Saturday, January 15, 2005

Asia day a little early?
Maybe tomorrow should be Asia Day. This article showed up on Instapundit, dated tomorrow, about the Japanese preparing to defend their islands from the Chinese. Gee, wasn't there some kind of unpleasantness between the Japanese and Chinese in the Thirties and Forties? Wasn't that one of the times we had to save a disorderly chaotic regime from Fascism? Just like France? Didn't we lose a lot of men and have to resort to the atomic bomb? I just hope this time we don't have to save the Japanese from the Chinese.
Africa Day
I've decided to expand the reach of my blogging beyond Dean's World, Instapundit and The Corner. Each day of the week I plan to link to a blog or other site from some interesting but little-known part of the world. Saturday, for instance, could be Africa Day. And so, here's the Eritrean Ministry of Information webpage with some pictures of the capital, Asmara. I don't wish to be patronizing, but perhaps it would be a good idea to provide a bit of info on the places I link to. Eritrea, for instance, is a former Italian colony. It was part of Ethiopia for decades after WWII and just recently (1991) became independent, after a long and bloody war. This site has much more, clearly organized. Here's the national symbol.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Last word on the liberation of Iraq
As so often happens these days, Victor Davis Hanson has supplied the last word on the successful liberation of Iraq for which George W. Bush will go down in history as a political mastermind. Hanson invokes valuable historical context and stubbornly points out the reality that lies before everyone's noses but which none of the mainstream media is willing to acknowledge:
There are many constants in all this pessimistic confusion — beside the fact that we are becoming a near hysterical society. First, our miraculous efforts in toppling the Taliban and Saddam have apparently made us forget war is always a litany of mistakes. No conflict is conducted according to either antebellum planning or can proceed with the benefit of hindsight. Iraq was not Yemen or Qatar, but rather the most wicked regime in the world, in the heart of the Arab world, full of oil, terrorists, and mass graves. There were no helpful neighbors to keep a lid on their own infiltrating jihadists. Instead we had to go into the heart of the caliphate, take out a mass murderer, restore civil society after 30 years of brutality, and ward off Sunni and Baathist fomenters in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria — all the while keeping out Iranian-Shiite agents bent on stopping democracy. The wonder is not that there is violence and gloom in Iraq, but that less than two years after Saddam was removed, elections are still on track.
It needs to be pointed out every day, and remembered insistently, how the collectivist press utterly refused to lend moral support to the Afghan people when it became obvious that they would win their battle against medieval jihadism. It is greatly to the credit of this administration that they did not follow the media's lead, as Clinton or Gore or Kerry surely would have. And it must dismay the Zarqawis and bin Ladens of the world no end that Bush's steadfastness in Afghanistan is being followed up, for all its mistakes and delays, with equal determination in Iraq.
Drugged driving en françaisThe French have come up with a new way to intrude on people's liberties by having saliva tests for drivers, to make sure they're not driving under the influence of "stupéfiants". I'm glad the new test is so eagerly awaited by the forces of "order":
Le test salivaire, qui permet de se passer d'un médecin mais pas du contrôle sanguin postérieur au dépistage, était donc très attendu par les forces de l'ordre.
Of course, mes amis, we will continue to allow the Mussulmen to construct bombs by the sound of Koranic chants in their bidonvilles. But at least teenagers won't be driving while stoned. Sure is convenient not to have to worry about that pesky Fourth Amendment. Or any of the rest of the Constitution, for that matter.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Even the collectivists ...
Even the collectivist-leaning newspapers seem to be questioning the value of AIDS treatments as they are administered by the mainstream medical "community"(via Dean Esmay). This article is about the new drug Nevirapine, which most collectivists are screaming at the government about, insisting that the drug companies be made to supply it at little or no cost to any Third-Worlder who has any disease at all that may be said to be AIDS, by whatever definition is politically convenient. But there may be a problem:
This is the drug that countless campaigners—spanning the political spectrum from George Bush to Bono—wish to give all Africans "free access" to. South African President Thabo Mbeki has been savagely pilloried for attempting to stop the drug's distribution to black South Africans. South African lawyer and journalist Anthony Brink's scathing report "The Trouble With Nevirapine" documented the long-known "problems" with the drug. The report was widely read by South Africa's leadership, and is the source of furious debate between black South Africans and the mostly white-run media, which still ridicules all criticism of U.S.-imported AIDS drugs and protocols as being a symptom of not caring about AIDS victims...
"Of all the AIDS drugs, Nevirapine is the most acutely toxic," explained Dr. Dave Rasnick, a fierce critic of the government's AIDS research agenda, and a former drug developer. "It shows its toxic effects quickly. It has been documented in the medical literature for years that a single dose of Nevirapine can kill a person. People don't normally drop dead from taking a protease inhibitor, but that is what happens with Nevirapine. The rationale for this stuff is just as bizarre as it could be."
But not so bizarre for those who've been following the threads on Dean's blog or have read Duesberg's and Mullis's books. Again, I would like to know whether mortality rates in Africa, for all causes, have actually been rising when you leave out the thousands murdered by collectivist AIDS "activists". A little less activity, please.
Americanism - the religion of the future?
David Gelernter has a stimulating thought-piece in Commentary about the origins of "Americanism" in biblical Puritanism. It's not like we didn't all know everything he's saying, but we are rarely reminded of the importance of these thoughts so frankly and powerfully:
The idea of an “American creed” has been around for a long time. Huntington lists its elements as “liberty, equality, democracy, individualism, human rights, the rule of law, and private property.” I prefer a different formulation: a conceptual triangle in which one fundamental fact creates two premises that create three conclusions.

The fundamental fact: the Bible is God’s word. Two premises: first, every member of the American community has his own individual dignity, insofar as he deals individually with God; second, the community has a divine mission to all mankind. Three conclusions: every human being everywhere is entitled to freedom, equality, and democracy.
My only quibble with this thinking is that the basis of what Gelernter calls "Americanism" could have and, I feel, would have emerged without America, even without Christianity. Individual freedom, equality of opportunity and especially optimism form an irresistible creed that could have become attached to Russia, China, Brazil or even Africa, had history been different. I count myself lucky that I live in the country which turned out to be the vessel for the triumph of reason. But I don't fool myself that there is anything inevitable or sacred about the way history unfolded. Certainly, though, looking at it the other way, I don't refuse to recognize the wonderful and hopeful reality of modern capitalism because it emerged in its most bountiful blessedness in the country I call home.
Kudlow breaks the story
Larry Kudlow's excellent new blog lays out the reasons to be optimistic about the economy. The bad news is the government is not shrinking:
However, with the flood of new revenues, this year's federal budget is still overspending.Domestic non-entitlement program spending excluding homeland defense is rising at a 4.1 rate, more than twice the pace of core inflation. But this may be changing. According to this morning's Washington Post, the first really tough Bush budget planned for FY 2006 (due out next month) may be essentially unchanged from this year's expected totals outside of defense and homeland security.According to reporter Jonathan Weisman, the administration's budget request "... would freeze most spending on agriculture, veterans and science,slash or eliminate dozens of federal programs,and force more costs, from Medicaid to housing, onto state and local governments...". The rapid growth of federal health care and other entitlements would also be slowed markedly.
OK, I'm not really expecting government to shrink much. But I'll always remember what Jeb Bush said at his 2002 inauguration as Governor of Florida, right across the street here in Tallahassee. He pointed to all the state office buildings surrounding the Capitol and said he hoped that in the next four years he could empty out half the buildings. Ah, sweet dreams. Now if his brother could make a similar gesture in Washington next Thursday, then we'd be getting somewhere.
Help others, help ourselves
Michelle Malkin, via Cap'n's Quarters, makes the point that disaster-stricken Indonesians may be glad that the US and Aussie military is out there with huge resources just as ready to come to their aid as they are ready to overthrow bloody dictators. Maybe the larger point is that if you're going to be poor and downtrodden it may be a good idea not to be too insulting and contemptuous to the free and prosperous countries that can save your butt when Mother Nature gets all nasty on you. Then you may want to think, why are they free and prosperous and we're all poor and downtrodden? Then you may want to read this book.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The essential political conundrum
Anyone who's read much of my blog knows how little respect I have for the electoral process. Unfortunately, I don't have a really good idea how to replace it, under the present circumstances. Voting, like it or not, is at the heart of the political system that has kept this country the free-est and most prosperous country on the face of the earth, although I can agree with the sentiment that that's damning with faint praise. Yet, sometimes a faulty process is all that stands between liberty and socialistic tyranny. That's why this November I voted for the first time in 28 years.
That's also why this post at Powerline is so important. For the electoral process to be shattered from the left would be a disaster. It would guarantee the dominance of the party that's better at fraud and demagoguery. And there's no doubt in my mind that's the Democrats. Hindrocket has got the point down:
It seems to me that we have two choices: upgrade our electoral system and guard its integrity with at least the fervor that we bring to preventing, say, underage drinking, or face the inevitable crisis when it comes.
And if we can't be any more successful at shoring up the electoral system than we've been at preventing underage drinking, there's not going to be much left of the system in a very short time. The only real solution to the inadequacies of the electoral system is to restrict the growth of government, restricting the importance of voting and therefore of voting fraud. With government growth controlled, the economy will be free enough to expand to the point where it overwhelms the power of the politicians to do harm. When government controls only a fifth or a tenth of this country's productive resources, instead of the present half, fraud and demagoguery will not be so much of a threat to the world's only real hope for freedom and prosperity.
SO here we are on Wednesday and the forecast low temperature for Friday has changed from 37F to 42F! Five degrees' difference in two days. Let's see, so that gives, over ten years, leeway, at two and a half degrees a day, of approximately ten thousand degrees, one way or the other. And since we can't go lower than absolute zero, most of this is on the upside. So look for, in the next ten years, a forecast that the temperature in Tallahassee will approximate that of the surface of the sun.

Update Wednesday night. The forecast low for Friday is now 47F! Ten degrees since Monday. I'm looking forward to Tallahassee's temperature rising to that of the INTERIOR of the sun! Seriously, what do they use for computer models to get these numbers? And how can they claim that the computer models of "global warming" are so much better than those used to predict Tallahassee's temperature that they couldn't possibly be off by a factor of just a few degrees over the next century or so? My opinion of the scientific literacy of any country that's accepted the Kyoto Protocol has descended to new lows. I forecast further disillusionment.
Omissions and distortions
this is a good summary of the state of the reaction in the blogosphere to the CBS report on Rathergate. Even this lengthy and thorough review, however, doesn't zero in on the essential omission from the report:
Who actually created the offending documents? When? Where? And, most important, Why? What were they thinking? Were the forgeries stimulated by CBS, by the DNC, by the Kerry campaign, by a combination? How likely is it that they just appeared out of nowhere just in time to be used at the height of W's reelection campaign?
I don't think enough has been made about the lack of information supplied by CBS as to the whereabouts and nature of the original documents, although the above analysis comes close in this section:
Where Were the Pristine Documents?

The Report uncovers the poor decision making taking place within CBS News September 9-10, but misses one failure of CBS News in its CBS Evening News broadcast Friday evening. From the transcript:

Rather: Document and handwriting examiner, Marcel Matley, analyzed the documents for CBS News. He says he believes they are real but he is concerned about what exactly is being examined by some of the people now questioning the documents because deterioration occurs each time a document is reproduced and the documents being analyzed outside CBS have been photocopied, faxed, scanned, and downloaded, and are far removed from the documents CBS started with which were also photocopies.
Here is CBS News "attacking" its critics because they don't have the quality of copies that CBS News had available. This is absolutely shameless. The only reason that other experts were not analyzing pristine copies is because CBS News had refused to make them available, even though CBS News claimed to have pristine copies, according to the Chicago Tribune (annoying reg. req.) on Sept. 14 (Laura Bush says papers likely forged):
CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said Monday that the network possesses what it believes to be so-called "first generation" copies, duplicated directly from the original documents.

But the copies posted on its Web site are somewhat blurred and speckled, suggesting repeated copying.

Perhaps you think I'm making too big a deal about this, but CBS News thought it important enough to site [sic - RS] in their major statement on September 15 (Exhibit 3H, page 2 of 3 [PDF]):
Again, the documents used for the 60 MINUTES Wednesday report were copies, and most of the analysis fueling the current controversy is based on scanned, downloaded, faxed or re-copied copies.

CBS either knew or didn't know the original source of the documents. And by original I mean who sat down at a computer and typed them out? Or, if they were authentic, who stored them somewhere for thirty years and made copies for CBS? If they knew and aren't telling, there are still several more shoes to drop in this story. If they didn't know, they had no business going ahead with this story. Either way, they are still stonewalling. Where are E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North when you need them? Because sooner or later someone's going to find out exactly where the documents came from, who knew and why they never told anyone. And then CBS is going to find out what the term "cleaning house" really means.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Compressed ideas

I left the following comment on Jane Galt's site:
No matter how many laws you make against cannibalism, no matter how many "ethicists" say it's never right, when they get hungry enough some people will eat others. Does that make cannibalism "right"? Don't know. But it sure makes it a feature of life as we know it, one that, however, is at the very edges of normality. To use the extreme possibility of cannibalism to enforce vegetarianism at all times makes no sense. These controversies remind me of Ayn Rand's condemnation of the use of "emergency ethics", where people treat every day life as an extreme circumstance, in order to bend others to their will.

Like in many comments, I felt a bit claustrophobic, and that the comment as written didn't go all that well with the topic, which was torture. I knew that the thoughts were connected, but I may have left a bit much up to the reader. So here goes with the expanded version:
Torture, like cannibalism, is a Bad Thing. No sane man wants to think he would ever torture anyone, even in the most extreme circumstances, any more than any sane man wants to think he would ever eat human flesh, and especially not kill another man in order to eat him. Cannibalism has always existed, though, even in supposedly civilized circles, when circumstances push a man to the edge of survival. From becalmed sailors to Andes plane-crash survivors to snowbound wagon-train parties in the Rockies, cannibalism hovers at the edge of our consciousness as one of those things that you just hope you never have to think about. But you know you might. And you wonder, just as young men wonder how they will respond in combat, how you would respond. I don't suppose anyone's ever done a data analysis to determine how many men, when faced with the stark choice of eating human flesh or dying, have chosen to die. I suspect the proportion would be somewhat higher than most people would think, especially when the man has only himself to worry about.
Similarly with torture, one can blather and speculate endlessly, but when terrorists do have a nuclear bomb planted somewhere in Manhattan - or Dallas, if you'd rather! - and you have captured one of the terrorists and you have good reason to think he knows how to find and disarm the bomb, the impulse to do anything to him to get the information is liable to be overwhelming. To say that the lives of millions of good men is not worth the suffering, even the great suffering, of one profoundly evil man just doesn't make sense. Such thinking can be seen as evil in itself.
Right now an obscene equivalence is being drawn between harsh questioning, psychological pressure and cultural leverage on one hand and physical torture on the other. It is as though vegetarians were pressing the view of the absolute evil of eating the meat of slaughtered animals by alleging that eating animal meat leads inexorably to cannibalism. The slippery slope is a classic fallacy. Just because men eat the meat of cows does not make it more likely they will eat other men. In fact, just the opposite may be postulated. Men who have cows and pigs to kill and eat are less likely to kill and eat each other.
Similarly, a commonsense attitude to effective interrogation techniques is not likely to lead to physical torture in extreme situations. Emergency ethics do not give much guidance to the ethics applicable to everyday life.
What's up with Dean Esmay? He's letting a liberal into the sacred precincts. And 26 years old! I've got shoes older than that, as Lenny Briscoe, who will live forever, unlike Jerry O!rbach, often says. Well perhaps this twig can be bent into a more acceptable shape. He's got to be courageous to jump into this frying pan. But then I find the posters and commenters over there at Dean's World are all pretty feisty. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tidal wave of commentary
The CBS "Rathergate" report has spawned an overwhelming tsunami of analysis like this on the blogosphere. There's too much in too many places to even read, much less digest. But I love it all. Maybe in a couple of days it will die down a bit and I'll be able to tell what may come of all this. Nothing yet, though, has appeared about who actually typed out the offending documents, how that happened and who may have connived at the slanders. W should sue for defamation of character. Now THAT would be a story!
Lead and sugar
Don't say I never did anything for you. I finished the commodities book I plugged a few posts back. His basic advice: lead and sugar. The Red Chinese are building many cars, each of which needs a lead-acid battery. The whole world is becoming even more addicted to and able to afford more sugar. In both cases production is difficult to ramp up. Don't blame me if aliens come down and give us a brand new power source and we don't need lead-acid batteries any more. Or if the same, or a related bunch of aliens bring along a new taste sensation, easily produced from ordinary rocks, that totally displaces sugar.
Too darn hot
As you can see here Tallahassee is just too warm for January. Oh, I know you Minnesotans are jealous, but I could use some of that 30-degree weather coming later in the week. It is instructive how much the forecasts change as the days go by. Friday's low is supposed to be 37F now (on Monday). How much you wanna bet it'll be three to four degrees different, one way or the other, by the time it actually becomes Friday? And these people say they can tell the whole Earth will be 3.5 degrees warmer in a hundred years! Right!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

World's greatest mass murderer
As now reported by the New York Times (via Instapundit - you didn't think I'd go to the NYT of my own volition, did you?), DDT is an effective agent against malaria. The use of DDT has been opposed for four decades now by "environmentalists" who care more about rumors of thinning egg shells than they do about tens of millions of proven dead children and Third World residents. But then Third Worlders don't contribute to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, do they? And the impetus for this insane genocide came from one book: Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, who thereby qualifies, beating out Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Genghis Khan, Attila and the Pope(s) for the most prolific killer of human beings in the history of the planet. How do you like your blue-eyed, oh-so-sincere ruthless lying hypocrite, Mr. Death?
A hobo is a hobo
What these Hawaiians don't understand is that "homelessness" has little to do with mental illness or alcoholism or even being a veteran. People wander the streets of a nice warm place like Hawaii because it's easier than getting a job. When you've got legions of social workers and a permissive bureaucracy showering you with temporary shelter when it rains, food, even money in the case of SSI-grifters, "disabled" veterans and even the retired, why should you take on the cares and woes of regular bill-paying? When the cops won't arrest you for vagrancy and you have no self-respect and regard yourself as a victim of an "unfair" society, and you've given up on yourself, what could possibly keep you off the public beaches and streets and parks? Wait a minute, I'm almost convincing myself to go bumming in Hawaii. But no. I still have dreams.
Commodities - again
I've been reading about commodities since the Sixties, but have never done any investing, for the simple yet powerful reason that I've never had any money to invest! But I just got this guy's book and am all cranked up again about the possibilities. I've always liked commodities because they're easy to understand. People eat more meat and less corn and the price of corn goes down. Simple. Wait a minute. People eat more meat, say because of the Atkins diet, and so the price of feed corn for hogs goes up, putting pressure on farmers to plant more feed corn and less man-corn and raising its price. Hmm. Maybe it isn't quite so simple after all. But it's a heck of a lot more transparent, at least in theory, than corporate IPO skullduggery and whether housewives will keep buying Martha Stewart tablecloths at K-mart even though she's in prison. Or will the extra publicity make the housewives even more eager to buy Martha Stewart stuff? That calculation makes the corn/meat formula look like child's play. So if I ever do get any money to invest, commodities will get a long hard look. Besides, money invested in commodities would provide perfect blogmeat. Every day something happens to the price of corn.