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Friday, August 25, 2006

All PhD's Are Created Equal?

Are all PhDs equal? Are all higher education "Doctors" of similar intellectual prowess? Click on this link to ChicagoBoyz and you can find out (for you Ed PhDs I am suggesting you place your cursor over the highlighted "ChicagoBoyz" 19 words back, not including the beginning parenthesis, and push down once or twice on the right-hand side of the mouse).

Maybe Iraqis Know More Than Us

Despite Ralph Peters downer discussed below, here is the report of a poll of Iraqi sentiment. Guess what? They are optimistic about their future---more so that us in the US who rely on MSM drumbeats for the Lamonts of the country. Per a post in the blog America's Majority:

In a recent poll, more Iraqis, who live in Iraq, say Iraq is headed the right direction than Americans who merely watch TV reports about Iraq or read newspaper reports about Iraq.

One part of the poll analysis from America's Majority:

Nationallly, 75% of Iraqis say the security situation in the country is poor.

But, when asked about the security of their own neighborhoods, 60% give the security in their town or neighborhood a passing grade.

This shows the power of the media to conflate a perception–even among those closest too it.

How can any Iraqi feel confident in the environment of suicide bombers, beheaders and other "freedom fighters" (to use a Michael Moore term of affection for the insurgents)?

From Iraq the Model:

I told one of my colleagues I feel safe in Baghdad despite the dangers, I may feel afraid of terrorists or random violence but I never fear the government and that's not only how I feel, Iraqis are not afraid of expressing their differences with the authority because we in Iraq have more or less became part of that authority the day we elected our representatives while terrorists and militias are nothing more than temporary phenomenon that unlike constitution and elections have no solid foundations.

Couch sitters in the US should give this heed. (Thanks to Chicago Boyz for the link).

New Reality Show From CBS- Jim Crow Survivor

How's this for multiculturalism gone berserk? A "Survivor" broken up into 4 race-based teams.

The 4 teams will be: blacks, Asians, Latinos and whites.

I protest.

Not only is it racist. But anti-semitic. There should be a group of Jews there.

Imagine placing those 4 groups plus a Jewish team on an island: The Jews within a week or two would have a number of department stores, delis and, of course, a bank. They would control the food supply, financial institution and court system. They would hire substitutes for all of the sweating and running challenges. They may not win the $1 million prize but they will make a nice living.

My apologies to any of my Jewish compatriots who are offended by this use of stereo-types.

Iraq's Clock Is Ticking

In a depressing, pessimistic and, I fear, utterly realitic assessment, Ralph Peters explains how Arab nations are unable to have democracies. That is not to denigrate individual Arabs who are "just as American as any other citizens- because their families escaped the Middle East".

Peters sees Iraq as the Arabic "Last Chance". Otherwise, the place should have been carved up into 3 smaller countries (as its borders were artificially created almost a century ago) and left at that.

Writes Peters:

This is a homemade failure. Through their own choices, cherished beliefs, values and norms, Arabs have condemned themselves to strategic incompetence. No society that oppresses women, denies advancement on merit even to men, indulges in fantastic hypocrisy, wallows in corruption, undervalues secular learning, reduces its god to a nasty disciplinarian and comforts itself with conspiracy theories will ever compete with us.

Some one advised me early in the Iraq War that the focus should have been to oust Saddam and leave Iraq to figure it out. I think there is a massive downside at not trying to help it develop into what Lebanon should have been, a real democracy. But we need to remember that democracy goes well beyond mere voting rights. And while the USA had nothing close to the terrorism that Iraqis have faced during its infancy, we still did not fully tune the governmental structure here until 1789. While Western America had its version of suicide bombers, the Indians, Madison, Hamilton and Company could develop government in the big cities in the East. Iraqi statesmen have no such quiet.

It still deserves more time.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Saving Some 20 Hours of My Life

A funny insight into why soccer is unAmerican and so lame.

During the recent World Cup Soccer Tournament, a relative was touting it as so exciting that you could not turn your head for a second or you could miss something. I was grilling lunch on the back deck and spent about 20 minutes away from the television. When I came in with the meal, I asked what had happened. I was told the score was still tied at 0-0. I guess I could have truned my head during that game.

Mike Lupica once called ice hockey "one long series of mistakes". My decision to skip watching any of the World Cup tourney avoided one big mistake.

Cowards Matter A Lot

Arnold Kling asks the following:

Hawks don't want America to look weak. The problem is, America looks a lot weaker when it fights and quits, than if it hadn't fought at all. Before calling for war, the honest hawk has to ask himself: "Keeping in mind how gutless my fellow Americans are, what are the odds that we'll actually stay the course?"

Against the War Against Terrorists

With her usual "take no prisoners" (unless they are terrorists which means they receive greater rights that Americans walking the streets) approach, Ann Coulter reviews the Democrat support for the War on Terror. Apparently, it does not include taking and holding Al Qaeda and Taliban soldiers in Guantanamo, listening to tel calls to specific numbers discovered on Al Qaeda phones and computers, surveilling or killing terrorists.

Here are some of her observations of Democrats for the War against terrorists:

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert complained this week that detainees in Guantanamo have "no hope of being allowed to prove their innocence." (I guess that's excluding the hundreds who have been given administrative hearings or released already.)

They oppose profiling Muslims at airports.

And this:

The Guantanamo detainees are not innocent insurance salesmen imprisoned in some horrible mix-up like something out of a Perry Mason movie. The detainees were captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan. You remember – the war liberals pretended to support right up until approximately one nanosecond after John Kerry conceded the 2004 election to President Bush.

Sounds pretty accurate. What aggressive plans do they have. This is no time for the "wait and see" approach that resulted in nothing being done for decades.

Half-Assed or All-Out?

The following is from David Hornick's brilliant essay in Frontpage:

“We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not impossible.”

* * *

“The best defense is a good offense, not a fence. The best way to deal with terrorists is to arrest them or kill them in their beds. . . . what we are doing is leaving a legacy for the next generation that will [have to] deal with Palestinians who believe that terrorism pays, that Israel cuts and runs under pressure. . . . we must stop getting used to these constant missile attacks as if they are rain. . . . I do not see any prospect for peace and reconciliation on the Palestinian side. I needed no sophisticated intelligence to reach this conclusion; I only had to look at their textbooks, posters and so on.”

The first quotation is, of course, from a
speech by Ehud Olmert, now Israeli prime minister, to New York’s Israel Policy Forum on June 9, 2005. The second quotation is from a speech by former IDF chief of staff Moshe Yaalon to Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue on May 8, 2006.

Which one do you pick? Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One Slip In Security and We Empty Our Nuke Inventory

Keeping with TCS Daily, Arnold Kling discusses the "popular mood" regarding terrorists and how it deviates from the elitist views. He cites the recent mutiny of the British travelers when they refused to board the plane until the Arabs were removed.

Kling says that the bromides against profiling espoused by the elites are not persuasive anymore. Even what is "victory" is not aligned with the populist notion of the term. he writes:

A populist definition of victory would mean that governments that fund terror groups or use them as instruments of their foreign policy are brought down. A populist definition of victory might mean that Muslim clerics who urge young men to join the jihad are given the opportunity to experience the ecstasy of martyrdom themselves.

Elitists see we need to live with the terror and additional hardships of travel etc. He also makes the following observation:

President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert are both guilty of exaggerating the success of military operations.

Excess partisanship in a time of war is very frustrating to the public. How can it be that essentially all Republican officials agree with the Bush Administration policies and procedures for monitoring phone conversations and essentially all Democrats disagree? Would a Democratic President really be following policies that are very different?

My answer to the final question is "No". And that is unacceptable.

Tax It And Watch It Shrink

The French, besides reneging on providing troops for the Lebanon "peace effort", have suggested a new tax to increase revenues for that bastion of progress, the European Union. Constantin Gurdgiev in TCS Daily explains how the EU is considering a tax on text messaging.

He explains how counter-productive this progressive proposal is:

The only reason that, until recently, the EU led the US in mobile telephony is the fact that landline telephone services in Europe were too expensive and poor in quality. The latter prompted strong substitution away from the landline services in favor of mobiles. Now the French are proposing to push new technologies in the direction of the old one. Just how this fits the EU's stated objective of achieving rapid growth in the R&D and knowledge-intensive sectors is unclear.

Once again the rapacious statists "kill the golden goose". And they are considered "progressives" exactly why?

Choosing Life Over A False Constitutional Interpretation

The recent decision by Judge Taylor that found the Terrorist Surveillance Program unConstitutional is criticized by Jonah Goldberg. The issue of whether the executive programs breach the Constitution hinges on the flexibility of our founding document. In this case, a liberal found the Constitution inflexible and the law in breach of the 1st (Free Speech) and the 4th (Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure) Amendments.

Writes Goldberg:

Long before the concept of a living Constitution was hatched, the authors of the original version - as well as the courts interpreting it - understood that the executive branch has the authority and flexibility to conduct foreign policy and wage war. Terrorists may be criminals, but they aren't merely criminals. They're waging war against us and doing so in ways never imagined by the founders. They don't want territory or treaties, and they don't use armies and cannons. They want to make our own technology and freedoms into weapons they can use against us.

And so here is the real absurdity of the "living Constitution" school. Where the Constitution is supposed to be inert, they want it alive and mutating. But where the Constitution was intended to be flexible, intellectual rigor mortis has set in.

The "living Constitution" interpretation employed by Judge Taylor (and the SCOTUS of most of the 20th Century) treats the Constitution as akin to a book of statutes. This interpretation misses the point of the document.

It is the controlling set of principles upon which legislation or other laws must abide. The idea that as things change, develop and grow, it is archaic without massaging the words and original definitions is making it something it is not. It is a compact of the People wherein citizens ceded to government limited powers so as to protect their rights to Life, Liberty and Property. It also is a primer of the structure of government and how that government may act. It lays out over-riding principles that explain what our country is about.

That is why the mechanism to change any facet of this "etched in stone" document requires the passage of a Constitutional Amendment with approval of the states, not just a majority of Senators or a handful of Supreme Court justices.

A reasonable explanation is:

Article V of the Constitution provides two processes by which amendments can be proposed and approved:

Congress proposes amendments. As is the case with the flag burning amendment, both houses of Congress approve by two-thirds votes a resolution calling for the amendment. The resolution does not require the president's signature. To become effective, the proposed amendment must then be "ratified" or approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. Congress typically places a time limit of seven years for ratification by the states.

The states propose amendments. The legislatures of two-thirds of the states vote to call for a convention at which constitutional amendments can be proposed. Amendments proposed by the convention would again require ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states.

We must also recognize that as a statement of principle it contains immutable ideas of liberty that withstand the development of iPods, wireless telephones and microwaves. Just as "Thou shall not commit murder" can never be altered by fads, neither can the Constitution until the mass of Americans (and states) follow the Amendment process. These are the original entities that ceded their God-given rights or "Natural Rights" to the government (here is something by Samuel Adams).

The President under the Constitution maintains powers to defend the country from foreign attack. The investigations and surveillance employed to thwart terrorists may be improper in a criminal investigation. That continues to hold the due process rights for its defendants. This information being sought is to stop attacks like the attempted London jet bombings. That is within the Presidents powers as Commander in Chief. Such are explicitly stated under the Constitution.

Last, President Lincoln faced a similar guerrila-type, "asymmetrical" war in 1861. He suspended the Constitutional right of habeas corpus. He explained that in order to fulfill his duty to uphold the Constitution he had to maintain the life of the Union. That was the foremost duty he held. It was necessary to impinge of some lesser rights on a temporary basis to protect the Union. One has to sever a gangrenous arm in order to save the body. (See this Powerline discussion that alludes to Professor Paulsen's view and a counter argument by Professor Farber).

While the instant government intelligence processes do not breach the Constitution in my opinion, assuming they do, I choose the waiver of these "rights" (to allow the government to know that I have been travelling to Pakistan and calling Saudi Arabia for months before purchasing a one way ticket to Greece) over the death and destruction of a 9-11.

For a more learned analysis of the legalities of the surveillance program and Taylor's decision, review Orin Kerr's posts at the Volokh Conspiracy and this book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Journalist Still Captive

Fox newsman Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig are still hostages in Palestine. The MSM ignores it but it has been a week since they werre captured. Is this another act by those vile cowards who kidnap, torture and murder true innocents? Yes, the government says they are looking for them. Right.

Will We Be Begging For Mercy?

Is Thomas Sowell exaggerating? Are we at a point of no return?

After we, or our children and grandchildren, find ourselves living at the mercy of people with no mercy, what will future generations think of us, that we let this happen because we wanted to placate "world opinion" by not acting "unilaterally"?

Being Ready For War and Using Your Advantage

Mike Adams, the saucy professor from NC, writes about various times he has repsonded to threats with threats of violence of his own that exceeded the original threat by many multiples. In each case, the instigator back down cery quickly. The lesson in a strangely titled essay called "The Taming of the Jews" is:

And, so, a peace settlement was established within 48 hours. But it was not established through a process of negotiation. It was established through fear, military readiness, and an uncompromising desire to offer the most disproportionate response possible under the circumstances.

This whole discussion reminds me of a leftist student who once asked me whether it was “fair” that we should stockpile nuclear weapons and demand that Iran stop seeking even a single short-range nuclear missile. “The answer is no,” I told him. “I don’t care about fairness. I care about killing Muslim terrorists.”

Indeed, the whole point of war is to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible while losing as few of your own soldiers as possible – in other words, to be as “disproportionate” as you can. It is better to live with that understanding than to die without it.

During flag football practice, my 5-year old was semi-punched in the face by another kid. My son punched him back hard in the side and then my son's best friend also punched the kid in the same side area. The kid began crying. I saw the whole thing. The coach saw the kid crying and investigated and everyone told the truth. They each had to apologize, run laps and understand that if anyone hits someone, they immediately tell the coach.

My son and his friend's response to the first hit was "unfair" and "disproportionate". That kid will think twice before hitting someone again.

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