Friday, October 29, 2004

A Call for Anti-Europeanism

Dennis Boyles on European Press on National Review Online

Presidential Endorsement

The Hatcher takes great pleasure today in endorsing George W. Bush for President, a decision I arrived at in principle about 20 years ago, although I had to wait that long to see which name stood next to the "Republican" designation. Which makes it a far more recent decision than the endorsement of the New York Times.

Here are my reasons:
1) Kerry throws like a girl (which is OK if you are a girl, but otherwise is indicative of severe lack of character - for an example, see Bill Clinton, who also threw like a girl).

2) Edwards is way too concerned with his hair, much like a girl (which is OK if you are a girl, but otherwise is indicative of severe lack of character - for an example, see Bill Clinton, who also worried about his hair like a girl).

3) Jenna Bush.

Sure, none of these reasons have anything to do with the candidate I am endorsing, nor with anything having to do with a rational analysis of the flaws of the candidate I am not endorsing. But I wanted to be consistent with standard journalistic practice on those 2 points.

A Degree of Fame for the Hatcher

Link here and look to the link section on the right compiled by the crack young staff, shaded in blue, beneath the "weblog" heading, 43rd down on the list of 50. Pretty nice, huh? Notice there is no quid pro quo on this site, mostly because the Hatcher can't figure out how to post my handy dandy little list of favorite like-minded drones of Karl Rove. Today The Hatemonger's Quarterly, tomorrow the world.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Arranging Deck Chairs

It seems to me Kerry has the clear support of the lunatic left, which sees any war on terror as a bad thing, unless it is aimed at Israeli terror against Palestinian terrorists. He is trying to walk the thin line to preserve that voting block while at the same time getting people who support the war on terror, and even the Iraq war, to see him as one who would more intelligently fight it. So let’s say he succeeds.

What does he do? He cuts and runs, and hopes that nothing much happens in four years. Why? Because if he wages a proactive war on terror, all those unshaven kids at DuPont Circle who solicit me to donate to Kerry every day will, along with their boyfriends, vote for Nader (or a Nader substitute) in a flash. That demographic knows it has no hope of influencing Bush, but it will with Kerry, because his re-election prospects will absolutely depend upon it. He will hold his breath for four years, securing that vote, and hope that nothing bad happens so that he can say he hasn’t weakened us. This is the only way he will avoid Michael Moore putting video of him windsurfing juxtaposed to footage of mutilated war victims in Farenheit 912.

And this is why the Kerry attempt to paint the election as one regarding the war managerial skills of Bush is a sham. If a large base of his support offers its support contingent upon Kerry doing nothing, how can he claim that he will make the same big decisions as Bush (like going into Iraq, which he supported), with the rather stretched little nuance that he will somehow do it casualty-free, or with the assistance of the corrupt French and Germans? It is rather dishonest to make the claim that the only difference between you and Bush is that you will micro-manage the military to greater effect when you know that you are beholden to a group of people that were on the brink of nominating Howard Dean.

With Dean, we would have at least gotten a much more honest debate. The election would also be over already. Anyone who votes on the basis that the war has been managed improperly is being extremely short-sighted, and betrays an astounding lack of historical knowledge. Pick a war – any war – and I guarantee you at West Point, Annapolis, and Colorado Springs, students are learning the various ways in which, tactically, we screwed up. Such screw ups, which are a part of war, are now “blood on the hands” of the Commander in Chief, and such rhetoric, in addition to being irresponsible and ignorant, is counter-productive. When you raise the political costs of going to war, you lessen its likelihood, and embolden your enemies.

The false debate regards whether or not the deck chairs of the ocean liner are arranged correctly, as opposed to whether or not the ocean liner is headed straight for an iceberg. There are really only two mature views of the current debate, and Kerry is trying to straddle them – either you think that we are headed for the iceberg regardless of the arrangement of deck chairs (i.e. success or failure in Iraq), or you think that the ocean liner has been safely steered away from the iceberg but you know, as history shows, that the deck chairs will get ruffled when you make the turn. All Kerry can offer is a critique of the deck chairs. At least with Dean we’d have had an honest debate, and we’d know the two choices. But any Kerry supporter who thinks that they know what Kerry would do based upon what Kerry has said during this campaign is kidding him or herself. And if his managerial skill is to be considered paramount, consider that he has only managed two things in his life: a staff of Capital Hill sycophants, and the various maid staffs at his wife's mansions.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kerry 's World Series History

There I was! There I was! There I was! At Game 6 of the '86 World Series: Kerry 's World Series History

Kerry Now or Hillary Later

This guy is actually voting for Bush because he prefers Hillary in '08 to Kerry in '04. To me, the only silver lining to Kerry in '04 is no Hillary in '08. I see it as a choice between 2 evils. Economic Principals

Fun Morality

"Fun morality, in consequence, replaces “goodness morality,” which stressed interference with impulses. Not having fun is an occaision for self-examination: “What is wrong with me?” As Dr. Wolfenstein observes: “Whereas gratification of forbidden impulses traditionally aroused guilt, failure to have fun now lowers one’s self-esteem.”

Daniel Bell, from The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

No holiday is driven more by “fun morality” than Halloween. The goblin holiday’s immense increase in popularity over the last thirty years is in step with the rising prominence of fun morality over good morality. Halloween provides an individual one key day each year to enhance his standing among the fun moralists by spending absurd amounts of money and time to deck himself out in a costume that speaks to his dedication to fun. In college, a person who stayed sober on Halloween night (or the nearest weekend night) in favor of ardent study or soulful reflection would be no less shocking to the fun moralist than one who decided to enter the monastery.

College, in turn, is the place where fun morality rules most pervasively. It is only natural that college kids, having escaped the parental gaze for the first time in their lives, will spend the majority of their time jumping on the furniture. And generally they are taught by a liberal arts faculty that spends their intellectual capital metaphorically jumping on the furniture of Western civilization. There is a tacit agreement between the two – “don’t complain about the crap I am teaching you and force me to be accountable to your bourgouise tuition-paying parents, and I’ll let you slide with a B even though the few times you show up to my class you do so with bloodshot eyes.” It is a mutually destructive symbiotic relationship, but it nevertheless forms the foundation of a multi-billion dollar industry.

The dominance of fun morality on college campuses is why I don’t really sweat the silly ideology of the Humanities departments on the college campuses; even if a 19 year old student is inclined to take what they say seriously, they are unable to do so either because they are hung-over in class or they are trying to decide upon a Halloween costume that will separate them from others on the all important fun scale. You can send your kid to the most liberally biased campus in the country, and two years after graduation the most likely thing he will remember is how to mix a Tom Collins.

In the early 1960s, there was book entitled The New American Right, which consisted of a series of essays intended to explain the rise of a new conservatism in the U.S., which they did mostly through condescending essays based on facile pop-psychology. In one such essay, one of the authors penned the following:

“In the past, students who identified themselves as conservatives did not feel threatened in the campus social climate that supported their prankish and ordinarily unreflective activities … fraternities and sororities could protect such students from having to come to terms with the academic culture.”

Some parents may view their son joining a fraternity as an indication that their investment is about to go down hill, but I will view it in the opposite light; better that than to have them come home for Christmas break prattling on about their course on Post-Feminist Queer Deconstruction Theory in the Diary of Ann Frank. Now that would be a problem.

In fairness, the author of the above quote wrote it before the non-fraternity joining co-eds started holding faculty at gun-point and demanding to be taught slogans rather than truths; once these students were successful in crafting the ability to receive a bachelor’s degree for being an unmitigated ass, they figured – why not stick around and get a Ph.D. for the same? Now these same students are the authority on campuses, where freedom of speech only extends so far, and speech codes are enforced to punish any heterodox conservative thought crime that may be whispered between fraternity brothers.

As a parent, I’d prefer my kid to choose a “goodness morality” based on the standard Christian understanding of such (which centers on personal conduct) to the fun morality. But on most college campuses, the only two visible choices are the fun morality and a “goodness morality” of a very different sort – one that focuses upon whether one’s political opinions are deemed sufficiently liberal, and cares nothing otherwise for personal conduct. I’d rather my kid get rip-roaring drunk than subscribe to such prattle. (Some, like Professor Vic, managed to do both).

Halloween at Lehigh was important to the fun moralists, but it clearly ranked a distant second to Lehigh-Lafayette weekend, the most played college football rivalry in the country. Expectations for that weekend were punishingly high – you were fully expected to join the rest of the brothers for sunrise cocktails even if you left the bar in the basement of the fraternity at 4 am unable to distinguish the door to your room from a urinal. Nothing a little hair of the dog that bit you couldn’t cure two hours later. But for those days, who knows, I may have gotten my Ph.D. in some strange humanities discipline, and this would be a far different article. Fun morality didn’t build Western civilization, but it is the last (albeit inadvertent) defense of it on the college campus. (Man, am I a bitter and frustrated academic reject or what?)

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Levin "Report"

Just in case anybody cares, here is an interesting article regarding ties between Iraq and Al Queda: The Levin "Report"

Bizarro World

This is from an article I read at the American Spectator Online:

In this world, a man can come back from four months of fighting a war and throw away his medals in a public demonstration, go before Congress and tell it that he and his comrades routinely committed war crimes and atrocities on the scale of Genghis Khan, then run for President on the basis of his military record.

In this world, a man can be a United States Senator who votes against every major weapons system and every military engagement, including a police action to expel Saddam Hussein from an egregiously overrun Kuwait, then run for President on the premise of being uniquely suited by temperament for the role of Commander-In-Chief.

In this world, a man can submit a tax return which shows that he and his wife employed an array of loopholes to pay a 12 percent tax rate on a grossly understated income of $5 million, run for President against a man who paid a 27 percent rate, and say that he will stop pandering to the wealthy and see that they pay their fair share.

In this world, a man can sit in the United States Senate for two decades, not have a single memorable legislative achievement to be distinguished by, have a voting record that marks him as Number One most extreme in one political direction, and then run for President as a centrist who will provide solidity and nuance.

In this world, a man can run for President and claim to have no connection to a series of proxy organizations receiving many millions of dollars from billionaires and running paranoiac ads that paint America as a puppet regime run by Saudi Arabia and Halliburton, yet demand that his opponent stop the ads run by opposing organizations.

In this world, a man can argue that an activity which his religion regards as murder is not within the province of his legislative mandate, that its practitioners deserve to be shielded from the scrutiny applied to all other medical procedures, and that his coreligionists should elect him based on their shared faith.

In this world, a man can openly condemn a war while the men are in the field, a war which he voted for, vilify the ally countries by calling them bribed and coerced, disparage the newly installed government of Iraq, boycott the Prime Minister's address to Congress, then maintain that his superior diplomacy will improve foreign relations.

Sacrificing Israel (

An interesting take on Kerry's background plan to build alliances: Sacrificing Israel ( Here is the significant passage:

He really does want to end America's isolation. And he has an idea how to do it. For understandable reasons, however, he will not explain how on the eve of an election.

Think about it: What do the Europeans and the Arab states endlessly rail about in the Middle East? What (outside of Iraq) is the area of most friction with U.S. policy? What single issue most isolates America from the overwhelming majority of countries at the United Nations?

The answer is obvious: Israel.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

James Kelly on Stem-Cell Research on National Review Online

Whoaa! If Kerry and Edwards would have healed Christopher Reeves and others similarly afflicted, doesn't that dry up a lucrative market for tort suits that their primary supporters bank on? I mean, no way a guy who is cured is going to fetch more than one in a wheelchair, no matter how well John Edwards channels thoughts for the jury. But there is good news for the trial lawyers - embryonic stem cells probably can never deliver the goods. Maybe Edwards will win you the suit, and then faith-heal you. James Kelly on Stem-Cell Research on National Review Online

Technology Review: Global Warming Bombshell

Is the fact that this work debunking a primary theory of global warming was rejected by the journal Nature indicative of the Bush administration standing in the way of scientific inquiry? Just curious. Hey Professor Vic, this link is to an MIT related website - that good enough for ya?
Technology Review: Global Warming Bombshell

Some Good Iraq News

Don't hold your breath waiting to see a report like this on the network news: The Trials and Tribulations of Zarqwai - On Point Commentary by Austin Bay �

Red Sox!

Did you catch Steinbrenner's press conference at about 3 am this morning? It seems that he has already signed Johan Santana and has an agreement in principle with Carlos Beltran, who was initially quite miffed at being woken from deep slumber the night before game 7 of the NLCS, but quickly warmed up to the conversation when Steinbrenner started right in on $.

I played the emotional hedge last night, losing $50, but still found myself rooting for the Sox. About time Johnny Damon did something. You could see the Yanks parody coming otherwise - it seems that in Boston this year there were people wearing "What Would Johnny Damon Do?" t-shirts; if he continued doing nothing in the playoffs, Yank fans could have posed the same question with a list of his ALCS stats, which were abysmal until last night.

My brother Lime, who is the conservative in the family, is not in my camp on this - he hates Boston, and was rooting against them. Why? Because of the Celtics and Ted Kennedy and John Francois Kerry, etc. etc. All good reasons, but not good enough for me. If the Sox weren't good, Kerry would never have accepted an invitation to throw out the first pitch in a game earlier this year, which he bounced to the plate like a girl (but not like a Jenny Finch girl). Teresa could have thrown harder. And true to his massive ego, he blamed it on the catcher. If this guy gets elected, expect a reprisal of the Carter "malaise" speech, where we will be told the problem is not the president, it is the peasantry.

But if you cannot leave politics out of sports, than what haven do we have from it? There are old men who have rooted for the Red Sox all of their lives, some of whom will no doubt die this year, but they may yet get a chance to see a World Series win. As a Phils fan, we have only one - in 1980 - when I was 12. I remember watching Game 5 of the NLCS against the Astros with my brother Lime and my Dad. For whatever reason, our color TV was broke, and we were watching on a small black and white TV in the living room. My dad was a huge baseball fan, and back in those days prior to free agency, there wasn't a great deal of turnover in the players on any given team, so you really grew to know the players on the team in a sense. The Phils were constant contendors in the late 70s, but couldn't seem to break through. The last four games of that 5 game series went into extra innings, and when the Phils won game 5, my dad leaped, pumped his fist in the air, and nearly put it through the ceiling. When Lime and I heard how hard he had hit the ceiling, we both stopped our own celebration and looked to find our dad in pain; but what pain he might have felt was transcended by the joy of a long awaited trip to the World Series.

Somewhere in Boston there is a guy like my dad who did the same thing last night, and I don't care who he votes for. And if the opposite had occurred, with the Yanks winning, I don't think you'd be able to say that about someone in the Bronx.

As a side note, should I ever lapse from the Catholic faith, the seeds of my doubt will have been planted by Sister Joanne, my eight grade teacher, who discouraged students from leaving school to go the World Series parade. I had my dad nearly convinced to take me, but when he asked what our teacher had said, I couldn't say that she gave a ringing endorsement. I remember her leaning against her podium complaining that the parade was the for the adult fans who have waited all of their life for a World Series win. Its been nearly 25 years, and no parade for the Hatcher. What kind of God gives a calling to a woman to join the convent so that she can be in position to put the kybosh on a kid's opportunity to attend a World Series parade? I ask myself that question every year around this time.

Finally, can Tim McCarver just give it a damn rest? "The flag in left field can actually be blowing in, even as the wheather vane that is above it on the flag pole can be blowing out. This is because Yankee stadium, like Shea, is built like a horseshoe. Both were designed by the famous architect Louis Joneson, who pioneered the horseshoe stadium design to create just such an effect. I was speaking with a fluid dynamic professor from MIT prior to the game, and ...."

Or, how about - "I am not sure that what the Red Sox have accomplished here can be considered a miracle, but it sure is an extraordinary accomplishment. To qualify as a miracle, however, the Vatican sets out three different criterion that have to be satisfied, although after Vatican II there is significant contoversy over the interpretation of the different criterion. In any event, the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston could not be reached for comment on the subject before the game, saying something about being busy re-assigning certain priests and granting annulments to prominent rich Democratic politicians."

Tim - shut up already! Watch some tapes of Bill Walton announcing basketball games and learn a thing or two.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


An interesting argument that Osama bin Laden is more likely dead then alive. THE BELGRAVIA DISPATCH: Wanted: Dead or Alive

Red Sox and the Greatness of David Hasselhoff

Wow! What a game! Actually, I didn't watch it; if I had, the Sox would have gone down hard. In Game 5, for example, I tuned in for five at bats, the third of which was Jeter poking a lame double off Pedro down the right field line to clear the loaded bases and put the Yanks ahead; the next two at bats I witnessed were Sox grounding into double plays to end innings that could have been fruitful.

Curt Schilling, without a doubt, will go down in baseball history as the best pitcher to never win a Cy Young award, with the possible exception of Cy Young. (And if it weren't Curt Schilling, it would be some other ex-Phillie - maybe Marty Bystrom).

For all of you Yank-haters out there who have chalked up the last three miraculous nights to the grace of God, you are only partly right; God no doubt got a lift from Vegas Heavy-T betting heavy on the Yankees in each of the last three games. Mariano blowing two saves and Schilling bleeding through his socks through seven innings to get the win - I know this is heresy, but frankly such events are less probable than any miracle recounted in the Bible. Send your donations through me to him if you'd like to lay the proper sized bet tonight, because I am sure he is broke by now.

As there must be at least one Yanks fan on the list, making this clearly a divisive e-mail akin to most of my political screeds, I'll leave you with a subject that all can agree upon - the genius of David Hasselhoff. This is from research performed by Professor Vic, which is only marginally less important than the research that will determine his tenure fate, but nevertheless will be more widely read than that:

Ok, I spend a lot of time surfing the web at 4:00 a.m. nowadays. Funny how that works. I arrived at the following remarkably humorous site through the type of unusual path that is only possible through the new technology that is the Internet. It started with my discovery (thanks to that William Shatner had a new album out called "Has Been." I highly recommend a trip to to hear some of the album.

The first track, "Common People", a "duet" with Joe Jackson is horrific but strangely alluring.
My trip to William Shatner reminded me of Shatner's great cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", which if you have not heard it, is truly a pinnacle of musical achievement. So I tried to track down a copy of the song on the web. None of the for sale downloading services like iTunes had a copy, and I have stopped stealing music, so I went to Amazon where the song can be purchased on CD as part of a compilation called "Golden Throats Volume 1."

This album also has Leonard Nimoy singing "If I had a Hammer" among other things. The 4th volume of Golden Throats has a version of the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood" overlaid with the "Mission Impossible Theme" that is a remarkably twisted thing. It is impossible to stop listening to. Like seeing a freak-show at the circus. The music clips available on Amazon for these albums are fantastic.

Well, one of the Amazon user lists that accompanied Golden Throats had a list of 20 other albums of horrid music including a yodeler singing show tunes, and a 70s children's choir in Canada singing 1970s standards.

Included in this was the Album, "Looking For - the Best of David Hasselhoff." While sound clips are not available for this album, you get a great feel for the disc from the remarkable reviews. There are over one thousand reviews of this musical work, all of which share the same opinion.
While no single review is a work of art, the complete body of reviews is extraordinary. Read the first 25 or so to get the proper idea. I think this should link you directly there. If not, just search for David Hasselhoff in Music and be sure to select the "Looking For" greatest hits album, not the regular one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Nobelist Prescott lauds Bush policies

Is it too late to change my teacher evaluation for this guy? Nobelist Prescott lauds Bush policies

Dr. Phil on National Review Online

For those fams of Dr. Phil, a very funny article: Dr. Phil on National Review Online

Monday, October 18, 2004

ABC News: 'Primetime Live' Poll: More Republicans Satisfied With Sex Lives Than Democrats

What? Republicans have better sex. I didn't even know we were allowed to! Did I miss that meeting?

ABC News: 'Primetime Live' Poll: More Republicans Satisfied With Sex Lives Than Democrats

Manipulating the Presidential Futures Market

Here is an interesting article about apparent attempt at a speculative attack on the Bush contracts. It reminds of a story and a prior link, where I talked about the proud history of gambling on presidential elections. For many years, prior to mass media and communications technologies, betting odds were the gauge of who was ahead in a given election. Looking to effect the same bandwagon effect spoken of in this article, Joe Kennedy Sr. made a stop in Vegas on his way out to California prior to the 1960 election, and bet heavily on his son. The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid

An Actor You Can Actually Respect

Not everyone in Hollywood is a commie - somehow Andy Garcia, of Cuban descent, made it there. Last night I saw his movie For Love or Country - the Arturo Sandoval Story, the story of the defection of the Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval to America in 1990. In one scene Dizzie Gillespie makes a call on Salvodar's behalf to VP Dan Quayle, and we are left with the impression that this was what got the job done. Good thing he made the attempt in 1990, rather than 1993 - you can just hear Gore on the other line saying things like "Look, Dizzie, we are trying to get socialized healthcare here in the states, but we are facing a lot of opposition from the Batista, er, I mean the Republicans. I would suggest that Mr. Sandoval stay in Cuba, and if I weren't VP right now, I might just join him there on that island paradise. Can you ask him to get me Cuban cigars - Bill seems to take all of the ones we get in the White House, which is curious, because I never see him smoking them."

Anyway, I highly recommend the movie, and would even suggest to the AG Ashcroft that he pin down Robert Redford, pry his eyes open with toothpicks Clockwork Orange style, and force him to watch it in a continuous loop for, oh, say, 10 years.

Speaking of Cuba, in watching the movie I was reminded of Elian Gonzalez, a victim of the Clinton administration. Here is what I wrote about Elian in the orginal print version of Ideas Hatched:

If the case for Elian Gonzalez' asylum rested entirely upon saving him from the possibility of being forcefully taken in the middle of the night and imprisoned for political reasons, than that case surely relies upon the same fate being an impossibility in America. What better way, then, for the Clinton administration to weaken Elian's case for asylum than by forcefully taking Elian in the middle of the night and imprisoning him for political reasons. And it was for political reasons, and despicable ones at that, as one can usually assume with Clinton. The law, contrary to the claims of the Justice Department, did not require forceful removal from the Miami relatives. Knowing now that such an operation is not only possible in Clinton's America, but also likely when he is at the helm, maybe we should all consider the choice between Clinton's America and Cuba a toss up.

A recent poll indicated the majority of Americans support the raid, telling us only that we have the president we so truly deserve. What is sad is that Cuban Americans deserve so much more from the leadership of this country than the average native born American. The best poll would be one querying only those living in Little Havana, that section of Miami where Cuban Americans, most of whom risked their lives for the freedoms the rest of us complacently take for granted, have made a new life for themselves and their families. They alone are fully competent to weigh the competing concerns involved: the costs to Elian in being separated from his father versus the costs to Elian of being reunited with his father at the price of his freedom. As family oriented as they are, there is little to suggest that Cuban Americans would underestimate the first cost, while there is plenty of evidence to suggest that most Americans woefully underestimate the second.

Any moment in our country's history that makes us more comparable, as a society, to Castro's Cuba, should be considered one of our saddest moments. Many on the left, however, would regard such a moment as fantastic progress on our part. These people have proven themselves entirely incompetent to judge the value of the freedoms they take for granted. Eleanor Clift, who writes for Newsweek, made the statement that Elian would probably be better off in Cuba than in America. Chevy Chase makes the statement that Cuba proves that socialism can work. Charles Rengel, accurately representing the sentiments of many minority members of Congress, embraces Castro with a loving hug when inviting him to speak in poor districts of Harlem. And yet, each and every year, the socialist paradise of Cuba witnesses the curious exodus of hundreds who risk life and limb on rickety makeshift boats, just to reach the shores of a country that, in the eyes of America's Castro supporters (and they are many), is corrupted to the core by racism to which Cubans would surely not be immune.

One cannot be enthralled by Castro's regime without at the same time hating the United States. And it is a preference for Castro's communism that has led many on the left to fully support reuniting Elian with his father in Cuba. One surely cannot claim that those on the left, who recognize no rights for a father to obstruct the aborting of a child that is both his and his mother's, are motivated in this case by a commitment to any natural rights of fathers. In fact, the competing concerns so truly understood by Cuban Americans are viewed as a win-win by Castro's supporters: not only does the kid get be with his father, he also gets to live in the worker's paradise. Once returned to the worker's paradise, Elian will have the lifelong pleasure of being monitored closely by classmates and neighbors who will report any behavior or comments he might make that suggests he does not support a government that will never be of his, or any other Cuban citizen's, choice. If he is ever to enjoy the standard of living that he could easily enjoy in the U.S., it will only be through being a loyal CP member himself, which involves monitoring and reporting suspicious behavior of those around him.

Cuban Americans are a very curious ethnic minority. They are Catholic, they tend to vote Republican, and they tend to be pro-life. No wonder, than, that those on the left are describing Little Havana as a banana republic, and doing their level best to demonize Cuban Americans as extremists with respect to the current controversy. The very presence of Cuban Americans, given what they have risked to arrive on the shores of Florida, and their subsequent economic success, repudiates two fundamental tenets of liberalism: that racism is a prevalent barrier to economic success in the U.S., and that socialism can create a more just society.

The government has even trotted out an expert psychologist who, without meeting either Elian or his Miami relatives, has made the statement that Elian is effectively being held hostage and that his environment is extremely detrimental to his mental health. Awaiting Elian in Cuba upon his return is a beautiful beachfront villa (the likes of which can only be owned in Cuba by those high in the Communist party) in which he will be temporarily housed along with a team of psychologists, who will no doubt re-educate Elian and coax from him his memories of being abused at the hands of his Miami relatives. To ease his transition, the villa will also house a dozen or so classmates who, regardless of the wishes of their parents, will be moved from their homes. The fate that awaits Elian in Cuba, where he will now be treated as an important political symbol and a pawn in Castro's regime, is apparently considered a healthy environment for the mental health of Elian. A father free to speak his mind would not wish the fate that awaits Elian in Cuba on his son. If part of his childhood was ripped from him in witnessing the death of his mother, his only chance at retaining some normalcy in his life is through staying in Miami.

In one respect, the Elian case provides a fitting closing chapter to Janet Reno's horrendous career. She came to prominence in Florida largely through prosecuting parents for sexually abusing their children in what is rightly considered the Salem witch trials of the 20th century. Children were essentially coached to remember being sexually abused, and were then removed from their parents. She justified use of the ATF in Waco based upon thin allegations that children within the compound were being abused. Blaring music into the compound for several days in a row apparently did not constitute abuse. And finally incinerating those children was, again, not abuse. And now, with the support of some moronic psychologist, Janet Reno has rescued little Elian from an abusive situation. There is no greater predictor that a child will be subject to future abuse than the suspicion on the part of Janet Reno that the child is currently being abused.

The claims of the father cannot be taken at face value because the man is not free to speak as he feels. Given that, there is a very high probability that he truly desires that his son be granted asylum. Prior to the ugly tactics used by the Clinton administration to remove Elian from Miami, the blame for every tragic aspect to the events that have unfolded could be laid at the feet of Castro, but we have an administration too cowardly to make a statement to that effect. In making it easier for Elian to return to Cuba, Clinton and Reno have done their best to remove his last best hope. And they defend their actions in terms that are extremely offensive given their history: they are only upholding the rule of law. Their peculiar version of the rule of law keeps corruption in power (themselves) and coddles a Communist tyrant, while Elian pays the price.

One columnist proposed an excellent solution to the entire controversy: free trade. America trades all of its citizens who are so enamored with a murdering leftwing tyrant to Cuba in exchange for all of those Cubans, including Elian, who know the true value of American citizenship.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

US Credibility

So the global test, as explained to us by Edwards, sort of, involves the US being credible. Apparently foreign governments can no longer trust us with Bush in office. We had bumb info on Iraq, which incidentally was consistent with the information that every other intelligence agency in the free Western World had as well, but somehow are reliance on such information makes us liars. That is the nature of intelligence - there will always be uncertainty, and it will not end with reforms to the CIA.

But consider for a moment what credibility would have supposedly bought us up-front. Near as we can tell, we are to believe it would have amounted to French and German participation. Have we lost that going forward? To say we lost it presumes we would have had it if we found the WMDs. Fat chance there, folks. The idea that the French, for example, were behind us after the attacks of 9-11, and we blew their support is woefully errant. Consider this from a recent a news story:

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

Iraqi intelligence officials then "targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac," it said, including two of his "counsellors" and spokesman for his re-election campaign.

Focusing his attention in particular on France and Russia, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, Saddam awarded oil exploration contracts and financial inducements to individuals.

The bribes were at first funded by the Iraqi government, but later derived from Saddam's illegal misuse of the oil-for-food programme, which was supposed to provide food for the poor and medicine for the sick.

Some US estimates have suggested that the Iraqis siphoned off $10 billion (£5.6 billion) from the scheme.

"He [Saddam] targeted friendly companies and foreign political parties that possessed either extensive business ties to Iraq, or held pro-Iraq policies," said the report.

Let's take for a moment the fact that no WMDs have been found as an indictment of our credibility. Now, ask yourself this - what has this lost us with respect to the French? They weren't in prior to that being known, so how would the ex post fact suddenly change their usefulness. Maybe they can now try to claim moral high ground for a decision that amounts to cowardice and complicity with a regime that lined their pockets, but so what. In fifty years, given the birth rates among the native French versus the immigrant Moslem community, we'll be hearing the prime minister of France issuing a fatwah calling for the heads of infidels - why should we commit suicide along with them? As a nation, they are a joke.

Now consider what are trigger happiness may have gained us. It is a matter of fact that most of the Arab street views 9-11 as a Zionist plot - so that audience is not influenced by the lack of our finding any WMDs - they "knew" all along that there were no WMDs outside of Israel. They can't hate us anymore. But now they can fear us. They took pot shots for years with no big response, because they knew that a big response would require our getting the backing of the international community. Enemy regimes never had to come at us directly - just back a few crazy jihadists with some money and safe haven - surely the US could never get the blessing of the world community to come at them for that. Now we have proved that the rumblings of a few corrupt Old European governments will not hold us back. More than that, we may even go ahead on flimsy intelligence. It's enough to make Libya cough up its arsenal.

The actions of the US in defending itself cannot be subject to some lawyerly standard of evidential proof of guilt on the part of regimes suspected to support terrorism. For proof of this, we need look no further than when Clinton rejected the offer by the Sudanese government to hand him Bin Laden on a silver platter; it was rejected because Clinton didn't think he had enough information to try Bin Laden. Good results did not follow. Yes, our intelligence may be wrong from time to time ... but no one contends that it will be so wrong as to lead us to attack Canada, and Canada knows that. Iran doesn't, and there is value in that.

It is in our interest to lack the type of credibility Kerry insists we should do everything to regain. Lacking the realistic threat of US military intervention, bad regimes do bad things; for proof, look to the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, when they were dealing with a naive President and a cowardly Congress. Use of the US military has to be a credible threat, and it very much is at the moment. But that can change in a day, and you'll know that it has if you tune into Al Jazera on the morning after the election, and you see the people dancing in the streets - but don't expect CBS to show that footage.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Yankees - You Have to Hate Them

A few people have taken me to task in the past for two positions they regard as incompatible: hatred of the Yankees and a love for free markets. The Yanks are the ultimate capitalist dogs, they say – out there trying to maximize profits by buying themselves World Series after World Series. So the logic goes that I either must embrace the Yanks or recognize that the free market aint all that great.

But one can embrace the free market without endorsing the choices that people make within that market. Just as I can embrace freedom of the press and still consider Dan Rather an idiot. If what Steinbrenner is doing by paying outrageous sums of money and outspending his competition maximizes profits, then by all means let him do it, but the fact that such actions might serve to maximize his profits speaks to the idiocy of baseball fans.

I should say up-front that over time I have become the biggest George Steinbrenner fan there is. We are always told how hard it is to work for Steinbrenner, how he is a really tough boss, a jerk, etc. etc. If I were a member of that team, and especially if I were Joe Torre, I’d rightly regard the guy as Santa Claus. Can you imagine the post-season meeting between these two last year:

Steinbrenner: “Gee, Joe, I guess I am kind of miffed – we spend $50 million more than anyone else on payroll and you guys can’t beat the Marlins?”

Torre: “Yeah, actually I wanted to talk to you about that. You really cannot expect to win with the line-up we have. What we need to do is, in this off-season, get a guy like Gary Sheffield, or maybe like A-Rod, or a Kevin Brown. You know, some guy who can take us over the top.”

Steinbrenner: “Well, Joe, I got to say, I didn’t really think that the problem was we didn’t have enough talent. But now that you mention it, I’ll get you all three of those guys for next year. How does that sound?”

If I were Steinbrenner, I’d be hiring John Edwards to sue the Yankee players and coaches for malpractice in the past three years (and hopefully this year). If you ask me, he is the only sympathetic character in the entire organization.

I blame the fans and the press, with more emphasis on the press. Most fans hate the Yankees, and rightly so, but oddly their hatred for the Yanks leads to the paradoxical result that a playoff series without the Yankees does not draw as many viewers. I am guilty of it too. We tune in because we want to see them go down, and it is great when they do.

But here is my problem with the press – when the Yanks don’t go down, they heap on the praise like it is an accomplishment for the Yanks to win the damn series. The press should be extremely partisan Yankee-haters. Stop talking about the heroics of player A, B, or C right on through the line-up when they pull out a late inning victory. Openly mock them when they lose, and when they win, talk about the team that their opponents could have put together with an equal budget. With the guns the Yanks have, none of what they do is all that noteworthy.

So here is my solution – boycott the Yankees as a fan until the press starts harangues against them before, during, and after every game. Make it so that these guys get booed wherever they go. Treat them like they are cheating, because in a way they are. The whole business model of a baseball franchise rests upon the plausibility of their competition; the Yankees would be of interest to no one if they chose to only play little league teams. They have stretched that plausibility as far as they can, capitalizing on the rich cable deal they derive from playing in the largest market. But ultimately it is the fans who decide whether they have stretched that plausibility too far, and so far we have not rebuked them.

Maybe we just like to see them get there every year just to lose. I know I do. Red Sox in six! You heard it here first. And of course I just added to the Red Sox curse.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Nobel laureate calls for steeper tax cuts in US

Not only was I taught by a Nobel laureate, I was taught by one who thinks Bush didn't go far enough in cutting taxes. Yahoo! News - Nobel laureate calls for steeper tax cuts in US

A Nobel for the Hatcher - Sort Of

I can remember in my Freshman year at Lehigh, on a practice run with the cross-country team along the canal that parallels the Lehigh River, engaging in the first of several pathetic conversations I’ve had in my lifetime, which were comprised of back-and-forth efforts of myself and my partner to establish our superior status over each other. What made the conversations pathetic was the comparative standard of status, which rested not through any direct comparison of our own respective accomplishments - but instead through the accomplishments of persons with whom we have some tenuous form of association. This particular conversation amounted to comparisons of the running potential of two high school runners, one of whom was my teammate a year prior, and the other his.

I remember being miffed that this guy could respond to my list of the achievements of my acquaintance with any comeback other than – you win. Why was I miffed? Because running as slow as I did that year, my only claim to significance in the sport was being unique among current teammates in knowing someone who was really good at it. Now, of course, knowing my former teammate was no comment on my own abilities, but for some illogical reason you think association with successful people lifts your own standing. You think to yourself – sure, I won’t win MVP or most improved runner at the award ceremony, but I’m a lock for the award going to the guy who knows the guy who is really good but runs for another team, and clearly everyone knows that that is the award to get.

Why do I bring this up? Not because I’ve outgrown such pathetic claims to respect, but because now I am significantly better at it – this year, the Nobel Prize in Economics went to one of my professors at the University of Minnesota – Ed Prescott. Aside from the other Gopher economists on my distribution list, this is an association I hold over everyone of you. It proves that I am smarter than you. Forthwith, in acknowledgement of my superior status to you in the circumscribed world of theoretical economists, I request that you address me in comments as the Hatcher Who Was Taught by a Nobel Laureate, a title which is a much fairer representation of my standing in the world. I took two classes from him, and even got a B in one of them, and I’ve got the transcript to prove it to you mere mortals. You might also append the “Who Was Taught …” to Professor Vic when responding to one of his incoherent comments.

I think I speak for the other Gophers on the list, especially those of us who schlep as private market economists (very low on the totem poll, though our marginal tax rates tend to dominate), that the awarding of the Nobel to Prescott comes as a great relief. Prior to receiving the imprimatur of the Swedes, our claims to the superiority of the members of the Minnesota faculty over those of the schools from which our professional colleagues matriculated rested solely upon anecdotal evidence that spoke to the horrendous quality of teaching exhibited by said faculty. Direct comparison of research skills is really subjective, but every economist knows that teaching skills can be more objectively compared and that they are perfectly negatively correlated with intelligence. Now, should anyone from some third-rate program start in trying to brag up the incoherence of one of their economics professors, we can pull out the Nobel trump, and the argument ends there. Kind of makes all of the inscrutable lectures I suffered through whorthwhile in the end. Or maybe not.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Whoah! This Guy Lets it Fly!

Jonah Goldberg on Kedwards and Iraq on National Review Online

The TV News Test

Happy Columbus Day! To celebrate, I suggest that you gift a blanket infected with small pox to any co-workers who decry the celebration of Columbus. Or, if you are not that hard core, merely point out to them that when Columbus landed in the West Indies, he was not greeted by the Noble Savage - i.e. man in the state of nature uncorrpupted by Western institutions and living in a promordial paradise - no, he was greeted by a tribe that was winnowing in numbers because the rival tribe on the island was eating them!


John Edwards has brought up the very interesting point that all one needs to do to see how much of a disaster Iraq is today is to turn on the evening news. It is a test that proves too much. To any readers in a big city, take this test: watch your local nightly news for a couple of days, and ask yourself if your city is as much of a disaster as you might think watching the news. If the conclusion you reach from the nightly news is that we should pull out of Iraq, I would go one further and say we should pull out of DC as well.

Indeed, I worked several years ago for a couple of weeks in Dublin, where I would debate one of my Irish clients about politics. The Irish are obsessed with American politics - they loved Clinton for paying so much attention to Northern Ireland. Anyway, in the course of one of our debates, he honestly admitted to me a startling fact: that in all of the years of the IRA killings, fewer people had been killed in the Northern Ireland conflict than there were murders in DC in one year (I forget which year he cited). See - even Northern Ireland, which makes our news only for car bombings, is a relatively stable region, contrary to the impression that any American news hound would have. It's also more evidence for getting the hell out of DC.

As I read recently, the coalition forces could build 10 new bridges, and the only one you'd ever have a chance of seeing is the one that gets subsequently blown up. Here are some links to news that you won't hear on TV because you have to have an IQ of above 100 to think about such questions (which makes them out of bounds for TV journalists), the answers to which are news-worthy. Here. Here. Here.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson on the Middle East

I think this is a good assessment of the current situation in Iraq: Victor Davis Hanson on the Middle East on National Review Online.

I especially liked these two paragraphs:

If an aggregate $50 billion in aid to Egypt; billions more to the Palestinians and Jordanians; the removal of the bloodthirsty Saddam Hussein and the Taliban; $87 billion invested in Iraq and an attempt to relieve its international debt; saving the Kuwaitis; protecting the Saudis; stopping the genocide of Muslims in the Balkans; and keeping the Persian Gulf safe gets us sky-high cartel oil prices and poll data showing that 95 percent of the Middle East does not like America, it is time to try something else.

I could start with the modest suggestion of a gradual cutting off all aid to Egypt, halting most immigration to the United States from the Middle East (in the manner we once did with Communist Eastern Europe), and announcing a carrot-and-stick non-interventionist Bush Doctrine II. All future Middle East military and economic aid would be predicated on the recipient's having a democratic government, while evidence of either terrorist bases or weapons of mass destruction would earn sustained U.S. bombing.

Bobos Leave Paradise

If you link to this sight, page down until you see the Friday, October 8 entry concerning the decision not to tenure a hip-hop scholar at Harvard. Very funny:
The Hatemonger's Quarterly

The Karry Campaign as a Second Source of Income for "Journalists"

OK, just because people in the media are hired consultants to the Kerry campaign doesn't mean that they are biased: The American Thinker.

Dr. Phil: My Kids Are Liberal Barbarians - Can You Help?

Before I get started, let it be known that I still hate the Yankees. Can't they ever just blow a team out? Why do they insist on winning home games in the ninth or extra innings? And don't tell me it's magic. If I paid a bunch of baseball players $191 million, I'd expect them to levitate like that freak David Blain. The better analogy would be to a young Einstein, taking the SATs, but falling asleep for the first three hours, waking up with 1 hour to go, and acing them; the story isn't how they miraculously pull these games out, it is that they are ever behind.

Also, wow - ten comments on the VP debate entry and several private e-mails to the Hatcher. A new record. And look at the civility between Professor Vic and the Incredible Dirigible. Come on guys - the friend of your friend is not necessarily your friend. Take off the gloves or at least put some iron in them! Now, onto the domestic family bliss entry, or is it?


“Strange.” Brief pause, eyes still fixed, little brain trying desperately to reconcile what he expected to see and what he is looking at, and then “Very strange.” And so went Bill’s assessment of the first picture of his newest sibling, in the fuzzy black and white indiscernible nature of your typical ultrasound picture. Can't really disagree with the little guy. Of course, we all expect to see something different, and as the technician wheels the little magic wand across Mom’s belly, you see a head, a beating little heart going pitter patter 146 times per minute, two arms, two legs, a spine and a torso.

And if you are the mother of three little boys resigned to the fate of having a fourth, you see… “oh my god - there it is, a penis, as plane as day – no hope ever for a girl – 0 for 4 and it’s your damn fault.” Not quite as thick as the legs, but sitting right there between them, and about half as long. I, on the other hand, with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics and genetics, and a more complete knowledge of my endowments, know right away I am looking at an umbilical cord. There is still hope for a girl.

But my bigger hopes are for something you can’t see on an ultrasound, and might not know for a long time. It’s not as simple as gender – I am talking ideology. And I am as scared of getting a fourth little Kerry supporter as my wife is of getting a fourth boy, because already my three boys are showing signs of being little fascist anarchist commie hipsters.

It’s October, 2004, one month prior to the presidential elections, and the boys have shown their first signs of rebellion against the values of their parents. Four years ago, when the twins were nearly one year old, and Jake was a mere twinkle in his dad’s eye, Joey chose, as freely as one-year olds can, to be George Bush for Halloween; Billy followed suit as Dick Cheney. You have to love that stage when your kids seek to please you, but you know in time that as they grow up they will feel the need to differentiate themselves, to declare their independence through some act of defiance. I never thought that day would come before they even turned five.

But it is upon us; equipped with plastic light sabers, and pretending to merely be playing Star Wars in the front yard, the boys destroyed my Bush/Cheney lawn sign, a hate crime if there ever was one. Oh sure, I know what you are thinking, have your kids destroy your lawn sign and then characterize it as indicative of the intolerance of Democrats. Now, I spent enough time in academia myself to spot that as a favorite past time of faculty in the various Departments of Aggrieved Studies, who routinely spray-paint racist epitaphs on the walls of their own buildings to highlight the racism that is rampant on campus. Like the Dan Rather memos, according to the NYT, such actions are “fake, but accurate.” But I assure you that my kids are independent actors – they had been asked not to tamper with the sign, and they summarily ignored that request.

Not enough proof for you? Not long ago, while driving by Republican campaign headquarters in Arlington with them in the car, I saw Joe look at the storefront, put his hand in the shape of a gun, and pull the imaginary trigger; an act stunning in its correspondence to the recent open-minded attacks of a similar ilk by liberal Democrats who fired on GOP campaign HQs in West Virginia and Tennesse, not to mention those who simply ransacked the HQ in Florida. It’s enough to make me rethink gun control.

If I hear these kids sing or even so much as humm one damn Joan Baez or Country Joe and the Fish song, I’ll pay Professor Vic to take them off my hands. After a couple of years of his proselytizing, and their predictable rebellion back to the good side, I’ll take ‘em back. In the meantime, perhaps I’ll be more subtle in indoctrinating the fourth child.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Dinkytown and Che

For the Gopher's on the list - Lileks takes a reminiscent walk in Dinkytown and on the UofM campus. Strangely enough, and apropos of my fuller blog entry for today, you can go get a Che Guevara doll in the campus bookstore. Arnie - you are there - how 'bout bringing one back to DC for me?

Revolutionary Chic

The reading this week, brothers and sisters, is from The Black Book of Communism by Stéphane Courtois and others. There you will find that, at a conservative estimate and not counting deaths in war, in the last century Communist régimes worldwide have killed 20 million people in the U.S.S.R., 65 million in China, two million each in North Korea and Cambodia and one million each in Vietnam and Eastern Europe. Add to that number 150,000 in Latin America and a million and a half or so in both Africa and Afghanistan and you get a total of about 100 million. That’s a one with eight zeroes after it. 100,000,000. People. Yet no matter how many millions were murdered in its name, no matter how disastrous in human as well as economic terms it has proven to be at every time and in every place it has come to power, Communism still has the power to capture the imagination, especially of the young and idealistic.

So begins James Bowman's review of The Motorcycle Diaries, a movie that lionizes the idealism of the murdering thug Che Guevara. That amounts to about 3 percent of the entire population of the world in 1960, and an obvioulsy much larger percentage of the nations that were actually afflicted with the revolutionary ethos. Compare that to the numbers from the Holocaust, approximately 6 million, and fascism ranks pretty low in comparison as a scourge to humanity. The comparison is a base one, but for the fact that for every victim of the holocaust, there are thousands today who rightly decry the evil of that time, but for every victim of communism, there seems to be a Robert Redford there to produce a movie that treats a communist thug as a hero. Good work, Robert - now tell me again how Bush is bringing about a fascist state - sounds like a considerably more safe alternative to the utopia Hollywood would have in store for us, and I got the whole history of the 20th century to back me on this.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

VP Debate Thoughts

First, a moment of silence for Rodney. You may think this is just a cheap trick to generate comments, which it is, but I also feel genuine remorse.

Second, how 'bout them Twins. Yeah, I know, they took the first one from the Yanks last year and dropped the next three. But this year feels different, especially with Carlos Santana on the mound. I knew the guy could play guitar, but who knew he could pitch so well? I predict the Twins in 4. You heard it here first.

Now, onto the debate:

Dick Cheney: "I'd like to respond to that, Gwen, but it will take more than 30 seconds."

Gwen iffil: "That's all you've got."

Voice Inside Gwen iffil's head: "Unless your John Edwards. He is sooo dreamy. It's hard to keep my heart in my chest while he's talking with that melodious voice. Maybe I should have worn the black dress instead of this outfit - he would have taken notice of that. Hey, what is that red light reflecting in his eye - very disturbing - like when someone takes a picture of me and I've got that red-eye thing going on. Oh no! Maybe someone from Halliburton is beaming a laser from outer space right now at John John's eyes to throw him off his game. Oh, wait a minute, my mistake, that is the red light that I am supposed to enforce under the highly unfair rules of the debate. I mean, Cheney and Bush have the right wing press do their bidding for four years, and then they are supposed to get equal time during this thing? Not if I can help it."

I watched a half hour of the debate. Here are some observations, highly partisan of course:

1) Cheney had command of his facts, and delivered them very logically, and at times forcefully. Edwards was well-spoken, but he comes off to me as the self-righteous son to Cheney's more wise role as dad; whereas Cheney was "misleading" the American people - a charge to his character, Edwards simply "had his facts wrong", I reminder from the dad that 17 year olds tend to think they know more than they do.

2) I just find Cheney impressive - the guy never gets rattled. Dems like to hang the CEO charge of Halliburton on him like it is equivalent to joining up Al Queda, but the fact of the matter is that companies don't choose people who aren't good leaders with judgment to head operations. If Halliburton wanted to choose someone for political influence only, why choose Cheney during a Democratic administration? You could have much more influence with Clinton by choosing some reversion-to-the-mean Kennedy. The no-bid contract for Halliburton, by the way, was similar to the one they got for Bosnia under Clinton; it seems that when no other company can do the work, there is no need for a bidding war.

3) I am only going to say this once. Neither Cheney, nor Bush, nor anyone in their administration, nor anyone in Karl Rove's vast right wing conspiracy, has ever ever ever ever said that Saddam was directly involved in planning 9-11. Simple fact - it is a straw man. As Cheney said last night, post 9-11, the administration viewed the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on WMDs as the biggest threat facing the US. Iraq was a very likely source for them getting their hands on such material. Ergo, given the fact that Iraq has flaunted nearly every UN mandate for 12 years, and continues to kick out inspectors unless US troops are lined on their borders, it might seem a tad logical that Saddam has been busy outsourcing his WMD disposal to his friendly neighborhood terrorist organization. To Kerry and Edwards, lacking a picture of Saddam handing a brief case over-stuffed with money and small missiles to Osama bin Laden, with a schematic picture of the WTC in flames behind them, Saddam is considered off limits. Except if the political tide makes it seem like the right thing to do, in which case you cast your Senate vote in favor of the war.

But we are supposed to believe that Kerry will pre-emptively go after Iran? Maybe that is what is necessary, but if these guys cannot support a war against a guy with a track record like Saddam, it is hard to imagine they will make any tougher decisions.

4) North Korea - OK, so North Korea is Bush's fault? Clinton sends Carter to North Korea 10 years ago in a perfect example of the reason why diplomacy gets you nothing with third world thugs - Carter gets the "visionary" (his word) leader of NK to sign some piece of paper saying he won't develop nukes and the NYT hails it as diplomacy at its best. Clinton goes back to his full time job, which consisted of round the clock meetings with Carter's terrorist friend Arafat, interrupted ocassionally for a pizza delivery, and forgets about N. Korea. Meanwhile moments after Jimmy Carter leaves the tarmac in Korea, Kim Jong Il is taking the signed agreement down to laboratory in the basement of his palace, and handing it to the mad nuclear scientist suggesting that he use it for kindling the nuclear cocktail. But this is Bush's fault!

5) Here is what I think may happen should Kerry and Edwards get elected. They might just be as tough as Bush and Cheney, although there is more than ample reason to think that they won't given Kerry's record in the Senate. But suppose for a moment the leopard change his spots. If he does the same thing, the press will nevertheless treat it very differently - very favorably in fact, which makes it easier to make bold moves. Rather than every story being about a quagmire, suddenly we'll have personal interest stories about little girls going to school for the first time in Iraq, etc etc.

Think about the "decade of greed" that was the Reagan 1980s, which were followed by additional prosperous years in the 90s under Clinton - Clinton instituted welfare reform, presided over a huge stock market bubble, saw income inequality increase in the US as it did in the 80s, and had a Ken Lay or Bernie Ebbers for every Michael Milken from the 80s. So why aren't the 90s the "decade of greed"? If Halliburton really wants to make some money, they might be better off voting for Kerry, who can send them everywhere while the NYT does stories about how Halliburton does the tough gritty work that no one else will do.

5) But then I come to my senses. Kerry, in my eyes, looks to a dying Europe (France and Germany) for approval, which he'll never get. He'll have summits and signed agreements and lots of people involved but no rogue nation will be confronted unless they directly attack us, which they will never do, as they can outsource the war to terrorist organizations they support.

6) As I said, I left the debate after a half hour, but while channel surfing, came across Edwards talking about healthcare, and how consumers are being pinched partially through doctor's passing on expensive malpractice fees in their rates to patients. He says they have a plan to reduce malpractice costs by eliminating frivolous suits. Yeah, that is why the trial lawyers are all lined up right behind him - too many frivolous suits in their eyes!

One of the big cases that Edwards won was precisely that - a frivolous claim of negligence on the part of an OB/GYN who delivered a baby that turned out to have cerebral paulsy. No science to link the difficulty of the birth and the actions of a doctor to the condition of the baby, but who needs science when John Edwards could channel the thoughts of the baby in his closing argument. "I am having trouble now, it is difficult to breathe, you have to get me out of here." That sort of thing, all, we are told, falling on the deaf ears of a callous doctor. But if that doctor had been performing a partial birth abortion? Let's hear you channel that kid's thoughts you sleazy prick!

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Simple Situational Ethics of Feminists

You do not have to be a moral relativist to embrace the notion of situational ethics, which posits the idea that an action cannot be judged right or wrong independent of the specific circumstance in which it takes place. Killing, for instance, is right or wrong dependent upon the circumstances: if in self-defense, it is justified; otherwise, it is wrong. There are, of course, degrees of right and wrong: the manslaughter committed by a drunk driver is less pernicious then the premeditated murder of an innocent victim by a willful murderer. The situational ethicist differs from the moral relativist in that he does not deny that there is an absolute right or wrong, but simply asserts that the determination of what is right or wrong is complex, and heavily depends upon the situation. Relativism is the simple way out of trying to determine right or wrong by making the concept completely subjective.

Though the political right is often characterized as moral absolutists, and the left as moral relativists, the truth is that they are both, by and large, absolutists, though with a different criteria for judging right from wrong. The left is, paradoxically, quite absolutist about its relativism, insisting that absolute tolerance of other people’s lifestyles, so long as that lifestyle is chosen freely and harms no third party, is morally OK. But if your “lifestyle” does not embrace their ethic, they have very little tolerance for your views, even when expressed in a civil manner.

Given that we are all, left and right, absolutists, some of the more marked differences in our standards can be seen by presenting a situation, including all relevant circumstances, and seeing how the two sides differ. As a conservative, I know the responses from the right to the completely hypothetical situation posed, and I suspect that most of my readers do as well. But to anticipate the response of liberals would be presumptuous on my part, and to avoid that conceit, I have gathered leading liberals from around the country to give me some understanding of the typical liberal response. In most situations posed, I think both sides may agree in regard to whether the behavior detailed is right or wrong, and so I also inquire as to the just punishment for each scenario.

The situation posed was a case in which a male employee of Organization A has groped a female employee in his charge. Conservatives unequivocally regard such behavior as wrong, and recommend a stern rebuke to the male employee, perhaps going so far as to fire that employee if the infraction is deemed serious enough. If Organization A can take reasonably affordable steps to prevent such occurrences, they should do so, but it should not be held legally liable for any damages unless they have fostered an atmosphere in which such behavior is tolerated.

Liberals, being generally much smarter than your average conservative, see a great deal more complexity in the situation, and peppered me with questions meant to provide more detail. The first regarded the type of organization each worked for: was it a corporation, a government agency, or a non-profit organization? Though I couldn’t see the relevance of the question, I indulged them with an answer, saying that it was a private corporation. This led to more questions regarding the type of product they produced, the size of their business, and the demographic breakdown of their corporate executives. The proposed penalties varied greatly according to each of these circumstances. Under all circumstances, liberals claimed that the company should be sued, all male employees should have to undergo sensitivity training by fully certified government sanctioned feminists, the company should increase the percentage of women executives to 50 percent, and the perpetrator should serve jail time that is directly proportional to his salary. If the company produced cigarettes, products that damaged the environment, or products that contributed to the “beauty myth” (they said this assuming that I knew exactly what it means, and I was afraid to ask), then all assets of the company would have to be liquidated, with the proceeds going toward the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Task Force on Providing High Paying Compulsory Consulting Jobs to Feminists for the Purposes of Re-Educating Patriarchal Corporate America.

In addition, each male executive should face potential jail time. The penalties incurred by firms producing non-offensive products were generally only financial in nature, and varied directly with the size of the firm. The severity of penalties also varied inversely with the percentage of female executives.

Having my interest peaked by the complexity of the issue, I changed the situation, saying that Organization A was, in fact, a government agency. The conservative answer remains the same in character, but again, the keener moral sense of liberals required further specification. Was the perpetrator an elected official? Not seeing the relevance, I nonchalantly answered yes. Was the perpetrator a Republican or Democrat? Still not seeing the relevance, I asked them to consider both in turn, but questions still arose in the case where the perpetrator was Republican. Was he moderate or conservative? Pro-life or pro-choice? Was he married? If so, does his wife have a career or is she kept in the slavery of domestic life? The more conservative I made my hypothetical perpetrator, the louder the shrieks that came from the assembled liberals, as they intermittently gnashed their collective teeth between shrill tirades. In the most severe case, a conservative pro-life Republican with a wife who raises their kids, the respondents called for immediate resignation or impeachment, a life sentence without parole, and a non-lethal modern day feminist “stoning”, which consists of the perpetrator being put into a public square weekly to be berated by feminists and lectured about feminist pedagogy.

At the opposite extreme, the liberals expressed disappointment if the perpetrator was a pro-choice Democrat, but went on to say that any formal stricture against the perpetrator was unnecessary, as he undoubtedly was truly penitent. In addition, they questioned whether such a charge against the alleged perpetrator would ever be credible, and instead insisted that it would most likely stem from politically partisan hate-mongers.

Lastly, I switched up the scenario, making Organization A a non-profit organization. Pressed for more questions, suffice it to say that Catholic priests fared far worse than the corporate executives and conservative Republicans.

Did you ever realize this situational ethics business could be so complex?

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Jealousy Ball

Joey is twirling this plastic ball that expands to a diameter of about two feet and contracts back to six inches – it is purple and green, and looks like an engineering student’s strange civil engineering project. As he stretches it out by simply lifting it from one end, he says he wishes that Jake would get rolled over by a car. I give him a dirty look, enough of a signal to let him know that’s not a real nice thing to say, and I am content to leave it at that, but he wants to explain.

It seems this ball is a jealous wish ball, he explains to me in a calm tone. He goes on to say that if you made a good wish on the jealous ball, it doesn’t come to earth, it goes to space to an alien on Mars. The jealous ball only allows jealous wishes to come true on earth. This is said with a strange confidence that the inherent properties of the jealous ball excuse his wishing ghastly events to befall his younger brother; as if his only choices were whether to wish for Jake to be steamrolled by a car or to have a baby grand piano dropped on his head, and he thinks he’s choosing the more humane of the two options. It’s a confidence that makes you think real hard before dismissing the logic, even if it’s coming from a four year old.

Before thinking too hard about the flaw in his logic, I pick up the ball in the same manner he did, and let it go while saying “I hope that John Kerry gets hit by a car.” OK, OK, don’t get so offended – I had in mind one of those hybrid cars that runs partially on electricity, which means I am at least envisioning that he gets hit by a Kyoto friendly vehicle, and there is not a Republican’s chance of attending the premiere of Farenheit 911 that it is going faster than 40 miles per hour. Much more humane than a baby grand – and I have no choice – it is the jealousy ball! A good wish would have went right to a Martian, and God knows those damn Martians deserve nada.

Joey and Jake are sworn mortal enemies. Jake's most repeated sentence is – “I am not [insert one of fifteen pejorative terms four-year old boys call two-year old brothers].” He says it always in a vexed and tired tone, responding to that sing-song tease inflection that characterizes all of Joey's scandalous and libelous charges. It's a hard life constantly having to emphatically state that you are not, in point of fact, a diaper head.

Of course we had hopes that Jake, as the third child, would be a girl, but now I am real glad he is not – because if he were, he’d be the type that is attracted to the bad boy he thinks he can change. As much as most of his fights are with Joey, his preference is nevertheless clearly for Joey at the moment. This flip flops from time to time – for a couple months of time Billy might be Jake’s primary antagonist, and at the same time Jake’s favorite of the two. Somewhere in that kid's head lies the psyche of a supermodel who gets beat up by a drug-addicted guitarist, but always comes back for more. As a guy, he can live with that; he might make a few 4 am drunken phone calls to ex-girl friends who treated him like crap, but who among us hasn't?

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