Saturday, March 19, 2005

Don't call me a fascist
This column illustrates why it's irresponsible for liberals to so easily call conservatives fascists, Nazis, Hitlers, "little Eichmanns," brown-shirts, or any number of other slurs implying the same sentiment. It's long, but well-written, so check it out.

A good point
If you're ever planning to be a parent, or at all interested in education reform, read this column.

Not exactly news,
but still a good occasion for a self-plug. Peter Brown writes in the Orlando Sentinel: "Gay-rights proponents may well wonder, as they did after last November's election, whether court victories are worth the political cost."

Now, his point is that this will help drive home what Bush keeps trying to say about counteracting liberal activist judges with his judicial nominations. That's a sort of obvious point, since Bush cites that in his reasons for nominating the way he has. More than that, the idea that gay activists may come to regret their scorched-earth judicial strategy for legalizing gay marriage is not anything new.

Really sums it up
The press (and others) like to view W as an out of control cowboy, and Kerry as the nuanced intellectual. Really, I think that this photo series (via Tim Blair) illustrates a slightly different perspective. What I see here (ignoring the few images that I know to be photoshopped—like the first one of Kerry failing to catch a football) is a sophisticated, fun-loving W, and Kerry? Well the closest thing that comes to mind with Kerry is that geeky kid who was decently smart, but not brilliant. You know, the one who was ok at sports, but would show up for street hockey in a full set of pads when no one else was wearing even a helmet. He's the one who gets caught up in what's going on around him and forgets that there are people around him, too—he gets distracted and loses his social graces, but still thinks he's better than the people he's ignoring. Come on, we all knew that kid in high school.

From the world of dumb reporting...
CNN reports on a car bomb explosion in Beirut. Setting aside, for the moment, the concerns this raises for a peaceful democratic process, read this sentence from CNN's article: "Eyewitnesses said the bombing could be an attempt to divide Christians and Muslims."

Now, tell me what is it about an eyewitness to an explosion that qualified him to comment on the motives of the bombmaker? Nice work, fellas.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Riding Sun offers "You know you're addicted to blogging when..."

Comedy from the Weekly Standard
Now do France.

For all you nerds out there
Bow down to me as I provide you with one of the nerdiest links I ever have before: here. Seriously, it's cool so check it out. (via JustOneMinute)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blogging will be non-existant tomorrow (Thursday) until later at night as I am traveling to DC and Baltimore for personal reasons. I will try to get something up once I get home, so check back around 10, 10:30 EST.

Welcome one, welcome all
The 130th Carnival of the Vanities is up at Bird's Eye View, and one of my posts is in it. Which did I choose to submit? Well, you'll have to head over there and find out for yourself. Check out some of the other blogs while you're at it—I find that the Carnival is a great way to expand my blog reading (that's the reading I do, not my readership) each week.

And those of you who found me through the Carnival, welcome. Feel free to put your feet up as you look around. I invite you all to comment, email me, and certainly to visit back as often as you like.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Blogroll Updates
I've finally added two blogs that I've been meaning to get to for a while. Riding Sun is a blog written by a motorcycle-loving, conservative American living in Japan. He has some unique perspectives on things, he writes well, and is entertaining. GOP and the City added me to his blogroll a while back, and I've been remiss in not doing the same. He describes himself as "a Missouri-born, Tennessee-raised, New York Republican," which clearly makes for an interesting mix. Check them both out.

I've also added the blog of an American soldier (Ranger) currently stationed in Iraq. You can read his thoughts at 365 and a Wakeup.

And sadly, I've removed Spinsanity. While their analysis was invaluable during the election, almost two months ago now they announced that they would no longer be updating the site. Their contribution to the blogosphere will be missed.

That's all for now. But as always, if you think I might enjoy your blog, send me an email and I'll be happy to check it out. If I like it, I'll add it—it's that simple.

What is a chickenhawk?
A commenter by the name of WhisperingCampaign, whose blog you can access here, has been commenting up a storm tonight. As always, I appreciate audience contribution.

In several of his comments, he has referred to chickenhawks—as I've seen so far he's pointed that accusation at John Bolton and the bloggers at Power Line. I've also been accused of this quite regularly when I've posted at DailyKos. To understand this a bit better, I've decided to do some research.

Though it has its problems—specifically that posts are anonymous and there is no guarantee of their accuracy—I favor WikiPedia for this kind of research. A search for "chickenhawk" came up with three results. Since I'm sure he's not referring to "a homosexual man attracted to, or seeking, much younger men" or either the Red-tailed Hawk or Cooper's hawk, let's look at the more common definition in political discourse.

The entry goes into a lot of detail, but starts out by saying:

Chickenhawk is an epithet used in United States politics to criticize a politician, bureaucrat, or commentator who votes for war, supports war, commands a war, or develops war policy, but has not personally served in the military. Generally, it is not a label applied to essentially 'dovish' leaders who support defensive wars, 'humanitarian interventions,' or UN operations.
Now, as you might guess, I have serious problems with this term—and I assure you, it's not because I've never served.

The US Census Bureau estimated the US population to be 295,664,030 as of 0:39 EST 03/15/2005. Assuming that at least 50% of Americans must support a war in order for it to be justified, that would mean that approximately 150 million Americans would have to be veterans AND support the war in question to meet that criteria. Now, according to the Bureau of Veterans Affairs, the typical number of living veterans hovers somewhere around 26 million. That is about 17% of the number of veterans this country would need to justify a war, assuming that they all supported it. Effectively, this precludes the possibility of almost any military action. And what happens when you adjust for the fact that the majority of these individuals were never anywhere near combat? But let's set this aside for the moment.

The basic assumption behind the term "chickenhawk" seems off-base to me. Why is it that only veterans are qualified to assess the justifications for war? Yes, war is hell, and yes, I appreciate the fact that most who've seen combat are hesitant to support it in the future. But isn't that just a form of bias, completely neglecting any consideration of the specifics of a particular situation? Sure, veterans are the best-suited to comment on the realities of combat itself, but how much consideration does that deserve in a debate over what can be acheived by making that sacrifice?

If service in this country were compulsory, I could understand valuing the opinion of those effected much higher than those who escape—or, even worse, avoid—the draft, but that's simply not the case. Our military is entirely voluntary, and if you enlist you should expect to face the possibility of combat. This does not qualify your voice for any more volume or validity than anyone else's. There are plenty of people in this country who cannot serve for physical reasons but are highly educated and well-qualified to assess the pros and cons of a particular prospect for war. Why are their opinions unimportant in such a debate?

I might serve someday, I might not. Either way, I'll be unlikely to see combat as I'm most likely to serve in JAG or something similar. (Allow me to add that, if we find ourselves facing a draft, I intend to sign up before my number is drawn). But I've studied foreign policy quite a bit. I believe very strongly that if a threat of force has been made, this country needs to be willing to back up that threat—I similarly believe that such a threat should not be made unless that willingness already exists and should never be taken lightly. Does the fact that I supported the threat of military action regarding Iraq and following through when the conditions for avoiding war were ignored by Saddam make me a chickenhawk?

Maybe, but I don't think that means very much.

Even though his company refused to even consider me for a job, I like John Zogby's polling, and I like his thinking. Today he offers a piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he points out the benefit of the President's decision to pursue changes to the Social Security system that are extremely unlikely to ever pass. While he doesn't touch my personal belief that a big part of this effort is intended as a smoke screen for other issues important to the President, he does say: "To the president and Republicans: You may lose the battle over Social Security personal accounts, but ultimately you may very well win the war over party realignment. To the Democrats: Just saying no is not a policy and demographics are not destiny. Ignore the 'ownership society' at your own peril."

His reasons are worth considering, so take a look.

UPDATE [3/15/2005 - 12:20]: I just received in my email a letter from none other than John Kerry. He opens:

We have only 24 to 48 hours to try and save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Republicans are trying to sneak legislation through the Senate approving oil drilling and they are incredibly close to winning. We have to stop them.
Yet another example of Bush trying to ram through legislation he finds important while the country is distracted by the battle over SS (with a little bit for judicial nominee concern mixed in). I really do believe this is intentional—and that it will, by in large, be successful. In addition to the obvious benefit of distracting the portions of the public who would object, it gives some cover to the Senators and Congressmen who'd like to vote for such things but can't risk doing so publicly.

Stay tuned, as I think this will soon get very interesting.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I'd be good at that job...
One of the guys over at Power Line was quoted in a New York Times piece about the interplay between the left blogosphere and the MSM. Read the whole thing, but what I found most interesting was his comment, made at Power Line after reading the article: "I also regret that Glater did not use what was probably my best line of the interview -- that newspapers should pay someone to read political blogs, just as they pay people to watch bad movies."

I regret it too, because I'd be perfect for a job like that.

Hey, at least it's not Michael
The nomination of John Bolton to be the Bush Administration's UN Ambassador has caused such an uproar on the left that one might think he had actually nominated the pop "star." The Weekly Standard, however, offers a different perspective on the issue, titled"I Don't Do Carrots" after a rather prescient quote Bolton made regarding North Korea. It's quotes like that which have the left in a tizzy, but the column also points to some other things he's said, for example: "Some Americans simply want to withdraw from the United Nations, believing that it can never really be fixed. I understand the frustrations and disappointments that lead to that view, even though I disagree with it. We should tell the world community instead, 'Let's make one last effort to put things right in the U.N. And make no mistake, our patience is not unlimited.'"

I think Bolton is a great choice (not surprisingly), and I look forward to his efforts to give the UN some teeth to follow through on its expectations for a better world, instead of marginalizing itself as a mild annoyance to world leaders who throw sand at the other children.

UPDATE [3/14/2005 - 16:38]: Robert Novak has more to add over at RCP: "What makes Bolton so unpopular with the Foreign Service is that he agrees with his diplomatic mentor, James A. Baker III, that the secretary of state ought to represent the president in the State Department rather than represent the State Department in the White House."

That just brings us back to Rumsfeld's Rules, which suggest, among other things:

"In the execution of presidential decisions work to be true to his views, in fact and tone.

Know that the immediate staff and others in the administration will assume that your manner, tone and tempo reflect the president's.

When asked for your views, by the press or others, remember that what they really want to know is the president's views.

If in doubt, move decisions up to the president.

When you raise issues with the president, try to come away with both that decision and also a precedent. Pose issues so as to evoke broader policy guidance. This can help to answer a range of similar issues likely to arise later."
Bolton seems to fit into this White House's agenda very nicely, which is part of why the left is able to misrepresent him the same why they misrepresent Bush.

A great column
in the Boston Globe deals with some issues at that small, insignificant school up in Cambridge. What's it called again? Oh, right, Harvard.

These are issues that I think are pressing at a lot schools, and I know that they apply at Yale as well. The author, Cathy Young, dissects them well. Take a look.

Lileks hits the nail on the head with one of the most satisfying activities known to mankind: "But on the way out of church we came across some ice, some pavement ice, the good kind that's thick enough to hold you but has water underneath, and you can crack it with your heel. It's very satisfying. It's God's own bubble-wrap."

OK, well, maybe not to all of mankind, but at least to those of us who get winter. Take that, Californians!