Friday, December 23, 2005

Looks like the Democratic Leadership has struck again!

President Bush Job Approval
Friday December 23, 2005--Fifty percent (50%) of American adults approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. That's up six points since the President's speech on Sunday night.

It's also the first time since July that the President's Job Approval has reached the 50% mark. He earns approval from 81% of Republicans, 23% of Democrats, and 42% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

I wonder if the Nattering Nabob Syndrome has anything to do with this...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Dissing the Apocalypse: How Science Fiction Lost Me

John Scalzi, author of the many-blog-recommended Old Man's War, posted a challenge on his blog:

Having bloviated yesterday that current science fiction offers few "open doors" for non-Science Fiction readers to check out the genre, I want to offer interested parties an opportunity to prove me wrong, or at the very least, prove that I've wildly overstated the issue. So, consider this your opportunity to suggest Gateway Science Fiction -- Good, recent science fiction for people who don't read science fiction.


What I need to think about isn't "Gateway" Science Fiction; I want to figure out why SF lost me some years ago. I stopped visiting the SF shelves some time after the new titles stopped being compelling (maybe not coincidentally, around the mid-90's).

So now when I go to Barnes & Noble I check for Stephenson, I jones for new Gene Wolfe, and on recommendation I've started reading Stross....

I may be a bastard, but I'm not the type of bastard who thinks he's outgrown SF. Instead, I find that (with few exceptions) there's just not much new fiction I find interesting at all. The things I found missing from "straight" lit'ra'chure when I was younger is, if anything, more missing today.

I'll definitely read Scalzi's book at some point because it is generating a lot of buzz here in Web-space.

I think what happened in the 90's is that optimism became unfashionable in SF. I blame William Gibson and Greg Bear, I really do. Both fine writers, and I wouldn't want them to write any way other than how they do. But they set a tone for other writers in the genre, and I think it was a bad tone.

Maybe the nihilism is passing from SF now. I hope so. We get enough of that crap from everyplace else.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Can you say "Nattering Nabobs"?

We find ourselves in the appalling situation where a large percentage of our mainstream political class has a vested interest in the United States failing in Iraq. John Kerry has proclaimed U.S. troops are housebreakers and terrorists; Howard Dean has declared Iraq lost.

WTF?

I don’t mind people who have said all along that invading Iraq was a bad idea; there are logically and morally consistent arguments from both sides (although I think moral cases against are inherently weaker.) What I can’t abide is the revisionism and the naked opportunism associated with the nouveau anti-War cabal. For one thing, hypocrisy is ugly even when it’s cunning. For another, it’s even less pretty when it's stupid. Finally, it's grotesque when it has potentially devastating long-term consequences for the country at large.

Point-by-point:

"Winning v. Losing" in war is the most trivial way of looking at things, and not a trap adults should fall into. For instance, everyone knows who won and who lost the Great War, and we all know how important that outcome was to a peaceful 20th century. Likewise, the United States won the Vietnam War; just read up on Henry Kissinger's Nobel Peace Prize if you don’t believe me. Never mind those photos of those helicopters being mobbed on the embassy roof. Declaring Iraq "Lost" might be a cunning way to hurt the Bush Party, but it’s simply applying a negative (and highly misleading) label to what should be a long-term operation.

Next, has anybody noticed Iraq has held elections, and will be voting again soon on a painfully-negotiated Constitution? Yes, people are dying in Iraq; we read about it every day. People were dying invisibly in Iraq every day before we invaded. Do Democrats really want to be the 21st century's "America First" party? To be the party that prefers the Gulag to open conflict with fascists and thugs? I don’t think the ghost of FDR would approve. (I’m not a big FDR fan for other reasons, but I’m just saying….) Certain Democrats are buying themselves some major negative image karma.

Finally, one of the purposes of the Second Iraq War (I think) was to demonstrate that the United States would not wait to be attacked before acting against avowed enemies. From that perspective, we most definitely "won the war" with amazingly little damage to ourselves and to Iraq’s civilian population. (Go ahead and argue with me on this; be prepared to pick up statistics from any previous war of conquest with this one. Hell, even if you buy the Lancet's laughably inflated numbers, the damage done was peanuts compared to what happened to Germany or Japan.) I think the Bush Administration deserves a lot of respect for not just kicking the crap out of Iraq, installing a new Shah or whatever you wanted to call the leader, and bugging out. Call me a neocon, but it strikes me that the model of rebuilding our former enemies after WWII paid off a lot better than the previous model (Treaty of Versailles) or subsequent ones (again, Viet Nam). But certain Democrats would leave the region to rot and tie the "loss" on the Republican Party, at the same time telling the world that contrary to the example Dubya attempted to set, we really won’t respond to threats, because you know, we might end up taking risks, and we’d just rather pretend that nothing bad will ever happen to us if we just sit behind our open border.

Feh. And just forget the implicit insults these Prophets of Doom toss toward our uniformed citizens; I think the Democratic leadership has largely written off the military vote, JFK 1.8’s flag-wrapped zombie career notwithstanding. But has it ever occurred to said Prophets that, in the long run, having a military dominated by one of the political parties might be, well, unhealthy?

The Republican Congress pretty much nauseates me. But God forbid the party of Dean taking leadership of this Country. We've got enough problems as it is.