Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

Feel-good racism – an answer to a comment

A commenter on the mirror site of this blog expressed a disagreement with my previous post on Feel-good racism.  The comment was polite, but for some reason unsigned, which is very annoying.  Nevertheless, it deserves some answers.

Whenever the subject of racism in America comes up, the Left laments on how bad it is, while the Right points out all the progress in inter-racial relations, while admitting that racism still exists.  So, let’s agree what we call "racism".  If racism means feeling of prejudice on the part of ignorant individuals toward other than their own racial or ethnic groups, then it does exist.  There is no real way to combat this, other than point out the idiocy and irrationality of such prejudice.  But if racism means prejudice practiced by the government or societal institutions, then it most definitely hasn’t been around for many years.  Additionally, if racism is denying privileges or awarding privileges to certain groups based on their racial or ethnic backgrounds, then Affirmative Action is, in fact, racist.

Let’s get back to the subject I am more familiar with because of my own background: anti-Semitism.  There are certainly anti-Semites in this country, plenty of them.  Those who doubt that can go read any of the leftist blogs and find there plenty of ugly Nazi-like comments or posts.  But anti-Semitism as an institutional or government practice does not exist.

The anonymous commenter said something about what Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.  I doubt very much that he/she ever saw, let alone read Mein Kampf.  For the record, I haven’t read it either.  So, I am not going to attempt to quote from that crap.  But I get very annoyed by people who heard something from somebody and then try to present it as fact.  So, I don’t know what Hitler wrote.  I do know, however, that Jews and Gypsies were targeted for extermination, not immediately after he rose to power, but later during the war.

The anonymous commenter wrote that it does not matter if some Black kids don’t perform in colleges, as long as they have a chance to go to college because of Affirmative Action.  But in fact, it does matter.  Perhaps it would be better if the kids from bad schools were offered preparatory courses in colleges, prior to attending regular classes.  Interestingly enough, there was something like this in the old Soviet Union.  That one of the very few things that were actually good there.  Shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution they instituted so called "workers’ faculties".  They were created precisely in order to prepare those who were underprivileged for college.  My grandpa attended one of those.  Later preparatory courses were offered to those who entered college after military service, since they often forgot the stuff they learned in high school.  The inner city predominantly black schools are worse than suburban schools not because of some racist conspiracy, but simply because of poverty.  I am sure there are predominantly white schools in small Midwestern towns that just as poor.

The Jews never had any Civil Rights movement in this country.  They simply overcame the discrimination based on merits.  The same could be true for the Black people.  Any rational employer will hire the most qualified applicant for the job at the lowest possible price.  Those employers who inject other considerations will simply lose in the market place.

I don’t care about people’s color.  Neither do my kids.  Why does the Left try to force me to pay attention to those irrelevant physical characteristics?

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February 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Chronic Warrior Syndrome

This is a title of the article by Russ Vaughn posted both on American Thinker and Old War Dogs:

Chronic Warrior Syndrome

Russ Vaughn
One of the things I’ve come to love about writing for the Internet is the new friends I make whose perception sometimes make me smack my forehead in wonder that in all my years some insight they easily offer up had so completely eluded me until now. One such is a jarhead, and believe me, as an old paratrooper, I use that term with respect and brotherly affection. Old Leatherneck, Troy Watson, introduced me to the concept of Chronic Marine Syndrome, which as best I can determine is the inspiration of retired Marine Corps Brigadier General, Mike Mulqueen.

Reading the list of symptoms associated with Chronic Marine Syndrome, I realized quickly that the New York Times and other mainstream media organizations have been right all along that those who serve their country, and especially those who have actually fought in their country’s service have most likely developed a syndrome which, considering the moral fiber of the mainstream media and the nation of sheep they seek to form and lead, could accurately be categorized by them as pathological.

Russ also wrote in his e-mail to me that he would like to have a requirement of at least 3 years military service as an admission requirement for all the journalism schools in the country.  That seems like a good idea to me, at least for those who cover the military and foreign affairs.  So, do read the whole thing, either here or here.  Enjoy!  And while you are at it, be sure to visit this fine site: http://www.e27marines-1stmardiv.org/.

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February 18, 2008 Posted by | Contributions by Russ Vaughn | Leave a comment

Can this be clearer?

Once again Charles Johnson of LGF found this wonderful picture:

I especially like the caption:

Hizbollah militants raise their arms in salute of assassinated Hezbollah top commander Imad Mughniyeh during a memorial service in his home village of Tair Debba, south Lebanon, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008.

(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Can someone in the media call this "salute" what it really is?  Can it be any more clear that these are the Nazis of our time?  Note that the link to the original picture works for now, but I saved the picture, just in case the link goes away.

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February 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some engineering links

As an engineer, I get a bunch of professional newsletters.  While most of the articles are of interest to high tech. professionals, some are interesting to the general public.  So, I am going to make the articles that are interesting to the general public a regular feature of this blog.  So, here are some articles from the site called "Planet Analog".

Why engineers will always be lousy politicians and pundits

The world of analog engineering is the polar opposite of the way that politicians and pundits operate, and that’s why engineers don’t fit into that public realm

Tony Santiago
Planet Analog
Feb 02, 2008 (12:00 PM)

Its political season here, and the media (both old and new) are filled 24/7 with politicians, pundits, and consultants who are analyzing, assessing, and forecasting. I’m so sick of the meaningless energy dissipation that I have pretty much shut off the TV and radio, and restricted my web sites and surfing time severely.

It’s not that I am not interested in these elections in themselves; no doubt, they are important. But when I see the typical behavior and messages of the players, I get major mental aggravation.

Why? First and least offensive is their "spin", putting as good an interpretation on the facts as possible. It’s like the old joke about a race: "our guy came in second, while your guy only came in next to last"–but you don’t mention that it was just a two-person race!

Second, and more offensive, is the smooth way these people evade questions asked. Imagine your project manager asks, "hey, did you get that dissipation under budget?" and you answer "that’s a good question, but instead I’d like to point out that we did get the speed up 20% above plan."

Finally, there’s the absolute ease with which these people make predictions and then have no shame or contrition when they are repeatedly wrong. Instead, it’s just on to the next prediction. If you modeled system performance and were off by 50%, you’d not only try to figure out why, you’d likely hesitate before making your next bold statement.

This behavior is very far removed from the non-software world of analog designers. When a vendor gives you a sample part and data sheet, you should be able to get the part to do what the data sheet says (assuming you have the proper test setup and expertise). There’s no facile, glib suggestion to "ignore our 90 dB SNR claim, but look at that dissipation, and we promise an uncommitted internal op amp, maybe by next quarter."

This article is absolutely correct, from my perspective.  Here is another one that I agree with completely:

Commentary: Maybe ‘they’ should study some science instead?
Bill Schweber
EE Times
Feb 01, 2008 (3:32 PM)

Once again, engineers are being asked to spend more time studying the liberal arts ( "Engineering schools strive to serve up Pinter with Planck). Frankly, I’m tired of hearing this proposition, and it’s not due my disinterest in non-science subjects: I’d be happy to discuss Greek philosophers, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and William Shakespeare with anyone out there.

First, I see nothing other than anecdotal evidence that such purportedly well-rounded engineers will be better at their jobs than those who focus their studies on science and engineering. Second, as the clich goes, there are only so many hours in the day, and if you take time to study one thing, you’ll have to give up something else. The concern I hear from engineers and scientists at all levels is that there is already so much to know in their field that they are remiss at keeping up with even associated topics. Even more annoying, every time I hear some interest group with an agenda say something like, "Doctors should study more about nutrition/geriatrics/eating disorders, etc.," all I can say is, "OK, sounds good, but what would you have them not study, then?"

I am tired of the presumption that it’s the engineers who need to become "well rounded." The typical engineer has broader knowledge and interests than the average non-engineer, in my experience. Then look at the abysmal understanding the public has about basic science and engineering topics; it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. These are the same people who call upon the technical community to solve every problem quickly, painlessly, and without tradeoffs. Tell me: Who needs to learn more about the other side of life?

The split between the technical and the non-technical communities is not a new story. It was discussed widely even in the 1950s by physicist and novelist C.P. Snow, in his essays such as "The Two Cultures," among others. Since that time, the divide he deplored has become even more dramatic than he foresaw, as technology’s advance has accelerated while the understanding of it by the public which consumes it has declined.

There are many reasons for this decline, including the sheer complexity of today’s technologies, a lazy and jaded public, and the dumbing down of education (have you seen today’s high-school chemistry labs?), to name a few. But the basic principles of science and engineering are still vital and unchanged (force, power, gravity, the list could go on and on). Why should our community accept the premise that it is we who need to learn more about that non-technical side, rather than the other way around?

This "well rounded" BS always annoyed me to no end.  Meanwhile, there are people who can’t cope with a simple task of programming their VCRs and have to call a handyman to replace a light bulb.  This reliance on "experts" will doom us all.  Here is another article that illustrates exactly this point:

Are we becoming a ‘cargo cult’ society?
Bill Schweber
EE Times
Jan 25, 2008 (3:00 AM)

The 2007 holiday gift-buying season again brought a major step-up in the sophistication and complexity of consumer goods. The technology embedded in these products is nothing short of astounding. As Arthur C. Clarke wrote in "Profiles of The Future": "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

But there’s a worrisome aspect to all this magic in a box. The very complexity of the technology makes it less necessary that users understand it. For example, today’s cars are much more reliable and easier to drive than earlier cars (Choke? What choke?), but they are also much more difficult to fix, unless you are trained and have specialized equipment and documentation. The good news, in theory, is that you no longer need to understand how the car works to keep it running; the bad news is that you couldn’t do much even if you wanted to.

This reminds me of a "cargo cult," a term originating with a story of Pacific Ocean islanders in WWII who built dummy replicas of radios, antennas and microphones, then called for the planes to land with their cargo, just as they saw military forces do. Physicist Richard Feynman referred to this in his insightful 1974 Caltech commencement address (www.cs.umbc.edu/www/graduate/feynman-cargo.shtml).

When I think about the trajectory of all this technology, I wonder: Will we increasingly become a society of largely ignorant consumers who happily use what is given to us but leave the design, development, debug and manufacturing to an ever-smaller group? Looking a decade or two out, will there be only a dozen experts who know how to design a decent power supply? Will these groups become like the alchemists of old, and be called upon because they are the only ones with the understanding of how things actually work?

We’ve come to a point where rap stars get accolades for "designing" cell phones, which really means they are prettying up the case, not the innards. How many people can actually design the phone, or the parts inside of it, and produce it?

Donald A. MacKenzie, professor of sociology at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), wrote in "Knowing Machines: Essays on Technical Change" that there is both "explicit knowledge," which is published and spread, and the very vital "implicit knowledge," which skilled practitioners know and bring to their work, but which is not recorded or even recognized by them.

With the combination of increasing internal product complexity and decreasing end-user understanding, are we reaching a point where the implicit knowledge may get lost, or be known to a smaller and smaller circle? Are we becoming something of a cargo cult ourselves?

Finally, I’d like to round this up with these 2 technology news articles:

Startup puts wireless monitor on a band-aid
Rick Merritt
EE Times
Feb 04, 2008 (11:54 PM)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Sometime next year nurses may put active band-aids on hospital patients to wirelessly monitor as many as three vital signs. Startup Toumaz Technology (Abingdon, U.K.) described its custom chip to power such a disposable device at the International Solid State Circuits Conference here Monday (Feb. 4).

A chip in a band-aid is pretty cool, isn’t it?  Just click on the title to read the whole thing.

Navy demos railgun to fire projectiles 250 miles
R. Colin Johnson
EE Times
Feb 04, 2008 (1:48 PM)

PORTLAND, Ore. — An electromagnetic catapult, or railgun, is on track for deployment on U.S. warships around 2012, according to the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

A railgun, which uses electricity to magnetically accelerate munitions down a track, shoots metal projectiles that hit targets at supersonic speed. They can also cause more damage than a high-explosive without collateral destruction (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit). With GPS-enabled targeting accuracy of 15 feet, when shot from warships up to 275 miles away, the non-explosive railgun projectiles could also protect Navy personnel without requiring dangerous explosives onboard.

We create new weapons in the middle of the war and still think about minimizing civilian casualties, otherwise known as "collateral damage".  How different this is from what our enemies do!

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February 17, 2008 Posted by | Engineering | Leave a comment

Why it is very important to vote for McCain

This is not my article.  The article on this subject was written by Sultan Knish, and only now I got around to linkng to it:

Why You Should Vote for John McCain

It was 1991 and Edwin Edwards was running for reelection as the Governor of Louisiana. Edwards’ corruption was legendary and he had faced multiple trials and indictments. Now in 1991 he was running against David Duke and bumper stickers and signs went up reading, "Vote for the Crook. It’s important."

Well this time around John McCain is running against either Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary Clinton. Either one is as bad as David Duke. Obama is a Farrakhanite with a Muslim background, membership in a racist church and is backed by the Soros wing of the Democratic party. Hillary Clinton is a dogmatic far left wing activist with a socialist agenda that would turn America into the EU before she was done.

Vote for John McCain. It’s important.

Read it all.  I have very little to add to this article, besides reemphasizing that the damage potentially done to this country by either Clinton or Obama Presidency will be impossible to repair completely.  So, in full damage control mode, vote for McCain.

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February 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Something I can relate to

As long as we are on the subject of engineering, here is another article from the same professional magazine called Embedded.com. It’s a short article, so I will just post it all here:

Why I Became an Engineer

Why did you become an engineer?

Embedded.com

<!–

–>Some years ago my son was tasked with a high school assignment to build a circuit to re-encode a bank of switches. The teacher expected a simple diode-based design, but I suggested tossing an embedded computer in, so if the problem changed the solution would be trivial.

Also, of course, the thought of tweaking the instructor was appealing. When Graham got the thing working, the flash of excitement in his eye was a tremendous reward. He built the project, he wrote a little code. And it worked.

That’s exactly why I became an engineer.

Engineering is the art of solving problems. "In order to make a machine that does X, I have to figure out how to design some hardware and firmware that does Y." Puzzling out these solutions is both an intellectual challenge and a game. Am I smart enough to do this? What will I have to invent?

Problem solving is its own reward. But it’s not enough, for me at least. I want to make something that works. Not push paper, not write proposals, not document someone else’s creation, though all of those tasks are an inescapable and wearisome part of this profession.

But I want the thrill of seeing the motor turn, the LEDs blink, or a message marqueeing across the display. No doubt that "I made that work" satisfaction is rooted somewhere in the same brain center that rewards gamblers and addicts.

A lot of developers work on large projects that take years of effort. More power to them, but I could never do that. I want to see something work, relatively soon. Invent solutions, see them implemented, and move on to the next project. You can have those big government projects that consume entire careers; the thought of being caught in that mill horrifies me. Thankfully others are more patient and will see these efforts through.

I sort of fell into the embedded space as it didn’t exist in the late 60s when I was in high school. An obsessive interest in electronics morphed into ham radio, but the important thing to me was always building something. First, learn the material, absolutely. But do start with just an infancy of knowledge and build a small project to get feedback, for fun, and to get a visceral learning that does not come from books.

Later I learned about programming (rather, became consumed with it), and when the first microprocessors came out was accidentally and fortuitously positioned with the right skills and interests.

To me, embedded is the best of all engineering fields. One person can design circuits. Write code. Often figure out the science, or at least its application. And then make something that works.

In the olden days some companies didn’t let engineers work on the hardware. Technicians soldered, scoped and instrumented under the direction of an engineer. Screw that – half the fun is working with the hardware!

The irony now is that hardware can be so hard to manipulate – I have a sub-inch-square chip on my desk with 1500 balls on it – that the required special equipment becomes a barrier to that intimate physical manipulation of a circuit that can be so satisfying. If that sounds like some sort of foreplay, well, perhaps there is a connection between those two parts of the brain, too.

What about you? Why did you become an engineer?

I am an engineer. And I love what I do. My Dad was an Electronics Engineer, and I saw first hand how much fun it was, while growing up. So, I followed in his footsteps and became an Electronics Engineer myself. You come up with an idea, you design something, implement it, and then it works! Problem solving is, indeed, its own reward. And then your stuff works! I just can’t describe this feeling. I guess, only a fellow engineer can understand why I get excited over some waveform on the screen of an oscilloscope. So, I have fun all day playing with things and get paid for it! What can be better?

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February 11, 2008 Posted by | Engineering | 4 Comments

H1B visas

This article is not from a political publication, but from an engineering one:

Like tossing a lit cigarette out the window onto a bit of dry California brush, some subjects are consistently inflammatory for engineers. If career issues always spark excited commentary, discussion about H-1B visas are like pouring gasoline on a wildfire.

The ACM and IEEE claim that enrollments in CS and EE curricula are falling precipitously. Yet readers respond that those organizations are fronts for industry; that cries of looming shortages are the tools of fat-cat employers to flood the market with cheap imported labor and drive salaries down. Is that paranoia, or does it show a firm grasp of market dynamics?

Others respond that any idiot can see there’s no shortage. "Just look at all of the unemployed engineers I know!" Unemployed friends and relatives make for powerful personal imagery, but just as a single cold or hot day says nothing meaningful about the global warming shoutfest, local and personal anecdotes are tragic but not statistically-significant. The IEEE says there’s practically full employment, but those who think they’re a shill for industry won’t believe them.

For the record, I personally think that all the H1B visas should be replaced with Green Cards, along with requirements to become American Citizens. But this is an interesting article, so do read it.

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February 11, 2008 Posted by | Engineering | 1 Comment

Someone, who knew Hillary…

…back in 1974, wrote this unflattering article about her:

I have just seen Hillary Clinton and her former Yale law professor both in tears at a campaign rally here in my home state of Connecticut. Her tearful professor said how proud he was that his former student was likely to become our next President.  Hillary responded in tears.

Hillary Clinton crying

My own reaction was of regret that, when I terminated her employment on the Nixon impeachment staff, I had not reported her unethical practices to the appropriate bar associations.

Hillary as I knew her in 1974

At the time of Watergate I had overall supervisory authority over the House Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Inquiry staff that included Hillary Rodham-who was later to become First Lady in the Clinton White House.

…………………………………………………………………………….

After hiring Hillary, Doar assigned her to confer with me regarding rules of procedure for the impeachment inquiry. At my first meeting with her I told her that Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino, House Speaker Carl Albert, Majority Leader Tip O’Neill, Parliamentarian Lou Deschler and I had previously all agreed that we should rely only on the then existing House Rules, and not advocate any changes. I also quoted Tip O’Neill’s statement that: "To try to change the rules now would be politically divisive. It would be like trying to change the traditional rules of baseball before a World Series." 

Hillary assured me that she had not drafted, and would not advocate, any such rules changes. However, as documented in my personal diary, I soon learned that she had lied (emphasis mine – Eric-Odessit). She had already drafted changes, and continued to advocate  them. In one written legal memorandum, she advocated denying President Nixon representation by counsel. In so doing she simply ignored the fact that in the committee’s then-most-recent prior impeachment proceeding, the committee had afforded the right to counsel to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

Read it all.  But she is still better than Obama, in case she does become President.

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February 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feel-good racism

A couple of days ago Bookworm posted a story about kids in her daughter’s school saying that people should vote for Obama because he is black.  This started a discussion, in which I participated.  There was also a nice lady named Helen, also a blogger on WordPress.  Helen is a leftist, or, as she prefers to call herself, a Progressive.  She is very nice and polite, and generally a pleasure to disagree with.  Helen defends the Affirmative Action practices and thinks that Obama’s race is important because racism still exists.  There were others commenting on the Bookworm’s post, who disagreed with Helen and agreed with me, but still acknowledged existence of racism.  That includes Bookworm herself.  I, on the other hand, suggested that, save for few idiots on the fringes, racism does not exist in this country.  As an example of real racism I described anti-Semitism in the old Soviet Union, something I faced personally.  I also mentioned anti-Russian discrimination in many of the Soviet republics.  What Helen and others missed in my argument was that, while there are some racist idiots in this country, the discrimination in the Soviet Union came from the government.  This has not happen in this country for at least 40 years.  Ironically, the biggest reason that caused any kind of discrimination to end was something that back in high school I was told was bad about America: the so-called "cult of dollar".  But it only makes sense: if you need to hire someone for your business, you would want to hire the most qualified individual.  Ethnic, racial or religious background are usually irrelevant to the person’s ability to do the job.  There might be exceptions: if you are looking for a rabbi you will have to hire a Jew, while a pastor will have to be a Christian.  But other than that, things like that are irrelevant.

By focusing on the race, ethnicity or gender the Left prevents these irrelevant characteristics from being viewed as irrelevant.  In fact, the closest thing to government-sponsored discrimination is the Affirmative Action, so loved by the Left.  Supposedly this rights some wrong that was perpetrated over 40 years ago.  But as I commented, so I, as a Jew, was discriminated against in Odessa.  Does this fact mean that I should condone anti-Russian discrimination in Tashkent?

The Left continues with this feel-good racism.  In another post Bookworm showed the way Time magazine reported the breakdown of the Primary voters:

GOP Results

 Republicans: McCain 40, Romney 36, Huckabee 18
Evangelicals: Huckabee 33, McCain 31, Romney 30
Conservatives: Romney 42, McCain 31, Huckabee 20

Those most concerned about:

Immigration: Romney 48, McCain 25, Huckabee 15
Economy: McCain 40, Romney 32, Huck 18
Iraq: McCain 51, Romney 20, Huckabee 15

Democrats

Blacks: Obama 81, Clinton 17
Whites: Clinton 50, Obama 44
Hispanics: Clinton 62, Obama 36
White women: Clinton 57, Obama 45
Young whites: Obama 64, Clinton 35

The breakdown for Republicans is on the issues, while the breakdown for Democrats is along ethnic and gender lines.  One commenter on the Helen’s post that was the result of the comments on the Bookworm’s post was thus praising the openness of our elections to everybody:

"I find it amazing that not only are a black man and a white woman running for president, but also a minister and a medical doctor and a soldier who survived years of torture."

So, she described the Republicans by what they do and their life experience.  She described the Democrats by their racial and gender identities.  Why?  Who cares about Obama’s race and Hillary’s gender and race?  How do their identities impact their ability to the President?  Their race and gender are absolutely irrelevant to the job they might have to do (although I hope they won’t get to do that).  I will not vote for either of them, but I absolutely don’t care about Obama’s blackness or Hillary’s femininity.  I simply disagree with their ideas.  I don’t think that anything approaching Socialism is a good idea to implement.  I should know: I grew up with that.  But their identities have nothing to do with that, although their party affiliation does.

The way to end racism is just to end it.  My daughters are not capable of racism for one simple reason: they don’t know about racial differences.  Oh, sure, they have all kinds of kids in school and preschool.  But for them the racial differences are on the same level as the difference between someone with blond and brunet hair.  I’d like to keep it that way.

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February 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Confessions of a Libertarian

My Thoughts on Ron Paul’s Candidacy for President.

I used to be a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party.  In fact, while I stopped paying membership dues years ago, I still have the Libertarian Party card in my wallet.  I still hold many Libertarian views.  But I cannot and will not vote for Ron Paul to be President.  In fact, I probably would not vote for any Libertarian, despite holding many of Libertarian views.  Why?  There is a couple of reasons.

The main thing in the Libertarian philosophy that appeals to me is the basic principle of "live and let live".  In my view it is not Government’s job to protect people from themselves.  People should be free to do good or bad things to themselves, as long as they don’t harm others.  Government also should not be in the business of helping people: there are charities for that.  However, and this is where I part company with Libertarians, the Government should provide a minimal safety net.  Because relying on charities does not always work.  Here is why.  My personal test for any policy that sounds good in theory is this: let’s take it to its logical conclusion in practice and see whether I still like it.  In engineering this approach is called "worst case analysis".  It basically checks whether a given system would still work under extreme circumstances.  So, returning to politics, let’s say, for example, that someone who does not have health insurance and does not have a lot of money to pay for expensive treatment gets into a bad car accident.  If no charity comes along to pay for that person’s treatment, that person has to be left to die on the side of the road.  I don’t think that would acceptable in a civilized society.  That is why guaranteed minimal safety net is necessary.  And the only entity capable of guaranteeing such safety net is the government.

My other disagreement with the Libertarians is the view on foreign policy.  And this is the main reason why I would never vote for someone like Ron Paul.  Libertarians, Ron Paul among them, are uncompromising isolationists.  Because the term "isolationist" is historically associated with pre-World War 2 isolationism in the face of Nazi aggression, they now came up with the term "non-interventionist".  Can someone please explain the difference to me?  Because I don’t see any.  Maybe it’s the fact that English is my second language.

Ron Paul in particular now tries to ignore the history behind our current conflict with the jihadis.  Here is what he wrote (thanks to Sultan Knish):

Arab Muslims are tired of us.

Angry and frustrated by our persistent bullying and disgusted with having their own government bought and controlled by the United States, joining a radical Islamic movement was a natural and predictable consequence for Muslims.

We believe bin Laden when he takes credit for an attack on the West, and we believe him when he warns us of an impending attack. But we refuse to listen to his explanation of why he and his allies are at war with us.

Bin Laden’s claims are straightforward. The U.S. defiles Islam with military bases on holy land in Saudi Arabia, its initiation of war against Iraq, with 12 years of persistent bombing, and its dollars and weapons being used against the Palestinians as the Palestinian territory shrinks and Israel’s occupation expands. There will be no peace in the world for the next 50 years or longer if we refuse to believe why those who are attacking us do it.

This ignores the long history of conflict, starting with the Barbary WarsHere is what the Tripoli’s Ambassador to London Abd Al-Rahman told Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in response to their question about why American ships were being attacked:

…Jefferson would perhaps have been just as eager to send a squadron to put down any Christian piracy that was restraining commerce. But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)

Ron Paul ignores the teachings of Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. He seems to think that complying with jihadists’ demands will bring us peace.  But the truth is that the followers of Islamist ideology cannot be appeased and satisfied.  Ron Paul also ignores the history of Arab-Israeli conflict, in which multiple offers of peace by Israel were answered by more war from the Arabs.  Not to mention the fact that Israel is tiny compared to the sea of Arab land, so what occupation are we talking about?

Ron Paul thinks that should mind our own business.  He thinks we should just trade with everybody, no matter how horrible they might be, and respond only to a direct attack.  By the way, in regard to direct attack, Ron Paul actually had a good idea.  After 9/11/2001 he suggested that the Congress should issue Letter of Marque and Reprisal, introducing Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001.  This power of the Congress seems to be specifically designed to deal with non-governmental hostile entities, such as pirates or terrorists, and is similar to Declaration of War.  Thus, it would apply perfectly to our response to 9/11 attacks.  Unfortunately, Ron Paul’s suggestion did not pass.  But back to my disagreements with Ron Paul.  His idea taken to the extreme is analogous to a gun shop owner knowingly selling guns to a robber, as long as that robber does not rob his store.  Or, in a schoolyard situation, continue playing with a schoolyard bully, as long as that bully does not bully you.  But if he beats up your friend, well, that’s not your problem.  You do not intervene.

You see, isolationism is immoral.  And it always catches up with you.  Because if you just keep telling the bad guys that you have no quarrel with them, they will see it as a weakness and will attempt to take advantage of you.  You don’t need to go very far in history in order to see what attempts to avoid a fight at all costs lead to.  Yes, I am talking about World War 2.

Ron Paul seems to get his support from outright nuts (also here, here and here).  For the record, it is incorrect to say that Ron Paul is a Nazi.  He might be an anti-Semite and a racist, although I would not know that for sure, but he is definitely not a Nazi.  Why?  Because Nazi is short for National-Socialist, and Ron Paul is most definitely not a socialist.  But one has to at least ask why he is getting support from the Nazis and other nuts.  But what really exposes Ron Paul as either a fraud or a nut himself is this solicitation letter.  Just in case this link to New Republic goes away, I saved this letter here.  The nutty conspiracy theories spouted in this letter remind me of idiotic claims about Y2K disasters.  People were seriously talking about pacemakers stopping and cars not starting because of Y2K "because pacemakers and cars have computers inside".  Of course, anybody familiar with computer technology and electronics would know that this is idiotic.  But many people who always had problems setting up their VCRs believed these claims, and unscrupulous hucksters took advantage of them.  Well, in this letter Ron Paul sounds just like one of those hucksters.  So, either Ron Paul is one those unscrupulous hucksters peddling his crap and trying to basically defraud naive people out of their money, or he is a nut who believes this crap.  Or, at the very least, he is incompetent to make those predictions that never came true.  And if he would claim that he was not the one who wrote it, well, his name is on it.  And if he can’t control what gets published in his name, then he is just as incompetent.  Can you imagine a President giving a bad speech and then, as an excuse, saying that he wasn’t the one who wrote the speech?  So, there you have it.  I do disagree with Ron Paul on foreign policy.  But this solicitation letter goes beyond disagreement.  It simply kills my respect for the guy.  So, despite his libertarian views, many of which I share, I prefer Hillary Clinton to this guy.  Obama – that’s another story.  He is too committed to his leftist views.  So in case of a choice between him and Ron Paul I would simply skip voting for President.  But lucky for me, this is not going to happen.  John McCain is likely going to win the Republican nomination, so I will happily cast my vote for him in the general election.  He is far from ideal choice, but at least he will keep us in the fight against the islamo-fascists until someone better comes along.

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February 8, 2008 Posted by | Articles | 6 Comments

Entertaining Considerations

This is a title of the article written by Russ Vaughn of Old War Dogs.  Although I read this article already on the Old War Dogs site earlier today, since Russ was kind enough to e-mail it to me, I am posting it here, including his update.  It looks like Russ will be contributing to this site on the regular basis.  I certainly hope that this will be the case.  So, here is Russ Vaughn:

I am troubled by tonight’s primary results, especially troubled by the prospect that I may be forced to vote for an unprincipled political chameleon like McCain in order to save our country from two politicians, Bill and Hillary Clinton, who are even more unprincipled, even to the point of felonious criminality. I wrote this piece this morning and tonight stand by it even more. Hillary just slapped my face and that of many other honorable veterans with her sneering, gratuitous reference to swift boating in her gloating victory speech. It just demonstrates how twisted their leftist thinking is when they use this term of honor as a pejorative.

I will follow the dictates of my old regimental motto: Honor and Country,

Russ Vaughn

Entertaining Considerations

I was afraid this was going to happen when McCain started coming on stronger in the primaries. To an even greater extent than John Kerry, John McCain possesses the ability to politically divide American veterans more than any other presidential candidate. With Kerry, a key determinant of which way veterans’ loyalties fell was party affiliation. I’m sure there were many liberal Democrat veterans, particularly Vietnam veterans, who held their noses and supported a man they viscerally disliked because he was their party’s candidate and represented their overall liberal positions. It was easy for those of us who were politically conservative Vietnam vets to take a hard, unrelenting stand against the man we knew had smeared us because he was the candidate of the party whose positions we opposed.

Today, this division among veterans in general and Vietnam veterans in particular has been turned by McCain’s candidacy into a family fight among Republican veterans that threatens our already diminished prospects for victory in November. While virtually all of us admire and respect McCain’s military service and POW sacrifice, there are millions of us who feel that is simply not enough for him to be able to command our political loyalties four decades later. Setting aside the fact that McCain sided with John Kerry in 2004 and denounced those of us who dared to question Kerry’s very questionable war record, there are many reasons why we do not see John McCain as being someone we can trust to represent the mainstream views of the Republican party. I will spare you a Sean Hannity, rapid-fire recitation of the litany of McCain’s transgressions against his own party because I think there is a single issue far more compelling.

Go ahead and Google “McCain switching parties?” and look at the pages of hits which take you to articles from every sector of the media examining whether or not John McCain was preparing to switch parties as far back as 2001 and continuing into the 2004 campaign. The most chilling of all these reports is one from the Boston Herald in which McCain is quoted as responding to ABC’s Charles Gibson’s question as to whether he would even entertain the idea of running as John Kerry’s VP if Kerry extended such an offer,

“John Kerry is a very close friend of mine. We’ve been friends for years. Obviously I would entertain it.”
http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/…/2408_briefing_-_kerry-mccain.pdf

That is a very telling quote. In his own words, to further his political ambitions, John McCain would have considered abandoning his party and his supposedly conservative principles to serve on the ticket with one of the most liberal candidates ever to run as a Democrat presidential candidate. Even worse, reading down, one reads that Kerry now claims it was McCain’s people who initiated such a proposal, not that we’d be inclined to lend too much credibility to that particular source. Some very close friends, huh? No wonder then that McCain was able to denounce his fellow Navy Vietnam veterans as “dishonest and dishonorable” when they dared to attack Kerry’s self-promoting war record. McCain was selfishly attempting to curry favor with the man and the party which could do the most for his personal political future.
http://dir.salon.com/…/2004/08/06/mccain_on_swift_boat_veterans/

Now I ask you, just who was being dishonest and dishonorable here? Was it the sailors who served in combat with Kerry and raised issues with his war record that Kerry never successfully refuted and refused to release the Navy records which he claimed would do so? Or was it the self-serving maverick politician who was entertaining the possibility of forsaking his Republican party to fill the number two position on the Democrat ticket?

A good friend and fellow Old War Dog, Bill Faith, cites Mitt Romney’s contradictory and self-serving statements about not serving in Vietnam as proving Romney unworthy of his vote. To that I would respond that talking out of both sides of one’s mouth is congenital in politicians and that perhaps Romney might have gone AWOL on the issue. But Romney’s transgression completely pales against John McCain’s admitted willingness to “entertain” the possibility of full-fledged desertion to the enemy in the midst of political combat.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want a commander-in-chief who even entertains such considerations.

Russ Vaughn

My own comment to this is that it appears from Russ’s update above the article itself that he will vote for John McCain, if McCain wins the nomination.  I wholeheartedly agree with that position.  Whatever McCain’s transgressions might be, he is infinitely better than any Democratic nominee.

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February 5, 2008 Posted by | Contributions by Russ Vaughn | 1 Comment

   

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