October 2003

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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Listening To Lyrics 

I'm one of those unusual people who actually listens to lyrics.

Just tonight, I was listening to (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding. I like the song, but whenever I hear:

And this loneliness won't leave me alone

I think: "Make up your mind! Do you want to be left alone, or not?"

I realize that this might have been intentionally ironic, but it bugs me.

Also, from the Bread song "If":

If a man could be two places at one time I'd be with you
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way

Huh?

Isn't that being in one place at two times?

Am I the only one bothered by stuff like this?


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Is The Coalition Making Progress in Iraq? 

Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber cited this article (titled: Bush Says Attacks Are A Sign of U.S. Progress) with a blog entry lampooning Bush's comments as Orwellian ("War is Peace," etc.)

While it may seem counterintuitive, I think the recent attacks are an indication of progress.

Here's what I wrote in the Comments:

I think Bush is right that these attacks indicate progress on our part and desperation on the attackers’ part, and these Orwellian references are silly.
When they attack the Red Cross (Crescent), the average Iraqi knows that these people are not on his side. It’s clear that they are attacking people who are there to help Iraqis, not oppress them. It seems that they have given up on trying to rally popular support and are pinning their hopes on driving away helpers before the imminent political changes can become irreversible.
That seems like desperation to me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Mocking Religion 

Jacob Levy has a great post today at the Volokh Conspiracy that started from a discussion about whether displaying the Darwin Fish is inappropriately disrespectful of other people's religious beliefs.

I think I agree with everything Levy said, so I might as well just leave this as an encouragement to go read his post.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Waiting for the Consequences 

This Philadelphia Inquirer article quote has already made the rounds, but it's just too good to not repost:

Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.
News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.
Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Uncle Wes Wants You! 

Retired general and Democrat presidential hopeful Wesley Clark has unveiled his plan for a "Civilian Reserve".

On the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with using the wide array of talents of citizens to help in times of crisis. But, I do think there's something wrong with this form of the idea. For one thing, this struck me as suspicious (emphasis mine):

Members would be offered the opportunity to serve as the need for their skills arose. And the call to serve would, in almost all cases, be voluntary. For the most part, Civilian Reserve members could choose whether or not to accept the call to action.
Under circumstances of grave national emergency, the president would have the authority to issue a mandatory call-up. But this would be exceedingly rare.

I'm afraid that what starts off voluntary ("For the most part") will become mandatory, and not just for what all of the volunteers would agree is a "grave national emergency".

But, what bothers me more is that Clark seems to think of patriotism and service to our country as synonymous with placing our lives and freedom under the control of the government. That might be the type of service he chose for himself, but he should understand that this country is much more than the government. The government is supposed to be our servant, to protect our rights in cases where the use of force is appropriate. It has become much more than that, of course, but that's a bad thing. Many good, patriotic, citizens will stay vigilant against rising government power, and not blindly relinquish their liberties to the whims of future representatives.

So, while I agree that there are great resources that could be used more effectively in times of need, I'm leery of the government organizing it and formalizing commitments that can be expanded at the whim of politicians. I'd prefer collaboration with private organizations that marshal genuine volunteers to help when they agree it's needed.


Friday, October 10, 2003

Oh My! 

There has been an interesting series of events recently:

First, my son and I enjoyed the film Secondhand Lions; particularly Robert Duvall's performance.

Then, Roy Horn of ''Siegfried & Roy'' got injured by one of their tigers during a performance.

Finally, and ironically, bear activist Timothy Treadwell and his companion were killed by bears in Alaska.


Thursday, October 09, 2003

Passenger? 

In the story of today's suicide car bombing in Baghdad I noticed:

The vehicle's driver and a passenger also died in the blast.

Passenger?

Is this really a two-person job?


Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Total Recall 

I've been trying to figure out why I'm happy about the Schwarzenegger victory in California. I guess one reason is that I know that he has some familiarity with libertarian ideas. Another is that it will add something entertaining to politics.

But, I think the main reason is that I like the fact that this makes it a bit harder for politicians to pretend that they are in office because they are brilliant statesmen and respected thinkers. It makes it clear that people don't get elected for being Platonic philosopher king material. They get elected because they have the ability to make people comfortable giving them money (to campaign with) and power to wield (or less uncomfortable than giving it to their most likely alternative) in the hopes that they'll get something worthwhile in return. In other words, they have name recognition, and skills at evoking hope, schmoozing, cutting deals, and lying. None of these things make them likely to perform well for the people who trust them (and aren't likely to help finance their next election).

If Arnold tries to cut spending and regulations, then I wish him luck with the heavily Democratic legislature. Perhaps his mandate will make it easier to influence them. If he tries to add new taxes and programs, then I wish him all of the disappointments that the office promises to deliver.

So, I'm cautiously optimistic and looking forward to the fireworks.

UPDATE: Colby Cosh makes some related points about politicians (but, he's focusing on why there are so few women in politics; not on Arnold)


The UN 

While I happen to agree with the UN about the corporal punishment of children, I loved this observation by James Taranto today:

"The UN has told the Canadian government to ban all forms of corporal punishment of youngsters--including even a light slap," reports the CanWest News Service. The Committee on Rights of the Child said Canada, as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is obliged to make spanking illegal. So if you're a Canadian parent and you want to discipline your children without running afoul of the U.N., you may soon have to hire a Palestinian to blow him up.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The American Two-Party System 

Sasha Volokh relates the following joke in a post today:

"See, in our country, we have a two-party system; my party is the Stupid Party, and the other party is the Evil Party. Sometimes my guys are in power and we get a lot of stupid legislation; sometimes the other guys are in power and we get a lot of evil legislation. Sometimes both parties are in power and we get what's called 'gridlock,' where nothing particularly stupid or evil gets done. But occasionally the parties get together in what we call 'bipartisanship,' where we pass something that's both stupid and evil . . . ."