Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Lincoln Park Pirates

I don't get to the city much. Been there, done that, got the car alarm.

But all over the great State of Illinois, a great confluence of allied actors presents itself to the average person as a monolithic force with the malevolent desire to trap him into paying a hefty fine for whatever infraction he can be charged as having committed.

In Chicago, which I think is on a whole other planet from the rest of Illinois, the cabbies have been asking permission to raise rates. No, that's not right: they've been asking the Mayor Daley to raise their fares. Why on Earth does Hizzoner Da Mayor set the prices for what is ostensibly a private enterprise? The socialists in the Democrat machine are why.

It seems that if you park your car in the wrong place in Chicago, it will be ticketed and towed. There is a $50 fine, but you get your choice: pay the $50, or pay $25 and go tell the judge, who will either order you to pay the other $25 or give you your money back on the first snowy day in Baghdad this summer. Not such a bad deal, unless you want to park your car somewhere other than your driveway, which you don't have because you foolishly live in a city.

And yet, somehow, there are reports of people sending in their $50 fine, getting a receipt for it, but the ticket gets filed as a $25 contested one. Bah. Cities. You can have 'em.

Rod Blagojevich wants to be the guy who provided health care to everyone in Illinois, maybe so someone will like him. Hard to say. But guess what, Rod ol' boy: when the Feds get through with your dirty campaign and even dirtier governance, you will be known as "George Ryan II".

I drive a lot on a particular stretch of Interstate in Illinois. I know where the Illinois State Police have their speed traps, so I'm careful not to exceed the speed limit where those traps are. I also know that when I see someone pulled over by a State Trooper, the motorist is usually Black or Hispanic.

Is it racial profiling? I don't know. All I know is what I see, and I usually see a lot more melanin in the face of the one pulled over than in the one standing under the Smokey hat.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In Defense of Hillary

Eric Naing, in his July 27 opinion piece in the Daily Illini, is to be congratulated on his 20-10 hindsight.

I may just be some punk, college kid but in 2002, I was smarter than a senator. When asked about her vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Sen. Hillary Clinton responded, "If we knew then what we know now, there wouldn't have been a vote." But as Clinton would like you to forget, there was ample evidence available in 2002 showing that the Iraq invasion would be based on false premises.
Let's take his points in order. But I must note that the President didn't need Senate authorization to invade Iraq. Congress holds the authority to declare war, but the President can order troops to engage in hostilities without a formal declaration of war. It's a lot wiser for him to get Congressional approval up front for a number of reasons including political fallout for war gone unpopular, of which Iraq, you'll agree, is a splendid example.

Mr. Naing quotes Senator Clinton as saying 'that Saddam Hussein was working to "rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program."' Then he cites experts who said Iraq didn't have any, or that there was no proof of such. But working to rebuild something and having it are two very different things. For example, a student is working on a college degree, but does not have one yet.

Everyone (everyone) believed that Saddam wanted WMDs even if he didn't have them already. He had shown over the course of his many years in dictatorial power that he was willing to employ any tactic or use any weapon he had to achieve his ends. It is foolish to wait to be attacked.

That Saddam Hussein was giving "aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members" is again not the same as linking Saddam with al-Qaida. Saddam was giving cash payments of about $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. That alone is enough support for the Senator to make the statement she did. And it was enough all by itself to justify the invasion of Iraq.

And since the Senator did not read the NIE text, but only a summary, Mr. Naing charges her with believing bad advice. How do we know that her conclusions or actions on those conclusions would have been any different had she read the whole eye-glazing thing? Perhaps she would have been even more convinced of the danger posed by Saddam, discounting the State and Energy conclusions just as her advisers did. The only evidence Mr. Naing gives that her conclusion would have changed is that he believes it to be so.

So he twice used the Straw Man fallacy, arguing against a position his opponent did not take, and then circularly assumed conclusion by assertion.

But he compounds those errors by concluding that not only has he defeated those arguments for authorizing the war, but that since he did, there are no other arguments to be made. That he, and many others, concluded that there was no proper justification for the war is irrelevant to the Senator's position, for he could have arrived at his position by rolling dice.

If you readers who are students learn nothing else in college, please learn this: the popularity of a proposition is not an indication of its truth or falsehood.

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Bowling for Burma Shave [Updated]

On my way to work I pass on the highway a series of roadsigns in the spirit of the old Burma Shave advertising signs. You know the kind, a little poem written on signs placed far enough apart so you can read them out loud one line at a time.

Young Thugs

Won't Dare Attack

If A Teacher

Might Shoot Back

Guns Save

The signs aren't clickable, and that's fortunate, because apparently the site given by the last one has been hijacked by Russian parasuits.
[Update: I mistyped the URL. Take a click at the site that I should have showed you the first time.]

The nice thing about the placement of these signs is that a good portion of the traffic passing them is destined for the Socialist Republic of Chicago. I'll get a picture of the signs, if I can do so without getting arrested by the Illinois Storm Troopers.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hegseth for SecDef

The Best Article Ever on why we must continue to fight in Iraq. Pete Hegseth, an Army National Guard Lieutenant, takes apart the three worst errors held by the Anti-War Left about Iraq:

  1. A deadline for withdrawal would pressure the Iraqi government
  2. We can draw down troops and just fight terrorist
  3. It's possible to give in to full on BDS and still "support the troops"
Read his article. I add:
  1. If the Iraqis could stabilize their country, don't you think they would do so? As if they like having a few dozen of their countrymen cut down by suicide bombs.
  2. The Dems have no intention of fighting anybody.
  3. The first lesson for dealing with troops is: they can spot a liar a mile off. They know when someone is giving them lip service. It doesn't work.
H/T Pejman

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Wal-Mart Caused Global Warming

J. Oliphant at The Minority Report Blog and Redstate notes that even though China has surpassed the US as the world's largest CO2 emitter, that's still the fault of the West, for buying Chinese-made goods.

Leaving aside the ludicrous nature of that idea, with which Jolly melts faster than an ice cube in June, it occurs to me that it isn't all of America who forces China to produce CO2. After all, I personally boycott Chinese goods on the basis of their utter crappiness.

To wit, who distributes and retails all of these crappy Chinese-made goods at a cost that unionized, minimum-wage owing, overregulated, lawyered-up American companies can't beat at wholesale?


The dreaded, evil Wal-Mart.

So, not only is Wal-Mart responsible for first inciting and then delaying John Edwards' purchase of a Playstation by making his staffer wait in line like a common customer, but they have pushed China into becoming the biggest CO2 producer.

It's a wonder they're still in business.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


The international dialogue over Islamofascism reminds me of arguing with an abusive or crazy person.

The bully can go on long tirades about who knows what, but will react with outrage if questioned, "Is the trash in the street really arranged to give you personal messages from God?" The tables are turned, and the true victim is accused of verbally abusing the crazy bully, being small-minded, and all manner of intolerance.

And here's the thing: the nutcase really believes he's been unjustly attacked.

The response to non-Muslims who decry Islamic aggression is similarly disproportionate.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

This will hurt me more than it hurts you

If we need an example of truth being in the mind of the believer, perhaps that qualifies. A child about to get his backside warmed knows it can't possibly be the case that his Dad will be harmed in any way by the event. And yet, every parent who has performed the ceremony knows that the sense of failure, of inflicting pain on a loved one, and even the sting on the hand are all things to be avoided whenever possible.

But sometimes physical pain is necessary. Some children don't need it, and that may be why some parents get the silly idea that spanking children is wrong. Or rather, I would say that of course it's wrong, but it's just less wrong than allowing them experience their first pain as their last, or to grow up to be sociopaths who never learned they have to obey the rules.

There is a human tendency to secretly believe that we ourselves are fit and intended to rule the world (why else are we us and not someone else?) When a child looks you in the eye and says, "You ain't the boss of me!", it's time to let them know what, as they say, is what.

Sometimes children grow up without ever being disciplined, without ever learning that no, they aren't intended to rule the world. These adult children struggle to fit in to civilized society. They need a lot of correction, usually by an institution designed for such, or by the end of a rope. In extrema, they find a following of others, who transfer their own uncorrected desire to rule the world to one leader, or to one movement.

And so it is with radical Islam.

While anthropomorphism is always a tricky business, I think the parallel between religious movements and individuals is striking. Some religions may have quirky ideas, but for the most part they don't hurt anyone, break things, or leave the park messy. But this one does.

Despite the Big Lie inherent in cries of "Zionism!", Judaism has learned, through a really long struggle, that it cannot force people to adopt itself. Christianity started out knowing that, then kind of forgot it for a thousand years or so, but now has learned the lesson. While after 9/11 some people, I hope snarkily, suggested forced conversion to Christianity as some kind of solution, I think Christianity as a whole has returned to its forceless roots once and for all.

Other religions operate in the world of ideas, and don't seek to spread by force. And there are some Islamic sects, perhaps including the majority of Muslims, who don't run around blowing themselves up to spread the word.

Those are some of the reasons we don't want to spank Islam as a whole for the sake of its most radical practitioners. But most importantly, we know something that the child only vaguely comprehends: disciplining Islam will in fact cause pain for Western Civilization. We know it, and those who call for disciplining the child with physical force are shouted down as abusers. The child sees only a weak authority, unable to assert itself for lack of moral conviction.

But rather than weakness, our hesitancy to lump all of Islam together comes from the core of our culture: we believe that lumping people together is wrong. It would be something of a refutation of our ideals to persecute a religion in general for the actions of a minority of its adherents.

But Islam grew up with the ability to force its will on non-believers, and includes in its sacred text instructions on how to make second-class people out of them. The voices crying out "Death to America" and such aren't merely expressing some religious ideal, but laying out the grand strategy. America, as symbol of Western Civilization, must die.

Just as the Muslim Saddam Hussein paid $25K to the families of suicide bombers. Pakistani ministers of parliament are now saying that suicide bombing is justified.

If someone blows himself up he will consider himself justified. How can we fight terrorism when those who commit blasphemy are rewarded by the West?

You start by realizing that you weren't born to rule the world.

But it isn't Islamic nations that are the problem, it's Islam. No, it's that faction of Islam, the noisiest one, that desires to spread itself by force which needs to be told that it has to share. It won't listen to reason, to compassion, or to restraint. Violent Islam will only listen to blood, the blood of its adherents, spilled in massive amounts by people explicitly doing so because they will not be assimilated. Only then will it learn, its power-hungry mullahs forced to teach tolerance alongside proselytism.

Islam needs the spanking it never got as a child.

Probably the same folks who consider all physical punishment to be immoral will disagree with me, and say that attacking the violence of Islam with our own violence will only make things worse. Well, we've tried ignoring them, and it still got worse. We've tried giving them what they demand, and they wanted more. We've tried standing them in a corner, and where did that get us?

We have been fooled into believing that religions deserve special protection, because the religions we've been used to seeing promote civilized behavior. But in Islam we find a child with a "struggle": should it throw a tantrum and demand its own way, or should it listen to its parents and play nicely? We'd like not to have to resort to spanking, but for this kid, I think it's going to be necessary. I only hope we gather the fortitude to do what will need to be done.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's the Water, Stupid.

If the Global Climate Warming Change crowd were really interested in combatting the problems associated with having Anthropogenic Climate Change Or Whatever (ACCOW), they would pour every last cent into ways to deliver fresh water to the dry spots of the Earth.

With enough water, people can thrive very nicely in very hot climates. In fact, water tends to keep surface temperatures down, as clouds and vegetation interfere with the ability of the ground to absorb heat. Swamps are preferred to deserts, especially now that we know DDT won't kill all the eagles.

Some ideas:

  • Efficient desalination of ocean water
  • Capturing rain water over the ocean
  • Piping sea water into the desert to evaporate, make marshes, or even inland seas
Rather than try to adapt to the warmer temperatures that are allegedly coming, the folks who are convinced we're having ACCOW seem dead set on trying to control everything but the one thing that matters: water.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Diversity Diversion

To be "Liberal" used to mean to be open-minded, generous, and compassionate. The Liberal man was open to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new technology. He saw the discrepancy in means between himself and those less fortunate, and was moved to assist them. The goal of the Liberal man has always been a just society governed by enlightened kindness rather than by selfish ambition. That's still the liberal self-image, but the reality has largely become overwhelmed by strident voices of those out to prove a symbolic point, giving the appearance of concern yet caring not one whit for the betterment of their fellow man.

Why has modern Liberalism become such a joke that its very name is a byword?

Liberals have once again been diverted on the road to the promised land of the just society. As usual, they have fallen for their favorite logical fallacy, mistaking an outcome for its cause. Believing [cite] that the strongest and most free societies are ones with diverse subcultures, they incorrectly reason that diversity is the cause of the strength. They believe that diversity causes freedom.

The proposition that diversity is most present in the strongest and freest cultures, even if granted, does not imply that diversity made those cultures strong or free. Rather, freedom is the cause of both the strength and the diversity. Diversity is the golden child of freedom, and not the other way around.

When we speak of diversity, what is it that we mean? There are several types of diversity:
biological, random, natural, racial/type, geographical, skill / educational. It is a mistake to conflate these types of diversity, or to assume that one kind necessarily implies another.

Norman L. Johnson,writing on his research into diversity, cites social insects, ecosystems, social networks, and distributed economies as examples of systems in which diversity is crucial. Yet bee hives and ant colonies are remarkable for their lack of diversity. Their survival strategy is to treat individuals as common parts, indistinguishable, and dispensable. And while ecosystems and distributed economies are complex, modeling human society on them assumes a similarity that may or may not be present.

Strength doesn't require diversity, but unity. Diversity can provide added capability and resilience under changing circumstances, but it can also weaken. In fact, diverse communities show the least amount of trust, meaning that those communities are literally the weakest, not the strongest.

The problem with citing the strength of natural biodiversity or other such examples as argument for social diversity is that diversity is a good fit for only certain problems. Diversity within a group helps it adjust to changing conditions, but not if those conditions are designed carefully. Attacks against an entire diverse group require that the group be bound together. The more diverse a group, the more difficult unity is.

It is impossible to have diversity without strife. It's a tautology to say that people who have different points of view will disagree. This diversity leads inexorably to infighting. History is replete with wars between groups that are indistinguishable to outsiders, yet which differ too much to peacefully coexist.

Diversity is a by-product of our intentional decision to be free individuals. That freedom, and not the diversity, is what generates our strength. It is freedom that allows prosperity; diversity is at best unrelated to it. It is freedom which motivates the soldier to defend his country; diversity is at best not a factor in that, either. Perhaps you can teach me how diversity gives strength.

An attempt to remove diversity must need be an attack on freedom, but not all attacks on freedom target diversity. Diversity is an indicator, not a cause.

But the Liberal movement has been so smitten with the diversity bug that they see diversity as more important than freedom.

Conservatives are comfortable with both freedom and diversity. We want billions of free, diverse groups of 1.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Don't Waste Your Vote

We often hear it said: "Do not waste your vote." We may even say it ourselves, or allow the fear of "wasting" a vote to influence our decision in the booth.

(A similar posting appeared at Redstate at some point, but I can't see my older posts there any more to link to it)

The election process is about more than just who wins. Sure, the winner is important, but there are other factors that have an impact on the behavior of government. For the sake of discussion, let's assume that one of the two major parties, or one of the two main contenders in a primary, will win the election. Why vote for someone else?

A vote is a statement of your general favor for a given candidate. But it's a winner-take-all proposition; you don't get to divide it among three candidates you like. You don't get to supply context or a commentary describing your true opinion or otherwise add nuance; you just get to make your pick. Regardless of your reservations or misgivings over your choice, your vote shows your full endorsement, without reservation, to the candidate you select.

And the candidate or party who gets your vote will use that endorsement once elected, to claim to have your support as part of a "mandate". Though you only voted the way you did to keep from supporting the greater of two evils, you thrown the entire weight of your tiny fraction of national sovereignty behind the lesser of two evils. Is that really what you want, to support evil?

Think about the numbers for a second. Suppose there are three candidates in a race for office. For weeks, polls have been showing that two of them have roughly equal support, 47% for one, 45% for the other, with no votes for the third and the rest undecided. Unless one of the two main candidates is photographed posing lewdly with woodland creatures, that's probably how the election will turn out.

And on election day, you vote for the lesser of two evils, with the results:

Very Evil Party: 2,000,452
Fairly Evil Party: 2,010,398
Benign Party: 0

Which vote are you? Just part of the fairly evil mandate. But now consider the results when you vote your mind:

Very Evil Party: 2,000,452
Fairly Evil Party: 2,010,397
Benign Party: 1

Rather than being 0.00005% of a mandate for something you only barely support, you are 100% of the support for something in which you mostly or even fully believe. Similarly, if the benign party has 99 other votes, you are 1% of its support, rather than being an insignificant portion for something you don't really like.

Voting for a third party or write-in candidate sends the signal that A) you care enough to vote and B) neither of the two major party clowns was good enough for you. To the extent that your vote matters at all, you have used it to tell the major parties that if their policies were more like the one for whom you voted, they might get your vote.

A vote for a third party encourages that party, and also the other minor parties. They see the number of people who voted for them, and know where their support is. This is especially notable in primary contests for President, in which the results of early primaries are said to give momentum to the leading candidates. They need not even win, only give a "strong showing" to encourage attention, donations, and votes in later primaries. People want to pick the winner, after all.

A vote for a third party or minor candidate lends them authority when they speak out. A press release from a party that got .01% of the vote is treated differently from a party that got 1.01%. If a party gets even 2% of the vote, they start to look mainstream. After all, getting 2% might be enough to alter the balance of power between the two major parties.

But, it might be argued, doesn't that split the support for one of the major parties, causing the Most Evil Party to win instead of the Not Quite So Evil Party? Possibly, and that is part of the choice. Unless your tiny party is at one extreme of the spectrum occupied by the two majors, support for it will come proportionately from both of them.

Again, most people want to vote for a winner. To vote for a third party you have to get past that sense of wanting to be on the winning side and remember to vote your own mind. In the end, what difference does it make who voted for the winner? It only allows you to say that your views on who should win are among the most popular faction. But are they your views, or those of the influence peddlers, media, and rest of the crowd? If you only vote for the candidate you think is going to win, you have effectively allowed someone else to vote for you.

Voting for a third party encourages those who don't want to "waste" their votes that it's not such a waste to actually cast those votes according to their respective opinion. Voting is a herd phenomenon. When others see your party's vote total rising from past elections, they'll be more likely to vote that way themselves.

So unless you examine all the choices in front of you and determine that one of the major parties is running the candidate that best describes your point of view, voting for one of them is a bigger waste than voting for a third party or write-in. You won't waste your vote, in any case, but you will have wasted an opportunity to use your piece of sovereignty in the only way that really matters.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bush Displacement Syndrome

Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of George W. Bush?

I'm no longer a supporter of the President, except in the general terms accepted by a citizen. But the all-too-common Bush Derangement Syndrome is infuriating to the logician in me. If things keep going in the direction they are, we'll have a Council on W-like Activities holding hearings, with agents out beating the bushes to find people who may have ... *gasp* ... supported our 43rd President.

Over at Classical Values, Eric wonders why especially his liberal friends poke fun and assume he is a spokesman for all things Bush, by virtue of having voted that way in 2004:

If asked about specific issues, I'm always happy to admit what I think. So, if someone's angry about anthropogenic global warming, the war in Iraq, the FMA, or Bush's alleged simianism, I'll be glad to discuss each issue individually. I don't follow anyone's party line, though, and calling me "George" just doesn't give me enough of a clue.
People tend to self-label, and to put everyone into a little box. All Republicans are conservative Christian NRA members who drive SUVs and live in suburbs named after trees. All Democrats are liberal atheist Planned Parenthood volunteers who drive Volkswagens and live downtown in converted warehouse lofts.

In politics, there is a tendency to fall for what I call the fallacy of several choices, which is really a False Dilemma. It is assumed that the candidate for whom we vote represents our ideal choice, despite the fact that the process is designed to limit the number of choices to as close to two as possible without being zero. We often choose the lesser of two evils rather than not voting or "wasting" our vote on a write-in or third party candidate.

The fallacy of several choices manifests in two ways that I can think of right now: the mandate and the "Don't blame me" bumper sticker. The elected candidate or party assumes a "mandate" on some issue, when there were many different issues at play in the election. And once the shine comes off the winner's term in office, the bumper stickering (and cocktail party ribbing) begins, as if the losing candidate would have been the best choice after all. In all likelihood, the losing candidate would have done worse, or events would have conspired to cause any candidate to perform as badly in office.

But there is no reasoning with many people when it comes to President Bush. They are convinced he's spying on them, suborning torture, went into Iraq for personal gain, responsible for 9/11, and out to make a theocracy. Most of them are just sure he "stole" both the 2000 and 2004 elections (one by SCOTUS, one by Diebold).

It all ties in, I think, with the liberal need for the world to be a house of cards balance on a knife edge, a place full of rigid social structures and wrongs that need righted. In their mind, the universe is stuck perpetually in 1963, waiting for brave artists to speak truth to power.

And no appeal to Occam, request for evidence, or application of idiot stick will shake them from their point of view that the evil conservative power structures are keeping them down, squelching dissent. The irony of being able to tell anyone with a web browser that they are being squelched never dawns.

Dr. Sanity thinks the Bush Derangement Syndrome is displacement, hating Bush so as not to commit political incorrectness against Islamofascism. But it started during the 2000 primaries, before 9/11. It did heat up most in the summer of 2003, when the threat from Iraq was for all practical purposes gone. People didn't need Bush to protect them any more, they figured. Maybe some of them were embarrassed at wanting a strong leader after 9/11.

What will happen when President Bush is finally actually displaced? Many of them believe he will stage a coup d'etat, holding power and ruling as the dictator they think he is.

But when that dream of theirs dies, they'll find something else to fantasize about, I guess. For the lefty loonies, it's either that, or realize that it's no longer 1963.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

What Have We Learned? Part II


Not Happy, but not Betrayed

That was the title of today's entry at the Academy.

So the immigration bill has been pulled. For now. But its effects will continue for a long time, perhaps long enough to give the Democrats control of both the Congress and the White House. But we know things now that we should have known all along.

We have known for a long time that liberal groups have seen immigration reform as a way to gain voting rights for illegal aliens. Yes, yes, I know, they care. Self-interest informs altruism.

But brilliant as it is, that misses the forest for the trees. Also, it fails to note why it is that "comprehensive" immigration will come up again, probably in September. Michael Cherthoff told Bill O'Reilly on the Radio Factor that they would have at least 150 miles of fence built by then. Once the progress is in three figures, look for the comprehensive plan to resurface.

During the immigration blogstorm, we learned that the Kennedy-McCain-Bush triumvirate desperately want immigration patched up before the 2008 elections, for three different sets of reasons.

Senator Kennedy works hard to show that he's a good rich elitist, not a bad rich elitist. He wants to finish the destruction of the nation which he began with his 1964 Act, continuing through the 1986 Immigration Floodgate Opening Act, and to the present day in which he sees the opportunity to build a permanent Democrat majority with a coalition of rich hippies, the urban poor, and Hispanics.

Senator McCain sees compromise with Kennedy as a way to curry favor with the media. He wants to get things done, regardless of whether they are the right things or not. He'd like to be able to claim some kind of credit for fixing immigration. Above all, he wants the furor over immigration to be gone before the primaries start. McCain is a cratocrat who equates government action with success, and projects that to the rest of us.

And joining them in their folly, President Bush wants to fix immigration before he leaves office, even if it kills the coalition that elected him. Like McCain, he desperately wants to show that Republicans aren't the racists liberals believe they are. Rather than simply ignoring race, however, he actively pursues a policy based on it.

We know that the Republicans too want to court the illegal vote, and are willing to play the race card and question the sincerity of their opponents in order to get it. Afraid of the charge of racism themselves, they use it to attack those who should be their allies.

Maybe the politicians have learned that we want a secure border.

We learned that the Republican coalition of the idealists and the capitalists is very fragile, but the Democrats' kindergarten coalition will happily turn on itself if it looks like one special interest group is getting some shiny trinket the others aren't.

The big winner? Rudy. With his social liberal credentials, he won't need a coalition.

But at least this is one time that the phony charges of bigotry and racism didn't carry the day. Maybe we've finally gotten past automatically caving in when those charges are aimed at us.

(cross-posted from Redstate)

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What Have We Learned?

... or
Not Happy, but not Betrayed

So the immigration bill has been pulled. For now. But its effects will continue for a long time, perhaps long enough to give the Democrats control of both the Congress and the White House. But we know things now that we should have known all along.

We have known for a long time that liberal groups have seen immigration reform as a way to gain voting rights for illegal aliens. Yes, yes, I know, they care. Self-interest informs altruism.

But the Republicans decided that they too wanted to court the illegal vote. Republicans who played the race card and questioned the sincerity of their opponents on the immigration issue have some serious problems. I don't feel betrayed, just ... displeased. Insulted. But at least I know.

President Bush gave a speech.

As a matter of fact, you can tell when the border is better defended because the number of arrests go down. In other words, when people know there's a consequence to trying to sneak across, there's less likely to be people sneaking across. Arrests have gone down by 27 percent over the past year on the southern border. That's a sign of progress. It should say to the American people that we're doing what the people expect us to do.
Actually, Mr. President, a precipitous drop like that could mean the agents are being kept from enforcing the law. The arrest rate by itself says very little about the overall volume.
This reform is complex. There's a lot of emotions around this issue. Convictions run deep. Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don't like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don't want to do what's right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people. Or you can show leadership and solve this problem once and for all, so the people who wear the uniform in this crowd can do the job we expect them to do.
Questioning my patriotism?

Senator Lindsay Graham:
As Diggers Realm says,

Senator Graham even went as far as to say he was a part of La Raza by saying "We're going to tell the bigots to shut up".

In other words he is in bed with this racist illegal alien support group La Raza that has funded extremist Aztlan reconquista groups like MEChA. He's looking out for them, not you. He's looking out for them over American citizens and he needs to be brought to task for that.

Senator John McCain:

Amanda Carpenter at Townhall says,
Not one to shy from a fight, the former P.O.W. McCain suggested that they visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. There, “you’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names,” he said.

He went on: “When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today, you’re going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background. You’re even going to meet some of the few thousand that are still green card holders who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they’re willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation.”
I have never suspected that Senator McCain was a racist. Perhaps he didn't mean to suggest that we must treat everyone of a particular skin color or ethnic background in a certain way because of their skin or last name?

It doesn't matter what kind of names are on the Vietnam Memorial. That is a Red Herring. And it also doesn't matter that some who are not citizens are fighting overseas: they are not the targets of this immigration bill. If the Senate is concerned with that group of people, they should introduce a bill granting citizenship to anyone who serves honorably in our military, or they should simply not allow such service.

The whole comprehensive immigration bill effort was just disappointing beyond belief. Maybe, and I have to roll my eyes as I write this, the politicians have learned that we want a secure border. We think that's their whole job. Or at least, without a secure border, nothing else matters.

And it may have irreparably ruptured the Republican coalition, by splitting the idealists from the capitalists.

The big winner? Rudy. With his social liberal credentials, he won't need the coalition.

But at least this is one time that the phony charges of bigotry and racism didn't carry the day. Maybe we've finally gotten past automatically caving in when those charges are aimed at us.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


For the record, for Senator McCain, for President Bush, and any other bill proponent who charge those opposed to the bill with being racists: my position has nothing to do with the ethnicity of the majority of illegal immigrants currently here. I'm not worried about preserving what passes for American "culture", whether that's used as a code for racial balance, or whatever it means. The world is changing, and the superficial aspects of our culture will change with it. But we must not allow an attack on the most important thing about America, the underlay for all of our rights and freedoms.

Both liberals and conservatives are hopping mad over the immigration bill currently before Congress. While conservatives consider the bill to be amnesty, rewarding illegal behavior, liberals are less concerned with that than with the response from illegal immigrants that the bill is unacceptable. Perhaps without realizing it, both liberals and conservatives are made unhappy by the bill's fundamental disregard for the rule of law.

For my many readers who may not recall, and especially those of you in the U.S. Senate, the Rule of Law is the simple idea that everyone should be covered equally by the rules. Some inequality is unavoidable, in that we each may be tempted by our particular nature and ability to violate different laws. While a law against camping in the city park would have only a negligible affect on most of us, the homeless would be made acutely aware of it. But the law, as written and applied, should not differentiate among us.

Violations of the principle of the rule of law include

  • Government decisions targeting or favoring one individual or entity
  • Government decisions not made according to written law or rules
  • Court decisions not based upon the law
  • Ex post facto penalties for behavior enacted after it occurs
Proponents of the immigration bill insist that it is not amnesty. Granting amnesty for something, they way, would mean a mass pardon for anyone who asked for it, as long as the guilty party promises not to do that thing any more.

So I guess it's true, in some tortured literal sense, that this bill is not amnesty: it not only doesn't simply supply a pardon, it also supplies benefits. Furthermore, the person receiving the pardon and benefits does not even have to stop committing the illegal act.

Proponents point to the fines imposed as proof that the bill is not amnesty. They insist that this is not what it appears to be, a simple way for people to expedite their immigration request by paying money. But if it is not amnesty, it's the imposition of a new penalty for a prior violation of the law, a clear example of ex post facto legislation. Whether that penalty is lighter or heavier than the previous one doesn't matter: changing the rules after the fact violates the rule of law.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Ungreen Party

If I had my own party, it would not be like the two major American political parties. It would also be unlike the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, or any other. Well, maybe a little like them.

To have one's own party is an exercise in intentional projection. Let us pretend, therefore, that there are more than, say, two people who would join a party that reflected my point of view. It hardly seems likely, but this is my blog.

I am green. I really don't consider myself an environmentalist, but I love the woods, hate litter, and I have a compost pile. However to me the Earth is not a Mother but a tool, at once a very large resource and a smallish planet circling a smallish star at the edge of a smallish galaxy, all of which are safely nestled in a caring hand. The Owner of that hand I believe holds us responsible for our use of the resource, but is also more concerned with other things.

I think most people are squarely in that same dichotomy of cognitive dissonance: there is a Creator to whom we are accountable, but our place in the universe is pretty insignificant. In the end, it seems right to leave the world and universe in at least as good a shape as we found it. It also seems right not to fret too much that we cannot.

My party would recognize the right of people to hold property, whether that be a paperclip or a continent, and to direct the use of that property as they see fit.

Humans and their ideals matter more to me than money or pollution. My party would be in favor of war to defend the freedom of other nations to direct their own affairs, but would otherwise leave them alone to do so. My party would not favor war to defend the environment, nor to correct or uphold unequal distribution of wealth.

My party would work to end the War on Drugs, as the War has proved to be more harmful than the Drugs.

My party would defend the right to keep and bear arms, not in terms of hunting, target practice, or even self defense, but simply as a right.

My party would defend the right to life, from the moment of conception to the last sweet breath.

My party would reject multiculturalism, farm subsidies, protectionism, hate crime laws, Jihad, the minimum wage, affirmative action, and smoking bans.

My party would build a wall and deport all illegal immigrants. We would then allow anyone who wanted in to come in, as long as they will speak English, renounce their foreign citizenship and loyalties, and meet certain reasonable background checks.

My party would know that nations are not people, and cannot be held to the same standards of conduct. A nation cannot be expected to respond as a person would. Yet each nation has certain rights among the others.

But the biggest reason my party would be so small is that we would assert that the only legitimate functions of government are to defend the rights of its citizens from internal or external violators, and to settle such disputes that may arise. In the end, my party would have as its highest goal the reduction of the overall size, scope, power, and importance of government at all levels, until such a time as it was able to fulfill its legitimate functions rather than wasting our resources trying to do things it should not be doing in the first place.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Anthropocentric Global Alarmism, Part II

Archimedes  said, "Give me a lever long enough and a proper fulcrum, and I shall move the Earth." Liberals today see world government as the leverage to institute their ill-considered policies. They have found their fulcrum in the issue of Global Warming.

By asserting that mankind is endangering the climate, liberals are using time-worn techniques of psychological manipulation in an attempt to gain control over economics, institute a measure of world government, and show a triumph of science over theology. Blaming capitalism for all the world's ills as they do, in Global Warming they see a chance to lay at its feet the price, and exact tribute for their cause. They insist that the cures for Global Warming require subverting both the nation and prosperity before the needs of "the planet". And since traditional religions did not predict climate changes, and don't offer solace for this problem, Global Warming is an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of the atheistic world view.

Whether we call it Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW), Anthropocentric Climate Change, or whatever (ACCOW), or something else, the concept is both simple, and bizarre. The path by which the idea of AGW has arrived at mainstream acceptance is the usual one: a weird theory is proposed, which masks incredible complexity with apparent simplicity, along with the alleged potential for disaster.

So by repeatedly having a cow over having ACCOW, liberals are using the technique of the Big Lie: repeated assertions take on the aura of truth.

In Part I of this series, I touched on the resistance to change as it relates to having ACCOW.
But the ACCOW controversy is really dominated by the fear of looking stupid. Not wanting to be wrong, scientists in government and academia would follow the consensus opinion off a cliff, and figuratively speaking, many have. Having done so, it now will be very difficult psychologically for them to reject the "consensus" opinion.

Another aspect of ACCOW which ropes people in is the principle that

Experts in the psychology of human error have long been aware that even highly trained experts are easily misled when they rely on personal experience and informal decision rules to infer the causes of complex events.
Humans tend to think that what they themselves personally experience generalizes to all people, all places, and for all time. While often accurate, hasty generalizations can lead to ruinous results.

Liberals tend to be more urban, and in cities every passing vehicle and belching smokestack shows to the city-dweller a clear link between heat and pollution. This makes them more willing to accept the notion that CO2, which makes up a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases and an even tinier proportion of the atmosphere, can have anything like the massive effect that proponents of having ACCOW suggest.

This all follows a pattern, that of the boy crying wolf. Since the 1970s, there has been a procession of looming disasters about to doom the planet. Liberals now talk about climate change, and condemn as in denial anyone who is less than apoplectic about having ACCOW.

Liberals are understandably excited about the opportunity to change society, and at the prospect that in Global Warming we can seem man despoiling the commons. It's the perfect chance to do what the threat of the previous looming disasters about to doom the planet could not. Each of the following was to be the beginning of the end of mankind, and possibly all life on Earth:
  • Overpopulation
    It is odd that the Earth has managed to support its burgeoning population, given the hysteria that led to the attempted extermination of the 'lower races', and the current worldwide practice of prenatal infanticide. But perhaps these outcomes have done their grisly job.

  • Pesticides
    Let's sing it, shall we?
    Hey farmer, farmer
    Put away that DDT now
    Give me spots on my apples
    But LEAVE me the birds and the bees
    It is a terrible irony that the pesticides needed to replace DDT have done more damage to the birds and the bees than DDT would have, while also allowing millions of deaths due to malaria that DDT use may well have prevented. While resistance, effectiveness, and side effects have to be weighed, the hype surrounding DDT's alleged dangers artificially increased the number of people who died from malaria, as well as needlessly complicating agricultural production.

  • Nuclear Winter
    I must have missed it. Of course, now that only Israel is being threatened, liberals seem unconcerned by nuclear war.

  • Ozone depletion
    There's a hole, there's not a hole. Go figure.

  • Deforestation
    Goodness me, people figured out that if they want to chop down their trees, they'd better get busy growing them. And when the 'old growth' trees are all gone, we'll just have to wait for more, or learn to to do without. Hardly seems worth it to do without now so we don't have to do without later.
But those problems either didn't materialize or weren't anything like the disaster we were told they would be. It seems likely that, while there will doubtless be changes coming if the Earth gets warmer, it's hardly worth having ACCOW over it.

  This is in paraphrase of Archimedes, who actually spoke Greek, not English. At least, that's what I'm told; I wasn't there.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Anthropocentric Global Alarmism, Part I

My position all along in the Anthropocentric Global Warming (AGW) debate has been that it doesn't matter what the cause of Global Warming is. What matters is whether it is occurring, and if the proposed solution is better or worse than some other course of action, such as doing nothing. It's reasonable to assume that reversing the warming trend would entail understanding its cause, but that is not logically necessary: you don't need to know how something broke in order to fix it.

That said, there are several profound factors that in the mix when someone is trying to sort out whether Global Warming portends The End of the World or is no big deal. As Michael Griffin of NASA says,

To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change.

I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.
Most people think that the way things are is the way they ought to be. It's part of the innate conservatism in all of us, which increases with age. Is the climate broken? Or would the world be a nicer place to be in if on average it were another half degree warmer in ten, twenty, or fifty years?

It might seem odd therefore that liberals are more concerned with Global Warming than are conservatives. Liberals are supposed to embrace change, while conservatives embrace the status quo. Conservatives understand that once something changes, it's often impossible to return to its prior state should that turn out to be preferable. Liberals are more afraid of missing an opportunity than of taking a misstep.

But is the way things are really the way they ought to be? As Michael Griffin says, who is to say that this climate is the best one?

We all have myopia, when it comes down to it. Our opinions are highly constricted by our personal experience. Urbanites, who feel the warmth, smell the exhaust, and are told of the CO2 coming from an SUV cannot help but believe SUVs will destroy the planet. That can't possibly be good, can it?

In temperate climates, many more people die from being cold every year than from being too warm. Humans are built for the tropics. And since the change in temperature is on the pace of a degree per century, it seems we have a couple of centuries to decide whether we like having fewer people die or not. The conservative in me says we should just wait and see.

I've always been fascinated by weird weather. Snow storms, ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts -- I am drawn to the awesome power displayed in the natural parade. So despite the aforementioned conservatism I find the idea climate change exciting. It has the flavor of supplying a new world to explore, without waiting for space flight to fit into my budget. For not only will climate change bring new scenery in new places, but will probably bring about political realignment and social changes, as well. Perhaps I am not as conservative as I thought, nor yet so old as to have had my fill of change.

But as I like to say, conservatives tolerate the bad to keep the good, while liberals would rather throw out the bad, even if the good has to go, too. So why, when cold kills and warm heals, is the liberal establishment entrenching as an article of faith the notion that Global Warming is bad, and so bad it must be fixed, and fixed now, rather than next week?

One pernicious aspect of the groupthink which has taken over the Global Warming debate is the level of animosity directed against dissenting scientific or political observers. In the first instance, it leads one to believe that there is more going on that scientific analysis.

Lliberals may talk about climate change, and about how worried they are and we all should be about it, but at the risk of projecting I think what they really are is excited. They are excited about the opportunity to change society, and at the prospect that in Global Warming we have man despoiling the commons. It's the perfect chance to do what the threat of nuclear war, acid rain, deforestation, overpopulation, and ozone depletion could not. They will be happy to throw out the pollution of the internal combustion engine, even if it means accepting 19th century levels of mobility and human suffering. We may starve, but we'll have proper levels of CO2.

Whatever "proper" is.

To Be Continued....

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Self-Esteem is Overrated

Culpepper's blog at Redstate touches several hot buttons for me.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I was honored to be the guest on a radio program called Political Pistachio. The show’s host (Douglas Gibbs) and his wife (“Mrs. Pistachio”) invited me on to discuss several issues facing public education. I shared my inside view regarding two PC agendas polluting public classrooms: multicultural excrement and artificial self-esteem. In nine years of teaching, I saw firsthand how PC programs retarded my students’ critical thinking skills and defiled American cornerstones like competition and self-reliance.

Multiculturalism and tolerance sound pleasant and polite, but their mesmerizing drones have paralyzed students’ ability to think. The staggering number of American students who cannot formulate meaningful arguments based on reason and facts is a serious concern, but why is anyone surprised? Multiculturalism orders students not to make judgments about anything, and tolerance deceives kids into believing that uninformed opinions are just as valid as reasoned arguments.

If there is one thing liberals do that infuriates me the most, it's their propensity for placing the cart before the horse. It is typical of the left that they see self-esteem as so awfully important, because the left generally conflate outcomes and causes. Whether it's diversity and freedom or prosperity and government, that's why liberals get it wrong so often.

Most people readily understand that self-esteem is A) overrated and B) a product of achievement.

I say self-esteem is overrated because while low self-esteem can have negative consequences in terms of life choices, so can inordinately high self-esteem. A person who is full of themselves is oven a bigger loser than one who is not. The correct trait to pursue is the virtue of Humility, stemming from correct self-knowledge.

Esteeming one's self comes from learning that accomplishments are in one's own power. It doesn't matter so much what the things are; it's the memory of seeing an obstacle and of having used ability and resources to overcome it. When those in authority (or peers, or any audience whose approval we seek) praises that success, it cements the esteem and leads to similar behavior in the future. When the achievement is denigrated, it leads into the nexus of emotions and beliefs surrounding frustration. But when the achievement is ignored or treated as merely acceptable, the response may be to encourage or discourage, depending on the momentum currently being experience by the achiever.

A self-esteem deficit is not a hindrance to scholastic achievement, at least in secondary school. It can obviously affect a kid's career and life choices. While scholastic achievement tends to raise self-esteem, there are other factors involved that are outside the teacher's control, factors which dwarf the teacher's ability to affect it.

One problem with targeting self-esteem is that there is not just one kind of self to esteem, and not just one way to esteem each of those selves. We each have a range of phyical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, intellectual, familial, peer group, andeconomic opinions of ourselves, and look for gratification among our many roles in each those interrelated areas. A man who has a low opinion of himself as a bed partner may make a fantastic salesman (which is not to say that all salesmen are compensating).

Among naive teachers, arrogantly afraid of damaging self-esteem, there is a practice of praising every little jot and tittle that comes from the kids they assume have low self-esteem: minorities, girls, the slow kids. The kids pick up on this practice, and look past it, or even learn to work for the ambivalent response that the foolish teacher gives to smart kids. The praise becomes exactly the kind of humiliation the teacher is seeking to avoid.

There is a vast difference, however, between informing a student that a particular piece of work is unacceptable and ridiculing him. Students should be treated with respect when possible, but never pampered. Pampering and false praise can at best lead to arrogance and excess self-esteem; that these traits are undesirable I feel no need to prove.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Bolting from Bush

I am a little late to come around.

Peggy Noonan says in the WSJ (w/t Wubbie's World, emphasis mine):

The beginning of my own sense of separation from the Bush administration came in January 2005, when the president declared that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation. This was at once so utopian and so aggressive that it shocked me. For others the beginning of distance might have been Katrina and the incompetence it
revealed, or the depth of the mishandling and misjudgments of Iraq.

The world is getting smaller, but it is not yet so tiny that national autonomy must be sacrificed on the altar of No Nation Left Behind. Tyranny is bad, but the alternative is worse: better for governments to oppress than for all nations to be oppressed into non-oppression. I could allow him his belief that tyranny abroad is our concern, because that's the kind of call he should be allowed to make. But a series of bad choices have caused me to reconsider my support for Mr. Bush, even as our troops are in the field:


I never faulted the President for Katrina. I think it was primarily a local problem, and I deplore the gotcha game rooted in the vain expectation that the Federal government would make the problem go away. It is symptomatic of creeping liberalism, a belief that government, especially of the Federal kind, can and should be involved in every problem, and held accountable for the vagaries of life.

Government Growth

I became very cool in my support for the President when he undertook the massive No Child Left Behind boondoggle, forcing a Federal stamp of approval on local education. The prescription drug giveaway made me cringe, knowing what a huge drain it would be on the Treasury, and that in perpetuity. Rather than trying to get rid of the Department of Education and to get the Federal government out of the insurance business, this President has expanded both.


Nor do I believe that war can ever be fought perfectly. While every death is regrettable and a cause of grief for those left behind, the fundamental mistake in Iraq was fighting not to lose, to keep the body count low. Especially once Saddam Hussein (remember him?) was defeated and humiliated, we fought the insurgents and terrorists with kid gloves, not wanting to offend. In our noble attempt to preserve civilian lives, the weakness we displayed gave courage to the opposition. We should have been ruthless: shoot from a mosque, lose the mosque. Run into a building, be buried in rubble.

The shameful firing of Don Rumsfeld should have been enough for me to bolt from Bush. I was still stinging from the loss of Congress for the Republicans, not so much because I liked the Republicans, but because of the spectre of the gang of Pelosi, Murtha, Durbin, and Reid running Congress. To have expressed such loyalty for Rumsfeld on Friday and fire him on Wednesday solely on the basis of an election loss was inexplicable. Either his work at Defense was good or not; to use an election as the measure of his effectiveness shreds any claim to be acting on principle.


The President and his allies are using charges of bigotry and racism against those who want a reasonable, logical plan for our national security. We don't care what color skin the immigrants have. We don't want lawbreakers to succeed, because we know it will encourage others to break the law. We want our borders secured, so that we know who comes in. The actual level of immigration that we currently have may very well be optimal. But it makes no sense to institute programs for guest workers or to force people to wait many years to legally migrate to the US when millions are allowed to bypass the system, without even so much as being asked about which fruits and vegetables they're importing.

Global Warming

Now the President is pushing Al Gore's global warming agenda. The fool. In search of short-term approval on an issue he could ignore, he gives the liberals a gift.

Maybe Mr. Bush is actually involved in a selfless act of altruism, giving the Republican candidates a chance to distance themselves from him. But it looks more and more like his rudder doesn't go all the way to the water. He is not governing by principle, save the principle of getting good press.

None of these issues by themselves would have been enough to make me sour on a sitting President. But all of them together have made it plain that I can no longer support Mr. Bush.

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