Nov 28, 2005

"There is no response other than venom and ... lies" [LINK]

Another letter:

Mark Roddy identifies the two camps debating the Iraq war as the "stay-and-die" and "cut-and-run" factions. It's interesting that he identifies himself with the latter phrase, but it's also galling that he labels cut-and-run advocates as the "reality-based community."

Like so many critics of the Bush administration I read in these pages, Mr. Roddy dwells on the casualties of war, but nowhere considers the results of a premature withdrawal or presents an alternative long-term strategy for that troubling region. Those who call themselves "reality-based" should earn that right.

Nov 15, 2005

"Knowing then what we know now" [LINK]

The latest disturbance to my serenity:

I was rather amused to read Thomas Oliphant's assessment of the flawed intelligence President Bush relied upon in deciding to go to war in Iraq. He says Bush's defense, that he and his Democratic rivals were all relying on the best available intelligence from a number of countries, is tantamount to creating "a Potemkin universe of intelligence dupes."

Yet Oliphant is capable of some obfuscation on the matter as well. In the same column, he refers to the "now-accepted wisdom that Iraq possessed no unconventional weapons and posed no threat to the United States." Using a now-familiar phrase, he says that "knowing then what is known now," war would have been unwise.

It should be obvious that we did not, and could not, have known then what we know now. Saddam Hussein was by all accounts engaging in such dissemblance that definitive intelligence was difficult to come by. It was only by going to war that we "now know" enough to flagellate each other to score political points. To my mind, that seems like the best possible outcome considering the alternative.

There's not enough room in such a letter to address the quality of knowledge at each stage. Hussein engages in dissemblance, forcing us to rely more heavily on flawed intelligence. We go to war, and we "now know" he did not have WMDs. We do not "know" any such thing. He had them at some point, and something must have happened to them. Since there was no credible evidence they were destroyed during the period Hussein expelled weapons inspectors, Syria is a good guess.
UPDATE: Score another one. I'm happy they fixed my "did not, and could not, have known" mistake, but I'm a little pissed they screwed up "Oliphant is also capable of obfuscation as well." They also removed the reference to Democrats who believed Hussein was a threat: "he and his Democratic rivals were all relying on the best available intelligence." And "dissemblance" is a word, thank you. To say Hussein was "engaging in such dissemblance" is far better on the ear than "doing so much dissembling," which sounds childish.

Nov 14, 2005

One Person's Crime Is Another's Constitutional Right [LINK]

In Lufkin, Texas, a 16-year-old girl tried several times to kill the twin babies with whom she was four months pregnant. She finally prevailed upon her boyfriend to stomp on her midsection, an act that terminated her pregnancy. Her boyfriend was subsequently charged with murder, but she, presumably exercising her constitutional rights, was not. Unfortunately for the young man, he was not a licensed abortionist, and thus not permitted to facilitate such a killing.

Nov 10, 2005

Nail? Hammer. [LINK]

Another response to a letter in the Globe:

Carol Hurley cites figures by the WAGE Project asserting that women earn only 77 percent as men with the same educational and professional background, and are thus victims of discrimination. If this were true, it would be excellent news. It would mean that businesses can save up to 23 percent of their formidable payroll costs simply by hiring only women.

Nov 7, 2005

"Trying to sell junk that nobody needs" [LINK]

Another of my responses to a letter in the Globe:

Tom Bishop says that business leaders who complain of the high taxes and insurance costs the latest healthcare proposal might bring about are misguided, and that the real problem of struggling businesses is one of "revenue," meaning not enough paying customers. He further suggests that business owners are solely responsible for their success, and failure to adapt to changes in the business climate means they're probably "trying to sell junk that nobody needs."

But why should doing business be made harder than it already is? By Mr. Bishop's logic, we should put the squeeze on businesses as much as possible, since those that survive would be sure to produce only the most useful goods. No, higher taxes don't come at the cost of "junk that nobody needs," but of goods and services that potential customers can either no longer afford or that they can buy for less elsewhere. Mr. Bishop's insistence that business leaders are the only ones responsible for their success is simply another way of saying that lawmakers bear no responsibility for the results of their policies.