26 May 2007

Lincoln as god

Not long ago I received an e-mail forward that uses a classic appeal to authority.  It quoted two American leaders:

"This war has been a grotesque mistake that has diminished our reputation in the world and has not made America safer."  – Nancy Pelosi

"Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged."  – Abraham Lincoln

The point is that Pelosi had the nerve to disagree with Lincoln, who somehow is considered above reproach.  I mean, it's Abraham Lincoln!  Actually, Lincoln said and did many wrong and scary things, and the above quote is downright tyrannical—although it turns out that he never said it.  I have plenty of reasons to dislike Pelosi, but what she says above is right on.  We should not be afraid to agree with something just because it's said by someone odious, and we shouldn't be too quick to agree with everything endorsed by someone we admire.  (There are some who will argue that Lincoln is not worth your admiration anyway.)  The stagnant two-party system is strengthened when Americans adopt an us-versus-them attitude and stop thinking independently.

With his consistent voting record and extensive writings, Ron Paul has proved worthy of at least my admiration. Thank goodness we have him to stir the Republican potHe's a refreshing antidote to the out-of-control nationalism of the neoconservatives who have hijacked the party.

23 May 2007

Eat it, Rudy

Rudy Giuliani's attempted bullying of Ron Paul in last week's debate has inspired much commentary.  I haven't followed the response of the mainstream media closely, but here's what Michael F. Scheuer, the former Chief of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden Unit, has to say (from his letter Why They Attack Us):

"Last week, Representative Paul did all Americans an immense service by simply pointing out the obvious:  Our Islamist enemies do not give a damn about the way we vote, think, or live. . . . [I]t is foolish—and perhaps fatal—for Americans to believe that are we are being attacked for such ephemera as primary elections, R-rated movies, and gender equality. . . . We are indeed hated and being warred against because we are 'over there,' and not for what we are and how we live.  Our failure to recognize the truth spoken by Mr. Paul—and spelled out for us in hundreds of pages of statements by Osama bin Laden since 1996—is leading America toward military and economic disaster. . . . And no matter how you view Mr. Paul’s words, you can safely take one thing to the bank.  The person most shaken by Mr. Paul’s frankness was Osama bin Laden, who knows that the current status quo in U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world is al-Qaeda’s one indispensable ally, and the only glue that provides cohesion between and among the diverse and often fractious Islamist groups that follow its banner."

Pat Buchanan, a renegade Republican for better and worse, has also blogged about the incident (But Who Was Right—Rudy or Ron?).

I hope it isn't too much to ask of American voters to put aside knee-jerk "patriotic" emotion and realize that Ron Paul is right to question our past foreign policy.  At least online America supports him—his YouTube channel now has over ten thousand subscribers, almost twice the number of second-place Barack Obama (who, it seems, was weak when asked about foreign policy in the April 26th debate).

24 May update:  RP is getting more mainstream coverage.  Check out the Reuters article "Candidate Paul assigns reading to Giuliani" (and a followup with passages from the "assigned reading") and the CNN commentary "Paul's 9/11 explanation deserves to be debated".

20 May 2007

Ron Paul vs. Rudy Giuliani

In the early running for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul continues to stick to his principles in the face of intimidation.  In the May 15th debate (watch highlights), he stood up to an out-of-line Rudy Giuliani.  Paul essentially stated that attacks by terrorists have been motivated primarily by anger over aggressive American military policy in the Middle East, which really shouldn't be a controversial statement—it's what bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been consistently saying.  But Giuliani was offended and made a purely emotional objection, asking Paul to retract his statement.  Paul refused and calmly justified it further.

Do Giuliani and other neoconservatives really believe that Muslim fundamentalists would have attacked us on September 11th if our military had never invaded and occupied their countries?  Or are they just making the emotional appeal that they think voters want to hear ("It's our fault? That's crazy!")?

Paul later spoke about the incident and further discussed his point of view on CNN and on Fox News.  His campaign came out with a press release, Why Hasn't Rudy Giuliani Read the 9-11 Commission Report?  His debate performance has stimulated discussion and admiration on shows as diverse as Real Time with Bill Maher and The View.  I don't think it's a coincidence that he now has more YouTube subscribers than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat.

The media simply want to see the frontrunners as Romney, Giuliani and McCain, and when poll results indicate otherwise, they're desperate to explain them away (I like: "Giuliani taking that opportunity with Ron Paul to make the case for terror"—a Freudian slip?).  Contrasting Paul with the other candidates throws into sharp relief the extent to which the Republican Party has deviated from its small-government ideals.  After over six years of the public's associating Bush with Texas, Ron Paul has made me politically proud to be a Texan again.

15 May 2007

RP is rolling!

In a previous post, I wrote that I support Republican Ron Paul and Libertarian Doug Stanhope for president.  Since then, Stanhope has dropped out but Paul has done better than I could have hoped for.

His performance (watch highlights) at the May 3rd debate was very impressive; he has finished first in post-debate polls from ABC News, MSNBC and C-SPAN and also did very well in a Drudge Report poll.  According to another MSNBC poll, he "stood out from the pack", "showed the most leadership qualities", was the "most convincing candidate" and had the "best one-liner".  He's even getting some positive mainstream coverage, though not as much as he deserves.  Maybe his message of constitutionally limited government is finally getting heard and finding favor; even if he doesn't get the nomination, he's doing more than the Libertarian Party can do to spread ideas of liberty.

13 May 2007

A number is not property

09 f9 11 02 9d 74 e3 5b d8 41 56 c5 63 56 88 c0

10 May 2007


A few years ago I came home to my apartment to find a bird inside.  It made a mess, but I got it out.

Last year I came home to find two birds nesting inside my bedroom light fixture.  I got them out too, one by one, and they didn't come back.

This Monday evening a squirrel suddenly ran across my kitchen floor.  I opened the back door, closed all the other doors leading away from the kitchen and tried to herd him toward the back door with a broom, but he got behind the refrigerator.  Neither the carrot (a trail of peanuts) nor the stick (a broom) was successful in persuading him to leave.  Hours later I finally got him to run out the apartment's back door, but before I could get him out the building's back door he ran up the stairs into a pile of junk outside another apartment.  I gave up, locked the back door and went to bed.

Wednesday morning I found him in my kitchen again, but this time getting him out from behind the refrigerator wasn't enough—he went behind the stove and was unreachable.  I had to go to school, so I closed all doors to the kitchen and left, thinking that he was at least contained.

When I got home in the evening after racquetballing, there was evidence that he'd made it out of the kitchen and into the living area, apparently by squeezing under the door.  He's a small squirrel.  I found him under the sofa and he ran under a closet door.  I got him out of the closet, but he darted behind the radiator (which is purely decorative, as my building has central heat).  When I tried to get him out using a broom, no sound was made.  I heard nothing for hours and went to bed, thinking that he was at least trapped in the living area, as I had blocked the bottom of each door leading out.  He seemed very intent on living with me.  I decided to name him Squearl.

This morning I found him running around the radiator.  I quietly approached and he quickly disappeared, seemingly into a hole.  I looked and finally saw a pipe from the radiator leading into a hole in the floor that might just be big enough for a critter to squeeze through.  I carefully blocked it with a heavy stack of phone books.

I tried to be gentle, but herding all these critters out of the apartment scared them $#!+less—literally in the birds' case but, thankfully, only figuratively in the squirrel's.  My current theory is that every once in a while a critter finds its way into the basement, which is just below my apartment and is accessible from the back stairwell.  From there it can squeeze into my apartment through the radiator hole.  I believe I've now fixed my problem, but the theory will be tested when I get home today. . . .

6:00 p.m. update:  Great success!  I got home and found no evidence of further squirrel invasion.  The radiator-pipe hole is still snugly blocked.  Bizarrely, I still haven't found any squirrel scat.  I guess he had already established a toilet somewhere in the basement and was only in my apartment exploring.

Lots of loud thunder outside.  I hope Squearl is sheltered somewhere comfy . . . outside my apartment.

03 May 2007

More gun laws needed after Virginia Tech?

There has been much pro-gun-control sentiment since the shooting at Virginia Tech.

Dianne Feinstein: "I believe this will reignite the dormant effort to pass commonsense gun regulations in this nation."

A Yahoo! News article: "While some focused blame only on the gunman, world opinion over U.S. gun laws was almost unanimous:  Access to weapons increases the probability of shootings.  There was no sympathy for the view that more guns would have saved lives by enabling students to shoot the assailant."

Polls say that even Americans are supporting gun control in greater numbers.  The Inter-Parliamentary Union (whatever that is) met and issued a statement that recommends more gun control worldwide.  (No American lawmakers were present at the meeting.)

I think these reactions are scary and nonsensical.  The way I see it, gun control does more harm than good:  It's completely impossible to keep guns away from every potential killer, even with draconian gun laws that deny our right of self-defense.  A much better approach is to lift restrictions.  If only there had been one VT student with his own gun in the dorm that morning!  I would prefer what Michelle Malkin calls a culture of self-defense.  If even one person in twenty had a gun at any given time, even a deranged gunman would think more than twice about going on a rampage.

A common emotional response to the suggestion of relaxing gun regulation is horror at the prospect of just anyone on the street legally hiding a gun.  But even if you don't carry a gun for your protection—I don't—wouldn't it be better for both criminals and law-abiding citizens to have guns rather than just criminals?  Certainly criminals would be much less bold in their use of guns.  This kind of decentralized, liberty-friendly approach to solving problems is usually better than a technocratic, authoritarian one.

Ron Paul ("More Guns Will Deter Shootings") and Glenn Reynolds ("People don't stop killers. People with guns do") have written intelligently about this issue.