~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Free speech still free

FEC decides not to regulate bloggers.

The decision means that bloggers and online publications will not be covered by provisions of the new election law. Internet bloggers and individuals will therefore be able to use the Internet to attack or support federal candidates without running afoul of campaign spending and contribution limits.

The scary thing is that this was even up for debate last year. I like to think that we could've beaten such a preposterous measure in court, but I'm glad it didn't have to come to that.


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Sunday, March 26, 2006

The stuff Spielberg's films are made of

This is scary stuff.

Increasing international pressure over the case of Christian convert Abdul Rahman is forcing the Afghan government to play a careful balancing act between its Western allies and religious conservatives at home. Under the interpretation of Islamic Sharia law on which Afghanistan's constitution is based, Mr Rahman faces the death penalty unless he reconverts to Islam.

"The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back," says Ansarullah Mawlafizada, the trial judge.

"Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, kindness and integrity. That is why we have told him if he regrets what he did, then we will forgive him," he told the BBC News website.

By now, you probably have heard about the plight of Abdul Rahman. It reminds me of that scene in Shindler's List where the crazed concentration camp wardon is counseled that his power to absolve transgressions is greater than his power to punish them. "The power to absolve is what makes you powerful," the man tells him, hoping to assuage his ego. The wardon tries on this new viewpoint for about an hour the next day, gets frustrated and goes right back to his old practice of summary executions.

(Via: the corner)

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

I've said it before and I'll say it again...

It's yesterday's humor... today!

Does John from Wuzzadem have a job? That boy has way too much time on his hands. Funny, tho.

And there's something disturbingly wrong with that Harvey guy... Funny, tho.

There's not much good eatin' on this menu... Funny, tho.

(Via KisP)

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Volokh on banning protests

Burying Funeral Protests
What does the law say?

By Eugene Volokh

Fred Phelps has pioneered the charming practice of protesting people's funerals. It began with picketing funerals of gays while carrying signs saying things like "God Hates Fags." It then moved on to picketing funerals of soldiers with signs saying things like "Thank God for 9/11" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" (the theory being that God is punishing America for its toleration of homosexuality).

There is a move afoot in some cities and states to ban this practice; most recently, the Minnesota senate and house of representatives have enacted such a law, though some differences in the versions remain to be ironed out. Wisconsin enacted such a law late last month. Are such bans constitutional?

Eugene Volokh is scary smart and always a clear writer on the law. This essay in National Review today is no exception, but it seems like every time I feel compelled to disagree with him it's always over the same point... I don't like the use of the slippery slope argument. Eugene wrote the definative paper (pdf) on it back in the day wherein he does admit the argument has its opponents. Eugene's employment of the slippery slope here is about the mildest example there could ever be, but I still think it's poor logic on principle.

The chief danger is the slippery slope: Once the supposedly narrow exception for residential picketing is broadened to cover funeral picketing, these two exceptions (one older and one new) could then be used as precedents in arguments for more exceptions (say, for churches or for medical facilities), which would eventually swallow the rule.

See? Pretty mild. (Usally those employing the slippery slope argument claim it leads to nazism / godless anarchy / nuclear winter.) It's reasonable to point out that a ban on funeral protest could be used in the future as precedent for future bans (that's what the case law system does, after all) but nevertheless, that's only one possible future outcome. The uncertainty of the future by definition undercuts the argument. It's not inevitable that the rule will be swallowed. Better to object on the merits of the thing itself, I say. Live in the now.

Even Eugene thinks that courts will rule in favor of banning funeral protest on the merits:

But I suspect that courts would nonetheless be willing to recognize funerals as places where picketing is unusually intrusive, much more so than even at hospitals and abortion clinics.

For myself, I have no problem with it. That ghoul Fred Phelps and anyone else who thinks their pet grievance trumps the right of a family to mourn in private can take a long march off a short pier.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Isaac Hayes may not have quit South Park?

Okay, just what the hell is going on here? Journalists? You can start doing your job about now, if that's alright with you. Stop broadcasting the press releases, get up off your butts and check things out for us, mkay?

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Local goth boy makes good

The goths of yesteryear now fix your teeth and file your tax returns according to this fascinating story in the Guardian Arts section.

It could be tough, but being a goth can open up a world where art, current affairs and literature are embraced and openly discussed, perhaps paving the way for future networking.

I'm not sure gothitude is so... virtuous as all that, but I do remember feeling special back when I was goth. I still listen to Sisters of Mercy and Killing joke, but on mp3 these days, mixed in with other fare. Plus, I think there's merit to the notion that happy songs don't make sad people happy. Sad songs make sad people happy. And I'm speaking as a former goth with a history of clinical depression. It's a form of therapy, I suppose.

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How to lose elections

This opinion in the Washington Post has all the hallmarks of a classic blog rant: Condesencion and snark, self-righteousness, mischaracterization of the opposing view, unclear writing, a sudden switch from first person voice to second and back to first, the whole works. The only thing it's missing is incorrect spelling, but I guess that's why the WaPo has editors. (They're so much better than bloggers don'tcha know.)

I have a new theory about what's behind everything that's wrong with the Bush administration: manliness.

And I have a new theory on why America doesn't respect your opinions enough to elect the people you like into office. We might die.

What this country could use is a little less manliness -- and a little more of what [conservative professor Mansfield] would describe as womanly qualities: restraint, introspection, a desire for consensus, maybe even a touch of self-doubt.

But that's just my view.

Does this author really believe she can sell the voting public on a candidate who practices "self doubt"? America at war will continue to vote for the candidates they believe will work the hardest to protect them. Self-doubt isn't on the program, lady.

And I love the way she throws out "But that's just my view" there at the end. Well, whose view would it be if not hers? Is she taking special ownership of this view? Quick! Somebody get this woman a blog!

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This is brilliant

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath A Blog

It is hottere than the fyrie rivere phlegeton uppe in the customes hous. I shal drynken of a moist and corny ale eft soon, for to slaken my thirste. My documents and recordes can go stuffe themselues.

Uearily, and fore tru, Y amme "rollinge on the floore laughinge myne arse awey!"

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Monday, March 20, 2006

A short essay on my frustrations

I'm generally ticked off by the actions and words of most politicians, the rampant silliness of celebrities in Hollywood, as well as scandals in Academia but these days I reserve the bulk of my frustration for three primary groups:

Moderate Islam

The simple fact of the matter is that there is only one demographic on the face of the planet with the power to end Islamic Terrorism tomorrow. And that's the so-called moderate muslim majority. I'm assured daily from all sides that our enemy isn't the Arabs, and that it isn't the religion of Islam. The President himself goes out of his way on a regular basis to clarify this point. Our enemy is but a small segment of the greater Islamic world. We are not at war with Islam as a whole. Well, I think that's correct. But it continues to baffle me why the majority of the world's muslims (dying in numbers that dwarf american casualty statistics) havn't yet stood up, and at the top of their lungs shout, "Stop!"

American News

To me, it seems the standards of journalists today stand in direct opposition to their catchprhases. "The Paper of Record." "We report, you decide." "Coverage You Can Count On." "Where The News Comes First." All of these phrases pay homage to the high standards of unbiased, straight fact reportage. But what follows is nearly always anything but. It's left to to the paying customer to sort fact from entertainment, opinion from analysis. Frankly, it's exausting. And in recent years, I've noticed a disturbing trend towards "adversarial journalism." That's where one agrieved party with an axe to grind against another party runs to the media and says, "So and so is evil!" And the newscasters put both parties on the air for a shouting match calling this spectacle, "Fair and Balanced." That's not news, that's the Jerry Springer Show.

Americans cheerleading for America's defeat.

I'm a classical liberal. I believe in concepts such as the rule of law, freedom from tyranny, representantive government, equality of opportunity, all of which are articulated in our Constitution, quite possibly the greatest document ever produced in the history of Mankind. But these days, those calling themselves liberals have been acting in a decidedly unliberal fashion. They've called for speech restrictions, they've called for a central authority for our healthcare, they've called for the punishment of successful private companies. They describe my country in terms of class hatred, when the ideal is a classless system. They describe my country as empire-like, when the ideal is soveriegnty and self-determination. In short, liberals used to believe in freeing nations, but today they pine for dictatorship.


None of these people are evil. They're not bad people. They're just the groups who frustrate me. I speak arabic and find Islam fascinating. I'm a news junkie. Like those calling themselves liberals today, I'm all about righting injustices. It's just the means to an improved society that we disagree on.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Quick comments on now ancient stories

Isaac Hayes quits South Park

Hey Isaac, why is it okay for you to call white kids "crackers" as long as it's just satire? Why do you tolerate a black character called "Token," but it's "intolerance and bigotry" when the subject is religion and not race?

I'm a fan of religion. I consider the fractured nature of America's diverse sects to be a healthy and productive thing. The "Truth" is a stone in the river, growing more polished from being bounced about between different factions.

Ya know, L. Ron's ideas could've been added to the mix if only you guys weren't so Goddamn sensitive. "Crackers" = satire. Scientology = "Sacred religious beliefs that must never be questioned." Is that how it is? Color me unimpressed.

At least you did the proper thing and resigned rather than continue working on a project you didn't agree with. I just wish you hadn't called a press conference, ya know? That sorta opens you up to accusations of hypocrisy.


Dubai Port Deal Dead

To tell the truth, I didn't really give a damn either way. I thought there was merit to the idea of sharing responsability and profit with our Arab neighbors, but given the hue and cry from certain Republicans, I also thought it smart for the Democrats to object. At the very least they've finally picked a winner with the American public. And as I've said before, a strong two-party system requires two strong parties. Here's to hoping the Dems can recover.

Also, this thing has hopefully sent a strong signal to moderate muslims the world over. "Don't want America to kneecap your juicy investment deals? Well, kindly police your head-chopping crazy folk."


Cheney Shoots Lawyer

The guy lived, didn't he? The VP obviously needs to a trip to the armorer's table for a sight adjustment.


Congress and White House come to some sort of compromise over that NSA surveillence thingy

Two of my favorite publications this week have radically diferent opinions on this deal. One says Bush caved on his principles, the others praises Bush for letting more Congressmen in on the briefings. For myself, I'm frustrated that this is even news. Once upon a time the word "classified" actually meant something. But these days... *sigh*


Like I said, ancient history. I'll start fresh in the morning.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Allah and Man at Yale

Gonzo asked what I thought about a former Taliban spokesman attending Yale University this semester, and I replied that I hadn't learned enough details to comment on that story. Well, I still haven't leaned enough to comment at length. But, today I have found the definitive commentary representing the outraged Right:

Like many parents, I’ve devoted much time to figuring out which college would be best for my son. This week, I narrowed down the list: any school but Yale.

National Review hosts Anne Morse's essay on the controversy. I encourage you to read it all. The links she provides represent all that I've read on the subject. [Alert! sarcastic comment on the media] If you know of any links to essays sympathethic to the idea of a Talibani attending Yale, could you let me know? The american media (usually reliable in such matters) hasn't yet thrust any such apologies into my face. For some reason they've been mostly silent. Hmmmmm... Curious, that.

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Another reason to wait for the DVD

From the personal diary of John DeFore:

Just submitted my review of the new Wachowski Brothers' movie, "V for Vendetta" to the Hollywood Reporter. Gotta say I'm a bit nervous tonight as I go to bed, though. What if Bush's goon squad knocks on my door in the night? Sigh. The life of a revolutionary is fraught with such perils, I suppose. It was worth the risk, though. Boy, are those red-staters gonna be mad at me! Teh heh heeeeeeeeee! Finally a movie that doesn't suck (well, doesn't much suck. Not like Matrix II and III) but rather portrays the truth about life under the totalitarian bootheel of Bush and Blair. True, it does exagerate a bit. But that doesn't undermine the essential truth of it. It's almost like this whole "freedom" of speech thing is a just a ruse, ya know? It's like they're trying to lure the dissenters out into the open just so they can round us up and boxcar all of us into Nazi-esque re-education camps. Well, if the Wachowskis can face that kind of heat, I'll just have to buck up and follow their brave example.

Another liberal preaching to the Hollywood choir. Sheesh.

This parody brought to you by the Council for Rounding Up Evil Leftists (CRUEL)

(Via: Drudge)

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Monday, March 13, 2006

I can relate

The International Geek Song

(Via: Ace)

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Two excellent essays

Bruce Bawer:
Hating America

A long essay from the perspective of an ex-pat, Bawer examines the theories of several authors on the subject of anti-americanism in Europe.

Mark Steyn:
Media shockingly ignorant of Muslims among us

Our fourth estate sees our Eastern neighbors as bosom buddies, as long as they're living as victims in sqalid, bone crushing poverty and civil unrest, that is. Steyn asks why our Western media curiously can't (or won't) take into evidence the actions of Easterners living here.

(The first is from Jeff, the other from Ace.)

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I guess it's hard to accurately critique what one refuses to understand


The NYT gets it wrong from line one. Hardly a first, but depressing all the same.

A Bush Alarm: Urging U.S. to Shun Isolationism

WASHINGTON, March 12 — The president who made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term is quietly turning in a new direction, warning at every opportunity of the dangers of turning the nation inward and isolationist, and making the case for international engagement on issues from national security to global economics.

In the interest of accuracy, I'd change that opener to this: "The president whose critics in the media made pre-emption and going it alone the watchwords of his first term ..."

I clearly remember a coalition of dozens of nations entering Iraq. I also remember Bush spelling that out more than once. Bush's rhetoric of, "If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists" has been much repeated these last four years. Funny how this paragraph in that now infamous speech is never quoted:

"We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world. The United States is grateful that many nations and many international organizations have already responded -- with sympathy and with support. Nations from Latin America, to Asia, to Africa, to Europe, to the Islamic world. Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all."

- September 20, 2001

Yeah. Bush is just now rejecting isolationism, and embracing his newly discovered globalization "on issues from national security to global economics." Sure. Whatever. You can attempt to rewrite history all you want NYT, all it'll do is help speed your tranformation from the international "Paper of Record" back into some provincial, backwater rag.

It's high time we started taking people at their word, folks. The author of this historically inaccurate piece of drivel either 1)knows that it's inaccurate, in which case he's intentionally misrepresenting the words of our popularly elected leadership in an effort to undermine our country's efforts, or 2)he's operating from the assumption of, "Well Bush is a liar, so his word doesn't count. Everybody I know knows that." In which case I ask, who's "living in a bubble"?

(Via: Drudge)

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Friday, March 10, 2006

New format

I resisted the white background for a long time, and I'm still not quite happy with the font... minor tweaks coming down the pipe, but, this is pretty much what I was going for.

What do you think? Is it readable?

UPDATE: BTW, the Open Book Thread below is still going strong, so chime in if you want.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Open book thread

Whatcha reading these days?

I'll confess I haven't read many books in recent months. Got anything you want to recomend?

Feel free to drop them in the comments. I'd love to know what my readers are reading when they're not scoffing at my juvenile scribblings.

UPDATE: I'm going to leave this post at the top for a while. I've got a notion to revamp the site format. Most experiments will occur offline, but forgive me if the site goes all "Architecture-by-Budweiser" at some point while I test drive some things.

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Pointless Quiz Time!

Hahahahaha! No test can pingeonhole the Kadnine!

The Simple Geek
You answered 69% of the questions as a geek truly would.
You don't seem to sway in either direction, however you still seem to have some latent geek attributes within you. Maybe you're interested in computers but not a gamer? Maybe you've got geek hobbies but none of the awkward social tendencies. You may be slightly geekier than you thought and in denial!

The simple geek usually has various quirks that friends may make fun of, but in general can be considered a fairly normal person. Your geek attributes make you less likely to conform to society. The popular kids don't hate you but the geeks don't either, so it's a respectable demographic.

In a nutshell, you answered enough questions with geek tendencies and enough questions without geek tendencies that it's difficult to pinpoint your exact alignment.

Take the The True Geek Test

(Via: negative-g)

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Who is this "Oscar" of which you speak?

Thankfully Ace live blogged the thing so I could watch the Hellraiser marathon on SciFi channel. Good on ya Aceman. (And be sure to check out the comments at Ace's. Some inspired put-downs to be found there.)

The only flick up for consideration this year that I've actually seen is Penguins. I got the DVD for Christmas , and being a documentary geek extraordinaire, loved it. (One warning though... only watch this doc at the height of summer with the windows shut and the furnace at full blast to avoid feeling sympathetically chilly. A sweater or two wouldn't hurt, either.)

At some point in the last coupla three years the technology for decent home theater dropped below the price threshold that had been driving me to the big screen. The last film I saw in the theater (Wait, I'm sorry. When I said theater, what I meant to say was that nose-bleed inducing, death defying, mountaineering challenge they euphamistically call "stadium seating") was Sin City. Walking out, I considered it a good preview for a promising good time on DVD, and it was.

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WaPo to White House: "This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us!"

Check out the ego on this guy:

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, said there has long been a "natural and healthy tension between government and the media" on national security issues, but that he is "concerned" about comments by [CIA Dir Porter] Goss and others that appear to reflect a more aggressive stance by the government. Downie noted that The Post had at times honored government requests not to report particularly sensitive information, such as the location of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

"We do not want to inadvertently threaten human life or legitimately harm national security in our reporting," he said. "But it's important . . . in our constitutional system that these final decisions be made by newspaper editors and not the government."

[elipses original, emphasis mine]

The Constitution of the United States of America gives newspaper editors final say over national security policy? WHERE?! SHOW ME WHERE IT SAYS THAT! Where in the Constitution does it say that "in order to maintain a natural and healthy tension" the decision to release clasified information in a time of war is the purview of editors rather than the duly elected representatives of the people?

Leonard can't point to that clause because he just made it up. It doesn't exist.

The arrogance of this turkey is astounding.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Update to the creepy, closed-door, student trial of Bush

Remember this?

Well, this follow-up article in the Daily Record has some interesting tid bits:

'Trial' of Bush prompts meeting

Parsippany school officials to discuss classroom project

PARSIPPANY -- Top school officials will huddle privately this morning to discuss a classroom war crimes "trial"of President Bush at Parsippany High School that suddenly is drawing national attention.

The school board's president, Robert Perlett, said the 8:30 a.m. meeting was called by mutual agreement on Thursday as the uproar surrounding the mock tribunal escalated on the Internet and talk radio.

More fucking secrecy? What is it they want to hide? The teachers union president thinks it's further national embarassment after having been held up as poster children for the cloistered leftist edu-crats. Check out this cynical assessment:

[Teachers union President John] Capsouras said [... ]that Kyle, in terms of his job, should be in the clear unless "somebody decides they didn't give him permission" for the project.

The candor in that statement is startling. He believes this teacher could be thrown to wolves in a sacraficial bid to end this mess quietly.

Township Council Vice President James Vigilante, a U.S. Air Force reservist, saw a little bit of both sides.

"I'm a Bush fan. I don't necessarily, myself, agree with the lesson plan, but on the flip side, I wouldn't condemn the teacher," said Vigilante, a Republican.

"I would hope he's not censored by the school board. For me, it's the right of free speech," Vigilante said.

And this whole thing is again being mislabeled a free speech issue, of course, when it's not. The only thing those evil, warmongering Bushites want is to have a voice in the process that led to the approval of this mock trial. Oh wait! I guess it is a free speech issue after all!

(Via: Drudge)

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Friday, March 03, 2006

"So, have you stopped beating your wife yet?"

Pollster John Zogby "proves" that 85% of US Military in Iraq believe the "war is retaliation for Saddam's involvement in the 9/11 attacks," in a poll about as intellectually honest as the question in this post's title.

I give you Zogby's "proof" question:

Please rate the statements in questions 8 through 14 as reasons for the Iraq invasion, using the following scale:

1 - Not a reason 2 - Minor reason 3 - Major reason 4 - Main reason 5 - Not sure [...]

12. To retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks

Well, when four out of the five possible responses to a given assertion are "yes," "yes," "yes," and "I don't know," is it any wonder Zogby can find such agreement?

Such transparent manipulation is just more testing of the boundaries of acceptable behavior for citizens of a country at war, in my opinion. It's scares the living shit out of me that such dishonesty is passed along to the American public without comment by the mainstream media. I hope I've made it clear in a year and a half of blogging that it isn't the right of Americans to disagree with the war that I question, rather it is the deliberate distortion of the war that I find reprehensible.

Hugh Hewitt proves the point in this radio exchange between himself and Iraq war vet GreyHawk:

Hugh: Do you think, Greyhawk, that most Americans serving, I don't want to say thay don't want to come home. Did you want to come home when you were serving?

GreyHawk: Absolutely.

Hugh: Of couse! I mean, uh, but, do you think that most American soldiers want to cut and run and just leave Iraq to the civil insurrection that would surely follow our immediate abandonment?

GreyHawk: Absolutely not. And that sounded like a 'push question' though, didn't it?

Hugh: It was a push question! It was a push question! You know, and that's the point of why Zogby here can't be trusted, isn't it?

[emphasis and transcription mine, so any errors are mine as well]

Listen to the whole audio of GreyHawk and other veterans disputing this Zogby nonsense here.

And let me point out for the record that I don't consider the Bush Administration above criticism in its handling of the war effort, though you won't read every one of my Bush criticisms here on Kadnine. Understand that I write my blog observing the military princple of Operational Security just as if I were still on active duty. I don't want even one American soldier's death, nor one Iraqi civillian death on my conscience. That means I don't critique troop movements, intelligence gathering techniques, patrol patterns, armor gaps, exit timetables, or any other tactical point that aids the enemy. Instead I argue from philsophical First Principles as an advocate for honest debate in good faith. Would that John Zogby and others felt similarly constrained!

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Now that's just creepy

Bush goes on mock trial at NJ High School

President Bush is being tried for "crimes against civilian populations" and "inhumane treatment of prisoners" at Parsippany High School, with students arguing both sides before a five-teacher "international court of justice." The panel's verdict could come as soon as Friday.

But that's not the creepy part.

One thing that Kyle said he would like to keep private is the verdict.

"That decision is going to be sealed," he said, explaining that students will be told the outcome but asked not to tell others.

"Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone, kids. Let's just keep this our little secret, OK?"

If this little experiment in free expression and creative teaching is so all fire legitimate why the fucking secrecy? You know what? If a program can't hold up under public scrutiny, a thinking teacher might reconsider.

(Via: Drudge)

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A late night rumination on whiskey connoisseurship

Look, I'm not suggesting that Makers Mark is a bad product, and certainly I'm not one to suggest that fans of the Makers are in any way misguided... It's just that I consider it to be but a stepping stone to the ultimate level of sour-mash enjoyment. The pinnacle, as far as I'm concerned, is Very Old Barton 86 proof, enjoyed at the card table, and sipped from a cracked tea cup. Hell's bells, at that level of cool you don't even have to brag about yer vintage Harley Davidson parked out front. It's just sorta implied, dig?

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The other day Jeff Goldstein produced a monster post that's drawn an incredible number of accusations and counter-accusations. Very illuminating. The nut of Jeff's essay is this, I think:

From my perspective, there comes a time when, having registered disagreement with the war, the war’s critics (and here I’m not talking about critics of individual strategical or tactical initiatives, but rather those who have been against the effort from the start) simply wait and—if things fail—rush to brag of their prescience and perspicuity. But in the meantime, actively working to undermine the effort by presenting our enemies with a rabidly partisan divided front (one of their chief aims, remember)—whether it be through suggestions that we are in Iraq “illegally”, or that the President “lied” to take us to war, or seemingly hoping, on a daily basis, that the whole thing devolve into a civil war—matters. And not just rhetorically.

The fact is, the insurgency simply cannot succeed militarily. And Iraqis have voted in spectacular numbers for an attempt at democratic governance.

Which means the only hope of the insurgency from the start has been to break our will [...]

[Some emphases mine, some are original.]

Which is, in the end, where I come out as well. It's all well and good to declare your disaproval of our efforts in Iraq, this isn't a debate over the right to dissent. But it's quite another thing to actively hope for failure, because when the dust settles, if this little experiment in democracy ultimately fails, isn't it better to be able to point and laugh with a clear conscience, free from the nagging suspicion that you helped cause extra death and suffering? If the principles that led to our decision to go to war are ultimately proved wrong, is that not satisfaction enough?

Apparently not. Jeff addresses this in his extended update. It's positively scary the way some Americans are happy to misrepresent the intentions of this administration in an effort to disprove Bush's methods.

As an example let me single out Mona from the comment section of Jeff's post:

I voted for Bush in ‘04, and I supported the Iraq war. I did so not for neocon reasons— because I have always understood that social engineering cannot work, either domestically here in the U.S. or in foreign policy. We can’t “make them” into rule of law, civil-society minded folks at will.

See, whether intentional or not, this misrepresents Bush's motivations in a fundamentaly false way. Bush isn't on a mission to remake Iraq into a facsimile of Texas, and had Mona actually listened to the speeches Bush has been giving for years, she would know (or at least acknowledge) this simple fact. Rather, Bush and others believe that a "yearning for freedom" (you hear that phrase repeated over and over in Bush's speeches) is the natural state of human populations all over the world, and that by removing obstacles to that natural predilection (like Saddam,) we are giving the Iraqis a great gift. The gift of self determination. The gift of freedom from tyrany. The goal isn't to force societal change in Iraq, but rather to remove the forces preventing social change.

But I believed Saddam had been a belligerent against us, and that after 9/11 it was time to say “f*ck you” to him and others, so that bad guys would fear messing with us. I also believed George Bush would be competent to execute the war and its aftermath.

I was wrong.

And Mona's initial support for Bush's campaign in Iraq believing that we were just sending a "Don't mess with us" message is to completely misunderstand the larger point of the campaign. Our President is no isolationist. The general plan is to spread freedom abroad, thereby increasing security here at home. Without understanding the theory, how can you evaluate Bush's competence?

Her evidence of Bush's cluelessness? She once met an Army Dude:

[...] While traveling from the midwest to the East coast last November, I was seated next to a soldier returning from Iraq. He was a conservative, Xian evangelical, smart, and had his own criticisms of the media. But he told me civil war was nearly inevitable, because of the various tribal factions in Iraq itself. He said that some of these factions are so backwards as to be unbelieveable, and that there is no reasoning with them.

This young soldier said civil war was truly the most likely outcome. But he did not think that would be a “good thing.” He did not think our troops should remain in the middle of that.

At what point does “I was wrong” enter into an honest person’s thinking? [M]aybe, just maybe, Bush totally screwed things up?

Mona, your conversion from a Bush supporter into a Bush critic is unfortunately based upon your failure to understand the principles behind our efforts, not Bush's competence or incompetence in executing those efforts. Many reasonable, rational, educated military types (myself, for example) have long since left behind the notion that Iraqis are incapable of practicing democracy, or that civil war is "nearly inevitable." So you sat next to some soldier on a plane once. Big deal. Got any family in the military? Just how regularly do you talk with service members? Do you think that young soldier's opinion is representative of all the military? At what point does my conversion deserve some respect?

Again, this isn't a debate over the right to disagree, it's about the misrepresentation of honorable motives, and the dangers of slinging dishonest words. In the end, the only way we'll lose this war is infighting, and the only way we fall prey to infighting is by accusing our opponents of arguing in bad faith.

(I've emailed Mona to tell her she's free to elaborate on her opinions or to disagree with mine in the comment section here. And expect fresh posts about the other issues raised in Jeff's essay.)

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