Saturday, August 07, 2004

a speech for Bush

In case you aren't reading any other seems there is an ad out that accuses Kerry of all kinds of nastiness surrounding the Vietnam war. Instapundit points to this comment giving advice to Bush.
The President should call a press conference and distance himself from these attacks, remind the public that he has been accused of being AWOL by the DNC Chairman and therefore knows how this feels, and then clearly state to the public that the War on Terror is more important than a pissing match about what everybody did after they left Yale.
Mediators call this a conciliatory gesture, and it is a powerful tool for persuasion. Moreover, it would confirm Bush's image as a generous person, and Kerry's image as stingy and ungracious. Thereafter, every time Kerry brings up Viet Nam, something he is genetically incapable of avoiding, he will be the one responsible for the fallout.
I think it's bad advice. It assumes that Vietnam is ancient history that doesn't really matter to anyone except as a political weapon. That's a false assumption.

Vietnam is why I'm voting for Bush. I didn't vote for him the first time. And he's done enough RINO things to make me refuse to vote for him again. I'm a curmudgeon. I'll never do business with Sprint again because they once cheated me out of about fifteen dollars. I'd like to say I'll never vote for Bush because he supported the renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban or because he promoted amnesty for illegal aliens or because he added a huge burden to Medicare or because he signed the Campaign Finance Reform Act. All of these were inexcusable.

I wouldn't care that Kerry is one of the most liberal senators. If he wins, he'll probably have a Republican congress and they will keep him in check. As far as the War on Terror, maybe he would be another Jimmy Carter followed by another Reagan. I could go for that: four years of slowly losing the war followed by a decisive victory in the following eight.

But no. The Democrats had to nominate someone so awful that I'm forced to vote against him --man who slandered our troops in Vietnam as war criminals. You think that's no big deal? It's a big deal to me. And it's a big deal to millions of other Americans who honor the sacrifices these men made for their country. Until I read about that (on blogs, of course) I was ready to sit this election out. Now, I'm voting for Bush.

So here's some better advice: Bush should call a press conference and begin by expressing regret for negative politics. He should remind us of some of the more egregious attacks against himself. But then instead of distancing himself from the Vets Against Kerry, he should say, "I wasn't there, I don't know the facts of the matter. But these things are clear: John Kerry came back from Vietnam and accused his fellow servicemen of war crimes and atrocities. He said they were like the Mongols, devastating the countryside. He accused the officers of making this an official policy.

"John Kerry was wealthy man with powerful friends, a favorite of the anti-war activists and the press. Those he accused were unknown young men with no power, no influence, and no way to defend themselves against the accusations.

"I will not take sides on this issue. But as Americans, as honored soldiers who served our country, I will defend the right of these men to publicly respond to the accusations that John Kerry has so publicly made against them."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Christian Carnival

The Christian Carnival is up. Check out the article retrosexuals at Beyond the Rim. Then go rid my article on technosexuals for another perspective on sexual identity.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

new good guys

I've added four new blogs to my links. These are just random blogs that I've read over the last month or two and they impressed me for some reason.

The Public Enquiry Project by Adrian Spidle is a libertarian/Republican political blog. He went to MIT, served in Vietnam, and owns his own company.

Digitus, Finger & Co. is written by Neil Uchitel. I found his blog because he is hosting the Christian Carnival this week. Uchitel writes music and creates sound effects for commercials. He was born a Jew and converted to Christianity. Just like Paul.

Parableman by Jeremy Pierce is a news/commentary blog, and a good one. Jeremy is working toward his Ph.D. in philosophy. I have generic advice for people thinking about going for their Ph.D. DON'T DO IT. Just a bit of personal experience talking.

Roscoe's blog is written by Russell G. Petti a trial lawyer. NOW CALM DOWN EVERYONE. Roscoe's a good guy. Really. No, really. He writes some very good, in-depth analyses of news stories and media myths. He's a former marine aviator and former federal prosecutor.

I've pretty much decided to loosen up on my linking policy and link to good blogs when I see them. That's what everyone else seems to do, so why fight the tide? I'm not going to go hog-wild on it though and I expect it will always stay smaller than the average list.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

character assassination

Why would the Democratic party mobilize its massive character-assassination machinery against Colin McNickle just for having a spat with Teresa Heinz Kerry? And make no mistake, it has been mobilized. I spent about an hour writing a post on this and then discovered this post by Roscoe. He does a spectacular job of displaying Democrat hypocrisy on this issue. So go read that. And let me add the following bits:
A Kerry spokeswoman said the comments were a reflection of "sheer frustration aimed at a right-wing publication that has consistently and purposely misrepresented the facts in reporting on Teresa Heinz Kerry and her family."
I wonder, would this spokeswoman be as understanding if Laura Bush told off a reporter from the New York Times?

The attack started immediately with this:
Gov. Ed Rendell, who has also called for a reduction in negative attack ads, stepped forward to defend the comments while aides moved Heinz Kerry away.
"This is the same thing I have been talking about. Making politics so negative and vicious turns off voters, turns off young voters, hurts the whole process. That is all she was saying," Rendell said.
See, she calls others "un-American" because they, the others, are being rude. Then a reporter asks her to be more specific and she gets in the guys face. And then it's the reporter who is the one being negative and "turning off voters".

Are Democrats really unable to see the breathless hypocrisy in this?

So to get back to my original question: why are they going after McNickle like this? Is it just to keep in practice? Is it because they view Teresa as a liability and they want to frighten anyone away from criticizing her? Or is this just an instinctive, circle-the-wagons reaction to an enemy who gets in a good shot? I'm curious.

By the way, as soon as a reporter asked Teresa an awkward question, she asked him what paper he works for. Suspicious at a reporter who asks an awkward question. Can you imagine a Republican getting suspicious when a reporter asks a tough question? Apparently Teresa Heinz Kerry believes the press is mostly Democrat-controlled too.

charity -- why not to give

I was prompted to write about begging and the Christian response to it by an experience I had in San Francisco. In that post I tried to distinguish people who were really in need (and intended to use the money to satisfy those needs) from professional beggars who would only use the money to by drugs (including cigarettes and liquor). I said there that it isn't good to give money to people in this latter class.

In the follow-up I concluded, somewhat to my surprise, that there are two cases where it is good to give money to professional beggars: when you are so naive that you believe they really are just out-of-luck starving people, and when you are so Christ-like that you can do it with the right attitude. I'm afraid that most of the time I don't fit in either category. In this post I argue that for the rest of us, neither child nor God, it is wrong to give these people money.

It is wrong in general to give money to a drug addict to buy drugs (including alcohol). I don't have any objections to drinking or smoking in moderation. Nor is it my responsibility to stop strangers from making bad decisions. That would be pride.

However, I do have a responsibility not to work toward bad ends and my money, given freely, is an extension of my work, my labor. So this is not a matter of me trying to control what others do, but a matter of what I do myself.

It is different when I give money in payment. When I pay money rather than give, it is no longer an extension of my work, it is an extension of the work of the person I paid it to. For example if I was trying to carry a couch to my car and a beggar asked me for money, I might offer to pay him for helping carry the couch. It makes no difference to him why I gave the money --he's going to buy drugs either way. But it makes a difference to me. I paid him the money for services rendered. It's now an extension of his labor, not mine. What he does with it is his responsibility, not mine.

Another reason not to give money to professional beggars is that they are causing harm to people who really are in need, and we should not reward them for that. In the first post in this series I told of how I denied help to a woman in need because I was so used to avoiding professional beggars. I don't think this is an isolated occurrence. Probably thousands of people each year end up stranded or hungry (if only for a few hours) because they can't get anyone to listen when they ask for help. And the reason they can't get anyone to listen is because people have become accustomed to ignoring beggars.

When you give to beggars, you encourage them to beg again. And this cycle leads to a situation where there are so many professional beggars that you can't see the people who are really in need. One reads occasional stories about how callous people in big cities (usually New York) are to strangers. How they ignore strangers on the street that need help. I suspect that this is partly because people in big cities are so used to being put-upon by professional scroungers (beggars as well as con artists) that they just develop a habit of ignoring strangers. We let that happen when we let professional scroungers take over the street.

I'd like to thank Mark W. for his comments, which tell me I need to re-emphasize something: if you really believe that the money you give these people helps them, then this doesn't really apply to you. I wouldn't tell you to stop doing it. You should do what you feel led to do.

My argument is entirely for people who believe --as I do-- that you don't actually help these people by giving them money, and are torn --as I am-- by the gap between the appearance of charity and actual charity. It seems wrong not to help people who are in so much need, yet we also know that nothing we can do in five seconds is going to address those needs.

Mark's parable of the scorpion (in the comments section) doesn't apply to me in this case. To me, giving a drug addict a dollar is more like throwing stones to the drowning scorpion because I can't find a life preserver. I don't think it is a good deed.

Monday, August 02, 2004

deleting and banning

A lot of bloggers have a policy of deleting offensive comments and banning the perps. These bloggers aren't trying to stop anyone from speaking, just declining to host that speech. Perfectly fair. Yet I don't like the policy.

Part of the reason has to do with my early experience on USENET newsgroups. Those groups were pure anarchy. Yes, there were jerks and idiots. Yes, they said some offensive or stupid things that I wished I hadn't wasted my time reading. But sometimes the people who said the most intemperate things also said the most interesting things.

I was often a target of hateful or angry writing. I learned to live with it, developed a thicker skin, and learned to give as good as I got. In fact I learned a little too well, and since then have regretted some of my nastier on-line comments. But we live and learn, and it was an incredible learning experience.

That's why I wish bloggers would be a little more thick-skinned and allow more free-wheeling comments. How do you know what your critics are thinking if you only let your friends talk to you? And isn't it rather important to know what your critics are thinking, even if they don't express it politely?

One blogger I know alternately complains about liberal commenters and the fact that there aren't enough comments. What does he expect? You don't have really good discussions among people who all agree with each other. BORING! If you want lots of comments, you should welcome comments from people who disagree with you. That's what makes the comments section interesting.

There is also a rhetorical reason not to edit comments. When someone from the opposite side of the political debate gets on your site and says nasty things, it actually helps your side of the debate. See this post at Back of the Envelope for a good example. No one makes converts by insulting people and behaving badly. Let the opposition show their true colors, it will only make you look better.

vets against Kerry

Here is a brief synopsis of what Kerry's band of brothers actually though of him. Especially after he came back from the war and accused all of them of being brutal rapists, savages and war criminals. Some typical comments:
We resent very deeply the false war crimes charges he made coming back from Vietnam in 1971 and repeated in the book "Tour of Duty."

Thirty-five years ago, many of us fell silent when we came back to the stain of sewage that Mr. Kerry had thrown on us, and all of our colleagues who served over there. I don't intend to be silent today or ever again. Our young men and women who are serving deserve no less.

The briefing from some members of that crew the morning after revealed that they had not received any enemy fire, and yet Lt.(jg) Kerry informed me of a wound -- he showed me a scratch on his arm and a piece of shrapnel in his hand that appeared to be from one of our own M-79s. It was later reported to me that Lt.(jg) Kerry had fired an M-79, and it had exploded off the adjacent shoreline. I do not recall being advised of any medical treatment, and probably said something like 'Forget it.' He later received a Purple Heart for that scratch, and I have no information as to how or whom.

We look at Vietnam... after all these years it is still languishing in isolated poverty and helplessness and tyranny. This is John Kerry's legacy.

When John Kerry returned to the country, he was sworn in front of Congress. And then he told my family -- my parents, my sister, my brother, my neighbors -- he told everyone I knew and everyone I'd ever know that I and my comrades had committed unspeakable atrocities.
Go read the whole thing. And the rest of the web site as well. John is not only no war hero, he's a traitor. He helped the North Vietnamese defeat the US. He did it deliberately. He wanted them to win. The result was decades of slavery for the people he had been sent to protect. And now he wants credit for being a hero.

It was appalling enough when America elected a draft dodger, Bill Clinton. It showed that a plurality of Americans had forgotten honor. It will be a dark day if we now elect a man who betrayed the South Vietnamese, his fellow vets, and his country.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


Mostly Cajun has an interesting story of his sailing trip. Almost makes me want to get out on the water again. Maybe I will before the summer is over.

He had a disaster. His forestay either broke or came loose (it isn't clear from the description, but it's unlikely it broke). That's the line (cable to you land-lubbers) that hold's the mast upright from the front. Modern sailboats don't usually have the mast mounted to the hull. It's just mounted to the top of the cabin, and there isn't a lot of strength to keep it from snapping off. That's why it's held in all four directions by steel cables called "stays".

The forestay is also used to hold the forward sail, usually a jib. Without the forestay, you can keep sailing using the main sail (that's the sail attached along its leading edge to the mast), but I would have been afraid to do it. A bad turn or wind change could put the force of the wind against the front of the mast and break it. Highly unlikely, but we're talking thousands of dollars of damage. Maybe tens of thousands. Not to mention possible injuries. Cajun is a more experienced sailor than me, so he risked it and it all worked out.

Anyway, it's good he wasn't live blogging the trip or he would have had to take time out from fixing the line to blog about it.