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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Thursday, June 26, 2003

    Today is June 26th.

    There have been several important people born on this day. Renowned athlete Babe Didrickson Zaharias in 1914, music manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1909, distinguished author Pearl S. Buck in 1892, Civil War Major General Abner Doubleday, the man who invented baseball (or so we want to be true), in 1819. Among those living famous Americans with today as their birthday are singer Billy Davis, Jr., who is 63, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Klaus von Klitzing, who is 60, singer Chris Isaak, who is 47, Aakash Raut, who is 22, legendary biker Greg Lemond, who is 42, actor Chris O'Donnell, who is...

    Wait a second, one of those birthday guys isn't really famous...! (Well, at least, not yet.)

    Yes that's right, today is the 22nd anniversary of a momentous occasion in history. On June 26, 1981, Aakash Raut came into this world at Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City. And the world would never be the same.


    Anyway, on June 10th, when Josh Claybourn turned 22, he posted this entry with famous things that happened on that day. Others in the Blogosphere were trying to figure out what they were doing on Josh's birthday in 1981. (Feel free to do that with this date, though, being so close in time, it may be something similar for most.) Many notable things have happened on June 26th in recent and past American history; some good, some not so good. The positive (or neutral) things first:

    1819: The bicycle is patented by W. K. Clarkson.
    1870: The first section of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City is opened along the NJ beach.
    1923: The first race of the 24 hours of Le Mans is held.
    1924: U.S. forces leave the Dominican Republic, after eight years of occupation.
    1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway is opened.
    1963: President John F. Kennedy says the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner."
    Did he call himself a jelly doughnut? Maybe not...)
    1964: The Beatles release their album A Hard Day's Night.
    1979: Muhammad Ali, 37, announced his retirement as world heavyweight boxing champion.
    1987: Dragnet, the movie, opened in the U.S.
    2000: The first map of the human genome is created.

    Unfortunately, some negative things have also happened on this day. These include:

    1945: The charter of the United Nations is signed at a conference in San Francisco.
    An interesting note: Who presided as Secretary-General during this founding conference? None other than Alger Hiss, one of the highest ranking member of the U.S. State Department. We now know that Hiss was secretly working for the Kremlin as a Communist spy, and stealing top secret information, passing it along to the Soviets. I recently heard that they actually named something after him... at a college or something. What is this nation coming to?...
    1975: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India declares a state of emergency due to "deep and widespread conspiracy."
    1977: Elvis holds his last concert.
    1993: President Clinton orders cruise missile attacks on Iraq after his administration concludes that the Iraqi government was behind a plot, discovered about two and a half months earlier, to assassinate ex-President George H.W. Bush while he was in Kuwait City. Claiming that "compelling evidence" showed that Iraqi intelligence orchestrated the assassination attempt, Clinton ordered airstrikes against what he claimed was their headquarters in Baghdad. Twenty-three Tomahawk missles, each costing over one million dollars, were fired from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. In addition to destroying the buildings, several of the "smart" missiles went off course and landed in neighborhoods, killing innocent civilians, including Laila al-Attar, one of the most talented female artists in the Middle East, who was helping to promote the work of women artists throughout the world.
    1996: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Virginia Military Institute must admit women, or else lose state support.
    2002: A federal court rules, by a vote of 2-1, that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, because it includes the phrase, "under God." I recall being upset at this ruling, but in a way, it could end up having some benefit. Those of us who are constitutionalists and republicans could be able to point this out as a reason why we need more "strict constructionist" judges on the federal bench, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
    2003: Former SC Governor and retired U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond passed away at the age of 100. I was somewhat shocked when I saw the news. It wasn't that long ago that I had wished Strom 'Happy Birthday' on this blog, and now, he passes away, on mine. This is very sad.

    Thursday, June 19, 2003

    One more thing
    My older blog entries on the topics of war and foreign policy have been archived in a separate blog. (They can still be found here, but now, they are available at a new site as well, for easier access and reference.)

    Antiwar Conservative - Aakash's older entries on war and foreign policy

    Please feel free to link to this site. As my newer war-related entries move down this page, I may copy them to that blog as well.

    I'm back

    I will post something soon about my mini-trip to California, but for now, here are some thoughts pertaining to topics for the past few days:

    For Sunday, June 5:

    Congratulations to Stanford graduate Bo Cowgill!!

    Add Bo Cowgill (of Stanford) to the list of 2003 college graduates in the Blogosphere! (Scroll down to my earlier graduation post for more about this.)

    Stanford U. is actually where I went to recently, to help someone move out. I got the opportunity to see that campus; it is quite nice. Congratulations to Bo and the entire Class of 2003!! (And once again, great job, Josh, Owen, and Patrick as well!) This is a huge accomplishment, and you all should be extremely proud of yourselves for this enormous success. Best of luck with your future plans.

    For Friday, June 10

    Happy Birthday Josh!!

    A very happy birthday to Josh Claybourn!! He turned 22 on Friday, June 10th.

    I don't know how Josh feels, but I myself will be turning 22 on June 26. I find this very scary. I have felt, for the past couple of years, that I have been "getting old" - it seems like some irreparable force has been building, taking away precious time, and opportunities for accomplishment.

    I would like to stay 21 (or younger) for some time longer, but alas, that is something that is beyond our control. For those who are younger than I, some advice: Try to stay under 21 for as long as you can. There is no reason to look forward to getting any older quickly. Try to do as much as you can now - don't wait for any more time to pass. Lost time is never found again.

    Inspiration for today:
    A Story to Live By (carpe diem!), Ann Wells
    The Lion in the Third Act, Mike Moriarty

    For Sunday, June 12:

    This date actually marks the one month anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, in which Americans were among those killed. I will update this entry with more thoughts on that soon.

    Update: I am not supposed to be agreeing with a leading Democrat, but I think that Howard Dean was right in something he said about this. Saddam Hussein and Iraq were never a major threat to our nation, our people, and our security. But many other foreign regimes and groups are. This war has not helped make us safer (which was supposed to be its primary objective); in fact, it has likely made things worse for us. And as Dean said, if the administration had kept its "eye on the ball," and been focused on hunting down and pursuing our attackers, they may have been better prepared to prevent these overseas terrorist attacks.

    Updates to previous entry (6/23/03):
    It is good to see that some conservative commentators who supported the war see the flaws of the liberal, "humanitarian" argument in favor of the it, which I pointed out in my last entry. (Many conservative bloggers do not.)

    The following statements from war supporters in recent days are very good:

    From Kate O'Beirne (of National Review):
    "...Congressman Menendez is terribly wrong when he denies that this is partisan, but he is right when he says that the fundamental rationale for this war was the fact that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The liberation of the Iraqi people was cited as a result of this war, but it was not a rationale. So it's crucially important that the administration and the allies find or account for weapons of mass destruction, which I believe they will do."
    - The Capital Gang, CNN - June 21, 2003

    From George Will (of Newsweek, Washington Post):
    "...And overshadowing the military achievement is the failure--so far--to find, or explain the absence of, weapons of mass destruction that were the necessary and sufficient justification for pre-emptive war. The doctrine of pre-emption--the core of the president's foreign policy--is in jeopardy.

    To govern is to choose, almost always on the basis of very imperfect information. But pre-emption presupposes the ability to know things--to know about threats with a degree of certainty not requisite for decisions less momentous than those for waging war.

    Some say the war was justified even if WMDs are not found nor their destruction explained, because the world is "better off" without Saddam. Of course it is better off. But unless one is prepared to postulate a U.S. right, perhaps even a duty, to militarily dismantle any tyranny--on to Burma?--it is unacceptable to argue that Saddam's mass graves and torture chambers suffice as retrospective justifications for pre-emptive war. Americans seem sanguine about the failure--so far--to validate the war's premise about the threat posed by Saddam's WMDs, but a long-term failure would unravel much of this president's policy and rhetoric."

    -, Washington Post - June 22, 2003

    I may update this post with similar statements from supporters of war. Personally, I opposed the war aside from the issue of whether Saddam still had chemical weapons (as did most war opponents). A lot more than possession of those items is needed in order to justify a major action such as this war.


    Ann Coulter (of Human Events,
    "...No, though it’s possible we should be sending troops to Liberia, but not for the reasons just given. And that is, I think, the important point is that war is hell, as liberals have reminded us repeatedly, as we were sending troops into Iraq, and the single reason...
    ... we ought to be employing American troops is to defend America’s defense. It should be in America’s national defense interests and not to be Mother Teresa around the world. Not because the U.N. asks us to. It may well be an argument could be made that Liberia has been a strong ally. It has a special connection to the United States. We need to stand by allies. But the argument ought to be that it’s in our interest, not generally that the world wants us to, because Americans shouldn’t die for that...
    I think everyone understands we would not have been deposing Saddam but for 9/11. We have to clear out the swamp. Saddam was a threat to America’s interest, he isn’t anymore..."
    - Scarborough Country, MSNBC - July 7, 2003

    Unfortunately, many of Ann's fellow war supporters do not "understand" this...

    Though fortunately, some in the blogosphere do. Josh has had some great entries on the issue of WMD, including this one, which mentions one of Mark Shea's blog entries, which states clearly:
    Namely, Bush himself made clear that if Saddam had ponied up the WMDs, Bush would have left him in power...[The war] was fought for one reason: American security. The argument for American security rests on one claim: that Saddam had WMDs by the warehouseful, that these posed an imminent danger to *us*, and that these would be revealed to the world ("Just you wait!").
    and this one, which also mentions another conservative, pro-war blogger who is raising this issue.

    Even more (Update, 7/23/03):

    Chuck Colson (conservative leader):
    "The first question is, "Would we have invaded Iraq were it not for September 11?" Of course not..."
    - Breakpoint Online, - July 23, 2003

    Mona Charen (conservative commentator):
    Few would have urged a war against Saddam if he had not possessed weapons of mass destruction. However much we rejoice for the Iraqi people who've been freed from his freak-show of a government, we are not in the business of militarily liberating all the world's oppressed.
    - Creators Syndicate,, June 24, 2003

    Paul J. Saunders (Director of Nixon Foundation) and Nikolas K. Gvosdev (Editor of In the National Interest)
    The evil nature of Iraq ’s former government is not a substitute for demonstrating Iraq’s WMD capabilities. No one denies the brutality of Saddam's regime, but there are many other brutal tyrannies in the world. The administration received a bipartisan mandate from Congress and broad support from the American people for military action because Iraq was said to be a real and imminent danger to the United States . There were (and still are) other candidates for American attention—Kim Jong-il is no less tyrannical than Saddam Hussein and, unlike Iraq, North Korea already appears to have nuclear weapons that it has threatened to share with others. Secretary Powell and other U.S. officials went to the United Nations and sought to build an international coalition against Iraq not because Saddam was a criminal butcher but because he was a menace to America, his neighbors, and international peace...

    ... The bottom line is that arguing that the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of destruction is insignificant because Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator—and that those who question the intelligence supporting an immediate Iraqi WMD threat are somehow supporters of mass killings and repression—is preposterous and irresponsible. It is just plain wrong to insist that the question of Iraqi WMD simply doesn't matter and to attack the loyalty, motives and morality of those who do.
    - In the National Interest, June 4, 2003
    (Found via the Nixon Foundation home page)


    The latest widely-circulated poll figures on the war show that support for it has dramatically decreased. (I am not one to trust public opinion polls, but since supporters of war have been touting poll numbers as proof that the American people overwhelmingly support this war, even aside from the issue of WMD, it is only fair to mention when the polls now show a different result.) According to the latest Gallup poll, the amount of Americans who now believe that "the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over" has dropped to 56%, with 42% taking the opposite position. This is about the same as the figures from early January.

    This news is not surprising. Many war supporters were citing high poll numbers taken soon after the war began as proof that the American people overwhelmingly supported it. But for obvious reasons, those type of figures don't reveal much at all. The current numbers more accurately reflect the public's sentiments towards this issue. On the topic of this blog entry, however, there is something that I just noticed while looking at the poll details. Among the 56% of Americans who still believe that the war was right, only 18% stated that their reason for supporting it was to free the Iraqi people from oppression. That means that, according to the poll, only 10% of Americans subscribe to the flawed, left-wing, 'humanitarian' argument (mentioned in the last entry), and give that as their reason for supporting the war. That is nice to notice.

    They're Still Wrong
    Reversing rationales doesn't justify war

    All of a sudden, "conservatives" are bleeding hearts...
    and they've gotten a poor sense of our nation's priorities

    September 11, 2001 was a horrible day for all of us. Following this day, just about everybody agreed that military action must be taken against those who were responsible for these atrocious acts of inhumanity inflicted upon our people. It was agreed by most Americans that our focus must be on our own defense, and that our leaders have an obligation to our citizenry to to pursue those who attacked us, and to do everything they can to prevent another attack like this ever again.

    Different people had different ideas as to the specific nature of the military response that we should have. But just about everybody agreed that our emphasis must be on our nation's defense and security interests. Our priorties were clear. Innocent people have died in our country, and we must do everything that we can to protect them - now and forever.

    Defense, Defense, Defense

    On the day following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Patrick Ruffini, who is a very talented writer - someone who I've been reading for a while, called for a full-scale war against numerous terrorist groups, including Saddam Hussein. He later stated that Saddam Hussein must be eliminated, "as an insurance policy against future 9/11s." While I did not agree with him on that latter point, it is good to see that many bloggers who supported the Iraq war were at least aware of the principle reason for doing so - because it was necessary for our national defense, and to help prevent terrorism against our fellow Americans.

    Have we forgotten?
    Calling Darryl Worley...

    After intially focusing on self-defense and national security as the primary justification for this war, many of the warbloggers have shifted their focus from the need to "disarm" the Iraqi regime to emphasizing the "humanitarian" aspects of the war. For many people, the suffering of the innocent Iraqis was reason enough to go to war, and therefore, government action has proven to be successful in solving this foreign problem.

    "Government is not the solution to the problem, government..."

    This new focus is actually a variation of the same tactic used by liberals and statists in order to justify government expansion and higher taxes. By implementing tear-jerking, emotional appeals, and by using guilt and 'humanitarian' reasoning, the liberals have become rather good at duping the public into supporting bigger government. According to this left-wing viewpoint, the best way to solve people's problems is through more government spending, more government expansion, and through state-sponsored intervention - as opposed to conservative, free market solutions to the problems. Those of us who are conservatives or libertarians recognize that intervention from Washington is often not the best way to solve problems, and it should be kept to a minimum. "That government is best which governs least," is one of the core guiding principles of Republican ideology. There are many other ways to solve problems besides direct state intervention and state spending. Ronald Reagan was correct when he stated, "Government is not the solution to the problem - Government is the problem."

    There are billions of people, in scores of countries throughout the world, who are suffering or oppressed, for one reason or another. We should all be concerned about the suffering people throughout the world, and there are a variety of ways to assist them - so many individuals and organizations have been working, for many years, to help the poor and hurting people all over the world. This is a very good thing.

    While there are many ways to help the suffering people throughout the world, actual military deployments and warfare must be reserved for limited circumstances - those directly pertaining to the defense and security of our nation. Using direct government intervention overseas when it is not in the "national interest" of our country and our citizenry is a violation of the Constitution, a violation of the Party Platform of the Republican Party of Texas (that's the Bushs' party), as well as many other state GOP platforms, and a violation of the Sharon Statement as well. As has been said many times before, this type of a neoliberal philosophy of imposing American ideals on foreign peoples on the end of the bayonet is not a true conservative viewpoint. It is a viewpoint based upon a naive, idealist Wilsonian vision (as opposed to foreign policy realism), and it is a betrayal of republican ideals, and of the wisdom of our Founding Fathers. That utoptian view is fundamentally leftist in nature, and it is inherently un-American. We owe our fellow citizens a lot more.

    I have been writing a lot about this issue recently. There was an intriguing discussion at one of Patrick's recent blog entries...

    Shame on who? - My comment post from June 3rd, at that entry:
    Why Saddam is not Hitler, and this war is not conservative

    [Update: For some reason, Patrick's blog is down. That comment entry of mine has also been posted here, though.]

    It is understandable that, now that the war has already been fought, those who supported it - as a necessity pertaining to our national security - would want to justify it in another way. After our brave soldiers heroicly fought a war, it is only natural to attempt to find alternate justification for it (even if it is inconsistent with what we previously stated and believed). That is very understandable, and perhaps even beneficial in some ways.

    But that does not make it right.

    Saturday, June 07, 2003

    I think this may be the right idea. Why spend time behind the computer screen, getting eye strain, headaches, hypertension, etc.., and spending several hours per day regularly refuting arguments (made by people such as the numerous confused keyboard hawks tripping over themselves trying to wipe the egg off their faces), when you could be out enjoying the pleasantries of the heartland? Sometimes, you have to take a break from the polemics, and get a breath of fresh air.

    (Though for some, this could much easier said [or written] than done...)

    Update: I am going out of state now, to visit someone at college, and help him move out. I will be back home in a few days.

    Note: (Thursday, June 12) - I am in California right now, in someone's dorm room at a very nice campus. After he is completely moved out later today, I will hopefully be seeing some of the sites of southern CA. This may be the last time that I have internet access for a few days. I have updated some of my previous entries on this page, and I have several new ones outlined for the near future. Posting should resume soon. Until then, please check out some of the blogs and links on the left side bar.

    Entry for Friday, June 6, 2003


    June 6, 1944

    Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
    You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade,
    toward which we have striven these many months.
    The eyes of the world are upon you....Good Luck!"

    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander

    D-Day Order
    Dwight David Eisenhower - June 6, 1944

    From the previous day:
    Address to the Troops
    General Patton - June 5, 1944

    Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing has an outstanding entry in remembrance of this historic day in 1944. It includes a film suggestion, as does Josh's great D-Day entry.

    Also for Friday, June 6th:

    In addition to the important anniversary of D-Day (see my above entry), June 6th is the anniversary of another significant accomplishment as well. (Thanks to Patrick Ruffini for bringing this to my attention.)

    The Spark of the Revolution

    In my history class last semester, we watched an informative video covering many topics. One of the topics brought up in that documentary was the politics and social issues of places such as the major cities of California. I learned about the fight for the historic anti-tax initiative, Proposition 13. They showed the woman who was leading the fight for that initiative, and explained the themes and tactics that they used. That story of success was very inspirational; when I saw what had happened, the thought arose that I should blog something about it. This seems like just the right time.

    For the 25th Anniversary of one of the greatest state ballot initiatives of all time (in addition to Prop. 209, Prop. 187, and possibly a few others), here is some relevant information and analysis:

    From Polyconomics: When the Reagan Revolution Really Began
    From CATO: Tax Revolt Turns 25
    From Bruce Bartlett: Proposition 13, Twenty-Five Years Later
    From Stephen Moore: The Tax Revolt Heard 'Round the World
    From Joel Fox: The First Shot (of the Reagan Revolution)

    From the SF Chronicle: Arnold Schwarzenegger makes speech at Prop. 13 anniversary celebration

    Washington Times: Proposition 13 hits 25th anniversary
    Canton Rep: Proposition 13 has survived many tests, including the test of time
    Oakland Tribune: Citizen-driven initiative still popular as it marks its silver anniversary

    More news and views on the silver anniversary...

    Sacramento Bee special section: Living with Prop. 13

    Past commentary, from the 20th anniversary year (1998):
    From Stephen Moore of the CATO Institute: Proposition 13, Then and Now
    From Cal-Tax Research:
    Proposition 13: Its Benefits are Real
    Proposition 13 Did Not Strangle Local Budgets
    Proposition 13 Survives the Test of Time

    And the classic backgrounder: Proposition 13: Love it or Hate it, its Roots Go Deep

    Check out the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: