The Echo Chamber
Saturday, November 22, 2003
  10:52 PM


This is an excerpt from a David Brooks NYT editorial:
Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide. He or she is ripping the veil from all that is private and delicate in oneself, and pulverizing it in an assembly line of selfish sensations.

This is Instpundit's Reaction:
Actually, I had quite a few years like that before I was married, and I consider it a good thing, though I'm quite happy to be married now and wouldn't have wanted to live that way forever. (But I think that one reason that I'm happily married now is that I did live that way for quite a while first). But I agree with David Brooks that gay marriage is a good thing, and actually strengthens traditional values rather than harming them.

The concept that the reason one is enjoying a healthy marriage partly because of a promiscuous lifestyle before that somehow, "got the wildside out" is preposterous. It is the logical equivalent of asserting that the reason you enjoy such a healthy vitality in life now is in part due to the years of drug addiction in your past. No offense to a man that I hold respect for and generally agree with, but get real Glenn! This moral rationalism is the product of centuries of Aristotilian ethics. The fact that middle-aged adults, who themselves are parents, are espousing these empty moral arguments is a large part of the moral crisis among our teenagers today. What Reynolds fails to do is explain how much fun it was to tell his present wife of all those sexual encounters and partners and see her reaction, or maybe he didn't bother to be that honest because he knew the emotional pain it would cause. This society can try to paint the picture any way it wants but the immutable fact remains that we are made for exclusive relationships and promiscuity betrays the depths of the bond that is supposed to exist between two people, no matter when it occurs.


Friday, November 21, 2003
  4:43 PM

[Stephen Gordon]

Today, Steven Den Beste wrote another brilliant article entitled "The Precautionary Principle."

Simply put, engineers do not seek perfection. Regardless of what they are designing, whether it is a space shuttle or a merry-go-round, holding out for perfection is folly. Perfection can never be achieved. Of course perfection is always pursued, but there quickly comes a point of diminishing returns where some decision maker must say, "this is good enough for now."

Typically engineers attempt to provide the best design possible within a given budget with current technology.

In 1947 Judge Learned Hand proposed that someone is responsible for a failure if (and only if) the burden of prevention was less than the probability of failure multiplied by the cost of failure.

That's expressed:

B < PL


B = burden
P = probability
L = gravity of harm

This is pretty much the heart and soul of tort law in this country today. Because this is the law, it's no coincidence that engineers have adopted this standard of care. It allows engineers freedom to work because it doesn't demand perfection. But this standard is also relentless in its demand for constant improvement.

This rule carefully balances freedom and responsibility. It's just another reason this country is great.

Read all of Den Beste's post. In it he contrasts our approach with the cautious approach the Europeans employ and explains why it has ramifications in the war on terror.

UPDATE: Here's a blog post I wrote November 1, 2002 using this analysis on the question of whether to go to war with Iraq.

Thursday, November 20, 2003
  11:44 AM

The Bush-Blair News Conference

[Stephen Gordon]

Today President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair participated in a news conference where they were asked the following jaw-droppingly inane question:
Question: What do you say to people who today conclude that British people have died and been maimed as a result of you appearing here today, shoulder to shoulder, with a controversial American president? And Mr President, if I could ask you, with thousands marching on the streets today here in London, a free nation, what is your conclusion as to why apparently so many free citizens fear you and even hate you?

To their credit, both Bush and Blair responded with appropriate dignity. Mr. Bush talked about the beauty of dissent in a free society and that Iraqis now have that freedom. Mr. Blair said that the terrorists are to be blamed for the attacks, not Bush.

Not being the head of a major world power, I would have responded differently:

Bush: Thank you for that asinine question. Why do people hate and fear me? Because they are morons. Either they don't realize that civilization is at war with forces of chaos and evil, or they would rather chaos and evil win. Either way, their opinion is too stupid for me to spend much time considering. Now go back to sleep, the grown-ups have a war to win.. [whips out a cell phone to order another offensive while Blair responds…]

Blair: Somebody get the Queen on the phone, its time to establish Sharia in the U.K.! Would you please think about your questions before you ask them? You are actually suggesting that Bush and I are to blame for the deaths of these innocents because we met. You think that if we surrender to terrorists then everything will be okay? Take a long look at Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Do they look okay to you? Utter ruin is what you reap when you surrender to terrorism, not peace.

  11:02 AM


According to this FoxNews article, there is new furvor in the push for "single" rights. I could be completely off-base on this, but I am single and I feel in no way slighted by society or that married people are getting an unfair advantage.
First, they have chosen to BE married. It's a lifestyle not a condition and certain lifestyles bear both positive and negative consequences. Those who are married not only bear the children of our society but they also bear the major part of the cost of raising those children(which isn't cheap) and they also pay a larger percentage of the tax burden to raise the children of far too many single parents who can't do it on their own. On the other side of the coin, married couples do gain certain benefit advantages at work and sometimes in the tax category as(although in a very limited sense in the tax code). However, do married people get an unfair proportion of societal advantages? I think the answer is an overwhelming NO! But, hey I'm not an ex-hippie lawyer whose life has been spent jumping from issue to issue creating victims to know that's just a self-revealing observation I had.

(written by Joseph Horan)


  10:28 AM

[Stephen Gordon]

Priceless Quote:

There's "no connection" between Saddam and al-Qa'eda, because radical Islamists would never make common cause with secular Ba'athists. Or so we're told by pro-gay, pro-feminist Eurolefties who thus make common cause with honour-killing, sodomite-beheading Islamists, apparently crediting Saddam with a greater degree of intellectual coherence than they credit themselves.

The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist. And even its imperialism is too vulgar and arriviste to appeal to real imperialists...

Too Christian, too Godless, too isolationist, too imperialist, too seductive, too cretinous, America is George Orwell's Room 101: whatever your bugbear, you will find it therein...

So be it.
The one thing that all these groups have in common is that they are powerless to transform America into whatever they would have us be.

If their happiness depends on that, they are going to be miserable. Thankfully, the happiness of Americans doesn't depend on them.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
  4:24 PM

[Stephen Gordon]

I have mixed feelings about this Ghayda Al Ali letter initially reported by Instapundit (and pointed out to me by Joseph).
…My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.
I'm almost inclined to label this an urban myth.

It's almost too perfect. The self-righteous crusading New York Times is exposed for being a brutal occupier of the country it accuses the U.S. of brutally occupying. That would not be hard to believe. But the diction and logic of the letter are almost too good. It reads more like the work of a neo-con blogger than someone for whom English is a second language.

If this letter and the story are for real, it's embarrassing for the New York Times, but it's not a scandal. After the bombing of the U.N., the Red Cross, and that Iraqi police station, it's obvious that all westerners (and those seen as sympathetic to westerners) are targets in Iraq, not just the U.S. military. If the New York Times has a couple of overzealous security guards it's understandable if not excusable.

This incident won't stop the New York Times from criticizing the military. And actually, this incident shouldn't. The New York Times should be more supportive of our troops because of the sacrifice they are making for their country and the good they are doing for Iraq, not because the paper is sympathizing with fellow brutalizers.

Of course I sympathize with the shop owner. But worse things happen during war. Much worse things happened in Iraq before this war. 

  12:31 PM

"MEMO WATCH" Update....
It's been 5 days since the Weekly Standard ran this article on a Defense Dept. memo outlining the relationship between Saddam's regime and Al Qaeda. Below is one of the most disturbing excerpts:

During a custodial interview, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi [a senior al Qaeda operative] said he was told by an al Qaeda associate that he was tasked to travel to Iraq (1998) to establish a relationship with Iraqi intelligence to obtain poisons and gases training. After the USS Cole bombing in 2000, two al Qaeda operatives were sent to Iraq for CBW-related [Chemical and Biological Weapons] training beginning in Dec 2000. Iraqi intelligence was "encouraged" after the embassy and USS Cole bombings to provide this training.

Many on the blogosphere, including Instapundit and Andrew Sullivan, have begun asking the same question as this blog: "WHERE ARE THE MAJOR MEDIA ON THIS STORY?" I dare say that if this story had been on a memo which proved the Administration lied about the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection we would be innundated by front page stories calling for impeachment and 6:00 news bytes of Senators railing against the President. I guess since the memo instead shows the media to be the liberal lapdog it has truly become all we will hear instead is silence.

Below you'll find links to the honest news sources who have run with the story as well as a list of major outlets who still have said nothing. First, the ALL-STAR LIST: has an article on James Woolsey's take.
The Strait Times (Asian Source)
CNN International (as a note this article is not about the merits of the memo but the invistigation into who leaked it.)
Editor and (this story tries to discredit the memo because of a Defense Dept. statement. that statement found here only says that any "confirmed" conclusions are innaccurate.)
Tech Central Station
The Washington Post (the Post commits the same offense as CNN: only reporting on the investigation into the leak and ignoring the content of the memo itself.)

Still Silent on the Memo are the Following:
New York Times
The LA Times
The Associated Press
and all Major TV Networks

(written by Joseph Horan)

The Weekly Standard has published a follow-up here. Money Quote of the piece:

The Pentagon's charge that news reporting was "inaccurate" is therefore both vague and unsubstantiated. Most of the language in "Case Closed" is taken directly from the memo. The rest of the article provides readers with context for the writing of the memo and for events described in the memo. The conclusion of the article does speculate that the information in the Feith memo provides only a glimpse of the broader relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. This speculation is based in part on independent reporting, but also on the very title of the memo itself: "Summary of Body of Intelligence Reporting on Iraq-al Qaida Contacts (1990-2003)."

IF THE INTELLIGENCE REPORTING in the memo was left out of earlier "finished intelligence products" because the reporting is inaccurate, it seems odd that it would form the basis of briefings given to the secretary of Defense, the director of Central Intelligence, and the vice president. And it would be stranger still to include such intelligence in a memo to a Senate panel investigating the potential misuse of intelligence.

If, on the other hand, the information in the Feith memo is accurate, it changes everything. An operational relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, as detailed in the memo, would represent a threat the United States could not afford to ignore. President Bush and his national security team could not have known everything in the memo, of course, since some of the reporting comes from postwar Iraq. But consider what they did know.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003
  5:02 PM

[Stephen Gordon]

I saw Terminator 3 on DVD this weekend. This was my second time to watch T3 and I still was left pondering the intricacies of the Terminator universe. If you don't like reading the philosophy behind works of fiction or have yet to see the film, stop reading now.

I've read mixed reviews from other bloggers. In particular, many hated the fact that the message of T2 – there is no fate – was completely thrown out.

I disagree. In the Terminator universe Judgement Day was postponed by the events of T2. If fate were all-powerful, postponement would be impossible. In a larger sense, if fate were all-powerful sending machines back in time would make no sense. It would be impossible to change events in the past if they were fated to occur.

I think the message of T3 is – there is no fate, but history has momentum. If the Wright brothers had decided to forget the flying machine idea and build motorcycles instead, I could ride a Wright Brothers motorcycle to the airport today. The airplane would have been invented in the first decade of the 20th century with or without the Wright brothers. This is not fate, but momentum.

In the first Terminator film Sarah Connor was left scratching her head because John Connor was the son of a time traveler sent back in time by… John Connor. This is not necessarily a paradox. In the pre-time-travel timeline, Sarah Connor must have conceived John Connor with someone else. The John Connor that resulted from Sarah and the time-traveling Reese was John Connor version 2.0.

The John Connor that experienced the events of T2 was version 2.1. Not a completely different John Connor, but a John Connor with different experiences from the John Connor v. 2 that sent the reprogrammed Arnold back to fight the T-2000. The John Connor in T3 would be version 2.1b I guess. Different from the John Connor 2.1 that was killed by the Arnold-shaped cyborg and, therefore, not fated to die that way now that he's been warned.

My "no fate, just momentum" theory is weakened by the introduction of John Connor's wife. Apparently, John Connor (version 2) had met his future wife just prior to the events of T2. The fact that she showed up again was strongly suggested to be proof that they were meant to be together.

Since this just doesn't fit with my theory, I suggest that the next film show John Connor sending a robot deer back in time to make sure he has his accident and ends up in his future wife's vet clinic.

Or maybe I should remember it's just make-believe. ;-)

Monday, November 17, 2003
  4:29 PM

"MEMO WATCH" Update....

Since Saturday when the news broke on the memo to the Senate Intelligence Comm. outlining the relationship between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda only a few other news sources have decided that it deserves to be reported on. Below is a list of links to new stories on the memo you can follow to learn more:

Frontpage Magazine
Borneo Bulletin
The Washington Times

Still missing is anything from the following major media, who may be contacted below:
New York Times
The Washington Post
The LA Times
The Associated Press

(written by Joseph Horan)

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