Choking on sand

I thought conservatives prided themselves on substantive responses and fact-based argumentation rather than baseless emotional retorts. Jonah Goldberg writes on NRO:

Morgan Reynolds has lost his marbles. Reynolds used to do great work at NCPA. Now, he’s peddling the idea that Bush orchestrated 9/11. Of course, the large tinfoil hat community in Madison is giving him a welcome reception. What a shame all around.

So, we’re supposed to believe that the same institution which orchestrated the Maine, the Lusitania and the Tonkin Gulf incident, which lied to the American people about its intentions to enter WWI and WWII and still asserts that TWA 800 spontaneously combusted, was somehow incapable of perpetrating a similar fraud on the American people in 2001?

We are supposed to believe that an institution which murdered American citizens at Ruby Ridge and Waco would never dream of harming Americans in in New York City?

Now, when a member of the administration openly asserts that the organization to which he belonged was responsible for a lethal criminal act, the conservative commentariat’s reaction is to plunge their heads into the sand while warbling that the man is crazy. It’s not only cowardly, it is irresponsible. The shame lies with Goldberg and company, not Reynolds, even if Reynolds is incorrect.

[Morgan] Reynolds, the former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and the ex-top economist for George W. Bush’s Labor Department, charged the Bush administration with gross malfeasance, and proposed the prosecution of top administration officials.

Normally, if a prestigious UW alumnus and ex-Bush administration official were to come to the Wisconsin Historical Society to spill the beans about a Bush administration scandal, it would make the news. The local TV stations would cover it, and it would merit front page headlines in The Capital Times and Wisconsin State Journal….

Despite the prestigious speaker and venue, and the gravity of the charges aired, for most Americans indeed most Madisonians the event never happened. Why? Because it was censored, subjected to a total media blackout. Not a word in the State Journal. Not a word in The Capital Times. Not a word on the local TV news. Not a word on local radio news. And, of course, not a word in the national media.

Why the blackout? Because Reynolds violated the ultimate U.S. media taboo. He charges the Bush administration with orchestrating the 9/11 attacks as a pretext for launching a preplanned “long war” in the Middle East, rolling back our civil liberties, and massively increasing military spending.

When a former Bush administration insider makes such charges, how can the media ignore them? Is Reynolds a lone crank? Hardly. A long list of prominent Americans have spoken out for 9/11 truth: Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Sen. Barbara Boxer, former head of the Star Wars program Col. Robert Bowman, ex-Reagan administration economics guru Paul Craig Roberts, progressive Jewish author-activist Rabbi Michael Lerner, former CIA official Ray McGovern, author-essayist Gore Vidal, and many other respected names from across the political spectrum have gone on the record for 9/11 truth.

Are the media ignoring all these people, and dozens more like them, because there is no evidence to support their charges? Hardly. Overwhelming evidence, from the obvious air defense stand-down, to the nonprotection of the president in Florida, to the blatant controlled demolition of World Trade Center building 7, proves that 9/11 was an inside job. As noted philosopher-theologian and 9/11 revisionist historian David Griffin writes: “It is already possible to know, beyond a reasonable doubt, one very important thing: the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job, orchestrated by terrorists within our own government.”

I don’t know who was responsible for 9/11. And neither do you. There are a whole range of possibilities, from the entire operation being a nefarious internal plot to it genuinely being an Islamic terrorist action that was passively observed – although the standing-down of the air defense system does suggest at least a degree of government complicity. Given how police and federal agents often allow petty criminals to act in the hopes of catching the more important ones, it does not seem unreasonable to consider the possibility that none of the complicit government observers expected the towers to collapse, without which the administration would have been given the chance to go after al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein at a lower cost than in most of the previous incidents now known to have been orchestrated.

In any case, Mr. Reynolds likely knows rather more about the situation than any individual outside the administration. Furthermore, American history clearly indicates that whatever the U.S. government’s official story might happen to be, it is a false one.

Behavior modification

A woman trains her husband in the New York Times:

The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging. The same goes for the American husband.

Back in Maine, I began thanking Scott if he threw one dirty shirt into the hamper. If he threw in two, I’d kiss him. Meanwhile, I would step over any soiled clothes on the floor without one sharp word, though I did sometimes kick them under the bed. But as he basked in my appreciation, the piles became smaller.

No doubt this has been the most popular article in the NY Times thanks to the nod to equalitarian sensibilities in comparing men to animals. But rewarding positive behavior isn’t exactly new, after all, every incentive plan from auto sales to NFL contracts is based on the concept.

What is useful is the encouragement to avoid the concept of punishing negative behavior. While punishment is effective and even required in some relationships, such as the parent-child one, it’s actually destructive in romantic and marital relationships. The man or woman who deals out the silent treatment or plays the “no sex for you” game (or its alternative, the “no money for you” game), deserves to suffer the natural consequences of such activities.

People are smarter than animals, so they should theoretically be much easier to train. Of course, the trick, as with animals, is to be consistent in the delivery of rewards. Unfortunately for men, they are much easier to train than women since the answer to “what do men want” is usually more easily found than the one for Freud’s famous question.

The good games are tomorrow

Germany, as most host countries do, has made a good run, but mostly because its group was disgustingly easy. As their games against England showed, neither Ecuador nor Sweden were very good – Sweden didn’t even come close to meriting the point they salvaged against the Brits – which means that Germany hasn’t faced a serious test yet this World Cup.

Argentina, on the other hand, outplayed a very skilled Dutch team and beat a solid Mexico that was playing as well as I’ve ever seen it play. They’ve overwhelmed teams, they’re unselfish, they’ve shown they can come from behind without panicking and their substitutes are often better than their starters. Pekerman can’t not start Hernan Crespo, and yet Unfrozen Caveman Striker is the most dangerous and disruptive player on the Argentine squad. This should be the game in which the German defense gets exposed, and as an Arsenalista, I can testify that while Lehman is a good keeper, he is unlikely to rescue an overmatched Deutschland ala Oliver Kahn in Korea.

Italy will have no trouble with Ukraine. A team that can’t score against a Swiss team missing Senderos will find it next to impossible to put one in the net against the Azzurri, even if the Italians are missing both Nesta and Materazzi in defense. Just as Buffon, Cannevaro, Camoranesi, Zambrotta and Del Piero helped render their Juventus teammate Nedved ineffective in the Czech game, the extreme familiarity of Milan’s Inzaghi, Pirlo, Gilardino, Nesta and Gattuso with Shevchenko – who played seven years with the rossoneri before this summer’s move to Chelsea – will help enormously in shutting him down.

My affection for the Azzurri aside, I hope we get the chance to see Italy-Argentina as it promises a clash between two well-coached, highly-skilled and technically-excellent teams.

In which J. Goldberg says the same thing

Only in a rather less offensive manner:

Indeed, back when I toiled in the fields of feminist debate, to say that women owe a larger allegiance to the common good than to themselves was to invite hobgoblins of slippery-slopism and dystopian visions of handmaid’s tales. For as a matter of simple logic, a philosophy which says that women should subordinate their own aspirations — particularly when it comes to their role as mothers — to the national community (or volksgemeinschaft, if you prefer) is a philosophy which can be used to justify forcing women to become breeders for the posterity and prosperity of the nation. Oh, but just to be clear: this isn’t my prediction, it’s just the sort of argument feminists used to make when feminism meant the opposite of what Hirshman says it should mean. And, fear not, even if the day comes when women are asked to put aside their own hopes for themselves and their families for the demographic common good, feminists will surely not call it “feminism.”

Frankly, I preferred my Normanesque take on the matter.

Two fictions don’t make a reality

From NRO’s Corner:

Unfortunately, I’m going to be out-of-pocket for most of today, so I’ll miss a lot of the post-mortem if the decision comes down. For pre-mortem, though, I’ve been poking around, and it seems like there’s a prevailing view that if — as expected — the decision comes out in favor of Hamdan, the theory will be that al Qaeda does have Geneva Convention protections.

Make no mistake: if this happens, the Supreme Court will have dictated that we now have a treaty with al Qaeda — which no President, no Senate, and no vote of the American people would ever countenance.

Since we don’t have a declaration of war against “al Qaeda” either, I don’t see why we shouldn’t have a fictional treaty with them as well. I mean, isn’t it time to stop being surprised at the Supreme Court’s continual manufacture of legal fictions? This wouldn’t exactly be the first such occurrence of it.

It’s just a good thing that we’ve got Roberts and Alito on the court to prevent such unconstitutional activity….

Why should France care?

Podhoretz the Younger manages to miss the point entirely:

It turns out that Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier, is also a citizen of…France. But I guess, since he’s a Jew, the French Foreign Minister would just as soon he was murdered by Hamas rather than actually support efforts to free a French citizen.

Or, perhaps, the French quite reasonably feel that someone who is not only a citizen of another country but has actually taken up arms for that country instead of France is no longer a concern of theirs. And while I’m no expert on French citizenship laws, I seem to recall that it wasn’t all that long ago that swearing allegiance to another country, let alone taking up arms for one, was enough to automatically cause the loss of one’s US citizenship.

This is not a new dichotomy. Napoleon once famously required the Jews of France to decide if their loyalties lay with their people or with France. Gilad Shalit obviously decided that his lay with Israel, as was his right, but at that point his fate ceased to be a matter of concern for his former nation.

After all, the man didn’t get captured because he was a French citizen, but because he is an Israeli soldier. It is an Israeli problem, and Israel certainly has the werewithal to respond to it.

It looks like Pataki

While it doesn’t make any sense according to the conventional wisdom, it looks to me as if Gov. Pataki is the likely Republican nominee for president in 2008. The Nostradamine auguries also indicate that war with Iran is unlikely, unless the USA is willing to go without a backing coalition.

I still think the Republican will merely play the role of the sacrificial lamb, but I could certainly be wrong. Time will tell.