Saturday, May 15, 2004

al Qaeda and Saddam

Was there an Iraq/al Qaeda connection? If you are in favor of the war in Iraq, you probably think we don't have enough information to know. If you are opposed to the war in Iraq, you probably know with absolute certainty, that there could not possibly have been any links because the religious nuts of al Qaeda could never, ever, conceive of allying with the secular Saddam Hussein under any circumstances and never mind that several of these religious nuts spent their last night on earth at a strip bar, they are completely unable to make any concessions to the secular world.

It must be nice to have so much certainty, but I've always been in the "we don't really know" category. Now has made a pretty persuasive case for some high-level connections.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


I'm looking for some of the quotes from the last few years where Democrats explain how the American military is made up of stupid, easily manipulated losers from the poorest neighborhoods who had no choice about joining up. Google didn't help, but maybe I just couldn't find the right keywords. Anyone have any pointers for me?

constitutional construction

Randy Barnet and Stephen Brainbridge are having a slugfest over constitutional interpretation. I'm probably missing most of it because I've never studied constitutional law, but one argument by Barnett struck me as peculiar. After Brainbridge says that Barnet's method of interpretation allowed Roe v. Wade and therefore is in "cooperation with evil", Barnet writes:
On my theory of the 14th Amendment in which all its limitatations on states are justiciable, IF a fetus is a "person" then laws permitting abortion violate the Due Process Clause, and if a fetus is also a "citizen" (and if the fetus is a person, then why isn't it also an American citizen too?), it also violates the Privileges or Immunities Clause. On this reasoning, state laws permitting abortion should be held unconstitutional, and under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, Congress has the power to protect fetuses from murder if a state fails to do so.
I don't get this. Why would a state have to have a law permitting abortion? If they simply had no law against it, wouldn't that make it legal? And how could it be unconstitutional not to have a particular law? And how is any of this relevant? It's hardly the job of the constitution to outlaw all evil in the United States. Brainbridge's argument was that the state legislatures were trying to do good and the courts overruled it. This is in no wise parallel to a situation in which states refuse to do good and the courts are unable to force them to.

And although I tend to agree with Barnet's original meaning preference, I think he's all wet on the ninth amendment just on logical grounds. All the ninth amendment says is that the enumerated rights in the previous amendments do not overrule any unenumerated rights. That doesn't mean that the courts have power to use this as a trump card to overrule the other branches at will, and it doesn't follow that it can be combined with the fourteenth amendment in some kind of super energy boost to let the courts trump any state government at will. That kind of super all-encompassing power would have to be explicitly stated in the constitution and not inferred from deliberately vague language.

Would Barnet accept it if some future court were to decide that one of the unenumerated rights is the right to a job or the right to government-supplied housing? Following his reasoning it's hard to imagine anything the courts could not do. And this would make the courts by far the most powerful branch of government, in clear opposition to the intentions of the framers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

who to blame?

This article on Jihad Unspun on the death of Michael Berg (the American hostage that was beheaded) reports that Berg's father is blaming the FBI for detaining him. According to the father, if the FBI hadn't detained him, he would have left the country earlier and not been captured. So Jihad Unspun asks us
Who is to blame for this tragedy, who the parent should blame, how the US Administration and the Senators would like to pacify Michael Berg? It is just unfortunate.
Well, I have a suggestion. How about we blame the murderous Jihadist psychopath who sawed a knife through the screaming man's neck? How about we hunt him down and kill him? How about we sentence him to death by being hooded and having his head cut off by a psychopath? How about we do the same to his four cowardly friends who all hid their faces? That's my suggestion.

taking sides

The following was originally written as a comment to a post on La Shawn Barber's Corner. I decided it was too long for a comment on someone else's site so I decided to post it hear. Go to La Shawn's site to if you want to see the context.

From Adam:
You seem to be arguing that if only we had been better at covering up the abuse, we wouldn't have had to suffer retribution for it.

Well, first, we didn't suffer retribution for it. My head is still firmly in place, as is yours and all the people who made the decision to publish those photos. The person who suffered had nothing to do with the decision. Second, it wasn't retribution, it was retaliation. They weren't out to bring justice to the guilty, they were out to raise the level of brutality in an effort to make the other side back down. Third, there was no issue of a cover-up; the guilty were being punished according to military law. This is not cover-up vs. justice, but discretion vs. publicity. And yes, it's obvious that if there had been no publicity there would have been no retaliation. Fourth, the reason you like the publicity is because it can be used as a weapon against George Bush.

Face it, Adam. You don't care about the consequences of this publicity, and you don't even really care about those prisoners who were abused. If you really cared about abuse and torture, this small event would not even make the list of things to mention. There are too many other, far more awful things going on every day. If you really cared about human suffering, you would be a conservative. All you care about is hurting Bush.

In another post you write:
And for the last time, stop trotting out the "moral equivalence" thing. I never said any of this was equivalent to anything else.
No, you never said so, but you can hardly blame us for noticing that two groups are at war, and all of your energy seems to be directed at criticizing one side. And in rather intemperate terms at that. It is perfectly reasonable under these circumstances to conclude that you are on the other side whether you admit it or not. We are judged by our actions, Adam, and your actions all scream "I support Islamist thugs!"

I suppose it wouldn't do any good for me to suggest that you read over your discussions with an open mind and try to see how anyone would get that impression.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

girl talk

I just read this post by Susanna at Cut on the Bias. This is the kind of thing that makes you wonder if women and men really are two different species. Not that I was unaware of the popularity of romance novels, but I've managed to avoid hearing discussions of them where people say things like

According to the survey, readers are looking for heroes with muscles, handsomeness and intelligence. Check, check, and check. Although I must say "strongly masculine and heterosexual" are a must too - you can't assume "muscles" is a synonym for "masculine". I've met some ripped guys who are sweeter than aspartame, and some not-so-muscly that oozed whatever that quality is I identify as "masculine" (it's not so easy to define - but I know it when I see it). Something to do with competence and self-assurance in their own milieu. Anyway, whatever it is? My hero's got it. In spades.

(Fanning myself)
Eeewww. Talking about guys like we're sexual objects. I feel so dirty after having read this. Can't we all make a blogging pact that only women are to be talked about like sexual objects? I think it would make blog-reading a lot less offensive.

But it's not just the sexual orientation of the post that struck me as strange, it's the perspective. Susanna is writing a book and the part she thinks is interesting enough for special discussion is the love interest? Weird. When I write I sometimes include a romance, but it's just background imagery for the real story. Dwelling on it as the prime interest of the story seems, well, alien.

Monday, May 10, 2004

butt candles

I didn't get enough complaints about the crunchy underwear posting, so I'm going to raise the poor taste up a notch. For context, you have to know what ear cones are. They are candles that you put in your ear and light. Supposedly the candle creates a vacuum that cleans the wax out of your ears and makes you smarter, happier, and a better person all at the same time. This article by Michael Shermer debunks them. He also mentions the butt candles web site. Some highlights:
Q: Is the ButtCandle really a candle?
A: Yes, but not necessarily what you might picture as your dining room table variety of candle. In length and diameter, it's similiar to common candles. However, a hollow channel is cut from bottom to top which causes air to be drawn from the base to the top. In practice, this creates a vacuum at the base which, when inserted in the rectum, gently dislodges intestinal and rectal blockage.
Q: My spouse has a hairy backside, will this interfere with the process?
A: It depends on just how hairy this backside is. An average amount of hair in this area presents no real problem. If you're still concerned, however, you can use a plant mister to moisten the area beforehand.
Q: Is the ButtCandle approved by the FDA?
A: No.
Here is a modification I would make to their FAQ though:
Q: Is the procedure uncomfortable?
A: Surprisingly, the answer is Yes. However, it can be far less uncomfortable than the competing methods.
My answer is lots funnier than theirs.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

more scandal from the U. N.

Sevan has taken the point on the cover-up. There are two reasons for this: first, he's the highest-level U. N. official on the list, and second, he's retired, so any criticism against him can be ignored. He can obstruct the investigation as much as he wants and when it peters out for lack of evidence, he'll just leave and Kofi and the boys can just shake their heads and say how they wish he had cooperated more in the investigation. But he's gone now, they'll assure us, so even if he was a bad apple it doesn't reflect on the rest of the U. N.

The problem with that plan is that Sevan has retired. That leaves up with no authority to use in hindering the investigation. What to do, what to do? Oh, I know! Hire him back to, you know "help out" little old Paul Volker for a few months. Oh, and of course he keeps his diplomatic immunity while the investigation goes on. Leaving aside the propriety of having the principle subject of the investigation assigned to aid the investigation (with diplomatic immunity, don't forget), there is the issue that he has already acted to hinder the investigation.

I still had some doubt about whether Kofi himself was involved in the oil-for-food scandal, but no more. He's in it up to his eyeballs and fighting to keep his scam going. And with at least two countries on the security council (France and Russia) also in it up to their eyeballs (at very high levels), this investigation is going nowhere unless the U. S. plays hardball. George Bush has shown repeatedly that he doesn't know how to play hard ball in politics, so I'm predicting that the investigation goes nowhere.

OK, all you guys who think I'm too tough on the Democrats and their lackeys in the news media: explain how a multi-billion dollar scam involving several national governments and the "keeper of international law" followed by a blatant cover-up at the highest levels doesn't rate as much news coverage as the misbehavior of a few prison guards or an American corporate scandal (Enron) or even an accusation about a corporate scandal (Halliburton) with nebulous links to the Whitehouse. There is already overwhelming evidence of press anti-Bush bias, but their silence on this issue alone would be enough to convict.
thanks to Instapundit for the link.

gone shootin'

Jim at Smoke on the Water has a post that proves you can actually make target shooting seem romantic, patriotic and significant. I'm in awe at his writing. I think I'm going to see if I can make watching TV seem romantic, patriotic and significant. Just kidding.

I haven't been shooting since I moved to California. I wasn't sure what the gun laws were and by the time I thought about it there was no time to do research so I didn't bring my guns with me. Since I've been here I haven't bothered to look up shooting ranges or anything, partly because I assumed there weren't any. I wonder if there are though. Any San Francisco Bay-area shooters who want to show me the ropes out here? The first fifty rounds are on me.

I read Jim's bio and he lives on a sailboat. That's pretty cool. One of the reason I moved to California from Tucson is that I wanted to try sailing and scuba diving. I can now report that, at least in the bay area, they both suck. Maybe it would be different in warmer climes, but out here it's too freakin' cold. Actually, scuba diving is OK with the proper suit, but visibility is seldom more than about three feet. I went scuba diving once in a little inlet where you could see several seals and otters swimming around, and I didn't see even one from under water. My next goal is to move to Hawaii where the water is clear, the weather is warm, and the skirts are grass.
Thanks to DGCI for the link.