Thursday, June 03, 2004

Right action, wrong consequences - Schwarzenegger sends military jet to pick up ailing legislator: "There is no indication that Schwarzenegger did anything illegal in authorizing the trip. But the state could have saved a considerable amount of money by chartering a jet with a medical crew rather than using the military aircraft, the Times reported."

I think it's silly for people to second-guess the decision, because it needed to be taken. And now, I think Schwartzenegger should dip into his own massive pockets and refund the state, saying "I did what I thought was necessary, but to aviod the appearance of impropriety, I am reimbursing the state."

Peggy hits the nail on the head
OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan
I won't excerpt because you should read the whole thing. She talks on a range of topics that are all very interesting, and she does her usual great job with it.

From today's Political Diary:
"Videogame maker Ubisoft Entertainment has announced a new game geared to the 2004 election, giving players the opportunity to act as campaign managers for John Kerry or George Bush or a candidate of their own creation. Joystick junkies will be in charge of setting policy, raising money and formulating electoral-college strategy. They'll also have a chance to show up on talking head shows such as "60 Seconds" and the "O'Maley Factor," loosely based on real shows, though perhaps not as a goofy.

Players also will have the option to go back and refight historical elections, serving as campaign manager to, say, FDR. Even more attractive to many voters this year (or any year), they'll be able to create their own imaginary candidates to insert in the current election. Voters will be able to invent idealized political heroes and give them made-up names like, oh say, Wesley Clark.

"The Political Machine" hits stores in July and reportedly makes heavy use of demographic data from the U.S. Census. Ubisoft first got the idea of an election simulation in the 2000 race, but decided the end result wouldn't be interesting since its model showed that Al Gore was so obviously a shoo-in. This year's model suggests George Bush is a loser (again) and also advises John Kerry to solve his Veep dilemma by picking Dick Gephardt.

Designer Brad Wardell told Reuters that novices may be surprised by the complexities of appealing to a wide array of voters. "A player who's not a political junkie quickly learns why real-world candidates seemingly flip-flop on the issues," he says.

No information was released on how the game maker goes about modeling campaign finance laws. Software, of course, is brutally unforgiving of errors in logic."

This might be the first video game I've bought in years.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Some Random Thoughts...
...on abortion. I'm currently reading Peggy Noonan's What I Saw at the Revolution, her book about her time writing speeches for Reagan. She is talking about writing the 1985 SotU speech. She says:

Ben felt that his was a good time for the president to reassert his opposition to abortion and some of his reasoning. I thought it a good time to bring some of the reasoning up-to-date. A number of people I knew, friends who were approaching their middle thirties, were trying to have children and, for a variety of reasons, having trouble. One, who'd be a newswriter with me in Boston and became a close friend, was trying to adopt and finding it very difficult. One of the unanticipated results of Roe v. Wade was that people like Judy couldn't find babies they wanted to adopt anymore.
This is what I wrote:
'I believe that when we allow ourselves to take the lives of our smallest, most vulnerable members, we coarsen ourselves as a society. And it is surely a terrible irony that while some abort their children, so many others who cannot become parents cry out for children to adopt. Abortion has emptied the orphanages--and emptied the cradles of those who want a child to love.'"
I was reading this, and I stopped to think for a moment. I thought 'It's certainly not true that the orphanages are empty, or that there are no longer any children up for adoption. So what is it about those children that makes them unwanted, even by parents who are looking for a child to adopt.' And I realized: people who need adoptions for the reasons liberals defend don't get them.

I read today in the USA Today that "in 2002, unwed black women gave birth to nearly 70% of the black children born that year." An argument of liberals is that having the baby can, in cases, be even worse for the child then aborting it would be. Or, they argue, that having an unwanted child can destroy the mother's life. What I realized tonight is that these births are still occurring. The children being born in unwanted pregnancies are the very children who will suffer after birth. Who is getting the abortions? Middle and upper-Middle Class women who have children that would be more likely to find a comfortable adoptive home, or who have historically found ways to deal with the pregnancy (short of abortion) that changes but does not ruin her life, and still raises a healthy, loved, and successful child. Abortion does not solve the grander problems that liberals point to, it just serves as a quick-fix for those who never really suffered in the first place. In the meantime, those who truly struggle are left in the dust.

UPDATE [6/2/2004 - 22:57]: I also like an earlier quote from the book, similarly related to Reagan's feelings on abortion: "He read and thought and listened to people who cared, and he made up his mind. And suddenly when they said, 'The argument is over when life begins,' he said, 'Well look, if that's the argument: If there's a bag in the gutter and you don't know if what's in it is alive, you don't kick it do you?'"
I've been saying for a long time, "if we don't know when God considers life to begin, why would we take that risk?" I like his way of saying it better, but the sentiment is the same.

Impeach Dowd!
Catherine Seipp once again wows us with her Monthly Maureen Dowd Watch (via InstaPundit). My favorite selection: "[W]hat caught Australian blogger Tim Blair's eye here was this Dowd sentence: 'Can't the hawks who dragged us into this hideous unholy war at least pay attention to a crisis of American credibility that's exposing Iraq and the world to more dangers every day?'
As Blair aptly noted: 'If Dowd's views were reversed, we'd be reading something like this: 'Can't the pussies who denounced this beautiful God-given war at least acknowledge the American bravery that's making Iraq and the world more perfect every day?' Run that line and you'll be condemned as a tabloid simpleton. Dowd's view is exactly as sophisticated, but redeemed somehow by being anti-war.'"

Now, of course Ms. Dowd has the right to be a syndicated columnist, and a regular in the NYT, as does anyone with an opinion. It just serves to point out every once in a while that, despite her deluded ramblings to the contrary, she is not a part of mainstream America, nor does she go anywhere near representing the average American.

Here's another great passage: "I doubt that Dowd is naive enough to actually buy [Michael] Moore's Disney spiel, which means that she's dishonest enough to pretend to."

Read the whole thing, as Ms. Seipp does a great job of explicating Dowd in ways that I wish I could.

It's not the "Freedom of Religion as long as you keep it to yourself," is it? - Public baptism sparks controversy: "But park officials said religious groups seeking to perform a service in the park still need to apply for a permit or else gather under a shelter or inside."

Public Relations Lesson Number One: When denying a religious group access to a public park, always say "any group seeking to host an activity in the park still needs to apply for a permit."

And, am I to take it that being under a shelter or inside negates the requirement for a permit? What, as long as we hide those religious nuts, it's ok for them to do whatever they like?

Seriously, though, I understand the request that religious groups apply for permits before conducting services in a public park. If they are denied access and use of the park because of their affiliation, however, we have a serious problem. And it's not even the violation of free speech as charged in this article, but a conflict with a different clause of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law...abridging...the right of the people peaceably to assemble." Public park: anyone who wants to use it can use it, so long as they are not committing another crime in that use.

Focusing on the lesser problems with American society - More girls push for modest fashion: "During a recent shopping trip to Nordstrom, 11-year-old Ella Gunderson became frustrated with all the low-cut hip-huggers and skintight tops.
So she wrote to the Seattle-based chain's executives.
'I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear,' she wrote. 'Your clearks (sic) sugjest (sic) that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are suppost (sic) to walk around half naked.' "

Sure, modern styles can at times be offensive. But what's more offensive is the fact that an 11 year-old can't spell "clerks," "suggest," or "supposed." This girl is most likely in 6th grade, and she's can't spell these simple words? Maybe her parents should be spending less time with her Nordstrom and more time in front of a book.

The Day After Reality - 'Day After Tomorrow': A lot of hot air: "Oh, the plot. Global warming causes the Gulf Stream to shut down. This current normally brings tropical warmth northward and makes Europe much more comfortable than it should be at its northerly latitude. The heat stays stuck in the tropics, the polar regions get colder, and the atmosphere suddenly flips over in a 'superstorm.' The frigid stratosphere trades places with our habitable troposphere, and in a matter of days, an ice age ensues. Temperatures drop 100 degrees an hour in Canada. Hurricanes ravage Belfast. Folks in Japan are clobbered by bowling-ball-size hailstones. If we had only listened to concerned scientists and stopped global warming when we could.
Each one of these phenomena is physically impossible."

I'm not going to join the chorus of conservatives angered by this film's innacuracies, or shouting that Global Warming is a load of hot air. (It is, as I once established in a research paper by inverting a chart of the length of sunspot cycles over the annual average Earth temperature, and finding that they tracked almost exactly.) I'm more concerned by the fact that some on the left are trying to use this to spark a renewed fear of Global Warming. The severe innacuracies (as outlined in the article linked above) will do some serious damage if the film is used that way, because people's concerns will be based entirely on misconceptions as they drive for policy changes. Bad science never makes for good policy.

Oh, and, by the way, as Tom Smith, guest-blogging at Volokh makes a great point: "I noted with amusement that when Dennis Quaid took his son to the airport, he drove a Honda Hamster, or whatever you call their vile, little electric vehicle. But when the time came to brave the mother of all blizzards, and drive to New York to save his ice-bound son, he elected to use a fully equipped, big manly 4 wheel drive pickup"

Because they don't see it...
The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Grading the President: "What I don't understand is why the administration doesn't now pivot and say: O.K., we had a potential crisis. We prevented it. Now the recovery is in full swing. Let's address the long-term problems. Let's talk about the consequences of the aging baby boomers. Let's talk about reforming the tax code to encourage domestic savings."

Why we can't retreat from the Middle East
OpinionJournal - The Real World: "This omits what has been the real threat and problem from the get-go. The Middle East is home to a gridlocked array of highly repressive governments, with their attendant secret police and highly controlled economies. To survive, people must as a rule make terrible compromises--just as they did in the U.S.S.R.--built around the institutions of dictatorship, and reinforcing those same repressive (and terror-promoting) institutions.

Baathism in Syria, for instance, doesn't just mean you must say only nice things about dictator Bashar Assad; it can also mean you are strong-armed into informing on members of your own family. Authoritarianism in Egypt doesn't just mean that Hosni Mubarak gets to be president for more than two decades; it also means that if you push for real elections you can end up in prison. Clerical rule as practiced in Iran doesn't just give the ayatollahs a hand in politics, it arms them with a global terrorist network and the power to smother an entire generation of young Iranians who would like them gone."

Claudia Rosett writes wonderfully today on why we went into Iraq without the approval of France and Russia, or the UN, and why what we are doing and have done is important. And she says at least one thing that can't be said enough: "Abu Ghraib is flourished not simply as evidence that America made horrible mistakes in handling prisoners, but as an argument that the U.S. should never have gone into Iraq in the first place. Though had America stayed away, the murderous atrocities of Saddam would still be going on. And if experience is any guide, there would be no leaked Red Cross reports, no digital-photo exposés, no apologies, redress or reform. Just more mass graves."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Awesome. This is just what we need. - FBI issues alert for stolen propane tankers: "FBI agents in Texas issued a nationwide alert Tuesday for two stolen propane tanker trucks, laden with thousands of gallons of the volatile liquefied gas."

Monday, May 31, 2004

She was deceptively young... - Last widow of a Civil War veteran dies
Sooooooooo she died 140 years after the Civil War ended. How could she possibly be the last widow of a Civil War veteran? Hint: they married in the 1920s. Not quite as impressive as you might think at first glance...

And now, from the obvious headlines department, gives us: "Iraq war gives Memorial Day special meaning," and "Bush to visit Normandy for D-Day anniversary." Thanks for keeping us posted, guys.

(ed. note: the Memorial Day story is actually fairly sweet, it just struck me as a stupid headline to post)

UPDATE [5/31/2004 - 21:01]: And then there's this headline, from later in the day: - Scrambled eggs shut down highway.

More on Pew
Liberal Media Evidence: "Since 1962, there have been 11 surveys of the media that sought the political views of hundreds of journalists. In 1971, they were 53 percent liberal, 17 percent conservative. In a 1976 survey of the Washington press corps, it was 59 percent liberal, 18 percent conservative. A 1985 poll of 3,200 reporters found them to be self-identified as 55 percent liberal, 17 percent conservative. In 1996, another survey of Washington journalists pegged the breakdown as 61 percent liberal, 9 percent conservative. Now, the new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found the national media to be 34 percent liberal and 7 percent conservative.

Over 40-plus years, the only thing that's changed in the media's politics is that many national journalists have now cleverly decided to call themselves moderates. But their actual views haven't changed, the Pew survey showed. Their political beliefs are close to those of self-identified liberals and nowhere near those of conservatives. And the proportion of liberals to conservatives in the press, either 3-to-1 or 4-to-1, has stayed the same. That liberals are dominant is now beyond dispute."

Read the whole thing.

When did this happen?
Bush has taken a 19 point lead in Lousiana, a 20 point lead in Montana, and a 6 point lead in Ohio. People who love numbers should try to give me explanations for this.

Endorsements Kerry wouldn't dream of... - Rolling Thunder motorcyclists visit the White House
I'm not sure why he'd want them to endorse him, except that they're veterans, but it's one more example of how Bush deals with America in ways that Kerry never could.

I had a chat with my mom today. She's pretty much a political neophyte, by choice. She detests politics, and hates Bush almost as much. She thinks Iraq is our generation's Vietnam, and while she acknowledges that it's not nearly as severe, she's scared that its similarities are too strong. She's certainly not sure she'll vote for Bush in November. The only thing she knows is that she will never vote for Kerry. She is the poster child of Bush's declining approval rating that won't move to Kerry's column.

Why? He's a limousine liberal, as she pointed it. He is a wealthy, well-off, white male who doesn't trust Americans. He doesn't trust that people will do their best to help others, and so he believes that the government should force it on people. She hates his white-guilt syndrome, as I call it (and no, I'm not claiming to have coined that term).

So what am I saying? People may not support Bush's choice to bring freedom to Iraq, and they may not be happy about the losses we're suffering in the meantime, but they like that he's decisive. They like that he decides what he wants and goes after it. They like that he's a real person, with real emotions. They like that he's a man's man who is a cowboy (more on this: Europeans think all Americans are cowboys. Know why? We are. That's exactly what the American spirit is all about. From manifest destiny, to defeating communism, to entrepreneurship, we are cowboys. It's about not standing for crap thrown at you, and rising to earn your way in the world. That's why, as much as it scares us, we're also comforted by Bush's cowboy side. And yes, I know he's from Connecticut, not Texas.).

People may not support the choices he makes, which is seen in his falling polls, but I think in the end, those who get out and vote, will still vote for him. Find me someone in middle America who is truly excited about Kerry. Find me someone who really detests Bush who will admit that Kerry is their first choice, that he is who they would have picked, and that he's what they hope to see in the White House. I think there are 5 of them out there.

[ed. note: I recognize I went away from the initial point of this article, but I'm sure you'll indulge me. If not, then I'll just wish you a Happy Memorial Day. Remember our veterans and those serving right now. Keep both in your daily prayers.]

UPDATE [5/31/2004 - 1:33]: Political Wire has a great round-up of some polling data that helps show another reason a lot of people may dislike Kerry: they still don't know him. Despite his repeated declarations that he will define himself, the Senator has been so nuanced in every position he's "taken" that no one knows where he really stands on anything. The polling data shows how many people are undecided on how they feel about Bush vs. Kerry, and in each poll, people feel much clearer on the former than the latter. Now, granted, this stems at least partly (I'd say largely) from Bush's incumbency, but there's something else behind this. If people don't know who Kerry is, no matter how they may feel about Bush, they are unlikely to vote for him.