Thursday, February 27, 2003

Human Shields or Crash Test Dummies?

The Media Research Center has an article about ABC's coverage of human shields. ABC reporter Dan Harris said:
But human rights lawyers say if the Pentagon bombs places inhabited by human shields that too would be a war crime.
I'm sure Emperor Misha would have a few choice words to say about this, but suffice it to say that if bombing human shields is a war crime and if it is prosecutable, then dictators can do whatever they want whenever they want; because said dictators can always find useful idiots to be their crash test dummies. Kim Il Jong should think about stocking up now before the holiday rush.

Pardon me while I have a strange interlude:

[First there is only mist; and then slowly the mist fades, revealing a Dantesque scene of several men submerged up to their necks in a foul-smelling conglomeration of garbage, bovine waste, hog swill, and corpses.]

Hitler: That Saddam is a wunderkind! We tried to overcome our enemies with blitzkriegs, purges, and gulags, when all we needed to do was to cull a few useful idiots from our enemies' own citizenry.

Stalin: I know; it makes a dictator sick just to think about it. Come to think of it, I should of used some German citizens as shields when you came a-calling.

Hitler: Yeah, like that could've happened. The German people would never allow themselves to be used as human shields. Now Russians on the other hand ...

Stalin: Never! The Russian people would never consort with the enemy, you addle-minded fascist kraut.

Hitler: Listen, you peasant commie ...

Mao: May I interrupt!

Hitler and Stalin: [In unison.] No!

Mao: [Continuing anyway.] Do you know that I never brushed my teeth? Why? Does a lion brush his teeth?

Lenin: Crikey Mao, you've mentioned that about bajillion times already. Yes, lions do brush their teeth--by chewing on bones, you twit. Seeing as we're going to be in this muck for a really long time, can't you say something else?

Mao: [Hemming and hawing.] Um, what about tigers?

[Lenin jumps Mao and they struggle in the muck. Stalin jumps Hitler and they do the same. A faint voice can barely be heard ...]

Chamberlain: It's good to see that we have peace in our time ...

[Strange Interlude ends.]

Harris worried about how the human shields "are facing" the "problem" of "how to avoid being tools of the Iraqi government" when the regime is providing food and housing.
Ah yes, the eternal problem of how to avoid being used a toady when you are one. Spicoli, er, Sean Penn never did figure that one out.
Ryan Clancy, a 20-something human shield volunteer: "This seemed like a very direct and a very meaningful way to take action and to dissent."
And Saddam thanks you son.
Harris to Clancy: "So are you saying that you're prepared to die?"
Clancy: "Um, nobody here has a death wish, I mean, I don't think any of us want to die."
Considering that Saddam now has a vested interest in killing you, you've made a slight error in judgment. Let's reason that out for the reason-impaired:
  • Take one dictator, known to murder family members and his own citizens.
  • Add one human crash test dummy, supported by the Iraqi government.
  • Now add the premise that if the said crash test dummy dies, Saddam at the very least can use the dummy's demise as a propaganda tool. At the most, he can accuse the U.S. of war crimes.
  • Conclusion: Saddam has a vested interest in killing the dummy.

Harris concluded: "He says he's not here to protect Saddam Hussein, just the Iraqi people. Dan Harris, ABC News, Baghdad."
This is a beautiful example of what Ernie and I call the butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth fallacy. That's the fallacy of pretending either that you don't have an agenda--when you do--or that your agenda is pure and noble and for the sake of the childrenTM--when it's not.

P.S. In the above, I made invidious comparisons between humans shields and crash test dummies. This is deeply unfair to crash test dummies, and I humbly apologize to crash test dummies all over the world, who bravely serve the human race by making sure that our consumer products are safe.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Racketeering and Protest

Gee, civil disobedience isn't racketeering. And now the Supreme Court will rule in seventeen years that the word "cat" is spelled C-A-T.

No Compost, Solar Pons

Salon, of all websites, finally grabs the "anti-war left" by its wax nose and drags it to an unwanted reality... News | Big Oil fears war, too

...namely that "Big Oil" is actually the most *anti-war* sector of the Evil Capitalist Empire (TM applied for-Chomsky).

Elsewhere, an Egyptian oppositionist points out that suicide bombing doesn't help the Palestinians much:

'All Our Problems ...Are Examined By Way of Hypocrisy, Falsehood, and Caprices'

Next up, Susan Sarandon and Janeane Garafalo find out Saddam's not a feminist...

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

An Open Letter to the President and Vice-President of the United States

To the President and Vice President of the United States,

George Herbert Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney.


I realize that this communication will, in all probability, not find its way to your desks. Nevertheless I would be remiss as a self-respecting individual and one fortunate enough to be born and raised in the United States if I failed to send you this open letter. It has come to my attention that certain individuals and organizations, under the rubric “Win without War,” have chosen to perform the moral equivalent of a denial of service attack on your e-mail addresses tomorrow by means of something that they are pleased to call a “Virtual March on Washington.”

I confess that I fail to see how an epidemic of E-mail spam will effect a rationally-motivated change in your Iraqi policy. It would be far more to the point to protest such abominations as the TIA program, now thankfully gutted, the lack of a rational screening policy for potential Arab terrorists or the highly dubious personal and political relationships that you have with the House of Saud, the prime source of funding for the evil Islamist ideology that now threatens world peace. This, however, is beyond the WWW “coalition.”

Instead, they choose to advocate a ridiculous round-robin of “inspections.” These “inspections” didn’t stop North Korea, a smaller and poorer country than Iraq, from developing its own nuclear weapons programs. How it can be expected to seriously interfere with bio-chemical operations that require far less infrastructure? “Win without War” like the “anti-war left” in general, has no answer. Saddam Hussein is a composite of all the evils that they claim to disdain, yet their nihilistic desire to tear down legitimate universal values of human freedom and dignity for their own hypocritical “(im)moral” self-aggrandizement compels them to throw in with a murderous fascist and racist, an ecocidal and genocidal maniac with no regard for human or animal life.

It is on this last point that the irony of their actions comes to fullest fruition. I happen to be aware of the fact that Pentagon and Executive Branch staff have been briefed on the military problems that have arisen as a consequence of Saddam’s deliberate destruction of the Tigris-Euphrates River Marshes, a wetlands area larger than our Everglades, and the consequent impoverishment and exile of the Marsh Arabs, a traditionally free and environmentally responsible people.

Turning a teeming swamp bigger than Florida's Everglades into a salt-encrusted wasteland in less than a decade was no small feat. Environmentalists are still puzzling over exactly how the Iraqi government, which shrouded the project in secrecy, accomplished it. Bringing back the wetlands -- once home to a half-million people and a crucial stop for migratory birds -- will be considerably more difficult. Marsh destruction

It is a striking fact that the charity responsible for the welfare of the Marsh Arabs agrees with your policy of “regime change” in Iraq. From their perspective, it is the only way to reverse the ecological and social damage that Saddam has wrought. Amarappeal wants change

Isn’t it a pity that the Sierra Club and Greenpeace are so indifferent to it? Sierra Club and Greenpeace do not

Rather than make this letter tedious for anyone who chances to read it, (including those at the WWW coalition that it is being forwarded to) I will conclude thusly. The only thing that Saddam Hussein respects is force. The demonstrations of February 15th and the pathetic one that you’ll not see tomorrow are taken by him to indicate weakness and not strength. As a believer in maximizing liberty to its fullest rational extent, I realize that our example of freedom to the world, lacking in consistency and full implementation though it may be, is the prime source of the defeats that tyrants and demagogues throughout history have suffered at our hands. It was certainly the case for Saddam’s greatest political idols, Hitler and Stalin. They, like Saddam, confused our tolerance of dissent with cowardice. However, this also means that feckless and inconsistent “pacifism“ simple emboldens such psychopaths and encourages them to flout international sanctions that aren‘t backed by the threat of real force. “Win Without War” would do well to keep in mind the example of the Oxford Union in 1933, which voted in favor of the resolution “(That) This House will never again fight for King and Country” A former pacifist explains why totalitarians don't care How many of them later fought and died against Hitler?

With good wishes for the success of any rational and liberty-affirming political efforts on your parts, I remain:

Yours Truly,

Ernest E. Brown II

Copy to: president@whitehouse,gov


Sunday, February 23, 2003

This is what I call "Must See Reality TV!

Barcodeking has a future in Fox Network Programming:

Survivor: Iraq

I think we can skip the "date with Uday" part, even Fox has its limits.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Jimmy Carter Unwittingly Makes the Case for War

Jimmy Carter has been taken to task for criticizing the Bush administration's position on Iraq, but ironically, his own words make the case for war. The only reason that he doesn't support a war against Iraq is that he either misunderstands or is ignorant of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441.

In an interview with the Mirror, Carter states:

There has been a virtual declaration of war but a case for pre-emptive action against Iraq has not been made.
What Carter doesn't understand is that the resolution does not put the burden of proof on us to justify a pre-emptive war; it puts the burden on Saddam for a full disclosure of his weapons programs:
... the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material.
Moreover, the resolution states that this is Saddam's "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council." So the condition for compliance with the resolution is complete disclosure on Saddam's part, and the deadline is (was) October 8, 2002. Did Saddam meet this deadline?

He obviously has the capability and desire to build prohibited weapons and probably has some hidden in his country.
So even Carter realizes that Saddam has not complied with the resolution. The conclusion he should draw, then, is that "Iraq ... will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations." Instead he draws these conclusions:
We want Saddam Hussein to disarm but we want to achieve this through peaceful means.

But there is a growing consensus, among other countries at least, that we should let the UN inspectors do their thing first before we start a pre-emptive war against Iraq.
We have tried to disarm Iraq through peaceful means for years, and we have allowed the inspectors "to do their thing"--whatever that is--far past the deadline set by the resolution. The "growing consensus" in favor of ongoing inspections is the consensus we have had all along--and it is beginning to fall apart in favor of a pro-war consensus. In short, Carter thinks that the point of U.N. inspections is to contain Saddam by finding weapons or to provide justification for a "pre-emptive war." Resolution 1441, however, makes no such claim. In brief, it says:
  • Saddam is in breach of earlier resolutions.
  • He has one more chance to disclose his weapons programs.
  • If he does not, then he faces "serious consequences."
Continuing inspections are not serious consequences, because they are not consequences at all. Rather, they are the means of verification. Sanctions are serious consequences, but they are already in place--and much of the anti-war crowd resents them anyway. So what serious consequences are left? Are the Belgians going to throw waffles at Saddam? Will the French send a crack contingent of commando poodles headed by Sergeant Fifi to lift leg on Saddam's palace lawns?

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Eastern Europe Rebuffs Chirac

Newspapers in Eastern Europe have responded to Jacques Chirac's snotty tirade against Eastern European support for the U.S. The best response is from Latvia:
All right, Monsieur Chirac. Perhaps we are poor. Perhaps we were not raised properly. We do not know about fine wine and the various directions of avant-garde art. But we do not repay those who have helped us and who continue to help us with ingratitude.

The peace of the grave?

The Dissident Frogman's stark counter-protest banner is taking the blog world by storm:

Xanga dissidentfrogman's weblink: How to spread this banner

A fellow freedom-advocate to his north-east used it to open a peace protester's mind:

A Belgian blogger uses it to make obvious points

Expect to find it here shortly.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Random Thoughts on War and Peace

  • Even if anti-war protesters think that the United States is a menace to world peace; even if they think that Bush is Hitler; even if they're worried about Iraqi citizens--why don't anti-war protesters also put their energy into opposing Saddam? Why don't millions take to the street in favor of a free Iraq, and demand that Saddam step down for the sake of Iraqi childrenTM? Why not protest human rights violations by the Iraqi government against its own citizens? In other words, there are two ways to avoid war: one is for the U.S. not to go to war, the other is for Saddam to step down. If someone is opposed to war for humanitarian reasons, why not work to bring about either scenario?

  • Of course, there is another way of avoiding the war: by ignoring U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 and allowing Saddam and his ilk to do what they wish. But then anti-war activists need to explain why the United Nations should in any way be taken seriously. They can't have it both ways; if the U.N. is a moral-political authority in international affairs, then it has to have some teeth.

  • Why is the anti-war movement so in favor of the status quo? It's amazing that so many anti-war groups see themselves as progressive and that so many critics of the Bush administration, especially celebrities, think of themselves as enlightened defenders of human rights, when in fact they want much of the world to remain the same as it always has been: governed by thugs, dictators, psychopaths, despots, warlords, anti-semites, genocidal loons, tribal chieftains, absolute monarchs, führers, and theocrats. One might object that the U.S. would have to go to war against much of the world in order to establish democracy--and even then, a lot of cultures may not want democracy. I agree with this, but my argument here (and above) is a non-fallacious ad hominem against those who oppose war on humanitarian grounds but end up only criticizing the U.S and never Saddam, the Taliban, the Soviet Union, and so on.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Even the Forces of Darkness are Astonished by Leftist Idiocy

Ernie has a budding career as a cartoonist:

 The Upchuck Letters, Chapter 1 #121525by Ernest_Brown 
Mr. Scratch and his aide Judas Goat discuss the promotion of evil.
Now, remember, you'll use your mind control powers to take over the "anti-war" left for Saddam.
Ahh, I hate to tell you this, Chief, but they're already on his side!
Edmund Burke, call your office.
What? He's a racist, fascist, ecocidal, -genocidal- maniac. I couldn't create a composite of all the evils they claim to hate and do a more credible job of it!
What can I say, Boss? Your campaign to destroy moral objectivity and basic decency has really taken them by storm. Now, there isn't even a pretense of progressivism. "Itching ears," you know.
Talk about self-fulfilling judgment!
Excuse me, I'm going to have to void some ectoplasm in a very unpleasant manner.
Yep, it's hard to be a self-respecting demon while associating with these creeps. The Enemy is really dealing out the punishment to us on this one.

Ernie's Comics

"Why, yes, I'm an Idiotarian"

On the WB's Daily Buzz, actress Renee Zellweger mentioned that she is currently reading Michael Moore's Stupid White Men. After noting that she loves the book, she then admitted to being "completely uninformed and highly opinionated." Buzz host Andrea Jackson quipped that "completely uninformed and highly opinionated" is a good description of Hollywood. Kudos to the host, who is also the Buzz's entertainment reporter, for not being a sycophant. Kudos to the Buzz in general for not taking celebrities too seriously.

Poetry and War

Although anti-war poetry isn't necessarily bad--see for example Wilfred Owen's "Dulce Et Decorum Est"--a lot of contemporary anti-war poetry is an ugly hodgepodge of anti-American and anti-Jewish prejudice. So I was surprised to find that some poets are pro-war. I haven't had time to check out their poetry yet, but when I do, I'll blog about it.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Crikey, He's Good

At the risk of seeming obsequious, I want to second Ernie's recommendation of Markham Shaw Pyle. He's barely out of the gate and already in the same class as James Lileks and Bill Whittle.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

MSP's back, and Clio's got him!

Yeah!, Markham Shaw Pyle has finally joined the ranks of bloggerdom!

Herodotean Laughter: Snickering Along With Clio

Get over the flu soon, Shaw!

Axis of Weasels drives Greece to support Turkey on NATO Article 4

Agence France-Press reports that Athens supports Ankara in NATO fracas

Greece has "protested on numerous occasions when NATO procedures were not launched even though (Greece) felt it was at risk of an attack", he said. Greece, therefore, cannot be "one of those who would block the procedure," Protopapas said.
M. Protopappas, you may note, has a fine sense of irony, since he's referring to Greece's troubles with Turkey over Cyprus, etc.

For France's response...

Jacques Chirac reacts to Greece's announcement

A Pirate is a Pirate is a Pirate

It's an unpopular view in cyberspace, but David Lawrence lays down the law:
Music and movie piracy, identity theft, credit card hacking, software cracking, and other activities are being promoted as "security assessment" and "the unavoidable new way of doing business" and other "helpful" acts. That's pure rationalization.
Yes, it is. It's amazing how many educated and otherwise ethical people justify piracy with lame arguments to get around the fact that sharing copyrighted material is illegal and immoral. There is no moral distinction between going into a store to shoplift a DVD, CD, or game and downloading a movie, album, or game from the Internet. This is not about free speech, nor is it a heroic struggle between the David music listener and the Goliath music industry; it's about stealing, plain and simple.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Hitchens's Long March Continues

Christopher Hitchens gives the French a well-justified flogging: The Rat that Roared

His evolution away from the left continues as idiotarianism deepens.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Shave and Get Horizontal, or Die

In what's sure to inspire a new advertising campaign for razor blades and shaving cream, scientists--and I'm using that term loosely for reasons that will shortly become clear--have made the following momentous discovery:

Men who don't shave every day enjoy less sex and are 70 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than daily shavers, a new study shows.
My first thought upon seeing this was "What the ...!?"

My second thought was "Crikey, I'm a dead man!" (Infer what you will.)

My third was again "What the ...!?"

My final thought is that the study is a textbook example of the non causa, pro causa fallacy, i.e., the fallacy of taking X to be the cause of Y when X is not likely to be the cause of Y. One would think that epidemiologists would be especially aware of the problem of confusing correlation and cause, but alas, this study made its way into the American Journal of Epidemiology. If you think the correlation between shaving, sex, and strokes is tenuous, hang on:

The findings show that men who don't shave every day are less likely to be married and are more likely to be blue-collar workers. They also have fewer orgasms, tend to be shorter, and to suffer from angina.
Researchers also note that these men live on planet Earth, wear pants, and require daily intake of H20 to survive.

[Professor Shah] Ebrahim told Reuters the link between circulating sex hormones and beard growth was first established when a man on a remote island in the Hebrides noticed that his beard grew vigorously when he was about to rejoin his girlfriend on the Scottish mainland.
One story about a hot-to-trot Gilligan establishes a link between hormones and beard growth? Isn't this frowned upon as anecdotal evidence? By the way, this has all kinds of implications for Gilligan's Island. Why? The men were always clean shaven. Discuss.

He said the low frequency of orgasm in men who did not shave regularly might be because they had low levels of testosterone or might simply reflect the fact that they were unmarried and had less opportunity for sex.
So now there's a correlation between not shaving and not being married? Does this professor just not like bearded men? And what about women who don't shave? What are their chances for amour with hairy 'pits and legs that a brillo pad would find abrasive? Discuss.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Dennis Miller gets in touch with his inner mensch

“The ACLU spent this entire holiday season protesting public displays of the nativity scene. Yeah, that's the problem with America right now: Public displays of Christ's birth, that's the problem. It's unbelievable to me. The ACLU will no longer fight for your right to put up a nativity scene, but they'll fight for the right of the local freak who wants to stumble onto the scene and have sex with one of the sheep.” (thanks to Gut Rumbles)

Some welcome anti-idiotarian commentary

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Stars Fell on Texas

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Seven feared dead in space shuttle disaster


Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'mey ra'bbo, b'olmo dee'vro hir'oosey v'yamlich malchoo'sey, b'chayeychon oov'yomeychon oov'chayey d'chol beis Yisroel, ba'agolo oo'viz'man koriv; v'imroo Omein.

Y'hey shmey rabbo m'vorach l'olam ool'olmey olmayo.

Yisborach v'yishtabach v'yispoar v'yisromam v'yisnasey, v'yis'hadar v'yis'aleh v'yis'halal, shmey d'koodsho, brich hoo, l'eylo min kol birchoso v'sheeroso, toosh'bechoso v'nechemoso, dee ameeron b'olmo; v'imroo Omein.

Y'hey shlomo rabbo min sh'mayo, v'chayim aleynoo ve'al kol Yisroel; v'imroo Omein.

Oseh sholom bimromov, hoo ya'aseh sholom oleynu, ve'al kol Yisroel; v'imroo Omein.

The Prayer Translated

May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which He has created according to his will. May His Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed, forever and ever. Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honoured, elevated and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, Blessed is He - above and beyond any blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who makes peace in His high holy places, may He bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.