None the Wiser

"Truth gains more even by the errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think." --J.S. Mill

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Friday, April 18, 2003
Can I just add here that the American military is pretty fucking scary?

It's kind of like the Israelis in 1967. Everyone was put off not just by how lethal and terrifying they were in combat--but more by the way they dusted off their fatigues, whistled a random tune, and went back to work the next day like nothing had just happened. Like they didn't just defeat the combined might of Araby in six days.

The fact that we never broke a sweat while conquering Iraq; the fact that the force that did this was entirely voluntary; the fact that only a fraction of what we're capable of was on display; the fact that we could double our defense expenditures tomorrow if we wanted; the fact that the whole of continental Europe couldn't arm and field a single American armored division or aircraft carrier; all this is adds up to a pretty frightening picture.

It's no wonder the French are quaking at the knees.

Oh, by the by, the Polish just bought 48 F-16 fighter-bombers. That can't help Chirac sleep at night.

A Confession

OK, I have a confession to make. I sincerely believe Fox news is horrible. Just horrible.

I know a lot of people out there assume that because I support the war, detest leftism, and think Peter Jennings should be tarred and feathered and dumped four feet across the Canadian border, that I must luuuuurrrve Fox. Well, I don't.

I can handle a mild rightward slant in your balance of commentators, the strength of your talk show hosts, etc. If you want to match a Doberman like Brit Hume up with a poodle like Juan Williams, I can enjoy watching Brit kick that puppy around every week. It is a pretty accurate reflection of reality, after all.

But come on. The way Fox covered the war was so absurdly Hi-O Silver it made me a little embarassed. I'm not a media bias denier--it's real and it's destructive as hell. Fox is about the only thing going that you can say is really right-wing. But it's their interpretation of what conservatives and libertarians want to see that bugs me.

The questions asked of Fox's guests are so pointed, and stupidly so, that it's just not informative to watch. The hosts are so unthinkingly, rabidly reactionary that all they're doing is giving real conservatism--which I associate with Federalism, and so forth--a bad name.

I've taken to watching MSNBC. It's reached the point where Fox's bias is so transparent that I don't trust them to give me the full story, the straight dope. I'd much rather watch Hardball, where Chris Matthews at least gives left-wing guests a run for their money in spite of himself, than Bill O'Reilley, who is the most insufferable fuddy-duddy killjoy on television.

It's a thing of beauty though, really. I can actually sit here and weigh several different options, decide what I want to watch, and choose my outlet. It's true that this means people might decide to watch networks that tell them whatever they want to hear, but that's already the case anyway. During the darkest days of lefty media dominance, most conservatives just tuned that garbage out altogether, until Limbaugh sprang onto the scene, and changed everything (as much as I hate to admit it, I don't think I'm exaggerating at all). And I don't see that just because you're going to be spoon-fed bullshit by somebody, that it doesn't make any difference if we're all forced to consume the same shit--which was the case pre-Fox.

We are truly lucky in the U.S., I have to say. We've got choices other people haven't even read about. It's just grand, swimming in the swirling capitalist seas of "stimulus bombardment," if you ask me.

And as for FNC, well, thanks for the memories I guess.

Lileks on children's books:

Richard Scarry books. These are gentle tales of rabbits and cats who occasionally need to be spanked. I was startled when Gnat handed me “Naughty Bunny” one day, since I’d read that one as a child. It’s full of good lessons: the little SOB pushes his friend, spills his cereal, writes on the wall, and gets the hairbrush applied to his disobedient ass and sent to bed to cogitate on his sinful nature. In the end he reforms, because - to put it in Madonna terms - “efforts are made.”

Go read today's Bleat. It's a winner.

FIRE Forum on Freedom

A forum on the de Genova (Professor Mogadishu) affair, with Thomas Bartlett from the CHE moderating, can be read in full here. It stars Alan Kors and Thor Halvorssen, of FIRE. It is a very, very worthy read. Kors is, as always, firing on all cylinders, and Halvorssen is as plain-spoken and sensible as ever. Do go check it out.

{Link via the indespensible Erin Oconnor}

Thursday, April 17, 2003
OK, one more, and then I really must write my paper (lousy Hitler...)

Read this jaw-dropping French op-ed, translated by Europundits, that is amazing not only for it's total lack of self-congratulatory snobbery, but for it's sheer prescience. I hesitate to excerpt it. It's too good. But here's a taste:

The second Gulf War has been a wonderfully revealing incident. An outbreak of anti-Semitism and ethnic hatred, an economic and social crisis, the desecration of a British military cemetery, the beating up of Jews and Iraqi opposition during the great “peace” marches, an alliance…with the unsavory Vladimir Putin, butcher of Chechnyans, the reception of the African despot Robert Mugabe in Paris, public insults directed to Eastern European countries who committed the sin of not slavishly obeying us—our great nation is not in the process of writing its most glorious page in the Book of History.

This was in Le Monde. I'm stunned.

Go forth.

{Link via Instapundit}

And More...
As long as I'm on a linking binge, check out today's Bleat. It's about television. Hilarity ensues.

An excerpt:

If I ever stumble across a rerun of “All in the Family” I watch it with an anthropologist’s eye; it’s like a cave painting, a medieval tapestry. All long ago and far away. There’s Rob Reiner pointing and shouting; Jean Stapleton wincing and cringing. There’s lots of Carroll O’Connor bitching in De Queen’s English: Oh jees dere Edith wit de menapaas and de hoormones and de rest of dat commie plot to make yer jugs dere sag wudja stifle awready - Noted. It was groundbreaking for its time, but the ground having been broken, let’s shovel it back on the coffin lid. The day is past when you could get a studio audience to laugh for seven minutes because the star of the show has reacted with slack-jawed outrage at the sight of a mixed-race couple. Good. The show reeks of stagflation and Times Square porno row and Wadergate dere wit de hippies in de newspaper aw jees. I watched every episode when I was growing up. I’ve done my part.

Sanford and Son wasn’t required to carry so much cultural baggage, and hence refrained from Serious Issue Shows; I don’t recall a very special episode where Fred started to worry about actually having the big one, and vowed to switch to heart-healthy margarine spreads. Lamont never dealt with the clap.

Read, as we like to suggest, the whole, as we like to describe it, thing.

I've Got Three Words for You...

Victor. Davis. Hanson.

Run along.

A Bad Sign

Although the slant of this Washington Times article is that the U.S. is very much in control of the situation on the ground in Iraq, the actual story points in the other direction. Ahmed Chalabi (the U.S.'s pet Iraqi opposition leader) apparently has charged into Baghdad under cover of a storm, bringing with him a 100-man contingent of personal troops, as well as a sizable stock of food and weaponry.

Now, it could be that our man Chalabi has got our blessing here, but if so it's a pretty hamhanded way to manipulate the situation. Maybe I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but I can't believe this kind of thing is going to play well with the disparate groups vying for power there. I still hold to my belief that a "Thanks, now get out of our country" mentality toward U.S. forces will predominate over there, and every day this seems more likely. If I'm wrong, I'll say so. But I don't think I am.

A Horowitz Interview

John Hawkins has secured an interview with David Horowitz, provocateur extraordinaire. Check it out.

As always, you have to sort of wade through some of Horowitz's more incendiary comments which, even when true, serve to obscure his point by their sheer shrillness.

Got Sarcasm?

I may have tipped my hand yesterday on my position regarding affirmative action (I'm agin' it).

That in mind, nobody can say it better than someone who has actually witnessed this nonsense from the inside. Here'a a great piece of classic tongue-in-cheek scorn, served up by a UNC professor whose job is, apparently, quite secure.

{Link courtesy of Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column, in today's NRO. Jay's column is among the very best on the web, and you ought to read it every week, if you know what's good for you.}

UPDATE: Just in case the AA debate is of interest to you, the best blog on the web for tracking its course is Discriminations. There is other, non-AA related commentary as well, all of it good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
A Thought for the Day

Paper due...must type...kinda busy...can't stay...

In the meantime, consider the following hint from The Sage.

The next time some weepy leftist in your midst gets indignant about someone "questioning their loyalty to America," just because they oppose the war, watch what happens when you tell them this:

"Remember that the next time you accuse someone of being a racist, just for opposing affirmative action."

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
I don't care what anybody says. This picture of Iraqi Information Minister and Western cult celebrity Mohammed Shaeed al-Sahaf, courtesy of Mean Mr Mustard (sorry, I'm too damned lazy to go tracking through all the links) looks exactly like Dustin Hoffman. Seriously.

Is it just me or is Reason starting to suck?

I finally just let my subscription run out. I'm not sure how much sneer I can take. For a long time, I've turned to that magazine (and more recently its online equivalent) for a source of genuinely well-considered libertarian reflection and reporting on some of the most thorny issues of the times. They still deliver, too, but they've become terribly hit-and-miss. Virginia Postrel, our lonely eyes turn to you...

Sorry, but it seems they've locked themselves away into the most time-honored refuges of the irrelevant: that is, carping and sneering and tossing vague, sarcastic barbs at people without ever articulating a serious moral or philosophical argument. Where it comes to the war in Iraq, they've been truly terrible.

Their articles these days are generally of two types: the Cathy Young variety, which is to say the type that describes the positions being taken on a debate without the author ever staking one out; and the Brian Doherty variety, which is exemplified by this load of Dowd-like, cutesy-wutesy psycholo-sniping, masquerading as an opinion piece. OK, so they do produce more than two types of article, and much of it is still decent, but...well, don't take my word for it, just go see for yourself in this facially absurd and ill-informed article, wherein Jeff Taylor falls into the "Iraq isn't Afghanistan" trap, just as half the Reason staff fell into the "Afghanistan isn't Iraq" trap 18 months ago.

As the substance wanes, so does my interest. Please, guys. Don't turn my favorite mag into a Ted Rall cartoon.

According to this article in the Seattle Times, the IRS is attempting to ban sales of perennial nutcase Irwin Schiff's The Federal Mafia: How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes. Apparently, too many people have taken the book's message to heart and avoided paying their income taxes altogether.

As Bookslut notes,

This is not a new book. The first edition was released in 1990. However, the IRS is claiming that 3,100 people have defrauded the government with their tax returns based on the instructions in the book. If they succeed, it would be the first time the government has banned a book.

Of course, it's perfectly legitimate for the government to put a stop to the sale of, say, How to Make Crystal Meth in Your Tub in Five Easy Steps, or anything else that promotes and gives direction on lawbreaking. RICO can even be brought to bear here, it would seem, but I'm certainly no authority on such things. I'm not sure if this book qualifies for this kind of federal suit, but it will be interesting to see how the law-bloggers weigh in.

{Link via Bookslut.}

Monday, April 14, 2003
Oh, if you want to know how I feel about the recent CNN debacle (no link, registration required and I won't register with the New York Times for sheer self-defeating spite), Glenn Reynolds posted this email of mine on the subject--which came in response to his giving credit to CNN for admitting their error. If I thought they were motivated by anything other than bald self-interest, I'd probably think differently about it all.

Friends! Bloggers! Malcontents and fellow cynics!

After a long haitus due to Blogger-related problems (grrrrrr...), The Sage is finally back on line. Can you freaking believe that NTW was down for the entire war? The whole thing. What a damned disaster that was.

At any rate, it really says something about the efficiency of our armed forces that they effected the annihilation of the Baath Party in Iraq in less time than it took to fix a programming language issue with my blog. I'm not sure whether that reflects well on them or badly on my host, but I suspect it's a bit of both. At any rate, I'm only now back in action and I have a very, very long history paper due this week (fittingly, it's about the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20, 1944), so I will not post anything much today.

Of course, I have a hell of a lot to say, so sit tight until tomorrow and we'll get this thing moving again. Thanks for your patience, everyone.