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Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
-- Ronald Reagan

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Friday, November 29, 2002
Kissinger Watch: Well, it seems like there are more than just lefty types over at DU that don't like the choice of Henry Kissinger was chairman of the 9/11 probe commission. Over at Free Republic, a conservative discussion forum, some of the inhabitants are not happy either. Observe the comments here, here, and here. I have not read Christopher Hitchens' book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, which makes the case that Dr. Kissinger is a war criminal. I might see if I can find the piece that Hitchens wrote for Harper's.

Peggy Noonan has an interesting piece on Opinion Journal today. I especially like this bit:

You, a citizen, decide you want to belong to a group but you believe in "A" and they believe in "B." There is a clash. Here the old American myth kicks in. You, the citizen, stick with what you believe, and don't join the organization. You won't lie about what you believe, and they won't change what they believe. So they don't let you in. You pay a price for where you stand. But you can keep standing there.

You keep your integrity, and maybe in time the group will change and you and your suffering will be the reason. (This is the story of, among others, Dr. King in the Birmingham jail.) Or maybe the group won't change its ways, ever. But you have your integrity and they have their rules and this is America.

Now that rough old myth has been disturbed. Now it's, "I have my views and your group has its views. If you don't accept me with my views you're wrong, and will suffer in court." Now you insist on joining. You insist they change to accommodate you. You don't respect their position, you insist they alter it. You get a lawyer. You weep and rend your garments.

This is not a good way to convert people. It is however a good way to push people around.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Junk Science Watch: OK, by now it's an accepted dogma in the minds of Greens and some Democrats that kids get autism from vaccines, or more specifically from the mercury compound thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines until recently. Apparently, the Democratic leadership wants to make sure people with autistic kids can sue the vaccine manufacturers, and hopefully get multimillion dollar windfalls. Trial lawyers will take a cut no doubt, but it's really about protecting children, right?

Well, there's only one problem with this: It's not true - no one has ever proven that vaccinations cause autism. Observe this study from the UK. Time Magazine chose to weigh in on the subject as well, in this article. The article doesn't make the point that autism is caused by vaccines. In fact, it only has one medical source that hints that there is a connection between autism and the vaccine. But Time doesn't try to settle any nervous parent's minds either. It includes this quote: "But failing to prove that something can happen is not the same as proving it doesn't, and the issue is still a matter of furious debate." That's the rub, isn't it? Until the cause of autism is conclusively proven, nothing can really be ruled out, can it?

The Yahoo News story cited above is a press release (and therefore not a piece of independent reporting) from Safe Minds. A trip to their website shows that they are for "sensible action for ending mercury-induced neurological disorders." But, here's a news story that takes the top place on the site today:

Denmark Study on Autism and MMR Vaccines Appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine.

And what do the authors of this study conclude? "Conclusions This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism." And: "There was no association between the age at the time of vaccination, the time since vaccination, or the date of vaccination and the development of autistic disorder."

Safe minds is not happy with this study, and to be fair the Denmark study is not conclusive cause-and-effect proof, as no epidemiological study can ever be. However, what can be considered real proof in cases like this? What study could you design to conclusively show a cause-and-effect relationship between vaccination and later autism? I leave that as a rhetorical question for now because I don't have an answer for it.

Safe Minds does make one kind of error that does really bother me, though. They do not distinguish between elemental mercury (the liquid silvery metal found in thermometers) and a mercury compound such as thimerosol. These are not the same things, as any high school chemistry student should know. Sodium chloride is common table salt - safe enough, right? Well, it's a compound of elemental sodium, which bursts into flame on contact with water, and elemental chlorine, a poisonous green gas that will kill you pretty quickly. The point is that although an element is dangerous in pure form, it may not necessarily be in a compound. It is ignorance to believe otherwise.

Man Hater Watch: This is an interesting bit, probably well received in the Women's Studies Departments across our fine nation. It could also fit into the Moral Equivalency Watch section. Originally found at Andrew Sullivan's website

Kissinger to be 9/11 probe chief: That is sure to rankle some people. Looks like it's already started over at DU, see this and this.

Victor Davis Hanson Alert! He's got a new piece up at National Review today. He's one of my favorite authors these days. Although, I must say that the picture of hime they have on NR makes him look like Charlton Heston. In any case, I rather liked this article, as usual. Here's a snippet:

Critiques of the United States based on class, race, nationality, or taste have all failed to explicate, much less stop, the American cultural juggernaut. Forecasts of bankrupting defense expenditures and imperial overstretch are the stuff of the faculty lounge. Neither Freud nor Marx is of much help. And real knowledge of past empires that might allow judicious analogies is beyond the grasp of popular pundits.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Democrats Start to "Get It": Curious but true, it seems that some Democratic supporters are beginning to see the light, and it looks like tax cuts. Check out this article on Democratic Underground, a hotbed of Leftist ideas and conspiracy theories. Read the whole thing (if you're a Republican, don't get in a tizzy over the author's distaste for you, that's just how DU works) but consider these gems:

Many Americans are unaware that employers must match an employee's payroll tax deduction when they file their taxes every quarter. With no payroll taxes to match, employers will have a much greater incentive to retain jobs in hard times. Instead of being phased in over a ridiculously long period like Bush's tax cut, an immediate payroll tax cut will infuse much-needed stimulus cash into the economy right away.

Imagine that, if you make employees less costly, employers will be able to keep and hire more poeple. Now, once they realize this is true for the minimum wage, we're making real progress.

It can be maddeningly difficult to get the electorate to see the tangible positive effects of liberal policy. Nothing could be more effective to demonstrate liberal effectiveness than for every worker to see their tax savings in stark ink every time they get a paycheck. Of course, this is a populist, progressive tax proposal. It helps the poor and the middle class immeasurably more than Bush's sop to the wealthy, who don't need it.

Yes, if you let people keep their own money amazing things can happen. Like growth, satisfaction, and happiness. I don't want to pick apart everything in this paragraph, because I want to encourage the writer to keep thinking like this, and too much critiicism may hurt his "progressive" self-esteem. And there is a lot to work on, but it's a step in the right direction.
As Liv said, "They are saying tax cuts are good, just not the way the Republicans are doing it." Ah, progress.

Moron Watch: Well, the Canadian official who called President Bush a "moron" has quit. Now, whether you think the President is a moron or not, insulting the President of the United States, while you are acting in an official capacity of the Canadian Goverment, is not proper diplomatic behavior. Now, some may say that the conversation was private, and was overheard by other reporters, so we should let the private comment slide. However, since she was talking to a reporter in the first place, at a large gathering, in an official capacity, she had no expectation of privacy. If she'd have made the comment to her husband, fine, but at a NATO meeting it's unacceptable.

Fatwa Watch: Isioma Daniel, the author of the story in a Nigerian paper which Muslims have used as an excuse to kill innocent people, is the latest recipient of a fatwa, or death sentence. Although supposedly this is not an "official" fatwa, since the Nigerian official who ordered it does not have religious authority, Ms. Daniel has wisely retreated into hiding. After all, when members of the Religion of Peace are all fatwa-ed up, they don't seem to need to check the official status of the edict.

Stupidity Watch: Like every good red-blooded American boy, I keep tabs on what the New York Times is saying. I get their email updates in my inbox, and it always has a Quote of the Day, which is sometimes good, sometimes bad, usually leftist in perspective but hey, what did you expect from the Times? Today's quote: "People can't stop eating any more than they're able to stop having sex or grabbing money or anything else." Dr. Stephen R. Bloom, an obesity researcher. Hey Dr. Bloom, it's called self-control, something you should exercise before making ridiculous statements like that one!

United We Stand: How to be friends with an antiwar nut. A beautiful piece on OpinionJournal.com that will be useful when dealing with the inevitable clashes with the antiwar segment of my extended family.

If you haven''t visited National Review Online today, you should check it out. Several very good pieces, including Rod Dreher's and Paul Marshall's. The commentary on gay marriage was thought provoking as well, as this is an issue I'm undecided on. I'm not sure I agree 100% with it, but of course it's a complicated matter.

Monday, November 25, 2002
Cool. This is the first post, so let's put in a link: Jack and Olivia's Wedding Site