May 27, 2007

Quick Notes #11

Incredible. In his latest press conference, Bush was asked, after having been wrong so much and failed so badly in Iraq, why should he be seen as a credible messenger on the war; in reply, he claimed that "I'm credible because I read the intelligence."

Before 9/11, there was a large amount of intelligence telling Bush that an attack was coming. He did not act on it. Before the Iraq War, there was a large amount of intelligence warning Bush about the problems that would arise pursuant to the invasion, like sectarian violence. Again, Bush did not act on it.

In short, you do not gain credibility by just reading the intelligence. You gain credibility by reading it, then judging what should be acted on, and then acting on it. Maybe somebody should explain this to him.

Posted by Luis at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Quick Notes #10

Opportunistic: There's a news story which is as sad as it is unsurprising: al Qaeda is making money off of Iraq. We already know that Bush's invasion of Iraq has enormously swelled the ranks of al Qaeda. By going into Iraq, Bush has weakened the United States military on a fool's errand, and strengthened our enemies to no end. Well done.

But here's my thought: on September 11, 2001, even before the shock of the day's events wore off, a good president would have asked himself, "How can I fix this?"

Instead, what we had was a president who asked, "How can I use this?"

3,422 U.S. troops dead. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead. So many more to come. This is how great piles of corpses are made.

Posted by Luis at 08:10 AM | Comments (1)

May 08, 2007

Quick Notes #9

Greed: Some say that we went to Iraq to steal the oil; I don't know who's getting what money, so I can't address that. I always assumed that a bigger aim was not to take the oil revenues, but rather to control the output, so as to control world prices. But here's another thought: a war in Iraq--especially a long war, what Bush has pushed for and keeps on pushing for--in addition to instability in the Middle East--which Bush has certainly caused, without question--all provides for the perfect excuse to jack up gas prices at the pump far beyond reason. Maybe it's not just stealing or even controlling the oil. Maybe it's about creating the pretext for overcharging for the oil.

Any way you look at it, the oil companies have got this covered in several directions. Not the least of which is an administration, run by two former oil company executives, who have fought for and won billions in tax breaks for the oil companies, which are making historic profits.

But surely, I am an conspiracy theorist.

Posted by Luis at 12:35 AM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2007

Quick Notes #8

Forward-looking: What kind of ex-president will Bush be? Most become dignified statesmen after a fashion, and act in a conciliatory fashion with their political opponents. Clinton has taken this to heart almost too much. Bush 41 is dignified enough. Carter is as magnificent a former president as he was ill-equipped an acting president.

Somehow, I have quite a bit of trouble imagining a dignified former-president Bush 43. I sincerely doubt he'll pull a Carter and turn out to be stellar after the fact. The question is most likely how he'll manage to make a buffoon of himself. Sell himself to the highest bidder, but less slick than Reagan did? Snipe at and foul-mouth Democrats? Embarrass the nation by trying to be statesman and fouling things up? Or just make asinine statements on a regular basis?

One can only hope he'll simply fade into obscurity. Somehow, however, I don't think he will.

Posted by Luis at 11:47 AM | Comments (8)

Quick Notes #7

Enough. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." Unfortunately, as we've witnessed over the past six years, "some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time" is more than enough to take the nation down the drain.

Posted by Luis at 09:30 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2007

Quick Notes #6

An Insignificant Minimum. That's what Antonin Scalia calls innocents who are killed by the system of capital punishment. Imagine being the innocent person put to death; how comforting to know you are an "insignificant minimum." Benjamin Franklin said that it is better a hundred guilty men go free than to let one innocent suffer; the ultimately reprehensible Scalia disagrees, apparently satisfied that few enough innocents are killed; naturally, he conveniently ignores the fact that it is a system virtually designed to hide the fact that innocents are killed. Why else purposefully destroy all evidence in a case when a criminal is executed, like a murderer disposing of his weapon and clothes after his crime?

If you are willing to kill for a belief, I think you should also be willing to die for it. If you approve of the death penalty, and you can honestly say that you would, as an innocent person, go to your execution believing that the death penalty was still just and your life an acceptable sacrifice, then that wins you the prize of not being an utter hypocrite. I have a feeling that most people who support capital punishment would not pass that test.

Even the Dallas Morning News, in the heart of Death Penalty territory, has changed its mind on this issue, as did Republican Illinois Governor George Ryan (though he had to wait just before leaving office to act on his belief).

Posted by Luis at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)

April 10, 2007

Quick Notes #5

Blathering. If they decide that cell phones can be used on airplane flights, I want them to create "talking" and "no talking" divisions in the Economy-class cabin. The talkers get put in the back of the plane, and that's where all the people with crying babies will be seated. Fair is fair.

Posted by Luis at 09:39 AM | Comments (1)

April 06, 2007

Quick Notes #4

Proof. In the Religion vs. Science issue, there is apparent confusion over what Science is. Science is not a belief system, and despite what some "scientists" say, it does not "disprove" God or prove that God doesn't exist. Science is all about, in short, what we can see and verify in a quantifiable manner. And despite the claims of some in the religious world, Science does not attack religion or try to disprove it; it does not deny the existence of what cannot be observed, it simply does not include it. All Science does is to record what we can observe. The conflict between the two comes when people in the religious world, in an attempt to "prove" that their faith is correct (another point of confusion: it's "faith" because it can't be proved), take interpretations from their scriptures and attempt to apply them to the real world (e.g., counting days and years from Creation to the present and coming out with a 6,000-year-old universe), and then get upset because their applications of interpretations of scripture are contradicted by that which is visibly evident in the real world. "Science" isn't attacking their views, reality is. But in their anger, they blame "Science" as being their enemy, and therefore try to denigrate, obviate, infiltrate, and disintegrate Science. But Science isn't a belief system, it is simply a collection of what can be observed in the real world.

This effect can best be expressed by the old joke: who are you gonna believe, me, or your lyin' eyes?

Posted by Luis at 01:09 PM | Comments (4)

April 05, 2007

Quick Notes #3

Established: There is no "good" ending to the Iraq War. Whether we leave now or ten years from now, bloodshed and chaos will ensue. Staying on makes little difference, except to the grieving families of our own fallen troops. The insurgents aren't going anywhere, and we'll never clean them out (on the contrary, staying longer most likely inflates their numbers). The civil war based on sectarian feuds will not likely ebb soon, either. Iraq is an irreparable arterial gash, and we are simply applying pressure to it. This is important to realize because of all the claims made by conservatives of what terrible things will happen if we pull out "too soon."

Posted by Luis at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2007

Quick Notes #2

Scary. As today's decision on EPA regulation has yet again demonstrated, there is a 4-member conservative block on the Supreme Court that decides on purely political grounds, and not based upon law. That block is, of course, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. While Scalia was appointed by Reagan and Thomas by Bush 41, the most recent two were put there by Dubya--more evidence of what damage he has wreaked on the country. And since they were all installed very young (another prerequisite; three are still in their 50's), they'll continue to scar the legal landscape for decades.

Posted by Luis at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

Quick Notes #1

Something that I figured I would start doing: blogging quick thoughts that don't get into full blog-post form, but I'd like to shoot out anyway. Sometimes there's stuff that doesn't need elaboration, or I just don't feel like going in-depth about it (which I usually feel is necessary to qualify as having officially blogged for the day). Kind of like the equivalent of post-it notes in blog form. So here goes.

Ironic. After all those years of methodically trying to destroy the "liberal" and "Democrat" brand names so that anyone would be embarrassed to call themselves by those names, Republicans have succeeded in destroying their own name appeal in far less time. In the past six years of full Republican control, fewer people than in the past 20 years [PDF] want to call themselves a "Republican," while more people than ever want to call themselves "Democrats."

Posted by Luis at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)