“Why Are They Doing This?”

April 28, 2007

The political game the Democrats are playing has gone farther than it should have. Before they took over the congress they were complaining that there had been no feasible plan for winning the war. Now that such plan exists and thousands of American soldiers are working hard with the millions of good Iraqis to make it work, they wish to turn their backs on it.

Omar Fadhil wonders at the Democrats’ actions. He may be viewing the world through rose colored glasses, as signaled by his blog’s name Iraq the Model (of democracy in the Middle East). However, I can’t helped but be moved by his account. As I see it, the Democrats could be right, and the longer we stay, the worse we make the world. Or the Republicans could be right, and we are making progress and if we stay to finish the job, we will leave Iraq in a reasonably stable position.

It all comes down to the relative chances. If the Republican view has a nontrivial chance, though, I think it’s worth pursuing. I wish the Democrats would wait 2 years till the presidential election to see if this plays out. That doesn’t seem likely to happen, though, because the Democrats took power on their anti-war position. I worry for the world.

Update: got to this account of private contractors in Iraq. I suppose articles like those are the reason for Democrats’ dismay. Compelling stuff.


Blackonomics at Harvard

April 22, 2007

is the title of a good article by Stephen J. Dubner of Freakonomics fame (and other fame as well). Via a post on the Freakonomics Blog.


Sad Photographs

April 21, 2007

Here is Thomas Hawk on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-Feature Photography. I cannot come up with a better description than the one on his blog.

A broader question is why do we watch tragedies? Up to an extent, having our emotions moved reminds us that we are human. I wanted to see if any of the victims at VT went to my high school, so I looked them up on facebook. It was eerie seeing the random pictures people put up on facebook as their portraits. The profile pages were left behind. Previously, the events had been less real, more remote.


Gore’s Congressional Testimony

April 14, 2007

Here is a harsh review of Gore’s recent testimony. It includes a little history and, in my view, good analysis. I wonder if someone could point me to a good response. My favorite part of the article:

There are three fundamental problems that policymakers must confront: the technological limits on our ability to cut emissions; the cost of large-scale emissions reductions (if they become possible), and the so-called “China-India” problem—the fact that the developing world, the fastest-growing source of emissions and soon to be the source of the majority of global emissions, has a free pass under the Kyoto system that Gore helped create.

Gore’s position on all three of these issues is to essentially dismiss them with a wave of his hand. These problems may or may not be insurmountable in the long run, but refusing to recognize that they even exist—after spending eight years as vice president in an administration that failed to solve any of them—certainly is not a good approach.

Like I said, it was harsh on Gore, but I do think they did a good job of building up to that second paragraph.


Heckling

April 8, 2007

From an article in the NYT. My favorite sentence:

But people have become brattier as the children of the Consciousness Revolution, encouraged to indulge their inner child, have come of age.

The most ironic part is this, though:

To Kyle Doss, an audience member who helped spark Michael Richards’s tirade at a Los Angeles comedy club last November by yelling “You’re not funny” following a racially charged joke, he was not a heckler, but a champion of tolerance. “I think freedom of speech should have some kind of limit,” Mr. Doss later told a reporter.

In the rest of the article, people are promoting their own freedom of speech. I definitely come down on the side that people should be more polite to each other, including when they are famous. There is some interesting historical context in the piece as well.

Update: Just to make it clear, the second quote is the exception not the rule of the article. When free speech is mentioned int he rest of the article it’s in defense of the hecklers.


Sad Condemnation of the UN Human Rights Council

April 5, 2007

Is there any response to this refutation of the work the UN Human Rights Council has done? (I’ll admit, I didn’t actually look for any, it just confirmed my previous notions on the effectiveness of the UN) Via an Economist blog. (Democracy in America recently switched to partial feeds which is just sad.)