Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Clearing Doubts

The Ghouls are out in full force:
To Clear Doubts, Schiavo Autopsy Planned
What kind of logic is that? Oh, we have proof she should die, but she just has to be made dead first before we can show you?

As if there are any real "doubts" that just have to be "cleared"?

This has NOTHING TO DO with the extent of her brain injuries.

This has NOTHING TO DO with whether or not she'd ever recover.

This is an attempt to make "quality of life" -- a subjective decision, and influenced by biased third parties -- the basis for legalized Euthanasia.

And that's a Dystopia I refuse to allow.

The "right to die" has always been sold as reserved only for those terminally ill, and suffering in agony, when near their end.

Neither case is in effect here!

Look, the "hurry-up-and-die" people are probably next going to say, "oh look what you made us do, we were forced to make her die slowly and horribly! IF ONLY the laws allowed us to kill her quickly! You terrible heartless pro-life religious people!"

And then there will be a push to "fix" this problem, by making the killing easier and quicker.

But whew, at least my Doubts will have been Cleared!

What's their point? "See? It's DAMAGED! We can KILL IT!!!"

Ordered Dead

Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice makes some good points:
Contrary to what you've read and seen in most of the media, due process has been lethally absent in Terri Schiavo's long merciless journey through the American court system.

"As to legal concerns," writes William Anderson—a senior psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard University—"a guardian may refuse any medical treatment, but drinking water is not such a procedure. It is not within the power of a guardian to withhold, and not in the power of a rational court to prohibit."

Ralph Nader agrees. In a statement on March 24, he and Wesley Smith (author of, among other books, Culture of Death: The Assault of Medical Ethics in America) said: "The court is imposing process over justice."
And we have watched as this woman, whose only crime is that she is disabled, is tortured to death by judges, all the way to the Supreme Court.

And keep in mind from the Ralph Nader-Wesley Smith report: "The courts . . . have [also] ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, they have ordered her to be made dead."
Who will rid us of these troublesome judges?

What to Do?

William Kristol of the Weekly Standard has an answer:
They [the Judiciary] have chosen to strike down legislation passed by the Florida legislature, and signed by the governor, to permit the governor to allow water and nutrition to be given to patients who leave no written directive, and to allow some recourse for family members who wish to challenge the withholding of nutrition and hydration.

Last week, federal judges chose to dismiss, out of hand, extraordinary legislation passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president, which asked the federal courts to take a fresh look at the case. The federal judges chose not to explain why "evolving standards of decency" might not allow Terri Schiavo to be kept alive until the case was argued in federal court.
It would be wrong to claim that our judges don't take seriously legislation passed by the elected representatives of the people. After all, our judges are committed to upholding the "rule of law" -- though not, perhaps, the rule of actual laws passed by actual lawmakers. And it would be wrong to accuse our judges of being heartless. After all, Judges Carnes and Hull of the 11th U.S. Circuit told us, "We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children."

So do we all. They deserve a judiciary that is respectful of democratic self-government and committed to a genuine constitutionalism. The Bush administration should nominate such judges, and Congress should confirm them. And the president and Congress should lead a serious national debate on the distinction between judicial independence and judicial arrogance, and on the difference between judicial review and judicial supremacy. After all, we are a "maturing society," as the Supreme Court has told us. Perhaps it is time, in mature reaction to this latest installment of what Hugh Hewitt has called a "robed charade," to rise up against our robed masters, and choose to govern ourselves. Call it Terri's revolution.

--William Kristol

Fun at the Washhouse

The latest 3 posts at The Washhouse, starting here, are a good read, covering everything from Schiavo to the Pope to Crystal Meth to Gays to Soccer Dads.

From Containment to Destabilization

I was at first dismayed when I saw this headline today:
Rice Alarms Reformist Arabs with Stability Remarks
I was like, "oh no! The State Department has triumphed, and Rice is now singing their old tune of stability!"

But, not to worry.

For the headline means the exact opposite of what one might imagine:
CAIRO (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has alarmed many reformist Arabs with comments suggesting a new U.S. approach that promotes rapid political change without regard for internal stability.

"This a very dangerous scheme. Anarchy will be out of control," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University and an advocate of gradual change.

A liberal Arab diplomat, who asked not to be named, said: "They seem to be supporting chaos and instability as a pretext for bringing democracy. But people would rather live under undemocratic rule than in the chaotic atmosphere of Iraq, for example, which the Americans tout as a model."
You see, the "Reformist" Arabs are being portrayed as desiring stability uber alles, and d on't want anything like what's going on in Iraq. No, somehow they will "reform" under the same old unchanging system of dictators-for-life.

One wonders what they mean by reform. Oh, here it is, more $$$ from Uncle Sam, and a smackdown of Israel, and "reform" will break out like magic!
Mohamed el-Sayed Said said Rice's approach appeared to have links with a trend in right-wing Israeli thinking that favors destabilising Arab governments and societies.

"We see an emphasis on destruction and we see that Israel is willing to push Arab societies to the abyss without caring for stability. We suspect these ideas came from Israel," he added.
Abdel Raouf El Reedy, a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States and chairman of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Relations, said the United States was overlooking its own responsibility to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"If the United States wants to be credible, it has to be serious about ending the military occupation (of Palestinian territories) because this is generating resentment and anger and in this way helping the radical forces in the region," he said.
Shut UP!

Shut Up, Shut UP, SHUT UP!

Ok, here's a solution for you: Israel annexes 1/3rd of the West Bank, including all of Jerusalem, builds a wall, and expels all Palestinians to the other side to be left to their own devices.

Of course, the only "devices" they have are the ones that blow up their own children.

Problem solved. Next?
Rice, asked about the prospect of Islamist victories through reform, said that would not be desirable.

But she added: "It is really as opposed to what at this point? It isn't as if the status quo was stable the way that it was ... The only thing the United States can do is to speak out for the values that have been absent, liberty and freedom there, and it will have to take its own course."
Look, it's win-win for us.

Either reform leads to more freedom and positive change, or the Islamists "take over", which just means they step out from the shadows and all pretext of a "special relationship" (hello? Saudi Arabia?) can vanish, as we seize the oilfields out of vital National interest at that point.

Like I said, win-win.

Nothing here but your typical Reuters attempt to paint our present course as disastrous.

Novae Militiae

I've just glanced at this blog, but it appears to be fascinating.

Anyone who mentions Bernard of Clairvaux, the Knights Templar, Alexander Nevski, and JRR Tolkien in his first 2 paragraphs is definitely worth a closer look!
No, this is not a website about the Knights Templar, societies for creative anachronism or paramilitary groups in Montana. As entertaining as it might be to discuss any of these groups, this site will have a much different focus. Its name is taken from Bernard of Clairvaux's De Laude Novae Militiae (In Praise of the New Knighthood), which the Cistercian saint wrote to praise and encourage the Knights Templar, a fledgling crusading order of warrior-monks whose Christian virtue distinguished them from so many other knights whose behavior was marked by impiety, lowness and an ostentation that bordered on the effeminate.

The New Knight is the Christian soldier par excellence, one who loves Christ and his fellow man so much that he fears neither hardship nor death in their service. I see in Bernard's New Knight a chivalric model for men today, suggesting a way of life that they should espouse if they are to save both their souls and their civilization....The life of St. Alexander Nevski, the source of my nom de cyber, shows us that the chivalric ideal could be witnessed in Eastern Christendom as well, albeit imperfectly realized as it was in the West....Two articles from the journal Touchstone reveal to the reader the chivalric mind of J.R.R. Tolkien, whose books on Middle Earth and the Peter Jackson films based on them inspire us with the high and heroic chivalrous ideals our culture has jettisoned for a mess of pottage.
De Laude Novae Militiae. Nice ring to it. Sounds like a good antidote to the recent flurry of jihadist literature.

This writer knows there's a War on, not just physically, but spiritually, for the Soul of the culture.

The extensive section of links appears interesting to explore.

Give Us Barabbas!


A Killer has been Reprieved!

The irony of the timing is obvious:
Death Penalty Tossed Over Bible Verses
DENVER - The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.

On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994 and raping her at gunpoint for two hours.
Odd, the story neglects to mention he then murdered her.
The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.
Which changes nothing about the fact that he brutally murdered someone.

Yet due to a bizarre technicality, there is no penalty of death.

No, our Standards must be of the Highest Level when the court is to order Death!

You know, "due process" and all.

Never mind even that the whole point of juries is that they bring their personal life experiences with them. Never mind it is indistinguishable between someone looking at the verse and someone recalling having once read the verse.

So what, now anyone who's ever read the Bible is tainted in applying the law and cannot serve on a jury?

Like it isn't part of their personality and reasoning process? If jurors weren't meant to use their experiences in reaching decisions of applying the law, then why do we have juries at all? Seems kind of stupid, if they're just a robotic rubber stamp, doesn't it? We could just have a computer act as the jury, couldn't we?

Or maybe we have juries because, you know, their independence is the whole point?

This is nothing but absurdly narrow debate-team tactics, to get a desired anti-death-penalty result. This Court had previously looked hard for reasons to overturn this Death penalty; 5 years ago this very day, they came close, but couldn't quite justify their flimsy reasoning:
The Colorado Supreme Court upheld Robert Harlan's death sentence Monday, but said it came close to overturning it because of jury selection problems. The high court also said it feared racial bias against Harlan, who is black, because an all-white jury convicted him of kidnaping, raping and murdering a Caucasian woman...3/28/00
Well, now they found their reason to do it:
"Don't we have a duty to make sure the death penalty isn't imposed under religious passion or prejudice?" Justice Gregory Hobbs asked...2/2/05
Yes, Justice Hobbs, religion ALWAYS leads to prejudice and passion, which you are above. Yet, I think someone's own "prejudices" against religion are showing!

In the big picture, this is just another demonstration that the REAL struggle isn't over the individual issues; but rather that the weird, contradictory positions of the Left are actually simply an assault on anything connected with religion.

Hence the attempt to remove "under God" from the Pledge. Or championing embryonic stem cell research when adult stem-cell research is more fruitful and scientifically sound, never even mind worrying about moral issues!

Or any Bush policy, whether Social Security or bringing liberty to the Middle East, even if objectively useful to millions of people, MUST FAIL, because, you know, he believes in God and prays and stuff.

Or why innocent, non-terminal, (previously) non-suffering Terri Schiavo MUST DIE!

Whereas a cold-blooded demonic killer MUST LIVE!

It's all because just whatever the "God people" seem to want, the Left has to oppose, in a knee-jerk mindless reaction of contrary obstruction.

If God is to be kept dead, nothing that has any source in God must succeed, to prove the point.

Or to maintain the fiction.

Maybe it's the Left that's dead. Braindead, at least -- it only seems to twitch in response to external stimulus, like a great dead monster, still dangerous in its lashing out.

Can they really believe we will turn into a Taliban-like theocracy the moment a position that happens to have the backing of Christians triumphs politically? The irrational fear on the Left of religion is what's driving this. It's narcissistic and infantile, because they refuse to believe there might be any standards of morality for which they might receive social censure for transgressing; that would simply be too painful for their fragile, guilty egos, so instead they must tear down and discredit the whole concept of religious-based morality.

As if we'd have an Inquisistion the moment they let up. Which brings up a side point: the Inquisition has received undue bad press, in service to the cause of discrediting religion. All legal systems are flawed -- witness the Schiavo case! But taken as a whole, the Papal Courts were actually a REFORM, in that they provided a process for reviewing evidence and charges against people. See the latest scholarship. I mean, think of it! Before these courts, it was a nightmare of chaos in the Middle Ages, with mob violence meting out vigilante punishments for arbitray and capricious reasons being the norm. The Inquisition, though sometimes misused for political purposes (what isn't, eventually?) functioned to get many innocents vindicated!
It is ironic therefore that witch hunts were rare in Italy and Spain where the inquisition was most largely responsible for carrying them out. This was in part because the inquisition was always more lenient than secular authorities and less likely to impose the death penalty. To common people this rather lessened the attraction of reporting neighbours for vindictive reasons. Also, the inquisition had higher standards of evidence which tended to disregard the confessions of witches incriminating each other and inquisitors were markedly sceptical about some of the more fantastic stories of broomsticks and devils. The most famous case involved the release of 1,500 alleged witches held by the Spanish inquisition after an investigation by an inquisitor uncovered massive flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence.

(Sources: pages 260 – 1, Rodney Stark For the Glory of God Princeton 2003; page 113, Peters; see also: Gustav Henningsen The Witches' Advocate: Basque Witchcraft and the Spanish Inquisition (1609-1614), 1980 and Brian P Levack The Witch-hunt in Early Modern Europe Harlow 1995)
But you won't hear that from the guardians of the Culture. No, we're to be ashamed.

But I digress...

The Left has sunk to intellectually bankrupt bigotry. But the contradictions are piling up so fast and thick, strange realignments are happening.

The lobby for the disabled is now quite alarmed at the Schiavo case; it's not only the relibiously-motivated that are protesting down in Florida!

For example, Jay Nordlinger writes at NRO,
I quote the Wall Street Journal: "Demonstrating in her wheelchair with a 'Feed Terri' sign in Florida this week, Eleanor Smith — a self-described lesbian, liberal and agnostic — told Reuters: 'At this point I would rather have a right-wing Christian decide my fate than an ACLU member.'"
Amen to that!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

ScrappleFace Weighs In

ScrappleFace, funnier than The Onion, has a devastatingly satirical look at today's headlines, including:
Gov. Bush Washes Hands of Schiavo Matter
by Scott Ott

(2005-03-27) -- In a symbolic move, designed to show Terri Schiavo's supporters that he has done all he can do to spare her life, Gov. Jeb Bush today publicly used a disposable moist towlette to "wash his hands of the matter."

Steyn on Life

Mark Steyn sums it up brilliantly, sounding more angrily sober than his usually impshly gleeful self:
As the columnist George Jonas commented:

''It seemed not to occur to him that it isn't wrong to burn down barns because it's illegal, but it's illegal to burn down barns because it's wrong. Like other statist politicians, Mr. Trudeau . . . either didn't see, or resented, that right and wrong are only reflected by the laws, not determined by them.''

That's how I feel about the Terri Schiavo case. I'm neither a Floridian nor a lawyer, and, for all I know, it may be legal under Florida law for the state to order her to be starved to death. But it is still wrong.

This is not a criminal, not a murderer, not a person whose life should be in the gift of the state. So I find it repulsive, and indeed decadent, to have her continued existence framed in terms of ''plaintiffs'' and ''petitions'' and ''en banc review'' and ''de novo'' and all the other legalese. Mrs. Schiavo has been in her present condition for 15 years. Whoever she once was, this is who she is now -- and, after a decade and a half, there is no compelling reason to kill her. Any legal system with a decent respect for the status quo -- something too many American judges are increasingly disdainful of -- would recognize that her present life, in all its limitations, is now a well-established fact, and it is the most grotesque judicial overreaching for any court at this late stage to decide enough is enough. It would be one thing had a doctor decided to reach for the morphine and ''put her out of her misery'' after a week in her diminished state; after 15 years, for the courts to treat her like a Death Row killer who's exhausted her appeals is simply vile.
Michael Schiavo took a vow to be faithful in sickness and in health, forsaking all others till death do them part. He's forsaken his wife and been unfaithful to her: She is, de facto, his ex-wife, yet, de jure, he appears to have the right to order her execution. This is preposterous. Suppose his current common-law partner were to fall victim to a disabling accident. Would he also be able to have her terminated? Can he exercise his spousal rights polygamously? The legal deference to Mr. Schiavo's position, to his rights overriding her parents', is at odds with reality.
As to arguments about ''Congressional overreaching'' and ''states' rights,'' which is more likely? That Congress will use this precedent to pass bills keeping you -- yes, you, Joe Schmoe of 37 Elm Street -- alive till your 118th birthday. Or that the various third parties who intrude between patient and doctor in the American system -- next of kin, HMOs, insurers -- will see the Schiavo case as an important benchmark in what's already a drift toward a culture of convenience euthanasia.
And that's the real kicker: it will be decided by third parties, with an economic incentive to see you die.

Michael Schiavo Wants to Die

It's true! He told me himself.

Yes, as I recall, it was many years ago, and I had been driving out in the desert and had just let off a hitchhiker (whom I later found out was none other than Howard Hughes, and he said he was going to leave me a portion of his fortune in his will. Or at least that was his intention. But that's a different story...)

Well anyway, it was a night for wills and intentions it seems, because right then I picked up ANOTHER hitchhiker who needed a ride, and now I realize it was none other than this Michael Schiavo guy!

And he starts telling me, you know, about just how much he loves his wife. Absolutely adores her!

And how if anything ever happened to her, well, he just loved her so much, that he couldn't possibly live without her, not for one minute!

Why, to even imagine such a thing would be too horrible and cruel to contemplate!

No, he said it clearly, he'd want to die if anything ever happened to take his sweet wife away from him.

And furthermore, here's the real kicker, he explained that the grief and agony over losing his wife would mostly likely drive him completely insane, and so anything he said after that we couldn't really trust.

He said he'd probably say at a time like that, that our meeting never happened and that he'd want to live -- but he assured me that we shouldn't believe it, because it would just be the grief talking, and would really be a cry for help, signalling that we should find a way to put him out of his misery.

So quick, get Judge Greer on the line!

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevorkian!

Some Good Rants

An atheist and liberal, Blue-Eyed Infidel has a series of (currently) 6 good rants in quite colorful language about the Schiavo case, beginning here, that just get progressively better.

She wonders about people who
truly think it's wrong to let her live in a PVS state because she is capable of suffering by persisting in that state, but it's okay to starve her to death, because she is incapable of suffering from the long, slow, painful death of dehydration and starvation.
Or, after posting a precious picture of a tiny dog and a chick together, remarks:
Cute little buggers. You'd get in a lot of trouble if you tried to starve them though. Just so's you know, that whole Terri Schiavo thing where she's being starved to death, it doesn't really translate over to animals. You still have to treat them humanely and stuff.

Speaking of, it also turns out - according to "most medical experts" on CNN and Fox - that dying by dehydration and starvation is actually painless and "peaceful", not traumatic or uncomfortable. Which has fascinating implications doesn't it? For example, what's the big deal about all those starving kids in Africa? Hell they're fine!

Objectivism and Kurt Goedel

Over at Discarded Lies, they quote C&F, quoting an Objectivist:
In its crazed campaign to keep a brain-dead woman alive against the will of her husband, Congress has now passed a law violating the separation of power between the legislative and judiciary and between federal and state governments by arbitrarily altering the jurisdiction of the Terry Schiavo case—and doing so ad hoc, not as part of any general rule affecting all such cases universally.
These people are extremely upset by the apparent shedding by Republicans of their "small government" philosophy.

Discarded Lies rebuts with
Occam's razor tells me this is just sloppy, ill-thought-out work, which is funny considering how proud Objectivists are of their reasoning skills. A cartoon is supposed to distill issues to their essence, with wit, and provoke thought. This one muddles the issue, is besides the point, and achieves nothing but making other Randroids nod their heads and feel superior to all of us who are more concerned with the mundanity of saving a life than with a minor expansion of the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Which, remember, is explicitly listed as one of the powers of Congress in the constitution.

Objectivism is a very pure philosophy that leads people to consistent opinions. So ruthlessly consistent that they turn into moral monsters, because they'd rather be consistent moral monsters than admit of ambiguity and imperfect situations in the world. Situations that their perfect philosophy doesn't accomodate. What they care about isn't the world, and the people living in it. It's maintaining their [...] ideological purity. Nothing must be allowed to sully the precious theory, especially not messy reality.
Although I usually cringe when I see others extend ideas from hard science and mathematics to sociology and philosophy, I'm going to do it because I think it fits.

We know from Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem, that any "sufficiently powerful"[*] set of formalized axioms -- in other words, a philosophical point of view -- must either be able to formulate statements which are formally True but cannot be proven by the axioms within the system, or else, if every True statement can be proven in the system, it must be inconsistent (meaning it must then also prove as true some statements that are actually False).

So take your pick: lack of universality of application, or inconsistency.

If Objectivism is taken as consistent, then, by Goedel's Theorem, it cannot have universal applicability to every question.

([*]Of course, technically speaking, all we can really be sure of is that Objectivism is too weak a philosophy to define the natural numbers and integer arithmetic...)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Follow the Babes

Follow the money?

No, follow the babes!

Winds of Change links to an interesting essay, not as shallow as you might imagine, about the importance of "babes" in detecting where social movements are headed. Red Zone blog explaines:
Without putting too fine a point on matters here, the "babe theory" is actually a clever way of expressing a profound point. The edifice of Middle Eastern autocracy and its particularly virulent outgrowth--terrorism--rests upon the repression of women. Liberate female energies from political cage of tyranny and the religious prison of Islamic doctrine and the authority of the bearded mullahs and "pious" terrorists and sexually repressed holy men will crumble like the desiccated dust of the mummies they are.

We are releasing a genie into the Middle East--and the world--whose power is incalcuable.
And right now, they're at the forefront of democratic change in the Middle East and Ukraine, for example. An initial observation of this was here.

I might not have found that essay quite as significant, if 2$$G hadn't independently forwarded me this picture recently, of a babe marching at the Schiavo protests.

Stressing simply babe-ness probably misses the point; it is probably more linked to youth and nubility than to some standard of physical beauty. Because lets face it, in mens' simple minds, certainly any reasonably young and vivacious female will be considered attractive by some significant subset.

Thus where the young women lead, the men will surely follow, exactly as in Delacroix's painting of Liberty Leading the People.

Militarizing Space

Ah, one of my favorite topics!

At Winds of Change, we find a link to some interesting new developments in the militarizatin of Space.

Our dominance on the battlefield is generated partly through precision munitions, guided by GPS sattelites. Should those satellites be at risk, we get "dumbed down" significantly.

But our current dominance of Space provides us with a whole new dimension of capabilities.

SUMO is a program to develope a robot to grab and tow for repair a friendly satellite. Some point out this capability could easily be used to grab and toss out of orbit a hostile satellite.

More is here and here.

One key point is if our satellites are threatened, we need a quick and inexpensive way to put new ones back up there. Relying on the creaky, dangerous, barely-flightworthy manned Space Shuttle "fleet" is obviously a huge mistake.

One "out there" idea I've heard spoken of, that probably could work, involves a gian rail gun that uses electricity to accelerate a projectile to enormous speeds.

Build your own!

The Navy is interested in using them on its new "all electric" ships being designed. Besides using the great electric generators to power a wavelength-tuned Free Electron Laser for missile defense, the electricity could be harnessed to launch a projectile with devastating effect.

But I digress.

Wouldn't it be neat to have a huge rail gun in, say, Florida near the Equator, where it could launch GPS-guided bombs into suborbit, to strike nearly anywhere on Earth with precision in a short amount of time? No more need for slow, expensive bombers!

More modest proposals will begin using gps-guided rail-gun-delivered projectiles as long-range artillery.

More on Wolfowitz

Winds of Change has a good analysis of world power politics and the World Bank.


From the Command Post, we find a link to this precious comment about Iraqi elections on a BBC website:
I hate to say this to Iraqis, but I pray for chaos and civil war: it's the only way to stop Bush's policies and show that peace can never come through force. If Iraq gets peace, Bush wins credibility. It cannot be allowed to happen.
Nina, Toronto, Canada
I'll let the howling contradictions in that sentiment speak for themselves. Whereas anti-freedom leftists in the comforable West hold dwindling, pathetic "peace" (pro-dictator) rallies, a tide unleashed by the Bush doctrine is growing. Chrenkoff has a recent roundup. It begins:
I'm having a deja-vu to the 1980s, when as a young lad stuck on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain I watched with some bemusement the safe and comfortable citizens of Western democracies rallying for "peace" and protesting aggressive American policies, while around me people were risking if not life than certainly limb and their future marching for freedom, democracy and human rights.

While throughout major cities of Western world crowds - albeit much diminished since three or two years ago - have turned up over the weekend for anti-democracy rallies to protest the second anniversary of the start of the liberation of Iraq, one region of the world remained strangely unaffected by the "anti-war" and "anti-occupation" fervor: the notorious "Arab street" has failed to join the "European street" and the "American street" in condemning yet again Chimpy Bushhitler and his imperialist policies. The only significant exception throughout the Middle East was Turkey, where rallies in three major cities could only muster several hundred people between them.

Everywhere else, the second anniversary of invasion did not incite much public excitement - possibly because the local residents were too busy rallying against terrorism and theocracy, and for freedom, democracy and human rights. Here's a round-up of the Middle Eastern action over the last few weeks, some of it very familiar, some of it you might have missed:
Get the details.

Like Sgt. York...With a SAW

UPDATE: the original source is here, with more links to commentary and video, including shaky video captured from the jihadis who were recording their defeat for our amusement. Even more delicious is that the team leader leading the assault that routed them was a woman! Explain that to Allah!
In a little blurb last week, we hear a curious snippet of a tale:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — In the deadliest clash since Iraq's national elections nearly two months ago, U.S. forces repelled an ambush on a supply convoy and killed more than two dozen insurgent fighters, officials said yesterday.

The firefight, which left seven U.S. soldiers wounded, broke out Sunday south of Baghdad on a stretch of road that has seen a jump in guerrilla attacks, U.S. officials said.

More than 40 insurgents were lying in wait on both sides of the road near Salman Pak when they struck the line of trucks with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The attack immobilized the trucks, which were headed to a nearby base. But a military-police unit engaged the guerrillas and repelled them, the military said.
The rest of the article of course attempts to emphasize an apparently never-ending pattern of attacks.

And when I first saw only the headline, I assumed the insurgents had run into an armored cavalry unit.

Instead, we discover that a lightly-armed National Guard military police unit, outnumbered four to one, swooped in and coolly wiped out 75% of the enemy force in a matter of minutes, with disciplined, agressive action. But then again, they were straight-shooters from Kentucky.

We have the detailed after-action report from Rayra on LGF:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
some excerpts:
After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of enemy moved forward toward the disabled and suppressed trucks. Each of the enemy had hand-cuffs and were looking to take hostages for ransom or worse, to take those three wounded US soldiers for more internet beheadings.

About this time, three armored Hummers that formed the MP Squad under call sign Raven 42, 617th MP Co, Kentucky National Guard, assigned to the 503rd MP Bn (Fort Bragg), 18th MP Bde, arrived on the scene like the cavalry. The squad had been shadowing the convoy from a distance behind the last vehicle, and when the convoy trucks stopped and became backed up from the initial attack, the squad sped up, paralleled the convoy up the shoulder of the road, and moved to the sound of gunfire. They arrived on the scene just as a squad of about ten enemy had moved forward across the farmer's field and were about 20 meters from the road.

The MP squad opened fire with .50 cal machineguns and Mk19 grenade launchers and drove across the front of the enemy's kill zone, between the enemy and the trucks, drawing fire off of the tractor trailers.
The Squad leader dismounted with his M4 carbine, and 2 hand grenades, grabbed the section leader out of the first vehicle who had rendered radio reports of their first contact. The two of them, squad leader Staff Sergeant and team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher, rushed the nearest ditch about 20 meters away to start clearing the natural trenchline.

The enemy had gone into the ditches and was hiding behind several small trees in the back of the lot. The .50 cal and SAW flanking fire tore apart the ten enemy in the lead trenchline. Meanwhile, the two treating the three wounded on the ground at the rear vehicle came under sniper fire from the farmer's house. Each of them, (remember one is a medic), pulled out AT-4 rocket launchers from the HMMWVs and nearly-simultaneously fired the rockets into the house to neutralize the shooter.

The two sergeants worked their way up the trenchline, throwing grenades, firing grenades from the launcher, and firing their M4s. The sergeant ran low on ammo and ran back to a vehicle to reload. She moved to her squad leader's vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knew exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline.
Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.
The female E5 Sergeant who fought thru the trenchline will become the anti-Jessica Lynch media poster child. She and her squad leader deserve every bit of recognition they will get, and more. They all do.
Hmmm, I haven't heard anything about this yet percolating into the MSM.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Funny Stuff

Pooklekufr points us to an amusing posting on various methods for destroying the world, should one have the time, money, technology, and inclination.

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider I've been mentioning recently is included as one of the possible methods, but there are, disturbingly, even more likely ways to do it.

While poking around, I also came across this funny list of the top 100 things to keep in mind if you ever become an Evil Overlord. Little things like,
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
There's plenty more, and it's fun to try to think to which movies the bullet points might be referring.

UPDATE: NRO's the Corner gives us even more ways to distract ourselves from H.P. Lovecraft's pithy observation, that "Life is a hideous thing." The Fametracker! I could spend hours reading the clever, gossipy insights on this site!

It reminds me of an almost-forgotten time, about 15 years ago, when I used to read alt.showbiz.gossip on a unix server before the days of the WWW (and before Google, apparently took ownership of all the old Usenet newsgroups). The anti-FAQ is preserved here, it seems, and recalled to me the amusement of such phrases as "Gay as an Ungaro Spring Frock", "Friend of Dorothy", and "in the Stereo Cabinet."

I dimly recall someone once put together a "master list" of 2-3 sentence gossip-summations of major celebrities, wonder if that's still around somewhere...

The New Right to Kill

The so-called "right to die", previously "discovered" by the courts, of course, is specifically the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment:
"By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment-assistance," [Judge] Greer wrote.
Ok, fine. Take out the tube!

But why this insistence on using all the power of the State to prevent those who want to care for her from providing food and water?

I mean, if your parent had Alzheimers, and you had to feed them, and suddenly decided to stop doing so with the claim they wouldn't want to live that way so you locked them in the attic until they starved, you'd go to jail for abuse and neglect if not outright murder, right?


Well, you would have last week. Today it's not so clear:
Michael Schiavo's brother, Brian Schiavo, strongly disagreed with that assessment, telling CNN that Terri Schiavo "does look a little withdrawn" but insisting she was not in pain. He added that starvation is simply "part of the death process."
Well duh, if you're actively starving someone to death, it sure is!
Thursday, a lawyer for Michael Schiavo said he hoped the woman's parents and the governor would finally give up their fight.

In the federal court hearing, Schindler lawyer David Gibbs III argued that Terri Schiavo's rights to life and privacy were being violated. Whittemore interrupted as Gibbs attempted to liken Schiavo's death to a murder.

"That is the emotional rhetoric of this case. It does not influence this court, and cannot influence this court. I want you to know it and I want the public to know it," Whittemore said.
But, even if Terri Schiavo WERE able to express her wishes, and said she didn't want to live like this, suicide and assisted suicide are still illegal in every state, aren't they? Isn't the nudge-nudge, wink-wink behind-the-scenes euthanasia supposed to be reserved for the suffering and terminally ill?

Or has that changed today?

So how is this not murder?

Because "food and water" cannot be considered "medical intervention" that can be refused -- or withheld "for your own good" -- because, like, it's something every single one of us needs to survive, no?

So the courts are here inventing a new right, and it's not just a right to suicide, it's an explicit right to Euthanize.

And based on the flimsiest of hear-say evidence, from parties with a clear conflict of interest!

Now I'm all for avoiding unnecessary pain and suffering for the terminally ill.

All for it!

But here, there is no suffering, no pain. Indeed, by the claims of those ending her life, she can't be "unhappy" with her current state at all, lacking the capacity to do so.

The State used to be tasked with speaking for and defending those who cannot defend or speak for themselves, but instead it is actively aiding those who would snuff out her painless, carefree life.

It used to be, if somebody wanted to die who wasn't terminally ill and suffering, that they'd be given psychiatric treatment, maybe medication, to help change their minds and make their lives bearable.

But what, now the ACLU is going to start demanding this barbaric practice of attempting to heal the minds of the depressed elderly cease immediately, so as not to artificially interfere with their "right" to spiral downwards into demanding an early death?

Why cloud their minds and avoid their true wishes with Prozac?

I mean, it would probably save Social Security if we shuttled them along more quickly to the glue factory, wouldn't it? It would save a lot of trouble for everyong. Less drain on precious resources we're always being exhorted to "conserve." Given this social utility -- because it's all about the cost, isn't it? -- we can now deny food and water to anybody who an outside party can claim wouldn't want -- or shouldn't want -- to live in their current condition, and even feel good about it!

The social utilitarian "ethicists" like Peter Singer should be all over this, pushing to stop treating depression in the elderly.

So now the safety of my life, and yours, has been reduced to a subjective judgement of its "quality."

It has been reduced to a purely probabilistic calculation -- whether or not you "most likely" won't recover, whether or not you "most likely" wouldn't want to live, and whether or not you "most likely" wouldn't feel pain as you starved.

Once those conditions are met, it's State-enforced murder time! Run, Logan, Run!

(tip to 2$$G of The Washhouse for the above 1976 movie reference. He has some comments on this subject as well.)

This is all very new, and very broad. This is not simply the right to refuse medical treatment!

It's not like the experts even agree:
The issue arose again this week when a neurologist, Dr. William Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., said in a court document that he believed it's more likely that Schiavo is in a "minimally conscious state" than a persistent vegetative one.
They can't even agree whether earthworms or lobsters feel pain, and now we're making life and death decisions with that kind of uncertainty, just for the pleasure sticking it to Evangelical pro-lifers?

So down the slope we slide. Look, it's not like mass State-ordered murder of the weak and infirm and unproductive and other general "undesireables", under the euphemism of Euthanasia, is some kind of generic fantasy of what might happen, but instead is something that did happen in reality, not so very long ago!

And I stress, they didn't think they were engaged in an evil scheme at the time!

The cliched phrase, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions", is, as they would say on The Simpsons, "funny, because it's True!"

This is the problem with unelected, aristocratic judges making up social law, which should be the realm of The People, through their elected representatives, so we can all decide and argue and finally feel, mostly, that a reasonable compromise has been reached. Instead, we're having vital social issues, like this new right to be Terminated, and gay "marriage", dictated to us. Which is all fine and dandy if you agree with the dictates, but don't cry to me when they come for you and suddenly everyone's hands are tied.

It's high time these activist judges had their lights punched out.

And it's high time we realized they're not the highest branch of government, but a co-equal one, and as Napoleon would say, "how many divisions has Judge Greer?"

It's time for the Andrew Jackson option: Governer Bush, if he has any integrity and takes his duties seriously, will decide the court has erred, and to properly follow the constitution of Florida, as he is sworn to do, he must disobey an unlawful order (even judges make mistakes), and use his power to order the State Police to go in there and take her away to those who want to care for her. He can, and should, do it. Ann Coulter and NRO elaborate on this option. Suffice it to say, recall how Clinton found the nerve to use armed agents to take little Elian back to a Stalinist dictatorship, despite rulings of the now-apparently-infallible Florida courts! But that was an important issue, making a dictator happy, which is far more important than the life of a defenseless woman.

Who even if she could explicitly refuse medical treatment, and refused food, would be treated psychiatrically and fed, according to the law of every state...at least up until last week!!!

So how is this not murder?????

I can only believe Michael Schiavo's motives, after all this time (he has certainly "moved on", with a new family yet! and there are plenty of people who will take his burden off his hands if he'd just walk away) is to "win" over Terri's parents, just for the sake of "winning."

Congratulations, Mike! You've "won"!

Does it feel good?

What you've won is an all-expense-paid trip to Hell.

You'll meet lots of people who justified killing the weak there, I'm sure you'll have lots to talk about.

Have fun!

Thursday, March 24, 2005


They actually officially studied the possibility of disaster scenarios at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider that I alluded to earlier. I don't know, somehow this seems like something out of a comic book -- and you know where the plot goes...
Statement on Committee Review of Speculative "Disaster Scenarios" at Brookhaven Lab's RHIC
October 6, 1999

Brookhaven National Laboratory has posted on its Web site a report by expert physicists who recently reviewed speculative disaster scenarios at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

The report summarizes technical discussions that conclude there is no danger of a "disaster" at RHIC.

In July 1999, Brookhaven Lab Director John Marburger convened a committee of distinguished physicists to write a comprehensive report on the arguments that address the safety of each of the speculative disaster scenarios at RHIC. The scenarios are:

- Creation of a black hole that would "eat" ordinary matter.

- Initiation of a transition to a new, more stable universe.

- Formation of a "strangelet" that would convert ordinary matter to a new form.

"We conclude that there are no credible mechanisms for catastrophic scenarios at RHIC," said committee chair Robert Jaffe, Professor of Physics and Director, Center for Theoretical Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Accordingly, we see no reason to delay RHIC operation."
Gotta love how they write "eat." That was to "dumb down" the word "accrete" in the full report.

The first paragraph alone of that report is worth reading for a kick.

Wave of Change

Who saw this coming?
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - President Askar Akayev's government collapsed Thursday after opposition protesters took over the presidential compound and government offices, throwing computers and air conditioners out of windows in a frenzy of anger over corruption and a disputed election.

The popular uprising in this impoverished Central Asian nation of 5 million forced Akayev to flee, was breathtaking in its speed and resulted in only a few dozen injured. The government was the third in a former Soviet republic — after Georgia and Ukraine — to be brought down by people power over the past year and a half.
Not to mention those brought down by harder power, against a backdrop of freedom-oriented rhetoric, and all of a sudden, it's a fad sweeping the globe.

They say Reagan's speeches, calling the CCCP an "evil empire" (which it was), and demanding Die Mauer (The Wall) be torn down, had an electrifying effect on the subjugated people behind the Iron Curtain, who would find themselves free just a handful of years later. Yet Ronnie "Raygun" was derided as either a snoozing, out-of-touch candidate for the geriatric ward, if he didn't start a nuclear war first.

Likewise, the speeches of GWB are dismissed, and his motives cynically questioned. And yet, the objective truth is that millions of people, every few months, emerge from under the fist of a fraudulent government.

The Marxists, who are supposed, according to their divine mandate of historical inevitability, to be riding this wave of revolution, must be going nuts to find themselves left out!
"It's not the opposition that has seized power, it's the people who have taken power. The people. They have been fighting for so long against corruption, against that (Akayev) family," said opposition activist Ulan Shambetov, one of the protesters who sat in the president's chair.

The upper house of the parliament that held power before a disputed election met Thursday night and elected a former opposition lawmaker, Ishenbai Kadyrbekov, as interim president until a new presidential vote, perhaps as early as May or June.

There was no sign the new leadership would change policy toward the West or Russia. Unlike the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, foreign policy has not been an issue.
How about that. Best of luck to them in starting fresh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Post-democratic Democrats

Interesting article at Techcentralstation about how the Democrats morphed from a party of true liberalism to one of leftism:
How did one of history's original democratic political parties become so indifferent to the cause of democracy?

One popular explanation is structural factors. Peculiarities of the American system of campaigns and elections force candidates towards policy stands that please the more extreme elements of their electoral base. Others suggest a more visceral explanation; partisans from one side hate the leader of the other side to the point where they refuse to support the major programs supported by an opposing leader. I propose a third, simpler alternative. The Democratic leadership is telling us what they really believe -- that democracy is not all that important.
Today, we think of Somalia as an important turning point in the war on terror, the moment when terrorist organizations began to believe that America had become too soft to defend itself. But Somalia was also a turning point in a different kind of conflict.

Since the radicalism of the 1960s found a sympathetic home in the Democratic party, the party has been consumed by an internal struggle. On the one hand, the Democrats want to be the liberal party: the party that believes in the primacy of individual liberty, the party that believes the proper role of government is to protect spaces where individuals can thrive, and that history is ultimately driven by the actions of individuals. On the other hand, the Democrats are also America's party of the left: the party that believes that history is unstoppable change driven by impersonal forces, that the proper role of government is to move individuals to the right side of history, and protect them from being overwhelmed by forces they cannot control, perhaps not even understand.

The events in Somalia, and the reaction at home, gave the advantage to leftism over liberalism in the struggle for the soul of the Democratic party, an advantage leftism has yet to relinquish.

A single failed mission, by itself, did not move the Democrats to their present leftism untempered by liberalism. The shift in foreign policy resulting from Somalia -- a reticence to even discuss individual political freedom -- accelerated the movement of a generation of Democratic leaders in a direction they were already comfortable moving. Individuals who began their political careers in the era of Vietnam and Watergate, when American radicalism was near its peak, held on to an atmospheric skepticism about ideas like American exceptionalism, American values, and even the importance of American democracy. They internalized a distrust of the idea that there could be anything special about the nature of American power.

An America that had been lucky rather than good was less offensive to the radical chic that grew out of youthful radicalism. The Democratic leadership bought into the idea that American strength had been created by morally-neutral geographic and economic luck. The protection of oceans, access to natural resources, and lack of expansionist neighbors had provided America with growth opportunities not available to most nations. The belief that the democratic system of government made significant contributions to America's strength was a nationalistic myth. America had been successful because geographic and economic resources -- the forces that really drive history -- favored American development for three centuries.
The Democratic response to the State of the Union highlighted the current state of Democratic post-democratic thought. None of the three "key concerns" enumerated by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (training the Iraqi army, accelerating Iraq's economic development, and intensifying regional diplomacy) involved democracy, because democracy is not a key concern to Democrats. They believe that democracy is a luxury that emerges when other forces are properly managed. Democracy itself is not worth directly supporting.

In accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic party, Howard Dean said Democrats could be successful if they "actually begin fighting for what [they] believe: fiscally responsible, socially progressive values". The present Democratic leadership must clarify where democracy fits into this view. Do socially progressive values include democracy, or is democracy unnecessary if other forces sufficiently advance progressive values? And if belief in democracy is a socially progressive value, at what point will Democrats again begin supporting its progress?
Good questions! Read the rest, as they say.

Afghan Success and GWB

The Bernoulli Effect comments on an article in the Wall Street Journal about the amazing, quiet successes in transforming Afghanistan from a warlord-riven basket case of chaos into something with a glimmer of hope for a brighter future.

One key point from the article is:
Today [Ismail Khan], the man once dubbed "the Lion of Herat" sits behind a near-empty desk in Kabul fingering amber worry beads and signing documents. He is the country's minister of power, but the only warmth in his shabby suite comes from a glowing space heater. His days as a mujaheddin commander are over, he says.

Mr. Khan has made the journey from feared warlord to bland bureaucrat thanks to the Bush administration's gradual, flexible strategy for reconstructing Afghanistan since ousting the Taliban government in 2001. Rather than trying to force radical change overnight, the U.S. has been patient. It has avoided confrontations with tribal elders and warlords -- letting them until recently keep their private militias and weapons and even paying the salaries of their fighters -- while building a credible central government in Kabul.
Well, how about that?
Today the former commander spends his days signing purchase orders for new generators and puzzling over how to increase electricity production in a country where only an estimated 6% of the population has regular power. He has given up pursuing armed jihad, he says, for a different type of struggle.

"Jihad is not only war; it is not only fighting. Jihad means making life better for the country. There is no need to fight right now in Afghanistan," he says.
With such a transformation, Bernoulli Effect poses the rhetorical question,
Whatever happened to the blizzard of stories about the brutal torture of British soldiers, and the numbing quagmire that mired the Soviets?
Yeah, remember how hysterical the media was back then? With the calls for a cease-fire in Ramadan, and Nervous Nellies yelling "quagmire!" in week 3, and TV "experts" opining that the military would have to first invade and take over an area the size of Rhode Island, in 6 months to a year, before any real action could start?

Well to answer the question, I might hazard a proposition, that Mr. Khan, a warrior from birth, is acting like someone who was made an offer he simply couldn't refuse. In other words -- and here is the crucial point! -- with the re-election of GWB, the proposition that one could either get paid to "go with the flow", or else the B-52s would show up and pulverize his militia, while an AC-130 would personally terminate him in a hail of high-speed cannon fire of various calibers.

Even if they'd ultimately turn out to be wrong, one can't help but think things would be going less smoothly as the warlords would inevitably have attempted to test the boundaries of the Kerry administration's tolerance.

And one can't help but think there would be at least a non-zero chance they'd find that going along with the Schadenfreude of failure and defeatism would play well in some domestic political circles.

Totalitarian's Dream

Bernoulli Effect points to some insightful comments by Dr. Sanity on leftism, academia, and the death of ideas:
While radical professors, disguised as "academics", ponder questions like, "Who are we to judge Saddam Hussein?"; and as political activism--rather than the pursuit of knowledge-- became their main activity; it transpired that policymakers had to look elsewhere for a source of ideas. The academic's role was thus taken over by think tanks, which...well, think., as opposed to just emoting and spewing slogans.

The transformation of our "intellectual" centers of knowledge into vast emotional swamps of multicultural victimhood, offended by any idea that they don't like, can be best appreciated by the fact that in this last election, academia contributed little or nothing in the way of usable ideas--though it was a major source of Democratic Party funding. In fact, one might arguably equate the almost complete lack of ideas (except for the repetitive mouthing of the words, "I have a plan") and the knee-jerk opposition to any Republican idea just because it was Republican-- as one of the most significant factors in the decisive defeat of the Democratic Party.
Having lost the Cold War, they now intend to dress up their socialist/communist agenda in a new set of anti-U.S., anti-Israel; anti-Freedom; anti-Democracy; anti-Capitalism clothing. But even after 20 or more years, the emperor is still naked. Genocide is tolerated if it comes from their side of the political spectrum. Moral equivalence is applied to situations that demand moral judgement. Freedom of speech is touted, unless they don't like what you say. I could go on, but I haven't the inclination to waste so much of my time documenting what has already been documented everywhere.

And running through it all, like a river of denial and projection, is a vast, pervasive cluelessness. A lack of insight or self-awareness so incredible and so blindingly transparent that it is almost awe-inspiring in its magnitude. This kind of mindless emoting in lock- step on the part of large numbers of the "intellectual elite" is a Totalitarian's dream! The slogans and banners are the stuff of dictator's fantasies. For these professors and their minions, the mindset of Orwell's 1984 is a deliberate lifestyle choice.
Read it all.

Then be afraid, be very afraid, at how a close-run thing it was last November...

Philosophical Questions

Logical Meme explains well some more of the philosophical issues underlying the Schiavo case that I had been groping for but hadn't articulated this well.

We find elsewhere on Logical Meme the horrifying fact that the question isn't even as it is often posed: who decides, the family or politicians?

Instead, we find these life and death decisions are being made by unelected judges and M-Deity doctors, even against the wishes of the family:
These other two cases allude to a disturbing trend of hospitals making decisions to cease life support apart from (and usually against) family wishes.

One is of a newborn, Sun Hudson, with abnormal lungs that cannot develop. Without a breathing tube, the baby cannot survive. Reportedly, most infants with Sun’s condition die shortly after birth, but Sun hasn’t. Against the wishes of the infant’s mother, the hospital (with court sanction) decided to remove the breathing tube on Sun, citing it was to stop a prolonged and unnecessary suffering.

“Sun's death marks the first time a hospital has been allowed by a U.S. judge to discontinue an infant's life-sustaining care against a parent's wishes, according to bioethical experts,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

Another pending case involves a 68 year old man in a chronic vegetative state who is on life-support. The hospital wants to “pull the plug”, which the man’s family is fighting. As of last week, Texas’s 14th Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction ordering the hospital not to remove the man's life support.
It's high time this aristocracy of "activist" judges is put out to pasture.

Yet the Democrats are obstructing Bush's judicial nominations intended to do just that.

One is eventually forced to wonder about these Democrats, just whose side are they on???

And don't miss this indispensible article by the indispensible Mark Steyn!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Blog By Any Other Name...

Wouldn't you know, someone went and made a blogspot blog entitled "tenoclockscholar", as opposed to my "thetenoclockscholar."

Well, at least it's not a poltical blog, it seems, so there won't be much confusion.


But since I found it by mistyping my own blog's name...if I can mistype my own blog, then surely others will too.


Due Process

I've tried to not follow the tragic Schiavo case, but I am forced to now present a few thoughts.

First, it was really disgusting to see the Democrats on Sunday force a procedural delay of 12 hours in passing the Federal Review legislation for Terri Schiavo, even though they knew it would eventually pass. Tell me, please, what "principle" is worth withholding food and water from an innocent woman for 12 more hours just because you can, when you know it's an empty gesture?

That's Vanity, pure and simple. The right thing to do would be to show compassion for another human being, when the principle is moot on its face.

It's also odd to see "liberals" using as their main argument that Republicans are being hypocritical for getting the Federal Government involved, when normally they're for limiting Federal power. One would think the statist liberals would be all for getting government involved, but it's very revealing that they only wish to do so on behalf of collective groups of people, and not for individuals in particular: that's how your hard-core socialist thinks. And furthermore, it's a straw-man argument to say Republicans are being hypocritical; the conservative position is entirely consistent: conservatives are for preserving Rights, for individuals and the States -- so it's fine to use Federal power in the preservation of an individual's rights -- as opposed to using that power to take away their money to redistribute it for social engineering utopian programs...

But I digress.

There is a good roundup of the hypocrisies on the left in this article.

In fact, not only is it a consistent use of Federal power, it's the primary purpose government has any power at all! I recall a wise man once said that the reason "governments are instituted among Men" is specifically to "secure" certain basic human "Inalienable Rights", and that "among these are Life."

And Life is indeed what is at stake here.

I seem to remember another document saying somewhere nobody -- and that means nobody! -- shall be "deprived" of "life" without "due process of law." Nor, in principle, to impose cruel or unusual punishment. It's only the highest law of the land.

I just couldn't figure out why the ACLU types were so gung-ho to kill this innocent woman off, when they weep and wail and spend so many resources trying to keep the most heinous criminals on death row alive as long as humanly possible.

"If it will save just one life..." is so often heard on the left to justify whatever new restrictions on you they wish to dream up.

So what was different here?

Why the sudden hypocritical embrace of State's Rights and limited Federal power among the left, which is the truly bizarre inconsistent position?


It's religion. They are deathly afraid that the great boogey man of our times, the "religious right" (a force like the "dark matter" hypothesized to exist everywhere in the Universe, but which has never actually been observed), will get government to intervene and make life & death decisions for them, against their own explicit wishes.

Now, yes, that would be wrong.

If someone has a clear wish about such medical measures to be withheld, it wouldn't be right for the pro-Life fringe to step in and interfere.

But guess what, that's not going to happen.

And that's not the issue here.

It's not a case of changing Terri Schiavo's wishes, because she's really the only one we all agree has the final say. But she can't say. So in that event, I would also normally side with the spouse in making such decisions, rather than in-laws.

But to protect the Rights of the helpless, we must be sure her interests were accurately and adequately represented.

And in this case, there are real questions about what her wishes actually were, and about the conflicts of interest of the husband, who stands to gain financially from her death, as I understand. And she was not properly legally represented.

Let's even assume Terri Schiavo expressed a wish (which we know only by flimsy hearsay evidence) to not be kept alive "artificially" or by "heroic measures". Well, you know what, I doubt she actually said to anyone, "gee, honey, if I ever can't feed myself, I'd really rather starve to death, ok?"

No, instead, people colloquially probably assume that means that they're being kept alive moment to moment purely by technology and would die in minutes -- not days! -- if it were turned off, and/or are in some agony. Neither of which applies here! It's doubtful even a living will would have foreseen such a situation.

So just to put a stick in the eye of religious pro-lifers, the left wants to kill this woman with far less due process -- which is all that is being asked here! -- than that afforded to convicted criminals.

If they succeed in killing her off, which seems likely, that raises a worse precedent than the apparition of interfering religious do-gooders, as there are lots of people who can't feed themselves, like some with Alzheimers. Whose to stop people from just saying, "gee, Grandma doesn't want to live like this, yeah, she told me so, so we'll just put her in the attic and she'll starve in a week and her estate becomes ours, woo-hoo!"

What's the difference, really, between all other mentally infirm person who can't feed themselves, and Terri Schiavo who will be murdered by court order?

Well, none at all, according to Peter Singer, the "ethicist" at Princeton University, who would argue that in fact killing them off is just fine.

Or what's to stop subtle or not-so-subtle social and familial pressure for the aged and infirm to "check out", so as to not be a drain on time and money? Why is "the family" always assumed to have the best wishes of the vulnerable person at the top of their agenda? We know that in many Islamic cultures today they pressure the youngsters to kill their sisters who have "dishonored" the family, so that no adult ahs to face any possible adult sentence (if they're living in a Western country), or pressure them to blow themselves up along with some Israeli schoolchildren on a bus.

Might as well just put the old people on ice floes like the Eskimos do.

Soylent Green is people!

Look, I'm all for "death with dignity." But she isn't dying, unless actively killed. She isn't in pain. She breathes on her own.

Who knows what, if anything, is going on in her mind? Or if recovery is possible? I'll stipulate it's unlikely, but nobody can say it can't possibly happen. There are too many cases of "miraculous" recoveries. And the brain is complex, and the best experts really don't know. Which way is it better to err?

Suppose she really didn't want to be kept alive this way, and that against those wishes, she is. That's unfortunate, but how terrible would that be? Compared with the alternative?

And if the Law of Florida indeed stipulates she die, must we adhere to a rigid Legalism, or should we not change the Law to handle situations for which it is clearly inadequate to protecting the Rights of the vulnerable?

This is exactly the "slippery slope" that those opposed to Kevorkian and the commonplace "mercy killings" in Holland spoke of, that I myself dismissed years ago.

But here it is, and down we slide.

Because this case pushes the boundary, significantly, in which your life is being reduced to a utilitarian calculation of cost, benefit, and somebody else's judgement of "worth"!!!

So tell me please, someone, how such calculations, when carried to their logical conclusion of being applied to the mentally infirm who cannot feed themselves, will differ from the Nazi policies of Eugenics in the 1930s??? What, you think they just woke up one morning and said, "hey, let's all be inhuman monsters -- it'll be fun!" No, as Albert Speer would later try to explain, "we were only trying to make things better."

And, having invoked Godwin's Law, I must now bring this to a close.

End Of Us All

Why none of this matters anyway:
What do you get when you turn the temperature up to a trillion degrees?

Quite a heating bill.

Actually physicists claim that at this temperature nuclear material melts into an exotic form of matter called a quark-gluon plasma - thought to have been the state of the universe a microsecond after the Big Bang.

Recreating this primordial soup is the primary purpose of the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. After five years of data, it appears as if RHIC may have succeeded.

But a big mystery looms over the detection: the putative plasma explodes more violently than predicted.
Great. Just great.

They're colliding heavy ions (gold), and don't understand what's going on.

Way to go, guys.

I remember being scared about this many years ago as a physics undergrad at Princeton, when this collider was first being planned. One of the professors presented a "back of the envelope" quantum calculation to show we shouldn't worry about them accidentally creating an exotic state of matter never before seen (quarkonium), that might catalyze everything to transition spontaneously to it, like the outward spreading of the freezing of the surface of a pond.

Turning us all into quarkonium.

I hardly found the "assurance" all that assuring, if they were even thinking that might happen.

Of course, they wondered if they might ignite the atmosphere and burn the planet to a cinder with the first atomic bomb test,and they were wrong. But that was just the pinkos.

But who knows, if they're trying to create the conditions similar to the Big Bang, might they not accidentally create a new Big Bang that will turn the Universe into a bubbling soup of particles?

Of course, they don't think so.

But honestly, they don't really know for sure.

So if you have a millisecond to wonder what happened if you suddenly find yourself being sucked into a black hole where once the Earth had been, now you'll know to blame RHIC and the pinheads at Brookhaven.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Fun With Photos

Yes, it's a biased, unfair comparison, but it's still funny and well-crafted.

Bush v. Kerry, in side-by-side photos.

WARNING: Just don't be eating cereal when you're looking at these, like I was...

Friday, March 18, 2005


At first I was disappointed to hear of Wolfowitz's appointment to head the World Bank, because I was hoping he'd eventually succeed Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

But then I realized it would be a dramatic coup to have an idealistic neocon warrior at the heart of the banking system, where he could decisively act to open a strong new front against the terrorists and those who fund them (i.e., the Saudis) by hitting them in their vulnerable financing systems. Disrupting the connections between rogue states and the terror groups is key to reducing the threat from a potential existential one to a manageable one that more resembles law enforcement.

And then I go reading stuff like this from Slate:
What to make of Paul Wolfowitz being tapped to run the World Bank?

On the one hand, this is a man who has displayed strikingly poor analytical judgment as deputy secretary of defense. You may recall his smug assurances to congressional skeptics that our troops would be welcomed to Iraq with flowers and that the war's cost would be reimbursed by post-Saddam oil revenues. There was also his dismissive riposte to the prediction by Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, that a few hundred thousand U.S. troops would be needed for post-war stabilization. "It's hard to conceive," Wolfowitz testified, "that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to believe."
Oh come on!

You'd think the place were a disaster.

Maybe if you just read the NYTimes and listen to NPR, you'd think that.

But objectively speaking, things have gone and are going in the right direction. Casualties for the entire war are lower than most single major battles, let alone wars. There's just no comparison.

I keep asking myself, by what measure are these pessimists judging this war? The stunning success is an order of magnitude higher than anyone had a right to expect. It is only by the unrealistic and bizarre metric of "zero-cost" that the effort is disappointing!

But this IS the era of "zero-tolerance", isn't it?

It's infantile.

The only "mistake" made was to incorrectly predict the future, which in itself was of little consequence; the big strategic ideas -- to act and to scrap the old doctrines of stability in the Middle East -- were brilliant and effective.

And no, we don't need more troops in Iraq!

The "shocking" thing, apparently, is that there indeed exist evil people determined to continue to kill the innocent in Iraq. But this is not a home-grown popular uprising.

If it were, we'd be totally overwhelmed and incapable of containing it in a nation of millions of people.

No, this war is a success exceeding all historical triumphs by leaps and bounds.
By its nature, war is characterized by a "fog" and by "friction", in which almost everything goes wrong. It has always been so, and always will be. It's even been said, to emphasize the point, that victory goes to the side that makes the next-to-last mistake! The side that adapts to the chaos fastest wins. And the US military learns and adapts faster than any in history.

I've said it before, but people should really read, oh, old newspapers from 1942-1944 or so. Things even looked bleak and lost in 1946 after the defeat of Nazi Germany, when articles appeared in Life Magazine predicting the loss of the Peace due to American bungling. (The authenticity of those linked articles by famed author John Dos Passos has been confirmed).

The Marshal Plan wouldn't kick in until 1948.

And Iraq already has held historic elections!

Iraq will be judged a fantastic success, and Wolfowitz as its chief architect, a great and visionary man.

Yet at Slate, they continue to opine, wishfully:
Some who know Wolfowitz tell me that he wanted to fill the impending vacancy at the bank. He may be, in this sense, a latter-day Robert McNamara—a war-weary Pentagon master seeking refuge to wring the blood from his hands. McNamara suffered something close to a public breakdown when he moved from secretary of defense to president of the World Bank in 1967, as the Vietnam War spiraled out of control. Lyndon Johnson had been complaining to aides for months that McNamara had "gone dovish" on him. It's unlikely that Wolfowitz has exactly turned tail on George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. Still, Wolfowitz is a smart guy, smart enough to know that Iraq has not gone at all as he thought it would, and perhaps he sees McNamara's personal exit strategy as a model to emulate.
Well if it helps you sleep at night to believe that...
There's another dimension to this transfer. Wolfowitz may have wanted to leave the Pentagon, but it's possible that his days there were numbered. (McNamara, too, was never quite sure whether he was fired or he quit.) Are we seeing the opening stages of a second-term shift of power in the Defense Department—a belated (though, if it comes, unacknowledged) reckoning with the first term's grand mistakes?
Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? Dream on! Like Bush would oust Wolfowitz, when he won't even get rid of Mineta???

Here's the real story of what's going in Iraq, from a "lessons learned" briefing of the 1st Cav Division, as related at NRO's The Corner:
1. While units of the Cav served all over Iraq, he spoke mostly of Baghdad and more specifically Sadr City, the big slum on the eastern side of the Tigris River. He pointed out that Baghdad is, in geography, is about the size of Austin. Aus tin has 600,000 to 700,000 people. Baghdad has 6 to7 million people.

2. The Cav lost 28 main battle tanks. He said one of the big lessons learned is that, contrary to docterine going in, M1-A2s and Bradleys are needed, preferred and devastating in urban combat and he is going to make that point to the JCS next week while they are considering downsizing armor.

3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week.

4. His big point was not that they were "winning battles" to do this but that cleaning the place up, electricity, sewage, water were the key factors. He said yes they fought but after they started delivering services that the Iraqis in Sadr City had never had, the terrorist recruiting of 15 and 16 year olds came up empty.

5. The electrical "grid" is a bad, deadly joke. Said that driving down the street in a Hummv with an antenna would short out a whole block of apt. buildings. People do their own wiring and it was not uncommon for early morning patrols would find one or two people lying dead in the street, having been electrocuted trying to re-wire their own homes.

6. Said that not tending to a dead body in the Muslim culture never happens. On election day, after suicide bombers blew themselves up trying to take out polling places, voters would step up to the body lying there, spit on it, and move up in the line to vote.

7. Pointed out that we all heard from the media about the 100 Iraqis killed as they were lined up to enlist in the police and security service. What the media didn't point out was that the next day there 300 lined up in the same place.

8. Said bin Laden and Zarqawi made a HUGE mistake when bin laden went public with naming Zarqawi the "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq. Said that what the Iraqis saw and heard was a Saudi telling a Jordanian that his job was to kill Iraqis. HUGE mistake. It was one of the biggest factors in getting Iraqis who were on the "fence" to jump off on the side of the coalition and the new gov't.

9. Said the MSM was making a big, and wrong, deal out of the religious sects. Said Iraqis are incredibly nationalistic. They are Iraqis first and then say they are Muslim but the Shi'a - Sunni thing is just not that big a deal to them.

10. After the election the Mayor of Baghdad told him that the people of the region (Middle East) are joyous and the governments are nervous.

11. Said that he did not lose a single tanker truck carrying oil and gas over the roads of Iraq. Think about that. All the attacks we saw on TV with IEDs hitting trucks but he didn't lose one. Why? Army Aviation. Praised his air units and said they made the decision early on that every convoy would have helicopter air cover. Said aviators in that unit were hitting the 1,000 hour mark (sound familiar?). Said a convoy was supposed to head out but stopped at the gates of a compound on the command of an E6. He asked the SSG what the hold up was. E6 said, "Air , sir." He wondered what was wrong with the air, not realizing what the kid was talking about. Then the AH-64s showed up and the E6 said, "That air sir." And then moved out.

12. Said one of the biggest problems was money and regs. There was a $77 million gap between the supplemental budget and what he needed in cash on the ground to get projects started. Said he spent most of his time trying to get money. Said he didn't do much as a "combat commander" because the war he was fighting was a war at the squad and platoon level. Said that his NCOs were winning the war and it was a sight to behold.

13. Said that of all the money appropriated for Iraq, not a cent was earmarked for agriculture. Said that Iraq could feed itself completely and still have food for export but no one thought about it. Said the Cav started working with Texas A&M on ag projects and had special hybrid seeds sent to them through Jordan. TAM analyzed soil samples and worked out how and what to plant. Said he had an E7 from Belton, TX (just down the road from Ft. Hood) who was almost single-handedly rebuilding the ag industry in the Baghdad area.

14. Said he could hire hundreds of Iraqis daily for $7 to $10 a day to work on sewer, electric, water projects, etc. but that the contracting rules from CONUS applied so he had to have $500,000 insurance policies in place in case the workers got hurt. Not kidding. The CONUS peacetime regs slowed everything down, even if they could eventually get waivers for the regs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Thinning the Ranks

It hasn't gotten much coverage, but some top Islamist terror leaders have been terminated recently.

Last week, Fate caught up to Chechnya's Maskhadov, who was wanted in connection with the Beslan school massacre. (Basayev, the other top leader, is still at large however.)

And now also in the Phillipines, the Abu Sayyef leaders "Kosovo" and "Commander Robot" have received their just rewards.

The ranks keep thinning, inexorably.

Upping the Ante

In response to the Hezbollah-organized counter-demonstrations in Lebanon, the opposition upped the ante and over a million people turned out to protest in the streets of Beirut against Syrian occupation.

And...they love Americans and President Bush's policies!
Unlike the Hezbollah demonstrators with their chants of "Death to America," many in the crowd were friendly to Americans. "Thank's Free World," (sic) said one poster, held high by a woman in a bright red jacket, Rawya Okal, who told me: "We thank Mr. Bush for his position." Overhearing this in the throng, a middle-aged man in a green baseball cap, Louis Nahanna, leaned over to say, "We love the American people" - adding, "Please don't let Bush forget us. Your support is very important."

Asking more people what they thought of Americans turned up the same refrain. From a young driver, Fadi Mrad, came the message: "We want to change. We need freedom. Please don't let Bush forget us."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Queen of War and Violence

The U.S. has given support to diplomatic initiaties from the EU for Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, offering such things as aircraft spare parts and WTO membership.

Word is, we gave this support in exchange for Europe agreeing to send Iran's case to the Security Council for possible sanctions, if they fail to take the carrots.

(It's probably expected the Security Council actions will be insufficient, giving Bush -- ding! ding! ding! -- the greenlight for "unilateral" action, most likely through the proxy of Israel.)

And Iran is reacting probably just as planned: with ridiculous bluster:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Washington is "hallucinating" if it thinks Iran will scrap its nuclear fuel production plans in return for economic incentives, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying Sunday.

Iran dismissed the U.S. offer as insignificant. Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi told IRNA it was "funny and disrespectful."

"The U.S. should apologize to Iran for making this proposal," he said, going on to describe Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a "queen of war and violence."
Hey, that's got a nice ring to it!

Must be referring to this recent photo of the new Dominatrix of State.

I must say that ensemble reminded me of this image of Sat-yr-nin, one of the cooler characters in the comic Excalibur during its heyday under the great Alan Davis.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fix It Already!

It's been 3 1/2 years since the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists, and the bad news is there's no progress being made at rebuilding Ground Zero, two wars later!

The good news, of course, is that at least that means they haven't starting building the ridiculous, shell-of-a-building, Freedom Tower by Libeskind, who seems to have "won" the competition by making directly or indirectly $68,000 in donations to NY's governor Pataki, according to an article at NRO.
That article points out there's a fine alternative plan that appears to have much more public support: rebuilding the Twin Towers bigger, stronger, and better.

The new design already exists, complete with many interesting features, including appropriate memorials. But the Number One reason for using this design is:
1. The WTC site was designed specifically for the Twin Towers.

a. The skin, core, and flooring could be completed within two years, fully, and truly restoring the skyline.

b. The Twin Towers were a national monument, just like the White House, the Capitol, the Statue of Liberty and many other unique places in the United States.

c. In virtually every public opinion poll, either in print or on the Internet, the public has shown support for rebuilding the Twin Towers by a significant majority.
d. Rebuilding the Twin Towers will heal the psychological wounds of many who were touched by the September 11 attacks.
Works for me.

Build it already!

It will essentially be making this statement.