Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Greetings, imaginary readers. As you may have noticed, I haven't been blogging much lately. Lots of reasons for that, I suppose, but the most obvious one is school. My professors informed me a few weeks ago that I have a lot more work to do on a particular project that I had believed to be complete. I'm going to be working on it all summer, curse their hides. Blogging may be sparse, or it may start up again as I get into a good groove with my school work. My apologies.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Honest Blogger Quiz

I really ought to write down all the interesting thoughts I've been having since the conference I attended two weeks ago. But instead, here's a silly web meme.

1. Which political party do you typically agree with?


2. Which political party do you typically vote for?


3. List the last five presidents that you voted for.

2000 - Bush
1996 - Dole
1992 - in high school

4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy?

Neither one seems able to resist the temptation to meddle with the economy. Likewise, neither seem able to resist the temptation to spend like crazy whenever they're in power. To my mind, the beginning of economic wisdom is restraint, which quality seems in desperately short supply these days.

5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs?

GOP. But I'm really more of a foreign affairs kind of guy.

6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out?

We stay until the job is done. Period.

7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11?

Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda carried it out. The money came from lots of wealthy sheikhs, including Bin Laden himself. But the operatives were the product of a poisonous cultural climate cultivated by (1) the Wahabbis and other Islamist sects (Osama is a Salafi, not a Wahabbi, and (2) corrupt Middle Eastern states who made Israel and America bogymen to distract their impoverished, oppressed, and angry citizens. Authoritarian politics and extremist religion came together perfectly in Iran in 1979, and psychos like Osama and Mullah Omar have been trying to duplicate the combination ever since. Western statesmen have been slow to recognize and respond to the danger, but I do not blame them for not seeing it coming. I do blame those who want to run and hide now that we know what the danger is.

8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

The Iraq Survey Group has already found a (very) few such weapons, although certainly not in the quantities which anyone expected, or even close. Will we find more than this? Yes, including weapons which were spirited out of Iraq before we were able to start searching in earnest. But we will not find stockpiles (in Iraq or out) on the scale that we anticipated prior to the intervention.

9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana?

No way. (Sorry, dudes.)

10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last presidential election?

The election was too close to call. I admit that I would have been mad if the positions of Gore and Bush had been reversed and Gore had won after a decision from the Supreme Court. But recounting does not necessarily mean more accurate counting. The Gore campaign wanted to keep counting until one of the counts showed Gore as the winner, and then not stopping. The Bush campaign naturally thought that the counts that showed Bush as the winner should be the final counts. If the Supreme Court had not stepped in and declared one party or the other a winner, the recount would have gone on forever. It wasn't pretty, but it wasn't theft.

11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski?

He was rightly impeached for breaking the law in order to cover up personal immorality. No one should be above the law, and those who execute the law have a special responsiblity to abide by it faithfully.

12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president?

Perhaps. It depends on what is meant by a 'good' president. She's certainly smart and determined, she knows what she wants, and she's got a lot of political support. And she seems to be doing a pretty good job in the Senate, much to my surprise. But I don't like her politics, and you can count her scruples on one thumb. I wouldn't vote for her, but this country has had worse presidents.

13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great president.

I wish Tony Blair were an American and a Democrat, because he would be my first choice. Joe Leiberman shows a willingness to continue the fight against Islamist terror, which I like. Sam Nunn is also a serious thinker on foreign policy issues. And there are a few younger Democrats who appeal to me, although I am not sure that they are presidential material yet, including Evan Bayh, John Edwards, Jim Turner, and Jim Matheson.

14. Name a current Republican who would make a great president.

Dr. Condoleeza Rice! Also, Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell, and Mitt Romney. I also think Bobby Jindal is someone to watch for the future.

15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion?

In a very few cases (the child was conceived through rape, the mother would likely die in childbirth, etc.), I think it should be an option. Otherwise, no. Most abortions in this country are not because of extreme and extenuating circumstances. They happen either because (1) the parents did not use contraceptives, or (2) the contraceptives failed. If they did not want a child and did not use contraceptives, they are both fools. But everyone who has sex should know that no contraceptive is 100% effective; all heterosexual sex carries the risk of pregnancy. That's the chance you take. If you can't afford to lose, don't gamble.

It's true that it is a hardship to raise an unplanned child, especially if the father does not help. And it's an inconvenience to experience pregnancy and go through the process necessary to give a child up for adoption. But I know plenty of people who were conceived accidentally, and I know lots of people who were raised by single mothers. I'm glad they're alive. And I bet their mothers are, too.

16. What religion are you?


17. Have you read the Bible all the way through?

I have read each of the books through at least once and most of them several times. I don't know that I have ever read the entire thing straight through from Genesis to Revelation.

18. What's your favorite book?

The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber. Pick this up and read it. Out loud. I read it whenever I need to rekindle my love of the English language.

19. Who is your favorite band?

I like a lot of bands.

20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election?

Bush. I've already donated to his campaign.

21. What website did you see this on first?

Llama Butchers.

And now we're done!


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Good old UN

Bummed out about Abu Ghraib and all that jazz? Well, buddy, have I ever got an idea for you! Let's get the UN to run Iraq! They'll do a great job! It'll be awesome!

A book by three current and former U.N. employees about peacekeeping operations portrays wild parties with alcohol and drugs, and convicts and mental-asylum inmates passing as soldiers.
In another section, the authors say the "peacekeeping troops" sent to Cambodia by Bulgaria were not really soldiers.
They write that the Bulgarian government, starved for hard currency, actually cut a deal with inmates, offering them pardons if they accepted the U.N. assignment. Bulgaria, in turn, received financial compensation from the United Nations for its troops.
"The Bulgarians wanted the money, but didn't want to send their best-trained troops. So ... they offered inmates in the prisons and psychiatric wards a deal: Put on a uniform and go to Cambodia for six months, you're free on return," the book says.
Scores of criminals accepted the offer, were given uniforms and became U.N. peacekeepers, the authors say.
Mr. Cain describes the Bulgarians as "a battalion of criminal lunatics [who] arrive in a lawless land. They're drunk as sailors, rape vulnerable Cambodian women and crash their U.N. Land Cruisers with remarkable frequency."
Without going into the merits of the accusations in the book, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard conceded that the United Nations does not have a system to "verify" the credentials of troops offered for peacekeeping.
"When it comes to formed military units, we rely on the donor country to give us professional soldiers. ... There is not a quality-control test, and units vary in the degree of their training from country to country, even from unit to unit," he said.

Wait. Wait a second. Did I say 'awesome'? I meant 'horrible.'