Saturday, March 29, 2003

A Gateway Writer Responds

One of Chris Krause's colleagues at the Gateway, a newspaper at the University of Alberta, responded to my critique of Krause's article, "America: It’s Far Too Easy to Ridicule You."
I'll admit that his article was extreme, this response was just as ridiculous.
Except that I didn't wish for a "huge loss of life," make hateful generalizations about Canadians, or tell lies about Canada. In short, I didn't write "Canada: It’s Far Too Easy to Ridicule You." Don't confuse tone with content. The content of Krause's article was vile; he just wanted to spew forth venom towards the US. The tone of my response was sarcastic, but the worse thing I did was call him "Skippy" and ridicule his patently absurd and hateful statements about the US (e.g. such gems as "'Give Peace a Chance' is now illegal in that fucking country"). There simply isn't any parity between our articles.

When the writer of this response can't seem to make the correlation between the glorification of the anorexically thin female figure and the effects it has on young women, I find it hard to put too much stock in what he has to say.
I understand the alleged correlation--I just don't believe it. A 90-lb girl who starves herself because she thinks she is fat has a problem going far beyond poor body-esteem; she is in fact very ill, mentally and physically. Suggesting that "emaciated symbols of feminine beauty give one in six young women an eating disorder" has the same merit as suggesting that playing Doom causes school shootings--which is to say, it has no merit.

Especially when he's spewing out Yeah-America! diatribes such as saying America "kept the world safe from Nazi Germany". There was more than one country in that war, champ.
Consider the following propositions:

1. The US kept the world safe from Nazi Germany.
2. Only the US kept the world safe from Nazi Germany.

The endorsement of (1) does not imply the endorsement of (2).

So next time, try to set aside your condescending, holier-than-thou attitude and maybe stick to the facts.
"Sarcastic" is the better description. Again: tone vs. content. The content of my response was moderate, the tone bitter.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Stating the Obvious

The really interesting thing about Dominique de Villepin's paean to Napoleon's disastrous Hundred Days Campaign lies in his historical blindness to Napoleon's diplomatic incompetence, which is troubling in a putative Foreign Minister of a European "power." : Les Cent-Jours ou l'esprit de sacrifice For all of de Villepin's idiotic veneration of "glory," he misses the point that a real genius of the diplomatic world made to the Corsican:

Napoleon tried persuasion. "Your sovereigns", he said, "who were born to their thrones cannot comprehend the feelings that move me. To them it is nothing to return to their capitals defeated. But I am a soldier. I need honour and glory. I cannot reappear among my people devoid of prestige. I must remain great, admired, covered with glory." For that reason, he said, he could not accept the proposed conditions of peace. Metternich replied, "But when will this condition of things cease, in which defeat and victory are alike reasons for continuing these dismal wars? If victorious, you insist upon the fruits of your victory; if defeated, you are determined to rise again." Napoleon made various offers for Austria's neutrality, but Metternich declined all bargaining, and Napoleon's oft repeated threat, "We shall meet in Vienna", was his ominous farewell to Metternich. An astute observation that shoots over Dominique's head

In addition, Napoleon's sly genius in engendering permanent emnity with the world's greatest sea power and empire (England-which bore its final logical fruit at Waterloo) surely commends itself to the mind of every negotiator as the beau ideal of international relations.

That such a tin-eared individual would be promoted to France's highest diplomatic post says volumes about the state of Gaullic indifference to its own best long-term interests. Why, imagine what would happen if Germany would promote a Marxist terrorist-sympathizer to head its Foreign Ministry! Wait a moment...

The Shanghai Gesture

Well, I certainly didn't expect to see sense out of this quarter, but this commentary is about as short and sweet a summary of the realities of America's position as you will find anywhere:

Gulf of misunderstanding

Tip o' the pen to Iron Fist at LGF

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Clio Shall Be Avenged!

Markham Shaw Pyle is back with another excellent blog entry:

M. Shaw Pyle on Michael the Moron, the legality and strategy of the war, etc.

A Canadian Gets Uppity

I've been wanting to blog on less serious topics, but Little Green Footballs pointed to this article in the Gateway, a newspaper at the University of Alberta. I foolishly had to read it. So let's skip the niceties and get down to business.

Chris Krause writes the following in "America: It’s Far Too Easy to Ridicule You":

I also used to think ... that the Big Business fairies who own the White House would never allow President Jughead to invade anybody, for fear that the stock market would suffer, or that oil prices would drop (which they have).
So close and yet so far. Chris--may I call you Chris?--is right that if the White House is owned by Big Business, then it should make the White House behave according to its interests, which in this case, preclude going to war. So why didn't Big Business stop the war? Chris never considers the option that maybe--just maybe--the White House isn't owned by Big Business fairies in the first place.

For future reference, here's how the logic of that works (and it even has a Latin name for handy reference!):

Suppose we make the following claim--

If X, then Y

--but Y fails to be the case. We can then conclude that X is not the case either. This argument form is known as modus tollens, which is Latin for "denying mode." Arguments that take this form are always valid, so use them liberally and with great zeal and zest.

Oh, and a word about President "Jughead." I concede that Bush Jr. may not be as smart as Clinton, Gore (although I doubt it), or even the elder Bush; but Bush inherited a dangerous world from his predecessors--a world that he did not create--and he nonetheless has acted with remarkable restraint, tact, and decency. He deserves better than to be called "Jughead" or "Hitler" or any of the other mindless epithets that idiotarians hurl at him.

A little after that, I realized the best-case scenario was that Iraq II: The Phantom Menace would turn into another Vietnam. In other words, a long, drawn-out failure and huge loss of life for no real gain. Americans would be begging to get out, and their country would be internationally humiliated.
Gee, before today I thought that the anti-war point of view meant, well, no war at all. I didn't realize that an anti-war adherent could wish for a long war with a "huge loss of life." Alas, the abyss of anti-American hatred has no end.
I realize now, no matter what happens in Iraq, the US government will call it a victory and the US media will agree since America no longer allows dissent. If you’re a non-white dissenter, the FBI will want to arrest you. If you’re white, the public will want to lynch you.
I'm forced to agree with you on this point. Just last Sunday, Michael Moore was taken out and lynched for his anti-Bush remarks. Oh wait, that didn't happen; in fact, he won an Oscar for his "documentary." But you're right about black people who dissent. Poet Imamu Amiri Baraka was arrested by the FBI for suggesting that the Jews knew about 9/11 in advance. Oh wait, that didn't happen either; in fact, he was invited to Harvard and is the poet laureate of New Jersey. But then what about what happened to the Dixie Chicks? That kind of censorship ought to scare any civil libertarian. Oh wait, just as "artists" have the right to speak their "minds," we have the right to not buy their CDs or to destroy the ones that we already own, so long as no one gets hurt. Well, never mind; I can't think of any examples to support your claim, but I agree that it must be true, somewhere, somehow--just like those magical Big Business fairies who control the White House must exist even if there is no proof that they do.
But America will collectively wave its flabby hand and say, "jealousy," as they so often do.
I assume that the "flabby hand" reference is part of the now de riguer stereotype of the United States as a country of fat people. Obesity, however, is a world-wide problem. I'm sure you want to blame that on us, too. I don't mind, so long as you also recognize that we do more for world hunger than any other country and that the European Union has interfered with food aid to Africa because some of it is genetically modified.

It’s hard to be jealous of the only country in the Western world that does not provide adequate health care to its citizens.
Look Skippy--may I call you Skippy? No country--in the East, West, South, or North--can provide perfect health care to all of its citizens. Why? Is it because of those Big Business fairies? Or is it because that health resources, like all resources, are finite? I think that the latter is the case. So the question is: "how do we best manage health resources?"

The United States uses a free market model supplemented by government aid. England and other countries use a two-prong system of private and public health care. Canada is the only one that uses an exclusively public system.

The Canadian system has the advantage that all citizens are covered (theoretically), but it is in fact hard to see a specialist when one is sick with something more than the common cold. The US system has the advantage that although consumers often pay through the nose and can go into debt, they can be treated for a wide variety of problems in a swift manner. Both systems need reform, but the attempt to cop a morally superior attitude about Canada's health care system rings hollow. The fact is that our life span in the US continues to rise and we have a healthy citizenry across all socio-economic levels. If we can kick our obesity problem, our life span will sky-rocket.

It’s hard to be jealous of a country that spends $14 billion every year on the space program while education, social security, and innumerable other services see unnecessary and crippling cuts.

And what function does the space program really serve?

There are two common arguments for the space program. I'm not even saying that they're good ones, but you didn't even consider them. First, the space program does scientific research that yields all sorts of practical benefits. Second, the space program does scientific research that cannot otherwise be done except by a national space agency. Others can take up this issue with more knowledge than I can, but it suffices to say that you should at least try to understand what the space program does.
Who needs that much defense when the most dangerous and devious country in the world is the one you live in?
Dangerous to whom? To Saddam? To the Taliban? To the thugs, dictators, warlords, and other assorted riffraff who make the world a dangerous place? Good. You should be glad that we're dangerous to them; that's what kept the world safe from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
The myriad problems with their government could never be listed in this little article, so let’s move on to the only other problem the US really has: the citizens.
Why Skippy, I'm beginning to think that you don't like Americans.
One hundred years ago, H L Mencken first got the idea when he said no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people. Even then Americans were generally derided by the rest of the world.
Yes, there has been--and still is--snobbery on the part of the Old World towards the New World. Depending on how you spin it, we're the crass, nouveau riche who don't know our salad forks from our dinner forks; we're the "last men" of Nietzsche's lunatic ravings; we're decadent, bourgeois, capitalist swine; we're rogue cowboys without manners--and yada freakin' yada. I think the best way to disabuse one of such ignorant, arrogant cant is to read Nathaniel Hawthorne's allegorical short story "My Kinsman, Major Molyneaux."

In brief, a young rube (who represents a young United States) from the sticks goes to the city (Europe, the world) so that his sophisticated, respected--and French--kinsman can help him make his way in the world. As he searches for his kinsman, he finds out that the city can be a seedy, if not evil, place. He eventually finds that his kinsman has been tarred and feathered, and is the laughingstock of the town. His shock gives way to laughter, as he realizes that he has to make his own way in the world. A tale for our times, no?

[W]hile, in Europe, James Clerk Maxwell was unifying electricity and magnetism into the electromagnetic theory, Americans had started a war to decide whether slavery was a good thing or a bad thing.
So we were backwards not only in science, but in human rights as well--a twofer. Way to go, Skippy. The fact is that we made short work of slavery in less time than it takes most countries to figure out that people of other races are human beings. Lots of Americans long before the Civil War thought that slavery wasn't a good thing. Another inconvenient fact: the US is the least racially homogenous culture that has ever existed on earth--and people from all over the world still want to come here. Go figure.

As for our slow progress in science, well ... wait--I can't stop laughing--LOL! Oh, my sides are going to burst! Skippy, you're killing me!

But America also had a nobility about her that most people accepted, if grudgingly. America had been, and still was, a country of pioneers and settlers, of innovators and adventurers.
Are there two people inhabiting your body? I could've swore you just made sweeping generalizations about the putative backwardness of the American people. Now we're a country of innovators and adventurers? Did you forget to take your medication?
That spirit was present, for example, when John F Kennedy pledged to conquer the moon by the end of the ’60s.
Whoa, watch the mood swings! Just a bit ago you were upset about us spending money on the space program to the detriment of social programs. Are you saying it's OK to spend money for certain space-related goals? Were there no poor people who might have benefited from the money used to gain "bragging rights" over the USSR by being the first country to the moon?
It seems the only successful people either leave the country or become dirty business executives and crooked CEOs.
Um, Skippy, have you not heard of the brain drain problem that afflicts Europe? Scientists from Europe come here to get the jobs they cannot get in their own countries. The US is teeming with successful people--even the despicable Michael Moore can thrive here.
I need hardly mention that one in five Americans is obese ...
But you will anyway, won't you? As I mentioned, obesity is a world-wide problem, and it even afflicts the poor.
... while at the same time emaciated symbols of feminine beauty give one in six young women an eating disorder.
How do they do that? Do they have some magical device that causes anorexia in young women? Oh, I think I know now. In league with the Big Business fairies, magazines portray the ideal woman as thin; and of course, teenage girls, who have no freedom of thought, buy into this ideal, leading to their eating disorders. It's a devious plot. Now it's time to take my Thorazine.
Americans see no problem with attacking a country that has threatened no other country in the past ten years, because the American way and the Constitution must be spread around the world.
Look Sparky--may I call you Sparky? Here's the scoop on Persian Gulf War II:
  • After Persian Gulf War I, Saddam was allowed to stay in power if and only if he would make reparations to Kuwait and fully disarm. He did not.

  • What followed was one lame UN resolution after another that failed to disarm Saddam.

  • Last November, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, which offered Saddam a final opportunity to fully disclose all of his WMDs and WMD programs within 30 days, or else face serious consequences. He did not--surprise!--comply.

  • So what serious consequences should Saddam face? Sanctions haven't worked. Inspections are merely the means of verifying that Saddam is in compliance--they are not serious consequences. So what is left, except force?
Let's move on.
A 61-year-old lawyer was charged with trespassing in a Guilderland, New York mall when he and his son refused to remove T-shirts that said “Peace on Earth” and “Give Peace a Chance.” Let me repeat: “Give Peace a Chance” is now illegal in that fucking country.
You love isolated examples, don't you? That mall was thoroughly criticized by people of all political stripes for being stupid. Moreover, a mall cannot pass a law outlawing a slogan; only a legislative body can do so, and I've yet to see one that has made "Give Peace a Chance" illegal.
I could go on for pages ...
Of that I have no doubt. Whether you could go on to make a cogent argument based on facts is another matter altogether.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

One in the history of the world (tip o' the pen to Former Belgian at Entre Nous)

Mr. Andrew Coyne, in Canada's NATIONAL POST, points out the stark fact of history that there has been exactly ONE country that has asked international permission -before- going to war. Three guesses as to who that is, and the first two do not count.


None of this will matter to the war-nicks. I just love the "magic irrefutable thinking" of the anti-war left in imagining that its protests suddenly effect retroactive change in U.S. military policy. The US is not very interesting in deliberately killing babies and unarmed women for the chief reason that they do not serve as very effective military assets. Rumsfeld could announce a "fuzzy puppy" strategy to get Saddam and his cohorts to settle down and leave Iraq by beaming pictures of charming pets into Iraq, and the America-haters would scream "Noo, the children will claw their eyes out when confronted by the evil of...THE YANKEE FUZZY PUPPY!" AAAAGGGH. Yankee Imperialist Terror Weapon Exposed-People of a Nervous Disposition and Children are advised to avert their eyes Of course, Chirac would immediately denounce the use of Petit Basset Griffon Vendeens in the conflict and threaten a UN veto.

After all this, Rumsfeld would say, "OK, Shock and Awe it is." The anti-war left would then claim victory as the U.S. Army youthful dog menace is vanquished in favor of massive pin-point bombardment of Iraq. If you think that this is exaggerated, check out this link about the absymal ignorance of things military by these characters. Peace Protestor destroys wrong aircraft

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Poetic Justice

I've written about this before, but it is a grim irony that Saddam's draining of the Tigris-Euphrates marshes has made an easy path for our coalition forces to break into Iraq.

Iraq's anti-Shia repression

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Random Acts of Blogging

Not much time to blog until the weekend, so just some random thoughts:
  • I saw Arab League Ambassador Yahya Mahmassani on Fox News and couldn't believe my ears. He denied that Resolution 1441 set a deadline and he stated that the point of 1441 was to enhance inspections à la a policy of containment. In fact, 1441 offers Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council" and sets a deadline "not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution." That makes Chirac's call for another 30 day inspection period all the more pointless; since 1441's deadline didn't mean anything to France--not to mention to Iraq--why is another one going to make any difference? At the end of it, we'd just go through another round of "let's wait some more."

  • Why is it that the U.S. cannot go to war without a U.N. mandate, but Saddam can ignore 17 resolutions over 12 years with impunity? Especially considering that the U.N. is responsible for issuing an ultimatum to Iraq in 1441?

  • Would Rachel Corrie have stepped in front of a Palestinian suicide bomber? Was this "light of inspiration in an unjust world" being a peace activist when she burned an American flag? According to her friends: "She was helping farmers harvest crops, escorting kids to school, keeping roads clear for ambulances and taking part in peaceful protests ..." Oh yeah, she was also burning American flags.

  • The reason there shouldn't be any sympathy for the Dixie Chicks is that Natalie Maines didn't merely say that she was against the war or had reservations about the death of Iraqi citizens; she pandered to a European audience and tried to show solidarity with anti-American sentiment: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." I suspect that the audience applauded to her delight. U2 once did the opposite, i.e., pandered to an American audience by chanting "U-S-A" when after 9/11 it was trendy to be pro-American for about three minutes.

  • Not only am I no longer a pacifist (yes, I used to be a pacifist--and not that long ago), I don't even subscribe to Just War theories that hold war to be a last resort. I think it is rational to go to war when not going to war yields more evil than going to war. Obviously this is a controversial criterion that needs refinement and qualification, but it has the advantage of not allowing dictators to paralyze the rest of the world with faux appeals to human rights and cynical notions of peace. It's a sad spectacle when the world cries out for peace, justice, and humanity on behalf of a man who is bellicose, unjust, and inhumane.

Monday, March 17, 2003

A CC Back to Beck

Our kind Internet friend Billy Beck brings the brain-bubbling at Lew to the fore here: Really Dumb Idiocies about Ayn Rand and here: Super Stupidities In Re: Sharpton

The second mess is beneath comment. The nonsense in the first post could best be illustrated by the following "essay." It is by the same author Billy quotes from, written a year ago. The Secret Teachings of Ayn Rand

Wallace trys to come off as a "jus-plain-folks" dispenser of basic wisdom, but instead winds up as the Floyd R. Turbo of the site, someone who likes to bloviate about things he apparently knows nothing about.

I bow to no one in my lack of admiration for Rand's philosophical errors, The real errors of Ayn Rand but Wallace acts as if he has never read Rand with any degree of attention. Here are his main charges against Rand:

In Atlas Shrugged she had, on one hand, her "perfect" producers, the epitome of which was John Galt (who in his radio rant blames all his problems on everyone else). There are about three dozen of these "perfect" people in Galt’s Gulch. (Gack, it would be such a bore.)

But they’re not perfect. No one’s perfect. So where does Rand – unconsciously – project all the evil in the world? Right onto her "looters" and "parasites," all of whom she refers to as "subhumans" living in a "hell." Then she commits genocide and gleefully sacrifices almost the entire population of the world. She projects all hate, rage and envy onto them, scapegoats them, and then engages in a sadistic Hitlerian orgy of hate and destruction and kills off nearly everyone outside of Galt’s Gulch.

Gee, does she? As I recall, the theme of AS is that the strikers withdraw so that the "looters" and "parasites" can have things ENTIRELY their own way.

"This is why so many people who admire Rand’s writings still feel vaguely uncomfortable with Atlas Shrugged. How could she so gleefully rub out the entire world? How could she so cold-bloodedly kill innocent children in the infamous train-tunnel-collapse scene?"
Once again, -she- isn't doing anything but showing the logical outcome of venerating irrational modes of behavior. We had a fine example of that today with the "warnick" who foolishly threw herself in front of an IDF bulldozer and expected it to stop. The laws of physics didn't oblige her racist notion that an American body counted for more than a Palestinian body in that circumstance. Terrorism-enabler meets her fate As for the "innocent children" dying in the train tunnel, guess what? Innocent children die every day due to evil and its consequences. Rand, by her own admission, wasn't concerned with gritty naturalism but there comes a point where you -have- to show what the logic of the character's actions in your story delimit.

As to the primary charge, Rand herself makes the point that said "parasites" can only function with the aid of "good people" who refuse to confront and oppose the evil that they represent. It is a little something she calls, "The Sanction of the Victim." (see the entry of that title in THE AYN RAND LEXICON, ed Henry Binswanger, 1986 pp. 433-34) Rather than placing all the blame on outright baddies, she shows the effects of corruption and compromise on people like Stadler and Keating. Rand also emphasized the fact that an individual leading a rational life must engage in self-examination and self-criticism in order to live correctly. (see the title essay/speech in the collection PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT [note the lack of a question mark] for a good discussion of her views on the subject) The fact that she did not live up to these ideals is not evidence that she did not recognize or advocate them.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

A New Blog Joins the Roll

We at Saturn in Retrograde would like to welcome a Belgian who has lost his waffle to the blogroll here: Entre Nous Just another one of the fine bloggers that make us feel very inadequate, not to mention lazy.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Peace Activist assults woman

The (anti)peacenicks that trashed the La Habra memorial were disappointed to find it rebuilt larger than ever, and one had a unique way of showing her displeasure.

Police early Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old woman who witnesses said showed up at the memorial late Tuesday, claimed responsibility for burning some of the flags and pushed Chandler while saying the memorial endorsed the looming war in Iraq.

Jennifer Quintana, whom police identified only as an Orange County resident, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and released.

Quintana, who identified herself as a Fullerton College student, argued over the memorial with a crowd of about 25 people when she showed up at the site.

"It's an American flag, obviously it has everything to do with the war," she told the crowd. "There should be no war, just peace and togetherness."

Witnesses said Quintana grabbed Chandler as they argued.

"I told her to get her ignorant hands off me and she started to poke at me, so we called the police," Chandler said.

Police took Quintana in for questioning, and booked her into jail around midnight, police said. She was cited and released around 6 a.m. police said. They are still investigating whether Quintana was responsible for any of last weekend's vandalism.

I'm glad the La Habra police got off of their fundaments and did something to stop Quintana's unwanted "togetherness." Bigger than ever

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Hate Crimes, Love Crimes

I can't tell you how many people stop me in the street and ask me the following. "Bill," they ask, "how can I commit random acts of property destruction without the pesky bother of being arrested for vandalism or trespassing?"

"'Tis indeed a perplexing question," I reply. "One might as well try to climb a mountain without a rope."

Well friends, the impossible is now possible--if you live in La Habra, California, that is:

Antiwar protesters burned and ripped up flags, flowers and patriotic signs at a Sept. 11 memorial that residents erected on a fence along Whittier Boulevard days after the terrorist attacks in 2001 and have maintained ever since.
These "protesters" couldn't possibly have avoided a stay in the pokey bin, you say?
However, although officers witnessed the vandalism Saturday afternoon, police did not arrest three people seen damaging the display because they were "exercising the same freedom of speech that the people who put up the flags were,' La Habra Police Capt. John Rees said Monday.

"For this to be vandalism, there had to be an ill-will intent,' he said.

There you have it folks. To avoid prosecution, simply think happy thoughts. The police can't arrest you if you think happy, oh so happy, thoughts.

Sound too good to be true? It shouldn't. The Orwellian orthodoxy of political correctness has already deemed some crimes to be worse than others depending on a criminal's motives, so it's no big step to say that some crimes are not as bad as others when done with the right (read: politically correct) motives. So I suggest we commit the following "Love Crimes":

  • Let's sing "Kumbaya" while we egg the SUVs of celebrities who complain about SUVs. When asked, we'll say that we're just protesting against oil-guzzling cars that help terrorists and endanger furry forest animals.

  • For the sake of world peace, let's pelt Jimmy Carter with peanuts. (Oh yeah, let's.)

  • Let's spray paint hearts, hugs, and kisses on the MOAB, and send it with luuuuuv to Saddam. We'll even dedicate it to the childrenTM, oh the childrenTM.

  • Did I mention pelting Jimmy Carter with peanuts?

  • On behalf of the workers of the world, let's give Michael Moore the Mother of All Wedgies.

  • Oh, did I forget about pelting Jimmy Carter with peanuts?

  • We can't forget about Bill Moyers. I can't quite think of what things to do to him, but they will be the very terrors of the earth--but we'll be sure to think happy, oh so happy thoughts while we're doing them.
P.S. Did I say anything about pelting Jimmy Carter with peanuts?

Monday, March 10, 2003

French Leftist Anti-Idiotarian Found. In other news, the Four Horsemen are spotted on the Eastern horizon

The former French Socialist Minister of Health and co-founder of Doctors without Borders unburdens himself on the war clouds in Iraq:

Le : Bernard Kouchner : "La France est dans l'impasse"

Although it is in French, Kouchner essentially states that Chirac over-reached himself on the diplomatic front, and that while war is a terrible solution to any problem, it is worse to leave a dictator like Saddam in power. Next, he plans on teaching the French how to spell "chat."

A Great Day for America

Some good news on the front page of the NY Times for a change (registration required):

Africa's Lost Tribe Discovers American Way

Yet on this recent day, the Bantu people were rejoicing as they stepped from the plane into the blinding sun. They were the last members of the tribe to be transferred from a violent camp near the Somali border to this dusty place just south of Sudan. They knew their first trip in a flying machine was a harbinger of miracles to come.

Over the next two years, nearly all of the Somali Bantu refugees in Kenya — about 12,000 people — are to be flown to the United States. This is one of the largest refugee groups to receive blanket permission for resettlement since the mid-1990's, State Department officials say.

The refugees will be interviewed by American immigration officials in this camp, which is less violent than the camp near Somalia. The interview process has been slowed by security concerns in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Despite the repeated delays, the preparations for the extraordinary journey are already under way.

The Somalis had abducted them 200 years ago and used them as slaves and then as an underclass until the 1991 civil war broke out. Over 12,000 of them will be coming over after being educated in the English language and American customs. (bad, BAD America!) It is estimated that 11,999 of them will turn out to be better Americans than Pat Buchanan. (there's always at least ONE bad apple)

UPDATE: The Instapundit shows why he's the F.P. Adams (for Algonquin Round Table fans) of Bloggerdom by noting that the editorial slant of the Times makes for poor, nay really STUPID, "journalism" at the story's conclusion, where the writer says that they are "ignorant" of "poverty and racism" in America. Reynolds is actually too kind. He doesn't overtly point out that the Bantu are said (in the body of the story itself!) to explicitly express worry at the prospect of being African Muslims in America. They're poor, not stupid, which is more than can be said for the "Paper of Broken Record".
Glenn Reynolds points out that Howell Raines is still clueless and shameless

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

The Ultimate Idiotarian?

From a Reuter's article:
A New Zealand woman said on Wednesday she was willing to be crucified by President Bush if he pledges not to attack Iraq.
Is she a psychopathic dictator who has violated 18 U.N. resolutions? No? Then what would change for the better after she is crucified?
"Send your troops home and take me instead, on behalf of everyone in the world who does not want war and oppression," she wrote.
Does that include Saddam's oppression of Iraqi citizens, the Kurds, and the Marsh Arabs? Why doesn't Ms. Martyr Complex offer herself to be crucified if Saddam pledges to step down or if Islamic terrorists pledge to stop blowing stuff up? Oh, right, I forgot: the U.S. is the only menace to world peace.
But the deal has a catch--Bush would have to personally hammer in the nails.

"I don't think he would have the courage to do it quite frankly, but that is the measure of a man," she told Radio New Zealand.

The "courage" to crucify someone is the measure of a man? By that logic, Saddam, who is far more likely to enjoy crucifying someone, is a fine, upstanding, courageous fellow.
"Can he follow through with this aim of creating more chaos in the world if he had to do it just to one person himself?"
So it's not about oil; it's about chaos--the Bush administration wants to create more chaos in the world. Frankly, I think this is an admirable goal, and just this morning I was thinking to my self:

"Self, there's just not enough chaos in the world."

Self replied: "You mean people flying planes into buildings, people blowing themselves up in marketplaces, crazed dictators destroying ancient ecosystems, and old-school communists threatening nuclear war isn't enough chaos for you? And then there's France, Kim Il Jong's hair, and Michael Jackson."

"Well, I admit that Michael Jackson almost tips the scale towards too much chaos, but, still, I need more chaos. So cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war!"

"OK, but how do you figure that a war against Iraq is going to bring on more chaos?"

"Look, self, isn't it obvious? War is chaos. The war in Iraq will be a humanitarian disaster involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens, followed by mass starvation and rampant disease--bring it on, baby!"

"But that's what was going to happen in Afghanistan, remember? It was going to be a q-u-a-g-m-i-r-e, and according to Chomsky, the U.S. was going to kill millions of Afghanis. Instead, men are going to movies, women are going to school, and children are playing baseball. Not to mention that parakeets are able to sing again--and I kid you not--something they weren't allowed to do under Taliban rule."

"What! Chomsky promised us millions of dead Afghanis, and by gum, I want 'em. Or I want my money back. Well, self, at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that we created a lot more Bin Ladens who will one day wreak chaos upon the world!"

"I can't deny that there won't be new Bin Ladens, but isn't the opposite also possible? Isn't it possible that a lot of would-be Bin Ladens were defused when the U.S. destroyed the Taliban government? Isn't the same possible if we go to war with Iraq? Yes, some people will always hate us; but some people will change their mind. Look at what happened to Germany and Japan: they were militant imperialists bent on world domination and now they're militant pacifists, even though we nuked one of them and carpet bombed the other. The point is that the 'war leads to chaos and Armageddon' argument doesn't always hold water."

"Darn you, self! You're trampling on my dreams of bloodthirsty conquest and world chaos."

"That's it. I'm switching you to decaf."

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

A Malediction Permitting Fisking

It seems that our struggle to destroy terrorism and establish some sort of freedom and dignity for the Iraqi people has born excellent fruit, in the form of getting rid of a Neville Chamberlin wannabe in our Foreign Service.

U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation

Published on Thursday, February 27, 2003 by the "" U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation by John Brady Kiesling The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.
Dear Mr. Secretary: I am writing you to submit my resignation from the Foreign Service of the United States and from my position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens, effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart. The baggage of my upbringing included a felt obligation to give something back to my country.

Massive bio-war epidemics apparently being No. 1 on your list. Your choice of words is enlightening as well. “Baggage?” “felt obligation?” What a relief it must be to get away from such noxious and constraining ideas as patriotism and classical liberalism in favor of toadying to dictators and those who would appease them.

Service as a U.S. diplomat was a dream job. I was paid to understand foreign languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats, politicians, scholars and journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests and theirs fundamentally coincided. My faith in my country and its values was the most powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.

Where, exactly, was “Craven Surrender to Totalitarians” taught to you as an “American Value?” I can well guess, but we have already seen that you are impervious to ugly facts..

It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.

Young Werther strikes his forehead and swears off his foolish infatuation with factual reality in favor of a “diplomatic order” ruled by dictators and thugs. It is not surprising that John-Boy’s cynicism vanishes when it comes to the U.N.’s corruption and oil money shenanigans with regard to the “Oil For Food” program, or France’s with TotalFinaElf and Chirac’s promotion of the Osirik reactor.

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

...says Kiesling the Quisling. “International legitimacy...since the days of Woodrow Wilson?” God in heaven, I’d have to write a book to expose this idiot’s willful lies. Old Europe treated Wilson like an idealistic bumpkin schoolteacher in favor of a punitive “peace” treaty that poisoned the Wilsonian order at its roots, in addition to calling for violations of national sovereignty that could not get it passed in the Senate. It only wanted the U.S. to act in the inter-war period so that it could blame the evil AMMEERRRRICANS for the costs of dealing with Hitler and Mussolini. When France and Britain abdicated their responsibilities to defend Europe, it was with the whine that the whole thing was America’s fault for not acting as a slavish lackey in the League of Nations, taking out the trash that -they- caused to collect in Germany and Italy and which they had no stomach to deal with. Did you notice, ladies and gentlemen, how America is both evil when it minds its own business and minimizes its foreign intervention -and- when it involves itself in world affairs? Catch-22, you just can’t beat it.

Well, after WWII, we did go all multilateral and diplomatic. What was our reward? France openly projectile-vomited in our face. The Germans were double-minded about the threat of war and the British Labour Party devolved into a screaming pit of anti-Americanism (as PM Blair is having to deal with now). There were constant chants of US OUT OF EUROPE NOW! (“Please, don’t go...please don’t go”) and waves of anti-US sentiment for the horrid hell-spawned crime of rebuilding Western Europe and opposing the spread of Communism. THAT was our reward, Johnny, and it’s our reward today from the filthy ingrates that you abase yourself to.

The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism.

Unless by “international,” you count Great Britain, Australia (after Bali) and countries outside the Franco-German Axis of Collaboration with Hussein, the whole idea is a joke. We have had some success in the Arab world and Pakistan, but the NATO countries invoked Article 5 after 9/11 and then collectively did jack-flop.

But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?

Ooohh, you mean that Saddam hasn’t praised the efforts of the 9/11 terrorists, invaded his neighbors, provided cash bounties for suicide bombers, openly idolized Hitler and Stalin, deliberately pursued nuclear and bio-chemical weapons (actively using the latter in contravention of international law both in warfare and on his own putative citizenry) and called for the re-establishment of a Caliphate in Bagdad? To answer your question, no, we’re waking up to the fact that -superstitiously- invoking “international law” and waving pieces of paper at the likes of Saddam and Lil’ Kim to make them stop being “baddies” is part of a “doomed status quo” that will not stand.

We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary. We have over the past two years done too much to assert to our world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S. interests override the cherished values of our partners. Even where our aims were not in question, our consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests. Have we indeed become blind, as Russia is blind in Chechnya, as Israel is blind in the Occupied Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming military power is not the answer to terrorism? After the shambles of post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny and Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner who forms ranks with Micronesia to follow where we lead.

The stupidity continues. Ramallah is a shambles because the -Palestinian inhabitants- have made it so by engaging in an insane racist intifada that‘s against their own best interests. Grozny is a shambles because it is still *an active war zone.* Iraq is going to be rebuilt using its own oil money, which will not be hidden away in no-accountability secret UN bank accounts. It’s too bad that Johnny wasn’t born 20 years earlier so that he could resign over Reagan’s “cowboy” approach to Soviet diplomacy.

We have a coalition still, a good one. The loyalty of many of our friends is impressive, a tribute to American moral capital built up over a century. But our closest allies are persuaded less that war is justified than that it would be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift into complete solipsism. Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our President condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this Administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials. Has “oderint dum metuant” really become our motto?

We have disdain for those who, like France and Germany, claim to want us to work for peace and security through multi-lateral means while taking every effort to -destroy- those laws and agreements through anti-American motivated obstructionism. The fact that administration officials are willing to call them out for this indicates that they are both intelligent and self-respecting, things that Kiesling apparently prostituted away years ago. As for “Let them hate us, if they fear us,” they already hate and fear us and have done so since 1945, despite the fact that we have spent both blood and treasure to protect them. I don't like the concept of being hung for a wolf instead of a lamb, but it would at least stop the hypocrisy of "I'm not really against Americans" and the general anti-American ingratitude we see in Europe and elsewhere. If you review the history of the last half-century, these punks DON’T have the courage to protest people who actually intend doing them harm (it wasn't -cool- to protest against the Soviets, don't you know?), choosing instead to besharny their staunchest supporter.

I urge you to listen to America’s friends around the world. Even here in Greece, purported hotbed of European anti-Americanism, we have more and closer friends than the American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know that the world is a difficult and dangerous place, and they want a strong international system, with the U.S. and EU in close partnership. When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security, and justice for the planet?

Not you, apparently. Greece is rife with leftist anti-Americanism. I’m sure that their professional diplomats blew smoke up your fundament, given your obvious tin ear to factual reality, and would gladly retire to their chambers laughing to tears at the news of new terrorist attacks on this country as long as they were out of the way.

Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your character and ability. You have preserved more international credibility for us than our policy deserves, and salvaged something positive from the excesses of an ideological and self-serving Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes too far. We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America’s ability to defend its interests.

Yes, it really limited North Korea from going nuclear and a vicious and openly fascistic dictator from getting more accolades and protection than the United States. It is France,. Germany and the rest of the Axis of Weasels that show contempt for international law, world security and genuinely effective multi-lateral action. If you didn’t have irreversible cranial-rectal inversion, you’d be able to see that.

I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the world we share.

You’re resigning because U.S. civil service laws prohibit making open political statements, like this one. As an aspiring Quisling, you’re small beer. This country has survived the Commanding General of the U.S. Army being a traitor and a paid spy in the employ of Spain (Gen. James Wilkinson A greater traitor than Arnold ), you won’t matter much. In a way, I must apologize to Wilkinson and Arnold for the filthy and invidious libel which would compare them to you. They, at least, were straightforwardly mercenary in their treachery and spared us the loathsome, Pecksniffian hypocrisy of your mendacious letter cited above. In conclusion, let me quote a real patriot, Samuel Adams:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, - go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Is "Under God" Unconstitutional?

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is standing by its decision that reciting the 1954 version of the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the words "one nation under God," is a violation of the Constitution's establishment clause.

Although the court and its supporters offer a number of arguments for their position, their case rests on the following general argument:

  1. The Constitution forbids congress from passing any "law respecting an establishment of religion."
  2. Congress added the words "under God" to the Pledge in 1954.
  3. Although not mandatory, the Pledge is recited at many public events and in public schools.
  4. The phrase "one nation under God" is a profession of religious belief, namely, a belief in monotheism.
  5. "God" is an inherently religious concept.
  6. Therefore, the 1954 Pledge is unconstitutional.
Where does this argument go wrong? At premises (4) and (5). Here's what the court wrote in Newdow vs. US Congress:
To recite the Pledge is not to describe the United States; instead, it is to swear allegiance to the values for which the flag stands: unity, indivisibility, liberty, justice, and--since 1954--monotheism. The text of the official Pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God. [Note]
The problem is that belief in God is neither a necessary nor a sufficient characteristic of religion. There are religions that do not profess belief in God, e.g., Theravada Buddhism and Taoism; and there are people who believe in God and reject religion, e.g., Benjamin Franklin. Monotheism is a philosophical doctrine that endorses the proposition "One God exists." Some religions endorse that proposition, and others do not; and some people endorse it but reject religion. Unfortunately, the court does offer any support for (5), instead taking the religiosity of the concept of God as a foregone conclusion, as do Michael Newdow, who brought the suit, and Rev. Barry Levin, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. What the court does offer is a tepid analogy:
A profession that we are a nation "under God" is identical, for Establishment Clause purposes, to a profession that we are a nation "under Jesus," a nation "under Vishnu," a nation "under Zeus," or a nation "under no god," because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion.
"One nation under God" is no more identical to "one nation under Jesus" or "one nation under Vishnu" than "I believe in God" is identical to "I believe in Jesus" or "I believe in Vishnu." To be fair, the court tries to justify this analogy not on the ground that these statements are conceptually identical (which is patently absurd), but that they are identical in terms of their neutrality with respect to religion, which is to say that they are not neutral. Nonetheless, to reiterate, monotheism is neutral with respect to religion; a religion can either take or leave monotheism, and a monotheist can either take or leave religion.

Since (5) is false, (4) is likewise false; and so the conclusion fails as well.

[Note] The quotes from Newdow vs. US Congress come from an Adobe Acrobat file on the opinions page of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Search for "Newdow" to find the link to download the file.