Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Don't Be Too Proud of This Electoral Terror You've Created

Dave thinks the GOP needs to build a death star. I think he's on to something.

Canary Islands Faces Series of Plagues is reporting that a massive swarm of locusts has hit the Canary Islands.

God's little messengers.

But between the election scandal in Ukraine and news that the Netherlands likes to kill human babies, the liberal media isn't telling you the whole story about the real problems faced by the Spanish islanders.

First the normal locusts devoured the crops, and then came the bionic, laser-beam-shooting cyborg locusts from a future to bleak to describe. And this wave of insects feeds on fear!

Two vacationers get attacked by a genetically resurrected pterodactyl.

Even the conservative bloggers are oddly silent about the story. I suspect that Ace, Dave, the entire crew from NRO, Instapundit, Israel, the Saudis - it's all part of the same ball of wax. It's a good thing for my readers that SobekPundit is willing to tell the truth, 'cause somebody's gotta do it.

Scenic Tenerife Bay, about to be attacked by a monster that looks like Michael Moore, but without the hat.

You think FauxNews is going to mention this? Fat chance. Rupert Murdoch is far too deep in Halliburton's pockets for that.

George W. Bush will invade Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, but he lets Al Franken walk unchecked down scenic streets on the Canary Islands? It's a Reichpublican plot!

They may have gotten to the other news sources, but not to me.

Terrified villagers report massive numbers of French women descending on the beleagered island.


Monday, November 29, 2004

Medicinal Marijuana Before the Court

Again via Boortz, whose permalinks are still broken. You can find his web site at and just go to the archives.

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today on whether Federal laws banning marijuana overrule the laws of ten states which have legalized it for medicinal purposes. I think the question is a little bigger than that, because if regulation of medical marijuana is to be left up to the states, there is no principled reason why all marijuana use - medicinal or not - shouldn't be up to the states.

Boortz the Libertarian, of course, believes that the war on drugs has been a total failure, that all marijuana use should be allowed, and that laws to the contrary come from "the 'don't worry, we'll tell you how to live your life' branch of the Republican party." He has a poll on the question up on his site with three options: legalize it for all purposes, legalize it for medicinal use, or keep it illegal. As I write this, 32% of his listeners say yes for medicinal use, 54% say yes for all purposes, and a mere 14% say no.

I am certainly not in the "yes for all purposes" camp. In addition to my moral objections to drug use, including marijuana use, I think it would be a policy disaster.

But at the same time, I don't know which of the other two categories I fall in. On the one hand, I do not object to drugs, for example morphine, when used for medicinal purposes. When I went to the emergency room last summer, they shot me full of this amazing stuff called Dilaudid that, I was told, is ten times more powerful than morphine, and although I've never had morphine, I believe it. It was insane. I took Viocdin, too, but hated that.

So what's the difference between medicinal marijuana and medicinal anything else? Part of it is cultural. Because marijuana is only quasi-illegal now, more people use it than use harder things like morphine. There is much less of a stigma on it, and therefore the danger is greater that people will experiment with it, and get trapped into worse things.

Ultimately, though, I guess I'm on the fence. Anyone want to persuade me one way or the other?

Update: From Boortz' website today: "The cause of medical marijuana would be helped a lot if so many of the people who were using medical marijuana didn't look like drug-crazed zombies."

Banning the Declaration of Independence

Via Boortz, whose permalinks aren't working, so I'll just recap.

Fifth grade teacher Steven Williams filed a lawsuit claiming the principal won't let him read the Declaration of Independence to his class, because it makes references to God. Boortz, of course, takes this as further evidence that all government schools should be closed down, and everyone should send their kids to private school. It's getting harder and harder to argue with him.

Standard Conservative Argument: The Declaration of Independence is part of our national history. You simply cannot understand our national identity without some sense of our Judeo-Christian background. When I was in High School (a public High School, mind you) I took a class on European History, in which we learned about Judaism and Christianity. I simply could not have understood the materials without that background. Consider this hypothetical class lecture:

Teacher: In the early 1500s, a German ... um ... professional speaker and scholar named Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to the door of a ... um ... tax free publilc building, thus beginning a period known as the Reformation.
Student: Reformation of what?
Teacher: I can't tell you.
Student: Why not?
Teacher: Go ask Nancy Pelosi.
Student: Well, what did the paper say?
Teacher: It was a, uh, list of grievances.
Student: So he was like, on strike?
Teacher: Yeah, that's it. It's like he was on strike.
Student: So we assume that he eventually worked out his grievances and everyone was happy, right?
Teacher: Actually, a long series of bloody wars and violent persecution ensued.
Student: But why, if it was just a strike? Couldn't the government just step in?
Teacher: Look kid, are you trying to get me fired?

Do you see the problem with that exchange? The teacher unabashedly said the name of Martin Luther, apparently unaware that he was flagrantly violating the Constitutional separation of Church and State by uttering the name of the man after whom Lutheranism is named. Now that kid is going to grow up and burn crosses in front of black peoples' homes. Great.

The supreme irony, I think, is that in their (obviously empty) promise to move to Canada in the wake of their recent crushing defeat, liberals are seemingly unaware of the Canadian national anthem:

"O Canada! Our home and native land.
True patriot love in all our sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise
The true north strong and free
From far and wide we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free
O Canada we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada we stand on guard for thee."

Native - offensive to Indians.
Patriot - synonymous with both Ashcroftian fascism, an American missile system, and jingoistic imperialism.
Sons - sexist.
True North - cultural supremacist, by suggesting that a) northerners are better than southerners, and b) other northen countries like Russia, Norway and Sweden are the "false north."
Free - cultural supremacist, by suggesting that freedom is better than enslavement under an oppressive dictatorship. Don't try to force your values on me, Canada!
We Stand on Guard - chest-thumping, hyper-militaristic

The Canadian national anthem is therefore banned. Wow, banning stuff is fun. I wonder if I can make a career out of it?


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Chief Justice William Rehnquist is a Trooper

The guy is undergoing chemotherapy after major surgery for thyroid cancer, and he's still doing his job.

I don't know that there's really much of a story here, other than to remind us all that he's sick, and if you've been following Supreme Court news at all you already knew that. I'd just like to point out that since the Court routinely splits 5-4 these days, it's a good thing arch-conservative Rehnquist isn't sitting these cases out altogether.

Back From Thanksgiving Break

Did I miss anything? It's wierd to go for almost a week with no internet access. I would never have known if, for example, Ukrainians were contesting an election or something.

Or if France had unilaterally invaded a third world country to impose its colonial will, without first securing a UN resolution.

I feel so out of touch.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Chat with a Virtual Liberal!

Hat tip to Sean Gleeson.

Madeline Ackbar?

Jennifer at Demure Thoughts thinks Madeline Albright is looking more and more like Admiral Ackbar. I don't know - I don't really see the resemblance.

John Sylvester is a Racist

But it's okay, because he's liberal. Liberals can be as racist as they want.

You may have heard of the firestorm of controvery surrounding GWB's nomination of Condi Rice to be Secretary of State. The controversy is a simple one. Dr. Rice is black. She is a conservative. Therefore liberals hate her.

Racist piece of human garbage John Sylvester is one of those liberals. But I want to be more disciplined in calling someone a racist than liberals are, so let me take this from the beginning by defining racism, and then explaining how racist John Sylvester fits that definition.

Racism is the belief in the inherent superiority or inferiority of a group of people based on their race. Thus, for example, a Klansman who believes that all blacks are dumb (and therefore inferior) is a racist.

The racism that is endemic in liberalism is based on the belief that all blacks, or at least a majority of them, must think and act in a certain way. By itself, that belief is a stereotype (and stereotyping is different from racism - I say in general that Asians are short, but absent a value judgment based on that generalization, there is no racism). But that stereotype is attached to a distinct set of value judgments. Blacks who do not think in lockstep with the liberal stereotype have something wrong with them. They are Uncle Toms or Aunt Jemimas. They are lapdogs, parrots, trophies, etc. They don't recognize that the government has a special role to protect them, provide for them, empower them.

All of these (usually) unspoken value judgments stem from the fundamental belief that blacks are somehow inferior to other groups.

By subscribing to and aping that party line, John Sylvester demonstrates his racism. He does not complain about Dr. Rice's Ph.Ds, her tremendous accomplishments, her persuasive speaking abilities. He is complaining that she is a black who doesn't act like his conception of black people.

By way of further elaboration, consider this:

"Sylvester used the term on last Wednesday's show to describe Rice and other blacks as having only a subservient role in the Bush administration."

What, pray tell, does racist John Sylvester think of the subservient role blacks had in the Clinton administration? Oh, it was fine then, for some reason. Because when Clinton was in charge, all the blacks thought like blacks are supposed to think. They fit the pre-conceived mold. They were subservient, to be sure, but they were subservient in the right way.

UK Thwarts 9/11-Style Terror Attacks

At least five of them. Drudge headlines his link by implying only one attack was prevented, and that it was recent. No, the story is more important than that, for two reasons. First, it shows that Islamic terrorists have tried repeatedly to attack the Brits (and, as a corollary, that the Brits freakin rule at stopping them). Second, it shows that we may or may not hear about these attempted attacks, depending on a determination by the government.

"The disclosure comes as the Government prepares to unveil a series of tough law-and-order Bills in this morning's Queen's Speech, setting out the legislative programme for what is expected to be the final session of the current Parliament."

There's the key to the whole thing. The British government released this information because it wanted something (in this case, political capital to spend on tougher crime bills). Had it not wanted to spend that political capital, or decided the benefits did not outweigh the costs, we might never have known.

Which of course should make us wonder what American law enforcement agencies know, but that they aren't telling us. And there really is no reason to assume that they have told us everything about intercepted or otherwise prevented threats against us.

With that in mind, via Boortz comes a report by a Harvard security expert who says we have a 50/50 chance of being hit by a nuclear attack in the next ten years. I suspect that probability is a function of the effectiveness and freedom of action of our law enforcement weighed against the efforts of the terrorists and the playing field on which they operate. If that is so, then we can manipulate the odds in either direction by granting greater or lesser powers to law enforcement, tightening or opening our borders, or changing the foreign landscape where terrorists train and recruit.

Are tighter controls worth the costs? Because of course we've got a balancing act, and every time we add to our security through increased government control, we diminish our freedoms to the same degree.

With all that in mind, you absolutely cannot miss this article by the intriguingly-named Such Little Things. It's a discussion of Canada's "October Crisis," where they out-Patriot-Acted the Patriot Act over the kidnapping of two people. Oh, yeah, it was done by Canadian liberals. Here's the teaser:

"To make along story short, Trudeau hunted them down... Here's the key to this story though: Trudeau did all this by using Canada's 'War Measures Act,' a holdover from the First World War. Civil liberties? Out the window - there were terrorists at large."

Terrorists? In Canada? Yes, they were Quebecois separatists. But wait, there are no terrorists in Canada now.


Update: Dr. Shackleford reports that Russia just prevented a major attack as well.

Monday, November 22, 2004

North Korea Update

I should begin by quoting Dave in Arlington: "What the hell does anyone know about these guys?" I don't mean to sound like I'm doing much more than guesswork on North Korea, colored perhaps by a little wishful thinking.

Last Thursday, before beginning my weekend, I did a link round-up and analysis of strange stories coming out of North Korea. My "analysis" was primarily a series of possible interpretations of some bits of news coming from Kim Jong-Il's communist utopia. Today's update is basically me looking for more scraps of information and trying to come up with something like a coherent picture of what's going on. But it's all guesswork, really.

First, via CNN, North Korea is denying that any pictures were ordered taken down. Not surprising, but it proves nothing, really, because when the only people with any information a) control the media and b) have a vested interest in not telegraphing impending political shake-ups, you can't exactly take their pronouncements at face value.

Also, via Ace, there's this story showing a before and after shot with Dear Leader's picture missing. Ace dismisses the "they're having it cleaned" theory by wondering aloud whether the North Koreans have more than one picture of the guy. I would also observe that it's not like Kim's picture is gone and that's the only change; someone actually recentered the picture of his dad. And note that this evidence conflicts very directly with North Korea's recent denial that any pictures were taken down. Could it be a Photoshop? Sure, even I could do that one, and I'm not very good. But to what end?

More from the CNN article linked above: "But South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday that Rodong Sinmun, the main newspaper of the North's ruling party, referred to Kim by the honorific titles 'Great Leader' and 'Great Commander,' indicating that he was still in charge."

Perhaps so, but it's sort of non-responsive to the claim that the honorific was dropped from radio broadcasts. Still, it's an interesting tidbit, and hard to jive with the simple theory that either the other Party leaders or the military has taken over and are using Kim Jong-il as a puppet - they could drop the honorific from the paper as easily as from the radio.

So I'll refine my theory to allow for two possibilities:

A. The government has split into quietly dueling factions, with one controlling the print and the other the radio media. But it seems too likely to me that if the Party were to factionalize, and the rebelling faction not achieve total victory nearly instantly, all the rebels would be quickly shot. A rebellion under these circumstances only works if all or nearly all top party officials are in on the deal, and if they completely neutralize Kim and his supporters from the get-go.

B. We just saw the only outwardly visible vestiges of an extremely short-lived attempted rebellion. Unfortunately, I think this is more likely.

Update: Kim Jong-Il has a personal web page, full of all kinds of interesting facts and stuff. Don't miss this one.

A Plague On Thy House!

A plague of locusts, that is.

According to this story, it's because locusts go crazy when tickled. Huh? Who's out there tickling hundreds of millions of locusts? I mean, my son goes crazy when tickled, but by the time I've got him all wound up, I'm so exhausted that there's no way I could do it again a hundred million more times.

I think it's a plot by Halliburton.

Dave wonders whether, Biblically speaking, we should be worried. I'd say hold off on the panic button until you see this.

The plague seems to be on a world tour of sorts, with stops in West Africa, Cyprus, Egypt and now Israel. In West Africa, the UN announced that the locusts didn't do too much damage to crops, which means the destruction was catastrophic. In Cyprus, the UN is telling farmers to eat the locusts. While the UN has yet to make an announcement about the infestation in Israel, I suspect they will announce later today that it is divine punishment for the poisoning death of glorious martyr Yasser Arafat, and that the Jews deserve everything they get.

Trump's Casinos File for Bankruptcy

Via Drudge, story here.

In other news, Mr. Trump's line of hair care products for men has also been faring poorly. CBS is reporting that it's George W. Bush's fault.

[P.S. - I'm having trouble with Blogger this morning, so there's an unusual lag between the time I post a picture and the time I get in to type up the text. Sorry about that.]

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Breaking News!

***SobekPundit Exclusive! Must credit SobekPundit!***

North Korean doctors have diagnosed dictator Kim Jong-Il with a rare disease known as "Not-Enough-Bullets-in-the-Head-itis" (NEBITHI). The condition is often fatal, and doctors are working on remedying the problem. His situation is described as "critical, but not critical enough."

Let's hope he get upgraded to stable but dead.

Update: Note this story: "The latest change is believed to be part of a move intended to soften Kim's image as a dictator, said Radiopress editor Shinya Kato. He said he thought the glorifying title was dropped at the order of Kim and that he did not believe it was a sign of his weakening power."

I assume that guy has more experience with North Korean issues than I do, but again I can't believe that he would react to weakening power by relaxing control over his state-run propaganda machine.

The same report also mentions the Dear Leader on a visit to observe military activity, so I think that's another swipe at the "he's sick" theory. Certainly it casts doubts on the theory that he's dead.

Big News in North Korea - But What?

I first saw this on Ace. A story reported that pictures of North Korea's Kim Jong Il are being taken down. I didn't blog it because there was nothing else to the story, except for speculation as to why.

Now Mr. of Spades has an update, courtesy of Digger's Realm, and things get curiouser and curiouser, as the saying goes. The North Korean diplomat in Moscoa denied that the pictures were ordered taken down, which virtually guarantees that they were taken down. Ace has exerpted the money quote.

Instapundit notes (although this was in the NYT artilce quoted by Digger's Realm, as well) that the state-controlled radio broadcasts are no longer using the title "Dear Leader" when referring to Kim Jong-Il. That's huge, but the precise reason why they aren't using it is unclear. Instapundit also cites this article saying that, according to Colin Powell, North Korea might be easing its stance on nuclear talks. Let's keep in mind, as I continue this link round-up, the following quote from the last-linked source: "North Korea refused to attend a fourth round of talks planned for September because, experts believe, it was awaiting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election."

Again, this sounds huge, but no one seems to be saying anything particularly solid.

Via Instapundit, Roger Simon is speculating on a North Korean peace movement. He cites as evidence for this theory a Japanese news report that says political dissidents have been posting anti-North Korean pamphlets, something I would never ever do if I were in North Korea. Simon, for the record, believes that if anyone is going to take out Kim Jong-Il, it will be Team America. I can't complain about that analysis.

One of Roger Simon's commenters has provides this link to IndiaDaily, flatly stating that Kim Jong-Il has basically stepped down after deciding not to pull a Saddam, and this Reuters article saying South Korea plans on shipping fertilizer to the North to help with the famine.

Again, this sounds immensely huge.

But what does it all mean?

A. It means Kim Jong-Il is sick and/or dying. The Powers That Be recognize this, can't or don't want to perpetuate regime, and so are moderating their tone so they will be in a better bargaining position when Kim Jong-Il dies.

I don't care for this theory because The Powers That Be very, very rarely want to relinquish their power. That's not to say it's impossible, and it's certainly a plausible theory.

B. The North has started rising up against the government, and Kim Jong-Il wants to get out of the spotlight until the rebellion is crushed.

Bullcrap. I don't believe it for a second, because the first thing a totalitarian does when threatened from inside is safeguard the illusion of stability. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that he would remove the title "Dear Leader" from the radio broadcasts, because that is nothing less than a signal to everyone in the nation that something is not quite right. While it's nice to hope, the evidence just doesn't seem to jive with the theory.

C. Kim Jong-Il pulled a Libya, rather than an Iraq.

Perhaps. Kim Jong-Il is nuts, and so I don't know that I want to ascribe to him the rational capacity to know when it's time to give in to international pressure. On the other hand, I probably would have said the same thing about Ghadaffi. Perhaps more importantly, no one has mentioned any U.S. plans for a physical invasion of North Korea. U.S. policy so far has been containment, and as long as Iran keeps looking ready to boil over, I doubt anyone wants a "boots on the ground" scenario in North Korea. I just don't think we have the manpower for it. As long as North Korea can stall for time, I would guess they would stall for time. But then again, I would not have guessed that they would take down Kim Jong-Il's pictures, so take that for what it's worth.

D. Kim Jong-Il's cabinet members decided to pull a Libya, rather than an Iraq.

That's my pet possibility. They may have finally gotten the collective smarts enough to gang up on Dear Leader after W. won re-election, and they decided the center couldn't hold for another 4 years. South Korea's actions could be a calculated move designed to bolster the dissident cabinet members and shore up popular support. The cabinet quietly removes the portraits and the "Dear Leader" from the radio broadcasts, while Kim Jong-Il is kept out of the public eye to keep him from saying anything dumb.

That's my analysis, for what it's worth. Let's hope.

Update: It looks like North Korea has it's own website.

Update: Here's a map of North Korea, in case you care.

I couldn't agree more, guys.

Golly. A Non-American Disses Bush. Huh

Story here, via Drudge.

"OTTAWA - Renegade Liberal MP Carolyn Parrish has once again enraged members of the opposition and her own caucus after tossing a George W. Bush doll on the floor and grinding it under her heel on a satirical television show."

I'm basically innoculated against anti-Americanism at this point, hence the ho-hum headline I've given the story. It seems like such stories are a dime a dozen. In this week's Dicta, a student tells the tale of vacationing in Southeast Asia and being constantly approached by Europeans giving unsolicited opinions of our President. My initial reaction was to think, "What have these foreign countries accomplished in the last sixty years?"

It was intended as a hypothetical question, but I really should ask it with a straight face, because I honestly don't know, and I honestly think the answer is something better than "nothing." So now I plan on tracking down people from nations other than the U.S. and asking that question, in as respectful and open-minded manner as possible. I would appreciate any comments on the topic from my readers.

Let me start by asking the question to myself, as a template of what I'm looking for:

1. Because we outspent the Soviet military, we ended the Cold War - and socialism in eastern Europe - without a shot being fired.

2. Created the internet, now enjoyed by virtually every nation on earth (as well as the computers and software that are the basis of the internet).

3. Pioneered human heart transplant operations.

4. Put a man on the moon.

5. Removed from power the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and 25 million Afghans had the right to vote for the first time in human history. Iraq will follow suit in January.

That's a good start. Anyone care to add anything?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"Interesting" Web Site

It's called "F*** the South." No link provided.

I just skimmed it long enough to catch this little gem:

"And who has the highest murder rates in the nation? It ain't us up here in the North, a**holes."

Let me tell you a little bit about Louisiana. We're a southern state, so I guess that would bring us within the ambit of your thoughtful essay. And one of our cities has the highest per capita murder rate in America. That city was New Orleans. Outside of New Orleans, of course, the murder rate is much lower.

Ponder that for a moment.

John Kerry won Orleans Parish by a huge margin. An absolutely obscene margin. And Bush won the rest of the state by almost double what the predictors were predicting. In other words, while it is true that Louisiana has it's fair share of murderers, they all seem to be voting Democrat.


Why the Future of Public Education in America is Bleak

Because we have teachers who post crap like this.

Don't like conservativism in America? Blame talk radio. Yeah, that makes good sense. Let's pray for this clown's students.

"Why doesn't some crusading liberal organization, like People for the American Way or the ACLU or (heaven forbid) even the Democratic Party plan an assault on this idea that rightwingers have an exclusive right to own talk radio airwaves?"

Answer: because maybe these liberal organizations recognize that associating themselves even more with socialism isn't such a good idea. Well, then again, it's been a long time since I've seen evidence that liberals could recognize a bad idea even if it fell in their laps and started clawing like a frenzied cat...

Let me first say that if we want to be perfectly "fair," it's not just a matter of getting more liberals on the radio. There are, as a matter of fact, more than two points of view in America, and so if we want to be fair, we need to make sure the Klan has a radio station, the Greens have a radio station, the Flat Earth Society has a radio station... the list is as endless as our fractionalized mosaic of a society can possibly accomodate. By arguing that only liberals need government assistance in getting on the radio, you bring to mind the supremely unfair treatment by Democrats of one Ralph Nader. That's right, chuckles, you want fairness, unless fairness means Nader gets on the ballot without harassing lawsuits.

Second, consider just how much your whining reveals about the shallowness of your content. Radio is not a powerful medium. Television is more common, more watched, more effective, more versatile. Television is a defining aspect of American culture. Why on earth would anyone with a television bother to listen to the radio? The answer is Choice (that mantra of the Left). Conservatives got sick of liberal crap on television, and turned on the radio when Rush Limbaugh learned he could fill a niche. Now it's an enormous niche, because Americans like what they hear. They choose Rush (and to a lesser degree, Hannity) because that's what they want to hear. If radio is a big deal, it's not because radio is a superior medium, but because at one point it was the only medium that conservatives could use to broadcast their message.

Which brings me to the third point - if you want fairness, does that mean the New York Times has to hire a conservative Editor-in-Chief and quit acting as the unofficial propaganda arm of the Democratic National Party? Should government compell network news channels to actually make a half-hearted attempt at disguising their liberal bias? No, it's only radio that gets under this guy's skin. Why is that? Why does government-compelled "fairness" only apply to conservative talk radio?

Fourth, there is such a thing as liberal radio, and it's the exception that proves the rule. Air America and their seven or eight listeners are proof positive that when liberals have nothing more than message, no one wants to hear them. Conservatives get on the radio because they have an audience, and an audience means advertisers will pay for air time, and paying for air time means radio stations can function. But put a liberal behind the microphone, and the audience dries up, and so do sponsors. What lesson can we draw from that?

"The time has come for the Fairness Doctrine to be reinstated to bring some balance to our national discussion on public policy issues. The time has come for some powerful organization to seriously challenge the existing order."

I agree. As my first challenge to the existing order, I will fire Dan Rather. Then I will fire all but the op-ed writers at the New York Times. Same thing with the L.A. Times. And NBC. And the Washington Post. And PBS. And NPR. You want balance, Mr. Teacher-man? Get rid of the leftists who disseminate anti-American crap and then complain that darn it, they just aren't liberal enough.

As my second challenge, I will get voucher programs so the unfortunate parents of children stuck in your class can learn your sorry butt some accountability. How ironic that this chuckle-head has the First Amendment at the top of his blog, and one of his most recent posts is a complaint about conservatives exercising their Free Speech rights.

Thoughts on the EU

I'm taking a class on EU law right now, and I've been trying to figure out since the beginning whether I think the EU is a good thing or a bad thing.

The text, "EU Law: Text, Cases and Materials" by Craig and De Burca, is hopelessly "rah rah" for the EU, sometimes sickeningly so. By way of contrast, a year ago I took a class on International Human Rights law, and although I imagine most people who take such a class are raging hippies, I found the text to be emminently balanced in its perspectives. Not so with my EU book, in which virtually everything the European Court of Justice (ECJ) does is a brilliant innovation, and Member States who gripe about intrusions on their sovereignty should just shut up.

To be fair, sometimes the Member States really should just shut up. France is one of the biggest offenders. The one major purpose of the Treaty was to allow the free movement of goods, and France is ever seeking for ways of interfering with the free movement of goods. They should just shut up.

But when the ECJ actually oversteps its bounds (as it does frequently), and the Member States raise legitimate objections to horrible ideas, the authors basically tell them to shut up. "It's the EU! We're all-knowing!"

Complaints about the book aside, I mentioned above that I'm not sure how I feel about the EU. The main goal is economic efficiency, and that is a good thing. Even if they get so efficient that American products lose comparative marketability, it's still a good thing, because I do not believe in maintaining the status quo just to protect national interests. Americans can (and will) respond to challenges with greater energy and efficiency. Competition is what made us great in the first place.

On the other hand, the EU seeks to achieve efficiency through the centralized direction of economic practices, which approach proves an utter disaster time and time again in socialist countries. To the extent the EU wants to become more efficient through increased regulation, they are morons with no sense of history.

On the third hand, the EU also has a significant de-regulatory effect. It's not simply a case of socialist EU versus capitalist nations, because what the nations are doing is not exactly capitalistic - they impose tarrifs at the borders, taxes within their borders, and other subsidies regulations, or marketing schemes that impede the smooth capitalistic function of the market. If capitalism is impeded by nation-state intermeddling, it stands to reason that a supra-national body which limites nation-state meddling is a good thing.

But I'm convinced that the EU goes too far in its deregulation, and it also seems EU oligarchs are trying to increase their power over social controls - not just market controls - and that is a recipe for disaster.

I've had this essay in my head for a while now, but I finally got around to typing it after reading this post at Kronology.

We're Suprised by UN Scandals Why?

This is an organization that believes in Peace Through Legendary Beuracracy. Scandals in the UN are about as surprising as finding sand in the desert, or kids getting fondled by Michael Jackson.

Drudge has a trio of links on Oil-for-Food scandal items:

UN Deserted Leads in Oil-for-Food Investigation

Oil Funds Paid for Bombers

Kofi Ducks Responsibility

As to that first one, can anyone tell me why we expect the UN to perform an unbiased investigation into alleged wrongdoing by the UN? Isn't that sort of like expecting OJ to find the real killer? Please. Combine that revelation with reports that the UN won't cooperate with US Senators who are trying to investigate (gasp!), and you've got the makings of a full-blown underwhelming.

As to the second item, it's no big deal, becuase terrorism is only to be condemned when it means condemning America or Israel. Genocide in Darfur? Who cares! What about Abu Ghraib!?!?

And as to the third item, it's an opinion piece, not a news item. So keep that in mind. But it looks like Kofi is trying hard to pave the way for Bill Clinton to become Secretary General, by proving what kind of man is ideal to hold that job. I'd advise any interns working at the UN to watch out.

Now I'm nowhere near as militantly anti-UN as many (most?) conservative bloggers. In very high-profile cases, they always seem to be on the wrong side of history. They move too slowly when they do move. But that's not to say they don't accomplish any good at all. It's just that their record is less than stellar. And what's more, when the Secretary General reveals himself to the world as a morally bankrupt degenerate, how can the world hope to have any kind of confidence in the institution?

The idea of a centralized multi-national power is not entirely bad. Absent some kind of league of nations, the principle of sovereignty means Iran can continue to oppress women and politcal dissidents, sub-Saharan practitioners of female circumcision can continue to butcher little girls, China can do whatever it wants in its prisons, and Saddam Hussein can gas the Kurds. And there is nothing - no military, political or moral force whatsoever that can stop or dissuade this kind of thing. Because Sovereignty means the sovereign is absolutely unlimited within the national borders.

The creation of a supra-national body, therefore, is one means of dealing with these problems. But that body gives rise to a host of other incredibly difficult problems, basically stemming from the difficult decision of how much power the supra-national body should have. If the UN has enormous power, and can force any nation to bend to its will, then we can certainly outlaw female circumcision in Mali and torture in Chinese prisons. But by that very same act we limit our own sovereignty. If the UN is dedicated solely to opposing things I don't like, then bully for me. But if the UN opposes things I do like, that will rankle, and I am less likely to want to cede any authority to it.

At the other extreme, if the UN has no power, then it may as well not exist. There is no social utility in putting money into a program that can, by its own charter, accomplish nothing.

So the UN takes a middle path, by attempting in most cases to exercise "persuasive" authority. You get China to improve its prisons by shaming them. And in axtraordinary cases the Security Council can authorize the use of military force (i.e. Americans) to intervene when a humanitarian crisis has international dimensions.

The current state of affairs is such that neither of the two tools allocated to the UN have any force. They want to use moral force to persuade a rogue regime? Then why were they in bed with mass-murderer Saddam Hussein? They want a Security Council authorization for force? Not as long as the French are making money off of the bloodshed. That leaves the UN, for most purposes, with nothing at all except reserved parking spaces in Manhattan. If the UN can't clean house (Kofi, Jaqcues, Gerhard), there is no reason for its continued existence.

Extremely Late-Term Abortion

Via Nick Kronos.

Go read Nick's money quote. It's a keeper.

The thing about Singer's position (basically arguing that newborns can be killed because they aren't self-aware) is actually very consistent. Consider that a fetus is utterly helpless, and that without medical intervention it cannot survive outside the womb, left to its own devices. The same, of course, is true of a newborn child. If you simply leave it to fend for itself, it will quickly starve or die of exposure, because it has no motor skills, extraordinarily limited means of communication, no means of procuring food or protection from the elements.

In other words, the newborn is as completely and totally dependent upon a provider as is the fetus. If the state cannot pass a law to protect the fetus, there is no logical reason it should have the power to pass a law to protect the newborn. The attribution of "living" status at the time of birth is completely arbitrary, determined by the Supreme Court, and can therefore be changed by the Supreme Court to some other arbitrary point in time, such as the fifth birthday.

The foregoing, of course, is designed to demonstrate just how sick I find pro-choice arguments to be.

But We're the Bad Guys

Doubtless you've heard about, if not actually seen, the video of an American Marine shooting a wounded (?) Iraqi (?) insurgent in a mosque, and you've drawn the logical conclusion that all Americans are evil hegemonic ghouls with oil instead of blood.

I apologize in advance if this story conflicts with that worldview. Read at your own discretion. It looks like the insurgent "government" in Fallujah was pretty nasty.

And on a very related note, Dave tips me to what I would have seen on Ace, except that I haven't been to Ace yet, so I'm linking Dave, who links Ace (who I assume links someone else). Iran has been helping the insurgents. Surprised? If so, you haven't been paying attention.

Having thus laid the groundwork, let me embark upon my scaly screed (scaly because I am a crocodile, of course).

Anyone who finds the actions of that Marine in Iraq to be offensive against Islam is also making the following connections: Authentic Muslims use mosques as bases of operation to shoot people and store weapons. Authentic Muslims shoot women who are not covered head to toe while in public. Authentic Muslims see no problem with killing Iraqis and leaving their bodies to decompose in the streets. Authentic Muslims boobytrap the bodies of other Muslims in order to kill people.

If you reject those propositions, then you must also reject the conclusion that the Marine in question shot an authentic Muslim. One cannot logically feel any sense of outrage that an insurgent was killed and also deny that Islam is a violent religion, because the insurgent was committing violence in the name of his religion. So either he was not a true Muslim (and therefore there is no place for outrage), or else Islam is a religion of violence. You make your choice, and of course you choose based on your fundamental reaction to this news story.

Update: Reader Supernatural Rabbit Scribe wants to know what difference it makes whether he was a Muslim or not. The answer is here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

White House Shocker

In a stunningly controversial move, Bush withdraws his nomination of Condi Rice in favor of Mini-Condi Rice. I say it's pandering. What do you think?


Mini-Condi addresses a crowd in Tulsa last July.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Two Articles on the Battle of Fallujah

First, a post from Bill's INDC Jounal shows how fractionalized the terrorists are.

Second, read this Tech Central Station column to see how much American soldiers kick butt. Amazing stuff. Hat tip to Nick Kronos.

Update: Unrelated to Fallujah, but very much apropos of U.S. military technology, it looks like we just successfully tested an anti-ballistic missile system. Sweet. Ronald Reagan would be proud.

Iran Pulls a Libya?

Story here, via Boortz.

"Iran agreed yesterday to immediately suspend its nuclear programs in exchange for European guarantees that it will not face the prospect of U.N. Security Council sanctions as long as their agreement holds."

That's an amazing development, because Iran's fiery rhetoric before the election was consistently to the effect of "screw you all, we're building nukes no matter what." Now, two weeks after Bush's re-election, Iran has a sudden change of heart. Coincidence? Or have the Iranians learned the lesson of Saddam and Ghaddafi?

That's not to say the Iranians really will suspend their nuke program. There are good reasons to take the promises of Islamic fanatics at less than face value (I'm looking North Korea, here). But the massive change in rhetoric alone is significant, especically because any future evidence of breach can be used against the regime directly as evidence of their violation of international obligations.

Muslim Violence in the Netherlands

Via Drudge, story here, based on a series of news reports from the past few weeks.

Looks like Holland should try to be even more appeasing, right?

Well, that's my snarky, conservative, gut reaction to the story. But if you read the whole thing, you'll see that there's more to it than that. So you should read the whole thing, because it presents a good picture of why Holland is not just a case of appeasement versus fighting terrorism. We're looking at a complicated situation - dare I call it "nuanced"? - that arises, as the title of the piece implies, from the clash of civilizations.

But it's one thing to diagnose a situation as complicated and leave it at that. We'll call that "the Kerry method." It's something else entirely to propose a solution to what is clearly developing into a tragedy. At one extreme, Holland could simply expel all Muslims, regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, past history of violence, etc. That could theoretically work, but I doubt that even with all its current problems an ultra-permissive Holland would ever take such discriminatory measures, nor do I think they should. At the other extreme, Holland could simply yield the government to the extremists and assume dhimmi status. Again, that's not going to happen, and indeed it's not likely to solve anything - the clash is between cultures, and the article demonstrates that the two cultures simply do not mix. The immigrant Muslims don't learn Dutch, don't go to Dutch schools or markets, don't learn the history, and so forth. The cultural divide (and consequent clash) would still exist, but a different group would be in charge. That's no solution at all.

Another solution proposed by a Dutch political party, which enjoys wide support among the Dutch, is an end to immigration. But the Dutch version of the Supreme Court recently outlawed that party as impermissibly racist. Furthermore, I doubt you could calm down the boiling elements in Dutch Muslim society by telling them their compatriots and co-religionists are no longer welcome. That simply adds fuel to the fires of alienation.

What I picked up from the article as the two root causes were the Muslim horror at the world-famous permissiveness of Dutch society, embodied in the twin vices of prostitution and legal drug trade, and the general poverty and unemployment among Muslim communities. All of the preceding proposed solutions are doomed to fail, therefore, because none of them answer either of these two root problems. They only offer the short-term fix of limiting the number of enemy foot-soldiers should full-fledge war break out. That's no real fix at all.

I doubt there is any real way to approach the first of these root causes. The adoption of more rigid social standards would both alienate the libertine Dutch, and would not go far enough to assuage the more radical Islamic elements. Furthermore, there is no reason to suggest that prudish people can't live in disreputable places. I am a prudish person, and I live in New Orleans. There's no problem, because I just avoid Bourbon Street, and Bourbon Street avoids me. We co-exist just fine, and I've never once built a bomb to destroy the wicked in the French Quarter.

It is the latter root cause - poverty and unemployment - that, in my opinion, is most likely to produce the desired results without sacrificing important social values. It is a truism that poverty creates crime. That truism is not defeated by government programs to support the poor, because then the poor have enough money to get by, none of the self-respect that comes with providing for a family, and a lot of time on their hands. An effective internal War on Terror, therefore, must involve an effective War on Poverty.

(Two notes: I say "internal" War on Terror to distinguish what Holland is doing in Holland from what America is doing in Iraq. Second, for all the Libertarians who just shuddered when I mentioned a "War on Poverty," please take careful note of the preceding word: "effective.")

America has tried and basically failed to fight poverty for many years now. That failure stems from the fundamental theoretical flaw of assuming that government can directly end poverty. Government handouts are not the answer. A welfare state is not the answer. De-regulation and low corporate taxes are the beginning of the answer. Letting employers flourish and make money means an expanded economy, which means more jobs, which means less poverty, which means people have enough hope in the future to stop them from strapping bombs to their chests. Education is another part of the answer, but government schools cannot single-handedly fill that role. Witness the public schools in the District of Columbia, which get the most funding per capita of any schools in America, but which suck. Bad. A voucher program creates teacher accountability, which improves quality, which means a better education and a better chance of employment.

If the Dutch can improve their education, employment and poverty situations, the anti-social rage of the radical Muslims will lose so much impetus that the clash of civilizations will naturally be blunted.


Update: Another report here, via Boortz:

"Politically liberal, Fortuyn sensed in the Muslim intolerance of homosexuality a threat to his own liberal lifestyle and the freedoms of his easygoing countrymen and women, and he formed a political party to fight it. He found a quick response among the voters. He expressed what they had been thinking privately and had been reluctant to voice because they didn’t want to sound, well, intolerant."

Fortuyn was assassinated about two years ago because of his anti-immigration views.

Another interesting passage, especially as it criticizes the policies of the right of center government:

"The Dutch are now asking why the burden of tolerance is always on them, rather than the immigrant population. Why, for example, were immigrants not required to learn to speak Dutch? Why were their children educated in the language of their parents rather than the language of their host country? Why were Dutch taxpayers paying the salaries of imams? These hyper-tolerant attitudes have allowed a parallel population, which owed no allegiance to Holland, to thrive and fester."

And the key quote:

"Last Thursday, in an emergency debate, the government agreed on new proposals to deal with Muslim extremism, adopting a wide-ranging package of new counter-terrorism measures. The size and mandate of the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) will be expanded, and measures will be taken against radical imams and mosques."

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Ashcroft Criticizes Judges for Questioning Bush Decisions

Story here, via Drudge, of course.

With all due respect to the outgoing Attorney General, I disagree with the core of his speech.

"Federal judges are jeopardizing national security by issuing rulings contradictory to President Bush's decisions on America's obligations under international treaties and agreements, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Friday."

Virtually any questioning of the executive involves some sort of compromise on national security. That's because questioning involves investigation, and investigation involves documents that could get leaked to the public. It's much safer to keep all documents locked in a vault, never to be seen again. But I disagree with the implication that this is an unjustifiable risk. I'm not going as far as the insane Leftists who think all government documents should be instantly available on the internet. But I'm also not willing to go as far as the Rightists who think government has an unlimited right to secrecy, because national security is not worth that kind of cost.

"In his first remarks since his resignation was announced Tuesday, Ashcroft forcefully denounced what he called "a profoundly disturbing trend" among some judges to interfere in the president's constitutional authority to make decisions during war. "

It's hard to fisk that because it is so vague, but let me just point out, so you'll keep in mind as you continue reading, that while the President does have Constitutional authority to conduct war (Art. II, sec. 2, clause 1), that power is not defined in the Constitution, and there is no reason to suggest it is absolute. It is not enough, therefore, to merely assert that the President has power as Commander in Chief. The extent of that power must be defined.

"'The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war,' Ashcroft said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers' group."

But Ashcroft does not say how intrusive "intrusive." Impliedly he accepts some form of oversight, so long as it is not intrusive. But "intrusive" is a question of degree, not of either/or, and the corresponding risk is therefore also a matter of degree.

Let me clarify that I believe during a time of war, the rules are not the same. Loose lips sink ships, of course, and information revealed to the wrong people gets Americans killed. Far better to let our military effectively defeat the enemy and end the conflict with the minimal number of casualties, then let the slow machinery of government interfere, prolong the conflict, and lead to increased and unneccessary suffering and death.

But none of the foregoing should suggest that all rules go out the window, and the Bush Administration clearly must recognize that, because of their efforts to interpret the Geneva Convention as respects fighting terrorists. They recognize that laws still control, they just want the laws to be interpreted most favorably to them (naturally).

"The Justice Department announced this week it would seek to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who the government contends was Osama bin Laden's driver.

"Robertson halted Hamdan's trial by military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, rejecting the Bush administration's position that the Geneva Conventions governing prisoners of war do not apply to al-Qaida members because they are not soldiers of a true state and do not fight by international norms."

Here we reach an important specific: should a federal judge be able to use the Geneva Convention to interfere with a military tribunal? On these specific facts, I say no. I do not think that the Geneva Convention applies to Gitmo Bay detainees, and probably for the same reasons that Ashcroft would use. But in this article, Ashcroft's speech is far broader than the specifics of the case. He is not attacking the ruling per se, but the very fact that a judge saw fit to make the ruling - and that's where he goes too far. U.S. judges have made rulings on international legal instruments (such as the Geneva Convention) since the beginning of our nation. There is no reason that the judicial power to do so should be suspended during time of war.

Ashcroft's Justice Department wants to appeal the ruling by the District Judge, and that is precisely the proper method of dealing with the problem. Appellate review maintains the judicial safeguards installed by our Consitution; we can't accomplish that by simply removing federal judges from the equation altogether.

"Without mentioning that case specifically, Ashcroft criticized rulings he said found 'expansive private rights in treaties where they never existed' that run counter to the broad discretionary powers given the president by the Constitution. "

I'm as big a textualist as anyone, and I abhor the judicial practice of inventing rights to satisfy their social predilections. But again, there's a disconnect between the general and specific. I may agree that the Geneva Convention does not create any specific rights asserted by Gitmo Bay detainees, but that does not mean the District Courts have no general power to determine whether such rights exist. And the presence or absence of those rights is not left to the sole determination of the Justice Department, or the Executive branch, but rather to the judiciary. If the Geneva Convention did provide for the individual rights found by Judge Robertson, then Ashcroft's complaints would be more obviously flawed, because incorrect on both the general and specific levels.

"'Courts are not equipped to execute the law. They are not accountable to the people,' Ashcroft said."

I agree completely with both statements, but the interpretation of an international convention is not the execution of a law, but the interpretation of a law - the very reason we have a judiciary in the first place.

"The administration lost a crucial legal battle this year when a divided Supreme Court determined the president lacks the authority to hold terror suspects classified as enemy combatants indefinitely with no access to lawyers or the ability to challenge their detention."

I agree with the Supreme Court on this one. There is simply no justification for unlimited detention. That is not to say we must charge everyone within a certain time or else let them go - recent examples of former detainees getting killed while fighting (again) against U.S. forces should be enough to prove that. Where a detainee can reasonably continue to provide useful information, we should keep them as long as necessary. But the determination of "as long as necessary" should not be a unilateral one, made by a military which should be more concerned with prosecuting a war than with legal process. Give them lawyers, give them a right of appeal. And in an appropriate case, deny the appeal and continue the detainment, but only where continued detainment serves some useful function.

Along these lines, it is also worth pointing out that the value of information declines steadily after capture. Just because a prisoner could tell the army about camp locations two years ago doesn't mean those camps are still in the same place. Organizational structure changes, people die, new people are recruited, etc.

So here's my positive suggestion for the military which should keep everyone happy. When it's time to release a detainee, simply place a tracking chip under their skin while they sleep. That way, the military is happy because they will get more useful information, the ACLU is happy because they feel like they obstructed justice, the prisoner is happy because he gets to return to his paradaisical Afghanistan, and the terrorists are happy because, when he shoot a homing missile at them, they get to go be with their god.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ma Questo E' Molto Interessante

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could be in deep doo-doo.

I like Berlusconi. I say that exclusively because he has stood firm with the U.S. in Iraq, in spite of very predictable opposition from Italians. That right there puts him in the same league - in terms of foreign policy - as Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, and John Howard.

(Note: it doesn't put him in the same league as Hamid Karzai and Iyad Allwai, who face frequent assassination attempts).

That said, I can't dismiss the allegations in that story out of hand, based on what I know of Italian politics. When I lived in Naples, there were posters for a politician there (don't remember his name) who was running for re-election. I asked some Italians I knew what they thought of him, and they pretty much all said, "I'm voting for him, because I think he's less corrupt than the other guy. He'll steal less of my money."

I like to think I have a healthy skepticism toward promises made by politicians, and their motives for certain of their decisions. But generally that skepticism doesn't go so far as to include bribery allegations or ties to the mob, two very serious problems with Italian politicians. So based on the very little information I have before me, I will temporarily conclude that Berlusconi is probably guilty, that they couldn't replace him with anyone much better, and therefore he should not get the boot (although he can sit in jail for eight years when he's no longer PM).

Thoughts? I know, it's an obscure topic.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

So Long, Sucker

I was surfing the net, looking for a picture of Arafat that I could Photoshop the devil into, when I came across a real doozy. In the original, that's Castro's hand Yasser is shaking. Remember that old adage about knowing a man's character by the company he keeps.

Arafat ponders an important decision.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Michael Savage is a Punk

So why do I listen to him? Generally I do not, but it seems like all the local radio stations go to commercial at the same time, so I channel surf, and sometimes I listen to Michael Savage for a few minutes. Never longer than that. He is a punk.

Even when I agree with the content of what he is saying, I cannot stand his sneering, condescending tone. But this post is inspired by a content disagreement. Last night he said six American soldiers dead in Fallujah is too many. He says America should have simply bombed the city into nothingness, and then sent in the soldiers (he didn't explain why we need soldiers to guard rubble and corpses). He says six soldiers may not seem like very many, but if you're the mom or dad of one of those six, it's too many.

Death is, of course, a tragedy. But it seems Mr. Savage and I disagree on that point. I said death, not just American death. I disagree with the inference that a million dead Iraqis is somehow better than six dead Americans. [Note: oddly, it seems that liberals agree with Savage on this point]. What is it about Americans that makes their blood so much more precious than anyone else's?

I also think Savage's approach is strategic lunacy, given that we're trying to establish democracy, not conquer. If the goal was conquest, plain and simple, then massive ordinance would be the simple and effective way to go. But this is a different kind of war, with very different rules, and to at least some degree the common criticism that "every time you kill a terrorist you breed another" has some kernel of truth. It's not necessarily a neat one-to-one ratio, but if you kill Ahmed's dad, Ahmed won't be too happy about it. The pacification of Fallujah (with the military defeat of murderous thugs living in Fallujah) is far better calculated to bring about democracy than massive destruction could possibly be.

But everything in the preceding paragraph is only ancillary to my main objection. Savage's provincialist views are arrogant, condescending, and counter-productive, as well as hopelessly Liberal. I suppose that's probably the worst insult I could hurl at him, so I'll let it go at that.

Blogroll Update

That worked out well.

After posting Supernatural Rabbit Scribe's fisking here, I got linked by Temple of Jennifer here. I saw a spike in traffic, Scribe got his fifteen minutes of fame, and Jennifer gets added to the blogroll. Everyone wins!

I'm thinking about doing some more work on the blogroll, so if you have a blog you want me to link, just let me know.

News from Iraq

All via Drudge, among others.

1. A U.S. general says his troops have found a house used to slaughter foreign hostages. Obviously that doesn't do anything to bring those hostages back, but I guess there's some level of comfort in knowing that Zarqawi's Tawhid wa-Jihad group has lost a base of operations.

That report also says they got some information, such as lists of prisoners (few details on the exact content of the information). Let's hope it helps our guys.

2. Speaking of losing a base of operations, this story says we've already captured 70% of the city. Before the initial invasion of Iraq the panic monkeys predicted house-to-house urban warfare throughout the whole country, with massive casualties. That never materialized, of course, but now that we're actually looking at urban warfare, it seems things are going much better than expected.

That's terrific news, and it also demonstrates how butt-kickin' our troops are.

3. It seems two of Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi's relatives were kidnapped from their Baghdad homes, and are being threatened with death.

As pumped as the first two news items got me, this one lets all the air out real fast. I don't know much about Allawi, but he seems resolved to see his country through to democratic elections in spite of numerous assassination attempts against him. It is heart-breaking to think of what he must be going through right now. I have no real hope for the kidnapping victims. Only support for Allawi and anger against the demons responsible.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I like the idea of guest-blogging. It means there's something interesting on my blog to see or read, and I don't have to do any work at all. Other than formatting everything. Okay, so almost no work at all.

So now that I have Supernatural Rabbit Scribe's permission, here's the rhetorical atomic piledriver he gave professional moron Jane Smiley [Scribe's comments in Red; I took the liberty of bolding what I thought was his best line]:


The Unteachable Ignorance of the Red States
By Jane Smiley

I say forget introspection. It's time to be honest about our antagonists. My predecessors in this conversation are thoughtful men, and I honor their ideas, but let's try something else.

Indeed, something completely asinine.

I grew up in Missouri…

like ignoramuses Mark Twain and William Faulkner.

and most of my family voted for Bush, so I am going to be the one to say it: The election results reflect the decision of the right wing to cultivate and exploit ignorance in the citizenry. I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not.

Right. 100% of the people who voted Republican are ignorant. Got it.

Well, almost 58 million-

Oh, good- I was beginning to think you were an idiot. Glad to see the voice of moderation.

My relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority.

Yeah, I could see why you’d want to put that up on the internet. Going home for the holidays this year, Jane? A few questions: “Greedy” as in, “They work for a living?” Apart from your immediate family, any other exceptions to the “Everybody who voted Republican is ignorant” rule? Would you agree that, given the tone of this column, there might be the barest hint of irony in your reference to “classic Republican feelings of superiority?”

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states.

Bloodlust, no less! Presumably, the men and women on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan who voted Republican are having the time of their lives and will be heartbroken when those nations are free to determine their own destinies and our soldiers return to their homes and families? Ah, well, we can always pop New Zealand or something. You know, to satisfy the bloodlust and all. By the way, is your family consumed with bloodlust, or are they exceptional in that respect as well?

There used to be a kind of hand-to-hand fight on the frontier called a "knock-down-drag-out," where any kind of gouging, biting, or maiming was considered fair. The ancestors of today's red-state voters used to stand around cheering and betting on these fights.

This is simply unfiskable. There is no way to highlight the sheer stupidity, condescension, and bigotry of this statement any further. I hate you.

When the forces of red and blue encountered one another head-on for the first time in Kansas Territory in 1856, the red forces from Missouri, who had been coveting Indian land across the Missouri River since 1820, entered Kansas and stole the territorial election. The red news media of the day made a practice of inflammatory lying—declaring that the blue folks had shot and killed red folks whom everyone knew were walking around. The worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Lawrence, Kan., in 1862—Quantrill's raid.

Hate, hate, hate!!! Actually, the worst civilian massacre in American history took place in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001. Of course.

The red forces, known then as the slave-power,

And also known as Democrats, every man-jack of ‘em…

pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children. The error that progressives have consistently committed over the years is to underestimate the vitality of ignorance in America. Listen to what the red state citizens say about themselves, the songs they write, and the sermons they flock to.

Yep- ignorance, bloodlust, and country music made me what I am today.

They know who they are—they are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence. The blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good, and so they never realize when they are about to be slugged from behind. Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Yeah, my priest (mandatory eight years of higher education) must have preached his “An Active Mind is the Devil’s Playground” sermon every third Sunday when I was growing up. Sadly, few right-wing Americans have embraced the Eastern religions popular with the left, which encourage complex, critical thinking through the practice of chanting and meditation. Or something.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent.

While I am at this moment imagining my hands around your throat, it hadn’t occurred to me to fantasize about you in Hell. We’ll tuck that one away for later, and thanks.

American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves.

“ALWAYS… never.” There’s that renowned complex, critical thinking I’ve heard so much about…

That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted.

And here I thought that Carter was a Presidential train wreck who lost when Americans handed Reagan a monstrous mandate (second only to Bush in 2004) and he proceeded to save the world.

The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not what to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant.

Right. The opposite of “Doing what Jane Smiley tells me to do.” is “Ignorance.” Got it.

As a result, they are virtually unteachable.

I’ve learned to hate you in a matter of minutes, if that’s any encouragement.

Third, and most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor. But by this time you don't need much encouragement—you've put all your eggs into the ignorance basket, and really, some kind of miraculous fruition

OK, the “eggs coming to fruition” metaphor is somewhat redeeming, I must admit.

(preferably accompanied by the torment of your enemies, and the ignorant always have plenty of enemies) is your only hope. If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others.
The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections is simple: A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know,

Including George Soros?

decided to make use of the religious right in their class war against the middle class and against the regulations that were protecting those whom they considered to be their rightful prey—workers and consumers. The architects of this strategy knew perfectly well that they were exploiting, among other unsavory qualities, a long American habit of virulent racism, but they did it anyway, and we see the outcome now—Cheney is the capitalist arm and Bush is the religious arm. They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant.

This could be your big break, Jane! The Daily Worker is on the phone and they want to talk long-term, exclusive contract!

Lots of Americans like and admire them because lots of Americans, even those who don't share those same qualities, don't know which end is up. Can the Democrats appeal to such voters? Do they want to? The Republicans have sold their souls for power. Must everyone?Progressives have only one course of action now: React quickly to every outrage—red state types love to cheat and intimidate, so we have to assume the worst and call them on it every time.

Indeed- why not sue a person or persons unknown over the 2006 Idaho election results today?

We have to give them more to think about than they can handle—to always appeal to reason and common sense, and the law, even when they can't understand it and don't respond. They cannot be allowed to keep any secrets.

Oh, please don’t publish that bed-wetting incident from when I was five!

Tens of millions of people didn't vote—they are watching, too, and have to be shown that we are ready and willing to fight, and that the battle is worth fighting. And in addition, we have to remember that threats to democracy from the right always collapse. Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and hatred, and will destroy their purveyors in the end.

I would cover myself in barbeque sauce and dive naked into a shark tank with a smile on my face and a song in my heart if it would somehow cause your lingering, painful death.

Madonna Breaks Silence on Iraq; Expectant World Leaders Now Bask in her Wisdom

Story here.

After explaining in cogent terms why America should care - at all - about a no-talent media whore's take on foreign policy, Madonna then gave a brief but informative lecture on the structural properties of the isotruss, in both 10-node and 12-node form. Then she gave a flawless demonstration of triple coronary bypass surgery.

Now that's a talented woman.

Clarence Thomas Update

Thanks to Jason Reddish, who pointed me to this article on Clarence Thomas being considered as Chief Justice last August.

Here's my favorite bit:

"Thomas likes NASCAR and football, plays a fierce game of basketball and during the court's summer recess tours the nation in a 40-foot mobile home decorated with orange flames, Foskett wrote."

I never would have guessed it.

More interesting Clarence Thomas tidbits I didn't know until just now:

10. Credited as co-writer of Big Daddy Kane's Pimpin Ain't Easy.
9. Denies rumors that the purple Teletubby is gay, but has his suspicions about the yellow one.
8. Is a frequent reader of SobekPundit; calls it "intellectual slumming" or "cerebral down time."
7. Personally ordered the assault on Fallujah; said "screw the Constitution, I'm in charge around here."
6. In 1997, authored the majority opinion in the controversial case of Lawyers v. Justice, upholding a state law permitting lawyers to hold clients by the ankles, shake vigorously, and collect any loose change that falls out. [That was a good day for us - ed.]
5. Once said that context-free Photoshops involving Metroid and Super Mario Bros. are a "ripping good laugh."
4. Hopes the Scott Peterson trial gets appealed up to the Supreme Court so he can personally throw spitballs at Mark Geragos.
3. Prefers Coke to Pepsi.
2. Has publicly wondered whether the Chief Justice "can order that doorknob Souter to go on fact-finding missions to Podunk, Wyoming during hearings," just to keep him from fouling things up.

And the top interesting Clarence Thomas tidbit I didn't know until just now:

1. He's actually not black, he's Asian.

Seen here in a photo from his years in the "Devil's Advocates" biker gang.

Second-Best Jane Smiley Smack-Down

Bruce Thornton puts the smack down on Jane Smiley's recent Slate column in which she basically argued that liberals are smart, and conservatives are dumb.

It's the second-best fisking I've seen. The best was by Supernatural Rabbit Scribe, in a private e-mail. But he doesn't have a blog, so no link love for him.

Here's a good bit:

"Of course, Smiley doesn't mention that blue-state hero John Brown, who in 1856 murdered five unarmed men on Pottawatomie Creek. The left has always had a soft spot for those who murder for the right cause, which is why Stalin and Mao probably have more fans on university campuses than Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher."

It reminds me of a funny post Bill from INDC Journal did a while back, in which a commenter asked "You think she's aware that the people on her t-shirt account for nearly 100,000,000 dead?" Bill's succinct response was "Well ... 100,000,000 'enemies of the people,' if that's what you mean ..." (You have to read the post to see the picture).

With that in mind, it kills me that a liberal can say, with a straight face, that Bush is Hitler, but then openly admire Marx's progeny - Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Che (just some of the more prominent examples).

Liberal Larry Reports on Morals in America

This one is chilling. Liberal Larry reports on the morning talk show analysis of the role of morals in the election. The man is a genius.

Brief exerpt:

"'This country is more divided than ever,' she said. 'But aside from mocking their religious beliefs and portraying them all as a bunch of superstitious, inbred chimps, how can democrats bridge the divide and win their "hearts and minds," so to speak?'"

Read the whole thing, of course.

Update: Via Dave Barry, a frightening look at more of this "morals" stuff.

Oh Please, Oh Please, Oh Please!

Seriously. I assumed Howard Dean running the DNC was just a Kos fantasy, but it looks like feverishly ultra-liberal minds think alike.

One of the most significant impacts of Dean chairing the DNC would be the possible impact on Allah. I don't know how many of my readers are also Allah fans, but if you are then you know he's basically gone into hiding. I'd guess the two most likely things to bring him back would be a) Arafat dying, and b) Howard Dean.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Mario is Screwed...

Drudge Rumor: Clarence Thomas to Replace Rehnquist

That's the rumor, at least. It seems the Chief Justice has to go through the same nomination process again. When Thomas was first nominated to the Court, he was viciously attacked in the Senate over the Anita Hill scandal. Not being a political junkie at the time, I didn't pay any attention.

Since then, I've started paying attention to politics (thanks to my wife) and reading judicial opinions (thanks to law school).

Politically, I doubt a Thomas nomination would do much good. True, that would make him the first black Chief Justice (he is the second black Supreme Court Justice). But blacks didn't support him during his original nomination, and I can't imagine they would now. It looks too much like a political move. And most importantly, the NAACP has effectively convinced blacks that you cannot be both black and conservative. Seriously, they hate black conservatives more than they hate the Klan, because black conservatives undermine their whole approach to politics.

Legally, I wouldn't be terribly impressed with a Thomas nomination, either. As a conservative I generally like his results, but his opinions never wow me. I mean that in as non-partisan a way as possible, because I can honestly say I loved Justice Brennan's opinions, raging liberal though he was. He and Justice Scalia were the best around. Now only Scalia is around, and perhaps the better choice.

But consider also that at 56, Thomas is the youngest person on the bench, and would basically run the show for maybe 25 years. That's quite a legacy for Bush. Scalia is in his seventies, I think (have to look that one up), so he wouldn't be around as long.

Blame Bush for Alfie Flop

It looks like something Liberal Larry would write. "Alfie" producers think their movie flopped because of the election.

"Wayne Llewellyn, the president of distribution at Paramount, said that the conservative ethos reflected in last week's election results might have hurt the film. 'It could be the mood of the country right now,' he said. 'It seems to be the result of the election. Maybe they didn't want to see a guy that slept around.'"

Sounds like a pretty weak excuse to me. If Llewellyn's theory were sound, I would have expected about 56 million people to have seen it.

I have not seen the movie. I do not plan on seeing the movie. My plans have nothing at all to do with my support for George W. Bush. My plans have everything to do with the one preview I saw for the movie, during which I wondered, "who pays money to see this kind of crap?" Mr. Llewellyn, in the future I recommend you avoid movies that look pathetically stupid, so you won't have to come up with ridiculous explanations for your failure.

Jose Maria Aznar: Politician, Editorialist

Or at least he's an editorialist for today. In case you need reminding, he's the Prime Minister of Spain who lost out to Zapatero after al-Qaeda managed to swing their election. When he writes, "The temptation of comfort and convenience is a powerful one," he should know.

The point I'm about to make is one I've made before, but it's worth repeating. Mr. Aznar is the main reason I don't make fun of Spain as much as I make fun of France. That's important because when we think of countries, we generally think of their governments instead of individuals. Iran, for example, is completely nuts, but it seems like there are a lot of rational, freedom-loving Iranians out there who aren't too fond of the government. Spain may have made a collossal mistake in caving to a terrorist bombing, but there are still Jose Maria Aznars there - Spaniards with spine, in spite of how the solid majority thinks (if I remember correctly, Zapatero got about 53% of the votes). And the same, it should go without saying, is true of France. Jacques Chirac may be a corrupt fool with ties to UN scandals and Iraqi arms deals, but that doesn't mean all Frenchmen are similarly corrupt or foolish.

Indeed, such sweeping generalities do us all a disservice, do they not? I'm not decrying the use of labels, because properly understood, they are very useful. That is, I'm happy with the label "conservative" because it helps people at least get their bearings on where I'm coming from, before learning that I'm not as conservative as some on certain issues.

So when I make fun of a nation, it's really just that - making fun.

Now consider two groups that take their generalities in deadly earnest - radical Islamicists and radical liberals. al-Qaeda justifies blowing up two towers in New York, not because the individuals deserved to die, but because Americans in general deserve to die. And that's not poking fun for a cheap laugh, it's mass murder. Ultra-liberals have been spinning this election as a triumph of gay-hating Christian zealots, without stopping to consider that a) just because you live in Kansas doesn't mean you are dumb, and b) telling the red states how stupid they are isn't likely to garner sympathy four years from now. It's not poking fun for a cheap laugh, it's political suicide. I guess I shouldn't complain about that.

I'm not going to change this picture at all. I prefer to leave it untouched so that we can all savor one important irony. "Tim" here apologizes in Spanish, crude Italian, and what looks to me like Dutch. But please note that anyone who can use a computer to read Tim's sign also speaks English. That's not an insignificant point, chuckles.