Armchairism, or Chickenism
The early award for best post of the day goes to The Poor Man, with his psuedo-news article about pro-war pundits and bloggers:”Falling Reentlistment Rates Among Right Wing Pundits Threaten War on Terror.”

The enemy had brought in a few independent studies to fortify their position. Goldberg called for reinforcements, and emails supporting his stand began pouring in. As quickly as they arrived, Goldberg posted them to his weblog on the front. The action was getting furious, and, without looking, Goldberg opened an email from an unknown address. On the monitor was the image of a single white feather. Goldberg fell back in his office chair, and hit the ground and began moaning, softly and piteously.

“Medic!” shouted Derbyshire.

K-Lo rushed over and crouched over him. “It’s bad,” she muttered. “Oh, man, it’s bad.”

“What is it?” yelled Derbyshire, panicked. “Where’d they get him?”

“Oh, it’s bad. Those bastards. Those fucking heartless bastards. They got him in the feelings. Oh God, oh God, no. Those motherfuckers hurt his feelings! God I hate this damned war!”

Now, I laughed my proverbial balls off at this. But then I followed a link to an article by Doug Kern in TechCentralStation, positing that the real problem we face is the march of the Chickendoves – anti-war folks who didn’t enlist.

To be clear: the entire notion of “Chicken______” is absurd. A free society should act on the assumption that citizens can reason about military issues without personal military experience, just as they can reason about any issue without needing a doctorate degree to do so. If you can’t trust citizens to reason intelligently outside of their personal fields of expertise, you’ve ceded political control to the experts. A strong insight into human nature gives citizens the capacity for reasonably wise decisions on all subjects. And insight into human nature doesn’t require military discharge papers.

Moreover, we constantly make political demands on each other that don’t affect us personally. We raise taxes that we ourselves don’t pay. We pass environmental regulations that don’t affect our businesses. We support novel educational policies while we send our own children to private school. So what? Do we demand that leftists form their own multinational conglomerates before protesting at WTC meetings? Do we require conservatives to date within their own sex before opposing same-sex marriages? Why have we singled out a pro-war stance as the one instance in which the mere possession of an opinion isn’t good enough?

This is not at all the stupidest exposition of this thinking. But it avoids – maybe intentionally – the reason pro-war non-veteran pundits are offensive in a way tenured radicals are not. Look at the list of things Kern equates with chickenhawking – taxes, environmental regulations, same-sex marriage, “forming multinational conglomerates.”

This is exactly the stuff that offends people (like myself, increasingly) about pro-war pundits. Kern easily equates war with taxes and environmental regulations. For him, it’s one bullet point on a long list of debate topics. Don’t tell me he’s just concluding his these with some light examples – this is the final thrust of his argument, that of COURSE you can argue about something without it intimately affecting you.

That’s what really sets people off about pro-war pundits. It’s not the ideas – it’s the flippancy. It’s the tendancy of a Jonah or a Steyn or a Coulter to advocate sending troops into battle as a first resort. They have large audiences and their opinions matter, and they use that space to joke about war. To wit, a pre-war Goldberg:

So: Is Iraq a brutal totalitarian regime? Check! Is it a proven threat to its neighbors? Check! Is it a proven threat to its own people? Check! Is it a proven threat to our allies? Check! Is it willing to export terrorism abroad? Check! Is it likely that if it got weapons of mass destruction, it would use them recklessly? Check! Is it working very hard to get weapons of mass destruction? Check! Would Saddam’s people be better off without him? Check! Would we and our allies be better off without him? Check! Do we have the power and capabilities to get rid of him without paying too high a cost? Check!

“Without paying too high a cost” – the lives of an expected few hundred soldiers (in retrospect, the lives of more than 1400) are slapped on the table like a $10 casino chip.

Kern does a pretty good job with an untenable argument, but that’s it. Pro-war pundits who write from the safety of their homes definitely deserve all the flack they get.


E-mail alert
A computer error has deleted all my email since, ironically enough, February 2. (It actually deleted EVERYTHING, but I had backed up my inbox on groundhog day, so I was able to reinstall the old stuff.) If you sent something to dave at davidweigel dot com since then, I do not have it. Send it again.


You so crazy
I’m about to add some more liberal blogs to my ‘roll. Why? Because the real-world balance of power – Republicans controlling everything, Democrats in retreat – has given us a satire gap. The liberal blogs are generally funnier, and they have more targets. The conservative blogs … well, I was pointed to this post at Belmont Club. Check ‘er out.

Islam is 1000 years older than the Left; its population burgeoning while the Left is aborting itself into demographic extinction. More fundamentally, any honest Leftist must realize that his movement and its aspirations are rooted in the very West it seeks to destroy. Communist totalitarianism is the doppelganger of secular freedom; and the serpent in the garden must know that the desert, so hospitable to Islam, can only be a place of death for it. The Left may have embarked upon a journey of revenge. They will find suicide.

In the words of The Avalanches: What does that mean? OK, let me diagram it.

Islam is 1000 years older than the Left

Well, Islam basically began in 622. When did the Left begin? With Saint-Simon in 1833? Karl Marx in 1848? The student uprisings in 1968? Seriously, what exactly is being attacked here?

its population burgeoning while the Left is aborting itself into demographic extinction.

Awhuh? Again, what Left is he talking about? Nasser and Michel Aflaq developed an “Arab socialism” in the 60s which, while dwindling like crazy in the 80s and 90s, is pretty well rooted in the governance of some Arab states. If we succeed in building up secular states in the Middle East, it’s probably they’ll be far more socialistic than the US. So socialism can’t define the Left … and what does?

More fundamentally, any honest Leftist must realize that his movement and its aspirations are rooted in the very West it seeks to destroy.

And now I quote L’il John: WHAAT-A?

Communist totalitarianism is the doppelganger of secular freedom

Not really at all. Certainly, there are some lefties who think this way … I’ve had interesting conversations with some Z magazine readers … but, “secular freedom” is basically Stalinism? What?

I don’t mean to impugn all righty blogs, but the ones I’m told to read – this, Powerline, LGF – are increasingly full of “know your enemy” shit that really bears no knowledge of the “enemy.”

And I hate to paint trendlines where there might just be coincidences, but I’m afraid this shit may be taking over. If you’re a righty blog, you’re not really going to say “I dislike this powerful government official” or “I have doubts about the progressing war on terror.” So there’s increasing prevalence of games of “check that lefty professor/Nation columnist!” and drippy, weird essays about the Left.

That’s fine, but it’s boring. Meanwhile, lefty blogger The Poor Man recently checked in on the debate between Juan Cole and Jonah Goldberg. Specifically, he got pissy about Jonah saying he could hardly quit his job and leave his family to join the army. He ended his post by creating this picture.

And, see, that’s why I go on the internet.


Daily humor
Here’s the deal. On Fark.com, when someone posts a picture of a hot woman, members of the site say “I’d hit it” or “I wouldn’t hit it.” “It,” in this context, means “her vagina and/or anus,” and “hit” means “place my penis inside.”

Now, there’s a McDonalds web ad that looks like this.

Lights! Camera! Hilarity!


British politics
Why are we cursed to watch 24 hours of SOTU coverage (“Which president never gave a SOTU speech? Answer after the break!”) when the British get crazy shit like this?

Britain’s newest political party, Veritas, was launched today on a populist platform of “straight-talking” and defending the country against asylum, immigration and multiculturalism, under former chatshow host Robert Kilroy-Silk.

In a 15-minute debut speech to reporters at Westminster, Mr Kilroy-Silk lambasted Tony Blair and Michael Howard as “liars” and said his new party would be looking for the votes of those who had “been made to feel ashamed of their culture and being British”.

Mentioning only “mass immigration and uncontrolled asylum” as policy areas, the former TV star and MEP – now on his third political party after spells with Labour and Ukip – bordered on ranting as he repeatedly dismissed the entire British political establishment as liars, before saying the British public were “tired of yah-boo politics”.

With only Mr Kilroy-Silk and ex-Ukip London assembly member Damian Hockney so far signed up as the public face of the party – which hopes to replace Ukip as the home of the anti-EU vote – the new leader did not explain who would fund his “straight-talking” party, or how many candidates it would put up at the next election.

Unrolling a scroll of paper symbolising the “lies and broken promises” of the mainstream parties, Mr Kilroy-Silk said: “The British people are fed up of being lied to, talked down to and patronised.

“They are tired of yah-boo politics. They are tired of paying obedience to the norms of ‘multiculturalism’, tired of being ashamed of their culture and being British.

I ask you – who in American politics could get away with starting a new party and naming it something in Latin?

And who in general would use Latin phrases and “yah-boo” in the same paragraph?

Seriously, though, this is amazing. It’s as if Lou Dobbs formed his own political party and people voted for it.


Random political thought #2
Hey, couldn’t Howard Dean neutralize a ton of his weaknesses by guest-hosting Saturday Night Live? Joking about your biggest weakness is a pretty reliable way to neutralize it – obviously, the best example is Ronald Reagan’s “youth and inexperience” gibe, but Clinton got a lot from mocking his 1988 convention speech. McCain, Rudy, Gore … in my opinion, even Al Sharpton got a boost from hosting SNL.

If up was down and black was white and I was actually in charge of this stuff, I’d totally try to get Dean on the show. It’d become hard to mock “the scream” as a token of his left-wing nuttery if it was re-cast as part of his sense of humor. Or you could mock it as a mistake. There’s an obvious skit there, wherein Dean goes through several situations in which he’s expected to scream but refuses to – in the stands at a Patriots game, delivering a healthy baby. The denouement has him driving a car with family, gritting his teeth as everyone sings along to the Usher/L’il John song titled “YEAH!” and its chorus:

Yeah, Yeah yeah, Yeah yeah, Yeaah
Yeah, Yeah yeah, Yeah yeah, Yeaah!

It’s funny to me, anyway.


What’s weirdest? The fact that this Onion article is about a 24-year old taking his parents to see “Sideways” on Monday, and I’m a 23-year-old who took them to see it on Sunday? Is it that we ate at a “non-chain restaurant” afterward?

Or is it that this article is also set in Delaware?


It never rains but it monsoons
All right. So I get home and set about moving vital files from C to my extra G drive. I open the “my computer” list and … no G drive. For some reason, it’s not getting read. So I’m pretty dead set on finding a reliable repair place and leaving this thing with them a few days. My last personal involvement in the matter was restarting the PC this morning to run the automatic disk check. We’ll see where that leaves us.


Grrr. Argh.
According to some helpful tips, my PC is warning me that my hard drive is unstable and will soon collapse. This is a bummer. I got my PC four years ago, after a shelf fell on my laptop and destroyed THAT hard drive, and after a previous laptop had been stolen by burglers. The previous computers had a ton of stuff on them, and this one has even more – years of newspaper files, articles, pictures, resumes, emails, and a shitload of media files.

I can deal with porting most of this stuff over to a new drive – by some act of prescience I had started reorganizing it two weeks ago. The big peeve whenever this happens, though, is the porting-over of programs. I don’t always have every disc that came with every piece of software – I end up crossing my fingers and hoping I can make my programs run by porting over their folders. So I end up losing the occasional program and trying to live without it. In the past I’ve never had time to scribble down my program codes and passwords before making a switch. Maybe that’ll change this time.

On the positive side, these occasional computer errors have a way of producing a benefit or two. Last time I hired a technician to fix my PC, he installed XP free of charge. Maybe this time I can upgrade my RAM.


Random political thought
In all the pundit sound and fury about the DNC chair race (which is exciting as hell, incidentally), there’s this idea of “the face of the party” that keeps bobbing up and down like a corpse in standing water. Howard Dean’s abrasive and he should appoint a better face of the party to represent them in public. Martin Frost or Tim Roemer can “campaign anywhere” for Dem candidates.

Anyway – is the party chairman ever not a total assclown? For either party. I’ve only been paying close attention to our politics since 2000, and I have known but 5 party chairs. For Democrats – Terry McAuliffe. Total dick. For Republicans – Jim Gilmore, Mark Racicot, Ed Gillespie, Ken Mehlman. Dick, dick, dick, creepy chiclet-toothed dick.

Obviously, Dean was the arbiter of one of the most parodied and mocked political moments of the last decade. I happen to think there’s a certain threshold for that – the man jokes about it all the time, anyway. But let’s assume he’s a dick with a poor public face. Hey, Terry McAuliffe wasn’t? Ken Mehlman isn’t? If forced to be trapped in a mineshaft with any of those guys, I’d choose Dean easy. (McAuliffe especially – he had Dean’s habit of blurting out dumb things in public down to a science.)

I imagine the party out of power has more riding on the tact of its chairman – the Republicans could appoint Vincent Schiavelli to the job and instruct him to speak exclusively in tongues, and it wouldn’t matter because Bush would be the man on top. But I don’t see why Howard Dean possessing some awesome party-crippling abilities when he’s, at worst, as rough-in-the-saddle as the guy he’s trying to replace.