Friday, October 03, 2003

I've reviewed the report given by David Kay on Iraq's WMD programs, and I don't know how anyone who reads it could not conclude that Saddam Hussein had WMD. As Andrew Sullivan notes, Iraq's progress with bioweapons is particularly scary.

I see that Nancy Pelosi is saying the report shows Iraq was no imminent threat.
"Because of a lack of imminence of a threat, it is clear that there was time for more diplomatic efforts to be made before we went to war," she said.
What? How many more years of "diplomatic effort" would be spent while Hussein went on pursuing these weapons? From the beginning, the point was to bring Hussein down before he became an imminent threat. If anything, this report shows that what the Bush administration claimed before the war is true, namely, that Iraq was working towards acquiring WMD and was working on long-range missles and we had better take care of it before it's too late.

Andrew Sullivan takes a close look at the Kay Iraqi WMD report and finds what it says and what the media claims it says are two very different things. Sullivan's analysis covers several postings, so start with the one I linked to and work your way down.

Says Sullivan:
One of the crazy premises of the "Where Are They?" crowd is that we would walk into that huge country and find large piles of Acme bombs with anthrax in them. That's not what a WMD program is about; and never was. Saddam was careful. He had to hide from the U.N. and he had to find ways, over more than a decade, to maintain a WMD program as best he could, ready to reactivate whenever the climate altered in his favor. Everything points to such a strategy and to such weapons being maintained.
So which is it? I've checked the headlines on the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo! News and USA Today and there's nothing that reflects these conclusions. So is the media blatantly spinning Kay's report so that it's harmful to the Bush administration, or is it Sullivan who's spinning? I guess I'll have to read the report for myself. I'll keep you informed.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Oh, the headlines!
The home page on the Washington Post's website right now (I won't bother linking to it since it'll change) is surely making more than a few Democrats giddy with delight:

"Schwarzenegger Apologizes"

"Limbaugh Maintains Defense"

"Leak Probe May Take In State and Defense Depts."

"CIA Yet to Find WMD in Iraq"

"N. Korea Ups Nuclear Stakes"

Well, it appears one of these headlines may be moot. Andrew Sullivan links to this story, which says Kuwait has stopped people attempting to smuggle WMD out of Iraq. Why isn't this on the cover of the Washington Post? And the top story at Yahoo! News is this one saying there are no (is no?) WMD in Iraq. Well, yeah, apparently it's been smuggled out.
Rush is having a bad week
Now he's apparently abusing pain medication. That fact that it was the National Enquirer that broke the story does not give me confidence in its validity. Regardless, it should be interesting tomorrow on Open Mic Friday.
We interrupt this program for this important announcement
Pardon the inside joke, but I need to relay this message: I still need socks.
The Limbaugh faux pas part deux
Well, Rush has resigned. Rush had to know his comments would get him in trouble. And he submitted his resignation so quickly, even though, as the article states, EPSN had not given him any sign that he would be fired. Could it be that he set himself up with an excuse to leave the show?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Sound effects
I've got the TV on to "Whose Line Is It Anyway?". It's the one where Colin and Ryan do the sound effects game, pretending they're cops while a couple of middle-aged women are supposed to provide the sound effects. It's hard to describe, but take my word for it, it's one of the funniest bits I've ever seen on that show.

Colin: I'm going to do an elephant!
Sound effect: Quack quack quack quack!

Drew Carey is laughing so hard that the show has stopped to wait for him to recover. Priceless.
Great moments in marching band history
I can't believe this. A marching band in Paris, Texas put on a performance that involved the waving of a Nazi flag. Where does one even get a Nazi flag? Did they have someone make it? Who got that honor?

The kicker is that the day of the performance also happened to be Rosh Hashana. Unbelievable.
The Limbaugh faux pas
When I was up early this morning, the people on CNN were talking about how much trouble Rush Limbaugh was in because of the comments he made about Donovan McNabb. Here's what he said:
I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.
A lot of people got upset about that second sentence, but it's true. The media does desire a black quarterback to do well. I'm sure most people do. I happen to think Peyton Manning is overrated because he's a nice, respectable guy and the media desires him to do well. So what?

Now, if Rush had asserted that McNabb is somehow an inferior quarterback because he is black, well that's an entirely different matter. He would deserve to be fired if that was the case, but only the most virulent Rush-haters could possibly believe that.

I do think Rush is wrong, though. I don't think McNabb is overrated, and I'd guess that if Rush had been given the opportunity to talk about McNabb last season, say about the time of the NFC championship game, Rush would have had high praise for McNabb. Yes, McNabb has had a bad start to the year, but a couple of weeks don't make a season.

I've been watching the NFL pre-game show on ESPN and I've seen how Rush interacts with the other guys, and I don't think it's going to last. He just seems to be too much of an outsider. I've seen several instances where Tom Jackson, Michael Irvin (what happened to Sterling?) and Steve Young seem to be thinking, "You don't know what you're talking about Rush. You haven't been there." Maybe that's the point. Maybe ESPN was looking for an outsider's take, but to me it makes the show too discordant. I predict Rush won't be back next season.

By the way, this line in ESPN's account I linked to above made me chuckle: "The NFL disclaimed any responsibility." Well, duh.
Dang, it's early
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and knew, just knew, that there's no way you were going back to sleep? That doesn't happen to me often, but it happened just now, so I figured I might as well get up and get some work done.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

The Ten Commandments, Alabama and the Constitution
A friend and I talked about Alabama's Ten Commandments monument ordeal recently, devoting a large part of our conversation on whether or not the federal court had the authority to order the monument's removal. He took the position that the court did not have this authority, so the order was a violation of states' rights. In his view, if the people of Alabama wanted a monument, then they should have it and the federal government should not have anything to say about it, regardless of whether the monument was religious or not.

I, on the other hand, argued that the federal court was in the right, but I couldn't explain why. I am one of those who believe the First Amendment does establish a separation of church and state, and I think the monument in question, having meaning only in a religious context, clearly violates that separation. Of this I was confident. What I did not know was how the United States government had the power to see that the states had to adhere to this separation as well (perhaps instead of separation, consider it the right for the individual not to have religion crammed down his throat).

Yes, I'm showing my ignorance of the Constitution. I should have known from where that power is derived, and it turns out it is derived from the 14th Amendment. The text itself is clear:
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The section on "privileges or immunities" works for me, and sure enough, the intent was to "extend virtually all of the personal liberties and rights granted in the BILL OF RIGHTS to protection against infringement by state governments"[emphasis in the original].

So, assuming the First Amendment does indeed establish a separation of church and state, the federal district court had the authority to order the removal.

Now, the interesting thing is I've found that there are some who consider the 14th amendment a travesty, that it should have never been passed. In fact, there are some who believe it was ratified illegally. This is the first I've heard of this, so I don't have anything to say about whether or not the 14th Amendment is illegal. However, I can say that I'm surprised something like the "privileges or immunities" clause was not included in the original Constitution, or at least the Bill of Rights. For what good is it to proclaim we all have inalienable rights and to even enumerate a few (but not all) of them in the Bill of Rights, but then let the states trample all over them? What would be the point? It wouldn't make sense to have such rights only in a federal context. Either all levels of government must respect our rights, or we really don't have rights at all.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

What's So Great About America
Today I finished reading What's So Great About America by Dinesh D'Souza. It's a good book, but not quite great. Perhaps this was the author's intention, but it's a light read, a bit too light given in the subject matter. Much of D'Souza's attention, given that the book was written in the aftermath of September 11th, focuses on the differences between the West and Islamic fundamentalism. That's all fine and dandy, but I would have appreciated more about the distinction between America and the rest of the West. You see, I'm not that worried about Islamic fundamentalism and the terrorism it inspires, at least, not in the long run. I'm confident the U.S. will eventually prevail over this threat.

I do have long-term concerns about the influence the rest of the West, Europe in other words, has on the United States. It would be an understatement to say that Europe is under a heavy socialist influence, and unfortunately that influence is felt here as well. One could argue that the West is in decline, that it has forgotten those values (individualism, Capitalism, freedom) that have made it great. Europe is leading the charge downward, and I fear the U.S. is following. For example, it is clear that American politics is sliding Leftward. Republicans are finding success in adopting the Democratic Party's agenda, and the Democrats are moving ever more Leftward to distinguish themselves as a result. If this continues, the United States will lose its identity. It will no longer be the land of freedom and opportunity. Instead, it will become a land of servitude, where all citizens live and work at the pleasure of the State.

Yes, I believe the policies of the Left are incompatible with Western civilization in general and the American ideal in particular. And yes, I think the greatest threat to America and all it symbolizes comes not from some other distinct civilization but from other elements of the West itself, from friendly nations that have the best of intentions yet ultimately disastrous advice. Perhaps D'Souza would not agree with me on this, but I would have like to have read more about that.