Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise
-- Golden Gate Bridge at dawn. By Dennis Callahan.

RANDOM JOTTINGS a weblog by John Weidner

Main Page Archive

Natalie Solent
Dave Trowbridge
Betsy Newmark
Bill Quick
Suman Palit
Moira Breen
Andrea Harris
Richard Bennett
Iain Murray
Joanne Jacobs
Craig Schamp
Dean Esmay
Brothers Judd
Doctor Frank
Rand Simberg
Punning Pundit
Right Wing News
Brian Tiemann
Henry Hanks

Iraqi Democracy graphic

Powered by Blogger Pro™

Index to Krugman posts

Index to World War One posts


Saturday, June 14, 2003

The Ankle-Biters...

Daniel Henninger has a good piece on this month's lunacy...
...We don't have access to those intelligence estimates, but you don't need them to be able to form an intelligent opinion about the basis for invading Iraq. Anyone can do that by visiting the Web site for UNSCOM, the U.N. inspection force.

In its first report, issued in October 1991, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, UNSCOM's inspectors said: "Conclusive evidence that Iraq was engaged in an advanced military biological research programme has been collected. No evidence of actual weaponization has been found, but the inspections have provided a sound database for future monitoring of biological capabilities in Iraq. Details are given in appendix IV."

Please read the nine other reports on Iraq's WMD program issued under UNSCR 687 until December 1995. And read the eight reports under UNSCR 715 between April 1992 and October 1995; and finally UNSCR 1051's eight reports from April 1996 till October 1999, the year after Saddam kicked the U.N. out of Iraq.

Presumably this mountain of U.N. on-site inspections, in public for any serious person to spend a week reading, may be regarded as a subset of the Bush fraud and fiction now being intimated about the U.S. intelligence estimates. Leaving aside their overwhelming evidence of Saddam's WMD programs, the constant theme across nine years' inspecting is Iraq's unrelenting refusal to cooperate. ..

..The proponents of this current thesis, that the war's basis has damaged U.S. "credibility," are the same people who since 1991 have been willing to move the goal posts constantly downfield for Saddam Hussein, a proven proliferator of WMD who should have been ousted when a premature cease-fire was declared in February 1991, or anytime in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and in every month that he was up and running--until March 2003. Now he, and his WMD proliferation nightmare are gone. Good...
Patrick Ruffini adds to this:
...I don't think that "imminent threat" is an appropriate standard to apply when deciding to wage war, or in this case, deciding whether the war was just. Either someone is a threat, or they're not. Either someone has the intent to harm you or they don't. September 11th, and to some extent, the fluctuating threat levels since, shows us how tricky it is to project just how "imminent" a threat is. Is an attack coming three days down the road, or three years? It's almost impossible to tell. This is why it's incoherent to say Saddam was a threat, but not an imminent threat. As September 11th showed, one can have vague chatter one day and planes crashing into buildings the next. At what point did we understand an attack on such a scale to be "imminent?" Never, and even if it were possible, it would be for a vanishingly short moment at one minute to midnight. Do we really want to let things slide that far?

The best defense is a good offense.
Amen brother.

9/11 taught us that our decades of inaction and appeasement were a huge mistake. But the Ankle-Biters learned a different lesson. Like, let us find 5 or 10 or 12 more reasons why we should delay and negotiate and really just do nothing rash. And now that, for the first time since the 70's, we have a MAN in the White House, someone willing to fight instead of imitate a beached whale, what do the Ankle-Biters do? You've heard of death-of-a-thousand-cuts? Now we have the thousand chihuahua bites.

And it's so transparently PHONY! Last month tears streamed down cheeks because the Cultural Center of the Universe was looted. Once the facts actually emerged, the A-B's dropped culture down the Memory-Hole. They'll never mention it again (unless some US soldier is caught stealing a vase). And if 50 drums of Sarin turn up in some Iraqi school tomorrow, the current scandal will be dropped instantly (without apologies) and a new one found. Maybe "Bush hasn't brought peace to Palestine, so he's a liar and Iraq was a mistake." (Or just imagine that something Bush says seems to have aided the enemy--the Shih Tzu's will instantly start yapping that Bush is too honest!)

The good news is that ordinary Americans aren't paying any attention.

The ugly truth is, we are in a war. A war against the terrorists. And it started long before 9/11, though only a few alarmists noticed it. Afghanistan and Iraq were just battles in a wider struggle. We didn't hold public debates to decide if we should invade Guadalcanal, or capture Belleau Wood. This isn't a plebiscitory democracy, it's a republic. Fortunately Bush knows this, and is treating the A-B's with the contempt they deserve. The debate on the war should happen in 2004. If the people feel unhappy with the job that's been done, they can elect a different President. (Of course the Democrats may subvert the democratic process by nominating some Pomeranian only a yellow lap-dog Democrat would vote for. "No war for oil. Vote for Jack Russell")

And often in real battles you attack and find nothing. The bombs fall, the Helicopters swarm in like bees, but the Vietcong have scooted. So what. Try again.

Friday, June 13, 2003

P. Krugman
#103: Searching for the next Mr. Newt.

Paul Krugman's Some Crazy Guy (06/13/03) should be entitled "Searching for Mr. Newt." Ever since Newt Gingrich resigned as House Speaker after the 1998 elections the Democrats have been acting like spoiled kids deprived of a piece of candy. Today's column is another lame attempt by Krugman to elevate Tom DeLay to Newt status by smearing him with every half-truth and stray rumor he can dredge up. It won' t work!

Newt had a huge ego, an irritating personality and led with his chin in every public debate. Delay is perfectly happy to run the House in the background and while letting Speaker Hastert assume the spotlight displaying his "comfortable as an old shoe" persona. This inability to get a clear shot at DeLay drives liberals like Krugman nuts. We say, "Go Tom."

As an example of how far Krugman will go in executing a smear campaign we would like to parse one paragraph from his column today. Our questions, in brackets, are interspersed.

"Consider the case of Westar Energy, whose chief executive [what's his name?] was indicted for fraud [what was the alleged fraud and is it relevant to what follows?]. The subsequent investigation turned-up e-mail [whose investigation?] in which executives described being solicited by Republican politicians [who were they?] for donations to groups linked to Mr. DeLay [what groups and what was the link?], in return for a "legislative seat at the table." The provision Westar wanted [what provision?] was duly inserted into an energy bill [which bill?]. (Republican leaders [who did you ask about this?] deny there was any quid pro quo.)"
This has got to be terrible journalism at the very least. Basically, investigative reporting and opinion columns don't mix very well. The latter are limited severely by space. The former require names, dates and places based on documented evidence. On the rare occasions when other Times columnists have tried to combine the two, Bill Safire, Nicholas Kristoff and Tom Friedman pull it off pretty well, but they do so by sticking to a narrowly defined issue or event and devoting multiple columns, if necessary, to develop their case.

By contrast, Krugman is poorly organized, badly informed, motivated entirely by partisanship and sloppy in workmanship. His tenure at the Times is part of the Howell Raines regime and legacy. We are hoping (dreaming) that better management will at a minimum upgrade his journalism.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Thursday, June 12, 2003

News from Pelosiville ...

Dave Trowbridge had fun twitting me by sending this column suggesting that Nancy Pelosi might be just the woman-candidate the Democrats need!

It's silly stuff of course, just something for a columnist (far from SF) to use to fill the 'blank slate' for one more day. It is likely that no one from San Francisco can ever be elected president. Still, If they want to run her, I'm for it.
...."Many of us were unhappy because there had been no clear message in the campaign," she [Pelosi] said. "Coming out of that race, I said never again will Democrats ever go into a campaign that the public doesn't know who we are, what we stand for, what we're willing to fight for and how different we are from the Republicans."
Good. Good. Exxxcellent! Make it very clear who you are and what you stand for.
Finding this common ground won't be easy. Democrats, more so than Republicans, speak with disparate voices. Congress is a mix of conservative, liberal and moderate Democrats, many of whom subdivide themselves further into groups called New, Blue and Yellow Dog Democrats. These fissures have made it hard for Democrats to exhibit the kind of unity that has made Republicans a formidable — and often unyielding — national political force.
Unity, yes! Unify around Nancy. Please. It's the real you.
"Now that the fog of war has lifted, you will see Democrats very aggressively out there on the economy, education, access to health care and, of course, the first responsibility in the Constitution, to provide for the common defense," Pelosi said of the direction in which she hopes to lead House Democrats.
Yes, economy...prevent tax-cuts. Education... keep the riff-raff (but not your own children) in failing public schools. Access to health care... Like Canada.

..and of course...defense... Nudge nudge wink. She probably REALLY BELIEVES that ordinary Americans (stupid) won't notice the message, but core-Democrats (smart) will. You know, they actually think that way. In fact I think that's their core belief.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm Feewing Wucky

If you Google "Elmer Fudd" and click on the first item (or just go here) You find something surprising. (Or maybe you all already know this, and I'm the last one to find out...)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tiger Cruise

Via Natalie, a very intersting series of posts by James R. Rummel ...
...Many people who have never served will ask people in the military what it’s like, wanting to know how active duty life is different from their own routine. Most of the people they ask will stop and think about it for a minute, chewing their answer over in their mind before replying with an emphatic “It sucks!”

This is not very descriptive, but it’s probably the best that they can come up with in a very short period of time. The problem is that life in the military is so different from civilian life, with so many alien pressures and stresses and concerns, that it’s virtually impossible to describe what it’s like to actually live inside military society to someone who has never experienced it before.

From May 2, 2003 through May 5 I participated in a Tiger Cruise on theUSS McFaul (DDG-74) . This is where a member of the crew can sponsor a friend or family member to come aboard for a few days and see how things get done. I count myself as being very fortunate to be offered this opportunity.

I’ve decided to write about my experience in a series of posts. Although many of the posts will detail the ship and it’s capabilities, my main purpose is to provide a glimpse into the unique society that exists inside a tiny steel can that is often in the middle of a very large and dangerous ocean.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Interlinear scribble...

Our young friend Andrew Cory has a post on having to now choose a political party. It's interesting, but it seems to me to be full of unexamined ideas picked up from the fog of plausible fluff that surrounds us all. You know, "Democrats are the party of the People." Or "Republicans are the party of Traditional Values." Fairy tales.

So I've added an interlinear to his post. (I've always wanted to use that word. You will recall that in the Alexandria Quartet, Darley's manuscript (ie. the first volume of the Quartet) is returned to him by his friend Balthazar, who has scribbled voluminously between the lines, revealing that D had no idea what was really going on. That interlinear comprises the second volume of the Quartet. great stuff.)

So, here's his post, and the stuff in italics is mine... (Am I being impolite? Yes, but Andrew's a good chap and will probably forgive me...)
The time is rapidly approaching when I will have to compromise my independent ways and assume a political party. For better or worse, I believe I will chose the party which has shown a commitment to genuine fiscal responsibility The party of Gray Davis and Willie Brown? BOTH parties like to spend way too much, you surely must have well as the party which cares most about actual human beings Is this really true? They SAY that, but.... Before the next election, I will register myself as a Democrat. May the Gods help us all...

Last night I attended a fundraiser for my congressman. No, I did not actually pay to attend; a friend of mine works for him. As I propped my feet on US $2,000 worth of campaign contributions, I listened to a man give a speech about thwarting the democratic process Maybe by having a majority of votes?in order to screw the environment A common Democrat line, but is it true? A lot of environmental scare-stories have been debunked lately...for no better reason than the Alaskans don’t want to pay taxes. And you're sure it's that simple? Well, I don’t like paying taxes either, but still! It occurred to me how much good I could do by tossing just one match in the box...

What the Democrats need to do is recast themselves from the party of statism qua statism. They made a credible effort at this under Clinton, credible in terms of output, if not in terms of perception.Clinton could have done it, should have done it, but he took the easy road. Orrin Judd said something like, "I wonder if Clinton looks at Tony Blair, and thinks 'I too could have been a great man.'" But what is necessary now is to justify each and every program-- past, present and future--in terms of the free market failing to meet some need. Are you suggesting that the Dems might actually examine programs and eliminate those that aren't needed? Or have you decided that all government programs are necessary? The FDA would be a good place to start. sounds like the latter "Do we want children to _have_ to eat poisoned meat before an industry takes care of it?" Are you saying Republicans want that? Do you know anything about Republicans? Doesn't sound like you do. How about whatever bureau tests cars? "we’ve never rolled over on you!"... In fact this all sounds like you made your decision based on feelings and are now cobbling together straw-man arguments to support it.

The Unions have been hung around the Democratic neck for far too long. What about "We support Unions because even god had to take a day off" That one may have to take a bit of explaining, but it should get to the heart of the matter. Left to their own devices, business wouldn't pay for one more thing than they have to. Why should they? But just because they are unwilling to pay does not mean that things are unnecessary. That's when government steps in to regulate. That’s why the building inspector comes out to inspect your house when you add something... This paragraph doesn't make much sense. How did you get from unions to Building Inspectors? Re-write. Also, you seem infected with Hollywood stereotypes of skinflint businesses and warm, caring unions and government. You need some solid food in your intellectual diet. Maybe I'll give you a subscription to Forbes...

Ultimately what government does is add Trust to the system. Courts that work, buildings we know won’t fall down, food that won’t kill us, medicines that cure, cars that don’t blow up. The Democrats suck at giving us these things. At least they know these things are needed... Hmmm...

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Of course the Emperor has clothes. He's the Emperor...

There's a good article at SpaceDaily by Retired Astronaut Philip Chapman, The Failure of NASA: And A Way Out
...Despite cutbacks, NASA has spent a total of $450 billion since Apollo 11 (adjusted for inflation to 2003 dollars). That very large sum was more than enough to fund the developments that Wernher von Braun predicted for the end of the 20th Century, but we have not even started on any of them.

If it had been spent wisely, as seed money to stimulate commercial development, we could have established a growing, self-sustaining extraterrestrial enterprise, offering opportunities for thousands of people to live and work off Earth - but the sad truth is that we have less capability in human spaceflight now than in 1970...

—  —  —  —  —  

...After wasting three decades (and a perfectly good Cold War), frustrating the dreams of a whole generation of space enthusiasts, and spending hundreds of billions of dollars, NASA's net achievement is a space station that has no definable purpose except to serve as a destination for shuttle flights.

We would not need the shuttle missions if we did not have the station, and we would not need the station if we did not need something for the shuttles to do. The entire human spaceflight program has thus become an exercise in futility....
Worth reading (Chapeau to Dean Esmay)

What's amazin' to me is how the whole subject is an area of deep psychological blindness to so many people. Space to many is solely the property of "Our Space Program," and "Our Space Program" equals NASA, and NASA equals the Space Shuttle--and that's all there is to it. They utterly refuse to notice that the Emperor has no clothes, even if you grab him and paint stripes on his shivering naked body. Any suggestion of change or reform is met with a puzzled look, and a murmured "But that might hurt Our Space Program."

Could it be that the thought of opening up a limitless frontier (suggested daily in movies and television) is frightening?

* Andrew Cory The Punning Pundit expands: ...NASA continues to behave as if the question were “can humanity survive in space”. We already know that the answer to this question is a resounding yes. The questions of what we can, and should, do in space answer themselves as well: In space we should make love and war; raise kids, crops and livestock; vote, abstain, and riot. In space we should, in short, live life...

Andrew has a shiny new site using Movable Type (again, chapeau to Dean Esmay). Very nice. I'm tempted to do the same. On the other hand, Blogger sites have a certain flavor, a certain je ne sais quonk that is much more me than the tight glossy look of MT blogs. And the soon-to-come new version of Blogger is supposed to take care of certain maddening problems.

Also, Ev is a local guy-- he lives in my old neighborhood, Noe Valley, just a few blocks from my old place. So I'm not going to treat Blogger like some commodity product to be discarded at whim . Not yet. We will see.

* By the way, my reluctance to go MT implies no disrespect for Dean. I was enormously impressed with his offer to help webloggers move to MT. It's one thing to say, "give me a call if you need some help." It's a very other thing to see a need, put together a well=thought=out plan to solve it easily, and then contact people and offer it to them!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

P. Krugman
#102: Mr White must be astonished ...

It's more of the same from Paul Krugman in Who's Accountable? (06/10/03) as he continues his quest to whip up fury at the Bush administration for "misleading the nation into war." We have nothing to add beyond what we said in squad report #100.

However, there is a major howler.

Krugman suggests that a former Secretary of the Army may have been fired for backing up Gen. Eric Shinseki when he argued that more soldiers would be needed to pacify post-war Iraq. The reason Krugman does not identify the Army Secretary is that his name is Thomas White–the same Thomas White and former Enron executive that Krugman regularly vilified during the Enron implosion. Here's a sample of his opinion of Mr. White from "The White Stuff" (04/12/02)

"So why does this administration, which is waving the flag so hard its arms must hurt, leave the Army — the Army! — in the hands of a man who is, at best, a poseur?

One theory I've heard is that Mr. White can't be fired: that there are facts about the administration's relationship with Enron that it doesn't want to come out, and that Mr. White knows where the bodies are buried."
Thomas White must be the most surprised man in America to find himself portrayed now as a man of principle by none other than Paul Krugman!

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Monday, June 09, 2003

Dainty Bess

Charlene has been working hard on her rose garden--it's small but intense. And believe me, growing roses in coastal San Francisco isn't easy. They don't like fog.

Dainty Bess rose

This is one we especially like. It's a "single hybrid tea," called Dainty Bess.