~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Art? Exploitation? Both?

Artistically, her work is actually quite good, but the methods employed by photographer Jill Greenberg are fucking heinous. And her inspiration, namely, rabid Bush Derangement Syndrome, is frankly pathetic. And for the record, I'd have the exact same opinion of a rabid Clinton hater who makes art out of crying kids.

The photos themselves, which to my untrained eye, appear to be retouched digitally, are nothing short of amazing. I just wish that they were rendered entirely out of digital imagination, rather than by photographing toddlers made to cry on cue. I can't think of any way to justify that... lame-ass Bush hatred certainly ain't cuttin' it.

I guess this is just further proof that artistic talent and wisdom aren't directly connected.

UPDATE: I consulted a friend with training in matters photographic who tells me these photos could have been produced entirely organically, without Photoshop, in the studio and darkroom. Which, actually reduces the respect I have for the artist, since it increases the likelihood these photos are what they appear to be: Untouched depictions of crying kids manipulated to cry on cue.

However; I still do not consider what Jill Greenberg has done to be a crime. Immoral? Yes. Criminal? No, or else I would not have linked to the photos. Unfortunately, the heated emotions over this woman's work has forced me to delete a couple of comments from valued, regular commenters.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I'm on hiatus

Meanwhile, please enjoy chapter one of Bill Whittle's upcoming book, An American Civilization.

What are you reading?

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

On over-abused words

A quite thoughtful piece in the LA Times from Alan Dershowitz. To the long list of labels incorrectly or indiscriminatly applied these days (examples; nazi, fascist, traitor, torturer, Orwellian, evildoer, etc.) Dershowitz adds, "civilian." He suggests a "continuum of civilianality" that doesn't award civilians who fund, house, or arm terrorists the same moral / legal status as two year olds and human shield hostages. Long, long overdue, I say.

The domestic law of crime, in virtually every nation, reflects this continuum of culpability. For example, in the infamous Fall River rape case (fictionalized in the film "The Accused"), there were several categories of morally and legally complicit individuals: those who actually raped the woman; those who held her down; those who blocked her escape route; those who cheered and encouraged the rapists; and those who could have called the police but did not.

No rational person would suggest that any of these people were entirely free of moral guilt, although reasonable people might disagree about the legal guilt of those in the last two categories. Their accountability for rape is surely a matter of degree, as is the accountability for terrorism of those who work with the terrorists.

Rent The Road to Baghdad, CNN's hastily produced, but largely accurate documentary about the initial ground war in Iraq. Pay special attention to the chapter titled "They're Not Playing By the Rules" which highlights the moment when the enemy began hijacking civilian taxis and ambulances for bombing runs against US checkpoints. I cannot begin to tell you how maddening it was to witness such callousness, such cold blooded tactics. How do you fight against an enemy willing to use the emotional value you place on non-combatants against you in such a calculated way?

Employing a more nuanced "continuum of civilianality" is a good place to start. It will take away some of the propaganda value of "civilian casualties" terrorists love to exploit.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Related.

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"An American oracle, an American sage"

Fascinating profile of Milton and Rose Friedman in the WSJ. I'd heard the name whispered with reverence in conservative circles. But it wasn't until Jeff Goldstein pointed me to this video he calls, "Classical Liberalism: A Primer," that I grasped why Friedman commands so much respect.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Trunk Monkey!

Get yours today.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

U.N. compare and contrast

Writing in the Washington Post today, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) explains why he'll vote to confirm John Bolton. This, after choking up on the Senate floor last year and implying Bolton's appointment to the UN would decrease the safety of his children and granchildren! (Video)

Why the change? Well it's not really a change at all. A year ago, George was concerned we weren't working together on the international stage in the face of terror threats. Now he says any sqaubbling in the Senate sends the wrong message to our enemies. He really just wants us all to work together on this thing.

Noble, really. And the faith he puts in the United Nations as the be-all end-all of the cooperation he so dearly wants (for the children! for the grandchildren!) is rather touching, if naive. Consider Claudia Rosett's latest report on Oil-for-Food:

Congressional investigations have since found that the U.N. program opened the floodgates for anywhere from $10 billion to $17 billion in graft, scams and smuggling, some of which went to pay for Saddam's palaces, weapons and rewards for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

This is the same UN Voinovich holds in such high regard, to threaten it with the likes of John Bolton brings him, literally, to tears.

(Via: RCP)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I for one welcome our new reality TV overlords

For years I blamed MTV for birthing the beast that cannot be stopped. That’s right, with one fell stroke, The Real World created a ridiculously cheap, enormously popular money maker which sparked dollar signs in the eyes of TV executives everywhere, and left them drooling all over their Armani suits to make more.

Years later, I think we’ve finally achieved a sort of market equilibrium. We finally have enough reality TV to choose from that we can pick and choose among the best. I pick Rockstar as my vice. And no one covers the gory details as well as Paladin. So head over there regularly for the down and dirty.

Oh! And to the kids out there, know that once upon a time, MTV showed these things called “music videos.” Here’s a classic example:

Behold it’s low-budget majesty!

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"Forget Clausewitz: Nations now fight clans driven by pride, vengeance and martial religiosity."

In today's WSJ, Robert Kaplan reviews the new book "Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias." I will be reading this book.

Just one quibble, though.

As for Iraq, the authors write: "Things could have turned out differently... The traditional Iraqi way of war, and how Iraq fits into the larger global jihad, could have been deduced by U.S. planners" for the sake of a better military outcome. Saddam expanded his military machine by tribalizing it. Rather than eliminate Sunni clan networks, he incorporated them into his bureaucratic system of control. Thus if his army ever disintegrated, the result would be a congeries of Bedouin-like raiding parties, each with a tight social network, reprimitivized for the urban jungle.

Well, of course things could have been better, but, it's not necessarily so. I'll have to read the book for context, I suppose. But for now I want to challenge the notion that our military is somehow terminally crippled by it's western viewpoint. Take, for instance, the cable news Psy Op campaign of Shock and Awe. "Where's the shock and awe?" asked every one after we opened the war, not with carpet bombing, but surgical air strikes. Saddam, believing we were going to destroy his command and control networks, cut himself off, went into a hole, and dispersed his units to the winds to act independantly, all of which we rolled up in 21 days. If that wasn't by design, then it was still a happy mistake, with credit due to the US military for destroying the enemy's forces while keeping Iraq's fragile infrastructure largely intact for the reconstruction.

Hell, the Pentagon has whole departments of strategists whose sole job is to think outside the box for stategies that will give us the edge. This American Life on NPR did a show on the subject in 2001 which was quite good. (You can listen online here.)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Last Samuri: A review

Not great, but not bad. At least as good as Gladliator, or even BraveMel. Way better than Dances With Costner. (Don't even get me started on Broy.)

What is it with these big budget, melodramatic, period homages to tribal combat featuring A-list names? Seriously, it's like Hollywood is trying graft together a kind of box office superbeast, a... a... a Gone With The Godfather.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Giddy with anticipation

Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 AM.

UPDATE: Sold out in fifteen minutes. *damn* Oh well.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Greatest. Obit. Ever.

"Fred's ashes will be fired from his favorite cannon."

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Musical chills

Tom Waits is coming to the Palace in Louisville! Though he says it's only because some one here in Louisville "owes him money." Don't matter, I'm still there.

When my brother phoned me this weekend to tell me Waits was coming to town, I was on the road to Lexington to watch a polo game. (Don't ask.) I'm happy to report that I can still shock my jaded bro with the words, "Tom Waits? WHHOOOO-HOOO! But right now I'm headed out of town for a polo match. Call you later, dude."

But the bro tells me the new CD is like Bone Machine plus they've brought back the guitarist from Rain Dogs. I'm wearing a huge happy hat right now. This show is gonna be good.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Joel Stein, Jr.

Chas Chiodo doesn't support the troops.

I don't support the troops

I'm a military combat veteran and critic of our government's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I don't support the troops. I'll protest in the streets to end the war, and when the troops come home, I'll do what I can to see that they get the benefits and treatment they need and deserve. That's my contribution to the troops.

Many people "oppose the war but support the troops." Rotten war, brave soldiers. I don't buy this at all. Although little Johnny or Judy might have once been that nice kid next door, he or she may now be engaged in massacres and atrocities...

At least he admits we only "may" be engaged in atrocities. Big of him, really. And the same sort of subtle nuance continues throughout his screed. But for a former military man, he shows a surprising naivete about the actual, you know, rules governing the military.

You always hear that the troops signed a contract and must obey orders. Not if they deem such orders to be illegal or beyond moral bounds. They can always refuse to obey, go to jail, go AWOL or move to another country.

Either he doesn't know that refusing illegal orders isn't just an option for contracted soldiers, (it's a legal obligation) or else he's betting that his readers don't know and won't bother to find out that, rather than refusing "illegal" orders, soldiers are re-enlisting in droves. Either way, Chas doesn't come off as very savvy on military matters. "They can always refuse to obey, go to jail, go AWOL or move to another country"? Sheesh. Of course, Chas is free to hold his own service in such low regard, but his projection is, well... sad.

In any case, Joel Stein already showed that this "See how honest I am to say I don't support the troops! Look at me! Follow my brave example!" line of attention-getting is a proven argument-loser. (Don't miss the audio. It's a classic takedown.)

Chas? Instead of "I don't support the troops" try saying, "I condemn the troops for disagreeing with my opinion." I might be impressed with that bit of honesty.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Limited government anyone?

From today's WSJ editorial page:

In 2005, according to new data from the National Highway Safety Administration, the rate of injuries per mile traveled was lower than at any time since the Interstate Highway System was built 50 years ago. The fatality rate was the second lowest ever, just a tick higher than in 2004.

As a public policy matter, this steady decline is a vindication of the repeal of the 55 miles per hour federal speed limit law in 1995. [...]

We are often told, by nanny-state advocates, that such public goods as safety require a loss of liberty. In the case of speed limits and traffic deaths, that just isn't so.

And I'll go one further and say that, just as there's no proven, causal relationship between loss of liberty and road safety, protecting America from the next, large-scale terrorist attack does not hinge upon giving up our civil liberties. The challenge now facing America in the post-9/11 age is how to decrease the likelihood of attack without infringing upon personal liberty.

It's a weighty task, to say the least. But it'd be easier if Americans (and certain do-gooder government officials) weren't laboring under the delusion that a loss of liberty is required.

First off, I suggest a wholesale rejection of the nanny staters' notion that there's a causal relationship between safety and liberty. To that end, I'd support a more narrowly drafted PATRIOT Act, one that keeps the central goal of increased communication between intelligence agencies, but jetisons increased search powers for police. It's the difference between putting more speed traps out on the roads and developing better auto frame technology. Both endeavors are designed to increase safety, but the latter does it without increasing the power of the nanny state.

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Iraq opinion poll


What do you think the United States should do next in regard to Iraq? (OPEN-ENDED)

Pull the troops out and come home 31

Stay the course/Doing a good job 16

Train Iraqis to run own country 15

Be aggressive/Finish what we started 13

Come up with an exit strategy 10

Make a gradual withdrawal 8

Send more troops/Build up military presence 2

Work with advisers/Act on advice 2

Work with the United Nations 2

Admit we made a mistake/Apologize and move forward 2

Keep the public informed/Explain what is going on 1

Other 4

No opinion 8

Gallup groups these answers, curiously, into four categories:

1. Gradual Withdrawal: 31%

- Train Iraqis to run own country

- Come up with an exit strategy

- Make a gradual withdrawal

2. Immediate Withdrawal: 31%

- Pull the troops out and come home

3. Stay the Course: 30%

- Stay the course/Doing a good job

- Be aggressive/Finish what we started

- Send more troops/Build up military presence

4. Other: 7%

But why are "stay the course" and "finish what we started" lumped in with "build up a military presence" and not in with the gradual withdrawl category? Perhaps because it helps support Gallup's analysis that Americans are evenly split on what to do in Iraq. "Stay the course" really is a terrible bit of rhetoric. I've always prefered "As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." It's more concrete, states what that "course" actually means, avoids setting an arbitrary deadline, and implies both the responsibility borne by the Iraqis as well as our confidence that they're up to the job.

"Stay the course" is so freakin' vague, it allows organizations like Gallup to interpret it to mean permanent military presence. I don't know anyone who wants that, Iraqi or American.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Crazies on parade (flag burning edition)

I hope all my readers had an enjoyable Independance Day. I certainly did. But I gotta ask... Just what the hell is wrong with these people?

Neo-Nazis hijack gala to burn Anne Frank diary

German neo-Nazis tore up and burned a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank after hijacking a traditional gala.

Around 100 skinheads cheered and shouted Sieg Heil as the most poignant memoir of the Holocaust years went up in flames.

They also burned a U.S. flag and sang banned Nazi songs.

Psssst! I see stupid people.

About 25 revelers celebrated their freedom of speech and welcomed the Fourth of July on Monday night with the "2nd Annual Old Time American Flag Burn."

Around a burn barrel at Seabright State Beach, organizer Brent Adams, 41, of Santa Cruz, declared flag burning not a protest, but a celebration of the Constitution's First Amendment.

"It seemed like a good idea to burn some flags just because we can," added fellow organizer Sha Lar, 32, of Santa Cruz.

It seemed like a good idea to burn some flags just because we can?! Yet another advantage to keeping the practice of flag burning legal? ... It allows one to spot stupidity from a distance. Shine on you crazy diamond, you!

(Via: Drudge)

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Monday, July 03, 2006

On treason

Ok, I've delayed long enough. I had hoped to post a longish entry on this subject, but got bogged down in researching it. Quagmire!

The short version is this: In order to...

1) Preserve the meaning of the word, (Don't let anyone define treason down into irrelevance. The word torture for example, just as serious a charge, has become meaningless.)

2) And keep revenge an incidental concern, (By which, I mean our actions should be motivated by the larger goal of fixing the problem of leaks. Investigating the source of the leaks does that, and inconvience / legal distress to reporters is an incidental event. Emotionally satisfying, sure. But not our primary motivation.)

3) And maintain political feasibility... (The NYT is itching for a first amendment fight to bolster support for the proposed, assinine Shield Law. Lets not give it to them. Yes, this is a pragmatic concession. Yes, it grates on me.)

... we should hold that using the word traitor to describe the NYT is a bad idea.

That's where I stand. Sorry I couldn't deliver the long essay I'd planned.

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Will a liberal please explain this to me?

Jimmy Carter says, "We need fewer secrets." His solution? Bigger government. No, really.

After citing public concern with government secrecy, and pointing to the statute-clogged EPA as proof that today's government can't comply with FOIA requirements, he actually advocates for more laws and the creation of an oversight body. Brilliant, Mr. President.

I can think of a thousand reasons to recommend limited government, chief among them would be greater accountability. But I'll confess that I just don't understand the logic of trying the fix the problem of acountability with bearuocracy.

(Yes, I know this puts me squarely into the "broadly construed" camp of constitutional interpretation. But I'll burn that bridge when I come to it. Can't pass up an opportunity to snark on Carter, can I?)

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