Sunday, April 30, 2006

Boston Globe: Bush's Radical Expansion of Presidential Power

First he was funny, then pathetic, then he's downright scary.
The Blind Criticizing the Blind

Or the vapid criticizing the vapid.

Or whatever.

Camille Paglia--not the sharpest tool in the shed herself--briefly sneers at the postmodernists (who oh so deserve it), before wandering off into la-la land herself.

God, contemporary middle-brow literary culture is a wasteland.
Frohe Walpurgisnacht!

( 'frohe' right here? I know just enough German to make myself look really stupid. Mammas, don't let your babies grow up to be monolingual philosophers...) walpurg tonight...or to-nacht. Can everybody revel, or just witches?

Wait until you here my amazing AND TRUE Walpurgis Night story. Well, it's got something to do with Walpurgis Night, anyway. You're totally not going to believe this, but I HAVE WITNESSES. Oh, yeah.

But first...some caffeine.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The View from Parallel Earth: The (Un)Riehl World View

Whew. I know I frequently say that we shouldn't just seek out the worst mistakes the other guys make, but I stumbled across this accidentally, so, hey, that's some bit of an excuse. The Lincoln quote is, of course, one everybody loves, and one that certain folks need to reflect on...mostly those on the right these days, but a fair number on the left as well. But apparently in the bizarre anti-Earth on which the author of this post lives, it was Kerry who was divisive, while Bush was/is "one average man stand[ing] strong, calm and reassuring while under pressures I absolutely could not imagine any one individual in this life having to bear." He continues: "And, at least in my eyes, somewhere along the way I came to see that 'average' man as simply a good man made great by circumstance."

Whew. Wow, man, what else is different about the planet where you live? Anti-gravity? Reverse entropy? WWF real? What?

All I could do when I ran across this was sit there with my mouth open, aghast. I understand making a mistake...but to be so completely out of touch with reality...Jebus. Kinda scary.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Juan Cole's Library Of Americana Translation Project

You probably already know about it, but if not, check it out.

This seems to me like a fantastic plan. It's largely ideas that have made this country great, and it's the great liberal (in the broad sense--the sense in which even most American conservatives are liberal) hope that these ideas are largely irresistable.

In a fair fight--and even in an unfair one--with religious extremism, my money is on The Federalist.

Though I've got to say that I think we might want to put Paine at the end of the list to be translated...I'm not sure whether our brothers in the Middle East are quite ready for (in Washington's words, if I'm not mistaken) "that dirtly little atheist" just yet...

[HT: Statisticasaurus Rex]

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Conservatives, Conformity, and the Anti-Sexual Revolution

Via Drum, this bit on some of the latest kookiness from the lunatics in the Bush administration. To summarize:


These guys are convinced that sex is so dirty that it can ONLY be permissible to perpetuate the species. If you just think it's a cool and excellent part of the human experience...well...what kind of sicko are you?

So, remember folks: when you're engaged in non-marital or non-standard sex, you're not only having fun, you're striking a blow against the puritannical lunatics in charge.

So let's get out there and get kinky!

Go team!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A """Bipartisan""" Culture of Corruption?

I don't know what's more pathetic about this whole issue. Is it:

(a) Republicans' frantic and pathetic attempts to argue that as long as at least one Democrat is corrupt the problem is bipartisan?


(b) The fact that the Democrats are just corrupt enough to give such laughable claims the thinnest veneer of semi-demi-hemi-plausibility?

The Republicans don't seem to realize that what we're arguing about here are differences of degree--vast differences in degree. No sensible person thinks that the Democratic party--or any party--is completely clean. Angrifying though that fact is, we have no choice but to live with it. But to pretend that there is no important difference between (i) a party with a merely ordinary number of individual corrupt members and (ii) a party with a large and more-or-less systematically corrupt core is nonsense.
Same-Sex Marriage: Giblets Explains It All For You

I used to be sort of in favor of the unnatural disgusting mind-bending nightmare of non-Euclidian perversity that is same-sex marriage, except that now Giblets has shown me that I was underestimating its unholy nightmarish awfulness.

Thank you, Giblets. God bless you.
Sick Sad World Episode XXXVVVIIIQRMTZ: The Father-Daughter Purity Ball

Some people are just downright scary.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

North Korea

Another in my periodic inarticulate expressions of rage about the giant gulag that is North Korea.

Instead of screwing around with Saddam--a piker compared to Kim Jong Il--we should have put our energies into doing something about the unimaginable horror in North Korea.

History will not judge us kindly if we do not at least make some serious effort to do something, I know not what.
Breakthrough Re: Iraqi PM?

Keep yr fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Imprisoning the Innocent

From Hilzoy, this concering:

...Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu al-Hakim, the two Uighurs who remain in prison in Guantanamo four and a half years after their capture by bounty hunters in Afghanistan, over a year after they were declared not to be enemy combatants by a military tribunal, and nearly four months after a district court held that their imprisonment was illegal, but that he had "no relief to offer." Today, the Supreme Court rejected an emergency appeal on their behalf:

God bless America.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Republican Foreign Policy: Phase 1

So there's this--Rice meeting with Teodoro Obiang Nguema. He's a brutal dictator, but he's got what we need. Oh, yeah, that good stuff gold...Texas tea...

So now we move into Republican Foreign Policy Phase 1:

Evil Dictator has somethin' we want..oil, port, control of airspace....or they're fighting somebody we don't like. Evil Dictator is our BESTEST, BESTEST friend, our BFFL, our homeboy. We would have SEX with evil dictator if we weren't so straight and manly an' stuff.

Later, we may enter:

Republican Foriegn Policy, Phase 2:

Evil Dictator bein' so NICE and our HOMEBOY and all, we sell Evil Dictator a little somethin' to help him beat down those pesky peasants or whatever that are ruinin' his day. Just a little sumthin'...some guns maybe...a Blackhawk or two...some F-16s. You know, nothin' fancy, just some stuff for, you know, home defense. Like, in case he wakes up in the middle of the night and hears a noise in the kitchen, he can call in an airstrike.

LIBBRULS may whine and carp--like they always do--about us helping out our good bud Evil D, but they are whiny and pasty and funny and some of them don't even go to church and they hate America and want us to be the world's policeman. We can't go around righting every wrong in the world, right? So why should we right any of them? Libbruls just don't understand foreign policy is all.

Later, we may enter:

Republican Foreign Policy, Phase 3:

Evil Dictator stops doing what we want, or things change or whatever--you know, it's not him it's us--but anyway he's not meetin' our needs anymore, and then suddenly we realize that hey, wait a minute, apparently Evil Dictator is an evil dictator!

Then all of a sudden all those little quirks we used to think were so cute--like murdering civilians and torturing people and all stuff like that--well, it's just not cute anymore. In fact, it is an indubitable moral imperative that Evil Dictator must GO. NOW! I mean, EVIL DICTATOR HAS F-16s AND OTHER BIG WEAPONS! Evil Dictator is now a threat to US, and that means that we need to kill him RIGHT NOW, because that is is RIGHT, and if you want wait around and look for "evidence" and stuff like that then you hate what's right and you love Evil Dictator and want to have 10,000 of his babies. God and Apple Pie and Chevrolet command us to kill him. And take his oil.

So with Nguema, I guess we're just entering Phase 1. Of course hating Nguema now is not acceptable. No skipping steps! Hating him and wanting to oppose his tyranny is not American until we gone through the other phases. If you oppose tyrants out of turn you are a libbrul and HATE 'MURKIN VALUES.

I hope this is all clear.
Cohen on Gore (and Bush)

I haven't seen Gore's documentary, but Cohen's spot on about the comparison between Gore and Bush in this piece. (HT: Sociology Beth)

It's hard to believe that anyone could vote for Bush over Gore. But, oddly, the fact that elements of the right continue to revere the former and deride the latter provides something of an explanation. Given that Bush has turned out to be a worse president than anyone could reasonably have predicted, the fact that some righties still prefer him to Gore seems to show that their position may not have been based on facts anyway. You could basically pull a name out of the phonebook and get a better president than Bush. At least a randomly-selected person would have finished the war in Afghanistan, finished off OBL, and never invaded Iraq. And only the most benighted could possible believe that a Gore presidency--however bad they might think it would be--is in any way likely to be half as bad as the Bush presidency has been. The Bush presidency has been defined by its errors, and there is no reason to think that Gore would have made those errors, nor any even half as disastrous.

Cohen says things that have been said often enough before, but they apparently haven't been said enough. Gore couldn't campaign, but there is every reason to believe that he would have goverend well. Bush campaigned well but he is demonstrably incapable of running the country in an even semi-competent manner.

There are many reasons for this, but--as Cohen points out--much of it is attributable to their very different intellectual characters. Gore, in essence, thinks like a scientist. He realizes that facts are hard things that mere wishing can't change. Through hard work he's made himself an expert on many subjects (the MX, technology policy, global warming), he thinks hard about them, and lets the facts guide his thinking. Bush thinks like...well...he just doesn't think much at all. As Cohen points out, he apparently has contempt for the life of the mind, hard intellectual work, and anything even vaguely resembling education, formal or informal. He apparently doesn't see the value in actually learning things, thinking hard about them, and drawing conclusions in a responsible manner. He seems to think that his untutored immediate reactions (e.g. Iraq did it!) are more valuable than the careful conclusions of someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

In the end, Bush rather reminds me of my dumb-ass uncle--a truly despicable character--who told me semi-seriously when he heard that I was going to college: "If yer really smart, ya don't hafta go ta school."

Now, I'm all too cognizant of my own intellectual limitations. I may not be the kind of guy you want running the country.

But I'd be a better choice than my dumb-ass uncle.

Monday, April 17, 2006

2006 Republican Agenda


Here it is (HT: Rilkefan, from below.)

The GOP: Making the Democrats Look Good Since 1969.
The Euston Manifesto

It's definitely worth checking out.

What's afoot here seems to be to unify the liberals who are center-ward of some of the shrieking lefties.

The shrieking lefties are...well...shrieking about it.

These guys could be full of it for all I know, but there's a good chance that they're my kind of folks. Whenever people start sqealing about the dangers of standing in the middle of the road...well, that's one sign that there might be something intersting going on.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

$8000 Sex Dolls and the Men Them

O.k., so there's this (via Metafilter).

Now, I first heard of these "RealDolls" about a year ago at BoingBoing. My reactions:

1. [Insert incredulous stare]

2. Well, whatever, man. I mean, look, these guys are probably not the kind of guys who are going to have a lot of luck with women. Don't these dolls just lie on a continuum with the realistic dildoes (er, dildos? Hmmm. How does one spell that? Blogger spellcheck doesn't seem to have it, oddly enough.) apparently preferred by some women?

O.k., but if you read that article, you'll encounter the following:

After a last attempt with a dating agency, Malcolm came across RealDolls online. 'I bought Rebecca a few months ago with the money left from my redundancy payment,' he recalls. 'In my imagination, she's 14 and earns pocket money by working in her school library. 'She's very important to me,' he continues. 'I feel affection for her which goes beyond sexual desire.'

O.k., so this 48 year old guy pretends that his sex doll is a 14-year-old girl???? Oh, man, this is...this's coming up here but 'sad'...

This actually raises an issue about kiddie porn I've wondered about: if no children are harmed in its production, should it be illegal? I mean, what if somebody just draws pictures or does paintings or--as I'm sure will eventually be the case--produces realistic computer graphics simulating sex involving children, should that be illegal? One answer, of course, is that it should be because it will incite people to actually molest children. But suppose that turns out to be false (as it might). What then? Such images might even be cathartic and prevent real child molestation. But assume for the sake of argument that their net impact on the problem is null.

Anyway, if producing such images should be illegal, should it be illegal for our friend Malcolm to imagine that his sex doll is 14?

Ick. Man, I'm sure glad that I don't study applied ethics. Is it usually this yucky?

But wait there's MORE!:

'Who knows where consciousness begins,' Malcolm muses, worringly. 'Think of the Frankenstein monster, made from bits of dead bodies and brought to life by a flash of lightning. Is he dead or alive? A lot of people treat their dogs like children, so why is it mad to imagine a doll has feelings when she looks far more like a real woman than a dog looks like a child?'

Malcolm. Bro. You've, like, got to get out of the house more.

Or wait. Maybe it's better for everyone involved if you don't.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Lefty Rage in the WaPo

Well, you've seen this.

My responses:

1. Oh, great. Now we're like the wingnuts during the Clinton years.

2. Who's 'we', paleface? I've got nothing in common with these shrill morons.

3. Wait until this goes up on Atrios or Kos...oh, God, you needn't even read the responses. You can predict what these people will say already (The Post is conservative and this is just another hatchet-job against the left...Oh yeah, well at least we're not as bad as the right...Why no article on FreeRepublic...and on and on.)

4. Man, I can't stand liberals.

5. Well, I mean some liberals.

6. Well, I mean the nutty ones.

7. Oh yeah, well what nutty people can you stand?

8. You know, in cool hours when I think of all this as objectively as I possibly can, I cannot give one single good reason for remaning calm about the Bush administration--other than purely practical considerations about trying appear reasonable (as opposed to being reasonable). How, after all, is it reasonable to respond when we have an administration which:

a. Exhibited a willingness to steal an American election.

b. Uses demogoguery and divisiveness as political strategy

c. Lies and deceives with relish and impunity

d. Refuses to acknowledge facts, and adheres to a crackpot ideology with abject dogmatism.

e. Failed to destroy those responsible for 9/11.

f. Instead used the attacks as an excuse to execute an unnecessary and possibly unjust war because of an antecedent idee fixe.

g. Challenged the sanity and patriotism of those who questioned their insane and unpatriotic campaign for war.

h. Incompetently prosocuted said war and the subsequent gesture at a reconstruction.

i. Racked up a debt that will burden us for the forseeable future.

j. Pushes an extremist agenda despite one electoral non-victory and one narrow victory.

k. Uses the power of the presidency to punish its political enemies.


Why is sputtering rage an unreasonable response?

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure it isn't.

It's counter-productive, but that's a different point.

And oh, yes, it is counterproductive as hell. These incontinent fools are some of the best allies the Bush administration has. They're as useful to the administration as the sheep and personality cultists and dogmatic idealogues who flock behind Mr. Bush and his merry band.

I undertsand rage about the moral criminals in this administration.

Oh yes I do.

Sometimes I wonder whether Bush and company represent a greater threat to the world than does OBL and his rag-tag band of theocratic lunatics. Think about that for a moment if you will. To even have to wonder whether that is so speaks volumes.

The Bushies seem to revere those things about America that I consider its worst qualities, and they seem to have no respect for the principles I consider almost holy.

I do not thnk they are evil and I do not think they are idiots. But I am fairly sure that they are fairly bad, and fairly sure that they are unwilling to consider even the possibility that they might be wrong. And at least as much harm has been done to the world by men such as these as has been done by history's pure villains.

Bush and company are not OBL and company. But that's not saying much. They wouldn't sieze power in a military coup, but they would lie and decieve and game the system to illegitimately gain power. And in my book that means that they are not true (small 'd') democrats. Once that was revealed about them, there was never any real chance that I could trust them. But their subsequent actions have always fit a similar pattern: they're not thoroughly bad, but they're not good either.

They're not evil, but that's not even close to being enough in my book.

If it's true that with great power comes great responsibility, then it seems that the greater the power the more responsibility will be required. Bush and company are not entirely irresponsible--morally, politically, and intellectually--but they are notably irresponsible. And they are in charge of the most powerful country the world has ever seen. It's that mismatch that is dangerous.

OBL is a psychopath, but he has little power. Bush is merely a not-very-good man. But a psychopath with a pointy stick is nowhere near as dangerous as a not-very-good man with a wing of B-52s.

One mistake people often make--especially on the right--is to compare our collective actions and our leaders with those of our enemies. We almost always come off looking good by such comparisons. But that's not good enough for me. Better that the Soviets wasn't good enough for me during the Cold War, and better than al Qaeda isn't good enough for me now. Not by a damn sight.

I don't care that our enemies are far, far worse.

Our leaders are bad enough. They disgust me. I weep for my country when I reflect that God is just. I weep for what's been exposed about America during this administration. And I'm mad as hell.

So why do the shrill lefties aforementioned nauseate me too? Well, part of it is that they're giving aid and comfort to the bad (though not worst) guys. They'll defend themselves by pointing out that appeasement and constructive engagement won't work with people like the Bushies. And I agree. They must be opposed with great vigor. But we do not face only two options, shrill spittle-flecked irrationality or sheepish quietude and acquiescence.

What's needed is calm but resolute opposition. We need to speak the truth, but we need to do so in a manner that will not undermine the content of what we say. Rabid rants are cathartic. They feel good. But it's not about our feelings at this point it's about our principles and our country and our world.

So as for these folks: I wish they'd suck it up and put the common good above their desire for catharsis.

Well, these are my initial reactions, anyway.

As always, I could be wrong.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Wall

I've been wondering of late how I became a racist reactionary fascist. Well, I mean I sort of know: it has something to do with thinking that people who come into the country illegally generally, y'know, shouldn't. Come in illegally that is. I was, among other things, informed by a guy on the teevee yesterday that the term 'illegal alien' is exactly as morally reprehensible as the N-word (a word, you'll note, that I can't even usually bring myself to mention, let alone use). I've got nothing against legal immigrants, and, truth be told, I'm almost always pleased to meet 'em. As far as I know, I'm not a bigot. As far as I know, I'm pretty much a radical anti-bigot.

I don't know what to do about the illegal immigrant problem. I don't even really understand it. But I'm concerned about it and I'm inclined to think that something probably kinda sorta ought to be done. I'm rather more concerned with doing something to slow illegal immigration in the future than I am about doing something about folks who are already here. Yes, I'm worried about rewarding people for breaking the law and all that, but in this case I guess I'm not currently inclined to be very worried about that, and not right now anyway.

Right now I'm sort of thinking about fixing the leak in general and about the fence issue in particular. Among people with whom I usually tend to agree, remarks about a fences, covertly referencing a fence along the Mexican border, have become a kind of punchline. "Maybe we should build a fence" seems to have come to mean something like "Maybe we should do something stupid, evil, and reactionary." Like "Maybe we should stone them," or "Maybe we should consult the Maleus Malificarum."

So here's my question. It's not: why is building a fence a bad idea? Nor why won't building a fence work? Nor anything like that. It's rather: why is building a fence evil and reactionary?

Is it that restricting illegal immigration is somehow intrinsically evil? Because that's not obvious to me. I mean, as I've said before, I'm perfectly willing to reform whatever's wrong with the rules governing legal immigration if they're unjust.

Is it something about the symbolism of a fence? Or a wall? If the same ends could be effected by legislation would that be non-evil/non-reactionary?
Why Do So Many Retired Generals Hate America So Much?

Well, you've seen this in the Post. Of course these "generals" don't really know anything. To get the real story you've got to talk to the 82nd Couchborn. They'll give you the straight dope about the infallibility of everyone in the current administration, this infallibility ultimately radiating from the super-duper-uber-infallibility of Our Glorious Leader George W. Bush. Why these generals think they can tell what's going on in Iraq from...well, Iraq is beyond me.

There is another point in the piece that I think is worth thinking about. Re: the constant stream of criticism from retired generals:

"I think it flatly is a bad thing," said Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina who writes frequently on civilian-military relations. He said he worries that it could undermine civilian control of the military, especially by making civilian leaders feel that that they need to be careful about what they say around officers, for fear of being denounced as soon as they retire.

That's an interesting point. I don't buy it right off the bat, but it's something to think about. However, as long as those still in the military follow the relevant guidelines concerning criticism of the civilian leadership, it doesn't seem to matter much what folks who have retired say. Besides, if those who are still in the military can't speak out about incompetent civilian leadership and those who have retired from the military cannot do so either, then there will be no one left to blow the whistle on radically incompetent administrations like the current one.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Still More Dissent Re: Post's "Mobile Weapons Lab" Story

This time from Protein Wisdom.

It's definitely worth reading, but the refrain is really the one we've been hearing all along: if you squint really hard you can make this look like it might just possibly have been incompetence instead of an outright lie.

Now, we've heard this defense many, many times before, and it's not getting any more plausible... But when your heart and soul are dedicated to defending a theory--in this case the Bush-is-good theory--you can usually find some way to construct a story that obfuscates things enough to let the theory sneak out the back door.

Look, unless Bush comes right out on national t.v. and say "I cherry-picked intelligence," the few dead-enders that are still defending him are not going to stop doing so. In fact, I'd be willing to bet at least some money that even that would not be enough to stop all of them. Even then some of them would probably construct an elaborate theory about how he was sacrificing himself and his reputation to unify the country or somesuch...

So since Bush and his posse are never, ever, ever going to admit what happened no matter what evidence turns up, there is no reason to take their utterances into account.

Rather, all we can do is look at the evidence. Evidence like this is almost never conclusive. It just keeps piling up until one of the possibilities looks more and more remote.

It's of course possible that the administration was straight with us about Iraq intelligence. But the more we learn, the more remote that possibility becomes.
Drum on Mobile "Biolabs" Story

Drum's claim here is in accordance with my quick reaction to attacks on the Post mobile "biolabs" story. In short, even if the preponderance of available expert opinion was to the effect that they were mobile weapons labs, the administration still acted irresponsibly because, as in so many other cases, they represented a controversial conclusion as if it were certainly true.

Still, there are nuances here that we might want to sort out, e.g. stuff about the tenor of the Post story.

Still, the technically-speaking-it-was-not-a-bald-faced-lie defense is getting pretty old. To put it in a little perspective, if Clinton had been cut less than half this much slack, his meaning-of-'is' defense would have been accepted and he'd never have been impeached.
Dissenting Opinions Re: Use of "Mobile Weapons Lab" Evidence

Insty links to three criticisms of the Post story. No time to sort through these now. Of course folks on that end of the spectrum continue to spin everything as hard as possible to find plausible (and often implausible) deniability for their hero, but they've been right about some of it. Fortunately this is an issue we should be able to figure out with a little bit of effort. Intellectual honesty'll be the key here, of course.

I've read some cognitive scientists say that we tend to give little thought to claims with which we agree, whereas we subject claims with which we disagree to much more careful examination. So if that's right and things go by the book, our friends on the right probably thought more carefully about this story than we did. Now it's our turn.
Calling All Nerds: Computer Purchase Query

O.k., so I won the faculty computer lottery, which gives me $500 in matching funds to spend on computer equipment by the end of this month. My current computer is a 2-3 year old Dell Inspiron 1100, which I am not wild about, but mostly because I've never gotten around to installing a respectable amount of memory on it. I don't strictly speaking need a new machine, but I figure I might as well avail myself of this opportunity.

I've poked around a bit, but any input re: this purchase would be appreciated.

Note: All I do is word processing, a little digital photography, and web surfing. I don't crunch numbers and I've banned myself from playing computer games until this &%$#* book is finished. (Which, incidentally, I want to happen by the end of this near-future gaming isn't completely out of the question...)

Note: as a lowly humanities prof at a decidedly non-wealthy public university, $$$ is something of an issue. I'm trying not to go over $1k.

(Note: am not complaining about my salary. I get to do philosophy for a living. Can't believe I get paid for this at all... What a scam...)
Mobile Bioweapons Labs: Yet Another Unequivocal Lie

Well, you've seen the Post story. What's left to say about this? If a Democrat had lied half as much about something half as important and these lies had consequences that were half as disastrous, he would have been impeached immediately. But there are two different standards for Republicans and Democrats, and despite the cornucopia of evidence proving this president's dishonesty and incompetence, even talk of censure is treated as crazed or even treasonous. But if this president does not deserve to be impeached, then who, pray tell, does?

Well, Andrew Jackson, of course--may he rot in Hell. But who this side of him? One bit of good news for Republicans, I guess--despite the fact that three of the last five of their presidents deserved impeachment, the worst president ever is still a Democrat...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Christopher Hitchins on Niger Uranium: Missing the Point?

Christopher Hitchins offers evidence that Iraq was, in fact, trying to obtain uranium from Niger. (And Instapundit links to it approvingly).

It seems, however, that Hitchins may be missing the--or at least a--point here. As far as I know, no one is arguing that

(a) There is no evidence that there was an attempt to purchase the uranium.

Rather, they are arguing one or both of the following:

(b) There was (and/or is) insufficiently strong evidence that Iraq was trying to purchase the uranium.

(c) The NIE concluded that there was insufficiently strong evidence that Iraq was trying to purchase the uranium.

There are various issues here, but since the invasion is already a done deal, it is no longer terribly important to determine whether or not there was in fact an attempted purchase. The salient questions now have to do with whether or not the decision to invade was rational and whether or not we were mislead. That's why (b) and (c) are more important now.

There was, of course, a tangle of evidence, some pointing one way, some pointing others. It's reasonably clear that the administration picked all of the evidence pointing in their preferred direction, exaggerated it, made up some more, and ignored all the evidence pointing in the other. So it seems irrelevant to point out that there was, in fact, some evidence pointing in their preferred direction. We know that, but it doesn't matter. What matters is that the balance of evidence in the NIE (etc.) was inconclusive at best, that the administration knew this, and that they deceived us by cherry-picking evidence and releasing it selectively.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wild Speculation

1. Notice that calling x "wild speculation" is not the same as calling x false. I trust that nobody is still falling for this kind of inexplicit denial after the "there-are-no-plans-to-invade-Iraq-on-my-desk" debacle. Listen: the media should at least be asking the kinds of questions (e.g. "so you're saying that we are in no way considering plans for nuking Iran?") that force these guys to come right out and lie explicitly--which they've shown they'll do, but only if they can't get by with lesser degrees of deception. If we don't force them to lie explicitly they'll later point out that they weren't technically lying (it was wild speculation, see, but it was also true).

2. Whatever defects Hersh's article might have, it is probably not wild speculation. It may be partially or largely or wholly false, his sources may be lying or in error. Hell, he could even be just making it up. But none of those things is speculating. Lying is not speculating, nor is basing a belief on faulty information.

[Note: Xantippas makes point 1 above in an addendum to a much more detailed post.]
Lt. General Gregory Newbold: Why Iraq Was a Mistake

You've probably seen this already, but if you haven't you should do so. Nothing really new here, but it's good to read the rational words of a sensible expert insider. Helps to drown out the senseless cacophony we're usually subjected to.

The 82nd Couchborne (motto: Lounge With the Best, Snooze Like the Rest) will continue to defend the decision to go to war--and its conduct--no matter what, of course. But just saying it over and over again won't make it so.
Vampire Slaying Kit

On E-Bay, via BoingBoing. This little honey--allegedly from 19th-century Romania--will help you strike back against the vampire insurgency... Though it won't help with the zombie apocalypse.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Taking a Short Break

Blogging's been light. I think I'm taking a short break. Coupla days. Just been too depressed about the political situation to discuss it. With the exception of the Brookings numbers from Iraq (see last post) and the news about DeLay, it's all just been too depressing. Oh, but I'm going out of town, so that's part of the reason, too. Wedding. Suit and tie. Shoot me.

Be sure to read this over at Drum's digs, and follow the links. It's about Bush's alleged knowledge that he was feeding us bogus info, and about possible links between that and the Plame affair. Kinda conspiratorial-sounding for my taste, but it makes more sense that most of the relevant hypotheses.

O.k., more in a coupla days.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Important Numbers on Iraq from Brookings

Sumarized at MyElectionAnalysis. Looks like numbers of deaths of all kinds are declining. Praise Jebus.

(Via Instapundit)