For those who enjoy war, everyone is a potential enemy.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan in describing President Bush as “a fucking disgrace”, based on this recap of the president meeting with a group of sycophants conservative journalists at the White House:

President Bush may have been most emphatic though when it came to the topic of “those left wing ads” attacking General Petraeus. The president brought the infamous New York Times MoveOn ad up without prompting, saying of his reaction to it: “I was incredulous at first and then became mad.”

“It is one thing to attack me — which is fine,” the president said. But the president’s view the attack on Petraeus as “an attack on men and women in uniform.” [sic somewhere in there]

As usual, our president sees the world only in black or white, and his view is concerned with the petty rather than the important. I don’t feel safer knowing this, even though I think Kathryn Jean Lopez expects us all to applaud the president’s irrational mind.

For bonus points, the blog entry at The Corner has an ad in the sidebar that asks “Why is MoveOn attacking Rudy Guiliani?” The answer: “Because he’s their worst nightmare.” Schoolyard egotism is not mature statecraft.

Parents decide what is reality-based education.

Evesham Township in New Jersey is under fire for including a video in its third-grade classes – as part of the state-manadated curriculum – that shows a child with two dads.

The issue first arose in December after a class of third graders at the J. Harold Van Zant School here was shown “That’s a Family!,” a documentary created by an Academy Award-winning filmmaker intended to show students the different forms that families can take, as part of the curriculum required in New Jersey. But the district temporarily stopped showing the video after some parents complained that they should be able to decide whether their third-grade children should learn about same-sex couples in the classroom.

My stance is that the only valid discussion in this context is third-grade, as opposed to children. Of course it’s possible to cherry-pick whatever quote you need to make whatever point you want to make. The article has exactly what you’d expect, but I’m sure the sentiment is moderately common:

“I don’t think it was appropriate,” said Jennifer Monteleone, 35, who is a parent of two children at the Robert B. Jaggard Elementary School. “If it was maybe in fifth grade, but in third grade they’re a little too young.”

It’s reasonable to debate this, as I said. But it can’t stop there.

Yet Ms. Monteleone also questioned whether the video should be shown at all because of the presence of the same-sex couples.

“It’s something to be discussed within families,” she said. “I think it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach the kids about that stuff.”

I don’t have a problem with this statement. But prohibiting this discussion in school addresses the symptom. When government is in charge of education, you have considerably less freedom to limit facts, or even decide what should be facts. But education is provided by the government. As a blunt instrument it can work against any agenda as much as it can work for one. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

In this case, parents do not have a right to make up their own facts. Same-sex marriage civil (in-)equality is the law. In acknowledging same-sex relationships, the state of New Jersey is dealing strictly in fact. Again, question the third-grade aspect and the debate is useful. (I think third-grade is fine, but I won’t pretend to base that on anything other than my instinct.) But you don’t get to impose this on everyone:

Delores Stepnowski, a parent of another Jaggard student, said parents should have been given more notice that the video would be shown.

“Something that controversial should have been discussed,” Ms. Stepnowski said. The children “shouldn’t learn questionable things in school that they’re not ready for and don’t understand.”

The evaluation of fact is open to subjective opinion. The existence of fact is not. The word questionable has nothing to do with this.

Any fool can compare irrelevant statistics.

The editors at Opinion Journal put forth their case for the success of “the surge” in Iraq:

What’s more important is to note the changes that have taken place in Iraq, all of which indicate that the “surge” is working and that we are at last on our way toward a positive military outcome. As General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker prepare their testimony to Congress later this month, it’s worth pointing to a few indicators:

I’ll get to the indicators in a moment. I just want to demonstrate how clearly the editors have stated their interpretation of the included data points.

  • There were 30 “multiple fatality” (usually suicide) bombings in August 2007. In August 2006 there were 52.
  • There were 120 daily attacks by insurgents and militias last month, down from 160 in August 2006.
  • 60,000 prisoners were being held by the U.S. and Iraq as of last month, up from 27,000 a year earlier.
  • Iraqi security forces currently number 360,000, up from 298,000 a year ago.

Regarding the first two points, is it a relevant comparison to use statistics from last August, when the surge was merely a glimmer in the Bush administration’s eye? Wouldn’t monthly statistics from just before the surge began be more informative? Or at least important for context? Regardless of the outcome, using statistics from 6 months before the surge began looks like cherry-picking.

The last statistic is rather empty, outside any other context (wages, employment opportunities, actual merit-based achievements of the security forces, to name a few), so I’m discarding it.

I find the third indicator most interesting. Merely having twice as many prisoners is a measure of success. There is no mention of findings of guilt in a court of law. They’re prisoners, which means we have 33,000 more terrorists in captivity. Allow me to be kind and say that’s incomplete. Due process, burden of proof, innocent until proven guilty? Sound familiar?

We can’t be sure that the prisoners are receiving any sort of judicial oversight, so the increased prisoner statistic is just a worthless number, although the Journal’s endorsement says much. It’s just as easy to conclude that our military is rounding people up and imprisoning them without cause. I assume the only reason we’re supposed to accept that the prisoners are justly held is because we’re America and we’re just. It’s a worthwhile assumption rooted in our history, although the Bush administration regularly demonstrates its lack of interest in continuing its practice. But even if that assumption is correct, this statistic’s current form is nothing more than propaganda.