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Monday August 22, 2005

We have  photographs from the last week's trip. See last week.              

2 Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court


DOUGLAS, Ariz., Aug. 18 - Spent shells litter the ground at what is left of the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in a storeroom. Just a few months ago, this ranch was known as Camp Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary group that promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking across the border with Mexico.

Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the border is being given to two immigrants whom the group caught trying to enter the United States illegally.

The land transfer is being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which the immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch and a former leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had harmed them.

"Certainly it's poetic justice that these undocumented workers own this land," said Morris S. Dees Jr., co-founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which represented the immigrants in their lawsuit.

Mr. Dees said the loss of the ranch would "send a pretty important message to those who come to the border to use violence."

The surrender of the ranch comes as the governors of Arizona and New Mexico have declared a state of emergency because of the influx of illegal immigrants and related crime along the border.

Bill Dore, a Douglas resident briefly affiliated with Ranch Rescue who is still active in the border-patrolling Minuteman Project, called the land transfer "ridiculous."

"The illegals are coming over here," Mr. Dore said. "They are getting the American property. Hell, I'd come over, too. Get some American property, make some money from the gringos."

The immigrants getting the ranch, Edwin Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles and Fátima del Socorro Leiva Medina, could not be reached for comment. Kelley Bruner, a lawyer at the law center, said they did not want to speak to the news media but were happy with the outcome. <snip>

When will we have a Caesar who will prevent this madness?

Yes, yes, I know, the cost of an emperor is high. But I remind you of the rise to power of tyrants, dictators, and emperors: they are always the friends of the people who will protect the people and carry out their will, thwarting the ruling powers who hide behind the laws to grasp all the power of the state. Historically, bringing forth a Caesar has been the only way to overthrow those powers. The American Revolution was an exception, but we have seldom seen its like.

I suspect a plebiscite in the US would show 70% and more of the populace in favor of controlling the borders, few in favor of open borders, and the undecided inclining toward some control. And so what? Our masters will do nothing, and if we attempt to act on our own, you see the results.

The purpose of the law is to make business for itself, and it matters not what the issues or what damage is done to the nation or the law itself. Our masters have our army overseas, and cannot control our borders, while our courts give away the land of those who try to do so.

And it will get worse.


Bachevich: Call It a Day


--- Roland Dobbins

I am not sure I agree with this; I am not sure I do not. Long time readers will recall I recommended Bacevich's book on America as Empire some years ago, when discussion of Republic and Empire did not have such immediate concerns. In any event his essay is worth reading. And see mail.


You may all recall that when it first became clear we were going to invade Iraq, I pointed out that it would be easy to win the war but difficult to get out. One option might have been to invite the Turks in. That would be hard cheese on the Kurds, probably, but it would have the salutary effect of getting Turkey back into Middle East affairs; and after all, Iraq is merely 3 provinces of the old Ottoman Empire. They have as much right to be there as ever did the Brits and French. And if the Turks are involved in the Middle East they will be less inclined to be involved in Europe, and they can provide some sane leadership to the area.

Perhaps it is not too late. Give the place back to the Turks and get out? It won't happen, of course. But better them than us. And they might be foolish enough to try...

But while thinking about all this, it is fair to look at:

What Cindy Sheehan Really Wants
Now imagine if she gets it.


By Christopher Hitchens
Friday, Aug. 19, 2005


I am hardly a big supporter of Mr. Hitchens, but his arguments need  consideration in this case.




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Tuesday,  August 23, 2005  

  Man and Liberalism

I received this letter from a subscriber who is also a friend:

Subject: Jingoism

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide."

Don't often say this to you, but I find this smacks of "jingoism" and doesn't credit much that is good about liberals.

In response, I'd suggest:

"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear."

However my favorite saying about conservatism was often said by my father but belonged to Twain.

"Conservatism is the blind and fear-filled worship of dead radicals"


  It deserves an answer, but in order to make an answer, we need to ask some questions, chief among them, just who are these dead radicals I am supposed blindly to worship? Marx? Lenin? Kropotkin? Proudhon? Robespierre? St. Juste? I have studied them all, and I would not suppose myself guilty of blind worship of any of them, or of any other other dead radical. Indeed, the whole notion of conservatism, I would have thought, centers around the rejection of ideologues and ideology. If I must choose someone blindly to worship and I am confined to human thinkers unenlightened by revelation, I would try to get out of the obligation; but at utter need I would I suppose choose Aristotle, Burke, and pay some attention to Cicero and Hobbes. Montesquieu would get into the act, as would John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and George Washington. Not an ideologue in the pack, I fear, although John Adams surely is radical enough for anyone. Mad Dog Adams as King George III was fond of calling him. But in fact I deny the charge: I blindly worship no human.

I do fear man and mankind. I am persuaded that Hobbes had the right of it, and every newspaper confirms it. He is not so much read now, but I can recommend him to your attention. See http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/hobbes/leviathan-c.html for a beginning, and think upon this passage, in which he describes life in a state of nature, in which there is no law or government, and all are at war with all:

"Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. "

  When I was a lad, such things were far away, and we were certain that universal progress would soon eliminate such conditions everywhere. Now, I fear, I would need no more than ten minutes' drive to find a part of my city where such conditions prevail, and under a thousand dollars would buy me an airline ticket to entire nations where this is a fairly good description of daily life. Now it is true enough that I live in a village in the midst of a city, and in our village we do not need Hobbes' Leviathan to protect us from each other. We do need some protection from outsiders, and I note with some irony that during the riots in part of our city, my very liberal neighbors (my precinct has a very liberal voting record) formed a militia and asked me to loan them weapons wherewith to seal off the village from outsiders; outsiders being identified, alas, by their skin color. When order was restored there was reversion to racial equality. I did not join that militia, nor did I arm it, but I have since heard stories from black taxi and minivan drivers of how Laurel Canyon was closed even to the SuperShuttle if the driver happened to be black...

But I do not blindly and in fear worship Hobbes, nor do I know anyone in the conservative ranks who blindly and in fear worships anyone. That aphorism is a canard, and not a very descriptive one.

 Let us look at another point: ""Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear."  

I would dispute that as well. Most of the Liberal program was brought about by judges and imposed on the people: liberalism seems more to be government of the Benighted by the Enlightened.  Name most liberal achievements and then specify the statute that enacted them; you will find few. The Voting Rights Acts, which did more to transform the nation and break color boundaries than all the court decisions put together, were sponsored by liberals and they can claim Hubert Humphrey as a champion; but they were hardly radical, and had the support of many conservatives.

Those were laws, but most liberals preferred to work through the courts rather than through the legislative process. "Trust of the people tempered by prudence" translates as "rule of the people so long as they follow the advice of their betters." But I would argue that the Voting Rights Acts, constitutional on their face, were more effective and more important than Brown vs. Board and all the other court decisions based on emanations from penumbras. Leaving power to the states and enforcing voting rights seems to be a far better way than court decrees, management of school districts by courts desiring integration but getting worse segregation instead, and lawsuits which enrich the lawyers to the detriment of any sense of community. No. Modern liberalism is based on a profound distrust of the people, and the only ones who may exercise "prudence" are in fact those who act from ideology, not prudence at all: did anyone really suppose that many of the crazy acts of judges in ruling local communities were actually based on a prudential consideration of the possible consequences? Liberals don't trust the people. They despise the masses, and they hate the notion of popular sovereignty.

"Distrust of the people tempered by fear" is a more accurate description of conservatism; of Adams as opposed to Jefferson and Paine; of profound distrust, aye, fear, of rule by the mob and government by opinion poll and plebiscite, rule by sound bite and photo op. I will plead guilty to distrust of the people tempered by fear. I will plead guilty to desire for the stability of law and rule of law rather than rule by whim and opinion poll. And I certainly plead guilty to the notion that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and since different groups of people consent to different powers, I would break that power into as many jurisdictions as I possibly could, and count on commerce and travel and limited national powers to weld all those jurisdictions into a single nation for the purpose of national defense. But that is hardly the liberal way.

As to "jingoism" I wonder if you know much about the origin of the term? It came from a silly song in favor of Britain taking the Turkish side in one of the imperialistic wars of the 19th Century. "We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do, we've got the guns, we've got the ships, we've got the money too."  I am not sure how it applies to my quoting an aphorism about the decline of the West.

But I suppose it does apply: the liberal is terrified that he might be accused of thinking his culture "better" than anyone else's. All cultures will be equal, and the Melting Pot will not be applied. We shall have cultural relativism, and we certainly shall never defend Western Civilization as worthy of defense. But in that case, "Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide," is no more than an accurate observation.

We can debate whether all cultures are equal, and whether it was right for England to impose its customs on foreign lands. The most often quoted case is from Sir Charles Napier when governor of one of the states of India on the subject of suttee (the practice of burning the widow along with her deceased husband):

"It is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and hang them. Build your funeral pyre and beside it my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your national custom - then we shall follow ours."

Now I will listen to arguments that Imperialism is not a great idea, and that the Brits had no mandate of heaven to go to India and impose their laws and culture on that land (although I will argue that the Indians are much the better off for that British experiment in world order); but I am not so prepared to admit the notion of suttee as a cultural practice to be imported to the United States. I do note that the liberals were perfectly happy to send the United States armed forces to the Balkans to impose their notions of propriety and decency on that land, with the result that the UN Lords now control much of that territory and rule with all the power of Lords including, as I understand it, what amounts to droits de seigneur over both married and unmarried Serbian women; but perhaps there is some cultural argument from diversity that I do not understand at work here. I do note that most of our foreign adventures have not turned out very well for those left behind, with the notable exceptions of nations we have utterly defeated and rebuilt. We seem to have left Japan in better shape after a few years than we left the Philippines after forty; but that is another argument for another time.

So. I reject your charge of jingoism, and suggest that the liberals are at least as jingoistic as the neo-c0nservatives. "What is the point of this splendid Army you are always talking about if we can't use it?" was a question asked by Clinton's Secretary of State. My own view is closer to that of Adams, that we are the friends of liberty everywhere but the guardians only of our own; and that we should seek not overseas monsters to destroy lest we lose control of our own liberties. Perhaps that too is an argument for another time.

But I have seen no evidence in your letter, nor in my reading of the news, that would cause me to change my opinion:

"Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide."

Some discussion in mail


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Wednesday,  August 24, 2005

The following references a very long set of papers that do a pretty good job of presenting some key questions about the subject of race and human biological differences. Note that I recommend these reviews to those interested; I have not said I endorse any of the positions taken in any of them. Note also that Cochran's papers on Ashkenazi IQ have found fairly wide acceptance without too much negative comment: i.e. if you can show biological differences that are positive it is less controversial. Incidentally, Cochran is promising some even more revolutionary theories with strong evidence to be published soon. This is the era of biology: molecular, evolutionary, physiological ("live long enough to live forever"), etc. JEP


The Great Race Debate

Two reviews of Race: The Reality of Human Differences by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele

$27.50 Westview Press. 320 pp. 2004, ISBN: 0813340861

Editor’s note: The authors of the book under review here both have connections to Skeptic magazine: Vincent Sarich is on our editorial advisory board and Frank Miele is a Senior Editor who has written many articles and reviews for the magazine over the past decade. We initially received a very positive review of the book by Paul R. Gross, which we were hesitant to publish because of a perceived conflict of interest or biased reporting. But then, independently of Gross and uncommissioned by us, Alondra Oubré submitted a critical review of the book. Since Skeptic never backs down from controversial topics on the cutting edges of science—indeed we look for them—and since we have devoted two full issues of Skeptic to the topic of race (race and I.Q. in Skeptic Vol. 3, No. 3 and race and sports in Skeptic Vol. 8, No. 1), we thought it would be most appropriate to run these two reviews back to back. Both review authors are highly qualified biologists steeped in the scientific literature that stands behind the topic, and knowing both reviewers personally I can attest to the fact that they are both thoughtful and balanced commentators not prone to hyperbole. How they can treat this topic in different ways, then, shows us how complicated a scientific issue race is. — Michael Shermer

Race: No Such Thing...or is There?

Review by Paul R. Gross

What response would you get were you to ask almost any college student or member of the current, self-identified American intelligentsia, “What is this society’s most serious problem?” Almost certainly, a large proportion of your eligible interviewees would give this answer without hesitation: “Race!” But here is an oddity: The same interviewees who answer your question with “Race!” will assure you, also without hesitation, that there is no such thing. They will maintain that for humans the concept of “race” is meaningless: that there are no biologically significant human group differences, hence no human races. <snip>


Another thing to worry about:

Dropouts a drain on economy

By George Archibald
Published August 21, 2005

About 1.3 million students nationwide drop out of school between
eighth and 12th grades each year. They're frustrated because they
can't read well enough to keep up, bored by their courses and teachers
or just unmotivated to stay in school.
The implications for the nation's economic vitality are
"far-reaching and devastating," according to a Harvard University
report. "High school dropouts are far more likely to be unemployed, in
prison and living in poverty."
The same verdict is reached in other recent studies by the
Educational Testing Service (ETS) of Princeton, N.J., and the
Manhattan Institute of New York City.
"This is a story of losing ground," researcher Paul E. Barton says
in the ETS report. <snip>


They can't read. We know how to teach kids to read. My wife's program does it using computers, and it works, for ages 4 to 74 and IQ from dull to genius; but the schools can't teach them to read, because they have a bunch of crazy theories that teachers are required to learn. The theories don't work, and lots of kids don't learn to read.

See mail for discussion


It is time to find and beat senseless the Rolex vendors. If you send me email with the word Rolex in the subject, I will never see it.




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Thursday, August 25, 2005

I am told that this place is confusing, and  http://www.michellemalkin.com/ is the format for the wave of the future and I ought to change to something like that. I dunno.

I do have one situation that might need changing. Links to my book marks reference the pages. These don't change for a while, but after a few weeks I will move pages to the 'archives2' folder. Thus the link to the George Mosse lectures is http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2view/view342.html#Mosse now; but at one time is was (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view342.html#Mosse). That latter is now a "broken link" that doesn't lead anywhere. On the other hand, all the references in here will be to the first link, which works. This happened because when I moved view342 to the archives page, FrontPage change all the internal links to the new address; but I know of no way to tell the rest of the world where that moved to.

My objections to "modern" blogging software are the reverse order of item presentations. When I go to those places, I find myself reading comments and discussions of comments about something I have not read; and this makes no sense to me. Here we stay in the original order, and comments are later than the original essay. I think better that way. Ideas are not sound bites and are not independent.

My friends and associates who know more about this stuff than I do keep advising me to change to some kind of database driven software that would among other things generate RSS feeds, and I suppose they are right. I am reluctant to learn something new because that takes time. On the other hand, I wouldn't mind doubling the subscription base of this place. On the gripping hand there are apparently ways to allow people to adjust the color and font schemes so they are not stuck with my parchment (which I like; I am not fond of  black on stark white although some find that more congenial). Talin once undertook to clean this place up using cascading style sheets and it looked pretty good, but I was in the middle of something else and the exposure to the reform bug didn't take.

I do thank all those who have thought about this, and I am open to suggestions, particularly ways to make this place a little less confusing to newcomers, and perhaps make it a little easier for others to link to here; but I don't intend to make fundamental changes just for the fun of it, and some things won't change: this is a whim-driven place. I do not undertake to write a formal essay every week. A great deal of what happens here is through mail and comments to mail, and I do want to make sure we keep the letters page separate from the View. I will sometime put letters in View but I do so for a reason; the principle ought to be clear enough that anyone interested can infer most of my selection criteria (keeping in mind that whim and fancy do have their place here); but mostly mail is mail, and I feel free to put into mail a number of views and opinions I do not share, and others I find interesting but do not know enough to have much of an opinion on the matter. This is a place for intelligent people, and while I am willing to make some compromises for newcomers, I make no apology for making my readers work a bit -- and certainly I make no apology for assuming in intelligent readership and making little to no effort to reduce the intellectual level in hopes of attracting more.

So: assuming an intelligent readership, what might I do to make this place a bit easier while preserving its advantageous features? I confess that while Malkin is interesting, I am no enamoured of her method, and find discussions of essays I have not read to be confusing.

I am off for a walk. Mail when I get back.


Subject: I suppose it had to happen eventually


Federal Judge OKs Global Warming Lawsuit Aug 24 9:00 PM US/Eastern

By DAVID KRAVETS AP Legal Affairs Writer


A federal judge here said environmental groups and four U.S. cities can sue federal development agencies on allegations the overseas projects they financially back contribute to global warming.

Thanks to Mr. Strohm for reminding me of this horror. I presume a court of appeals will shut down this idiocy before the legal profession can finish its wild celebrations. Talk about deep pockets!

One more step toward Caesarism. The lawyers get rich off this and --

Jerry P.:

So the next step will be that someone can sue the government for trying to stop starvation because the primary environmental risk to the planet is too many people reproducing too fast for the current holding capacity of their countries thereby causing environmental degredation of those countries. Stop preventing AIDS, starvation, etc. But it also means that actions that affect family planning could come under review. Is it better to supply condoms to prevent AIDS or to prevent overpopulation? A full employment act for lawyers I guess.

Charles Simkins

The goal of the law is to make business for itself.


Why beat a famous watchmaker?


In Wednesday's current view you said:- "It is time to find and beat senseless the Rolex vendors. If you send me email with the word Rolex in the subject, I will never see it."
What on earth is going on?

John Edwards


Yesterday I had hundreds of solicitation from spammers trying to sell me Rolex watches until I added a rule that deleted any such mail as soon as it was spotted (if the word Rolex is in the header, I will not see the letter). Alex speculates that this is the result of thousands of new zombie computers cranking out spam. Whatever it was, it was irritating. I don't want to beat up the watchmakers. Just those selling ripoff copies of their products by jamming the Internet with their stuff. Surely there is a way to boil their feet in oil for half an hour or so?


Query: Does anyone know how to make FrontPage apply indentations to paragraphs so that I can indent quoted text? I try defining styles and nothing seems to happen. I probably need to study the manual, but if anyone knows off hand... What I would like is to select a paragraph and have it change font and indentation. I tried that with the Format menu and NOTHING HAPPENS, although it looks as if something should. I must be doing something wrong.

Hmmm. Format Paragraph works, but it doesn't when I try to apply it as a style. I need to work on this. There is probably some small trick I have forgotten.

What I want is a quick and easy way to format a chunk of text so it is mildly indented (like this), thus setting quotes off from everything else. It should be easy and I am sure FrontPage has such tools but I am not doing it right.

If I use the Format Paragraph menu item it works but when I try to make that a style and apply it nothing happens. I need to read up on all that I guess.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Mail will be mildly delayed; I'll have that up later this afternoon.

Robertson and Assassination

It's probably time to point out that while Robertson is probably the wrong man to say it, if we have to interfere with other countries and their leadership, special operations teams are a lot cheaper than wars. The notion that a head of state has King's X exemption from being assassinated is likely a royal development and something much wished by heads of state, who prefer to drop bombs from 15,000 feet on bridges and Chinese News Agencies to enforce their will on foreigners who irrationally insist on doing things we don't approve of. A lot more intelligence and bribe money would have knocked out Saddam with much less loss of life and we could have been saved the bother of invading Iraq.

Dictator or other head of state dies violently. Country goes through whatever rite of succession is customary (Prince inherits, VP takes over, new elections, civil war, party purges, whatever) and the US ambassador goes to new head of state and points out that his life will probably be longer and certainly a lot simpler if he accedes to whatever demands Washington is making this week. Let in the Albanians and surrender your historic homeland; get out of your historic homeland and let the settlers who believe they are descended from previous historic invader/possessors live there in peace; stop building nuclear power plants; stop building a blue water fleet that challenges the Monarch of the Seas (oops, wrong century); whatever the whim of the US President and Secretary of State happens to be. Do that and we won't send in the special forces.

It is certainly cheaper and more humane than sending in an army to kill 100,000 civilians, just as it would have been cheaper when we first went in to Iraq to bribe the then existing Iraqi army to keep order on pain of being disbanded and left without pay. If one intends to rule the world, it's a lot simpler to rule through client kings and presidents and chairmen and chairladies and secret masters than through direct occupation. Cheaper and easier on our troops, too.

But it's best not to talk about it too much, and if you do, you need to choose your talkers.

But Robertson was the wrong man to say that, one supposes. Perhaps he should have got a coalition of people, former Clintonistas, some old spooks from the Agency and British Military Intelligence, some of Kennedy's team from Viet Nam, the Watergate team, and all of them get together to say it. Throw in a few realist academicians, too, just to make it clear we are talking about a national consensus here...

(For some discussion see mail)


On Iraq, Evil, and foreign policy of a Republic

I was engaged in a conversation on Iraq last night that started with a friend calling Bush "more evil than Cthulhu" and my asking why on earth would anyone think that? Evil consists of knowing the right thing and doing something else for base motives. Bush may be wrong, but he almost certainly is not evil. There followed the usual confusion about evil oil interests and contracts to Brown and Root and such, little of which was accurate; the actual understanding of many people, including fairly smart people, of what's going on in this world is startlingly small.

But it did get me to think out loud on the subject, which is, as I suspected it would be, the war. She was sick of it.

Put the war in perspective. We lose two troopers a day on average (at least that was the rate last time I looked). Call it 800 a year, mostly young men with a sprinkling of young women. This is enough to make us want to call off the war (which may or may not be a desirable thing to do without regard to its cost). My question is, of the 50,000 a year who die on our streets and highways, how many are young men and women of military age? I would guess considerably more than 800. Indeed, I would suspect that at least 800 young men and women are killed nationwide on Prom Night, although probably not noticed because Prom Nights are scattered over a couple of months. If we had one national Prom Night I would guess the slaughter would be so great that we'd seriously consider calling it off -- but we wouldn't, just as we don't get all those dangerous cars and trucks off the highways.

So the casualty cost of Iraq isn't all that large; which is not to demean the sacrifices of heroes, or to take anything away from them; it is to try to put things in perspective so that we can engage in rational thought. If you actually thought every human life of infinite worth you would not undertake anything risky including bridge construction.

The question is, is it worth it? And the answer to that lies in what one believes will be accomplished. With bridges and skyscrapers we are pretty sure the result is possible. It's different with foreign policy.

If the end result of the war is a stable, moderately religious, government friendly to the US in Iraq, then yes, it was worth it despite the terrible costs (which are far heavier on Iraqis than on us). But how likely is that result?

Making that estimate requires us to answer questions that involve real uncertainties, the kind of uncertainties that we have insufficient numbers of cases to have any reliable probability estimates about; uncertainties like the mood of certain leaders, and the state of the health of certain religious figures, the probable eloquence of our ambassadresses, and a number of other factors that have more influence over human events than the historical determinists like to suppose. (Antietam and the marching orders lost with a packet of cigars will do as well as any for an example of what I mean; if Lee's plans were not known to the North, what might have happened there?)

Now most of us from the realistic school of analysis would say that a stable Iraqi moderate regime is highly unlikely and always was highly unlikely, there being few precedents for such things. But: there was one precedent.

Lebanon before it came apart comes closest to mind, and mind you, it did come apart despite a careful power-sharing Constitution that gave places to the Christians, Sunni, Shiite, Druze, and secular factions. None of us can say a priori that moderate stable regimes in the Middle East are impossible, precisely because there was the case of Lebanon before it came apart, and it's pretty clear that the Lebanon experiment could have been propped up by the Great Powers if they had cared to do that, and at far less cost than we subsequently paid to mitigate the horrors that came about after Lebanon came apart. Lebanon before its crash is an existence proof.

So is Switzerland.

Which is not to say that stability in Iraq is likely, or that it is as easy to persuade Kurds and Shiites and Sunni to live peacefully together as it is to require that of Germans, French, Italians, Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics, and atheists to do so, or that you can plant democracy in the deserts as easily as in the Alps.  But it is to say that it is possible.

And for better or for worse our national leaders have determined that it is possible, and that it is in our national interest, and that we will invest blood and treasure in Baghdad. And that is the way things are.

Bush is not evil. He may be wrong. He may not be wrong. On election day I am allowed and required to render my decision on such matters. Other times, such decisions are a bit above my pay grade. Which is not to say I will shut up about the subject. Just to say that it's hardly evil not to take my advice. A mistake, perhaps. But not evil.

For comments, see mail.

On Prudence, Competence, and the Spirit of the Age

Most comments on the above are easily summarized: the invasion of Iraq was ill advised, badly thought out, imprudent, unwise, and potentially disastrous.

Since I said all that before we invaded, I can hardly argue, especially since things have turned out just about as I predicted they would.

Why, then, am I not jumping on the Bush bashing bandwagon?

It has to do with the duties of citizenship. We used to say that politics stops at the water's edge. We thought we meant that, but it turns out that few do. All rush to take political advantage of perilous situations, and do so without much thought as to what to do in place of the policies they denounce.

This isn't true of Cochran, who didn't want us in Iraq in the first place, and wants us out, now, as soon as possible, without regard to the costs of leaving. It was a bad job, and the sooner we are out the better. Buchanan's American Conservative magazine has much the same view. Moreover, they're sure they are right.

Now I have tried to say this before, and I don't seem to have got it across: my view of the world is not the prevailing view of the intellectual class of the United States or indeed of most of the world. Most intellectuals believe that deep in the heart of every man beats a burning desire for freedom and liberty. This is taught in nearly every university of this and nearly every other land. Man is born free, and if he is in chains, they are chains forged by society and imposed on mankind. Man is born free, but not only free, but good. Man is good, or at worst morally neutral, man is not fallen and the Biblical story of The Fall of Man is neither true nor even symbolic: it's a story that offers no true insights and is best forgotten. And that, I put it to you, is the Spirit of the Age.

And when it comes to competence, Bush doesn't look all that bad in comparison with, say, Carter, who lost us Iran and was negotiating terms of surrender with the USSR; who truly believed we were in an era of limits and suffered a national malaise. Carter faced an enemy with 26,000 nuclear warheads, deliverable warheads, who truly had the capability of destroying civilization, and who pretended to face us with the stark choices of going red or being dead.

And then there's Kennedy who got us into Viet Nam and let McNamara run the war for him. Who sent Ted Sorenson over to approve the murder of the man who had invited us into Viet Nam in the first place. Who set up a policy of losing the war but staying in. There was Roosevelt who got us into the European war after running on a platform of keeping us out of it. Perhaps that was a good thing. Many would say so. But having done it, we ended up with the USSR as the big winner, and the USA facing, eventually, 26,000 nuclear warheads, which, I put it to you, is a great deal more danger than we face now.

Bush is incompetent on the conservative view of mankind; but that is a minority view. The followers of Strauss and Trotsky who morphed into neoconservatives do not share the conservative view of mankind, and neither do the liberals. Now the liberals, it is true enough, are quick to pile on Bush now that the war is not going well (or possibly appears to not be going well); but they were not in principle opposed to meddling in the affairs of others, of supporting Israel against the Palestinians, of bombing Serbia into submission for the benefit of the Albanians although I doubt most of them ever met a Serbian or an Albanian and prior to our sending in the air power could not have located Kosovo on a map of Europe to within 200 miles assuming they can do that now.

Yes: on my view of the world, Bush is incompetent and undertook precisely what John Quincy Adams warned us against, going abroad to seek monsters to slay, and endangering our freedom and prosperity in the doing of it.

But my view is not that of the intellectual leadership of the United States, and those who want to bug out of the war now do so because it is going badly, not because they doubt the principles on which we began that war. And, I put it to you, while some of us wanted never to be there and said so then and now, many now want out for political reasons. Politics no longer stops at the water's edge, and they want out not to help the United States but to harm the President and Republicans.

Now heaven knows I have no great brief for the Republicans. The Stupid Party has not changed much, and adds now to stupidity a tendency to support some pretty unsavory and rapacious people. But the Democrats don't seem a lot better, and if they have discovered a principle that will keep the army at home when people overseas do things we don't like, I have not heard them articulate it.

Bush, at least, has nominated for Associate Justice someone who has principles, and seems to be a constitutionalist. He has sent to the UN someone who doesn't worship that place of privilege and lordship. He has done many things I dislike, but he has also refrained from doing many of the things his opponents promised to do which I would have disliked a very great deal more.

I do not know if staying the course in Iraq will see us through to victory. I know that staying the course in Viet Nam would have kept South Viet Nam free, and Saigon would not be Ho Chi Minh City had we sent in the Air Force and sent supplies to ARVN in 1975 as we did in 1972. I know that the heroes have left their blood in the Mesopotamian desert, and I would like to think it was not for nothing. I have my doubts about our ability to win, but I have no doubt about the consequences of running now that we have engaged; and I do not at all count out the abilities of our armed forces to bring about a decent end to Iraq. At great cost, yes; but they may well succeed. They're damned good at what they are doing, now that they understand the mission. America muddles through, but we do get the job done quite often. Don't sell the GI's short.

As to the cost, again, what should I say? I knew it would cost hundreds of billions and said so at the time. I would rather we invested in nuclear power and fuel cells and solar power satellites and domestic oil production so that we can tell the Middle East to mind its own business while we mind ours. But then I would rather we left abortion and drug wars to the states. I suspect there is about as much chance of my advice being taken in the one matter as in the other.

I will continue to offer my advice. I doubt it will be taken. More discussion in Mail.


Two Questions regarding FrontPage:

1. is there a way to insert a time and date stamp that does not change? Other than to just write it in. (NOTE: I know how to put in a time/date template that changes each time the page is accessed; there is one such at the top of this page. I want a time/date that does NOT change, but shows the time of creation and never again shifts. Clearly I can write that in by hand, but it would be convenient to have a means for doing it more simply.

2. How do you apply indentation styles?  (NOTE: I know about the html <blockquote> command. I just don't want to have to go into coding.




Friday   TOP  Current Mail


This week:


read book now


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Well, we are at the beach house for the weekend. In San Diego the former mayor driven out of office for being a crook is suing to get his $50,000 a year pension. After all...

Meanwhile, they want to clean up the so-called Children's Pool but to do that will disturb the seals, so they need an "Incidental Harassment Permit" from the Federal Marine Mammal Enforcement Agency. I would like to have one of those to hang on my wall just to show where we have gone in this Land of the Fee and Home of the Permit Raj.

We missed the appointment for installation of a cable modem so we are still on dialup. One of these days we will get that fixed. It turns out that Time Warner Cable does not have a self-instillation kit, because unlike Adelphia they don't consider their customers competent enough. Interesting.

It took five hours to get here from Los Angeles yesterday. I answered some mail with the Tablet while in the car, but probably I shouldn't have, and if you got a snippy answer from me yesterday, ignore it. I wasn't myself. No one stuck in traffic while the young Marines play chase through the lanes can be; boredom, frustration, mitigated by terror. I much admire those young men, and we need them badly, and it is hard to begrudge them their sport, but one could wish they had a less public place to indulge in...


This just in. It's a warning not many will need, but those who do need it ought to know:


1. Drug Danger: Same Drugs Have Different Ingredients

Many drugs in foreign countries have the same brand name as U.S. medications, but contain completely different ingredients – creating the danger of serious prescription mix-ups.

A safety alert issued to doctors and hospitals this year by the Institute for Safe Medication practices identified several drugs in the U.S. that have the same name as different drugs sold by different manufactures abroad, the Wall Street Journal reports.

* Norpramin, an antidepressant in the U.S., is the name of an ulcer drug in Spain. * Flomax, used for prostate disease in the U.S., has the same name as a pain medication in Italy. * Vivelle, used in the U.S. to treat menopause and osteoporosis, is a birth-control pill in Austria. * Dilacor in the U.S. is a blood-pressure drug known generically as diltiazem, but in Brazil the brand name refers to verapamil for irregular heart rhythm and hypertension, and in Serbia it is the brand name for digoxin, used to treat heart failure. * Sominex, an over-the-counter sleep aid in the U.S., shares its name with a sleep aid in the UK that could have extremely different side effects.

For travelers who refill prescriptions in other countries, brand-name mix-ups could result in "patients not getting a life-saving drug, getting the wrong drug or suffering unexpected drug interactions – especially elderly people who take multiple medications," according to the Journal.

There is currently no regulatory body that keeps track of drug names globally.

I am not sure how I got on the newsmax mailing list and most of what I get from them seems useless, but every now and then they send something that is worth a look.

The above is sort of an example of what I wish I could do quickly and easily in FrontPage, except I would like it to apply a style that indents the right margin as well. What I want is to be able to select a passage and apply a style that makes it clearly indented. If the same operation could also change the font it would be even better. I'd imagine there is a simple way to do it.


I see the University of California has decided not to admit certain Christian school students because they have had the wrong course content in their biology and history texts. Those students won't be properly prepared. Leave out the actual results, which is that students from Christian schools generaly have a lower college dropout rate and higher GPA than others; it's the content of what they are tuaght that is not acceptable to the Enlightened at our Universities.

Perhaps we can also exempt Christians from taxes supporting the Universities? Since the Universities are now for those who have had only secular education, perhaps those allowed to attend can pay for them, and let the rest us us form our own universities?

Now of course what is actually at work here is the new biology which postulates Faith that evolutionary theory will eventually solve all problems within it, and resolve all contradictions; while those taught that there is some divine intervention (possibly called intelligent design although one certainly need not believe the professorate to be intelligent to believe that there has been some kind of divine intervention in the process of creating humanity) -- those who are taught that there may be an alternative to blind chance and the dance of the atoms in the evolution of humanity are not to be allowed in the Universities. Lest they contaminate the pure Faith of the Darwinists? No, say the professors: it is for the students own good. They won't be properly prepared if they are allowed in the universities still believing that God had any hand in human creation. As if most university graduates came to university with a full understanding of Darwin.

Or, for that matter, as if most of the professorate had any understanding whatever of actual statistical inference, or the mathematics of how characteristics might migrate from peak to peak although the trait is counter-productive in the valleys. But the arrogance of the Enlightened continues. Now, it appears, the Enlightened no longer have any obligation to inform the Benighted.

And the University of Moscow used to require some 500 hours of Marxism instruction for graduation. I am sure there were requirements for admission as well.

Me, I'm all for this so long as they will also let me cease paying taxes to support these institutions. Let the Enlightened form their own communities, away from the rest of us, and let us not have to pay for them. Then the rest of us can form universities that actually seek truth rather than try to restrict the entering student body to those who Already Know.


I know that I can use actual html editing to accomplish the results I want (<blockquote>  seems to be the proper one) but that is as much work as doing each paragraph through the Format Paragraph command. I really want to define a style to apply with a singe command.


However, I can try testing the blockquote thing, and I'll do it on this paragraph. This is an essentially contentless paragraph (like the headsof Riva Poorsina, spokesperson for the University of California who only wants to help the poor students who got the wrong science education and thus must not be admitted to the University of California lest the other students be contaminated by these Christians who were taught principles "not consistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community." I wish I were making La Poorsina's quote up, but I am not.

Anyway let us experiment with that passage. And indeed, <blockquote> works. But of course it's a bit of work to go into the code view and change it. I can do that, but it's as easy to use the format paragraph menu command. I'll keep looking. What ideally I want is to have a style to apply to selected paragraphs in the Design view rather than the code view. I am sure FrontPage knows how to do that, but I don't have the manuals with me, and at 56K it's hard to look it up on line.


I am at the bottom of a dialup information well, so it's not easy to find this out: does anyone know when The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was first published? I remember reading it in Memphis which would have been in the 40's; but that seems awfully early. Google will find me places to buy the book as will Amazon, but none of them seem to want to tell me the original copyright date.

1938. Thanks to all who sent that information. Which means I was correct in my memory of getting it from the Memphis public library at about age 7. I recall particularly the Yeoman of the Bowmen...


The President has pretty well made it clear that we are in Iraq to stay. That pretty well settles the matter for me. I did not think we should go in there, but we are there now, and there is nothing in Bush's history to indicate that he will change his mind.


Saturday   TOP  Current Mail

This week:


read book now


Sunday, August 28, 2005

We are in Iraq. We will be here so long as Bush is President. He will be President until January of 2009. That is reality, and rather than discuss ways to get out or whether we ought to have been there in the first place, the only meaningful discussion is what we ought to be doing there.

I will say one last time: I do not believe the United States should be involved in Imperial Adventures, seeking overseas monsters to slay; and that the result of that policy is likely to be a lessening of our own liberties and loss of control over our own affairs. Those are the real dangers of overseas adventurism, and that should be the beginning of discussion.

We are still dependent on overseas sources for far too many resources, particularly energy, and that will not change with success in Iraq. If Iraq begins to produce oil it will bring some price reduction but that won't change our dependence on overseas sources.

We do not have control over our borders. That will not change with success in Iraq.


The Sunday AM TV is telling us that the US has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world. The remedy is more sex education, says the TV. The remedy to the problems is more liberalism. Now we know.

"The kids are having sex. They need to learn more."  That's what I am hearing now. Uh -- is there anyone over the age of 12 who does not know where babies come from?

Well, more later. Mail later too.


I have just seen the HBO ROME first episode, and it is wonderful. Extremely well done, and so far, the personalities are accurate, and the speeches from history. Octavian the physical coward but able to function despite his fears, but a political genius. And Caesar is believable, the kind of man that men would follow, using Brutus (who may well have been his son) to convey false intelligence to Pompey.

It was all extremely well done, and I look forward to the next episode.

Discussion in mail





September 2005

The Inequality Taboo*

Charles Murray

If you have not read this -- the entire essay is on line -- go do so now. A great many people have, and it is likely to be  important. Summers may have done more than he thought he did.







 Sunday   TOP        Current View  

 Current Mail

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