Saturday, August 20, 2005

The NRA's Wildest Dreams
Professor Reynolds, writing about the proposal to reintroduce elephants, rhinos, tigers, etc. to the American prairie (I say reintroduce because they were here before people came along and wiped them out) quotes (via Althouse):

Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators," said lead author Josh Donlan, of Cornell University. "There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions.
He then goes on to comment himself:
Hmm. I'm not that excited about being prey. I believe I've written on this attitude before.
My take is simple: the NRA must be behind this proposal. Why? Because the biggest argument in favor of the assault weapons ban was something along the lines of "hunters do not need AK-47s to bring down a deer."

That's true—but you might need one to bring down an elephant that's chasing your kids. And there's a quote from the West Wing, when an exasperated Josh tries to convince a colleague of the need for gun control legislation:
I realize as an adult that not everyone shares my view of the world. And with an issue as hot as gun control, I'm prepared to accept a lot of different points of view as being perfectly valid. But we can all get together on the grenade launcher, right?
Well, when you're hunting rhino in Kansas, a grenade launcher could really come in handy.

So you see, of course, why the NRA might be behind this—it's the perfect excuse to wipe all gun control legislation off the books.

Join Blogs for Bauer
New evidence suggests that 24 is good for the family:

We'll watch two episodes a night at least three nights a week, and we'll discuss who's lying to whom or predicting what could possibly blow up in the next episode. The family that 24s together stays together[...]

There's a mantra around my house. It can easily be turned into an acronym and printed on silicone wristbands that should be worn by every major studio executive these days: What Would Jack Bauer Do?
Of course, the answer to that simple question is equally simple: jack bauer would click here to find out how to join the Blogs for Bauer blogroll.

Friday, August 19, 2005

What short memories we have
Reuters, via Political Wire quotes Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) regarding the current situation in Iraq:

We are seen as occupiers, we are targets. We have got to get out. I don't think we can sustain our current policy, nor do I think we should.
Here's the problem. Why does no one seem to remember Bin Laden's response to the US withdrawl from Mogadishu? He called the US a "paper tiger," that cuts and runs when faced with any serious pressure.

Do we really want to suffer the consequences of strengthening that lesson for him? Do we really want to see what happens when all of his posturing about how we don't have the stomach to win in Iraq is proven right?

Maybe he is right. Maybe the US is weak. And if so, it's because of wimpy leaders like Chuck Hagel who, instead of doing what's right, prefer to do what's easy and what's popular.

Makes me sick.

This is getting serious
In our continuing series on inventions that will render us helpless as the robots seize control, on which The Man has also commented, we have news from Forbes.com:

Smiling nervously, the young woman walks forward in a straight line. Suddenly, she veers to the right. She stumbles and stops, attempting to regain her balance, and continues to walk forward. And then she veers off to the left.

No, she's not intoxicated. The young lady's vestibular system, which controls her sense of movement and balance, has been thrown off-kilter by two weak electrical currents delivered just behind her ears.

This sort of electrical stimulation is known as galvanic vestibular stimulation, or GVS. When a weak DC current is delivered to the mastoid behind your ear, your body responds by shifting your balance toward the anode. The stronger the current, the more powerful its pull. If it is strong enough, it not only throws you off balance but alters the course of your movement.
So basically, we've developed a machine, that can be controlled by remote, that in turn controls human movement.

So, when we finally get out of Iraq and devote our energies to SkyNet, then it becomes self-aware, which in turn causes the internet to become self-aware, we not only need to fear that our vehicles will be controlled (via bluetooth connections to cell phones that have internet browsers), but also our bodies? Awesome.

And, oh look, these scientists are, once again, from Japan. It's like these guys want the machines to take over.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Peggy's back!
And with style.

Also on OpinionJournal
I've been waiting for this.

Mr. Griffin has spoken up before, and powerfully. He's even contributed to the Journal before. Both of those pieces should be read—but today's piece is what I've been waiting to hear.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Double Response
My post yesterday, regarding Cindy Sheehan's response to a neighbor of W's opening up his property to her camp of followers, drew a comment from Richard. Following my promise to post a response, Richard apparently felt the need to clarify himself.

Rather than update the original post, I've decided to place my responses to both of his comments here. I have edited the first reply to account for any clarifications he made that might have rendered my point moot.

First response, to this comment:

You're absolutely right, Richard, I am facing severe frustration. Unfortunately, you're absolutely wrong about its genesis. [Here I addressed the allegation of Christian-bashing, which Richard retracted, so I won't waste your time.]

Yes, it does frustrate me that Ms. Sheehan lost her son in this war—just as the suffering of every casualty's family frustrates me. In an ideal world, there would be no injuries in wars of good. I can only pray that I never know the pain that comes with the loss of a child at any age in his or her life. It has, without question, torn her life and now her marriage asunder—as it has countless others.

But more frustrating than that is the rationality that causes someone like you to lend a megaphone to someone like her.

Let's look at that, shall we? She lost a son in this conflict, so she has a greater moral authority than I to comment on its justifications, right? Why? What is the logic behind that? I'll leave it to you to answer that question. In the meantime, I'll tell you why not:
(1)She opposed the war long before she lost her son. In other words, Casey Sheehan's death had no consequence on her positions regarding this conflict—if it had no bearing on her opinion, why does it lend any additional justification to that opinion?
(2)If that loss had shaped her position—or even if it had merely intensified it—that would in no way support her belief. Why not? Because it is an emotional response, not a rational one. Desire for revenge does not justify a moral position under any circumstances. We do not allow parents of murdered children to convict or sentence the killer, nor do we blindly accept such a parent's diagnosis of the social or psychological explanations for such crimes.

The simple truth is that what this woman advocates is bad policy—and the regrettable death of her son does not change that. Even if one accepts the premise that our presence—or Israel's—in the Middle East spawned the current situation, that in no way implies that disengagement will result in improved conditions. If our involvement created this round of Islamic terrorism—and Al Quaeda's own communications strongly imply otherwise—it has now progressed far beyond that. Even if Bin Laden initially wanted to chase us out of his territory, he now calls for our total annihilation—and will settle for nothing less.

If we withdraw from the Middle East in the face of this, he or his forces will declare success. They will then proceed to consolidate their power and construct the pan-Arab Islamo-fascist state, installing a Caliph precisely the way they now intend. They will continue to grind any opposition into the dirt and to oppress every woman within their domain until they have absolute power.

And then they'll be happy, right? We'll have left them alone, so they'll return the favor, right? Hmmm. If only Islam did not preach the conversion of the entire world to its precepts—either by choice, or force. See, that little issue causes some pretty big problems. They'll back down for a while to consolidate their empire—but eventually they'll get back to expanding it at all costs.

This is why some on the right like to assert that the peaceniks are out to help the terrorists. I tend to stay away from that language, because I don't think it's intentional—but I do think that the actions of such people inadvertently benefit the Islamo-fascists. It's like people have never heard of the concept of positive reinforcement. Even if our withdrawal from the Middle East is all they want right now, granting them that wish can only embolden them. The rational response to such an event would be, quite simply, "hey, they gave us what we want...why don't we ask for more?" It would be a reward for the horrific slaughter of so many innocent civilians just going about their lives, and it would teach them that such slaughter in the future will be sufficient to achieve additional goals.

I haven't used this in a while, so I'll leave you with my favorite allegory: If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk.

And now... Second response to this comment:

You allege that "the smear job against Cindy Sheehan is clearly coming thick and fast." My question to you is: from where? Who's trying to smear her? Has anyone done anything more than reply to her words? Go ahead, find me a single columnist that attacks her personally. It's not a smear job if the attack is on the content of her words.

You also claim that "Cindy Sheehan [...] is not an activist. She is a mother who lost her son in a war that has never been honestly explained and isn't worth the death of a single American soldier." Really? I'm pretty sure that her organizing a protest defines her as an activist. Furthermore, if she's not an activist, what was she doing at an April rally for the "lawyer convicted of aiding Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the terrorist connected with the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993."? (Transcript of that rally available here). Sounds an awful lot like activism to me. That the pattern didn't start until the death of her son does not in any way change the fact that she is now an activist. Furthermore, the second part of your claim as quoted above is problematic. If it hasn't been honestly explained, then who are you to judge whether or not it's worthwhile? Wouldn't you need to know the explanation in order to make that determination? And if you know enough to know it's not worthwhile, then why bother complaining if it hasn't all been laid out in order for you—obviously you got the message all the same.

Beyond that, the claim that it's not worthwhile is your opinion, and you're entitled to it. But don't treat it like a statement of fact. Admit that it's just your opinion. A lot of people feel that what we're doing is pretty valuable. Say, now that I think of it, why don't I answer Cindy Sheehan's question for her. She wants to know what her son died for, right? Well, let's see... in yesterday's Best of the Web, James Taranto tried to draw our attention to some good news coming out of Iraq. For example, he quotes an AP dispatch:

The capital's Sadr City section was once a hotbed of Shiite Muslim unrest, but it has become one of the brightest successes for the U.S. security effort.

So far this year, there has been only one car bombing in the neighborhood, and only one American soldier has been killed.

A year ago, militiamen garbed in black and armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades roamed the streets in open revolt against the American presence. But U.S. troops quelled the uprising, and today calmly patrol the district, aided by loyalists of the radical cleric who spurred the violence.
Taranto continues, to add us a bit more context:
It was in Sadr City that Casey Sheehan was killed in action in April 2004. America's success there is further evidence that he did not die in vain.
I think the people of Sadr City are probably pretty grateful to people like Casey—do you want to tell them, and their countrymen, that you value an American life over theirs? Can you tell me why that is?

Next, you imply that I think "a bunch of right-wing hardliners led by Cheney invaded Iraq to bring democracy to a single middle east [sic] nation[...]" Well, I hate to dispute, but you don't seem to pay attention. Not once has anyone I know of that supported the war from the start claim that it was just about liberating Iraq. Yeah, we want Iraq to be free—but that's in large part because we believe the example of a Muslim country living in democracy will inspire others to seek their own freedom, with ripple effects throughout the Middle East. It's never been about "one nation:—a point you seem to want to gloss over.

And you're right, we did forget to account for the fact that non-"territorial states" could do damage to our cause. We forgot about the American press. Do you honestly think that if Americans heard from Arthur Chrenkoff in addition to the mainstream coverage of the war that support would be as low as it is? It hurts your cause quite a bit to provide balanced coverage of what's going on in Iraq, instead of simple body counts.

Regarding your Navy pilot theory—I've never heard of it before, so it's tough for me to respond to. Sounds to me, however, like some lingering bias from your days in the service. You'll have a hard time convincing anyone that airstrikes can't win a war after the routing of the Republican Guard in the first Gulf War. Conquering a country is different, of course, but that brings me to your next point...

I'm not a military strategist, so I'm not equipped to determine whether disbanding the Iraqi army was a good idea or not, and I'm not equipped to determine whether money was spent effectively or not. I do know that, even if both things are true, failure to work effectively does not mean the mission should have been abandoned from the start, and it certainly doesn't justify backing down now. Sure, the going is tough—realists knew that from the beginning—but sometimes the hardest things in life are the most worth fighting for. I'm just glad you weren't making political decisions the Winter of Valley Forge—if you had been, we'd all be speaking with British accents right now.

Yes, Cindy Sheehan has every right to ask President Bush why her son got killed. She even has the right to allege that it was for no good reason. But this administration has provided plenty of public explanation for the Iraqi action, and the fact that she doesn't accept it doesn't mean they haven't responded. Furthermore, she met with him face-to-face, and he can't be blamed for her unwillingness to ask him then. Also, you apparently don't know the meaning of the word "directly," as if Bush were "directly" responsible for the death of Casey Sheehan, he either would have had to kill him, or put him in a position where the only possibility was death.

I'm pretty sure that Casey Sheehan was an adult at the time of his enlistment. That he chose to risk his life cannot be faulted on the President. And treating him like a child with no free will of his own is an embarrassmentttt to the memory of a hero. If Ms. Sheehan wants to ask why her son died on her own behalf, then she can do so—but don't try to pretend that he had no culpability in his being in Iraq. He made a choice to enlist, and the outcome is a shame.

I'll leave your "credentials" and conclusion to stand for themselves.

I invite one and all to respond.

UPDATE [8/18/2005 - 11:21]: Richard "responds" here, and I rant and rave here. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Universe Works In Mysterious Ways
I've stayed off the Sheehan thing because I think other people are doing a better job than I could hope to. This new development, however, really sticks in my craw.

The Sheehan camp is moving closer to Bush's ranch, offered a spot on the property of one of the President's neighbors—in fact, a relative of the guy who fired shots into the air the other day.

So what does Ms. Sheehan have to say about this? Simple:

This just shows me that the universe is blessing our efforts out here at Camp Casey.
Really? The universe is behind you because someone who supports your efforts happens to live nearby? So what was the universe trying to tell you when his relative fired his gun into the air and put up multiple "no parking" and "no trespassing" signs along his property? He was acting contrary to the desires of the universe, right?

The woman is entitled to her views, as are the people who are manipulating her. But to claim that the universe is behind them (aside from sounding an awful lot like hippy bullshit—and remarkably similar to the rhetoric of the Bible-thumping bigots that the Michael Moores of the world hate so much) is simply absurd.

SkyNet Delayed by War for Oil
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the attempts by Japanese scientists to subjugate us all to a master race of androids. Today, The Man asserts that these scientists are moving more slowly than they are supposed to, and blames the delay on Clinton's having been too "busy" and W's being too busy cutting taxes.

My theory is that the war in Iraq is a distraction from our SkyNet priorities.

Monday, August 15, 2005

What's happening to me?
First I find myself attacked from the right, and now it seems that I agree with Louis Farrakhan. What's wrong with this picture?

UPDATE [8/16/2005 - 18:31]: Something is wrong in the world. As mentioned above, my right-wing credentials are apparently in danger of being revoked. Now, it seems The Man is also coming under fire from a reader accusing him of liberalism. Is this some sort of coordinated attack against conservatism? An attempt to confuse us into liberalism?

Whether it is or not, The Man is holding strong:

After the initial shock wore off, I checked to see if I was indeed (yuck) 'a liberal'. Let's see, I voted for Dole, Bush, and Bush again (I even woke up early to cast a worthless vote for Bush in NYC). I have a picture of myself meeting George H.W. Bush. I was a member of the Williamson County (TN) Young Republicans. I volunteered at the RNC when it came to town. I created a blog called GOP and the City, before that I posted on MightyRighty and now I also post on Urban Elephants. I own a book titled, Handbook of the VRWC. Back in Tennessee I marched against the income tax. Recently, in a fundraising scheme, the GOP sent me a 'membership card', so I'm literally a card-carrying Republican. I have a job and pay taxes, support the troops, take showers, and go to church. To be any more more republican I would need to be rich.
OK, I suppose that makes it my turn.

While I don't reveal specific votes, I can assure you that the vast majority of votes case in my 3 years of eligibility have been for Republican candidates. Before I could vote I got up at 4:30 AM on Election Day to campaign to commuters at my local train station (from which I now commute). I have autographed pictures of the three times that I met George W. Bush in the White House. I am a member of the Fairfield County Young Republicans. I was a member of the Yale College Republicans. I campaigned for W in New Hampshire the weekend before Election Day 2004. I volunteered at the RNC when it was in NYC. I am a member of my town Republican Town Committee (the leadership committee for the town party). I created a blog called Running for the Right, and I occasionally post on Urban Elephants. I also own a book titled, "Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy." Recently, in several fundraising schemes, the GOP has sent me several 'membership cards,' so I'm literally a card-carrying Republican. I have a job and pay taxes in two different states, support the troops, take showers, and go to church. I am a white male. To be any more Republican, I would need to be rich—and if I have anything to say about it, I will be.

The Man invited his readers to comment on whether or not he should be considered a liberal. I invite you to do the same here.

Oh Come On
Does anyone seriously doubt that he's hoping to get a crack at John Bolton's job, if she can't get him Kofi's?

Incommunicado
So, internet access turned out to be non-existant at the wedding. Everything ran smoothly and I'm back in town. I'm going to bed now, but will resume our regular blogging schedule in the morning—once I've caught up on what's been going on in the world.