Saturday, June 21, 2003

The Greens—Sustainable Agriculture

(See this post for background on this series.)

Fair Farm Price Supports: Reform farm price supports to cover the costs of production plus a living income for family farmers and farmworker cooperatives.

Of course, farm production exists in a vacuum, with no mention of outside producers, or weak harvests, or the increased cost of food to the rest of the country. I dislike the idea of subsidies, however, so my views my be colored by that.

Subsidize Transition to Organic Agriculture: Subsidize farmers' transition to organic agriculture while natural systems of soil fertility and pest control are being restored.

While some studies have demonstrated that organic farming can be practiced profitably, most of these studies fail to take into account that organic farming produces food that is less nutritious, less visually appealing, takes longer to mature, and yields significantly less per acre than conventional farming. Converting to organic farming is going to create a dramatic upswing in the amount of land needed to grow the same amount of food.

Another overlooked point is that organic fertilizer (manure) is more likely to harbor unpleasant critters such as the mutant E. Coli strain that has killed people; synthetic fertilizer will never harbor bacteria. And by stopping fungicide use, the risk of unpleasant side effects caused by fungus exposure in foods such as celery is significantly increased.

Support Small Farmers: Create family farms and farm worker cooperatives through a homesteading program and land reform based on acreage limitations and residency requirements.

"Creating" is fine, as long is it isn't forced. If farmers want to work together, more power to them. However, forced collectivization sounds like Ukraine in the 1920's, and I'll have none of that, thank you very much.

Break Up Corporate Agribusiness: Create family farms and farmworker cooperatives through a homesteading program and land reform based on acreage limitations and residency requirements.

This point is essentially the same as the previous one, with a blast at "big agriculture" thrown in for good measure. The concept of "land reform" is odious, as it has always been a recipe for disaster (the Soviet Union and Zimbabwe).

posted at 10:55 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Ecological Conversion

(See this post for background on this series.)

Ecological Production: Set goals and timetables to phase out and ban the production and release of synthetic chemicals and to convert all production to materials that are bio-degradable, bio-inert, or confined to closed-loop industrial cycles. Use federal investments, purchasing, mandates, and incentives to:
·Phase out most chlorinated and other synthetic petrochemicals and phase in natural, biodegradable substitutes. ·Phase out synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and phase in organic agriculture. ·Shut down waste incinerators, phase out landfills, and phase in full recycling. ·Require manufacturers to be responsible for the whole life cycle of their products by taking back used packaging and products for re-manufacturing, reuse, or recycling. ·Legalize industrial hemp as an ecological source for wood pulp, paper, cloth, lubricants, fibers, and many other products.

Outside of the hemp suggestion, this is not possible without totally eliminating all vestiges of our current way of life. 100% recycling is something that has not been achieved anywhere, and is not likely to be achieved in the near future.

As to "organic farming", that is the topic of the next section.

Renewable Energy: Invest non-renewable energy sources in the creation of self-reproducing, renewable energy systems. Use federal investments, purchasing, mandates, and incentives to:
·Shut down nuclear power plants. ·Phase out fossil fuels and phase in clean renewable energy sources. ·Reduce auto-based transportation and expand pedestrian, bicycle, and rail transportation.

Let's see, renewable energy. Besides the obvious problem of reliance on outside factors (weather), solar, geothermal, and wind power have other problems. Location is one; locating a major power plant anywhere that is likely to have the resources necessary is also likely to trigger a lawsuit from an ecological group, on the grounds that it will disrupt the environment in some fashion. In addition, there are the concerns of bird kills by windmills, the toxic waste byproducts of solar panel production, and the air pollution issues of biomass energy production (such as wood-burning, for example).

Despite what the green party would have us believe, nuclear power is not dangerous and prohibitively expensive. France and Lithuania each rely on nuclear power for more than 75 percent of their total energy production, and Belgium and the Slovak Republic are more than 50% nuclear powered. Six countries produce more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours of nuclear power, led by the United States (800 Billion KW/H). 438 reactors worldwide are currently active, and despite the fact that nuclear power has been in use for over 40 years, there has been only one accident (Chernobyl) and one near-accident (Three Mile Island) during that time.

Biotechnology-No Patents on Life; No Transgenic Organisms:

·Ban patents on life forms in order to preserve genetic diversity and common access to our common inheritance of nature, including farmers' access to seeds and breeds.
·Ban the release into the environment and the use in food production of genetically modified organisms that result from splicing the genes of one species into another.

This will eliminate the biotech industry. There is no way the industry can survive without the patents that allow them to profit from their research.

Environmental Defense and Restoration:
·Full funding for anti-pollution enforcement and toxic sites clean-up ·Preserve ecosystems and biodiversity by strengthening the Endangered Species Act and expanding areas designated as wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. ·Ban old-growth logging, clear cutting, and strip mining. ·End all commercial exploitation of public lands by private timber, mining, and cattle grazing interests. ·Ban off-road vehicles on federal lands. Decommission National Forest logging roads. ·Restoration of public lands degraded by commercial interests. ·Manage federal lands primarily for ecosystem protection and restoration. ·Support large-scale ecological restoration based on conservation biology.

This is standard leftist claptrap, supported by the anti-business wing of the Democratic Party as well as the Greens. Banning off-road vehicles eliminates use of the federal lands for citizen recreation, which is supposed to be one of the reasons for the National Park System. There is a strong strain of "fly trapped in amber" stasis in these proposals, as if leaving the lands unsullied by human presence will somehow improve our lives.

The Endangered Species Act is too strong as it is; it needs to be reformed. I posted on the subject here. I am not an expert on the subject; a search engine can help find more information if you are interested.

Environmental Justice: Strengthen and enforce laws that prevent toxic industries, toxic dumps and air pollution from targeting ethnic minority communities.

Another nice sound bite that is based more on rumors than facts. Read this article and this article on the myths behind this trope.

A Just Transition: A Superfund for Workers to guarantee full income and benefits for all workers displaced by ecological conversion until they find new jobs with comparable income and benefits.

...And for which they are qualified, which is unlikely without retraining, and even then, they will lack the experience that they had in the job that was destroyed by the green movement.

posted at 10:28 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Fair Elections

(See this post for background on this series.)

Proportional Representation: Elect legislative bodies by proportional representation where each party has representation in proportion to its total vote.

I discussed this in the previous section. Proportional representation doesn't work outside of a parliamentary system.

Preference Voting: Elect single offices by majority preference voting where voters rank candidates in order of preference and votes are distributed according to preferences in instant runoffs until a winner receives a majority of votes.

This is a good idea, and I support it. Australia uses this system for all of their elections. Right now, several states have runoffs if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, but it requires a second election, which is wasteful from both a fiscal standpoint and a temporal standpoint. Instant runoffs are an idea whose time has come.

Public Campaign and Party Financing: Equal public campaign financing and free broadcast media time for all candidates who agree not to use private money. Equal free broadcast media time for party broadcasts. Public financing of parties through matching funds for party dues and small donations up to $300 a year.

No, no, no. I will discuss this in a later post, but governmental mandates on broadcasts are a bad idea. If they wish to require free airtime, PBS is public broadcasting; make them carry all the debates and party statements.

Fair Ballot Access: Federal legislation to require each state to enable a new party or any independent candidate to qualify for the ballot through a petition of no greater than 1/10th of 1% of the total vote cast in the district in the last gubernatorial election, with a 10,000 signature maximum.

This sounds like a wonderful idea. However, it is the proliferation of candidates that led to ballot issues such as the infamous "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County, and the "Two page ballot" in Duval County, where presidential candidates appeared on two separate pages. Both of these were due to relaxed ballot access laws in Florida, which resulted in ten parties having presidential candidates on the ballot. Thousands of ballots were spoiled (due to overvotes) or allegedly mismarked (due to confusion over the butterfly ballot). Six of these ten candidates received (together) 6,640 votes, or about 1.1 percent of the vote (as a group). Raising the limits slightly might have eliminated a lot of the marginal candidates.

Eliminate Mandatory Primaries: Allow parties the right to nominate by membership convention instead of state-run primaries.

This means that working people won't have a say in the procedure; it's easy to duck out of work during lunch to vote, or before or after work; it's quite another to attend a convention to select a candidate. In addition, it creates more polarization, as the candidates are more likely to be acceptable to core constituencies, but less likely to attract support from anyone outside the party.

posted at 08:50 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Grassroots democracy

(See this post for background on this series.)

Community Assemblies: Ground political representation in a foundation of participatory, direct democracy: a Community Assembly in every neighborhood, open to all of its residents, acting as a grassroots legislative body, with its own budget for local administration, and the power (in concert with other Citizens Assemblies who share a representative) to monitor, instruct, and recall representatives elected to municipal, state, and federal office.

This is nothing more than an appeal to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, who would love the opportunity to add thousands of new government employees to their rolls. The idea itself is not a bad one, until you throw in the budget aspect. Community involvement is good, but throwing dollars at it is bad.

A Proportional, Single-Chamber US Congress: Abolish the disproportional, aristocratic US Senate. Create a single-chamber US Congress, elected by a system of mixed-member proportional representation that combines district representatives elected by preference voting and party representatives seated in proportion to each party's vote.

The senate serves a purpose; besides the obvious counterweight to some of the excesses of the more fractious House of Representatives, the senate serves as the body that reviews all appointments (by the executive branch). Having a greatly expanded single body to review such appointments would be an experience in futility. Further, the senate serves to represent the interests of the smaller states; without their equal representation in the senate, the concerns of lightly populated states would never come into play, which turns into a "tyranny of the majority". The greens don't recognize this because it doesn't fall into their preconceived notions of gender bias, racial bias, sexual orientation bias, or class bias. There is a clear break in the values of urban versus rural voters, but the greens (who are overwhelmingly urban in their values), sneer at the concerns of the rednecks and rubes who live well away from the big cities or the coasts.

Proportional representation does not work in a two-party state such as the US. We don't have a parliamentary system, where multiparty coalitions are formed, with each party in the coalition pushing their interests while trying to maintain a semblance of unity. Proportional representation is particularly popular among parties that have little chance of winning in any one district, but have diffuse support throughout the country. Coincidentally, that would mean that the Greens would suddenly be the third largest party in congress, instead of having no representation as they do now.

Environmental Home Rule: Establish the right of every state, county, and municipality to restrict or prohibit the production, sale, distribution, storage, or transportation of any substance it designates as dangerous or toxic.

Say goodbye to the commerce clause of the constitution. What happens if California decides that all produce from outside the state is "dangerous"? What if the Port of Seattle decides that internal combustion engines are toxic? (Many Japanese vehicles come through the Port of Seattle.) What if a city on a major highway decides to ban garbage from outside the city limits, even if it is on its way to a landfill elsewhere? The possibilities are endless.

The vast majority of goods received in this country from overseas arrive by ship. If just three states (Louisiana, Texas, and California) were to prohibit the transportation of items from outside their boundaries, the entire nation's trade system would be destroyed. Louisiana would be particularly devastating, as it would cut off all international trade along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio rivers.

Average Workers' Pay for Elected Officials: Pay elected officials average workers' salaries so that they understand the needs of average people and stop being an elite of professional politicians with separate class interests.

Are you going to take into account the cost of living in Washington, DC, where the representatives live? Are you going to take into account the cost of traveling between Washington and their home states, to meet with their constituents?

Another way of dealing with the "elite of professional politicians" is term limits. Limiting the number of years a politician can serve will ultimately require him or her to find a job OUTSIDE of the government, which is a great idea for keeping them honest.

DC Statehood: Full self-government and congressional representation for the people of Washington DC.

Until Washington DC can show that it is able to function as a state (without massive amounts of federal aid), the idea of statehood should not be on the table. It has shown that despite ungodly taxes and draconian laws, it is impoverished and dangerous. Perhaps it should be absorbed by the state of Maryland, which would give Maryland an additional representative in congress, and DC residents would be represented by the two Maryland senators and the congressman from the area.

posted at 08:03 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Economic Bill of Rights

(See this post for background on this series.)

Universal Social Security: Taxable Basic Income Grants for all, structured into the progressive income tax, that guarantee an adequate income sufficient to maintain a modest standard of living. Start at $500/week ($26,000/year) for a family of four, with $62.50/week ($3,250/year) adjustments for more or fewer household members in 2000 and index to the cost of living.

Okay, but is that the minimum? $26,000/year is more than adequate for a family in low-cost areas such as Indiana, Missouri, and Mississippi, but the same standard of living is going to cost a LOT more in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, not to mention San Jose and Honolulu.

Jobs for All: A guaranteed right to job. Full employment through community-based public works and community service jobs programs, federally financed and community controlled.

The right to a job already exists. Even in Washington state, with its 6.8 percent unemployment, there are plenty of job listings. The problem is that these are jobs that nobody wants to take, because they are low-paying, or require exotic skills, or are demeaning. It's a nice sound bite, but there's no substance behind it.

Living Wages: A family-supporting minimum wage. Start at $12.50 per hour in 2000 and index to the cost of living.

See the first paragraph for a discussion of cost of living. You can kiss goodbye any type of customer service extras because companies are not going to pay $12.50/hour to greeters or bagboys or parking attendants, and so forth. Also say goodbye to inexpensive dining out; McDonald's cannot afford to offer a 99 cent double cheeseburger if the cashier and the person assembling the food are making $12.50/hour. Waiters and waitresses will see a reduction in the number of jobs, too, as restaurants will have to reduce their waitstaffs. Remember again that these benefits are affected by the cost of living, so minimum wage will be much higher in big cities.

30-Hour Work Week: A 6-hour day with no cut in pay for the bottom 80% of the pay scale.

Hey, let's increase the pay of junior workers immensely, and then cut their working hours by 25%.

Only the executives can have their pay cut. Well, that will get more coverage in a later post.

Social Dividends: A "second paycheck" for workers enabling them to receive 40 hours pay for 30 hours work. Paid by the government out of progressive taxes so that social productivity gains are shared equitably.

I am assuming that this is how the previous point is covered. And what, pray tell, are "social productivity gains", and how are they measured?

Universal Health Care: A single-payer National Health Program to provide free medical and dental care for all, with freedom of choice for consumers among both conventional and alternative health care providers, federally financed and controlled by democratically elected local boards.

This goes far beyond the socialized medicine of Scandinavia and Western Europe, as they do not have a freedom of choice that this program envisions. And I know that the greens are big on grassroots, but why do we need to have elected local boards for health care? It seems like yet another layer of government to generate useless rulings and cumbersome instructions.

Free Child Care: Available voluntarily and free for all who need it, modeled after Head Start, federally financed, and community controlled.

You know, if it meant that everyone was working, I'd support this point. Train some of the people who are currently receiving welfare benefits in the procedures of childcare, and set up daycare centers in underutilized federal government space, or rent space in cheap rent areas if there is a lack of empty government office space.

Lifelong Public Education: Free, quality public education from pre-school through graduate school at public institutions.

Oh.dear.God. Do they have ANY idea how much it would cost the government to provide lifelong education to everyone? There *IS* such a thing as overeducation, and this would lead to a large number of people with degrees in fields with limited applications (Philosophy, Anthropology, Queer Studies, Elizabethan Poetry, ad infinitum, ad nauseum).

Affordable Housing: Expand rental and home ownership assistance, fair housing enforcement, public housing, and capital grants to non-profit developers of affordable housing until all people can obtain decent housing at no more than 25% of their income. Democratic community control of publicly funded housing programs.

Britain discovered that government ownership of housing was a very bad idea. Their privatization program under Thatcher resulted in a marked increase in the livability of the projects, as the new owners (and former tenants) had a pride of ownership instilled in them. By keeping up their neighborhood, they increased the value of their property, which allowed them to sell their home and move on if they desired. The same has proved true here in the US, where dilapidated public housing projects were revitalized by privatization and community organizing. Less government is the key, not more.

posted at 07:26 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

The Greens—Introduction

I've seen some pretty crazy manifests and party platform planks from both the Democrats and the Republicans (same for the Libertarian Party, the Reform Party, and the Natural Law Party), but none of them can compare with the Green Party USA platform. The scary thing about the Green party platform is threefold—these people are true believers, they are shockingly naive about how economics works, and they are part of a worldwide movement. Looking at their platform, there is enough terrifyingly idiotic material to make multiple posts. I am going to break up their platform into several posts, with my comments about each of their planks. Remember that these people received almost 4% of the vote in the 2000 election, and performed very well in a number of key battleground states. This platform, if it were to be put into effect, would demolish the constitution utterly and irrevocably, and create an envirofascist state that would be a nightmare to all who did not share the views of the party.

posted at 06:55 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 20, 2003

Another take on Belgium

Several bloggers have linked to the story about the Flemish separatist party that is suing the Belgian foreign minister in Belgium's busybody courts. Solly Ezekiel of Gedankenpundit has a few ideas on the situation in Belgium that bear repeating. Check out what he has to say...

Gedankenpundit is on blogspot, so the link may not work all that well. Just scroll if the link doesn't work.

posted at 10:25 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Drug Reimportation

This MSNBC story discusses a bill introduced into the Senate, allowing drugs to be reimported to this country from Canada, where the drugs are sold at a lower price than here in the US. It passed in the GOP-controlled Senate, and is expected to pass in the House as well. There was a two paragraph section of the article that I found to be very interesting:

But the provision includes a measure that could prevent it from ever becoming law: It requires the secretary of health and human services to certify that the reimportation can be done safely.
A similar law is already on the books, but former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala would not certify that it could be done without risk to patients. Her successor, Tommy Thompson, said the same.

So let's get this straight: the law is already on the books, but it has not been activated because the current HHS secretary won't sign off on it, and his predecessor (his ideological opposite) also opposed it. Congress decides to create ANOTHER law, knowing that it will still not pass muster.

Sounds to me like the Republicans got rolled on this one; how long do you think it will be before the Nine Dwarfs start squawking about how "this administration is trying to kill the poor, the elderly, and The Children™". The fact that Donna Shalala, who is quite possibly the most liberal HHS/HEW secretary we ever had, also rejected the plan will not receive much discussion from the left, and their allies in the media will conveniently fail to mention it. I'll be looking for the NYT position on the bill tomorrow, to see if they mention the Shalala angle.

I think that the Canadians (and the Europeans, for that matter) are in for an unpleasant surprise if either of these laws take effect. It was mentioned that drug companies may raise their prices on drugs shipped to Canada if they are going to end up back in the United States. Canada's government may set a cap on prices, but they cannot FORCE the drug companies to sell them the drugs at any price. Canada doesn't have a whole lot of leverage, with their relatively small population. If a bunch of popular drugs were suddenly unavailable in Canada because the pharmaceutical firms stopped selling them at below-market prices, I think the whole socialized medicine scheme they have up there would go into a full-scale meltdown. Read this article from CNE Health, a project of the free-market Center for the New Europe.

posted at 09:22 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Tapped's Distortions

Tapped, the blog from The American Prospect, was once an entertaining, if somewhat misguided, left-of-center blog. Even when I disagreed with them, I enjoyed reading their takes on the issues. Then the magazine was reorganized, and the blog was taken over by a new group of humorless (and dedicated) anti-conservative ideologues. They also stopped all pretenses of objectivity or honesty.

The most recent example is this entry, in which they attack Andrew Sullivan for his posts on George Galloway, the extreme-left Labourite MP that was allegedly paid off by the Hussein regime. They offer a link to an AP story about an article in the Christian Science Monitor, in which the evidence obtained by the CSM implicating Galloway was revealed to have been falsified. They then rake Sullivan over the coals for suggesting that Galloway's actions may have been traitorous. They conveniently leave out two things:

1) The actual CSM article, which points out that evidence acquired by other papers, including the Telegraph, were authenticated.

2) the fact that Sullivan linked to the CSM precisely ONE time in all of his posts on Galloway. A quick check shows that Sullivan posted about Galloway on 22 April, 23 April, 25 April, and 18 June. (Sullivan's permalinks are strange, so I am not providing links to the specific articles.) In those posts, he links to a variety of British papers: The Times (of London), The Guardian, and (most importantly) The Telegraph, which broke the story. Only on 25 April did he link to the CSM. This is the post to which Tapped links, implying that Sullivan relied upon this source. They do make an offhanded comment about "The Christian Science Monitor and other sources" (emphasis added), but the CSM is not the primary source for Sullivan's posts on the subject.

Tapped then has the audacity to state that they are playing by Sullivan's rules. Sullivan may have his faults, but making blatantly misleading attacks is not one of them.

The sad thing is that Tapped is a source document for a lot of left-wing bloggers; I am willing to bet that this meme will end up all over the left-wing of the blogosphere, and will become accepted truth by anti-war bloggers everywhere.

UPDATE: Tapped, to their credit, has updated their post and apologized to Sullivan. They provide a link to the Monitor article and highlight the relevant passages about the authenticity of the Telegraph's documents.

They also note that they are not particularly supportive of Galloway, although they hold out hope that the documents may still prove to be false. That sounds like a defense to me.

(Link courtesy of Instapundit, whose post was the basis for mine.)

posted at 06:16 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

I fully share your views relative to the decline in the quality and worth of TAPPED since about last winter, when they went through some staff and other organizational changes; in fact, this Spring I deleted them from my bookmarks of favorite sites. They had become shrill and at times almost indistinguishable from mediawhoreonline. Another liberal site that has rapidly declined is Eschaton, which in recent days appears likely to overtake Indymedia and Democrat Underground, in terms of paranoia and shrill, almost lunatic ravings (today's post includes an argument that today's America resembles 1930's Nazi Germany; the comment thread is a veritable cesspool of nonsense).

posted by Terry on June 20, 2003 07:58 PM

Thursday, June 19, 2003


According to NZ Bear's Blog ecosystem, I have finally evolved into a "Marauding Marsupial". Prior to today, I have never rated higher than "Adorable Little Rodent", so the leap from lab rat to Opossum is a milestone of sorts for me. Heh. We'll see how long it lasts...

posted at 08:58 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Another week, another wacky blogmap

Earlier this month, I linked (via Instapundit) to a map that showed Meryl Yourish as being more conservative than Andrew Sullivan. Now Instapundit has another map up, and this one has a real howler—James Lileks is further to the left than Spinsanity and (hold your breath) Daily Kos.

Hello? McFly? Anyone home?

Am I the only one who finds this more than a little surreal? I mean, they have Kos as right of center, for crying out loud. And Lileks as center-left. It's especially bizarre coming from Online Journalism Review, which doesn't have an ax to grind with any of the blogs on the map.

Of course, almost all attempts to map blogs according to politics are doomed to fail if you plot on a single left/right axis, rather than a quadrant approach similar to the one at Politopia. However, some of the measures here are a bit off. The story does not indicate how the politics of each blog were quantified, or the period during which the measurements occurred.

posted at 08:32 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

NRO's internal split

Last week, Stanley Kurtz wrote an article for National Review that was a typical social conservative rant against any form of "gay marriage". The occasion was the result of the Canadian court decision that prohibiting gays from marrying was not permissible under Canadian law. Kurtz urges passing yet another law that defines marriage as an explicitly heterosexual endeavor. Andrew Olmstead pointed out the article and blogged it, pointing out that the federal government really has no business regulating marriage.

In the comments thread of that post, I made a somewhat negative statement about NR's views on gay marriage, painting them as monolithically neagative. Lawrence Haws highlighted an interesting quote from Kurtz's fellow NRO'er Andrew Stuttaford:

Stanley, John, I hate to wade into this controversy, but surely comparing the ‘stability’ of homosexual relationships against some presumed heterosexual standard (is there such a thing?) is impossible in the absence of a legally recognized form of gay ‘marriage’. And that’s just the point that some of its supporters (quite reasonably) are making. As to the effects of such unions on the institution of marriage, I would think that they would be minimal. After the initial flurry of publicity, I’d be astonished if heterosexuals would pay much attention.
The real issue here is that the current state of the law makes it far less likely that gays will be able to establish and enjoy the advantages of long-term relationships, long-term relationships that would be good for the individual and, for those who see such matters in utilitarian terms, society. Worse still, it has to be recognized that the failure of the law to recognize such unions can lead to injustice in some rather more prosaic areas, such as the absence of the death tax exemption rightly enjoyed by all surviving spouses unless (ahem) they are foreigners married to Americans. I can’t see how such ending such inequities could be a threat to anyone – other, of course, than the IRS.
And who cares about them?

Thanks to both Andrew and Lawrence for supplying the links.

posted at 08:55 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

A thought for today

While I was idly surfing at work (what can I say? I had a few minutes of free time), I came across a post somewhere that compared the treatment of American soldiers in Baghdad with that of British soldiers in Basra. The reasons offered were a few of the expected straw men: British experience in occupying foreign countries (anti-British); incompetent, evil leadership at the very top (anti-Bush); inexperienced, frightened US soldiers (anti-military); arrogant American indifference to world opinion (anti-American), and a comparison to the intifada(anti-Israel).

None of the suggestions, of course, brought up the obvious: Basra is a Shi'ite majority city, and the Shi'ites were persecuted by Hussein's Sunni Baathists. Baghdad, on the other hand, is the home of the lion's share of the country's Sunni minority, and they were far less likely to have suffered under Saddam's tender ministrations. I've not seen any serious analysis of the motivations of the attackers; how many of them had ties to the deposed regime?

I am amazed at how hatred towards Americans (and their allies) and the military can cause one to totally miss the obvious answer when discussing cause and effect. I know that the far left hates America, but this seems to be another case of fabricating nefarious deeds out of thin air.

posted at 07:17 PM | permalink | Comments (0)


The guest commentary in today's Seattle Times is from Matt Rosenberg, a regular contributor to the paper. He is a thoughtful writer, with whom I often agree. He sometimes covers gun issues, usually with a pro-gun viewpoint (he isn't reflexively anti-gun). However, in a piece urging for a ban on pit bulls, after a series of vicious attacks in Seattle and elsewhere, he tacks on this dismaying throwaway line:

You might own a docile, loving pit bull. Others may responsibly harbor a perfectly legal Bushmaster XM15-A3 assault rifle. Neither should be allowed.

Overlooking the factual error of calling the gun an "assault rifle" (true assault rifles are fully automatic weapons, and have been banned in the United States since 1933), there is a fatal flaw to the analogy. Guns cannot attack anything without human intervention, unlike a pit bull. A gun will not escape from its enclosure and maul the mailman, the toddler next door, or the shih-tzu down the street. Guns will simply lie there until a human intervenes. (If you are wondering why Rosenberg specified the particular weapon he references, I believe it is because it is the weapon used by the Maryland snipers, one that provokes the desired set of responses in many people).

I am curious as to why he added the totally unnecessary rhetorical flourish to his piece. In my opinion, it weakens his argument, by trying to tie it to an unrelated issue with significant support. I have sent off an e-mail to Mr. Rosenberg, and if he responds (either here, or through an e-mail intended for publication), I will post it.

(Edited 20 Jun 2003 to correct ugly prose. No significant changes to content.)

posted at 06:03 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 16, 2003

VodkaPundit back?

Stephen Green, the VodkaPundit, posted that he is due back tonight. We shall see.

Now, if we can get Jeff Goldstein to crawl out of his hole, then we will have accomplished something. At least VP let us know why his posting was way down.

posted at 09:34 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Europe crushing free speech?

CG Hill, at Dustbury, found an article on CNET which reveals that a European NGO known as the Council of Europe is about to pass a law that bears more than a passing resemblance to the defunct (and unmissed) "Fairness Doctrine", only this one applies to the internet!. He explains:

Declan McCullagh at CNET's reports that the Council is about to adopt a measure which would demand that should a person or an organization be criticized on the Net, at a news site, on a listserv, even in a blog, the Webmaster or list-owner must make space available for a response to that criticism, what they call the "right of reply."

The fairness doctrine was inherently unfair, and its only virtue was that it was seldom employed here in the United States. I seriously doubt that it would enjoy such a status in Europe, where bureaucracy and overregulation obviate the need for lawyers and lawsuits, as is the custom in this country.

Go read Chaz's whole piece, and follow the links he provides. His warning is right on target.

posted at 08:14 PM | permalink | Comments (2)

What an utterly insane notion. "Right of reply"?

Where to begin...

posted by Sean Kirby on June 16, 2003 09:29 PM

Europe is fubared (f**ked up beyond
all recognition.) I predict an Europian civil war in 5 to 10 years.

posted by Bill on June 16, 2003 09:37 PM

Bad news for Davis?

I don't know if I am alone on this, but today's search results at my site indicate that there is a lot of interest in the Grey Davis recall issue. Eleven of my last 100 visitors (and seven of the last twenty) arrived at the site via searches that had the words "davis" and "recall" in them. If a small and obscure site such as this (and it IS small and obscure) is getting that much traffic from searches on an issue, then that issue has to be of importance to a lot of people.

posted at 07:59 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 15, 2003

WAAAAY behind the curve

I just discovered Eject! Eject! Eject! today.

(hangs head in shame)

I don't know HOW I could have missed this site.

I've seen Bill Whittle's name tossed about, and I've seen references to his site, but I'd never made a visit over before. It was my loss.

Wow. Just, wow. Imagine the intellectualism of Steven Den Beste, the prose of James Lileks, the thoroughness of the Volokhs, in a tasteful and thoughtful package, and you have his writing. It is awesome (not in the high-school surfer-dude fashion, but in the true, deep meaning of the word).

His current essay, "Magic", is something everyone should read. He discusses our willingness to believe things that we instinctually know cannot be true. He explains how propaganda masters such as Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore ply their trade, and exposes the truth behind how utterly wrong their central theses are. He briefly touches upon Election 2000, and notes how those who disagree with the result keep changing the target, and how these same people cheerlead for Kyoto without acknowledging that their baby is going to have very little effect on the Earth, and a whole hell of a lot on the economies of the developed world, especially the United States. He ties all of it together using science as the thread. I cannot possibly do justice to this piece, not in a short summation, nor in a lengthy dissertation.

If you have never read Bill Whittle's work before, do it now. You won't regret it.

posted at 07:56 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

Lileks is God, and Whittle sitteth at His right hand.

Or maybe it's the other way around. Sometimes it's damned hard to tell.

posted by CGHill on June 17, 2003 06:58 PM


Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of Horologium in its present form. (My one year blogging anniversary passed while the site was down.) I'd like to get feedback on what posts my readers liked the most, so I can start a "greatest hits" section, similar to what Tony Woodlief (over at Sand in the Gears) has done, so new visitors can see me at my best.

Please leave a comment if you have a nominee. A link to the post would be a wonderful thing, but I should be able to remember (and find the link for) any of the posts I have made.

posted at 03:49 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

Spell checking is not a substitute...

...for knowing English. It's a little annoying to see the language butchered by amateurs, but it's intolerable when it crops up in (presumably edited) professional ad copy.

On the back of the "Five Star Collection" edition of Speed on DVD is this whoopsie:

KEANU REEVES stars as an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist who is sent to diffuse a bomb...(emphasis added)

Well, I suppose if he detonated it, that would be an example of diffusion.

Actually, I believe that Keanu's character was supposed to defuse the bomb.

</grammar nazi>

(Edited 15June/3:35 PM to expand upon why this error irritated me so thoroughly.)

posted at 02:48 PM | permalink | Comments (2)

As a veteran Grammar And Spelling Ogre, I sympathize. But do be careful. In these oh-so-enlightened times, calling others' language errors to their attention, however delicately, can get you labeled Public Enemy Number One.

My own greatest irritations are the "sync idle" phrases "you know" and "like." My stepdaughters' speech is lousy with both of them. I've given up trying to curb them, as the result is always a screaming crying fit that takes days to dry up.

And they wonder why Curmudgeons prefer not to talk to anyone!

posted by Francis W. Porretto on June 16, 2003 04:33 AM

Well, my writing skills are much better than my extemporaneous speaking skills. I don't use "you know" and "like" as filler, but I tend to use "like" as a synonym for "said", as in "I was like, 'whatever'". It's a terrible habit, I know, but I cannot seem to break myself of the habit.

One of the greatest virtues of blogging (or any type of writing, for that matter) is the ability to reconsider what one is saying before it makes it out into the world. The spoken word doesn't have an edit function...

posted by timekeeper on June 16, 2003 09:55 PM

Stupid Letters

We have a winner (so to speak) in today's Seattle P-I letters section. The fact that he is using Paul Krugman as an arbiter of the truth speaks volumes in and of itself.

Thank you Paul Krugman (June 4) for confirming what has been obvious to many who get their news outside television and beyond newspaper headlines (further homogenized by the Federal Communications Commission in its recent decision).
But I would argue that the "spin as lie" started well before Bush II, and is endemic to the neoconservative wing of Republican Party. At least since the 1980s when national media could not mouth the words incompetent or impeachable with President Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair, the neocons have learned to wave the flag and talk religion in order to demonize, cower and shout down anything Democrat (or, God forbid, liberal).
They continued to get away with ever more brazenly convoluted logic through the slander campaign against Anita Hill (and Hillary Clinton), the two-bit Whitewater affair, the Clinton impeachment (turning an embarrassing, laughable sex tryst into a constitutional crisis) to denying the "will of the people" while creating the Bush II selection (as in Krugman's column, the straight scoop again came from British media).
President Lincoln said, "You cannot fool all of the people all of the time," but watching years of this garbage coming out of the Republican Party, I came to believe that, while corporate-induced media control the airways, this saying was a falsehood. Perhaps Krugman's column will help prove me wrong and will prove that Lincoln's statement still holds true -- although the process now takes longer and far too much damage has already been done.
Daniel B. Wilson

Let's see, do we have all of the usual tropes?

-Reagan and Iran/Contra? (check)

-FCC destroying diversity in news? (check)

-the 2000 election? (check)

-silencing the left? (check)

-Sainthood for Anita Hill? (check)

-Whitewater as a frameup? (check)

-Clinton's impeachment "just about sex"? (check)

-corporate control of the media? (check)

We're missing something about Ashcroft and maybe an abortion rant, but most of the usual suspects are in just four paragraphs.

I find two of his points amusing. The first is his defense of Anita Hill (and presumably distate of Clarence Thomas) and his simultaneous dismissal of the whole Bill and Monica show. I guess that sexual harassment only matters when you are a conservative supreme court nominee, and not a liberal president.

The second is his sniveling about the "corporate-induced media control", when he is quoting a columnist in a Hearst Corp. owned newspaper; Hearst Corporation owns 12 daily newspapers, 27 US magazine titles, 27 TV stations, 2 radio stations, and investments in 25 internet technology companies. The writer he praises works for for the New York Times Company, owner of 19 newspapers, eight TV stations, 2 radio stations, and 40 websites. Apparently when it comes to media consolidation, evil is in the eye of the beholder.

posted at 01:54 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

"Harry Potter" as philosophy text

Angela Balinbin, a Seattle university junior, explains why the Harry Potter series can be used as a replacement for all those musty tomes from the past. Her piece starts off with this:

Because the much anticipated fifth Harry Potter book arrives Saturday, and because J.K. Rowling is the newly crowned fairy princess of literature (being that she's even richer than Great Britain's queen now), I'd like to propose my latest great idea: let's cancel all Philosophy 110 courses and just read Harry Potter instead. Really.
Such a proposition does not stem from any sort of flippant disregard for our classic deep thinkers. Rather, in our day and age, author Rowling has combined whimsically readable and fun stuff with ideas from the big names like Plato and Aristotle.
Moreover, she does this using archetypes and themes found throughout classic literature.
Needless to say, Harry Potter and Rowling are more than mere kid stuff.

She then goes on a whirlwind tour of philosophers, from Plato and Aristotle to Jung and Nietzche. She closes with this:

By reading the Harry Potter books, we adults can find an enjoyable connect-the-dots puzzle that recalls timeless archetypes and themes. For children though, they're an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. They're vehicles that propel an understanding of classic Greek virtues of courage, temperance and friendship.

As the Instapundit would say, "Indeed".

posted at 01:04 PM | permalink | Comments (1)

This girl is a genius!

posted by Kaihe on August 12, 2003 02:31 AM

Back to Horologium