"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States

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Friday, October 22, 2004
  Cox and Forkum - Democracy is
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:45 AM
Thursday, October 21, 2004
  Quote of the Day
Liberty and good government do not exclude each other; and there are excellent reasons why they should go together. Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.

Lord Acton (John E. E. Dalberg)
The History of Freedom in Antiquity, 1877.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:05 PM
  Are We Really Safer Today ? (Vote For Kerry part II)
Many Objectivists seem to be of the persuasion that though Bush has made mistakes in his "war on terror", he never the less represents the principle of defending America and therefore should be supported for President in 2004. I can understand the appeal of this point of view. After all the pathetic Presidents we've had in the last 40 years, it is refreshing to see someone who will say that America has the right to pre-emptively strike our enemies, someone who seems to understand that the terrorists are not our primary enemies, but instead the regimes who support them and make them possible.

But it is for this very reason that we should take caution; the man who would voice essentially the same foreign policy we would like to see implemented is a bigger threat to us than the man who would appease our enemies. Why? Because while he may say some good things, his actions contradict those slogans and ultimately undercut them. Just as the so-called "deregulation" of energy in California (which really wasn't deregulated) did more to undercut genuine reform in California than all the socialist measures, so too is Bush's altruistic war in Iraq and Afghanistan destroying the very idea we want to spread more effectively than anything John Kerry or Bill Clinton could do.

My point is that Bush is not a Hawk; he is a dove in Hawk's clothing. As many others have noted previously, Bush has turned the argument away from a real foreign policy of self-defense to a debate between altruists. John Kerry is horrible, there is no denying it. He would most likely appease our enemies in France and Germany, and bow to the UN. But what does George Bush offer as an alternative? He bowed to the UN before going into Iraq. That he went into Iraq in spite of the UN opposing it is irrelevant - that he tried to appease them first is bad enough. However, if that were the extent of his flaws, maybe he would be salvageable.

But his subsequent policy in Iraq has only further undermined a real chance for victory. First was his cowardly refusal to shoot looters (John Kerry wouldn't have either). Then he retreated from Fallujah in April 2003 in the face of an overt uprising, when he could have militarily crushed it and its leader, Muqtada Al Sadr. He then went on fail to kill terrorists who holed up in the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf; while they did leave the Mosque, they did so alive, to the chanting over loud speakers of congratulations for having won a great victory. So where does that leave us today?

Fallujah is now a stronghold of insurgency, more capable of holding off an attack and of inflicting massive casualties on our troops. The Iraqi people have gone from welcoming us to being ambivalent to our very existence if not simply hating us. There has been little reconstruction, unemployment is around 50%, there isn't even potable drinking water available after over a year! All these problems stem from Bush's contradictions, and have done more to undercut any chance at a genuine war being fought than anything John Kerry would do. Why? Because the failures of George Bush's policies will be attributed to the pre-emptive action taken to defend America. Bush's failures sow the seeds for a John Kerry to step in and say, "See, if we only had a real coalition, we wouldn't be having these problems. If we had been more cautious, more willing to give inspections a chance, things wouldn't be this bad".

Who will believe that what we really need is not less pre-emption, but more? We know that we need more, that we need to utterly crush Fallujah if Iraq is ever to regain a toehold on freedom. Leaving that aside, Bush himself doesn't believe we need more either. I don't believe that all his statements to the press are really just shrewd politics, and that he now understands that he needs to fight a real war. He genuinely believes that he is following the right principles. The problem is that his principle is altruism, not selfishness.

Why vote for John Kerry then? Because instead of everyone except Michael Moore lauding the president for defending America, you'd have more people demanding that Kerry defend this country rather than appease our enemies. As Craig Biddle noted, people and congress will demand that Kerry fight; they will simply put up with George Bush half-assing it while spouting hawkish rhetoric.

We are not safer today. On the contrary, we are in more dangerous waters. I personally loved it when Bush spoke of the "axis of evil". But for him to then attack the least threatening of the three evil nations and waste the political capital that would have supported a real war is contemptible. While we have been sacrificing troops in Iraq, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, and Iran is speeding on course to doing the same. And what does our brave defender suggest as a remedy? Negociate, negociate, negociate. Bush is not going to attack North Korea, nor do I think he is going to attack Iran. My prediction is that he will continue to attempt to negociate with both countries ad nauseam.

While it is true that he has said he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, what practically is he going to do to stop them? The only way to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to go to war, and this would mean a real war. Unlike Saddam, the mullahs do not value this life, and they will not hesitate to use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons on the US or Israel if we were to attack. Everything Bush has said and done in the past indicates that he is unwilling to take the civilian casualties that are a necessary part of a real war. His current desire to attempt "diplomacy" only heralds Iran's eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons.

And as Brad at Contemporary History has just pointed out, Bush is perfectly willing to accept that the Iraqi's might vote in a fundamentalist Islamic government! That would be like fighting WWII, and then instead of de-Nazification, we let the German's vote for their candidate, even another Nazi. If Bush allows an Islamist government to take over Iraq, it will be the ultimate capitulation and worse than when we had Saddam in power.

A vote for John Kerry won't be pretty; it will be god awful, and I'm the first to lament it. But Bush cannot win this war, and he cannot protect us from terrorist attacks. Our only hope is that with Kerry as a foil, a better Republican (or who knows, even Democratic) candidate will be present in 2008, who will truly champion defending America. But to vote for Bush under the pretense that he will protect us and defend this country is folly. Four more years of Bush will only make a genuine defense of this country more difficult to achieve, and give more credence to those who would sacrifice America than they could ever earn on their own.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:27 AM
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
  The Virtue of Selfishness
I just finished reading a wonderful story from the AP:
Setting aside ethical concerns, surgeons completed a kidney transplant Wednesday in what is believed to be the first operation where the donor and recipient met through a commercial Web site.

The donor and recipient were doing well after the four-hour surgery, Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center spokeswoman Stephanie Lewis said.

Bob Hickey, who lives in a mountain town near Vail, had needed a transplant since 1999 because of kidney disease but had grown tired of being on the national waiting list. He met donor Rob Smitty of Chattanooga, Tenn., through MatchingDonors.com, for-profit Web site created in January to match donors and patients for a fee.
It is fantastic to see such an event occur - the company which matched these two up made money while doing it. Of course, this has left some people upset, as the story continues:
University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan said the first ethical issue raised by Internet donations is financial: Not everyone can afford to pay MatchingDonors.com's fees or donor expenses.

"Those who are better off are going to have access to people as potential donors that the poor or the shy won't have," he said.

Caplan also said the Web site did not highlight potential hazards for donors. "Their job is to make these matches happen," he said. "They're not in the business of trying to discourage anyone or warn them."
Translation - if the poor can't afford it, nobody should be able to have it. And even if they can afford it, they're too stupid to know the risks involved, so the government should at least regulate this practice thoroughly if not shut it down, to protect them.

And of course the biggest surprise is that the government bureaucrats at UNOS ("United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit group that works under government contract to allocate all organs donated from the dead. It doles out organs, in part, according to which patients need them the most.") aren't happy about this either. After all, they know better about who really needs an organ transplant:
UNOS came out against MatchingDonors.com in June, saying it "exploits vulnerable populations and subverts the equitable allocation of organs for transplantation." UNOS spokesman Joel Newman said the network is concerned when anyone puts his or her need for an organ above others.

"An organ that becomes available with certain medical characteristics should be offered equally to the people that could benefit from it," he said.
Sadly, the law doesn't allow people to be financially reimbursed for donating their organs, leaving this "market" to family members, friends and altruists. It isn't yet illegal to charge money to "connect" two people for an organ transplant or to pay for the "inconvenience" involved. But it is encouraging; if I need a transplant, I know the first thing I'm going to do.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 11:41 PM
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
  Government Spending...
From the AP: (emphasis added)
Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.
Total public debt subject to limit Oct. 15 7,383,975
Statutory debt limit 7,384,000
Total public debt outstanding Oct. 15 7,429,738
Operating balance Oct. 15 25,911
Interest fiscal 2004 thru Aug. 309,035
Interest same period 2003 304,979
Deficit fiscal 2004 thru Aug. 436,913
Total deficit fiscal 2003 374,271
Receipts fiscal 2004 thru Aug. 1,672,432
Receipts same period 2003 1,590,476
Outlays fiscal 2004 thru Aug. 2,109,344
Outlays same period 2003 1,991,017
Gold assets in Oct. 11,043

 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 2:02 AM
  The Significance of Mary Cheney
The media (and certain Objectivists) seem to have missed the fundamental significance of Mary Cheney. After John Kerry pointed out that Mary Cheney, the Vice President's daughter, is a lesbian, outcry erupted from all sides. Lynne Cheney, her mother, went on the airwaves the next day infuriated, repeatedly referring to Kerry as "This is not a good man". Republicans (read: the religious right) jumped on the bandwagon, and have been riding it for all its worth lately. But everyone has missed the real outrage - not that John Kerry is a pitiful powerluster who will use any advantage he can gain to top Bush, but that Bush and his evangelical base are profound haters of homosexuality.

Notice that no conservative has explicitly identified what bothered them about the comment. It was indecent, disrespectful or disgusting is the common rejoinder. But as gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan has pointed out, Kerry only pointed out that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. What is the harm in that? He didn't publicly expose ("out") her sexual orientation - she has been openly and publicly gay for years. He didn't attack her for being lesbian. Notice also that conservative criticisms of Mary Cheney have received no admonishment from the Cheneys - as when Alan Keyes referred to Mary Cheney as a "selfish hedonist" for her homosexuality.

What these superficial criticisms are attempting to cover up is the fact that has been known implicitly, but which Kerry made explicit - that Mary Cheney, by supporting George Bush and her father, is supporting a party that wants to see her destroyed. It would be (and I mean this literally) as if Bush's base, instead of being evangelical Christians, were Nazis, and Dick Cheney's daughter were Jewish, but continued to support the campaign. What more depraved spectacle could there be than a person supporting a political party that ultimately wants to exterminate you. And for those who believe that exterminate and destroy are words too harsh, think again.

Think of the anti-sodomy laws that were so prevalent, even in some states nearly to the present day. Think of the biblical destruction of Soddam and Gommorah - not just for their sexual excesses, but especially for their homosexual excesses. Think of the visceral hatred so many Christians display at the mention of Gay marriage - they bristle with disgust, in the same manner that I bristle when I read about pedophiles abusing year old babies. Many Christians I have talked with regularly associate homosexuality with pedophilia, as if the two were co-extensive.

Everytime I hear about this I bristle. Lynne Cheney and her husband are truly disgraceful - they have sacrificed their daughter as political fodder to re-elect George Bush.

I turn the question in the proper direction, toward's the Cheneys: Have you no shame sir? Have you no honor?
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:11 AM
Monday, October 18, 2004
  Bush and Faith
I just finished reading an interesting piece in the New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind entitled Without A Doubt. In it the author relates some interesting anecdotal evidence regarding President Bush's faith and the role it plays in his presidency. It definitely reinforces my apprehension of another 4 years of Bush. I found one section of the article especially revealing of Bush's philosophic premises:
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
In light of all the recent discussion of Bush vs. Kerry among Objectivists, I realized that a great deal of my apprehension in regard to religion from Bush stems from the fact that for the last three years Bush has been pre-occupied by the "War on Terror". But since he has no similar plan to launch similar preemptive "attacks" against Iran or North Korea, I think domestic issues will play a much larger role in the next four years. This is specifically where Bush's religiosity will affect us most dramatically. That coupled with the possible Supreme Court appointments (I've heard mostly two possible, but the above article mentions four - that would be abominable) and a Republican majority in the House and Senate is a recipe for disaster!
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 1:45 AM
Sunday, October 17, 2004
  A Blog You Need to Read
- Contemporary History - I came across this blog via John at Stark Relief. It is fantastic. The author has written many cogent and succinct posts on how Bush will be a disaster for this country if re-elected. I would list specific posts you should read, but they are legion. I wholeheartedly reccommend that you read through the entire blog (at least scan all the posts). It is well worth the time.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 9:10 PM
  Kerry for President (Part 1)
I've decided to break up the various reasons for voting for Kerry in 2004 into separate posts. This partly stems from the fact that I am writing too much right now for a single post, and from the fact that I am engaged in arguments right now with anti-Bushites for Bush that I am still "chewing" on.

As a start, let's look at the domestic picture. With a Republican-dominated House and Senate, Bush has been heartily expanding the Federal government with glee. As columnist Anne Applebaum notes:
According to the president's fiscal 2005 budget, discretionary federal spending -- meaning money nobody is being legally forced to spend -- has risen 29 percent over the past four years and is growing even faster than spending on Medicare and Social Security. According to a Cato Institute study, the increases for 2002, 2003 and 2004 constitute three of the five biggest annual increases in the past 40 years. Contrary to popular belief, not all the money has been spent on the military: Spending on everything besides defense will increase by more than a third during President Bush's first term. Nor is it all going to homeland security. The Education Department, once slated for abolition, has experienced a huge spending boost. So has the Energy Department, whose creation was once greeted with skepticism. In fact, many of the programs that Republicans promised to eliminate in the mid-1990s -- the dubious public-private partnerships, the extraneous commissions, the grants for pet causes -- now have larger budgets than ever.
The budget deficit last year was $377 billion; this year Bush hit $413 billion. A Kerry win would help to reduce this and the obscene growth of government during Bush's tenure; instead of fawning over Bush, the Republican majority in congress would be fighting Kerry tooth and nail over every policy he tried to set in motion. In the fight for the future, gridlock is essential to keeping this country alive until we can philosophically reclaim her.
 
 POSTED BY THE GENERAL AT 9:01 PM
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