Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sometimes my liberal friends manage to really pick up the wrong end of the stick. So I got this link sent to me, along with the following comments from MoveOn:

"[...]if you're as amazed, saddened, and angered as we are—pass it on to a friend, neighbor, or co-worker and help make sure people all over the country see it."

Who's amazed or angered?

This was the reply from Bush I when questions were asked why it seemed that we were encouraging the Kurds and Shiites to rebel against Sadam but didn't provide any material support when it came to the smackdown. You may remember stories of Iraqi government helicopters strafing Shiite villages and of Kurds fleeing into the highlands on the Turkish side of the border where they froze and starved. Did we abandon our allies in Iraq?

Under Bush I the answer was that it was not expedient to do more, so we didn't do more.

Under Bush II things had changed a little. We'd looked at eight years of Iraq bashing, with the people of Iraq really getting the worst of it, and regime change didn't look likely, and then there was 9/11. We already had a military operation under way in Afghanistan, so...

I'm not saying that Cheney was wrong both times or right both times or right one time and wrong the other or changed his mind or lied or anything of the sort. I'm just pointing out that comparing the situation in 1992 with the situation in 2002 as if the two situations were identical is not smart.

The present facts of course seem to say that this administration was wrong in invading Iraq. I'm thinking that it was not just wrong in hind sight, but also wrong ahead of time. Not because Cheney was right in 1992, but because there were many other reasons besides those he gave not to go to war. Reasons which were ignored (or considered less significant than reasons to go to war) not just by this administration, but by 90% or so of congress, and perhaps even more of this country's population.

So this "saddened and angered" stuff kind of leaves me cold. Liberals are, of course, just as bad as conservatives. Both ends of the spectrum seem to love the easy stabs at the opposition, even when they completely miss the point.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I think pretty soon we'll hear about a naked exhibitionist standing on the steps of town hall and screaming at people not to look because she wants her privacy.

Seriously, it's gotten that silly.

On the one hand we have people lining up to appear on camera as they eat, sleep, and fight with each other, and are generally obnoxious and unlovable. They take their disputes to court TV, and if they happen to make an appearance on COPS, hey, what price fame, right?

On the flip side there's the latest hurrah over Google's Streetview.

The folks at Google simply drove a van around a few selected cities. The van carried a special camera that took panoramic pictures every few feet along the road. These pictures are now available on Google Maps, where you can see what the city looks like at street level.

The camera was never aimed. The van wasn't driven to selected spots. But, out of thousands of pictures, there are a few interesting ones - for certain values of interesting.

The resultant uproar in some parts of opinion land has been deafening. "Invasion of privacy." "Creepy!" "Spooky!"

You'll forgive me when I say that we're all losing our minds.

I want that van cruising my home town. I want everyone's browsers to be able to access all street light cameras and security cameras around the city, any time they feel like looking. No, I don't mind if the cameras watch me, too.

I'll be sure to smile and wave.

We aren't talking about an Orwellian police state. Google doesn't carry their cameras into peoples' homes. Google doesn't punish you when you attempt to evade their surveillance. Google doesn't use their pictures to force us to obey the people in power.

If anything, Google must make the people in power distinctly uncomfortable. I wouldn't be at all surprised if DHS dispatched some of their Gestapo to Google headquarters to demand that Streetview be dismantled. They'll demand it in the name of security, of course.

We should all remember that information is an enemy of tyranny. Instead of trying to suppress information, we should applaud the people who provide it.

Monday, May 28, 2007

OK, anyone who reads my posts knows that I despise the current administration's scare tactics and their fascist methods. Now I read this:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's internal network security practices are a mess, according to a report by the General Accountability Office. In a report released on Thursday, the GAO said "certain information security controls over the critical internal network reviewed were ineffective..." (GAO: FBI needs a lesson in network security)

See, this is what I'm talking about. These guys don't really mean it. They tell us to be scared, but they aren't scared. They tell us it's a dangerous world, but they don't protect themselves. They subject us to history's single largest bureaucracy and all of the excesses and outrages that go along with that, but they themselves ignore it all.

It's pretty clear. When you're told the barking sound from the basement is a dog, but you find no evidence of dog food or leash or even so much as a turd on the lawn, then you're probably listening to a foley artist.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

As David Horowitz will tell you, Republicans have a big tent, big enough to fit many different ideas. He tells you that to contrast his party with the Democrats. The Democrats do not have a big tent, says David.

Well, I like big tents.

Which is why, when Republicans in Utah required voters to be registered with their party to vote in the Republican primaries I promptly registered. Those close minded Democrats didn't require registration, so I didn't bother with them.

Ever since then I've been getting lot's of love from my friends in the GOP. I get to write editorials that start with "as a registered Republican", and people pay attention. I get Republican newsletters and even Republican spam!

So today I received the annual survey from the Republican National Committee. It is full of opportunities to express my opinion on important GOP matters:

  1. If Democrats try to gut the USA Patriot Act...

    Pen in hand I got ready to mark Yes, but then I read the rest of the question:

    ...and other important laws that promote the safety and security of all Americans, should Republicans in Congress fight back?

    Um. Wait. The Patriot Act is that bit of fascist legislation that no one actually read when it was first passed, right? Those of us fighting to retain our freedom from intrusive government were pretty upset about it. So that's bad. We voted out some of those who supported that law, in part because of that support. But what's that about "other important laws"? The Democrats are trying to gut other important laws? Which ones? This is the first time I've heard of that.

    So, no, Republicans shouldn't fight back. They should get behind that effort and push. Aren't we for freedom, and against oppressive government? I know the tent is big enough for a little freedom, at least.

  2. Should we stop the Democrats from cutting funding for our intelligence agencies...

    No, that doesn't sound good at all. We need well funded intelligence agencies, otherwise we'll have more disasters like Iraq and Korea. But wait, there's more:

    ...or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions in inter-agency communications?

    It's a funny thing about that Clinton era. It seems to go back about 35 years. I never knew he was in office that long. But I do know why we had those restrictions. One word: Nixon. No, he didn't impose them, but his abuses required them. You know, politically motivated fishing expeditions, targeted IRS audits, warrant less wiretaps. That sort of thing.

    Not that anyone has tried warrant less wiretaps or politically motivated fishing expeditions since then. Right?

    Mind you, the CIA, NSA, and FBI should probably share information where appropriate. Why they're still not doing it, almost 6 years after 9/11, is a mystery, especially since my Big Tent party has been in power all that time, and even created the single largest government bureaucracy ever in the history of the world to do the job.

    OK, one more.

  3. Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?

    Um. No?

    I mean, that sounds like a great idea, except that, you know, we won't be hitting the individuals or organizations who don't like us. Instead we'd be giving them even more reason not to like us, and giving a considerable boost to their recruiting.

    "Look at America," they'll say. "They kill women and children because they happen to be Muslim." Because, you know, it's Muslim countries we're talking about. Not to put too fine a point on it, we're talking about Iran. Anyway, if we do, then people will flock to their cause.

    So. No.

The survey is 23 question long, all along about the same lines. Whoever wrote it was pretty sure of his opinion, and figured no one in the Big Tent could possibly disagree with him. We all see where that lead over the past seven years.

Anyway, I filled it out and sent it in. I'm glad the Big Tent includes me. Otherwise who would set them straight?

Monday, February 12, 2007

When you've put yourself into a bad situation, is it proper to blame someone else for your errors?

Because that's what I think is going on in Congress these days. Because of the way the '06 elections turned out everyone is convinced that they've got to stand up against the war in Iraq.

Even the folks who originally voted for the war.

Hillary Clinton tells everyone who asks that the president lied to us, and that's why she voted for the war.

Well, maybe.

But exactly what would have been different if the president hadn't lied to us?

Wouldn't we still be stuck in Iraq, WMDs safely found and neutralized (if we were lucky), but bedeviled by a culture and a conflict that our leadership seems incapable of understanding, with thousands of our kids in coffins, tens of thousands wearing plastic arms and legs, and who knows how many Iraqis dead or maimed?

From where I'm standing it makes no difference at all. You voted for war, dammit! War isn't a nice, safe prescription for solving problems. If you didn't know that back in 2002, that's not the president's fault. If it's an intelligence failure, its the intelligence of people who were entrusted to make these kinds of decisions which failed. If it was the result of delusion or wishful thinking, it didn't originate in the White House, but in the minds of hundreds of Representatives and Senators most of whom never even served a day in the military, and the vast majority of whom do not have any close family members in harm's way.

Everyone who voted for the war bears full, entire responsibility for all of the misery that has resulted from it, and all of the misery that is sure to result from it in the future.

It's time they started admitting it, starting with, if you please, presidential candidate and Senator from New York Hillary Clinton.