Friday, April 30, 2004

Worth 1,000 words

Mrs. Du Toit posts 15 Life magazine covers from WWII above 15 Life magazine covers from the Vietnam War. The context is a criticism of Ted Koppel's decision to run pictures of the Fallen in Iraq on Nightline tonight. Here is her lead in to the Life covers:
It is impossible not to believe that the decision to list of the names of the Fallen in Iraq is politically motivated, and is done as an anti-war gesture. If that was not the case, why not include the names of the Fallen from Afghanistan? That intentional omission clearly defines the motives of those who wish to use the names of the dead, before this war is over, as a method of getting to the public and attempt to rattle their resolve.

Pictures have done that in the past. And as evidence, I'm posting a few pictures that have shaped or altered American public opinion. Never forget, that wars are lost not on the battlefield, but on the home front.
John Kerry said "that failure is not an option in Iraq."

Does Koppel agree with Kerry?

Book recommendations

Arnold Kling put Virginia Postrel's The Future and Its Enemies on his must reading list for college students. I finished it a few days ago and highly recommend it.

Though the author tells me this book was written for an audience that hasn't been born yet, I also enjoyed Judgments Under Stress by Ken Hammond. I'll admit it seems silly to recommend a book whose audience hasn't been born yet. But heck, Ken wrote it and Oxford University Press published it. They must think there are others like me who are ahead of our time.

Both books are part of the BRG Library.

Kerry steps up

John Kerry stepped up and delivered a speech that, if it becomes a pattern, may allow him to avoid the electoral pounding that I predicted.

Like Glenn Reynolds I wonder about the internationalization of the effort that Kerry proposes, but he sounds more sensible in this speech than in anything I've heard him say so far. In light of the oil-for-food scandal Kerry downplayed the importance of the UN, instead focusing on NATO. Good move. Earlier Kerry seemed to favor stability over democracy in Iraq as an exit strategy. In this speech he clearly says a democratic Iraq is a must. Another good move.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that he uses the hated "nation building" metaphor a number of times. Argh. Everyone seems to use it so I don't hold that against him anymore than I hold it against anyone else. I hope it's just a figure of speech, but I fear all these guys really believe in building things like nations.

(Link courtesy of Instapundit as are so darn many of my links.)

Lileks sends me down memory lane

James Lileks was once a writer and editor for a college newspaper. That was way back in the mid-1980s. Here's how he describes his type back then:
These things we knew: Soviet influence in Central America could be blunted by a complete withdrawl of American support; Ronald Reagan was indifferent to the possibility of nuclear war; Europeans were wise rational Vulcans to our crass carnivorous Earthlings, except for isolated throwback horrors like Margaret Thatcher. All new weapons systems were boondoggles that wouldn’t work and would never be needed, and served as penis substitutes for Jack D. Ripper-type generals who probably went home and poured lighter fluid on toy soldiers, lit them with a Zippo and cackled maniacally. A nuclear freeze was the first step to a safer world, because if everyone had 10,237 ICBMs instead of 10,238 we might be less inclined to use them. The Soviets were our enemy only because we thought they were, which forced them to act like our enemy. Soldiers were brainwashed killbots or gung-ho rapist killbots who signed up only because Reagan had personally shuttered the doors of the local steel mill, depriving them of jobs. Of all wars in human history, Vietnam was the most typical. Higher taxes on the rich resulted in fewer poor people. The inexplicable mulishness of big business was the only thing that held back widespread adoption of solar power.

The world outside the campus was crass and stupid and run by the people who went to frats and sororities. Say no more.
The whole piece is worth reading, as Lileks reacts to the ravings of a lefty student from UMass who wrote an essay titled, "Pat Tillman is not a hero: He got what was coming to him".

The part I cut and pasted brought back memories of college for me. Join me for a stroll down memory lane, won't you.

During my first couple of years in college I was busy taking calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology courses. That sort of curriculum, even at the nation's number one party school, didn't leave me a lot of time to keep up with with local, national or global political issues. Well, not when you toss in athletics, drinking and so forth, but I digress. If anything my first two and one half years of college were my most liberal time (in the modern, statist-leaning sense). I blame my Vonnegut reading. But again I digress.

At some point a lesson from a principles of economics class sunk in. Specialize and trade. Do what you like and what comes easiest. Do what you're good at while others do what they're good at. I noticed that economics came easier for me than organic chemistry so I took more economics classes and punted the organic chemistry. I left the heavy lifting of chemistry and physics to the students who found that easy, fascinating, or both.

I suddenly had a lot more time to read and think. It was at this time that I noticed the students Lileks describes.

They were demonstrating against Rocky Flats. They were "freeze voters". They were pro-Sandinista, U.S. hands off Nicaragua types (who had to ask a friend of mine outside the Trident in Boulder how to spell Nicaragua). They proposed "National Industrial Policy" and wanted rent controls and higher minimum wages.

I noticed these students and the many marxist and socialist faculty members in various academic departments. Where earlier I ignored them or thought that maybe socialism was a better way -- after all Swedish women were awfully attractive and maybe it would be in my best interests to embrace a "third way" if you know what I mean... Where was I? Oh, yes. Where earlier I'd ignored or even sympathized with some of what these folks had to say, I came to think, "These people are missing something. What is it they don't understand?"

I'm not sure I've fully answered that question in the twenty years since those days of awakening for me. My own bias is that it boils down to not understanding the complexity of the interactions between people on a large scale. I suspect that if more people understood the messages of Adam Smith and F.A. Hayek, fewer people would take to the streets protesting corporations and world trade.

But I have to admit that the message of order emerging from complexity is not one that humans take to easily. It's natural to trust the intuition that says order emerges because somebody orders things, like Smith's pieces on a chessboard. It's easier to understand the workings of a family or of a clan than to understand how it is that my Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil is made with parts coming from all over the world and without any single individual knowing how to make it. To understand the creation of my pencil you have to put on your analytical thinking cap. That isn't the cap we've evolved to wear. We've evolved to wear the intuition cap. We have to learn to analyze things.

Luckily we don't have to understand the principles behind complex interactions between billions of people in order to benefit from them. Those of us in the West, especially the U.S., are fortunate to live in a time and place where the fruits of those principles grow in abundance. As communism and brutal dictatorships fall to be replaced with the rule of law and free people living under representative governments, more people around the world share in the fruits of freedom. That's a good thing.

I hope the kids on college campuses realize how good it is.

County Commissioner

I just got a call from a friend who is a higher up in the Boulder County Government who told me that he sees me running for County Commissioner some day. Wow!

Does a County Commissioner have a Chief of Staff? They probably do if they don't have to pay too much.. or anything at all..

Bob's response
Little or no pay? Perfect! Sounds like BRG and the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Nation building

I don't like that metaphor, nation building. Bush criticized Gore and the Clinton Administration for their attempts at nation building in the 2000 campaign. Now part of the strategy in the Middle East and the War on Terror in general is that if we build at least one free nation in the Middle East the idea will spread.

Here's why I hate the metaphor. Do things you build spread? Not without more building they don't. Add another wing to the ol' homestead and then sit on the porch swing and watch it. Watch it real long. It ain't spreadin'. Not without some more wood and some carpenters it ain't.

Furthermore, I don't think a nation is something that can be built. I have a better metaphor. Most people can relate to this one because it's just outside their doors. It's a garden.

Nations grow. They are not built. Gardens grow. They are not built.

Even if you don't buy seeds, you'll have a garden. The sun, rain, soil, wind and even birds and bees will see to it. If you want a particular kind of garden with particular sorts of plants you need to establish the conditions in which those plants will grow. You probably should buy the right sorts of seeds. Plant the seeds in your garden and then tend to it. Over time, if things work out, you'll have the sort of garden you desire. Maybe. Assuming you've set up the right conditions, have the right kinds of plants for where you live, can control pests like bugs, rabbits, deer, and so forth. It's not easy to grow a good garden.

It's not easy to grow a good, civil, and free society, either. But I am pretty sure you can't build one. Just like you can't build a garden.

So there.
Rhoads' Response
You know what? I absolutely agree with Bob, once again. Amazing! And that reminds me of something I heard on NPR last weekend, and I didn't catch who said it, so I apologize for the lack of a reference, but it goes like this. America would not be as great a country as it is had the French come over in 1789, kicked out the British, and said: "Here: here is your new government." The point is that one of the problems is that it is WAY hard for Iraq to form a new government because we want quite a bit of control over what that looks like. Could make for a bad seed in the garden.

Baghdad Bob and uranium

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the fellow you may recall who said Iraq had not attempted to acquire uranium from Niger, has a new book out. Here's the start of the WaPo story on Wilson's book:
It was Saddam Hussein's information minister, Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf, often referred to in the Western press as "Baghdad Bob," who approached an official of the African nation of Niger in 1999 to discuss trade -- an overture the official saw as a possible effort to buy uranium.

That's according to a new book by Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the CIA in 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq had been trying to buy enriched "yellowcake" uranium.
Drums full of pesticides, testing of biological agents, ballistic missiles capable of traveling hundreds of kilometers, and Baghdad Bob making nice with Niger in a possible attempt to acquire uranium. No evidence at all that Iraq was developing WMD. Just your average technologically advanced country trying to make the lives of its people better. Before stealing the oil-for-food money meant for them, torturing some and putting others through plastic shredders.

Remind me again what the case was for not invading Iraq? Was it that the inspections were working? He was contained? It's none of our business what goes on in a sovereign nation? The French and Russian beneficiaries of the oil-for-food larceny didn't want us to disturb the status quo? That the world would hate us for butting in? The neo-cons holding the puppet strings in the White House had ill motives? No blood for oil? The goal was to enrich Haliburton and Dick Cheney?
Rhoads' reponse
I think it is perfectly reasonable to debate whether or not it is appropriate to force a regime change in a brutal regime. Why stop at Iraq? There are many many others - N. Korea and Sudan for a start. But that is not the point. The point is that we were told that the had WMD. Not that they were building them - THEY HAD THEM. AND THEY WERE AND IMMINENT THREAT. SOON. Like NEXT WEEK. etc. etc. None of which was true. Was it going to be true soon? Who knows, but I don't think so.

Bob's response
Rhoads assumes that the Bush Administration's reliance on multiple fallible indicators must turn out to be correct, ex post, to justify invading Iraq, ex ante. That's not the world we live in. We have to base decisions on the best available evidence at the time, not on evidence in the rearview mirror. Of course we were told that Iraq had WMD. They did have WMD. They used them in the past. They failed to account for where the weapons they had went. Did they destroy them? Did they go to Syria (and on to Sudan)? We don't know.
Rhoads' response
Sorry, but I don't assume that at all. What I do believe is that the Bush Administration did not attack Iraq because the best available evidence suggested that it was a prudent course of action. I believe that the Bush Administration attacked Iraq because they wanted to attack Iraq, and they manipulated the evidence to support their position. That's why I am so upset. I truly believe that they were so focused on getting rid of Saddam Hussein that they forced the evidence.

Bob's response
False motives and sensationalized evidence. That's what has Rhoads so angry. OK. Fine, those are reasons to be angry with the Bush Administration. But I'll repeat my question. What was the reason for not invading Iraq?
Rhoads' response
Because war is a big deal. Unless you have an overwhelming reason to do so, you don't start one. That's the point. There was not an overwhelming reason to do so. However, calling it a War on Terrorism instead of a War on Saddam (which is what it appears to have been) makes it overwhelming in some people's eyes.

Why don't we invade North Korea and Sudan? Good questions. We don't have unlimited resources so we have to prioritize. North Korea has nuclear weapons and is right next to a nuclear power, China. Sudan would be much easier to go in and depose the government, but the threat posed by the government there to its neighbors and to the rest of the world isn't as great as the threat posed by North Korea, Iran, Syria and a number of other dangerous regimes.

Maybe the reason was that dealing with the troubles posed by Iraq, to its people, its neighbors, and potentially the rest of the world was simply too costly. That could be. But not dealing with such troubles has its costs, too. By invading we'll never know the price tag of not invading. We see the costs of invasion. I am glad it's not my job to make these sorts of decisions. Unless you have perfect information and all your choices work out perfectly you'll be attacked by your political opponents.

Remind me again why people run for President of the U.S. Must be the free food and housing.
Rhoads' response
Don't forget the big library when you are done. And the automatic pals who go with you wherever you want.

Bob's response
You don't have to fly commercial, either. Oh, and I'm pretty sure chicks dig you.
Rhoads says: I wonder if Hillary minds that part too much.
Bob: Hmm. Does she mind that part? I think I'll leave that one alone.

Liberal Media?

Well, it is interesting to see that the Sinclair Broadcast Group has decided to not allow some of the TV stations to broadcast Ted Koppel and "Nightline" tonight, because Koppel plans to read aloud the names of U.S. Servicemen and women killed in Iraq. Here is the statement from Sinclair's web site:
ABC Nightline Pre-emption
The ABC Television Network announced on Tuesday that the Friday, April 30 edition of "Nightline" will consist entirely of Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of U.S. servicemen and women killed in action in Iraq. Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq.

There is no organization that holds the members of our military and those soldiers who have sacrificed their lives in service of our country in higher regard than Sinclair Broadcast Group. While Sinclair would support an honest effort to honor the memory of these brave soldiers, we do not believe that is what "Nightline" is doing. Rather, Mr. Koppel and "Nightline" are hiding behind this so-called tribute in an effort to highlight only one aspect of the war effort and in doing so to influence public opinion against the military action in Iraq. Based on published reports, we are aware of the spouse of one soldier who died in Iraq who opposes the reading of her husband's name to oppose our military action. We suspect she is not alone in this viewpoint. As a result, we have decided to preempt the broadcast of "Nightline' this Friday on each of our stations which air ABC programming.

We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorist attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, we believe you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday. Unfortunately, we may never know for sure because Mr. Koppel has refused repeated requests from Sinclair's News Central news organization to comment on this Friday's program.
Now this is their right to do, and I have no problem with that part of it. It will either turn out to be a good business decision or a bad business decision, and they get to make those decisions. However, I question whether Koppel is truly "motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq" or whether he is motivated by a desire to let people know that there is a very real human cost to this war.

I also distinctly remember seeing a TV show with the names of as many of the 9/11 victims as they could get. I don't think it was on Nightline, but it was on TV.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think Koppel's show is apolitical. However, I think that it is a response to the Bush Administration's enforcement of a ban on photos of military caskets appearing at Dover Air Force Base. I think that Koppel is trying to get the president to own up to the cost of this war.
But perhaps this is a good example of how a Conservative politcal agenda (Sinclair's) is able to trump a Liberal media agenda (Koppel's) in the "major media" - at least on 63 TV stations.

Bob's response
Despite its clear Republican bias, Sinclair airs ABC network programming on its 63 TV stations without fail until this one episode of Nightline. Score one for Republicans trumping Democrats in the major media this time. Wonder what that makes the score now?

On the specific issue of Koppel and Nightline, this is a silly attempt to draw parallels between Iraq and the Vietnam War. Great publicity stunt.

You'd better get Al Franken on this claim by Nightline's producer that he doesn't know when the May sweeps are. Believe him? Brooklyln Bridge? Care to make a purchase?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Why can't I have partners like this guy Tillou?

This Alex Beam column in the Boston Globe describes John Kerry's income in 2003 from his art dealings. Kerry and his wife each owned a quarter share in some Dutch masterpiece. The other half was owned by an art dealer named Peter Tillou. Here's why I'm jealous:
Tillou says he contacted [Teresa] Heinz [Kerry] about buying back the painting, with an eye to reselling it, a few years ago. Over time, he reimbursed her $1 million, her original one-half stake in the purchase price. When he sold it last year to a private collector for $2.7 million, he shared the $700,000 profit with her.
This Tillou dude bought back Teresa Heinz Kerry's half of the painting by reimbursing her the $1 million she originally paid. He sold the painting for $2.7 million and then split the profits with her. How cool is that?

Hey, Peter, next time you're thinking of working another deal like this click on the Bob link over to the left will ya? Drop me a line. I'm interested.
Rhoads' response
The Fay Vincent piece at the bottom is good, too.

Social Security revisited

Arnold Kling responds to Peter Diamond's Presidential Address to the American Economic Association. Kling asks What's Wrong with Social Security?

More tasty offerings at Cafe Hayek

While you're visiting Cafe Hayek be sure to read Inequality and its Contents, and Are SUVs more dangerous?

Since I'm a Hayek guy from way back and take Hayek seriously, I may have to make a few additions to my list of favorites.

NCAA and major college sports

Here's a fantastic essay called Disorder on the Court by Russell Roberts of Cafe Hayek on the problems caused by unnatural NCAA rules. Roberts links to Disorder on the Court in a post called Million Dollar Coaches which is also worth reading.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Interesting Supreme Court case heard today

I am closely following the two cases which were argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court today. I don't really have a clear opinion about the Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld case. I think that I could probably see either side, since Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan.

However, the Rumsfeld vs. Padilla case really concerns me. I find it hard to believe that anyone could think that it is OK to hold a U.S. Citizen who was captured on U.S. soil without any of his normal Constitutional rights. It just seems to be so far against the Constitution as to be laughable. I hope that Dick Cheney's duck hunting buddy does the right think in that case.

Oh, and the fact that they are being held in Charleston makes it ever that much more interesting to me. They aren't too far from the H.L. Hunley

Bob's response
Well, I don't think the Padilla case is so unconstitutional as to be laughable. But I agree with Rhoads on both cases. See Randy Barnett's post on the Padilla case from December 2003 at The Voloky Conspiracy.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Pest-free Iraq

I'm not sure what to make of this report from Insight magazine. The report says that we have without a doubt found prohibited ballistic missiles in Iraq. It also says that we've found an awful lot of pesticides in places like camouflaged bunkers and ammunition dumps. Add to that a possible biological agent test lab that we found in a prison complex and it looks like we've discovered a lot of what might be called at least precursors to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Some of the sources are anonymous, but some come from testimony before Congress.

Was Saddam obsessed with freeing Iraqi agriculture of pests or did he have some other pests in mind when he acquired all those drums of pesticides? Luckily we won't find out.

Rhoads' response
I think I can tell you what to think of this article. You can think that if it was based on any credible evidence at all it would have been shouted from the rooftops by all of the major news outlets because it would be big news. The fact that we have not seen it in major media does not mean that we have a liberal conspiracy on our hands. It does mean, however, that Insight magazine has about as much credibility as The Weekly World News

Bob's response
Ouch. I'll have to track down the tesitimony myself and see if the stuff about missiles and pesticides showed up in the Kay & Co transcripts like Insight said. Stay tuned.

Bob's UPDATE: Looks like the Insight story quoting the declassified testimony of Mr. Charles Duelfer before the Senate Armed Services Committee checks out.

Another Bob UPDATE: I don't know about any shouting from rooftops, but here's an AP story from March 30, 2004 that I found at that sounds similar to the Insight magazine piece.

Will Kerry be the nominee?

The Iowa Electronic Markets may be indicating the answer is starting to look like "No." Look at the recent sharp downturn in the Bush vs Kerry numbers for both Bush and Kerry. This indicates that the market participants don't think a Bush vs Kerry election is as likely to take place in November as they did just days ago.

UPDATE: James Ridgeway writes a piece in the Village Voice titled "John Kerry Must Go".

UPDATE: The only contracts moving up in the Iowa Electronic Markets are the Hillary Clinton vs George Bush futures. Hmm. They're still selling for under a penny a share, but they are increasing in price. Can't say that for any of the other 2004 contracts as of now.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Cooler than eating a sock

This Libby had better taste than mine.

Men, women, and competition

Since I'm a tennis guy, I wonder what this might mean for mixed doubles.

Science or B.S.?

Our children are not helped by this kind of "science" exhibit.

Here's how the "science" exhibit teaches kids about the effects of various gases on the environment:
One panel gives visitors several options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which are more prevalent than the methane created by cattle. Once the visitor makes a choice -- such as planting more trees or improving commercial transportation -- the panel shows how much impact that would have.
Compare the false certainty of the "science" exhibit with the reality of environmental science explained by Michael Crichton:
[T]he unhappy truth of the environment is that we are dealing with incredibly complex, evolving systems, and we usually are not certain how best to proceed. Those who are certain are demonstrating their personality type, or their belief system, not the state of their knowledge.
To pretend that we know the effect of various changes on the environment misleads children in the name of "science" education. Here's how Russell Roberts says it at the end of his post:
Allowing kids to dial up some amount of carbon dioxide emissions misses the complexity of the environment and treats our world like a set of solvable simultaneous equations. Both our economy and our environment are much more alive than that.
Maybe woeful science education is the most dangerous modern idea.

Dangerous faith

What is the Modern Era's Most Dangerous Idea?". Don Boudreaux offers the following answer:
[T]he deification of the state.
I like that answer. In his post Boudreaux bemoans the widespread belief that there is a government solution to every problem. That certainly is a costly, mistaken belief.

If had to choose the single most dangerous modern idea I might pick, "If you kill infidels you'll go to heaven." In the modern world with sophisticated weaponry (chemical, biological, nuclear) and ease of travel, people willing to give up their lives to kill others will eventually succeed. Even with the very low probability of any one nutcase pulling off mass killings, given enough nutcases and enough time the probability of success approaches 1. That seems awfully dangerous to me.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Media: Point of View vs. Agenda

Last night's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had an interview with Fox News's own John Gibson, author of the new book Hating America: The New World Sport.

Looks like an interesting book. I may get a copy and read it.

Mr. Gibson made an intriguing point which I had not thought of. He was talking about how international media was fostering hate against the US, and he talked about the difference between media having a "point of view" vs. an "agenda."

I wonder how that would fit into our discussion of the "liberal" media. I wonder if, for example, show's like the Rush Limbaugh show are examples of media with a conservative "agenda" which came into being because there were many media outlets (previously enumerated by Bob) which had a liberal "point of view." This, of course, leads to liberal media such as Air America Radio, which definitely has a liberal "agenda."

Hmmm. Makes me think....

Bob's response: I think you and Gibson have it right. There's a difference between a "point of view" and an "agenda". My take is that the major news organizations are staffed by people with a similar worldview, a point of view, and that this necessarily affects their news coverage. I don't think any of us can free ourselves from our personal biases (and I don't mean biases in a bad way in this context). It may be that some journalists (not opinion writers, but straight journalists) have an agenda, but I don't think that's the main criticism of people who gripe about a "liberal media". They gripe that news reporters are mostly liberal and that affects what they believe to be newsworthy and how they cover those stories.

I don't think Rush's show came into being because of a liberal point of view in the major news media, though. I think Rush rose to popularity because he was good at what he did (entertain with political content) and a lot of people across the country agreed with his point of view. Hence, the national phenomenon of Rush. I think Air America Radio is a response to conservative talk radio, Rush being the 600-pound gorilla in that game. I also suspect there is an element of McCain-Feingold in the timing of the launch of Air America Radio. Limits on political speech will lead people to get around those limits.

Rhoads' response: (I like this new interactive thing). But would you agree that Rush's show, especially in recent years (like the past 10) definitely has a particular "agenda"? To wit: describing how all Republicans are good and all Democrats are bad.

Bob's response: Oh, yes. I agree that Rush has an agenda. No question about it. Editorialists, opinion writers, radio guys like Rush all have agendas. They want to pursuade people, entertain people, etc.

I think Fox News is more appropriate than Rush as a response to the major news outlets having a liberal "point of view". Fox News is popular because they do not have that slant. They may have another slant, that being toward the conservative or Republican "point of view", but they clearly do not have a liberal bias.
Rhoads' response:So the question becomes whether or not Fox News (as a cable channel) also has a conservative "agenda" rather than a "point of view." Not necessarily their new show, but all of the other shows (O'Riley, Hannity and Colmes, etc).

Bob's response:That's an interesting one. I think Fox News Channel was born due to an agenda. I think Murdoch and Ailes (sp?) thought that there was an underserved market in the U.S., a market for news without liberal bias. Did they set out to deliberately slant news shows toward the Republicans? I don't think so, but maybe they did. I don't get the impression that the news shows are biased, but then that reflects my point of view. Regarding the other shows, I think O'Reilly is more populist than conservative, but he's definitely not a liberal. Hannity and Colmes is a balanced show, one from each side of the spectrum. I don't watch Greta van Sustern's show much (nor do I watch the others, but I have in the past so I think I have an informed opinion on them), but my thought is she's probably a mainstream, left of center Democrat. Geraldo is all over the map, if he's even on Fox. Gibson seems to play it pretty down the middle. Fox News Sunday with Tony Snow and Brit Hume's show during the week are pretty balanced (panelists like Juan Williams, Mara Liason, to balance out Fred Barnes and William Kristol), but both hosts, especially Tony Snow, would describe themselves as conservative.

So does Fox News Channel have an agenda? I guess I'd say "probably".
I'm a fan of advocacy journalism in a way. I'd just like to see the AP, Reuters, the major broadcast networks, etc fess up and say, "Yes, we are mostly liberals, but we do our best to present the news in an objective way." I think the danger, if there is one, in having the major news media biased in one direction is that many consumers of that product don't realize that the news they get is coming through a filter. I think people on the far left agree with that proposition. They agree that the major media outlets have a "point of view". It's just that from their location on the political spectrum, mainstream Democrats in the major news media look like shills for the corporate right. Fox News to them is the worst thing that could happen because it represents a major news and analysis outfit that's even further to the right. I doubt the far left will ever be happy with anything in the mainstream, though, because they're not in the mainstream. Even if the stream shifted their way, they'd just move further left (see for example the planks of the Socialist Party in the early 20th Century – they were largely adopted in the US throughout the 1900s, but Socialists still think the US has a long way to go before its a Socialist country).

I think with the rise of the internet, blogs and so forth, the issue of bias in the major media is less and less of an issue for people who are truly interested in the news and issues. You can always find a variety of different viewpoints now. That was tough in 1960.

Environment and progress

Don Boudreaux concludes a post called Cleaned by Capitalism with this paragraph:
This list of how capitalism and commerce make our lives cleaner and healthier goes on and on. On balance, capitalism has done far more to clean our living environments than it’s done to pollute them. It’s good to keep this perspective in mind when listening to the loud complaints of unchecked pollution.
Everyone wants relatively clean air and water. How clean, how much we're willing to pay to clean it up, what sorts of public policies best achieve the balance, and so forth are questions that reasonable people debate. Don provides evidence that capitalism, relatively free markets, wealth and progress lead to a cleaner not dirtier world.

Unfortunately, Don misses the larger point about "ecotheology" or the modern radical environmental movement. For these lunatics, people are the problem. It's not a question of whether modern people are more or less clean and healthy than our ancestors. It's not a question of whether wealthy, advanced societies are cleaner or healthier than third world developing countries. Nope, that's not it at all. These radicals see humans as the problem. Humans are a cancer growing on the surface of the earth that will one day kill the earth (a few years ago I saw a show on local cable here in Boulder where satellite shots of the earth were said to show the "tumor-like" growth of human civilization). The modern radical environmentalists would much prefer a world, a Mother Earth, without humans.

Writer Michael Crichton gave a speech in San Francisco last September discussing what he calls the religion of environmentalism. He mainly calls for a return to science and the search for truth regarding environmental issues. He won't win over the nutcases who view people as the problem, but it's still a good speech.

UPDATE: Founder of Greenpeace says the environmental movement has hurt the Third World.

Fighting terrorism

I don't get Mr. Kling's point. I think most Americans (even libbies like me) supported the attack of the Taliban in Afghanistan as part of the War on Terrorism. The problem is that many of us don't believe that the attack on Iraq had anything to do with the War on Terrorism. That's the point. Were the folks in Afghanistan a direct threat to the USA? No question in my mind. Was Saddam Hussein a direct threat to the USA? I still haven't been convinced. Neither have a LOT of other folks.

Bob's response: If you get the time, please do a search of The Nation or of Sojourners and provide me with a link to an argument in favor of the U.S. attacking Afghanistan from the fall of 2001. "War is not the answer" (or is that A.N.S.W.E.R.?) is what I recall reading. An invasion of Afghanistan would result in defeat and quagmire just like happened to the Russians in the early 1980s. I remember cries of the millions of dead Afghanies in the harsh winter to come if the U.S. invades. I don't doubt that most Americans supported that attack, but I do doubt that the passionate "anti-war" crowd did. Perhaps a speech or something by Al Gore would go a long way towards refuting the Kling parody. Maybe Gore would have taken some other course than the one Kling suggests, but I'd like to see some evidence that Gore wasn't part of the fringe left that said "war is not the answer" back in 2001.

I understand that Rhoads doesn't believe that the attack on Iraq had anything to do with the War on Terror. Fine. I happen to disagree. Getting beyond that, though, what are the left's suggestions for fighting the War on Terror? Just like Robert Tagorda I'd like to see a well-articulated presentation of the Kerry Plan for both Iraq (now that we're there) and the broader War on Terror. I'd also go one step further than Robert and request a plan of action from those to the left of Kerry, perhaps Kucinic or Nader supporters. Maybe Rhoads could find a link at The Nation or Sojourners for me to read that attacks both Kerry and Bush from the left, but that offers a plan of action rather than just an attack on the mainstream parties.

Two good Kling contributions

Arnold Kling wrote a good esssay called Hating the Solution for Tech Central Station that contains this amusing counterfactual:
The "alternative history" approach might be applied to ask "what if" the left had been in power in the United States on 9-11. I could imagine the following story appearing in the New York Times in December of 2002:

After more than a year of intricate and skillful diplomacy, the Gore Administration's efforts were rewarded, as the United Nations passed a resolution expressing its "concern with terrorism." Gore's victory comes nearly fourteen months after planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "Terrorists now have received a clear and unambiguous message," the President said.

The Administration was disappointed that the final resolution contained no provisions for economic sanctions against the Taliban regime. The U.S. withdrew the sanctions provision out of concern that it would have resulted in an economic boycott of Israel, which was branded a terrorist state as part of an amendment pushed by Arab and Muslim nations.

Vice-president Joseph Lieberman was dispatched to help mollify American Jewish groups, some of whom were upset by the amendment equating the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza with terrorism. "The resolution does not mention Al Qaeda or Afghanistan," one prominent Jewish leader complained. "The only country that it condemns by name is Israel."

Despite Israel's opposition, most diplomats pointed to the overwhelming vote that the resolution received as a triumph for the Administration. "It's the centerpiece of their response to 9-11," one source remarked. "They had to have a UN resolution, and even though it's not perfect, now they've got something they can point to."
In the above essay Kling links to an earlier essay of his called Nurturance and Terrorism where he argues there is no natural left-wing alternative to fighting terrorism. That essay is worth a read, too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Mooney to coach Air Force

So the "bad news" of John Thompson III taking the Georgetown job has turned into an avalanche of good news. First Joe Scott accepted the Princeton job. Now Air Force replaces Scott with Chris Mooney, Scott's top assistant. How good is that?! JTIII gets to return to his DC roots. Joe Scott gets to return to his Jersey roots, and to his alma mater. Air Force sticks with the "Princeton basketball" style that served them so well under Coach Scott.


Guantanamo Bay

Last night I surfed on by C-SPAN and stopped to listen to Ted Olsen's Q&A with the Supremes during his oral argument in the case of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. I'm a nut, but I always enjoy those exchanges. I can't always follow what the heck they're talking about, but I enjoy the banter (and the nervousness of the lawyers – who doesn't like hearing lawyers suffer?).

Anyway, if the status of the Guantanamo Bay detainees is of interest and importance to you, Eugene Volokh, UCLA law professor and really smart guy (if getting a BS in Computer Science at age 15 – in your second language – makes you smart) has a lot to say over at The Volokh Conspiracy. This post is good, but there are a lot more nearby (here, here, here, and here).

Hall of Fame

Since I just posted something by Charlie Munger and something else about Princeton basketball, I thought I'd toss up a list of famous people who've influenced me the most in the last twenty-plus years. In chronological order of influence, here's my personal big-shot hall of fame:

Milton Friedman
Friedrich Hayek
Pete Carril
Warren Buffett
Charlie Munger
Richard Feynman

Two of the above (Feynman and Hayek) are unfortunately dead, one (Feynman) died before I even knew who he was. Two are worth well over a billion dollars (Buffett and Munger), one of them way, WAY over (Buffett). Three won Nobel prizes (Feynman, Hayek, Friedman). One coached hoops at Princeton from 1967-97 and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame (Carril). One of them (Friedman) sent me a very nice personal letter back in the 1980s.

Cool guys all!

Welcome aboard Joe!

Joe Scott resigns from the Air Force Academy to accept the head men's basketball coaching position at his alma mater, Princeton University.

I'm sorry to see him leave the region, but thrilled to have him back at Princeton.

Go Tigers!

Berkshire's (slightly) smarter half on Iraq and Afghanistan

Charles T. Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Chairman of Wesco Financial, asked at last spring's Wesco annual meeting if we're safer now because of Iraq and Afghanistan [courtesy of Berkshire Hathaway and Outstanding Investor Digest]:
Your guess is as good as mine. The only thing I'll say on those subjects is that it's very easy to shrink from anything unpleasant and just conclude, "We don't really need it." And I at least kind of admire the willingness to suffer now in the hope of making the world better.

I'm skeptical of the general approach that never finds it necessary to suffer now to make the world better later. The general approach of figuring out, of actually seeking, ways to suffer now to make the world better later – well, there's a lot to be said for it.

That's what investment is. You don't spend the money – even though there are a lot of lovely things you can buy with it. You may even sacrifice something – because you're trying to do better later. Generally speaking, I like the approach.

Now whether or not our Mideast adventures will turn out to be good ideas, your guess is as good as mine. However, I kind of like the fact that we're trying.

I'm curious to hear what Charlie says a year later if he's asked that question again. Of course since I'm not going to be in Pasadena for the Wesco meeting, I'll have to read about it next year when the OID exerpts come in the mail.

I do have my credentials for the Saturday, May 1st, 2004 Berkshire annual meeting, but I'm leaning toward not making the trip to Omaha this year. I can plop down $114, board an Amtrak train in Denver at 7:30 PM on Friday night, travel through the night and arrive in Omaha at about 5:30 AM Saturday. The doors open at 7:00 AM and the meeting ends at 3:30 PM. I could kick around town, go to a barbeque at Nebraska Furniture Mart, and maybe have a DQ with Warren, before boarding the Amtrak at 11:30 PM for the return trip to Denver. I'd be back by late morning on Sunday.

Seems a shame to pass up such a whirlwind trip to the Capitalist Woodstock, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Wal-Mart Blog

Keep up with the good and the bad regarding Wal-Mart with this new blog.

They're looking for contributors, pro and con.

John Thompson III new Georgetown coach

Bad news for Princeton basketball fans. ESPN just reported that head men's basketball coach John Thompson III has accepted the head coaching job at Georgetown University. Thompson will now try to fill the enormous shoes of his father.

So, who will replace JT III at Princeton? JOE SCOTT! I have mixed emotions about that possibility. He'd be great for the Tigers. But, I don't want to lose him out here in Colorado. I love having the chance to watch "Princeton basketball" just down the road.

Arguments for the Kerry plan

If you're a supporter of John Kerry's plan in Iraq, Robert Tagorda wants your help.
Here's what I genuinely want to know: has a liberal (or, for that matter, disillusioned conservative) blogger made the case for the Kerry plan? If so, please notify me. I want to figure out whether I truly understand his positions and whether they're better than those of the administration.

Note that I'm looking for arguments in support of the Kerry plan -- not defenses of his positions against Republican spin, and not attacks on the Bush Doctrine. I frankly haven't seen such posts. I've read countless complaints about the administration -- some cogent, some unfair -- but I think that constructive alternatives should be proposed and examined.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Cornell guy

Peter Coors received an engineering degree from Cornell, Class of 1969, and an MBA from DU in 1970. That should make the Rhoads vs Pete race all the more heated, though less heated than if Coors had been a Harvard or Yale grad. Princetonians make regular work of kicking around Cornell grads, at least in hoops. Rhoads should have no trouble with Pete if Pete knocks off Bob Schaffer.

Tiger Coors

Dang it. I should have checked my facts before I blogged. It turns out the Pete Coors is not a Tiger. It was William Coors '38 *39 that I was thinking about. Must be Pete's dad?

Battle of the Tigers

I didn't realize Pete Coors was a Tiger. Are Rick Neuheisel and I the only people who didn't go to Princeton?

Unless Rhoads is going to run for the Republican nomination, he won't necessarily be running against Pete Coors for the vacant Senate seat. My understanding is that Coors has to beat Bob Schaefer (sp?) before he's on the ballot against Rhoads.

Given that Ken Salazar, a Catholic man and the presumptive Democratic senate candidate, said that the Archbishop of Denver (or some such thing in the Catholic church) should not tell Catholics how he thinks they should vote, I think Rhoads may have a better chance than Salazar of winning the vacant senate seat. I'm all for the separation of church and state, but to say that a religious leader can't speak his mind on issues or on candidates seems to me to be a dopey position. It's possible that I heard that wrong, but I'd like to see Salazar retract that statement if he in fact told the Archbishop to pipe down.

Let's see. Do I want to move to Washington, DC to be Rhoads' Chief of Staff? I do have some relatives out there and enjoyed my summer there. I have to assume Rhoads would prefer to hire a staff of like-minded people, so perhaps Chief of Staff is the wrong position for me. I could be the Chief of Opposition Research or something like that.

That raises an interesting issue. I don't think it matters all that much that senators or representatives have people on their staffs who disagree with them on fundamental issues. Each of them is after all just 1 of 100, or 1 of 435 in the legislative bodies. The Congress itself is supposed to be a deliberative body, so if each member comes at issues with viewpoints that haven't been scrutinized from every angle it isn't quite so troubling as it would be in the executive or judicial branches.

From what I've heard from former clerks and from sitting justices, the Supreme Court justices do a pretty good job of getting all viewpoints as they consider cases before them. I know that Justice Thomas assigns a clerk to make sure that the clerk knows Justice Thomas' biases and stays alert for detecting how those biases may affect the Justice's rulings. I think that by and large most of the justices hire clerks who more or less share their judicial philosophies, but such things are quite a bit harder to discern when hiring young clerks than permanent legislative or executive staffers, I think. So the justices, both from each other and from their staffs, tend to hear lots of well-reasoned opposition to their own positions.

The executive branch is where the troubles lay. I don't think many administrations hire, as political appointees, people who disagree with them on fundamental issues. It's common for executive branch electees and appointees to hire staffers who have helped them in prior political campaigns. None of this is surprising or terribly scandalous. The problem, though, is that executive branch decisions tend to be made with input only from fellow executive branch staffers. The legislative and judicial branches are checks on these decisions, but those checks work quite slowly. The ballot box is also a check, but that works slowly, too. I think it would be novel and very wise for a president to insist that he, his vice president, and each of his cabinet secretaries and other major division heads hire at least one primary advisor who differs with his fundamental viewpoint on policy issues. This person's job would be to provide expert advice that counters the prevailing wisdom of the administration. Human nature being what it is, and top government officials being generally quite smart and accomplished people, they would no doubt come up with very good reasons for discounting or disagreeing with the opposition positions, but at least they would be hearing those positions, presented by smart, respected people of their choosing, on a regular basis.

So my answer is no, I won't be Rhoads' Chief of Staff. That wouldn't work well for Rhoads or for the people who elected him based upon his positions on the issues. But I will accept a position on his staff as a check on his whacky liberal instincts. More importantly, should Rhoads ever become president (not likely from the US Senate), I'll continue to serve in his administration, if he wants me to.

Maybe Rhoads should run for governor instead of the US Senate. He may not have to run against a Princetonian and he'd have a shot at being president some day if he won (or even if he lost--see Nixon).

Niwot Baseball Review

For those of you who missed the live broadcast of the Niwot Baseball JV team doubleheader against Berthoud this past Saturday, you can now catch the archived broadcast by going to the Niwot Baseball web page. CoffeeWithRhoads is proud to be one of the main sponsers of the Niwot Baseball internet broadcasts, featuring the "voice of the Cougars" - CwR's own Bob. Oh - and Game 2 of the doubleheader is available now. Game 1 is uploading and should be online in about 15 minutes.

Chief of Staff?

I am considering a Senate bid - challenging fellow Princetonian Pete Coors for Ben Nighthorse Campbell's seat. If I win, I would like for Bob to be my Chief of Staff. I want want him to blog my daily activity and to keep my honest on my wacky liberal opinions. Is he up for the job?

Sunday, April 18, 2004

The Official Coffee With Rhoads T-Shirt?

I just ordered my Hayek t-shirt. Too bad it doesn't come in green so I could wear it to Niwot Baseball games.

Kosovo, Kerry, and the UN

The latest from Kosovo is just the most recent example of the failure of UN-led multilateral efforts at peaceful nation building (or rebuilding). Is John Kerry wise to stress turning Iraqi governance over to UN control?

Here is Kerry from the Washington Post on April 13, 2004:
In recent weeks the administration -- in effect acknowledging the failure of its own efforts -- has turned to U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi to develop a formula for an interim Iraqi government that each of the major Iraqi factions can accept. It is vital that Brahimi accomplish this mission, but the odds are long, because tensions have been allowed to build and distrust among the various Iraqi groups runs deep. The United States can bolster Brahimi's limited leverage by saying in advance that we will support any plan he proposes that gains the support of Iraqi leaders. Moving forward, the administration must make the United Nations a full partner responsible for developing Iraq's transition to a new constitution and government. We also need to renew our effort to attract international support in the form of boots on the ground to create a climate of security in Iraq. We need more troops and more people who can train Iraqi troops and assist Iraqi police.

We should urge NATO to create a new out-of-area operation for Iraq under the lead of a U.S. commander. This would help us obtain more troops from major powers. The events of the past week will make foreign governments extremely reluctant to put their citizens at risk. That is why international acceptance of responsibility for stabilizing Iraq must be matched by international authority for managing the remainder of the Iraqi transition. The United Nations, not the United States, should be the primary civilian partner in working with Iraqi leaders to hold elections, restore government services, rebuild the economy, and re-create a sense of hope and optimism among the Iraqi people. The primary responsibility for security must remain with the U.S. military, preferably helped by NATO until we have an Iraqi security force fully prepared to take responsibility. (emphasis added)

I'll have to look into this Brahimi character. I don't know anything about him at the moment, but it seems like pledging in advance to "support any plan he proposes that gains the support of Iraqi leaders" seems a bit dicey. I'm not saying this is likely, but what if those leaders are Baathist thugs and he proposes giving them back power?

I'm also suspicious of any plan that turns over primary responsibility for the success of the goals of the Iraqi invasion to the outfit that managed the oil-for-food scandal, or UNSCAM for short.

At least Kerry had the good sense to say that security should still be our responsibility until Iraqi's can take that over themselves. Unfortunately, combined with the other priorities he puts forth, that means our soldiers will continue to take the bullets while the UN screws up the transition to Iraqi self-rule. If we're going to take the bullets, I'd rather we continue with responsibility for establishing self-rule. Over the last sixty years our record is better than the UN's.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

22 guesses

I cracked the code using Nonlinear Feedback my first try. It took me 22 guesses. I'm not going to try again.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Kling on Weinberg on paternalism

Arnold Kling, one of my favorite economists, takes on Steven Weinberg, one of my favorite physicists, over an issue of economics. Advantage Kling.

In this essay Arnold Kling covers three basic arguments against paternalism: the libertarian argument, the utilitarian argument, and the Public Choice argument.

Liberal foreign policy

Generally I think the liberal position on foreign affairs has been more internationalist than the conservative policy. This has shifted over the years to be sure. But the Republican Party used to be the isolationist party. Pat Buchanan still holds many of those beliefs. The Democratic Party used to be the party interested in spreading democracy around the world.

From Roger L. Simon:
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."--John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan. 20, 1961
Here's Woodrow Wilson from April 2, 1917:
for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.
Robert Tagorda links to this discussion of what he calls liberal internationalism. Tagorda defines that as "using American power for the spread of democratic values."


I also like the Spinsanity site. But since I beat Rhoads to the punch on Niwot Baseball, I'll let him find the room for Spinsanity in his Favorites. Besides, if I add it, Rhoads' Favorites will be pushed down even lower on my screen. We can't have that.

I agree with Rhoads that the piece by Ben Fritz on Spinsanity provides a good summary of the imminent threat claim.

Liberal on Foreign Policy

I am not sure what Bob means when he says "liberal on foreign policy." Is there a definition somewhere?

Is Kerry a liberal on foreign policy?

Robert Tagorda isn't so sure.

Imminent Threat

If the Administration says that the threat is not imminent (in the State of the Union) but then they also say that it is (in many other contexts) would that mean that they said it was imminent? Yes (my opinion, as are all of these answers). Does it mean they are trying to be deceptive? Yes. If the president says one thing and many members of his staff say something different, is the president still accountable? Yes. Is this all political spin? ABSOLUTELY. Did the administration succeeed in convincing me through all of this that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to me personally? Yes. Is that why I am pissed off? Yes (that's not an opinion).

Here is a good link to an article that I think covers this issue from both sides, and leans more in Bob's favor than mine, but is still very good. I highly recommend it. This paragraph in particular captures the essence:
As a factual matter, conservatives are largely correct and liberal critics and journalists are guilty of cheap shots or lazy reporting. However, the evidence is not completely clear and both sides are guilty of distorting this complex situation for political gain. Specifically, while there's some evidence indicating the Bush administration did portray Iraq as an imminent threat, there's much more that it did not. Those attempting to assert that the White House called Iraq an imminent threat are ignoring significant information to the contrary. Similarly, those who say the Bush administration never used the phrase or implied as much are ignoring important, though isolated, evidence.
I may have to put spinsanity on my favorites list, if I can find room.


I kinda remember both "crowbar" and "pipe wrench" being used to say how mad they were at Arthur Liu, but in both cases, they said "that's a metaphor" after the remark. So I think they were refering metaphorically to a legal crowbar (to get the doors open) and a legal pipe wrench. In fact, here is the text from their web site on wednesday:
The Sludge Report

After just two weeks on the air, Air America Radio, the fledgling liberal talk-radio network featuring Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo, and that really loud woman from Florida, appears to have encountered serious cash-flow problems.

Stop the presses!!! There's nothing more exciting than half a story from a third hand source!!!!

Insiders tell SLUDGE, that the reason the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, was because, the owner of both stations, Arthur Liu of Multicultural Broadcasting, said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million! The run-on sentence, tortured grammar and the exclamation point clearly means it's true!!

Only it isn't.

Normally we'd let this go because "habitual liars" like Drudge are laughable, and ridicule is our business.

But  Arthur Liu --- not funny. He lied to us, he ripped us off and now we're chasing him down with a pipe wrench. It's a metaphor.

Here's what really happened:

This Liu-ser was ripping off our boss Evan Cohen big time (he can't do that, that's our job). Evan found out about it and he stopped payment on a check to keep Liu-cifer from ripping him off even more. You can touch Evan for the occasional meal or drinks but a million bucks is crossing the line. And if we ever get low on cash, we can always call Barbra Streisand. Or any of the Baldwins. Except Stephen.

So we got screwed, Liu'd, and tattooed. How Liu can you get? In Liu of payment. Liu'd and lascivious behavior. These write themselves. What we're getting at is that we hate him.

So now everyone's saying we're going down the dumper in Chicago and Los Angeles, but what they don't tell you is that we're still on in Portland. And we OWN Portland. And let's not forget Riverside and Plattsburgh. And New York.  And streaming on the internet. And XM. And Sirius. Actually we're fine.

So cool your jets. Air America Radio isn't dead, we're in court and we're going to slam Liu's head in a car door. Another metaphor. We hope to be back on the air tomorrow or the next day in those markets.

In the meantime, why don't you give Arthur a call at (212)966-1059.

Arthur Liu, I wouldn't show your face around here.

Or Riverside. Or Plattsburgh.

I don't find it particularly funny. But there ya go.

Reading skills test

Does either Porter-Gaud or Princeton offer guarantees and refunds? Rhoads thinks that George Bush lied when George Bush said that Saddam was an "imminent threat". Here's the section from the State of the Union address Rhoads quoted from before:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (emphasis added)

Rhoads batting average isn't too good on these things. That blasted internet. Perhaps he can provide a source where George Bush says what Rhoads claims he said. Bush explicitly said the opposite of what Rhoads says he said in the biggest pre-invasion speech he gave to the American people.

Regarding terrorism and Iraq, I acknowledge that the explicit link, the bloody footprints leading to the door, the picture of Saddam kissing bin Laden's cheak is missing. The link between Iraq and bin Laden has not been proven. I acknowledge that.

However, does Rhoads or his candidate John Kerry really want to claim that there was no connection between Iraq and terrorism before we invaded?

UPDATE: Iraq and terrorism. I Googled [+terrorism +Iraq +nidal ].

I don't see it shifting at all

So far the only really huge lie I have alledged against George W. Bush is when he and his gang (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al said that there was certainty that Saddam Hussein possesed WMD and that he was an imminent threat to ME! At that point I said "then go get 'em - but be right" and they went and were wrong (or so it appears today). That could be just incompetency, but I don't think it was. I think that they just really really really wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, which certainly was a debatible issue, but was not the one with which we were presented in my opinion.

And sorry Bob, but even though you say:
I believe the connection between Hussein and terrorism (Abu Nidal, et al) is too well documented for Rhoads to contest.

I say that I am still not convinced of that. Sorry. I know that is a fundamental difference between us. But as far as I am concerned, I haven't seen that connection proven.

Air America

My understanding of the Air America dispute with its affiliates in Chicago and LA is as Rhoads describes it. I'm not troubled by Air America going to court to get their contract enforced. It's their right and they should do it. It is funny that they have to buy air time to get their shows on the radio. I guess there's not much commercial support for the radical left. Imagine that. Or maybe their programming is poor. Who knows?

I am disturbed by the reference to Air America suggesting they settle the dispute by taking a crowbar to Mr. Liu's head. I could not find any reference to that on the Air America web site and Neal Boortz (shame) did not provide a link.

Shifting definition of lie

There is no doubt that George Bush was telling the American public that Hussein was trying to build nuclear weapons. That was the consensus of opinion prior to our invasion, and it's still not clear what happened to their nuclear weapons program.

There is also no doubt that George Bush did not say that Hussein "was making nuclear weapons" as Rhoads says. The whole point of the WMD angle of invading Iraq was to prevent Iraq from making nuclear weapons. That's made clear in the State of the Union speech that Rhoads links to.

There is also no doubt that George Bush did not say that "Iraq was purchasing uranium from Africa" as Dean said. Rhoads acknowledges that and even quotes the passage where Bush does not say that.

Rhoads took a pass on contesting this whopper from Dean (via Boortz):
"That Saddam Hussein had something to do with terrorism, which was not true." 
Come on, Howard.  Saddam was making a big deal of writing checks to the families of suicide bombers.
I believe the connection between Hussein and terrorism (Abu Nidal, et al) is too well documented for Rhoads to contest.

Rhoads also passed on this Deanism and Boortz retort:
"When the Vice President said that in Iraq they are accumulating nuclear weapons, which was not true."
I can find no instance where Cheney said that Iraq was accumulating nuclear weapons, only that Saddam was attempting to do so.
Boortz gets that one right, too. Dean got that one wrong.

The connection between Iraq and al Qaeda may not have been proved as Boortz suggested. But the Clinton Administration (and Richard Clarke) thought the link was strong enough that they bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan to prevent Iraqi nerve gas experts from conspiring with bin Laden to make chemical weapons.

Let me see if I've got the shifting definition of "lie" correct. Bush lied when he relied on the consensus of civilized intelligence and concluded that Iraq either had or was attempting to acquire WMD before we invaded. Howard Dean lied and it's just politics as usual.

It does look like a political defintion of the word lie.

African Uranium

Ok, Mr. Boortz (who is this guy?) says this:
"When he said in the State of the Union that Iraq was purchasing uranium from Africa, which was not true."  
            George Bush never made that statement.  Dean is lying, and he knows he's lying.  Why didn't the CNN interviewer call him on this?

Well, I kinda remember that the president talked about African Uranium in his State of the Union, but I wasn't sure, so I found the State of the Union text and see this:
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

Now I will grant you that there is a difference between "sought" and "bought" but there is no doubt in my mind that the intent was to let us know that Saddam Hussein was making nuclear weapons, which apparently was not true, and I believe that British Intelligence has admitted that their intelligence is faulty. So although I didn't see Howard Dean, and I don't really care for him too much, I can see that perhaps his statement was not a lie - just politics as usual.

BRG Blog

Good to see that the BRG has branched out with its own Blog. I read about half of the Davey Crockett story - I will read the rest when I have more time.

I don't know who Neal Boortz is, but it appears that he may be misrepresenting the case of AirAmerica vs. Arthur Liu. According to AirAmerica, Mr. Liu sold them some air time which they were not going to use for a couple of months and then resold it (sublet it??) to someone else when they weren't using it. This was in Los Angeles. So they put a stop on a check until they resolve that issue. When they did that, he pulled the plug on them in both LA and Chicago, which he should not have done because they were on separate contracts, and they were paid with separate checks, and Chicago was all paid.

So maybe AirAmerica is just doing liberal whining, and maybe Mr. Liu is in breach of contract in Chicago. If the latter, would Neal Boortz be in favor of them actually being able to take the case to court, and as is the case in Chicago - getting an injuction to be able to go back on the air? I would hope so. Contracts are important.

This other thing caught me eye in Mr. Boortz's blog:
Dean said the president was not telling the truth when he said:

"There was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, which was not true." 
             In fact, it was true.  Those connections have now been proven.

Well I know that Bob believes that the connections have now been proven, but I still have my doubts. At least I haven't seen what I consider sufficient proof. But maybe I don't want to see proof. And maybe it doesn't really exist. Hmm.

Times have changed

The Constitution has been amended a few times since David Crockett's time, but how folks understand it has changed even more. Here's a story titled "David Crockett, Charity and Congress" that appeared in 1884.

One contractor's take on Iraq

Here's a must read, via Instapundit.

UPDATE: Here's a link by a private security guard working in Iraq. He's not pleased with how his type are portrayed in an article in Slate (linked in the post).

Al Franken, Neal Boortz calling

Neal Boortz isn't too pleased with what he heard Howard Dean saying on CNN today. Seems like maybe Dean lied. More than once.

Also from Boortz, the rhetoric and tactics of Air America Radio regarding their "affiliate" in Chicago don't sound to pleasant, either.

Al Franken should get on both of these issues.

Blogger radio

We wouldn't be the first blogger raido show. These guys didn't just stream, they got a Minneapolis radio station to air their show for three hours each Saturday.

We're on the air

Well not yet, but maybe soon. First Air America hit the airwaves. Now the NRA is going on the air. It looks like we have McCain-Feingold to thank.

Can a Coffee With Rhoads streaming broadcast be far behind? It could mean press credentials for us. Free sporting events!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Good liberals

In today's New York Times and New York Daily News two good liberals step to the plate with reasonable opinion pieces on Iraq and the war on terror. So here are two cheers for Paul Berman in the Times and Stanley Crouch in the Daily News.

Clash of Favorites

Air America blasts Instapundit.

Pass the sunscreen

Count me in. I'm for open government, too, as long as it doesn't compromise the privacy of people, the security of the nation, or hinder the ability of the country to get input from knowledgable sources.

I wish Mr. Podesta had felt this way when Hillary Clinton started her behind closed doors health care meetings, too. But that would have been too much to ask.

Consequently, I'm skeptical of the motivations of Podesta and the organizers of this project. Podesta is too clearly a political animal to believe his motives now are not simply to hurt the current administration to get his party back into power. I worked in Washington briefly and I'm afraid I know how these people (in both parties) think and act. What do you suppose the motivation is for this document request:
3. A list of the contaminants found in the sources of our drinking water.
It may be that Mr. Podesta is truly interested in the safety of the drinking water. However, given the ability of modern instruments to measure very, very small amounts of substances I predict this is an attempt to scare people into thinking the Bush Administration is trying to kill people. This despte the Bush Administration having tightened the water quality standards to levels well cleaner than the Clinton Administration advocated until December of 2000. That is as they were heading out the door. It's all politics.

This particular request bugs me because I see this as evidence that science is being politicized. Both the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration have been guilty of this. The EPA under Clinton was admonished for scientific fraud by a federal judge. The Bush Administration's position on stem cell research and science in general is weak.

That all being said, I do support the principle that Podesta is advocating in the piece Rhoads linked to below.

Let the sunshine in

One of the things that good liberals dislike the most about the current presidential administration is that they seem to be way too secretive> Now I understand the need for secrets to help protect national security, but I think that much of their secrecy is just to protect their pals (like Ken Lay, e.g.).

Here is a good article by John D. Podesta explaining the resentment that this causes in the liberal community. The last paragraph really gets to the point for me:
This penchant for secrecy undermines America's founding principles. Without reasonable access to government information, the public is unable to evaluate whether the administration is behaving responsibly and in the public interest. Excessive secrecy undercuts confidence in the workings of our government. It's time to let the sunshine in.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Sources please

Rhoads links to an essay from CAP on tax burdens. My first question as I read the piece, "What are your sources?"

A lowly blogger in a garden appartment already covered this here on CwR, with sources (see my prior posts here, here, and here). How hard is that for a bigshot at CAP?

Here's the CAP piece again:
Consider: The top 1 percent of America's taxpayers earn 17 percent of the income and pay 23 percent of federal taxes; the top 5 percent earn 31 percent of the income and pay 40 percent of the taxes; the bottom 80 percent of the earners make 41 percent of the income and pay 31 percent of the taxes (and those numbers are from 2001, the most recent such data available; President Bush's tax cuts have since made the burden on top earners lower). In other words, in aggregate, we have a modestly progressive federal tax system.
Those figures look about like the one's I've cited in my prior posts. As I said, I support a modestly progressive federal (state and local) tax system. What I pointed out, and what I think is worth considering, is that (based upon the figures I cited in prior posts) 40% of the taxpayers pay 83.5% of the federal taxes (all taxes considered as the CAP fellow rightly suggests tax burdens should be calculated). They earn roughly 70-73% of the income, so they should pay more than the lower 60%. The danger is that the 60%, being a solid electoral majority, may be tempted to vote themselves more and more of the money of the 40% through increased taxes on "the rich" and lower taxes on "the poor."

Fortunately, in this country those in the lower quintiles don't view themselves as likely to stay in the lower quintiles for very long. That leads to a more rational tax system than we might expect once we start using taxes on income. The danger is there, though, if people start believing that it's "us" against "them" that the system will get out of control.

I don't think our tax code is as nutty as it was thirty and forty years ago (when John F. Kennedy lowered the marginal rates and slashed capital gains tax rates). But it needs simplifying. I'm with Bill Bradley when he said (in an ESPN ad, of course) that taxes need to raise money in the least intrusive, the least disruptive way. Taxes on income and capital strike me as more destructive of wealth creation (which we should all favor) than consumption taxes. I realize there's an argument that consumption and income are just two sides of the same coin and it doesn't matter which you tax. I'm not persuaded by that argument. I think a consumption tax is less intrusive and less destructive of the productive capacity of a society than are taxes on income and capital.

Repeal the Income Tax Amendment! Then bring on the National Sales Tax!

Phew, they paid

I got the Air America link to open. Nothing yet on the frequency for Boulder. Do we have any ethnic stations for them to push off the air here? My guess is they show up on 1490, Boulder's only AM radio station.

Why the Right's Wrong on Taxes

Here is a article on the real story on Federal taxes. The statistics in it include the numbers for payroll taxes- both employee paid and employer paid. This is my favorite paragraph:
Consider: The top 1 percent of America's taxpayers earn 17 percent of the income and pay 23 percent of federal taxes; the top 5 percent earn 31 percent of the income and pay 40 percent of the taxes; the bottom 80 percent of the earners make 41 percent of the income and pay 31 percent of the taxes (and those numbers are from 2001, the most recent such data available; President Bush's tax cuts have since made the burden on top earners lower). In other words, in aggregate, we have a modestly progressive federal tax system.
Doesn't seem all that unfair to me, although the latest Bush tax cuts will shift it to make it less regressive. Too bad.

Dang that English

I don't think that BOB holds Kerry in contempt. I think that Bob thinks that the troops would hold Kerry in contempt. I think that, because Bob said so. That's why I used that expression. However, I can see the reason for the confusion.

But I also believe that reasonable people are capable of not holding a president in contempt, even if they voted for someone else.

I, for example, did not hold George W. Bush in contempt until he betrayed my trust. Now I do. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a while.

Did they pay their bill?

I couldn't open the link. Did Air America pay the web hosting bill?

Why in the world didn't Air America start out in Boulder? I guess there are few people to convert here. If the link ever opens I'll add the station to my headset radio settings. Right now I wear out 560AM. That would be ESPN Radio, baby!

We do have XM Radio, but I don't think the tuner goes to anything but 140. That would be ESPN Radio, baby!

AirAmerica coming to Boulder

Hey! AirAmerica radio is coming to Boulder! Yoo hoo!

(Although I think they have XM radio at the BRG, so they can tune into channel 167. I of course have to use the internet.

Contempt for Kerry? Moi?

For now Kerry's a good source of comedy for me: his looks, the things he says, that sort of thing. How could I feel contempt for a guy who cracks me up just looking at him?

While I don't feel contempt for Kerry (yet, I may tire of him as time goes on) I think the term "contempt" captures the feeling of Lt. Gen. Hudson and a lot of military people. The majority? I can't say, obviously, but I'd bet contempt captures it. Considering that the military people have voted overwhelmingly Republican since, well, since about the time John Kerry returned from Vietnam and accused American soldiers of being murderers and since the time the Democratic Party nominated George McGovern, my guess is that the majority of military people, active and retired, do not support John Kerry and will not vote for him.

So Kerry may be the sort of guy Rhoads would support if he were in the military, but that tells us more about Rhoads than it does about military people.

I'm hardly a military brat, but I do have some relatives who wore the uniform:

Dad, USN
Uncle, USMC
Uncle, USN
Cousin, USMC
Cousin-in-Law, USN
Uncle-in-Law, USAF

Veterans: 6
Kerry voters: 0

Small sample size, but like I said above, the military folks have voted Republican for a long time. Why do you think Gore worked so hard to get their ballots tossed out in Florida?

Lt Gen Hudson

Hmmm. I wonder if this could be your guy. At any rate, I don't know that Gen. Hudson's statements are factual, that they are not highly exaggerated, and that he speaks for the entire military establishment. Hence I don't necessarily think that the troops will hold President Kerry in contempt, as you do. But I really don't know. What I do know is that if I were a troop in war time, I would prefer a command-in-chief who actually served the last time we were in a major war operation to one who used his political contacts to avoid actual combat service. But that's just me.

McCain loses support over Kerry comment

Below is the first paragraph of a letter sent to Senator John McCain from John I. Hudson, Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired):
I am very disappointed in your statement yesterday (March 18th) that Senator Kerry is not weak on defense issues. Senator Kerry has voted against just about every major new weapons system, voted against most military pay raises, voted against the building of new housing for our troops and their families, voted to reduce spending for intelligence efforts. As far back as 1994 Senator Kerry voted to practically "gut" defense and spending for intelligence. At that time he was taken to task by his fellow Democrats, Senators Inouye, Byrd and DiConcini: but you say he is not weak on defense issues. Will you please tell me who, in the U.S. Senate, has a worse voting record regarding defense, support for our service personnel and support for our national intelligence than Senator Kerry?
Ouch. As I said earlier, senators have trouble winning the White House. They have records on issues of importance that hurt them with significant subsets of the voting public.

The letter concludes:
The greatest disappointment though, Senator, is that your reckless statements now become a threat to the security of our country. I can think of no greater harm to our nation at this crucial time than to have a shameless charlatan like John Kerry to be elected president. Unfortunately, Senator McCain, the Democrats are correct in referring to you as their favorite Republican: you could do no better job for them nor worse for our country.
Earlier Gen. Hudson said he would no longer support Sen. McCain for any public office.

McCain isn't the issue, though. Kerry is. If this is any indication of how military people feel about John Kerry, I find it hard to believe he'd be a good president in times of war. Clinton was certainly not loved by the military, and the world didn't come to an end during his two terms. We'd probably survive Kerry, too. But I don't think it's desirable for the fighting troops to have such contempt for their Commander-in-Chief.

It could be that this letter is an urban legend. It was forwarded to me by my uncle, a retired colonel in the USMC. He got it from a retired Marine friend. My uncle doesn't personally know Hudson, but knew of him while both served in the Corps. That's usually the sort of lineage that indicates you're dealing with an urban legend. I've checked and Googled this letter for a few weeks (since I received it) and it hasn't shown up on any of the debunking sites. I found other references to Lt. Gen. Kelly living in Arizona (where the letter comes from), so for now I'll assume it's legit. Regardless, since my uncle and his friend are both retired military, I don't find it hard to assume that this letter, which my uncle and his friend both chose to spread via email, represents their views and the views of the many military retirees.

Since I don't think Kerry will win many states, this won't be a big issue. But if I'm wrong, it could be a rough four years unless Kerry changes his stripes in office. That's always possible. The office must have a sobering effect.

Babies and Air America

Hey, at least there is something to balance out Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

Ones and Zeros

Thanks, Bob for the binary explaination. It took me a while to realize that you were using binary coded decimal (BCD). At first I thought you were saying 145, but now I see you were saying 0x91 (actually 0x091).

I assume you mean 1991.

And again we are in agreement that we attacked Iraq because of 1991. I just don't think that revenge makes for good foreign policy. Go Kerry!

Mamas don't let your babies...

...grow up to listen to Air America.

It'll erode whatever reading or listening skills they once had.


Is it easier for you to read things in 0s and 1s?

The first Q&A

Q: Mr. President, April is turning into the deadliest month in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad, and some people are comparing Iraq to Vietnam and talking about a quagmire. Polls show that support for your policy is declining and that fewer than half Americans now support it.

What does that say to you? And how do you answer the Vietnam comparison?

BUSH: I think the analogy is false. I also happen to think that analogy sends the wrong message to our troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy.

Look, this is hard work. It's hard to advance freedom in a country that has been strangled by tyranny. And yet we must stay the course because the end result is in our nation's interest.

A secure and free Iraq is an historic opportunity to change the world and make America more secure. A free Iraq in the midst of the Middle East will have incredible change.

It's hard. Freedom is not easy to achieve. I mean we had a little trouble in our own country achieving freedom.

And we've been there a year. I know that seems like a long time. It seems like a long time to the loved ones whose troops have been overseas. But when you think about where the country has come from, it's a relatively short period of time.

And we're making progress. There's no question it's been a tough, tough series of weeks for the American people. It's been really tough for the families. I understand that. It's been tough on this administration. But we're doing the right thing.

And as to whether or not I made decisions based upon polls, I don't. I just don't make decisions that way. I fully understand the consequences of what we're doing. We're changing the world, and the world will be better off and America will be more secure as a result of the actions we're taking.

Asked. Answered.

UPDATE: And the second Q&A:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. What's your best prediction on how long U.S. troops will have to be in Iraq? And it sounds like you will have to add some troops. Is that a fair assessment?

BUSH: Well, first of all, that's up to General Abizaid, and he's clearly indicating that he may want more troops. It's coming up through the chain of command. And if that's what he wants, that's what he gets.

Generally, we've had about a 115,000 troops in Iraq. There's 135,000 now as a result of the changeover from one division to the next.

If he wants to keep troops there to help, I'm more than willing to say, "Yes, General Abizaid."

I talk to General Abizaid quite frequently. I'm constantly asking him does he have what he needs, whether it be in troop strength or in equipment. He and General Sanchez talk all the time. And if he makes the recommendation, he'll get it.

In terms of how long we'll be there, as long as necessary, and not one day more. The Iraqi people need us there to help with security. They need us there to fight off these, you know, violent few, who are doing everything they can to resist the advance of freedom. And I mentioned who they are.

And as I mentioned in my opening remarks, our commanders on the ground have got the authorities necessary to deal with violence, and will — will in firm fashion.

And that's what by far the vast majority of the Iraqis want. They want security so they can advance toward a free society.

Once we transfer sovereignty, we'll enter into a security agreement with the government to which we pass sovereignty, the entity to which we pass sovereignty. And we'll need to be there for a while.

We'll also need to continue training the Iraqi troops. I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops.

Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn't. And we need to find out why. If they're lacking in equipment, we'll get them equipment. If there needs to be more intense training, we'll get more intense training.

But eventually, Iraq's security is going to be handled by the Iraqi people themselves.


I don't like any politician that much.

Here's the whole thing

Virginia Postrel wrote:
George W. Bush is not the most articulate of men, but he is really good at one kind of speech: laying out in simple language the way he's thought through a policy decision. He most famously did that on stem cell research. Tonight's speech opening the press conference was another good example. If you've only seen snippets, I recommend reading, watching, or listening to the whole thing. Here's the conclusion:
She then blockquotes the final eight full paragraphs of Bush's prepared speech. Followed by this conclusion:
In the Q&A, Bush was much more expansive, articulate, and comfortable than he's often been in the past.
So let's go over this slowly, in fine Princeton preceptorial fashion:

"George Bush is not the most articulate of men,
No argument there, but not commenting on his presentation or content, yet.

but he is really good at one kind of speech: laying out in simple language the way he's thought through a policy decision.
So he's "really good at one kind of speech." I consider "really good" to be "high praise." Perhaps Rhoads disagrees. Let's see if she applies this praise to Bush's speech last night.

He most famously did that on stem cell research.
Not about last night's speech.

Tonight's speech opening the press conference was another good example.
So Bush's speech was "a good example" of "one kinid of speech" that Bush is "really good at." Seems reasonable to say she was offering high praise to last night's speech. Perhaps "praise" is better. Afterall he didn't go beyond anything he'd ever done before. Fair enough. But I consider "really good" to be "high praise" as I said before. I don't think that's too hard to defend as reasonable.

If you've only seen snippets, I recommend reading, watching, or listening to the whole thing. Here's the conclusion:"
So Virginia recommends that you read, watch, or listen to the whole speech, a speech that she calls "really good" and from which she then reproduces the eight concluding paragraphs.

No, she didn't say, "I highly praise Bush's speech. I offer high praise for the presentation and the content." Being a Princeton grad, I guess Virginia figured her readers could figure that out. I get no indication from what she wrote or block quoted that she did not think highly of what Bush said in his speech.

"In the Q&A, Bush was much more expansive, articulate, and comfortable than he's often been in the past."
In the past he hasn't been too good in similar situations, according to Virginia, but last night he "was much more expansive, articulate, and comfortable." How high this praise is depends upon your opinion of how Bush has done in the past, and how well you think Virginia thought he would do.

I guess "praise" may have been safer than "high praise," but I think my original take stands up to reasonable scrutiny.