Friday, October 29, 2004

Yearning for the Commons

In his post "IS IT THE DISTANCE OR THE PROXIMITY?" Orrin Judd comments on Jonathan Rowe's opin piece from the CS Monitor entitled "Our dangerous distance between the private and the commons", in which Rowe sees contemporary Americans as living in self-enforced coccoons, separated from our fellows by barriers of space and electronic firewalls:

The concept of property early settlers had wasn't a walled fortress; it was a permeable membrane that sought to reconcile the parts and the whole. Early New Englanders built their towns around a commons, a shared pasture for livestock. Private woodlands were open to others for hunting or cutting wood, unless owners fenced them.
Water law, so important in the new land, reflected this desire for balance. You could use the water that ran through your land, but not in a way that diminished your neighbor's use. The water belongs to all of us, the law said, and ownership has responsibilities as well as rights. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which laid out a plan of government for what is now much of the upper Midwest, declared that the main waterways there "shall be common highways and forever free."
Such thinking isn't a quaint relic of a simpler time. It's rooted in a fundamental economic truth - namely, the symbiosis between the private and the common.
Private property couldn't exist without a society that honors and protects it. The value of property derives largely from the efforts of others, or gifts of nature. Take a Park Avenue apartment, or a Cape Cod cottage, put it in a cornfield or urban slum, and you'd better reduce the asking price. The structure is the same; the difference is what's around it. The real estate mantra "location, location, location" really means "gifts, gifts, gifts" - of society and nature. This is true of financial assets as well
as real estate. In fact, it's true to a degree of all human production and creation. Every invention, business technique, story, and song draws on what has come before. I couldn't write this, nor you read it, without the English language - a gift to both of us. We all stand on many shoulders; and earlier concepts of property acknowledged this.

Orrin Judd sees things differently:

One wonders if the problem isn't precisely the opposite, that in an Information Age we're exposed to the ideas of others like never before and upon that exposure are made contemptuous of those we naturally disagree with.

I tend to agree with Orrin. In the supposed golden times that the author pines about, people had an intimate knowledge of maybe 50 people in their immediate community, and just about nothing of the vast rest of humanity. They lived in a cocoon of a different kind. Our cocoons are less spatially restricted, organized around work and interests. We create our own virtual cocoons, filtering our contacts through the identity templates we create for ourselves. This is normal and natural. People just cannot handle more than 50 or so meaningful, personal relationships with others. Personal relationships require a commitment of some part of ourselves, and we don't have that much of ourselves to pass around.

The problem we have today is that there are constant intrusions from the outside, barbarians at the gates, trying to break into our cocoons. Marketers trying to get into our skins. Political parties trying to earn our personal commitments. Religious missionaries trying to breach our identity barriers. Just plain nosy people trying to improve or manage our lives for us. The communications revolution has made these assaults more intrusive than ever before. We are now subject to the entreaties of strangers who may come from any corner of the globe, armed with personal information about ourselves that no earlier age would make accessible. It is a transactional, "hit and run" intimacy, a micro relationship that exists long enough to transact business or change a mind on some peripheral issue that we may know or care nothing about.

The virtual cocoons seems artificial and unnatural, which they are. The older cocoons were organic, natural. The intimacies that were engendered lasted lifetimes, and facilitated deep interpersonal transactions both economic, social and spiritual. We were once settled folk, now we are nomads. But our cocoon creation is a natural response to an unnatural environment. It is like a ship at sea, an artificial construct of dry land in a fluid wasteland. Some people never get used to its motions, and suffer a sense of "cocoon-sickness" that tells them something is not right. They look to the horizon for a point of land, a journey's end where they can disembark and live the settled life again. It is an island that no longer exists, a bucolic Atlantis sunk beneath the waves of modernity. Others , born and bred to know nothing else, feel at home in this floating virtual home, and would never turn their backs on the modern "sea" for the quaint stillness of such an ancient life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Andrew Sullivan goes wobbly

Alleged conservative Andrew Sullivan gave into weakness today and endorsed John Kerry for president. There really is no other way to describe Sullivan's conversion than as a loss of nerve, for he certainly does not have any principled objection to George Bush's cause for going to war in Iraq:

"Equally, his presidency can and should be judged on its most fateful decision - to go to war against Saddam without final U.N. approval on the basis of Saddam's stockpiles of weapons and his violation of countless U.N. resolutions. I still believe that his decision was the right one. The only reason we know that Saddam was indeed bereft of such weaponry is because we removed him; we were going to have to deal with the crumbling mafia-run state in the heart of the Middle East at some point; and the objections of the French and Germans and Russians were a function primarily of mischief and corruption. And what we discovered in Iraq - from mass graves to childrens' prisons and the devastating effect of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Iraqis - only solidifies the moral case for removing the tyrant. The scandal of the U.N. oil-for-food program seals the argument."
So what can you make of his very next statement:

"At the same time, the collapse of the casus belli and the incompetent conduct of the war since the liberation points in an opposite direction. If you are going to do what the Bush administration did - put all your chips on one big gamble; if you are going to send your secretary of state to the U.N. claiming solid "proof" of Saddam's WMDs; if you are going to engage in a major war of liberation without the cover of nternational consensus - then you'd better well get all your ducks in a row. Bush - amazingly - didn't. The lack of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq remains one of the biggest blows to America's international credibility in a generation."

So Bush was right to go to war to settle the issue of whether Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, but finding out that he didn't have those weapons points to Bush's incompetence? This is incoherent. If the decision to invade was justified because it was the only way that we could know for sure whether Saddam had WMDs, then finding out after the war was won that he didn't have them does not remove that justification, because either way the war accomplished the goal of ensuring that Saddam did not posess WMDs.

Secondly Sullivan, on top of the WMD issue, gives four other justifications for deposing Saddam, and yet he amazingly states that the "casus belli" has collapsed. How can it have collapsed, the justifications that Sullivan enumerated have been realized? We no longer have to deal with the crumbling Mafia state of Saddam, the childrens prisons and mass murders of civilians have been halted, the crippling sanctions have been eliminated, and the corrupt UN Oil for Food program has been stopped. What is Sullivan talking about? None of these benefits of the deposition of Saddam have been un-done.

He goes on:

"The failure to anticipate an insurgency against the coalition remains one of the biggest military miscalculations since Vietnam. And the refusal to send more troops both at the beginning and throughout the occupation remains one of the most pig-headed acts of hubris since the McNamara era. I'm amazed by how pro-war advocates aren't more incensed by this mishandling of such critical matters. But even a Bush-supporter, like my friend, Christopher Hitchens, has termed it "near-impeachable" incompetence."

Whether the insurgency had been anticipated or not, there is not much that the coalition could have done to prevent it from happening. Sullivan is suffering from the "planning fetish" that I described in my post "The Planner vs the Slogger" below. He believes that competent war planners can anticipate and plan for every contingency that can occur. Miscalculations will always occur in wars, a commander cannot count on his calculations being correct in all circumstances, but he must be ready to adapt to changing circumstances as the war progresses. And contrary to Sullivan and all the other armchair generals criticizing the war from the sidelines, our military forces have done just that. Though the insurgency has caused some surprising and disheartening setbacks for the coalition forces, they have all been temporary. The commanders on the ground have adapted to the insurgents tactics, and have systematically hemmed them in, isolated them, and destroyed them piecemeal.

The insurgency was inevitable. Once Saddam's forces collapsed and fled into the woodwork, the way was open for the various terror masters to organize their squads and initiate the insurgency. This guaranteed that instead of a decisive victory, the war for Iraq would drag on for a long time. Those like Sullivan who have judged the conduct of the war incompetent because of the failure to secure a final, decisive victory in the first year are using a highly unrealistic yardstick by which any Commander in Chief would come up short. Sullivan does not have the heart of a slogger. He could back the war as long as the victories came swiftly, the setbacks were few and the doubts were short lived. The strategy of the insurgents is based on the assumption that many of the war's supporters are of Sullivan's mettle.

Now, to address the "pigheadedness" of not sending in more troops. This is precisely the wrong thing to do. The goal of the war is not just to destroy all the insurgents as quickly as possible and then to go home, but to foster the creation of a viable democracy in Iraq. Training the Iraqi defense force and turning the responsibility for security over to them is a critical factor in acheiving this goal. Though it may have slowed the battle against the insurgents, involving them in the decision making and the exection of the offensives against them is key to developing the competence, experience and confidence of the IDF, and will make the eventual turnover of power more certain and sustainable. It also reduces the number of casualties that American troops suffer. Secondly, the war against the insurgents is not an all out effort that we can just throw more bodies at. They hide among civilians. We want to kill them with as few casualties to innocents as possible. This takes time and patience, and the cultivation of local intelligence sources. Our force level is the right size for this kind of effort. Increasing the force levels would have raised the stakes for a quick victory over the insurgents, which would have led to an even bigger appearance of failure when the insurgency continued to drag on. The tactics of the insurgents will not allow for decisive set-piece battles that will allow us to declare victory and pull all our troops home. This is a war of endurance, of slogging.

Finally, Sullivan trots out the left's favorite flogging horse:

"I would add one more thing: Abu Ghraib. In one gut-wrenching moment, the moral integrity of the war was delivered an almost fatal blow. To be involved in such a vital struggle and through a mixture of negligence and arrogance to have facilitated such a fantastic propaganda victory for the enemy is just unforgivable. In a matter of months, the Bush administration lost its casus belli and its moral authority. Could they have run a worse war?"

How can any war maintain its moral integrity if the misconduct of any small group of soldiers is enough to destroy it? An almost fatal blow? Is he serious? Firstly, the abuses at Abu Ghraib come nowhere near the level of severity that would destroy the moral integrity of the war against Saddam. If Sullivan thinks that the humiliation of a handful of terrorists is on par with the crimes of Saddam or his henchmen, then his moral compass is in need of some serious calibration. Secondly, it is an outright slander to lay the cause of this scandal at the negligence and arrogance of George Bush. It is a measure of the integrity of the armed forces under Bush and Rumsfeld that this is the worst case of military misconduct to come out of this war. Far worse atrocities have been commited by American soldiers in all of our past wars. The moral integrity of the war to depose Saddam is based on the freedom of millions of Iraqi citizens and their hopes for a bright future for themselves and their children. Sullivan would have us believe that the abuse of a handful of terrorists under the custody of American soldiers negates all of that.

That Sullivan can agree with all of the reasons that George Bush gave for leading us to war against Saddam, and then disparage him as incompetent and arrogant for not prosecuting that war flawlessly shows that he does not have the courage to defend his own decision to support the war. He wants credit for making the right choice to back the war, but wants to lay all blame for the embarassing setbacks at the feet of the president. He is a squeamish moralist who is unwilling to stand up for a difficult but morally justified decision when that decision leads to unforeseen results. We will never fight a flawless war and will never have the luxury of fielding an army composed only of saints. The decision to go to war will always set in motion events that will act to the detriment of the very goals we are trying to acheive. No amount of planning or supervision by the Commander in Chief or his subordinates will ever make such setbacks avoidable.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Water, Water Everywhere, and Nowhere

While I was in Phoenix last week, I got the chance to see how much the metro area has grown since I lived there back in 1985. Areas that were farms or desert back then are now covered with sprawling subdivisions and retail corridors. I recall that when I bought a house in Mesa in 1984, desert landscaping was encouraged over grass lawns and their thirsty ways. I couldn't imagine then that the area could sustain much more development because of the limited water supply offered by the Colorado river. So I was shocked as I strolled around my wife's apartment complex in Peoria to see grass landscaping being drenched by automatic sprinklers. Was there some breakthrough of hydrologic engineering behind this accelerated consumption?

Apparently not. The Colorado river is running a deficit:

Drought is already doing what environmentalists could only dream about: It's draining Lake Powell, the reservoir just upriver from the Grand Canyon that submerged hundreds of miles of scenic canyons and countless archaeological sites.
Powell is so low that hikers are beginning to explore glorious sandstone canyons once submerged under 100 feet of water. The lake has fallen to 42 percent of capacity, its lowest since it was filled in 1970. At the downstream end of the Grand Canyon is Lake Mead, the huge lake formed by Hoover Dam. It is at 59 percent of capacity and could reach the same state as Powell as early as 2008.

So what gives? The archaic set of federal laws and quotas that restrict any kind of free market solutions is what gives. It's time to get the Federal government out of the water business. Western farmers, settlers and businesses have benefitted from subsidized water since the go-go days of big water projects chronicled by Marc Reisner in his book Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water. Phoenix and other Southwestern communities will be in for a rude awakening in the near future if this insane relic of 20th Century Central Planning is allowed to continue until it collapses of its own weight.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Planner vs the Slogger

This election will offer a true contrast of styles on how to fight the War on Terror. John "I have a plan" Kerry, the favorite of technocrats everywhere, believes that our success depends on careful planning of every phase of the war. His criticisms of George Bush as war leader recount all of the unexpected setbacks in the war, from the escape of Osama Bin Laden from Tora Bora, or the widespread looting after the liberation of Bagdhad, to the insurgency that has continued in Iraq since "Mission Accomplished" was declared in 2003, and chalk it all up to poor planning. If we are to believe him, a Kerry administration would have planned for all of these setbacks, and negated them through contingency actions. He is a man who never makes mistakes, never falls off a snowboard or crashes a bike. Can we trust such a man with our foreign policy?
To paraphrase Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man who knew a little something about war, "plans are useless, but planning is essential". The twists and turns of war cannot be predicted beforehand and slotted into a battle plan. Wars are won by gaining and retaining the initiative, remaining flexible in the face of changing circumstances, adapting to the situation on the ground as it develops, and doggedly pursuing victory until it is acheived. Guerilla insurgencies such as the battle for Iraq are won by the unit commanders on the ground, the platoon commanders and squad leaders who get to know their enemy face to face, and through their own initiative devise the tactics to beat him. It is not won by the planners in Washington.
Kerry's fixation on planning appeals to a good many highly educated academics and professionals who take it for granted that brainpower alone can manage and control wars and economies. It is the "Fatal Conceit" written about by Hayek, the deadly flaw hiding within any bureacratic endeavor to control large scale, complex social systems. To Kerry's supporters, George Bush is a failure due to his limited intelligence, his lack of advanced degrees, and his obvious inability to structure a proper war plan. They have learned nothing from the "Best and the Brightest", the cadre of intellectual luminaries, that came to power under John Kennedy, and set about to win the Vietnam War by superior brainpower. Vietnam was not lost by the planning, but by the lack of slogging.
When plans fail, its the slogging that will win the day. George Bush is the slogger's candidate, that group of people from varied backgrounds who have a personal relationship with the real world, and who know that success goes to the steadfast, the enduring, the one who will work hardest and longest to acheive his goal. There is only one candidate in this election that understands this, and has the courage to stay the course in the face of uncertainty. His name is George W Bush.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Snowbird Express

I will be incommunicado until next Monday, on my way to Phoenix, Arizona. My wife will be spending the winter in Phoenix, doctor's orders. She's a little young to be a Snowbird, but the Minnesota winters have a way of doing that to people. We have the PT Cruiser packed with as much stuff as it will carry. Driving straight through to Liberal, Kansas the first day, then on to Phoenix the second. Adios!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Materialism and Morality

Shephen M Barr takes on Richard Dawkins, and by extension atheistic materialism in the August/September issue of First Things:

Dawkins contrasts ideas that are just memes, mindlessly and slavishly copied from brain to brain like computer viruses, with scientific ideas, which he likens to useful software that is critically evaluated by potential users and adopted or rejected on rational grounds. Such a distinction may be valid, but it is not a distinction that a materialist can make. It is based on there being an essential difference between machines, which can only do as they are told, and intelligent and free users of those machines, who can decide for themselves what to do. In the materialist’s universe, however, all users are themselves just machines, and are therefore as much driven by physical necessity (or chance) as everything else is. As the great mathematician and physicist Hermann Weyl observed,

There must be freedom in the theoretical acts of affirmation and negation: When I reason that 2+2=4, this actual judgment is not forced upon me through blind natural causality (a view that would eliminate thinking as an act for which we can be held answerable) but something purely spiritual enters in.

The inescapable conclusion is that Dawkins and materialists of his sort do not in fact “stand up full-face into the keen wind of understanding.” They don’t face the implications of their ideas. If they did, they would have to dismiss all talk of morality, rebellion against nature, and intellectual freedom as so much sentimentality.

This, of course, begs the question "why"? Why does atheistic materialism dismiss any consideration of morality, rebellion against nature, and intellectual freedom? As an atheistic materialist, I just don't see it. Maybe I am just dense, but this argument is always put forth by religious polemicists as something that is irreducibly obvious. Lets pry into this argument just a little.

It assumes that morality is only possible where an actor is free to choose a course of action, unconstrained by deterministic forces that would force his choice to follow a set path. This seems reasonable and logical. He is implying that the choice must be made freely, and not determined by the atoms and molecules of his brain. But here is where the argument breaks down; the actor IS the atoms and molecules of his brain, along with the rest of his body. The actions of the atoms and molecules, firing to cause the sequence of activities that causes a certain course of action to be taken, IS the actor choosing that course of action. What our atoms choose, we choose. We are our atoms.

Religious people reject this prospect, just as Hermann Weyl rejects the notion that the understanding of a mathematical truth could not be the result of a blind natural causality. The problem is seemingly resolved, but truthfully only hidden, by a layer of indirection. The soul, a non-material entity which is the source and the seat of humanwill, is the true actor, the ghost in the machine that provides the necessary freedom that makes morality possible. But indirection merely shifts the problem to a different entity. The problem remains: what gives the soul its freedom of action?

There is a contradiction at work here, which Barr, Weyl and the religious do not recognize. Matter is rejected as a source of freedom, because it is thought to be deterministic. It produced predictable, regular results based on its initial conditions. But is freedom really the same as an absence of predictability? Does randomness equate to freedom? This would assume that a moral person is a person who will, given a situation, respond in a totally unpredictable way. But we do not judge morality in this way, we judge people as moral who follow a predictable, prescribed course of action whenever they are presented with a situation. A man who always reacts with kindness to others, whether they are kind to him or not, is considered moral. We also judge immoral people in this same way. Someone who uses every interaction to advance his own benefit or pleasure, whether it helps or hurts the other, is judged immoral.

But, surprisingly if you took the above definition of freedom seriously, we do not ascribe morality or immorality to someone who truly acts in a random, unpredictable way to a given situation. Such a person is judged to be mentally ill, and not responsible for his actions.

But isn't predictable behavior consistent with deterministic processes? How is a soul that produces predictable behaviors in a person any more indicative of freedom of action than a material body that can produce the same behaviors? Answer - it isn't.

The simple fact is that a predictable entity is a determined thing. Barr gets hung up on whether the deterimining is being done by the soul itself, or by an outside entity, the material body. He has no problem with a soul determining itself, that is his definition of freedom. Freedom is the ability to determine yourself. It is a willed automaton as opposed to a non-willed one where de draws the distinction between a free moral actor and an unfree mechanism incapable of moral responsibility.

This, of course, begs the question; when a soul determines itself, what is determining what? How can a soul, or anthing for that matter, be self-determined? Self-determination divides the soul into an active and a passive component, a determining and a determined part. So, to be free, the "I" has to be the determining, free part. But what determines how that will decide? As with all self-referential problems, this leads to an infinite regression. The "I", the free, undetermined but determining agent, must constantly be pushed farther down the line of regression to escape the fate of having its nature determined, and its freedom taken away.

Think of it this way. If I am free, then I can choose to act as I desire. But can I choose what to desire? If not, then I am not free, I am determined. Something that is not me determined what it is that I desire. So I must choose what it is I desire if I am to be free. But can I choose what it is that I desire that I desire? If not, then I am not free, I am determined. So I must choose what it is I deisire that I desire. But can I choose what it is that I desire that I desire that I desire? If not, then I am not free, I am determined. Blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum.

If the soul is free to make decisions unencumbered by any deterministic restriction, then it must necessarily act in a random, unpredictable manner. But if the action of the body is determined by the soul, then it too would act randomly. As it doesn't, except in the case of mental illness described above, then the soul must necessarily be a determined entity, and thus not free according to the definition above.

So have I not proven Barr's point? No, because I reject that definition of freedom. A being is free if it can act on its will. Note that I did not say act on its desires, but its will. The difference between humans and animals is that for an animal its will and its desires are one and the same. For a human, his will can diverge from his desires, or more accurately he can create within himself higher level desires with more far reaching objects of those desires which may lie totally outside of himself and embody abstractions and ideals, such as beauty, justice and the good, and to which he can subordinate his inherited animal desires. Morality is possible because of this capability.

Now, does it matter that the will may determined by material processes? No, for freedom does not depend on whether a person can freely choose the content of his will, only that he can freely act upon his will. Whether that will is embodied in an immaterial soul or a material brain is irrelevant. So when Barr says "It is based on there being an essential difference between machines, which can only do as they are told, and intelligent and free users of those machines, who can decide for themselves what to do." he is making the error of separating the machine from the intelligent and free user. The machine and the intelligent free user are one and the same.

Freedom or Safety?

Kofi Annan is making his bid to affect the presidential race. Today British television aired an interview in which the Secretary General of the U.N. stated:

"I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq".

Clearly Mr Annan would like to see President Bush lose the election on November 2nd, and you cannot chalk it up to his concern for the state of the world's safety. What is at stake is world leadership, and Kofi Annan represents that class of internationalists that sees its perogative to rule the world through the auspices of the United Nations. It is an unelected class, and it is driven by an ideology no less sweeping than that of the former Soviet Union. As the communists subverted the idea of the popular will to create a totalitarian state under which the will and the freedom of people were crushed, this new class, the Transnational Progressivists, or Tranzis, will subvert the ideals of democracy to destroy popularly elected democratic governments. Kofi goes on:

He told ITV that Iraq was on track to hold elections at the end of January and said he would speak out if he was not satisfied with the way they are conducted. "If that sort of judgment or any decision which is made which we think detracts from the credibility and viability of the elections, we will be duty bound to say so," he said.

In this new world, popular sovereignty is not decided by democratic elections, but by elections choreographed and blessed by the U.N.. It is a "Simon Says" world. People rule themselves only when Simon, the U.N., tells them to. And as the ruling ethos of the Tranzi worldview is order (under the guise of "safety"), and not freedom, Simon will not say "elect a new leader" very often.

I believe that the President's emphasis on saying that the world is safer without Saddam Hussein is the wrong message, because it plays into the very trap that the internationalists are setting for democracy. The War on Terror is not a war for safety, but freedom. Freedom is strangled when safety dictates our decisions. Think of the way a boa constrictor kills its prey. It holds fast to the ribcage, and every time its prey inhales, it squeezes tighter. Every time that a people make a short term decision for safety over freedom, as when the Spanish electorate gave into the terrorists who slaughtered their countrymen on 3/11, the terrorist boa constrictor gets a tighter grip on their lives. When the previous concessions no longer satisfy them, the terrorists will attack again, and the populace will be forced into another decision between safety and freedom. The breathing room of freedom gets smaller and smaller, until it suffocates and dies.

The God gap

In Closing the God gap, Gloria Borger gives a sense of the kind of convoluted minuet of religious identity-group politics that Bush and Kerry are dancing in the runup to the election:

He was, of course, preaching to the choir: In the last election, 62 percent of regular churchgoers voted for Bush. "The president knows how to speak in code to them," says Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. But last election, a top Bush adviser says, some 3 million to 4 million evangelicals may have stayed at home because of the last-minute news of the president's 1976 arrest for drunken driving. Never again, say the Bushies. "The key to this election is to get them to turn out," a top White House adviser told me. "And we will do it" --even if it requires personal escorts.

This points out what a mixed blessing the evangelical vote is to Bush. That 3 to 4 million of them can be convinced to stay home by a last-minute revelation of past sins shows what a "hothouse flower" his base can be. During much of the 20th century, many evangelicals eschewed politics, preferring to withdraw from what they saw as the sinfulness and moral compromise of electoral politics. They came onto the political scene in a powerful way with the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, only to abandon him in 1980. There are both moral and cultural factors at play with evangelicals. Bill Clinton, a southern evangelical and a social liberal, was able to capture some of this block. Bush must not only demonstrate to them that he is a strong social conservative and a faithful Christian, but also that he personally lives and breathes those values. John Kerry's clumsy, cynical manipulation of Mary Cheney's lesbianism, though it backfired on him, was aimed at this wobbly rump of the evangelical base. It may yet prove to have done some damage to Bush. Time will tell.


Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Daily Duck! The Duck will cover a variety of topics, from politics, religion, science and philosophy to popular culture, history and economics. The Duck has no expertise in any of these fields, and is a rank amateur in the world of journalism, publishing and social commentary. Nevertheless, this blog is dedicated to the proposition that the interested amateur has an important role to play in making the professional "experts" who operate the levers of power in our society accountable to the rules of common sense. Well, enough quacking, let's get cracking!