Thursday, May 26, 2005

Away a Few Days

Posting will resume next week as I will be away a few days.

Peruse the links listed at the right, or take a look at Dr. Sanity or The Anchoress for the latest.

Double Standard

As you may have heard by now, fiery Italian authoress Orianna Fallaci has been charged with "defaming Islam" for her books that are based on the content and history of the kkkoran itself.

This is apparently a crime in Italy.
ROME (Reuters) - A judge has ordered best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci to stand trial in her native Italy on charges she defamed Islam in a recent book.

The decision angered Italy's justice minister but delighted Muslim activists, who accused Fallaci of inciting religious hatred in her 2004 work "La Forza della Ragione" (The Force of Reason).

Fallaci lives in New York and has regularly provoked the wrath of Muslims with her outspoken criticism of Islam following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.

In "La Forza della Ragione," Fallaci wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith "sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom."
Grasso's ruling homed in on 18 sentences in the book, saying some of Fallaci's words were "without doubt offensive to Islam and to those who practice that religious faith."
Behold the triumph of dhimmitude! They are self-enforcing Sharia law on themselves for the pleasure of their Islamic Overlords.

The offending 18 sentences are here.

This is true censorship, by a government, using criminal law to enforce! Where are the stupid hollywood liberals who whine and complain about the "chill wind" that has oppressed their free speech somehow (because, well, sometimes people disagree with them now, it seems!); will they defend Fallaci?

At least in this country, people ought to realize there is no right to not be offended.

But much of leftist victim-group identity politics depends on the very notion that taking offense proves a right has been violated.

Get over it.

Well, Orianna fought the Nazis as a partisan in Tusacny as a 14-year old girl; I doubt these pissants will be able to endure her Rage and Pride.

(The Publisher's Weekly review at Amazon is of course decidely dismissive and negative, not wanting to hear the awful truth.)

But how about this for a double standard?

Meanwhile, last week over in London, or is that now Londonistan, hundreds of masked protesters freely violated Britains incitement laws and the police did...nothing:
Muslim protesters today called for the bombing of New York in a demonstration outside the US embassy in London.

There were threats of "another 9/11" from militants angry at reports of the desecration of the Koran by US troops in Iraq.
Hey, I thought it was the Jews, or the Pentagon, that engineered 9/11? They're admitting it now? And that they're in effect defending it as a just action that they might carry out again?
Some among the crowd burned an effigy of Tony Blair on a crucifix and then set fire to a Union flag and a Stars and Stripes.
And we're supposed to worry about offending them by "mishandling" a koran???
Led by a man on a megaphone, they chanted, "USA watch your back, Osama is coming back" and "Kill, kill USA, kill, kill George Bush".

A small detail of police watched as they shouted: "Bomb, bomb New York" and "George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head."

Demonstrators in Grosvenor Square, some with their faces covered with scarves[a violation of the law], waved placards which included the message: "Desecrate today and see another 9/11 tomorrow."
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Martin Mubanga told the crowd he had seen a copy of the Koran "desecrated" during his time at Camp Delta.
This is a reliable witness? When we know their own al-Qaeda manuals instruct them to do exactly this?
He said: "This was one of the methods they used, throwing the Koran, my Koran, on the floor in my cell."
Oh, the horror! The horror!
One of the protesters called for the release of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza. He shouted: "Your so-called democracy will fall under the sword of Allah. The day of judgment is coming."
Of course, these devout people have absolutely NOTHING to do with Islam, or so says Sgt. Schultz.

Here is a charming photo.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Religious Contradiction?

I just noticed a glaring contradiction.

On the one hand, we're told, officially, that the terrorist held at Guantanamo don't represent Islam, which is a "religion of peace." (cough cough)

And yet, these very same inmates, who apparently aren't following "mainstream" Islam (or so we're told), are treated to the most astounding respect for their, uh, conventional Islamic beliefs, being given reverently-handled korans and shown the proper direction in which to pray towards the black stone.

Isn't that a little inconsistent?

Just a tad?

I mean, how can we treat them as devout and pious, and then in the same breath, deny they have anything to do with correct Islamic doctrine?

(cue music from Sesame Street) "One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just isn't the same!"


I'm not a big fan of this kind of pattern-matching numerology (whether in the stock market or in political trends), but these are some interesting observations at Templar Pundit:
2004 was a realigning election. Based on historical patterns, this means that you can expect Republicans to hold the White House for the bulk of the next 36 years. This also means that the Republican and Democrat parties will be defined by their actions now for the next 36 years.

In other words, Democrats have become the reactionary haven of lunatics like Howard Dean and ivory tower liberals like John Kerry. The Republicans will be defined as the "party of ideas" as George W. Bush has called it. These definitions will likely follow the parties around for the next few decades.

The last realigning election was in 1968. Republicans held the White House for 24 of the next 36 years. This election also led to the Democrats becoming the liberal party the Republicans becoming the conservative party as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats were shut out of national politics.

In 1932, FDR was elected and the New Deal became the defining issue for both political parties. The Democrats held the White House for 28 of the next 36 years. In 1896, William McKinley was elected and Republicans mostly controlled the White House for the next 36 years. Republicans were defined as pro-business and the Democrats as populists. In 1860, Abe Lincoln was elected and led to an era of Republican control. In this case the agendas set for the parties is rather obvious. 1824 saw the birth of the Whigs and Democratic Party. This laid the foundation of the two-party system.

If 2004 follows the pattern, the Democrats have little shot of a lasting majority until at least 2040. In the meantime, their post-election reactionary behavior and name-calling will probably become the norm of the party.

The age of labeling the parties "conservative" and "liberal" is gone. Can a party espousing psuedo-Marxist ideologies disproved over 20 years ago be called "liberal"? Can a group of people who disparage free elections in a formerly oppressed nation out of hatred towards the President be called "liberal"? Perhaps it's more accurate to call Republicans "reformist" instead of "conservative" and Democrats "obstructionist" instead of "liberal."
I can agree with those labels however!

Important Military Operation

The recent Marine offensive near the Syrian border got most of the press. Following that, and with lesser coverage (especially of its larger significance), was an Iraqi security-force-led raid in Baghdad that appears to have netted hundreds of insurgents, including important al-Qaeda professionals!

This indicates not only better training on part of the Iraqi security, but also a professionalism and dedication that preserved operational secrecy, as well as a breakthrough in infiltrating the terrorists from within.

Having a friendly Arab intelligence service on our side will give us a huge leap in capabilities.

Winds of Change has details:
According to Al-Iraqia TV, the Wolf brigade's intelligence elements successfully infiltrated the terrorist groups in the Abu Ghraib region and the information gathered this way paved the way for the latest operation which was done in two waves; the 1st raid was accomplished yesterday while the 2nd one started at 5 in the morning today and has just ended as Al-Iraqia reporter at the scene in Abu Ghraib said.

The successful raids which represent the largest operation performed by Iraqi forces so far had resulted in arresting 450 suspected terrorists. The brigade depended mainly on its intelligence personnel who recognized the suspects' faces and pointed them out one by one. The Wolf brigade did almost all the job with the multinational forces providing backup when needed.

Among the detainees was an "Amir" i.e. someone who beheaded at least 10 Iraqis. Also it's believed that the terrorist who lead the latest large attack on the prison in Abu Ghraib was also among those detained.
They also note,
This article in the Telegraph states a "car bomb factory" was discovered; "They found sufficient bombs for 70 cars, a production line if you like," said Mr Jaafari's spokesman, Laith Kubba. "It was either the factory or one of the two factories that has caused the carnage in Baghdad."
Very good news!

Malaise and Punitive Liberalism

When and why did the left go wrong?

And can its former admirable qualites be regained?

There has recently been a confluence of articles discussing this issue.

For example, consider "Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali [who] has long been the object of death threats from Dutch Islamists. Since the murder last November 8 of Theo Van Gogh, she is under 24 hour police protection. Hirsi Ali describes herself as an “apostate” from Islam." According to Transatlantic Intelligencer, which continues,
Hirsi Ali’s break with Islam has been widely publicized. Perhaps less known is her break with the “left”. Originally, a member of the Dutch Labor Party, Hirsi Ali left the latter to join the classical liberal (I think this term will now be understood by Trans-Int regulars. In case of doubt, see discussion here.) VVD. L’Express asked her why. Here is her response:

Because the left is exactly like the Muslims! I wanted to give priority to the defense of immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. They said to me: “No, that’s not a priority! The problem will take care of itself when the immigrants have jobs and are integrated.” It is exactly what the Imams say who demand that we accept oppression and slavery today because tomorrow, in Heaven, God will give us dates and raisins…. I think we need first to defend the individual. The left is afraid of everything. But fear of giving offense leads to injustice and suffering. The sexual revolution, the affirmation of individual rights, improving the living conditions of immigrants – these were once the great causes of the Dutch left. In their eyes, the simple fact of belong to a minority gives one the right to do anything. This multiculturalism is a disaster. All one has to do is scream “discrimination” and all doors are open to you! Scream ‘racism’ and your opponents shut up! But multiculturalism is an inconsistent theory. If one wants to let communities preserve their traditions, what happens when these traditions work to the detriment of women or homosexuals? The logic of multiculturalism amounts to accepting the subordination of women. Nonetheless, the defenders of multiculturalism do not want to admit it.
This over-use of stifling, and incoherent, Politically Correct doctrine, is leading to the collapse of the postmodern left, which apparently arose sometime around 1972, according to this fascinating roundup at Tech Central Station, and is being opposed now by so-called "South Park Conservatives", backed by the blogosphere:
What Is a South Park Conservative?

"In my book", Anderson recently told me, "the term refers to a kind of irreverent post-liberal or anti-liberal attitude or sensibility, one very in tune with popular culture. But it's not a coherent, fully developed political philosophy. You do find this attitude among a lot of younger Americans, as I show in my concluding chapter, which is based on lots of interviews with right-of-center college kids."

Those right-of-center college students, for the most part, aren't Alex P. Keaton-clones, decked out in Ralph Lauren double-breasted navy blue blazers. They're more likely to look like every other college kid: jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts advertising their favorite rock groups. (On the other hand, as Anderson notes in his book, campus South Park conservatives usually smell better than their bathing-optional counterparts on the left). But there's one thing that South Park campus conservatives abhor: "Political correctness drives them nuts", Anderson says. "In interviewing students, for instance, it was clear how much the PC conformities of the campus Left turned them off."

The Media: Leftwing Overreach, Rightwing Pioneering

The "over PC-ing" of the media brings up a key aspect of today's culture wars. "One key reason the Right is, if not winning", Anderson says, "at least no longer losing the culture wars isn't the new media; it's the intellectual exhaustion of the Left, something that has become especially apparent in a post-9/11 era".

Last year, James Pierson of the coined a term called "punitive liberalism" to describe the post-1972 Left's belief that America was always on the wrong side of the key events in history, and therefore deserved to be punished. It was a worldview very different from the older, pro-American FDR/JFK-style of liberalism of the previous generation. It first began to be noticed in shows like M*A*S*H, where Alan Alda's Hawkeye could find little difference between America and the communist North Koreans and Chinese.
More on punitive liberalism is explained here; thank God for Ronald Reagan who delivered us from Carter's manufactured malaise!
Why had Americans become so pessimistic about their country during the 1970s? Why had they been overcome by a sense of "malaise," as Jimmy Carter described it? There was, of course, the long ordeal of Vietnam, followed by Watergate, and then a sluggish economy--reasons enough for Americans to feel some sense of doubt and disappointment. But why was Ronald Reagan able to reverse these doubts when Jimmy Carter could not?

The answer to these questions is that while Americans in general were not down on their country, Jimmy Carter, along with the leaders of the Democratic party and its main constituent groups, certainly was. President Carter could not overcome the "malaise" of the 1970s because he and his fellow Democrats had played a large role in fostering it.

From the time of John Kennedy's assassination in 1963 to Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, the Democratic party was gradually taken over by a bizarre doctrine that might be called Punitive Liberalism. According to this doctrine, America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement. White Americans had enslaved blacks and committed genocide against Native Americans. They had oppressed women and tyrannized minority groups, such as the Japanese who had been interned in camps during World War II. They had been harsh and unfeeling toward the poor. By our greed, we had despoiled the environment and were consuming a disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources. We had coddled dictators abroad and violated human rights out of our irrational fear of communism.

Given this bill of indictment, the Punitive Liberals held that Americans had no right at all to feel pride in their country's history or optimism about its future. Those who expressed such pride were written off as ignorant patriots who could not face up to the sins of the past; and those who looked ahead to a brighter future were dismissed as naive "Pollyannas" who did not understand that the brief American century was now over. The Punitive Liberals felt that the purpose of national policy was to punish the nation for its crimes rather than to build a stronger America and a brighter future for all.
Vice President Mondale, an experienced politician, felt that Jimmy Carter had made a serious mistake in calling the American people to task for their "malaise," since it is counter-productive for an elected politician to attack the voters. The Punitive Liberals thus chose instead to advance their causes in the regulatory bodies and in the federal courts--the latter being the perfect arena for leveling blame and exacting punishment. And they did so with considerable success.

Their success, however, was the undoing of the nation. The Punitive Liberals, because they sought to cultivate guilt in order to leverage policy, proved incapable of adopting practical measures to strengthen the economy or to advance American power in the world. Such goals, in any case, would have been contradictory to their deeper longings, which were to dispel American pride, and to shrink American ambitions at home and abroad. The Cold War, in particular, seemed to them a pointless struggle between two flawed empires, "two scorpions in a bottle." While they did not wish to see the Communists win, neither were they prepared to swallow the triumphalism that would accompany a victory by the West. A strong economy, meanwhile, would disproportionately reward the rich and the self-contented middle classes--the very groups that the Punitive Liberals wished to chastise.

And thus it was perhaps inevitable that the policies of the Punitive Liberals would give us the worst of all worlds--weakness and embarrassment abroad, inflation and unemployment at home, and a public that was beginning to lose hope in its future. By 1980, the nation had seen the results of its experiment with Punitive Liberalism, and was beginning to look for an alternative vision.

Fortunately for all of us, Ronald Reagan stepped into the void and supplied that vision. He understood, more than any other candidate of the time, that the pervasive negativism of the Democratic party was largely responsible for our national difficulties. And thus his pragmatic proposals for tax cuts, deregulation, and defense spending were accompanied with inspiring rhetoric about national pride and a hopeful future.
To this spirit of defeatism, Reagan declared,
"My fellow citizens, I utterly reject that view. The American people, the most generous on earth, who created the highest standard of living, are not going to accept the notion that we can only make a better world for others by moving backwards ourselves."
Truly, a great man and one of the great Presidents of the 20th century.

But who are these "South Park Conservatives"?
South Park Republicans are true Republicans, though they do not look or act like Pat Robertson. They believe in liberty, not conformity. They can enjoy watching The Sopranos even if they are New Jersey Italians. They can appreciate the tight abs of Britney Spears or Brad Pitt without worrying about the nation's decaying moral fiber. They strongly believe in liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. However, they do not live by the edicts of political correctness.
Pat Buchanan pushes a Christian/protectionist [i.e., "paleoconservative"] agenda that has absolutely nothing in common with the Libertarian folks who support free trade and complete separation of church and state [i.e., "South Park Conservatives"].
The media generally misrepresents Republicans as religious rich white males. This is patently false. Half of the voting public is Republican. They watch R rated movies, enjoy a few drinks at happy hour, and even go to the occasional Wrestlemania. Hopefully, the South Park Republicans will shatter the unfair stereotype and set the record straight. As Cartman would say, "That would be pretty sweet."
Kept alive by talk radio through the 80s and 90s, this New Right now has the "long tail" of the blogosphere to bind it together; the possibilities are stunning:
The Blogosphere's version of the long tail is its stream of tens of thousands of little known and under-publicized weblogs. They exist underneath such household names as Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, whose blogs can receive hundreds of thousands of visitors a week, and the lion's share of attention from big media (although Sullivan recently put his blog on hiatus).

And yet, as radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt notes in his new book, Blog, underneath those well-known sites, there are about seven million more weblogs, according to a report done by the Pew Research Center (and also independently by myself, simply by crunching a few numbers). Technorati, the blog-oriented search engine, tracks over five million of them. Surveys show that less than 50,000 of them are updated daily, but as Hewitt observes, that's "the sleeper fact" of these reports. "From the big bang of blogging", Hewitt writes, "50,000 new virtual newspapers had been born."

In comparison, as of 1998, there were 1,489 daily "dead tree" newspapers in the US. Just to get a scope of what 50,000 daily newspapers means in terms of readership, let's look at a hypothetical weblog that's riding near the end of the tail. If it only has 100 readers a day, and there are 50,000 blogs with similar quantities of readership, that makes for a whopping 5,000,000 total readers. Five million readers would make weblogs the second largest newspaper group in the nation, behind Gannett, just ahead of Knight-Ridder and with twice the readership of The New York Times Co.

And it's actually greater than five million, of course, since there are many, many blogs with many more than a hundred readers. And some of the millions of "not updated daily" blogs actually have fairly consistent readership.

The vast majority of those weblogs go unnoticed by big media -- but there's another factor to them that is little understood outside the Blogosphere. They may have fewer readers than the big boys, but often those readers are much more passionate. And while tens of thousands of regularly updated blogs on the outliers of the tail also further fragment pop culture and discourse on news and politics, when groups of blogs with similar points of view unite and focus en masse on a story, they can generate amazing word of mouth. Even a small subset of the tail can be a surprising force.
As a case in point, consider how, by a chain of connections, my re-posting of the (previously) little-noticed speech by Prof. Gaddis from Chapomatic's site eventually led to an instalanche of over 10,000 hits over the weekend, spreading the word to countless other circles of bloggers.

The repercussions of this kind of information transfer can only be guessed at.

But I can't imagine it's good news for backward, repressive societies and regimes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Syria Severs Ties

Probably a bad move, guys:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Syria has severed military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, its ambassador to Washington told The New York Times in an interview published on its Web site on Monday.

The ambassador, Imad Moustapha, told the newspaper in an interview given last Friday at the Syrian Embassy in Washington, that his country had, in the last 10 days, "severed all links" with the U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency because of what he called unjust American allegations.
Would that thoughts become deeds:
Bush administration officials said Syria's stance has prompted intense debate at high levels in the administration about new steps that might be taken against the Syrian government, The Times reported.

The officials said options included possible military, diplomatic or economic action. But senior Pentagon and military officials cautioned Monday that if any military action was ordered, it was likely to be limited, the report said.

"There's a lot of discussion about what to do about Syria and what a problem it is," the administration official, who works for an agency involved in the debate, told The Times.
Sweet dreams, Assad.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Great...Just Great...

I thought the instalanche that moved my daily hit count from about 50 to about 3,000 per day over this Gaddis speech due to a link from atrios was running its course.

Now I see this humble blog has been mentioned in a blurb on webchatter at Slate.


Credit for getting the speech out on the web should go to Chapomatic, where I found it, and to whom I had linked.

Be that as it may, color me amused; this from Slate's "Firestorm":
"Changing the world, one professor at a time," approves libertarian Eric at Classical Values. Others think it's not the transformation of Gaddis, but a new image of the president, that resonates. "Bush apparently got interested in what Gaddis had to say based on his book. Which means yes, Bush actually reads, and he listens to well-reasoned critics. He made his staff read it too," writes "warmongering neo-conservative" The Ten O'Clock Scholar, who also posts a transcript. "And this book was not about the liberal media or how wonderful George Bush's policies are - far from it," notes Avedon, guest-blogging at liberal hangout Atrios. "… I am flabbergasted." At Wampum, progressive EBW flips past the prologue and dissects the substance of the speech.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Another Good Liberal

A very interesting essay in the San Francisco Chronicle, about yet another intellectual leaving the Leftist fold due to an overload of contradictory positions.

And even better, this author maintains that it's possible to remain a true liberal while abandoning the destructive nonsense of the new, postmodern left that's stolen the soul of the Democrat party.

It doesn't mean embracing Jerry Falwell!

It is precisely people like this that I look to as the vanguard of reform of the Democrats, in order to present a reasoned, loyal, and USEFUL opposition to the Republicans, because one-party rule is no nirvana. It is of this that I spoke in the "Grand Strategy" posting, and in others.

There are splits coming in the current political parties. The fault lines on both sides are plain to see. They are more severe in the Democrats right now.

As for the post 9/11 conversions, I've seen many like this of people leaving the left, but hardly any come to mind that went the other way! Kind of tells you something.

Here it is:
Leaving the left
I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity

Nightfall, Jan. 30. Eight-million Iraqi voters have finished risking their lives to endorse freedom and defy fascism. Three things happen in rapid succession. The right cheers. The left demurs. I walk away from a long-term intimate relationship. I'm separating not from a person but a cause: the political philosophy that for more than three decades has shaped my character and consciousness, my sense of self and community, even my sense of cosmos.

I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

Like many others who came of age politically in the 1960s, I became adept at not taking the measure of the left's mounting incoherence. To face it directly posed the danger that I would have to describe it accurately, first to myself and then to others. That could only give aid and comfort to Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and all the other Usual Suspects the left so regularly employs to keep from seeing its own reflection in the mirror.

Now, I find myself in a swirling metamorphosis. Think Kafka, without the bug. Think Kuhnian paradigm shift, without the buzz. Every anomaly that didn't fit my perceptual set is suddenly back, all the more glaring for so long ignored. The insistent inner voice I learned to suppress now has my rapt attention. "Something strange -- something approaching pathological -- something entirely of its own making -- has the left in its grip," the voice whispers. "How did this happen?" The Iraqi election is my tipping point. The time has come to walk in a different direction -- just as I did many years before.
Eventually I joined the staff of U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio. In short, I became a card-carrying liberal, although I never actually got a card. (Bookkeeping has never been the left's strong suit.) All my commitments centered on belief in equal opportunity, due process, respect for the dignity of the individual and solidarity with people in trouble. To my mind, Americans who had joined the resistance to Franco's fascist dystopia captured the progressive spirit at its finest.

A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.

When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.

My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon-like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.

Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.

Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.

All of this came back to me as I watched the left's anemic, smirking response to Iraq's election in January. Didn't many of these same people stand up in the sixties for self-rule for oppressed people and against fascism in any guise? Yes, and to their lasting credit. But many had since made clear that they had also changed their minds about the virtues of King's call for equal of opportunity.

These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.

In the name of "diversity," the University of Arizona has forbidden discrimination based on "individual style." The University of Connecticut has banned "inappropriately directed laughter." Brown University, sensing unacceptable gray areas, warns that harassment "may be intentional or unintentional and still constitute harassment." (Yes, we're talking "subconscious harassment" here. We're watching your thoughts ...).

Wait, it gets better. When actor Bill Cosby called on black parents to explain to their kids why they are not likely to get into medical school speaking English like "Why you ain't" and "Where you is," Jesse Jackson countered that the time was not yet right to "level the playing field." Why not? Because "drunk people can't do that ... illiterate people can't do that."

When self-styled pragmatic feminist Camille Paglia mocked young coeds who believe "I should be able to get drunk at a fraternity party and go upstairs to a guy's room without anything happening," Susan Estrich spoke up for gender- focused feminists who "would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing 'yes' as a sign of true consent is misguided."

I'll admit my politics have shifted in recent years, as have America's political landscape and cultural horizon. Who would have guessed that the U.S. senator with today's best voting record on human rights would be not Ted Kennedy or Barbara Boxer but Kansas Republican Sam Brownback?

He is also by most measures one of the most conservative senators. Brownback speaks openly about how his horror at the genocide in the Sudan is shaped by his Christian faith, as King did when he insisted on justice for "all of God's children."

My larger point is rather simple. Just as a body needs different medicines at different times for different reasons, this also holds for the body politic.

In the sixties, America correctly focused on bringing down walls that prevented equal access and due process. It was time to walk the Founders' talk -- and we did. With barriers to opportunity no longer written into law, today the body politic is crying for different remedies.

America must now focus on creating healthy, self-actualizing individuals committed to taking responsibility for their lives, developing their talents, honing their skills and intellects, fostering emotional and moral intelligence, all in all contributing to the advancement of the human condition.
True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.

Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self-determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.

All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.

Keith Thompson is a Petaluma writer and the author of "Angels and Aliens" and "To Be a Man." His work is at ThompsonAtLarge.
Good stuff. Intellectual honesty is so refreshing...and so rare.

Undue Respect

Where's the ACLU?

Where's the First Amendment, at least under its modern interpretations?

What, separation of church and State, but not of mosque and State?

Why are our soldiers being given detailed (and absurd) instructions on how to reverently handle the koran to comply with the demands of a religion?

To make matters even worse, it is not a general policy, but one that applies to only one particular religion, held above all others.

Held above even the Judeo-Christian religions on which our own culture is based.

Even under its original interpretations, there's a Constitutional problem here.

The Washington Post reports:
More than two years ago, the Pentagon issued detailed rules for handling the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, requiring U.S. personnel to ensure that the holy book is not placed in "offensive areas such as the floor, near the toilet or sink, near the feet, or dirty/wet areas."

The three-page memorandum, dated Jan. 19, 2003, says that only Muslim chaplains and Muslim interpreters can handle the holy book, and only after putting on clean gloves in full view of detainees.

The detailed rules require U.S. Muslim personnel to use both hands when touching the Koran to signal "respect and reverence," and specify that the right hand be the primary one used to manipulate any part of the book "due to cultural associations with the left hand." The Koran should be treated like a "fragile piece of delicate art," it says.
Well guess what, it's not -- it's just a book!
The memo, written a year after the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo from Afghanistan, reflects what U.S. officials said was a specific policy on handling the Koran, one of the most sensitive issues to Muslims. The Pentagon does not have a similar policy regarding any other major religious book and takes "extra precautions" on the Muslim holy book, officials said.
In other words, we bow down to our Overlords. We recognize their intrinsic moral superiority.
"They're not supposed to in any way disrespect or desecrate the Koran, and there are a very specific set of rules the military has on handling the Koran," State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher said yesterday. "We made it clear that our practices and our policies are completely different" from allegations in a Newsweek article that the magazine formally retracted yesterday. The Newsweek report said that U.S. military investigators had confirmed that a U.S. interrogator at Guantanamo had flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet.
Doesn't help you much to grovel though, does it? It just invites you to be kicked more.
The Pentagon memo, among other directives, barred military police from touching the Koran. If a copy of the book was to be moved from a cell, the memo said, it must be placed on a "clean, dry detainee towel" and then wrapped without turning it over at any time. Muslim chaplains must then ensure that it is not placed in any offensive area while transported.
Oh, brilliant. Military Police cannot touch a koran. That means there is known prisoner material that is "off limits", and thus a natural place for them to hide things like notes, shanks, etc. to make trouble.

Belmont Club has this similar perspective: is nearly undeniable that the effect of the media's coverage of American misdeeds has been to make the slightest infraction against enemy combatants ruinously expensive. Not only the treatment of the enemy combatants themselves, but their articles of religious worship have become the subject of such scrutiny that Korans must handled with actual gloves in a ceremonial fashion, a fact that must be triumph for the jihadi cause in and of itself. While nothing is wrong with ensuring the proper treatment of enemy prisoners, the implicit moral superiority that has been accorded America's enemy and his effects recalls Rudyard Kipling's The Grave of the Hundred Dead.
The modern "grave of a hundred dead" isn't a pyramid of skulls over the tomb of British Subaltern: it's an American Secretary of Defense's head on a stake over a photograph of a jihadi wearing a pair of panties as a hat. It is front-page calls for an abject American apology for flushing a Koran down a toilet even if it was never flushed down a toilet at all, except on the pages of Newsweek. It is calls for an admission of guilt if only the mere possibility of guilt existed. And if that were not psychological domination at par with the worst the British Empire could offer in its heyday then nothing is. There are Empires today of a different sort, but they maintain the power by much the same means.

There'll be some who say that toppling Saddam was meant to be an object lesson to the Arab world. If so, it has sent mixed messages because it was never prosecuted with the kind of frightening brutality that some have advocated. The image of the US after OIF is one of a giant afraid to hurt or even give offense to its enemies. Even in the battles of the First and Second Fallujah there were always extraordinary efforts to preserve mosques and similar places, probably to the glee and wonderment of the enemy. If the Kevin Sites incident and the subsequent investigation proved anything it was that the Marines were no Shikaris.
We live in a strange world where the Beslan story vanishes in weeks while Abu Ghraib lives on for years.
At Victor Hanson's Private Papers, Bruce Thornton muses on
...the arrogant intolerance of a religion convinced it has been chosen by God to rule the world, and so is justified in using every means, whether violence or propaganda, to fulfill that divine mandate.
At this point, the typical leftist imagines he's talking about the dreaded Christian Right, a delusion so stunning as to be incomprehensible. But rather,
As the final and complete revelation of the divine, Islam feels no need to respect or tolerate other religions or secular notions like "human rights," for they are all the detritus of infidel history to be swept away in the final triumph of the one true religion.

Hence, while we in the West anxiously monitor our words and deeds for even the slightest offense against Islamic sensibilities, we receive in exchange no such consideration; indeed, our eager protestations of respect merely excite more contempt.
Worse still, a whole revisionist history in which the intolerant, imperialistic conqueror is transformed into the tolerant, peace-loving victim of Western imperialism is propagated by self-loathing Westerners whose bigotry against their own culture confirms the Islamist view that we are indeed Godless heathens and spiritual cripples.

Just look at Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, a truly Orwellian reversal of history in which the fanatical jihadists are depicted as tolerant and civilized, the Christian believers are caricatured as either venal hypocrites or psychopaths, and the only good Europeans are those who have lost their faith. The mentality that would spend over a hundred million dollars on this historical lie is that of a psychological dhimmi, the non-Moslem who concedes Islam's superiority and hence right to rule him. That is, the world-view of those for whom appetite and pleasure are the highest goods, flabby tolerance is the camouflage of moral exhaustion, and respect for the culture of the "other" is merely an expression of disbelief in the value of one's own.

In short, like the hand wringing of the administration over an obvious lie only the irrational and ignorant would believe, this willingness to demonize the culture that created you and to extol as superior the culture that wants to destroy you can only be described as suicidal. Certainly the Islamist sees it that way, which is why he feels confident in predicting the ultimate triumph of his religion: he is willing to die and kill for his beliefs, whereas significant numbers of Westerners don't really believe that there is anything worth dying and killing for.

Increasingly we Westerners resemble the Eloi of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, beautiful, gentle, highly civilized hedonists whose fate is to be devoured raw by the brutal Morlocks. We are the beneficiaries of a culture created by those before us who forged European civilization in the fires of resistance to Islamic jihad: in Spain, in Sicily, in Eastern Europe, in Greece — the plunder, rape, slaughter, massacres, sacks, kidnapping, and enslavement perpetrated by the armies of Allah were for centuries fought by those whose names now most Westerners have forgotten or would be embarrassed to claim as their own. Don John, Charles Martel, Leo the Isaurian, Prince Eugene, Montecuccoli, Andrea Doria, El Cid, Sobieski, Charlemagne, Suvorov, Boucicaut, Hunyadi, Fernando II of Castile, Alfonso I of Aragon, Guiscard, Harold Hardrada-who among us knows anything about the men who fought and killed so that Europe, and Europe's offspring America, today looks like Europe and America instead of looking like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Syria?

Because of the brutal violence of those warriors against jihad, we in the West today enjoy the luxury of cynicism, cheap irony, effete tolerance, and hedonism. We moral dwarves stand on the shoulders of those giants and spit on their heads, thinking our ingratitude is really an intellectual sophistication superior to the primitive superstitions and naïve ideals that have made our lives of freedom and prosperity possible. Meanwhile jihad by other means — demography, immigration, terrorism, the oil weapon — continues apace, at least until the time when a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon falls into the hands of a modern jihadist and we are returned to the sort of slaughter our ancestors suffered for centuries. Maybe then we'll wake up.
Oh, I seriously doubt it. Winston Smith finally loved Big Brother when he pulled the trigger to put him out of his misery. They'll thank our killers for getting rid of evil Western culture, and for thus saving the Earth.

Welcome, Atrios Readers!

Wow, my hit counter has gone through the roof. Seems I've been linked to by Atrios, which is something I would have considered highly unlikely. :-)

But the tangled WWW is a strange thing.

If there were any justice, everyone would be going to Chapomatic's blog to read the Gaddis speech, as that is where I found it. I clearly stated in my post that it came from Chapomatic.

And yet, by one of those little random events that mushroom into larger consequences, it has been to my post that others have been linking to as a "primary source", in ever-widening circles of popularity. Obsidian Wings, Free Republic, Dave Trowbridge, and eventually by the process of "six degrees of separation", it winds up at atrios.

I have a feeling this instalanche will not translate into a significant amount of repeat traffic...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

One Nation Under Therapy

A few days ago on CSPAN I saw two authors (one a psychiatrist) discussing their book, One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture is Eroding Self-Reliance.

I found it very interesting.

The Amazon official reviews state:
From Publishers Weekly
"Cancer patients who talk about their ordeal in therapy groups do not live longer," write Sommers (Who Stole Feminism?) and Satel (P.C., M.D.) in this suck-it-up polemic. For them, the pervasiveness of therapeutic thinking and practice in American life provides not healing catharsis but enervating psychic drag and evasion of responsibility. The authors marshal a litany of studies from a variety of perspectives, aiming to convince readers that taking one's lumps with as much equanimity as possible is far preferable to exploring one's feelings via an "unwholesome therapism"--or, worse, using one's "therapized" feelings as an excuse for bad behavior. Placing themselves in the tradition of Christopher Lasch and Allan Bloom, they begin with "The Myth of the Fragile Child," decrying the creeping prohibitions on dodgeball and tag (seen by some as too aggressive and competitive) on the nation's playgrounds as coddling. The next chapter, "Esteem Thyself," takes direct aim at the ideas of Abraham Maslow and self-actualization advocate Carl Rogers, while the following chapters chronicle the descent from "Sin to Syndrome" and "Pathos to Pathology," and track the enforcement of "Emotional Correctness." While basically a one-note book with little grace in its description of its foes, or in its insistent call for taking responsibility for one's own actions, Sommers and Satel's jeremiad will likely generate debate.

From Booklist
Philosopher-turned-controversialist Sommers and psychiatrist Satel argue as forcibly against contemporary psychotherapeutic notions and nostrums as Sommers did against radical feminism in Who Stole Feminism? (1994) and The War against Boys (2000). The American Enterprise Institute colleagues question five pet doctrines of contemporary therapy by presenting the research evidence for and against them. That is, they review the relevant literature, letting its conclusions speak for themselves; though they are critical of the five shibboleths, they don't have to apply spin to be convincing. Properly conducted research doesn't, they show, back up the fashionable dogmas that (1) children are psychologically fragile and mustn't be stressed, (2) self-esteem is the sine qua non of psychological health, (3) what moralists call sins are expressions of mental illness, (4) the emotional effects of trauma must be acted out, and (5) all war and disaster witnesses suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sure, some kids are hypersensitive, self-esteem isn't unimportant, PTSD is a real condition, and so forth. Folly and worse result, however, when the five dogmas are generalized as they are in current practice, a point Sommers and Satel drive home--anent dogmas 4 and 5, in particular--in the long sixth chapter, "September 11, 2001: The Mental Health Crisis That Wasn't." Well-written, well-informed public affairs argumentation.
Here is a counter-view by a reader, a self-described "Armchair Anarchist Philosopher", who demonstrates exactly what's wrong with this country by this drivel:
School, Self-Esteem and the "Read World", May 7, 2005
Reviewer: Jason Godesky "Armchair Anarchist Philosopher" (Pittsburgh, PA) - See all my reviews

It is instructive to occasionally remind oneself that this "real world" is neither real, nor the world. A few cursory flips through any basic anthropology book is enough to demonstrate that a hyper-competitive society is far from being the only society humans can build - or have built. It's also far from being the most efficient or effective society humans have built. As I said before, bands and tribes have worked perfectly well for millions of years. Civilization, on the other hand, has to grow and grow and grow until eventually there's no more land to farm and no more natives to slaughter and no more natural resources to exploit. Eventually, it must implode - and if the ever-increasing effects of peak oil are any indication, it'll be reaching that point fairly soon. To refer to this disastrous experiment as the "real world" is not only self-absorbed and eurocentric, it's also pretty damn stupid. But even stupider is wanting to prepare one's children for such a dysfunctional society.

After all, I was taught in my fruity-tooty Social Studies class that humans create societies to improve their lives. So what kind of society forces people to abandon their most basic human needs and desires in order to better serve the system? What kind of society requires training young children to forget about their feelings and the feelings of others so they can single-mindedly chase material goods? Who actually benefits from this? Some people get more money, but who gets more happiness? Who actually gets to slow down and be human? If we created society to serve people, how can we excuse the fact that people must now serve society?
Someone with a little more professional knowledge counters:
A book that needs to be seriously looked at, May 9, 2005
Reviewer: Brooklyn reviewer - See all my reviews
I believe that the review by Hara Marano, posted by another reader, misstates much of what the book has to say. Interestingly, the authors are not at all against psychotherapy per se. They are against a culture which medicalizes certain disorders so as to reduce the sense of individual responsibility for the choices that people make. At the same time, they are against a species of one-size-fits-all turnkey psychotherapy promulgated and administered by what I, for many years, have referred to as the "trauma mafia." This term may be unfair as many of these individuals are caring and well-meaning. Sommers and Satel maintain that many of these interventions are unnecessary and sometimes have unintentional negative effects in that they may interfere with help naturally present in community and psyche.

Some reviews have mainted that trauma counselors, whom the authors criticize, no longer use those methods that the authors are critical of. Were this only the case! I would personally advocate a worldwide moratorium on the training of both trauma and grief counselors.

As a psychotherapist, supervisor, and teacher with over thiry years of professional practice, I would say that a good part of my experience and that of my colleagues jibes with much of what the authors have to say. We fortunately did not see what we were told we would see after September 11. Many believe that PTSD is a relatively rare disorder which usually resolves without specific psychological intervention.

Marano states cognitive behavioral therapy has been extensively studied and has been found to be as least as effective as medication for many disorders. But a closer reading of psychotherapy outcome studies leads us to interpret claims of effectiveness with the utmost caution. The same can be said about much drug research. Although the problems with this research are beyond the scope of what I wish to write about here, the literature is there for those who would like to review it.

Any book that makes the leap from patterns of thought (e.g., the human potential movement) to gross issues tearing at the very fabric of society is bound to take some liberties and may not always apply so neatly. However, One Nation Under Therapy in my view is not glib, and is extensively documented. Whether what the authors call "therapism" weakens society is open to debate, but the authors make some important points which should not be ignored.

It's unfortunate that some here have dismissed a thoughtful and coherent thesis on the basis of presumptions about the authors' politics. I think that one can safely let the message speak for itself.
The authors in the CSPAN show maintained a balanced presentation when the floor was opened for questions. For example, someone asked if they thought this was a liberal/conservative issue, and they didn't take the bait.

I don't think it's that clear-cut either. But if I may speculate, I'd suspect that those who desire to be taken care of by a therapeutic nanny-state are the types who naturally are led to support left-wing socialist-types who promise to make everything better if they could only get control of everyone's money and be allowed to dictate the minutiae of everyone's lives -- for the good of the whole.

Rather than being authoritarians themselves, they are instead simply "useful idiots."

Whittle's Sanctuary

Bill Whittle has a long (very long) essay here. Part 2 is here.

The whole thing is worth a read; it sums up so many important points about the current situation that one is almost tempted to believe there's nothing left of importance to blog about.

Almost. :-)

But here are some of the salient excerpts for those lacking time to read the whole thing:
That was the essay I thought I would write. But that’s not the half of it. That’s not even the beginning.

I mean, after all, such things seem transparently obvious to me. I expected no more than the savagery shown by these terrorists, and no less than the professionalism and restraint, not to mention unprecedented military prowess, from our men and women in uniform.

But what has shocked and dismayed me, way beyond the sadness and regret of our losses, has been the willingness, even the eagerness, among many on the left who want nothing more than to see our side lose.

Our soldiers are fighting and dying to install what any sane person can see is a widely-representative democracy, heroically elected at great personal risk. Opposing them are a shadow army of former secret policemen, state torturers, and foreign invaders of every stripe who kill Iraqi policemen, behead innocent Iraqi cabdrivers, and detonate car bombs at the opening of new schools and children’s centers. There may be an explanation for this support I am not seeing. I, for one, can not get past the idea that millions of Western Progressives would rather see a nation re-enslaved, or erupt in civil war, or have twenty thousand of their countrymen come home in boxes than admit that they were wrong.

And they have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to claim the moral high ground?

I am trying my level best to understand how and why someone who professes to be for freedom for artists, homosexuals and women – not to mention unlimited personal expression of every stripe -- can take the side of 8th Century religious fanatics who brag about murdering writers, stoning women, beheading homosexuals and instituting moral policemen at every street corner with unquestioned authority to beat, jail or execute anyone suspected of being insufficiently pious.

I used to wonder why civilizations fell. No longer. I see it now before my eyes, every day. Civilizations do not fall because the Barbarians storm the walls. The forces of civilization are far too powerful, and those of barbarism far too weak, for that to happen.

Civilizations fall because the people inside the Sanctuary throw open the gates.

Look around. Tell me what you see. Look at how the entire idea of civilization is under attack. Abandoning the ideas of civilization and savagery is tantamount to throwing open the gates. Maintaining a civilization takes work – savagery, not so much. If both are equal then what’s the point?

Don’t think there’s any difference? Then here’s a little show-and-tell for you, Scooter:

When Newsweek runs an unsubstantiated rumor about flushing a Quran down the toilet, entire nations erupt into riots that leave many dead and more, likely, to follow. That is savagery.

Trained teams of Islamic murderers hijack four airliners, slit the throats of their crews, immolate their passengers as flying bombs and destroy the heart of a city and worse, and the most powerful people the world has ever known sit patiently trying to identify the perpetrators and then sacrifices its own children to reform a diseased and despotic region with overwhelming restraint and discretion – that is civilization.

Really, all I’m trying to do here is prevent the fall of Civilization. Now far be it from me to be so arrogant as to think I can prevent the fall of Civilization with a single essay! It may take several essays; in fact, if things are worse than I feared it might take an entire book.

Here’s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for “better” becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for “perfect.” More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.

But when things are this good – and relative to human history, life in 21st Century America is far, far better than it has ever been, anywhere or at anytime – then merely being very good is, well, kind of disappointing to some people. There was a time when the voices of dissent came from the poorest and most downtrodden. Not any more. America has gotten so rich and successful that our poor and downtrodden live like kings relative to most of the rest of the world. The standard of living for the poorest American states are de facto better than those in Sweden, to say nothing of Egypt or Somalia or Haiti. No, today the loudest criticisms of the West come not from the bottom, but from the top: millionaire filmmakers and Harvard University professors and columnists who live in luxury skyscrapers. These people have never met real savagery, but they’ve seen it on Hogan’s Heroes! Anyone who can compare the US Marine Corps with the German SS has obviously never had to deal with either. There are millions of photos of people protesting President Bush. There is not a single photo of people in the street protesting Hitler. This tells me something. This should tell the Bush=Hitler crowd something, too. But it doesn’t.

Reality has left their building.

The inability of external reality to become perfect is a profound disappointment for people who live in their own fantasy worlds where everything is perfect. Such people expect the external world, the world beyond the boundaries of our Sanctuary, to behave like a celebrity awards show dinner or a faculty lounge. Of course, only very, very small areas of the world behave like a celebrity award show dinner or a faculty lounge. But when enough people experience nothing else, and when those pampered, bored, hollow and guilty elites control the way information is reported, run the schools and universities in which reality-free theories are taught, and hold the keys to the manufacture of a society’s myths and stories and culture – well, then the disconnect between the Civilization and reality becomes so acute that the wing stalls and what was once a soaring airplane becomes a few tons of metal plummeting earthward.

This awful and necessary war has done a lot more than show us the nature of the barbarism we face when confronting this death cult…and make no mistake, the men we face now in Iraq – not the poor regular army conscripts, but these beheading, civilian-murdering bastards -- are cut from precisely the same cloth as the 9/11 hijackers, and hail from the same places, too. I, for one, would rather face these people in Fallujah and Mosul with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps than deal with them in Times Square and the Rose Bowl with Firemen and Paramedics.

But this war has done much more. It has shown us just how many people here inside the walls of our Sanctuary wish for – work for – its destruction.

And we just simply can’t let that happen.

This is an odd disease: the cure is simple, but the diagnosis is acutely complex and we will have to cover an awful lot of bases to get to the point. The rest of this journey may seem a little chaotic, but there’s a strange attractor underneath. Don’t look for it, for it will reveal itself in due time.

But as we continue this circuitous journey, we might take a moment to observe that those who call themselves “Progressives” have indeed progressed, all right: they have left irony far behind at the gate and are deep into full-blown hi-larity when they claim to be members of “the reality-based community.” These deep-thinking elites, whose political philosophy seems to be limited to what can be fit onto a bumper sticker, telegraphed with giant paper-mache’ puppets or expressed in nude street dancing, are a long, long way from reality. For these highly nuanced deep-thinkers like Ward Churchill and Kos and Howard Dean and all the others, the world is divided into Progressive People Who Naturally Agree With Me on one hand and Jesusland on the other.

Reality has not been kind to far leftists, historically, as we shall soon see. Like many in the deepest, most pleasant and safe confines of our Sanctuary, they have never had a chance to see – or have chosen not to see -- the reality of human nature up close and personal. Reality told them it was just going to the bathroom, when in point of fact Reality left these Leftists alone at the table without paying the check, and it hasn’t returned their phone calls, either.

So they just don’t even bother any more.

I wish these people no personal harm whatsoever. As Americans, they are free to have their own opinions. But I do think their ideology is overdue for a damn good thrashing.
Murder and aggression are indeed a natural, inborn quality that often manifests itself among the young males of social mammals. It lurks there in the R-complex of each of our big brains, just waiting to be cut off in traffic. You could make a case that humans deserve the same break that chimps and dolphins and all the others get: that killing is part of nature, and that underneath all the Old Navy lurks what is essentially an animal – an animal of a species at least one million years old, wearing around it the thinnest veneer of civilization for about one-half of one percent of its existence. I’m not going to make that case at all. THAT is where the road to Nazism lies.

Why have so many people become so ashamed of themselves? Murder and rape are universal in the animal kingdom: only one species tries to prevent such things and punish the perpetrators, and that species is us. We are not the only animals that kill. We are not the only ones that hunt terrified prey, we are not the only ones that murder our own kind (freaking dolphins, people!), and we are certainly not the only ones that destroy ecosystems – far from it.

We are, however, the only ones that try to do something about it. We should be taking the energy we use to beat ourselves up and spend it patting ourselves on the back, for human history is nothing but the upward, halting, tentative progression out of the world of death and misery and into a world of law and decency.

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes wrote of such a natural state in Leviathan:

…No place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

All Hobbes could imagine to remedy such an existence was an absolute monarchy. I believe if he could have read Jefferson and Paine he would have amended his solution.

The world Hobbes describes may still be found in a few places in the world, places like the rain forests of the Amazon and New Guinea. Progressives speak of such places as Nirvana. As Nirvanas go, the rents are very reasonable, and the people who speak of such primitive cultures as such could pocket some serious change should they sell their houses in Connecticut or the Marina District or the Hollywood Hills, and do what any sensible person would do upon discovering Nirvana: move. They certainly have the means to go. And yet they do not. Why? If our society is so poisonous, and their primitive one so authentic, then why do they not go? Could it be that deep down they understand that the only thing truly authentic about hunting dinner and gathering firewood and carrying water and wearing leaves is that such authenticities are an authentic pain in the ass? But if such people are seen wearing cotton, or wishing for indoor plumbing, then somehow their lives are judged to be ruined by these same avatars who would no sooner live like that than do any other species of hard, relentless, grueling work.

We are related to nature – we carry those killer genes, and they have brought us a long way. But we are more than genes. Laws and Justice and Freedom and Sanctuary are inventions like fire and the wheel, and like fire and the wheel we have been improving them steadily with each generation. Science and art and literature – medicine! -- human inventions, unique to us.

Why then, do so many people – most of them on the far left – so fundamentally hate humanity?

I think it must be the constant frictions between what they hope people are and what they really are. The French Revolution produced the New Man, free of religion, and fully decimal. The streets ran red with blood for a decade – then came Napoleon, and then back to the Bourbon kings that they rebelled against in the first place. If I shared that history, I’d be a cynical, defeatist, Frenchman too. The New Soviet man was to be different: communal humanity Mark II with all the latest improvements. 50 million died, shot in the back of the head in basements and forests, or starved in frozen camps and coal mines, followed by collapse, ecological ruin and endless misery. And still these leftists push the same ideas. Poor bastards. No wonder they are so damn cynical and depressed.

Here they sit, surrounded by laws and medicine and art and culture: despising themselves. Remarkable, isn’t it? These people, who pride themselves on nuance, see no difference between a naked human pyramid of ten prisoners lasting two minutes and piles of corpses six million deep. Both shameful, therefore, both equal in their eyes. And we are the ones who only see things in black and white?

I believe that in general, humans are good and kind. But some of us are beyond the laws and civility we have created inside our Sanctuary, hidden from the brutality of nature and lawless men. If there are killers spawned anew each generation among the gentle dolphins, then there are killer humans, too – and this will not change no matter how deeply we may wish it. And that is why I continue to argue for what to so many of us is plain to see: no people are perfect, but some societies behave better than others. It is one thing to kill to oppress people and make them do your bidding, and something else again to kill those oppressors and expand the bubble of safety and security that are so pervasive in the West that many cannot possibly imagine what the natural state of man is like.

I wrote, “can’t imagine,” but can’t remember is much more on target. Our parents knew more about the reality of human nature than people my age: they saw what the Japanese did in Nanking and what the Germans did in Poland. My grandmother grew up in an America without electricity, running water, or an indoor bathroom. Depriving a convicted murderer of these things today would be considered a human rights violation. The whole idea of “Human Rights” is an invention that we basically gentle and kind apes have made to protect us from the horrors and savagery of our ancestors’ existence. Our parent’s grandparents knew death and pain up close and personal; they slaughtered animals with their own hands, lost half or more of their children before they became teenagers, and lived in a very hard world where stealing generally meant that someone would die as a result of what was stolen from them. These people had no problem discerning victim and perpetrator, and determining where the blame and the responsibility lay.

Such a world becomes ever more distant and fantastic. We will have hell to pay if we don’t remember such times, and many that were much worse, as a measure of how far we have come. The hell we will have to pay is that we will have to go back there, as a species – again. And again. And again. Until we remember what we have built for ourselves, and what it has cost, and what it continues to cost us to maintain.

So why -- someone? anyone? – why do otherwise intelligent and educated people so despise and detest American society, which has achieved more in the way of individual rights, science, arts, medicine, diversity, cooperation and prosperity than any other in history? Why would they oppose such a society when it is trying to bring these blessings to people who have spent thirty years cowering in dark places, fearful of letting the slightest word slip, or betraying their entire family with an askew glance or unguarded moment? Why would someone so viciously oppose freeing a People who have lived for a generation in total, abject fear?

It’s because they have never lived it. That is what I mean when I say reality has left their building. How many people would be opposing the war in Iraq if they had to watch, actually witness, three or four hundred thousand people being shot in the head in front of their families? At the rate of one life taken every single second, with one unique and irreplaceable person being extinguished every tick of the 60 Minutes stopwatch, going without sleep or rest, you would be at it for three and a half days. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Every face unique, every one someone’s son or mother or precious grandchild. Bang. Bang. Bang. All night and all day, every second for three and a half days. How long to wipe out your entire family? Four seconds? Eight? Thirteen? We have found that many in Iraq, more will follow, believe me.

How many children – four or five year old boys and girls – do you need to see raped in front of you before you change your mind about Iraq? Fifty? Fifty thousand? Will that make a dent in your stainless steel belief system? How many cries for mercy in the muffled corridors of prison basements? Ten thousand? Ten times ten thousand? They were there. They happened.

They just didn’t happen to you. Not in Berkeley. Not in Manhattan. Not in Santa Monica, or at Columbia University. Not in your Sanctuary. If they did we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we? You’d be dead, and it would be your relatives begging for good and powerful people to come to their rescue to stop this horror.

There’s nothing “progressive” about what these people believe. It is refined selfishness and moral cowardice. I can understand not wanting to go overseas and lose blood and treasure to solve other people’s problems. I can at least understand that. But these “progressives” should be thanking whatever they take to be sacred – which is nothing – and hit their knees in gratitude that better, braver people have built them the kind of Sanctuary where torture and state-sponsored murder are so far from their closed eyes that even the act of imagining such horrors is beyond them.

How far from the reality of human nature do you have to be to see our culture as a curse on the Earth, rather than being the only ones willing to roll up our sleeves, shoot the wolves that are eating our kids, go out into the blizzard to collect some firewood and then paint the goddam house?
We live in an age of miracles, and we just don’t see it. All of the magicians who stand on generations of other magicians – engineers, technicians, architects – go unnamed and unsung, while common actors, tradesmen whose art form has barely advanced since the days of Babylon and Egypt, are deified and rewarded as no living gods in history.

We, in our Sanctuary, who sleep in warm, dry, safe places without a second thought of the men and women who shiver in the cold to keep us free and secure, are getting very far away from the forces that have threatened us for millennia and threaten us still, as potent as the black rage of an incensed mob of religious lunatics killing people in response to some real or imagined slight.

And yet our elites – bored, pampered and without a glimmer of perspective – search the inside of our walls by night, looking for cracks to enlarge.

I can’t pretend to understand this. It is simply beyond my ability to grasp. Nor can I understand why so many rich people who so hate and despise this land do not simply move somewhere else.

Unless, of course, this is a giant game for them: a chess match of rhetoric to gain a little temporary political advantage, and the sullen petulance of someone deciding that if my candidate can’t be the one doing the liberating then entire nations can remain in darkness. This little thing for the price of destruction of all we have worked for. How can such selfishness face itself in the morning?

I don’t know why so many people can miss so many wonders and miracles that are laid right before their eyes. But I do know that their poison has cut deep in to the foundations of a country I love because I owe it my happy and comfortable life and all the opportunities – not guarantees, but opportunities – it has provided me and my family.

So we will fight this amnesia and ingratitude, you and I will, right here on these pages in the days to come. And I will do my best to fight the battle in the one place, the only place it can be won: inside of my own heart.

Recently, I was very frustrated at my job. I felt I was not being treated well. Well, actually, I felt I was being screwed, and hard. I was angry and sullen. I had been wronged, you see? Me! Taken advantage of! By the system!

Among my many complaints, I was upset that I did not receive as much extra pay as I felt I deserved for all the extra work. Life was bad and everything sucked. It just sucked to be me.

And then, on the way to my stunning girlfriend’s apartment to bitch about how unfair life was treating me, I saw a fairly common sight in Los Angeles. I saw a group of young Mexican men gathered on a street corner, waiting for any kind of work.

And there, through some act of grace that occasionally opens my eyes and reveals to me a better person in my reflection, I suddenly realized that these men are waiting – fighting -- to work long, backbreaking hours for next to no pay. They sleep in small, cheap apartments, hot-bunking it, working sometimes two or even three jobs and keeping nothing for themselves. They never eat out, never go to movies, and planning for a future is not an easy thing when every penny you make above what you absolutely need goes back home to Mexico to feed your family.

And I stopped at that light, and looked at these men. And I realized right there that I, this wide-eyed idealist that writes about America, am in point of fact exactly what is wrong with America today.

I make a fortune. I make a fortune doing creative work with gentle and funny and artistic people. On a normal week, I work from ten until six, three or four days a week, and all I do is sit behind a computer in a dark, air conditioned room and make decisions: who says what and who is looking where. And that’s it. For this I get paid in two to three weeks what these men will have to work an entire year of backbreaking, hopeless labor to achieve.

And there I am: bitching and complaining and wondering why things are not better for me. Boo-freaking-hoo.

This is the poison that will eventually kill us all. I should spend an hour a day prostrate and thanking God I was born an American. How many struggle and die for this privilege?

But there is hope for us. We can change. I can change, and I am as stubborn a cuss as they come. And there is hope here, on these pages. Not my pages -- I’m but a speck of flotsam in an electronic ocean. But these pages, these ghostly pages pulled from the ether down highways of colored light. These pages may be able to save us.

Because now, for the first time in human history, a small person can talk to millions. The defeatism and cynicism of our betters is no longer the only voice we hear. Now, for the first time, we common people, we citizens, can speak directly to each other about life within the Sanctuary, and those unseen people, those builders and maintainers of decency and civilization have at their command a tool with which to make their voices heard. We can patrol and repair these crumbling walls from within and man the gates ourselves.

There are millions of us. Millions. And we do not have to go gently into that good night.
Sounds like a plan.

Anti-American Media

Found by way of Bernoulli Effect, the Anchoress is getting angry.

Did you see the tape of the reporters sneeringly badgering the Whitehouse spokesman over the Newsweak koran story? They revealed their arrogance and contempt for America.

We could use more anger over this:
This is staggering disrespect from the press. Disrespect for the White House, its representatives and the military.

The press, finally, has gone too far. They’ve crossed a line and revealed - completely and fully revealed - their utter contempt for the military, and their hatred for the president. My journalist friend calls it simple “arrogance.”

No, it’s not “arrogance.” It is hate. It is juvenile. It is mindless. It is kneejerk and reactionary. It is bitter. It is adolescent. And yes, it is real, live hate.

And it is on display for all the world to see. It can no longer be denied or called something else.

Things cannot continue like this. Things are getting out of hand. If American journalists can not find some semblance of professional comportment within themselves, I fear for our nation. I fear that any hope of understanding or co-operation between the coastal elitists and the rest of the nation will be lost. I fear that relations between the two, already wary and distrustful, are going to spiral downward at an accelerated pace, and that cannot be good for our country.
America is going to have to decide, finally, if this snarling, sneering, deaf, accusative, snotty and ultimately unhinged pack is what they want in their most powerful journalists. And she is going to have to make herself heard about it.

The whole world is watching. The press are challenging the president and the military. Our enemies see this.
When Elisabeth Bumiller, employed by the most powerful newspaper in the world, can stand in the White House, and address a representative of the President in the manner of a sulking teenager, “Are you asking them to write a story about how great the American military is; is that what you’re saying here,” and when another can sneer, “With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweak?” (which in any language translates into: “just who the hell do you think you are?”) then we have a serious problem, a problem so thrilling to our enemies, so clearly NOT in the best interest of the nation, that I would hope that even the most partisan among the left could take off the blinders and say, “wait…there IS a standard that our journalists must be held to, regardless of anything or anyone else!”

Certainly in a time of war, that standard might be understood thusly: Journalists are - at the very least - duty-bound not to present themselves in a manner that can only fill our enemies with glee.

If our friends on the left cannot admit to that, then things are very bad, indeed.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, please. Try to control yourselves. Try to comport yourselves in a manner that suggests maturity, civility, professionalism and even - if you can bear to do it, and yes, it takes some maturity - a modicum of objectivity. For the sake of the nation, please, try. Osama bin Laden said that he felt free to attack the US because she had become a “weak horse.” We cannot afford to be seen as conquerable because we are so divided.

I am sorry to say this, Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, but you are now, officially, with this presser, doing the nation much more harm than good. Many of you have decided you are “Journalists first and Americans second.” Okay. But if you do not believe it is your job to do the nation good, I would hope that you also do not believe it is your job to do the nation ill.
But apparently that's EXACTLY how they see their job.

And for that, they'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes (to borrow a line from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that didn't make it into the movie).

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Hmm. Turns out I've been feeling like Cassandra, because, unfortunately, I will be.

Interesting analysis, once again, at Belmont Club:
Four apparently disconnected events in the past few days have served as the bellweather in the crisis called the Global War on Terror, a name now too narrow to be apt, because it has entailed a confrontation not only between terror and civilization but also Muslims and Christians, Left and Right, Democracy and Facism, the Old World and the New and much else. The four events are the George Galloway testimony before the US Senate; the survival through questionable constitutional tactics of the Liberal Government in Canada; the retraction by Newsweek of its Koran-flushing story and finally, the events in Uzbekistan.

The thread common to Galloway, the manuevers of the Canadian Paul Martin administration and Newsweek article is the extent to which the once-magisterial Left is now resorting to the shrillest and cheapest tactics as defensive maneuvers.
Some comments are very cogent:
People who want George Galloway for President are all the way into Oswald Mosely territory. (The British Nazi leader of WW2) What's not so great is the implied crash that will occur when all the bills come due after this radicalization process is over. The Newsweek incident reminded me, for some strange reason, of the failure of the compromise before the Civil War. It felt like some line had been crossed; an indication that some problems were now beyond retrieval; that some things had to go on to their inevitable and tragic conclusion.

At each critical juncture in the past, people saw the train wreck coming as clear as day. Whether the onset of Atilla, the rise of Napoleon, the Civil War, Hitler, the Cold War. None of them was a surprise. But Cassandras never convince the citifolk in time to prevent the sack. That is the everlasting and sad lesson of history. Every ruin is testimony to it. There's been a valiant effort to manage the wave that is sweeping over the world today; and because of it much will be saved; yet it will not wholly avert tragedy. There are fires out there that have yet to burn themselves out.

Moreover, though--and this gets to another thread running through most of your post--is the sheer inability to form a coherent argument using facts, logic, reason and experience. Those I know on the Left (just as George Galloway did) repeatedly make such fallacies as: appeals to authority, appeals to emotion, tu quoques, ad hominems, non-sequiturs and invalid syllogisms, all the while habitually begging questions and generally not making any sense. I won't even go into the "4th Estate's" total unfamiliarity with any form of statistics, probability or game theory, or lower-order calculus--any one of which could have been used to disprove both the Rather-Guard Story and the Koran-Flushing Story.

Is this stuff actually taught in college these days? I mean, I really want to know. How do you put two and two together and get not four, or even three or five, but...a banana. This is bloody madness! Is there no trace of intelligence left on the Left?


More madness:
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan dismissed on Tuesday as inadequate an apology and retraction by the Newsweek magazine of a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran.
"The apology and retraction are not enough," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.

"They should understand the sentiments of Muslims and think 101 times before publishing news which hurt feelings of Muslims."
Aw, were your poor wittle feewings hurt?

Maybe Muslims should think 1001 times before incinerating and crushing 3,000 people or slicing off the heads of aid workers.

These people burn our flag everyday and they think they have standing to demand our abasement over "desecration" of their koran?

Of course, because they consider us their slaves-to-be.

And we act like we are already!

He referred to a report in the Tuesday edition of the Pakistani daily The News that quoted Hafiz Ehsan Saeed, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, as saying that the Koran was routinely desecrated at the U.S. prison.
We'll believe this terrorist? The al-Qaeda manual instructs them to lie exactly like this, because they know the left-wing media will propagate it far and wide, with glee, instead of showing the traditional self-restraint that died with the wAtergate era.

The sad thing is, the story probably really isn't true.

Which shows how little we understand the situation.

There is an official film clip taken by GIs in occupied Germany at the end of WW2, showing a giant sculpture of a swastika at one of the big Nazi stadiums -- a perfect example of fascist architecture. I forget whether it was in Munich or Berlin. In any event, the film lingers on this symbol, and then suddenly,


It's blown to smithereens by carefully-planted dynamite charges.

It was important, you see, to destroy the symbols of the enemy to make his defeat complete.

Nobody got all twisted up over it either.

Look, there wasn't a single decisive war in history, not one, in which the victor did not dehumanize and humiliate the enemy into completely broken submission.

Symbols are valid targets.

Indeed, they are vital.

And any complaints from the left are just crocodile tears anyway, as in their hearts they don't respect ANY "holy" book, do they?

Worldwide Muslim delusions are even worse than we imagined:
NEW YORK - Anti-American feelings are widespread in the Muslim world and extend to U.S. consumer brands, according to a report released Wednesday. It suggested the U.S. burnish its image with a change in tone and by publicizing aid programs.
The reports findings are no doubt accurate, but their conclusions are ludicrous.

Many young Muslims said they admired Osama bin Laden, while views of President Bush were uniformly negative. All focus group members rejected U.S. views of the war in Iraq, saying the United States invaded on a false premise to further its own regional goals.
Ok, no surprise there, especially with all the priceless propaganda on their behalf churned out by the likes of Michael al-Moore and Newsweak, not to mention the incessant bias of Reuters, AP, AFP, CBS, and so on.

Anti-Semitic stereotypes also were noted. Focus group members saw the United States and Israel as synonymous and estimated the proportion of Jews in the U.S. population at up to 85 percent; it is 2 percent.
Look, that kind of ignorance is TOTALLY UNASSAILABLE!

It's the result of massive, continual brainwashing in the Muslim world, at (our "friends", the Saudis)-funded "schools" and jihad-headquarters (mosques).

The report found negative opinions of the United States are taking a toll on U.S. companies, and that amounts of U.S. aid were massively underestimated; not one person in any focus group knew the U.S. is the world's largest donor by dollar amount.

"Most Egyptians and Indonesians put U.S. support for their countries over 10 years in millions; the correct figures were $7.3 billion and $1 billion, respectively," the authors said.
In other words, they're off by a factor of about 1000 -- 3 orders of magnitude!

Wretched ingrates.

We should cut off our aid to match the level of their perceptions.

What kind of moron thinks we can get them to like us by publicizing our aid more, when the amount is already plain for all to see, yet they refuse to see it?

When asked what they wanted from the United States, focus group members said respect and aid to develop as their countries choose.
Well guess what, leeches, you already get too much aid, and what have you done lately -- or ever -- to earn respect?

Robert Spencer sums it up nicely:
There is a much larger story that is getting hardly any attention at all. The gorilla in the living room that no one wants to notice, is that flushing a Qur’an down the toilet should not be grounds to commit murder.
Neither one says anything whatsoever about a culture that condones — celebrates —wanton murder of innocent people, mayhem, and destruction in response to the alleged and unproven destruction of a book.

The question here is one of proportionate response. If a Qur’an had indeed been flushed, Muslims would have justifiably been offended. They may justifiably have considered the perpetrators boors, or barbarians, or hell-bound unbelievers. They may justifiably have issued denunciations accordingly. But that is all. To kill people thousands of miles away who had nothing to do with the act, and to fulminate with threats and murder against the entire Western world, all because of this alleged act, is not just disproportionate. It is not just excessive. It is mad. And every decent person in the world ought to have the courage to stand up and say that it is mad.
I'm happy to say it.