Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraqi election coverage

Here's a quick snapshot of the coverage around 7 AM here on the Left Coast:

CNN: Flag draped coffins and father of KIA saying it was all about the WMD.
Fox: Thousands from Abu Ghraib region walked 13 miles to vote.
MSNBC: Detroit polling place on south side of city even though most Iraqi expats live in the north.
CNN: Balad-bound British C-130 crashes
Today (NBC): Beginning of a long process, another election next year
CNN: 3 dead in Hillah bus explosion. Continuing violence. Historic election.
Fox: One polling station in Baghdad steady flow started at 9 AM. Turnout estimated at 72%. Voters wanted to vote to defeat terrorists. Strong turnout in some areas of Mosul
CNN (Anderson Cooper from Baghdad): Historic day in Iraq. No one complaining about hour wait to vote. "Heard that over and over again." "Truly an extraordinary day." "Yes there were attacks...but the story today is people turning out in great numbers." Ink on fingers "a symbol of pride."
CNN (Suzanne Malveaux): Bush believes this is a great day for democracy. Low expectations. Rice hitting the airwaves. Preemptive strike: Dr. Rice believed mechanisms will be in place to include Sunnis.
MSNBC (Talking head general): Violence far lower than expected. Today an overall success. Successful at putting Iraqi face on poll security, but no mistaking a lot of American military presence.
ABC: TV Church service
CBS: Blues Clues

I think Cooper missed the memo!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Young Republican interview

Many of you, dear readers, are interested in politics, else you wouldn't read Carpe Bonum. I thought you might like to get some inside scoop on what it is like to do politics for a living in Washington, DC.

Mr. P is a political appointee in a Bush Administration Cabinet department. He works on important policy matters and frequently meets with the Secretary. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for Carpe Bonum.

Tell us a little about yourself: age, marital status, where you live, etc.

I am 27 years old and live with my girlfriend in Alexandria, VA.

What do you do for entertainment?

On most evenings my entertainment is limited to the queue of programs in TiVo®, particularly CSI, NYPD, Lost, Law & Order, West Wing, Joan of Arcadia, and Good Eats. I also make time for reading, live theatre, concerts (Recently: Muse), movies, and fine dining.

Aren't you a little young to be a Republican?

Not really. Age is not as big a determinant as other factors, and 45% of 18-29 year old voters voted to reelect President Bush. I fit the demographic pattern for males, Caucasians, my income bracket, people who work full-time jobs, and political conservatives. The most important factor that is rarely tracked by statisticians is upbringing.

Why are you a conservative? How did your political views develop?

I am not sure exactly how or when my political views developed. I was first aware of my political identity when I joined a debate society in high school and the other students labeled me a conservative Republican. Mom and Dad rarely expressed their partisan affiliation but we did discuss contemporary issues, such as taxation, national defense, and affirmative action. Conservative ideas have always made most sense to me.

What was your college education like?

My college education was not typical. I began as an acting student at the University of Illinois, but graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of San Diego after nearly seven years of study. I stayed busy during college. I interned with San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray, studied at Oxford University for two terms, studied in Mexico to observe the presidential election won by Vicente Fox, and worked full-time at a restaurant.

How did you get involved in the Bush Administration?

Landing my job in the Bush Administration was serendipitous.

I decided that it would be fun to spend my winter break volunteering for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) in Washington, DC, so I began calling their offices as soon as the election was concluded. After a number of attempts, I reached a woman who advised me to show up at the headquarters the day after Christmas at 7:30 am to help manage the volunteer office. I immediately bought a plane ticket and headed east.

As Deputy Volunteer Coordinator, I staffed PIC offices over the next three weeks. The head of President-elect Bush’s motorcade arrived in my office 10 days before the inauguration demanding volunteers because two had not shown up. By then, all of the PIC offices were fully staffed and I had sent all of our excess volunteers home, so I decided to fill one of the motorcade slots myself. I spent the next 10 days driving Bush’s senior staff van to meetings and inaugural events around town.

After the inauguration, I returned to San Diego and prepared to graduate but within a couple days the head of the motorcade called me and invited me back to Washington, DC, to interview in the administration.

Ever met any famous political figures? What are they like?

I have met many famous political figures. When first meeting political figures they are almost always charming; politicians succeed by making good first impressions. For instance, I had a fairly long conversation with Senator Kennedy at an event. He knew that I worked in the Bush administration and so he studiously avoided politics. He was engaged, insightful and funny. Except in rare moments, most horror stories concerning political figures come from people who know them well. Many politicians are abusive to their staffs.

I find the behavior of famous political figures’ staffs to be more variable and much more interesting. The worst I have ever experienced was Senator Clinton’s staff. I cannot share the details but I had to work closely with her staff at an event and I found several of them to be hostile, rude, abusive and manipulative.

Who is the most influential person no one has ever heard of?

I will answer a slightly different question: “Who is the most influential person no one outside ‘the Beltway’ has ever heard of?”

John D. Graham is the Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). According to the OIRA website, Dr. Graham’s responsibilities include “coordination of regulatory review, paperwork reduction, statistical policy and information policy in the Federal government.” This may not sound like much but it means that Dr. Graham must approve every regulation that is implemented by the federal government. He has tremendous power to sculpt regulatory policy and control the burdens that the government imposes upon the American public.

I find that he is well-known in Washington, DC, but virtually unknown around the country.

Don't you agree it's a bit unmanly to like cats?

I think it is unmanly to ask leading questions. But to answer the question, it is manly, and quintessentially American, to maximize the utility of all things in nature including household pets. I may prefer dogs, but I have learned to appreciate the unique companionship of cats.
Yeowch. Good one, P! I'm going to need a Band-Aid for those claw marks on my cheek...

Thanks for your answers, and your public service.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Laughed so hard I cried

Some Blimps Are Better Off Dead:
The blimp, which was up until this moment a fun toy, here embarked on a career of evil. Using the artificial convection of my central heating, the blimp stealthily departed my office. It moved silently through the living and drifted to the staircase.
I need a tissue.

Hat tip, Catscape.

Is my dog a Whig or a Green?

Thanks to the Homespun Bloggers, I have to wonder, is my dog a Whig or a Green?

On the one hand, he can be a bit rebellious like a Whig, but in the end he knuckles under to his King. (Guess who that is...that's right)

On the other hand he loves nature, the outdoors and furry little animals. Plus, he has absolutely no concept of economics. So he is a lot like a Green. But he catches and eats his furry little friends, and he likes people a lot more than any Green ever would.

So I must conclude he is a Republican.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

RIP Challenger crew

Dr. Sanity reminds us that Friday January 28, 2005 is the ninteenth anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. She was the Crew Surgeon for Mission 51-L, and writes about that day in Challenger - A Flight Surgeon Remembers:
In Launch Control, there was a great deal of buzz about the temperature. The countdown was proceeding, but there had been ice spotted on the external tank, and crews were sent out to check it out. All of us there (I was at the Surgeon's console, which monitored crew health, and directed emergency medical operations in the case of a catastrophic event on the launchpad, or for an RTLS (return to launch site) abort. We joked and talked among ourselves, commenting on the crew talking (we were one of the few consoles that monitored the crew chitchat in the Shuttle before launch).
...
My awe was short-lived as we noticed an anomoly. Something seemed to have gone wrong with the SRBs (solid rocket boosters) and they detached from the ET (external tank) too soon. There seemed to be a big explosion, but none of us were certain what might have happened. I swung into action, because it seemed that we must be in an RTLS situation. I made a few commands to my emergency team, who were outside in ambulances, as I continued to watch the growing cloud of the explosion, waiting for the Challenger to appear from behind it heading back to the landing site, not far away. I waited and waited. The orbiter did not appear. I felt a momentary confusion, and then I think all the blood must have rushed out of my head as I realized what it meant. I knew they must have been killed. All of them. I had to hold onto the console for support. All I could think of was oh my God, oh my God.
...
It has been 19 years since that cold morning changed me forever. When Columbia disintegrated on reentry, killing all the crew in 2003, many of my old friends called me to tell me that I had predicted that NASA would have another preventable tragedy. I would like to think that we learned something from the space missions we have lost--Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia -- but I fear that NASA has learned little.
Click through and read the whole thing. It is well-written and tragic.

On January 28, 1986, I was a college Sophomore on a cooperative education assignment at IBM Federal Systems Division in Manassas, Virginia. When I got the job, I was awed to be working for such a prestigious company. For most of my college career I alternated six months at IBM and six months at school.

Many of the engineers I worked with had come from another IBM location (I think it was Bethesda, Maryland). In Bethesda, they had worked on software for the AP-101 onboard mission computer for the Space Shuttle. As you can imagine, software development for the Space Shuttle was and is very serious business, and that group was a key player in the devleopment of Carnegie-Mellon's Software Capability Maturity Model. As news of the disaster spread, shock settled over the office. Many of my colleagues at the time spent years working on AP-101 software and had friends in the space program. The horrifying question was, "Did our code kill the crew?"

In time we learned the disaster had nothing to do with the AP-101, and we settled back into our normal office routine.

I haven't thought about that day in a while. Thanks, Dr. Sanity, for the reminder.

Rest in peace Francis "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, and Christa Corrigan McAuliffe.

Carpe Bonum in Carnival of the Vanities

Carpe Bonum's "Journalism is no longer a profession" appears in this week's Carnival of the Vanities, hosted by the Raving Athiest. You know, one of the great things about America is how we tolerate others even if they have differing beliefs. And how.

Thanks to the Raver for the link.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A good reason to watch 24

See this post from Michelle Malkin for a good reason to watch 24 on Fox. (Hat tip: AlphaPatriot)

Do not click through!

This time I really mean it. Do not click through this link. (Hat tip: Sharp as a Marble, damn him)

Someone figures it out!

In his Bonfire of the Vanities post this week, Robb Allen reveals the meaning of "Carpe Bonum:"
Carpe Bonum (Latin for "Damn this post sucks!") tries to coin a new word. Utter failure ensues.
Click through and check out Robb's Sharp as a Marble blog. It's funny and has a great design.

Left advocates for totalitarianism and terrorism

BlogCritic commenter Alienboy quotes for us a quintessential example of Media Induced Ignorance (comment number 19 in the linked post). It is a Gary Younge piece in the virulently anti-American Guardian, and is available here.

In Younge's universe, terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay are "innocent people." Castro dominated totalitarian Cuba "lives in a stable mixture of the imperfect and the impressive." And, as counted by the "independent" Iraq Body Count, murders committed by terrorists in Iraq are America's fault.

Yes, as Younge points out, there is still some realpolitik going on in Uzbekistan and many other places. So what? We can't do everything in all places at the same time. And if we tried, the Guardian would surely vilify us even more. Freedom for everyone is the goal, but it will take time.

There was a time when the Left believed in such things. But due to their unrecognizably distorted view of the world, they advocate for totalitarianism and terrorism instead.

Carpe Bonum a BlogCritic

Without comment on the reasons they may have had for making such a dubious choice, Carpe Bonum hereby announces our inclusion as a BlogCritics author. BlogCritics is, "A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, politics and technology - updated continuously." Check them out.

And take a look at the comment thread of our first post. That's a lot of action!

Thanks to master BlogCritic Eric Olsen for the opportunity.

Carson retrospective on Leno

Jay Leno did a very nice Johnny Carson retrospective Monday night. He had Ed McMahon, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Drew Carey and K.D. Lang on the show. And he showed lots of great clips.

Carson must have been pretty important, because they actually bumped Paris Hilton for the retrospective. (That's irony, people.)

If you've got it sitting in your TiVo, watch it.

RIP, Johnny.

Reagan, Russia, Bush and Iran

There is a thrilling parallel between Iran in the 2000's and Russia in the 1980's.

In 1982, President Reagan made a stirring speech about freedom and democracy to the British Parliament:
What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.
The next year he dared to refer to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire:"
So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride -- the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.
No one in the West knew it at the time, but news of Reagan's resolve electrified dissidents in the Gulag. Natan Sharansky described the effect in an interview in the Weekly Standard (hat tip: Powerline):
Were there any particular Reagan moments that you can recall being sources of strength or encouragement to you and your colleagues?

I have to laugh. People who take freedom for granted, Ronald Reagan for granted, always ask such questions. Of course! It was the great brilliant moment when we learned that Ronald Reagan had proclaimed the Soviet Union an Evil Empire before the entire world. There was a long list of all the Western leaders who had lined up to condemn the evil Reagan for daring to call the great Soviet Union an evil empire right next to the front-page story about this dangerous, terrible man who wanted to take the world back to the dark days of the Cold War. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day. Finally a spade had been called a spade. Finally, Orwell's Newspeak was dead.
Last week in his inaugural address, President Bush laid out the American vision for securing our own liberty by expanding liberty in the world:
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.
Thanks to the Internet, we don't need to wait decades to find out the effect of the President's speech on dissidents in Iran. The prodigiously named Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran reports (via Andrew Sullivan via Pejmanesque via Instapundit):
The speech and its package of hope have been, since late yesterday night and this morning, the main topics of most Iranians' conversations during their familial and friendly gatherings, in the collective taxis and buses, as well as, among groups of young Iranians who gather outside the cities on the Fridays.

Many were seen showing the " V " sign or their raised fists. Talks were focused on steps that need to be taken in order to use the first time ever favorable International condition.

Many Iranians, who were looking for the World's super power firm moral support and financial aid to credible secularist opposition groups, are now becoming sure that Mr. Bush's agenda is indeed to help them to gain Freedom, Secularity and Democracy.
Since the 9/11 attacks, we've set Afganistan and Iraq on the path to freedom and we strongly supported the successful Democracy movement in Ukraine.

As long as we stay strong in the President's resolve that, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," the Iranian students' excitement and hope will not be in vain. And decades from now it will be these dissidents of the 2000's who look back fondly on another American President's brilliant moment of strength and encouragement.

UPDATE: John Dunshee also notes the Reagan parallel.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Don't do it

Don't click through the link in this post on Dr. Sanity. You've been warned.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Watcher's Council qualification post

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting Carpe Bonum's post Journalism no longer a profession for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

The Council has spoken

In a refreshing moment of blogospheric lucidity, Carpe Bonum's WMD hunt fizzles post has tied for last place in the most recent Watcher's Council vote. Winning posts were the excellent WMD and Death By Chocolate Cake by Dr. Sanity and Welcome Neighbor! by Varifrank.

It was truly an honor to be nominated, and a relief to see that the blogosphere is not completely insane all of the time.

Excellent Iraqi PSA

Someone's doing something right in the Iraqi Information Ministry. Check out this election public service announcement and tell me it doesn't make the hair on your arms stand up. (Hat tip: The Adventures of Chester via The Fourth Rail via Dr. Sanity)

Journalism no longer a profession

One of the most vexing questions from one of my Philosophy professors was, "Why behave morally?" Simple answers like, "So I can go to Heaven," or "Because God wants me to," were respected, but we were challenged to find a purely secular justification. I never did.

Hmm.

But a much simpler question is, "Why follow my profession's code of ethics?" The answer is: so you are trusted to serve your customers and they continue to patronize you. Members of the mainstream media, by rampantly disregarding their own code of ethics, are killing journalism as a profession.

Wheras morality involves general, universal principles of right and wrong, codes of ethics offer specific behaviorial guidance to specific groups, usually professions. It seems like everybody has a code of ethics: librarians, psychologists, realtors, social workers, you name it.

A profession's code of ethics tells the world what to expect from its members. Among other things, codes are crafted to align the profession's members' interests with its customers'. For exmple, the American Medical Association's Principles of Medical Ethics include:
I. A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.
...
IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, colleagues, and other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences and privacy within the constraints of the law.
Pretty good stuff. If I am reasonably confident that the AMA enforces this code, I can be pretty comfortable going to a doctor. If not, maybe I won't.

Even journalists have a code of ethics. The Society of Professional Jounalists Code of Ethics seems pretty reasonable. But it contains some absolute howlers to those of us who have been following media bias for any length of time. For example, the code says "Journalists should:"
  • Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
  • Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
I guess the journalists cheering Norman Mailer's anti-Bush smears at Harvard's 2004 Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism missed that one (hat tip, A Sailor in the Desert).
  • Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
  • Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
  • Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
  • Admit mistakes and correct them promptly
It seems Dan Rather has some serious 'splaining to do.
  • Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
  • Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  • Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
Obviously, these were completely ignored in ABC's disgusting search for and use of a service member's funeral as a counterpoint to President Bush's inaugural.

So what is the consequence of a profession not enforcing its own code of ethics?

Imagine doctors rampantly and blatantly breaking the AMA's code of ethics. Imagine patients receiving shoddy treatment, poor medical care, being treated with contempt and their medical information being publicly distributed. And imagine that not only are the doctors involved not punished, but they are cheered and awarded honors. In this scenario, instead of being respected as competent caregivers, doctors would be seen as arrogant, untrustworthy quacks. Few people would go to them. And medicine, no longer a profession, would wither and die.

The latest Gallup Poll shows that less than a quarter of the population rates journalists "very high" or "high" on honesty and ethical standards (hat tip, Brij Singh). That doesn't bode well for the future of the profesion of journalism. But since they refuse to enforce their own code of ethics, journalists have only themselves to blame.

(There is more information on the ABC incident at Captain's Quarters and Mudville Gazette)

Friday, January 21, 2005

It was all about the WMD stockpile?

The smirking continues about our not finding a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Attempting to psychoanalyze Bush voters, Atrios says:
We went to war with Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction. In the aftermath of 9/11 a lot of otherwise semi-sensible people were too easily led down the path of supporting the endeavor. When weapons were not found, ex post it became a humanitarian mission about spreading freeance.
As I documented earlier, the administration was clear that there were many reasons for removing Saddam by force in addition to an Iraqi WMD stockpile.

Now, let's take a look at why Congress authorized force. The resolution passed by both houses was H. J. Res. 114, Joint Resolution To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq. The resolution contains 23 "Wheras" paragraphs. In a Congressional resolution, the "Wheras" paragraphs supply historical background and reasoning behind the resolution. In HJ Res 114, the "Wheras" paragraphs break down as follows (sum exceeds 23 since some paragraphs have multiple categories):
  • 12 General information or history (Kuwait invasion/liberation, 9/11 attacks, etc.)
  • 6 Previous acts of Congress (most double categorized as historical)
  • 5 Findings of Iraq's support for or harboring of terrorists
  • 3 Findings of Iraqi violations of cease fire agreements or UN Security Council Resolutions, many of which were concerned with humanitarian issues
  • 3 Findings of Iraqi WMD use or capability (but not currently existing stockpiles of WMDs), all of which were combined with concerns about Iraq's connection to terrorists
  • 1 Mention of direct Iraqi attacks on American and Coalition forces enforcing UN-mandated no-fly zones
  • 1 Finding that Iraq posessed a stockpile of WMDs
Yes, the stockpile justification got the most airtime in the media, especially when the stockpile didn't turn up right away after the war. But it was hardly the only reason. And humanitarian concerns were hardly added "ex post."

Some of our friends on the left are fond of calling themselves members of the "reality-based community" (a snark at President Bush's Faith-Based Community Initiatives). But one wonders how they can be "reality-based" when they are so unfamiliar with the record?

(To find lots more information about the resolution, go to the Library of Congress Thomas Search page, select the Summary and Bill Number radio buttons, type "hj res 114 eh" in the search box, select 107th Congress and click Search.)

Bush promotes corruption, tramples states' rights, oh my!

It has been brought to Carpe Bonum's attention that in an incident involving New Jersey highway funds, the President is violating our moral and political principles. Apparently he has come down on the side of political corruption and against states' rights. Is it necessary for us to start an impeachment movement? Let's take a look.

Is making political contributions inherently corrupting?

A kerfuffle is brewing over a new contracting rule in New Jersey. In a purported effort to reduce New Jersey's "pay-to-play" system, disgraced Governor Jim McGreevey issued an executive order preventing the award of contracts above $17,500 to any firm that had contributed more than $300 to county or state parties or Gubnatorial candidates within the previous 18 months. McGreevey's executive order apparently runs afoul of federal contracting rules, so the Federal Highway Administration has cut off highway funds to New Jersey.

The New Jersey League of Municipalities has published a Q&A on the rule here.

Blogger Nathan Newman summarizes the situation thusly: Bush Admin Promotes Corruption in NJ. How subtle.

For sake of argument, let's say McGreevey's rule has the purest intent. If not for the intervention of the evil Bush Administration, would it solve any corruption problems in New Jersey? If our 30-plus year post-Watergate history of campaign finance reform is any guide, we must be highly doubtful. Isn't it more likely this rule will merely push the contributions under the table, or induce contributors to use "independent" groups to launder their contributions?

We agree that campaign money can be a corrupting influence. But instead of driving contributions underground, we favor lifting all restrictions on campaign contributions, but adding the requirement of full and immediate disclosure. If a politician's actions stray from his consitiuents' interests in favor of his contributors', the voters will know about it and respond. Politicians will regulate themselves, not accepting contributions that give the appearance of corruption, lest their political opponents use the contributions as fodder in the next campaign.

But we wonder about the McGreevey's and Newman's intent. Perhaps the intent is pure, but what if the real intent is to tilt the political playing field? Let's do a thought exercise a la the Moderate Liberal's "What If Clinton Did This" meme. Where is the executive order preventing unions from working jobs if they make political contributions? Where is the executive order preventing environmental groups from sitting on boards and comissions if they make political contributions? Would McGreevey and Newman support those?

We agree that corrupt politicians should be held accountable. But we do not support a cynical one-sided parting shot from a partisan governor being chased out of office due to his own corruption.

Is Bush's Federal Highway Administration trampling states' rights?

Newman also suggests the FHA action is a states-rights issue. Shouldn't a good conservative break with the President for violating this principle? We at Carpe Bonum clearly see that decentralized authority works better than centralized. The lower the decision making is pushed, the more effective it will be. Thus states and localities should be free to make their own contracting rules as they see fit.

But that is not the system we have for federal highway funding. There are myriad rules associated with this funding. An administration does not have leeway to simply ignore the rules it does not agree with. So we support changing the system. Let's switch to a block grant system, where good results are rewarded with more grants, and federal rule makers do not micromanage how the funds are spent.

The same principle applies to many areas of federal funding: education, public safety, business development, etc. As a states' rights advocate, does Newman support converting federal funding from micromanagement to block grants?

Yes, we should see the New Jersey situation as indicative of serious problems. Let's solve them with campaign finance disclosure and block grants.

And there is no need at this time to to impeach the President. What a relief.

UPDATE: Also noted by Kos.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Wise Frenchman sighted!

Diploblogger NewSisyphus reports encountering a French crepe-maker who seems to have avoided Media Induced Ignorance:
We idly chatted in FSI French for a bit, when, looking a bit nervous, he suddenly asked, "You are Americans?"

We steeled ourselves for the onslaught that would come. At the very least we would get a sad-toned explanation about how lamentable it was that our good friends the Americans had lost their collective minds; at worst, we would be called war-mongers and baby-killers. All we wanted was crepes.

"Yes," we said proudly. We don't have time for those lame-asses (or I suppose I should say "lame-arses") who play the Pretend to Be Canadian Game abroad. If we were going to get it, we were going to get it, but we weren't about to hide who we were, sullen crepe makers be damned.

"Well," he said in heavily-accented basic English,"I thought so. I want to tell you something, but the words I do not know too good, so please excuse if I say it wrong."

"No, it's fine. We understand you well. Go ahead."

"Well, it's just....I want to tell you...." He looked around furtively, quickly.

"What?"
Click through for the money quote, and a charming story of a too-short visit to Paris.

Carpe Bonum in the Bonfire again

This week's Bonfire of the Vanities is up on the sortapundit blog. In a brief moment of blogospheric lucidity, Carpe Bonum's attempt to be an amateur university essay grader is ruthlessly exposed.

Thanks to Keith for the link.

Predictions for Iraqi elections

This week's Homespun Bloggers Symposium question is:
What are your predictions for the elections in Iraq? Will there be violence? What will the government look like? Will it be legitimate, liberal, and capable of accomplishing anything? And what effect will the election have on the U.S.?
Here is Carpe Bonum's response.

There will continue to be more bombings and other violence, including on election day itself. This will be reported prominently by the media. For example: Series of Bombings Rock Baghdad, Killing at Least 12.

The clamor to delay the elections will grow. Nevertheless, preparations will continue steadily. Where this is reported at all, the spin will be on how difficult it all is, as in this gem from the New York Times:
From training as many as 200,000 poll workers to tabulating the choices of about 14 million eligible voters, the logistical challenges of organizing fair elections in an unstable country that has not voted freely since the 1950's have been lost in the wash of violence and political strife. Election workers are days away from putting this gigantic machine to the test in one of the most forbidding challenges to democratic ingenuity.
Wow. Sounds hard.

Go to this post on Iraq the Model and click through to see pictures of campaign posters plastered around Baghdad. Definitely click image number one in which you can see a couple of posters where the candidate is using an American flag as a symbol! These will never, ever be printed by mainstream media.

Some areas actually will not vote due to instability. This will be reported as the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

Iraqis will be enthusiastic about voting but resigned to the risk inherent in doing so. As in Afganistan, many Iraqis will prepare themselves for death before they go to the polls. This bravery will not be reported.

There will be some voting problems: missing ballot boxes, people not able to vote, fraud (sound familiar?). This will be reported as the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

Most seats in the National Assembly and local provincial councils will in fact be filled. But this will be reported as the result of a tainted, American-run election. Media elites will wonder aloud if the results are legitimate.

The Assembly and councils will be sworn-in and seated, a landmark event in Arab history. People whose only source of news is the mainstream media will barely notice.

The Assembly will elect Allawi President and set to work on a constitution. It will be several years before we know what kind of government will emerge. Every setback, miscue and scandal will be reported as, you guessed it, the complete failure of democracy in Iraq.

In the US, the effect will be subtle. Those of us who get our news despite the mainstream media (not from the mainstream media) will see and be gratified by the fitful progress of democracy in Iraq. And the media's failure to report important facts about democracy in Iraq will further erode its credibility.

Militarily, there will be little near term effect in terms of reducing troop count in theater. Any improvements in security or handovers of responsibility to Iraqi units will be offset by the need to build reserves for action against Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia. (But that's another post.)

Be sure to read the other responses from Therapy Sessions, Dagney's Rant, Bunker Mulligan and Considerettes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

AerophotoEV-DOmoblogging 2


AerophotoEV-DOmoblogging 2!

UPDATE: Here's a translation: A photograph from inside an airplane uploaded to a blog over a mobile 1x EV-DO network, aerophotoEV-DOmoblogging. Simple!

AerophotoEV-DOmoblogging


AerophotoEV-DOmoblogging!

New York Times smears Iraq the Model bloggers

Sarah Boxer has written a loathsome piece in the New York Times about blogging Iraqi brothers, Omar, Mohammed, and Ali. Arthur Chrenkoff has a nice roundup of the blogospheric reaction (hat tip Instapundit).

Be sure to check out the blogs in question, Iraq the Model and Free Iraqi.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Awesome!


If you have the means, I highly recommend a visit to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It's full of big, small, beautiful, ugly, restored and tattered airplanes.

Highlights:
  • Glistening chrome colored art-deco Boeing 307 Stratoliner (just behind the Concorde in the linked photo)
  • The Dash 80, Boeing's 707 prototype (the yellow and red airplane behind the Concorde)
  • Bob Hoover's little green twin he used to fly deadstick demonstrations with (seen just in front of the Concorde's left wing)
  • The Enola Gay
  • The Gossamer Albatross
  • The Space Shuttle Enterprise
  • An impressive array of spacecraft, missiles, rocket engines, jet engines and piston engines
  • An IMAX theater
  • Several simulator rides
  • Much much more
Go. See it all.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Carpe Bonum now a Homespun Blog

In another stunning lapse of blogospheric judgement, Carpe Bonum has been accepted as a Homespun Blogger. Carpe Bonum appreciates being included, but wonders what form of madness has gripped the blogosphere. We are sure nothing good will come of it.

Click here to see what the Homespun Blogs are all about.

Safire: The Depressed Press

William Safire has an interesting piece today, The Depressed Press:
America's quality media are now wading through the Slough of Despond. Our self-flagellation, handwringing and narcissism threaten our mission to act as counterweight to government power.

Hear the wailing: The bloggers are coming! The Bible-thumpers are cursing our secular inhumanism! The plumber judges are plugging our leaks! The Yahoo president ducks our questions and giggles at our gaffes! News is slyly slanted as bias rears its head!

Cheer up. Despite the recent lapses at CBS and previous mishaps at The Times and USA Today, here's why mainstream journalism has a future.
Read the whole thing. (Hat tip, reader Steven)

Watcher of Weasels qualification post

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around...

Per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting Carpe Bonum post WMD hunt fizzles -- War on Terror strategy sound for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq, Part 19 posted

Arthur Chrenkoff's 19th fortnightly edition of good news from Iraq is up. Route around the biased nabobs of the mainstream media. Click through and read it.

Welcome to America, Ahmad Al-Qloushi

One of the most delightful things about living in the United States is meeting immigrants who love this country. It opens my eyes like like nothing else to some of the things that are easy to take for granted.

One day a colleague and I were discussing the disgusting revenge-motivated murder of a Sikh shortly after 9/11. He of course agreed the murder was despicable. But he commented that the United States was the most tolerant country he had ever lived in, as compared to the sectarian violence he had seen elsewhere. It was a nice comment.

Today I read the story of Ahmad Al-Qloushi, a 17 year old Kuwaiti student at Foothills College in Los Altos, CA. Here is what he thinks about the United States:
I love this country for the freedom it provides and for rescuing Kuwait’s liberty in the first Gulf War. 12 Years later, America once again has selflessly protected my country and my people by removing Saddam Hussein.
That kind of stuff warms my heart.

All is not well for Ahmad, though. As reported by the Washington Times, it seems he is having trouble with his “Introduction to American Government and Politics" professor, Joseph A. Woolcock:
A 17-year-old Kuwaiti student whose uncles were kidnapped and tortured by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invaders more than a decade ago said his California college political science professor failed him for praising the United States in a final-exam essay last month.
Ahmad says,
Professor Woolcock verbally attacked me and my essay. He told me, “Your views are irrational.” He called me naïve for believing in the greatness of this country, and told me "America is not God's gift to the world." Then he upped the stakes and said "You need regular psychotherapy."
Now of course, as Paul at Wizbang points out, all we have to go on at this point is Ahmad's word. Woolcock has not told his side of the story. Indeed, maybe it was just a lousy essay and deserved a failing grade.

Well I found the essay online and read it myself. Here's a sample:
[T]he great men of America like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson...paved the way for what America is today the country of opportunity and freedom. These men were men of nationalism and men who took great pride in formulating what is today the greatest country in the world and thank god that it is so. Because of America the world is free. America vanquished Nazi Germany. America helped establish the great nation of Israel a democratic society in a troubled region. America freed Japan and South Korea. America freed Kuwait and now is currently in a fight to free Iraq and its 25,000,000 residents and vanquish the tyranny and monstrosity of Saddam Hussein. The US constitution and the Founding Fathers helped build the foundation to which all this was established.
Great stuff, if I say so myself. If I were grading the essay, I would pick a few nits, such as the unnecessary use of all caps for emphasis, and a couple of sentence structure problems. But it certainly does not rate a failing grade.

Read it and decide for yourself.

And Ahmad, please accept my welcome to America. The academic America-haters around you are an influential but tiny minority. Don't let them grind you down.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Steven Taylor at Poliblog, a real life Political Science professor and no Moonbat, gives Ahmad's essay a D. I still like it, but what do I know?

UPDATE 2, February 17: More than a month after this item was originally posted, I am now seeing lots of search engine hits on this page. Interesting, I wonder why this is. If you got here via search engine, drop me a line and let me know the reason for the interest. You might also want to link to a more recent posting on Carpe Bonum that links to Woolcock's response.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

What's it like over there

Jesse at Doubly Sure wonders what it's really like over there in Iraq and quotes some gloomy snippets. It's a good epistemological question to wonder what sources we can rely on to form our world view. For an extensive review of the influence of the media, see Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan's essay as published by Blackfive.

Why America is safe now?

Ali the Free Iraqi has a fascinating post today entitled Why America is safe now.

Ali's theory is that another attack on US soil would give the US political cover to expand the War on Terror to other countries besides Iraq and Afganistan. Thus the dictatorships that are supporting Bin Laden will not support such an attack. If true, this would be a kind of second order deterrent effect. And it would utterly vindicate President Bush's admonition that it is better for us to fight the terrorists with Soldiers and Marines in Iraq than fight them with firefighters and police officers at home.

Ali wonders if the US is planning to continue to slug away at the terrorists in Iraq, an option he sees as bad for Iraq in that it keeps the war on Iraqi soil. Or will we move on to another Middle Eastern country which the terrorists are using as a base. DEBKAFile reports that Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage delivered, among other things, a stark warning to Syria to keep its new Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles out of Iraq because the US commander in Iraq is authorized to act against Syria as he sees fit (hat tip, Dr. Sanity).

Ali's perspective as an Iraqi "not living before the 9th of April" is very interesting. Click through and give his post a read.

Show your integrity

You may have noticed the "This blog is Payola-free" button on the sidebar. It is a clever snark at Kos and other bloggers and commentators who are taking cash for promoting others' views. Captain's Quarters posts a nice roundup of the scandals today.

You're not going to see any of that here on Carpe Bonum. No.

(I am not jealous.)

(Wire transfer info available upon request.)

Kudos to Greg at Catscape for the button.

Carpe Bonum accepted into High Country Bloggers' Alliance

There's no accounting for taste, and this proves it. In what will surely come to be seen as a hasty and ill-considered decision, the High Country Bloggers' Alliance has accepted Carpe Bonum into the fold. See the HCBA blogroll in the sidebar and click through to enrichen your blogreading experience.

Thanks to Greg of Wide Right Turns (a.k.a. Catscape) for instigating.

Armor Geddon Battle of Fallujah series continues

Neil Prakash's superb series telling his story of the battle of Fallujah has been updated once again. Here is a complete index.
Many thanks to Neil and his men for their service.

(BTW, warning, language.)

UPDATE: Added "11 November: Tank Mines"
UPDATE 2: Fixed broken link on "10 November: For S__ts and Giggles"
UPDATE 3: Added "Mewborn, Crank It Up" link.
UPDATE 4: Added "CB: 8 November" link.
UPDATE 5: Added "12 November: Caught In The Kill Zone" link.
UPDATE 6: Fixed "CB: 8 November" link.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Again with the sticker, then we're moving on

Interestingly, Mark the Moderate Liberal and I agree on many things about the sticker kerfuffle, such as:
  • The sticker is factually correct, though a bit odd for singling out only one theory when its statements apply to all areas of science
  • Science consists of theories of varying credibility
  • No scientific theory can be considered absolute fact
  • Science requires critical thinking
  • It is OK to teach about the religious controversy over evolution (to which I would add Galileo's little tryst with the Inquisition)
  • It is OK to teach about religion in public school
  • It is not OK to insert church doctrine into science class (see advice to Creationists)
Where we diverge is where Mark equates the sticker with inserting religious doctrine into science class. There is no religious doctrine on the sticker. It may have been motivated by religious concerns, but this does not make the sticker any less accurate. Sure, when someone you don't trust presents you with a seemingly simple idea, you are wise to scrutinize it carefully lest you be deceived.

Indeed, what was the Cobb County School Board's intent? Here is what they said September 26, 2002:
We expect teachers to continue to teach the theory of evolution. We do not expect teachers to teach creationism. Our intention is to promote a broad-based science curriculum which will acknowledge that there are differences of opinion about the origin of life, and to encourage students and others to be tolerant and respectful of those who may have different beliefs. Religion has no place in science instruction, but science instruction need not offend those who hold religious beliefs of whatever type.
And here is a part of the District's Administrative Rule IDBD, which covers theories of origin:
2. Teachers are expected to set limits on discussion of theories of origin in order to respectfully focus discussion on scientific subject matter; at the same time, it is recognized that scientific instruction may create conflict or questions for some students with regard to belief systems. Discussion should be moderated to promote a sense of scientific inquiry and understanding of scientific methods, and to distinguish between scientific and philosophical or religious issues. It may be appropriate to acknowledge that science itself has limits, and is not intended to explain everything, and that scientific theories of origin and religious belief are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
I defy anyone to find anything wrong with the District's intent or policy. It is explicitly not an attempt to insert religious doctrine into science class.

No, the lawsuit was a wrongheaded attempt by the ACLU to crush dissent, to silence those who only wanted to be respectful of students' beliefs and who wanted all students to exercise critical thinking. This time, unfortunately, the wrong side won.

For the record, Carpe Bonum posts on this topic were:Moderate Liberal posts were:And the debate was inspired (or was it incited?) by this post in WizBang:I'll let Mark have the last word.

Carpe Bonum interview posted

Jennifer Larson has posted the Carpe Bonum interview on her blog Jennifer's History and Stuff. Thanks, readers, for the questions. And thanks Jennifer for the interview!

Carpe Bonum War on Terror post second in Watcher vote

Carpe Bonum's War on Terror post has taken second place in this week's Watcher of Weasels vote, beating such luminaries as Michelle Malkin and Right Wing News' 2nd Victor Davis Hanson Interview in the Non-Council category. I am truly humbled.

Beating out Carpe Bonum for first was Varifrank's excellent Today, I Was "Unprofessional"....

Thanks to the Council.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oh no, a STICKER!

See, this is what I'm talking about.

Evidently U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper has ruled that a sticker placed on science books in Cobb County Georgia is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU.

Wow, it must be a pretty bad sticker. Let's see what it says:
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.
What do we have here? Two self-evident facts, and advice to be open-minded use critical thinking.

What's wrong with this? Let's check with Mark, the Moderate Liberal:
The only reason for those stickers are religious ones, not scientific. Let the scientists teach science and the ministers teach the gospel.
Ah ha! Even though what the stickers say is true and reasonable, if an idea comes from religious people, it must be destroyed! I'm sure Kevin Drum would agree.

Actually Mark's paragraph is half right. And one of the most fundamental things about teaching good science is to keep students keenly aware that theories are only theories, not facts, and critical thinking is necessary to the advancement of science. Mark even gives a wonderful example of a progression of theories, from Newtonian mechanics to relativity to quantum theory. Each refutes important parts of its predecessor, and would not exist if not for critical thinking.

Hey Judge Cooper and the ACLU, stop trying to crush dissent. Stickers stating that theory is a theory are not heresy. What's next, the Spanish Inquisition?

(Reuters link via Wizbang)

Iraqis' attitudes on upcoming election

From Omar at Iraq the Model:
The ArabicBBC site put up a forum for the readers to discuss the subject of some of the "militant groups" that distributed leaflets threatening the Iraqis who decide to participate in the elections, whether voters or candidates.
The total number of commentators was 141; the Iraqis were 104 and 37 were Arabs from other countries till the post was prepared.
89 of the participating Iraqis were strongly with the elections and determined to go to the boxes on the elections day in spite of the threats.
15 were against the elections, for different reasons.

13 of the Arab participants were also against the elections while the rest of them (24) were supportive of the Iraqis in holding the elections on time.
Omar then includes many quotes from the message board. Looks pretty hopeful. Click through and read for yourself.

Carpe Bonum in Carnival of the Vanities

A very creative Carnival of the Vanities is up and one of Carpe Bonum's Social Security posts is included. "Like a tiny bud becoming a huge hibiscus flower," wow!

Thanks to Josh for the link.

WMD hunt fizzles -- War on Terror strategy sound

The Washington Post reports that Charles A. Duelfer's Iraq Survey Group has completed their Weapons of Mass Destruction investigation and left Iraq without finding any of the expected WMD stockpiles.

So what does it mean? Is this a great failure of the United States? Did we lie to the world and murder thousands of innocent people? Absolutely not. The reasons for removing Saddam are fully valid and the strategy is sound.

Yes, one of the justifications has not been proven. But the UN and many countries around the world agreed that Saddam had WMDs. Bizarrely, we were all deceived by Saddam Hussein. We may never know why he chose to do this.

Leftie bloggers Atrios, Kevin Drum, and Kos are gloating. They "knew" it was a big lie all along. Charles notes the event on Little Green Footballs without comment. But his commenters have lots to say.

And Mark at Decision '08 is deeply concerned about the credibility hit this represents:
I firmly believed the WMDs were there, so did the members of the UN Security Council, so did the U.S. Congress, so did Bush - still, they weren't there. We should have known better than to make WMDs the centerpiece of our war argument, in light of the flimsiness of the evidence, when the better argument was the humanitarian, anti-totalitarian one.
But let's look at the record.

Did the President claim Iraq was an imminent threat? No. Did he call out Saddam's human rights abuses? Yes. Here is the President in the 2003 State of the Union address:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages -- leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained -- by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. (Applause.)

And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country -- your enemy is ruling your country. (Applause.) And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. (Applause.)
Did the administration articulate other reasons for ousting Saddam, like his ambition for regional domination and his defiance of the UN? Yes. Here is Colin Powell speaking before the UN:
When we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.
...
Underlying all that I have said, underlying all the facts and the patterns of behavior that I have identified as Saddam Hussein's contempt for the will of this council, his contempt for the truth and most damning of all, his utter contempt for human life. Saddam Hussein's use of mustard and nerve gas against the Kurds in 1988 was one of the 20th century's most horrible atrocities; 5,000 men, women and children died.
Was the administration choosing the proper moment to act against Saddam? Yes. From the President's ultimatum to Saddam:
We are now acting because the risks of inaction would be far greater. In one year, or five years, the power of Iraq to inflict harm on all free nations would be multiplied many times over. With these capabilities, Saddam Hussein and his terrorist allies could choose the moment of deadly conflict when they are strongest. We choose to meet that threat now, where it arises, before it can appear suddenly in our skies and cities.
But Duelfer has repudiated all that, hasn't he? If he didn't have a stockpile, Saddam was harmless right? Wrong. From the key findings of the Duelfer Interim Report:
Throughout the 1990s and up to OIF (March 2003), Saddam focused on one set of objectives: the survival of himself, his Regime, and his legacy. To secure those objectives, Saddam needed to exploit Iraqi oil assets, to portray a strong military capability to deter internal and external threats, and to foster his image as an Arab leader. Saddam recognized that the reconstitution of Iraqi WMD enhanced both his security and image. Consequently, Saddam needed to end UN-imposed sanctions to fulfill his goals.
In 2003 Saddam was collecting billions of dollars through the corrupt UN "Oil for Food" program and he was making progress on eroding the sanctions regime that was in place. If we had not acted then, the UN would probally be arguing now over when, not whether, to lift the sanctions on Saddam.

So the clearest and most factual justification for the war, WMDs, turn out to be absent. But the argument for invasion remains sound.

UPDATE: The end of the WMD hunt leaves Arthur Chrenkoff cold.

What is cb's real name?

When I started Carpe Bonum, I decided not to use my real name. But my email replies include my real name. And a resourceful Googler could probably figure it out in about two minutes. So it's not secret, just anonymous. Sista Toldjah has an article on this today, which sums up my thoughts nicely.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The fishie war hits the blogosphere

Carpe Bonum Quick Take

I don't have time to do the topic justice right now, but here is a quick take on the evolution vs. creationism debate.

Have you noticed the fishie war on people's bumper stickers? You know, the little Jesus fish redrawn as a Darwin fish having sprouted legs, being eaten by a big Truth fish? It's a fun little snark war being played out on our freeways.

But the serious side of it is that both Creationists and Darwinists feel threatened by each other and there is no need for it.

The Moderate Liberal has a posting today sounding the alarm: The War Against Evolution. It has a quite entertaining series of cartoons from one side of the debate.

But may I offer this advice to each side?

Creationists: By definition, science does not refute faith. They coexist peacefully if you treat science as a process by which we arrive at our best human understanding of the world around us. Scientific knowlege is in constant flux as we improve our methods of observation. The state of scientific knowlege at one particular moment can not and should not be regarded as ultimate truth. Instead, science is a tool to make useful predictions about the world, nothing more. Stop trying to evict science from science classes.

Darwinists: Science does not refute faith. Stop characterizing religious people as stupid gullible robots. Faith is a legitimate basis of belief. But the theory of evolution is not a faith, it is science. It is not heresy to question it. Many things about Darwin's original theory have been discredited (such as the law of use and disuse). Science must be questioned in order to...

wait for it...

evolve! So don't be afraid of religious people questioning science. Use your best science to discuss it. Point out where the other person's argument diverges from good scientific method. Agree to disagree when it comes to matters of faith.

Keep science class scientific, but don't crush dissent.

And enough with the fishies.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum is sounding the alarm, too. And there is more on Outside the Beltway (Hat tip, Wizbang).

UPDATE 2: Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost puts it nicely:
Science should remain science and religion should remain religion.


Carpe Bonum nominated in Watcher vote

Carpe Bonum's preemptive link whoring worked. Watcher of Weasels has nominated this post on the war on terror to their weekly council vote. Thanks to Watcher for the nomination.

Go check out all of the nominations.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Armor Geddon Battle of Fallujah series

This is a superb series of postings telling a tank commander's story of the battle of Fallujah.
Many thanks to Neil Prakash for posting his story.

UPDATE: Added four links covering from November 10-11.
UPDATE 2: Added "CB: 8 November" link.
UPDATE 3: Added "12 November: Caught In The Kill Zone" link.
UPDATE 4: Fixed "CB: 8 November" link.

Carpe Bonum in the Bonfire again

Carpe Bonum once again makes an appearance in the Bonfire of the Vanities:
A post from Carpe Bonum (I haven't seen this many "CB"'s in one place since Convoy) has everything: link whorage, naive advice to someone who will never read it, and dorky, stolen clipart. Here is "CBS, I don't get it".
Thanks (I think) to Spacemonkey for the link.

SoCal Photoblogging


We always have to be careful when complaining about the weather here in southern California, but I must report it has been raining here for weeks.

See also Citizen Smash's picture of the flooded Mission Valley, and the Santa Ana rainfall chart on The Truth Laid Bear.

Rathergate report abets Media Induced Ignorance

Here is the obligatory post from Carpe Bonum on the CBS Rathergate/Memogate report by Thornburgh and Boccardi.

Though there is an abundance of commentary on the details of the report, whether it is a whitewash, and which players are guilty of what, I have not yet seen a comment on the report as a next step in the ongoing battle against Media Induced Ignorance.

Every blogger on the right side of the blogosphere has linked to other bloggers' reports on the report, so there is no need to do that here (except this from Powerline -- must bow to the giants). Also, many bloggers have made the point that the report gives lots of interesting facts, but despite the overwhelming evidence in the report itself, it just doesn't have the guts to conclude:
  1. The documents are actually fake

  2. The false Texas Air National Guard story was politically motivated

Based on the facts in the report, one would have to be truly deluded to conclude otherwise, but the report just doesn't get 'er done.

It also offers a complex "perfect storm" scenario where time, competitive pressure and other factors coincide resulting in this purportedly aberrational event. A far simpler explanation would be as follows: As a group, the people in the organization responsible for developing content vehemently disagree with the President's policies, personally dislike the President, and at the time thought it was terribly important that he not be reelected. In their minds, it was only natural to turn cocktail party smears into a "news" report once a shred of evidence surfaced to justify it.

Meanwhile the left side of the blogosphere:
...sound of crickets chirping...
No, that's not quite true. Atrios has this to say:
[T]he entire saga is proof that there is no goddamn liberal media
Which returns us to the topic of Media Induced Ignorance. Because the Thornburgh/Boccardi report falls shy of making the obvious conclusions listed above, and because it offers up the bogus "perfect storm" scenario as an explanation for how such an error could possibly happen, the report obscures the real causes and effects of Media Induced Ignorance.

In this case, the media themselves suffered from their own ignorance, giving undue credence to the crudely faked documents because they were so consistent with their world view. That misinformation was passed on to CBS viewers. The effective response of alternative media exposed the deception in this one incident, but did not expose the pervasive self-reinforcing delusion of the media elite.

CBS's response to the incident is to fire four people and institute several procedural and organizational changes. Since the Thornburgh/Boccardi report fails to identify the true cause of the problem, naturally the actions taken in response to the report are of no use. The proper actions would have been:
  1. Admit that political bias exists in the organization

  2. Reinforce to staff that their views are at odds with those of most of the country (i.e. CBS staff is bright blue while the country is actually reddish purple)

  3. Reinforce to staff that journalistic ethics proscribes using a news report as a means to achieve a political end

  4. Train staff on how to distinguish facts from conclusions

  5. Establish guidelines that require news reports be limited to factual reporting

  6. Prominently identify editorial content as such

Instead, the next few news cycles will be filled with "perfect storm" and "myopic zeal" and "CBS ousts four," all with the reassuring subtext that all the rest of the media is just fine.

And so the cycle continues.

UPDATE: OK, fine. Here's a link to a nice roundup by PunditGuy. Happy now?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Carpe Bonum in Carnival of the Capitalists

This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up. CotC is a weekly roundup of blog postings on economics. It is well worth the read.

This week, some of Carpe Bonum's seemingly endless blathering on Social Security is included. Thanks to Travis for the link.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Watcher's Council qualification post

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around. They didn't exactly ask for volunteers this week, but I'm going to try to weasel my way in anyway. Per the Watcher's instructions from last week, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Wish me luck!

Losing the spin war on benefits?

I'm detecting a serious problem in the Social Security debate.

In discussing Social Security privatization, both the left and the right are tightly focusing on the fact that a strawman reform plan, CSSS plan 2, reduces benefits.

But there is little acknowledgement of two facts. First the analysis uses a grossly conservative assumption on investment returns in which private investment returns are "risk adjusted" to match the returns on Treasury Bills. Actual returns will surely be higher. Second, even assuming such low returns, the ratio of lifetime benefits to lifetime contributions is the same as if we do nothing.

In Votehunter, JustOneMinute blog notes that any plan perceived to cut future benefits will be an easy target for attacks from Democrats and even some Republicans.

Indeed. And if the debate ignores the fairness of the benefits to contributions ratios and the many other positive consequences of privatization, Social Security reform will die on the vine.

Browse around the Carpe Bonum archives for lots more on this.

Internet access, a journey that never ends

Evan Coyne Maloney writes about his Internet access journey in The Wanderings of a WiFi Junkie. I chagrined to admit how similar my internet access experiences have been to his!

Armstrong Williams: something constructive

As noted in the mainstream media and blogosphere, Armstrong Williams is (or was) a commentator who was paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. Others have discussed the many bad consequences of this. But now it seems that someone has decided to do something constructive in response.

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine is sending Freedom of Information Act requests to find out what other media figures have been paid in the same manner. He also requests help from the public in spotting or recalling specific instances of similar corruption.

Kudos to Jarvis. Here's wishing him good luck and good hunting.

Hat tip: Wizbang. Also noted by Michelle Malkin

Social Security reform: Attack!

Matt Margolis at Blogs for Bush overstates it a bit when it links this article as evidence that the Democratic a party is denying that there is a Social Security crisis. The article only lists Charlie Rangel as a crisis-denier. As this earlier post documents, there are plenty of attacks from the left beyond simple denial.

But Matt is spot on when he says:
The last thing they'd want is for a Republican President (especially George W. Bush) and a Republican Congress to be creditted with saving Social Security.
Kevin Drum was crystal clear the other day in his "insanely partisan" post. He thinks Arnold Schwartzenegger's anti-gerrymandering idea is great on the merits, but:
how stupid would a California Democrat have to be to agree to meekly support a goo-goo proposal that would have the effect of giving Republicans more seats in yet another state?
Then again, Kevin Drum is only one person.

Aspiring bloggers, don't miss...

Aspiring bloggers should not miss The “How To Start a Blog” Series over at the evangelical outpost.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Venison...mmm

This post on Sic Semper Tyrannis brings back a good memory: Virginia Tech top five for deer hunting opportunities.

My friend Doug Butler was an accomplished deer hunter, one of those guys who goes out with only one round for his rifle. One summer Doug and I shared an apartment with two other guys (in Foxridge for those who know Blacksburg). Our routine was for each of us to make dinner for everyone once per week. The three other nights we were on our own for food. But those four nights per week we all ate together.

Most of us had, shall we say, limited culinary skills (including an infamous incident in which the cook, uh, learned the difference between a clove and a bulb of garlic, and another which climaxed with a flaming pan of nachos flying out of our kitchen window). But Doug knew what to do with venison. One week he brought in a roast from a deer he had shot and turned it into a wonderful, mustard encrusted delight. I have never been an adventurous eater, and to that point had never had venison. But that night I became a big fan of roast Bambi.

I lost track of Doug about 12 years ago. At that time he was in Texas working what was then called Space Station Freedom.

Thanks for the memory.

How the terrorists can win the war

Let's be clear about this.

There is only one way for the terrorists to win the war. The United States must quit. We cannot be defeated by military or economic means. Even a devastating weapon of mass destruction attack on our soil cannot destroy us. We have too many cities, too many people, too much land, too many natural resources. No, the only way to defeat us is to induce us to give up.

Yes, victory will cost us dearly in treasure and in blood. Yes we will make errors along the way, even grievous ones. But the terrorists' only hope is that enough Americans decide the cost of victory is too high. The terrorists cannot win any other way.

But they have hope. The United States has a history of looking the other way or retreating when attacked, as in the Beirut Marine barracks suicide bombing, Somalia, the embassy bombings, the USS Cole bombing, and the assassanation attempt on President Bush in Kuwait.

But the terrorists overreached with the 9/11 attacks. Like the Japanese in 1941, they "awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with terrible resolve." Even if those are not really Yamamoto's words, they are a true reflection of what he accomplished.

Yes America was awakened on 9/11 and filled with a terrible resolve. The terrorists were dealt heavy blows in Afganistan and the Horn of Africa and many other places. In elections in Australia, the United States and Afganistan, free people have affirmed their commitment to democracy and liberty over retreat and appeasement.

Today the terrorists face an existential danger. If, like a cancer, democracy can take hold in Iraq, it might metastasize and spread to Iran, Jordan and the rest of the Middle East. As Alberto Abadie's breathtaking study found, terrorism dies out where freedom and stability flourish.

And yet, the terrorists still have hope. How long can America keep its terrible resolve? We also have a sad history of allowing our resolve to weaken and give in to fatigue, isolationism, discord and subversion. Indeed, our defeat in Vietnam was a defeat of political will, not of arms.

Like Ho Chi Minh did before them, the terrorists fight only a holding action with fire and steel. The terrorists' real weapons are video tapes, radical web sites and deluded media. Using or manipulating these tools, they hope to erode our terrible resolve before freedom takes root.

And the tools are sharp. The media's pervasive and unrelenting negative reporting leaves millions of people, including some bloggers, the victims of Media Induced Ignorance. As Melanie Phillips pointed out in her blood chilling speech:
It is this weakness and moral confusion that comprise the great goal of terrorist strategy; it is this that has characterized the west’s response to Islamic terror for many decades; it is this that has brought us to where we are today. In the war that has been declared upon the free world, the western media’s abuse of power is perhaps the most lethal weapon of all.
Which brings us to a recent posting by The Poor Man, I'm Not Sure How Many More Corners We Can Stand To Turn (via Michael Bérubé and Rox Populi):
Appreciate this. Understand that the people killing us in Iraq aren't motivated by Gore Vidal or inspired by Susan Sontag or organized by Michael Moore or in cahoots in any way with any of the right's celebrity piñatas - not literally, not metaphorically, not if you look at it in a certain way, not to any infinitesimal degree, not in any sense, not in any way at all. They do not lead a clandestine international conspiracy of Evil which has corrupted everything in every foreign country plus everything in America not owned by loyal Bush Republican apparatchiks; nor are they members of such a conspiracy; nor does a conspiracy remotely matching that description exist. To think otherwise is, literally and to a very great degree, insanity. It is insane.
No, the terrorists are not motivated by Michael Moore. And whether the mainstream media, Hollywood, and the intellectual elite are acting in a vast left wing conspiracy or are simply immersed in a postmodern echo chamber is not relevant. The fact is they are pulling in the same direction as the terrorists, the direction of doubt, confusion and ultimately retreat.

So the war is a race, not to kill all the terrorists before they can kill all of us, but to cement freedom and stability before our will to win is worn away.

UPDATE: Atrios takes another swipe at our will to win. Par for the course, it seems.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Embassy Guards, Semper Fi

They also serve who guard our embassies and consulates abroad.

They don't get a lot of headlines, but the United States Marines who guard our embassies and consulates are well admired in the Foreign Service, and vital.

Last month Diplomad expressed his esteem for the young Marine Security Guards in About the Marines . . .:
Watching these guys as they pulled toys out of the big "Marines' Toys for Tots" box in the Embassy lobby and hearing their cheerful shouts of "Oh, cool! Check this one out!" I couldn't help but think, "They're kids. They're just kids. Probably not much older than the orphans to whom they'll give those toys." I kept thinking about my own kids, living safely in the States, and the fact that they're older than these kids, these Marines.

But then I went with the "kids" out to the gun range. Suddenly they became deadly serious. The "kids" disappear; no goofing around; strict discipline and concern for safety kicks in. They certainly know firearms, and treat them with respect and care. It was quite a sight to see the former "kids" deliberately, methodically pumping out rounds from their M-4s -- single shot, three-shot bursts, full auto -- punching out quarter-size groups in targets I can barely see. They don't look like kids anymore.
December 6 last year, the United States consulate in Jeddah was attacked by al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists. Five consulate employees were killed, none American.

As they always do, the Marines performed under fire. An email account of the attack has been circulating around the State Department. It was written by a Foreign Service employee posted in Jedda who was present during the attack. Today the Daily Demarche posts an edited version of it. As you can see, the Marines were cool under fire, and fought intelligently. They accomplished their mission of protecting the Chancery building and the Americans within.

From Jeddah:"Three at the front!", "GAS,GAS,GAS- now!:"
During these first few seconds, Post One alerted the Marines and they grabbed their radios and gear but were unarmed. Post One advised them to stand fast because the terrorists were at the door the Marines were supposed to enter, firing their machine guns at the door. All of a sudden the terrorists ran toward the XXX building. When the area was clear again Post One said "GO GO GO", directing the unarmed Marines to make a break for the back door of the chancery. As the Marines entered the back door, terrorists ran back spraying the door with machine gun bullets.

Read both posts in full.