Thursday, June 30, 2005
  House action on Kelo

Encouraging to see most of the House actually speaking out for private property, and continuing to reprimand the black-robed saboteurs. Amid the repetitive speeches on this resolution, Rep. Pombo of California gave the shortest and best, saying essentially: This has been happening in the West for 30 years. Now that it finally hits home in Metro New York, the rest of you have finally awakened.

Pombo is about ready to introduce an improved Endangered Species Act. The timing is serendipitous. Maybe some of those Yankees will remain awake long enough to consider the tremendous damage done by the ESA in the name of Gaia.

Evolution works by the death of species. That's how life adapts to changing circumstances; some creatures die or fail to reproduce, and others change or move. ESA, which forces existing species to stay where they are, is anti-Darwin.
 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
  Random notes

Spokane's Bugger-In-Chief West filed a cleverly timed motion against Shannon Sullivan's recall petition, which means that the petition won't be fully approved until the State Supremes return from their summer recess, which in turn means that the petition will just barely have enough time to gather signatures.

West is no longer even pretending to be "serving the city"; he's just servicing it.

On the good side, some lawyers have finally joined Sullivan.

-----

The latest American Enterprise mag has a set of fine and informative articles about North Korea. One interesting point that was news to me: in the last year we've been downsizing our force in the South. Of course we're not explaining this to the world (Zenmaster Bushi never explains anything) which leaves Traitor Kerry to misread it as a sign of weakness. Both Koreas are reading it correctly, as a sign that we are clearing the decks for a more forceful attack if needed. With a large number of our own troops in the way, we were effectively restraining ourselves from attacking Pyongyang.

-----

Rush and other conservative commentators are listing the many connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda. This is good, but why don't we hear it from press secretary Scott McConnell? Why do "Republican" "senators" sit back and allow the Party of Treason to say nonsensical things? Comity is fine, but a little passion in defense of the country would be welcome.

The whole list is really unnecessary, though. Any time the "no connection" argument starts up, the simplest answer is "Well then, we shouldn't have wasted our blood and money fighting the Germans in WW2. Hitler had no connection at all with Pearl Harbor; he even tried to dissuade Japan from attacking America. If you think we shouldn't have taken out Saddam, you must also think we should have left Hitler in power. But if you understand that Hitler had to be destroyed because he was closely allied with Japan, then you must also understand that Saddam was on the same side as Osama."

-----

I'm getting to like CNN's new Headline Prime program, even though it's hopelessly weird. They spend the first 15 minutes covering The News, just like any other news channel. But then they do something so peculiar and radical that I can hardly find the vocabulary to describe it. They go to places other than Aruba and then they find -- I guess you'd call it 'events' or 'things-that-happened', and then they talk about these things-that-happened.

Obviously this isn't The News, because we all know that The News has always been and will always be about Holloways, Twittys, vanderSloots, and Kalpoes. Nevertheless, it's surprisingly interesting! Hmm.... as I discuss this, I'm getting a nagging sense that The News used to be about something else .... Nah, must be a dream, an undigested bit of potato that hasn't been fed into the Memory Hole yet.
 
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
  January 1, 1942

Peggy again:

I'm thinking particularly of Kansas editors ... They fight among themselves continually, about elections and taxes, about pawpaws and persimmons, about domestic and foreign policies, about pumpkin pie, Indian summer, frock coats, and falling hair.

This enthusiastic disagreement, carried into national affairs and multiplied over the forty-eight states, has apparently led ambitious despots to believe that Americans would accomodate them by eating each other up should we become engaged in a war.

Yet these Kansas editors, as editors and people everywhere, are accepting without a murmur the restrictions already imposed -- the curtailment of weather reports, the omission of news concerning troop movements. The importance of unified action and the necessity of central authority are recognized and will be obeyed, even though, like the famed Light Brigade, we may know at times that somebody has blundered. Nobody can be right all the time.

A free people are accustomed to restrictions which are voluntarily undertaken. We enjoy hunting and fishing, but we limit ourselves to certain periods and observe certain regulations so that there may be hunting and fishing next year.

The game wardens could not possibly enforce these laws if the great majority of persons did not understand that it is to their interest to obey them.

The foundation of a democracy lies in the intelligent self-interest of the people willingly to accept the regulations imposed by their elected officials. And in time of war that self-interest is cemented into a strong and impregnable unity.

But when it's all over, when the enemy is silenced, then old differences will again be aired and type will sizzle under burning invective about whipped cream and fruit salad.

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, will not have been lost. They may need partially and voluntarily to be curtailed, but they will return, or holy hell will break out that will make Pearl Harbor forgotten.

No discipline is so effective as that which is self-imposed.


-----

We won that war.

How do we achieve enough unity to win this one?

Hillary. She will pursue the war, and the majority of the Party of Treason and the Party Media will fall in line. TV and schools will support the war, because it will then be the Party's own war, as WW2 was. Republicans won't like it, but they won't be in any position to argue against fighting, even if they knew how to argue, which they don't.

-----

A more immediate question occurs to me.

Let's look at an organization that needs to gain public support. Let's say the chief executive is deficient in communication skills, and the media are hard to penetrate. A good strategy would be to find recognizable endorsers to run around the country spreading the message. Are there any Republicans with sufficient star power?

Sure: Newt, Rudy, and Arnold. First-name status defines star power.

So where are they? Rudy gave a slam-bang speech at the '04 convention, but hasn't been heard from since. Newt is running for President, talking about everything except the war. Arnold has his hands full running Golivorniya, so I'll skip him.

Why aren't Newt and Rudy helping with the communication job? Two possibilities:
(1) the administration believes that it doesn't need any help, in which case it deserves to be defeated in '08; (2) Newt and Rudy were asked but refused, in which case they deserve to be defeated by fellow Republicans.

I don't have any idea which is true; intuition points to 1.
 
Monday, June 27, 2005
  Just for smiles

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvan-i-a as sung by the Kingsmen, 1952.
 
  Good news from Oklahoma


Pouring three years of blood, sweat and tears and about $200K of his own money into the endeavor, Jerry Winkelman is attempting to reactivate a 43-acre refinery located in Custer County, and building a new one near Enid. The religious man credits his creator for the inspiration. "It's not been an easy thing. It's been an enormous task -- a hard road. A very radical thing. Something the average guy just doesn't do. God has led me down this road," Winkelman said recently from his newly opened office, J. W. Energy, located in the former Champlin Petroleum Co. building in downtown Enid. Blessed with financing from a Dallas underwriter to the tune of $400 million, Winkelman announced that the dormant diesel plant ... will open up again in late August.

Story from the Enid News & Eagle, June 16.

Capitalism isn't entirely dead yet, despite the diligent efforts of our black-robed saboteurs.

[Must admit I was reading the story with a certain caution until my eyes struck that $400 million. This guy is serious!]

= = = = =

Later update: Nope, he wasn't serious. He was pulling some kind of scam, but oddly enough didn't seem to gain any money from the scam. See this entry for more info.
[This update added in Feb 2009, after noticing a burst of searches for "Jerry Winkelman" leading to here. I don't know why the searches are occurring, but I suspect Winkelman may be trying another deal ... and I didn't want this first positive indication to be the only info available here!]
 
Sunday, June 26, 2005
  Random notes

Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking. These folks have been working for a few years on the pro-life side, but their love of cute names is going to destroy their chances of success. Calling an organization "National Association for the Advancement of Preborn Children" (NAAPC) is cute, and makes a point to the converted. Naming the symbolic plaintiff "Jane Scott Doe" is also cute. (Dred Scott! Get it? Get it? Tain't funny, McGee.) But judges, even those who might not be entirely pro-death, are entirely elitist. Today's elites are marinated in Identity Politics, and will be deeply offended by the attempt to steal a Holy Name for Unauthentic Purposes. I'm not elite, and I'm bothered by the cheapness. It's like a Hong Kong knockoff product: Bardie Doll, Lindows XP, Nickey Mouse. Better to make up an original name, even if it's dull.

-----

The paleocons and economoids, who think we should never fight a war under any conditions, are advancing one particularly sneaky false argument. We shouldn't have fought WW1 because we didn't understand the consequences. We shouldn't have fought in Korea because we didn't understand that the Chicoms were helping N. Korea. We shouldn't have fought in Vietnam because we didn't understand the strength of the Cong. We shouldn't have fought in Iraq because we didn't understand Saddam's fallback plan.

See the common pivot? These aren't arguments against fighting, though there may be other good reasons. These are arguments for improving our intelligence.

Why didn't WW2 suffer from the same problem? Because we didn't have an incompetent intelligence service. Why was that? Because we didn't have an intelligence service. We had to rely on the Brits, who were competent and ruthless. Most importantly, the Brits have always tried to understand their enemies in a non-idealistic way. When we try to "understand" our enemies, we always start with the assumption that they're just like us, and want the same goals.
 
  Polistra's godmother

Godmother isn't quite the right word, but it'll have to do.

The second time I lived in Kansas, in the early '80s, I enjoyed reading a column called 'Peggy of the Flint Hills' in the Topeka paper. Over the years I forgot the details but retained a vague memory of the feeling. Last year, when I started writing an online journal, I had a fleeting thought that it would be nice to follow Peggy's model, but forgot about it....

Was reminded again when reading the 1938 WPA book, which referred to Peggy's column several times. What? Must be one of those deals where the column is a brand name, written by many anonymous scriveners over the years. Nope, turns out that Peggy was Zula Bennington Greene, and she wrote all the way from 1933 to 1983. I checked Alibris.com, and (unsurprisingly, because Alibris always has what I want even when I don't know exactly what I want) found a collection of Peggy's columns. Spent yesterday in that book.





So, have I been following Peggy in any way? In terms of prose style, no. My best could never kneel at the hem of Peggy's daily average. But yes, in terms of subject choices and a Kansan tendency to peel things back to the biological basics.

Here's a bit from 1943, responding to the well-known incident when General Patton slapped a private.

Why not let the matter rest and get on with the war? Someone has said that he who is passionate and honest can be trusted. Perhaps even a general should be allowed a few mistakes. Everybody else is. It is even more regrettable that the army HQ put themselves in a hole by flatly and firmly denying the whole story, then later admitting it was true. It has hurt them with the people and shaken confidence in future dispatches. For the people to know whatever happens, even the unfortunate things, and discuss them freely, not sparing those in high places, is the precious privilege of a democracy.

Bureaucracies don't learn, do they?

Here's a longer piece from 1945 which I profoundly disagree with. Still, it shows a thought process that must have been common at the time: from the misery of WW2 and the shock of Hiroshima, a natural logic led to the moral equivalence embodied in the United Nations.

No matter who started the trouble, all who are concerned suffer the consequences. The rest of the world blames Germany and Japan for the war. We say virtuously that we did not fight till attacked -- but our own men died the same as the Germans and Japanese.

There will not be peace in the world until nations are more eager to prevent war than to place blame. Wars, like cyclones and rattlesnakes, give a little warning before they strike, and that is the time to fight a war. ...

Disaster is too costly for any smug assertion of innocence or any pointing of fingers. Trying war criminals does not bring the dead back to life. We will be getting along toward the millenium when our desire to clear ourselves of blame is replaced by a feeling of guilt if we have not tried to prevent a disaster.


This version of moral equivalence misses one basic fact. Not all humans want peace. Some are civilized, some are warriors (like Arabs and prewar Japs) and some civilized people will follow a crazy leader off a cliff (like Germans).

Along with the moral equivalence, we see the concept of pre-emptive war, which was specified in the UN Charter:

The Purposes of the United Nations are:

1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace....


So, would Peggy have approved of a pre-emptive war against Iraq in 1993 ("along toward the millenium") when we heard the rattle and knew its origin? I doubt it. The basic and unshakable mismatch is that civilized people, equipped with a representative system, just don't feel like fighting a war until they are devastatingly attacked.

Reagan's form of defense works better. Use the best parts of our nature to show the savages that they simply cannot succeed. Unfortunately, despite those many rattles and wall clouds "along toward the millenium", we didn't do anything. No pre-emptive war, no Reaganite fortification.
 
Saturday, June 25, 2005
  Economoids

Wonderful word, coined by Larry Lessig, one of today's best thinkers.

Economoids go around singing that old '60s favorite,

Everything is fungible in its own way,
Like a starry summer night
or a snow covered winter's day.
Everybody's fungible in their own way,
Under God's market, the world's gonna find a way.


They believe markets are always efficient, and everything not only can but must be bought and sold.

Their basic point is good and necessary. Overall, competitive business is the cure for bad politics. This is a L'Amour theme: if you're selling something that folks can buy elsewhere, you're not going to get involved in the feud between nesters and ranchers, or between Shia and Sunni. You can't afford to lose anyone's patronage. If your own work goes into adding value, this neutrality becomes even stronger. But if you're digging gold or drilling oil, you can afford the luxury of taking a side, because the buyers need your product so badly that they're willing to jump through your hoops to get it.

So a country where most folks are adding value and competing is more stable and calm than a country where most folks are extracting natural resources.

However! Maintaining civilization sometimes requires limits on buying and selling.

Let's say the land agent knows that old Red O'Hanrahan buys abandoned ranches and turns them into outlaw hangouts. The land agent should be allowed to tell Red to vamoose. Even better, all the land agents should be allowed to "conspire" against Red.

In modern terms, let's say our government knows that old Red O'China buys oil companies and turns them into tools of conquest. We should be entitled to tell Red to buy his oil companies elsewhere, even if he offers a great price.

From what I'm hearing, the Bush administration is taking an economoid line here. China is trying to buy Unocal, and Treasury Sec'y Snow is saying that their money is as good as anyone else's. When Roger Hedgecock interviewed some trade rep yesterday, the trade rep kept saying "It would be premature for us to judge this transaction." Unless he's hiding an ace up his sleeve, this is dangerous neutrality.
 
Thursday, June 23, 2005
  Polistra is puzzled.




========

Here's a good account of Hoover, as head of the Red Cross, helping Lenin.

And today's news.


 
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
  Follow the money, or not?
Watching c-span... Mr. Bingaman of New Mexico is speaking right now, essentially proposing Kyoto in sheep's clothing. His argument is that we don't have to commit economic suicide all at once; we can just dismember ourselves one limb at a time to satisfy the Gaia-worshippers.

Following the money: Is Mr. Bingaman really a Gaia-worshipper? No, he's just the Senator from Natural Gas.

Here are Mr. Bingaman's largest contributors in the last election. Note Exelon Corp. and El Paso Corp in positions 1 and 3: both are natural gas producers, who will benefit from 'clean energy' initiatives.

Now Sen. Inhofe of Oklahoma is speaking, with good charts and good logic, on behalf of actual science and against Kyoto. Does he have vested interests? Sure. Pretty much the same profile as Bingaman, in fact. (Except that Bingaman, being a member of the Party of Treason, has more contributions from lawyers than from any productive business.)

So the opposite approaches are not just caused by contributions, but by genuinely different views of the world. Mr. Bingaman is against the United States, and Senator Inhofe is for.

-----

Update: Mister Bingaman's Kyoto-in-drag has passed. Verily, Gaia will be highly pleased with this quadrillion-dollar sacrifice of a once-great nation, even if it is not to be offered in one Big Gulp, as She would undoubtedly prefer.
 
  Courteous or not?

This isn't a great national issue of pressing importance, but I've just reached the limit of irritation.

I've lived in Spokane for 15 years, been a pedestrian most of that time, admittedly a fairly aggressive pedestrian. The law on drivers vs pedestrians is simple: Ds are supposed to stop when the P is IN THE STREET. That means BETWEEN THE CURBS. Ds are NOT required to stop when the P is on the sidewalk. Seems logical, right? In these 15 years, I've only seen ONE instance when a driver actually stopped or slowed down for me when I was IN THE STREET. Mostly they increase their speed to make the game more interesting. But at least once a week, a driver will stop when I'm firmly planted on the sidewalk, and motion me to cross the street. I never obey this implied obligation, because it's dangerous. Today, a driver shouted at me, "That's fucking rude, you know it?" Yup, I know it. But I'd rather be rude than dead.

Here's the problem. Say the P obeys the implied obligation and crosses in front of the stopped car. Ds in the other lanes are not part of the 'transaction', so they will just keep going. Worst case is when a driver comes up behind the stopped car and zips around. Crunch! (I've seen that happen, though fortunately avoided the crunch.)

So even though it feels impolite, it's safer and just plain easier to drive predictably and let the P figure out his own time and place to cross.

Same principle applies more generally. Playing 'after you, no after you, no after you' is not genuine courtesy in an urban situation. It doesn't really save any time for the 'target', and it wastes time for the rest of the queue. If the 'target' is elderly or impaired, the sense of obligation may cause her to hurry a bit, with bad results.

The sole exception to this rule is in a grocery checkout line, where it does make sense to let a light load go in front of a heavy load. Saves a meaningful amount of time for the light load, and doesn't make much difference to the people behind.

Overall, it's more polite to just take your own turn when it happens, and get out of the way otherwise.
 
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
  Still valid after all these years



Another item from the WPA guide to Kansas....

In the Attica Cemetery, a weather-beaten white marble shaft close to the road marks the GRAVE OF N. GRIGSBY, a Civil War veteran from Indiana who died April 16, 1890, at the age of 78. The inscription on the shaft hurls a curse at Grigsby's political foes:

Through this inscription I wish to enter my dying protest against what is called the Democratic Party. I have watched it closely since the days of Jackson, and know that all the misfortunes of our Nation have come to it through the so-called party --therefore beware of this Party of Treason.
 
Monday, June 20, 2005
  Doc Dean's stethoscope

Doctor Dean, underneath the public red-meat, is handing out a more subtle message to Democrats. He recently gave an hour-long forum at Wash. State Univ to a hard left audience.

Doc's main theme: Why do lower-income voters ignore their own economic interests to vote Republican? Because their kids are more important than their economic interests, and they feel under attack from a culture that is dangerous to kids. They also feel that Dems are firmly tied to that culture, and Reps are fighting against it. And everybody, not just the poor folks, wants to see integrity in a candidate. Dean said, without precisely saying it, that Kerry lost because he lacked integrity.

Pretty good diagnosis, both on the facts and the feelings. So what's the prescription? Speak softly about abortion, push hard to maintain So'Scurity, strengthen labor unions, emphasize strong national defense, strengthen NEA, push universal health insurance.

It's a plausible mouthful of pills, but I don't see how it even connects to the culture problem.

The audience cheered loudly on most points, and gave him dead silence on 'strong national defense'. Thus the real question is, can today's Dems fill this scrip with a straight face? Can the party of Traitor Durbin, the party of Traitoress Patty bin Murray, and for that matter the party of I-Hate-All-Republicans Dean, turn on a dime and start sounding like Joe Lieberman? Hillary can probably do it, because she began turning her steering wheel in 2000. She will have to stand against the rest of the party on most issues, though.

Hmm... That's exactly how a Clinton likes to stand. Gives a rather more literal meaning to 'Sistah Souljah moment', doesn't it?

-----

UPDATE: TVW.ORG now has the video of the speech.

 
  Idiot McCain

Rush is all over McCain this morning, but misses one basic point. McCain's own experience as POW runs against his current notions.

McCain says that we shouldn't treat POWs badly because future enemies will reciprocate. Did North Vietnam torture McCain in return for our horrible treatment of German and Japanese POWs in WW2? No. We treated those POWs quite well, by the standards of the time. So his own experience proves the opposite: Evil regimes will do evil regardless of our "moral example". The example is totally irrelevant.

(Here's the transcript of McCain interview on MSNBC.)


-----

Bit later: Rush has hit the basic point thoroughly, though from a different angle. Guess I should install a one-hour delay mechanism on my posting impulse generator!
 
Sunday, June 19, 2005
  Random notes on random

The British New Scientist mag (the house organ of Gaia-worshipers on that side of the pond) reports on the latest thinking in "action at a distance."

Basic theme: new research in photon-entanglement is leading to new thoughts on the basic nature of causation.

In every test, over more than two decades, quantum theory has come out intact. So relativity's assumption that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light is flawed; or is it? Well, not necessarily: there are two other assumptions that have to be tested first. The first is free will. Bell's analysis only produces his inequality if the two experimenters have genuine freedom to choose how they set their detectors. In an experiment with spins, that means being able to make measurements along axes that they can choose independently. But maybe that isn't possible. 'The idea is that everything could be somehow determined at the beginning,' says Gisin. Perhaps the creation of the particle pairs and the experimenters' choices are fixed by a vast web of cause and effect set up long ago, in which case the 'choices' would be ... beyond anyone's control. Unsurprisingly, not many physicists go for this idea.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.... I thought the idea of science was to examine all possibilities without bias?

Oh, now I understand. This assumption is an Occasion Of Sin. Even considering a non-random and preconceived universe is doubleplusunthink, because we know Dragons Be There. So the most obvious assumption is rejected out of hand because mentioning it might give those awful unspeakable Intelligent Design devils a hint of hope; instead, we must take the path that leads to packs of contradictions.

This is religion, not science.

-----

I've been re-reading the WPA Writers' Project guide to Kansas. Love those WPA books. Full of little stories that illustrate lost ways of life, and some that aren't so lost. For instance, Ethanol is not a new idea at all.

The ATCHISON AGROL PLANT manufactures a blend of alcohol and gasoline for use as motor fuel. Established in 1935 as a research unit of the Chemical Foundation of America, the plant began operating on a commercial basis in 1937, and has a capacity of 10,000 gallons daily.

Similar plants were widespread in Iowa, and an Iowa congressman passed a federal law to encourage the production of Agrol. So what happened in the interim? Especially, why wasn't Agrol pushed hard during WW2? Don't know.
 
  Barr again



Here is former AG Barr's magnificent statement.

Clip is 2.5 minutes long, WMV format, about 3 MB.
 
Saturday, June 18, 2005
  What's wrong here?



Us ordinary compu-plebes spend lots of time and money on antivirus protection for our software and work product, usually worth a few thousand dollars. Meanwhile, credit card companies handling hundreds of billions blithely let hackers steal them blind. Or rather steal us blind.
 
Friday, June 17, 2005
  Dear Traitor Durbin,



A little reminder that certain things are really not comparable to certain other things.
 
Thursday, June 16, 2005
  This....



.... is what happens when you fail to enforce treason laws, and fail to enforce Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. "Members" of Congress openly speaking on behalf of our enemies, openly planning a coup, with no punishment.

On a deeper level, this is what happens when an aphasic administration starts a war without communicating the real reasons for fighting. The real strategy is quite logical and comprehensible, given what we knew at the time, but for reasons I can't begin to fathom, Zenmaster Bushi decided to explain the war solely to the UN, using reasons crafted to appeal to the UN. In a republic, the President's job is to get his own country behind a war, not to gather support from permanently hostile nations like France.

George Friedman (not Tom!) in his book America's Secret War, lays out the underpinnings of our strategy and how it came about. Friedman is harshly critical of our mistakes, but he differs from the cabal shown above in that he actually wants to see us win.

In super-condensed form: Partly we were still fighting the last war. All of our strategic and intelligence forces were still totally nuke-minded. When 9/11 happened, the paralyzing fear was that Osama would hit us next with fission. At the same time, CIA took a new look at its sources, and decided to pay close attention to those who had been predicting 9/11. In late October, two of those sources independently said that Osama had a suitcase nuke already in place, ready to take New York. "From that briefing onward, the entire strategy of the war was changed. The obsession with WMD and nuclear weapons became an obsession that changed the war permanently." Then more nukes were discovered by Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency.
In hindsight, the whole thing was entirely too neat; but "given the zero-risk premises of the Defense Department, how could the United States ignore the report?"

Again in hindsight, this appears to be an effort by Pakistan to grab full US support in its perpetual feud with India, which at that moment (early 2002) looked like a potential small nuclear war. Bush gave Musharraf a choice. If he wanted our support, he had to kick out the pro-Osama elements in his own government and help us. (It appears now that this bargain has worked fairly well.)

So it was in that atmosphere of total nuclear panic that we took the word of Chalabi and others who were serving their own ends. Bush never told the American public how awful the world looked at that moment; if he had, he might have gained a wider sympathy for the mis-aimed effort, and critics might have been more inclined toward helping instead of harming.

There were other reasons for taking out Iraq, which make good sense but have never been officially stated. "The central dilemma the US now faced was how to get the Saudis into the war. The Saudis did not think the US was going to win this war. They understood the region and their own country far better ... and the US did not terrify the Saudis nearly as much as Al Qaeda did. Somehow the US had to demonstrate just how serious and frightening it could be, and then be in a position to put massive military and political pressure on the Saudis. This was the origin of the US decision to invade Iraq. There were other strands, such as fear of WMD, concern that Al Qaeda was collaborating with the Iraqis, and a genuine feeling that Saddam was a monster. But to understand the American decision to invade Iraq, it is essential to understand the American concern with the course Saudi Arabia was taking amid growing evidence that the Saudis were financing Al Qaeda."

(End Friedman, back to me.) This line of reasoning still makes sense, and could be fleshed out by good rhetoric, if Bush had any desire to help Americans understand what he's doing. I have to conclude that he has no such desire.

Still, errors or no errors, we now have Saddam out of power (though not dead, which to my mind is a huge error) and we have large parts of Iraq turning toward a new kind of governance. If we're smart, we'll separate the three parts, wall off the Sunnis, and let them continue being Arab savages. We owe a lot to the Kurds, who have been developing a civilized little country since 1991. They don't deserve to be dragged down by Arabs. (However, I'd be happy if events prove me wrong on the need for separation!)
 
  Katie, Barr the door!

Finally, finally, finally.

Somebody in Washington understands that we need to win this war. Unfortunately, he's not part of the administration. William Barr, former AG under Bush Senior, spoke at yesterday's Senate hearing on Gitmo. While all the currently employed Republicans are falling into the internal enemy's trap as usual (No, we're not really racists; no, we're not really running a Gulag, at least not 100% of the time, and just look at all the nice things we're doing to take care of your valid concerns, sir!) ... Barr simply spoke TRUTH. It's mighty refreshing.

I can't find a transcript yet, and tuned in too late to record all of it ... at any rate, he said approximately: The constitution was drawn up as a contract between 'the people', namely the citizens of this country, and their government. When a citizen is accused of a crime, we try to make the process as perfect as we can; we'd rather free the guilty than convict the innocent. But that has absolutely nothing to do with fighting a war. If we get confused, and try to apply those citizen standards to prisoners of war, we will lose the war, and we will lose the Constitution as well.

He said it much better than that, of course. All public spokesmen for Bush Junior should be required to memorize Barr's words phonetically (since the idea of victory is obviously foreign to their minds) and simply repeat these sounds whenever questioned by internal enemies such as reporters.

-----

Bit later:
Here is the official transcript of Barr's main testimony, but this doesn't include his powerful closing statement.
 
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
  rush

Rush is on a roll the last couple days. After quoting Traitor Durbin, Rush says we don't deserve to win the war as long as we allow such people to be senators.

There is a cure.

"No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress,.... who, having previously taken an oath ... to support the Constitution, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each house, remove such disability."

14th amendment, section 3. Note that it doesn't say Congress may or shall eject such traitors; it says such traitors shall not be Senators or Representatives.

Since Congress has not "removed the disability", Traitor Durbin, Traitor McDermott, Traitor Mike Thomas, and Traitoress Patty Murray are in fact not Senators or Representatives, and their votes should not be counted.
 
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
  Polling

Just one comment while I'm thinking about it. I've been on Zogby's online polling list since 2000, and I've seen and answered a lot of questions. It's usually easy to tell which side is asking the questions, even though they are carefully and neutrally phrased, but it's not easy for the pollster to tell which side is answering the questions. They always stop short of acquiring real information. Why? Because they assume 'teams' that don't necessarily exist. Polls always ask which issues you're most interested in, and sometimes go into great detail to get the strength of your passion. But I've NEVER, not even once, been asked which direction my interest takes.

Example: Let's say I rank my interest in environmental issues as #1. By the 'team' assumption, the poll's consumer will count me among those who think the EPA should control everything and humans should be destroyed. In fact, I think the EPA should be abolished and humans should rule the world. Similar malassumptions happen on many other subjects. "Are you concerned about how the war in Iraq is going?" Answer, yes. The poll's consumer will count me among the weak-kneed jellyfish, when in fact I'm concerned that we didn't kill Saddam when we captured him, and I'm concerned that we failed to transform Mecca into a glowing crater on 9/12.

Why is this especially bad? Because the administration gets no indication of how many people want it to fight HARDER. Say 53% of the country "thinks we're going in the wrong direction". The assumption is that these 53% are all dhimmi, so the admin tends to moderate its efforts accordingly. How many of those 53% are actually displeased with chickenshit moderation? The poll doesn't give any signal.
 
Monday, June 13, 2005
  The Verdict!

Yes, a verdict finally came through today on that strange public figure charged with having sex with boys. Of course I'm talking about Spokane Mayor James West.

Sorry. Cheap trick, just couldn't resist.

Seriously, a judge (brought in from another town to avoid conflicts) ruled that Shannon Sullivan's recall petition can proceed. I applaud the judge; Sullivan is not highly educated, and her petition lacked most of the technical requirements. But the judge saw through the technical problems to the basic points.

I'm still a bit puzzled. Shaun Cross, mentioned here yesterday, is an experienced lawyer and would presumably benefit from a 'bulletproof' recall process. Sullivan's helper in the recall effort is some kind of paralegal, so she presumably could have fixed the problems. Probably more than meets the eye here. I get the impression that Sullivan is mighty stubborn, so maybe she isn't accepting that kind of help. She's explicitly relying on God, and so far it seems to be working....

Here's the story, with a nice bit of video, from Northwest Cable News.

-----

Later: a brief comment on both verdicts. When the not-guilty verdict on the King of Pop was announced, I found myself smiling. This surprised me, and I've finally figured it out. It comes down to the most basic principle of moral NON-equivalence: Who started it? (The left wants us to ignore this question, at least when it suits their purposes.) In the incidents being considered, Jackson did not start it. His proclivities have been known worldwide for many years, and the kids in question were presented to him on a silver platter by the parents. When a mother throws her child into a pool with an alligator, she's not entitled to complain about what the alligator does. With West, it's the other way around. His proclivities were carefully concealed; in fact, he made a reputation as a moral crusader. He used his official powers to seek victims. So he started it. That's the difference, whether it shows up in the written law or not.
 
  Local notes

It looks like Shaun Cross is setting himself up as the plug-n-play replacement when Gayor West finally, um, goes down.

I'm happy to see this. Cross ran for Nethercutt's Congressional seat in '04, but was narrowly defeated by Gutless Cathy McMorris in the primary. I don't know why; maybe Gutless is just cuter. Cross was definitely the better candidate. He's an open Christian, a clear thinker, and has strong local business connections.

-----

Donald Hellmann, a professor from UW, has decided to conduct his own foreign policy by holding a meeting with other academics and governmental officials in North Korea.

Anand Yang, director of the Jackson School of International Studies, called Hellmann's project 'an attempt to keep [the same] engagement going at an academic level that we're struggling to do diplomatically.' Yang said the school is moving toward engaging in foreign policy outside the classroom.

Goody goody fucking gumdrop. What the world needs now is more Jimmy Carters.

See this Seattle Times story for more.

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City workers digging new sewers under a major street found an old grave. They stopped work and called in an anthropologist. Luckily it's an early white settler, not an Ind'n; the workers were allowed to close the grave and continue working. If it had been an Ind'n, we would undoubtedly have been required to demolish Downtown. (Can you tell I'm pissed about sacralizing defeated enemies?)

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A couple of local boys have become candidates for a Darwin Award. They were playing with one of those plastic-sheet water slide thingies, and experimenting with various liquids for maximum slide velocity. They found that gasoline was fastest, but also found that the static charge generated by sliding ignited the gasoline. One of them was seriously burned.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005
  WWRD?



We have two modern examples of presidents who won major wars. Is the current president following those examples? I've compared him to FDR before, but haven't tried to ask what Reagan would do. In fact this is a better question, because the war Reagan won is more like our current war. Chronic, not acute, and based more on ideas than territory.

Reagan hated the stalemate of Mutually Assured Destruction because it forced both sides to remain essentially Sovietized. His strategy was twofold: (1) Use uniquely American strengths to show the Russians that victory was impossible; (2) Concentrate on actual protection for American territory in the form of Star Wars. Both of these lines would help us win this war, and would also improve our self-sufficiency in the future.

Back to FDR for a moment: In 1939, several major American auto companies were on the ropes. Even Ford was running on vapors. Thanks to stupid Hoover-Roosevelt economic policies, unemployment was still near 20%. Fighting World War 2 solved those problems by converting auto companies to defense contracts. By 1946, most companies were in good shape and had developed new engineering and production techniques by building unfamiliar products.

Now to the present: In 2005, we are suffering from a different (admittedly milder) brand of economic idiocy. Bubble Boy Greenspan protected us against inflation by shoveling trillions of excess dollars into the Wall Street Casino, and then used zero interest rates to give us the same effects as inflation: reward borrowers, punish savers. We have "free-market" health care which is for all practical purposes run by the government, and which takes 60% of total government expenditures. In that realm we have hyperinflation while the gov't assures us that "core inflation" is low. (You can make any measurement low by picking the right things to measure, for heaven's sake!)

Thanks to this combination of tendencies, major American industries are on the ropes again. GM is nearly bankrupt. Airlines and aircraft makers are in trouble. Actual unemployment is not high nationally, but industrial workers are out of work in many places and wasting their skills in others.

WW4 is not a war of disposables. We don't need billions of bullets, millions of guns, and thousands of aircraft. But we do need some heavy industrial action for protection, which can only be triggered by the government. Three major programs are needed: all will help in the long run, and in the context of the current war, they are both urgent and strategic. (1) If we're going to turn away from dependence on Arab and Communist oil, we need much more nuclear power and more hydropower. (2) If we want to keep transportation running, we need to rejuvenate the railroads. (3) We need to protect our electric grid and communications systems against Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and hackers.

None of those solutions will happen spontaneously; at the very least, all need to be 'seeded' by government action and research, and encouraged by huge changes in laws and regulations. Taken together, they meet the Reagan criteria: using our advantages and protecting our people.

One more thing: I think Reagan would have understood that we are fighting a war between religions. He would not have turned apologetic when captured enemy combatants accused us of desecrating their Manual of Military Doctrine; in fact he wouldn't have let the combatants have their Manual in the first place. I can't imagine Reagan whimpering that we can only find a few instances where our interrogators desecrated the enemy's source of inspiration. I can imagine him saying: "The war has started. In five minutes we air-drop the missionaries and bibles."

-----

Footnote: I've smooshed together three symbolic icons in the picture. Two are painfully obvious, but the third might not be. The vacuum tube symbolizes protection against EMP, which is now a more likely danger than a huge nuclear strike. A small fission bomb, carried by a primitive missile, can explode in midair, disrupting all electrical activity for a large region of the country; something like a widespread lightning strike. Our power grids have already been taken down by sunspots, which are a vastly weaker version of the same effect. EMP has been understood and researched since the '70s. Tube-type equipment is disrupted but can be restarted; modern solid-state equipment is simply destroyed. The Russians kept tube-type electronics in their aircraft and military for this reason. This applies to cars as well; pre-1980 cars with strictly mechanical ignition systems will be OK, while newer cars with computer controls will be useless pieces of crap. (Think we can replace the computers in 300 million cars at once?)

A similar analysis applies to railroads. They're not perfect ... obviously a terrorist can explode a train. But he can't hijack it, and he can't put it where he wants it to be at the time of the explosion. More importantly, locomotives are 'hybrid' machines, with their wheels turned by electric motors, and diesel-powered generators on board. This means they can be easily converted to run partly or entirely from nuke-generated electricity instead of oil; many have always been purely electric.

-----

UPDATE 6/21: Bush has finally come out loud and clear for expanding nuclear power, after tippy-toeing around the question for too long. Yay!!! Now he needs to do something about it, by executive order if necessary. New plants don't need twenty years to come on line; most of that delay is caused by federal regulations and local NIMBY disputes, which could be eliminated by the well-known "stroke of the pen". This is what executive orders are meant for: cutting through red tape in time of emergency. Yes, Clinton misused them, but that doesn't require Bush to shy away from using them properly!

 
Thursday, June 09, 2005
  Pictionary II



Another page from the Democrat Illustrated Dictionary.
 
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
  Pictionary



Harry Reid on Janice Rogers Brown:

"She is basically opposed to the government being involved in anything ... I mean, they've got a doozy here."

Exactly. Couldn't have said it any better. The slang doozy or doozie entered the American language in the '30s, referring to the Duesenberg. At that time the Doozy was the finest, fastest and most capable American car, so a doozie is the finest example of a type.
 
Monday, June 06, 2005
  Extry, extry, read almost nothing about it!

In the stupid Election Contest hearing for Washington governor, Judge Bridges has ruled that the election stands, and Thief-In-Chief Gregoire remains as Governor.

Good.

His main point: Dems actually showed that a few of the illegal votes went to Rossi; Reps did not actually show that any illegal votes went to Gregoire.

Overall, I'd rather have Judge Bridges as governor than either of these two candidates. He is calm, rigorous, humorous, and deeply commonsensical.

The decision will, of course, be reviewed by the State Supremes, who are also surprisingly commonsensical folks.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: follow John Fund. "If it ain't close, they can't cheat." Republicans have to win by winning, not by manipulation. Leave the sneaky stuff and the court action to The Party, which knows how to do it. Most people know the difference between honest winning and manipulation; if both sides are seen as equally sneaky, there's simply no point in having two parties.

Unfortunately, the state Republican 'party' has now wasted 1/8 of Gregoire's term with this idiocy; during this time she has taken full advantage of opposition distraction to pass lots of bad legislation.
 
Sunday, June 05, 2005
  Log-rolling

When the news turns to economics, we hear great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the "widening gap" between rich and poor, while both rise. This is not a bad thing but a natural consequence of human perception and behavior.

Most of our senses run on the basis of percentage or multiplication. This flies against intuition or common sense, because we don't often have an opportunity to compare our 'common' sense with actual measurement. What we feel as an addition is actually a multiplication, or a rise by percent.

There are only a few situations where we can spot the distinction without using an instrument for comparison. Here's one.... At night, you turn on a 100-watt interior light. This gives you about the same illumination as an open window in daytime, so we can estimate that the sun coming through the window is about 100 watts as well.



You certainly notice the difference between on and off at night. But what happens when you turn the light on in the daytime?



You know that its illumination is about the same as the portion of sunlight that comes through the window, so you'd think that 100 watts of sun + 100 watts of bulb should equal 200 watts, or twice as much light as either one by itself. But in fact, turning on the lamp in daytime makes almost no difference. You'd need to multiply the total by about 10 to give your eyes the feeling of adding another unit.

Though it's less familiar, you can do the same with sound. Take two equal sources, like two portable radios set to the same station and volume, or two electric razors. Run one and estimate the level. Turn on the second one. Should be twice as loud, right? No, it's just a little more. You'd need about 10 sources to get the feeling of twice the sound.

If our perception of economic matters works the same way, we should need a multiplication to sense a step in income or wealth. Not necessarily 10; I'd guess it's around 3. If I make 10K dollars, my neighbor with 30K is one step above me. If I make 120K, my neighbor with 360K is one step above me. This process automatically widens the gap as the base rises.



Look at the stairways. Consider step 1 and step 2 as the 'poor and rich' in an earlier time; then after an overall increase in national wealth, the gap from poor to rich is now between step 2 and step 3. If wealth is measured in an additive way, as on the left stairway, each of these gaps is the same number of dollars.

But on the percentage stairs (right) each gap is the same rise in percentage terms, which means that the gap from poor to rich increases in dollars over the years. This looks strange because we're accustomed to using the actual numbers when dealing with money. With light, sound, or pain, we don't ordinarily use the actual amounts; we only use our senses, which automatically translate the percentage scale into equal steps. So we don't realize that we're using the percentage scale.

Some economists agree with this point, at least in a rather arcane and indirect way. They maintain that 'utility' (i.e. satisfaction) moves by percent. For example, if you have 10 units of happiness right now, it will take 30% more wealth to give you 11 happies. But I can't find evidence that they've done any controlled experiments to prove this. Anybody out there know more about economics?

Moral of the story: Any time you hear an economic report or discussion, notice whether it's based on raw numbers or percentages. If raw numbers, be careful. The reporters or discussers are either ignorant or intentionally trying to fool you.

 
Friday, June 03, 2005
  The stuff of legends




Shannon Sullivan refiled her recall-West petition, and it was approved this time. A group of temporary allies has formed behind her (a bit closer than binocular distance at last) and set up a web page to coordinate the effort. The web page isn't complete yet, but the motives of the main 'insider' are comforting.

Having focused my own binoculars a little better (which isn't an unpleasant task!) I can see why support was so slow to gather. Leaving aside the unique power-hunger motives of the Cowles empire, the pro- and anti-West teams go like this:

Anti: the homosexual activists and their allies (Episcopalians, etc.) who have always hated West because he's conservative. They've just been spoiling for a good chance to ring the hypocrisy bell, and they're enthusiastically clanging it now.

Pro: rather small at this point, since the business establishment and the state Republican 'party' have finally turned against him. His only defenders are the legalists or Philistines, who believe that mechanistic Process is the Lord of Lords.

Sullivan was standing alone for a couple of weeks because her motives were outside the playbooks. She simply didn't want such a man as Mayor.

In an earlier and freer America, Sullivan would have been the subject of folk songs or legends. Now, because her basic motive is unutterable, she gets a reluctant Warholian 14.9 minutes.

[PS: The petition isn't really blank; my TV capture system is just defective!]
 
Thursday, June 02, 2005
  The bride



Wilbanks pleads nolo, weeps tears of genuine repentance.
 
  rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain,

If NASA wants to recover public enthusiasm, it should give up on space exploration (except for military stuff) and focus entirely on controlling earthly weather.

One 'disassembled' hurricane would more than pay for their budget, and would save many lives as well. If they could figure a way to get stalled jet streams moving again, floods and droughts would be less severe.
 
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
  Deep throat, mark felt!



What? You say it's a man's name, not a command? Same effect.

Disgusting to watch the Party acolytes performing a sanctification ceremony this morning. The Comrades should properly be mourning the fall of Nixon, who was the most effective leftist President. LBJ certainly realized that when he secretly threw his support to Nixon and stiffed Humphrey in '68. And why don't conservatives realize that Clinton was the most effective conservative president in recent times, at least on the domestic front?

The British author Jonathan Aitken gives the most accurate take on Nixon in
this book; Aitken has also written a larger history of America in which he covers the same territory.

And while I'm whining, why is it that America has to outsource accurate history and journalism? For a pro-Western approach, we have to rely on Aitken, Paul Johnson (Brit), Rupert Murdoch (Aussie), and Sun Myung Moon (Alpha Centaurian).
 

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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