Thursday, July 29, 2004

No Steps Taken Yet

After reading this Star Tribune editorial, I must regretfully disagree with the Elder at Fraters Libertas. The Strib won't take the first step until they actually say "We were wrong and we apologize".They are very free with irresponsible accusations (when they can accuse Republicans), it's about time they actually apologized for one. C'mon you editors, suck it up and do the right thing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Well, another hiatus

Once again, I've had some posting problems. One set due to being out of town on a short but fun visit to the Windy City, and the other problem being a change to Blogger that broke my (up to now) trusty Mozilla browser. Now armed with a newer version 1.7, it's time to give it another try.
I do want to offer congrats to Governor Pawlenty for taking the Star Tribune to task about their recent editorial criticising him for visting our National Guardsman in Kosovo. My favorite part:

Half a world away, in a country few Americans can find on a globe, more than 800 Minnesota citizen soldiers are hard at work. They're keeping the peace in a country that has been torn by war, dictatorship and genocide.

These men and woman keeping the peace are not full-time soldiers -- they're volunteers in the Minnesota National Guard. And they're the bulk of the U.S. peacekeeping force that stands between the people of Kosovo and violence.

The First Lady and I are going to Kosovo to thank these brave, selfless men and women and the families they leave at home. The public is understandably focused on places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not forget, however, the tremendous service that members of our military provide in other places such as Kosovo.

That's why it was so disheartening to read the Star Tribune editorial that criticized our trip to Kosovo this weekend. I normally don't bother to respond to the criticism I receive from the Star Tribune editorial writers. Their perspective is hopelessly imbalanced, increasingly shrill and often just simply inaccurate or incomplete.

They have an angry and dismissive attitude toward conservatives or Republicans -- unless, of course, the Republicans are the sort who are nearly indistinguishable in their views from Democrats.
Although I agree with the governor's assessment of the lack of quality of the editorial writers work, important part is where he reminds the Strib about priorities:
The trip to Kosovo requires that I be gone one business day. I left Thursday evening and return this evening. To criticize being gone one business day to thank our troops when nothing has happened at the Legislature for months is ridiculous and represents a new low even for the editorial writers of this newspaper.
(paragraph about Minnesota domestic stuff snipped)
One thing is for sure -- I won't be letting the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard and their important mission in Kosovo take a back seat to partisan theater at the State Capitol. I would also hope that, when it comes to supporting and thanking our troops, the Star Tribune editorial writers would at least pretend to be fair for one day.
Well said, Governor.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

The above is to remind the Star Tribune what President Bush really said in his 2003 State of the Union address, because in this July21 editorial they seem to think he said something else....

From loud -- and erroneous -- claims that a link finally had been established between Niger and Iraq, you'd think the entire case for invading Iraq had finally been validated. That's hogwash.

Everyone recalls the issue: Prior to the war in Iraq, the Bush administration claimed -- most famously in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech -- that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium ore from Niger. Later, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times saying Bush was wrong and that the CIA knew it. The basis for Wilson's claim: He had traveled to Niger at the CIA's behest to investigate the claims and found them baseless.

The real problem is that Joseph Wilson lied about how he got the task of investigating uranium claims in Niger, and he misrepresented what he reported to the CIA, then publicly accused the President of lying. Earth to Star Tribune: Wilson lied, move on to something else.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Dana Milbank's Point of View Problem

I saw this Washington Post story in this morning's Star Tribune and was planning on commenting about it, but Captain Ed beat me to it (and probably did it better anyway). The only thing I have to add is a question: Why did the Star Tribune print this non-story? The only thing that comes to mind is that they printed it for the same reason that Milbank wrote it: to imply to the public that a president they both hate discriminates against women. Why else does the story not supply comparable figures for previous administrations? My completely unresearched guess is that Milbank didn't want to provide a basis for comparison becuase it might work against what he was trying sell.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

From Today's Star Tribune

There were two items of interest to me in today's Strib. The first (free registration required) is a piece by Jim Boyd about how there should be a compromise on abortion, to wit that elective abortions be banned after five months. What interests me is how he justifies the proposal. First, explains how he is personally pro=life, but:

In my personal life, I am strongly prolife. As I look back on the birth and growth of three sons, and now the efforts of young people to birth my grandchildren (the newest due today, the last arriving a month ago), I can't conceive of a scenario in which I would have embraced optional abortion (optional meaning without the life of a woman hanging in the balance).

Now here's the but:

And yet, it is not my right -- nor the right of any American -- to use the state to impose that prolife value on another during the early months of pregnancy. That's because the belief that life begins at conception is not a belief arising from reason and science, but a belief religious people take from their understanding of God. In a land based on the rights of humankind, such religious beliefs do not have a place in the laws that govern human behavior.

The same test applies to definitions of marriage, to the use of stem cells in scientific research, to most questions of sexual behavior and to many, many other issues that vex the nation because of this latter-day confusion over secular state vs. religious nation.

So, in his view the idea that life could start at conception can only be a religious idea that can have no basis in reason and science. Well. How breathtakingly arrogant, condescending, and patronizing. I don't suppose the fact that conception is the 1st point in the process where all the genetic material that defines the new human being is present (and starting to build the new body) has any scientific meaning, at least not in his view. After making such a definitive statement, it wouldn't be too much to ask to back it up with say, facts, or reason, or some sort of logical argument? Apparently not. (But isn't it his personal belief?-ed Sure, but he's the one claiming that it's based on science and reason, so it behooves him to back up his beliefs with, say, science and reason!) So where does life begin for Mr. Boyd?

And yet reason also tells us that somewhere in about the middle of pregnancy, a unique human life does emerge, a life deserving of the rights of humankind the state is organized to protect. We can't nail down precisely when this new life appears; the closest we can come is the age of "viability," when a fetus has developed the ability, with proper nurturing, to live outside the body of its mother.

So much for reason. All he has demonstrated that he doesn't know when life begins any more than I do. I've chosen a more conservative position, he has specified a moving target. If technology advances to the point where a fertilized egg can be grown to childhood outside of the womb at one week, does that mean that life really begins at conception, then? (Yes,that makes abortion a moot point, but this is a hypothetical question used to make a point, so spare me the nitpicking.) I think his actual criteria is, When is it OK to inconvenience a woman who does not want to be pregnant?

The 2nd item is one concerning my least favorite filmmaker/propagandist/liar/manipulator, Michael Moore. This story describes the way Moore misrepresents Congressman Mark Kennedy in Farenheit 9/11 by omitting his actual answers to questions about family serving in Iraq. I don't have much to add as the article speaks for itself, but I do have one question. If this is the kind of dishonest filmmaking that Moore is known for, why did the Star Tribune endorse his movie?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Yet Another Screed from the Star Tribune

Today's lead editorial in the Strib accuses (with little proof) the Senate GOP of protecting the president's backside over the intelligence problems in Iraq. (Note the Star Tribune editorial board never complained about the Democrats covering president Clinton's backside during his troubles...). The occasion for this piece apparently is the release of the Senate Intelligence committee report about Iraq. As the conclusions of the report (the full report is too large for me to download over a dial-up connection) do not even address the Strib's complaints (the next part of the investigation will), it is hard to find any meaningful content in this little screed. This report attempts to document and analyze the intelligence failures prior to the Iraq war. The only thing in this mess that approaches an argument is the Star Tribune's complaint, before it jumps directly to the blame Bush vitriol, is that the investigation should not have been in two parts, but a single investigation along the lines of the 9/11 Commission. Yep, that fine example of a fair, impartial, non-politicized investigation (/sarcasm). The Strib conveniently forgets that a complete investigation probably wouldn't have been completed by the November election. To me, it makes more sense to address the intelligence gathering/analysis failures first. Why? Because it seems to me that any president's decisions are only as good as the information he/she/it bases them on. Therefore, getting reliable, complete (as possible) intelligence is absolutely vital. Placing the political blame is rather secondary. Of course that doesn't fit the Strib's agenda - getting John Kerry elected in November.

Oh, and by the way if you guys at the Star Tribune want to learn how to write a proper, entertaining screed, just look to your own James Lileks.

While I've been away...

I've been on hiatus the last month or so for a couple of reasons, mostly due to troubles controlling asthma but also due to a lack of ambition to write anything. That's one of the good points of having a blog that no one reads - I can step out anytime and no one will notice. (So why this bloviation if no one reads it? -Ed).

Quite a lot has happened in the last month and a half, so I'm going to quickly spout opinions on a selected portion of events.

First, Iraq. Sovereignty has been more or less restored to the Iraqi people, and now the real struggle for the future of Iraq has begun, its outcome to be ultimately determined (as has always been the case) by Iraqis. Saddam Hussein has been turned over to the Iraqis and will be put on trial. Robert Scheer takes another opportunity to make a jackass of himself in this piece in the LA Times (free registration required). He seems upset that Saddam was not charged with the actions that precipitated the invasion of Iraq. Well Robert, despite your rock-solid but clueless convictions, I would like to point out that an Iraqi court probably has a different idea about what the important crimes are. They are probably more concerned about his role in populating the mass graves being found all over Iraq and the torture and rape of his own citizens than they are about his support of terrorists and attempts to build WMD. Keep in mind that Saddam's trial does not parallel the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal all that much. At Nuremberg, the Nazis were primary charged with crimes against the peoples of other nations (excluding the German Jews murdered in the Holocaust). In Saddam's case, the crimes he is charged with are primarily crimes against his own people. It is perfectly just and appropriate that he be tried by Iraqis and punished as they see fit. Claiming that the Iraqi government is just a US puppet (without much evidence) does not change this. In any case, Saddam is getting magnitudes more due process of law than any of his victims.

The Kerry campaign demonstrates more unfitness for high office by his endorsement of the vile, uncalled-for personal attacks at a fundraiser at Radio City in New York. The Democratic Party needs to get its crazies under some semblance of control. For all their complaining about the way the GOP and conservatives treated Bill Clinton, they have gone far beyond that. Various high-profile Dems have accused the president of being a deserter(disproven), a liar (so far unproven), a drug abuser (again with no proof), a dummy, a puppet, etc. since Bush became the GOP nominee for 2000. If Kerry actually has some leadership ability, he should be using it to chastise these intolerant Hollywood hatemongers and morons instead of endorsing their remarks. Example of the stupidity - Meryl Streep castigating the Bush administration for "dropping megaton bombs" on Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq. Since there were no nuclear weapons used in Iraq (fortunately), there were no "megaton" weapons used. My suggestion to Ms. Streep is that she acquire an education before spouting off on foreign policy. She would be less likely to sound like a twit that way.

The Senate report (in pdf format) on the intelligence efforts in Iraq was released today. Conclusion: the intelligence community screwed the pooch and gave the President bad information and analysis. The spin from some Democrats - Bush/Cheney pushed the CIA to produce the erroneous results because they wanted to wage war. Republican spin - Although the intelligence was inexcusably bad the invasion was still correct policy, but we had better fix the intelligence problem. To me, the important bit is the 'Fix the intelligence' part. How do we fix it? I don't have the slightest idea, other than put more emphasis on getting people in on the ground and relying less on technical intelligence gathering.

The death of former President Reagan seemed to generate lots of reverence and respect just short of worship from conservatives and the predictable vitriol from the folks on the left. Personally, I don't know where to rate him as president, other than I think he was above average, especially compared to the folks who served just before and just after him. I think it's really too early to pass historical judgment on his Presidency just yet. I suspect that history will be kind to Ronald Reagan.

Ah, now for my friendly local newspaper. The Star Tribune did indeed live down to my expectations during my hiatus, publishing the usual Bush-hating editorials while ignoring inconvenient facts. The item that most bemused me, however, is a piece by Lori Sturdevant (free registration required). In it, she seems shocked and surpised that two Republicans running in a Republican primary for State Senate would actually um, sound like Republicans and like, mostly agree on how to govern the state. Shocking! She also takes a cheap shot at the Republican leaders in state government, implying they are unable to do the business of government. I suggest she take a look at a Senate DFL leadership that decided that obstruction and inflexibility was the order of the day. They blocked the bonding bill and the budget deal in the last legislative session, and are making a special session impossible through their intransigence.