Saturday, October 23, 2004

attack ads

I know some high-level Republican strategists read this site religiously for that special Rampage take on the issues, so I thought I'd offer them a bit of bonus advice: lay off the attack ads, guys.

Not that Kerry doesn't deserve to be attacked, he does. Not that there isn't still plenty of material to attack him with, there is. Not that Americans react against people who run attack ads, if the attacks are true, Americans are glad to know it.

No, the reason to stop the attack ads is because they aren't what you need right now. People already don't like John Kerry. You've hit the point of diminishing returns in that area. What is far more important is to spend your money in contradicting the last four years of attacks that have been leveled against Bush by the mainstream media.

The only reason --the ONLY reason-- that Kerry isn't fifteen points behind in this race is because the leftists that control the press have convinced everyone that Bush is an out of control religious nut bent on conquering the world for Christ, Halliburton, Israel and Saudi Arabia. They are convinced that the war in Iraq was an obvious mistake and an obvious disaster and that Bush "lied us" into it.

There are far too many people who don't even realize that these points are in dispute. I think if the president would make an effort to tell his side then there would be easily a ten-percent turn around. I think he could even make a credible threat in California. Don't forget that California voted huge for Arnie.

Is this wishful thinking? Maybe, but I know several people in California that believe all the above and were shocked to learn that I didn't. They think those ideas are all just simply facts and the question in this election is whether to vote for Bush in spite of those things.

All you have to do is let people know that there is another side to the story. You don't even have to convince them that you are right: just convince them that the facts aren't as one-sided as they were led to believe. It would make a tremendous difference.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Monday Afternoon

Tom Harrison has finally given in to the inevitable and started his own blog, Monday Afternoon. He's been an occasional commenter here and has been posting on slashdot for a while. I've always like his work and I expect good things from him in his new home.

Go on over and welcome him to the blogosphere.

civil liberties

Some people either don't understand civil liberties or pretend not to. Here's an article about three women who claim their civil liberties were denied because they weren't allowed to stage a protest at a private event.

First of all, we have only their word for the fact that they were denied entrance and we only have their word for the fact that they didn't cause a disturbance. Furthermore, when the security people saw them wearing those T-shirts, the security only had the women's word that they weren't planning to cause a disturbance.

But besides all of that, civil liberties don't imply the right to break into someone else's forum and interrupt their speech to express your own. That's what those women wanted to do.

It really annoys me how often I've seen people whining about violation of civil liberties when nothing of the kind had happened. When someone gets critiqued for what they said, that's not violating their freedom of speech. When someone gets stopped from interrupting and interfering with other free speech, that's not violating their freedom of speech. When someone, even government officials point out some dangerous consequences of speech, that's not violating the freedom of speech.

Violating freedom of speech is what happens when the government takes away your property, freedom, or life to prevent you from speaking. For example, if a TV station is frightened away from showing a particular advertisement because they are afraid of being sued or losing their license, that's violating free speech.

The power of the government that I'm talking about is the power to use violence to enforce their will. The government can fine you or take away your license or issue a judgment against you and you have no recourse (except to go back to that same government). If you fail to cooperate, the government will send men with guns to take from you what they want, by violence if necessary, and maybe even throw you in prison. That's when free speech gets infringed, not just when you suffer consequences for your speech.

No one really believes free speech should be speech without consequences. If your local grocer puts Nazi signs up around the store, just about everyone agrees that it's reasonable and even good for that grocer to be run out of business --not by the coercive power of the government, but by the marketplace of free individuals choosing not to do business there. This is freedom vs. freedom. As long as no one has to fear violence, there is no issue of civil liberties.

But so many people today think that if their speech is unpopular, that's infringing their freedom to speak. I've got news for you: as long as you don't have to fear someone coming to your door to commit violence on you, no one is infringing your civil rights. Yes, in a pickwickian sense your freedom has been limited, but the only alternative is to limit the freedom of people who disagree with you. Should they be threatened with violence to keep you from feeling put upon?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Islam in Europe

This is scary. And if the Democrats get their way, it will happen in the US too.

Is it really so hard to understand? When somone is relentlessly out to destroy and displace you, you either fight back or lose. There is no other option.

announcing Storyblogging Carnival IV again

There is still space available in the next Storyblogging Carnival. If you've ever posted a story on your blog, this is a great chance to let more readers see it.

Deadline is tomorrow at midnight.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

the philosophy of Calvin

From today's Calvin and Hobbes:
Everybody seeks happiness! Not me, though! That's the difference between me and the rest of the world!

Happiness isn't good enough for me! I demand euphoria!


Claudia Rossen reminds us that Saddam may still have powerful allies:
That raises another problem, namely Saddam's rich opportunities amid all his bribing for the much-overlooked possibility of blackmail. In countries so serious and important that a U.N. secretary-general would deem their corruption "inconceivable," such things as reputation and rule of law must surely matter. Which means that once Saddam managed to bribe someone in, say, France, China or Russia, he basically owned that person, and even in his current deposed and imprisoned condition quite possibly still does. Anyone exposed for accepting bribes from Saddam--at least anyone in a serious and important nonbanana republic--could face ruin.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

more on drugs

Donald Crankshaw refers to an article that say some Canadians are moving to restrict drug exports now that the US is allowing some drug imports.
Canada gets them cheaply because they've enacted price controls, but that only works because the high prices in the US subsidizes the drug development. Without the money from US sales, the drug companies would not have the money to research new drugs, causing many drug companies would go under, and drug development at those that survived would slow to a crawl.
That just can't happen economically though. The US is a far bigger market than Canada, so if Americans can get drugs at the same price as Canadians, then drug companies will have no choice but to raise prices in Canada. They aren't going to go broke just to support the Canadian socialized healthcare system. Of course Canada will respond by making exports illegal to protect their subsidy from the nice people down south, so any effect will be temporary.
Is there anything that can be done to lower prices? It's always going to be expensive to develop drugs, and new drugs are necessarily expensive until the patent runs out and anyone can duplicate it. However, some of that cost can be reduced with tort reform and some deregulation.
Both of those are necessary, of course, but we also need to stop subsidizing the drugs exported to other developed nations. The US needs to wake up to the fact that it isn't fair when the governments of Canada and other industrialized nations are competing against individuals and insurance companies in the US with their group purchases. It just isn't a fair fight. The US government needs to get involved to even things out and make these other countries pay their share.

I propose a group-buy plan for all drugs subsidized by the federal government: any drug company that sells bulk drugs to Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Japan, or any other wealthy nation at some price must charge no more in the US. If they do, they can't sell to the US government (including Medicare, military, veterans, etc.). In general I'm against this kind of government interference, but in this case, where it's already foreign governments against US citizens, I think our government should step in to help us out.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bill O'Reilly

I've just been reading through the Drudge Report collection on the Bill O'Reilly's law suit. I was surprised to see that O'Reilly was the first to sue. He claims they were trying to blackmail him. I'm no fan of O'Reilly, but even if you assume everything the other side says is true, O'Reilly is right: it was attempted blackmail.

The woman accuses him of a long history of sexual harassment, but she also left to work for CNN and then came back to work for him. How offended could she have been if she was willing to come back to it? And could she possibly have been so offended that it was worth sixty million dollars? Or did she just think she could get sixty million dollars because O'Reilly had a big reputation to protect?

I wonder if she told her new friends at CNN about O'Reilly. I wonder if any of them suggested she go back to work for O'Reilly and try to tape some of his dirty talk.


Roscoe gives a proud lesson in sucking up.

Kerry endorsements

Mostly Cajun brings us up to date on some endorsements of Kerry by foreign leaders. I wonder if these were the guys he had in mind when he talked about the foreign leaders that he had talked to.

more blues

Radio DGCI is having another blues night. He's got some great stuff on. In fact I'm getting psyched to try my own arrangement again. I know I can do better than that last effort...

mutiny in Iraq

This is some of the worst news we've had out of Iraq: a mutiny by American soldiers (link from La Shawn). The soldiers were ordered to accompany a fuel convoy and refused to follow orders because (they said) the fuel was contaminated and the trucks were not reliable. In a civilian context, this might be an honorable thing to do: risking your job in order to call attention to management failures. But in the military this is criminal.

The soldiers felt that they were justified in refusing to follow orders because in their view the orders were not good ones. But they don't have a right to decide whether an order is a good one or not. And they aren't qualified to do so. They have no idea what the overall strategy is, and their officers may have had a good reason not to tell them. Maybe the officers knew the fuel was bad, but they also wanted the convoy out there as a distraction to protect another convoy. Maybe they wanted to draw out the bad guys. Maybe they had an application for the fuel even if it wasn't pure. Maybe it was some kind of feint, sending fuel to a group that wasn't even there any more. Maybe they just wanted Iraqis to see American trucks delivering fuel. The point is, the soldiers didn't know. They weren't qualified to make that judgment.

Their relatives support them:
Like other relatives, Coates called his son a good soldier who felt he had to take a stand. "I think he did the right thing. He lived to talk about it for one more day."
Maybe his son will live another day, but what about the other sons on the convoy that his son wasn't there to protect? The convoy went out anyway, it just had eighteen less soldiers protecting it.

Risking your life is part of the soldier's job. So is following orders. You can't have an effective military action when everyone is making their own decisions about what risks to take. For one thing, they don't have enough information, and for another thing they aren't exactly impartial.

A rigid command structure is one of the advantages that civilized militaries have over barbarian hoards. It's a big part of what makes soldiers more effective than mere warriors. A general can make a plan and he has high confidence that down the chain of command, everyone will be doing their best to carry it out. A company can attack at the planned time, confident that their support will be there. If the support unit decides at the last minute to skip the battle, the company is in deep trouble. And that is essentially what these eighteen soldiers did.

What's especially sad is that these soldiers have to go to prison for doing what they convinced themselves was the right thing to do. But they do have to go to prison. If the Army handles these soldiers with kid gloves then America might as well disband its military forces. Once the chain of command breaks down, once soldiers get the idea that it is up to them to decide when to obey orders, the military becomes more dangerous to its own civilians than to the enemy.

But it isn't even just an internal problem. These soldiers have let the enemy know that the constant ambushes have been effective. How many of the insurgents were getting frustrated and thinking of giving up because nothing they do seems to have any effect? How many of them have been given new hope by this act of cowardice by American soldiers? The soldiers didn't just refuse to follow orders, they called their families and urged them to publicize the event as widely as possible:
"Hi mom, this is Amber. This is a real, real big emergency. I need you to contact someone, I mean raise pure hell. We yesterday refused to go on a convoy. ... We had broken down trucks, non-armored vehicles and we were carrying contaminated fuel," said McClenny in the message aired on U.S. networks on Monday.
This is outright aiding the enemy. It's treason.

Now, Amber didn't intend to aid the enemy, she only intended to save her own skin. Aiding the enemy was just an unfortunate consequence of her own self-interest. But she did aid the enemy dramatically. And she needs to spend many years in prison over it.

I feel bad about this. Amber is really a victim of her society in a greater sense than any of the felons that normally use that excuse. Amber's upbringing told her to question authority. It constantly glorified rebels. She probably watched MASH as a kid, where she would have learned that military officers are mostly a bunch of arrogant, cruel idiots and that cool guys rebelled against them any way they could.

I'm sorry, Amber. I believe you really did think you were doing the right thing. But you weren't, and you need to be made an object lesson.

announcing Storyblogging Carnival IV

I'll be hosting the Storyblogging Carnival next week. Here's the announcement:

Now accepting submissions for the next Storyblogging Carnival
The next Storyblogging carnival will be on Monday, October 25th. If you have a story on your blog that you'd like to have included in the Carnival, please post in the comments to this message or e-mail me at doc-at-docrampage-dot-net (replace "-at-" with "@" and replace "-dot-" with "."), including the following information:

Name of your blog
URL of your blog
Title of the story
URL for the blog entry where the story is posted
A word count
A suggested rating for adult content (G, PG, PG-13, R)
A short blurb describing the story

The post may be of any age, from a week old to years old. The submission deadline is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Friday, October 22nd. More detailed information follows:

1. The story or excerpt submitted must be posted on-line as a blog entry, and while fiction is preferred, non-fiction storytelling is acceptable.

2. The story can be any length, but the Carnival will list them in order of length, from shortest to longest, and include a word count for each one.

3. You may either send a complete story, a story in progress, or a lengthy excerpt. By lengthy excerpt, I mean that it should be a significant portion of the story, at least 10% of the whole thing. You should indicate the word count for both the excerpt and the complete story in the submission, and you should say how the reader can find more of the story in the post itself.

4. If the story spans multiple posts, each post should contain a link to the beginning of the story, and a link to the next post. You should submit the first post to the Carnival.

5. The host has sole discretion to decide whether the story will be included or not, or whether to indicate that the story has pornographic or graphically violent content. The ratings for the story will be decided by the host. I expect I'll be pretty lenient on that sort of thing, but I have some limits, and others may draw the line elsewhere. Aside from noting potentially offensive content, while I may say nice things about stories I like, I won't be panning anyone's work.

6. The story may be the blogger's own or posted with permission, but if it is not his own work he should gain permission from the author before submitting to the Carnival.

Changed the deadline for submissions to be before the Carnival instead of after. I'm more likely to see it that way.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

email counter attack

Most of you have heard about the infamous email sent out by Kerry supporters to scare people about the draft. It has had a surprising impact for something so silly (partly, no doubt because CBS lent the email some of it's own credibility).

I'd like to combat that email with another one. I've included it below. You can cut and paste it into a mailer and email it to as many friends as you want. I set up the links so that it will work even if you email in plain text (If you don't know what that means, don't worry about it).

So do some good! Copy everything from the line to the bottom of the post and email it to as many people as you can.

Have you heard that there is going to be a draft? If you are concerned about it, read this and pass it along to your friends.
If the wrong person gets elected this November, the US could end up with another draft. If you don't want that, you should think carefully about who you are going to vote for. When you vote, keep these points in mind:

1. The last draft in America was started by a Democrat (Roosevelt) and expanded by a Democrat (Johnson) and finally ended by a Republican (Nixon). A few years later, a Democrat (Carter) restarted draft registrations. And just last year, it was Democrats who introduced a bill in Congress to start the draft up again. Just last month, the bill was voted on and it lost. The congressmen who voted to restart the draft were all Democrats. Which party do you think is more likely to restart the draft?

2. The last time we had a draft it was a huge political benefit for John Kerry and the other liberal Democrats that control the party today. The draft may be the single major thing that destroyed the old pro-American, pro-labor patriots that used to run the Democrat party and let the current crop of tree-hugging, pro-illegal-alien internationalists take over. A draft would put more political power in the hands of the very people that Republicans oppose most. Who is more likely to want that to happen?

3. Both candidates have said there will not be a draft. The Republican, George Bush has a reputation for never backing down or changing his mind. The Democrat, John Kerry has a reputation for constantly changing his mind on everything. George Bush kept every one of his campaign promises except one: that he didn't believe in attacking other countries to change their government. He changed his mind when a group of terrorists killed thousands of Americans on 9/11. Since then he has set out to change the world and make it safer and better. By contrast, Kerry has been for the war, then against it, then for it, then against it. Who do you think is more likely to keep his word?

4. George Bush wants to reorganize the military to make it more efficient. He wants to eliminate missions that no longer make sense (like protecting West Germany from an attack launched from East Germany). John Kerry wants to increase the size of the army by forty thousand. He has frequently criticized Bush for not having enough troops in Afghanistan, for not having enough troops in Iraq, and even for withdrawing unneeded troops from Germany and East Asia. John Kerry wants a larger military that does all the things it's doing now and can also handle the new War on Terror. Bush wants a more focused, efficient, and effective military. Who is more likely to need a draft?

5. John Kerry says that he volunteered to go to Vietnam and that he was even so gung ho he volunteered for hazardous duty (whether you believe it or not, that's what he says). Kerry brags all the time about what a hero he is. He has even insulted Dick Cheney and George Bush for not fighting in Vietnam. Does this sound like the kind of man who will care if you don't want to go to war? He wouldn't give Dick Cheney a break for having baby. He wouldn't give George Bush a break for flying one of the most dangerous jets in the Air Force while keeping an eye on Cuba. What kind of break is he going to give anyone else?,0,1607562.story?coll=la-elect2004-complete

6. Many patriotic Americans despise John Kerry for the way he betrayed our soldiers in Vietnam. He called them a bunch of rapists and war criminals and compared them to Genghis Kahn. How many patriots do you think will want to serve in the military when the commander-in-chief has said such despicable things? Kerry will have to increase the size of the army with volunteers that are willing to serve under him. On the other side, career military people love George Bush and many of them are re-enlisting when their time is up. Who is more likely to need a draft?

7. Kerry says we need more help and more troops and that he's going to get them from our allies. But except for France and Germany, our allies have sent all the help they can. And the sad truth is that without the threat of the Soviet Union to bring us together, France and Germany aren't too sure they are still our allies. They now think of us as the competition. Kerry has even admitted that he knows France and Germany are not going to send troops. So where is he going to get all the extra troops he was counting on France and Germany for? Does he think young men are going to line up in droves to serve under him after he called our soldiers war criminals and he sided with the enemy?

8. John Kerry has called for mandatory service for high-school kids. He wants to force kids to do some heavy charity service before they can graduate high school. So it seems that John Kerry has no problem with forced service. How many high school kids would have to give up sports or after-school jobs, or music or other things they want to do? If Kerry has no respect for the goals and plans of high-school kids, what makes you think he is going to respect the goals and plans of draft-age kids?
Maybe you've seen the dishonest email that the Democrats sent around the country, trying to scare people about the draft. Maybe you've seen John Kerry and CBS news spreading those rumors even further. They believe fear of a draft will cause people to vote for Kerry. But Kerry is a lot more likely to start a draft than Bush.

But I don't want this email to be dishonest like that other one so I'm going to tell you the truth: no matter who gets elected, a draft is very, very unlikely. But everything I said above is also the truth: if there _is_ a draft, it probably will be started by a Democrat.

blues blogging

The Radio DGCI blues night inspired me to try to compose a blues song. My indifferently successful effort is here. It sounds OK, and it follows the usual 12-bar blues progression, but it just doesn't sound like blues. Well, maybe elevator blues.

I know some of the reasons it doesn't sound authentic. Partly it's because it doesn't have any of the blues effects in it: vibrato, tremolo, shaking, flattening, and other things. Partly it's because it's in D-Major. A lot of modern blues is in major keys, but it just doesn't sound as blue as the minor keys a lot of old blues was done in. And part of it is that I just don't quite have the structure down.

Anyway, it's in a MIDI file, so you can open it up and play with it if you want. There's a great free program called Anvil Studio that will let you do this. I'm actually fairly pleased with the rhythm and bass tracks.