Archive for February, 2003

Battle of the NHSes

Friday, February 28th, 2003

The Newington High girls basketball team, which finished the season 9-11, has earned the #27 seed in Connecticut’s Class LL girls basketball state tournament, and will play at #6-seeded Naugatuck (17-3) on Monday at 7:00 PM.

Naugatuck is ranked #17 in the Hartford Courant’s statewide poll, and finished second in the Naugatuck Valley League. Two of its three losses came against Holy Cross of Waterbury, the champion of that league and the state’s #5-ranked team.

The Newington-Naugatuck winner winner will play the winner of Monday’s game between #11 Hamden (15-5) and #22 Fairfield (11-9).

I’m still here

Friday, February 28th, 2003

I’m in Baltimore. Got the hotel fine, slept fine, woke up fine, everything’s fine. I just got lazy, and then sleepy, and then lazy again, which is why I haven’t been posting to this website in a while. Sorry. :) The snow is pretty.

Post from cell phone

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

In cab, trudging through snow and slow traffic, trying to get to hotel. Cab fare mounting. :(

Post from cell phone

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

Arrived at BWI. Light snow.

Post from cell phone

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

On plane. Look to be on time.

Post from cell phone

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

At LAX, at gate, waiting.

Post from cell phone

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

On shuttle en route to LAX now.

Into the teeth of the storm

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

Becky and I are heading to Baltimore for the weekend. (Johns Hopkins University, one of Becky’s graduate school choices, is flying her out, all-expenses-paid, for interviews and a campus orientation.) Our adventure starts tomorrow at 8:50 AM, when we are due to depart LAX on United Airlines Flight 280.

It may a bit more, well, adventurous, as we approach Baltimore-Washington airport for our scheduled 4:30 PM landing. You see, it so happens that a major winter storm is descending upon the capital region, and we’re flying right into it. Check out The Weather Channel’s airport forecast map for tomorrow evening:

Yup, that little red dot is where we’re going. Gotta love it.

I’m bringing along the keys to my family’s apartment in Manhattan, just in case. You never know where a flight might be diverted if BWI is closed…

Anyway, wish us luck. And if you want to send along a brief message that I’ll get immediately on my cell phone — unless we’re in flight, in which case I’ll get it when we land — e-mail 8606559592 (at) messaging.sprintpcs.com.

Bon voyage!

UPDATE: The forecast calls for light snow in Baltimore until around 7:00 PM, then heavier snow into the overnight hours. Our plane is due to land at 4:30 PM, during the forecasted “light snow” period, so hopefully we won’t get delayed getting out of LAX, and hopefully BWI won’t close for “light snow.” If we can actually make it to Baltimore tomorrow evening, it should be cool watching the snow pile up during the night. I missed the Blizzard of 2003 in sunny L.A., and I haven’t seen a really good snowstorm in a while.

But, um, it’s pouring rain in L.A. right now, so, like, a delay at LAX doesn’t seem totally implausible. (Angelinos have more trouble with a quarter-inch of rain than Northeasterners have with a foot of snow.)

A little blogger enters the world

Thursday, February 27th, 2003

Several people, including the mother in labor, actually blogged the birth of this baby last night, as it was happening:

And you thought I was obsessed with my website.

Speaking of unique blogs, here’s one you should really check out: L.T. Smash: Live from the Sandbox — a frequently updated weblog by an American soldier in the Persian Gulf. He has lots of wonderful and inspiring thoughts and observations, including:

I didn’t come here looking for a thrill.

I’m here because there is a hole in the ground in New York, where a couple of the world’s tallest buildings used to be.

I’m here because I knew some of those people in the Pentagon.

I’m here because my seven-year-old nephew has nightmares about terrorists.

I’m here because whether Saddam is responsible or not for those terrorist attacks, he has the will and is developing the means to do much, much worse.

I’m here because if History teaches us anything, it is that evil men cannot be deterred by sanctions, containment strategies, diplomacy, resolutions, or weapons inspections.

I’m here because I don’t believe in appeasement.

I’m here because someone has to be.

I’m here because I was called.

I’m here because I have a job to do.

In other Iraq-related news, this anti-antiwar trend at the Daily Trojan seems to be catching on. The DT‘s notoriously liberal editorial page has suddenly become a bastion of anti-peacenik sentiment. On Tuesday, there was my column criticizing the antiwar movement; on Wednesday, there was Becky’s column ripping the peace-protester “human shields” to shreds. Today, there are two more.

By Peter Spalding, pointing out the pointlessness of City Council and Student Senate resolutions opposing war:

They might as well have passed a resolution condemning the rainy weather. This kind of measure can make for good rhetoric, but on a practical level, it doesn’t accomplish a thing.

Unless I am gravely mistaken, the City Council is charged with running the city. It is supposed to decrease crime, boost the economy, improve transportation, deliver city services and so on. Student Senate, meanwhile, is supposed to fund student organizations, work with school administrators, organize the student body and the like. Neither of these bodies is responsible for American foreign policy.

Nor does the Bush administration care about their opinions. Bush has ignored several major countries such as France and Germany, and he has said that he may even disregard the United Nations. So if he doesn’t listen to them, he certainly won’t listen to 22 undergraduate students.

And by Shant Minas, pointing out Europe’s hypocracy in deriding American “imperialism”:

European nations now cunningly champion themselves as ardent supporters of human rights, when not long ago they invented large-scale genocide and exported this and other despicable practices to every last corner of the world. European nations pay lip service to nation-building, when it is the United States which is most heavily involved in this resource-consuming task, most recently in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. Often Europe likes to portray itself as the afflicted world’s savior as it seemingly adjusts the necessary balance of power away from “reckless” America, when without exception the world’s most troubled and dangerous spots are located in the vestiges of fairly recent European colonial rule — most notably Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan, and of course, Iraq.

Hurrah!

Price gouging, anyone?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

No blood for oil, my ass! There’s going to be some serious blood spilled if these prices keep going up. Here is a snapshot of the gas prices in Los Angeles on February 26, 2003:

Here’s the interesting thing, though: Note how the prices on the left, from a Chevron in well-off West L.A., are 9 to 12 cents higher than the prices on the right, from a Chevron in poverty-stricken South Central L.A. Hmm. Does it really take 9 to 12 extra cents to ship that gas a few miles down the street… or could gas stations perhaps be taking advantage of rich people’s ability to pay more by jacking up prices in the ritzy areas?

Hey, it’s supply-and-demand… whatever the market will bear, right?

Meanwhile, this Chevron in Larchmont ran out of 2s, so they had to get creative:

Tragedy in Hartford

Wednesday, February 26th, 2003

Yesterday, a USC student complained in my guestbook that I seem to care more about tragedies in America than those overseas, such as, say, deaths of innocent Iraqis. I wrote back, explaining that I believe all human lives are equally precious, but tragedies that “hit close to home” — such as the recent Rhode Island fire and the World Trade Center attack — are always more personally devastating for an individual person.

Well, now there’s been a tragedy that really hits close to home. A nursing home fire in Hartford, Connecticut, has killed 10 residents and injured 23, several of whom are in critical condition. Police have taken a resident into custody for questioning about possible arson.

UPDATE, 11:33 AM: My dad e-mails to point out that the nursing home is less than four miles from our house in Newington.

Senate antiwar resolution fails!!!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Well, it failed for now. It could come back. The DT reports:

Senate did not pass the resolution because it needed seven and one-half votes for a majority vote and only received seven. The resolution, however, can be picked up on the agenda next week because it was not voted down.

Blogging the DT

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

I’m anxiously awaiting word of the result of tonight’s Student Senate vote on the antiwar resolution that I mentioned in my column today. But tomorrow’s Daily Trojan City section isn’t online yet.

All the other sections are online, however, so I can tell you that Becky doesn’t mince words in her column about peace-protester “human shields.” The best line:

This is one puke who should be skinned alive for his ignorance, boiled in oil for his arrogance and shot dead for his treason.

Then there’s Dara, who lobs her typically inappropriate anti-Bush slurs as she makes the typical peacenik argument (forgot to mention this one in my column) that because we helped Iraq at some point in the past, we therefore shouldn’t go to war with them now.

Sports has an article about basketball player Robert Hutchinson’s personal problems, which begs the question, I wonder what is really going on there?

And Lifestyle has a story about the Vagina Monologues coming to campus this weekend. Alas, I won’t be around — I’ll be in Baltimore with Becky. (She has an interview at Johns Hopkins.)

Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

Today is Becky’s and my third anniversary. :)

We were going to have an elaborate anniversary night-on-the-town, but the combination of the giant L.A. rainstorm and my random illness (I have some sort of virus or sinus infection) convinced us to postpone that until next week.

Even so, we exchanged some lovely gifts: I gave her a journal, some cute kitty note cards, a USC women’s volleyball national championship t-shirt, and a dozen roses; and she gave me a bunch of I.O.U. coupons (e.g., “IOU a scrumptious dinner,” “IOU the nerdy activity of your choice,” “IOU breakfast in bed,” etc.) and a wireless internet card for my laptop. Yay! :)

“Peace” is not the answer

Tuesday, February 25th, 2003

My anti-antiwar article was published today in the Daily Trojan.

I’ve gotten quite a bit of feedback already. I’m not allowed to post (or reply to) the responses that are sent to the Daily Trojan e-mail account, but a couple of people have written to my personal account. Merlyn Stigger wrote, “Your article in the DT was simply brilliant, but may I ask how you got to get a right-wing article in such a leftist paper? They need to have more articles like yours in it.” On the other hand, Ahmed Darwish accused me of “setting up a straw man argument and bashing it,” encouraged me to check out this article, and added, “I’d appreciate it if you could ‘think a little harder about this vexing issue.'” Oooh… touche. :)

If you want to say something to me personally about the article, e-mail bloy@usc.edu or post a comment. If you want to write a letter to the editor of the Daily Trojan (but you don’t want me to reply personally), e-mail dtrojan@usc.edu.

Anyway, here is the 1,355-word “extended edition” of my article, prior to my self-editing. I figured I’d post it here so everybody can read the, uh, deleted scenes. You can view the actual published article here.

In an editorial last Wednesday chiding the USC Student Senate for failing to pass a resolution opposing war with Iraq, the Daily Trojan asserted that such a measure should be “easily passed without much debate” because it would “not say much other than a collective stand for peace.”

Perhaps inadvertently, the DT has pointed to the precise problem that makes today’s antiwar movement so intellectually impotent: its failure to do anything more constructive or relevant than call vaguely and idealistically for “peace.”

All of us, of course, prefer peace to war in the abstract. But any resolution making this obvious assertion is irrelevant, for the Iraq debate is not a simple question of war versus peace. America and its allies cannot unilaterally declare peace with Iraq, because peace is a two-way street; its maintenance requires more than just inaction by one side. A doctrine of “peace,” unfortunately, will not deter tyrants or terrorists.

Many liberals seem blind to this reality. Protesters have had “little or nothing to say about how to deal with Saddam Hussein,” National Review editor John O’Sullivan wrote recently. “They suggest no solution to the acute problem of Saddam’s drive to acquire nuclear weapons–nor any relief for the sufferings of the Iraqi people.”

Veteran anti-war activist Ron Kovic demonstrated the left’s tunnel vision on CNN Feb. 14 when he asserted simplistically that attacking Iraq is a bad idea because “war is a terrible thing.” Anchorman Aaron Brown replied, “Let me suggest to you that mustard gas and anthrax are also horrible things–so it’s not quite (that) simple.” Kovic responded to this dose of reality by dodging the question–making the utterly implausible assertion that American bombers are likely to kill “tens of thousands” of Iraqi civilians in the first two days of a war–and then continued with his empty calls for “peace.”

Kovic is hardly the only peacenik doing such things as changing the subject and oversimplifying a complex topic. Indeed, to observe a typical anti-war protest is to see and hear a virtual catalog of logical fallacies: ad hominem attacks (e.g., “Bush is just trying to avenge his daddy”), attacks on the motive (e.g., “no blood for oil”), prejudicial language (e.g., conflating “peace” with “anti-racism”), and slippery-slope arguments (e.g., “an attack on Iraq will lead to endless American interventions all over the world”), just to name a few.

Meanwhile, the pro-war crowd is making one strong argument after another, basing its points on logic rather than fallacy. Commentators say that the credibility of the United Nations and the United States is at stake. They note that those who want to delay war despite U.N. Resolution 1441’s demand for “immediate” full complicate are denying that the unanimously approved resolution “means what it says.” And they point out the absurdity of waiting for Iraq to look like an “imminent threat”; Al Qaeda, after all, hardly appeared an imminent threat to most Americans on September 10, 2001. “Smoking guns,” it has been aptly noted, “only smoke after they’re fired.”

Sadly, most of the pro-war advocates’ compelling–but not necessarily unimpeachable–arguments go largely unanswered by the self-indulgent left, which often seems too wrapped up in its own rhetoric to notice that anyone else is talking.

When anti-war activists are asked the tough questions, their answers are often stunningly disingenuous. They say they oppose war because they do not believe Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or because they want inspectors to have more time. But these concerns do not lie at the root of their opposition to war; they are mere excuses. “Let’s not pretend that in March or April or May or June, people will feel different,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. “It’s not really an issue of timing, or 200 inspectors versus 100.”

It is, instead, a moral opposition to the war, but this is rarely stated outright. Many liberals explain themselves “like the admiral who gave 12 reasons for not firing a salute, the twelfth of which was that he had no powder,” wrote Matthew Parris, a London Times columnist who himself opposes the war. Such a position goes something like this: “I’m against war because I’m not convinced Iraq is harbouring weapons of mass destruction, but even if they are, I’m against war because the U.N. has not authorized it, but if they do, I’m against war because an invasion would prove a military fiasco, but even if it didn’t, I’m against war because toppling Saddam would destabilize Iraq, but even if it didn’t, I’m against war because it will antagonize moderate Arab opinion.”

“This will not do. It is not honest,” Parris said. The bottom line: if you are against war because you feel it is simply immoral, say so, and then we can have an honest debate. But do not “dress up moral doubt in the garb of wordlywise punditry.”

The left’s disingenuousness is complemented by its hypocracy. For over a decade now, liberals have been crying foul over sanctions against Iraq, claiming that America’s “containment” strategy is responsible for the deaths of millions of Iraqi babies. (A pack of leftist hooligans made this point loudly, and rudely, when Madeleine Albright spoke at Bovard Auditorium in 2001.) But now that it suits their anti-war aims, these same liberals have suddenly begun proclaiming that “containment is working” and war is therefore unnecessary.

If sanctions are bad and war is off-limits (and virtually every other type of American intervention is an example of “imperialism” and/or “unilateralism”), exactly what kind of “containment” do anti-war folks have in mind?

Perhaps we should contain Iraq’s ambitions by sending a pacifist army of American hippies and French chefs to the outskirts of Baghdad, where they can form a circle around the city, join hands and sing “kumbaya,” thus attempting to inculcate the Iraqi leadership with their peaceful spirituality. Pop singer Sheryl Crow, who has stated that America can solve its foreign-policy problems by simply “not having enemies,” will perhaps volunteer to be the commanding officer of this motley crew.

Hopefully, Saddam Hussein won’t unleash poison gas or biological agents against them. But if he does, no doubt they will spend their final moments contemplating how their deaths were brought about by the evils of American imperialism.

Silly as this proposal is, it is at least a new idea, something the left has been sorely lacking–which brings us back to the Daily Trojan’s editorial fallacy: the faulty notion that opponents of war are contributing usefully to the debate by simply making a “collective stand for peace,” without proposing any sort of new idea, any actual alternative to war.

As much as antiwar folks like to say that “war is not the answer,” the fact is that “peace,” by itself, is not an answer either, especially when one is dealing with a regime that does not itself demonstrate a desire to promote peace. Those who support peaceful relations with a bellicose dictatorship like Iraq’s need an actual strategy to bring about their idealistic goal.

When the appeasers of 1938 let Adolf Hitler take over of part of Czechoslovakia, instead of confronting him when he was still relatively weak, they claimed they had secured “peace in our time.” One of their fatal errors was thinking only of “our time” instead of seeking “peace for all time.” Anti-war activists today are in danger of making the same mistake. Peace in our time could well bring about greater death and destruction in the future; war in our time may, in the long run, save many lives, and bring us a step closer to securing a more lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Bush Administration believes it can best promote long-term peace in Iraq, the Middle East and the world by fighting a short-term war in Iraq. You do not have to agree with this belief. But if you’re going to disagree with it, you have to propose some sort of concrete alternative. Otherwise, your input is meaningless and useless, and you should exercise your unalienable constitutional right to shut your mouth, put down your protest sign, and think a little harder about this vexing issue.

To reiterate, the published article ishere. If you want to respond to me personally, e-mail bloy@usc.edu or post a comment. If you want to write a letter to the editor of the Daily Trojan (but you don’t want me to reply personally), e-mail dtrojan@usc.edu.