February 08, 2002

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MIKE KINSLEY'S LOGICAL GOOFINESS: The War Keeps Growing, and so do Kinsley's stretches to find something wrong with Bush's handling of the war on terrorism. Here's a gem:

In his State of the Union speech, President Bush stapled terrorism and proliferation together by declaring that our "goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction." Which is like saying that you want to stop child molesters from robbing banks.

No, Mike. It's like saying you want to keep people who sponsor terror from getting ahold of nukes and passing them off to their terrorist group of choice. Or it's like saying you want to keep child molesters from working in day care centers. But it's nothing like the non sequitur you make it out to be.

But on the whole the article isn't that bad, though the numerous references to the "Q-word" are tiresome. He does quibble with the lack of a formal declaration of war, an issue that bothered me during the Gulf War and bothers me about the present war. But in the present war, it's hard to say who we should declare war on. This operation, or really series of operations, has been appropriately compared to America's first foreign undeclared war, the fight against the Barbary Pirates. If Founding Father Thomas Jefferson didn't have to declare war then, I suppose Bush doesn't have to now. But we should've declared war on Iraq in 1991.

Kinsley does make one assertion that is a common comment on the left:

There are terror groups we have ignored or even supported.

Like who? I want names, places, dates, and don't tell me the Contras were terrorists. They weren't perfect, but they were fighting the Communist Sandanista government in a guerilla war, not bombing civilians in shopping malls like Palestenian terrorists. Big difference. Ditto the French Resistance, the Afghan mujihadeen, the South Vietnamese, etc.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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SENSING THAT THE END IS NEAR: Arafat Suggests Potential Successors (washingtonpost.com). He also thanked China for supporting him and the Palestenian cause "by all means."
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MINDLES DRECK: Sounds like a Douglas Adams character, but it's not.
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February 07, 2002

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SO NOW THAT I'VE GIVEN WRIGHT A THOROUGH ONCE-OVER, I'll turn my attention to Doug Turnbull's take on school choice, which can be found here. As usual, a reasonable take on a difficult issue--whether taxpayers may be allowed to use vouchers enabling them to send their children to private schools on the public dime. But, there's a basic premise missing here, and that's on the question of whose money we're actually talking about. Public money means it comes from taxpayers, and education funding usually comes from property taxes. Therefore, that money belongs to the taxpayers. In my humble opinion, if the taxpayer decides to opt out of public schools, it is their right to subtract their money from the funding of public schools and use it however they see fit. It's high time we returned decision-making power, in the form of dollars, to its rightful place--the individual. If this crashes public schools, so be it--for the most part they're top-heavy, bloated, inefficient and ineffective. A little competition might just energize them to become more effective, and if they don't compete they're toast. I have no problem with that.

Doug makes another point that bears examination--namely, that students of private schools consistently do better because they come from wealthier homes with interested parents, who have produced more academically-inclined children. True, that's part of the story, but not all of it. Private schools are also often the last refuge of horrible students--"students" in name only who are no longer welcome at public schools because of poor past behavior. They're also the place many parents turn when their child has demonstrated a lack of desire to perform in public schools. Surely these factors at least somewhat offset the wealthy homes and the interested parents with the gifted children, yet private schools still consistently out-perform public schools, even when they draw from the same pool of students.

As for the point that vouchers would disproportionately help the rich, who don't need them, over the poor who do, to some extent that's true, but I'll point you to the voucher and charter programs in inner-city Houston and San Antonio, which have enabled many of the poorest families to pull their children from failing public schools and place them in succeeding private and parochial schools. The poorest are often the ones most in favor of vouchers, and inner-city blacks favor them by something like a 9-to-1 margin.

One final point--I'm a public school product without a child of school age yet. I live in one of the best school disricts in Maryland (which essentially means it's less of a left-wing stronghold than most Maryland school districts), and my wife and I chose our residence in no small part because of that. But, when our son is ready to go to school, we want to be able to make the choices--which school he attends, what the curriculum teaches, and so forth. That's our right and duty as his parents--to make sure he gets a quality education. Our property taxes have been propping up a school system whose services our son hasn't used yet, but because of those taxes we can't afford to pay for a private school should that be our choice. Explain to me how that's fair.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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ROBERT WRIGHT IS SO CLOSE TO GETTING IT RIGHT: Here's his latest: Legalizing War Against Iraq, in which he makes the case that the Bush Administration can legally pull the trigger on a war with Iraq by issuing an ultimatum along the lines of "You must allow weapons inspectors in or else"--referring, of course, to the UN Gulf War cease-fire mandate to allow inspectors to examine Iraqi sites to find and halt development of weapons of mass destruction. Wright is right, but he's hardly the first one to arrive at this point. I think InstaPundit may have said something along these lines months ago, it's a tactic that occurred to me prior to my bloggin' days, the press was rife with speculation that such a strategy would in fact drive any potential conflict with Iraq, and the Bush Administration, derided by Wright as dumb and only capable of coming up with plans that will help terrorists, has been fairly obviously following that track for a while. True, they haven't actually gone to the UN and attempted to get a Security Council vote on the matter, but in numerous hearings and press statements, the administration has referred to UN inspections and the necessity that they resume immediately. This tactic is, in fact, the only way we can legally topple Saddam absent proof of his complicity in 9-11. So give Robert Wright some credit--he's come around to President Bush's way of thinking.

But then he says one of the most bone-headed things ever published in Slate:

Even assuming you succeed in installing a new, "legitimate" regime to your liking, it's hard to justify maintaining an inspection program, since the regime hasn't done anything wrong. Yet what guarantee is there that a bioweapons or nuclear program won't be revived, sooner or later? A straitjacketed Saddam Hussein might be tamer than a sovereign successor.

It's that last sentence that's so mind-numbing: a straightjacketed Saddam might be tamer than a sovereign successor. What have we been living with, dealing with, threatening and occassionally bombing for the past decade, if not a straightjacketed Saddam? This same straightjacketed Saddam--straightjacketed by sanctions, no-fly zones, and US and British bombs on the first, second and fourth Tuesdays and the first and third Thursday of each month since 1991--tried to kill President Bush 41. This same straightjacketed Saddam, according to researcher Laurie Milroie, may have had a hand in the 1993 WTC bombing. This same straightjacketed Saddam kicked out UN weapons inspectors in the first place, and was allowed to do so by Wright's favorite guy, President Clinton. It's extremely difficult to see how a straightjacketed Saddam would be preferrable to any legitimate, democratic, West-leaning regime.

But, to be fair, Wright gets something else right, so it's 2 for good and 1 big against. He's correct that we shouldn't allow the inspections to become US intel gathering missions. We don't need to do that--we have numeous other means of gathering intel on what Saddam is up to--and that tactic, another of Clinton's boneheaded foreign policy moves, does indeed taint the entire UN weapons inspection regime.

Then Wright ties the score, offering up as part of his master plan for combating terrorism a Trojan horse for world government: intrusive bioweapons inspections everywhere, including the US. He admits it would be an unprecedented infringement on US and other nations' sovereignty, and argues that sovereignty will be a dead issue in the near term anyway due to the increasing ability of very small groups to wreak untold damage. On the first point, who is conducting these inspections, Vulcans? Other nations, some allied to us and many hostile to us, will be allowed to inspect US military facilities, on US soil, any time they want. Our military's technological edge, now so great that even NATO can't keep up with us, will no only be dulled, it will be destroyed by such inspections. We may have decided to stop using weapons inspections to gather intel illegally, but almost no one else will. Other nations, notably China, Russia, India and probably dozens of others will use them to spy on us, and that will cause much of our superior technology to proliferate across the globe, further destabilizing regimes and regions.

On the second point, as I've stated before, the increase and spread of technology is no guarantee that all nations everywhere will always be vulnerable to attack. For every single leap in hi-tech made by terrorists, we (if left uninspected by hostile regimes) will likely make three or four leaps. The terrorists get satellite phones--but we own the satellites. Terror states develop and launch satellites--but we'll have the ability to neutralize those satellites. Terror states develop missiles--but we'll have a missile defense shield. Terror states develop bioweapons--but we'll already have the antidote. I'm not being a Polyanna here--we'll have to keep pace and keep ahead of tech developments around the world, and it will take money and extensive intel networks to do that. But it can be done, and the first step to staying ahead of terrorism is to knock off a few states that support it and intimidate any other would-be supporters. And the administration gets this--hence the destruction of the Taliban, the "axis of evil" and the bellicose talk aimed at making sure no one want to anger us.

So, let's be generous and call this one a tie--Wright makes a couple of good points, on the legal way to whack Iraq and ending the use of UN-mandated weapons inspections as intel gathering parties. I should point out again that the Bush Administration is far ahead of him on the first point and his pal Clinton is to blame for the second. But he's wrong about Saddam's "straightjacket"--he's been in one for years and is still a menace--and on the use of intrusive weapons inspections everywhere to end the development of bioweapons. I'm hoping to encourage him to keep moving toward enlightenment, by giving him a pass on his belief that, because Europe is "begging for" such an intrusive inspection regime, it's necessarily a good thing. And in an earlier post I pounded his naive belief that world governance will solve the terror problem, so he gets a pass there too. Maybe one day Robert Wright will actually think President Bush is a smart guy for pursuing the war the way he has--but I'm not holding my breath.

By the way, though I've been harshly critical of Wright throughout the war, that shouldn't be taken to mean that I think he's a Fiskian dunderhead. I actually think Wright is a fairly smart writer, much more interesting than the more frequently attacked lefty writers, but he's biased and therefore consistently wrong about a number of things. I initially took him on because no one else would--Ted Rall, Robert Fisk and their like had plenty of gleeful bloggers ripping them daily, but Wright had no critics that I'd seen. A couple of the bigger bloggers seemed intimidated by him. I read Wright's work and just frankly didn't see what the fuss was all about--he essentially stuck to a couple of basic themes and tried to make the changing facts fit those themes like a Victorian corset. It didn't work, so I started popping his buttons, or so to speak. I keep taking him on because he keeps on being wrong.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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APPLE BUYS NOTHING REAL: Apple has made a move that makes it more competitive in the high-end software market, likely offsetting its struggling chip development. Nothing Real is the company that makes a program called Shake--a high-end compositing program used extensively in the special effects industry, and which directly competes with the other sfx mainstay compositor, Adobe After Effects. Apple's chip development program has lagged behind Intel and AMD for the past year or so, and recent layoffs at Motorola, the developer of Apple's G4, haven't helped Apple's cause.

The move to buy Nothing Real, and the continuing development of Apple's video non-linear editor Final Cut Pro, will help position it as a software company while it rides out its processor problems. Intel, Microsoft, and the other PC-centric firms have little to fear from Apple's moves, and I don't think Avid, the biggest player in non-linear video editing, has much to fear either, as its hardware-software turnkey systems are the default system in the TV and film industry and at this point offer features that FCP doesn't have. The company that should lose sleep is Adobe--Shake is a strong competitor to After Effects, and Final Cut Pro is beating Adobe's non-linear editing program Premiere in most head-to-head tests and is gaining ground in market share.

So why should the average computer user care? Nothing Real's acquisition means Apple probably gets to live a little longer, and has a better chance of finding a solution to its lagging processor speeds. Along with the UNIX-based OS X and the port of Maya to the Mac, it also could signal Apple's return to dominance in the high-end graphics and animation arena. I'm not a Mac-head, but if you are this new development is a very good thing.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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SURVIVOR 4'S CAST HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED, and a "Watermelon Queen" is among them. Sounds....interesting. Her name is Gina Crews, and she can also spit a watermelon seed nearly 38 feet. She'll be a fun one to watch.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED: Olympic Flag Whistleblower Axed From Opening Ceremonies
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February 06, 2002

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PREDATOR GETS ITS PREY: CIA Missile Said to Kill Suspected Al Qaeda Leader. The CIA's swank unmanned Predator seems to have vaporized some Al Qaida filth, maybe even the Al Qaida filth. Let's hope the missile, the now even more appropriately named Hellfire, had a nose camera. Now that's must-see tv.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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IS ROBERT WRIGHT WRITING HEADLINES FOR THE WASHINGTON POST? You be the judge: "Some Filipinos Say U.S. Presence May Aid Muslim Rebels". Bush Administration actions...helping the terrorists...hmmmm
Posted by B. Preston at 11:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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THE LAUGHABLY NICK-NAMED "FREE STATE" MAY SOON GET A LITTLE MORE REPRESSIVE: Non-Marylanders (how I envy you all) may not care too much about this, but the Baltimore Sun reports that the Maryland Assembly may soon pass a bill allowing Baltimore to install cameras and radar to catch speeders. The city has already had those oboxious red-light cameras monitoring intersections for a couple of years now, and if you drive around Baltimore at night you can see their flashes catching hapless, and defenseless, motorists who've missed the timing of the traffic light by a nanosecond or two. The radar cams are being touted as a way to free up patrolmen for working on violent crime. Funny thing is, violent crime has been going down in Charm City (which I began calling "Harm City" shortly after moving here and learning of its seedy underbelly) since Mayor Martin O'Malley took over a couple of years back. O'Malley campaigned on a promise to reduce the city's gaudy murder rate, and he made good on that promise, by poaching Police Commissioner Ed Norris from Rudy Guliani's New York to clean things up here. And Norris has been wildly successful, and entertaining to boot. He's probably the most non-PC big city cop I've ever seen, getting himself and the mayor into hot water a few times for having the gaul to tell the truth, about some neighborhoods, about the thick-headedness of some city officials, and about what it takes to fight crime--namely, catching and locking up criminals.

But I digress...these radar cams have nothing to do with fighting violent crime. The cash they'll generate, which for now won't exceed $100 per infraction, will go into the state's coffers. The state could certainly use more ill-gotten gains--Gov Parris Glendenning (or "Spendenning, as he's affectionately known around here) rammed nearly every conceivable pork project through the last couple of years' legislatures, on the logic that budget surpluses mean he just wasn't spending enough. Now the surpluses are gone, but the pork is still sizzling. Enter radar cams as one way to make up the difference.

So why should a non-Marylander (how I envy you all) care? Because you'll probably get these [expetive deleted] cameras installed on a light pole near you pretty soon, if you haven't already.

My burning question in all this is "Where is the ACLU?" Don't these [expletive deleted] cameras violate privacy, or civil rights, or something? Stop suing people who post "God Bless America" on their bingo parlor marquees and get after a real government abuse--these radar cams have got to go.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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SCURRYING LIKE COCKROACHES: The Washington Post details a new Iraqi push to shed its pariah status and maybe even allow in a UN weapons inspector or two. Why the change? Fear--nobody likes being sized up in the US' crosshairs these days. Once again, Bush's boldness seems to be paying off. Can you imagine any Iraqi flexibility without the "axis of evil" designation? Secretary of State Powell's reaction:

"There is reporting this morning that the Iraqi regime has asked the U.N. to have a discussion. It should be a very short discussion." Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And more evidence of Arab duplicity, as if we needed any:

Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions and an object of U.S. suspicion for more than a decade. Its isolation poses awkward problems for Arab leaders, who privately acknowledge they would like to see President Saddam Hussein replaced but publicly sympathize with the problems the sanctions have caused the Iraqi people.

But Iraq shouldn't get its hopes up too soon:

Iraqi diplomacy routinely veers between threats and organized charm offensives like this one. The country made a similar push more than a year ago but made no headway toward breaking the deadlock. Arab efforts to repair relations between Iraq and Kuwait at a summit last spring collapsed when Iraq refused to apologize for invading its neighbor in 1990.

Yeah, I guess that would sort of ruin the festive mood.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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NO-BRAINER HEADLINE OF THE DAY: "Powers says Enron leadership failed"--from UPI
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READING THE OP-EDS IN THE GUARDIAN, one senses that they've fallen off into Bizarro World. In comics parlance, Bizarro World is that place where right is wrong, up is down, etc--everything is the reverse of what it would be in the real world. How else explain these headlines to recent stories:

"Echo of present paranoia in McCarthy museum"--a story devoted to comparing present-day America to its McCarthyite days, without bothering to consider whether a little paranoia is warranted now, with Al Qaida cells literally operating in our cities.

"Bush's offensive budget"--in which the aply named Sarah Left mocks the increase in defense spending (needed to prosecute an actual shooting war)

And this unbiased little gem--"The predictable awfulness of the Bush Republicans." Gee, might the author have an opinion?

Turns out the author, economics reporter William Keegan, does have an opinion, and that opinion clouds his vision a bit. Just to pick a random paragraph:

When George Bush came to town to reclaim the Republican crown that his father had lost to Bill Clinton, we wishy-washy liberals feared the worst. Clinton had worked hard to put the US government's finances on a sound footing, but George Bush and his merry men took one look at the result, rubbed their hands, and cried "tax cuts for us and our friends".

Was Keegan living underground during the Clinton years? Clinton came into office raising taxes and spending money like Bob Dole's drunken sailor. Fiscal discipline, and the resultant surpluses, came only after the "awful" Republicans took both houses of Congress and forced Clinton to live within the nation's means. Here's more Keegan:

Then came the recession and the predictable downward revision to the fantastical forecasts of endless deficits stretching far into the future. Then came September 11 2001.

In their innocence the British prime minister, Tony Blair, and far too many other naive observers, thought that, after the tragedy, they might see something of a, to coin a phrase, "kinder, gentler America".

Well, there have been a number of episodes recently (that don't need spelling out) to disabuse people of this illusion. And the latest is undoubtedly the $2.13 trillion (£1.5 trillion) budget the president sent to Congress yesterday.

To take his first item first, the recession started in the summer of 2000, long before Bush took office--can't be blamed on his tax cuts. Point two--that 9-11 would bring about a "kinder, gentler America." Why on earth would kicking someone in the teeth make them nice? America was savagely attacked, and while our European "allies" made a few symbolic gestures of sympathy and goodwill, for the most part they offered no substantial assistance, and in truth none was really needed. We were attacked, and like anyone who is attacked, we grieved, recovered and got ready to hit back. Only the French get gentler after getting brutalized--we're not about to follow their example. So we're not going to become kinder or gentler for a while--get over it or get out of the way, ya ninnies.

Keegan goes on to denouce Bush's tax cuts as "for the rich"--typical class warfare stuff, and pleads for more foreign aid. Huh? To whom, pray tell--Egypt, until recently a nursery of terror, or the Saudis, presently and for the foreseeable future a nursery of terror? What will one more dollar of foreign aid buy us, if it can't even guarantee the support of our "allies" across the Atlantic--the same "allies" we bailed out twice, rebuilt, and defended from Communism for half a century?
Posted by B. Preston at 12:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 05, 2002

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"2654214 MINUTES REMAINING": That's the message my new Win2K box gave me when I tried to move about 4 gigs of audio files across our network. If you do the math, that's a little over 5 years. Uh...I guess it's okay to head for lunch now.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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KEVIN HOLTSBERRY has started his own Blog Watch feature, and he was kind enough to include this humble blog. Thanks, Kevin!
Posted by B. Preston at 09:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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NATIONAL ACADEMY BACKS KLAMATH FARMERSUPI reports that the National Academy of Sciences has just concluded a study of the Klamath River Basin in Oregon that refutes opinions issued last year by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries. Those studies said, in effect, we don't know whether low water levels in the Klamath hurt a few varieties of fish, but it might, so let's pump more water through the basin that was supposed to irrigate area farms. The farmers, threatened with losing their livelihood to sucker fish, have been waging an uphill battle for the past year to reverse the opinions and get their water back. This is nice, though not complete, victory for property rights (and real, as opposed to junk, science).
Posted by B. Preston at 12:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 04, 2002

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WHY I LOVE SLATE'S TMQ:Tuesday Morning Quarterback calls 'em right:

USA! USA! The Fox pre-game show, with rap stars, former presidents, the patriotic and commercial mixed—the flashing FREEDOM! sign next to the BUD LIGHT sign—was quintessentially American. That is, poignant and ridiculously excessive at the same time. TMQ thought two things:

1) The enemies of freedom hate this sort of display because they cannot understand the notion of letting people decide for themselves which part of a dream to believe.
2) Because the enemies of freedom cannot understand it, they can never defeat it.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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"YOU'RE PLAYING A VERY RISKY GAME:" That's Sen Chris Dodd's warning to President Bush, whounveiled his budget today. It's a massive budget, coming in a $2.1 trillion, and provides needed increases in defense spending and pretty much creates the homeland security department. Predictably, the Democrats jumped all over the budget, with Sen Kent Conrad comparing it to---surprise, surprise---Enron. How original. How droll. How witty--what political genius came up with that one? They're not so much quibbling with the defense spending--even they're not that stupid--but they're moving in to pump up social spending and wipe out the tax cuts passed last year.

I'm glad they're doing that. Cutting taxes was one of President Bush's crowning achievements before 9-11. The tax cuts are also the one thing the government has done that's likely to ease the recession--raising taxes (or wiping out cuts already on the books--virtually the same thing) would probably prolong the recession. That's what the Democrats want, so they can use the economy against Bush this fall. Their problem is that most Americans supported the tax cuts, and according to recent polls most Americans think that national security spending now ranks higher than social spending. In trying to dismantle the tax cuts and elevate social spending, the Democrats are showing how out of step they are with average American, and may be committing political suicide for the November elections. In that effort, I wish them Godspeed.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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DEMAGOGUERY WILL GET YOU NOWHEREthis letter on InstaPundit is funny, but is also a pretty solid example of what I've been whining about in the pro-cloning movement. Is this thoughtful? Does it take into account the possibly fundamental change that cloning will usher in, not in terms of technology, but in terms of humanity itself? No...it's just setting up a superstitious straw man and knocking him down. But having said that, the post is dang funny.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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I'M NOT EVEN SURE WHERE TO START in a critique of Robert Wright's latest. The title gives his game away--"The Axis of Incoherence." In this column he manages to liken President Bush to a Pavlovian dog, insinuate that SecDef Rumsfeld and his Deputy Paul Wolfowitz are the really nefarious axis we should be worried about, and take another lame shot at missile defense. In other words, Wright again offers nothing new.

He says that President Bush is ill-suited to this moment in history. Eighty-three percent of the country disagrees. He says that if we crush the "axis of evil" described in the State of the Union address--Iran, Iraq and North Korea--we won't need missile defense and therefore we shouldn't bother building it all. Never mind that China is busy developing and building rockets that would give Robert Goddard a waist-level 2x4, and that the stated purpose of those rockets is to resist American "hegemony." And he trots out for at least the second time his belief that only his way of thinking (which amounts to turning those late 60's Coke ads into a foreign policy) will win the war on terror. Never mind that, prior to the onset of bombing, Wright argued that everything the administration planned to do--and especially bombing--would only help the terrorists, and never mind who was actually proven wrong.

In discussing the war on terrorism, Robert Wright has a one-track mind--everything the administration comes up with will help the terrorists (even when it actually kills a whole bunch of them and drives the rest underground), and in discussing how he'd handle the situation he's a one-trick pony--only world governance will do the trick. When proven wrong, he never apoligizes, and when faced with the inadequacies of the UN, EU, and even NATO's response to the terror threat, thereby neutering his one-world government vision, he never surrenders. If he were fighting for ideas worth the effort, he'd be a hero. But based on his track record to date, he's just a jackass.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2002

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LEFT-WING FUNDAMENTALISM GETS A SLAP from lefty Todd Gitlin in Motherjones Like most far left folks, Gitlin gets a few things wrong, but his take on the farther left war critics is dead on. I've often wondered if I was the only one who saw the intolerant, myopic, America-hating, self-loathing, slogan-chanting, hemp shirt-wearing, property-destroying, beef-avoiding left as the truly fundamentalist anti-faith that it is. Gitlin suggests that I'm not.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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IT'S NOT A PARODY OF THE FAR LEFT, IT IS THE FAR LEFT: ThisVillage Voice feature about anti-global protesters is so full of cliches I started to think I was reading one of Tim Blair's mock jobs. But it's the real thing, or it wouldn't be in the Voice. Choice passages:

If you had wandered into the InterGalactic Anarchist Convention last Sunday, in the Chashama Theater just off of the New Times Square, you'd have passed a tableful of Barricada back issues, including the one featuring "The Black Bloc in Genoa: An Affinity Group's Account"; stacks of literature on animal rights and labor exploitation in the global south; free copies of To Arms!!!, with its ecumenical listing of WEF protests and a handy lesson on wheat-pasting, published by the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective. You might also have been invited down to the basement for a vegan meal fashioned from supermarket throwaways, or happened upon a few dozen sweatshirted activists in low-slung pants and rumpled hair talking protest.

That writing is so vivid I can almost smell those anarchists. So what makes them tick?

Decades of Republican assaults on the basic functions of government, capped by a presidential election decided by dirty tricks and partisan courts rather than by popular will, have plowed the soil for a generational politics that is suspicious of political power.

So Bill Clinton's near decade in office, and the fact the Dems ran Congress for most of the past hundred years, don't rate. But don't call the lefty protesters stupid:

The movement is widely perceived as anti-intellectual, but sales are up at Oakland's AK Press, which publishes more than 80 anarchist titles, including a new English translation of Daniel Guérin's classic anthology of anarchism, No Gods No Masters; and students are flocking to Vermont's Institute for Social Ecology, where they study the anarchist works of Murray Bookchin and, according to instructor Brooke Lehman, 29, "spend the summer talking about how we might realize our vision of direct democracy and freedom."

Why would anyone think they're anti-intellectual? Maybe their intolerance for dissenting opinions--or the way they dodge facts that conflict with their worldview--or the fact that they spend summers talking about realizing things--like democracy--that already exist. Where do they hope their efforts lead?

They envision an egalitarian society without nation states, where wealth and power have been redistributed, and they take great pains to model their institutions in this vein, with autonomous, interconnected structures and consensus-based decision making. UC Santa Cruz professor Barbara Epstein, an expert on direct action, senses that anarchism has now become "the pole that everyone revolves around," much as Marxism was in the '60s. In other words, even young activists who don't identify as anarchists have to position themselves in relation to its values. </blockquote.

An egalitarian society...wealth and power have been redistributed...hmmmm...anarchists playing from the Marx playbook. But hey, they have their ethics:

That night, a twentysomething hippie sitting cross-legged on the floor offered up a defense of nonviolence that could have come out of SNCC's civil rights playbook—"We draw out the inherent violence of the police"—while a rosy-faced teenager decried what he called "militant pacifism" and an older woman drew a distinction between damaging property (OK, since property doesn't feel pain) and injuring people (unacceptable).

Never mind that the property destroyed may represent someone's life's work. Do they think they're getting their message across:

Watching some old footage from that watershed event (the Seattle WTO protests), Warcry (a young and hot lefty protester) shakes her head at the depth of the people's discontent. "To be honest, what the left has done since the '60s hasn't been that successful, and we can't afford to embrace tactics that don't work," she says. "I don't think Seattle would be on the map if it weren't for the catalyzing level of rage that was made visible through property destruction." She calls window-smashing "the transformation of the psychogeographic landscape" and points out that it's far more strategic than most people think—with specific corporate targets, such as sweatshop operators like Nike—and getting more strategic as the years progress.

She may be hot, but she's full of crap. What the heck is a "psychogeographic landscape?" It sounds like that channel I've been trying to get my cable provider to carry. At any rate, expect more idiocy from these folks for a while. Especially now that they, the anarchists, are the central planners and organizers of lefty protesting. Am I the only one that sees the irony in that?

Posted by B. Preston at 01:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack