Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I was reading the Netscape Blog today and came across an interesting post on the politicization of climate science. They report:
More than 120 scientists across seven federal agencies say they have been pressured to remove references to "climate change" and "global warming" from a range of documents, including press releases and communications with Congress.As usual there is a Usenet type discussion going on. Flame wars (not too bad - Netscape is somewhat moderated). And just people with out a clue. Fun to visit. On the odd occasion.
So out of that discussion I pulled a couple of interesting urls.
The first is from Russia
ST. PETERSBURG, August 25 (RIA Novosti)- Global cooling could develop on Earth in 50 years and have serious consequences before it is replaced by a period of warming in the early 22nd century, a Russian scientist said Friday.I first did a piece on increased solar output in November of 2004. In that piece I suggested that the global warming we have been experiencing is mainly due to increased solar output. Since then further reports have come out adding more weight to the evidence.
Here is a report with links showing the connection between solar activity and climate for the last 1,000 years.
During the Medieval maximum of 1000-1300 there was an extremely large Sunspot which is believed to have warmed the Earth higher than normal. There were no accurate measurements of the weather to call upon during this time but the discovery and colonization of Greenland by Eric the Red supports this hypothesis. Eric was exiled from Iceland for manslaughter and sailed west discovering Greenland. He then led many ships, filled with people who wanted to make a fresh start, to this new land. For 300 years Greenland flourished, new communities settled, trade with other countries grew, and the population increased. Around 1325 the climate cooled down considerably, people started to abandon the northern settlements. By 1350 glaciers covered the northern settlements, and the southern most settlements were dying out as well.That was posted in 2004. What did the poster expect for the future?
The Sun could start going through a down trend in sunspot activity at any time. We could find ourselves back in a state similar to the Maunder Minimum with decades of much colder weather. Or sunspot activity could increase to an even higher level and temperatures could rise more than the amount some models project as a consequence of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide.Which is exacly what is being predicted by the Russian scientist.
He is not alone.
The New Scientist report, along with other scientific assessments warning of global cooling, also come as a blow to the campaign -- led by David Suzuki and one of the directors of his foundation -- to portray all who raise doubts about climate change theory -- so-called skeptics -- as pawns of corporate PR thugs manipulating opinion. If the Suzuki claim is true, then the tentacles of Exxon-Mobil reach deeper into science than anyone has so far imagined.Funny thing is that solar output is not handled well in current climate change models.
That was discussed at length at Winds of Change. In fact the discussion basically evicerates the whole cimate change modeling community for over promising on the reliability of their results.
The more I look into this the more I find it is old news. From October of 2000 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).
Although the processes of climate change are not completely understood, an important causal candidate is variation in total solar output. Reported cycles in various climate-proxy data show a tendency to emulate a fundamental harmonic sequence of a basic solar-cycle length (11 years) multiplied by 2N (where N equals a positive or negative integer). A simple additive model for total solar-output variations was developed by superimposing a progression of fundamental harmonic cycles with slightly increasing amplitudes. The timeline of the model was calibrated to the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary at 9,000 years before present. The calibrated model was compared with geophysical, archaeological, and historical evidence of warm or cold climates during the Holocene. The evidence of periods of several centuries of cooler climates worldwide called "little ice ages," similar to the period anno Domini (A.D.) 1280-1860 and reoccurring approximately every 1,300 years, corresponds well with fluctuations in modeled solar output. A more detailed examination of the climate sensitive history of the last 1,000 years further supports the model. Extrapolation of the model into the future suggests a gradual cooling during the next few centuries with intermittent minor warmups and a return to near little-ice-age conditions within the next 500 years. This cool period then may be followed approximately 1,500 years from now by a return to altithermal conditions similar to the previous Holocene Maximum.You have to ask yourself, why isn't this being discussed? Why wasn't it in Al Gore's movie on climate? Which I'm told is set to recieve an Oscar this year. I'm willing to bet Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth will go down with Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. A triumph of propaganda.
More on the 1,500 year solar cycle
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Not ugly enough to appreciate?
Barcepundit's Jose Guardia links to a fascinating piece on modern art, titled "Admit it - you really hate modern art":
There are esthetes who appreciate the cross-eyed cartoons of Pablo Picasso, the random dribbles of Jackson Pollock, and even the pickled pigs of Damien Hirst. Some of my best friends are modern artists. You, however, hate and detest the 20th century's entire output in the plastic arts, as do I.Spengler also explains why modern artists can become rich, while modern composers starved. It's because modern art does not overwhelm the senses, while modern music does:
Why is it that the audience for modern art is quite happy to take in the ideological message of modernism while strolling through an art gallery, but loath to hear the same message in the concert hall? It is rather like communism, which once was fashionable among Western intellectuals. They were happy to admire communism from a distance, but reluctant to live under communism.Return to the topic of "break[ing] the spell and liberat[ing] you from this unseemly condition," it just so happens that Salvador Dali (who called modern art a "grandiose tragedy") believed it was his destiny to rescue painting from modern art:
Salvador means "savior" and Dalí said he was "destined for nothing less than to rescue painting from the void of modern art." Dalí disparaged modernism (which he saw as lacking respect for craft) as a dead end. He rebelled by infusing contemporary art with virtuoso draftsmanship and painstakingly realistic technique.In other words, he knew how to draw and paint, and his paintings actually looked like something. (Unlike Jackson Pollack, who knew only how to drip and spill.)
The only slight disagreement I might have with Spengler is his statement that "by inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty." I'm not even sure that what they are inflicting is necessarily ugliness, because that would require a depiction of something which is ugly -- which would in turn generate an emotion, a reaction. Many fine artists have accurately depicted ugliness, especially human ugliness. Depicting something like spilled paint or a solid black canvas really depicts nothing at all, and I think it's more on the level of nihilism.
By contrast, here are a couple of Dali's depictions of ugly beings, from Hell:
They're meant to be appreciated as ugly.
A leading Dali dealer and art scholar told me that he loved talking to young fans of Dali who had not yet been to college, because they had not yet been taught to hate Dali.
I'm sure the fact that Dali draws bigger crowds than "traditional" modern (forgive me) artists doesn't help endear him to professors either.
MORE: Another advantage that modern art has over modern music is that it's easier to participate in the former than in the latter.
AND MORE: Great news for Dalí lovers! Via Pajamas Media, the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation now has an online catalog of the works of Salvador Dalí. What's great about this catalog is that it lists the works alphabetically, chronologically, and by the location all over the world.
Why that which is concealed is so often "irrelevant"
Warning. Some generalizations follow. I can't really help it, because I'm thinking about the way people tend to think, and there's no way to think about the way people think (especially when it comes to things like "values") without generalizing about the way people think.
A lot of people argue over identity politics (and its profitable spawn, affirmative action), but what bothers me the most about it is not so much that it makes the irrelevant relevant, but that it gives it an actual value -- something measurable in terms of wealth. Dollars and sense.
When rewards are bestowed in the form of giving people real and tangible things (like admission to college, preferential treatment in hiring and promotions), the people who get these things can be expected to treat them the way anyone else might treat something of value. If you have something of value, your natural inclination is to fight like hell to keep it. When you're told that you deserve it, this adds a moral justification, and thus a moral "value" becomes a genuine value.
People argue over "values," but they're more likely to go to war over value. The former often supplies a justification for the latter, and when historians look back, they're often confused. Thus, the causes of the Civil War (and many other wars) are still debated.
While it is natural enough to expect someone to fight like hell to defend his property, it helps if he has a moral rationalization. A tenant in a rent-controlled apartment who pays a fraction of its market rent naturally wants what he has, but he'll feel better about fighting for it if he is told that he is good (or "oppressed"), and his landlord is bad ("exploitative"). Pennsylvania has a system of government-run liquor stores which stay in place despite widespread public opposition, because of the lobbying efforts state liquor store employees union, which claims to be "protecting the public." Similarly, the FCC claims that its artificial and outmoded licensing system protects the "public airwaves." So do the licensees, who have paid billions and don't want their licenses devalued.
When moral arguments are used in these and other instances to defeat logical arguments, people spend so much time debating the moral arguments (whether with logical arguments or moral counter-arguments) that they overlook the economic arguments.
Maybe they're uncomfortable with them. Perhaps economic factors are seen as irrelevant -- even immoral -- in the face of morality.
They are not irrelevant. Welfare, affirmative action, rent control, state regulation of alcohol and bandwidth are all someone's bread and butter. To debate the moral issues is fine, although I try to focus on logic. (Logic and morality do not always mix, of course.) Yet in logic, there is no way for me to ignore value as well as values. If someone is getting money, it is not going to be easy to turn off the flow. Money has a way of creating and fueling moral arguments, whether the latter should be there or not. Value often creates values.
Even arguments which seem driven by morality (and "fairness") like same sex marriage have strong economic components. People don't just want the "right" to a piece of paper saying they're married; they want real benefits they see others as getting. Global warming masquerades as "save the planet" morality, but I suspect there are careers, jobs, and vast economic forces behind a regulatory scheme which promises to be the most massive transfer of power in human history. The louder the moral arguments become (in what amounts to a vast international bureaucratic war against carbon), the more suspicious I become that a tangible shift in economic value is involved. If the war on carbon isn't started soon, public opinion might prevent the inevitable power grab, which would be very bad for the emerging new power class. Thus the heavy-handed moral rhetoric has become deafening.
Unfortunately, many of the fiercest proponents of global warming morality cut their teeth by championing an argument against the Vietnam War which many people (myself included) assumed was strictly a "values" argument -- in favor of "peace." While undoubtably there were a lot of sincere people who really believed in peace at the time, many of the peace demonstrators were violent. But that was only because they "believed" so strongly in their newfound peace values. At least, that was what I thought until I saw a sudden and dramatic drop in attendance at the demonstrations which accompanied the end of the draft. This made me suspect a more tangible value was involved -- the value of not risking your life. That's at least as legitimate a value as any economic benefit, but it was concealed by the values argument. And many of the people who did the concealing never admitted what they were concealing, because few asked them whether a very real motivation wasn't simply the preservation of their own lives.
Doubtless, had they been asked (and I'm sure some of them were), they'd have said that wanting to save their skins was "irrelevant." (An argument I have heard.) Really? Their own lives were irrelevant? I doubt it.
I don't mean to generalize about an entire generation of people (because many of them served honorably in the war, and many antiwar leftists have regretted their dishonesty), but some of them developed what I think is a bad habit of imagining that their moral values were more important than other values.
Worse, if these other values (like saving one's skin, keeping a job, keeping a rent-controlled apartment, or building a power base) are sources of shame, it is natural to expect them to be concealed.
posted by Eric at 10:15 AM
Guilford Student Cleared
Guilford College student Jazz Favor has been cleared by the school and allowed back on campus.
Greensboro, NC -- A Guilford College football player's mom is speaking out, only to WFMY News 2.A very good video of Jazz's mother talking about the case is available at the above link. Click on the WFMY Video On Demand box on the page. The video is about two minutes. Jazz's mother stated in the video that before the fight the football players and the Palestinians had been friends.
Now all Jazz has to worry about is the court case.
The details are murky but I have heard rumors that the fight was over stolen beer and that the "brass knuckles" may have actually been a gold watch. All rumor so far.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
"It takes a Carrier"
So proclaims the motto of the U.S.S. Hillary Clinton, according to John Birmingham's Final Impact (The Axis of Time Trilogy, Book 3).
I didn't order it, as I'm not a sci fi reader, but in this case perhaps I should make an exception. Not only does Justin say it's great, but when Glenn Reynolds reviewed books one and two in the trilogy (Designated Targets and Weapons of Choice) -- he noted that the author (and blogger) got in trouble for calling Hillary Clinton "the most uncompromising wartime President in the history of the United States."
Stuff like that gets my attention in ways that "normal" science fiction can't, so maybe I should try reading the sequel.
It's probably a good idea to get caught up with history before it happens.
UPDATE: Via Wonkette (where they're outraged enough to manage a Hitler comparison, although they avoided saying "Hitlery") I see that six anti-war demonstrators have been arrested outside Hillary Clinton's office.
Might these sci fi guys be onto something?
MORE: I guess this sort of thing was inevitable sooner or later.
No, I'm not going to copy and paste the offensive image! This armband was bad enough:
Can't we just get along, folks?
Please. Give war a chance.
And don't blame me! Wonkette started it!
ary's "ominous pastels' offensive, as Jan Moir of the Telegraph writes, Ilsa -- She wolf of the SS might be more appropriate:
UPDATE: Sissy Willis has a classic post about Hillary's Pink Offensive, with this picture:
I see fusion! Confusion! Collusion!
(A Vast Conspiracy of Pink Triangulation!)
Meet The Accusers
The accuseers in the Guilford College fight have finally met with police.
Last Edited: Monday, 29 Jan 2007, 11:21 PM ESTNote that the complaints were filed directly with the magistrate bypassing the police, until now.
Normally accusers do not do police interviews with their lawyers present. So that is kind of strange. Waiting a week before making contact (time to get the stories straight?) is also not the regular course of action following an altercation.
Not to worry. The Angry Studies people have it under control.
The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project chose to enter the public discourse by issuing a news release Monday afternoon.I wonder if they are talking about prejudice against jocks? Or prejudice against white people?
I suppose it couln't be the white people thing. Half the accused are black.
A look at the Reconciliation Project statement might be helpful.
We pledge to all the members of that college community our whole hearted support as they seek to deal fairly and compassionately with the students involved in this recent event, but also with the underlying spirit of racism and domination revealed in it---a hate-filled spirit from which none of us in this competitive, fragmented, violence-prone society is free.That statement sure looks like a rush to judgement to me. What if it was the Palestinians who did the wounding? What if they started the fight?
What if the The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project are tough loving the wrong people? What if they don't have a lock on truth? What if they are really bigots in disguise?
Me? I smell a rat.
Here is how The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project got started. The short version: On November 3, 1979, Klansmen shot and killed five communists.
After digging further into The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project it looks to me like they are a group of "progressive" organizers. i.e. communists. Although the communists did extraordinary work on civil rights, their goal was never the reconciliation of the races. Their goal was to weaken America in the long cold war between the Soviets and the Western world. I think they are still at it.
I checked out some names mentioned at The Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project
More than 1,000 people -- Greensboro residents and national and international supporters -- took part Nov. 13, 2004, in the the 25th Anniversary March for Justice, Democracy and Reconciliation. The anniversary was marked by a collection of other religious, cultural and educational events featuring distinguished guests including Naomi Tutu, the granddaughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, nationally acclaimed playwright Emily Mann and veteran national civil rights activists including Vincent Harding, Elizabeth McAllister and Ruby Sales.Vincent Harding had this to say.[pdf]
Don't let people fool you when they say they went to Grenada because the communists were taking over. Don't let people fool you when they say that someday they are going into Cuba because that's where the trouble starts. I know what Cuba was like before Castro came to power. I know what it means to be a slave. Don't be telling me about sending our young men to fight communism in Cuba.Yep. Cuba is the model. Land of the free.
The other names mentioned don't seem to have any obvious communist sympathies. If fact Naomi Tutu's father Desmond appears to have been anti-communist.
Desmond Tutu was Bishop of Lesotho from 1976 until 1978, when he became Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches. From this position, he was able to continue his work against apartheid with agreement from nearly all churches. Tutu consistently advocated reconciliation between all parties involved in apartheid through his writings and lectures at home and abroad. Though he was most firm in denouncing South Africa's white-ruled government, Tutu was also harsh in his criticism of the violent tactics of some anti-apartheid groups such as the African National Congress and denounced terrorism and Communism.Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 04:36 PM
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 12
The current cease fire is holding. Except for one killing. So far.
A Hamas affiliated gunman was shot dead in Khan Younies on Tuesday afternoon. Hamas officials are holding gunmen from Fateh responsible for the shooting. It is the first fatality to be reported since the cease-fire came into effect at 3 A.M [local time -which is +2GMT - ed.] on Tuesday morning.Jeeze, what a surprise. The chain of command is unsound. They don't have orders. They have "suggestions".
Give the situation, in another day or two the battles will be raging again.
It looks like the person killed was a Hamas military leader.
Gunmen shot dead a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday and the Islamist group blamed a Fatah-dominated security service for the first killing in the territory since a ceasefire went into effect overnight.
It looks like the cease fire is holding. So far. In addition Fatah and Hamas have exchanged hostages.
Rival Palestinian factions have swapped hostages under a ceasefire deal that went into effect hours earlier, largely halting gun battles in which at least 30 Palestinians were killed.Shops are opening. Traffic is resuming. People are coming out of their homes after being shut in for 5 days. It is quite possible that this truce will hold. For a while. Which would make my prediction of a couple of days to rest and refit wrong.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 03:23 PM
You win, I'm Satan! End of argument.
Here's why I think a lot easier to opine on whether gay parades are Satanic than whether Krishna is Satanic. Because nearly everyone believes in (I mean in the sense of understands that there is) such a thing as a gay pride parade, and that there are gay people. Whether they are Satanic depends on two things:
1. Whether you believe in Satan; and
2. Whether gay parades share a sufficient number of his (or her; depending on the sex of angels) attributes that they can be considered Satanic.
This makes the analogy at least managable, as simple logic can be applied to at least one side of the comparison. One thing exists; the other thing might or might not. Where it gets problematic is the definition of Satanic, because the existence of Satan is not easily demonstrated, and beyond that, the attributes of Satan are by no means universally agreed upon. It has, for example, been argued that Satan is a medieval adaptation of Nature's God Pan (aka the "Horned God"). And of course if the horned god is nature and Satan, then Satan is Nature, and (like nearly all world leaders) we are all Satanic to a certain degree and so on. It's an emotionally charged mess, because of a lack of readily agreeable definitions.
But calling Krishna Satanic makes calling gays Satanic almost child's play. There's a definitional threshold on both sides of the equation. As someone who does not believe in Satan or Krishna, for me to even entertain the idea that Krishna is Satanic (or Satan is Krishnatic) requires a quantum leap in suspending disbelief. It is my opinion that both of these deities are made up. Yet I don't want to disrespect anyone's religious beliefs, so I tend to assume for the sake of argument that both exist. And I must bear in mind that what's fantasy for me is dogma for others. So, while I can entertain the comparison, it's on the level of "Is Santa like Bacchus?" Not satifisying for those who believe in
Oddly enough, those who claim Krishna is Satanic would seem to believe in both. Does that mean that to them, Krishna is not made up?
1. Both Satan and Krishna are made up;
2. Only Krishna is made up, but Satan exists;
3. Only Satan is made up, but Krishna exists;
4. Both Satan and Krishna exist.
How is a reasonable and logical person supposed to choose from the above possibilities? By tallying up the number of people who believe in one or the other, and go with the winner? By looking at the "date of manufacture" to determine which deity was referenced first in human writings? Some combination of both? Or by believing neither without tangible proof? (The problem with me is that while I do believe in God, I am extremely skeptical of human religious writings.)
These sorts of things make it tough to have reasonable discussions. Not that an unreasonable discussion isn't occasionally entertaining. In the early 90s I remember actually spending time in chat rooms! (Yes, true confession time!) Lest anyone think the chatting was all dirty, I remember one time I argued well into the early morning with someone whose screen name is long forgotten, but who wanted to discuss religious issues vis-a-vis homosexuality, which he maintained was sinful. I was feeling very patient, and I thought I had done a great job of making allowances for what seemed to be a substantial educational disparity between us, and suspending my disbelief as best I could. All I wanted this person of unknown age or sex to do was to engage in logical thinking, and after hours (during which he asked me to "please wait") he brought some new person into the chat room who claimed he was the first person's minister. I started over with that person, and the argument turned into demands to know who I was, where I was, and finally, an accusation that I was "Satanic" and had been trying to "trick" the first person. This struck me as grounded in frustration, as well as an unanswerable, ad hominem attack, and I just wanted to sleep. The worst part of this is that I wasn't trying to win an argument. I just wanted to know exactly what this person thought, and it seemed to me he wasn't thinking so much as he was being told what to think. I only wanted to know why he thought it, and that was ultimately deemed "Satanic."
I'll have to say, it ended an argument which could never have been won.
That's because Satan by definition can't win for losing.
Monday, January 29, 2007
An Incentive, Not A Deterrent
Bernard Lewis says that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) does not work with people who want to be destroyed.
Outdated Cold war concepts, such as mutually assured destruction (M.A.D) are irrelevant when it comes to Iran , because the Iranian president and his circle see such a scenario "as an incentive, not a deterrent," renowned scholar Bernard Lewis said during a lecture Monday evening at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.Let me note that the Jews who believe you can rush the Messiah are few in number and do not run any countries.
I do think that the Iranian people will have to change Iran. However, there are some Iranian people who think that a push from the USA might be helpful.
WASHINGTON - While United States Minister of Defense Robert Gates, along with many specialists on the matter, warn against a military attack on Iran, which in their view will entrap the Iranian people behind the Ayatollah regime, Iranian student leader Amir Abbas Fakhr-Avar believes an attack will have the reverse result.So he does expect at least street protests in opposition to an American bombing. He also thinks thtere is a better way.
He testified before the US Senate, met with President George W. Bush and senior administrators in the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as with experts and analysts on Iran, like Professor Bernard Lewis and others.Publication ability could mean nothing more than copiers. Or fast printers hooked to computers. At 30 pages a minute you can do 1,000 pages in about 35 minutes. Spread that around to 10 or 20 sites and you have a clandestine printing industry. Easily disguised as a business.
So what Amir see as his role in the USA?
Our main purpose and help we can give the administration is to help them to decide better. They don't know that society that well, they really don't know the regime or the people. We need to help them - we being the opposition outside Iran.Once burned twice shy they say.
Not the mobiles, not the cell phones. They don't have the technology to stop it, and there are too many. Right now they're busy controlling each other's mobiles - the mullahs, so that's why some of these guys are doing it freely. However, landlines, they do control. But mobiles there are problems.Say. Where have I heard that before? One must not underestimate the animal cunning, even in people with low IQ.
What we need to do then is flood Iran with cheap or free satellite connections. Uplink and down link. I think we have the technology for that.
Ahmadinejad is stupid. We've known him for the past 6-7 years from the political arena in Iran. When he was the mayor Tehran his plans were so stupid that people laughed at him. One of them was to pave the roadway that the 12th imam traveled on. He took all the intersections and removed the traffic signals so everyone can go where they want. A few months later they decided it was stupid and put them all back. It cost something like 2 billion dollars.I wonder who got the paving contracts?
Amir says there is a generation gap in Iran.
People in Iran react the opposite of what the regime says. If the regime says it's day, they'll close their eyes and say it's night. Whatever the Islamic regime fights against- that becomes important to the Iranians. I don't represent the entire population of course, but I can give you an idea of what are the sentiments. I was elected by the students and I speak for them. Remember, 70 percent are under age 30.Wow. Israel's fight with Hizballah has cheered the anti-government Iranians. That is a side effect from last summer's war I wasn't even aware of.
I hope the Iranian people get the tools they need. And, if necessary, the mullahs get a good hard shove to help them out the door.
I remember reading a few years ago an Iranian stating that if an American attack kept civilian casualties under 1,000 it would be worth it.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Now I'm not sure if magistration is a word. At least in the sense I intend to use it. So what do I mean by magistration? Getting a magistrate to swear out a warrant without any input from law enforcement. Basically a way to get a person jailed with out any evidence except a sworn statement.
Why is this of interest? It has just happened for the sixth time in the Guilford College case.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- A sixth Guilford College football player was charged Monday with assaulting a Palestinian student, court officials said.For those of you keeping a race score card, there are now three black and three white defendants. And as this latest report notes: so far there has been no police investigation. Despite the fact that the accuser's lawyer has said that the accusers would meet with police to discuss the matter.
Just a guess, but I think the accusers were jealous of the football guys. What was that old Rolling Stones' song? "I can't get no...."
H/T reader linearthinker
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 07:47 PM
First it was Bush fascism! Now it's a "fight for survival"!
The hilarious Chris Hedges (whose views I ridiculed as the "final countdown to Bush Fascism") just can't seem to get enough.
From Hedges' book (American Fascists):
This is the awful paradox of tolerance. There arise moments when those who would destroy the tolerance that makes an open society possible should no longer be tolerated. They must be held accountable by institutions that maintain the free exchange of ideas and liberty.Wait a second! The "radical Christian right" consists of a few loony tunes like the death-penalty-for-sodomy Michael Marcavage, the late R.J. Rushdoony, and maybe Fred Phelps. They're watched by tens of millions? Hedges must mean Pat Robertson (although to be fair I have never heard the latter advocate the death penalty for homosexuals). How would the Hedges anti-fascist fairness doctrine work in his case? Who gets to debate him Michelangelo SIgnorile? Or Hugo Chavez?
More from the Hedges book:
They must be denied the right to demonize whole segments of American society, saying they are manipulated by Satan and worthy only of conversion or eradication....Denied the right to demonize whole segments of society? But isn't that what Hedges is doing? I wrote a post about the Mayor of Moscow's silly statements that gay parades are "Satanic," and much as I disagreed with him, it would never occur to me that he shouldn't have been free to say that. As a matter of fact, I just concluded that in America anyone can say anyone is Satanic, and "calling people Satanists is as American as apple pie." That goes for Bush, Kerry, anyone! (They've been called worse things.)
So where does this leave me?
Who does Hedges think I shouldn't be allowed to call Satanic? Hedges?
Hedges, you are Satanic!
There. I said it. Do I get to go to jail? Or will he just force me to have a leftie co-blogger assigned to criticize what I say? (I guess he means the latter, although the insanity of this is a little mind-boggling.)
From Hedges' NPR radio interview, Volokh has some hilarious quotes. He gets to Rushdoony:
Mr. HEDGES: I think that, you know, in a democratic society, people don't have a right to preach the extermination of others, which has been a part of this movement of - certainly in terms of what should be done with homosexuals. You know, Rushdoony and others have talked about 18 moral crimes for which people should be executed, including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and all - in order for an open society to function, it must function with a mutual respect, with a respect...A fight for survival? Between homosexuals and R.J. Rushdoony? The man has been dead for six years now, and I think the number of his followers would be in the hundreds. Ditto the Klan. I can understand why a lot of people might be offended by what they say, and it's always tempting to want to shut up people like Fred Phelps, but a fight for survival? Who is Hedges kidding?
I'm inclined to agree with Clayton Cramer that it's Hedges who's the fascist. And, just as I agreed with the ACLU that the Nazis had the right to parade in Skokie, IL, I think Hedges has the right to perform his verbal goose steps on NPR.
Without having to allow Fred Phelps equal time.
I'm also hoping this is comedy.
(There's been a lot of it going around lately.)
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 11
22:43 Jan 29, '07The Ynet News has more details.
An explosion ripped through the Shati refugee camp near Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's house after nightfall Monday, witnesses said.All this fighting might explain why the Palestinians were offering the Israelis a ten year truce. The maximum allowed under some Muslim law doctrines. Without a truce to refocus on Israel the Palestinians have begun to focus their anger on each other. Which is one way to work it out.
Great news. A cease fire has been declared.
Warring Hamas and Fatah factions in Gaza declared a cease-fire early Tuesday, set to go into effect at 3 a.m. local time (0100 GMT,) Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas announced.I hope that works out as well as the previous cease fires.
A Palestinian blogger has called on Israel to bomb Palestine. Nope. This is not a joke.
Following the suicide bombing in Eilat Monday, Palestinian journalist Fadi Abu Sada offered his two cents on the attack and the infighting in Gaza through his blog on Palestinian News Network:Fadi goes on to say:
"No Palestinian faction, and no one seems to be now able to mediate between fighters, and stop the bloodshed, either Arabs and their calls on the parties to meet in the country, and it does not seem that anyone actually will respond to that, despite the welcome media practitioners.So there you have it. The only hope for Palestinian national unity is for the Israelis to maintain the occupation and to regularly attack the Palestinians.
However, I don't think the Israelis will oblige. They have been very restrained of late. What is amazing is that the Sharon Plan for the evacuation of Gaza foresaw all this (not in detail) several years ago. The man is lying in a coma and his plan is working. A true military genius.
That didn't take long. The truce was suppsed to go into effect at 0100 GMT Tuesday. It is now 0414 GMT and the civil war is back on. Note Israel time is GMT +2.
Fighting raged in Gaza Tuesday morning despite a cease-fire declaration by warring factions.It is a wonder they can get together without killing each other.
The latest news is that the cease fire appears to be holding for now. (times given are Israeliy time which is +2 from GMT)
Jan. 30, 2007 0:46 | Updated Jan. 30, 2007 9:52I give it two days to get started up again.
In Gaza City, gunfire and explosions were heard throughout the night, but the shooting stopped at about 5 a.m. (0300 GMT), several hours after the cease-fire deal was struckThat explains the earlier reports.
Here are links to the last few Civil war watches. Because you can't tell the players without a score card.
and a few other items of interest:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 06:08 PM
Get thee behind me, remanufactured Satan!
I don't know whether Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has been taking moral equivalency lessons from Dinish D'Souza, but his comments that gay parades are Satanic are attracting a lot of attention. Here's GayRussia's colorful version of the story (which uses the charming translation "Satanist happening"):
Mayor Luzhkov said today that he will not even allow this year's Pride march, scheduled for Sunday May 27.It occurs to me that these remarks are religious in nature, because Satan is a religious concept. This means that the denial of the parade would seem to be based on religious opinion.
I'm not quite sure about what the specific religious objection is, because unless the marchers are having sex in the streets, what they are doing by parading is advocacy of an opinion about their lifestyle. If the conduct the Mayor is preventing is speech, the question becomes: is Satanic speech prohibited in Russia? I realize Russia has no First Amendment, and I don't know to what extent it is governed by religious law, but even if it was, is there any religious prohibition on advocacy of a homosexual orientation or lifestyle? There is the Leviticus prohibition on certain conduct (lying "with a man as a woman"), but does that prohibition extend to advocating it?
If it is conceded for the sake of argument that homosexual conduct is "Satanic," where is that found? Is it in the Bible, or is it an interpretation? Does it declare only homosexual acts Satanic, or does it additionally declare their advocacy Satanic? If it is a religious argument, there has to be some citation to some text, otherwise it's just an ungrounded assertion of Satanism.
What else is Satanic? Apparently, the Russian Orthodox Church considers plenty of things Satanic, including Hinduism. In a letter to Mayor Luzhkov, the Archbishop of Moscow called the Hindu deity Krishna "satanic":
Respected Mr. Luzhkov - can you really allow the idolatrous disgrace to be erected for the glory of this wicked and malicious "god" Krishna? The construction of this Krishna "temple" is a blatant offense of our religious feelings, and an insult to the millennial religious culture of Russia, where the overwhelming majority of people, Orthodox Christians and Muslims, consider Krishna an evil demon, the personified power of hell opposing God. It is shown that even for Buddhists, Krishna is a negative figure, the head of black demons. Sikhs and Jains also consider him the most formidable demon.I don't know. I haven't had time to read the Russian Constitution, much less offer an opinion on whether Russia is a modern secular state. But if it is, it would seem that even admitted Satanists have a right to exist.
Here we have people who (like the Hindus) indignantlly deny that they are Satanists, and claim the term is being hurled against them as an insult. But from a religious standpoint, they would seem to have the same rights as Satanists. As homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia, so they can't be accused of advocating illegal conduct either.
I'd say the Mayor is on shaky secular ground, and I think he might be on shaky religious ground too. Interestingly, as a former Communist Party official, he would have had to have most likely been an atheist, and would probably have been involved in the manufacture (see infra) of new Soviet Communist morality. Now he seems to have switched to the remanufacture of old morality.
History shows that times change, and morality changes with time. But there's no certainty about either.
I should be thankful to live in a country with a First Amendment, where calling people Satanists is as American as apple pie.
posted by Eric at 03:46 PM
Let me state here at the beginning that I do not have it in for the Union Pacific, B&O, Southern Pacific or any of the myriad other rail transportation companiers in America. The kind of railroading I'm against is where police and prosectors home in on a suspect and won't let go despite evidence of innocence.
We have seen that in the Duke case where the charges against the 3 Duke lacrosse players is demonstratively false. The accuser's story has changed in very significant ways over time. None of them matching the evidence. The accuser couldn't identify any lacrosse players in the first two line ups. None of her early descriptions matched any of the boys she picked. And on. The case is a bust and yet DA Nifong couldn't quit. He needed the case to win a hotly contested primary election.
However, similar cases are reported all over America. What is unusual in this case is that the boy's parents were in a positioin to fight back. They have good lawyers who have investigated and destroyed the case before it even came to trial. So badly destroyed that the original DA in the case is now up before the bar on charges.
However, most such cases never get the spotlight or the resources this case did. Who gets buried by such tactics? Poor people. Many blacks, hispancics, and poor white trash. Which brings me to the Duke Chapel. Rev. William Barber spoke yesterday at Duke Chapel. A sermon. KC Johnson discusses what he heard.
I decided to watch the webcast of Barber's sermon to hear what he had to say. With copious references to Martin Luther King, Jr., Barber organized his talk around the "devastation of denial" when Pontius Pilate gave into the mob and denied clemency for Jesus.Then he goes on to discuss all the Rev.'s individual and collective denials. In other words the Rev. is trying to support a case that doesn't exist.
What he needs to do is turn his whole mind set around. Which is very hard. What Rev. Barber needs to focus on is bigotry free justice. I'm not just talking in a raicial or other similar context. I'm talking about situations where there is a rush to judgement, which in itself is a kind of bigotry. Bigotry is the art of avoiding evidence contrary to preconcieved notions. We know this happens from the numerous cases of people on death row exonerated after many years in prison. We also know the system is reluctant to re-examine the evidence when it is available. Which means that the system thinks it has a lot to hide.
What I think the Rev. should do is join the anti-railroading society. Because, if the prosecutors would pull this on white boys look at how much easier it would be to do to blacks. How do poor people come up with even a retainer for top lawyers?
Rev. Barber needs a serious attitude re-adjustment.
Well any way. We should help our brothers get back on track rather than pick fights with them. It would be the Christian thing to do. Funny thing is I'm Jewish.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
RINOs -- They're bad, and they're baaaaack!
The Carnival of the RINOs has been posted at Dan Melson's Searchlight Crusade.
I am delighted to see so many posts, especially after some post election slump.
Great posts, and a great job by Dan Melson!
posted by Eric at 11:06 AM
Picking nits over lousy principles?
Anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of thewest front steps of the United States Capitol building after police wereordered to break their security line by their leadership, two sources toldThe Hill.It might have been disgusting, but the USCP brass were probably still smarting from the bruisings they received after tussles with Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan.
The Hill continues:
Approximately 300 protesters were allowed to take the steps andbegan to spray paint "anarchist symbols" and phrase such as "Ourcapitol building" and "you can't stop us" around the area, thesource said.I think I know what's going on, and I think those who are outraged at the orders to allow the grafitti need to put themselves in the position of those who gave the orders.
I'm not saying I agree with them, but let me (a former Police Review Commissioner who has dealt with professional anarchists up close and personal) play Devil's Advocate.
This might appear to be a clear case of principle, but is it?
That depends on how we define "principle." Is it a matter of principle to wait in a longer line to save two cents a gallon on gasoline? Sometimes, when I weigh these things, I'll decide that saving twenty cents isn't worth my time, and I'll just fill up where there's no line.
An easy example, though, because paying more for gasoline is not a matter of principle.
However, I think a simple weighing process -- which disregarded matters of principle -- went on in the minds of the bureaucrats who gave the order to allow grafitti.
What costs more? Arresting the vandals? Or cleaning up after them?
The latter is far, far cheaper. (In the short run, and depending on your perspective, maybe even in the long run.)
I say this because of my experience with anarchists, and with civilian review of the police. Anarchists are not ordinary people, but true fanatics. Their operating maxim reminds me of an expression attributed to Golda Meir --
"We will show the world that killing Jews is an expensive enterprise."Arresting an anarchist is an expensive business. While the criminal justice system is set up to deal with ordinary criminals, these are not ordinary criminals. Nor are they innocent citizens wishing to have their names cleared. To arrest them requires the use of force, and any use of force will trigger an avalanche of complaints, as these people will use every available legal and illegal artifice to abuse the system at every turn, in the process making life as difficult as they can for the police, the jailers, the relevant review boards, and every bureaucrat and politician they can possibly connect to the arrest. If no force was used, it will be alleged that it was. If force was used, it will be alleged to have been excessive. All officers, clerks, hearing officials, judges, etc. are said to be "part of the system" and therefore evil.
In a previous post, I quoted from an anarchist who was honest enough to have provided an example of this mindset at work:
....we will battle the authorities with all means that can be used in an anarchist way.It's easy to condemn the police bureaucracy for "caving." I'd love to be in their position, because that way I'd get to try implementing a policy of refusing to cave!
Who knows? I might keep my job for a day.
In other cave news, Justin pointed me to this report that head lice are now being tolerated in the Oakland public schools:
Under new guidelines, Oakland children with lice or nits will be allowed to stay in class -- a policy that may be a first in the Bay Area.Some parents are unhappy at being forced to send their kids to lice-infested schools, but in this case, the principal refused to pick nits over principle.
A Stand Up Fight
I seem to be obsessed with war news these days. Kind of a morbid fascination. In any case, US forces in Iraq have some how managed to get a group of insurgents to stand up and fight. As usual under such circumstances the insurgents are taking a beating.
NAJAF, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi forces killed some 250 gunmen from an apocalyptic Muslim cult on Sunday in a battle involving U.S. tanks and aircraft near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, Iraqi police, army and political sources said.Given that the usual battles against insurgents only kill a few at a time, the death of 250 or more has to mark a turning point.
Normally guerillas do not stand and fight. As this fight shows it is not to their advantage. Worse, is to fight in the open. They must have been in a very bad position to get into a situation where all they could do is go down fighting.
It is possible that the troop surge is having an effect. Not necessisarily beneficial to the anti-government forces.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 09:11 AM
How to deal with yellow brick road rage
DAVENPORT, Iowa, Jan. 28 -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton called today for President Bush to "extricate our country" from Iraq by the time he leaves office in 2009, and she also said she knew enough about "evil and bad men" to protect the country from its enemies.(BTW, if that sounds snarky, remember, it's the NYT, and not WND.)
Not that there's anything wrong with protecting us from evil and bad men. (Or for that matter, evil and bad women.)
I don't want to sound skeptical, but at this point, it's all just talking the talk. (Like asking "Are you a good evil man, or a bad evil man?")
Back in 1939, Billie Burke really knew how to walk the walk!
And if the questioning got tough, she knew how to disappear.
Not in a puff, but in a bubble!
And it never burst.
Every day, hundreds of young women with little babies to feed work up the courage to divorce the rat they married. Hillary should dump him already.. I think this may be a Catch-22, for reasons I touched on earlier. But for Bill (who would have been reelected overwhelmingly had the Constitution allowed it), Hillary wouldn't be a candidate. Thus, the idea that "a vote for Hill is a vote for Bill" is an inextricable part of what fuels her candidacy.
If she dumps Bill, she might be happier, but she bursts her own bubble. I don't think she can be elected without him.
Of course, bubbles do cause gas.
(Hence the Maalox moment.)
posted by Eric at 08:09 AM
Gaza Plunged Into Darkness
You knew that already, didn't you? Well a little extra darkness has been added.
10:21 Jan 29, '07I guess the killings will continue until the mediator properly mediates. After that they will resume.
This is no longer just about business. It is about family. It could get really vicious. In fact it has already.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sunday, January 28, 2007
At least Kerry is consistent!
"Kerry is exactly what the U.S. needs right now."(The Tehran Times' links to that and other pro-Kerry articles are not working, but they once were.)
This is not to suggest that Bush is perfect. Far from it. I'm often disappointed in him, and many times I've looked back and asked whether things might have been different had Kerry won.
Kerry might be known as a flip-flopper, but he's remarkably consistent on Iran.
Right now, it's looking like this Cox and Forkum cartoon was a full three years ahead of its time:
I don't know whether to call this "Kerry nostalgia," as I tend to think of nostalgia as something pleasant.
Perhaps its post-election nostalgiaphobia.
Or considering that we're in a state of perpetual state of election, maybe that would be pre-election nostalgiaphobia.
UPDATE: Thank you, Glenn Reynolds for linking this post. Welcome all!
Considering the way Democrats (like Carter and Kerry have been acting), no wonder Joe Lieberman is considering endorsing a Republican. (I think that whether the two major party bases like it or not, a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be unbeatable.)
War Is A Racket
Major-General Smedley D. Butler: Common Sense (November 1935) I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force---the Marine Corps. I have served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers, In short I was a racketeer for capitalism Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place to live for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.... I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded honors, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents."So what is a quote like that doing on an avowedly neo-con blog? Sit down swollow your drink. Get your hands off the computer.
I agree with the General.
Whoa. Say it isn't so. Nope. It is true. The purpose of the American military in 2007 and well beyond is to open trade possiblities and keep the trade routes open. If we don't do that job as I explained in Decline and Fall, the world and all its people will be worse off. In fact the outcome would lead to Desolation Row.
What people do not understand is that if war is done as a way to increase trade flows (Gen. S. Butler was right about that part - his Marines were sent to make opportunities for American companies or to protect assets the companies had already invested in) every one involved gets richer.
If it is purely a blood sucking operation (as the Soviets did to their "clients") every one gets poorer.
Now in general (and yes from time to time we have screwed the pooch badly) where do you think America stands?
What about people who think that if we stopped spending on the military the money could go to better uses.
However, those people needn't wait to get the Feds to move on it. They could start in their own communities by demanding the police force be disbanded. Think of all the money that could go to better uses.
Some one is going to be the world's policeman. Given the options I'd rather it was us. We are not so good. But there is lots worse out there.
Suggested by the discussion at Rose Colored Glasses
Cross Posted at Power and Control
WW IV Is On
The former head of Israeli Intelligence says that World War III has already started. I actually count it as WW IV since I think WW III was fought against the Soviet menace. However, that is a mere quibble. Let us listen to former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy in his own words.
A third World War is already underway between Islamic militancy and the West but most people do not realize it, the former head of Israel's intelligence service Mossad said in an interview published Saturday in Portugal.He goes on to say that it could be something like a dirty bomb. It doesn't have to be a Hiroshima.
I did take a look at what strangling trade routes means to civilization in:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 05:35 PM
Here is a Gaza resident's view of the Palestinian Civil War.
Independent legislator, Rawya Shawa, said she was not surprised that the situation had come to this.Once the politics begins dividing families, then you do have the true makings of a civil war; not just a Hatfield vs. McCoys family feud.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 03:21 PM
The sixth sick gay sheikh's sixth gay sick sheep's straight!
Much as I hate to dwell on things like the interplay between what we call "science" and what we call "morality," sometimes it seems that duty calls. Whether in this case it's a duty to science or a duty to morality, I do not know.
To back up, in a post last week, I complained about what I saw the manufacture of morality in the context of global warming. I thought I'd made my point, and amazing though it might be, I managed not to mention homosexuality. Not that I don't believe morality has been -- and continues to be -- manufactured in that context, but I just didn't think it was closely tied to global warming. Well, in a general sense, I suppose you could say that I commented on the irony of climate morality vis-a-vis sexual morality. I did conclude by saying this:
I've reached the point where I actually think that some moral evils are worse than other moral evils.Damn it, I hate it when people bring up the gay issue, as it's so emotionally charged that it often makes rational discussion uncomfortable. But a commenter brought it up, and he accused me of ignoring the manufacture of morality by gay activists -- something that apparently made it inconsistent for me to criticize manufactured global warming morality. I thought this was illogical, irrelevant, and even unfair as I distrust manufactured morality wherever it occurs, and I have often criticized gay activism for precisely this reason. But if we assume the commenter was right on the merits of his complaint about gay activism, why would the manufacture of a new "gay morality" defeat my complaint about the manufacture of global warming morality?
I'll take this a step further. Suppose I engage in a little Maoist "criticism/self criticism," and plead guilty to the manufacture of morality, here and now! Let's take a look at my last comment (written yesterday):
While I think the effort to "normalize" homosexuality certainly has been characterized by a process of manufactured morality, my concern is whether there is any rational reason to care about another person's sex life, and I don't think there is. This is my opinion, not an effort to manufacture morality. As to the "admissibility" of "further moral changes that [I] happen to favor" I think we're arguing apples and oranges here as I am not arguing for a new morality vis-a-vis homosexuality. Saying homosexuality is good or bad makes about as much sense to me as saying snakes are good or bad. While I would criticize not thinking logically about these things, I don't consider myself responsible for the way other people think or how they are influenced. Here, I criticized the manufacture of morality in the global warming context, but the fact that people use that technique in other contexts is simply irrelevant to my argument. I think you may be confusing my "not caring" with a moralistic desire for "normalization" -- and thus missing my point.I'm thinking that perhaps by not caring I am engaged in amorality. In logic, is not amorality a form of morality? If I don't think homosexuality is good or bad in itself, is that not a refusal to judge? And is not a refusal to judge something a form of judgment? If it is, then I stand convicted of being judgmental. If we assume this is true, then why would it preclude me from making further judgments? Isn't that a little like saying that no one who has ever exceeded the speed limit has a right to accuse another of speeding?
The problem for me is that morality is a feeling thing. You either feel it or you don't. I can get really outraged over terrorism, murder, robbery, rape, disloyalty, dishonesty -- but this business of worrying where someone sticks his dick, it really is a matter of indifference to me, and I cannot help it. Unless someone else's sexual conduct is directed towards me, I just don't have feelings about it. While I admit that the novelty of hearing about new and really kinky or particularly unusual behaviors triggers a certain intellectual curiosity, whether someone has homosexual or heterosexual impulses bores me. I hesitate to say "bored stiff," but if boredom is a moral response, I guess I am strangely moralistic, and if I admit truthfully to what I think, I could at least be said to be promoting (if not manufacturing), my form of bored morality.
(All I can say to that is "yawn.....")
Anyway, if I don't worry about human homosexuality, how can I be expected to worry about homosexuality in sheep?
Apparently, a new coalition of gay activists and animal rights activists think I should do just that, and (via Glenn Reynolds), Ann Althouse has a post about it. I'm going to quote the whole post because it's so good -- starting with a quote from a noted tennis player who seems to have become a dabbler in scientific morality:
"The more we play God or try to improve on Mother Nature, the more damage we are doing with all kinds of experiments that... turn into nightmares."But that's the whole problem. Some learnings shouldn't be learned, and some thoughts shouldn't be thunk!
Dr. Zeus couldn't have put it better.
We should not learn about anything about sexual behavior if that might be applied to human beings.
Ann Althouse concludes by asking a rather excellent question.
Shouldn't gay rights advocates care when they sound like the religious fundamentalists they usually deride?Um, the question has occurred to me.
As a matter of fact, I think it's one of the reasons I started this blog -- in May of 2002:
The Problem With Anti-Gay BigotsI can't believe I wrote that nearly five years ago (before I'd really started blogging in earnest), but there it is.
Manufactured morality, by gay activists! My commenter certainly had a point, and I think it's fair to acknowledge it.
(BTW, my opinion is that both sides have manufactured morality. Much of the argument involves whether moral beliefs which are said to be older are controlling, and while I have postulated that morality which is said to be in the classical tradition -- "values" -- if I must use that word again -- is older than morality said to be traditional, I realize that if morality is manufactured, the date of manufacture should not be controlling. There's a fine line between logic and satire, and I'm not always sure I know where it is!)
Anyway, gay activism is laden with schmaltzy, syrupy, morality. What a man does with his penis is thought by activists to be almost analogous to skin color -- and therefore of utmost importance. At least as important as it is to the moralists on the other side, and I have long believed that a dirty little secret is that this mutual moral antagonism is mutually symbiotic. While both sides would probably hate me for saying this, I think both sides need each other. And desperately.
Not being content with their preoccupation with making moral judgments about what humans do with their penises, they're now being judgmental about sheep!
Do these poor sheep have to be dragooned into a gay political morality pageant? It's one thing for them to be herded around, sheered, guarded, slaughtered, and it's another to care about whether their shepherds are gay or straight, but really!
Politicizing sheep genitalia?
Sorry, but that's carrying manufactured morality too far.
Why, it's not even morality; it's nonsense!
And if I have the right to object to manufactured morality, I think I have just as much right to object to nonsense -- even though I acknowledge that the mere discussion of nonsense can be construed as manufacturing more.
If I could offer a nonsensical conclusion by way of advice to the gay sheep it might be along the lines of "RAM EWE!"
But that might be construed as countancing heteronormative immorality!
(What? Should I have said "RAM BUTT"? There. Is that better?)
Social weather science class issues
Recently I've been reading that global warming causes suicide, as well as terrorism, which means it probably threatens to hurt an emerging identity-politics-group of people called "the homeless." I don't know whether there's a bureaucratic plan in place to deal with the unique threat that "global warming" poses to them, but the right now, the biggest climate threat this group is facing seems to be cold weather. While it doesn't yet seem to have triggered an outbreak of homeless suicide bombers, the government in New York has decided that it's so cold that something must be done, so it has given police authority to help them by force:
Arctic Blast Sends Temperatures Into Danger ZoneWhy? Because it's dangerous to be out in the cold? Should it be a crime to refuse to come in out of the cold? Lots of things are dangerous, and if we are to give police the authority to take people in out of the cold, why stop there? What I'm trying to get at is: under what social theory is this being done?
I don't mean to be frivolous, but I suspect that the people who gave the police this authority were motivated by some kind of concern grounded in what many people would call morality, and I think it might be worth examining it in a little more detail. Whether from a libertarian standpoint, a "moral conservative" standpoint, a "compassionate conservative" standpoint, or even a "moral liberal" standpoint isn't the point really. I'll leave it to others to worry about the labels. I just want to know why it is that demented psychotics are allowed to run around clutching stuffed monkeys and yelling at their hallucinations in various states of, um, "mind" and nothing is done about it until they hurt other people in ways that simply cannot be ignored.
But in addition to the commission of heinous crimes, we are now to add the refusal to come in out of the cold as a reason for removal from the street?
It's tough being logical about these things, but let me try. Apparently, it's OK for people like the mental patient who sawed open the subway passenger's chest to have been running around hallucinating and hassling people for money in cool weather, warm weather, and I assume hot weather (maybe I shouldn't assume that), to block entrances to stores despite the high taxes and rents charged the store owners, to stink up public places, to not take medication which might cause his hallucinations to stop, to refuse treatment for out-of-control substance problems, but once it gets too cold, something has to be done.
If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that the psychos on the street weren't the only psychos running around.
But I do know better. It's not crazy if the goal is maintenance of bureaucratic power. Leaving decrepit and psychotic people in place and calling them "homeless" (as if they're victims of corporate downsizing or a failure to tax the rich) is a good way to build and maintain a power base. Endless problems require endless solutions that endlessly solve nothing but create endless bureaucratic jobs. (For people with degrees! In social, um, "science"!) Endless committee meetings. Endless "special commissions on homelessness."
But there's a bright side in this spot of cold weather -at least from a bureaucratic standpoint:
"In some ways, [the cold] was fitting," said Madeleine Shea, acting director of Baltimore Homeless Services, which provides funding to nonprofit groups that serve homeless people. "It's good to be reminded of the conditions in which homeless people live."Cost of housing?
While I'm not entirely convinced that's what your average hallucinating derelict is thinking about (what, I should ask the guy with the saw and the monkey?), let's assume she's right.
If the cost of housing is the problem, then the government should build special housing for the hallucinating classes who can't take care of themselves.
Not only am I all for it, I'm old enough to remember it!
Gee, I hate to think about the political implications of being in favor of free housing for the mentally ill. It might mean I'm not a liberal, not a conservative, or not a libertarian.
(Thoughts like that can trigger depression. Seriously, it can be depressing not to have an identity group.)
posted by Eric at 09:19 AM
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 10
No slack Saturday. The bodies pile up.
Deadly battles between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have continued in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least five more dead.This is down a bit from Friday when 13 died. Friday sermons at the mosque seem to be very inflamatory on most Fridays.
The IHT has an even larger body count.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: Gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah movements battled in Gaza City for a third straight day, firing mortars and grenades in clashes that killed seven people in the increasingly bloody power struggle over the Palestinian government.Opinions in Gaza show that the situation is bleak and getting bleaker.
A poll conducted amongst Gaza Arabs last month shows that over fifty percent believe that the current violence marks the beginning of a civil war. Sixty-six percent said that they are pessimistic about the situation, and eighty-seven percent said that they feel unsafe. The poll was conducted by an-Najah university in Shechem, with five hundred Gaza Arabs participating, along with eight hundred and sixty Arabs from Judea and the Shomron.Update: 28 Jan '07 0802z
Fighting rages on.
GAZA CITY (AP) -- Gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah movements battled each other in Gaza Sunday, continuing an increasingly bloody power struggle over the Palestinian government that left the coastal strip littered with dead over the weekend, while civilians cowered in their homes.The longer this goes on the harder it will be to stop. Fortunately.
It looks like some one has it in for Palestinian President Abbas.
Ronny Shaked Published: 01.28.07, 08:46You know it looks like some one is not negotiating in good faith. That is a surprise. Normally the Palestinians are such honorable men.
The UN has the proper line.
The UN's Middle East envoy Alvaro de Soto called on all the factions "to cease clashes and comply with international humanitarian law by refraining from acts which endanger civilians".Everything the Palestinians do, from suicide bombs, to rockets shot into Israel, to using human shields is predicated on endangering and harming civilians. Why should they stop now?
Update: 28 Jan '07 1803z
Calm has been restored to Gaza.
A relative halt to the inter-factional bloodshed in Gaza was brought about through mediation by an Egyptian security delegation between various Palestinian groups. However, kidnappings continue in the West Bank and the tense ceasefire appears close to a breakdown.Violence resumes.
GAZA, Jan 28 (KUNA) -- Unknown gunmen shot dead on Sunday a Palestinian Hamas activist in the city of Khan Yonis south of Gaza.Cross Posted at Power and Control
Who you gonna call?
Mountain lions are predators whose only natural enemy has traditionally been man.
Or in this case, woman:
Jim and Nell Hamm, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month, were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park when the lion pounced.He'll live, thanks to this ballsy woman.
Meanwhile, in California (where police are vilified for killing mountain lions that threaten children), another mountain lion has been spotted.
In beautiful Beverly Hills, no less!
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Police searching for a mountain lion in Beverly Hills came up empty-handed Saturday, authorities said.Who could blame them? If they found the mountain lion and shot it, the activists would be outraged, and complaints would be lodged against the police.
I say, if people can't rely on the cops to shoot mountain lions in Beverly Hills, there's only one solution.
Bring back the Clampetts!
The Right Loses Faith
It is interesting to read the hard right's take on the justice system based on the Duke case.
When folks from Free Republic lose faith in the justice system, we are in serious trouble.
Here is a typical comment:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
past and future demolition
People who complain about being controlled by the past might get a chuckle reading about the extent to which modern Rome is still controlled by ancient Rome:
In Rome, modern progress is often slowed down by the past.Geez. It reminds me of the way civil libertarian crackpots and assorted "constitutional preservationists" (myself included) go berserk every time the federal government tries to violate the Bill of Rights. What gives the past the right to control the present?
One exasperated Roman bureaucrat complains that it's like a parody:
"It's like a parody," complains Enrico Testa, the chairman of Roma Metropolitane SpA, the city-owned company that operates Rome's subway. "There are treasures that are underground that would stay buried forever if we didn't have to dig. But as soon as we uncover them, our work gets blocked."While my analogy to the Constitution is meant as humor, I do tend towards Originalism, because I think that there's no way not to be directed by the past, at least to a certain extent. How else could we know that things we take for granted, like ownership of property or the right to free speech, are legitimate?
Totalitarians, of course, care very little about the past.
Breaking ground in Rome wasn't always so difficult. When the city started building its first metro in the 1930s, dictator Benito Mussolini refused to let history impede his master plan to create a modern Roman empire. Work didn't pause even when diggers clipped off a corner of the foundation of the Colosseum. The plans were crude: Engineers cut a canal alongside the ruins of the Roman Forum. Truckloads of dirt containing many ancient artifacts were carted off and dumped.Gee. Sounds like Ceaucescu (who demolished 15,000 historic buildings to make Bucharest resemble a Stalinist version of Paris) No doubt Mussolini would have had the same regard for the Bill of Rights had he been elected and reelected president of the United States. (Even the benign FDR had serious, um, issues.)
Those who would level the past worry me. Of course, at the other extreme are those who would prevent the future by preventing growth. Whether in the name of stopping "global warming" or "urban sprawl," they invoke "the environment" in the same way that archaeologists invoke terms like "cultural heritage." If an apparently vacant lot has priceless architectural ruins underneath it, I'm all for preserving its cultural and educational value, as long as the owner is compensated. But if it's just because activists think it should always be "green," and they want it to remain that way without compensating the owner, that's not letting the past control the future; that's strangling the future, and disrespecting the past by ignoring settled constitutional principles and the law of property ownership. Arguing that "nature" was here first and that we should therefore be controlled by "nature" is like saying that the lack of electricity and plumbing were here first, and that therefore we should all live in a state of nature like Ted Kaczynski. Saying "no culture" should control culture is primitivism, and its advocates (condemned repeatedly infra) want anti-civilization to replace civilization.
Preserving and respecting the past is civilization. Blocking the future is uncivilized, and has a lot in common with demolishing the past.
It may sound like a paradox, but I think it's common sense.
posted by Eric at 09:50 AM
Friday, January 26, 2007
Reparations for you and me too?
There's a very peculiar full-page ad in this week's Philadelphia City Paper for a group called the International Coalition for British Reparations (and its web site, BritishReparations.com), which is demanding 31 trillion pounds in reparations for -- well, for literally billions of people worldwide, and almost everyone in the United States.
Here's what it looks like:
Initially, I thought (as did a Cold Fury commenter) that the ad might be satire, for the site blames the British for, among many other things, Stalin's Gulags (prison camps were a British invention, natch), World Wars One and Two, all the Iraq Wars, the list goes on and on. But I think the Cold Fury commenter may have been wrong when he called Grasse a con artist:
Here is what I found interesting: Under the header of "Who is behind the International Coalition for British Reparations (ICBR)?" it says:While it is true that the web site describes Grasse as the founder of a successful marketing company, I don't think it's a con. If Grasse is who I think he is, he might not be a con artist at all. (At least not in the ordinary sense of the word.)The ICBR was founded by Steve A. Grasse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Grasse is a lay historian and founder of a successful multinational marketing companyAllow me to translate:
From the Amazon cache:
Editorial ReviewsFor whatever reason, the "about the author" part seems to have been sanitized.
The new Amazon listing for the book says nothing about Grasse being the CEO of Gyro Worldwide, and I am not sure why. Considering that Gyro is a huge advertising outfit which has worked with the Philadelphia Inquirer with Phillycars.com (lots of big money involved there, folks), you'd think it would help sell the book to let the readers know what a hot shot the author is, and how long he's been a hot shot.
Here's what the "About the Author" section says now:
About the AuthorWhen things disappear, I get suspicious.
And right now, while I don't know exactly what is going on, I am very suspicious.
Is it possible that someone is pretending to be Steven Grasse, or that there's more than one?
According to local Philadelphia blog Phawker, Grasse directed a film called "Bikini Bandits" and sure enough, IMDB lists a "Steve Grasse" as the director of that film. And both City Paper and Wikipedia confirm that the director Steven Grasse is the founder of Gyro Worldwide.
The ICBR is a new grassroots organization formed by Steven Grasse, a cultural studies analyst and media communications expert. His ancestors fought in the American Revolution and Civil Wars. He is a distant relative of three presidents--Franklin Pierce, George Bush, and George W. Bush. He is the author of a forthcoming work on the history of British civilization and its role in world affairs, to be published in April 2007.What other "acts of injustice"? Considering that the British are responsible for Stalin's gulags, I'm sure that anything the United States does will qualify, as we descend from a particularly vicious and evil colony the British colonialists started.
It would be easy to dismiss this nonsense if it didn't appear to be the product of an important person.
If this is a gigantic hoax, or if Steven Grasse is not the Gyro founder/movie director, I hope someone will let me know.
My information comes only from what I found at the above sites.
I enjoy jokes, and even an occasional hoax. But if it turns out this is serious, and if it turns out a well-connected Philadelphia advertising executive is behind it, would it still be funny?
Well, maybe to me.
(But then, I think Ward Churchill and Michael Moore are funny....)
(Sorry, Glenn! I meant "scary racist symbol." My bad.)
MORE: The same full page ad appears in this week's Philadelphia Weekly.
British Reparations may be a lunatic fringe idea, but somebody's putting a lot of money into it.
UPDATE (01/27/07): Metro Philadelphia asserted that the British Reparations movement is in fact run by the same Steven Grasse of Gyro:
CENTER CITY.?Blame the bloody English.The piece (by brian x. mccrone) is dated January 23, 2007. Why it didn't come up on Google yesterday, I don't know. And why doesn't it come up on Google News?
Something isn't right.
MORE: If Gyro is trying to hide its connections with British Reparations, they aren't doing a good job. Using a standard domain lookup, I discovered that the contact information for BritishReparations.com points to "Carrie Carnegie" at Gyro:
Registrant:And "Carrie Carnegie" is also listed as the contact for Gyroworldwide.com:
Registrant:I'm tempted to say "case closed."
If Mr. Grasse is joking, I'm waiting to hear all about the prank.
UPDATE: My thanks to Pajamas Media for linking this post!
At this point, I think it's obvious who's behind it.
What I'd like to know is why. Is it a joke, or is it serious?
And why the lack of local coverage?
MORE: I hate it when things don't make sense.
If the idea here is for a big, MSM-connnected ad agency to create a brand-new political meme, wouldn't media coverage be the whole idea? After all, it's not as if this involves some piddly rent-a-demonstrator service.
Come on guys! If this is a media-manufactured meme, where's the media?
Guilford Is A Street In Rockford
It is also a Quaker founded college in Greensboro, N.C.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) -- Three college students were assaulted on the campus of Guilford College early Saturday morning, according to court documents and the school's Web site.Naturally they have the boy's pictures featured at the top of the front page of the story.
Today two more boys were arrested in the case.
From today's News & RecordInteresting. Police didn't prefer charges.
Here is a press release from the police thinly disgiused as a newspaper report:
The Greensboro Police Department today issued an updated statement regarding the Guilford College case:You know the police appear a bit sceptical on this one.
Here is a statement from the family of of a football player.
Isn't that interesting. It appears that the Palestinians may have attacked and then blamed their victims for responding. Where have I heard that story before?
gcstudentathlete, Jan 24, 2007 11:30 PMIt will be interesting to see if the police get to the bottom of this. So far the accusers don't seem to be very interested in coming forward.
I wonder if the football guys have good lawyers?
This page has a picture of Michael Six's injury alleged to have come from the fight.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Enabling the flatulence of flat-screen swine
As I remarked in a previous post, I loved the new Barajas airport in Madrid. So much, in fact, that I had my picture taken there:
I was, of course, very upset when I read it had been bombed by Basque terrorists. That's because not only do I hate it when terrorists kill people, I also hate it when they destroy beautiful things. I think such terrorist acts are patently immoral.
Yet I must always remember that for other people, even beautiful things like the Barajas Airport are patently immoral.
I kid you not.
This morning Justin told me about this essay by a man who saw the same beautiful new airport, but had a very different reaction. Massive, self-consuming, guilt:
One minute I was admiring Richard Rogers' gorgeous roof, and the play of light upon curves.Get that, folks? Air conditioning is evil! Being comfortable is evil.
And of course the United States is the most evil place of all:
Eight per cent of the world's total electricity supply is used to cool buildings in the United States.You think air conditioning is evil? Did you know that many of you -- my readers -- are so greedy that you are reading these very words on a flat screen monitor?
And did you know that by staring into that flat screen monitor, you are ruining the world? I thought not. But it's the truth.
And therefore, shame on you!
Then there was the light! There was a bank of large plasma screens. On the screens, ads were playing - but all I could think about was their greed for electricity.This goes on and on, and while it's easy to dismiss the man as a fanatic, I think that he's a proponent (for all I know he's a victim too....) of an emergent, recently manufactured morality I complained of in an earlier post.
I hate to belabor a point I think is all too obvious, but I thought my readers of the flat-screened persuasion ought to know.
You people are evil, energy-swilling swine!
You are destroying the planet!
And by writing blog posts, I am little more than an enabler.
Isn't it obvious that from a collective standpoint, we're worse than the terrorists?
UPDATE: A scientist I am not. But as a firm believer in scientific morality, I thought it might be worth taking a close look at this screen shot from today's Drudge Report:
Isn't it a little irresponsible of Drudge to show a man freezing his butt off in front of a flat screen monitor?
Because, not only are flat screen monitors ruining the planet, but the image itself -- why, I can't imagine a more blatant depiction of immoral warmth, of hotness, even! The most sinister aspect of this depiction is its cleverly seductive, inherently self-advocating nature. (People who don't know any better might be tricked into imagining that evil is good.) It's a sickening example of what I can only call triple immorality!
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 9
It has been about 20 days since the last Palestinian Civil War Watch. And the Palestinians are at it again:
By Nidal al-MughrabiAh yes, the fabled, mythical, imaginairy, national unity government. Just a little more talking will close the deal and return Gaza to the Paradise it once was.
"The entire dialogue could explode," Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa said, blaming Hamas for the tension. "How can dialogue go on when there is a bomb underneath the table?"I guess he wasn't kidding about bombs under the table. Literally.
Further updates as the civil war war progresses.
Update: 26 Jan '07 2258z
Busy day in "Palestine".
Hamas gunmen stormed the home of a militant from the rival Fatah movement late Friday, witnesses said, sparking a deadly gun battle and capping a day of factional violence that killed at least 12 people, including a two-year-old boy, across the Gaza Strip.Hamas is celebrating one year in office:
GAZA: Rival Palestinian factions clashed across the Gaza Strip, killing six people, as thousands of Hamas supporters marched on Friday to mark the Islamist group's election victory over Fatah opponents last year.I wonder if their celebrations always include hunan sacrifice?
Both Fatah and Hamas officials said late Friday that unity talks would be suspended until the fighting ends. Both sides blamed each other for the breakdown.Boy. That really breaks my heart. They were so close to an agreement. Just a little more effort would have done it. And, now this. Pity really.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
My inner hypocritical desires -- exposed at last!
You know, for all my criticism of government bureaucrats, reading a story like this makes me want to be one:
[Recently resigned Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Jonathan H. Newman] often stayed in style, at times booking $500-a-night New York City hotel rooms, an Inquirer analysis of documents obtained through the state's Right to Know law shows.More discretion? That's carrying a crackdown too far! If the taxpayers sent me to the Napa Valley, the Bordeaux region and Rome to hobnob with international wine merchants, why should I have to be discreet?
This story highlights a contradiction inherent in the state control of alcohol distribution. If you're going to be sent on a wine-buying trip to places which are vacation spots for the rich and famous, wining and dining kind of go with the turf -- even if you're a bureaucrat.
The irony, of course, is that a private liquor dealer would probably do a better job of wining and dining the French, the Italians, and even the Californians -- precisely because of the lack of oversight that's present here. "Accountability" would be based not on bureaucratic oversight -- but on whether he turned a profit.
In California, wines are sold in the supermarkets' wine sections, and they are cheaper and have a better selection than the Pennsylvania state stores. The customers neither know nor care how much money the stores' wine buyers or distributors might spend on hotels. What's an "entertainment writeoff" for a private business is a career-ending "scandal" for a bureaucrat.
Putting bureaucrats in the liquor business is a good way to make "bureaucracy" seem synonymous with hypocrisy.
I really should be more outraged here. Instead, I find myself wanting to be a bureaucrat.
Now that's real hypocrisy!
Bush is starting to make his case for a strike on Iran.
Fri Jan 26, 12:46 AM ETI discussed in An Act Of War how the USA was starting to provoke Iran. Little insults like the taking of an Iranian Embassy in Iraq and six people from that embassy. Cutting off bank transfers with Iran. That one really hurts. I think they are going to be poked until they do something rash or lose face. Of course Iran is using Hizballah in Lebanon to show they can make trouble too.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 04:19 AM
Iran Answers American Moves
BEIRUT, LEBANON - Lebanon's army imposed a curfew on the capital Thursday after hundreds of government supporters and foes wielded rocks, Molotov cocktails and sometimes guns in street battles that dragged past nightfall.America appeals for calm.
WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - The United States appealed on Thursday for calm in Lebanon and reiterated concern that "irresponsible" forces were working to topple the government of embattled Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.You know that sounds like a "talk softly carry a big stick" threat to Iran. I wonder if they are listening?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 01:40 AM
Thursday, January 25, 2007
NEWS UPDATE? Castro still alive?
Yes, that's what's being reported at Euro News, apparently because Castro's enemies have been spreading evil rumors about his demise:
Castro shows doubters he is alive and wellThe problem with the above "story" is that while it's dated today, it's a recycled version of the same quote dated October 30 of last year.
I'm a bit suspicious.
Meanwhile the International Herald Tribune (in a story titled "post-Castro transition has already occurred") reports that the Cuban government is already in the "post Castro" stages.
I'm not entirely convinced the man is alive, and Dennis thinks he's dead but they just don't want to admit it.
Not that this has stopped Hugo Chavez from claiming he's ready to use a jump rope, or whatever "almost jogging" means. I have a feeling if he was really almost jogging, some new pictures would be released.
These news reports that he's "still alive!" are starting to remind me of Idi Amin.
I guess we've entered the ex post Castro era.
Anyway, here's what he looked like in October:
And here he is in happier times:
What's with the finger? Some "in" joke? (Don't expect me to provide the caption, as it's not very nice.)
Staying with the ex post Castro theme, we can go back even further in time -- to a fascinating interaction between "boy Castro" and another U.S. President -- Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Castro was 14 years old, he wrote to him and asked for ten dollars*:
"If you like, give me a ten dollars bill green american . . . because never I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them. . . . Thank you very much. Good by. Your friend. Fidel Castro."
The entire letter (from the National Archives) can be seen here.
What fascinates me about it is that many web sites report that little Fidel was twelve years old at the time. But that's only because they take him at his word; Castro dated the letter November 6, 1940, and in the letter he states unequivocally that he is twelve!
Here it is, in his own handwriting:
Unless Wikipedia is wrong and the BBC is right, I'd say the lie is there, for the world to see.
But why would the teenage Castro lie about his age to FDR? For financial gain, perhaps?
And if he was lying then, how do we know he isn't lying now?
Terrible as it is to make such an accusation against a world leader, I think that even if Castro were dead, he would continue to lie.
Has anyone other than Hugo Chavez verified his latest claim?
* Ten dollars would be $143.69 in today's money.
Iraq Comes To Gaza
Evidently the Palestinians have learned a great lesson from the Civil War in Iraq. Road side bombs work.
GAZA, Jan 25 (Reuters) - A roadside bomb killed a member of a Hamas-led security force in the Gaza Strip on Thursday and wounded five others, a Hamas police spokesman said.I wonder how this will help the moves towards a national unity government? I guess some one is trying to veto the plan.
Update: 26 Jan '07 0614z
Hamas is fighting back.
Hamas gunmen shot dead a member of the Fatah faction's militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade in the northern Gaza Strip early Friday, a Fatah spokesman said.I guess his answer (a hail of lead) was unacceptable.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 05:44 PM
free isn't always free
More on the right of free association, which (as I pointed out yesterday) seems to be a court-ordered emanation from the penumbra of the First Amendment right of the people to peaceably assemble.
The comments intrigue me, and I realize that this issue is far from settled.
Just what is freedom of association and how far does it go?
The right to freedom of association is a right I believe in, especially where it comes down to the individual level. Thus, I think I have as much right as the Boy Scouts to form any sort of association I want, and keep anyone out of it I want. When I go out into the public streets, I have a right to assemble with whomever I want to assemble. Whether -- and to what extent -- that right to assemble includes a right to keep others from assembling in my assembly, that confuses me. Because, don't they have a right to assemble wherever they want, and associate with whomever they want as long as they do so in a peaceful manner?
Is there a right of home-schooled children to compete in public spelling bees? There's a story in today's Inquirer dealing with just that, and the answer is unclear. Pennsylvania state law requires that home-schooled children be allowed to attend public school events and activities, but the school here maintains that the spelling bee is part of its "language arts" curriculum.
The law says that home-schoolers must be allowed to participate in public-school athletics or in any other activities outlined in Section 511 of the Pennsylvania School Code, a definition that includes "exercises, athletics, or games of any kind, school publications, debating, forensic, dramatic, musical, and other activities related to the school program."What seems to be going on behind the scenes is that this particular girl won the spelling bee last year and they're afraid she'll win this year, thus hurting the self esteem of the public school bureaucrats who hide behind the passive aggressive claim that it's the children's self esteem that's being hurt.
Senate majority leader Pileggi, whose district the Reynolds family lives in, said that while he could not comment on the specifics of Meghan's situation, "clearly, spelling bees are the type of activity that home-schoolers were to be allowed participation in. That was the intent of the law."It's not surprising at all, and while this case is governed by the interpretation of a specific law, suppose that there was no law, but suppose this was part of a national "public" spelling bee which decided to bar home-schooled kids. Whose First Amendment rights to assemble would be implicated? The kids who were kept out? Or the contest organizers' right to keep them out?
What I am asking is who has the right to assemble, to associate, and with whom? And, assuming that a given individual or group has a right to attend or leave a particular assembly, along with a right to keep others out, at what point should the state be allowed to enforce this right?
Let's turn to another example. Local anti-gay activist Michael Marcavage (the subject of a number of posts in this blog) has just lost a court battle against the Philadelphia Police Department which excluded him from participating in a gay rights event. The court's legal reasoning was that there is no "right to drown out" the speech of other people at their own, properly licensed event:
U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel on Thursday granted a summary judgment for the city and the event organizers, Philly Pride Presents Inc.The anti-gay activists are appealing. (I'd call them "Christian activists" except that it sounds a bit condescending and presumptuous, and implies that Marcavage speaks for all of Christendom. Those who use the word "Christian" to describe nuts like Marcavage tend to be the activists on the two opposite "sides" and the word is becoming so charged this way that I worry its meaning is being altered. And by "appealing" I mean appealing their case, OK?)
Very distracting even to write, It's getting harder and harder to use ordinary words.
Where was I?
Marcavage. He claims that he has a right to assemble where others have already assembled, in order to yell his message at them. Does he? How far does freedom of association go before it becomes freedom of disassociation? U.S. District Judge Stengel's decision is here in pdf format; it relies on the "time place and manner" doctrine.
I remember attending a pro-Israel demonstration in Berkeley, which was greeted by angry Islamic counter-demonstrators. The latter were waving the PLO flag and attempting to drown out the pro-Israel demonstrators with bullhorns. The BPD was enforcing a rule of separation which required the counter-demonstrators to be on the opposite side of a busy major street, where they could still be heard, but where they were incapable of exercising whatever "right" they had to drown out the pro-Israel demonstrators. There was a lot of emotion present, violent rhetoric was flying, and while I was appalled by the Muslims and on the side of the Israel supporters, I remember feeling sorry for the Berkeley police. Had violence erupted, the cops would have been blamed.
No doubt the Philadelphia police were faced with a similar situation in the case of Marcavage (whose views that homosexuals should be executed have been widely reported in the local gay press). I wish I had easy answers, but they're not staring me in the face.
Ditto the Ku Klux Klan. Every time they want to demonstrate, it requires more police than Klansmen just to keep a semblance of order, and preserve public safety. I shudder to think what would happen if the Klan decided to hold a rally in Philadelphia. But what about the right of the people to peaceably assemble?
And what about "freedom of association" as a subset within the penumbra of the right to peaceably "assemble"? Are they necessarily synonymous? Most of the arguments I hear about freedom of association involve not the affirmative right to associate, but the right to exclusivity in association, to disassociation if you will. Surely, the right to associate includes a right not to associate. In cases where there's a group of people who have assembled in agreement with each other, that's fine. But who has the right to kick out whom? The bare majority of the group that has assembled? Well, what is the group? In the case of a Klan rally, the counter-demonstrators always outnumber the Klan, so why doesn't that give them the "right" to just say no to the Klan? The Klan is easy, but what about a town that decided not to allow Republicans (or gay activists) to assemble? Whose "assembly" is it?
If Marcavage can attend a gay pride festival and yell at them, shouldn't I be allowed to attend the local Saudi Madrassa and yell in their mosque?
Of course, this just an exercise in court-ordered line drawing, so there's really no need for me to be confused. All I need to do is wait for the court decisions to come down, and just say "That's the law!"
I mean, isn't that where freedom of association comes from?
Back to educational issues. I have to say, I have a bit of a problem when that freedom-of-association entity we call the "assembly" is a huge enterprise created and funded with tax dollars decides to exclude some of the very people whose tax dollars made its existence possible. In a historic showdown on June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace (backed up by state troopers) physically barred black students from entering the University of Alabama.
Wallace eventually stepped aside in obedience to the superior force posed by federal authorities (in the form of the combined forces of the Attorney General's office and the National Guard).
Who had the right to attend college in the name of freedom of association derived from the right to assemble? All the taxpayers? Or just some of them?
Isn't there also a thing called the 14th Amendment? Isn't that constitutional? Or can amendments to the Constitution be unconstitutional?
There's an argument that the Constitution can become undeclarational, but the idea's champions seem more enchanted with the "laws of nature" part than with the "pursuit of happiness" part.
I hate the tyranny of the majority almost as much as I hate the tyranny of the minority, so I'll probably never figure out just how "free" this freedom of association deal really is.
The year that dare not speak its name?
In China, it's the Year Of The P-P-P-Pig!
Not in China. According to this detailed WSJ report, the Chinese government is systematically censoring all mentions of pig and pig images -- putting Western advertisers in a mad editing scramble:
SHANGHAI -- Next month, China will ring in the Year of the Pig. Nestlé SA planned to celebrate with TV ads featuring a smiling cartoon pig. "Happy new pig year," the ads said.Coca-Cola is pulling its pig ads too.
What amazes me about this is it isn't even mandated by the Koran, which forbids Muslims to eat pork.
Islamic leaders are usually quick to denounce any and all misinterpretations and mischaracterizations of Islam and the Koran. So why aren't they speaking up?
Until they denounce the war on pig images, I'll have to assume Allah doesn't just hate pork, he hates Porky himself!
Not to b-b-butt in, but shouldn't the rule be "hate the pork but love the pig"?
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post! Welcome all!
And Happy New Year -- including all you pig lovers out there!
Comments are always appreciated, and feel free to look around.
MORE: I should stress that the anti-pig campaign (as the WSJ article points out) involves television right now. How far it will go is not entirely clear:
The policy shift offers a window on the inner workings of China's governmental machinery, known for its surprise edicts and abrupt shifts in regulation. It wasn't immediately clear whether the ban applies just to ads or to all TV content. And some analysts said the government could still reverse itself, or offer exceptions to the ban.I suspect the targets right now are mainly the big Western advertisers.
Are the Piglet stamps that had already been printed safe? It's too early to tell. Pigs are an important part of Chinese culture, and while this is speculation, I think the government might be very hesitant to issue unenforceable edicts. But television is under state control, and Western advertisers are an easy target.
AND MORE: Is there a double standard in China where it comes to cultural sensitivities? Are some animals more offensive than others? Or does it depend on who's offended?
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
This may be my last apology
And I may not be blogging here much longer.....
In fact, if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is right, very soon I might not be blogging at all:
Israel and the United States will soon be destroyed, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday during a meeting with Syria's foreign minister, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) website said in a report. Iran's official FARS news agency also reported the comments.How much time I have, I really don't know, as the president didn't set a definite date. But all this blogging has been fun while it lasted, and had the United States made it to May, I might have had a four year anniversary.
Surely, when Mahmoud says "soon," he means before May?
Damn! I hope I didn't contribute to the problem, for I recently compared Mahmoud to Coco's favorite ShihTzu, Tristan. But honest, it wasn't meant as a particularly unfair comparison, and I didn't mean to offend the Iranian president, much less cause the end of the world. Honest! All I was trying to say was that Coco and Tristan (the ShihTzu) probably had more fun than Mahmoud and Hugo (the Venezolano).
Is that really so bad that things had to come to this?
And on top of that I'm starting to really feel guilty about something else. I'm remembering my well-meaning attempt to send Ahmadinejad a necktie. Might that have been misinterpreted? Like, you know, him being from another culture and everything?
I swear I wasn't trying to insult him or make him feel bad or hurt his self esteem, but I thought that if he would wear a necktie that might lead to him being put on the cover of Time Magazine, where only peaceful people go.
Anyway, this was how I visualized world peace:
Laugh if you want, and I know it sounds naive in retrospect, but I honestly thought that if I could get the man to put on a necktie, not only would he see the light, but it might stop the end of the world.
Hey, at least I tried. And hey, if it turns out I really have caused the end of America, well, I'm sorry!
There. I apologized.
Shouldn't that be enough?
Unwanted emanations of free association?
John Derbyshire caught my attention this morning with this:
One of the lesser evils of our age is the passing of "anti-discrimination" laws by legislators in democratic countries. These laws amount to systematic destruction of the principle of freedom of association. While governments should of course treat all citizens impartially, legislators have no business telling citizens whom we may do business with, rent a room to, hire, fire, or engage in any other private transaction with.I agree. But who is "we"?
As an individual, I think freedom of association is absolute. There's a right to associate or not associate with anyone, for any reason or no reason.
But when individuals form themselves into groups, the "I" (the "me") of the individual tends to become subordinate to a greater "we." At what point does the greater "we" limit the freedom of association inherent in the individual "me"?
Obviously, an individual landlord in close proximity to his tenants is not the same sort of entity as state-funded public housing administration. While it violates the small landlord's rights to tell him who he may or may not rent to, this argument is based on the landlord's individual right -- something wholly irrelevant to the government. (Similarly, a mom and pop store owner is not Wal-Mart.)
What about Muslim cab drivers refusing to pick up passengers carrying alcohol? Are these drivers to be seen as individuals, or as members of a state-licensed group? Taxi medallions are considered a special privilege, and it can be argued that they border on being a state-licensed monopoly. How far does it go? Can Bill Gates decide not to sell computer software to Scientologists?
I don't have the answer, but I think it involves individual conscience. The larger the group of individuals, the less it can be argued that a particular member of the group can claim to be the conscience for the rest of the members of the group.
However, some groups have group consciences (the Boy Scouts are a good example), and these groups have every right to exclude those who do not subscribe to the dictates of their consciences. I can't demand that my local Saudi madrassa allow me to teach students that their religious texts ought to be interpreted in the context I'd like them to be interpreted, and indeed, I don't have any right even to join them in educational or religious services if they don't want me.
Individual rights and group rights are like tar and water, and that's what makes freedom of association such a tough principle to analyze. Analysis is compounded by the fact that freedom of association is not spelled out in the First Amendment, but is implicit in the right to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
Doesn't that mean it's as much a part of the First Amendment penumbra of rights as the right to privacy?
Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn't have said "penumbra."
God forbid that I should emanate anything.
Always full of it here
In addition to refusing a traditional congratulatory handshake from Sir Ian, the WPC - who wore a traditional Muslim hijab headscarf - also declined to be photographed with him as she did not want the picture used for 'propaganda purposes'.I enjoyed Cramer's take on this:
"Sir, you will have to handcuff yourself--my religious beliefs prevent me from touching you." I believe, from reading Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, a memoir of teaching literature while wearing a veil, that Muslim women are only allowed to touch father, brother, and husband. It sounds like this police officer is going to have a rather limited set of potential offenders that she can handcuff!There is still such a thing as reality, as well as an ability to perform the functions of a job. If someone's religion forbids him from touching dead bodies, he should not work as an undertaker. (Ditto for pigs and meat packing plants.) It is unreasonable to demand that employers "accomodate" religious demands when those demands flatly contradict the nature of the employment. Hooters and other businesses employ scantily-clad women, and (notwithstanding the Manolo's post about the "sexy" Iranian fashion show) I don't think they should have to "accomodate" the demands of an Islamic applicant that she be allowed to wear a hijab.
What also intrigued me about the British incident was this little tidbit at the end:
In June 2005 Sir Ian was judged to have 'hung out to dry' three white detectives - who were accused of rudely mispronouncing "Shi'ites' - to prove his anti-racist credentials.Can anyone tell me how to "rudely mispronounce 'Shi'ite'"?
One of the advantages of blogging is that mispronunciations aren't usually a problem. Still, I suppose I can always run into trouble by creating the appearance of a comparison, and with a word like "Shi'ite," the opportunities abound!
While I don't know whether these cops were Cockneys, I see a possible problem with the Cockney pronunciation of "Shi'ite" because Cockneys tend to drop their "t"s anyway, replacing them with a back-of-the-throat borderline vowel sound that resembles the "uh" sound only harder.
Precisely the sound which the apostrophe in "Shi'ite" would seem to invite!
Thus, if the "t" in "Shi'ite" is dropped in the normal Cockney way, then the apostrophe in "Shi'ite" would come to sound like the "t" in "Shi'ite" -- and this might cause to a court reporter or linguist familiar with intepreting Cockney pronunciations to believe that a "t" is meant to go where the apostrophe appears!
That's not very nice result for Shi'ite sensititivities, is it?
I believe in being fair and logical, so it strikes me as just as likely to believe that there are two apostrophes as two "t"s.
Therefore, it is just as reasonable to assume the Cockney officers might have intended to say "Shi'i'e" as they would the very wrong "Shitite."
I worry about these things because Coco's best friend happens to be a ShihTzu, and were he and Coco to mate with each other, the hybrid result would either be a "ShihT Bull," or a "BullShihT."
I can get into enough trouble as it is from merely staring at words. At least I don't have to worry about mispronouncements.
(Unless I make a pronouncement that turns out to be wrong.)
UPDATE: Commenter geekWithA45 advises that in the UK, "shit" is pronounced "shite".
A lesson in self misunderstanding
Ah, the vital issues this country faces!
While I noticed these "issues" last night, I was trying to be funny when I commented on them, and I did not mean to imply that they were of urgent national importance.
But suppose I said the following, in my usual sarcastic manner:
If Pelosi's blinking is any indication of what's going on with the Democrats, and if McCain's snoozing is any indication of what's going on with the Republicans, that suggests all is not well with the state of the union.Would I be making a false comparison between McCain and Pelosi?
I honestly don't know. Normally, it wouldn't have occurred to me. Perhaps I shouldn't be reading comments.
posted by Eric at 08:35 AM
Morality Police In Iran
...I think you will enjoy the thirty seconds or so of sweet revenge, I urge you to click on what my friend described as an example how "Iranian women are sick and tired of the women morality police." Fortunately, you don't need to understand Farsi to see what is happening.It looks like Iran may be ripe for a revolution.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 01:58 AM
The Revolution Is Free
In my post on the State of the Union I included a video by Stuck Mojo.
I went to their www site and found a tale of woe about how record companies rip off bands and fans. However, Mojo has an answer.
The tracks on our new record, "Southern Born Killers," will be posted at www.StuckMojo.us, as well as all over the internet for you to download, FOR FREE! You read that right! Download the songs, share them with your friends and, if you like what you hear, let potential new fans know where they too can get the songs for free.Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 12:01 AM
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Live blogging the State of the Union Speech....
Have to say, I'm glad I don't have to live blog this one, as I'm so distracted by watching Nancy Pelosi's face for signs.
Signs of what, I do not know.
She's just looking like she doesn't want me to know.
MORE (9:46 p.m.) : I'm glad to see Bush is talking the talk on Iraq ("not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it's the fight we're in" and "let us find our resolve and turn towards victory") but he's got an uphill battle and he knows it.
The uphill battle is not winning in Iraq (which is possible), but winning in Congress.
He should make these speeches more often.
MORE: "America must not fail" and "the consequences of failure would be grievous."
They would be.
What is a "nightmare scenario" for us is simply "the objective" for our enemy.
To Congress: "Whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure."
MORE (10:30 p.m.) : Bush mentioned Iran, and Stephen Green thought it was the most significant part of the speech :
Bush did just explicitly mention Iran as complicit in the campaign in Iraq. And that, my friends, is the only part of tonight's SOTU worth remembering.
MORE at 10:34: Glenn Reynolds noticed Pelosi jumping and rocketing to her feet. Damn! I thought I saw some sort of movement, but my back was turned. I miss all the good stuff. Like that and the "butt kissing" noticed by Mary Katherine Ham.
I don't know if it counts, but I did see McCain appearing to catch a snooze until the camera turned away. Whether he was really asleep or just pretending, God knows. (I was tuned in to MSNBC, and please don't ask me why, as I don't know.)
Intimidation keeps the middle out
In her last Boston Globe column, Cathy Young shares a valuable political insight while discussing the "Mommy Wars":
The "Mommy Wars" of full-time motherhood versus career are likely to remain intractable, with some feminists accusing stay-at-home mothers of letting down the sisterhood, some conservatives accusing working mothers of letting down their children, and people in the middle calling for freedom of choice.(Via Dr. Helen.)
Not only is she absolutely right, but what's even worse is the way the people in the "middle" (it's pretty unsettling to consider that only the middle favors choice) get it from both sides. I've seen this happen in countless other ways, with countless other issues. If we stick with Cathy Young's example, both the feminist activists and their conservative counterparts will lash out at any person from this middle who dares to get involved in politics. Typically, those who do not agree with one side entirely and on all positions will be accused of being on the other side. This is why the "middle" (a term I use reservedly) tend to avoid any and all situations where they might come into contact with activists.
The hot button issues are the worst of all, as they attract absolutists. If you don't believe me, just try being in anywhere near the middle on the abortion issue and talking to people on either side. The anti-abortion side will all but accuse you of aiding and abetting murder if you hesitate to advocate imprisonment, and the pro-abortion side will say you must be "part of the right wing" and that you're "setting women back" if you admit you're squeamish about partial birth abortion. Unless you agree with them 100%, each side will accuse you of being "on the other side."
My theory is that those in "the middle" avoid political situations because they don't like being insulted. Unfortunately for them, this suits the activists just fine. Insulting people who don't agree 100% has therefore become a way of maintaining standards. Keeping people out.
The hard lesson is that it's a rude world out there, and if you care enough to get involved in anything, you'd best be prepared to be insulted.
But there are many people who are unable to tolerate being insulted, and they never will.
How many of them will vote?
Back to Cathy Young, who concludes with these final words to her Boston Globe readers:
As I say goodbye, I'd like to conclude with an issue that has become a subject of overriding concern for me : a tendency toward polarization and mutual demonization in American public life. I have often been embroiled in debates on whether the right or the left is more responsible for the politics of hate. This is fruitless. Things will not get better until people on both sides forget about the blame game and start ostracizing the hate-mongers in their own camp.Demonization is a good way for the hate-mongers to keep the non-activist "middle" off the playing field. Those who might ostracize them are weeded out. Those who remain are intimidated.
Ostracizing hate-mongers requires a very thick skin. The "middle" simply does not have it. It's all they can do to get up the nerve to go vote -- and brave the activists who hang out at the polls.
Under The Shadow
It appears that in the US determination to get a regime change in Iran the Gulf States are siding with America. Just as they sided (by acquiecense) with Israel's strike against Iran's cats paw Hizballah last summer.
Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns clearly knew his audience in Dubai and the reception he'd get if he'd talk tough against Iran. While Burns was busy today in Dubai warning Iran to back down, the think tank Mr. Burns was speaking to, the Gulf Research Center (described by the AP as "an influential think-tank"), had just put out a paper on Sunday, warning that "Tehran has to finally realize that if push comes to shove, if the choice is between an Iranian nuclear bomb and a US military strike, then the Arab Gulf states have no choice but to quietly support the US. Living under the shadow of Iranian nuclear bomb is unacceptable."Funny thing is they never felt this way about Israel. Perhaps in this case intentions matter as much as capabilities.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Nothing new. Palestinians are unpopular where ever they live. The Lebanese didn't like them. The Jordanians didn't like them. And now it appears that some Iraqis don't like them.
Palestinians living in Iraq have been warned that they will be killed by Shia militias unless they leave the country immediately.It appears that this is a part of a general Sunni - Shia war brewing in the Middle East.
DUBAI: An influential cleric of Saudi Arabia's hardline Sunni school of Islam has denounced Shia Muslims as "infidels" in a new religious edict that comes amid rising sectarian tension in the region. "The rejectionists (Shias) in their entirety are the worst of the Islamic nation's sects. They bear all the characteristics of infidels," Sheikh Abdel-Rahman al-Barrak said in the fatwa, or ruling, distributed on Islamist websites. "They are in truth polytheist infidels, though they hide this," the fatwa said, citing theological differences 14 centuries after the death of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), such as reverence of shrines which followers of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi school consider abhorrent. Concern is growing in Saudi Arabia over Shia-Sunni violence in Iraq which has taken the northern neighbour to the brink of civil war. Sunni-Shia tensions are also high in Lebanon, where Shias are leading efforts to bring down a Sunni-led cabinet. "The Sunni and Shias schools of Islam are opposites that can never agree, there can be no coming together," the fatwa said. Barrak, an independent scholar, has come to be regarded by many as the highest authority for Wahhabi Muslims.It seems like our little adventure in Iraq has opened the fault lines of the Middle East. Jeeze, if this keeps up we could have a religious war on our hands.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Nasserallah Goes After Easier Target
It appears that Lebanese Hizbaballah leader Hassan Nasserallah is tired of knocking heads with Israel and is going after an easier target. His own country Lebanon.
Thousands of Lebanese loyal to Hizbullah leader Nasrallah blocked main roads in Beirut and around the country at the start of what may be a putsch against the government. One man has been killed.There is a report from Reuters that the siege is being lifted.
BEIRUT, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Lebanon's opposition began removing roadblocks across the country on Tuesday night after suspending a general strike and halting protests aimed at toppling the government, a senior opposition source said.Here is another view of the situation posted about 4 hours ago. It is about 2207 GMT as I post this. Lebanese Premier Fouad Saniora in urgent discussions with the opposition.
Posted: 23-01-2007 , 18:23 GMTThe risk that is not hidden is a return to civil war in Lebanon. A wound that is still raw.
More on the end of the strike.
Lebanon's pro-Syrian opposition has suspended a general strike and halted protests aimed at toppling the Government.The reports are fragmentary so far and give no hint of why the siege was called off.
Here is a report from a day ago using the big lie technique. Nasserallah was trying to prevent a civil war. So he says.
BEIRUT, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called on Lebanese to take part in an anti-government strike on Tuesday to topple leaders who he said wanted to take the country to civil war.A bit of speculation here, but I wonder if Iran isn't doing this as a warning to the US about what an attack on it could mean. Thing is, if you kill the queen bee, hive activity goes on for a while and then ceases.
Gateway Pundit has a round up of earlier events and photos.
Update: 23 Jan '07 2324z
Michael Totten has photos and commentary.
Just a side note here...Up until today Hezbollah has modeled its "resistance" to the elected government after the March 14 demonstations to oust the occupying Syrian army. The March 14 movement, though, never did anything remotely like this. That's because they are, for the most part, liberal and democratic while Hezbollah is a Syrian-Iranian terrorist army. Today should be a moment of clarity for the willfully obtuse.Michael thinks it was called off because Hizballah was losing popular support due to the violence.
Hezbollah called off the so-called "strike." Nasrallah seems to be aware that his latest stunt was seen by Lebanese an act of war in direct violation of Lebanon's power-sharing arrangment.Michael Totten in the comments:
What you see in Lebanon right now is a proxy war between the Syrian-Iranian axis on one side, and the US, France, and Saudi Arabia on the other.Ah the draw of Democracy, whiskey, sexy. And hashish. Blond Lebanese.
H/T reader linearthinker.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 05:29 PM
A Culture Of Rape
They talk about the culture of rape that allowed and encouraged the "rape" of the "victim" in the case.
If Federal Crime Statistics[pdf] are to be believed there is very little white on black rape in America. The numbers show that black on white rape is the predominant interracial rape crime. If you account for population it is even worse.
So I suppose you could say that there is a culture of interracial rape in America.
What supports it? Just listen to the music.
When a culture no longer honors its women, you have a culture in serious decline.
Clayton Cramer discusses the statistics.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Why I'm still sick of
A friend (who happens to be a loyal Democrat) has just sent me this:
FWIW, I am already sick of the above picture. Naturally, I didn't know what to do with it, so naturally, I'm putting it in this blog post. I'd hate to be manipulated by the vast right wing conspiracy, though, and I'm avoiding that by not googling the picture.
What I don't know I can't be charged with, right?
But at the risk of sounding like a VRWC theorist, I do know (and I admit) that I am already sick of Hillary. No; unlike Andrew Sullivan I am not struggling to overcome "hatred" of her. I don't think she's worth hating. Besides, as I have said in far too many posts already, I believe her presidency is inevitable, so why would I hate her? Shouldn't I love her? I'll say this for Hillary: she's one of the few major public office holders to personally answer me in a signed letter with a specific reference to the subject of concern to me. I do appreciate that.
At minimum, I should try to be polite, and perhaps it's rude for me to admit I am sick of Hillary. The thing is, I'm trying to be honest here, and if Andrew Sullivan can grapple with his admitted hatred (hatred he feels no more) then I think I should try to examine my tiredness.
Sullivan says he hated Hillary (who "managed to arouse every one of my love-to-hate zones") before he stopped hating her. Hate is a strong emotion, and a destructive, poisonous one. It cannot be carried on forever. But the thing is, being sick of something or someone is very different.
How do you stop being sick of something? Sheesh! Does this mean I have to explain why I was sick of Hillary? That's almost as bad as examining whether I still am -- but let me try.
I was sick of Hillary long ago -- way back in the mid 90s. I voted for -- no, that's just it. I didn't vote for her; I voted for Bill Clinton. But they started this "co-president" deal that "twofer" business, and it made me feel as if I had voted for her. She acted as if she had been elected, and I didn't like that. I didn't like (and still don't like) socialized medicine, and I didn't like the smoke and mirrors with Hillary's Health Care Plan from Hell. There were so many just-short-of-an-indictment things, from firing the travel employees, rudeness to the staff and the secret service, shreddings, missing records turning up in the kitchen, and the last minute terrorist pardon deal was (I thought) just beyond the pale. I breathed a sigh of relief when she was gone -- not because I hated her, but because I was sick of her.
It's hard to forget the main reason she left the White House -- that her husband had to leave the White House because the Constitution required it. Had there been no 22nd Amendment, he'd have been easily, overwhelmingly, elected to a third term. Or should I say she?
Anyway, I am sick again of Hillary, and I didn't want to be, but this latest move on her part has activated a lot of talk which I'm not supposed to ignore, and which gives me this ghastly sense of blogligation! I know there's nothing literally requiring me to write a blog post, but I hate it when my agenda is dictated by the decisions of other people. And let's face it, it was Hillary's decision to run, not mine. I'd rather she not have, because I'd rather not have felt forced to write another blog post about her.
But there's that picture above. Regardless of its source, I think it brings up an important point.
It occurs to me that Hillary may be a bit like Lurleen Wallace.
Who is Lurleen Wallace? Why she was the wife of Alabama governor George Wallace, and she ran for office only because her husband was legally barred from seeking another term.
He could have easily won a second term in 1966 had he been eligible to stand for one; in Alabama (as in many states at the time), governors were not allowed to serve two consecutive terms. This provision dated back to the adoption of the current state constitution in 1901.(Web page with pictures -- including one of Lurleen with a gun -- here. It might be cruel to say this, but I doubt the image of Hillary holding a gun would look as sincere.)
Times have changed, and I don't mean to say that Hillary Clinton is the exactly the same as Lurleen Wallace, for she has served in the United States Senate, and she wants desperately (a little too desperately, IMHO) to be seen as her own man. (Er, sorry, her own woman.)
But is she really her own woman? A Margaret Thatcher, perhaps? To answer this, I think it's fair to ask whether Hillary Clinton could have (or would have) ever been elected president without Bill having been president.
I don't think so. But back in the 90s it occurred to me that the main reason I was sick of her was because I was sick of him.
So perhaps I shouldn't ask myself whether I am still sick of her. Perhaps I should ask whether I'm still sick of him.
The answer is yes.
I fear it will only get worse.
Tiredness doesn't improve with age.
AFTERTHOUGHT: It occurs to me that once you become sick of something, it's almost impossible to stop being sick of it. It's a little like an overplayed song. ("If I hear that 'Young Girl Get Out of My Heart' or "Sign, Sign Everywhere a Sign!" one more time.....")
I realize that people are sick of Bush, but I'd remind them that people were once just as sick of the Clintons.
Unless there's a moral lesson along the lines that we must "take turns to be sick," I'm afraid I'm confused.
The mathematical inevitability of rudeness?
Are people getting ruder? We all hear about the collapse of good manners -- a complaint often fraught with cultural implications ("coarsening of culture" is, I believe, one of the common terms). And anything with cultural implications quickly morphs into a political issue.
I don't want this to be about politics, because I see it as more akin to math.
Yes, math. I've been thinking that one of the downsides of the modern put-everyone-on-hold, no-one-has-real-authority-or-responsibility society is that we haven't yet dispensed with meme that "nice guys finish last," that politeness is for wimps and "in order to succeed, you have to be assertive." There is a fine line between assertiveness and rudeness -- so fine that I can't possibly hope to draw it, much less in a blog post. I can only give examples, but I have noticed that when the natural human tendency to do as little as possible is juxtaposed with a bureaucratized system encouraging people to do as little as possible, the result is that the polite are often simply ignored. As a Paddy Chayevsky put it, "Forgotten to death."
But lest anyone think that assertiveness is called for, beware of an emerging Catch 22. The same people (the do-nothing bureaucrats charged with running government and many large businesses) who see politeness as an excuse to do nothing because politeness is mistaken for wimpiness are very quick to "mistake" assertiveness for rudeness. Hence, those who have been polite but who get righteously assertive are greeted with an equally righteous sense of bureaucratic Entitlement to Do Nothing.
This leads to more rudeness.
I like to think the trick is to be politely assertive, over and over, and never become provoked. I once allowed myself to be placed on hold for eighteen hours by CNN when I called in with an uncomfortable question for a TV guest. (Their dime; not mine. I like to think that I elevated "politeness" into the realm of the surreal, although I acknowledge that the shrinks would say I was just being passive-aggressive.)
But after all, there is never any "entitlement" to rudeness? Or is there?
Sometimes I worry what happens to legitimate internal anger when it is constantly syruped over with politeness. Will it melt away without residual damage?
Am I playing the odds? Or just being a wimp?
posted by Eric at 08:46 AM
RINO Sightings Carnival -- Surrealistic RINOCEROTIC Edition!
While Eric had planned to do a surrealistic RINO carnival based on the rhinocerotic art of Dali (the world's first surrealistic RINO Carnival), it seems that something went awry in the channeling department. Eric was trying to channel Dali, but Dali is instead channeling Eric.
It's not as if the Republican Party doesn't need RINOs. Far from it. With things getting ever more surreal by the day, the RINOs are starting to look positively normal! And that is a contradiction. On top of that the RINOs are so demoralized that very few posts were received. While Eric the pessimist might call this a form of disintegration, Dali the optimist believes that the Creation and Destruction elements are all at work, and thus even the disintegration of the RINOs means the creation of new atomic and subatomic rinocerotic subparticulate matter -- the stuff of which all change, all metamorphosis, even all creation, is based!
To illustrate, here is a disintegrating RINO.
Considering Dali's hatred of politics, why drag him into the RINO carnival? For several reasons, the first of which is that Republican politics have become so surreal, and what could be more surreal than dissenters from surrealism? As a dissenter from surrealism (expelled from the Surrealist movement for being too surreal) Dali is the perfect symbol. Moreover, there's Dali's paranoiac obsession with all things rhino -- which this essay sums up pretty well:
Artists, all through history, have been tormenting themselves to grasp form and to reduce it to elementary geometrical volumes. Leonardo always tended to produce eggs ... Ingres preferred spheres, and Cézanne cubes and cylinders. But only Dalí... has found truth. All curved surfaces of the human body have the same geometric spot in common, the one found in this cone with the rounded tip curved toward heaven or toward the earth ... the rhinoceros horn!Which means that we RINOs are onto something.
We go to the irreducible essence of politics.
So, with that, it's on to the posts, along with some illustrations which I hope are appropriate.
BEAUTY AND GRACE UNDER EXTREME DURESS
Here's a Dalinian sculpture of a RINO whose legs are so delicately long and sweet that I'm reminded of beautiful hookers:
so deadly that, when ingested or inhaled, an amount the size of a dust grain is sufficient to kill someone 30 times over.Go read about what the dust did to Litvinenko's soul.
...there's one huge reason why history will never forgive us if we lose our will: a nuclear 9/11.
THE JOKE'S ON WHO?
Here's a joker who seems to be annoying the RINO in the background:
This [statute] is so brain damaged it has to be the idea of some clueless person out to save the world without first stopping to consider the Hippocratic Injunction to "First, do no harm."I agree that it hurts the very people it supposedly aims to help. The people who write these laws should not be allowed out of the houses, much less allowed to tell real estate professionals what to do.
From the early 1960s, a study for Dali's "Battle of Tetuan":
A 12 month in depth study by Dr. Deborah Schurman-Kauflin of theViolent Crimes Institute finds that there are currently over240,000 illegal alien sex offenders in the United States and that 93more sex offenders are coming into the country illegally every day.It also notes that the number of victims per sex offender is 4. Justthink, that's nearly 1,000,000 chances that you or someone you lovecould be sexually assaulted by someone who shouldn't even be in thiscountry. Don't you feel safe and happy with those currently in controlof our immigration system?Concludes Digger,
All the more reason to close the border off and deport as many illegal alien criminals as possible.I don't know what the solution is, but if they don't do something soon, it'll make the 1860 Battle of Tetouan look like a cakewalk.
BORDERS IN SPACE
Particles floating around in the cosmos, anyone?
NEVER TOO PROUD TO SUBMIT?
While that concludes the submissions I received, isn't it true that not all "submissions" are voluntary?
As I see it, the people who actually submitted posts to this anarchic and surreal carnival were behaving in an orderly manner. This means that the RINOs who submitted no submissions were more in need of submission than those who submitted, and thus I feel that as the host I have a duty to submit their submissions on their behalf. And even if I don't have a duty, I nonetheless have a right, don't I? I mean, isn't this a blog post as well as a carnival? And, being a blog post, I can link to anyone I want, regardless of whether any formal "submission" is involved.
So, the involuntary submissions (selected by me from favorite fellow RINOs) follow.
RINO submits to angel (who seems to like the RINO):
Dali, a grand master of bullshit if ever there was one, said the following in Conquest of the Irrational:
we Surrealists, as you will realize by paying us some slight attention, are not quite artists, nor are we really scientists; we are caviar, and believe me, caviar is the extravagance and the very intelligence of taste, especially in concrete times like the present in which the above mentioned hungering for the irrational, albeit an incommensurable, impatient, and imperialist hungering, is so exasperated by the salivary expectations of waiting, that in order to arrive progressively at its glorious conquests close by, it must first swallow the fine, heady, and dialectical grape of caviar, without which the heavy and stifling food of the next ideologies would threaten immediately to paralyze the vital and philosophical rage of the belly of history.I love the guy, and God help me, he makes perfect sense, and I say this whether he makes sense or not. I try to be logical, but Dali is a man after my heart! He is trying to explain what he cannot hope to explain.
LOGIC BEATS SUBMISSION
Or does submission beat logic? I don't know, but Dean Esmay (whose unsubmitted submission is titled "The Standing Male Response To Female Complaints That Has Annoyed Every Woman Since Eve") may have discovered an infallible way to piss off all women without exception. No; I will not say what it is, for I might get sued.
However, Dean's post invites a little Dalinian relativism.
Here is Dali's traditional depiction of Vermeer's Lacemaker:
To fully understand the deconstructive/reconstructive power of the RINO horns, here's Dali's RINOCEROTIC version -- titled the "The Paranoiac-Critical Study of Vermeer's Lacemaker":
And if that doesn't manage to annoy every woman since Eve, Dali took this a step further with "Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized By the Horns of Her Own Chastity":
The rhino horn is indeed the legendary unicorn horn, symbol of chastity. The young lady may choose to lie on it or to morally play with it; as it was usual in courtesan love epochs.If only the sickos who kill rhinos for their horns knew this!
This Dalinian RINO depiction illustrated a 1950s essay about fear:
Hot climate anyone?
This is the leader of the global warming movement?And, of course, Phidias alone "had seen the exact image of the gods." Dali was forced to make copies of what the gods had seen. Al Gore can neither see nor copy.
At the risk of sounding apocalyptic, here's an image from Dali's Apocalypse of St. John:
With that in mind, a couple of very "final" posts.
At this point I don't know who is channeling whom, but it seems fair to allow Dali to conclude this post with a prayer for the RINOs:
UPDATE: Digger, by the way, has announced a new site -- The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration:
From the educational costs of illegal aliens to traffic congestion to gangs to solutions to the immigration problem, the website is packed full of facts, links to reports and detailed analysis.Check it out.
UPDATE: As Jennifer linked this post and had some very kind words, it seemed fair to her and the Dali theme to find a late but fitting entry from Jennifer.
My surrealism button was pushed by her "TV Pretend" post:
Decompress time. Unwind from pretend nuclear explosion. TV pretend. I don't think I spoke for about 27 minutes after watching Dr. Strangelove, I am easily impressionable I know, but I like me that way.While Jennifer wrote about the Golden Globes, Dali thought the television looked like a thumb:
From the TV Guide cover of June 8-14, 1968, (titled "Today, Tonight and Tomorrow"):
That's TV Pretend.
And thank you Jennifer!
Monday, January 22, 2007
An Act Of War
It was reported on Janurary 12th that the US attacked an Iranian Embassy in Iraq and detained five "diplomats".
BAGHDAD: U.S. troops in Iraq raided an Iranian consulate in the Kurdish city of Arbil in northern Iraq and captured six staff members early Thursday, according to Iraqi state television reports.Well a question came up. Are the "diplomats" diplomats?
The answer. Some are not.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 18 -- Iraq is carrying out an extensive review of its diplomatic protocols with Iran and may place new restrictions on them, the Iraqi foreign minister said in an interview on Thursday, after Iranian military officials and diplomats were picked up in three separate American actions here.The Iraqis seem strained over this. Which is good. We are operating on American time now.
The US Command has a few things to say on the subject.
The U.S. military insists the Iranians in its custody are not diplomats. Earlier in the week Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, told a news conference there was no doubt about that.Here is a another report of what the "diplomats" were up to.
One of the six was released and U.S. officials said the five still in custody were linked to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that funds and arms insurgents and militias in Iraq.An insult to Iran? Actually under the Geneva Conventions it is an Act of War.
However, it looks like America has been getting ready to go after Iran for some time. First off there was a report of an aircraft carrier battle group heading for the area around 8 Jan.
The following other capital ships are in the area or near by as of 23 Jan. '07 - 0629z.
Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG):
Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG):
Amphibious Warfare Ships:
In addition A Brigade of the 82nd Airborne heads to Iraq.
It looks like a squadron of F-117 Stealth Fighters are headed to North Korea to keep them from making trouble while we are busy with Iran.
Another carrier is headed for the Pacific.
SAN DIEGO - Barely six months after returning from its maiden deployment, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan will leave its Coronado pier within weeks for a cruise in the western Pacific Ocean.It is really unusual for a carrier to travel without its task group and air wing. Very unusual.
However it does allow for the ships and air group to be a reserve to make up for losses in any attack on Iran. It also allows the carrier to deploy at flank speed. Something difficult to do when oil burners have to keep up with a nuke carrier.
There appears to be Naval support for operations off Somalia. Which is not too far from Iran. As the carrier cruises.
2007/1/9 DUBAI, United Arab EmiratesOn top of all that it appears that NATO is taking an interest.
NATO has begun taking a major interest in intelligence information about Iran's nuclear program, according to Israeli defense officials who recently held talks with senior officers in the Western military alliance.There is growing criticism of Ahmadinejad in Iran.
TEHRAN, Jan 16, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) -- There is growing criticism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, including a parliamentary drive to summon him to answer questions, a report says.Carrier battle groups start showing up unexpectedly in the neighborhood and people get nerveous.
Despite all that Iran is keeping out 38 IAEA nuclear inspectors because they are upset at UN resolutions pertaining to their nuclear program. Makes sense.
Say. Didn't Saddam go down that road? Those boys better be careful.
Nasser Karimi, The Associated PressIt looks like Iran is preparing for war. I expect with all this going on one side or the other will instigate some provocation the other can't resist. My guess would be US Special Forces in Iran doing some kind of mischief that Iran would have to respond to. After all we have already tried the diplomatic route.
The drum-beating suggested Iran does not intend to back down in its standoff with the West. It could also aim to rally the public behind the government and silence increasingly bold criticism at home of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's antagonism toward the United States.With all the cross confimation you have to know that something is afoot.
With the American logistics on the move the opening shots could come at any time. As always the key to any war is logistics. It does no good to have forces if they are not sufficiently close to the scene of action.
Update: 23 Jan '07 0333z
...a strong explosion at the high-voltage sub-station of Mashhad rocked a large part of the city and frightened residents in this provincial capital.Hmmm.
Israel urgently needed in NATO?
In an effort to establish more effective deterrence in the face of Iran's race to obtain nuclear weapons, government ministries are, for the first time, working on drafting a position paper that will include guidelines and a strategy for turning Israel into a full-fledged member of NATO, The Jerusalem Post has learned.Interesting. Things are moving right along.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 08:50 PM
Portrait of the blogger as a young dog
Over the weekend, a friend sent me a picture which reminded me how large a chunk of life a dog occupies in the life of a dog owner. Regular readers will remember Puff, who's pictured over on the right and who died in June of 2005.
The picture shows me on my deck in Berkeley, in 1990, holding Puff when he was still a puppy:
Damn, but I look young and naive compared to today! Little did I know what I was in for over the next few years. (Now, of course, I look old and naive, which is a completely different deal.)
Fifteen years. It's a lifetime for a dog, and a lot of time for us, too.
The blog will be four in May, so I guess by dog standards, it's getting middle aged.
posted by Eric at 05:59 PM
What are you waiting for? 2008??
You can go vote in the election now, at Pajamas Media!
And be sure to check the early results.
Not to spoil anything, but a candidate I'll call "Mommie Dearest" isn't doing as well as I would have thought. (I guess the blogosphere isn't Hollywood, and this ain't the Oscars....)
The relative acceleration of my moral decline
What is morality?
Perhaps that's a silly question, for we all know it when we see it and those who don't are said to be moral relativists. By merely posing the question, I may have already caused hard-line moral absolutists (if such a thing exists in logic) to roll their eyes in disgust.
One of the things I touched on in the discussion of Dinesh D'Souza's newfound Islamic moral absolutism (assuming that's the right phrase; maybe his embrace of Islamic absolutism is morally relative) was whether or not morality is necessarily limited to sexual matters. A lot of people seem to think it is, or at least they act that way. Typically, there's a lot more outrage by these people over sex on the Internet than crime on the streets.
But I want to move away from sex, and examine the mechanism by which morality is manufactured. I suspect it's something like the manufacture of legislation and sausage -- something that goes on behind the scenes, in a very undemocratic manner. Until at last, before we know it, things that were once considered either "good" (or at least morally neutral) take on a moral tinge. A charge, even.
For example, is it immoral to build a house? To cut down a tree? In the huge North American continent, once the land of promise and opportunity, these things were considered "progress" and doing them -- when it took the form of what we call "development" -- was generally thought to be virtuous. Now, building a house or cutting down trees is seen by many people as downright evil. For years, an anti-sprawl movement has been fighting to stop development, and this movement been aided and abetted by pliant politicians and sympathetic reporters. While "sprawl" hasn't quite managed to take on the dirty connotations normally associated with phrases like "Larry Flynt" and "Hustler," sprawl (and development) are definitely dirty, and I see evidence that the anti-sprawl people are striking paydirt as the "Global Warming" meme heats up. Now is their moment of opportunity, and if they are lucky, the builders of new homes and roads will find themselves excoriated in a manner once reserved for the Larry Flynts -- maybe even drug dealers.
What prompted this morning's observations was seeing morality manufactured before my eyes right here in my county. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, has not only decided to implement anti "greenhouse gas" measures, they're implementing moral rhetoric in order to put it over on regular people who often don't have time to think.
Today's morality play begins with the apparent conversion of a "skeptical" Republican County Commisioner by a mere graduate student at Penn State:
Climate change is by nature a global problem.What Glenn Brand would have us believe is that this is a "grass roots" effort by ordinary people, stymied by years of Bush Cheney greed, and who are trying to do what they can to "save" the planet.
Not included in the Inquirer write-up is the fact that Pennsylvania is said to produce "1 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions" -- of which Montgomery County is but a fraction. Add to that the fact that even the advocates of greenhouse gas theory admit that the world's total of human-emitted greenhouse gases are responsible for a tiny fraction of overall global warming and the contribution of Montgomery County is so meaningless as to be statistically insignificant. If the entire county were depopulated and shut down tomorrow by the Khmer Rouge, worldwide CO2 would not be affected.
But we're talking morality, not reality. Typically, moralists present their argument to people who are into feeling terrible and making everyone else feel terrible by scolding them. The goal is the infliction of guilt, and this does not work at first, so it has to be achieved in increments.
Back up to 1914 and the Harrison Narcotics Act. People who took drugs before that consumed opiates and cocaine purchased over the counter. If addiction developed, it was a personal health matter to be discussed with the doctor. While such a person might be seen as weak, the notion that it was "evil" did not set in until laws were passed, followed by years of yellow journalism.
When my father was a kid (he was born in 1909), drug consumption was a health problem as opposed to a moral problem, and when I was a kid, it was not considered evil to build homes or cut down trees. (I know I'm ranting, but I always remember this when I hear people screaming about the absolute, unchanging nature of morality.)
Back to the conversion of today's skeptical Republican by the graduate student. Am I allowed to express skepticism about his skepticism?
Back in June of 2005, Mr. Ellis sounded anything but skeptical:
Montgomery County earlier this month became the first in the state to take action by agreeing to create an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. That inventory would let county officials know where local sources of greenhouse gases are coming from, such as farms and traffic pollution, to help inform open space and smart growth policies, said Montgomery County Commissioner Thomas Jay Ellis.Hey, that's my county you're making into a laboratory for the nation, buddy!
What about us little guinea pigs? Don't we have any say?
Normally, I'd opine that hell hath no fury greater than the recently converted, except I don't think Commissioner Ellis's conversion was recent. As to the evidence that converted him, today's Inquirer article features an impressive chart showing Montgomery County's "total emissions in million metric tons of CO2 equivalent":
The source for the chart is said to be "A Global Warming Plan of Action for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania." I can't find any plan by that name online, although it might be a rebadged version of this EPA-funded project. The Inquirer describes this plan as a master's thesis by a single student, one Sarah E. Knuth.
Isn't it wonderful to see democracy and morality in action? One student -- with one paper -- can affect an entire county!
From the description of Ms. Knuth's EPA-funded "plan":
By targeting sprawl, I will capture a dominant process driving Montgomery Countys emissions and uncover opportunities for climate change mitigation that are tailored to local stakeholder objectives - combating sprawl is vitally important to county officials and residents.So says who? I don't remember being asked to vote on this plan.
How did the county manage to find this dedicated young activist? Apparently, the right connections never hurt, as her professor is a former law partner of the "skeptical" Republican Commissioner himself!
Knuth was a student of Robert McKinstry, a Penn State University professor and former law partner of commissioner Chairman Thomas Jay Ellis. Nelson said the county should work to reduce greenhouse emissions because it dovetails with county goals, such as open space and farmland protection. It also fits in with the county government's mandate to protect public health.McKinstry (who seems to be the power behind the scenes in today's scheme) is said not to be a scientist at all, but a well-connected lawyer and left-wing environmental activist (now professor at Penn State). Scientist or not, he certainly knows how to represent science:
Goddard Chair professor Robert McKinstry co-wrote a brief submitted in May 2006 to the U.S. Supreme Court representing a number of leading scientists supporting the position of a number of states contending that the federal government should regulate emissions of greenhouse gases from automobiles to address climate change.(I sure as hell hope they're not using my tax dollars to advance a left wing political position in which wreaking economic havoc is cloaked in "public interest" language.)
Let me admit my bias here. I think that what most people call "morality" is usually cheap partisan demagoguery in drag. I see this smoke-and-mirrors game being played across the political spectrum, and while I find it a bit exhausting to complain about it so often, the alternative is to watch it go unchallenged.
Unless I am misreading today's think-globally-act-locally morality pageant, I get the distinct impression that they really want to reach out and touch everyone -- including me:
Tom Kreutz, a Princeton University researcher who models the performance of energy systems, said returning to 1990 emissions levels can be difficult for growing areas, yet that is "a pretty modest goal in general, compared to where the globe needs to go."Yes, every time I drive, and every time I exhale, I "dump" my CO2 into the atmosphere. Is the goal just to tax me? Or do they want me to feel guilty so that I'll be more willing to go along with their scam?
Sorry, but while I know they have the power to tax me, they do not have the power to make me agree with them. My morality stays where it is. Yes, on this issue I am a moral absolutist, and I don't mind saying so.
My breathing is not immoral!
They've got some kind of "mayor's agreement" but they don't think it will be enough. Not unless they get people "out of their cars":
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance this month released a discouraging report on progress made by 10 cities that have signed the mayors' agreement. John Bailey, a research associate who wrote the report, concluded it was unlikely that more than two could reach the Kyoto Protocol goals, "unless complementary state and federal policies are put in place," he wrote.Ah, I see it now! There are a lot of fat people who sit in their cars dumping their tax-free CO2 into the atmosphere while they could be bettering their health and saving the planet. Maybe this is a moral issue after all! Maybe we need some moral communitarianism. Besides a little forced marching is liberating for the soul. Get them out of their cars! Put them on bicycles! And tax the holy crap out of them them! Above all, make them feel guilty!
Of course, there are some people who are just born to feel guilty, and want to inflict their misery on others. There's plenty of misery to go around, and as I've noticed, things have reached the point where people are actually upset by unseasonably warm weather.
Because they're having what we used to call "a nice day."
What we the guinea pigs need are moral examples:
The most important result of local initiatives, several experts said, is that they serve as an example to residents and show federal and business leaders that people want action.Excuse me, but can I say "not in my backyard"? Or would that make me a NIMBY?
As to the author of the master's thesis which wants to reach out and touch everyone here in Montgomery County, she's headed to my old hometown of Berkeley:
Sarah Knuth wrote the Montgomery County report for her master's thesis. Now 24 and studying for her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, she's thrilled that the county is taking her work seriously. "This is a dream come true to have it at least leading somewhere," she said.Of course she's thrilled to have the county taking her work seriously.
Count me as less than thrilled.
It's all part of my ongoing struggle to preserve immorality.
Seriously, it's worse than anyone imagines. I actually enjoy breathing, and every time I exhale I revel in the terrible damage my untaxed CO2 is doing to the environment. I admit it's awful and I know it makes me a genuinely evil person, but it all began a long time ago. My slippery slide from absolute morality to absolute evil began when I was told it was evil that people were starving. I started to develop callused thinking at the dinner table, and it occurred to me that maybe it wasn't my fault, and that maybe I didn't have to feel as guilty as I did. Over the years, it got worse, and now I've reached the point where I actually think that some moral evils are worse than other moral evils.
My reactionary moral relativism has now reached the point where I think I should feel more guilty about letting people starve than about letting them breathe.
At this rate, I'll soon be a nihilist.
(Almost makes me wish for good old days, when you were immoral if you screwed but it was still OK to breathe. Now that everything has become immoral, nothing is immoral.)
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Topless In Azerbaijan
The Muslim world is changing.
Roya is a slut. I don't like her." So says a dark-haired Azerbaijani girl nestled on a barstool of the Universal Bar in downtown Baku, a spot where foreign oil workers can meet eligible young women for the right price.Did you know that Zoroastrianism had an influence on the Jews because of the Babylonian exile? The idea of Satan is one such borrowing.
in the same celebrity magazines that refuse to offend Muslim sensibilities by discussing unmarried relationships, Roya is routinely pictured topless, or kissing a variety of young men and women. She swears on TV and appears semi-nude in her videos.Iran which is right next door has its own ideas about religion. They are pushing them on the Azeris. However, it is likely the flow is also in the other direction at the same time.
Guys with beards or topless chicks. For your average male: a tough choice.
Many believe the growing count of minarets in the smaller cities of Azerbaijan is slowly blossoming into something bigger, something that will only grow with ongoing cynicism and the inevitable crisis of oil wealth.We can only hope.
Roya Music MP3. Thanks to commenter Geoff. Click on CKAYATb to start the music.
A Roya page list at Youtube.
Change in Russia.
Kurdish music Youtube.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Internet Service Providers, not Internet Parenting Providers!
In what I hope isn't a new trend, families are suing My Space because their underage daughters had sex with adults they allegedly met online:
Four families have sued MySpace after their underage daughters were sexually abused by adults they met on the site. Announcing the lawsuit were the families lawyers at Barry & Loewy of Austin, Texas, and Arnold & Itkin of Houston. We posted an item on the first of these types of lawsuits when it was filed last June.In the lawsuit filed last June, a family alleged that a 19 year old boy lied in his profile, thus gaining the girl's "trust and phone number."
The essence of the complaint (here in pdf) -- that My Space is not "safe" -- boils down to the undeniable fact that the Internet is not safe.
Nor is the telephone! And nor are the movie theaters, the back seats of the evil automobiles, or the sleazy public streets.
My reaction to this is, what the hell are the parents doing? Assuming that some 19 year old lied to the daughter and gained her confidence, one thing obviously led to another.
If they eventually had sex, it sure as hell didn't happen online!
Web sites and blogs are little more than communication devices, analagous to mail and telephones. Lying and con games can be accomplished by any of these means. Does that make the US mail service or the telephone company responsible?
I suspect the parents allowed their daughter to use My Space, and paid no more attention to what was going on than when the kid called her on the phone. Suing My Space strikes me as rank opportunism, as well as an abrogation of parental responsibility.
The implications for blogging are obvious, and I hope these cases are thrown out of court, because they will only lead in one direction -- massive communitarian statism, in which we all become responsible for the the responsibilities of others.
I allow comments, and I have no duty to police them. If some underage girl gets into a dialogue with a older teenager who lies and gain her confidence, does that become my responsibility, or that of my ISP? Apparently, some would say yes.
FWIW, I think the lying teen should be prosecuted if he broke the law. It's just too bad the parents can't be prosecuted for poor parenting.
Why should free speech be made the victim? If age and identity verification requirements are imposed on My Space, what's to stop them from being imposed on all blogs? There are, of course, already people who want to do that. This phony "protect-the-children" meme could easily breathe new life into legislation -- roundly condemned -- which would force ISPs to "require and obtain legal names and addresses for anyone who posts online." I don't think it's paranoia to anticipate that protecting children from sex could well become the foot in the door for Chinese style censorship in the United States.
Being held responsible for the conduct of other people is becoming a national disease.
Camille Paglia On The Duke Case
No, actually I couldn't find anything by Camille on the case. However, I did find a LOT on line that speaks to the acedemic issues involved.
Feminist ideology has totally failed to deal with humanity's instinctual drives. No matter what garbage you hear from Foucault's minions, sex is ultimately about procreation. It's in the best interests of the species for fertile women to mate with the strongest, most vital and resourceful males.Paglia Speaks
Foucault's analysis of "power" is foggy and paranoid and simply does not work when applied to the actual evidence of the birth, growth and complex development of governments in ancient and modern societies. Nor is Foucault's analysis of the classification of knowledge particularly original -- except in his bitter animus against the Enlightenment, which he failed to realize had already been systematically countered by Romanticism. What most American students don't know is that Foucault's commentary is painfully crimped by the limited assumptions of Saussurean linguistics (which I reject). As I have asserted, James Joyce's landmark modernist novel Ulysses (1922) contains, chapter by chapter, far subtler and more various versions of language-based "epistemes" inherent in cultural institutions and epochs.Catching on are we?
Foucault-worship is an example of what I call the Big Daddy syndrome: Secular humanists, who have drifted from their religious and ethnic roots, have created a new Jehovah out of string and wax. Again and again -- in memoirs, for example, by trendy but pedestrian uber-academics like Harvard's Stephen Greenblatt and Brown's Robert Scholes -- one sees the scenario of Melancholy, Bookish, Passive, Insecure Young Nebbish suddenly electrified and transfigured by the Grand Epiphany of Blindingly Brilliant Foucault. This sappy psychodrama would be comic except for the fact that American students forced to read Foucault have been defrauded of a genuine education in intellectual history and political analysis (a disciplined genre that starts with Thucydides and flows directly to the best of today's journalism on current events).Paglia on "Junk Bonds..."
How should the humanities be taught, and how should scholars in the humanities be trained? These pivotal questions confront universities today amid signs of spreading agreement that the three-decade era of poststructuralism and postmodernism is over.I bolded the bit above.
Duke - are you listening?
Uh. Oh. I did finally find something on the Duke Case from Paglia. It was April 5, 2006.
During questions and answers after her talk at GW the other night, Paglia was asked about the situation at Duke. Here's what she said, more or less:It was still early in the case, before a lot of information came out, so maybe she deserves some slack.University athletes these days are a kind of master race. They get special favors, special dispensations. Does this sense of entitlement lead to crime? How does the ethos of the college sports team turn into Attila the Hun?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Setting The Reichstag On Fire
"For example, any number of college campuses have been the site of "racist" attacks that later were found to be contrived, something I pointed out a while back in looking at what I call "Reichstag Fires" on college campuses. Furthermore, I noted that Duke's latest episode of angst was another rendition of that famous fire, and the nonsense is not limited to Duke. A few years ago at the prestigious Claremont Colleges, a social psychology professor, Kerri Dunn, returned from a free speech rally to find her car windshield smashed and "nigger lover" and other such things spray-painted on her car.Bill explains the genesis of the problem in a bit that came before the above quote.
The pool of qualified black faculty members was - and is - small compared to whites, Asians, and people from the Middle East (qualified means having an earned doctorate from an accredited university). In my profession, economics, only about 40 percent of those receiving doctorates in any given year actually are from the United States, and the vast majority of them are white. This is a very good situation for those blacks who do earn doctorates in economics, as their chances for landing a well-paying job are going to be good, since many institutions of higher learning are going to compete for their services.Bill then ties all this to the Duke "rape" case.
Even as the case is falling apart, however, most of the faculty members who signed the original document have lent their names to a new statement, one that justifies what they said before:What the race baiters won't tell you is that black on white rape is by far the most prevalent and way out of proportion to the number of black males in the population.As a statement about campus culture, the ad deplores a "Social Disaster," as described in the student statements, which feature racism, segregation, isolation, and sexism as ongoing problems before the scandal broke, exacerbated by the heightened tensions in its immediate aftermath. The disaster is the atmosphere that allows sexism, racism, and sexual violence to be so prevalent on campus. The ad's statement that the problem "won't end with what the police say or the court decides" is as clearly true now as it was then. Whatever its conclusions, the legal process will not resolve these problems.
When it comes to interracial rape and sexual assault, the statistics contained in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report and the Department of Justice's National Crime Survey during Wilbanks' study revealed that white rapists chose black victims 8,448 times.If you adjust for population the rate of black on white to white on black rape is not just a factor of 2 but a factor of 6 to 10 (I haven't done the math).
On the other hand rape rates in general are are declining at a fairly steady clip. So however difficult things seem they are getting better. What we need to do, as usual, is to face reality as it is and keep our prejudices from causing a rush to judgement.
Keep in mind that even with the statistics I showed, very few black men are rapists. So you can leave your stereotypes at home.
It would seem though if the Black Studies Departments are to be honest they have to live in today. We are not where we were 40 years ago, we are certainly not where we were 150 years ago and no amount of screaming will make it so. Thank the Maker.
I have only excerped bits of Bill Anderson's piece. Go read it all for it is good.
Durham in Wonderland has a round up of the last weeks news and commentary for those (like me) who cant get enough of this train wreck.
Here are some statistics[pdf] on rape by the percieved race of the victim and the perpetrator. It turns out that whites raping blacks happens in less than .1% of the cases and is listed as zero.
Update: There appears to be a discrepancy noted between the two sets of statistics re: white on black rapes. Any one have a clue? The second set is directly from the Department of Justice. The first numbers quoted are from a post that refers to a study of FBI numbers.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 11:38 PM
Puppies In A Blender
California wants to outlaw some dog breeds. This strikes some people as wrong headed.
Following is a MySpace bulletin received from my daughter Melody. Mel's dog Bodhi was the gentlest, friendliest pup I ever encountered. He converted me from being a pit bull hater to a friend of the breed. He was part boxer, part chow, and part pit bull, if my memory is correct. All are "fighting breeds", but Bodhi put the lie to the myth of the visious *Pit Bull*. Just as with humans, it's the love and affection, or training and abuse that the child or the dog receives that creates either a loyal friend or a monster.Sounds about right to me. I'd add that the owner of a dangerous dog should be prosecuted for any damage done by the dog as if the owner had comitted the crime himself, with rebuttable presumption of malice. However, it has to be shown that it was a pattern of behavior by the dog. i.e. not a strike out of the blue.
Oh yeah, lots of cute puppy and dog pictures at the above link.
H/T reader linearthinker
Commenter linearthinker tells me that:
SB 681 passed into law 11/05, an initiative attempt was unsuccessful in 2006Cross Posted at Power and Control
Michael Fumento at Winds of Change is discussing how amniotic stem cells are a huge break through and will eliminate the need for embyonic stem cells. He thinks the New York Times is covering up this breakthrough by inadequate reporting.
Not so fast I say. How about current research in the matter?
For instance how about this work on regenerating heart tissue?
An Israeli scientific team from the Technion have succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells.Or this work with rats using human embyonic cells to regenerate spinal tissue.
BOSTON: Human embryonic stem cells can help regenerate damaged nerves in rats, producing compounds that nurture nerve cells and stimulate the growth of new ones, Geron Corp said on Wednesday.So maybe this research will show that rat stem cells can help humans. Eventually. Or maybe human stem cells are the way to go in humans too.
Fortunately the research is being done.
Here is a bit on Jewish Law and embyonic stem cell research.
Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, medical bioethics expert Rabbi Dr. Moshe Tendler of New York's Yeshiva University emphatically stated that Jewish law permits embryonic stem cell research and that Jewish tradition clearly mandates the seeking of cures for diseases that cause great human suffering.Evidently the Rabbi understands the difference between an acorn and a tree. Something that escapes the anti-embyonic stem cell research folks.
The Rabbi nails it with a reference to the US Constitution and Torah Law.
"One of the great tragedies of the Bush administration has been the weakening of the wall between church and state, between the religious and the medical," said Tendler, adding that many of America's leading stem cell scientists are now working in other countries where they have more freedom in research.It is time we got back to the old time religion. If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for me.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 09:36 PM
A Truce Is Offered - Weakness Admitted
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
said Saturday that his Hamas-led government would be willing to accept a temporary Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in exchange for a 10-year truce with Israel.Well you know this is a no sale. Who wants to help create a state that starts out at war with its neighbor except for the minor detail of a ten year truce? It didn't sell the last time it was on the table. It will not sell today.
However, his bargaining position must be extremely weak, because he admits his weakness. This is a highly unusual bargaining strategy.
"We are with liberating any inch of Palestine," the Palestinian Prime Minister said in a televised address,Breathtaking. Actually though, that has always been Hamas policy. Nice hearing it from the horse's mouth.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 02:49 PM
Weather or not!
I'm freezing my butt off after having been spoiled by Bush's global warming.
Naturally, my weather resentment is growing.
Who the hell is in charge of my weather, anyway? It's not what I want, and I don't think it's entirely fair to blame the angry Republicans -- or the new right wing BDS. This weather is hard to take, and I question the timing.
Didn't the Democrats just take over?
And didn't it get colder in no time flat?
As FDR said, in politics, there are no coincidences. Just as the Republicans and Bush made it warmer, now the Democrats have made it colder, and the lame duck Bush is powerless to stop them. This cold weather is thus proof positive of the downside of democracy.
To a Democrat, though, the cold weather is probably wonderful. I think it sucks big time, and I think it means that long term, we are destined to lose not just the current battle for the weather, but the war against the Ice Age itself.
Yes, long term, we may very well lose the Cold War.
The best we can hope for is an occasional but temporary period of warming.
A lame "surge" if you will.
MORE: In another ominous sign of the times, those who dissent from the new Cold Warriors -- especially the weathermen we once needed to tell us which way the wind blows -- are to be driven off the air. An all new "weather underground" might be our only hope.
posted by Eric at 02:30 PM
Let's Do It on The Cheap
Dr. Sanity is discussing denial. She says that it is a cover for something we don't want to look at. Hiding under the covers.
The most interesting thing to me is in the comments.We have alleged Muslim Supremacists and good old American Defeatists. Commenter Phoenix comments on a post farther up the thread including a dig at the Muslim:
So I replied to Phoenix:"Jesus talked of love. You talk of denial. And he lived in a world far more brutal than this one."Sidney,
En fuego!Do you suppose they are listening? Is De Nile a river in Egypt?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 02:12 PM
Friday, January 19, 2007
Blue Dogs Bark
The Blue Dog Democrats in the House are finding their voice.
...another sizable group of House Democrats is set to propose a different course today. The Democrats' Blue Dog Coalition -- comprised of more conservative Democrats -- will hold a press conference on the war at 11:30 am. Their proposal appears likely to include important differences from Murtha's legislation.No surprise there. I have been telling my D friends since the election that Conservatives won.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
OK, let's talk Turkey about freedom
If Jimmy Carter is any indication of what's going on with the Democrats, and Dinesh D'Souza is any indication of what's going on with the Republicans, not only is the war on terrorism lost, I'd say so are the two parties.
But much as I hate being a RINO, I don't see what difference it would make if I went back to being a DINO. (No matter which party I'm in, I'll be as annoyed with the damn bases as the bases are with people like me.)
This D'Souza business couldn't have come at a worse time, because while the GOP may be damaged irreparably, I think the real casualty will be the war in Iraq. When I wrote about D'Souza's book, I speculated that it might be a symptom of right wing war fatigue, and I think I should return to that general theme.
The idea that the war might still be winnable seems to be largely lost. With a new meme for war-fatigued social conservatives to devour, I think it will become ever more lost. It is one thing for the war to be undermined by the antiwar left. That they'll do that is as certain as the fact that the sun will rise. Then there's the multiculturalist left, which, by treating Islamists as an oppressed minority, have done much to enable a domestic Fifth Column. But D'Souza's answer to this is to create yet another Fifth Column -- this time on the right. Of course he'll deny it, but that's where I think this conservative-Islamist alliance is going.
In a recent interview with the NRO's Kathryn Lopez, D'Souza makes it quite clear that libertarians are not even on his radar.
....both the Right and the Left have been operating under illusions. The radical Muslims are against modernity and science and democracy. The radical Muslims are upset because of colonialism and the Crusades. It's all nonsense. That's not what the leading thinkers of radical Islam say. And Bin Laden's own views are quite different. In his Letter to America, issued shortly after 9/11, he said that America is the fount of global atheism and it is imposing its morally depraved values on the world. So Muslims must rise up in defensive jihad against America because their religion and their values are under attack. This aspect of Bin Laden's critique has been totally ignored, and it's one that resonates with a lot of traditional Muslims and traditional people around the world.Unless D'Souza has simply not read bin Laden's Letter to America, he's engaged in very selective quotation at best. Sure, bin Laden lists sexual immorality as among our sins (along with a failure to ratify Kyoto and a whole host of other things), but what's his first gripe? Israel, Israel and Israel. Oh, and the Jews who control everything:
Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple:There's a lot more, and of course bin Laden does get into sexual immorality (which he lists along with gambing, usury and more references to the Jews who "have taken control of your economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense; precisely what Benjamin Franklin warned you against.") Read bin Laden's "Letter to America" if you can stand it; it's one of the most long-winded and tedious tirades of bigotry I've read.
To D'Souza it's the "cultural left" which is to blame. But what does "cultural left" mean? Who are these "moderate" Muslims he now calls "traditional" Muslims?
D'Souza's lack of specificity leaves us guessing, but he says the latter are nonetheless the enemies of the former, and the allies of the right:
Our concern should be with the traditional Muslims, who are the majority in the Muslim world. These people are also religious and socially conservative, and they are our natural allies. In fact, since the cultural Left in America is de facto allied with the radical Muslims, we as conservatives have no choice but to ally with the traditional Muslims. We cannot win the war on terror without them. No matter how many Islamic radicals we kill, it's no use if twice as many traditional Muslims join them. Now building bridges to this group doesn't mean changing our way of life, and if we are conservative there is nothing that needs to be changed. Our values are quite similar to those of traditional Muslims. There's no point chasing after "liberals" who believe in secularism and feminism and homosexual rights. Such people are quite rare and they have no constituency in any Muslim country. The traditional Muslims are our best bet. Besides, they're not asking us to live like them. They're asking us not to attack their religion, which conservatives do with depressing regularity. They're asking us not to force secularism and separation of church and state on their society, another foolish cause to which some conservatives subscribe.Our values are quite similar to those of traditional Muslims?
Isn't D'Souza forgetting that according to the traditional Muslim view, opposition to secularism means Sharia law? Has he read the Sharia? I think he'd better, for if the Sharia is now to be considered moderate Islam, shouldn't those with values said to be so "similar" be told what those values are? (I'm thinking that traditions like mandatory headscarves, polygamy, flogging, and amputations might not be as "quite similar" as D'Souza imagines.)
And excuse me, but since when did "moderate" become a synonym for "traditional"?
What about those who don't share these moderate traditional Islamist Red State values? By reductionism they all become part of the "cultural left" -- the Enemy That Started This War By Opposing Traditional Islam.
Many libertarians have actively supported the war effort, and I don't know of a single libertarian who has made the alliance with Osama bin Laden which D'Souza complains the "left" (conflated into the cultural, no doubt) is making:
look at the Left's uncontrolled fury toward my book. These people are going absolutely nuts. They have never said anything remotely this harsh about the Islamic radicals. That's because I am attacking the Left's values at home, and exposing a link between the Left and the Islamic radicals that is the great unspoken secret of American politics. Basically the Islamic radicals supply the terror and the Left uses the terror to demoralize the American people and urge them to pull American troops out of Iraq and the Middle East. So on the one hand the Left dislikes the values of the Islamic radicals, and on the other the Left needs the Islamic radicals to fulfill its core mission in America, which is to wipe out the Right and send us back to the margins of American politics.D'Souza's silence about libertarians couldn't be any louder. It is as if they do not exist. Criticism of his book comes only from the left (which refuses to criticize Islamic radicals).
For the record, I'm one of the people who has criticized his book, and I don't believe I have uttered a single word in favor of the Islamic radicals. Ever. (And that's a serious understatement, as any longtime reader of this blog knows.)
The closest D'Souza gets to an actual criticism of libertarianism is his complaint about the "liberal campaign of cultural imperialism that is trying to force the values of the Western Left on the rest of the world":
Already there have been working relationships between traditional Christians and traditional Muslims in the United Nations and some other international forums to block liberal efforts to declare abortion as a right under international law. In fact the U.N. Charter lists no such right, but this is part of the liberal campaign of cultural imperialism that is trying to force the values of the Western Left on the rest of the world. Planned Parenthood is distributing condoms to teenage girls on every continent. Leftist groups are suing to overturn restrictive abortion laws in South America. The Left is trying to force Turkey to liberalize its laws on homosexuality as a condition of joining the European Union. So here are opportunities for people who differ on theology but agree on morality to form an international coalition to block these bogus "rights" from being imposed on cultures that do not want them. I emphasize that I am not contesting any of the rights of classical liberalism. But this is a new liberalism that is trying to smuggle its own political preferences and call them "rights." Come to think of it, hasn't the Left been doing that here in this country for several decades now? Here are home we have to fight these bogus "rights" ourselves, but abroad we have the entire traditional world as an ally. Why wouldn't we want that? This has nothing to do with putting Pat Robertson and Ahmadinejad together, and everything to do with forming coalitions among mainstream groups across international boundaries.I don't like the U.N. telling countries what to do, as I think it violates their sovereignty.
But let's look at Turkey. As to "laws on homosexuality," there don't seem to be any:
Homosexuality is a crime in most Muslim nations, where penalties range from prison to death. But Turkey has no laws against it, and Istanbul, the largest city, attracts those whose sexual orientation would be considered aberrant elsewhere in the Muslim world.According to the Turkey Gay Guide,
There are no articles on homosexuality in the law but vague references to public morals and public order. The police has the legal right to take anyone who looks suspicious to the police station for interrogation.As to the charge that Turkey is being forced by "the Left" to change its laws to enter the EU, if this Wikipedia writeup is correct, the Left is Turkey's own left, and the EU is, well, the EU:
Turkish LGBT rights activists created the Radical Democrat Green Party to campaign for on a left-wing Green platform that included support for LGBT human rights. Several of its members participated in a hunger strike in 1987 to protest the police harassment of LGBT citizens.Are libertarians now to be lumped in with meddlesome EU bureaucrats, simply because they would support a right of gays to organize? Does D'Souza want gay organizing banned in Turkey, or is he defending laws against homosexuality where none exist? Is he advocating Sharia-style laws for Turkey? I can't tell. But he certainly seems to be on the side of the Turkish Islamists, and he wants them to work with "natural allies" like him.
As a libertarian, I have to acknowledge that D'Souza and his supporters have every right to form an "International Coalition to Block Gay So-Called "Rights" and Stop Condom Distribution." But how will they feel about working with people who are also out to stop Bible distribution? And Jews? Not long ago, I wrote about one of Turkey's most popular films, which advances the idea that Jewish doctors harvest organs from Iraqi prisoners.
To be sure, Turkey hasn't been America's greatest ally in the Iraq War. Is it D'Souza's argument that if conservative Americans help their traditional Muslims stop homosexuality and condoms, Turkey will then become a better ally of the United States in the war against terror? Much as I'm trying for the sake of argument to entertain the idea, I can't see how that would happen. More likely, conservatives will look ridiculous, Hillary will be elected president, and certain conservative think tanks will then get more money.
And it will be tougher than hell for bloggers like me to maintain (as I have repeatedly) that there really is a huge difference between fundamentalist Christianity and fundamentalist Islam. Much as I hate to say this, I think Dinish D'Souza has done more to advance Andrew Sullivan's thesis of a "Christianist-Islamist alliance" than Sullivan ever could have.
Winning a war requires building coalitions, and I'd almost swear D'Souza is doing his level best to destroy the shaky coalition between conservatives and libertarians which has (at least in the blogosphere) been the backbone of a less than monolithic group we call "war bloggers."
....those who require moral perfection in our actions on the world stage are either hopelessly idealistic and out of touch with the consequences of what acting on that idealism would have wrought (in this case, the triumph of the Soviets, and later the Iranians), or they are cynically mouthing arguments they don't even believe.It's hard enough with the left making common ground with the Islamist enemy. With the right doing the same thing (if along slightly different lines), realism itself will become unrealistic. Previous coalitions will unwind.
The most disturbing aspect of D'Souza's argument is that, just as he engages in selective editing of radical Islam, he completely ignores libertarians -- thus leaving it to them to guess whether or not they are part of his "cultural left" and therefore part of The Enemy responsible for 9/11.
Might this be intentional?
Here's Andrew Wile, of Market News Network:
In America, liberalism is imposed on the American public through regulation. Around the world, and especially in the Middle East, such morality is imposed at the point of a gun. This is actually what Muslims are reacting to with such hatred - the imposition of a secular bureaucracy that contravenes the moral dictates of their religion. It is not Hillary Clinton's personal beliefs, whatever they are, that makes part of the world "hate" the United States. It is the regulatory enshrinement of those beliefs and their subsequent militarization and exportation.Might D'Souza be part of this fraudulent liberal-conservative intellectual construct? It might go a long way to explain his selective quoting, and selective definitions.
I don't see how any of it is going to help win the war. I suspect that the book reflects D'Souza personal war against libertarianism.
Along that line, here's an excerpt from a chapter titled "the Libertarian Temptation" (in D'Souza's Letters to a Young Conservative):
Consider an example that contrasts the conservative and libertarian views of freedom. If you said to a libertarian, "What if 300 million Americans opt to become pornographers like Larry Flynt? Would that constitute a good society?" While the conservative would emphatically answer no, the pure liberatian would have to answer yes, because these people have chosen freely. As this example illustrates, libertarianism is a philosophy of choice without political concern for what people actually choose. Thus, although many libertarians live virtuously, libertarianism as a philosophy is indifferent to virtue. In this respect it differs markedly from conservatism.In other words, freedom of choice means moral indifference to the consequences? I favor the right to keep and bear arms, and I do not believe the government should regulate consensual sex or the consumption of drugs, but I do recognize that there are social downsides attached to such freedom. Some people will die, and others will ruin their lives. Saying someone has a right to ruin his life is not the same thing as saying that it's good, nor is it blind to virtue. If 300 million Americans opted to become pornographers, I wouldn't say this was good. In fact, I'd wonder what was wrong with everyone. But that does not mean I would use government force to stop them. And since we're stuck with 300 million Larry Flynts as an example, I think having that many pornographers would make the use of government force an impossibility anyway. But the country wouldn't last long, as the economy would collapse. Yes, 300 million Larry Flynts is a bad idea! Does that mean I'm not a libertarian? Then what am I? A liberal? Or merely a "cultural leftist"? For D'Souza, Larry Flynt is emblematic of all that is wrong, and he seems unable to distinguish between the acknowledgement of a right to print Hustler and a declaration that its contents are virtuous. (Perhaps he is aware of this distinction but just wants to blur it as much as possible.)
Is libertarianism as a philosophy indifferent to virtue? In the strict sense, you could say the same thing about the Constitution. But can't virtue take other forms than speaking out against sexual immorality? Can't freedom be a virtue too?
If freedom is a virtue, that does not mean that all things flowing from freedom are virtuous. So let us assume that Larry Flynt is a bad man -- the "loathsome character" that D'Souza says he is, but that our freedom allows such loathsome characters to run around loose, make millions, and even (as D'Souza claims) be feted by Hollywood and the ACLU. Is it unreasonable to see such freedom as a virtue anyway? The freedom we're talking about is free speech, and while I'm no fan of Larry Flynt, I'm even less of a fan of Michael Moore, Ward Churchill, or the American Nazi Party. What makes Larry Flynt so much more odious? Is it that he peddles obnoxious sex, while the others only peddle obnoxious politics?
Ah but if only the choice were between pornographers and people who want to kill us.
What a world.
Seriously, I don't know what to say. Rational debate about freedom is becoming impossible.
Hugh Fitzgerald, in Pajamas Media, pulls no punches with a very thorough fisking of D'Souza, and concludes,
With this book, he should lose any residual respect any one of sense might once have harbored for him. He has lost the right to an audience. He should no longer be given a hearing at National Review or, for that matter, anywhere else that wishes to be taken seriously.A little thing like being beyond the pale never stopped anybody from making money and achieving success.
Being beyond the pale is part of our freedom in America.
(Just ask Larry Flynt.)
America is under attack as never before -- not only from terrorists but also from people who provide a justification for terrorism. Islamic fundamentalists declare America the Great Satan. Europeans rail against American capitalism and American culture. South American activists denounce the United States for "neocolonialism" and oppression.Says Born Again Atheist,
Dinesh, in The Enemy At Home, you run the gamut. You Justify terrorism, affirm that America is the Great Satan, and rail against American global cultural hegemony and cultural oppression. You blame America for 911. You fault it for 911, and for continuing insulting the terrorists and their supporters with its culture. Slouching towards Gomorrah? By your own admission, we're already there.Hmmm...If these critics are right, then America should be destroyed."If those critics are right?" Dinesh, you've joined them.
Does that mean D'Souza was against destroying America before he was for it?
(Sorry! But such evolution in thinking has become a trend lately....)
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post. Welcome everyone; I appreciate the comments.
I should stress my belief that this is the most disturbing political development I have seen in years. Please bear in mind that my goal is not to bash social conservatives here; I only hope and pray that they stop and look within themselves before making the drastic, possibly irreversible about-face that D'Souza advocates.
UPDATE (1/21/07): Dean Barnett has a brilliant review of the D'Souza book:
....intellectually obtuse, poorly informed and, most importantly, an irresponsible exercise in putatively conservative bomb-throwing.And more:
....if the book's principle theory gains any traction it would be destructive. If conservatives decided that liberals are the reason we were attacked and why we're hated, it won't do anything for domestic unity. D'Souza's theory in this regard is not only misguided, it is offensive. Liberals won't have to bother to caricaturize D'Souza's argument. He did that himself.And finally,
It is dispiriting to see D'Souza stumble so badly, and distressing to think that he is selling the theories of this book as a de facto spokesman for America's conservatives.Barnett doesn't get into polemics with D'Souza; he methodically shows how wrong he is. Read it all!
UPDATE: My thanks to Virginia Postrel for the link to this and my earlier post in her discussion of the Alan Wolfe's New York Times review of D'Souza's book. As to whether Wolfe has "willfully overlooked the strong negative reaction to the book that has, in fact, come from 'decent conservatives,'" perhaps Wolfe could answer Jules Crittenden's question:
Anyone else find it highly ironic that the New York Times should run a piece attacking anyone for being an treasonous al-Qaeda symp?Well, the Times had to start somewhere.
One step at a time. Should I be holding my breath?
UPDATE: My thanks to Kim du Toit for the link, and for reminding me that D'Souza indeed does not speak for all conservatives, much less all Republicans.
Some of the commenters (both here and at du Toit's blog) make me think that perhaps I should have stressed the first word of this post -- "IF."
It is of course my sincere hope that D'Souza is not "any indication of what's going on with the Republicans" -- hence this post!
At the risk of being redundant, perhaps I should stress again that allowing something is not an endorsement of it. FWIW I do not endorse Larry Flynt, nor do I endorse D'Souza's latest meme. To some commenters, that makes me a liberal (one of du Toit's commenters was especially outraged by my sarcastic statement that "being beyond the pale is part of our freedom in America"). Considering that I am routinely called a conservative, perhaps I should be grateful to be smeared as a liberal!
BTW, I'm seeing a report in today's new that Jimmy Carter is apologizing for his book. If Carter in fact apologized, and if D'Souza does not, would it be a false contrast to point that out? Or a false comparison?
Much as I'd be delighted to retract a tentative comparison I never knew I'd fully made, perhaps I should apologize for creating the appearance of a comparison. (Usually, when I make comparisons -- like these two examples -- I like to think I am being, um, perfectly clear.)
Who Won In Lebanon?
Michael Totten has been doing some really excellent work in Israel and Lebanon showing the aftermath of the war and interviewing those who saw the war first hand. There is way more than I can cover in a few paragraphs so let me give you the short version. Michael thinks the Hizballah got the worst of it. His pictures confirm it. His pictures also show that the Israelis were very selective in their targeting and Hizballah was indiscriminate.
Cross Posted at Classical Values
Rifling through feminist magazines?
I love it when my disorganized blog is ahead of the local paper in pursuing forgotten memes. The other day, I had fun with the New York Times' "51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse" (which I deemed unfairly ahead of Glenn Reynolds' "A Rifle in Every Pot") by dredging up the decades old feminist metaphor -- "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
I was, well scraping (rescraping, actually) the dregs of the 70s -- at least I thought I was. It was my way of mocking what I saw as a bad metaphor, but in all honesty I like to think that today's feminist women have evolved past mindless slogans and poor analogies.
I mean, a fish on a bicycle? Aside from being a rather poor analogy, there's a certain unattractive suggestiveness which might evoke certain negative stereotypes you'd think the feminists would have left alone.
But here's the cartoon that accompanied this Op Ed in today's Inquirer:
[NOTE: The cartoon is in the Inquirer's hard copy only; hence the link to the artist's site.]
What I don't know is whether the author of the Op-Ed (University of Connecticut Professor Gina Barreca) chose the cartoon to accompany her piece, or whether the Inquirer editors thought it would be clever.
I should always try to keep in mind that what's satire to me may be someone else's opinion.
At least, I think it's someone else's opinion. Perhaps Ms. Barreca intends the cartoon as satire. She is (according to Ms. magazine) an accomplished feminist humorist:
GINA BARRECA, Professor of English Literature and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, received a B.A. from Dartmouth College, an M.A. from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York. An award-winning columnist for the Hartford Courant, she has served as an advisor to the Library of Congress for work on humor and the American character, and was deemed a "feminist humor maven" by Ms. magazine. With Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post, she wrote I'm With Stupid: One Man, One Woman, and 10,000 Years of Misunderstandings Between The Sexes Cleared Right Up (2004). Barreca's works, which have been translated into five languages, include the best-selling Sweet Revenge: The Wicked Delights of Getting Even (1995); Perfect Husbands (and Other Fairy Tales) (1993); and They Used to Call Me Snow White, But I Drifted (1992).So the cartoon might very well be intended as irony, or even as ridicule of the feminist slogan, because the bicycle rider depicted is none other than its creator Gloria Steinem -- whose late-in-life marriage in 2000 caused Camille Paglia to wisecrack famously,
"Gloria Steinem's marriage is proof positive of the emotional desperation of aging feminists who for over 30 years worshiped the steely career woman and callously trashed stay-at-home moms."For all I know Steinem was out to defy her own counter-stereotype when she married. The same might apply to Professor Barreca (or whoever managed to dig through the newspaper morgue to retrieve what appears to be an old cartoon).
Anyway, in today's Op-Ed, Ms. Barreca inveighs against stereotypes:
Indeed, popular culture - the film/TV world especially - is doing all it can to keep alive the worst social clichés of the past. When women over age 26 or over size 8 are depicted as unmarried, they are most often played by Kathy Bates - or Martin Lawrence. If they're thin and unmarried, they're depicted as predatory and played by Glenn Close or Sharon Stone. If they are young and unmarried... well, by the credits, they won't be.I don't watch as much TV as I should, so I can't say whether that's true. But I do remember the groundbreaking TV show "Murphy Brown" in which the unmarried woman was played by Candice Bergen. The show ran for ten years. Wasn't it a stereotype, too? Or did it break the stereotypes? I don't like stereotypes any more than Ms. Barreca, but at this point in my life I find myself asking whether new stereotypes intended to counter old stereotypes aren't still stereotypes.
Complains Barreca, men -- even ugly, out-of-shape men -- are stereotyped as delectable:
Single men remain delectable, however, no matter what shape they're in. I'm not talking only George Clooney here. Any man with a steady job, a history of reasonable sobriety, and the ability to cook one signature meal (either a red gravy for pasta, which they refer to as a "Bolognese" sauce, or a stir fry made in a wok they got from their last girlfriend) can find a woman willing to marry him. Guys who look like Notre Dame gargoyles can find wives who look like Isabella Rossellini. Think Everybody Loves Raymond. Think The King of Queens. Think The Simpsons. Meantime, women who look like Christie Brinkley get dumped for 17-year-olds who work at ShopRite or hookers named Divine Brown.Not to quibble, but I think I've seen an occasional man get dumped too, as well as an occasional man who is irredeemably clueless or stupid. Why I don't feel any particular need to avenge these stereotypes is probably a question for the shrinks. I don't care, but then, I don't watch much TV.
But forget the new stereotypes. What matters is that the old stereotypes are gone, and that's good for women:
But in the non-screen world, it may be that women have turned the Donna Reed image of singlehood inside-out. Perhaps women are learning that being alone in a relationship is far worse than being alone not in one. (A friend of mine once told me she'd never remarry: single, she can make herself feel inadequate whenever she needs to without having to watch football or, for that matter, her weight.) More and more, being unmarried is a sign that a woman is in control of her life.Have to say, I'm all with that woman who hates having to watch football. If someone made me watch football, I'd slink off to my computer and harbor a grudge. Fortunately, it doesn't happen, or else I'd be snidely attacking football in this blog, leaving readers to wonder what I had against it. (I have nothing against it, but then, no one is forcing me to watch it. Unlike the way "cultural leftists" like me always force Islamists to watch pornography.)
But who is making her watch her weight? Her husband? Society? Or might it be her own rational and selfish desire to live longer? Seriously, what has weight to do with this? Not to get off topic, but men and women both get fat, don't they? And isn't being overweight bad for you? Unless Professor Barreca subscribes to the old stereotype -- "fat is a feminist issue!" -- I'm confused. No; I'm wrong right there, because even if she did subscribe to fat theory (or whatever the feminist meme is), then why would she have complained about Kathy Bates? For the fat theorists, shouldn't the latter be considered a liberating stereotype?
OK, enough fat. Let's cut to the meat. Much as I'd like to believe that "being unmarried is a sign that a woman is in control of her life," I often wonder what is meant by being in control. Feminism is supposed to mean independence, yet so many feminists are socialists that I often wonder whether the goal is simply to substitute The State for The Man. If it is, that is not independence, and it is the antithesis of being in control. In logic, if the stereotype of men being in control is bad (because it's bad to be controlled), then how does it become good for the state to be in control? Asserting that it's good for women to be in control of their lives is one thing, but I find myself wondering whether the people who say this really mean it. That's why I suggested that single women be armed. How could any true feminist oppose that?
I think a good slogan would be "a woman needs the state like a fish needs a net."
I know. The net of the state (whether nanny or daddy state) is meant as a safety net.
Nothing funny about it.
(The fish/bike analogy may have been scraping, but the net analogy really is bottom trawling.)
Thursday, January 18, 2007
De gustibus est disputandum!
Marco Evaristi, an edgy Chilean artist, served meatballs made with his own fat to his dining companions at his latest exhibit in Santiago. On the plates in front of them was a serving of agnolotti pasta and in the middle a meatball made with oil Evaristti removed from his body in a liposuction procedure last year. Some of the meatballs will be canned and sold for $4,000 for 10 units. "You are not a cannibal if you eat art," he said.This reminds me of what Salvador Dali said after signing his name to an omelette:
When an autograph hound asked Dali for his signature during lunch, the eccentric artist whipped out a pink marker and signed his half-finished omelet, much to the dismay of his fan. "Art should be edible," Dali announced.I think this gastronomic occasion calls for cannibalizing another Dali (who painted "Autumn Cannibalism" and wrote a fabulous cookbook.)
The title is "Soft Skulls with Fried Egg Without the Plate, Angels and Soft Watch in an Angelic Landscape" (1977).
My personal opinion is that it's better art than canned fat from the overweight Chilean artist.
More tasteful too.
posted by Eric at 11:10 PM
Spy vs Spy
America is desperatly short of translators of Arabic, Farsi and other languages important to our defence against Islamic terrorists.
Last Thursday, Brigitte Gabriel and I put out an Action Alert to the American Congress for Truth (ACT) membership, asking you for examples of how our government rebuffed your valued assistance as Arabic and Farsi linguists for critical intelligence translation work assignments in military, foreign and homeland security agencies.Here are a couple of people who have applied to help and have been turned down
Brigitte Gabriel, ACT founder, Lebanese Christian.Here is a case that may illustrate the cause of the problem:
From a Lebanese American Christian.Our translation services may have been compromised by agents of our enemies. Nothing new. During the Soviet era our spy agencies were compromised by Soviet Agents. Of course the cheese with the biggest number of holes was the British spy agencies; the Philby, Burgess, and McClean cases among others were notorious. In America we had the Walker spy ring in the Navy and Hanssen in the FBI.
The case of Jan Dickerson was reported on 60 Minutes.
The FBI has admitted that when Dickerson was hired last November the bureau didn't know that she had worked for a Turkish organization being investigated by the FBI's own counter-intelligence unit.You know maybe that case and others like it explain why Christians, Jews, and Apostate Muslims are having such trouble getting jobs as translators. It may be that our espionage and counterespionage agencies are closed shops mostly run by our enemies.
Update: 19 Jan '07 0535z
Amir Taheri says our media has the same problem.
January 15, 2007 -- JUST outside Um al-Qasar, a port in south east Iraq, a crowd had gathered around a British armored car with a crew of four. An argument seemed to be heating up through an interpreter.My guess is that the intent is not totally biased. They are looking for the low cost producer of translations. Augmented by special contacts with otherwise uncontactable individuals.
In a way you got to hand it to these Iraqi guys, they must have studied "Wag The Dog" a hundred times. Reality doesn't count. Only what is in front of the camera counts.
The following is a real classic:
The industry geared itself to meeting demand. In 2004, for example, many journalists coming to Baghdad wanted to interview the "militants" who were attacking U.S. soldiers. The industry obliged by arranging interviews.Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 10:57 PM
Unfair To Ham Sandwiches
There is a hassle going on in Minneapolis between Muslim cab drivers and the airport authority.
International media attention has focused on Muslim cab drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport after many, based on their religious beliefs, refused to transport passengers carrying alcohol. It is forbidden in Islam to consume or transport alcohol. Unfortunately, much of the attention has been negative and based on false information, including suggestions that declining to transport alcohol is only the beginning and that Muslims are trying to impose their religious beliefs on others. That's false. Muslims respect the rights of non-Muslims to drink and carry alcohol. We simply ask that our beliefs be equally respected.Either Cab Drivers are common carriers or they ar not. People who didn't like the agreement could have shut the Muslims down by having every one carry a bottle in the open.
Of course if enough of that happens the Muslims pile up and it becomes hard to dispatch the cabs.
I like the American way. Don't want to make money in a pig abattoir, because according to your religion pigs will defile you? Don't apply for the job.
What will the Muslims ask for next? Banning ham sandwiches? I suppose that would be bad for lawyers. Especially when it comes to grand jury indictments.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Real Men Do Real Physics
There is a discussion going on at Matt Yglesias' place about the future of the Republicans if they stay the course of the war. Matt thought the odds for the Rs was not good.
I made the point that we needed to stay the course in the Middle East as long as our civilization depended on Middle Eastern Oil.
Then I suggested that an alternative existed, but we would have to develop it. That alternative is Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion.
Well I got the usual wise guy comments. Some fool thought I was talking about cold fusion and dismissed what I had to say with derision.
Then we get this from commenter Ed who actually visited my blog for at least 3 seconds to get ammunition for the following comment
The fusion thing is hillarious. M. Simon's blog has a post about how Muslim's aren't very good at science...it's right next to some Christian Zionist kookery.Well if the Muslims are good at science why do they depend on oil for almost all their income? As to Christian Zionism, I replied:
BTW the Christian Zionist piece quotes Democrat Tom Lantos extensively.Well we get one more ignorant guy with an opinion.
M, you're talking physics on a political blog, and 'free power' is something that high school physics says cannot happen, so this is hardly the right place to be advocating it.Then some real men came on the scene and asked some real questions.
When I spoke to a plasma physicist at Texas A&M about one version of the electromagnetically accellerated boron-proton fusion schemes, he told me that a lot of these results are suggestive but misleading. Sure, you can use simple devices to accelerate particles to speeds that approximate the temperatures needed to fuse borons and protons. But the problem is in equating these particle speeds to temperatures. Particles in a thermal distribution come in lots of different speeds, centered around a peak in the center (which is what we call the temperature). But fusion doesn't happen at the peak--it happens at the tail of the distribution. Non-thermal particles have to reach much higher speeds than what you'd expect to reach the energy needed to ignite fusion.To which my response was:
jlw,Then another real man steps up to the plate:
I looked over some abstracts and citation lists on Web of Science. Bussard's work is published in aparently reputable journals, and frequently cited, though he is not very prolific. These are not self-citations by co-authors, or circle-jerk citations by collaborators.And my reply was:
Njorl,Here is the Monkhorst paper mentioned above.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Addiction Is A Genetic Disease
Surpisingly the NIDA says "addiction" is a genetic disease triggered by environmental factors. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this conclusion. It was pretty much established science by the time they allowed as how it might be true.
Here is what they have to say:
Evidence from adoption and twin studies and from animal models suggests that vulnerability to addiction has a moderate to high heritable component. The gene variants underlying increased vulnerability to addiction are unknown, but new advances in science and technology will facilitate the identification and characterization of these gene variants. Like many other psychiatric illnesses, drug abuse and dependence comprise a complex set of genetic disorders lacking a simple pattern of Mendelian inheritance. Multiple genes with relatively small effects are likely to influence vulnerability to addiction, gene x environment x development interactions appear to play significant roles in mediating outcomes, and there may be no simple correspondence between current phenotypes and the genotype(s). Therefore, a broad range of scientific approaches will be needed to elucidate the role and identity of genetic factors in drug abuse vulnerability.So I wrote a letter to the NIDA asking what I think is the critical question:
It is pretty well established (at least anecdotally) that besides a genetic base, addiction requires an environmental trigger. It appears that that trigger is trauma that generates an intense emotional reaction.In any case we know that the genetic factor is an important component. Why doesn't the NIDA trumpet this? Well it hardly helps the drug war to think of it as a scheme for genetic discrimination and persecuting the tormented.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Why I love the 18th Amendment
I know that some readers (especially those who've read the 18th Amendment) might be startled by the title of this post, because I make no secret of my opposition to Prohibition, and let's face it, the 18th Amendment was all about Prohibition. Here's the text:
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.My reaction?
I think the above is incredibly cool! So cool, in fact, that the more I think about it, the more I feel like starting the Eighteenth Amendment Society. Such a thing has been mentioned, but only as a sarcastic reference. Well I'm serious, damn it!
Now why on earth would I say that? How could I, an avowed libertarian, admire any restriction on American freedom?
Lest anyone imagine I've had a change of heart, I am as resolutely opposed to government prohibition of substances as ever. The reason I love the 18th Amendment is not because it prohibits alcohol, but because by its existence, it's the telltale amendment.
Even though it's been repealed, the fact of its existence lets us in on a dirty secret:
The Constitution once meant what it said.
(You know, the old, outmoded stuff like "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people.")
At least, the Constitution still meant what it said on on January 16, 1919 -- the date the 18th Amendment was ratified.
(Alas, I missed its glorious anniversary! I was so busy enjoying Martin Luther King's birthday the day before that I just plumb forgot.)
HAPPY 88TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE GLORIOUS 18TH AMENDMENT!
Today, if the people who think they're running the United States according to the Constitution wanted to enact prohibition of alcohol, they wouldn't need no stinkin' amendment. They'd simply tack on the magic words -- "in or affecting interstate commerce."
The manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes, in or affecting interstate commerce, is hereby prohibited.I find myself wondering how many of the shrinking minority of American students who still learn civics have ever read the 18th Amendment. How many citizens know that the Constitution was once considered important enough that in order to be disregarded, it had to be amended? That's the real message of the 18th Amendment.
Or am I advocating "Originalism"?
(I hate to sound cynical, but right now, the 18th Amendment looks very much like a "noble experiment" after all.)
MORE: Ilya Somin has an interesting analysis of Originalism, and touches on the amendment process:
To my mind, the biggest problem may be the fact that the US Constitution is so hard to amend through the formal amendment process that there is a real danger that we could be stuck with an original meaning that, although highly beneficial in its time, is dysfunctional today. A weaker objection is the fact that much of the Constitution was not ratified by as broad a supermajority as the McGinnis-Rappaport theory assumes. For example, as Bruce Ackerman has shown in a series of books, the crucial Reconstruction amendments were only ratified by the necessary three quarters of the states because several southern states were essentially coerced into ratifying by the federal government. For these and other reasons, I am not convinced that originalism should be the sole and exclusive method of constitutional interpretation. However, McGinnis and Rappaport's argument - along with similar ones by other scholars - does persuade me that there should at least be a strong presumption in favor of textualism and originalism that should be overridden only in very exceptional cases.The Telltale Eighteenth Amendment is, I think, a perfect example of how the process was meant to function. If enough people think there's a problem that the federal government lacks the power to solve, and the Constitution stands in the way, amend it.
Maybe this should be called Amendmentism.
posted by Eric at 11:51 AM
Who's afraid of CAIR?
I was delighted to see Nonie Darwish's "Now They Call Me Infidel" reviewed in the Philadelphia Inquirer! For a book like that to make it into the MSM at all is real progress. Unfortunately, your typical, in-a-hurry-to-get to-work Inky reader might miss the review, as it's on page D-5, but what the hell. At least it's there.
Not often does a book review make me want to run out and buy the book, but this one did, because reading between the lines, I get the feeling that Ms. Darwish was lucky that her book even made it to the review stage. For starters, the book apparently comes accompanied by a battery of bigoted "blurbistas":
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book. It comes accompanied by a battery of blurbs by several right-wing luminaries, including recently (and involuntarily) retired Sen. Rick Santorum. Still, you can't always tell a book by its blurbistas, and Noni Darwish's Now They Call Me Infidel might, I say just might, indicate something astir in the Islamic world: women in rebellion.How this review made it past the CAIR censors, I do not know. Perhaps the Philly chapter is lazy. But before my very eyes appeared statements like these:
"As a child," Noni Darwish writes, "I was not sure what a Jew was. I had never seen one. All I knew was that they were monsters. They wanted to kill Arab children, some said, to drink their blood."These are all good questions -- questions my Zoning Board not only failed to ask the local Saudi madrassa, but which neighbors concerned about their safety were specifically barred from asking.
Understandably, the reviewer displays a little turf-protectiveness where it comes to what he calls Ms. Darwish's "outrage at Western media":
The author's own outrage at Western media is somewhat overdone. Where does she get the idea that reports are "often intertwined with messages of blaming America first" and "smearing Americans who wanted to alert the American public to jihad in America by calling them bigots and alarmists." Examples, please. None provided.Must I?
OK, I haven't read the book and I do not have it, so this is another one of my reviews of a review of a book I haven't read. I cannot state definitively whether any examples are provided in the book. To say that there are "none," though is a pretty broad charge. (Any readers who have actually read the book, feel free to chime in and enlighten me.)
I figured that I could at least Google the author to see what's up. The name seemed familiar, but the paltry 496 hits which turned up just didn't seem right. Once I realized that the correct spelling of Ms. Darwish's first name is "Nonie" (as opposed to the reviewer's spelling of "Noni"), the number of hits skyrocketed to over 100,000, and it didn't take me long to discern Ms. Darwish has been providing examples herself -- for years. For years she has written that groups like CAIR go after people like Daniel Pipes (who is of course routinely called a bigot) and her by making angry charges which find sympathetic ears in a pliant media which considers CAIR to be "moderate."
It appears that CAIR and these "moderate" Muslims are powerful enough to have given Ms. Darwish problems finding a forum. In November, she was effectively censored at Brown University:
Muslim students had complained that Darwish was "too controversial." They insisted she be denied a platform at Brown, and after contentious debate Hillel agreed.I don't know the details of the "beautiful relationship" with the "Muslim community" at Brown, but stifling dissenting voices has never struck me as one of the hallmarks of beauty. Or moderation.
Ms. Darwish maintains that radical Muslim preachers know how to work the system, and excel at pretending to be moderate:
Such preachers are often regarded as a joke and as extreme even by moderate Muslims in Egypt only to find themselves with new respectable status and freedoms they could only dream of under Muslim dictatorships. Such Muslim radical preachers should never have been allowed in America. But believe it or not they have discovered that only in America can they work the system to their advantage to demand this and that and if anyone criticizes them they learn the good old buzz words in America: racist, bigot and Islamophobia -- the choice words they learned quickly from some Muslim American organizations who claim to be moderate. These are expressions represent realities that are a way of life in the old country where racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism are the norm. In America these individuals are finally free to spread their hatred, rage and subversion and cause a rift between Muslims and the rest of America.There are worse things than being called a bigot, though. In an open letter to PBS, she says that fear of Saudi-funded mosques in the United States is what requires her to use a pseudonym:
I now write articles critical of Islam and speak to many groups about the Middle East but have to use a pseudonym so I do not get killed by some of your Moslem friends in the US mosques you were interviewing! They have no shame to be complaining of discrimination after 9/11, thanks to Media outlets like you who gave them a voice. The US goes out of its way to protect them. What discrimination? Are you kidding? These mosques in the US are financed by Saudi money and have an agenda and they scare people like me who want to write and speak freely. Scared and oppressed former Moslems like me could be killed by these Moslem extremists in US mosques. There are many moderate Moslems and former Moslems like me who feel intimidated by some US Moslem extremists. Former Moslems have to be given a voice on why they escaped Islam. People like me and oppressed Christians and Jews in the Moslem World had no say on your show. That is very sad. I wish you had defended my right to choose or reject Islam without getting killed.Again, I haven't read the book the Inquirer reviews. But it certainly isn't hard to find examples of the "bigot" charge being used to smear "Americans who want to alert the American public to jihad in America." (Anyone heard of Charles Johnson?) Complaining about jihad in America is a great way to get tarred as a bigot, and I think it is why so many in the MSM are afraid of CAIR.
Frankly, I can't blame them. Like most people, reporters want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and raise their families. Unlike bloggers (who, as O'Reilly famously complained, "work for no one" and cannot be fired) reporters depend on a steady paycheck.
Being called a bigot is a dire career threat. Especially when the people leveling the charge are "moderates."
So, my congratulations to the Inquirer for the review. Especially the conclusion:
Now They Call Me Infidel is Darwish's personal story - provocative, repetitious, and not too well organized, Still, she asks some pertinent questions:Thank God we haven't reached the stage when defending Israel is called bigotry.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has more on CAIR's intimidation tactics, which now include filing complaints against Daniel Pipes (and assorted Jews they claim are engaged in "hate speech") with the Justice Department. (The complaint is here in pdf format.)
MORE: The Virtuous Republic has more on the letter from the CAIR board member, along with an excellent analysis. (Thanks for linking this post too!)
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
avoid all things which might create appearances!
As Larry Elder makes clear in a recent piece about "flipping the bird" sometimes, what can seem like racism or bigotry really isn't racism or bigotry at all:
When driving to work a couple weeks ago, the convertible in front of me, with three young black men and a young black female driver, stopped for the red light at an intersection. But when the light changed to green, the convertible just sat there with the passengers yakking away. Not one of those who honks right away, I sat for a bit - from seven to 10 seconds - waiting for the driver to get going. Then I gently tapped my horn.To make matters worse, when Elder reenacted the story and included the finger gesture, a nearby white stranger thought he was giving him the finger.
Elder was black (which means race was not an issue with the convertible occupants) but I'm sure a lot of white guys in the same situation would have assumed that race must somehow have been involved.
The Elder story reminded me of one of Coco's most annoying habits -- something which I fear makes me look like a white racist cracker. When I take her in the car, she barks at pedestrians. All pedestrians -- white, black, Asian, Latino. She hates fast movements, so she doesn't like the way they whiz by when she's in the car. What she just cannot grasp is that it's not the people who are whizzing by her car, it's her car that's whizzing by the people. Instead of thinking it over logically and applying simple laws of physics, she barks furiously with a sound best described as a "drive-by barking." Coco is not alone in this misperception; I have had many dogs do the same thing to me over the years. I do not take it personally, nor have I ever noticed the race of the dog-owners.
But what always makes me cringe is when the "victim" of Coco's drive-by barkings happens to be black, because I'm afraid I'm going to get that look. It's a look that says, "there goes another cracker with a vicious dog trained to hate black people." I hate to read race into a look, because the look might just be grounded in fear of dogs (and Coco is a media-maligned "pit bull" after all) but I don't think it's completely my imagination because I just don't get quite the same look of dismay from white people. I almost feel like pulling over and explaining that I'm really not a cracker, that Coco does this to everyone, that not only does she not hate black people, but her veterinarian -- whom she allows to handle, poke, prod, and even inject her without a peep -- is black. I honestly don't think my dog is aware that humans have such a thing as races. But the pedestrians don't know that.
I remember when I discovered that a well known leftist blogger was black. I had not known this, and I had ridiculed him without knowing. (As if a thing like that should matter -- but it sure as hell did!) Suddenly, I wondered whether my attack might be seen as "racist." Just the awareness of race has a way of changing things, and it should not. Yet, even the unawareness of the man's race was seen (by him) as evidence that the unaware were making the (racist) assumption that he was white!
Without thinking, we are all conditioned to think this argument means that race matters. Yet it is not race that matters; it's that the awareness of race triggers a fear-based reaction -- the awareness of the possibility of an appearance of racism.
The appearance of racism is what matters. Far more than race. Or racism.
What worries me is that if people are forced to avoid the appearance of racism, they are going to avoid any and all situations which might put them in a position of ever having to deal with the possibility of the appearance of the appearance. If the only way to avoid the appearance of racism is to avoid people of other races, ultimately, this could lead to real racism.
Maybe Coco's trying to teach me something in her crude way.
Whatever lesson it is, it seems lost on her "victims."
Corruption of Blood
Gates of Vienna has a post discussing Delegate Frank D. Harwood's recent remarks on Black slavery in America and the genocide of Jews in Europe. He quotes from a local paper:
A Hanover County delegate's comments that Virginia's black residents should "get over" slavery and discussing whether Jews might "apologize for killing Christ" drew angry and emotional rebukes Tuesday on the floor of the House of Delegates.The Baron (of Gates of Vienna) comments:
No wonder they gasped. Mr. Hargrove has dared to utter one of those sentiments which simply cannot be said. It just isn't done. I'd say that his political career is in jeopardy, but, since he's seventy-nine years old, that may not be of great concern to him.The Baron goes on at length to explain why folks need to "get over it". Then in the comments in response to a few commenters including myself, the Baron explains that his article on the subject was misunderstood.
I replied to him:
I would imagine that the Delegate doesn't understand.Now that is not the only place we see this kind of problem. There is a Corruption of Blood attitude by many blacks towards the three Lacrosse players in Durham, NC.
Since March 14, race and racism have played a consistent, and sometimes depressingly noticeable, role in this case. In the Wilmington Journal, Cash Michaels has frequently quoted from anonymous racist e-mails that he has received; on the Duke campus, Karla Holloway has claimed to have received similar e-mails. Anonymous e-mails of any type, it seems to me, should be criticized; racist emails are contemptible.However if you study the case and the archives at Durham in Wonderland (see the sidebar) you will note that there is a lot of anti-white racism in evidence from a vocal segment of the Duke faculty. Despite the fact that a study of the same archives shows little white on black racism evident on campus.
To come together in America I do believe that we must socially as well as in law not allow Corruption of Blood to influence our thinking. Every person must be treated as an individual. With out such treatment our individual liberties are in great danger.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Is socialized medicine worth dying for?
It appears that one of the great pioneers of socialized medicine, Fidel Castro, may soon die as a result of what appears to be bad health care:
U.S. doctors said Tuesday's report in El Pais suggested Castro had received questionable or even botched care.Botched care? Under socialized medicine?
Am I supposed to be surprised?
One of Fidel's best known slogans was "Socialism or death!" and comedian Jack Benny's best known retort to a similar alternative was to say "I'm thinking it over!"
How about Fidel? Is he thinking it over? I doubt it. While I'd think it would be a little embarrassing for him to admit they had to fly in a specialist all the way from Spain, to a true believer nothing is embarrassing.
Not even dying from a preventable death.
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post. Welcome all new readers.
I appreciate the comments.
UPDATE: My thanks to Damian Penny for linking this post.
MORE: Via Allahpundit, I see that an earlier report from Reuters which was headlined "Castro surgery seems to have been botched: experts":
MIAMI (Reuters) - Cuban leader Fidel Castro has long prided himself on Cuba's doctors and free public health care system, but that system seems to have let him down after he fell ill in July , U.S.-based doctors said on Tuesday.Too bad they didn't send him to Miami?
Castro? In Miami? Hello?
Is it possible that Dr. Gerson is being sarcastic?
Real Armies of Davids with slingshots?
An excavation in Syria appears to have dug up the real thing:
CHICAGO (Jan. 16) - It was the ancient version of a last stand: Twelve clay bullets lined up and ready to be shot from slings in a desperate attempt to stop fierce invaders who soon would reduce much of the city to rubble.Well, my blog is my slingshot.
They can have it when they pry it from my cold dead hands...
posted by Eric at 10:53 AM
Israpundit has an excellent post up about Christian Zionism. It reports on a Christian's observations of a dinner gala at the Capital Washington Hilton honoring outgoing Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon and incoming Ambassador Meridoron that discussed Christian Zionism.
The chatty crowd quieted as Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), spoke eloquently about the past and the present world climate of anti-Semitism. Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress, disclosed, "l assumed naively that the chapter [Holocaust] of human history would be a dark nightmare moment of the past but that is not the case." He continued, "We have a new dimension, a convergence of historic anti-Semitism coupled with Muslims and the intellectual elite. This makes for a powerful cocktail yet, we have a powerful antidote [for anti-Semitism]; the decent Christians who learned the lessons of the Holocaust. The antidote to Auschwitz is the Christian community in the United States. We cannot tell you how precious you are to us. We deeply love and respect you more than you'll ever know because you represent the finest of civilization."Every country that has welcomed the Jews has prospered. Every country that has persecuted them has over time declined. It probably has more to do with the value of tolerance rather than just the Jews. As people have noted many times before - Jews are the canaries in the social coal mine.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Making anger ridiculous?
"Not even Barack Obama can save us now."
This is a familiar topic for me, as I try to use blogging as a method of anger avoidance (or at least not letting anger influence me unduly). Yet for many, blogging has become quite the opposite -- the medium of anger expression. Kurtz elaborates:
Compelling as Wood's treatment of blogging is, it's even more fun to take some of Wood's general characterizations of New Anger and apply them specifically to blogging. For example: "[New Anger involves] deriding an opponent for the sheer pleasure of expressing contempt for other people....New Anger is a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted....If in your anger you reduce your opponent to the status of someone unworthy or unable to engage in legitimate exchange, real politics come to an end....Whoever embraces [New Anger] is bound to find that, at least in the political realm, he has traded the possibility of real influence for the momentary satisfactions of self-expression." Although not about blogging per se, these comments all amount to dead-on characterizations of the downside of the blogosphere. Best of all is the longish passage Wood quotes from St. Ambrose, which could serve, I think, as a tiny manual on how to handle an angry blogger. In short, one way to read A Bee in the Mouth is to treat it as a kind of extended commentary on the weaknesses of the blogosphere.He is certainly right to identify anger as a key component. As he notes, both sides tend to confuse anger with good character:
"For the first time in our political history, declaring absolute hatred for one's opponent has become a sign not of sad excess but of good character." That, Wood says, is why our political anger is now New Anger. For Wood (a conservative who's written for National Review Online) New Anger is a phenomenon of both Left and Right. Yet Wood eschews false symmetry, and one of the fascinations of A Bee in the Mouth is following Wood's attempt to make sense of New Anger's long, slow, and decidedly incomplete seepage from the Left to the Right side of the political spectrum.If I had to speculate about those who confuse anger with good character, I'd say that they're suffering from a need for that self-righteous moral indignation that was once doled out in Sunday religious sermons. There may be some kind of cultural void (an ecological niche, if you will) for that sort of thing. With religion gone, it's just a sort of uncontrolled force of nature. Professional demagogues love to get it stirred up -- anger is the bread and butter of activists of nearly every variety.
I am by no means immune. Burned out and cynical though I may be, it doesn't take much to get me provoked. Any attempt to manipulate my emotions will tend to anger me, and often all I need to do is pick up the newspaper. There is no shortage of anger for me to get angry about.
Anger makes me angry. It's meant to.
I try to think of anger avoidance as a game, but I often fail. What ticks me off is activists who are seemingly dead to all reason and who crank out arguments the way lawyers in litigation crank out pleading papers. This leads the activists on the other "side" to crank out their stuff, and unfortunately it also leads otherwise reasonable people to conclude that these sides represent true choices.
The idea that thought should be dictated from above -- that we can't or shouldn't think for ourselves -- is an unending source of anger for me. And that elitist premise underlies almost every manipulative or misleading argument. I tend to take it personally, for it's as if the activists are trying to lead me. And then blogging becomes an exercise in remaining logical and not succumbing to anger.
The real challenge is what to do with truly hopeless arguments. Gun control is a perfect example. To the people on one side urban shootings are an argument for taking away guns; to the other, they're an argument for providing guns to the law abiding. The best I can hope for is to try to avoid the ad hominem insulting approach, and I like to remind people that yes, I am biased ("I'm the NRA" even) but that I try to be a thoughtful, hopefully polite, human being.
Barack Obama is someone with whom I couldn't disagree more on the gun issue, but he strikes me as someone who would be able to be civil about it, which is a welcome change in American politics. I hope it might even become a trend.
The hardest thing for me is not succumbing to anger in the face of an "argument" which is actually an ad hominem insult masquerading as an argument. Thus, I tended to see Dinish D'Souza's recent book as an accusation directed against me -- that I was responsible for 9/11 because my "cultural leftist" views offended the Islamists.
Presented with an argument like that, what's to argue? "No, sorry, but I do not believe I am responsible for 9/11" just has a hollow ring to it. These sorts of "arguments" invite recriminations, and when they have been published in book form and they're advertised for sale, there's little an ordinary person can do by way of debate. Blogging, by empowering the traditionally powerless, has changed things for the better.
The goal for me is to keep it civil. How successful I am, I don't know. Sometimes I worry that even my attempts at gentle satire might be seen as less than civil. But what the hell. My inclination is to say, "Yes, Mr. D'Souza, I am responsible for 9/11." And I'd remind him that this goes onto the long list of crimes to which I have already confessed:
I killed the kids at Columbine, and my collective guns regularly murder hundreds of children in Philadelphia. I have murdered millions of unborn babies. I tortured Iraqis at Abu Ghraib! I pulled the tube from Terri Schiavo! I also clubbed the baby seals, and probably helped Richard Speck murder all those nurses in Chicago in 1966.The asterisk noted something I almost forgot -- that I'm also a "little Eichmann."
When an argument strikes me as a ridiculous attack, it's very tough for me to see it as other than ridiculous. The result becomes ridicule. Whether this is a shortcoming, I do not know. Does it sink to the level of "reduc[ing] your opponent to the status of someone unworthy or unable to engage in legitimate exchange"?
That depends on whether there is:
a) an opponent; and
b) whether there is any possibility of "legitimate exchange."
Applying the traditional thinking with which I grew up, would be very foolish of me to imagine that Dinesh D'Souza or any other bestselling author I might criticize in a blog post is my "opponent." Blogging only creates the appearance that he is. As to "legitimate exchange," while it is possible, it would be foolish for me or any other blogger to expect such a thing. That's because I'm a David, and D'Souza, along with his publisher Doubleday, are Goliaths.
Yet the undeniable fact is, blogging has made legitimate exchanges -- even with the most unlikely Goliaths -- a possibility. Which is why remaining logical and avoiding anger ought to be primary goals of any blogger.
Not always an easy task, and while I'm not expecting to be "saved" by Barack Obama, I find his politeness refreshing.
Don't unmarried women need a gun in every pot?
I now see that Glenn Reynolds' New York Times Op-Ed "A Rifle in Every Pot" (which I first heard read over the air yesterday by G. Gordon Liddy) has now made it to the number two position in the New York Times. (Last night it was at Number Three.)
Number Two position places it just behind "51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse," still at Number One.
But I think this is a guns 'n' butter issue for all women, especially unmarried women. If roughly half of all women need can be said to not need men as much as much as fish need bicycles, don't those in other half need a rifle in every pot?
And why limit it to that half? From either a feminist or a non-feminist perspective, I think both halves need guns -- and much more than fish need bicycles!
But what would it take to convince the activists who think married women are like fish on bicycles?
MORE: If I hadn't read James Lileks' analysis of the 51 percent husbandless class, I'd have never known that it took a total of five reporters to write that one article:
The real story reflects on the newspaper industry, and it comes after the story's conclusion.Via Glenn Reynolds, who doubtless realizes he's been outgunned (or can I say that?) five to one.
Hey wait a second. With five reporters, why didn't it occurr to one of them that single women might be interested in safety?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I Got A Link
Considering which post they linked to, it is neither good nor bad.My response to him was
Thanks for the reply. And you got it exactly right on the mark. Brilliant.Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 07:46 PM
The Entertainer's Revenge
The way a loaf of bread is protected from theft is you put it in a store.
If you put it on the street it is harder to keep opportunists from taking what they want.
You know at one time recorded music was feared because it would put an end to live entertainment. Movies were feared because they were cheaper to put on than plays.
Now we know live content is easier to protect than recorded content.
Call it the live entertainer's revenge.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 06:31 PM
Closing the last loopholes
Think a man's home is his castle? Think again.
Thanks to the relentless efforts of the anti-smoking bureaucracy, Americans are losing one of the last vestiges of privacy -- the right to smoke in their own homes:
A year ago last month, the [Seattle] voter-approved Initiative 901 took effect. It prohibits smoking in work settings and public places -- from offices to bowling alleys -- and within 25 feet of their front doors, or a "reasonable" distance, to keep smoke from wafting indoors.As of yet there's no legislation to prohibit smoking inside one's home. But the foot in the door seems to be public housing:
Perhaps nowhere is the issue more controversial than in public housing, where many residents -- smokers and nonsmokers alike -- have few housing options.Smoking indoors is of course being seen as a public safety issue:
Indoor smoking comes with a higher risk of fires, litter and increased maintenance costs when smokers move out, authority spokeswoman Rhonda Rosenberg said.No doubt insurance companies will weigh in (if they haven't already) with statistics showing smokers are more likely to start fires. As if that's a risk of tobacco. (Might as well say that electrical appliances start fires. Of course, we all know that guns cause shootings.)
And then there are the inevitable lawsuits which will be filed against landlords by non-smoking tenants (supported by anti-smoking groups). I'm glad I'm not a landlord -- especially in Berkeley, where you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Writes a Berkeley landlord in an email:
Second hand cigarette smoke has been classified as a Class A carcinogen, so tenants can sue their landlords for "exposing" them to the tobacco smoke drifting in their doors and windows from other apartments in the building. But what can a Berkeley landlord do about that? The Berkeley eviction control law says that there are "9 just causes" for an eviction, and smoking in your own apartment isn't one of them. Smokers know this, and they know that a threat from the landlord to evict them unless they stop smoking or to at least close their doors and windows is unenforceable. So what is a landlord supposed to do? He can be sued by his non-smoking tenants unless he gets rid of the smoking tenants, but he can't get rid of them because of eviction controls. I think your readers might like to ponder this problem!Pondering the problem will not make it go away, though.
Smoking is becoming an endangered, soon-to-be-extinguished freedom. And not just for tenants. Parents can in theory be sued by their children for exposing them to smoke, and I can easily imagine laws in the near future prohibiting parents from smoking in homes with children.
At some point (and I am not sure when) we will be looking at genuine prohibition, or something very close to it.
When I was kid, even non-smoking homes had cigarettes for the guests. Airlines handed out free cigarettes to passengers (and little boxes of candy cigarettes for kids).
I don't know how I ever survived.
But remember: no matter how bad it gets, there's still a right to keep and bear cigarettes.
(If you're fed up with anti-smoking activists, that last link details other ways to annoy them short of actually smoking.)
MORE: I haphazardly designed a cigarette freedom lover's package appropriate for waving in bureaucrats' faces.
Here you go:
But will it sell?
Would it be legal to market it as a charity brand?
Bloggers overheard on the radio
Earlier on today's G. Gordon Liddy Show, I heard Pajamas Media president Roger L. Simon (who Liddy noted is a member of Motion Picture Academy) discuss his view that "An Inconvenient Truth" has a lock on an Oscar.
"I don't want to hear from politicians; I want to hear from scientists," said Roger, who thinks the film ought to be titled "Al Saves the World." (I agree, of course, and I was delighted to hear the interview))
Today was a big day for bloggers on the Liddy Show, for later Liddy read (with great praise) today's New York Times editorial by Glenn Reynolds on why municipal laws encouraging gun ownership are a good idea:
....criminals are likely to suspect that towns with laws like these on the books will be unsympathetic to malefactors in general, and to conclude that they will do better elsewhere.That's a form of gun control I can live with too!
My congratulations to Roger and Glenn!
posted by Eric at 12:39 PM
The ostensible lame duck's real lame duck that wouldn't duck!
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's political analyst Dick Polman, Bush is only the ostensible president.
The real president? Dick Cheney, of course.
And this arrogant pretender to the throne refuses to acknowledge that he lost the election:
He actually performed a valuable public service, by reminding all Americans that he is still the power behind the throne, and that he and the members of his neoconservative network are still determined to use that power as they see fit, even though the '06 voters signaled otherwise.What? You mean, after a congressional election, the executive branch has not uprooted and eliminated every last NeoCon?
Whatever can be going on? Apparently, these crackpots are so stubborn that they still imagine they have some say-so in setting policy:
Their determination to proceed has not been shaken by the adverse public mood, nor by the inconvenient truths of empirical reality - as evidenced by Cheney's defiant comments on Fox, notably this one: "I think if you look at what's transpired in Iraq, we have, in fact, made enormous progress."OK, fair enough. I read the transcript with a careful eye -- hunting for any hints that Cheney believes he is in fact in charge, and that Bush is President In Name Only. But aside from using the word "we" (in response to questions from Wallace like " why did you and the president decide to overrule the commanders?"), it's pretty clear that Cheney understands that Bush is still the president:
WALLACE: [I]f they [the Congress] want to stop it, can they?If Cheney wanted to indicate he was really the one in charge, I'd say he missed an opportunity to say so right there. And later, when he defends the president's position, he completely misses another opportunity to so much as hint that the president was taking marching orders from him:
The most dangerous blunder here would be if, in fact, we took all of that effort that's gone in to fighting the global war on terror and the great work that we have done in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and across the globe out there and saw it dissipated because the United States now decides that Iraq is too tough and we're going to pack it in and go home. And we leave high and dry those millions of people in their part of the world that have signed on in support of the U.S. or supported governments that are allied with the U.S. in this global conflict.In response to a direct question from Wallace asking whether he, Cheney, had ignored the "will of the American people," Cheney missed another opportunity to say he was in charge. Instead (unless I am missing something) he went out of his way to restate that it was the president's decision:
WALLACE: [...] By taking the policy you have, haven't you, Mr. Vice President, ignored the express will of the American people in the November election?While it's quite apparent that Cheney agrees with the president, I just don't see any indication that he's the one who came up with this refusal-to-be-directed-by-public opinion idea. Whether you like Bush or not, he just isn't a finger-to-the-wind kind of guy. Cheney's acknowledgement of that is nothing new, and if anything, I think it rebuts the claim that Bush is a puppet with Cheney McHalliburton pulling the strings.
Reading on (believe me, this got tedious) Cheney blows yet another opportunity to say he's in charge -- despite ample prompting from Wallace to do so. Asked directly what message "he" was sending and how tough "he" would get with Iran, he again deferred -- saying the president was the one sending messages:
WALLACE: So what message are you sending to Iran, and how tough are you prepared to get?Nonetheless, Polman read the same transcript and saw clear, even overwhelming, evidence that Cheney is in charge and that Bush is only an "ostensible" president:
Cheney's offhand dismissal of elections in general - equating them with fluctuating public opinion polls - is another matter entirely. His comments should serve as fair warning to administration critics that he and his ostensible superior in the White House will never feel compelled to change course in Iraq just because the will of the people wishes it so.I suspect that Cheney has drawn Polman's wrath because he's sounding too articulate. (And therefore, he must secretly be in charge). But on the other hand, had Cheney answered every question with "I don't know. You'll have to ask the president," he'd probably be have ridiculed with jokes about how our "lame duck" president is deliberately avoiding him.
But I'm still curious; if Cheney's in charge, wouldn't that make Bush only an ostensible lame duck?
How are we to distinguish real from ostensible lame ducks, anyway?
It's very confusing.
Economics In A Free World
Air is Free
How do you get people to pay for air?
1. Sell them an air purifier
The cost of air is zero.
What is its value?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, January 15, 2007
No Word For Liberty
America since its founding has had an interest in the Middle East says Michael Oren:
The stalled U.S. mission in Iraq has prompted calls for a return to "realism" in American foreign policy. Instead of striving for freedom and national cohesion in the Middle East, realists argue that the U.S. should negotiate with Syria and Iran and abandon the dream of remaking the region on a democratic, federated model. Realists claim that replacing a faith-based policy with an agenda based solely on economic and strategic interests will return the United States to its traditional posture in the Middle East.Islam is probably in part a codification of that attitude. Liberty would imply a place for cause and effect. Instead for a long time its path was determined by the idea of Insha'Allah - if God wills it.
Such a concept explains why science has never taken off in the Middle East. It explains why there is still so little science in the Middle east.
The more sordid the Islamic present seems, the more we are told of the glories of the Islamic past. And the most glorious of the glories of Islam, the most enlightened of its enlightenments, are the "Islamic science" and "Islamic philosophy" of the Golden Age.The kinds of unlawful knowledge include philosophy and the sciences of the materialists. Why are they unlawful? Because anything that is a means to create doubts is unlawful. This was the position of the Catholic Church for a long time.
The Jews of course have had no problem with doubts. Their answer was always debate and reason. Put so well by a very modern Jewish scholar Milton Friedman "You cannot be sure you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do." Jews as part of their religious training are taught to take any side of any question and argue it to the best of their ability. Which may explain why there are so many Jewish lawyers.
The term "sciences of the materialists" requires explanation. It does not mean, as one might think, science that is based on the assumption that matter (and energy) is the sole constituent of the universe. Jews and Christians might agree that such "sciences of the materialists," if not "unlawful," at least present a truncated view of reality, omitting as they do the spiritual realm. It means, rather, according to the commentary of Reliance of the Traveller, the "conviction of materialists that things in themselves or by their own nature have a causal influence independent of the will of Allah. To believe this is unbelief that puts one beyond the pale of Islam."I wonder how the modern Islamic scholars such as these folks explain the existance of cell phones? They must have some kind of pretzel logic to come to grips with that. No doubt Occam's Razor is an unknown concept. Since Occam was a Franciscan friar such a concept would have to be banned if its origin was known.
Averroes replied to The Incoherence of the Philosophers in The Incoherence of the Incoherence, so al-Ghazali, whose views inform Reliance of the Traveller in particular and mainstream Islam in general, attacked Avicenna, one of the two greatest of the "Islamic philosophers," who was defended by the other, Averroes.So what does modern Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan have to say about Islam and science?
In the run-up to Pope Benedict's current visit to Turkey, TIME Magazine opened its pages to Tariq Ramadan, Europe's favorite Islamist and perhaps the most influential Muslim figure in the West today. Ramadan chided the Pope and Europe for ignoring the positive contributions of Islam to the development of rational thought in the West.So when did Islam go wrong? It went wrong almost from the beginning.
Any hope of the development of a rational tradition within Islam was dashed with the rise of Caliph Ja'afar al-Mutawakkil (847-861). Prior to al-Mutawakkil's rule, a rationalist philosophy had begun to develop under the Mu'tazilite school of interpretation, which advocated for a created, as opposed to an uncreated, Quran. But Caliph al-Mutawakkil condemned the Mu'tazilite school, which opened the door for the rival Ash'arite interpretation, founded by al-Ash'ari (d. 935), to eventually take preeminence within Sunni Islam - a position of dominance it has retained over the centuries. By 1200 A.D., any hope of recovering a semblance of rational Islamic philosophy was seemingly forever lost.So that takes us back to the beginning of this piece.
This has had a very profound effect on the idea of personal responsibility. It would seem that Islam embraces it in some respects (say laws against theft and murder) and denies it in others.
Using al-Ghazali's own analogy of decapitation, according to the occasionalist view, when a sword struck off a person's head causing death, it only merely appeared that the sword was the cause of the decapitation: the real and primary cause of the decapitation and the death was the will of Allah, not the sword. The sword, in fact, played no part at all. Had Allah willed it so, the sword could have cut through the neck without decapitation or death. To believe otherwise, Islamic occasionalism held, would be a limitation of the omnipotence of Allah. As with volunteerism, the consequences of occasionalism had catastrophic effects for the development of empirical science in the Islamic world.So in our effort to reform the Middle East and to bring democratic ideals to them we are going to have to start at the very foundation. Insha'Allah will have to be replaced with cause and effect.
That is going to be a tough one.
H/T Kesher Talk and reader linearthinker
Cross Posted at Power and Control
My leetle fren' has more fun than Hugo and Mahmoud!
"Say 'ello to my leetle fren'"
I would have loved to have made that the title for this post, except I saw it in Pajamas Media and didn't want to plagiarize Fausta, nor do I want to imply any moral equivalency between Coco's normal and wholesome love life and the disgusting displays of affection between Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But maybe I'm wrong in using the word "disgusting." Perhaps I shouldn't be so judgmental. Aren't displays of affection, after all, matters of personal taste?
Let's take this as an example:
Anyway, Coco and her little fren' were getting very frenly this morning:
While I hate to read politics into these things, Coco was the consummate diplomat today, as she was dealing with a dog who couldn't possible engage in the sort of rambunctious roughhousing she engaged in yesterday with another suitor.
I'd never tell Tristan, as I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, but because I don't think he reads this blog, I think I can safely share the full story of Coco's two-timing extravaganza with the readers. Last September, Coco befriended a huge puppy named "Trey," who kept growing, and whose owners kept in touch with me.
This was how Trey looked in September when I photographed him and Coco dancing cheek to cheek:
Coco and Trey ran so fast I had to use the camera's athletic event setting to catch them:
But I want to be fair. So if anyone can show me a picture of Hugo lying in the mud like that with Mahmoud standing over him, I will immediately issue a retraction.
(And an apology.)
MORE: Any filthy minded readers who think the picture of Hugo and Mahmoud is a graphic depiction of GAY PORN, please think again! This is a clean blog! We do not tolerate GAY PORN here. The dogs pictured above are not having sex, so there is no sex with animals! Since the dog pictures above aren't even straight porn, how could there be GAY PORN?
You Google visitors who want GAY PORN or other hot action, you've come to the wrong place. We do not traffic in the stuff here.
Anyone who is irritated at me for failing to provide graphic pictures of GAY PORN, I suggest taking it up with Hugo and Mahmoud!
(Clean idea courtesy of M. Simon.)
UPDATE (01/16/07): It's probably worth reminding readers that this post could earn me prison time in Venezuela:
Ten days ago Chavez handed Izarra a still-bigger stick: a new penal code that criminalizes virtually any expression to which the government objects -- not only in public but also in private.No legal process? Gee. Maybe I should cancel my travel plans to Caracas.
I Found A Moderate Muslim
Yep they really exsist. No foolin'. Here is Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.'s view on what a moderate Muslim's attitude to the West should be:
Both Muslims and the media are generally on the mark when they identify moderate Muslims as reflective, self-critical, pro-democracy and human-rights and closet secularists. But who are they different from and how?So for instance if the Koran or Hadiths say kill the Jews, then that is not open to interpretation. Swell.
If any of the authorative sources say that a dhimmitude is required of people of "the Book" well then second class citizenship it is. If the authorative sources say pagans must be put to death if they do not convert then no argument against it is to be brooked. If authorative sources say that apostates must be put to death, then appropriate laws must be enacted to make this so. If alcohol is forbidden by authoritive sources or contact with dogs is not allowed then that is it. As soon as possible laws forbidding dogs or alcohol must be passed.
In fact that philosophy sounds a lot like Democratic Socialism. State control of the economy is to be obtained by democratic means instead of violent revolution. Lovely.
I guess then, the difference between moderate Muslims and the jihadis is means not ends. In fact if the ends can not be reached in any democratic way then the moderates can join the jihadis to obtain the desired end state.
I have been in private discussion with some moderate Muslims. When I ask them for sources on their views or to delineate the differences between themselves and the jihadis their response is to clam up or to say trust us. Kind of makes a feller suspicious.
Jen Shroder has this take on Muslim moderation.
America is embracing a religion that is said to promote peace as many moderate Muslims happily practice it. But as Yale professor and military historian Mary Habeck points out, this "peace" is only the first phase of Islam. The "method of Muhammad" largely known by Middle East Islamists is to spread Islam peacefully at first but always including covert groups of "true followers" who will use violence against those who will not accept it. This method is verified in Islam's holy book, the Sira, and the pattern has been repeated throughout history.Jen thinks that to be an Americanized secular Muslim is to be a Muslim apostate.
But the plight of the moderate Muslim is grave. As America slowly admits the enemy is true Islam, every effort must be made to embrace the moderate Muslim, not persecute them. The answer is not to blind our eyes and try to convince ourselves that moderate Muslims represent true Islam. They don't. Islam is defined by its holy books, and the holy books proclaim death to all who oppose it, even moderate Muslims. The answer is to live in reality, recognize the violence of true Islam as it rears its head, and ask moderate Muslims to reconsider. True Islam pronounces moderate Muslims as apostate, they are the "near enemies" in the Sira and without true conversion, they will be slaughtered right along with Christians and Jews. American Muslims need to take a hard look at what their Koran, in its entirety and true context, demands. They can no more denounce the method of Muhammad than Christians can denounce the sacrifice and love of God. I know, because as I battle with public educators for my children's religious freedom, I get angry, and God continually rebukes me for my anger. He reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for them as well, and I am constantly humbled.Now Jen is kind of a Christian fanatic, at least in her beliefs about the value of Christianity (praise Jesus), so let me see if I can find a better source. Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles spoke to the State Department in January of 2002 and said this among other things:
I would like to digress to provide some historical context to the issue of reform in Islamic movements. The major schools of thought in Islam (Hanbali, Shaafi, Maaliki, Hanafi, Jaafari) all originated out of reformist movements using the process of ijtihad (intellectual analysis and interpretation of Islamic law). In fact, Shaafi had two schools of thought, one when he resided in Iraq and one when he moved to Egypt, and when asked why there were two, he said because they were for two different peoples. If place is a variable in Islamic thinking, then time can also be a factor. As technological advancements take form, then human understanding can also evolve. The word reform is found in the Koran. In Arabic, it is called islah and is the root meaning of the word maslahah, which means the public interest. When the Koran repeats the call for believers to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, Al-Ghazali interprets that verse as supporting whatever is in the public's interests. That is, to promote any effort for social benefit and to prevent anything that is harmful to society.Funny he should mention the Shah. These days many Iranians are pining for the good old days of the repressive Shah who was moving aggressively to westernize Iran. He also likes the ijtihad idea but sees it as reason applied to Islamic law, rather than the idea of using democratic means to expand the reach of Islam leading ultimately to the imposition of sharia as does Muqtedar Khan mentioned above.
Because many Muslims seek forms of government that incorporate Islamic law to one degree or another, the concept of Sharia needs more thoughtful approaches in U.S. policy-making than what we have been subject to in the past. Sharia is a core of laws that comprise basic principles (based on Koran and hadith) and man-made laws that are derived from the basic principles (fiqh). Imposing Sharia violates the Koranic injunction: Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith. The notion of religious police, therefore, violates this code. The exploitation of Sharia leads to persecution of religious minorities and women. The Sharia, Islam's legal code, condemns terrorism because it condemns any violence against civilians.So the Jeffersonian ideal of the separation of church and state is to be rejected. In a pluralist state like America this is going to lead to religious wars. The very thing the separation of church and state was designed to avoid. Not very moderate at all.
In Demark during the height of the Cartoon Mohammed affair moderate Muslims were speaking out against their local imams.
Instead of the Danish government surrendering to Muslim radicals, moderate Danish Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. A group of Muslims in the Danish city of Århus intend to organize a network of Muslims who do not want to be represented by fundamentalist Danish imams or others who preach the Sharia laws and oppression of women. "There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society," said Bünyamin Simsek, a city councillor and one of the organizers. Århus witnessed severe riots after the publication of the cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten last Autumn.My take on all this? As long as the state remains secular and people's individual rights are respected, what a man believes and the religion he practices are not material to me.
I must say though that the ijtihaad idea does bother me. The way Democratic Socialism bothers me. From what I have seen socialism always leads to tyranny. The more socialism the less freedom. Where socialism totally succeeds so does tyranny. When you get socialism lite what results is restriction through red tape and the multiplication of laws. The EU, where the curvature of bannanas is controlled, is a prime example.
I have found an excellent explanation of ijtihaad from the Muslim Canadian Congress:
Ijithad has traditionally been defined as free or independent thinking to arrive at a juristic ruling on issues over which the Quran and Hadith are silent. The efforts of the eighth and ninth century learned fathers of jurisprudence such as Imam Shaffi and Abu Hanifah came about as a result of such ijtihad, as these doctors of jurisprudence were exercising independent reasoning to interpret legal sources by responding to the changing conditions of society. Consequently, they came to formulate elaborate rules of conduct for Muslims that would govern both their private and public life.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
It's not about Iraq. Or nukes. Or Iran....
For some people, the most important issue facing a potential United States president is, is...
A prominent Christian leader whose radio and magazine outreaches are solidly in support of biblically-based marriages - and keeps in touch with millions of constituents daily - says he cannot consider Arizona Sen. John McCain a viable candidate for president.I have some serious problems with John McCain too (especially campaign finance reform), and I have discussed them. But in presidential elections, important issues like national defense tend to be more important, along with the ability to get elected. Guys like Giuliani and McCain are targeted by people obsessed with single issues, and it matters not at all whether these particular issues are within the scope of presidential authority.
Thus, even if Giuliani and McCain were both in favor of gay marriage (which neither of them is), as president neither could do anything about it, because marriage laws remain matters for the states. Same sex marriage is a huge matter mainly for gay activists and antigay activists, and while the masses of middle class voters might have opinions one way or the other about it, unless I am reading them wrong it does not direct their voting patterns. They're more worried about economic security and national security.
At the risk of sounding culturally insensitive, whether nutcases like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are allowed to have the bomb is more of a worry than whether the two guys who bought the house next door have a government issued license for their relationship.
As pressing presidential issues go, same sex marriage is barely on the radar. Whatever it is that gives the antigay radar so much power to determine who gets to be president is one of the contradictions of our democracy.
But every time the antigay radar (or other single issue thinking) seems ridiculous, all I have to do is look across at the Democratic side.
Right now, the big argument which is shaping up seems to be over whether Barack Obama is, to put it bluntly, sufficiently black. Veteran black activists like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Stalinist Harry Belafonte seem quite threatened by him, although they've stopped just short of issuing Dobson-style condemnations:
Civil rights leaders who have dominated black politics for much of the past two decades have pointedly failed to embrace the 45-year-old Illinois senator who is considering a bid to become America's first black president.I think not knowing "what he's truly about" is code language for a growing meme articulated elsewhere -- that Barack Obama is not really black:
Other than color, Obama did not - does not - share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves.In that respect, Obama may be more fortunate than Condoleeza Rice (labeled a "house slave" by Belafonte).
Are activists in charge of American thought or do they only think they are?
UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has a great Martin Luther King Jr. Day post which explores the mechanism by which race has been redefined as culture. Concludes Jeff,
....to think of race as somehow socially constructed is to think of race, ultimately, as something essentially essential. Because what makes your memories yours, what makes your heritage yours, and what makes your culture yours is your insistence, ultimately, that it is yours by right, yours by birth, yours by essence. And so race, as it turns out, is either an essence or an illusion. Those who believe race to be an essence (say, the KKK, who base their ideas on bad science) have no need for a project of qualifying race as a social construct; and those who believe race to be non-essential have no grounds, theoretically, for promoting racial identity other than that same bad science (which, it turns out, underlies the constructivist argument), or else their social concern that we somehow need to continue the project of racial identity, for whatever the political reasons.(Via Glenn Reynolds.) Whatever happened to judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? Under the new "cultural" definition of race, such color blindness can actually be called "racism."
I think Barack Obama is a lot closer to Martin Luther King's dream than Jackson, Sharpton or Belafonte.
MORE: If you click on the link to Harry Belafonte's Wikipedia entry, you'll see this picture of Belafonte with Charlton Heston.
I guess the country was naive in those days.
AND MORE: Jeff Soyer is not going to vote for Obama or McCain. Or for that matter, Clinton, Kerry, Edwards, Dodd, Giuliani, Romney, or Bloomberg. I'd be delighted if none of them were on the ticket. But I still prefer Obama or McCain to Clinton. Simply because of his stance against identity politics, Obama breathes fresh air into the Democratic Party. I say this in full awareness of Obama's horrendous anti-gun record, including, I might add, his status as a Director of the notoriously anti-gun Joyce Foundation.
(In general, politics simply consists of bad choices. I hope we'll never have to choose between Dobson and Clinton....)
UPDATE (01/16/07): If Barack Obama is, as many have suggested, a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton, the attacks on him by longtime black leaders for being not being "really black" makes a lot of sense. The idea might be to limit the political fallout which might result if overwhelming black support developed, followed by entry of Hillary Clinton as a serious "opponent." Thus, preventing the emergence of solid black support might be a form of preemptive form of Clintonian damage control.
How cynical can I get?
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Must have experience with diapers!
Barbara Boxer's ad hominem attack on Condoleeza Rice has been getting a lot of attention, as it should.
While the Boxer remark manifested itself unmistakably as a left-versus-right issue, it touched on a widespread popular prejudice. A New York Post editorial focused on the former:
Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.It's also hard to imagine the firestorm that would have been ignited had a Republican made a similar remark about a gay person.
Not that logic has anything to do with ad hominem attacks (which are by definition illogical), but Condoleeza Rice has done a good of defending herself without stooping to Barbara Boxer's level:
"No," Rice answered when asked if her status hinders her understanding of the sacrifices involved. "I also think that being a single woman does not in any way make me incapable of understanding not just those sacrifices but also that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice."The notion that single women have "come further" is subject to the usual identity politics conditions imposed by the left. Because they (along with blacks, gays, etc.) are deemed victims, they are granted conditional minority status -- a status which can be revoked if the grantees do not hew to the official PC line (which is in this case antiwar).
It's as illogical as calling someone a "chickenhawk," and it shares the same illogical supposition -- that one's status or background is more important than one's argument -- and that such status should be controlling.
In light of Dinish D'Souza's recent book, I'm also wondering whether Secretary Rice's status as a powerful woman might be considered offensive to Islamists, and an invitation to more terrorism, but I hardly expect Barbara Boxer to raise that issue.
But she touches on a deeper prejudice against the childless, which as Mark Daniels noted, crosses party and political lines:
Boxer's comments to Rice were, as her comments often are, tone deaf, seemingly reflective of a widespread prejudice in American culture. In fact, it's a prejudice I was discussing with a friend a few days ago, before Rice's appearance before the Senate committee. It's the prejudice many people blessed with children seem to have toward the childless. These folks often regard those who've been unable to have children as second-class adults, devoid of the normal complement of human emotions or even intellectual capacity. I see these prejudicial attitudes toward the childless all the time.(Via Glenn Reynolds; emphasis in original.)
I've seen these attitudes too, and I don't think the prejudice is limited to prejudice against women. Men who don't have children are also viewed with distrust -- as if they're regarded as less than real men.
Once again, I am reminded of my wonderful Berkeley neighbors, a childless couple whose libertarian views on certain issues were greeted with derisive remarks such as this:
"You only think that way because you don't have children! IF YOU HAD CHILDREN, YOU'D UNDERSTAND!"It's quite arrogant to presume that the childless can't think.
But culture wars are always arrogant and presumptuous, and lead to further recriminations of arrogance and presumptuousness on both blasted "sides."
I Believe In America
In a comment to my post Oil Outlook Jay Draiman outlines a plan to get all new housing on renewables, with a ramp up period of 10 years followed by full roll out for all new housing after the ramp up.
Here is the essence of his proposal without technical details:
The federal, state and local government should implement a mandatory renewable energy installation program for residential and commercial property on new construction and remodeling projects with the use of energy efficient material, mechanical systems, appliances, lighting, etc. The source of energy must by renewable energy such as Solar-Photovoltaic, Geothermal, Wind, Biofuels, etc. including utilizing water from lakes, rivers and oceans to circulate in cooling towers to produce air conditioning and the utilization of proper landscaping to reduce energy consumption.Jay further goes on to state:
I have a very deep belief in America's capabilities. Within the next 10 years we can accomplish our energy independence, if we as a nation truly set our goals to accomplish this.I reply to his proposal:
I like your ideas in general. I favor wind myself. And solar.Jay,
If you really had a deep belief in America's capabilities you wouldn't be wanting to put a gun to people's heads to get what you want done.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
There is a lot of talk on Little Green Footballs (LGF) on the subject of why the United states is giving money to the Palestinians. (mainly the $86 million to Fatah).
A lot of folks at LGF (myself included) think the purpose of the money is to make sure Hamas and Fatah are fairly evenly matched so the Pali civil war keeps escalating. I think that is Israeli policy as well. Olmert's restraint with respect to rockets fired from Gaza into being a case in point. Minimal retaliation means the factions will not unite against Israel. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh says the US and Israel are conspiring to keep the Palestinian civil war going (he actually says getting it started - but he has to say that to preserve the fiction of Palestinian unity). He should know.
Diplo speak is being used to cover what is really happening. By all sides.
I do think America wants Olmert out as Israeli Prime Minister for his betrayal of America last summer in Lebanon. This is good. Rice's recent visit to Israel where she talked with several cabinent ministers but not Olmert or the Defence Minister Peretz is an indication of this. The Israeli people have been given six months to act. Now America is makining its move. Iran won't wait.
Olmert was tired when he got into office. He is dead tired now. Politically he might as well be out of office.
Every good strategy as B.H.L. Hart points out in "Strategy" has alternate goals. So the enemy can't tell what you are trying to accomplish and splits his forces. In this case the "enemy" is the world community. The people who scream bloody murder every time some action is taken against the Palestinians. In this case, to the casual observer, it looks like America is helping the Palestinians by giving them money. Israel has promised to give the the Palestinians some of the back taxes owed to them. However, it is my guess that the money will be given to factions so as to keep them aproximately matched. A balance of power strategy.
For the longest time I couldn't figure out why the arms smuggling tunnels into Gaza from Egypt were not severely attacked. Now I see it as part of the plan. You will note that, in co-operation with Egypt, the arms flow freely (if you have the money to pay) but no cash is allowed in. The purpose is to allow a build up of small arms while by controlling the money flows, who gets the arms is controlled. In addition Hamas must be allowed to get some arms through so they have no incentive to close the tunnels.
Why would Egypt co-operate? Probably because they have been threatened with having the Palestinian problem dumped in their laps if they do not go along. This is something they absolutely do not want. If Gaza became part of Egypt again, Egypt would, for political reasons, have to open its borders to the Gazans. Palestinians seem to cause a lot of trouble where ever they go.
My guess? Sharon had something like this in mind when he decided that giving the Palestinians Gaza was a good idea. In fact I predicted these events in a general way (the Palestinian civil war) when he first proposed the idea. The best strategy in war is to win without fighting. In this case you get the Palestinians to fight among each other.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 08:40 AM
Saturday, January 13, 2007
The Word Is Father To The Deed
There is a discussion going on at Dean's World about Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates. The folks there are trying to figure out if the jihadis of Jefferson's day have anything in common with the jihadis of today. It is a very interesting piece and has lots of interesting quotes such as this one:
...when Jefferson was ambassador to France, and Adams was ambassador to Britain, they met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the ambassador to Britain from the "Dey of Algiers."Sound familiar?
In the comments maryatexitzero says (excerpted):
I can only interpret Jefferson's beliefs by interpreting his actions. His actions, and the laws he enforced suggest that he realized that the Koran may have been used to motivate certain deeds and actions. He also understood that the deeds and actions were the problem, not the Koran.So I rephrased that to bring in a bit of modern history.
I can only interpret FDR's beliefs by interpreting his actions. His actions, and the laws he enforced suggest that he realized that the "Mein Kampf" may have been used to motivate certain deeds and actions. He also understood that the deeds and actions were the problem, not "Mein Kampf".Or as the anarchist liked to say: the word is father to the deed.
Mein Kampf is a best seller in Turkey, and Palestine, and these folks claim it is the #2 best seller in the world, surpassed only by the Bible. Pedestrian Infidel compares Mein Kampf to the Koran. Evidently Oriana Fallaci also thought there were similarities between Mein Kampf and the Koran. The piece on Fallaci lays down the gauntlet:
It remains for those who identify themselves as moderate Muslims to convince violent Muslims that they are misusing the Qur'an - if indeed they are - and should lay down their arms. They have had no notable success in this so far.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 12:22 PM
Not having much profound to say at this time I'm going to quote our profoundist president, Thomas Jefferson on religious liberty. Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
If homo lovers are liberal, then mullah lovers are conservative?
"In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. ... In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage--some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.Hollywood and the universities? They got al-Qaeda so stirred up that flying planes into buildings was the only way to stop cultural depravity?
Does that make Brokeback Mountain a sort of victory film?
I'm no fan of the left, but to claim these people are responsible for Muslim religious rage strikes me as a logical stretch, to say the least. Does D'Souza mean that if the "cultural left" is stopped, then the terrorists will stop hating us? Should that be our goal? Precisely what does D'Souza mean by the term "cultural left" and how far does it go? Did Western-looking women who got raped for looking like sluts invite the rapes by their "left-wing" behavior? How about the gay men thrown off buildings by the Taliban or hanged in Iran?
And if murderous religious hatred is provoked by immorality, why stop with Islamic rage? Didn't the victims of abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph have only themselves to blame?
I'm wondering whether the term "cultural left" might simply be a grab-bag for things and people D'Souza doesn't like.
The more I perused D'Souza's thoughts, the more familiar they sounded. But just as my memory alarm bells were starting to go off, D'Souza made a startling claim -- that this "blame the cultural left" meme was his own, brand-new idea:
"I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the 'war against terrorism.' ... I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats."A charge no one has made before?
I'm sorry, but it has been made before, and repeatedly. While Jerry Falwell was probably the first to blame gays, feminists and abortionists (I'm assuming they're the "cultural left" although I can't be sure), his argument was rather simplistic:
...the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."It took culture warrior Robert Knight to refine the argument, and he was quite specific about who was to blame:
None of this happened by accident. It is directly due to cultural depravity advanced in the name of progress and amplified by a sensation-hungry media.Here was my reaction at the time:
Allowing for the sake of argument that the above "cultural climates" are why Berg was beheaded, since when do we defeat our enemies by conforming our society and culture to their demands? Shouldn't we be defending the things they attack about us? Had a group of Nazis brutally murdered an American civilian during World War II, would that be an argument for cracking down on whatever the Nazis didn't like about us?While I don't know whether D'Souza endorses all the details of Robert Knight's position, I think the above rebuts his claim to originality.
My reaction is to hope that this is not the new face of social conservatism, much less conservatism itself. If this to be the position of social conservatives, it will not be good for the Republican Party. I mean, it's not as if I woke up this morning wanting to call D'Souza an apologist for al-Qaeda, but then, he's the one pursuing this latest twist on the "Why do they hate us?" argument, not I.
I'm not the only one to notice. Timothy Noah has reviewed the book thoroughly, and he maintains that the American right is being libeled:
The heart of D'Souza's book isn't his libeling of the American left, but rather his libeling of the American right. D'Souza notes, correctly, that al-Qaida's hatred toward the West in general, and the United States in particular, is animated to a great extent by America's permissive culture. But Bin Laden isn't some Michael Medved figure grumping about the vulgarity of American Pie. He's got bigger fish to fry. Al-Qaida's enemy isn't the excesses of secular culture; it's secular culture itself. And to a surprising degree, D'Souza is willing to go along for the ride. Theocracy, D'Souza argues, is misunderstood to mean "rule by divine authority of the priesthood or clergy." Not so! There are checks and balances, just like in the U.S. Constitution. In Iran, for instance, "the power of the state and of the mullahs is limited by the specific rules set forth in the Koran and the Islamic tradition. The rulers themselves are bound by these laws."Yes, I seem to remember something about how virgin women cannot be hanged without having first being raped by their executioners.
To be fair, says Noah, D'Souza won't go as far as the mullahs in enforcing virtue; he just agrees with them in principle:
I heaved a sigh of relief when D'Souza conceded, "The Islamic system of enforcing piety and virtue through the heavy hand of the law seems to me both unreasonable and imprudent." But D'Souza makes no bones about believing, along with Islamic fundamentalists, that the following things are an affront to civilization: equality for homosexuals ("[W]hy would a sane people jeopardize an indispensable and already fragile institution such as marriage by redefining it away from its central purpose? Is the point of marriage to ensure that children have a father and mother, or is it to make Edgar and Austin feel more accepted by society?"); working motherhood ("[M]any mothers choose to have a career because it is more self-fulfilling than the life of a full-time mom"); divorce ("Now you hear people say things like, 'I feel called to leave my marriage. My life would be wasted if I stayed' "); and contraception ("Rather than call for non-Western women to have fewer children, the left speaks of a woman's right to determine the number and spacing of her pregnancies").Reasonable people can and do disagree on moral issues. But our homo-killing, women-stoning Islamist enemies allow no such disagreement. I think it is they (and not their victims) who are patently immoral.
I think it is dangerously disingenuous to propose a "moral" alliance with immoral and murderous people. But that alone is not what rankles me so much as the even more dangerous claim that D'Souza's fellow Americans who might disagree with him on social issues are to be the new common enemies of a regrouped "conservative" alliance.
Forgive me if I am reading him wrong, but D'Souza appears to be saying that his camp and the al-Qaeda camp can find common agreement that people like me who disagree with them are their enemy. (And that "we" drove their newly found Islamofascist allies to slaughter thousands of Americans!)
It's an argument I don't like. Demagogy is one thing (sure, I'm cynical enough to tolerate it) but D'Souza goes too far.
Timothy Noah thinks so too, and under the circumstances I don't think his condemnation of D'Souza's meme is too strong:
D'Souza's refusal to recognize, say, that a gay couple might need to share health benefits, or that a father might share equal responsibility in raising his children, offends and dismays me. Ordinarily, though, I would never equate hard-right views on these matters--even from a Dartmouth Review alumnus--with the rantings of an Islamist terrorist. I do so now only because D'Souza has written an entire book encouraging me to do just that. He wants his fellow conservatives to embrace their inner mullah. D'Souza scolds conservatives for seeking in the past to win over American leftists and European allies to the war on terror, and for reaching out to liberals in the Islamic world "who can be recruited the cause of 'civilization' against 'barbarism.' " Not gonna happen, baby! Conservatives, he argues, should instead demonstrate "common ground" with Muslims sympathetic to Bin Laden--earlier D'Souza has cited a 2004 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showing that Bin Laden is viewed favorably by 45 percent of all Moroccans, 55 percent of all Jordanians, and 65 percent of all Pakistanis--by:Like many bloggers, I've struggled over the definition of "conservative." If D'Souza's conservatism includes a cultural alliance with declared enemies of America who stone women and execute gays, I guess I'm on the other "side" -- even if I'd rather not be.attacking the left and the Europeans on the international stage. Instead of trying to unify America and the West, the right should highlight the division between red America and blue America, and also between traditional America and decadent Europe. By resisting the depravity of the left and the Europeans, conservatives can win friends among Muslims and other traditional people around the world.
But I should thank Mr. D'Souza.
Every once in a while, it's good to have a reminder of why I started this blog.
MORE: Here's Radley Balko:
After 9/11, a few libertarians and leftists made the case that perhaps we ought to examine our own foreign policy, and see if U.S. interventions may be spurring anti-American hatred around the world. Those critics were roundly ridiculed, and their theory -- sometimes called "blowback" -- was dismissed as "unserious." They were called "appeasers."Well, someone is paying D'Souza.
(Now the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me is wondering why a huge publisher like Doubleday would be promoting divisive ideas under the rubric of "conservatism.")
LINGERING QUESTION: Anyone remember the slogan "Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!"?
Which "side" did they think they were on anyway?
MORE: D'Souza is appearing (apparently to promote his message) at the Heritage Foundation on January 18. While sponsoring a talk by D'Souza is no indication that Heritage agrees with what he says, it may be a sign of growing right wing war fatigue. I remember before 9/11 that at least one conservative scholar was arguing that the Iranian mullahs were better friends of conservatives than the Salman Rushdies, although this view seem to lose ground after the war started.
FWIW, I think it gives moral authority to the terrorists to maintain that America was attacked because the terrorists hate the culture.
Logically, it makes as much sense as arguing that we were attacked because the terrorists hated Jews.
MORE: As commenter Jason Pappas notes in his blog, John Kienker of the conservative Claremont Institute (where D'Souza's argument would be expected to find succor) expresses skepticism:
...I think D'Souza unhelpfully obscures the differences between conservative Americans who object to adulterers having a steamy affair on daytime TV by writing a letter to the sponsors and traditional Muslims who object to an engaged couple holding hands in public by stoning them to death. I suspect that too many Muslims still view conservative Americans as depraved infidels.Considering that Sayeed Qtub (often called al Qaeda's spiritual father) viewed Americans as depraved infidels back in the very decadent 1940s, I think Kienker is right.
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and welcome all.
One of my main beefs with D'Souza's argument is over the ill-defined phrase "cultural left" -- a term I fear conflates communism with unconventional lifestyles. If anyone can explain by what standard things like sexual desires or marital status can be called "left wing," I'm all ears.
UPDATE (1/14/07): Clayton Cramer (who "share[s] D'Souza's disgust with the left's focus on redefining selfishness and depravity as normality") is mystified by D'Souza's argument, and reminds his readers that the Islamist hatred of America predates the "cultural leftism" of which D'Souza complains. A well-reasoned post, and my thanks for the link.
It's worth remembering that what the Islamists hate about the West goes much further than abortion or gay marriage; as I just noted earlier today, I'm sure they'd find it offensive that a woman (Condoleeza Rice) is Secretary of State.
So how far would D'Souza have us go in ending "cultural leftism" in order to placate them?
UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post, and (not surprisingly for Sean) offers his very insightful observation:
...if the combination of irreligiousness, acceptance of homosexuality, blithe rearing of children out of wedlock, and preening leftism in the universities is what exercised the terrorists who attacked on 9/11, one is left wondering why on Earth they didn't choose Europe (say the Netherlands or somewhere in Scandinavia) as their target. Not only have those countries institutionalized those social phenomena far more thorougly than America has, but they also have large minority Muslim populations that are inflamed with humiliation over their dependence on the largesse of the social-welfare state. The United States is clearly the single most significant global symbol of Western cultural power; the idea that it's the most significant global symbol of Western cultural leftism strikes me as very suspect.Very suspect -- but very convenient.
UPDATE (01/18/07): My thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking this post, and for the very kind words.
I don't think it is quite fair, though to accuse Hugh Hewitt of promoting a "Christianist-Islamist Alliance," because Hewitt neither endorsed D'Souza's book nor agreed with his thesis (I'm hoping he doesn't, of course); he only announced his first Town Hall column.
To the extent a genuine alliance develops between Islamists and conservatives, it will split conservatives and libertarians in ways that would have been inimaginable before. At least one anti-Republican libertarian blogger is irate, gloating, and even speculating that D'Souza might be part of a Democratic Party plot:
I've been arguing that libertarians need to end their alliance with conservatives immediately and completely. D'Souza's views will make that far more likely. I've been hoping that Americans will continue to turn away from the extremism that has gripped the Republican Party. D'Souza's call for jihad in America will speed up the decay of the Republican Party. If I didn't know better I'd almost think he was paid to write this sort of rubbish by the Democrats as a means of destorying the Republican Party. But then the Democrats don't have to destroy the Republicans. The Republicans are destroying themselves.One of my worries has long been that the right wing of the Republican Party feels marginalized, and would prefer Hillary Clinton to another Bush. Triangulating with Islamists is a great way to split the GOP as never before, and guarantee a Clinton victory in '08.
If enough people want something to happen, it will happen.
Friday, January 12, 2007
This is a really long piece by A. Jacksonian. He wrote this as a series of e-mail exchanges with me and I edited it making some minor corrections which A. Jacksonian has approved. It covers the outlook for oil production for the next 5 to 10 years. The short version: Iran and Venezuela will probably be dropping out of the oil market as producers.
The petroleum infrastructure of any Nation or company has multiple components for input, output and feedback. Economic, of course, is the main judge of the overall system, but not the only guide as to system health. The physical 'plant' component of pumps, pipes, pressure gauges, platforms, and then refineries, which are their own specialty, are critical to continued economic efficiency. That said the system is maintained by the actual people hired on to do the work and their skill base is reflected *into* the system itself. An individual, here or there at a low level, can do some OJT, but for the system to work as a whole, good management and training are essential. Economic feedback *into* this system then goes for pay, training, upkeep, exploration to replace depletion and increased demand, and keep output steady with a slow upward spiral to it. Overall the system is 'motion stable' with feedbacks to reduce wobble and instability. The numbers on the amount fed into this system, economically, will either establish/maintain stability or reduce stability. Boom/bust cyclicity is not wanted as sudden surges/declines means an unstable labor base and the physical plant suffers due to that.
But for the grace of God...
It was a shock to watch -- because I hadn't fully digested the fact that the blast occurred at Madrid's lovely new Barajas Airport. It's one of the prettiest airports in the world, and I say this as someone who has been all over the world.
In fact, I thought it was so pretty that I went out of my way to stop and be photographed there.
That was on Christmas. The bombing occurred five days later.
Not that I needed a reminder that terrorism isn't about enemies killing each other on the battlefield. It's about attacking innocent people, in innocent places. Even lovely places like the Barajas Airport. It could have been me, it could have been anyone. (Maybe it could have been prevented, too; maybe not.)
Knowing how easily I could have been a statistic does little to endear me to statistics, especially from Nobel economists who maintain that I face a greater threat from Global Warming.
MORE: As I write this, I see that the U.S. Embassy in Athens has been attacked. (Might terrorism really be more dangerous than greenhouse gas?)
Why I hate war blogging
For the umpteenth time, war blogging is an exercise in the unreal. Not the surreal (which I can handle, even enjoy).
It's because in war, unless you are "there," there's no there there. Information is inherently suspect. Even if you trust a reporter, how can you ever be sure that whoever gives him his information is trustworthy?
Opinions on war are one thing (yes, I am pro-war, and I also vote), but trying to analyze suspect data in support of your opinion is a colossal waste of time. No one is likely to be persuaded, as people's opinions are what they are, and I am in no particular position to offer anything new. I have no security clearance, nor access to any information other than what any other blogger has.
As if the shifting sands of the "Jamil Hussein" saga weren't enough (and I still don't know what to conclude), I now see that the top al-Qaida terrorists who were killed a few days ago weren't killed at all:
The controversial US air strike in southern Somalia missed all three top al-Qaeda members Washington alleges are hiding out in the country, a senior US official said on Thursday."Official"? On "condition of anonymity"?
My, isn't that helpful in my "analysis"?
Fortunately, I didn't sound off about this. If I had, what should I have said?
"I'm glad we appear to have maybe killed some bad guys, and if it turns out that we haven't, I'll be glad when we do!"
Otherwise, I might have had to issue a pompous "retraction" about things I was never in any position to know. (Sorry, if I can't take myself seriously enough, but I just can't. In my defense, I never made it my goal to replace the MSM; only to say what I think.)
Isn't war blogging great?
I'm reminded of the old lawyer's expression, "If you don't have the facts, argue the law, and if you don't have the law argue the facts."
I think I'll just substitute war for both.
"If you don't have the war, argue the war, and if you don't have the war, argue the war."
I wish I found this more emotionally satisfying.
Will For Life
Ilan Pappe comments in the The Electronic Intifada about the Palestinian's will for life.
The earlier strategy in Gaza was ghettoizing the Palestinians there, but this is not working. The ghettoized community continues to express its will for life by firing primitive missiles into Israel. Ghettoizing or quarantining unwanted communities, even if they were regarded as sub-human or dangerous, never worked in history as a solution.That is the ticket. Show your will for life by antagonizing a country with one of the strongest militaries in the world.
Why has Gaza been ghettoized? Well it seems that the Gazans keep attacking Israel. Israel was hoping that giving the Palestinians their own territory would move them to peaceful pursuits. It hasn't worked as planned.
Cross Posted at Power and Control - for all my loyal Power and Control readers. Blogger has ironed out the kinks and I will be posting material there that I do not cross post here. Thank you for your attention.
posted by Simon at 08:03 AM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
licking the climate of blasphemy
Among the highlights of my trip to Spain was visiting the various Salvador Dali museums including his house in Port Lligat, the official Dali Museum in Figueres, and the Castle in Pubol.
I don't know how many readers are Dali fans (and I hope those who are not will forgive this exercise in surrealistic love), but those who are will immediately recognize the unmistakable landscape of Port Llligat which Dali made famous. This is the first thing you see at the crest of the hill just above his house:
The house was originally a one-room fisherman's shack which Dali bought with proceeds from his art when he was very young, and remodeled over the years, adding a room at a time. The shack grew, meandering up the hill in haphazard fashion, eventually coming to look like this:
You can see a hint of Dalinian landscape in the background -- and of course the Dalinian crutch. According to this critic, the tongue (a skull, IMO) represents the blasphemer:
The enormous tongue with teeth obviously represents the blasphemer's tongue, which has reduced him to a flaccid cripple, upheld by a crutch at one end, and flowing over a boundary at the other. The symbol is simply a meditation on the idea of blasphemy, and could have been created without the Dantean imagery at all, pure Dali. The case is not always as extreme, but there is no question that the enormous zest in Dali for his own symbologies and his own whimsy are the primary driving forces in the Inferno drawings, not a desire truly to illustrate Dante's text. He is not necessarily in disagreement with Dante, as Blake often is, but generally doing his own thing with themes supplied by Dante.I have a tendency to see Dali in Dali, and I think he is also doing his own thing by revisiting a much earlier theme.
"Atmospheric Skull Sodomizing a Grand Piano," to be precise.
You didn't know skulls could do that? Take a look!
["Sex on the Beach at Port Lligat" might be a good alternative title.]
Here's Dali's description:
"The obsession, accordingly to which the jaws are the most philosophic instruments that man possesses. The lyricism of the piano is brutally possessed by the jaws of a fossil skull. This vision is a retinian product, a hypnogogic image of pre-sleep, occuring in the course of a siesta, contrary to the images resulting from the effects of mescalin, which can neveer reproduce instantaneous memories."What Dali leaves out is the obvious similarity between skulls and grand pianos. The grand piano's shape is very skull-like, if you think about it, and the keys are like teeth.
Were I a skull, I'd probably think pianos were at least cute, if not irresistibly sexy.
It's not that much of a str-r-e-e-tch. And if the two managed to conceive something, I think it might look a lot like the blasphemers' tongue.
In "Soft Self Portrait with Fried Bacon" (1941), Dali seems to acknowledge that his own head looks like a grand piano, while the uncontrollable tongue threatens to get away from his head, pulling it inexorably downward:
But the best for last. There's a crucial element which makes my paranoid side wonder whether Dali might have anticipated this essay.
Bureaucrats! And atmospherocephalic ones at that!
I kid you not.
In 1931, Dali painted "Average Atmospherocephalic Bureaucrat in the Act of Milking a Cranial Harp":
(Obviously, "atmospherocephalic bureaucrats" is code language for those who have global warming on the brain, and they're planning to sodomize the lyricism of our pianos and use their unending tongues to administer an endless licking all the way to hell.)
MORE (01/12/07): What happens when skulls and evil bureaucrats merge? In 1968 Dali did the "Aliyah" series to commemorate the founding of Israel, and one of the images seems to be (in my opinion, anyway) a revisitation of his piano-sodomizing skull.
The title is "Yea, Though I Walk Through The Valley."
I think the image of the skull (death) with the multitudes fleeing is an obvious reference to the Nazis (whose bureaucrats of death used the skull as insignia) and of course the Holocaust.
(Needless to say, I think the man's utter genius will become more and more apparent over time. Many critics couldn't see past his carefully staged buffoonery.)
UPDATE (01/15/07): I just stumbled upon another image which I think shows that Dali was quite aware of the similarity between skulls and pianos -- "Skull with its Lyric Appendage Leaning on a Bedside Table which Should Have the Exact Temperature of a Cardinal's Nest" (1934):
If the temperature is right, fertilization occurs?
At this rate, my skepticism will soon be unretractable!
I'm having trouble counting the the number of times the story over the existence of "Jamil Hussein" has changed. The twists and turns are unbelievable.
According to a new post by Bob Owen, there is no such Iraqi police captain as "Jamil Hussein," and the name was used as a pseudonym without disclosure by the AP:
Flopping Aces has more, and saying that the source (whoever he may be) denies that he is the source:
A man exists who denies he is the source, additionally he is not named Jamil Hussein...that's it. The only other information we get is that the Iraqi MoI has confirmed that he was the source for the AP which I question since how in the world do they confirm he is the source if he DENIES being the source?A man who is not Jamil Hussein but who is said to be a source named "Jamil Hussein" denies being Jamil Hussein and denies being the source?
Is this news, or is it the Twilight Zone?
Because truth, like, matters, you know?
And I am sure truth matters to Glenn Greenwald, who is probably busy right now retracting all the unkind things he said about the "Jamil Hussein" skeptics.
Must be a long post, as it isn't there yet. Just imagine how much fun it would be to retract a gem like this:
And now the right-wing blogosphere stands revealed as what they are -- a pack of gossip-mongering hysterics who routinely attack any press reports that reflect poorly on their Leader or his policies, with rank innuendo, Internet gossip, base speculation, and wholesale error as their most frequent tools of the trade. They operate in packs, constantly repeating each other's innuendo and expanding on it incrementally, and they then cite to each other endlessly in one self-feeding, self-affirming orgy of links, as though that constitutes proof.Come on, Glenn Greenwald, don't be a sourpuss!
I retracted, and you can too. Retraction is good for the soul. Plus, it's fun!
However, none of these retractions and counter-retractions will help poor Jamil Hussein. He might exist and then, he might not exist. He might be accurate, but then, he might not. He might deny his existence and his status as a source, but then, he might not. He might as well have existed, even if he might as well not have.
But hey, at least he has a blog.
Getting touchy-feely with the third rail?
The best way to deal with so called "third rail" issues is to focus not on the emotions but on the facts. Yet as a debate between M. Simon and others in the comments to this post shows, certain facts constitute a "third rail":
m. simon - Do you remember the shit storm that was raised by The Bell Curve book? Even if what you say is true as a scientific matter, it is effectively a third rail (touch it and you die) in terms of what passes for "main stream" credibility today (understanding that the "main stream" of media outlets and other institutions is well to the left of popular opinion - witness the popular support for the prohibition of affirmative action in Michigan which was opposed by virtually all "main stream" institutions and bien pensant writers). KC has achieved some fairly sympathetic coverage in the press and has become a meaningful voice in this process. The surest way for him to destroy that influence would be to take on the structure of affirmative action in America. KC is clearly a brave guy and is not afraid to take on the powerful in a just cause, but you have to pick your battles.Go figure. Either statistics show that IQ test scores are statistically lower for some groups than others or they don't.
Gee. Statistics show some people are taller than other people too. (I think I'm several inches too short, and I'd also like 20 more IQ points to make up for my excesses over the years....)
And I was expecting maybe a big electrical ZAP!
This IQ business sure as hell isn't my third rail. I just touched it, and I feel nothing.
Perhaps the debate should be over why there's a third rail.
Who supplies the power to this third rail?
Any way to turn it off?
Or am I being too logical?
(What annoys me about these third rails is that they stifle debate and encourage dishonesty.)
MORE: I mentioned height because it struck me as a benign non-controversial topic. Now that I see that arguing over the late James Brown's height can get you shot, perhaps I should think again.
I guess there's some truth to the saying that size matters?
(In a man's world, anyway....)
MORE: The shooting is being called "the James Brown height fight," and I'm a little disappointed by the way the pertinent fact is being avoided:
Brown, who was known to wear lifts, died of heart failure Dec. 25 at age 73. Accounts of his height vary.Accounts vary?
Are there no facts?
AND MORE: According to IMDB, James Brown was 5'6".
So when does the shooting start?
Let me add a little something to Eric's fine post. Here is a fragment of a comment I posted at the above link that I think bears repeating:
The "studies" groups have politicized innate differences.
As Eric points out: it is equivalent to giving preferential treatment to short people. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Eric is a friend. And, I want it to stay that way. /tounge firmly planted in cheek (except for the Eric is a friend part).
Pride goeth after the fall?
Anyone who thinks Jesus is on the right, think again!
Hugo Chavez thinks Jesus Christ was the ultimate socialist -- "the greatest socialist in history."
And Bob Edgar, general secretary of the national council of churches, wants us to put Jesus in charge of war planning:
I think it's more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards.That was his Christmas message a year ago.
In an editorial today, Edgar is taking a long historical view of the Iraq War, which he seems to want to go the way of Vietnam -- a total rout for the U.S. Proudly recalling his clergy status and his role as a congressman in the days immediately before the fall of Saigon, he clearly sees the U.S. as deserving to lose now as it did then:
We were determined not to allow any more money to be spent on more troops for a war we were not winning.Yes, wars can be lost. On that point, Bob Edgar and I agree.
What I can't understand is his apparent pride in scenes like this:
Is that our fate if Edgar and the National Council of Churches "put Christ back into our war planning"?
(What, I should move to Venezuela to live under Jesus?)
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Not by design?
An interesting new phenomenon is the deliberate creation of designer mixed breed dogs.
When I was a kid and a purebred dog managed to get tied up with another purebred dog, the result was called a "mutt." There's nothing wrong with mutts, and I say this as a mutt myself. (I'd never call myself a "NorseWelshGermanScotsman.") But today, designer mix dogs are called "cockapoos," "labradoodles," and "puggles."
And today, Coco played with another designer dog -- a "genuine" "Boglen Terrier." (That's a cross between a Beagle and a Boston Terrier.)
None of these "breeds" can be called purebred dogs until after many generations a strain is produced which breeds true -- producing definable features every time. I've seen countless different types of "labradoodles" and they definitely haven't ironed out the kinks. The Boglen Terrier pictured at the last web site looks more like a boxer than the one which played with Coco today.
The name's "Bruiser":
I was toying with the idea of breeding Coco to a French Bulldog and creating a new breed -- the Franco-American Bulldog. Oooh la la! (Whoops! Someone's already created the "French American Bulldog" and started a club. But I like my name better!)
Coco also played with a very frisky young Rottweiller today. So frisky that neither could hold still for a picture, but I did get this:
The following display a form of gratitude which can only be called doglike, because it just isn't human:
As Mark Twain said,
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
Final countdown to Bush fascism!
Never mind the Democratic majority in Congress. According to Chris Hedges (formerly of the NYT) it's fascism that's imminent. Robertson, Dobson and Bush have all apparently taken over -- without any "countervailing forces" to stop them!
(Via Pajamas Media.)
Much of his argument reads like a blog post from David Neiwert. Hedges is admittedly very angry, and he conflates the Reconstructionists and Dominionists with bitter and suicidal evangelists who believe in divine intervention -- and of course Bush.
Not only is Bush a player ("he's a believer, to the extent that this belief system empowers his own arrogant sense of privilege and intellectual shallowness"), but the author makes a powerful Hitler comparison:
Hitler was in power in 1933, but it took him until the late '30s to begin to consolidate his program. He never spoke about the Jews because he realized that raw anti-Semitism didn't play out with the German public. All he did was talk about family values and restoring the moral core of Germany.I see it now! Bush is doing the same thing that Hitler did! (He's just not talking about the Jews for now. Consolidating his program takes time....)
I hate to pick nits with this guy, but I have a bit of a problem with that "never spoke about the Jews" thingie. I mean, didn't Hitler lay out his plans for the world to see back in the 1920s? In a famous book?
UPDATE: Thank you Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all!
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
I was listening to Sen. Tom Daschle on the Ed Schultz show tonight. I found out a couple of interesting things. First, Senator Tim Johnson will not be back to the Senate soon. He is now undergoing rehabilitation, no mention of when he will be recovered enough to return to the Senate. This means Lieberman is the swing vote in the Senate if the Rs and Ds keep their troops in line.
Second, Iraq investigations are going to tie up the House and Senate so that Democrats will not be passing much of their agenda, according to Daschle.
Third, when pointedly asked about the Democrat's plan for Iraq he avoided answering the question in any way shape or form.
I think what that all means is that the Democrat's plan for the next year or two is to use the investigations into Bush's conduct of the war as a stalling tactic to avoid doing anything substantial.
I think this fits in with a desperate plan to keep the Democrats From Splitting.
Update: 10 Jan '07 0438z
Senator Tim Johnson's condition has been upgraded from critical to fair. His recovery is expected to take several more months.
Ammended due to a Power and Control Commenter re: counting heads in the Senate.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Ezer Was A Savage
I'm partial to war stories and this is a really great one. Ynet News tells about the beginnings of the Israeli airforce.
Almost 60 years have passed since that fateful day, but Lou Lenart still remembers every minute of it, as though it was yesterday. Those were trying times for the budding Jewish nation, and Lenart was faced with a task of great importance.Lenart learned to fly in the US Marine Corps. He flew fighter missions in the Pacific against the Japanese. He says, though that flying for the Israeli Air Force had the most meaning for him. A really interesting part of the story is the logistics. The story of how the pilots got trained to fly Nazi S-199 fighters in Czechoslovakia, and then deliver the airplanes from Italy to Israel. You can find that story at 101 Squadron.
After the planes and pilots got to Israel they had less than 10 days to get the aircraft assembled and in fighting trim. The Egyptians were attacking towards Tel Aviv and had to be stopped. The airfield where the planes took off from was 20 km (about 15 miles) from where the Egyptians were attacking.
Lenart, who had the most expansive operational flying experience in the new air force, led the four pilots. The other three were Ezer Weizmann, Mudy Alon and Eddie Cohen. The four Messerschmitt aircrafts were gathered from leftovers of the Nazi Luftwaffe in the Czech Republic which were reassembled in Israel, and were each equipped with a machine gun and 4 70 kg [150 lb. - ed.] bombs. This was a far cry from the standards Lenart was used to in the USAF.Amazing story.
Lenart, who is now an 85 year old producer in Hollywood, is writing a book about his experiences in the Israeli Air Force and is producing a documentary on the action. In addition negotiations are going on to turn it into a Hollywood movie.
Lenart was born in Hungary, and emigrated to the USA with his parents when he was 10 years old. After he graduated from high school, in the summer of 1940, he joined the Marine Corps with one target: "killing as many Nazis as possible." He was the only Jew in boot camp. He served as a foot-soldier for a while before being accepted to flight school. He had a bad training accident, but recovered and took part in the battles against the Japanese kamikaze pilots in the Pacific Ocean front. He was discharged as a captain after the war, and came home to discover that 14 members of his family, including his grandmother, who stayed back in Hungary were murdered by the Nazis.It looks to me like Israel could use some savages in command these days. The Olmert government is tired and they have a plumber for defence minister. Not good.
In fact let me go further. America could use some savages in the higher echelons and at the helm. Where is Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf when we need him? We have, in many ways, let our savage instincts atrophy. Especially with the election of the Democrats to control of Congress. We too are acting tired. The jihadis have been fighting for around 1,400 years and we are tired after only five. Not good.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Pulling Out Doesn't Work
You would think they would teach that in sex ed classes. Oh. Wait. This is not that kind of story. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert says that pulling out of Lebanon and Gaza didn't work.
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert now admits that Israeli's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip did not work.The one thing Olmert is doing right is holding off major attacks on Gaza to allow the Palestinian civil war to develop. Other than that his moves have been a disaster.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 08:44 AM
How broken things are kept broken
Today's Washington DC Examiner has a thoughtful common-sense editorial about how to fix the horribly broken immigration quagmire which so plagues this country. Excerpt:
Job one on immigration reform is regaining control of America's borders.The editorial has a lot of good ideas, but I think there are two major reasons nothing gets done:
When the "choice" is seen as open-border-liberals versus draconian round-em-up-and-deport-em-conservatives, any consensus based on common sense becomes impossible, and politicians are free to work their usual smoke-and-mirrors game of collusion.
Were I more of a paranoid conspiracy theorist, I'd almost think offering people phony or bad choices was deliberate strategy.
I refuse to forgive Hitler (so I'll never be a true Christian)
This morning's report of the sentencing in Germany of a Moroccan man convicted of aiding 9/11 hijackers posed a vexing moral question:
Who has the moral right to forgive other people for their crimes?
Anyway, the son of a murdered flight attendant forgives the convicted Moroccan:
HAMBURG, GERMANY -- During an anguished exchange in a German courtroom Monday, an American whose mother was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks said he forgave a Moroccan convicted of aiding the hijackers.Forgiveness is supposed to go to the heart of Christian doctrine. Jesus, of course, forgave his killers as they killed him, and he urged others to forgive those who committed crimes against him -- and against them. What I'm a little unclear about is whether or not Jesus ever forgave specific crimes committed by unrepentant criminals against other people.
One of the logical problems I have with Christianity is that a lot of people run around forgiving people for what they did to others. I don't see what moral or logical right anyone has to forgive on behalf of another person. If someone commits a crime against me, only I have the right to forgive what was done to me. But if someone else is harmed by someone else, by what right and under what theory may I forgive that person? It would seem arrogant in the extreme, as I'm not the victim. Had someone murdered my mother, I might be able to forgive that aspect of the crime which affected me, but only my mother could forgive what was done to her.
Perhaps I am misreading Christian doctrine, but if we can forgive people for committting crimes against others, then why not forgive Hitler and Stalin?
(I never claimed to be much of a Christian...)
Walking On Broken Glass
I was having an e-mail exchange with one of my commenters and the difficulties of life came up. My commenter was talking about his relationships and the "walking on egg shells" feelings you get in your relationships with some loved ones. Parents, siblings, offspring. Here is a little of what I had to say:
I finally learned that the "perfect childhood" is an illusion. My pain, however, prepared me to help others. Which in the ideal case is what it is supposed to do and what you are supposed to do.
I have a relative who is borderline mad, schizophrenia. If he takes his medicine he is fine. He hates taking his medicine. Says it deprives him of an interesting life of the mind. Being borderline schizophrenic myself I understand that. Schizophrenia is a big help to creativity if it doesn't turn into madness. Gifts and curses. Sometimes it is hard to tell.
Well I have lead a very interesting life so far and for that I am eternally grateful.
When I get that "walking on egg shells" feeling I like to listen to "Walking On Broken Glass" by the EURYTHMICS. It expresses the feeling well.
Now everyone of us was made to suffer
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, January 8, 2007
historic bullies deserve historicism!
The recuperation of places and buildings that were once mosques or sacred Islamic sites is the primary method employed by Muslims to reconquer Al-Ándalus. So-called moderate Muslims are oftentimes more effective than extremists in gaining concessions because of their attempts to portray Western democracies as intolerant if those countries don't cede to certain demands. This technique has been used repeatedly in the case of the Córdoba Cathedral.Especially considering the original Muslim invasion and takeover of Spain, you'd think there'd be a little more sensitivity to Spanish concerns. (Or does "sensitivity" only operate in one direction?) I think it's the height of arrogance for modern Muslims to claim as "theirs" a building lost centuries ago by earlier Muslims.
This game of "who was there first" means that because Roman Christians built the Hagia Sofia, they should have the right to take it back. (As Aaron Hanscom points out while in Turkey last November, the Pope "refrained from praying or crossing himself when he visited the Hagia Sophia.")
Should Wiccans have the right to "take back" the Vatican and other places once home to pagan activities?
As I just got back from Spain, my immediate reaction to the story was to exclaim that I was half expecting Barcelona's statue of Isabel la Católica to stand up and start wielding her sword again.
Fortunately, I took a picture of that very statue, and here she is:
Still, she's about likely to get up off her pedestal and start swinging at Muslims as the 12th Imam is to come out of his holy well. I probably have Jason and the Argonauts on the brain and I'm expecting something like this:
Still, she was the first named woman to make it onto a United States coin:
(Unless, of course, Isabella could be rebadged as a Hispanic feminist.)
MORE: At Andalucia.com (a tourist site with no particular axe to grind), Lawrence Bohme ("artist, author and conference intepreter") takes a long historical look at the Cathedral:
First, the Romans built a pagan temple on the site. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the new Germanic masters of Spain (the Visigoths) replaced it with the Christian church of Saint Vincent. When the Arabs conquered the peninsula in the early 8th century, they tore down the church and began building their great mosque, which - commensurate with Cordoba's importance as the centre of Muslim power in Spain - became the largest mosque in all of Islam after that of Caaba, in Arabia.So, who was there first?
I just knew it had to be the Pagans!
Hamas Is An Obstacle To Peace
You say you know this already? Old news? Well let me say that you really didn't know this until you read it from first term Representative Keith Ellison.
The template set forth by the roadmap for peace currently provides the best outline for achieving a two-state solution to bringing about a lasting settlement. Right now Hamas represents the greatest obstacle to this path, and until Hamas denounces terrorism, recognizes the absolute right of Israel to exist peacefully and honors past agreements, it cannot be considered legitimate partners in this process. Sensible and moderate elements in Palestinian society could possibly provide credible negotiating partners. The United States should encourage dialogue with peaceful Palestinian leaders that recognize Israel, condemn terrorism, and honor past accords.Which is exactly what Israel is asking for. Surprised? Me too.
Just wait until you hear what he has to say about Iran.
The other serious threat to the security of the region is Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. This must be stopped. A nuclear-armed Iran would upset the strategic balance in the region and pose a clear threat to world peace. Iran's sponsorship of international terrorism as well as financial aid to terrorist organizations endangers peace around the globe. I believe that the United States must engage Iran in a diplomatically meaningful way, through direct or multi-lateral negotiations, before resorting to military force.Wow.
What with the Jefferson Koran flare up and his former membership in the Nation of Islam, I expected the worst from Ellison. Perhaps he had his Malcolm X moment. A change of heart about whitey. And in Keith's case about the Jews.
I'm going to keep an eye on him. It is possible he is the moderate Muslim we have been looking for.
Gates of Vienna has a suggestion for Ellison.
H/T Sand Monkey
Cross Posted at Power and Control
The Democrats Are Splitting
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable.
Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable, new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told The Jerusalem Post hours after entering the party leadership position.This is coming as a real tail twisting surprise for the anti-war wing of the party. Joshua Frank at Press Action says:
...the new House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Jerusalem Post that Democrats wouldn't rule out using force on Iran to block Tehran's nuclear aspirations. In the past, similar remarks had been made by Democratic leaders Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, along with presidential hopeful John Edwards and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Even superman Barack Obama won't challenge the Bush administration's erroneous Iran approach.There you see the dilema of the Democrats. Do what is right, prevent the partition of Iraq among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, avoid a genocide, or cave to the anti-war wing of the party.
The same goes double for Iran. If Iran gets the bomb the probability of a nuclear war in the Middle east rises to at least a 70% probability. Possibly as high as 95%. Them is bad odds. It is looking like the Dem leaders who are now in the loop can see the train wreck coming. Do they do the right thing to help America prevail and give the Arab world hope for a more prosperous future (Iraq GDP rose 4% last year)? Or do they cut and run, leaving a worse mess just in time for the '08 elections?
We really are at the point of no good options. I think the Democrats are finding it difficult to be in a very similar position. What ever they do probably means the end of their coalition. I had a little squib about this after the election. They are trying to ride into the future with a team of horses that are pulling in opposite directions. It is going to be tough.
In addition they are in a difficult position with the UN which says we can't leave Iraq until the Iraqis can defend themselves. Democrats in favor of defying the UN? The world has turned upside down for sure if that happens.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
¡Capitalismo o muerte!
While I didn't buy one, I couldn't resist taking a picture of these Che Guevara keyrings in Barcelona.
But for the life of me, I just can't decide whether I prefer the green or the lavender background. And the one in the middle has a bottle opener, which is very handy to have in case you need to open some of the trendier non-screwcap microbrews.
This highlights one of the problems with life under capitalism, of course. There are just too many choices! Let's face it, having too many varieties of Che Guevara keyrings is an undeniable example of genuine capitalist oppression.
Nothing ironic about it.
posted by Eric at 12:11 PM
We Could Have A War On Our Hands
A senior Iranian officer warned that if the West continues to threaten Iran's economy over its nuclear program, Teheran will discontinue the flow of oil via the Strait of Hormuz, Israel Radio reported Monday.I do believe that there is a war coming to Iran.
This threat might explain why a second carrier battle group is headed to the gulf.
The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis is scheduled to leave the United States this month for the Gulf region in a Naval buildup aimed partly as a warning to Iran. Officials decided to send the Stennis strike group on top of a carrier group already in the region on a request late last year from the U.S. Central Command, the military unit in charge of activities there as well as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday.Note that the threat was always implicit. All this changes is making it explicit.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Crossroads? Apogee? Or just politics?
The sands are shifting in the debate over withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The primary argument no longer seems to be along the lines of whether troops should be withdrawn, but when.
...in which brutal second-rate powers such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea do what they choose to whom they choose without restraint. An age of modern warlords, with no over-arching, feared power to keep them in check. We can watch the sick man that is Europe slowly succumb. We can watch small free nations try to fend for themselves. We can await the inevitable nuclear crisis.I'd rather prevent it than wait for it, and I'm old enough to remember how the Vietnam malaise led directly to the U.S. sitting around passively watching horrors like the Khmer Rouge, and the emergence of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. I think we're still suffering from the fallout, and I think it could get worse.
Crittenden thinks we are at a crossroads, between fighting on the one hand and defeat and surrender on the other:
The Democratic Congress, so eager to abandon Iraq, is fortunate. The world that seems to revile us no matter what we do is also fortunate. Because it will not be their decision.Parenthetically, I don't think it's the wisest idea to order U.S. troops to flee when confronted by armed invaders either. It makes the country look lame.
In a lecture in Philadelphia last month, Charles Krauthammer made a very articulate argument that the United States had reached it's apogee in the post-9/11 period:
Sept. 11 ushered in the second era of this unipolar era, which I would call the era of assertion, where the power that had been latent in America shows itself. I would date this era from 9/11 to the March 14, 2005, a date probably unfamiliar to you and not particularly renowned in our history today, but a date that I think will be remembered by historians as the apogee of American power, the peak of the arc of the unipolar era.Note the ominous use of the past tense.
What worries me is the stubborn need for denial that we are at war. It's as if 9/11 can be forgotten now, and we can all get back to the "real" business of the country.
Such as? I don't know; fill in the blanks. Global Warming, perhaps? Higher taxes? Illegal aliens? Health care? How about the "war on drugs"?
Anything but the war we're in.
Political analyst Dick Polman sees the war in terms of politics, and argues that many Republicans are running away from Bush:
....politically speaking, there is a growing desire to cut and run from Bush. The first order of business is to make it clear that rank-and-file Republicans don't share the president's urge to "surge." Sen. Susan Collins of Maine doesn't like it. Neither does Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who says: "I think it would create more targets. I think it would put more life at risk." When Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the departing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was asked last weekend whether he backed a troop surge, he offered this stellar endorsement: "I don't know whether I do or not."While there's no way to stop it from happening, I'm sorry to see the war being conflated into the Bush presidency by means of the constant application of the "Bush's War" meme, because that makes people forget that it is the country that is in this war, not Bush. To say or imply that thousands of American troops died "for Bush" dishonors their sacrifice, which was for all of us. It's a pretty sad state of affairs when war strategy is reduced to "the surge idea" by finger-to-the-wind politicians worrying about percentage points in the polls.
I suppose it's naive to talk about such things as statesmanship, but I think we could use some right now.
I see a few signs of it, but it's mostly limited to the blogosphere.
It's almost comical that someone as cynical as I am would advocate such a thing as statesmanship. Seriously, in the normal context of politics, the word makes me laugh.
(But it's harder and harder to laugh at things that aren't funny.)
No bull? How do I know there's no bull?
Last night I stumbled upon the latest innovation from Nigeria -- puppy scams:
1/1/07 - It is an old scam with a sneaky new twist. Nigerian criminals -- known for lottery scams -- are now using hard-to-resist puppies for sale.Absolutely no puppies seem to be involved, so animal rights activists can relax. There are no Nigerian puppy mills; just cute pictures of puppies, with heartrending messages attached.
I was quite surprised to see purebred, AKC pedigreed bulldog puppies listed for sale in New York and advertised for prices ranging from "free" to a fraction of their value, so I thought I would email some of these people with a brief note saying I was nearby and offering to drive up and take a look at them. My suspicions were justified. Not one was willing to let me see or pick up puppies. The replies to my email totally ignored my offer to drive there (something no normal person parting with a tiny puppy would do). Instead, I was given the stories in the replies below and asked for contact and delivery information.
I emailed back, restating my willingness to drive, and saying that I would not buy a puppy that I could not pick up personally, but have heard nothing since.
I suspect there are no puppies.
Am I being irresponsible in asserting that these ads are scams?
UPDATE: Amazingly, the seller who emailed me back claiming to be in China has replied again to my offer to drive to New York:
Yes am from new york, but am in china and the baby is right here with me so advice me if to proceed in shipping her to you. i just want this baby to get back to me to the state as soon as possible.I don't know how to interpret the last sentence, but I repeated my unwillingness to buy a puppy that has to be shipped.
Am I cynical in suspecting that the seller from New York does not have a puppy in China?
MORE (01/09/07): Pikeville, Tennessee must be a very popular place for people who list bulldogs for sale in "New York," as I just received another reply from a different person with a different dog, but with exactly the same "Pikeville" story line, word for word, as the one I quoted below yesterday:
But Recently i Moved down to Pikeville, Tennessee with my Family and My Buisness Has also been shifted down to Pikeville, Tennessee ,I will have the puppy ship along with her certified health certificate, vaccination and worming record, copy of USDA paper, AKC registration application for the puppy, its pedigree, tips on care and training your puppy, and your puppy's guarantee.also the airline ticket, an approved carrier with a soft, comfortable bed, health certificate from my vet, a puppy pack including sample food your pup has been eating, a tube of nutri-cal,I also include a special gift to your puppy from me.Everything you will need will be taped to the top of your puppy's carrier.the total cost of the $650.00 plus shipping and handling one of the puppies is $650...so get back to me with your full name shipping address and your contact phone number including the nearest airport to you,Looking forward to hear from you soon.The price is different, as is the description of the dog in the preceding paragraph:
"she is currently just 4 months old and only 2.9 pounds.she is very playful and loves to be held and cuddled! she has a great disposition and tempermentand is definitely NOT a barker at all.He is already potty trained to go on the potty pads and on her wayto being housetrained so the hard part is almost over!"Wow, to think that she is already a he!
But how can I really know there's no dog? I mean, couldn't two different people have moved to Pikeville while listing two different bulldogs for sale in New York?
Yes, just as it is scientifically possible that a Rolexes offered for sale for $15.00 might be genuine.Continue reading "No bull? How do I know there's no bull?"
Larken Rose believes your income if wholly earned in the United States is not taxable. He came to this belief by studying the income tax law and its history. He produced a video now available on Google explaining some of his reasons for his belief. He dared the IRS to prosecute him. They did. He lost his case in a jury trial and is doing 15 months in Club Fed. His wife did one month. Nothing too unusual here.
Former IRS Criminal Investigative Division (CID) Special Agent and CPA Joseph Banister was tried for giving information to and engaging in a criminal conspiracy with a California buisness man to avoid Federal taxes. He was acquited. Interesingly enough, in the Banister trial the IRS could produce no evidence that Banister owed income taxes.
During the trial, Banister's former supervisor at IRS's San Jose CID office, Robert Gorini (who testified via video recording) when pointedly asked, was unable to cite any U.S. law that required Banister to pay income taxes.OK. So what you ask does this have to do with free speech?
Larken had two www sites describing in detail his beliefs. TaxableIncome.net and Theft-By-Deception.com. If you click on those links you get a 404 error. Not found. Why is that? Because as part of the settlement of the case Larken was required to take down the www sites in question. Chilling isn't it? There is plenty of good and not so good information on the 'net. Yet in the case of tax information free speech is not allowed. Chilling isn't it?
Here is what Larken has to say on the matter of his trial.
They acknowledge that we have a right to show that we did what we believe the law requires . . . they just don't want us to be allowed to show the jury ANY section of the statutes or regulations . . . or QUOTE from any section . . . or show them my "Taxable Income" report . . . or the Theft By Deception video.Pretty chilling isn't it? You can't quote the law in your defence. Not only that they have told Larken - the American people are not allowed to evaluate your position even outside a court of law. Free speech in America? You decide.
It is not just the "Campaign Finance Reform" Laws we have to fear. The IRS is in on the act too.
Interestingly the Paper Work Reduction Act says that all paperwork required by the government must be certified by the government as required by law. There is no such requirement for form 1040.
In Section 3512 of the Act, titled "Public Protection," it says that no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with an agency's collection of information request (such as a 1040 form), if the request does not display a valid control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in accordance with the requirements of the Act, or if the agency fails to inform the person who is to respond to the collection of information that he is not required to respond to the collection of information request unless it displays a valid control number.There was a case brought up in Illinois on this very point. What happened?
On May 12, 2006 in Peoria, Illinois, the attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) begged the court to dismiss all charges against IRS victim Robert Lawrence in federal District Court.Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 03:58 AM
Sunday, January 7, 2007
my dirty and neurotic coverup
Does a dirty computer keyboard indicate mental problems?
I realize that's a strange question, but being away from my keyboard for two weeks made it look especially dirty. And even though I bought the thing used for a couple of bucks several years ago, I have only now realized that I never once bothered to clean it. It never seemed to matter. Yet this morning, the act of looking at the dirt was utterly depressing, and I wondered which was worse: my failure to have noticed that it was dirty, or my failure to clean it. The thing is, I would immediately notice a dirty keyboard if I visited someone else and used his computer, so what's with my apparent double standard?
Or am I being too picky?
I hadn't planned to write a blog post about as mundane a thing as cleaning my keyboard (an easier and cheaper process than going out and buying a new one), but now that I'm wondering about my motivations in cleaning it, I suspect that I might be trying to hide something.
Perhaps I'm covering up my own slovenly habits? But if I am, then isn't the act of cleaning somewhat of a contradiction? Wouldn't it be easier to just never clean it and never mention it? No; I suspect a deeper coverup. I think I might be trying to cover it up from myself, by engaging in a form of denial. Cleaning my keyboard is something I do to convince myself that I really do care about the appearance of slovenliness even though I don't. As to other people, I'd defend my right to be a pig, have my dirty keyboard, and post my dirty blog posts with it. But the fact is, I honestly didn't like seeing it dirty, and there's no denying that if I cleaned it I cleaned it. Hence the "coverup" of my filth was -- and is -- successful.
This is one of those things like shaving or cutting your fingernails or hair (or even pulling weeds) that if you don't do them, you live with the natural filth. But if you do them, you have a temporary reprieve. If you don't care, it shows. Not that I consider caring or not caring about these things to be particularly virtuous. But this keyboard thing interests me because unlike fingernails or hair, it's so private that but for this blog post I'd be the only person aware of or affected by it.
What I cannot figure out is whether I really care. Why did it take a two week vacation to make me see dirt that has stared me in the face every day for years? Do I really care? Do I only care because I happened to notice? And is this really about appearances? Is there a distinction between concerns with how something appears to others and how it appears to me? Is it neurotic to be concerned with the appearance of a keyboard, or is it neurotic not to be? And what could be more neurotic than talking about such a private matter on a public blog post?
I wonder what Freud would say...
AFTERTHOUGHT: Now it occurs to me that any reader who actually read this inane post might want to know what I did to clean the keyboard. Following the instructions here, I removed all but the little-used F and number keys, and threw them into warm water with mild detergent. As the keys soaked, I wiped up the huge quantities of dust and grime which had accumulated under the keys. Then I removed the keys, wiped off all remaining dirty with a paper towel, threw them in a paper bag and shook them dry while applying a hair dryer. Before I started, I thought to take a picture so I'd know how they went back in.
Here's a typical before section:
Putting facts in their proper hysterical context
Speaking of the truth, um, "issue," why is it that people so often tend to fight facts they don't like? A good example is the fact that it was in the 70s yesterday, on a January day. Only a fool or an insane person would deny that. But a lot of people take issue with what the fact of a 70 degree January day means. Is it "evidence" of "Global Warming"? Or is it, finally, "proof" even for retarded diehards like me?
Actually, to some, I'm more than a retarded diehard; I'm downright evil. Because, not only do I tend to fight facts I don't like and demand proof for them, but even if (as here) they are uncontestable, I will continue to oppose any interpretation of them which gives fuel to the argument that human freedom should be limited.
Hence I am skeptical about global warming/greenhouse gas theory, and skeptical about all facts which are urged in its support. To be fair, I should probably admit that even were I faced with overwhelming evidence of both global warming and an anthropogenic cause, I'd still be opposed to limiting human freedom, unless (and this is a pretty big unless) I could be convinced of some genuine, imminent catastrophe that could actually be prevented. (Unseasonably warm weather does not qualify.) Considering that the planet has been far colder and far warmer, I don't see much chance of any such catastrophe -- certainly not in my lifetime. The evolution of technology being what it is, it would be extremely arrogant of me to presume any sort of duty to "save" future generations of people who will be far better equipped to deal with whatever might happen than any of us now.
What matters to me is here and now, and what I see happening is a theoretical construct being used to ready one of the greatest power grabs in history.
Few of the people who succumb to Global Warming scare tactics think about the consequences of government regulation of carbon dioxide in a manner analogous to the way we treat poison. The ability to travel at all, whether by car, plane, boat, will no longer be a right. The food we eat will be suspect, because cattle are said to produce more greenhouse gas than cars, and agricultural soil is fertilized with methane-producing manure. Think you're going to open a can of beer or soda? How dare you poison the planet! Why, your very existence is poisonous, as you exhale CO2, and the more of you there are, the worse it is for the planet! Thus, old, tired arguments against "sprawl" will take on new life, as will restrictions upon virtually any human activity.
I suppose I can always console myself with the notion that nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given power to regulate these things, but since when has a technicality like that stopped them? True, at the start of Prohibition the Constitution was amended to give the government power to regulate alcohol, but in those days the document still meant something. Today, the war on drugs proceeds without any restraint, and I don't doubt that the war on carbon would too.
As I say all of this, I realize that it's not the facts that I tend to hate, so much as what I fear people will do with them once the hysteria factor kicks in. Seen this way, the Drug War and the Carbon War are quite similar. Facts are subordinated to larger considerations. The people who want to regulate are generally blind to facts they don't like, and the people who don't want to be regulated are left having to contest facts which aren't seen to matter anyway.
It's like me and Coco. It doesn't matter whether she bites anyone; what matters is that somewhere in Cleveland an old lady was bitten by a pit bull, and people are hysterical. I can fight the facts all I want, but that does not make the hysteria go away. Ditto for gun control. I do not deny the fact that people kill themselves (and sometimes each other) with guns (or drugs, or even an occasional pit bull unfortunate enough to get dragged into human dysfunctionality), but I deeply resent the way the facts are presented and then manipulated to the point where some know-it-all wants to tell me how I should live. This might take the form of forcing me to cut out my dog's ovaries, making me stand in line to buy cold medicine, enduring endless moral scoldings about how turf war shootouts are caused by drugs and guns themselves, and how my teeth are a health hazard because we really can't admit that the mercury hazard in fish is overblown. Normal people do not have time to dispute or contest these "facts," and many of them fail to realize they are being manipulated by hysteria. Thus, they go along with surrendering their precious freedom, one incremental step at a time. Those who resent the encroachment on freedom are considered cranks.
And those who oppose hysteria are deemed "hysterical."
When hysteria becomes powerful enough, laws are passed. Eventually, even disagreement with the prevailing hysteria can become risky. Already, it's a career-wrecker for scientists to express greenhouse gas skepticism, and activists have demanded Nuremberg trials for them. There's a well-oiled movement with a goal of criminalizing disagreement, and a generation of young people softened up with hate speech tribunals is poised to accept it.
While I was in Spain, Jose Guardia reminded me that there is no such thing as a First Amendment, and hence under proposed new laws, any government minister can shut down any web site he deems "offensive." The more people are ruled by hysteria, the more they tend to see disagreement with prevailing hysteria as "offensive." (Fortunately, the non-hysterical among us can still recognize that preventing such tyranny is the whole idea behind our First Amendment.)
In a great post last week, M. Simon recognized how the Drug War helped facilitate the corruption so obviously apparent in the Duke University "rape" case. A common thread is popular hysteria, in which feelings are more important than freedom or facts. It's more important to win the drug war or stop cultural racism than to be concerned with trifles, and if the rules (or the Constitution) have to be bent or disregarded, so be it. Aren't we forgetting that under our system, certain principles are more important than facts? That if the police lied to get a warrant, it does not matter whether drugs were found? That even if a certain student displays evidence of racism (or a dislike of homosexuals), that does not make him guilty of rape?
I'd rather keep my freedom, even if it's 70 degrees outside.
There. I just said it. I'm prepared to face a Nuremberg tribunal for Holocaust advocacy.
In fact, I'm willing to risk being burned to death by the Holocaust gases I've helped create and encourage!
UPDATE (01/08/07): Simon has an interesting post about IRS officials who must think they're government ministers in Spain. According to their position, while the First Amendment might allow Holocaust denial, tax code denial is worse than shouting fire in a crowded theater.
Any explanations, I'm all ears.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
Since Justin has disabled comments on his piece "The Machines Stop" I want to ask if any one remembers the short story "Mars Inc." Can't remember the author, but one pertinent bit of imagined future was a pocket juke box that stored (hundreds? thousands?) of songs on a crystal.
I read it not long after it came out. It seemed totally fantastic at the time.
If any one remembers the author post it here.
I will get notified.
There Is No Problem
With that out of the way let me quote some historians:
"Concentration of wealth is a natural result of concentration of ability, and recurs in history. The rate of concentration varies (other factors being equal) with the economic freedom permitted by morals and the law... democracy, allowing the most liberty, accelerates it. -- Will and Ariel DurantWhat brings all this to mind you ask? A discussion on the Netscape blog about how the middle class is getting screwed.
Every one on the board has an different idea of what is to be done. One fellow thinks there is too much corporate profit. I have a few things to say about Profit. Here is what I said at Netscape:
Without profits there is no money for investment.Next up says we shouldn't be satisfied with the scraps the rich throw us. We should just take what we want. Through government agency of course. Other wise it would be robbery. Can't have that. We need proper laws and they must be adhered to. Corporate profits must be fair and CEO salaries reasonable.
Of course we should't be satisfied with scraps.I add:
Every place this redistributionist crap has been tried overall economic performance declines.Next guy up says that profits must be fair (whatever that is) and the President of Dell makes too much money (227 million is claimed).
I go after that:
Even unfair profits get invested.Next up says that heath care ought to be mandatory with a job. If a business can't offer health care it ought not be in business.
You can have a choice. If the business you work at will not offer health care it is better if you don't have a job.Man, there is a LOT of ignorance out there.
Then we have the middle class is sliding into poverty and corporations do not pay enough taxes.
Median family income is $46K a year and rising.Think people. Think. I know it hurts, but try.
Another guy complains that you can't get ahead. And, a bunch of Wall Street guys are getting rich just trading paper.
The reality is if you want to get ahead invest in yourself. Get more educated. Start a business. To do that you have to turn off the TV and quit spending your time bitching on forums like this. However, I will grant that bitching is easier. [It can also be quite profitable given the size of the market, if you can find a way to sell it.]Which reminds me of Ouspensky who said "Some people get all their pleasures from negative emotions." A sorry way to live. You can't deny some people enjoy it.
Then we get the fanfare for the common man who is the real creator of all the wealth, so salaries should be capped.
It is the risk takers that create wealth.Then we get back to why CEOs are paid so much while the "real worker" on the production line is short changed.
Brain work is harder than manual labor.Another guy wants restricions on how many homes a person can own and the elimination of the house rental market. To eliminate speculation in housing. Another fellow says you need to design the rules with special leeway for special cases. It is only fair. (man it sounds like these folks have a career waiting for them in the legislature)
The best leeway is no restriction.I add in a little later:
If we just had enough of the right laws we could create a perfect world, except for corruption and law violators.Well the thread goes on and on like these threads do.
Here is a classic. I'm not paid enough and things cost too much. No doubt government needs to fix this.
Every one should not try to get as much as they can for their work and people should stop shopping for the lowest pricesWell you know who is wrecking it for everyone? The greed heads.
Buyers are greedy for a low price. Sellers are greedy for a high price.Then we come back to the general whine. Globalization is stealing our jobs.
I remember when we had the same worries about Japan and Taiwan and South Korea.Well it goes on. I believe I have said more than enough on the subject for now.
Let me leave you with a final quote: John Wayne said, "Life is tough, and it's tougher when you're stupid."
Flopping Aces has a bit on what the Democrats are up to on the economic front.
Captain's Quarters talks about Arnie's new tax initiatives in California.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 09:25 PM
Truth in taste!
In what he doubtless considers a fair and unbiased examination of all pertinent facts pertaining to the Iraqi police captain whose existence was disputed for six weeks, Glenn Greenwald claims to have exposed the right wing blogosphere for what they truly are:
And now the right-wing blogosphere stands revealed as what they are -- a pack of gossip-mongering hysterics who routinely attack any press reports that reflect poorly on their Leader or his policies, with rank innuendo, Internet gossip, base speculation, and wholesale error as their most frequent tools of the trade. They operate in packs, constantly repeating each other's innuendo and expanding on it incrementally, and they then cite to each other endlessly in one self-feeding, self-affirming orgy of links, as though that constitutes proof.It's really not fair of me to leave readers with only two paragraphs, because that would be as cruel as doling out only two Lay's Potato Chips.
So here's more:
Nobody is less interested in media accuracy than they are. Correcting media mistakes is so plainly not their agenda. They are nothing more than hyper-partisan hysterics who jump on any innuendo or rumor or whispered suspicion as long as it promotes their rigid ideological views and political loyalties and hatreds. ...Ann Althouse, on the other hand, would probably not agree that reading Greenwald's writing is analogous to eating potato chips, as she finds his writing as repugnant as I find it amusing.
But isn't repugnance a form of taste? And isn't there that old saying De gustibus non est disputandum?
MORE: I realize that this post was about taste in writing (and not truth), but I think it's fair to mention that according to one of the leading right wing hyper-partisan hysterics, Jamil Hussein seems to have used two names, and the story is far from settled, as is the issue of his reliability, which should not be conflated into the issue of whether he exists.
(If "George Harleigh" were shown to have existed, would that make him right?)
This is my third post dealing with Jamil Hussein -- whose existence has been alleged, questioned, denied, and reaffirmed repeatedly. As none of this can be known by me firsthand, I had no way to know whether to believe the AP the first time, the Ministry of Information the first time, or the MoI and the AP this time. And that doesn't even get into the man's reliability.
Whether to believe or disbelieve things said by others -- and under what circumstances -- seems to be a judgment call.
As a philosophical question, yes, the truth is somewhere.
Why does it so often get confused with taste?
posted by Eric at 05:31 PM
The Machines Stop
On May 8, 2006, James Kunstler had this to say about our future technological prospects...
Riding the van out of the airport Friday night to the Park-and-Fly lot, with the planes floating down in the distant violet gloaming, an eerie recognition came over me that life today is as much like science fiction as it will ever get -- at least as far ahead as I can see. Some of my friends' kids may never fly in airplanes. They may never own cars. At some point twenty, thirty years ahead, they may not take for granted throwing a light switch in a dark room.
I've noted before, the parsnip reference is probably just a joke. As for all the rest, sad to say I think he means it. But that's not what I want to talk about today. What caught my eye is his unwarranted assumption that he knows what science fiction does and does not do. Clearly, the sniggering ponce's humility glands crusted shut years ago.
sci fi has until now always been presumed to take place in the future. The science fiction of my friends' children will take place in the past...
Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Like he knows what he's talking about. Regressed, immiserated cultures have long been a staple of "sci fi", with or without parsnips. Savages living in the shadow of a lost golden age is a theme done to death, albeit in a number of interesting ways.
For instance, there are countless numbers of "After the Bomb" stories. In most of them, the degenerate starveling survivors look back at our time with a mixture of envy and awe, much as medieval peasants might look back on the Roman empire. As well, they look back with hatred at our inability to forestall the fall.
Let's leave the starry reaches off the table for the moment, and stick a little closer to home. For today, the fallen earth should be enough.
Having misspent my youth reading far more science fiction than was good for me, I find that Kunstler's vision of our future, which he seems to think is stunningly original, evokes memories of old pulp stories that I'd not thought about in years. Unwittingly, he's been reinventing the wheel.
Of all those fondly remembered stories, I suspect that Edgar Pangborn's tales of New England after the Thirty Minute War come closest to matching Kunstler's dour prophecies.
Here's an example for you. Centuries after the atomic war, from the darkest of dark ages, one of Pangborn's characters writes the following lines in his journal, addressing them to an audience that may not exist (Europeans), in a language that's nearly dead ( Twentieth Century American English)...
After the plagues, your people may not have turned against the very memory of their civilization in the sort of religious frenzy as ours apparently did, determined like spoiled brats to bring down in the wreckage every bit of good along with the bad. They may not have, but I suspect they did. The best aspects of what some of us now call the "Golden Age" were clearly incomprehensible to the multitudes who lived then: they demanded of the age of reason that it give them more and more gimmicks or be damned to it.
Grim, isn't it? Grimmer than it would actually be, I expect. Pangborn's people don't strike me as responding very realistically to their plight. Everything went smash and no one tried to reboot civilization? They were too psychically exhausted? I don't buy it. Too many garage tinkerers know too much.
But insofar as out-kunstlering Kunstler goes, those stories surely do hit the sweet spot. What with the red plagues and the melting ice caps, the flooding midwest
Taking a happier tack, Poul Anderson wrote a too brief series of stories set roughly a millennium after the holocaust. After centuries of environmental chaos, the dark age is drawing to an end. Climate has been stable for half a millenium and the total human population has climbed back up to around two hundred million.
In certain favored areas high culture is reasserting itself, but most humans still languish in poverty, ignorance and disease. Evolving in isolation from one another, the most successful survivors have created radically different cultures.
Preeminent among the successful peoples is the Maurai Federation, an amalgam of New Zealand's English and Maori peoples, along with various Polynesians, Australians, Hawaiians, etc. Being so isolated from the rest of the planet, they came through the bad times with relatively little damage. Think about it. Wouldn't you rather be in New Zealand when the balloon goes up?Their territory comprises most of Oceania, but their trimaran merchant ships can be found in any port of the globe, and if there is such a thing as a dominent culture, they are it.
For the most part, their suzerainty is characterized by a light touch, verging on benign neglect, but there are occasional technology transfers and educational scholarships. Their unstated foreign policy is to preserve cultural diversity, while simultaneously preventing a revival of the old industrial culture that they claim nearly killed the planet.
Basically, they're a bunch of easy going green ideologues who want everyone to get along. Sounds nice, doesn't it? But not everyone is satisfied with the status quo. Here's Lorn sunna Browen, an astrophysicist from Corrado. He's been clandestinely hired by the Brahmards of Beneghal, to assist in their (tippy top secret) construction of a thermonuclear fusion generator...
"Scraping along on lean ores, tailings, scrap, synthetics, substitutes...because the ancients exhausted so much. Exhausted the good mines, most of the fossil fuels, coal, petroleum, uranium...then smashed their industry in the War and let the machines corrode away to unrecoverable dust in the dark ages that followed. That's what's holding us back girl. We know everything our ancestors did and then some. But we haven't got the equipment they had to process materials on the scale they did, and we haven't the natural resources to rebuild that equipment. A vicious circle. We haven't got the capital to make it economically feasible to produce the giant industries that could accumulate the capital."
He's speaking to an undercover officer in Maurai Naval Intelligence, who responds rather condescendingly to his complaint...
"I think we're doing quite well...Sunpower, fuel cells, wind and water, biotechnology, sea ranches and sea farms, efficient agriculture--"
He remains unconvinced...
"We could do better though." His arm swept a violent arc that ended with a finger pointed at the bay. "There! The oceans. Every element in the periodic table is dissolved in them. Billions of tons. But we'll never get more than a minimum out with your fool solar and biological methods. We need energy. Power to evaporate water by the cubic kilometer. Power to synthesize oil by the megabarrel. Power to go to the stars."
Amen, brother Lorn! And please bear in mind that this was written back in 1962.
If you're curious how the story ends, read on. The undercover intelligence team discovers the hidden reactor. Turns out the Brahmards were right to try and keep it under wraps. To defend their high ideals, the Maurai commit various acts of murder, vandalism, and theft, followed by a brisk naval engagement.
With metal for the destroyed magnetic coils being in short supply, the Beneghalis will not be reconstructing their power plant any time soon. Say, a generation or two?
The Maurai agents depart, mourning the necessity of killing, but comforting themselves with the knowledge that it was all for a good cause. The world is still safe for cultural diversity and low energy renewables. Eventually, they got what they deserved.
posted by Justin at 02:01 PM
Just cooling up after a brief warming off period!
I'm back from Barcelona and mentally a little on the jet-lagged side, and not ready for an essay-length diatribe.
However, I've been so delighted by the many fine posts by M. Simon (including an Instalanched post) that I just can't thank him enough. It's an honor to have him blogging here. And it has made my vacation from blogging a stress-free one.
Plus, Dennis wrote a post while I was away, and now I see that Justin is working on two posts. I'm feeling positively expendable, and it feels great!
I'm also delighted by the mild weather around here. It's more like returning to California than to the East Coast, but amazingly, people around here are complaining bitterly! I overheard three people in the store today bitching about the unseasonably warm weather the same way they normally complain about the usual cold weather. (They'll get their precious cold weather too, because this won't last. And when they do, the
Unlike the Global Warming scolds, though, Coco has a couple of legitimate seasonal complaints. Not only did I imprison her in the kennel for two weeks in wretched balmy weather, but in Spain I did things like check out the art of Joan Miró.
Among other things, he painted images like this:
But through no fault of Coco, her art last winter was tragically destroyed by a meltdown of her medium. The meltdown occurred because of human-induced climate change. And this year, Coco has no medium at all! While I've proposed a Mirovian medium meltdown cooling off period, Coco is still pissed!
Global Warming is really starting to hit home!
posted by Eric at 01:25 PM
Where Are The Arabs?
Farrukh Saleem says they are at the bottom of the pile. He writes the following from Pakistan:
Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb: "If God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him knowledge"So politically things are not so hot in the Arab world. I do think his phrasing 'League of Dictators' is most felicitous.
So how good is the Arab world at turning money into knowledge and knowledge into money? Not too hot.
Israel spends $110 on scientific research per year per person while the same figure for the Arab world is $2. Knowledge makes Israel grow by 5.2 per cent a year while "rates of productivity (the average production of one worker) in Arab countries were negative to a large and increasing extent in oil-producing countries during the 1980s and 90s (World Bank; Arab Development Report)."It is very hard to dictate to people with knowledge. They often have their own ideas.
All this is built on a foundation of keeping women down.
Facts are hard to deny: Most members of the Arab League grant Muslim women fewer rights -- with regards to marriage, divorce, dress code, civil rights, legal status and education. Israel does not. Spain translates more books in a year than has the Arab world in the past thousand years (since the reign of Caliph Mamoun; Abbasid, caliph 813-833).Also note that Arab League per capita income is declining whlie Israel's per capita income is rising.
So now you know why the Arabs are Fighting For Self Esteem. They can't earn it any other way. At least under a dictatorship.
Also note that the jihadi goal is a caliphate (muslim dictatorship) ruling the world. In other words they want to bring back the dark ages.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
posted by Simon at 12:02 PM
Friday, January 5, 2007
More Problems On The Home Front
Iran has stopped exports of natural gas to Turkey due to a tight domestic market caused by cold weather, but vows to restart shipments soon.Turkish news sources report:
Iran, which was selling 27 million cubic meters natural gas to Turkey daily before December, has gradually dropped this amount to 4 million cubic meters since then. The Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Veziri Hamaneh, calling Turkish Minister for Energy Hilmi Guler after the complete cutoff, told him that because of high domestic consumption associated with the extremely cold weathers they had to make this decision. Noting that they called on the Iranian people to decrease their gas consumption, the Iranian minister said that if the Iranians would be more responsible he could guarantee that gas exports to Turkey would resume soon. Hamaned further said they hoped to activate the natural gas facility in the southern province of Fars and resume gas flow to Turkey.In a country where socialist central planning is the order of the day, this has got to hurt. On top of that Iran has been unable to meet its OPEC quota for the last 18 months. Another economic hurt.
H/T reader Paul.
Welcome Instapundit readers.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 8
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday night to discuss a solution to the current inter-faction violence after a day of clashes between Hamas and Fatah loyalists left eight Palestinians dead.Wait a minute. I thought that was already accomplished in the last cease fire.
I suppose such promises are about as reliable as their cease fire promises to Israel.
The eight Palestinians killed in Thursday's armed confrontations brought the death toll to 13 over the past 48 hours. At least 16 Palestinians were wounded in Thursday's fighting.With no Jews in Gaza any more it seems the Palestinians are turning on each other. Sort of a way to maintain military proficiecy in live fire exercises. Given the picture of the clowns I'd say they had a ways to go.
This scene is much more horiffic:
The body of Gen. Muhammed Gharib, chief of the Fatah-dominated Preventive Security Service in northern Gaza, riddled with bullets and mutilated by stab wounds, was found in his home in northern Gaza Thursday after a daylong battle with Hamas gunmen. Gharib's two daughters were also killed during the fighting, according to reports.It is one thing to kill a man because of political differences. Killing his children will get a serious blood feud started. The #1 rule of any successful mafia is that families are off limits. "Businessmen" OK. That is just business. Families are, well, family. When that rule is violated the feud gets serious. It is no longer about business. It is about blood.
Update: 05 Jan '07 1733z
The Jerusalem Post reports that a muslim cleric calling for peace between Palestinian factions was killed Friday.
There was no claim of responsibility in the death of Adel Nasar, who was shot by gunmen outside the mosque in the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza.Evidently there are Palestinians who prefer war to peace and they are willing to kill to get what they want and to silence opposition. Who could have guessed?
Well here is a cheery little thought from Fatah.
Fatah issued a statement in Gaza: "Blood for blood and aggression for aggression ... and all the sons of the movement should retaliate to each aggression openly."As I said. This is turning into a blood feud.
Update: 05 Jan '07 1544z
Two Hamas officials have been kidnapped as violence spread to the West Bank
Gunmen attacked Hamas officials in two separate incidents in the West Bank on Saturday, as weeks of factional violence in the Gaza Strip appeared to be spreading to the West Bank as well.Update: 07 Jan '07 0909z
It is a family affair.
Three Palestinians members of the al-Dire family, loyal to Hamas, were killed Saturday by members of the Dughmush family in Gaza City in the continuing internal Palestinian violence and seven people injured.Cross Posted at Power and Control
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Duke Meets OJ
The Duke case and the OJ case have a lot of similarities.
I watched the OJ trial from the point of view that the LAPD was a corrupt police department. I knew this because I followed the drug war and saw lots of instances of LAPD corruption in that war. OJ's defence made the point that the police may have corrupted the evidence. Guess what? We found out a few years later in the in the Rampart scandal that the LAPD was corrupt and had routinely planted evidence . The defence took advantage of community knowledge before it became public knowledge. In othter words it may very well have been a case of the LAPD framing a guilty man.
In the Duke case we have the DA and police framing innocent men.
In both cases the problem is corrupt police and in the Duke case a corrupt DA as well.
The common thread is the corruption of the justice system. I believe this is SOP across the country. Look up testilying. (I wrote about that in Corruption Is Routine.) It is rampant. This is another case of the system's bad habits catching up with it.
I blame drug prohibition for the bad habits.
The above was inspired by the comments at this post: Durham In Wonderland
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Palestinian Civil War Watch - 7
GAZA (Reuters) - Unknown gunmen killed a member of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction in Gaza on Wednesday and a car carrying Hamas security officers was ambushed, as simmering internal tensions threatened to erupt.I guess the Palestinian national unity government will have to be delayed a while longer.
Meanwhile Palestinian Preventive Security wants all foreigners to leave Gaza. Presumably so the real civil war can begin without outside observers.
Gaza City, 3 January - The Palestinian Preventive Security, headed by Mohammed Dahlan, ordered foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip because of an alleged threat of further abductions, following the kidnapping on Monday of a Peruvian press photographer, Jaime Razuri. Razuri, who worked for Agence France Press, has not yet been released.If the UNWRA was not distributing food. Some one would have to take that function over. Evidently Fatah (Mohammed Dahlan) thinks it has the upper hand for such an eventuality. The end result would be the use of food as a weapon. Support Fatah and eat. Support Hamas and look for another source of supply.
Update: 03 Jan'07 2125z
Kidnappings followed by violence.
At least three elite Hamas operatives were wounded in violent clashes with Fatah operatives in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon, Israel Radio reported.So, in the spirit of the cycle of violence Fatah retaliates.
Masked gunmen shot at the Palestinian Authority Religious Ministry building in the West Bank town of Tulkarm on Wednesday afternoon.Three Fatah operatives killed.
Tensions are not expected to subside anytime soon in the Palestinian Authority as a particularly bloody day of infighting comes to an end in Gaza.I'm betting the violence will escalate.
Later in the evening Palestinian sources reported that senior Fatah military wing leader Hassan al-Qasas, member narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after gunmen fired an RPG towards him and another senior group member. Fatah has blamed Hamas for the attack.Update: 04 Jan '07 1720z
A total of five people were killed in Gaza Wednesday.
GAZA (Reuters) - Clashes erupted between forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Hamas government in Gaza on Wednesday, killing five people in the worst fighting since the rivals agreed a fragile truce two weeks ago.Cross Posted at Power and Control
American Thinker has an interesting piece up about American Imperialism. In it J.R. Dunn looks at the difference between American Imperialsm and the Roman version.
Much in the way of criticism of the United States comes in the form of accusations of imperialism. According to this view, echoed by everyone from Harold Pinter to Noam Chomsky to the Arab press, the U.S. has for decades run roughshod over the globe, in defiance of agreements and civilized norms. Enforcing its policies unilaterally and always for its own benefit, the U.S. has effectively colonized huge swathes of the planet, if not through direct military action, then by economic exploitation or diplomatic chicanery. No one dares raise a hand against this; any show of independence is met by cruise missiles at the very least, if not armored divisions or carrier battle groups. Today it's Iraq, tomorrow... who knows? America is the third-millennial Rome, brutal, implacable, infinitely corrupt.It is a strange kind of imperialism that neither rules nor directly taxes the imperium for the maintenance of the imperial garrisons and the American rulers of the conquered states. In fact Americans pay the price to keep the "imperial" system running. Strange indeed.
Mr. Dunn looks at Rome to see what might be in our future.
But the world's anti-Americans should take care that their fantasies don't catch up with them. Myths have a way of coming true. If believed in long enough, and hard enough, and by enough people, they can come to pass, if only by limiting the possible responses of the subject in question. Tell someone they're an oppressor often enough, and they may become an oppressor, out of spite, or anger, or simple weariness. Useful the Roman stereotype may be, but it can prove very dangerous.In Decline and Fall I take a look at what the end of American "imperialism" might mean for America and the world. Again, not surpisingly, through a look at what happened to the Roman Empire. It was not pretty. Long distance trade became impossible. With the lack of long distance trade the gains from what economist David Riccardo called comparative advantage are reduced to a local scale. The gains are limited indeed. This leads to a much lower carrying capacity for the regions formerly under protection of the empire. Populations disappear through, war, disease, and starvation. Everything comes back in balance at a much lower level. For the world it would mean a massive die off. For the USA a drastic cut back in our standard of living.
There's a sense of weariness at international ingratitude, irresponsibility, and hostility. It has not gone unnoticed that sympathy for the U.S. effectively evaporated within days of 9/11, that support for necessary responses has been grudging and hedged with conditions, that, time and again, Western states have been caught under the table with corrupt UN officials and even the terrorists themselves, that, with a few notable exceptions such as India and Japan, our sole dependable allies against a universal threat have been our cousins, Great Britain and Australia.I have given some thought to this myself. I have wistfully rejected it. The Sampson option. If we are going down we will take the rest of the bastards with us. Let the world become like the Iranians, nostalgic for the "oppression" of the Shah.
But we had better know this: if the U.S. ever does take on the trappings of imperium, if we, out of despair or terror, turn to Roman methods, then, like Scipio, we will be witnessing our own fate in the cities we set ablaze.I think he has that right. Except with our peace will come our impoverishment.
We do have a trick or two up our sleves. One I found at Classical Values. One I invented myself. One is defensive, one is offensive (yeah, that's me).
The defensive measure is Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. With greatly increased energy supplies we will not be dependent on the oil tankers plying the high seas. We will greatly reduce the funding by the Arab states of terrorism. Enegry independence would become our defensive shield since energy (specifically liquid energy) is our greatest vulnerability.
The offensive measure is the Neighborhood Development Package. A package designed to give a neighborhood access to the internet, cell phones, and electrical power. By distributing these packages we educate and emanicipate women. Educated and emancipated women are the best tool we have to destroy tribal culture.
We can get our wish (a measure of peace) by destroying the world. We can also get it another way. Let us hope our better angels predominate, but we will have to get cracking.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
In the comments at Classical Values in my piece War Is Not A Physics Problem commenter Giuseppe Blow questions our need for the Iraq adventure. He believes the Iraq War (really a battle in a war) was completely unnecessary. My answer:
If you think Iraq is optional you do not understand the problem.
The problem is the coming economic collapse of the Middle East. Look at what A. Jacksonian (in the comments) has to say.
Political democracy and capitalism are the answer to that question. There is no way such a system would happen on its own. A seed needed to be planted. What better place to plant it than Iraq, a country we have been at war with since 1991 and the broken cease fire agreement?
Oil socialism is a failed experiment.
Bush has done well to not just see the problem quite ahead of the curve, but also to act on it. Islam is dying. As is the oil socialism of the Middle East. What we are seeing are just the early twitches. Iraq is of course centrally located in the middle of the mess. A good place to be if we are going to contain and possibly reverse it.
I think, Giuseppe, that it is you who do not see the wickedness of the problem. The looming mass starvation in the Arab world and the destabilization that will cause, due to the shift of oil production from oil well countries to oil shale countries.
I never understood why liberalism is so weak in some liberals that Bush could turn those liberals into reactionaries. The man does have amazing powers.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
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Palestinian Civil War Watch - 12
You win, I'm Satan! End of argument.
An Incentive, Not A Deterrent