Saturday, August 17, 2002
A Touchy Subject
I've been avoiding this subject, but now I feel that the time has come to say something.
I am referring to the ongoing debate regarding pseudonymous/anonymous bloggers. USS Clueless kicked off the whole debate, while others have responded: Instapundit, Dr. Weevil, Cut on the Bias, Live From the WTC, Shadow of the Hegemon, Silflay Hraka, Protein Wisdom, Asparagirl, Pundit Ex Machina, Moxie, Media Minded, The Last Page, and Unbillable Hours all have posts on the subject. There are a few others as well, but I'm sure you will be able to find links through the above references.
What was the deciding factor for me was the decision for "Edward Boyd" to throw in the towel on Zonitics, rather than continue to post pseudonymously, or to reveal his identity. (Those who post on Blogspot can conceal their identity much easier than those who post on a domain they own, due to registration issues). For him, it boiled down to a credibility/conflict of interest issue; he felt that he gave up too much credibility to post under an assumed name, yet could not in good conscience attach his name to his posts. Perhaps his job would be jeopardized; I cannot say. While I did not have a link to his blog, I read it on an occasional basis, and enjoyed it. The fact that he didn't use his real name was not relevant to me, and I doubt that it made much of a difference to others. He will be missed, especially as the election cycle heats up. Arizona picked up two congressional seats due to reapportionment, and he was the only blogger of which I am aware that was covering politics in his state. I would have enjoyed reading what he had to say, regardless of the name attached to the posts.
I am in a different position. While my occasional (muted) criticisms of the current administration could get me in trouble, I don't think it will be much of an issue. I'd rather not find out that I am wrong, however, hence the pseudonym. My two immediate supervisors (and many of my co-workers) are aware of (and have read) what I post, so there is no embarassment about my views. I don't really have a credibility gap; I very seldom post anything that relates to the military, and when I do, it is mostly from a "Joe Squid" view, rather than one that implies authority or special knowledge. That is due to the fact that my job is to fix electronics, not formulate policy or tactics. I doubt that most of my regular readers come looking for military policy review or strategy briefings.
While I don't post my name anywhere on my site, I am hardly anonymous. Anyone who has received an e-mail from me knows my first name, and there are at least a dozen bloggers who know my full name (tip jar hits, or the occasional e-mail from my primary account, which has my name attached to it). I'm not in the same class as "Eric A. Blair" over at WarBoogerBlotch, who has no qualms about posting someone else's whois info, while maintaining a wall of secrecy around himself. I also answer my e-mails, usually within 48 hours. If you send an e-mail to me with a question, you WILL receive a reply. I'm pseudonymous, not anonymous or unreachable.
My views would be the same if I were an accountant in Topeka or an architect in Fort Lauderdale, rather than a sailor in Oak Harbor, WA. They would not change if I posted under my real name, an obvious pseudonym (such as "Timekeeper"), or one that sounds plausible ("Joseph Harris", to pull one out of thin air). If you feel that my views are less believable or carry less weight because my name is not attached to each post, that is your right. If you have an obsessive need to know who I am, do a search on ICANN. My name will probably mean nothing to you. A google search on my name will reveal that I play SimCity, that I posted something to Transterrestrial Musings, and that I once fact-checked Susanna Cornett on a minor error. I'm not the writer, nor the mining company executive, nor the West Viriginia high school track star (to specify three people who share my name). I'm just a guy who has a lot to say, and a lot of it revolves around politics. I don't claim to be an expert.
posted at 05:55 PM | permalink | Comments (5)
Thursday, August 15, 2002
Brendan Nyhan obliterates Media Whores Online in his most recent entry at Spinsanity. He documents some of their more egregious excesses, and dismisses the fawning coverage of them by Eric Alterman and Paul Begala. The kicker:
MWO's tactics simply pollute the public discourse. While many intelligent people read the site and are not seduced by its methods, the overall effect is to build a self-reinforcing community of aggrieved partisans and to help break down taboos among liberals against the rhetorical viciousness promoted.
posted at 11:08 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Treatiesthe flip side
Jane Galt started a thread on her blog about international law. That started me thinking (a bad habit of mine) about international law, and more specifically, treaties.
Much of the current animosity towards the US that is emanating from Europe is our reluctance to join in on a number of international treaties, such as the Kyoto global-warming protocol, the International Criminal Court, and a number of UN-sponsored protocols such as the Fundamental Declaration of Human Rights.
The first objection to many of the treaties the US will not be a party to is the fact that many of them are punitive towards well-off nations. Kyoto, for example, would severely impact our economy, due to the draconian restrictions on pollution. What is not always pointed out, however, is Article 4 of the protocol. This article is entitled "Commitments". Read paragraph three very carefully. This commits any developed country (The European Union countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, and Japan, as per Annex II of the protocol) to support the transfer of pollution-mitigation technology to the developing countries. This could be either direct transfer or by providing sufficient funds to purchase the technology (as per Article 11, Financial Mechanism, first paragraph). This is in addition to the debilitation of our economy, and either contravenes our patent laws or amounts to a direct subsidy to nations who are not covered under Annex II.
A second objection (this primarily to the ICC) is that treaties conflict with our constitution. The Senate cannot legally ratify the ICC because it contravenes our constitutional guarantees under the fifth and sixth amendments to the constitution. The European nations have much weaker personal guarantees than the US (although in practice there is little difference), so ratification was not an issue for them.
A third objection is the loss of sovereignty these agreements entail. Unlike a simple bilateral treaty, or a treaty such as the North Atlantic Treaty (the foundation of NATO), some of these treaties require nations to sacrifice jurisdiction to boards that answer to no-one; they are essentially inherently undemocratic, and more importantly, they would allow nations whose interests are counter to ours to dictate the affairs of our government.
Treaties (especially defense treaties) can be tricky things. World War I was the result of a treaty system run amok. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary used the assassination as a pretext to attack Serbia, something that they had wished to do for some time. Russia, Serbia’s longtime ally and benefactor, declared war on Austria-Hungary. Germany had a defense treaty with the Austro-Hungarians, and was required to declare war on Russia, which resulted in French involvement in the war (due to their treaty with Russia). England watched as the continent was engulfed in war, but stayed out until Germany attacked France by way of Belgium. England had a defense treaty with the Belgians, and consequently was pulled into the war as well. Within a few years, Romania, Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire were involved as well (the first three with the Grand Alliance, the latter two with the Central Powers). Had the treaties not been in place, it is likely that the only nations that would have been warring would have been Austria-Hungary and Russia. Imagine how different Europe would be today if not for the treaties.
posted at 07:51 PM | permalink | Comments (2)
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
I generally avoid linking to the cesspool over at WBW. They have a few talented and thoughtful (albeit misguided) writers, but most of them are hacks. In fact, I only visit every once in a while to see what they are talking about. It was during such a visit earlier today that I came upon this post by their newest addition, Amir Butler. It appears that Mr. Butler is upset at the folks at MEMRI. He calls into question their ideological bias (fair enough), their funding sources (okay), their staff (mostly former Israeli intelligence agents), and their choice of materials to be translated (another reasonable target). However, despite the 630 word length of his post, at no time does he dispute the accuracy of the translations, which is the real point.
It was rather interesting that he cherry-picked through the Online Journalism Review article he links to take one out-of-context quote to serve his purposes. Follow the link, and you will indeed find the words he quoted, at the beginning of an overwhelmingly positive review of MEMRI's work.
One last thing that I noticed was Mr. Butler's distortion of what tax-exempt means. He states:
Anyway, back to MEMRI. The first point to know about them is that they are a tax-exempt organisation - in other words they are subsidised by American taxpayers.
Wrong. Tax-exempt means that they don't pay taxes on the contributions they receive. They don't receive subsidies from the government, and I am sure the Butler knows that. Greeenpeace is tax-exempt; so is CAIR.
Make sure you read the comments, as some of the readers have done a marvelous job of dismantling Butler's dissembling. Howard Owens (one of WBW's most hated) shreds the whole piece in his comment, well down the comments list.
posted at 05:54 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
Outrage du Jour
On Sunday, the Seattle Times ran this story, a sob story about an Islamic fundamentalist (I didn't use the word extremist, although it certainly would be appropriate) who has been questioned by the FBI for his ties with an al-Qaeda recruiter. Note a few relevant facts:
1. "I won't be apologetic for the World Trade Center attacks until the people of America are apologetic for what they have done in Kashmir, in Bosnia and in Afghanistan."
[In other words, by not getting involved in Kashmir, by saving and supporting Muslims in Bosnia, and by attacking the forces responsible for the murders of 3000 people, we somehow deserved the whole thing. What a turd.]
2. He stopped driving a cab three months ago. He and his family depend on state assistance.
[His moral outrage apparently is not enough to overcome his desire for a handout, however.]
3. He asked the imam for advice on where to live. Since the fall of the Taliban, the closest thing left to an Islamic state was Saudi Arabia, Abu Hamza told him, but getting permission to immigrate was difficult.
[This means Saudi Arabia doesn't have the open immigration policies of the US.]
4. "I don't want to seem unpatriotic," Abdul-Raheem said. "I really don't want to be here."
[In what way are we supposed to interpret this? Sounds pretty darn unpatriotic to me.]
Now, read the letters to the editor in today's issue. The first two writers share my views, but the third one's a beaut. Seattle's loony lefties hit another one out of the park. It's entitled "Applauding Conviction, but something tells me that if it had been a Branch Davidian type individual, Ms. Hansen would have been screaming at the top of her lungs to shut him down.
Ms. Hansen opposes the war, and especially opposes the expansion of the war to Iraq. She even signed a petition stating that she opposes the sanctions against Iraq, a pledge started by a leftist activist group. The pledge can be found here.
(Thanks to reader Carol for bringing this to my attention.)
posted at 05:16 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
This garbage has been throroughly flogged (here, here, and here, to name just a few), but the best response of all is from Mr. Misha, the anti-idiotarian rottweiler. In his rebuttal, he totally demolishes every single stupid argument put forth by this dipshit, and manages to have fun while doing it. Go take a look.
It is morons such as Bill Thompson that manage to convince America that everyone in Europe hates them. After reading a blast of hostility and naked anti-Americanism like that, my first reaction is to reciprocate. However, I realize that not everyone in Europe (and especially not in Britain) shares his views. Unfortunately, the people who share his views are disproportionately represented in the media and in high-visibility positions in government and academia.
posted at 08:34 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Yeesh, there is a bumper crop over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today. Only three of the letters are worth the paper they are printed upon (the last letter, the antipenultimate one, and the third letter), while the rest fall into the mindless knee-jerk leftist groupthink for which Seattle is known. Here is a link to the letters; I don't have it in me to dissect each of the morons individually.
posted at 05:52 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
An interesting take
Over at Inane Banter, Lex Gibson asserts that the view held among many bloggers, that the European media are anti-semetic, is wrong. His view is that the Euros see the Israelis as the only side capable of responsible action, which is implicitly anti-Arab.
I'm not sure that I agree with his view, but it is certainly an intriguing notion. I'd love to see a reaction from the Wanker or some of the other Sharon-haters, but I'm not holding my breath on that.
posted at 05:37 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
Monday, August 12, 2002
Today we have a bunch of links added to the blogroll.
First, we have the Sekimori blogs (They've been very busy over there):
The Safety Valve (I've been meaning to add Toren to my list for a while, but I hate updating my templates.)
Neo-Libertarian News Portal(A site with a pragmatic libertarian viewpoint.)
An Age Like This(I have to love a site from someone who told Robyn that he wanted "a blue Horologium" design.)
The Greatest Jeneration(Definitely *not* a Jennblog.)
Medical Rants is from a doctor, with an emphasis on the pharma industry and diet and fitness issues.
I have also moved The Agitator to the top, since it is now a Sekimori design as well.
Somewhere on A1A is a certified friend of Israel, writing from Jacksonville, FL.
Currently Unnamed Blog (the name keeps changing) is a rather unusual blog using a software package I've not encountered, called Upsaid.
The Truth Laid Bear doesn't need an introduction; it's home of the original Blog Ecosystem.
GedankenPundit is Sol Ezekiel's corner of the web; he's one of a small number of Seattle-area bloggers I've encountered so far.
Jim Miller on Politics is another Seattle-area blogger; he has a nice primer on blogging (and brief descriptions of the blogs he links here.
Check them out.
Edit 13 Aug 2002/6:45 PMI forgot Medical Rants, which I added last night. Sorry, DB!
posted at 09:22 PM | permalink | Comments (6)
Update on the horizon
I am sorry for the lack of updates, but family strife and a medical emergency occupied much of my time this weekend.
I will be blogging again starting this evening, and the promised linky love will occur sometime tonight as well.
posted at 12:53 PM | permalink | Comments (1)