Monday, December 19, 2005

The heat is on

I have just read perhaps the most important book of the millenium, Boiling Point by Ross Gelbspan. He makes a strong argument that fossil fuel emissions are rapidly warming up the earth and that immediate steps are needed to avoid a catastrophe. I started the book with doubt on the subject, but I now endorse Gelbspan's position. I'll quote from some of the most important parts of the book:

More than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reported to the U.N. that brutal droughts, floods, and violent storms across the planet will intensify because emissions from humanity's burning of coal and oil is driving up temperatures much more rapidly than scientists had anticipated just six years earlier (this report issued in 2001, p.5).

Rising temperatures will melt ice sheets and raise sea levels by as much as thirty-four inches,causing floods that could displace tens of millions of people in low-lying areas. (emphasis added). Storms triggered by such climatic extremes as El Nino will become more frequent. Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever will spread (p.6).

Gelbspan points an accusing finger at the Bush administration, which he accuses of having its head in the sand. He also criticizes the media for its relatively sparse coverage of global warming. Gelbspan concedes that there are a few scientists who don't believe global warming, but charges them with being in the pay of the fossil fuel industry. I think Gelbspan makes an excellent case. I urge anyone reading this to buy or borrow this book ASAP.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gross negligence

I have written before that George Bush has done nothing in the four years since 9-11 to secure the borders. We remain vulnerable to a terrorist attack, notwithstanding the "fight them in Iraq instead of here" argument. Recently, the 9-11 commission condemned the administration and Congress for neglecting homeland security. See Eric Alterman's piece in the Nation for the complete story. As Alterman points out, the Bush administration is guilty of the following derelictions (and more):

1. allocating homeland security funding based on pork-barrel politics, not on risk
2.refusing to declassify the intelligence budget, thereby precluding effective Congressional oversight of budget priorities
3. not securing weapons of mass destruction

I'm not trying to be alarmist, but I am concerned about the nation's security. President Bush apparently isn't concerned about that at all. See also this article from the New Republic. One sentence sums it up:

Through passivity or, more often, active opposition, President Bush has repeatedly stifled efforts to strengthen domestic safeguards against further terrorist attacks.

As I have said before, Bush deserves impeachment lying us into war; he deserves just as much condemnation for his laissez-faire approach to homeland security.

Friday, December 16, 2005

No to McCain in 2008

I will not, under any circumstances, support John McCain for president in 2008. I have three primary reasons for my opposition:

1. His weak support of border control/ immigration reform. He has a bill, yes, but it does little to solve the problem of our porous borders.

2. His "campaign finance reform" legislation, i.e. restrictions on campaign speech and the First Amendment. It is now illegal to even mention an incumbent's name in a campaign commercial 60 days before an election. Senator, what part of "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech" do you not understand?

3. Worst of all, his recent bill banning harsh treatment of prisoners. This is not, as many in the media have portrayed it, an antitorture bill. This bill applies to tactics that are harsh but not inherently acts of torture. This bill will make it much harder for our intelligence agents to obtain information from captured terrorists. See this article by Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online. (Memo to President Bush: you are allowed to veto legislation; it's in the Constitution, not that you've read it).

I did not mention his support of Iraq war, because reasonable people can disagree on that issue. Also, I must concede McCain has done some things I approve of, such as opposing pork barrel spending and the regressive Bush tax cuts. Overall, though, I do not approve of his actions as a U.S. Senator and cannot support him for President in 2008.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bye, bye, Tookie!

A quick side note: when did ESPN and FOX Sports decide poker was a sport worthy of being televised? If you're watching poker on TV, you have way too much free time on your hands.

On to the subject of the day: capital punishment. I strongly support it and I'll address the main objection to it in this post. One objection, recently put forth by conservative/libertarian talk show Tucker Carlson, who I respect,is that the state should not have the power of life and death over an American citizen. This argument, though plausible, is wrong for two reasons. First, the state has a military composed of people whose explicit mission is to kill enemies of the government. If it is morally permissible to kill a Sunni Iraqi terrorist, why is it immoral to kill a domestic terrorist like Tookie Williams or Timothy McVeigh? (There are pacifists who would object to any state-sanctioned killing, but society could not survive on that principle). Second, these oppponents of the death penalty concede that the state has the legal and moral right to imprison a man for the rest of his life if he commits a murder. I do not see the moral distinction between the government executing someone versus jailing him for the rest of his life. Personally, I would rather take a lethal injection than live for 30+ years in prison.

I don't care that Tookie Williams wrote children's books. I don't care that Edward Asner and Susan Sarandon think he should have been spared. The man deserved exactly what he got, a quick death. I have zero remorse over his execution.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Toleration of dissent

I now have a sports-only blog for anyone interested here. Please check it out.

Now, to the burning issue of the day: Jonathan Chait's article. Chait is a great writer, but he is wrong in his central thesis. He believes dissent among the left is more tolerated than it is among conservatives. I think the opposite is true; the left wing in America tolerates almost no dissent. Pro-life Democrats, for example, are far less welcome in their party than are pro-choice Republicans are in theirs. Joe Lieberman had to come before Maxine Waters in sackcloth and ashes to plead for forgiveness for opposing racial preferences. Colin Powell, on the other hand, was welcome in the Republican party despite his support for affirmative action. The Democrats are losing elections because they are following Lenin's old strategy: reducing your base rather than expanding it. All liberals who support the Democratic party should be concerned. If you want to win some elections, stop letting NARAL and the NAACP enforce a rigid party discipline. I should point out this is objective criticism, as I have no liking for the Republican party either.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Worst president ever?

According to historian and columnist Richard Reeves (see entire article here), George Bush is considered the worst president ever by 50 out of 415 historians recently polled by The History News Network at George Mason University. So is G.W. Bush the worst president ever, or are the historians just blinded by liberal bias? The answers: not quite and probably.

As of right now, Woodrow Wilson holds the dubious honor of being the worst president ever. I say that now with a caveat. If a terrorist slips over our porous border and sets off a nuclear bomb, I would rank Bush as the worst ever. In four years since 9-11, he has done nothing to secure the borders of this country from invasion. As the 9-11 commission recently concluded, this country is still very vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Bush is guilty of gross negligence, at the very least.

Why, you ask, is Woodrow Wilson the worst president to ever take office? He did a lot of bad things for sure, such as creating the Federal Reserve, but that pales before his worst offense: dragging a reluctant country into World War I. I believe strongly that American involvement in WWI set the table for the rise of Nazism and the even greater horrors of World War II. My argument is that had Wilson been a statesman, instead of a British stooge, he could have brought both sides to the negotiating table and had a real "peace without victory." (That phrase was used, absurdly, by Wilson to describe what would happen at Versailles after the war). Instead, U.S. involvement allowed the Allies to crush Germany and impose a harsh, unjust peace on that country. The German economy collapsed after the war. The harsh peace at Versailles created the conditions that allowed a demagogue like Hitler to come to power.

So Bush is not yet the worst president ever, with all due respect to the historians in the survey.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rumsfeld must go

Richard Cohen has a great article in the Washington Post saying what I have been saying since 2003: Don Rumsfeld is incompetent and must be fired immediately. As Cohen points out, Rumsfeld is responsible for almost every major mistake in Iraq: the lack of sufficient troops, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army under the oversight of the incompetent Paul Bremer, and the dismissal of the post-war looting as insignificant.

Of course, Bush will not fire Rumsfeld. That would be admitting a mistake, which he is apparently incapable of doing. He tried to make war on the cheap, without sufficient forces and armor and the result is the fiasco we now see in Iraq. This is a shame, as this war might have been won with better planning. We'll never know for sure what a President Gore or Kerry would have done. Then again, they might have had the common sense to stay out of Iraq in the first place.