was called the Army values. These were (I am sure that they have been massaged since I was in) Courage, Candor, Commitment and Excellence. Each and every soldier regardless of rank or responsibility was expected to hold each of these values and to base all of their actions on these same values. If you look at the listed values, they are all fuzzy. Any MBA would find them inadequate for Management by Objective, but their fuzziness actually made them stronger. If you were to err, you would always err on the side of the decision that was closest to the Army values as understood by the group as a whole. Technicalities were not allowed. The only thing that mattered were did you accomplish the mission, not how hard you tried, or how well you meant, just did you do the job. The reason for this is that accurate information is a life or death matter in this type of job.
When I was teaching the Leadership course in ROTC, I always used the example of a tank platoon that was crossing a river in Korea during that war. The engineeer in charge of blowing the bridge asked the lieutenant of the tanks if he was the last of the Americans. The lieutenant thinking that with all of the fighting he had been doing said "Yes I am." So the engineer blew the bridge, and when the smoke cleared, there was an American infantry unit stranded on the other side of the river.
The moral of the story is that the lieutenant conveyed false information. Not that he meant to, but that he didn't know better. If he would have said "I've been fighting them all the way here and haven't seen any other Americans," that would have been an accurate statement, but different from his being the last Americans.
Values are something that has to be spread throughout and organization. Ideology can be a basis for forming values, but ideology can also destroy values. (I am doing this for the good of the cause.) If you have good basic values, your actions will always be moral and just. If you have a good ideology, your values will fall by the wayside whenever they conflict, because ideology is more important.
I would rather people with strong values lead than strong ideology. I can trust people with values to do the right thing. I can trust people with strong ideology to do whatever is needed to propagate that ideology as they perceive it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm Baaack

Football season is now over, and once again I can concentrate on something other than my beloved Grizzlies, at least until September. I apologize for the lack of posting, but nothing seemed as interesting to me until now.

On Income Redistribution

Matt of Left in the West is decrying the fact that some people actually have the temerity to be rich!! Oh the nerve of some people.
This reminded me of an interview I saw on Fox News Sunday where Barney Frank was being interviewed and was asked if it was alright for the government to take wealth from one group and give it to another. Rep. Frank was pointing out that the top echelons are amassing more wealth than ever before. This would be a legitimate problem if and I mean only IF it was due to some government policy. But I know of no such policy. Instead, it just seems to be "unfair."
Why is it the role of government to forcibly sieze wealth from one group to give to another? What moral or legal basis would allow, much less condone such robbery? I am at a loss for an explanation.
I know that some have argued that the rich have too much and the poor have too little. Okay, why is that a problem for governmental intervention? Again, I am at a loss.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It's already started!

I have thought for some time now that the biggest loser in the last Senatorial election after Conrad was Max. As 4&20 points out he is even more vulnerable than I thought.
The problem for Max has always been that he is a Democrat for four years, then moves decidedly into the middle right before election. If he fails to implement the Netroots agenda, I think that they will be looking for a Lefty champion to take him on in the election. I think they feel confident because of Tester winning, and are using this as a justification to knock Max off just like they did to Morrison.
As I have long said, never believe your own propaganda. I think that the electorate went with Tester as a general disgust with Republicans as a whole. However, it was still pretty close in the final vote. And Matt notwithstanding, I think that there is a more conservative streak in Montana than the last election showed. With the Democrats now in charge in both Washington and Helena, they will have to produce in order to keep their seats.
So far, I have not seen the kind of maturity that would require. Part of the problem is that the Democratic Party ran on the strong platform of "We're not Republicans!" And it seemed to have worked for them. With Republicans in the minority, I don't see how that will be useful in '08.
The rumor mills are swirling with Denny running to take Max's seat in two years. I think that this is an excellent opportunity to ressurrect my campaign to have Dave Budge elected to the House.
We were looking at this earlier last Spring, when Denny was unwilling to rein in the profligate spending that gives Drunken Sailors a bad name. Timing is everything, and even if Dave had won, he would probably have been discarded like so many other Republican candidates. Now, the political fortunes are starting to look better.
I have met with Dave when we were discussing it, and Dave wanted me to know that he has a less than perfect past. I think some might have even called it flawed. I disagree, flawed means that you are still broken. I prefer to think scarred. Scars are the result of healing. You are tougher and stronger around a scar then you were before.
The time is coming, and we all need to keep our powder dry until January 2008, when Dave will be urged by all of us other scarred individuals to run and save the country. Or at least keep it from destroying itself.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Do You Feel a Breeze?

The above link is to a pretty good discussion about Rep. Rangel's call to reinstate the draft. Earlier, I had snarkily asked about Rangel bringing back the draft, and now he is talking about doing it.
I do not understand the political logic of this at all. Does he think that they can ram it through both houses of Congress when they become in charge? Even if he did get majorities in both houses, he is going to give Bush a bright shiny wrapped present, when GWB vetoes it, in order to protect the military and America's youth.
These Democrats, I don't understand them, but they sure to provide a certain level of comedic relief.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Social Conservatives vs. Libertarians

At the link is a speech by McCain that was interesting.
When you look at the margin that Conrad lost by to Tester, then look at the number of votes given to the Libertarian candidate, I am sure that Conrad is now wishing he would have courted us more. Of course, this is not to say that Libertarians would necessarily have voted for Conrad to begin with. In fact, it could be argued that the jump in the Libertarian vote was really more of a "None of the Above" kind of vote.
While some in the Republican Party are blaming their losses on the Libertarians, it has to be because they have taken us for granted for too long. There is a natural affiliation with the ideals of the Republican Government: i.e. Small government, fiscal conservatism, which is why the two parties have worked together in the past.
However, the present day Republican Party seems to have abandoned those principles and with it us. They had taken to spending like mad in an effort to try and maintain popularity with the voters by essentially paying them off.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, this abandonment of principles has cost them our support. Unfortunately for Libertarians, our voting clout is so much smaller than that of the Social Conservatives.
Social Conservatives have found themselves ostracized from the Democratic Party. One recent comment that I enjoyed is that Democrats who support right to life are considered moderates, while Republicans who support right to life are extremists. But Social Conservatives are in many ways the complete opposite of Libertarians.
If the fundamental essence of Libertarianism is the right to be left alone, the fundamental essence of Social Conservatism is that the world is going to Hell in a Handbasket, and only the Government can stop it.
Part of this is a reposne to the Courts taking on non-legal political issues, and the government is the only check and balance to a court exercising authority over what is a purely political question. Nonetheless, whether justified or not, their goals would conflict with our ideals for the most part. Since they are antithetical, and there are so many more of them than there are of us Libertarians, the Republicans may be drawn to the idea of tossing us overboard in order to keep the larger number of social conservatives.
So, what is a good Libertarian to do? I hate to admit it, but I think that we will need to try and work harder with the Republicans in order to corrall the courts. If we can convince the Republicans, and through them the public as a whole, that the courts need to butt out of social engineering, the social conservatives would have no reason to complain, nor to manipulate the Republican party any longer.
A Win - Win for all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Republican Plan of '08

In the above link, the candidates for the House Minority leadership post are outlining their strategy for taking back the majority in 2008. They seem to be using the same blue print that the Democrats used successfully in this year's election.
I think that they need to consider another alternative. Make things work. Not just for political game points, but to actually demonstrate a more effective and cost efficient way to deliver governmental services.
Although, it would be amusing to ressurect Rangel's plan to reimpose the draft.

Another Great Man has Passed

According to this report, Milton Friedman has died. The Nobel Prize winner has done quite a bit on behalf of Libertarian thinking.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Abramhoff and Democrats?

I thought only Republicans were corrupt. Now it appears that there are around 6 Democratic Senators on the take. Will the Netroots root out these charlatans, or simply turn their backs?

Hmm. I wonder.

The New Improved Democratic Plan for Iraq

After hearing that our beloved loser, Sen. McGovern is now instructing members of Congress on how to deal with Iraq, I felt it my duty to provide the basis for the plan:

Course, now it will be better, since a Blackhawk can carry more people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Peace and Prosperity at last

My wife (the god Demomocrat) is absolutely giddy that the Democrats have taken the house. I am sure that we will now have years of peace and prosperity, at least according to her. But what really bothers me, is that she is really happy that Brittney Spears is divorcing Kevin Federlein. (I don't really know who he is)
My wife, I love her but don't really trust her with anything important.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry is an idiot

I have refrained from commenting on Kerry's supposed "joke" about being "stuck in Iraq" for several reasons. First of course, is because I loathe the man. The fact that the Democrats picked him as their standard bearer in 2004 more than anything else shows what bad judgement they have. The fact that he got 59 million people to vote for him is 59 million reasons why the Democrats should not be in control.
The whole joke business was just contrived because he knew that he was in trouble. After all, should you take him at his word that he was talking about Bush, then you would have to imagine that since Kerry had lower grades than Bush at Yale, he would be even worse off. But, instead of apologizing, he immediately went on the attack, blaming Republicans for what he said, and that he would apologize to no one. Karl Rove really must have mind rays that make Democrats idiots.
But what really gripes me is that what he said, I honestly believe, is what he believes. How many times from Fahrenheit 911 on have we heard that the American military is the repository of people who can't get jobs? Their desire to support their notion is a disservice to all who take the defense of the nation seriously.
Now I understand that Kerry has issued an apology on his web site. Methinks this is because he couldn't actually bring himself to mouth the words of contrititon. Good for Tester to call on Kerry to apologize. Bad for Tester because he is still associated with the group that says they support our troops, and with their words alone, feel content to leave it at that.

Pelosi on terror

Although the above link is to an editorial, it does fairly encompass rep. Pelosi's narrow view of the war. The funny thing is that those who are supposed to be wise and "nuanced" still run around with their reality blinders on.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Damn you Conrad Burns!!

Okay, it's been awhile since I last posted. Mostly because politics have become trite and boring. We have facile, inaccurate and just plain wrong statements by the two candidates for US Senatee, which are eagerly lapped up by their adherents. Negative campaigning works because it drives most of us away rather than inspiring us.
So, why the title of this post? Because for the longest time, Conrad looked like he was a goner. Tester was going to sweep to victory, and Conrad could go back to broadcasting. Because Conrad never seemed to have a chance, I felt free to cast my vote for the Libertarian candidate.
But now, Conrad has closed the gap to within striking distance, and could pull it off. This means that I actually have to seriously consider voiting for him instead.
I do know that I am very disappointed in Conrad and the Republican party in general, but Tester scares the bejeebers out of me. So when confronted with the only two choices, disappointment and fear, I have to go wtih disappointment. I do not want Chuck Schumer to have an extra vote in the Senate, and that is just what I think Tester would do.
So, congrats Conrad, you will now have my reluctant vote.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Blog added

To the right is my Daughter's blog. The prodigal daughter has returned from 2 years on the East Coast. We shall slaughter a lamb and have a feast to celebrate her return to her natural homeland.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Letter to Democrats

This is a very interesting article, and very telling. I think that it is correct that the one thing holding the Democrats from taking over the House and Senate, is that they can't shut up.
There are some very important points in the article. I wish that Shane Morrison, Wulfgar and to a lesser extent, Matt of Left in the West would read it without taking offense, but looking to see if there are valid points.
But that will never happen, because they believe that they are on a roll.
Maybe they are, but then, maybe they are not.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Now this is funny!

In my feeble attempt to run for the State Legislator, I did attend a couple of Republican events, and wasn't all that impressed. While Democrats are just plain insane with anger, Republicans are definitley boring. I say it's time to put the "party" back into the Republican party.
This link shows that the Republicans can have some fun. The true essence of humor is that it must contain a certain element of truth. Reading the America Weakly, you can see that it is entirely plausible what the priorities will be for the next Democratically controlled Congress.
On a marginally related matter, I found the quote from John Adams that seems to be very appropriate: "One useless man is a shame, two a law firm, and three or more a congress."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Maybe it's time to stop helping

Dave has this interesting post about the differences between Wal Mart and Costco and their net effect on the poor. His post brings to mind one of the main complaints I have about liberals, that is, that they are very interested in doing something, even if it hurts more than it helps.
My wife (the good Democrat) is railing after me because she is going to support the increase in the minimum wage, and I am not. She learned from Oprah that there are 30 million people who are subsisting off of minimum wage, and she wants them to get a raise. I pointed out that the numbers mean that 90% are living above the minimum wage right now, but that is superflous to her, because she is a kind and caring person. Now, you have to remember that we are comfortably middle class, and the least that our three kids are earning right now is $13 per hour, so we have no immediate stake in the outcome of the referendum.
However, when I point out to her that an increase in the minimum wage will probably result in about 10% or 3 million people losing their jobs, she just snarls, "Whatever!" and is happy that 27 million are getting a raise. I know that she is a compassionate woman, and she is not happy to see 3 million people lose their jobs, but this way she can feel good abour herself, much like the general principals/principles of the Democratic Party. Too bad if you are one of those 3 million though.
But to examine this problem to the fullest extent, are people really getting a raise? If you consider that someone was making 6$ an hour before the increase in the minimum wage, will they get an increase as well? If not, do their experience and longevity go unrewarded? You can continue the increases all along the line. But no one asks the question "Where does the money come from?"
The answer is from the employer, who passes the costs along to the consumer, resulting in higher inflation, because the increase in wages is legislatively driven, not productivity driven. So, with more minimum pay, that means the increase is eroded proportinately, so that there is no real increase in wages, but 3 million people are out of work.
Some help. Maybe we shouldn't always be so quick to help.
Of course, I always complain about carpers who do nothing but point out a problem, and offer nothing to solve it, so I am obligated to offer a solution to the 30 million people that are living on minimum wage. How about this, government funded education that will enhance an employee's assets to the business? Send someone to school to learn how to do spread sheets, or word processing, or whatever it is that the employer requires to maximize output and productivity. This will result in better skilled employees who can command higher wages based on their abilities and contributions to the bottom line.
Hmmm, nah, makes too much sense.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Silence of the Blogs

If you really listen carefully, you will hear the breeze making a soft whistling sound as it blows across keyboards all over this land, dangling from their cords below the computer desks of bloggers across the middle and right of this fair land. Why the quietude? Why the lack of passionate arguments? Hard to say really.
Dave included this post which shows all sites are having a reduction in traffic. But it is larger among the center and right blogs, even though left blogs are also experiencing a reduction.
One answer might be that the beauty of summer has drawn us away from providing insight or even questions, into the outdoors to enjoy the halcyon days of the joy of life. But maybe, there might even be a different answer.
I think that the blogosphere has finally evolved to the level of real life. That is, we no longer actually discuss anything anymore. We shout out our opinions, and if the other side fails to be impressed with our volume, we simply relegate them to the great unwashed "idiots/criminal fools" that we always knew the other side to be.
There is almost no intelligent discussion. Instead, there is the presentation of a point of view, and the denigration to the point of questioning any opposing commenter's lineage, rather than a discussion of the points rasied.
There really seems to be a lack of curiosity in seeing the other side's perspective on an issue. Instead, anyone out of the poster's line of thought is considered to be a heretic, and unworthy of salvation after a few feeble efforts to rehabilitate them.
Compounding this problem are the trolls. Those who lack the courage or intellect to make their own blog, (they're free you know) but choose instead to populate another's blog with witticisms more appropriate for a kindergarten playground for juvenile delinquents.
My favorite example is Larry Kradj, the self proclaimed environmental ranger, who trolls the blog Left in the West. Larry loves to make fun of people's names, a wonderful technique for debating an issue. He further expounds on his service to his country giving him full authority for challenging anyone who is not quite as deranged as he is, even though he probably only spent his tour in Viet Nam stoned to the gills, and visiting the local ville to get a child prostitute every payday.
The real problem with Larry is not just his infatile postings. The problem is what do you do with such an obnoxious beast? If you take him on, he inevtably drags you down, since he cannot rise to the level of civil discourse. If you ignore him, he has an influence well out of proportion to his argument, as witnessed by many of the letters to the editor.
Reading Larry is a lot like being forced to sit on the flight from Missoula to Minneapolis with a four year old having a tantrum the entire way. There is no reasoning with the child, they simply want to have a fit. There is no way that you can make the child appreciate how odious their behavior is by acting the same way, because the child like Larry and his ilk lack the capacity to see beyond their own ego. Thus you are forced to sit and suffer while the obnoxious brat carries on, unable to say or do anything that will have any meaningful effect.
I hope with the cooler weather to come, we will see more of the intelligent debate that I used to read. Of course, that doesn't include discussion of football teams. That is a discussion that is really one sided. Football is of little real consequence but it does provide amusement.
I wonder if that is what has become of political discussion.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The beginning of the End?

Interesting take on Kos being coy about his success in ousting Lieberman. Couple this with the commentary by our former Congressman Pat Williams who misses the irony of calling for the removal of "partisan Rebublicans" and their replacement with (partisan) Democrats, and I am beginning to see the end of the Netroots community as a force in the Democratic Party.
What's that you say? Are they not at least successful in the CT race? Probably will be, and thanks to missteps by Conrad Burns, will pick up his seat as well. They may even have enough success to recapture at least one of the chambers of Congress. So much for 2006.
What will happen next, is that Kos and others like him will begin to target those who are not the "true believers" and the internecine combat will begin. It doesn't matter that you are 99% in my camp, I will find someone who is 100% and remove you from tainting the purity of our ideals and goals.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, this will mean that they will be seen by the 35-40% who do not see politics as a blood sport, and who will reject the over the top hyperbole (I know, redundant, but nonetheless, necessary and apt) of the Kossacks and crew.
2008 will probably see a Democratic challenge to Baucus, and his eventual replacement by a Republican, since Montanans seem to prefer divided government. But for 2 years, they may have their say.
Too bad for them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Another take on Global Warming

Sure it's dang hot, and yes the forests of the Bitterroot valley are burning, but this wonderful article raises the idea that increases on carbon dioxide will actually be beneficial.
Sure, it is obviously written by someone for whom English is a second language (spelling the word program with an extra m and e). But the science is interesting and certainly worthy of discussion.
But, still it is hot. The problem is when you confuse weather with climate. Because our life span is so short, we think all weather is climeate.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Libertarians and War

There is a great discussion about what the role of libertarianism and war should be. I highly recommend it and the comments to see that there are many thoughtful people out there who are looking into this issue.
One of the fun things about being an adult is dealing with moral dilemnas. This is just one example. Another question for the Volokh Conspiracy might be what is the propler libertarian stance on abortion. On the one hand, you don't want the State to dictate what people should do. On the other hand, do we not need to protect all people in order to allow them to make reasoned and informed opinions?
What fun, especially when good and moral people can come down squarely opposite one another on the issue.

Friday, June 30, 2006

On Illiberal Liberals

A darned good analysis here of the improper use of the word "liberal" by those who claim that they are. Here is the money quote: "
True liberalism is dedicated to a full and rational exchange of views in a mutually respectful manner. In the classical sense, liberals are centrists on the political spectrum, open to persuasion and seeking to persuade. They value the thoughts and policies advanced by persons both on their right and their left. They defend the right of every person, private citizen and public official, to speak freely, and they condemn any effort to restrict freedom of speech or to drown out others with shouting or vulgarity.

The intolerance and illiberal behavior of those who present themselves as modern liberals is a betrayal of true liberalism. Today's liberals would do well to rededicate themselves to the defense of the right of every individual to speak and be heard in the public forum.

Far too many of my Democratic friends assume that you are either a Democrat, (good) or a Republican (bad), with no other alternatives available.
God save us from these illiberal liberals.
(oops, that will drive them nuts).

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On the Flag Burning Amendment

Well, a political stunt to change the Constitution has failed. Or, gutless cowards are afraid to defend the one true symbol of all that is good about America from desecration. Take your pick.
I have felt the tremendous joy that can only come from seeing the American flag for the first time after doing the country's bidding. You can't explain it unless you have felt it, so there really isn't a lot to discuss about it. However, I as opposed to tinkering with the basic structure of a document that is designed to protect our freedoms from the predations of the government.
I would suggest that rather than make it a constitutional amendment, we instead provide legal immunity for any veteran who kicks the sh** out of anyone who burns a flag. Burning a flag is really nothing more than a means to instigate anger. Sometimes it really works. Don't beleive me? Go down the VFW and burn a flag. See how many approving comments you receive from those who served under the flag that you are burning.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Coercive interrogation?

In the above link, a blogger points to Andrew Sullivan's atrocious phrase and the attemtpt to link to Rumsfeld what happened to the two soldiers who were executed by the Islamic butchers.
But even looking at it amorally, there is still a difference between the two: Taking the worst that has been said about Rumsfeld, the purpose of such "coercive interrogation techniques" is to extract useful information to prevent future atrocities; Here, the barbarism was done for its own sadistic sake.
Don't tell me that we are no different.

I still think that we need to contract with Hormel for all the pig skins that they can produce so we can bury each and every one of these "holy warriors" in them.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Experiment is over.

I decided at the last minute to throw in for the legislative district representative that I live in. I chose the Republican side of the ticket because I believe in the ideals of the Republican party, not necessarily what they have been doing.
I promised to not bother people nor to solicit nor spend money. My entire campaign consisted of going to anyone who invited me (except when I had trials), newspaper interviews and the blog, Steve for HD 96.
Interestingly, my opponent was selected by the Central Committee since she had paid her dues, and they gave her money and assistance. In addition, she actually did knock on every door in the district. She is a nice lady, and I am sure that she would be okay. But here is the rub: she only won by 120 votes.
So, if you spend money to put up signs, get volunteers to help you and go door to door to talk to all of your future constituents, you only win by 120 more votes. Seems to be cost ineffective.
However, to be fair, there is the possibility that there are those who only voted for me because she is a woman, and they should remain at home and raising children. Although at 57, she, like me, has little to do with child raising at the moment.
The only other thing that was different between us, that I advocated Libertarian ideals. I think that this is where the majority of my support came from. As evidence I would propose that we consider the absentee ballots. Of the 39 cast, 21 went to her and 18 went to me. Since absentee voters in primary races are more involved and interested in campaigns, I think that the only reason I did so well was the fact that the Missoulian interviewed me about 5 days before election day.
May have to ponder this some more, but I think that it gives hope to those of us who think that the Republican party would do better with Libertarians than without.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On Memorial Day

This is a good article by a Marine Reservist who has served in Iraq. But it has brought to my mind a question that I hardly dared to ask before: Are we worthy of the people who are serving in our military? Or are we like the children who benefit from trust funds established by those who have sacrificed for our improvement, and fail to appreciate what has been done for us?

Too often, people regard those who serve as economic victims, people who had no choice to escape poverty but to go and fight and die in order to escape our malicious economy. Such tripe is disgusting to me. The reasons that people join the military, like all human decisions are complex and complicated. To reduce them to one simplistic reason is an insult to mature, independent human beings who see more to life than simply providing food for their table.

There is one thing that I do not agree with in this article. When the author says:
If we can put 2003's debates behind us, there is a swath of common ground on which to focus. Both Republicans and Democrats agree we cannot lose Iraq. The general insurgency in Iraq imperils our national interest and the hardcore insurgents are our mortal enemies. Talking of troop reductions is to lose sight of the goal.

I am not so sure that all sides agree that we cannot lose. When I think of Rep. Murtha, and most of the senior Democratic Party leadership, I do not hear that we need to complete the job we set out to do. Instead, I hear calls that our efforts there are futile and pointless, and that we should immediately "redeploy" (otherwise known as run away) and turn Iraq over to the insurgents. Evidence of this attitude is best described by those who point out that President Bush's handling of the war will lead to a Democratic majority.

I am not saying that the Democratic Party is more interested in helping the insurgents to win. But it is more interested in attaining their return to majority status and if the insurgents win, then so be it. This would not be the first time that one party has placed its priorities over that of the national interests, but it is still disgusting nevertheless.

The sad thing though, is that the Republicans are trying to do just the same thing in many belated ways. The unpopularity of the war is leading them to abandon their party's leader in their own self interest of being re-elected.

If you look at the conduct of the war without a prism of ideology, you see that we are on the whole largely successful in Iraq. Bush was right when he landed on the aircraft carrier and declared "Mission Accomplished." That is, it was true that organized units were no longer in existance. The problem is that the enemy changed on us, and we failed to realize it in time.

Where the enemy has been spectacuarly successful is in the manipulation of public opinion. The constant barrage of car bombs and IEDs has accomplished little of military value. They are unable to use these tactics to destroy their opponents, nor seize key terrain. The real target of these tactics are the television cameras that will rebroadcast the images to those of us sitting here safely at home. And their tactics are working, as evidenced by the drop in support for our actions in Iraq.

So, while the finest people that our country produces are striving to actually change a country, and through that metamorphosis the region, we here at home have let them down by failing to recognize that Bush was correct when he said that this would be a long hard war.

Kinda makes me wonder.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Scientists and Global Warming

In the above article, they have actually done a pretty good job discussing the ambiguities with global warming. The problem with the discussion is that it relies on the consensus of scientists. As someone very smart once said. Consensus is not science, and science is not consensus.
My problem with the scientists who rely on computer models, is that from my experience, you can make the models say anything by tinkering with the assumptions, and the weight given to the variables. For instance, if you increase the amount of heat, and assume that will result in more moisture being pushed into the air, you get more clouds, which serve to reflect sunlight back into space, and can actually lead to global cooling. So, which is correct? Darned if I know. But until they can tell me with 95% accuracy what the weather will be like in two weeks, why should I believe them when they say it will be warmer in 100 years?
Part of the problem is that science is being mixed in with politics. The same people who say that Creationism shouldn't be taught in schools are saying that Kyoto is the only way to save the planet. Just one problem though, Kyoto does nothing to reduce emissions of CO2. It just transfers it to Russia, China and India.
I did find it interesting that the scientists were complaining that the argument was taking on a legal nature, in that they were arguing like lawyers. Too true it seems. The problem is that as a lawyer, I have to argue for my side by maiximizing the positive side of my argument, and minimizing the negative, and hope that the jury can sort out what the truth is. Scientists are supposed to be open to the idea that they might be wrong. The way this argument is shaping up, neither side is willing to admit that they may be wrong, all to the detriment of real science.
Too bad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More Lies Exposed

In the article linked to above, the writer puts in a more cogent and coherent form what I have argued for before. Somehow, myths become more important than facts, especially by those who claim to be "speaking truth to power." How they can use this cliche with a straight face is beyond me.
Doesn't anyone get angry at being manipulated anymore?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

On the Real ID and voting business

Amusing article, especially since it is published in a Canadian newspaper.
Kind of reminded me of the sign I saw during a recent immigration march: "We're here, we're illegal and we vote!"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

On Health Care and Lawyers

Dave Budge has had an interesting discussion with Touchstone about universal health care, and the costs of health insurance. I am for universal health care just as soon as we get that perpetual motion energy source going too. It's a great idea, but making it work seems to defy reality.
But my comments here refer to a quote about some possible solutions. Specifically:
. . . 4) Reform malpractice lawsuits, at the very least, by requiring an affidavit from a medical professional that actual malpractice has occurred, and by allowing insurers and customers to enter voluntary arbitration agreements.

5) Suspend the medical licenses of negligent physicians on the first offense. This should not, by the way, be an AMA responsibility. We want this decision to be made by some body independent of the AMA, whose primary goal, of course, is to protect doctors.

In Montana, like a lot of states, we use the Medical/Legal malpractice panel to evaluate suits. If the panel feels that there was malpractice, then the plaintiff is given a letter of right to sue. Should the panel find against the plaintiff, then the plaintiff has to sue without the letter. Big Deal.

The first thing that needs to be done with regard to malpractice suits is to admit that medicine is as much art as science. In science, you have to control for the variables. In medicine, there are approximately 6 billion variables, or the total population of the planet. Everyone can react differently to the same procedure.
Sure doctors wear the white lab coat and are well versed in physics, chemistry, biochem etc. But like all of these stupid commercials telling us to see a doctor about a condition that we probably don't have, in order to determine if we should get a medecine that we don't need, there are a string of caveats that follow at the end of these commercials that warn of side effects. And those are only the ones of any statistical significance.

Let's start out with the assumption that most doctors are professionals, using their best professional judgment. Now let's throw in the exceptions; the doctors who are drunk or stoned (they are human after all), so how do you resolve treating them all the same in a court of law? Beats me.

The cure for the malpractice litigation may lie in the imposition of penalties and lawyers fees. For instance, your child has been born with brain damage. You are in such anguish, you want to make someone pay for the terrible tragedy so you sue. But the fact is, sometimes, some really awful sh*t happens. It's really nobody's fault. Now if the doctor was coming straight from the jail where he had just been arrested for DUI, you probably have a good case.

The old standard used to be "Gross negligence" in order to recover in a suit. Now the standard really is can you convince a jury that your client needs to recover. I am thinking of the former senator from North Carolina who bought a seat from the proceeds of his suits against doctors for something that has since been proved to be totally not their fault.

But in order to begin fixing med mal, you need to look at who is making the money. And the answer is that the lawyers on both sides are. My limited experience in malpractice (against another lawyer for sending a guy to prison wrongly) is that the defense lawyers made a killing. I would send a letter to the opposing counsel, let's say one and a half pages. He would spend and hour and a half considering all of the legal issues at $250 per hour, another half hour drafting a response, and then include my letter back to me stating that he was in receipt of my letter. Why did he do that? Because he would charge a buck a page to copy it, when the real costs were less than 5 cents, or $501.90 in profit. What a racket.

Plaintiff's lawyers aren't much better. Typically, a lawyer will charge 1/3 to 1/2 as a contingency fee. Sure they bear all of the costs, but those are removed from the client's settlement first. I read somewhere that only 10% of plaintiff's suits pay out. That is why they get such high fees, in order to make up for the 90% that fail. This is grossly ineffective.

So, my solution is instead of universal health care, let's make national legal care for malpractice. Take malpractice out of the hands of lawyers looking for a killing and make it only possible for government lawyers to sue or defend med mal cases. You take away the profit motive, while still preserving the patient's right to recover for gross negligence. Sure, government lawyers would lack the incentive to fight to the death on every issue, but that may not be such a bad thing.

Could be just as effective if not more effective than anything else that I have seen for fixing the problem.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What to do about Iran?

Much smoke and noise is being made about the Mad Mullahs making their own nukes, and what we are going to do about it. In the article above, it points out the problems with using military forces against Iran, and how that may solidify support for the regime.
We could also continue to use economic sanctions, which almost never work. In fact teh only one that comes to mind is South Africa. Otherwise, pariah states are always able to find someone to trade with for what they need.
My solution is the complete lifting of all economic sanctions in Iran, then bombing them with Victoria's Secret catalogs and credit cards. How long do you think that the mullahs can keep control once the Iranians have access to soft porn and the ability to buy it?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Generals vs. Rumsfeld

Belly at Left in the West has a posting about the confrontation between the generals who oppose Rumsfeld and those who support him. He argues that this is a good thing, that it is healthy to have debate and dissension in the military. Oh, the lack of military experience is so telling these days.
Kind of reminds me of February of 1993, when the FIRST thing that Clinton did in office was the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. There was a lot of grumbling among the field grade officers that I knew until the Colonel came out and called a formation and informed us that President Clinton is the President, regardless of the fact that he had not garnered a majority of the popular vote. Our duty was to uphold the Constitution, and the fact was that he is our Commander in Chief. If we couldn't support him in his legally prescribed duties, we had a duty to offer our resignation. Pretty much shut us all up at that moment, because it reminded us that we are servants of the civilian leadership.
These generals that have retired and now, 3 years later are saying that Rumsfeld was "abusive" or didn't take their advice are playing a dangerous game. To think that generals are unable to deal with abusive behavior is like the pot calling the kettle, yada yada yada.
If they really did have a problem with Rumsfeld, they could have announced their retirement/resignation (there is a difference) and not participated. Instead, they seem to wait until after they are safely drawing their retirement pay to start carping. Very curious indeed.
But these are not moralists remedying a problem at the cost of their careers. These are like General Maxwell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who stayed on with President Johnson, even though he knew that what was being done was wrong or criminal. Trying to claim the moral high ground by complaining about the civilian leadership while safely retired is more an example of cowardice than heroisim.
We in the military are tasked with enforcing the Constitution, but are not allowed to take advantage of it. For instance, if you are on active duty, you cannot place a partisan sign in your yard. An infringement on the basic right of free speech, not to mention that of your spouse. But it makes sense.
Elections change parties, and the military has to serve whoever the American public selects. To be able to pick and choose between who you want to serve is the first step in the destruction of the Constitution.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I am running

At the last moment, I threw in my nomination for MT House District 96 candidacy as a Republican. I am of course, really more Libertarian, but of the two major parties, the ideals of the Republicans line up more closely than that of the Democrats.
After I submitted my nomination paperwork, I had initial misgivings, and thought about withdrawing. But then I thought, "What the heck?" The worst that would happen is that I would get elected, and be sentenced to 90 days in Helena during the winter.
I am running as a fiscal conservative, and therefore, won't spend any money nor solicit donations. No signage, advertisements or anything else that cost money.
Nor am I going to harass my neighbors by banging on their doors at dinner time. If they want to know where I stand, I will set up an appointment and come to see them.
Could be a hoot.
I started a campaign blog at Steve for HD 96 here.

Good analysis of politics at the moment

The article above is a very good synopsis of the present situation. I especially liked the comment "There are too many politicians and not enough statesmen."
At teh moment, I can only think of two potential statesmen, Joe Lieberman and John McCain. Neither of which is expecially beloved by his party at the moment.
Maybe that is the secret to being a statesman.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jimmy Carter on being a Democrat

I borrowed this from the Best of the Web, mostly because I couldn't believe it:

John F. Sugg interviews Jimmy Carter for Creative Loafing Atlanta:

Carter fittingly used a parable to illustrate how he'd like to see the political/religious debate unfold.

"I was teaching a Sunday school class two weeks ago," he recalls. "A girl, she was about 16 years old from Panama City [Fla.], asked me about the differences between Democrats and Republicans.

"I asked her, 'Are you for peace, or do you want more war?' Then I asked her, 'Do you favor government helping the rich, or should it seek to help the poorest members of society? Do you want to preserve the environment, or do you want to destroy it? Do you believe this nation should engage in torture, or should we condemn it? Do you think each child today should start life responsible for $28,000 in [federal government] debt, or do you think we should be fiscally responsible?'

"I told her that if she answered all of those questions, that she believed in peace, aiding the poor and weak, saving the environment, opposing torture . . . then I told her, 'You should be a Democrat.' "

Sugg doesn't say if Carter was talking with his eyes closed.

So, let me rephrase Mr. Carter's answers for the sake of discussion

Are you for surrender, or do you believe that freedom is worth fighting for? Do you favor taking money with the threat of incarceration for no better reason than you can, in order to buy votes? Do you want to destroy all forms of employment in the name of protecting the environment, or are you willing to actually do some deep and hard thinking? Do you think that it is fair to torture the American people with trite and contrived accusations or do you believe in finding out the truth?

Sheesh, Just goes to prove the axiom "Never listen to anybody who's philosophy can fit onto a bumper sticker.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

McKinney as a verb

Politicians know that the worst thing in the world is to be laughed at, especially when you didn't mean it to happen. But the best ones to laugh at, are those who don't even realize that they are being ridiculous. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D. Ga.), recently attacked some poor security guard of the Capital Police, because he didn't recognize her new hairdo, and she wasn't using her ID pin as she walked around a security check point. Trying to stop the good Congresswoman, he came under attack from her and her cell phone.
Now McKinney is claiming that the only reason she attacked the policeman is because he is a racist. In fact, her lawyer is now claiming that the Congresswoman is guilty of being in Congress while black and female. I am sure that Shirley Chisolm is rolling in her grave over the legacy that she had created.
McKinney's baseless accusations of racism have brought to mind a new verb to deal with warrantless allegations of racism, sexism, homophobia, whatever: To McKinney someone. As in, "You called me a racist? Are you McKinneying me?" To show the ludicrousness of the accusation.
Charges of racism are easily laid, and impossible to disprove, shifting the burden unfairly onto an innocent victim, who can never recover. Now, the victim can just ask the accuser; Are you McKinneying me? to show that the accusation is without merit, absent some real evidence.
Could be fun.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Feingold Hearings

So, the Senate judiciary committee is holding hearings, and the first witness up is John Dean (Yes, that John Dean of Watergate fame) who is going to say that this is worse than what Nixon did.
I want to know how Dean knows more about the program than anyone else who is not working it. Could it be that he is making it up?
I thought so.
But here is the $64,000 question. Should the censure hearings go forth, and yield nothing, could Feingold be censured by his fellow senators for bringing a frivilous motion against the President during war?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Why I have been away

So, I was over at Chico Hot Springs in Pray Montana for our annual Criminal Defense Continuing Legal Education. There is nothing more fun than all that drinkin, smokin, cussin and braggin that goes on with criminal defense attorneys.
I was standing outside and telling one of my best war stories. It involved a sexual intercourse without consent charge. The prosecution during voir dire was explaining that the defendant was alleged to have forced a woman to perform oral sex on him.
About that time, the first juror in the box, a single female, 60 years old raises her hand and says "Miss, Miss, can I ask a question."
The prosecutor, sensing an opportunity to establish rapport with a potential juror said "Sure, what is your question?"
The juror then asked what the punishment was for this crime. Now in Montana, juries only decide guilty or not guilty, except in capital cases, so it would have been inappropriate for the prosecutor to say what it was.
However, wanting to take the sting away from telling the juror to shut up, it was none of her business, she turned to the judge and asked if he would answer the question. Hoping the judge would tell the juror that she was not supposed to be concerned with punishment.
Instead, the judge, a former prosecutor turned to me and asked if I had any objections?
No objection your Honor, I replied. Whereupon the judge started intoning "The maximum punishment for this crime is life in prison, with not less than two years, nor more than 100."
At this the juror blurted out "That's an awful long time for a blow job isn't it?
Just as I finished telling this story, I heard someone laughing, and looked over to see Karla Grey, the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court laughing along with us.
Only in Montana.

An Iraqi view 3 years on

Mohammed at Iraq th Model has a very cogent examination of the results of the last 3 years. I especially liked the line: Are we free or are we lost?
The problem with freedom is that you have choices. I know that doesn' seem to be a bad thing, but we are used to haveing choices. Imagine someone who had their choice dictated to them for years on which clothes to wear, and then were suddenly thrust into a mall and told they could wear anyting that they wanted.
The overwhelming variety can result in overstimulation and (at least temporarily) a withdrawl to the simpleness of no choice.
Iraqis now have a choice. As I have said many times before, war is a catalyst, it is not an end to itself. It simply creates the condition for change. Think of razing a slum to make way for new and better apartments. The razing is a destructive act. But you couldn't improve the apartments without removing the slums.
Read the whole article. If you can get to the end without a bittersweet tear in your eye you have no soul.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gary Hart, Military Genius?

The right to freedom of speech means that even if you don't know what you are talking about, you can sound just as self assured as someone who actually understands the problem. Hart here, shows himself to be a dilletante of the highest order. Unfortunately, as his future obit will say, the former senator from Colorado and Presidential candidate, carries a certain amount of weight, especially among those who hold like opinions, and who will use his stature to verify their posisitons.
Perhaps he is just like so many of our fellow citizens who believe that right now, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. Of course, a higher percentage of Americans believe in UFOs, but no one except for the nuts around Area 51 have actual proof of them existing. Poll numbers do not reflect facts, they reflect manipulation. Hart must be influenced by these poll numbers to write this tripe.
This seems to go hand in hand with Murtha saying that we have lost the war. Hmm, did I miss the news where our forces have surrendered to the Iraqis? Which divisions have been destroyed? What brigades or battalions are no longer operational? What company was massacred? Which platoon pulverized? Saying that we have lost the war does not make it so. Unfortunately, no one is interested in the facts, just confirmation of their opinion.
I am coming to believe that politics in all forms should be labeled as fiction.
If you want to know what is going on in Iraq, and lack the ability, or the heart to go yourself, check out Will to Exist on the right. I believe him far more than I would anyone who isn't there.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The CIA is at it again

So, now the CIA is saying that it wants to prevent the Libby defense team from access to material that they say is needed for their defense. On the face of it, it looks as though Libby's team is overreaching.
But maybe, the real story is that the CIA wants the case to be dismissed by the judge so that no one will be really able to dig deeply into the story and find out the CIA is mucking about in politics.
Hmmm. Makes you wonder.

Idiotic Idiots has a picture of Barbara Streisand and the following underneath it:
Barbra Streisand accused President Bush of having 'the arrogance of a 'C' student'

Misspellings from her most recent web posting:
• Irag
• curruption
• dictatoriship
• crediblity
• Adminstration
• warrented
• desperatly
• preceedings
• ouside
• subpoening
• responsibilty

Is there anything worse than an idiot who thinks that they are a genius?
Me, I know that I am dumb.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Crash the Movie

James Taranto of Best of the Web (you have to scroll to the bottom) feels that Crash may have been a good movie but that it was "manipulative and unrealistic as the day is long."
My wife (the good Democrat) and I watched the movie on Sunday just before the Oscars, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Now, I may be putting too much into this, but it seems to me that what the movie was saying is that racisim is essentially laziness; a sort of shorthand way to react to the frustrations of life over which we have so little control.
It does add in two examples of racisim that show the absolute worst form which is racisim by the authorities. Watching the charachter played by Matt Dillon grope the female passenger in front of her husband after a stop about made me quit the movie right there. Then later, when the LA County District Attorney and his assistants allowed a white detective to be blamed for the death of an off duty black officer, it showed that while our personal racisim is bad, at the institutional level it can destroy our entire civilization.
It is a good movie and shows the corrupting effects of racisim. Go see it if you get the chance.

Deblogging ideas

Dave and Matt are busy deblogging each other. I would just like to say:
Both of you, just put down your keyboards, and slowly back away, and no one will get hurt.

This is not the only instance of "purifying" by all sides of any ideas that are uncomfortable. Pretty soon, everybody will be pointing out to commenters to just stay on their own side of the Internet.
I list on my blogroll all that I am interested in. It has always been my experience that I need to fully hear someone else's argument and weigh it against my own. If I am right, I have a better argument. If I am wrong, I learn and become better. If I ignore the other side, I become even more ignorant.
Both sites will remain blogrolled here, even if I am kicked off theirs.

Update Dave corrects me that he is not changing Matt's link from his page. Sorry for the mix up.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sorry to be so slovenly

I spent a week in a golf school at Las Vegas. Golf is reaaly like remarriage - a triumph of hope over experience. But the good news is that I have learned that when I do something wrong, I now know why. Doesn't stop me from doing it, but at least now I know why.
I read this piece by Ralph Peters, and it reminds me once again: Never trust the news you haven't seen with your own eyes, and never think that you can ever really understand the Middle East.
When I was in Saudi Arabia, I learned that the phrase, "I will see what I can do" is really code for , "Sorry bud, your are on your own." When the Golden Dome shrine was blown, I was afraid that the Sunnis in Iraq would become only a distant memory. Instead, the Shias have responded with a certain amount of measured restraint that has to be admirable. The fact that all out civil war has not taken place gives me a great deal of hope, and this article by Peters just adds to it.
Now, it is possible that I am being manipulated in the same way that I think that the MSM is doing, but my own experience has taught me that there is more of value to believe in Peter's reporting than that of the NYT.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Rumsfeld can Read!!

Check out the story in the WSJ, then go read Imperial Grunts. See if it isn't the same dang thing. Kind of makes you proud to know that no matter how hard headed he is, Rummy can still learn.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Where are the Heroes?

Sen. Coburn certainly seems to be one. There are some great quotes in here:
I'm going to keep on digging the tunnel under spending." Because, he says, large deficits reverse the American tradition of making sacrifices for the benefit of rising generations: "I'm an American long before I'm a Republican, and I'm a granddad before I'm either one of them."

"If I don't get reelected? Great. The Republic will live on."

When Coburn disparaged an earmark for Seattle -- $500,000 for a sculpture garden -- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was scandalized: "We are not going to watch the senator pick out one project and make it into a whipping boy." She invoked the code of comity: "I hope we do not go down the road deciding we know better than home state senators about the merits of the projects they bring to us." And she warned of Armageddon: "I tell my colleagues, if we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next." But Coburn, who does not do earmarks, thinks Armageddon sounds like fun.

Since Ted Stevens went ballistic over the cancellation of his damned bridge, I have had some hope that he would penalize all of the other senators who wanted their pet re-election projects, I mean their earmarks entered.

Read the whole thing. With luck, our only professional criminal class may be forced into doing the right thing. It may be for all of the wrong reasons, but it is still the right thing.

Friday, February 10, 2006

How bad is the economy?

As noted in the article, right now, 43% of the public believe that the economy is in a recession. How can that be, when there is significant growth?
The answer seems to be that the reportage of the economy is decidedly biased. So, if we are to have an informed debate on a subject, how can we debate if we are not properly informed?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My, My, My

So, the Abramoff business is not so clearly one sided as claimed. The problems for the Democrats are the public's perceptions that all politicians regardless of party are crooked, and the amusing habit the Democrats have of being contradicted on point blank issues.
First, Howard Dean and Harry Reid were screaming that this is a Republican issue, that no Democrats had taken any money form Abramof. Then it was amended to no Democrats had taken money personally from Abramof, just his lobbying firm. Then it was that no Democrats ever took money from Abramof's clients at his directions. Click on the title to see that Reid took $68,000 from Abramof's clients. So, we have a difference without distiction.
So, I went back to the link that showed where the Abramof money went to. Just looking at individual giving by Abramof, $9000 went to Rep. Barney Frank, and $5000 went to Debby Stabenow. So, it seems as if the public perception is correct. They are all bums.
What is needed though is not cutting out free lunches or trips. What we need are ethical people who would be able to accept campaign contributions, but still vote in favor of their constituents. As the old saying goes, "Hell if you can't drink their whiskey, sleep with their women and take their money and still vote against them, you are not much of a politician."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Proof that the FBI is watching you

Click here.

Iraqi WMDs?

Okay, we all know that Bush lied about WMDs, or that he didn't lie, he was just misled by the Neocons, or if not that, that Saddam had peacefully closed his WMD programs years before, and just wanted everyone to think that he had them. At least that would be the conventional wisdom.
But what if, as the article posits, Saddam recognized that after 9-11, Bush was a crazy man who would invade even though he had bought off the French and Russians on the Security Council? The Germans were a freebie, since Schroeder was toast without an outside boogeyman.
Now, a paranoid would say that Bush is getting ready to release all of this information to slap down his critics who said that he lied. After all, what would they say if there is proof that the weapons were there, but removed? The trouble with being called a liar (unless you are a Republican, in which case it is automatically assumed) is that your credibility on everything becomes suspect.
Curious turn of events if it pans out.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Racism and Cartoons

So, the Boston Globe weighs in saying that the publication of cartoons that the Muslims find offensive should never have occured because we need to show respect for other people's religion. Hmm, what about "Piss Christ" or the Madonna in Elephant Dung?
Well, that's okay, because they are offending Christians, and what the Globe really meant was that we didn't want to offend those nut jobs that burn down the Danish embassy while holding signs (in English mind you) that those who offend Islam need to be beheaded.
Too many on the Left seem to be more offended by Christian fundamentalists than Muslim fudnamentalists. If you looked at the body count, the Muslims present a greater threat. The reason I don't think the Left is as worried about Muslim fanaticism are their own blinders. "We can't criticize them because they are a different color than we are, and we don't understand their culture." I'm sorry, but if sommeone is running around wanting to behead me and my family, I tend to want to take them seriously as a threat, even here in Montana, which most Americans couldn't find on a map, much less Islamic terrorists. The risk of someone beheading me, versus having my grandchildren taught that there was a master plan to evoulution are not co-equal in my mind. But hey, I may just be backwards in all of that.
I am finding it harder and harder to take seriously, those who seem to have an inability to be serious, no matter how pompous they act (the Globe and Julian Bond for example). But still, there they are.
What a country!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Good news from Iraq

I had earlier asked my Democratic friends for what their priorities were, and almost universally they were for the immediate termination of our presence in Iraq. Most called it an unmitigated disaster that created more terrorism than it controlled. While their answers were helpful, I don't necessarily believe that they are right. The article in the above link shows another perspective on what is happening in Iraq that should give us hope.
Why isn't this sort of information being reported with wider dissemination? One theory could be that it is isolated and anecdotal, and another is that it does not comport with our preconceived notions of what is happening. In any event, it is still interesting. It kind of reminds me of the Summer of 2001 when the news was filled with shark attack stories. Not that there were more actual attacks by sharks than before, but the news media grabbed ahold of story, and it was blown out of proportion. Popular belief in the immediacy of the reported problem swamped common sense, and everyone was freaking out, at least until 9-11.
While I don't agree with some posters on Matt's site Left in the West who believe that we are the worst country in the world for our treatment of people, I am still an optimist who believes that we are capable and are doing good. The only problems that I think we suffer from is our desire for quick and/or immediate solutions, and our lack of patience. That, and our lack of perspective about the rest of the world.
I remember in our local free paper, someone once commented that we are the most racist, sexist and homophobic country on earth. I was thinking at the time that the commenter should get out in the world beyond Canada. Most of the world is messy, but I have never found a place where you can get more opportunities than here.
But back to the reason for this post. The attitudes of the Iraqis are pleasantly surprising. They are starting to take responsibility for their lives, which is no small achievement. After April of 2003, the Iraqis looked to us to solve all of their problems, while we were standing there waiting for them to step up to the plate. This mismatch of perceptions was probably the greatest cause of resentment on both sides.
Now, the Iraqis are actually taking control of their country. There is always something inspiring when you see someone do something that they did not believe that they could do before. Their sense of pride in their accomplishments can be overblown, but it is always better than waiting passively for someone else to change their lives. We are witnessing this change, but we should be aware that we are on a timetable to get the job done.
In the Fall elections, I fully believe that the Democrats will retake one or possible both houses of Congress. Should that happen, I don't doubt that their first order of business will be to terminate our involvement in Iraq. If the Iraqis are not stable enough, this could be a disaster for the Iraqis and us. I do think that the Iraqis are making remarkable progress though, and even if we are prematurely pulled out, give them a 50-50 chance of making a go of it.
We will have to wait and see.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Iraqi terrorists arrest Iraqi Minutemen!

Okay, so I wrote this title like I was Michael Moore. It is interesting, because I think that just about everyone has figured out that killing Iraqis in a culture which invented and eye for an eye justice is not going to last too long.
One aspect that I haven't seen a lot of press on, and Omar at Iraq the Model hasn't given me an answer to, is what happened to Zarqawi when his family disowned him? Seems to me that the tribal relationship is the most important, offering protection and structure that outsiders are not allowed to participate in.
If Z's family boots him, who gives him protection now?

A Question for my Democratic Friends

It seems to be inevitable that the steady drumbeat of bad news will probably result in the Democrats picking up seats in the next election. Whether they gain enough to actualy take control is another question, but certainly within the range of possibilities. With that in mind, I would like to ask some questions about what the new control of government will mean for me and the country. There is no right or wrong answers to these questions, rather it is to establish a framework, whereby we can rationally discuss what is going to be done.

First off: 1. What is going right with our country right now? This question is necessary because if we all agree on what is working, we won't have to reinvent the wheel and waste time.

2. What are the top three issues that need to be addressed in order of priority. You can't say everything, because then nothing is a priority.

3. We have been fighting the War on Poverty for 40 years. Have we made any progress? A follow up; What is working, and what isn't working?

4. Is terrorism (as identified with Osama bin Laden) a threat to this country? What should we do about it if it is, and if it is not, why not?

5. Are there any Republican programs that you agree with? If so, which ones?

These questions are not meant to be provocative. But reading the tea leaves, and looking at history, it seems quite probable that Democrats will retake Congress eventually, and in '08 may take the White House. If they do, I would really appreciate knowing what the agenda is going to be. So far, there does not seem to be a coherent voice or system of thought for when that happens. I am hoping that answers to my questions will clarify that for me.

Friday, January 20, 2006

On torture

Matt at Left in the West is saying that I am certifiably insane for saying that the NYT is guilty of the grossest form of treason. I still think that I am right, but then he goes into a tirade about Bush and the use of torture.
Maybe it's just me, but everytime I hear that we are being accused of torture, I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch about the use of torture during the Spanish Inquisition. Okay, Mr. Terrorist, tell us what you know, or we will poke you with the cushions, and if that doesn't work, we will use the Comfy Chair. (Followed by diabolical laughter).
Life imitates Monty Python. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Another view from the front

One of the greatest strengths of the military are the NCOs who run it. One of those individuals who are the backbone of the Army has his own blog, which is linked at the right. I love good Sergeants. They have unbounded common sense, and are the masters of reality, undeterred by ideology. Thank God for good men like them. I found this latest post so good, I wasn't going to just link to it, but put it here in its entirety. Read and enjoy.

Another BBC Interview and a few thoughts to accompany the audio
Filed by Trevor under Politics, Global, Ideas (Friday January 20, 2006 at 3:35 pm)

I’ve conducted another radio interview with the BBC. I was pretty tired the night it occurred.

In retrospect, if I could do the interview over, I would try to be more clear about some of my comments - I am truly convinced that this war is about making a compelling case that what the West has to offer Iraq is far superior to what the insurgency has to offer Iraq. And the Army is one of the primary vehicles for showing people what the West has to offer Iraq.
We are - in our hearts - builders. The insurgency is filled with destroyers. They have no Corps of Engineers, they have no sanitation technicians, water purification people, competent medical staff and no educators worth a damn. They don’t value science, technology or consensual, cooperative relationships. They use force first. We use force last.

We value freedom, even if we sometimes don’t value it enough. They value control over everything and the resulting despair and despondency that accompanies taking away basic choices about which direction a person’s life should take. So what if the Army is trying to ensure that its message gets into the public’s bloodstream? As long as it does so honestly, then it is doing what it should to win.
The freedom of an individual to pursue his or her own pathways in life, to a large degree, is what hangs in the balance here. At least in my eyes. We’re not just deciding for Iraqis, we’re deciding for the entire world. The battle for the future of Iraq is one small fight in a much larger war that is being waged worldwide constantly. Most people are oblivious to it but it’s going on here and it’s going on back home. It’s going on in Britain too, where the radio show I talked too is hosted.

I am glad to be in a place in time and space where I was allowed to speak my mind on a radio show listened to by an audience halfway around the world from me. If I had been British, I wouldn’t have been allowed on the show. That’s sad.

Are the NSA Intercepts Legit?

In the above link, the Attorney General has provided us with a legal memorandum that explains the authority Bush had to authorize the intercepts of communications between Al Qaida operatives. The best part of the argument starts at page 17 of this pdf document in case you want to skip all of the fluff lead in.
I can agree with the reasoning in this matter based on their analysis. If so, then the release of this information by the NYT is the greatest act of treason that has ever been committed. Although why anyone thinks that the Al Qaida operatives will still be using electronic means to communicate that can be intercepted is beyond me, therefore the program has no useful value at this time.
The argument made is at least credible. If we are to look at NSA intercepting communications between Al Qaida operatives who are both outside of the country, that is fully authorized. As Bush said before in his defense of his actions, at least one of the parties being intercepted had to be outside of the country. Therefore removing from the argument internal communications from being intercepted. The presence of someone who is communicating with Al Qaida in this country should not be exempted from intercepts because of a misguided sense of a legal technicality. I think that it was Lincoln who said that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Al Qaida should not be allowed to use the protections of the Constitution to hide their actions. Reasonable steps to prevent attacks that include the interception of communications from overseas (or Canada or Mexico for that matter) must be an inherent part of the President's authority to make war that Congress has authorized.
So, as Commmander in Chief during time of war, taking the steps to protect the nation from attack, he would be authorized by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The fact that he continued to review it on a regular basis plus inform the members of Congress only adds more credence to the interpretation of the President's powers.
Now, let's say that Congress finds that they did not mean for the President to listen in on terrorists that are in this country. They could pass a law clarifying that any Al Qaida that are present on our shores are exempt from surveillance absent a FISA court approved court order. After all, we wouldn't want to falsely investigate someone who is totally innocent and wrongfully accused. Of course we also wouldn't want to allow Al Qaida to plot undeterred from their next big operation either. So how do we resolve the dilemna? Let's look at the maiximum harm of the two cases cited above. If the person is wholly innocent, they could suffer from a certain level of embarassment, since any illegal activities would be excluded from prosecution. On the other hand, failure to intercept intel related to a terror attack could result in one that makes 9-11 look like a picnic.
So, what are we to do? I am sure that Congress will either have to validate the President's authority, or say that Al Qaida is to be allowed free reign to conduct their actions against us.
People always say that Bush is dumb. Seems to me that he keeps putting his opponents who are in a moral rage into a very tight box that they cannot extricat themselves from.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Proof that I am right

In the link above, a Congressman has taken the most expensive trip yet to date, this during all of the noise about Abramoff. As I said before on the issue of bias in the media, see if you can figure out what party the accused is from.
The fact that his affiliation is not mentioned should give you a clue.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

On Lobbying Reform

Well, in light of the Abramoff kerfluffle the Democrats are proposing new regulations that will prevent lobbyists from picking up the tab for a meal, or for offering free transport to elected representatives.
Yup, that ought to do it. Right there because we know that every Congressman can be bought for the price of a lunch. Sheesh.
The problem with this solution, as with so many solutions, it doesn't solve the real problem. It is not the lobbyists who are the problem, rather our elected representatives who are so easily swayed by them.
Lobbyists are a constitutionally protected job class. The right of the people to petition the gonernment for redress, etc. So, since we cannot remove the ones who would tempt our legislators, perhaps we need to replace them instead of the lobbyists.
The basic problem with any codified set of ethics rules is that there are always loopholes. West Point uses the simple, "do not lie, cheat or steal, nor condone those who do." The advantage of ambiguity is that you always have to stay safely on the side of being right. It's when you say that the meal was less than $50 before taxes, and therefore ok that we begin to have problems.
America, the place with a permanent criminal class which resides in Washington.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More science questions

V at Left in the West posted a cool link about black holes. One of the advantages of being a lawyer is that you get to learn a little bit about just about everything. It would be really cool if someone would host a strange scientific question segment that would allow knowledgable people to give a quick answer.
Just for fun, I will posit one of those questions that I have not been able to get my head around and see if anyone can explain it to someone as dumb as I am. The question:
If you have a space ship travelling at one half the speed of light, we know that the person on board would also experience a time dilation that would slow time down to one half of what an outside observer would see. So if our spaceman were to measure the speed of light, he would be using the Newtonian system of rate times time = distance. But if his time is one half, wouldn't that require twice the speed to come up with the same distance. If so, what does that do to the speed limit that nothing can go faster than the speed of light?
Any help would be appreciated.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

On the Alito Hearings

I only got to listen to the Alito hearings from NPR while driving, so I only got snapshots of the questioning. However, the smartest thing said in all of this noise was when Biden said that having hearings anymore is a waste of time. Amen to that. One side is looking to use cross examination techniques to try and trip up the nominee, and the other is looking to find any way to excuse the accusations. Nowhere in the process is there any real desire to find any useful information.
This is not to say that I support Alito. A president should be given a certain amount of deference in their choices, but Alito's hyper caution in answering (or not answering) questions makes me more than a little worried.
Some of the questions should have been a slam dunk. For instance, when Durbin asked if the right to an abortion is in the Constitution, he should have answered: It is a right that is derived from the right to privacy, which is itself a right derived from the 4th, 5th and 1st Amendments, but no, it is not explicitly in the Constitution.
I did like his answer on why he voted against including a coal heap as a mine, when he said that the laws needed to be construed narrowly. Durbin was incensed, but it makes sense. If Congress feels that a court is not covering all that they want, they can fix it. If on the other hand the courts start to get too broad in their interpretaion, it is more difficult to rein them in. The role of the courts is to limit their interpretation, not to confer new rights. That is the role of the legislative bodies.
The other interesting thing about the hearings, was the desire to have Alito like Roberts before him declare that abortion is settled law. If it was so darned settled, why are we still arguing over it? In fact, by the high percentage of questions relating to abortion are a measure, the issue is not settled at all, and the Democratic senators know and recognize this. Abortion is one of those fun moral dilemmas where good people can come down on either side. Unfortunately, both sides seem to treat the other as evil and despicable. Does little to really address the problem, but it make each side feel good about themselves, and hey, that must be important right?
The whole CAP business seems to me to be a non-issue. But the idea that CAP is some sort of bigotted group would have been better if the actual evidence was presented. A friend told me that the article in question is really a parody. Don't know if that is true, but no one has shown it not to be either.
But getting back to the point, let's recognize that since Bork, there realy is little need for these type of hearings, except to stroke the egos of the senators who get to be on tv. Let's quit wasting time, and raising blood pressure levels and just send the nominee to the full senate for a vote.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Increasing the Minimum Wage

Matt at Left in the West is arguing for an increase in the Mimimum Wage of $1 per hour. Now that may not seem to be very much, but if you are a small business, cost control is your biggest problem. Too much outflow not matched by income results in no employment.
Another question though: Why only a $1 per hour increase. If $1 is good, wouldn't $2 be better? In fact, let's make it $1000 per hour for minimum wage. This way everyone would make at least a quarter of a million dollars a year. That would be good right?
The problem is, how are the employers going to pay for it? Oh yeah, an equal increase in prices. The result is that there is no increase in pay, since the cost of everything is going to be going up as well.
Sometimes, what seems like a good idea, is not.

Why I think that Krugman is an idiot

This analysis of the Krugman piece effectively demolishes the last shred of credibility that Krugman ever had. Selective use of statistics is intellectually indefensible, but that has never stopped Mr. Krugman before. I know that if Gore or Kerry were in office instead of Bush, he would be trumpeting the fantastic growth of the economy.
The problem old line thinkers have with the Internet is that too many people are exposed to information that they want to keep hidden. With that, like Dorothy pulling aside the green curtain, they are exposed for the frauds and charlatans that they really are.
Integrity and reputation used to matter to people. Now it seems that it is all results driven, and the use of any tool is justified in pursuit of your objectives. The problem with using your integrity in just such a way is that you only get to use it once. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice. . . .

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Partisan Complaints?

A while back, a letter to the editor of the Missoulian made the assertion that if Bush was a Democrat, the Republicans would be all over him for what he did wrong. Maybe so, but maybe we should look at what the facts are.
First, we have a President who shirked his military duty. Who ignored the United Nations, and attacked a country that had done nothing to us. He refused to send in sufficient ground troops to support the operation like the senior leadership had requested. His unilateral undeclared and unsanctioned war killed many innocent civilians. At the end of the conflict, that country's leader was brought before a tribunal for his crimes, where he makes a mockery of the entire judicial proceedings.
And then he had the temerity to say that it would be a limited occupation, and that we would be out in no time at all. Yet here we are 10 years on, and we are still there.
What? you say, we haven't been in Iraq for 10 years. True, but I was talking about Bosnia, although you could throw the Haiti fiasco in there as well.
Yeah, I can see where opposition depends on which party you are from. It just seems to me, that when we have something as important as dealing with Islamofacism, people may be more willing to give a little consideration to the President. I didn't see the kind of protests going on when Clinton did the same thing in an area that we had no strategic interests. So what is the difference? Oh yeah, Bush is a Republican. 'nuff said.

Abramhof and Corrupt Politicians

I watched Howard Dean say that no Democrat ever took any money from Abramhof. Not one, ever, he said. He even went so far as to say that they checked all of their records. It never happened.
Hmmm, if so, why are they giving money back that they never took? Now, we all know that the Democrats are virtuous and would never take money from someone like Abrahamof right.
Color me cynical, but the above link shows they are not only as corrupt about taking the money, they lie about it even better.
Throw all of the bums out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Imperial Grunts

I have finally finished the book Imperial Grunts by Kaplan.
Even though it has been more than 10 years since I retired, I am glad to know that the same type of people are serving as shown in his work. Too many of my fellow citizens have no experience with the military except for what they learn from Michael Moore or Olver Stone.
Even those like Larry the Environmental Deranger would be better off to learn what is going on today. Like too many, he is stuck in the time warp of the Viet Nam era and assumes that everything is as static as his memories.
The book shows that the modern military is made up of courageous, confident and capable people who are more interested in getting the job done than pondering esoteric theories. It also shows that those who believe that only the bottom feeders of our economy are out there joining the military because of a lack of other economic options are way off base.
It is amusing that in something so intricate as life, some people are willing to categorize others based on nothing other than their own preconceived notions of what the world is like. When you expect the military to be nothing more than vicitms of economic conditions, you ignore the multi variable of patriotism, pride, desire for a challenge, personal development, education, the opportunity to develop some maturity, cultural heritage, desire to serve others and many other reasons that people join the military.
I am looking forward to the next installment of his works.

New realms for the Viceroy

Viceroy's Fuguestate has just updated his blog with a very nice look. I just updated the link to the new page, and encourage everryone to look at it. He kind of combines Glenn of Instapundit with the humor of IMAO. Drop by and give him a look.