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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in The Conservative Libertarian's LiveJournal:

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Monday, June 28th, 2004
12:17 pm
It's a two-fer
President Bush scores again.
The US has turned sovereignty over to Iraq two days early. This accomplishes two things. First, terrorist plans to screw up the handover have been derailed.

Second, the news media, who've been conducting their own little "war" against the Administration, have been snubbed. All their plans to run, over the next two days, "retrospectives" on the US "screwups" in the past 18 months have been shot down. Their chance to be there, and show how "important" they are, is gone. Bush doesn't need the media in order to hold an important event. Rubbing their noses in this fact is a huge blow to their egos. And their power.

Good for him.

(Instapundit has more, of course. :-) )
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004
2:50 pm
Relating to the Liberation of the Iraqi People
The House had a vote today. The vote was on H Res 561. The purpose of H Res 561 was to insure that there will be discussion and a vote on H Res 557.

Only two Democrats voted for the measure, nine skipped the vote, and the rest voted against.

So What? Well, here's the text of 557:

RESOLUTION


Relating to the liberation of the Iraqi people and the valiant service of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces.

Whereas Saddam Hussein and his regime committed crimes against humanity, systematically violating the human rights of Iraqis and citizens of other countries;

Whereas Saddam Hussein's terror regime subjected the Iraqi people to murder, torture, rape, and amputation;

Whereas on March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein's regime had and unleashed weapons of mass destruction against Kurdish citizens, killing nearly 5,000 of them;

Whereas as many as 270 mass grave sites, containing the remains of as many as 400,000 victims of Saddam Hussein's regime, have been found in Iraq;

Whereas rape was used to intimidate the Iraqi population, with victims often raped in front of their families;

Whereas the regime punished the Marsh Arabs by draining the marshlands, which created hundreds of thousands of refugees and caused an ecological catastrophe;

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338), passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 360 to 38, made it United States policy to support efforts to remove from power the regime headed by Saddam Hussein;

Whereas with the Iraqi regime failing to comply with 16 previously adopted United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, declaring that Iraq `has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors'; and

Whereas on October 10, 2002, the House of Representatives passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243) and on March 19, 2003, the United States initiated military operations in Iraq: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
  1. affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq;

  2. commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of unspeakable oppression and brutality inflicted on them by Saddam Hussein's regime;

  3. commends the Iraqi people on the adoption of Iraq's interim constitution; and

  4. commends the members of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces for liberating Iraq and expresses its gratitude for their valiant service.

I expect there will be hundreds of campaign ads made over this vote. And there should be. Because the Resolution is correct.

Current Mood: gloating
2:50 pm
Spain, Democracy, and contempt
Yesterday, the people of Spain screwed up. Al Qaeda decided to see if they could influence the election in Spain, and the Spaniards rolled over on their backs and played dead.

I am contemptuous of the Spanish people for the choice they made. I think their voting Socialist makes it more likely that their will be similar attacks in the US in the week or so heading up to the election. But, I acknowledge the Spanish people's right to fuck up. That's, after, all, what Democracy means: it's the right of The People to make decisions that other don't like.

OTOH, I won't be visiting, or saying nice things about, Spain anytime soon.

Current Mood: sad
2:50 pm
Diversity and Gay Marriage
Eugene Volokh has an excellent post on why, even though he tentatively supports gay marriage, he opposes using the judiciary to impose it on America. His main point is that "race" is skin deep, but sex is not. Thus the claim that gay marriage bans are like interracial marriage bans is factually false, because while there's no reason to believe that skin color dramatically affects your style of parenting, there is good reason to believe sex does affect it.

Which sparked a thought of my own, which is this is just another demonstration of how little "liberals" value actual diversity.

Men and women are different. They differ both physiologically, and psychologically. They on average have different strengths, and different weaknesses. And studies have consistently shown that children raised in two parent households do better than kids raised by single parents Part of that, IMO, is just that raising kids is hard, even harder when you're on your own. But part of it is that two parents of opposite sexes gives you two different role models. Role models who think differently, and act differently.

IOW, because of their inherent differences, heterosexual parents give a more diverse upbringing than homosexual parents will give.

IIRC, girls raised without a father are more likely to become pregnant as teenagers. Boys raised without one are more likely to be arrested for violent criminal behavior. I don't know of any study that shows these effects disappearing because the child has two mothers, instead of just one.

Support real diversity. Support children getting parents of both sexes, instead of just one. :-)

Current Mood: amused
Monday, February 23rd, 2004
2:26 pm
Who should be sovereign?
I have a question for anyone who visits my site: Who do you think should be sovereign in the US?

Who should rule? Is it "the government"? Is it right and proper that our "public servants" should in reality be our "public masters"? Is and should the government be only responsible to itself?

Or is it not the government as a whole, but some part of it? Should the President be sovereign? Congress? The Supreme Court? The bureaucrats?

Or, is it some group in society? Should the lawyers be our masters? The law school professors? Their Deans? Maybe the Press? The famous actors and their friends? The (self-appointed) "cultural elite"?

Or, is it "We the People"?

Who gets to put their screwy ideas into place? Who has the right to be wrong, and still do it their way?

I believe it is, and should be, We the People. I'm fully aware that our Founders feared the passions of the Mob, and I agree with them. I have no problem with the fact that only a third of the Senate gets elected at any one time, and thus the People can be slowed down in their desire to change things. I'm happy that we have an Electoral College, that forces Presidential candidates to worry about more than the major population centers, and cuts down on the effects of vote fraud (no matter how many fraudulent votes you create in a state, you can only change that state's electoral votes). I am happy we have a written Constitution, and that that Constitution defines rules that everyone has to follow.

But when all is said and done, if the People want to vote in Representatives with ideas I hate, that is their right. I will do what I can to convince them they're wrong, to point out the screwups the Reps are making, and try to get the voters to vote differently in the next election. But if they ignore me, then, within the rules, they should get what they want.

If you disagree with that, we have nothing worthwhile to discuss. None of my arguments are going to mean anything to you, because you think it's perfectly dandy for some other group to exercise "its sovereignty" over the rest of us. And nothing you say will matter to me, because if your argument is so weak you're not willing to put it to a popular vote, then it's clearly too weak to be worth my consideration (if you're right, and you lose the first vote, your opponents will fail, and you can use that failure in your campaigns the next time around). That, and the fact that I hate cheaters.

So, who is sovereign?
2:26 pm
Legislating Morality, II
Previously, I discussed why it's idiotic to whine about people "legislating morality". Thinking about it some more, it occurred to me that there are two kinds of "legislating morality". One is when you simply want to punish people for violating your moral code (laws against theft, rape, and murder, for example). The other is when you try to use the power of government to force people to adopt a new moral code.

The first is something you cannot avoid if you're going to have a society. Society means rules, having rules means enforcing them when they're violated.

The second is something I look on with great disfavor. No one else gets to tell me how to think.

IMHO, those laws are bad enough when passed by a democratic majority. I don't like them one bit, and oppose pretty much all of them on the grounds they're a bad idea. But, what is even worse, even more vile and more hideous, is when some minority attempts to force them on the rest of society. It is something wholly inexcusable and lacking in justification.

And that is what the pro "gay marriage" people are trying to do.

In California, you can already get a "civil union" to get shared health care coverage and the like. Gay marriage isn't about that. It's about forcing society to give those couples a piece of paper that says they are just as "special" as are heterosexual couples. It's about trying to bully that vast majority (remember 61% voted for Prop 22) into giving up their beliefs, and accepting the minority's belief about the "rightness" of homosexuality. It's about a self-anointed "elite" telling the "great unwashed" that their beliefs aren't good enough, and must be changed.

It is, in short, arrogant, self-righteous, and offensive.
2:26 pm
Why the FMA is a good idea
Eugene Volokh has been debating the Federal Marriage Amendment with National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru. Along the way he makes two points I wish to dispute:
I would still oppose the Ponnuru Amendment on two grounds; first, I don't see why states that do want to set up gay marriages should be barred from doing so, and, second, I don't think the U.S. Constitution ought to protect state citizens and legislators from the overreaching of their own state courts (at least where no individual constitutional right is violated by this).

To address them in reverse order:
  1. Judges overstepping their bounds is an assault upon democracy, and a national problem (see the Florida Supreme Court and the 2000 election). Thus a national solution is best, and appropriate (see the 14th Amendment, which addressed what the drafters thought was a "local" (i.e. Southern) problem with a national solution). Further, as we have repeatedly seen, the courts often get away with it because there is a large enough minority that they please, said minority which blocks effective response to the court's abuse of power.

  2. The people pushing "gay marriage" are currently doing so by attempting to pervert laws and Constitutions to advance their agenda, against a strong democratic majority. This is wrong. For engaging in this assault on democracy, they need to be punished. Mainly, but not solely, because doing so will hopefully keep others from over-reaching in the future. A Federal Constitutional ban on gay marriage would be an effective, and appropriate, punishment

Let's look at it this way: what benefits does society lose by banning gay marriage? According to Virginia Postrel, in California, the State with the highest percentage of gay couples, 1.4% of couples are gay. That's a pretty small percentage. Which means that, even if it were a good idea, the cost to society of banning it is pretty minimal.

OTOH, the potential benefit to society of reining in judges, and getting them to stop acting like oligarchs, is quite high.

Minimal down-side, lots of up-side. Sounds like a good idea to me.

And if it turns out that gay marriage really is a good idea, well, this wouldn't be the first Constitutional Amendment later repealed. But the decades of delay between when gay marriage would have come about under an honest, democratic, campaign, and when it came about after the dishonest campaign drew a strong backlash, would still serve as a wonderful warning to those enemies of democracy who think they're above the law.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2004
2:37 pm
A letter from the Left to the Left
A very well written letter from a leftist who wishes to perceive the world as it is:

You are against the war and have strong negative angry feelings about the president.

I understand this as I was ‘anti-war’ for most of my life. I protested at Westover Air Force Base on a cold February night at the start of the first Gulf War. I was always against the Vietnam War...

Now I support the current war and, though I also had strong negative feelings for the president after he was first elected, I have, post 9/11, come to see his leadership as strong and his ‘war on terror’, which includes the war in Iraq, as a real and sincere effort to defend this country from bona-fide aggressors.

So why is it that you see this so differently? I have been thinking, and writing, about this phenomenon, the obvious split of the left between pro and anti-war camps, since 9/11. I really think it comes down to certain assumptions we hold that we are or are not aware of, general assumptions about the world and human nature, assumptions that were once considered loose guidelines but I believe have rigidified into dogma, as well as specific assumptions about current issues.
First, I’d like to expand on what Johann Hari wrote recently about this split. He put this in a very concise way. He said that each camp comes from legitimate leftist traditions. He said the current anti-war camp comes from the anti-colonialist tradition:

This sees America as the world’s leading colonial power, and attacks upon it as part of a just anti-colonial struggle... September 11th was created by US colonialism; the remedy is to dismantle US colonialism. The Left’s place, in this conception, is clearly on the side of the victims of the imperial power. This is the tradition that the Stop the War Coalition has clearly drawn on, and it is best articulated today by John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, and Gore Vidal.

The second is the anti-fascist tradition, stretching to the Spanish Civil War and beyond. The antifascist left sees fascism as the prime evil in human affairs, and prioritizes alliances against fascism even if that necessitates siding with, say, Donald Rumsfeld. People of the left like Christopher Hitchens, David Aaranovitch, and Nick Cohen see al-Quadea as a fascist movement which opposes all the Left’s goals: equality, feminism, human rights, freedom. That is why I use the term ‘Islamofascism’: it conceptualizes al-Quadea as a threat to the Left, as well as to American civilians, and condenses all these arguments into one neat term. It reminds everyone that al-Quadea are not protestors against Vietnam or in favour of Kyoto; they are fascists and therefore embody the ultimate evil.

To me, it comes down to which of these things, US colonialism or blatant fascism, you see as more dangerous to the world.
Read the whole thing

Current Mood: thoughtful
2:37 pm
What Gay marriage advocates are trying to accomplish
Lt. Smash noted the following:
When I ask gay people what they expect to get out of this, their answer almost always includes "respect." But they don't seem to understand that respect cannot be won by a court decision or a legislative act.

Bingo. Two posts ago, I addressed "Legislating morality", and pointed out that it is a routine and normal thing to do.

Gays aren't trying to do that. What they're trying to do is legislate (rather "judiciate") "respect". They seem to think that if the courts say that if courts claim that their relationships are normal, the rest of us will just so "oh, I guess I was wrong. Three cheers for gay couples."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

What routinely happens when someone tries to force you to "respect" them is that any respect you once had for them gets destroyed. No matter which forms of respect you show that person (because you have to), all it will be is show.

One other claim I've heard is that it's "unfair" (there they go, legislating morality again) that gay couples can't get insurance benefits like married couples can.

Which is to say, Gay marriage isn't about "rights", it's about benefits. It's people demanding that society give them benefits that society (through the voters) has said it doesn't want to give.

Wrapping that up in talk of "rights" is contemptible. And thus, my contempt for the gay marriage movement.
2:37 pm
Rights
A recent discussion crystallized one of the huge problems I have with the gay marriage advocates. It's on the subject of Rights.

Without exception, all rights are negative rights. Which is to say, all rights can be cleanly and clearly stated in the form "You may not [do X] to me." Examples:

The Right to Life: You may not kill me. (But you don't have to save my life, even if you can do so at no risk to yourself.)
Freedom of Speech: You may not prevent me from talking. (But you don't have to give me a megaphone, or a place to talk, and I can sign a contract waiving this right in exchange for other benefits (i.e. security restrictions in exchange for a clearance and a job)).

Which brings us to the subject of marriage.

Marriage is not a right. There is only one right that has a relationship to marriage: You have the right to refuse to marry someone.

That's it.

You do not have the right to marry whomever you want (they have the right to say no), and even two willing partners do not have the right to get married when, where, and how they want. All those things are subject to negotiation and regulation (age of consent laws, bigamy laws, you have to pay for the license, do any states still require blood tests?), and since they require positive action by other people, people who often owe the couple nothing, those people have an absolute right to say "no".

Marriage is a contract. In the US, it is a contract entered into by two people, and "blessed" by society, via the State. It is not a right, it's a privilege, just like driving. It is a way to get public benefits, and, as such, it is therefore regulated by the public, through Initiatives, and through elected representatives.

Gays have the exact same marriage rights as straights, both can refuse to marry someone else.

Demanding more, and pretending they're demanding "rights", is one of the reasons I'm becoming more and more opposed to giving them to them.
2:37 pm
Legislating morality
A common lefty whine when they're losing the debate is "you can't legislate morality." This is an entirely false statement.

The vast majority of our laws involve legislating morality. Most national political campaigns depend on the idea. The laws range from such obvious examples as bans on prostitution, gambling, drug use, and suicide, to prohibitions against theft and murder (hell, those come straight from the 10 Commandments!), to just about all the rest of the criminal code. Then there are economic laws, such as rent control and minimum wage laws (how horrible, telling two consenting adults what they can and can't do), bans on false advertising (there's those 10 Commandments again, no lying), and so on.

As for political campaigns: any time someone talks about "justice" or "fairness" (Democrats and "fair trade", for example), they are talking about legislating morality. Because those words are meaningless without a moral code behind them. Is it "fair" that I should have to pay more taxes, just because I make more? Why? The government is supposed to treat us all equally, so why shouldn't we all pay equally? Or, is it "fair" that someone who pays no income tax should get the same vote as someone who pays a million dollars a year? Shouldn't "he who pays the piper call the tune"?

So, unless you want me to ignore you as a mindless drone, don't babble about the evils of "legislating morality", because it is inherent to what government does.

Current Mood: thoughtful
2:37 pm
Why Kerry has essentially NO chance of winning
This was Kerry at the last debate:

Gilbert: Senator Kerry, President Bush a week ago on "Meet the Press " described himself as a war president. He said he's got war on his mind as he considers these policies and decisions he has to make. If you were elected, would you see yourself as a war president?

Kerry: I'd see myself first of all as a jobs president, as a health care president, as an education president and also an environmental president. And add them all together, you can't be safe at home today unless you are also safe abroad.

The 9/11 attacks "only" killed about 3000 people, but look at the disruption they caused to the US.

Until the War on Terror is over, no one who thinks that being an "Education President" is more important than being a "War President" is going to get elected President.

No, being a "War Hero" isn't enough, just ask George McGovern.

See ya, John-boy.

Current Mood: contemptuous
2:37 pm
Response to Kelsied on Gay Marriage
The following is a reply to this post by kelsied.

Allow me to respond to all your offensive and obnoxious points at one time.

I suppose that when you're busy tossing out democracy, precedent and the rule of law in favor of rule by your personal whim, you might consider it "offensive and obnoxious" for someone else to point that out. shrug

I personally think we should pay a great deal of attention to the law passed in California -- we should actively lobby to see it repealed, as it represents a level of bigotry, discrimination and lack of progress which I am ashamed to see so darkly reflected in the laws of my home state.

I'm curious: when did the Infinite and All Knowing tell you the One True Way on this subject? Lacking Divine support, on what grounds do you get to insist that you are right, and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong? Before you complain about other's bigotry, perhaps you should take a look at yourself. Claiming that 60%+ of the voters in California are "bigots" tells us a lot more about you, than about them.

I believe my exact statement was "I firmly believe that the government has absolutely no business regulating marriage, which is an inherently religious institution."

And your statement is entirely wrong.
Marriage is a civil institution, that why you get a marriage license. Are you calling for getting rid of those? Further, those people in San Francisco aren't going into a church to get married, they're going to the city government. Thus the law comes into play.
Marriage is a contract. Contracts are meaningless unless there is an outside enforcement agency. In this case, that's the government.
Marriage gives you certain civil rights and obligations. Thus, again, laws are required.

If you want to perform a "marriage" of two men, or two women, in your religion, go right ahead. In your "church" they will be married. In civil society, they won't have a marriage license, and therefore they won't really be married. But they'll be "married" for your religion, so your 1st Amendment claim falls apart.

(I have no idea where you're going with the slavery bit. You were unaware that CA was never a slave state? If it's something else, please make it more clear if you want a response.)

I guess you could equally well say that I happen to think the Supreme Court is profoundly mistaken in its rulings on both the subject of gays and lesbians

So, you agree there is no "right" to homosexual sex? That's good to hear.

and on the subject of polygamy, and on the subject of marriage in general.

And the reason why anyone should care what you think about that is?

That's a serious question, BTW, not an attack. Why should anyone care what you think on the subject? Do you have some brilliant line of reason you haven't yet shown? Is there some principle we've claimed to believe in, that we're not actually following? Absent that, you're just a sore loser from a <40% minority who's trying to do an end-run around democracy just because you're not getting your way. Not an impressive sight.

Here's some points to keep in mind:

  1. There is no right to get laid, let alone a right to get laid by who you want.

  2. There is no government recognized right to control your own body (if there was, suicide would be a right people could exercise whenever they wanted, for any reason, or no reason at all).

  3. You want change, so the burden of proof is on you to show that the change is good.


I'm a little astonished at your sheer vitriol and apparent astonishment over the fact that I would dare (dare!) openly disagree with the unwashed majority, the Supreme Court, or any government officials.

You shower everyone who dares to disagree with you with contempt ("unwashed majority"), and are then surprised when you get contempt directed back at you? Why?

Current Mood: amused
2:37 pm
San Francisco's gay "marriages"
The CA Secretary of State has a great website. If you go here, it has all the data from the 2000 primary election, when CA voters decided, by a vote of 4,618,673 to 2,909,370 (61.4% to 38.6%) to add Section 308.5. to the Family Code:
308.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
If you look at the election map, you'll find that only 6 counties voted against this law (Mendocino, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Alameda, and Yolo). Santa Clara and San Mateo counties both voted for it.

What's really useful is that the ballot arguments are still posted. Here's what the opponents had to say:
THE PURPOSE OF PROPOSITION 22 IS NOT TO BAN MARRIAGE FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES IN CALIFORNIA. IT IS ALREADY BANNED.
(Their caps, not mine)
So 61.4% of the voting Californians voted for a Proposition whose purpose was to make sure that, if another state created gay marriages, they still wouldn't be valid in California.

Puts what's happening in San Francisco in perspective, no? A small minority is spitting on democracy and the rule of law.

I wonder how they'd feel if some rural county whose residents had opposed the "assault weapons" ban announced that it wasn't going to require a 15 day waiting period on gun purchases, and wasn't going to block sales of weapons that are illegal in CA, but legal in the rest of the country? Wonder how they'd respond if the state went to court to get an injunction to block the sales, and the judge screwed around and refused to do it?

What is it about being a "liberal" that makes people so stupid they can't imagine their opponents doing to them what they've done to their opponents?

Current Mood: annoyed
Friday, February 13th, 2004
7:01 pm
Bush Not AWOL, roundup
Let me start by saying that if you are a true-blue, dyed in the wool, barking moonbat Bush hater, don't waste your time reading the rest of this post. This post is directed at people who believe, or are tempted to believe the "Bush was AWOL" claim, but who value their personal credibility more than they value scoring political points. If you're one of those people, welcome. And here's why we know the claim is a load of crap.

(Point to remember: George W. Bush received an "Honorable Discharge" from the National Guard. You don't get that if you're a deserter, and you usually don't get that if you've been AWOL. As such, the burden of proof is upon the accusers, not the accused. Remember that when reading people's accusations.)

(Note: Bill Hobbs has been doing an awesome job covering this whole story. You want the whole story, go there and start reading.)

Baseball Crank did a wonderful roundup on the 12th, in the form of 14 questions to some lefty bloggers who've been pushing the story. The three he mentioned by name declined to come up with any worthwhile responses. Go read the whole thing. Here are some of the reasons why you should:
2. The original "Was Bush AWOL?" story rested heavily on Colonel (later Brigadier General) William Turnipseed of the Alabama National Guard's statement to the effect that he would have remembered seeing Bush on the base if he'd been there. It now turns out that Turnipseed says he was misquoted.

9. It appears that by 1972, Bush's airplane, the F-102, was being phased out, and for other reasons (including the winding down of the American presence in Vietnam) the Guard was facing a surplus of manpower in general and pilots in particular..... In other words, the tasks for which Bush had trained and served from 1968 through 1971 were no longer of much use to his country, and keeping his flight physical current in particular was largely superfluous.

10. It has also been suggested that it was fairly common practice at the time for the Guard to excuse members from certain obligations due to other employment, such as Bush working on a Senate campaign in Alabama, as well as to allow a good deal of flexibility in making up missed time.

11. It has been reported that, at the time Bush enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard, the unit he joined (the 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group at Ellington Air Force Base, Houston) was actually flying combat missions in Vietnam.

12. Bush put his life at substantial risk by training on and flying the F-102; it was all too common for pilots in the Guard to be killed while flying this aircraft, as well as others. In fact, pilots in the National Guard get hazard pay for their duty.

13. In fact, at one point, Bush volunteered for a program that was sending pilots to Vietnam.


Further information came out today, from, among others, the Boston Globe:
Doubts raised on Bush accuser
Key witness disputes charge by Guard retiree that files were purged

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 2/13/2004

For at least six years, a retired Texas National Guard officer has maintained that President Bush's record as a member of the Guard was purged of potentially embarrassing material at the behest of high-ranking Bush aides laying the groundwork for Bush's 2000 run for the presidency.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett, who has been pressing his charges in the national news media this week, says he even heard one high-ranking officer issue a 1997 order to sanitize the Bush file, and later saw another officer poring over the records and discovered that some had been discarded.

But a key witness to some of the events described by Burkett has told the Globe that the central elements of his story are false.

George O. Conn, a former chief warrant officer with the Guard and a friend of Burkett's, is the person whom Burkett says led him to the room where the Bush records were being vetted. But Conn says he never saw anyone combing through the Bush file or discarding records.

"I have no recall of that," Conn said. "I have no recall of that whatsoever. None. Zip. Nada."

Conn's recollection also undercuts another of Burkett's central allegations: that he overheard Bush's onetime chief of staff, Joe M. Allbaugh, telling a Texas Guard general to make sure there were no embarrassments in the Bush record.

Burkett says he told Conn, over dinner that same night, what he had overheard. But Conn says that, although Burkett told him he worried that the Bush record would be sanitized, he never mentioned overhearing the conversation between Allbaugh and General Daniel James III.

... Burkett's allegations also will be a major focus of a book on Bush to be published next month.

But the book's author, James Moore, a former Houston TV news correspondent, concedes he never interviewed some of the key players who could have verified Burkett's charges, including Conn and retired National Guard Colonel John Scribner -- the officer Burkett says he saw removing items from the Bush file.

Moore, told yesterday that Conn contradicts Burkett's story, said he believes Burkett's allegations are true. "I think we're into a classic he-said, she-said," Moore said.

So we have a guy who makes serious charges, and claims to provide a corroborating witness. What kind of author doesn't even bother to check with the "witness" before writing up the allegations?

One who's writing a political hit piece, rather than a serious book.

And there's this, from the Associated Press:
Ex-Guardsman Says Bush Served in Ala.

Fri Feb 13,12:38 PM ET

By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer

A retired Alabama Air National Guard officer said Friday that he remembers George W. Bush showing up for duty in Alabama in 1972, reading safety magazines and flight manuals in an office as he performed his weekend obligations.

"He was very aggressive about doing his duty there. He never complained about it. ... He was very dedicated to what he was doing in the Guard. He showed up on time and he left at the end of the day."

...

The 69-year-old president of an Atlanta insulation company said Bush showed up for work at Dannelly Air National Guard Base for drills on at least six occasions. Bush and Calhoun had both been trained as fighter pilots, and Calhoun said the two would swap "war stories" and even eat lunch together on base.

Calhoun is named in 187th unit rosters obtained by the AP as serving under the deputy commander of operations plans. Bush was in Alabama on non-flying status.

"He sat in my office most of the time - he would read," Calhoun said. "He had your training manuals from your aircraft he was flying. He'd study those some. He'd read safety magazines, which is a common thing for pilots."

...

Calhoun said he contacted Texas GOP leaders with his story in 2000 when the issue was raised just before the November general election.

"I got on the phone and got information and called Austin, Texas, and talked to the Republican campaign. They said I was talking to the campaign manager," he said. "I told him my story and said I would be glad to provide information to that effect. At that time they said ... The story is not true. And we don't think it's got enough weight to stay out as a story.' And they said, 'But if it does we'll call you back.' And I never heard from them again."

Last week as the issue raged again, Calhoun sent an e-mail to the White House offering to tell his story. "I got a response back, one of those automatic responses," he said. It wasn't until his wife contacted Georgia GOP officials that Calhoun's name surfaced.

Thanks to Instapundit and Capt. Ed for links.

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, January 13th, 2004
2:10 pm
The Discount Blogger opines against referenda, starting by defending an EU twit who said this:

In her new book, Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.

The book - "Towards the European Constitution" warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.

"Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart", she writes.

"Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately".

He writes: "[referenda] serve only to enable the tyranny of the majority"

I respond: So, then, whose "tyranny" do you prefer? Which minority will you allow to lord it over the rest of us?

He writes: "The problem with having a referendum is that, while the populace might overwhelmingly support a certain position, it is not necessarily the right position. In other words, majority does not equal right."

I respond: Yes. Quite true. However, in case you missed it, minority does not equal right, either.

So, who gets to decide? The majority, or some (self-selected) minority? (If it's a majority selected minority, then you're back to the majority screwing things up again.)

Unfortunately, what he clearly hasn't noticed is that the system in Western Europe is badly broken. Large numbers of "representatives" are "elected" from Party lists. (Short description: Party leaders create a list of candidates. People vote in election. Based on results, the "top" (as chosen by the Party leaders, not by the voters) X candidates from that party join Parliament / whatever.) Note that, in a very real sense, these MPs owe their position to the Party leaders, not to the voters. I don't know what you call that system, but it seems clear to me that "Democracy" is not a correct description.

Den Beste wrote about this last week. It's a long article, but the killer point for this argument was this:

Article III of the proposed EU constitution terminates all future political discussion on a wide variety of subjects by prescribing the answers ahead of time. For instance, Section 4 freezes farm policy. (Compliance with III-123 pretty much mandates farm subsidies.)

Section 5 hardwires European environmental policy. Section 9 forces the EU to have a space program. Section 10 enshrines "renewable" energy and makes environmentalism the focus of European energy policy.

Article III goes on and on; it talks about public health policy, industrial policy, education policy, and foreign policy.

Title V of Article III mandates the following EU foreign policy goals: [snip]

Fully 115 pages of Article III prescribe EU policy on almost every subject you can imagine. It's hard to see just what kind of political policy debate might take place in the EU had it been ratified; little is left to chance or to voter preference.


And that is what Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen wanted to "defend" from those evil voters. Force on them a Constitution that takes 90% of political debate and terminates it for all time.

I can think of a couple phrases I'd use to describe doing that. "Representative democracy", however, is not one of them.

(Hat tip: Porphyrogenitus)

Current Mood: aggravated
2:10 pm
What's happening in Iowa
I have a hypothesis as to what's happening in Iowa, and how it is Dean can be losing 1st place so easily.

A week or two ago, I saw an appalling poll that said that 17% of Democrats had not heard of Howard Dean. Not "all voters", not Republicans, but Democrats. Hard as it may be for us political junkies to believe, a lot of people just don't pay much attention to the news.

It's my (unoriginal) thought that the people who don't pay attention tend to be the "moderate" voters. They're the ones who aren't burning with delusional anger over Bush's "theft" of the 2000 election. They're the people who don't care that we invaded Iraq against the desires of the French, German, and Russian governments. IOW, they're not Dean voters.

Now that the Iowa caucuses are less than a week away, they're starting to pay attention, and make up their minds. And they're choosing everyone but Dean.

Test for this hypothesis: Dean's national numbers stay high at least if / until he loses in Iowa, because the "moderate" Democrats in the rest of the country aren't paying any more attention than the people in Iowa were paying two weeks ago. But he should be slipping in States where there's an upcoming primary.

Current Mood: thoughtful
2:10 pm
The big lie at work
The AP has an interesting news story today:

IAEA confirms yellowcake found in Rotterdam likely from Iraq

It's an interesting article, reasonable well written until the last paragraph:

President Bush came under heavy criticism last year when he asserted in his State of the Union address that Iraq was shopping in Africa for uranium yellowcake - intelligence that turned out to be based on forged documents.

No, it wasn't. I'll dig up the links in a bit, but what Bush reported came from British Intelligence reports, and MI 6 continues to stand behind those reports.

Boo, hiss, on the AP, for participating in the big lie.

Update:
Ok. here it is:

Straw defends UK uranium evidence

Key paragraphs:

LONDON, England (CNN) -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has defended Britain's decision to include in its first Iraqi dossier claims that Saddam Hussein tried to get uranium from Africa.

Straw Saturday acknowledged that the CIA expressed reservations about the use of the claim in the UK government's September dossier on Iraqi weapons -- but insisted it was based on what British officials regarded as "reliable intelligence" which had not been shared with the United States.
...
In a letter to Donald Anderson, chairman of the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee dated Friday but made public by the UK Foreign Office and shown to CNN Saturday, Straw said: "I am writing to deal with two points relating to the statement in the government's September Iraq dossier that 'Iraq has sought the supply of significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'
...
"We have now seen a detailed account of Ambassador Wilson's report. It does indeed describe the denials of Niger government officials in early 2002 that a contract had been concluded for the sale of yellowcake (uranium oxide) to Iraq.

"But, as CNN have reported, Ambassador Wilson's report also noted that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation sought the expansion of trade links with Niger -- and that former Niger government officials believed that this was in connection with the procurement of yellowcake.

"Uranium is Niger's main export. In other words, this element of Ambassador Wilson's report supports the statement in the government's dossier.

"Second, the media have reported that the CIA expressed reservations to us about this element of the September dossier. This is correct.

"However, the U.S. comment was unsupported by explanation and UK officials were confident that the dossier's statement was based on reliable intelligence which we had not shared with the U.S. (for good reasons, which I have given your committee in private session). A judgment was therefore made to retain it.

In short, the AP was completely wrong. Bush's claim was not based on known "forged documents", but on British documents that their government continues to believe are correct

Current Mood: annoyed
2:10 pm
Did the US "create" Saddam?
One of the sillier memes running around the left wing is that "the US created Saddam". Thanks to Tim Blair, I recently came across a couple of sites that actually quantify arms sales to Iraq. It turns out the US provided 1% of the "arms" sold to Iraq between 1972 and 1990. For comparison purposes, the USSR sold 57%, France sold 13%, China sold 12%, other Warsaw Pact countries sold 12%, and Denmark sold 1% ($226 Million in 1990 dollars, v. $200 Million for the US).

Darren Kaplan has a nice post on the subject (be sure to check out the comments).

The Command Post has a nice graphic on the arms sales, with data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) (follow the link to the SIPRI if you want the actual numbers).

As for what those sales were, Porphyrogenitus has a listing of Iraq's weapons as of 1990. What you'll note is a distinct lack of US weapons. If anyone knows of ANY fighters, bombers, combat helicopters, tanks, or artillery that the US sold Iraq, I'd like to hear about it. As his government did not use anti-aircraft or anti-tank weapons to oppress the people of Iraq, I'm not worried about any of those we might have sold to him.

Now, let's consider for a moment the issue of supporting a lesser evil against a greater one. During WWII, we supported Stalin against Hitler. It's fair to say that we are responsible for Stalin's survival against Hitler. Which is to say, we supported a brutal dictator who had murdered over 30 million of his own people in the Ukraine, and who, thanks to our support, went on to enslave Eastern Europe for 40+ years, and supported Mao, giving us the Cultural Revolution (100 million dead) and North Korea, which today is still a totalitarian hell-hole.

So, were we wrong to support that brutal thug? I say no, because the thug we supported him against was even worse. However, unless you say "yes, we should have told Stalin to go to hell", you have accepted the principle of supporting lesser evils against greater ones, and, as such, have pretty much forfeited any moral high ground for condemning US support for Iraq against Iran. You can still try to argue that it was a bad idea, that Saddam was worse than the Ayatollah, that for other practical reasons it was a failure, but you can't argue from principle, because you've already accepted the principle.

So was Saddam worse than the Ayatollah? Well, in 1980, Saddam was your garden variety Middle Eastern thug dictator. No one who objects to President Bush's attempt to democratize the Middle East, starting with Iraq, can say much bad about 1980 Saddam, because he's the type of ruler they want the Arabs to have. The Ayatollah, OTOH, had supported an Act of War against the US (the Embassy hostages), was turning Iran into a theocratic dictatorship (any idea how many dead people we're going to find in mass graves in Iran once the Ayatollahs are gone?), and was boasting he was going to export his murderous government to other countries.

Not a real hard choice there, unless you happen to be a fan of religious dictatorships. (Darren goes more into this in the article I linked.)

So, we supplied 1% of his arms, and supported him, a bit, while he was fighting someone worse than him. Now we've deposed him, and soon will see him executed for his crimes. Sounds like we've done the best we can, with a less than optimal (i.e. real word) situation.
2:10 pm
Sex ed, what works, what doesn't
A very interesting article in The London Telegraph about sex ed and welfare in the US and UK. Key points:

Teenage pregnancy rates in the US are at a 10-year low. In stark contrast, the UK's record is the worst in Western Europe. Olga Craig investigates two very different ways of tackling adolescent sex
...
Ellie reveals, she and her high school friends have joined the Silver Ring Thing, part of a growing movement of chastity organisations that have swept America's Bible belt. The surge among youngsters to espouse President Bush's tough moral stance on teenage sex - he has ploughed $117 million (£64 million) into what is known as "abstinence education" in schools - has been credited with slashing America's hitherto high rate of teenage pregnancies. But is a desire for a return to strict moral values truly the only reason girls such as Ellie are so eager to join the chastity movement in their droves?

In the past decade, the number of teenage pregnancies in America has decreased by 30 per cent, with the past year's statistics indicating a historic low of just 43 births per 1,000 teenage girls.

In Britain, the Government has adopted a vastly different approach - that of dishing out condoms and morning-after pills, making sex education compulsory in secondary schools, and inundating our teenagers with explicit information on sex. Sex education in our schools is aimed at increasing sexual knowledge and encouraging contraception to combat teenage pregnancy, rather than condemning underage sex: preventing pregnancy rather than preventing sex is the Government's aim.

While it is a strategy that is lauded in liberal circles, it is also a strategy that has not worked. We have failed utterly to reduce the numbers of gymslip mothers. For the past 12 years Britain has been the pregnancy capital of Europe. According to Unicef's latest figures, in 2002 some 41,966 British girls under 18 became pregnant. Of those, 5,954 were 15; 2,011 were 14, and 450 were under 14.
...
However, while results in America have been impressive, many critics of our liberal approach believe it has not been the "zip it" campaign alone that can take the credit. They point to Bill Clinton's welfare reform programme of the early 1990s that has helped slash America's statistics. (Generous of them to give Clinton the credit for welfare reform that came from a Republican Congress, and has been strongly opposed by the Democrat Party. Further, Welfare Reform passed in 1996, not what I'd call "the early 1990s".)

As president, Mr. Clinton introduced legislation that ensured single teenage mothers received welfare and childcare only if they undertook job training - and then cut off those cash benefits after a maximum of two years. It meant that heavily subsidised public housing and hefty benefit cheques were no longer an incentive for young girls to become pregnant: a baby in your teens means a lifetime of drudgery, was the message.

In Britain, surveys indicate that for many teenagers becoming pregnant is an aspiration: the benefits and cheap local authority housing available is seen by some as a reason to become pregnant - especially for teenagers from impoverished or broken homes. A recent poll by the Family Education Trust indicated that 45 per cent of single pregnant teenagers had either wanted to conceive or "didn't mind" that they had. The introduction of £5,000 worth of free nursery care to enable pregnant teenagers to return to school is seen by many as a "perverse incentive" to attract young girls into parenthood.

So, encouraging abstinence and not subsidizing teenage pregnancy gets you less teenage pregnancy. Encouraging sex and birth control, and subsidizing teenage pregnancy, gets you more pregnant teens. (Note that 55% of the British pregnant teenagers didn't want to conceive, and minded that they did, yet with all that "education", they still got pregnant.)

Obviously, if you were going to run a scientific study on this, you'd need two more societies, one with abstinence and subsidies, the other with contraception and no subsidies (it shouldn't be too hard to find a state in the US that does the later), but as a minimum, I'd say this demolishes the idea that teaching kids about contraception is sufficient to keep them from getting pregnant.
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