Sunday, April 22, 2007

Progressive Case For War

The craven and despicable Sen. Harry Reid declares the Iraq war "lost" while our troops are still fighting in the field.

Meanwhile, Dean Esmay cogently outlines the "progressive" case for the Iraq war, which one would have imagined Democrats would have embraced.

Furthermore, the comment section after the essay provides an enlightening Socratic dialogue, as the anti-war lefties trot out all their usual arguments only to have them deftly shot down.

Read it all, but here is the meat of it:
It's very hard for me to look at American Muslims, or Muslims in general, or anyone who considers themselves "liberal" or "progressive" or "humanist," who claim to stand for freedom and human rights and then attack everything America has done and tried to do in Iraq over the last four years.

The fact is that the naysayers claimed we weren't really striving for liberation. We were. They claimed we'd install a new puppet dictator. We did not. They claimed that we wouldn't really try to set up a democracy. We did. They claimed there would be no legitimate elections. The Iraqis had three national elections in a row, all certified as legitimate by international observers, not even counting the local elections that were held before that.
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Furthermore, anyone calling himself a "liberal" or a "humanist"--Muslim or not--is in my view faced with a stark choice:

You either sit around pretending that a vicious, murderous, fascist "insurgency" that routinely cuts people's heads off and shoots children in the face is the "legitimate voice of the Iraqi people," or you recognize that there is in Iraq a government elected by the Iraqi people working under a Constitution written entirely by Iraqis that recognizes human rights better than any in the Arab world.
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If you take the former position you have no business calling yourself a liberal or a progressive or a humanist. If you take the latter position, then maybe you have to swallow the bitter pill that someone named George Bush, whom you don't like and maybe think is incompetent, was the instigator of something that damn well needs to be supported.

But you can't have it both ways.
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The progressive, humanist position is not, and never has been, the "anti-war" position.
And for the comments, in which other readers respond to anti-war arguments (shown in italics):

Martin L. Shoemaker:
As to whether Saddam should have been removed, I am glad he was removed. However, the correct thing would have been to remove him using an international consensus.

In other words, it was better that he not be removed, since international consensus was never going to happen. The French and Germans and Russians were profitting from him being in power. One more time: international consensus was never going to happen, so you would have preferred that the people of Iraq stay slaves.

Oh, and how many countries in international? We went in with the support of 60.

How can anyone talk to Muslim nations about respecting international human rights law when we also violate the international legal regime.

We did not violate anything. We enforced the international legal regime. The UN said "Comply with these 14 resolutions, or there will be consequences." But when push came to shove, there were no consequences forthcoming from the UN because the French and Germans and Russians were profitting from him being in power. So with international law on our side, we enforced the consequences without the help of those who were profitting from him being in power.

How can I say to Iran, don't torture your prisoners when we ourselves torture. Do I say "only torture as little as we do."

Moot point, since we don't torture.

I tend to think that the Iraqi army should be given the best tools it can be given and we should leave. Let's see them take care of their own house. That is autonomy, which is what you claim you want for them.

Sure. Right after we leave Germany, Japan, Korea, and Kosovo. Because Americans can't ever provide security, after all. They're only occupiers.

Dean Esmay:
There wouldn't be an insurgency if there was no occupation.

Without the occupation, there would be blood running in the streets every day, exactly as before. There would be rape rooms and children's prisons and women having their heads cut off and displayed on the front lawns of their families because Saddam wanted it that way.

You're blaming the Americans for what these murderers do, Ali. Exactly like the IRA bastards did in Ireland, blaming the English for whatever evil the IRA worked when it bombed schoolbusses and dragged men out of bed and shot them in front of their wives and children.

As to whether Saddam should have been removed, I am glad he was removed. However, the correct thing would have been to remove him using an international consensus.

So we can only remove tyrants by consensus. Without consensus we may not act to stop genocide. The same international consensus that is even now ignoring what's going on in Darfur.

Who is it that you're wanting to be part of your consensus? The tyrants who rule China and Russia? These are the folks you want to form your "consensus" with?

A majority of the Security Council voted to take out Saddam by force, and dozens of nations joined us in this effort. A few with financial vested interests opposed it, and happened to have a veto in the Security Council. These are the people you stand with?

You call yourself a humanist?

How can anyone talk to Muslim nations about respecting international human rights law when we also violate the international legal regime.

How can you stand up for an international regime that supports dictators and mass murderers in the name of "international law?"

How can I say to Iran, don't torture your prisoners when we ourselves torture. Do I say "only torture as little as we do."

Aha. So if our enemies routinely do things ten, one hundred times as bad as we do, they are excused simply because well, we sometimes also bad things?

What's next? Will you compare Abu Ghraib--in which the American military itself came forward with the story, and prosecuted the guilty parties--with Saddam's rape rooms, plastic shredders, mass gassings, and children's prisons?

Only saints are allowed to criticize, and only saints are allowed to act?

Going to war was a mistake. There would be no insurgency and al-Qaeda would be crushed in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

I doubt it very, very much. But okay, it's an arguable point. It's also irrelevant: the deed is done, and cannot be undone.

You still have absolutely no business calling yourself a progressive or a humanist if you do not do everything you can to support the legitimately elected Iraqi democracy. Which is free and independent and working under a Constitution that they themselves wrote.

If you want to talk about whether we should continue to remain in Iraq until it is safer for Iraqis, I waffle on that question. I tend to think that the Iraqi army should be given the best tools it can be given and we should leave. Let's see them take care of their own house. That is autonomy, which is what you claim you want for them.

I not only want it for them, I already know they have it. Which is why they have a Constitution containing things we don't like, and sometimes do things we don't agree with.

They had no autonomy at all under Saddam. They now have more than any nation in the Arab world.

If you cannot acknowledge this you have no business at all calling yourself a progressive or a humanist.

Martin L. Shoemaker:
I'm sorry to tell you that international consensus is not determined by counting countries. It is determined by proper legal procedures such as an authorization of war by the UN.

No. Sorry. Wrong. When the countries with veto power profit from the slavery and the butchery, then the UN is never going to authorize the war. There were 14 resolutions, consequences promised, a violated inspections regime, and a broken truce. We had all the legal grounds we needed; but folks like you wanted to "just one more" the problem away, while the Iraqi people paid the price.

You are consistent: consistently on the side of the dictator against his victims. You can dress it up in legalisms all you want (all the while ignoring the legalisms of the 14 resolutions, the consequences promised, the violated inspections regime, and the broken truce); but when it came down to it, you would let people be brutalized and killed for the sake of French and German and Russian oil and arms profits.

If the international system is such that Russians and French profit from slavery, then fix the system, do not occupy a nation to make the point that the international system is broken. Forest for trees.

Naive, and also failing to comprehend.

The system cannot be fixed. The people who are the problem have veto power over any fix. You recently made a snide remark about federalism defending Jim Crowe. Well, this is the same, but on a much grander and worse scale. How far would the civil rights movement have gotten if Bull Connor had been President?

And we did not "occupy a nation to make the point that the international system is broken." We enforced international law and liberated people, despite the yelpings of the Bull Connors of the international community.

Yet, interestingly, the moment things went south in Iraq, we were back within the international legal system.

Went south how? Metrics, please, with reference to past campaigns that were successful according to those metrics.

And you want the international system fixed? So do we all. Letting them come in after we did the heavy lifting gives them a chance to redeem themselves from their shame.

We acted like a rogue state. Either own up to it and say we should go all the way, comprehensively and be beyond the UN, or say that we made a mistake in going outside the UN.

Saddam was the rogue with the lynching rope, and the UN was his Bull Connor backing him up. It's not "rogue" to ignore corrupt authority, especially when the law already authorizes you to do what you're doing.

But you would let Saddam have one more chance, and one more chance, and one more chance, as long as France and Germany and Russia were getting rich off the deal.

Owen Strawn:
Ali, it seems to you that every trivial excuse is justification for not doing what needs to be done, but the most compelling reasons are somehow inadequate to justify action.

Treason!

So, not too long ago, I heard initial news reports that a U.S. sailor had been arrested for providing important classified information to terrorists, revealing the formation and time a task force would be transiting narrow straits in the Persian Gulf, and its specific vulnerabilities.

And those vague early reports didn't mention a name, which perhaps uncharitably caused me to wonder to myself, "bet his name turns out to be Abu or Mohammed or something like that."

Or course I felt a twinge of PC-induced guilt for profiling.

Well it turned out his name was even better than I could have imagined:

Abu Hassan Jihaad.

Or in other words, literally, Mr. Holy War.

Later I saw the name written as Hassan Abujihaad. Who knows why. Was the first report wrong, or was this an attempt to hide the obvious fact he's named Mr. Holy War?

I couldn't help but be reminded of the Monty Python skit, in which it turns out that Hitler and other top Nazis have in fact been hiding since the end of the war in a quaint English B&B.

And in spite of their ridiculously poor disguises and heavy German accents and uncontrollable "Mein Fuehrer, I can valk!"-type outbursts, everyone is simply too polite to notice.

The skit was funny because it seemed so silly.

And yet Mr. Holy War is allowed access to vital military information and he transmits it to the Holy Warriors. I'm sure everyone at the Navy was falling all over themselves to be scrupulously fair in not submitting Mr. Holy War to one iota more scrutiny than anyone else, so as not to commit the horrible crime of profiling.

To be suspicious of the "other" is wrong, you see; we must only be suspicous of ourselves who are the truly guilty parties because of our tainted ancestral pasts.

Even when the other is in fact the other, and (surprise, surprise!) turns out to be aiding the other. Daniel Pipes summarizes in more Pentagon jihadis (yes, there are several of them):
a convert to Islam and a former communications specialist for the U.S. Navy, he [Hassan Abujihaad] stands accused of sending e-mail messages to a pro-Taliban Internet site run by Babar Ahmad while serving on the guided-missile destroyer Benfold in the Middle East during 2000-01. As the Los Angeles Times delicately puts it, "Federal agents are trying to determine how Ahmad ended up in possession of detailed and highly classified information about the San Diego-based aircraft carrier battle group that the Benfold was part of, including its classified travel plans and its vulnerability to attack." (Aug. 14, 2004)

Mar. 7, 2007 update: Abujihaad was arrested today in Phoenix on charges of spying and providing material support to terrorists. Specifically, he stands accused of providing classified information (about the movement of a U.S. Navy battle group as it traveled from the United States to the Persian Gulf) to Azzam Publications in London as part of a conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens. If convicted of both charges, Abujihaad faces up to 25 years in prison.
That we should have been more suspicious of Mr. Holy War (or is it Mr. Inner Struggle?) is even clearer when one realizes he was not born with such an unfortunate name, but took it of his own free will when converting to islam and dropping his original name of Paul R. Hall.

I mean, would Eisenhower let someone who changed his name from John Smith to oh, I don't know, Heil Hitler Blitzkrieg be allowed to wander around his headquarters?

Pipes asks,
I cannot help wondering why it took nearly three years for this charge to turn into an arrest.
Maybe the authorities were hoping it just would go away because it was just too shameful to admit they were living a Monty Python skit.

Oh, speaking of spies, remember nice ol' Saddam Hussein? The harmless benevolent leader? He had spies in deep cover in this country, who murdered US citizens critical of his regime. Two of the were just arrested in Detroit:

Mich. men spied on behalf of former Iraqi government

DETROIT (AP) - Two Michigan men are accused of spying for Saddam Hussein's former regime and sharing information with the executed Iraqi dictator's intelligence service, according to federal authorities.

The charges against Najib Shemami, 58, of Sterling Heights and Ghazi Al-Awadi, 78, of Dearborn, are based on Iraqi intelligence documents captured by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2003 and authenticated by former members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, authorities said.

A federal grand jury indictment accuses Shemami of four espionage-related charges for activity between March 2002 and early 2003, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit and the FBI.

A criminal complaint filed against Al-Awadi says he told the Iraqi Intelligence Service in 1997 that he killed his son-in-law because the man belonged to an anti-Saddam political party.

Both men were arrested Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Scheer freed both men on $10,000 bonds following brief appearances in U.S. District Court in Detroit. He ordered both men to surrender their passports.
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Both men are U.S. citizens. Shemami is married, has nine children and has lived in the United States for about 40 years, Mateo told the Free Press. Al-Awadi, who has seven children, has been in the United States since 1974, court records said.

In 1996, Al-Awadi was paroled from the Michigan Department of Corrections after serving six years of a five- to 15-year sentence for manslaughter in the stabbing of his son-in-law, Emad Muttar, in Dearborn.
They don't call it Dearbornistan for nothing.

Seems like low bail for being enemy agents, doesn't it?

Then of course there are the islamists in our Universities. Too many cases to mention! Here is an interesting recent one, a typical case really, with twists and turns investigated at Rants and Other Refinements, who tracked down the evidence:
This is Julio César Pino. He is on the Ohio State payroll as a professor of Latin American History at Kent State.
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Wow, sounds like a pretty bright guy. The Ohio taxpayers have a seriously talented man teaching their students. That’s true, if you consider a pro-jihad muslim openly indoctrinating in our State-funded classrooms. He’s pretty difficult to get hold of since he only has office hours two days per week, taking the lead from Congressional democrats I imagine. So, when he’s busy not coming in to the office, he’s writing this little vile piece of filth online: Global War.

Yes, this is a pro-jihad site that openly professes support for the Taliban and Osama bin-Laden. When I say “openly”, I mean it in the strictest of contexts. From his site:

“We are a jihadist news service, and provide battle dispatches, training manuals, and jihad videos to our brothers worldwide.”
Though denying he runs the pro-jihad website in question, it appears he has indeed written articles for it and/or is associated with it in some way.

Rather deeply in fact. Kent State won't touch the issue, and Pino whines about his free speech rights:
The blog includes a head shot of Ahmed al-Haznawi, one of the hijackers of United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

On Thursday, Pino declined to comment when asked about a photo on the speech section of the Web site that shows him addressing a crowd of students in Kent State’s Risman Plaza. The site also includes a letter that Pino wrote under his name last year to the student-run newspaper the Daily Kent Stater. The same letter on the jihadist Web site is attributed to “Lover of Angels” but does not mention Kent State or Pino.

“You attack, and continue to attack, us everywhere,” reads the letter on the Web site and in the student newspaper. “The ill done to the Muslim nations must be requited. The Muslim child does not cry alone; the Muslim woman does not cry alone; and the Muslim man is already at your gates.”

The Web site attributes three other postings on its speech page to the unidentified Lover of Angels, one of which reads, “Bush, why don’t you tell your people that your soldiers are committing suicide, taking drugs and hallucination pills to make them sleep? By God, your dreams will be defeated by our blood and by our bodies.”

Pino declined to comment when asked if he was Lover of Angels.
Treason!

Off to Gitmo in chains, all of you!

USS New York

Traditionally, State names have been reserved for battleships.

With battleships no longer in the fleet as airpower and missile technology has advanced, the new capital ships named after states are the submarines.

There has recently been an exception made, however, for the USS New York, a new troop ship under construction that is designed to transport a fully-armed combat battalion of 700 Marines into a landing area by launching helicopters, fast hovercraft, or armored landing craft:
Shortly after 11 September 2001, Governor of New York George E. Pataki wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Gordon England requesting that the Navy bestow the name USS New York on a surface warship involved in the War on Terror in honor of September 11's victims. In his letter, the Governor said he understood state names are currently reserved for submarines, but asked for special consideration so the name could be given to a surface ship. The request was approved 28 August 2002.

Oddly enough, a previous holder of the name, [the battleship] USS New York (BB-34), had its keel laid on September 11th, 1911, exactly 90 years to the day before the WTC was attacked.

Twenty-four tons of the steel used in its construction came from the rubble of the World Trade Center, with seven tons melted down and cast to form the ship's "stem bar" — part of the ship's bow.[1] The construction workers reportedly treated it with "reverence usually accorded to religious relics," touching it as they walked by.[2]

On 9 September 2004, the Secretary of the Navy announced that two of her sister ships will be named Arlington and Somerset, also to commemorate the attacks [relating to the Pentagon and Flight 93].
The USS New York's motto: Never Forget.

Axis of Good?

Old Europe may be in decline, but we as a continental power can look to the Pacific as a new 21st-century focus.

The Emerging Axis Of Good

Alliances: The sun may be setting on the British empire, but at least one part of it is still showing some spunk. Japan, meanwhile, is shaking off its pacifist past to become the Gibraltar of the Far East. We are not alone.

The departure of Tony Blair and Britain's resolve is regrettable. And the wimpy reaction of Britain to Iran's seizure of 15 Royal Navy seamen won't make anyone forget Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar anytime soon. But Australia and its prime minister, John Howard, have made it clear they aren't going anywhere.

In an interview on the fourth anniversary of the liberation of Iraq from the murderous and genocidal regime of Saddam Hussein, Howard said a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq, as the Pelosi/Murtha/Reid Democrats want, would be "disastrous."
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Howard rejects Democrat arguments that we should abandon Iraq and focus on Afghanistan. "Why," he argues, "is it OK for Iraq to become a safe haven for global terror, but not Afghanistan? Why is building Afghanistan's security capability more compelling than building Iraq's? And why is a massive setback to American global leadership fine in one place but not in another?"
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Australian troops have served valiantly in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Howard has no sympathy for our Democratic presidential candidates who would cut and run.

Howard reacted to the candidacy of freshman Illinois Sen. Barack Obama by saying, "If I were running al-Qaida in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats.
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In March, Howard was in Tokyo to sign a security pact with Japan, the first such treaty Japan has signed with a country other than the U.S. "The purpose of this is to express a common desire of Japan and Australia to work ever closer together to contribute to security in the region," Howard said after meeting with Japan's Defense Minister, Fumio Kyuma.

On April 13, the Japanese government took a major step toward revising its pacifist constitution, winning parliamentary endorsement of procedures for a national referendum necessary to make changes to its postwar charter.
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With 240,000 troops under arms and a budget of $50 billion, Japan's military already outranks Britain's in terms of money and manpower. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, Japan could produce a nuclear arsenal in just 183 days.
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Abe has said that if "there is no other option to prevent" a North Korean attack, a preemptive strike by Japan on Pyongyang's missile sites would be "within the constitutional right of self-defense" enshrined in Article 9.

But Abe knows that even a creative interpretation of Article 9 has its limits. He wants to amend it, if not repeal it, so Japan can have a real military with real responsibilities and real capabilities.
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The transformation of Japan from Asia's Switzerland to Asia's Britain — a strategic partner with teeth — is under way. The Aussies, the Yanks and the Samurai: quite a team for freedom.

Pennsylvania Taliban

As Jake Blues would say, I hate Pennsylvania Taliban.

Johnstown Muslim Leader: Hirsi Ali Must Die

A community debate over religious freedom surfaced in Western Pennsylvania last week when Dutch feminist author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee who has lived under the threat of death for denouncing her Muslim upbringing, made an appearance at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Islamic leaders tried to block the lecture, which was sponsored through an endowment from the Frank J. and Sylvia T. Pasquerilla Lecture Series. They argued that Hirsi Ali's attacks against the Muslim faith in her book, "Infidel," and movie, "Submission," are "poisonous and unjustified" and create dissension in their community.
In other words, the old "nice campus you got here, wouldn't want anything to happen to it" shakedown routine. So they admit muslims are a danger to Ms. Hirsi Ali?

Well, they failed to block it. However, here is a shocking comment from a "mainstream" islamic leader in Johnstown, Pennsylvania:
Imam Fouad ElBayly, president of the Johnstown Islamic Center, was among those who objected to Hirsi Ali's appearance.

"She has been identified as one who has defamed the faith. If you come into the faith, you must abide by the laws, and when you decide to defame it deliberately, the sentence is death," said ElBayly, who came to the U.S. from Egypt in 1976.

Hirsi Ali, an atheist, has been critical of many Muslim beliefs, particularly on subjects of sexual morality, the treatment of women and female genital mutilation.
Where are the feminists?

The Imam helpfully adds,
"If it is found that a person is mentally unstable, or a child or disabled, there should be no punishment," he said. "It's a very merciful religion if you try to understand it."
Off to Gitmo in chains with you!

Speaking of mercy and islam, here's an interesting tidbit, that drives home how allah hates you, infidel:
The liberal Arabic-language website Aafaq reports that a Muslim student set off a debate when she sent an email to the mailing list of a Muslim students' association (rabitat al-tullab al-muslimin) at Virginia Tech asking the students to pray that Allah have mercy on those killed and wounded in the shooting attack at the university.

According to Aafaq, the dean of student affairs at American International University, Abu Hamza Hijji, responded, writing that Allah the Most Merciful forbids praying for mercy for the non-Muslim dead, or even for the non-Muslim living, and that it is only permitted to pray that they be rightly guided. He added that what happened was a sad occurrence, but that does not give Muslims the right to transgress the laws of Allah the Most Merciful.
As the infidel dead can no longer be guided to islam, they are not to be prayed for:
Hijji wrote that the students should ask Allah to save Chris' teacher (i.e. the German teacher) from death and turn his heart to the truth. But he said at the same time that the Prophet did not pray for forgiveness for the non-Muslims, and in particular did not ask Allah to have mercy on them, even those whom the Prophet had wanted to be guided when they were alive. Once they died, the Prophet was not permitted to ask for mercy for them. Hijji added that the Prophet behaved this way on Allah's instructions.

Hijji wrote that the relative importance of brotherhood in humanity or religion needs to be evaluated according to Allah's laws, and not according to human reason.
Jesus loves.

allah hates.

They are really different entities.

Facilitating Delusion

In the Monty Python movie Life of Brian, one of the revolutionaries keeps insisting that their manifesto of demands include a reference to his right to have babies, even though he lacks a womb. The humor derived from the apparent absurdity of such a demand, using what the Python players though to be ridiculous hyperbole to mock the unrealistic demands revolutionary movements tend to make.

Now however life is imitating art, and somehow it isn't very funny.

Transgender student runs for prom king
FRESNO, Calif. - When school officials announce the name of the Fresno High School prom king on Saturday, Cinthia Covarrubias will be wearing a tuxedo just like the six boys vying for the honor. Administrators agreed to reverse a district protocol this week that limited males to compete for the title after Covarrubias was nominated by her classmates.
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Gay youth advocates called it a landmark victory for campus gender expression and said they believe it's the first time in the U.S. that an openly transgender student has run for prom royalty.
Now, I know what you're thinking, why not be open-minded and make allowances for the inevitable cases of hormonal imbalances and/or genetic gender ambiguity?

Well, sure.

But that's not what's happening in this case!
She has no current plans, however, to permanently alter her gender through hormones or surgery.
So what we have here, is really just a butch lesbian who likes to dress like a man!

It's patently absurd, because she is, in fact, not a boy, but a girl. The word "transgender" isn't being used in a specific medical sense, but in a broad one of purely personal whim. Yet, society should change all rules and standards to revolve around her "identity."

The article describes the definition for "transgender" as
an umbrella term that covers all people whose outward appearance and internal identity don't match their gender at birth.
It's not like she's being kicked out of the prom for dressing as a man and taking "a close female friend" as her date.

No, she wants to run as prom king with the boys, instead of as prom queen.
"I'm happy I actually made a difference about changing the law and the policy so you can run for your choice," Covarrubias said.
It would be nice if everything else in the world were just solipsistic props and playthings to be used to satisfy our every infantile urge and whim, but it isn't.

There's an actual, real boy who perhaps had his place taken as a nominee. One student opined, supportively, that
"We live in a generation now where dudes are chicks and chicks are dudes."
Yes, we do, and it's not right.

This is pure madness. The school and the State are facilitating an abnormal delusion, among our youth, and it has to stop.
[T]he district's lawyers had recommended adding Covarrubias' name to the ballot to comply with a 2000 state law protecting students' ability to express their gender identity on campus.
But the law sure felt good to pass, I'm sure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spirit of '44


Random mass shootings are rare events, thankfully, but every single one of them makes the world news for days.

And stories like this one get buried in a fleeting appearance under "Oddly Enough":

Armed Miss America 1944 stops intruder
WAYNESBURG, Ky. - Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder. Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

"I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it," she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."

Ramey then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.

"They've been stealing from me for years. Those good-for-nothing slobs," she said.

Curtis Parrish of Ohio was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said.
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After winning the pageant with her singing, dancing and comedic talents, Ramey sold war bonds and her picture was adorned on a B-17 that made missions over Germany in World War II, according to the Miss America Web site.
How's an 82-year-old woman with a walker supposed to run away or defend herself from even an unarmed man, if he chose to attack her? If not for having a gun?



I often hear it derisively said that "guns are only for killing people" -- ok, but sometimes killing people, or threatening to do so, is necessary.

That may be unpleasant, but it's a fact.

Adorned a B-17 bomber with her picture!



Can you imagine celebrities of today lending their images in support of the war effort?

No, Harry Reid has declared the war is lost, and cannot be won militarily.

Lucky he wasn't in charge of D-Day, isn't it? Otherwise the Third Reich might still be with us today.

You know how they always say fighting back just makes more terrorists?

Why didn't killing Germans just keep making infinitely more Nazis?

Maybe because after killing 7.5 million of them, they were defeated and had to give up?

And maybe the Japanese empire also saw the wisdom of unconditional surrender after 2.5 million of them plus the prospect of losing a city every couple days?

And somehow we didn't "lose our soul" and "become just like them", did we? Or would an Axis victory really be indistinguishable from how things turned out?

But somehow islamists are different?

How many muslims have died in the war so far? 20,000? 50,000? And most of those are muslim-on-muslim! The most ridiculous inflated left-wing "estimate" is what, 600,000?

Guess what, 600,000 casualties was barely enough to knock France out of WW2.

Wake me when the enemy dead gets into the millions.

For all the moaning about this "war", clearly the war option hasn't even really been given a chance yet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quick Thinking

Virginia Tech senior Zach Petkewicz said he was terrified at first but that he "realized you have got to do something."
BLACKSBURG, Virginia (CNN) -- Monday's toll inside Virginia Tech's Norris Hall might have included 11 more students had it not been for a long, rectangular table and a quick-thinking senior who used it to deflect the rampage of his fellow classmate.
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"[Students who looked into the hallway] immediately slammed the door shut, told us [what was happening outside], everybody kind of went into a frenzy, a panic. I hid behind the podium and then just kind of looked up at the door. Like, there's nothing stopping this guy from just coming in. And so I said, 'We need to barricade this door.' "

Petkewicz described his state of mind unabashedly: "I was completely scared out of my mind originally, just went into a cowering position, and then just realized you have got to do something."

Petkewicz and two other students shoved a table against the door and held it there as gunshots continued to ring out from the hallway outside the classroom.

"He came to our door, tried the handle and couldn't get in because we were pushing up against it -- and tried to force his way in and got the door to open up about 6 inches -- and then we just lunged at it and closed it back up and that's when he backed up and shot twice into the middle of the door, thinking we were up against it trying to get him out."

But Petkewicz said that instead he and the other students had placed themselves in front of the cinder-block walls, where they listened to what was going on out of sight a few inches away.
Easy to say, hard to do: taking action in spite of fear, and in a chaotic situation. What leadership and true heroism!

Why They Hate Us

And I don't mean the islamists, but the whole world...and especially the Europeans.

And no, it's not George Bush.

I recall when in grad school in the early 1990s -- this being after the Cold War, when Clinton was President -- and a Portugese fellow student in the physics department whom I knew well, announced very matter-of-factly that it was clear there would never be peace in the world unless all the other countries got together to "smash the States."

Because we were the source of all evil.

Obviously!

They only liked us for a few moments after 9/11 because we seemed to have been brought low, battered and humiliated. It was condescension and schadenfreude, not true solidarity.

The BBC examines Anti-Americanism. And this Englishman author blames...the French!
The US is perceived by many as an international bully, a modern day imperial power. At this critical moment in history, Washington correspondent Justin Webb challenges that idea.

He argues anti-Americanism is often a cover for hatreds with little justification in fact. His three part series takes him to Cairo, Caracas and Washington but it begins where anti-Americanism began - in Paris.

...
Anti-Americanism was born in France. And here's a fascinating fact: it was born well before the United States existed. It was not caused by Coca-Cola, or McDonald's, or Hollywood or George W Bush.

The prevailing view among French academics throughout the 18th Century was that the New World was ghastly. It stank, it was too humid for life to prosper. And, as one European biologist put it: "Everything found there is degenerate or monstrous."

In their heart of hearts, many French people still believe that to be true.

A French intellectual once compared the United States with Belgium. Wounding. But you see what he meant: the French capital has a grandeur about it that demands attention on the world stage. Belgium does not, nor does most of America.

Washington is grand but Washington was designed by a Frenchman and his vision didn't fit the rest of the nation. America is ordinary. Go on say it out loud on the streets of Paris: "America is ordinary". It celebrates the pursuit of small-scale happiness - in families and communities - and that is what the anti-Americans can't stand.
Their left-wing hates us because we are not ruled by an intellectual elite; their right-wing (not a good analog to the "American" political right) hates us because we are not ruled by an elite based on heredity and breeding.
In May 1944 (just weeks before American GIs landed on the beaches of Normandy), Hubert Beuve-Mery, the founder of Le Monde newspaper - certainly no mouthpiece of the right - wrote this: "The Americans represent a real danger for France, different from the one posed by Germany or the one with which the Russians may - in time - threaten us. The Americans may have preserved a cult of Liberty but they do not feel the need to liberate themselves from the servitude which their capitalism has created."

It is time that we understood that this attitude, this contempt for what democracy can do, is at the heart of at least some of the anti-Americanism we see in the world today.
The stunning success of a mongrel nation of fat Americans with no sense of culture can therefore only be attributed to unfairness and evildoing, and surely not to its own merits. Hating America is thus the only obvious moral choice for the Euro-elite.

World Reaction: Condemn America

The world reacts to the Virginia Tech massacre:
LONDON - The deadly university rampage in Virginia that killed 33 people sent shock waves around the world Tuesday with newspapers and talk shows delving into the American psyche and raising questions about lax gun controls in the United States.

Most expressed shock at the shooting but few said they were surprised — criticizing the availability of guns in the U.S., lax gun controls and the number of Americans who cling to the constitutional right that allows them to bear arms.
Imagine that, clinging to a constitutional right!
British Home Office Minister, Tony McNulty, earned a masters degree in political science at Virginia Tech in 1982.

"I think if this does prompt a serious and reflective debate on gun issues and gun law in the states then some good may come from this woeful tragedy," McNulty said.
A hundred times more people were murdered on 9/11, and nobody called for banning airplanes, even though nobody needs to fly: just take a boat or a train. Why did nobody call for a serious debate on jetset culture?

Maybe because McNulty can't imagine living without flying?
The shooting drew intense coverage by media in China, in part because the school has a relatively large Chinese student body and because U.S. reports said the gunman may have been Chinese or Asian.

Private citizens are forbidden from owning guns in China.

"Why are there were so many shooting incidents in American schools and universities?" said a comment posted on the popular Internet portal Sohu.com. "People should think why an American-educated student would take revenge against America?"
Hmm, maybe it has something to do with a culture that teaches its students to hate their civilization for all the terrible wrongs it supposedly did in the past?
Yuan Peng, an American studies expert, was quoted by state-run China Daily as saying the shooting illustrated America's problems with gun control and a lack of security at American universities.
Oh, that's rich!

Two words: Tianenmen Square.
Chinese expatriates who left the country after the killings said that the total number of deaths ended up being in the thousands. This was a combination of the hundreds killed on the spot and the "miniature" purge that followed.
I'll pass on that kind of Chinese security, thank you very much!

Comparisons of homicide rates between the US and other countries invariably follow, with the generally higher violence in the USA attributed -- without proof -- to the higher level of gun ownership, without considering the culturally high levels of violence lead to higher gun ownership rather than the other way around!

Because those other countries are generally highly homogeneous in terms of ethnic makeup. And the United States is rather unique in its blending of different nationalities and races. Indeed, much of the violence stems from the consequences of slavery, rather than gun ownership rates; a truly astonishing and tragic fact (from the US Department of Justice) is that though only about 10% of the population, nearly half of all murders are committed by African-Americans, generally against each other.

Let that sink in.

The African-American murder rate isn't 20% higher, or 50% higher, or double that of the general population, but instead nearly ten times higher!

(Happily, at least it's dropped to "only" about seven times higher in recent years from a peak of 10x in the mid-90s.)

If guns alone caused crime, why wouldn't the murder rate be more evenly distributed among ethnic groups? They don't own guns at ten times the rate of everyone else! Instead, it clearly is shaped by socio-economic factors peculiar to America's history.

For a huge nation of mongrels, we're doing quite well.

It is more instructive to compare trends within America itself, rather than to make spurious cross-cultural comparisons.

Some tidbits follow.

Guns reduce crime:
There are approximately two million defensive gun uses (DGU's) per year by law abiding citizens. That was one of the findings in a national survey conducted by Gary Kleck, a Florida State University criminologist in 1993. Prior to Dr. Kleck's survey, thirteen other surveys indicated a range of between 800,000 to 2.5 million DGU's annually.
That's one every 13 seconds.

Who is Gary Kleck?
Gary Kleck is a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University (see curriculum vita and this overview)...The author is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, Independent Action, Democrats 2000, and Common Cause, among other politically liberal organizations. He is a lifelong registered Democrat, as well as a contributor to liberal Democratic candidates. He is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of, or contributor to, the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc. nor any other advocacy organization, nor has he received funding for research from any such organization.
Not convinced? Peruse the annals of The Armed Citizen, detailing successful DGUs you never hear about.

Still don't like guns? And don't want other people to have them? Then why not put a big sign in your front yard boldly declaring, This is a gun-free home! Of course only a fool would do that, but banning guns effectively puts that sign up for everyone, doesn't it?

This comprehensive, well-documented article covers all the statistics in the debate; here is a tiny snippet:
But there is no simple statistical correlation between gun ownership and homicide or other violent crimes. In the first 30 years of this century, U.S. per capita handgun ownership remained stable, but the homicide rate rose tenfold.[2] Subsequently, between 1937 and 1963, handgun ownership rose by 250 percent, but the homicide rate fell by 35.7 percent.[3]
...
(As noted above, most defensive uses simply involving brandishing the gun.) The number of self-defense uses is at least equal to, and probably more than, the number of times handguns are used in a crime.[167]
...
Since handguns have replaced long guns as a home defense weapon over the last 50 years, the firearm accident fatality rate has declined.[171] The overwhelming majority of accidental gun deaths are from long guns.[172]
The "A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a loved one than
a criminal" statistic soundbite is a deliberately-created myth, not supported by the actual primary study.

Here is another take on the same data, all meticulously documented: gun ownership is at an all-time high, and crime is at a 22-year low.
The number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high.
...
The number of gun owners is also at an all-time high.
...
Violent crime has declined while many "gun control" laws have been eliminated or made less restrictive. Many states have eliminated prohibitory or restrictive carry laws, in favor of Right-to-Carry laws.
...
The FBI reports that the nation`s total violent crime rate declined every year between 1991 2004. In 2004, the violent crime rate fell to a 30-year low, lower than any time since 1974.
More guns in the US do not equate to more crime.

US Department of Justice statistics:

Firearm-related crime has plummeted since 1993

The firearm victimization rate has dropped by 67% over last ten years

Gun homicides generally declined since 1974

Homicide trends by weapon type.

Note the large decline from handguns starting in early 1990s, when more states began allowing concealed carry permits in response to the handgun violence spike of the 80s.

Indeed, the origins of gun-control laws were to control slaves and free blacks! The next round of prohibition came not during the gangster era of the 1920s, but during the Great Depression of the 1930s when it was feared the underclass would stage a communist revolution.

A history of the sharp increase in States allowing concealed carry permits since 1987:
To the shock and dismay of gun control proponents, concealed-carry reform has proven to be wildly popular among state lawmakers. Since Florida launched its experiment with concealed-carry in October 1987, 23 states have enacted similar laws, with positive results.

Prior to 1987, almost every state in America either prohibited the carrying of concealed handguns or permitted concealed-carry under a licensing system that granted government officials broad discretionary power over the decision to grant a permit. The key feature of the new concealed-carry laws is that the government must grant the permit as soon as any citizen can satisfy objective licensing criteria.
...
We now have at least 10 years of actual evidence from 25 different states with diverse rural and metropolitan populations, including the cities of Miami, Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, New Orleans, Seattle, and Portland, regarding perhaps as many as 1 million permit holders carrying their weapons for hundreds of millions of man-hours. The results are in, and they show unequivocally that

(a) the number of persons currently in possession of permits to carry firearms ranges from 1 to 5 percent of the state's population;

(b) criminals do not apply for permits;

(c) permit holders do not take to settling their traffic disputes or arguments with guns, or "take the law into their own hands";

(d) shall-issue licensing states have almost no problems with violent criminality or inappropriate brandishing of firearms by permit holders; and

(e) some permit holders have used their guns to defend themselves and others. There appears to be no reported case of any permit holder adjudged to have wrongfully killed another in connection with carrying and using his weapon in public.

Dodge City has not returned; the blood is not running in the streets.
Today, now fully 40 of the 50 States are considered to have the "right to carry."



Non-natural death rates by age group, from the government Center for Disease Control, show that vehicular traffic, drowning, and fires all much worse than accidental firearm deaths for children of any age, and "unintentional firearm" only makes the chart as #9 in the 10-14 age group.

Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my guns.

Gun ownership demographics from the Center for Disease Control show that "banning guns" is a pipedream:
38% of households and 26% of individuals reported owning at least one firearm. This corresponds to 42 million US households with firearms, and 57 million adult gun owners...[and] 93 guns per 100 people.
That's basically more than 275 million guns.

And not to mention the fact, that they can be manufactured by tongueless people living in caves...with their bare hands!

But it's not about statistics, it's about a fundamental human right to be able to protect your own life.

From the Yale Law Journal, here is a comprehensive overview of the constitutional issue by a liberal legal scholar in 1989, called The Embarrassing Second Amendment, which shows by all means of interpretation, the Second Amendment recognizes an inalienable and individual right to firearms.
For too long, most members of the legal academy have treated the Second Amendment as the equivalent of an embarrassing relative, whose mention brings a quick change of subject to other, more respectable, family members. That will no longer do. It is time for the Second Amendment to enter full scale into the consciousness of the legal academy.
Last month, in a landmark case, the courts are catching up to this scholarship.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban Friday, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent" on enrollment in a militia.
This ruling (Parker v. District of Columbia) could not be clearer:
"[T]he Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. That right existed prior to the formation of the new government under the Constitution and was premised on the private use of arms for activities such as hunting and self-defense, the latter being understood as resistance to either private lawlessness or the depredations of a tyrannical government (or a threat from abroad)."

"[T]he phrase `the right of the people,` when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual."

In the Second Amendment, "the most important word is the one the drafters chose to describe the holders of the right" "the people." That term is found in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. It has never been doubted that these provisions were designed to protect the interests of individuals against government intrusion, interference, or usurpation."

"The Amendment does not protect `the right of militiamen to keep and bear arms,` but rather `the right of the people.`"

"The modern handgun`and for that matter the rifle and long-barreled shotgun . . . passes [the Supreme Court`s U.S. v. Miller] standards. . . . Once it is determined "as we have done" that handguns are `Arms` referred to in the Second Amendment, it is not open to the District to ban them."
It's not about sporting only! Indeed, it is precisely military-style firearms that are specifically protected. The DC Appeals Court is a serious and influential jurisdiction. This is a big deal.

By the way, the whole "militia" phrase causes confusion because people today have forgotten their civic duties that the Founders assumed. By tradition and Common Law, every free adult, the yeomanry, IS the militia. It exists independently of the government in an unorganized form, and is distinct from a standing army which is a creature of Congress. That is why Congress specifically has two different powers in the Constitution that use different wording: one to raise armies, and the other to organize the militia. And the US Code contains a description that Congress set out for itself -- which hasn't been changed -- of which portion of the general militia it would consider to organize:
a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
That means YOU!

So go and do your civic duty as a free citizen-militiaman (ahem, person!), and learn how to safely and effectively use a firearm!

So to turn the tables, why doesn't the AP call for a discussion of the psyche of other countries, in which the people expect some external entity to provide for their total security (and which has no liability when it fails to do so), totally abdicating their sovereignty as free human beings?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another Preventable Massacre

We know little yet about the identity or motive of the shooter today at Virginia Tech.

What we do know is at least 31 students and faculty were methodically murdered, and over two dozen more injured.

CNN is already talking about re-opening the "gun-control debate." They said whenever such a "tragedy" happens, it "lets a little air out of the NRA's balloon" in supporting the second amendment. Their glee was palpable.

Indeed it should re-open the debate, but not in the way CNN thinks.

Someone reporter at the news conference asked why the whole campus wasn't immediately "locked down." The answer was, they can't put police in every room on such a large campus.

Gun-controllers wish to abdicate their own responsibility of protecting themselves to someone else, who can magically make all guns disappear or can magically suddenly appear at the scene of the crime. It's immature thinking.

Clearly, the police cannot always be present. Yet, when a crime of violence happens, who is always guaranteed to be present?

The victim!

Arm the victim, and then the humiliating response of only being able to hide, or play dead, or sit quietly and wait to be executed, turns into at worst death with dignity -- and at best a quick termination of the shooter's rampage.

Indeed, the following bill was killed in committee in Virginia just a year ago:
Jan 21, 2006
HB 1572, which would have allowed handguns on college campuses, died in subcommittee.
By Greg Esposito 381-1675

A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly.

House Bill 1572 didn't get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.
...
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
Maybe it makes them feel safe, bit it made them objectively less safe, didn't it?

This wasn't to turn universities into the "wild west", it was about allowing free adults with legal permits maintain their human dignity:
The legislation was designed to prohibit public universities from making "rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a student who possesses a valid concealed handgun permit ... from lawfully carrying a concealed handgun."
...
Last spring a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, despite having a concealed handgun permit. Some gun owners questioned the university's authority, while the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police came out against the presence of guns on campus.

In June, Tech's governing board approved a violence prevention policy reiterating its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus facilities.
OH, what a courageous move, to simply "declare" a "gun-free" zone on campus to increase safety, when of course only the law-abiding with their carefully-obtained permits would follow such a rule!

How many students and faculty at Virginia Tech wished they had a gun today?

How many were feeling safer due to the Virginia Tech "violence prevention policy"?

Successful self-defense with a gun is rarely reported nationally, but you hear of every single misdeed with a gun, giving a false impression of their relative frequencies. One anecdote for lovers of such from 1997 (since that is the preferred mode of "proof" of the anti-gunners):
Woodham drove his mother's car to his high school, wearing a long coat to hide his rifle. When he entered the school, he began firing rampantly, killing his ex-girlfriend Christina Menefee and her friend Lydia Dew, and wounding 7 others before Joel Myrick, the assistant principal, retrieved a pistol from the glove compartment of his truck and subdued Woodham.
The actual stats are, more guns, less crime. One simple indicator is the per capita number of guns has steadily increased in this country, yet both accidents and homicides have generally trended down over the last few decades. If guns, rather than evil people, caused crime, one would expect a positive correlation rather than a negative one.

As Belmont Club astutely notes,
The anti-gun control people are probably going to say that if only guns were banned in the Commonwealth of Virginia, or better yet, in all of America, or still better in the whole world, that this tragedy would never have happened. But on the other hand, 2nd Amendment proponents will argue that such an extensive massacre would never have taken place if only an armed student had been there to resist.

Gun control as a strategy for prohibiting violence only works if it is universal, just as disarmanent is valid protection against aggression only if it is global. What Virginia Tech achieved, in creating its "gun-free zone" was to create a bubble of vulnerability in an armed society.
...
The weakness with forcing a reliance on someone to save your life by disabling your ability to save your own is that it rejects subsidiarity, which is the idea that problems should be handled as locally as possible. In this case, the central authority, Virginia Tech, responded belatedly to events.
Furthermore, I would argue that violence didn't just spring to life when the gun was invented. Even if all guns were magically eliminated, the strong could always still brutalize and slaughter the weak, the old, the very young, the disabled, with nothing more than a wooden club.

The only defense against such subjugators is the gun, one of the greatest and most fundamental equalizers of human rights in all of history.

Aren't "progressives" supposed to be for equality?

I guess they can't stand it that rednecks like to opine about The Great Equalizer,
God created men; Colonel Colt made them equal.
Indeed, some progressives are so uncomfortable with this idea that the wikipedia entry for Great Equalizer specifically elucidating that phrase is being considered for deletion by the editors, and charges of anti-gun sentiment being behind the motion for deletion have already been made:
I still suspect a connection between the anti-gun stance of the editor suggesting it, and the prematurity and censorship-orientation of the suggestion. Especially since even the rationale used -- that there are other usages beside that of firearms -- would more strongly suggest adding to the article, not deleting it entirely.
Welcome to the Ministry of Truth, Winston! We have always been at war with East Asia!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Civility

I have often been amazed and amused at the synchronous flow of ideas in the human consciousness, that the internet information flow now allows us to observe. That is, how a sequence of seemingly unrelated news events in the real world have their implications put together to form the same coherent conclusion, by several observers at about the same time.

I also see it in the search terms driving traffic (such as it is) to my site, that often come in odd flurries of very similar terms from all over the world within a short period of time -- reflecting that subset of questions buzzing around out there that can be answered by my archives! Yesterday, unsurprisingly, everyone was searching for "nappy-headed hos."

Sometimes the word combinations of the search terms are so unusual that it's hard to believe several people just came up with them all independently at the same time, yet that's what happens; for example, I had about half a dozen visitors from widely seperate locations last week all searching for "conundrum solved by Alexander"; what's up with that?

And I was just discussing how civility and good judgment need to be developed from within, not imposed by authoritarian virtue police; and that narcissism and immaturity are deep flaws in our society.

And here someone else is saying the exact same thing:
04.12.07 | 2:00 AM
Civility? They're proposing a code of conduct for the blogosphere to ensure civility online?

Who's kidding who here?

Before you can expect a bunch of utterly spoiled, self-indulgent bloggers (i.e. the kind who indulge in their online mudslinging) to practice civility, you might try restoring a bit of it to what passes for civilization these days.

Civility is all about self-restraint. It's not about being told by someone else to say "no," but finding the inner resolve to say it to yourself. Call it self-discipline. Call it having a little class. Whatever name you give it, it's almost completely absent from modern society.

And in a culture where idolatry of the crass and vulgar encourages the mantra of instant gratification and me-so-important, what the hell do you expect?

Which is why Tim O'Reilly's proposal for a code of conduct won't fly.

Unfortunately, you can't just pass a bunch of rules to make incivility go away. Someone who has been getting his way since he was 2 and has grown up into a self-involved, bombastic narcissist isn't going to have a come-to-Jesus moment just because he's offended somebody's sense of etiquette.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nappy-Headed Hos

So, radio talk-show host Don Imus has been fired for saying the Rutger's Women's basketball team is a bunch of "nappy-headed hos" (which means, "wooly-haired whores").

I never listened to Imus, because what little I heard of it was boring as hell. I never found him particularly astute or entertaining, and had no idea why he ever had an audience.

But hey, if there was a market for it, I didn't care that he was on the air.

And if there isn't a market for it because suddenly nobody likes him anymore and finds his cantankerous insults unappealing, the corporate overlords have every right to yank the show.

I'm all for judging people. I said it just a few days ago here, in fact!
we can all counter this culture of equivalence and non-judgment, by starting to judge.

Yes, judge others -- but this is not a license to harm them. Rather, use your judgment and discrimination (there's a word that has to be reclaimed from having a purely negative meaning!) to determine with whom you will continue to associate and respect.
In the best of all possible worlds, people would have had enough good taste that Imus never would have gotten a national show in the first place.

But, there's something else going on here that is terrifying in its wrongness.

Note in my quote above, I said the point was not to do harm.

The mature thing to have done, would be for everyone to just tune him out, if -- if! -- what he did was so unspeakably awful, and let the market do its work.

Instead, the likes Oprah and Obama added to the week-long calls for Imus to be fired, just for doing what everyone knows is his usual schtick of mere insulting words. They were jumping on a bandwagon, and following a virtue fad, instead of being leaders of courage.

Otherwise, they would have said something like
Who the hell is Imus that anyone cares what he says of them? Is our self-esteem so shallow that this professional fool can hurt us with mere words?
I mean, you'd think Imus had physically beaten small children, kittens, and puppies half to death with a rubber hose (a nappy-headed hose?) the way people were reacting!

Nobody got too bent out of shape when he once called someone a "boner-nosed beanie-wearing Jewboy." Or, also according to the Wall Street Journal, when he called the New York Knicks "chest-bumping pimps."

Because who cares? It's not like Imus is an elected official, in which case discussion of his keeping his job would be totally appropriate, or some "role model."

Just turn it off if it's stupid and it will go away.

See, this is not really a case of virtue and good taste suddenly arising in the hearts of millions of radio listeners, through a process of self-development and reflection, which is what I am calling for.

Rather, this rejection of Imus is a faux-"virtue" imposed by authoritarians, according to arbitrary and capricious whims. Simply because the women on the team, and especially the coach, claimed their feelings were really, really hurt! Boo-hoo!

What they wanted instead, was a spectacle. They wanted to harm. They wanted to have a media circus, full of rounds of unaccepted apologies (not very Christian!), weepy news conferences, and the arrival of those paragons of truth and virtue, shakedown-artists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

And would people just stop apologizing for everything? I also said we should own our vices. Imus should have said something like,
I get paid to insult people because there's a market for it, and that's the nasty kind of whore I am, and what's wrong with you that you care what I say?
I recall once back at University in the late 80s, being at my club, during a controversy when some student was making a "statement" by burning an American flag. A reporter from the campus paper stopped by to get a reaction from the head of one of the conservative student groups, who was also a member of my club. I don't know the final wording, but they were trying to come up with something along the lines of "just because you have a right doesn't mean you should use it."

I thought that was the wrong answer, but I didn't know those people and wasn't very political at the time so I didn't make my own suggestion. But instead, I recall thinking they should have said something like,
The Young Republicans fully support this student's right to display his sophomoric ignorance and stunning lack of originality to the whole community.
Mocking it steals the thunder. It was meant to provoke, so should have been deftly sidestepped, robbing it of all its force.

That's what should have happened here.

Instead, though I applaud whatever development of better judgment in the tastes of American consumers has taken place, terrible precedents are being set.

How dangerous if the mere claim of hurt feelings -- from mere nasty words! -- from the victim-group du jour can dictate policy and what kinds of speech we can use!

It's easy to support the removal of Imus if casual insults are not your kind of humor. But having once established that certain types of humor are not allowed to be consumed by free adults, there's no stopping an erosion of all discourse in principle.

If only these self-appointed guardians of our sensitivities spent 1/10th of this effort on exposing and deploring the kinds of words that call for the destruction of our Constitutional way of life by introducing koranic sharia law and inciting the use of violence against our infidel society.

Instead of worrying about silly meaningless words tossed off by an entertainer. Words that are hardly as insane and corrosive as Rosie O'Donnell declaring 9/11 was a government conspiracy -- to audience applause! -- which if enough people believe, could literally lead to the collapse of our civilization.

I saw the Rutgers coach on CNN's Paula Zahn the other day, and she was saying shocking things like "nobody has a right" to say such things! Can you imagine? No right to say certain words!
Some of them [the players] wiped away tears as their coach, C. Vivian Stringer, criticized Imus for "racist and sexist remarks that are deplorable, despicable, abominable and unconscionable."
You'd think he had physically raped them or something. What is this Dianification of our society? Butch up!

They wanted Imus dragged through the streets in a tumbrel cart, and put in the stocks to be pelted with rotten eggs as a focus of public rage.

Wasn't it always the "progressives" who deplored such mob fury in society? What with their books like the Crucible and references to witch hunts and McCarthyism -- except there were, in fact, communist spies highly placed in our government, giving critical secrets to Uncle Joe.

But, those treasonous commies never called anybody such a terrible name as nappy-headed ho!

Hmm, Nappy-headed Ho, Nappy-headed Ho...kind of has a ring to it. Rolls off the tongue.

As a turn of phrase, meant to be insulting, I actually admire it. Nice sound to it. Punchy. Effective.

Nappy-Headed Ho.

Say it while you're still allowed!

Think the "slippery slope" argument is mere hysteria? We've already slid down the slope. Consider the Kafkaesque case of David Howard, who had to resign as aide to Washington, DC's mayor, for using the word "niggardly":
city employees were offended that the aide used the word "niggardly" in describing how he would have to manage a fund's tight budget.
...
"Niggardly" means miserly and has no racial connotation.
So, with everyone knowing that he didn't really use the "n-word", he still had to resign.

Because people were offended, and obviously over a complete irrationality. They could have just as easily gotten him fired for saying "banana" and claiming it hurt their racial sensitivity somehow! Because we've established the actual meaning of the word isn't what counts!

But wait, it gets worse!

He was rehired after a month, but only after his "re-education" was complete:
Howard, 44, said yesterday that he never felt "victimized" but that the experience has given him "a certain awareness" he did not have before the incident occurred.

"I just feel very pleased that this whole thing has a silver lining," he said. "The silver lining is that this has led to a discussion that can help everyone understand each other better. . . . I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That's naive, especially for a white person, because a white person can't afford to be colorblind."
Got that?

Everyone admits he wasn't fired for being racist. In fact, he was fired for not being sufficiently racist! Or at least, racist in the right kind of patronizing way.

Now he can come back to work, acutely aware of everyone's color and the requirements to treat them differently because of it.

In other words, his crime was not to have slurred black people, but to have failed to realize that black people are apparently not only ignorant and illiterate and have no idea what the word niggardly really means, but that black people are incapable of being educated to understand normal proper English! Isn't that simply disgusting?

Now, Mr. Howard knows to enable the infantilization of an entire race by treating them like easily-offended idiots, instead of like normal adult human beings.

Welcome back to the insane asylum, David!

Make sure you stay on top of the latest fads of the authoritarian virtue police!

Nappy-Headed Ho!

I can't stop saying it!!!

Or is it "Nappy-Headed Hoes"? There seems to be disagreement on the proper plural form of "ho." I'll use the form that parallels the usage in the pastry treat, Hostess Ho-Hos.

Ho-Hos? Uh-ohs! My food is racist!

My re-education has taught me that the word Ho-Hos might be misconstrued by imbeciles, so we had best change it. But, Hostess being the San Francisco Treat, maybe it gets a pass for living in a duly-approved "progressive" area.

Or, we could all go into stores and ask where we can find Nappy-Headed Ho-Hos!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Media Enemy

Feeling down?

Remember, the media has done nothing but generate enemy propaganda, day after day after day, to make you feel that way.

Indeed, considering their relentless efforts for five years now, we're holding up better than they probably expected!

Even the "good war", the one in Afghanistan -- the righteous counter-attack, the anti-Iraq, not a "war of choice" -- is now being portrayed as a lost cause, whose public support has dropped to minority status, if the ridiculous CNN poll can be believed as reported here.

This report from the Christian Science Monitor, which just seems to have learned of the Spring Offensive, barely conceals its glee at NATO setbacks as it expresses its admiration for the cunning and resilient Taliban.

This is pure enemy propaganda that serves no other purpose than to demoralize our will to fight. For example:

New strategy in Taliban's offensive
Already it's a Taliban offensive. More accurate reports indicate NATO pre-empted the Taliban by attacking first and decisively.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Like any modern fighting force, the Taliban have learned the benefits of emotional warfare.

As the Taliban's spring offensive gets under way, kidnappings have become their new weapon of choice, targeting a growing chink in NATO's armor: Across Europe, the United States, and Canada, public opinion for the war in Afghanistan is sliding.

That disenchantment is proving as devastating as any bomb. Last month, after the Taliban kidnapped Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the Italian government nearly collapsed when opposition parties raised a storm of protest.
Well isn't that special!

Now the Taliban, among the most backward beings on the planet, are lauded as a "modern fighting force."

Real patriots would be denigrating the enemy on a daily basis in order to WIN as fast as possible.

Many complain about the Iraq war costs; how much did we spend to defend Europe all those years, and for what? So that when the ONE time NATO was activated to defend one of its members after a direct homeland attack, our "allies" can't withstand the kidnapping of one single person? Who chose to be in the war zone?

And with fewer than 2,000 troops deployed, Italy's commitment is nominal at best anyway. What do they bring to the table? Several of the NATO contingents are doing great work, but others declared they will not participate in combat operations; what kind of mutual defense pact is that? Unilateralism looks better every day.

The reporter goes on gush (check out all the emotionally-loaded terms!),
In the weeks to come, the Taliban's greatest weapon is likely to be its emotional assault on international will.
...
Just as they have gotten more brutal, so too have the Taliban become more clever...

It is a timely tactic, suggesting the Taliban's astute read of the political climates in NATO countries [created by you, the media! -- ed.]. Italy's response etched in the sharpest tones what a liability the war in Afghanistan has become for that government. [so solemn treaty obligations due for 60 years of our defending them are a liability. I see. --ed.]
...
But with more than 500 foreign troops dead and last year witnessing the highest death toll since the war began in 2001, the Taliban's new spate of kidnappings hopes to capitalize on public dismay throughout many of the states comprising the bulk of NATO's 36,000 troops.
What's that? 500 dead over 5 years spread out over all of Europe? And the public can't take it?

What kind of ninnies believe such a thing? What kind of cowards buy into it? As Steyn notes,
It's often said that Canada came of age at Vimy, in northern France, in the Easter of 1917, when a nation of seven million lost over three-and-a-half thousand in a few days. Ninety years later, a nation of 30 million cannot absorb four dozen dead in half a decade without recoiling from the very notion of soldiering.
This "public perception" is purely a creation of the media saying over and over again that support is waning. Then the very same media conducts a poll of the very same people who consume their reports of doom and gloom and ask them what their perception is.

How very circular.

Such a fantasyland construction of opinion wouldn't matter compared to the reality on the ground of Operation Achilles...except for the fact that these morons are allowed to vote.

The result is a wildly pessimistic "poll" that just doesn't pass the credibility test:
In Canada, which has 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, 46 percent of respondents agreed that their troops should be withdrawn before 2009, according to a February poll by Vancouver-based polling service Angus-Reid.

• In Germany, which has deployed 3,000 troops, 57 percent of respondents believe their troops should be withdrawn, according to a March poll released by Der Speigel magazine.

• In the Netherlands, which has 2,200 troops in Afghanistan, only 33 percent supported the recent deployment of additional troops, according to a January 2006 poll by market-research firm TNS NIPO.

• The public is also divided in the United States and Britain, the nations with the two largest troop deployments of 15,000 and 5,200 respectively. Fifty-three percent of British respondents to a September BBC poll oppose their government's military operation in Afghanistan. Fifty-two percent of US respondents also oppose it, up four points since September, according to a January poll released by CNN.
Now, I can believe the Dutch and Germans can loathe themselves into national suicide (their now less than replacement birthrate guarantees it in the long run), but a majority of Americans oppose operations in Afghanistan?

And pacifistic Canada, whose liberals despise its military and have shrunk it to near extinction, is leading the way in public support?

At levels higher than the United States -- which was the attacked party?

I'm delighted if a majority of Canadians still support the effort, but how can it possibly, for real, be higher than our own? Which is now supposedly a minority view?

If that's true we should surrender now and save us all further trouble.

Another example of propaganda is this ridiculous short "documentary" video of a gun bazaar in Pakistan.

The narrator, some westernized Pakistani or something like that, goes to visit the Khyber Pass and see the "illegal" gun market in the tribal regions where the Taliban flourishes. He builds it up like something really impressive, like some vast engine of industrial weapons power.

It turns out to be some stupid flea market of shoddy-looking copies of modern guns that have to be test-fired (by shooting randomly in the air) to see if they really work.

Clearly impressed, he goes on and on about how these people make these modern rifles and pistols "with their bare hands!!!"

Though of course, those "bare hands" are operating tools.

And as if guns weren't invented and perfected by westerners hundreds of years ago -- by hand!

So there are these people who collect scrap metal and used shell casings, and, like any hobby reloader here in the good ol' USA, make "new" bullets.

Wow. Color me underwhelmed that they can use a scale and operate a hammer and a crimping tool.

Then, we are introduced to...a man with no tongue! Who assembles pistols... with his bare hands!!!

Awestruck, our narrator ends by proclaiming,
You think some soldiers can press on these people and change their way of life? They live in caves! They have no tongues! They build guns with their bare hands!!!

You can't beat these people!!!
Well, maybe the narrator would like us to believe we can't beat these people.

It's an absurd piece of sheer propaganda.

Hmm, let's see, we'd all agree they'd be beaten if they were all dead, right? A few neutron bombs could see to that, hypothetically speaking of course.

But, they're some kind of Supermen who can't be beaten because...they have no tongues!

Why not say something like, "these Americans, you can't beat them...they've walked on the Moon!"

Which we did, several times, with 40-year-old technology and nobody else in the world has done it since.

But making knock-off copies of guns -- with your bare hands! -- by bending sheet metal and working a lathe makes you undefeatable.

Producing aircraft carriers or jet fighters or undetectable stealth bombers or a world-ringing web of orbital satellites to guide our bombs precisely to their targets anywhere on the planet within a few hours of the word "Go!"...that's all unimpressive compared with a tongueless savage sitting in a "cave" with a hammer.

Because, dear god! He uses...his bare hands!!!

It's pure defeatist idiocy, designed to fulfill a psychological need. Maybe modern life is just too easy for humans, and we need to introduce hardship to give our lives meaning, so we're tearing down the most successful and prosperous society every created.

Well, some are doing it. And I'd rather they just sought therapy instead of taking us all down too, wouldn't you?

Bill Whittle has more here in a brilliant (as usual) essay on the psychological motivations of the "dramatists" who must portray us as evil puppets of shadow conspiracies, and our ruthless enemies as noble. Looking at bizarre conspiracy theories, Whittle notes (among other things) that many believe we did NOT in fact land on the Moon, which I showed above perhaps not coincidentally would make the claim of our inferiority easier to swallow for the self-loathing defeatists.
I want to forgo the niceties of the hot towel and go straight for the jugular on this one. My goal here is not to bust any of these four conspiracy theories; that has all been done much more effectively elsewhere. What I am trying to do here is to build a chain of evidence to show a progressively deteriorating epidemic of world-wide insanity, of truly diseased thinking -- not just a misunderstanding or difference of opinion but real, diagnosable mental illness.
...
How much poison can you put into your veins before you are too weak to walk? Too weak to breed? And how much more of this poison I.V. drip is needed until you die? How many of these cultural suicide pills are we going to swallow before we start to wake up to the fact that dramatists – not the government – are going to kill us all?

When you look at what these people ask you to believe, to justify that naked, awful emptiness in their own souls and the horrible damage their lies are doing to our civilization – well, it’s enough to make you want to take Occam’s Razor out of its golden box and slit their miserable throats with it.
By the way, I wrote this posting...with my bare hands!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Optimistic Scientist

Freeman Dyson is one of a handful of top living physicists: he is Professor Emeritus at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies, winner of the Lorentz Medal in 1966, and winner of the Max Planck Medal in 1969.

The Lorentz Medal
is given every four years by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. This gold medal is given for important contributions to theoretical physics, though in the past there have been some experimentalists among its recipients. Many of the award winners later received a Nobel Prize.
The Max Planck Medal
is an award for extraordinary achievements in theoretical physics. It is awarded annually by the German Physical Society.
Nice guy. I had dinner with him once, with about a dozen other people.

He gives an interview on science, hope, and the future, touching on such issues as "Global Warming" and the need for optimism and spirituality to revive Western culture:
Benny Peiser: In a Winter Commencement Address at the University of Michigan two years ago you called yourself a heretic on global warming, the most notorious dogma of modern science. You have described global warming anxiety as grossly exaggerated and have openly voiced your doubts about the reliability of climate models. These models, you argue, "do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in." There seems to be an almost complete endorsement of the world's scientific organisations and elites of these models together with claims that they reliably epitomize reality and can consistently predict future climate change. How do you feel belonging to a tiny minority of scientists who dare to voice their doubts openly?

Freeman Dyson: I am always happy to be in the minority. Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
So if you don't want to take it from me -- whose job as an MIT physicist was to model atmospheric heating in the infrared according to the absorption spectra of CO2, water vapor (the real culprit!), and other atmospheric constituents (though the application was laser weapons, not climate change), that the climate models are ridiculously insufficient for prediction and that Al Gore's human-produced-CO2 Global Warming Hysteria is pernicious nonsense -- take it from Freeman Dyson.

By fitting black-box models that aren't physics-based to an agreed-upon set of data, it is not only easy but essentially certain that the models will completely fail to make predictions for conditions "out of sample", and indeed that is what is being observed. A future post will illustrate where the models are being seen to fail when applied to data taken from times and places for which they were not "tuned" by the fudge factors. This is not science, but curve-fitting. At best it is a gross simplification of the complex physical chemistry of the planet, to an extent that renders it useless. It is for similar reasons that so many promising stock-market trading strategies, developed to work on historical data, fail miserably when applied "out of sample" to the future.

Put those anxieties aside!

As for religion and techno-optimism,
Benny Peiser: One of your most influential lectures is re-published in your new book. I am talking about your Bernal Lecture which you delivered in London in 1972, one year after Desmond Bernal's death. As you point out, the lecture provided the foundation for much of your writing in later years. What strikes me about your remarkably optimistic lecture is its almost religious tone. It was delivered at a time, similar to the period after World War I, when a new age of techno-pessimism came to the fore, reinforced by Hiroshima and Vietnam.

It is in this atmosphere of entrenched techno-scepticism and environmental anxiety that you advanced biological, genetic and geo-engineering as industrial trappings of social progress and environmental protection. At the height of ecological anxiety, in the same year as the Club of Rome proclaimed the "Limits to Growth," you envisaged endless technological advancement, terrestrial progress and the greening of the galaxy, famously predicting that "we shall learn to grow trees on comets."

At one point towards the end of your lecture, you christen your speech a "sermon." Indeed, your entire lecture reads as if it was written for a tormented audience searching for a glimmer of hope. In his book "The Religion of Technology", David Noble claims that the whole history of technological innovation and advancement has been primarily a religious endeavour. Noble claims that even today your ideas of technological solutions to terrestrial problems constitute in essence a religious conviction. How much of your cosmological view of the world has indeed been shaped by Judeo-Christian traditions? And do you see that there is an inherent link between your religious and your philosophical optimism?

Freeman Dyson: It is true that the tradition of Judeo-Christian religion is strongly coupled with philosophical optimism. Hope is high on the list of virtues. God did not put us here on earth to moan and groan. As my mother used to say, "God helps those who help themselves."
...
Benny Peiser: Finally, let me ask you about your thoughts regarding Britain, the country of your birth, the USA, the country of your choice, and the future of the Western democracies. At the end of your new book you write that "without religion, the life of a country would be greatly impoverished." Perhaps nothing symbolises the glaring differences between Britain and the USA more than the gradual fading of religion in the cultural life of the UK and the profound permeation of religion on public life in the US. Sometimes I wonder whether both extremes may be detrimental to a stable, liberal and open-minded society. In a world of mounting intellectual dogmatism, is there, in your view, a middle way between the Scylla of nihilist despair and the Carybdis of fundamentalist unreasonableness?

Freeman Dyson: I do not agree with your assessment of religion in Britain and the USA. The extremes of religious dogmatism in the USA and of atheistic dogmatism in Britain are greatly exaggerated by the media.
Indeed,
Dyson disagrees with the famous remark by his fellow-physicist Steven Weinberg that "Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things—that takes religion."

[Dyson responded:] Weinberg's statement is true as far as it goes, but it is not the whole truth. To make it the whole truth, we must add an additional clause: "And for bad people to do good things—that takes religion." The main point of Christianity is that it is a religion for sinners. Jesus made that very clear. When the Pharisees asked his disciples, "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" he said, "I come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance." Only a small fraction of sinners repent and do good things, but only a small fraction of good people are led by their religion to do bad things.