I had high hopes for Wizbang Blue. I figured at its best, it would be a good place to see the views of the “other side,” to have in-house dissenting voices, where we could disagree without being overly disagreeable. And even if that didn’t work out, if we gave the whackoes their own little sandbox, they’d stop bothering the grownups.
Last night, I meandered over there and was a smidgen disappointed. Two pieces in a row were not only pretty damned poor, but not even fresh and original.
(Author’s note: in the interest of full disclosure, this piece is a recycling and expansion of my own comments on the pieces in question.
The first was this story charging that the White House video of President Bush’s speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq had been “doctored” to remove the “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner. This is based on a YouTube video one whackjob had cooked up. The problem is that not only has it been thoroughly debunked, it was debunked about six months ago, when it first surfaced.
The only reasonable conclusion? Some whackjob found himself a conspiracy theory and ran like hell with it, then did what any self-respecting whackjob would do when confronted with inconvenient reality: expanded the conspiracy to show that the countering facts are merely proof of “how big the conspiracy really is.”
Six months ago. Last November.
The second piece is a reworking of something that was tossed around in the 1960’s. One variant I recall is “It will be a great day when schools have all the money they need, and the Air Force needs to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
The conceit of the piece is to take the total estimated cost of the war in Iraq and see just how that same amount could have been spent on domestic, social issues.
I think it could be enlighening to turn that around, and also start back in the 1960’s.
One of President Lyndon Johnson’s major legacies was his “War On Poverty.” It’s been going on since 1964, and the cost has been astronomical — my own rough estimate puts it at between 2.4 and 2.6 zillion metric assloads of money. With all that, one would think that we killed off poverty ages ago.
But we still have the poor.
Years ago, I read P. J. O’Rourke’s classic work “All The Trouble In The World.” In that, he did an in-depth study on the problem of famine. He came to two conclusions that are incredibly hard to accept, but also incredibly hard to rebut:
1) All famines in the past few centuries have been caused not by ecological factors or other natural phenomena, but by political factors — either accidental or by design.
2) No nation with a democratic form of government and a free market has ever had a famine.
With those two elements in play, I find myself wondering: how many lives would have been spared if we had taken even half the money we spent fighting poverty in the United States and instead channeled it directly into the military, and charged them with overthrowing dictatorships around the world and replacing them with democratic governments dedicated towards preserving free markets? The Ethiopian famines, for one, would never have happened.
We would still have the poor — let’s face it, the “War On Poverty” is about as likely to succeed as the “War On Drugs” — but we would at least put a major dent in world hunger. And since I can’t recall a single incidence of two democracies going to war, it would greatly increase world peace in the long run.
(And to head off one line of criticism, one major difference between the above “Wars” and the “War On Terror” is that the War On Terror is actually being fought by warriors. It’s not just a bit of overblown rhetoric.)
I still have hopes for Wizbang Blue. But based on this admittedly-small sampling, it’s got a long ways to go.
Then again, one of my first pieces (apparently lost to the aether) was a call to get rid of the $20 bill…