Over the past five years, by turning over two suspects for trial, acknowledging its complicity in the Lockerbie bombing and paying compensation to victims' families, Libya finally managed to persuade the United Nations Security Council to lift the international sanctions that had shadowed its economy and its international reputation for more than a decade. Those sanctions were lifted in September. This page recommended lifting American sanctions as well, but President Bush left them in place pending further steps, most notably Libya's decision to end its unconventional weapons programs. It is now clear that he was right to do so. The added American pressure worked just as intended.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Friday, December 19, 2003
For the first time, the U.N. Security Council heard some home truths about Iraq from a representative of the liberated country. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reminded the Security Council on Tuesday, "The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years. "And today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure."
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
That is why the weird decision of the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty has been deployed so often by his enemies. The committees found that Lomborg had been scientifically dishonest, but didn't mean to be, which is a pretty odd definition of dishonest, if you ask me. The committees did no independent investigation of the charges, instead relying almost exclusively on a series of articles in Scientific American by scientists whose conclusions Lomborg disagreed with.
Well, Bjorn's institute in Denmark today issued this press release:
Lomborg Decision Overturned by Danish Ministry of Science
The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has today repudiated findings by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DSCD) that Bjorn Lomborg's book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice"
The Ministry, which is responsible for the DSCD, has today released a critical assessment of the Committee's January 6 ruling. The Ministry finds that the DCSD judgment was not backed up by documentation, and was "completely void of argumentation" for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice.
The Ministry characterises the DCSD's treatment of the case as "dissatisfactory", "deserving criticism" and "emotional" and points out a number
of significant errors. The DSCD's verdict has consequently been remitted.
The DCSD report was a hatchet job designed to keep Lomborg out of contention for a position as the head of the Environmental Research Institute in Denmark. His book has been a great blow to the environmentalist cult worldwide. The dishonesty and cynicism of the cult, of which the DCSD report is typical, has been apparent in their response to Lomborg as in nowhere else.
In the book, Lomborg argues that environmentalist claims that the world is running out of resources, that the air and water are getting more and more polluted, and that the earth cannot sustain human population growth are not supported by the evidence. In fact, most resources are nowhere near running out now or in the foreseeable future. Those resources such as oil that are likely to become less abundant in two or three generations can be replaced by technological advances, and human activity is unlikely to have that much of an effect on, for example, the atmosphere or the oceans.
Moreover, he argues that living conditions for peoples the world over have been steadily improving as a result of institution of public health, economic, and technology solutions such as improved communication, free trade, open markets, and sanitation. He points out how simple solutions such as providing a clean water supply to communities has a much greater effect on human wellbeing than any of the priorities of the environmentalists are likely to have. (IN fact, his emphasis on human well-being as a criteria for environmental policy rankles environmentalists to no end.) He regards evironmentalism inspired efforts such as the campaign to limit population growth or limit commerce and industrial activity (e.g., the Kyoto Protocol) as misguided and counterproductive.
Sunday, December 14, 2003
From the Mesopotamian:
The Ululation of Gunfire again; you should all be here now. What fireworks! You should be here. The Baghdadis are expressing what they really think again. Can you hide this now CNN & others?...Just now the Miserables are beginning to bomb the streets, out of hatred and desperation. They will attack the people. I tell you, there should be no complacency. Unleash the people against them and NOW. ...Before this, I prayed the traditional prayers of thanksgiving. That I, and the Iraqi people should see this day! This, surely, is the mother of all days for us. The heroes of our valiant Pesh Mergas, and the heroes of the U.S. Fourth division have done it. Now is the time to unleash the Iraqi Counter Terror; now is the time to go for the kill. Let us go after them. Don't lose this moment. They want to recant and live in equality with the people? they have a chance - otherwise they will have to go. I am too overwhelmed with emotion to write coherently; please excuse me. The foul mouths of the enemies of our people everywhere and the neighboring vultures and hyenas be stuffed with dirt; we will come after you; your time will come.
Long live the great alliance of Mesopotamia and the United States of America and her allies. Now is the time, now is the time; Do not delay; unleash the Counter Terror.
God Bless Iraq; God Bless America; God bless the Allies
Saddam Hussein has been captured literally hiding in a hole near his home town. Bearded and disheveled, he put up no fight and admitted his identity when captured. Reports are that he has been cooperative and talkative.
This is a signal event in the war on terrorism, the result of the admirable and excellent work of a dedicated, tenacious, and courageous US military, and the result of a bold policy advanced by President George W. Bush at tremendous political risk both to himself and his party.
The hope is that with Saddam's capture the situation in Iraq will further stablize and allow for the transfer of power to a more democratic Iraqi government at a much earlier date than otherwise would have been possible. Ultimately, the peace and security of this entire region of the world should be greatly improved. Time will tell if these hopes are realized.
Monday, December 01, 2003
The Quad at Harvard University, that is.
New England's liberal college campuses have become fertile ground for the evangelical movement, which is attracting students in record numbers.
As an agnostic, I'm unable to appreciate the benefits of formal religious faith. However, I've always had a great deal of respect for religious beliefs, and I recognise the importance of these beliefs and of the rich symbolism of formal religions for the vast majority of people the world over. Unlike most atheists, I don't regard my inability to believe as being indicative of superiority on my part in any way.
Here the best and brightest student minds in America still make room in their lives for formal religious beliefs and apparently see no contradiction.
My theory is that spirituality is an essential human characteristic, present in all cultures and at all times in history. This is why it keeps springing up in renewed forms even in places where it seems to have been long absent and will often be expressed in non-traditional forms if traditional forms are suppressed.
Everyone has a spiritual outlet of some kind, and for those who eschew formal religions this outlet is often an ideology that entrains all of the emotionality and irrationality of any spiritual belief system. Channeled in this way spirituality can be destructive and counterproductive in a way and magnitude that formal religions never have been. One need look no further than the totalitarian states created by leftists for an example of this principle. For all the tens of thousands of people killed in the Inquisition, for example, it can't hold a candle to the tens of millions slaughtered and starved to death in the previous century by atheistic Communist zealots.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Brooks in the New York Times promotes marriage that is something that is good for everyone. He regards it as a way to promote long term relationships, which begs the question of why the institution of marriage is needed to promote relationships when there is nothing about the institution that enforces that commitment.
Brooks' notion of marriage is based on what he thinks marriage ought to be, not what it is.
These days, people will stay together if they are "committed" to each other. When they get tired of that "commitment", for whatever reason or for no reason, they will cast it aside, marriage or not.
So, I ask, what is the point? Marriage is an institution that is no longer worth defending.
Conservatives lost the battle on marriage many many years ago. There is no point in kvetching about the mop up operations.
Friday, November 21, 2003
This is an interesting snippet about Chomsky because it puts Chomsky's whole modus operandi in a nutshell:
The dust jacket [of Chomsky's book] bears the legend, which one can't be around a Chomsky fan for long without hearing:
"Arguably the most important intellectual alive" - The New York Times
This very old quotation from the newspaper of record is in fact truncated. The full quotation reads as follows:
"Arguably the most important intellectual alive, how can he write such nonsense about international affairs and foreign policy?
I've added the emphasis, because I think you will agree that the elision of the italicised passage does subtly change the meaning of the sentence.
And that's the way Chomsky does it. He leaves stuff out. He relies on the fact that his supporters don't know, don't care, or are too lazy to read up on history for themselves, and the things he leaves out are all important details that would totally change the meaning of his accounts. It is a dishonest way to write history, but it is a tactic he must use because the truth almost never supports his thesis.
Friday, October 31, 2003
Some days I'm embarrassed to be associated with conservatives, and the Schiavo case brings up one of those instances.
Terri Schiavo is the woman in a permanent vegetative state over whom the controversy is raging concerning whether or not she can be allowed to die.
It was never a question of whether or not Schiavo is aware of what's going on. It was never a case of whether her quality of life is good enough. It was never a case of what the family wanted, or what her husband wanted, or what the courts wanted, or what the public wanted. It all came down to just one question: What does she want?
Because the law has always found that all of us have the right to refuse medical treatment if we don't want it. And that includes even things like feeding and watering. We have that right, the right to refuse care, and no one should be allowed to take that away from us as long as that truely is our wish. We have that right without regard to what anyone else thinks of our quality of life.
I don't know of a more bedrock solid conservative principle that that -- the principle of personal sovereignty and autonomy.
Since she is not able to tell us what she wants herself we've got to rely on other people to tell us what she, as a person, wants based on what they know about her.
Schiavo's husband has been consistent for 13 years in saying that his wife never would have wanted to be kept alive this way. The courts have gone through hours and hours of deliberation and testimony, and the courts decided that it was indeed true that she would want to refuse treatment in this situation that she's in. Perhaps more than anything else, they agreed with that because it is such a reasonable decision.
You can argue now about whether it's appropriate for the husband to be "making this decision". You can smear him and claim that he's doing it for selfish reasons. But remember that he was never really relied upon by the courts to make any such decision. What he did was tell the doctors and the courts what he thought she wanted, and the courts decided that he was correct about that after carefully weighing all the facts including any facts that would indicate a conflict of interest on his part. The courts didn't decided this on a whim or out of a sense of guilt based on their own personal experience, but based on the facts of her life and after weighing a lot of other testimony from other people who knew her prior to her illness as well.
I suspect that her parents just can't stand to see her die. They have contested the idea that their daughter would want to die in this situation, but the courts have concluded that they are mistaken about that. More than anything it has become a contest of wills between them on one side and the husband and the courts on the other. They have fought for custody and lost, they have fought to overturn the court's decisions about her care and lost. So these parents have gone complaining to everyone who will listen.
And so now the idiot talk radio people and the idiots in the Florida legislature and that idiot Jeb Bush have waded into the matter and destroyed the results of what is probably hundreds of hours of careful and thoughtful deliberation made in good faith. They have taken it upon themselves to take any vestige of personal autonomy and dignity away from her. I can forgive radio jocks for being stupid enough to be caught up in this, but Bush and the Lesgislature ought to know better.
In a since it doesn't matter because they are not really dealing with a person in the body of this woman. I've seen a number of people in her situation, and, believe me, she's not really there anymore. There is not enough of a brain left to process any information. There is no perception. It's just a collection of reflexes. I don't care what people think they see on the videos. The lights are on, people, and their ain't nobody home. There's no quality of life there because there's really no life. There's no one there to feel pain or anything else.
If the Florida legislature wants to keep this vegetable alive out of a ghoulish desire to pander to faux populists and assuage their mistaken sense of morality, then fine. Fine, fine, fine.
I just hope to God that they don't treat me this way if I end up in her condition, with my pathetic, mindless body as their warm trophy.
...whine the Democrats.
The most recent lie from Democrats is that the President led the American public to believe that the post-war reconstruction of Iraq would be easy, he never anticipated these problems, and can only blame himself for not lowering expectations. This is what he actually said:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.
Then there's this:
The work ahead is demanding. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war. It will be difficult to cultivate liberty and peace in the Middle East, after so many generations of strife. Yet, the security of our nation and the hope of millions depend on us, and Americans do not turn away from duties because they are hard. We have met great tests in other times, and we will meet the tests of our time.
That was February 26, before the war. This was on April 15:
Our victory in Iraq is certain, but it is not complete. Centralized power of the dictator has ended -- yet, in parts of Iraq, desperate and dangerous elements remain. Forces of our coalition will engage these enemies until they surrender or until they're destroyed. We have waged this war with determination and with clarity of purpose. And we will see it through until the job is done. As we press on to liberate every corner of Iraq, we are beginning the difficult work of helping Iraqis to build a free and stable country.
This was a day later:
American and coalition forces still face serious risks in Iraq. Scattered enemy is still capable of doing harm to our forces and to the innocent. But we'll stay focused. We will finish what we've begun. We will press on until our mission is finished and victory is complete… With all the hardships of this transition, the lives of the Iraqi people will be better than anything they have known for generations. The journey from a totalitarian, brutal dictatorship to a free society is not easy. It will take time to build the institutions of democracy and the habits of freedom.
And there is a lot more along these lines if anyone cares to look it up.
A really excellent opinion piece in The New Republic about Democratic opposition to the reconstruction in Iraq, which, the author contends, is purely a manifestation of party politics and makes no sense at all either from the standpoint of national interests or the standpoint of basic Democratic/liberal party values.
He points out that the most recent contention on the part of the Democrats, that the Bush administration does not have a plan for the reconstruction, is simply a politically inspired lie:
Whatever its earlier blunders, the Bush administration now clearly does have a plan to reconstruct Iraq. Its aid request specifies in excruciating detail how the United States will rebuild different sectors of Iraqi society. And, on the day Edwards and Kerry voted no, the United States won U.N. backing for a plan under which Iraq will write a constitution and then hold elections in 2004. But that's the whole point: On one of the key national security votes of the post-September 11 era, policy barely mattered at all. And it's not likely to anytime soon.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
As the debates over the War and the economy rage on over the internet, the accusation often raised is that people have made a religious belief system out of their politics. Conservatives are often accused of having a cult-like belief in the free market. Leftists, of course, have turned their entire political system into a quasi-religious belief system that defies or denies quite a bit if reality. The postmodernists tacit agreement is apparently that only the true believers can understand; having denied all basis for truth one must be a leftist in order to know the truth, a truth that, to the leftist, is left unspoken and therefore unchallenged.
In the context of such debates most of the time "religious" means "deeply held, pre-rational beliefs with great emotional appeal."
All of us of can be said to be guilty of having such beliefs. Indeed, it might be argued that we need to have such beliefs as a necessary requirment for emotional stablity. (The quesition of what happens when people apparently have no such beliefs is the topic for another essay, but suffice to say that they are fairly dysfunctional.)
It's usually easy to spot these beliefs even in people who regard themselves as free of them. For example, ask the average secular modernist liberal to defend the rationality of egalitarianism.
Where it gets creepy is when people start denying that they are arguing out of such a basis when they clearly are; i.e., when they are clearly closing their eyes to reality in an untoward fashion in order to hang on to emotionally appealing core beliefs.
And, of course, there is no arguing with such people. There is no point in a dialogue unless it is to sway the undecided bystanders.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Bjorn Lomborg, author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, has been the object of a number of ad homenim attacks since the publication of his book.
There was the trashing of his work in Scientific American, which backfired badly against Scientific American:
As Philip Stott, a distinguished emeritus professor of biogeography at the University of London put it at the time, "I have been involved in the editing of scientific journals for over 15 years, and I could never conceive of treating an author in the manner that the Scientific American has dealt with Dr. Lomborg. …
"Not only did the magazine run an editorial criticizing Dr. Lomborg, it gave space to four known environmentalists to write separate articles attacking him with no balancing articles whatsoever from senior scientists who are likely to support Dr. Lomborg's critique. Again, I have never heard the like. In a so-called scientific journal, such a course of action beggars belief."
Then there was the creation of an ad hoc "committee on scientific dishonesty", created especially to attack Lomborg, that issued a report accusing him of dishonesty. This also backfired as hundreds of Danish scientists closed ranks with Lomborg and defended the honesty of his work.
Now we have one, last desperate salvo by the Green Cult against Lomberg.
But his opponents never seem to learn. So this week another round of Lomborg bashing begins. But what this week's Danish panel, the DCSD, Scientific American and others who perpetuate the sustained intellectual pie-throwing campaign against Lomborg can't seem to come to terms with is a much bigger problem on their hands. The long-held convictions of the environmental movement are crumbling under withering scrutiny from independent scientists and academics who refuse to kowtow to green orthodoxy and pressure.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
From a reviewer writing for amazon.com:
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is a gripping mystery novel. The story moves on four fronts: the hero and heroine, the head of a Roman Catholic organization, the chief inspector of the French police and a fanatical murderer. Like checkers on a checkerboard the chapters move these pieces of the story in turn until they all reach home row at the end. The author is able to maintain suspense throughout the story so that it has momentum to the very last page, not letting the mystery completely dissolve until the end. It is not the nature of this book to probe deeply into the human character, the nature of reality or to generate beautiful prose. It reads like a movie script, al la Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The author uses two characters as experts on everything, especially Christianity and some of its historical struggles. Because the book is fiction it is able to build its own picture of Christianity and the church without regard to historical accuracy. It does convey a patronizing attitude toward the church and its faith, an attitude common place now and throughout the history of the church.
Theirs is an old scenario: Jesus was a great man whose movement got hijacked by powerful people in Roman society and transformed into a secular power. Their version adds the proposition that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and the two produced children. This story line sets up a classic mystery novel struggle between an evil titan and a heroic minority replete with centuries of intrigue and violence, i.e. Luke Skywalker and the Federation. This is all great fun in a novel, but should not be confused with the truth.
Proposing that Jesus was married and had children is just another way of saying he wasn't the one proclaimed by the Christian faith, that he was a man in the flow of history not an intersect between God and history. Tying this idea in with the worship of a female goddess adds mystery and tension to the story and taps into the energy of the modern struggle between the sexes and society's effort to harness the sex drive.
Genuine historians that are anti-Christian don't claim that Rome hijacked the Christian movement, but rather that the Christian movement hijacked Rome. So even though the church was changed by its being adopted as the state religion, and even though its secular power led to terrible corruption, it's first three hundred years laid down the fundamental message. Constantine did not. What he did do was demand that the church settle its message so he could have a coherent religion to authorize.
The story line of this book elevates the divine female as if this were a breath of fresh air in an oppressive male-dominant Christian society. The divine female is nothing more than the ancient worship of sex. It is as commonplace as Hustler magazine. The worship of Venus three thousand years ago is the same impulse that drives the advertising and entertainment industry today. Just as commerce is dependent on sex today, production was linked to procreation then. If you could get the male and female gods to mate (so they reasoned), you could produce human, animal and vegetable crops on the earthly plane, i.e. wealth.
Christianity was born into a male-dominated culture. It didn't create it. The church has deviated from its earliest affirmation of the equality of male and female ("in Christ there is neither male nor female" -- the apostle Paul, 60 AD.) God's voice in the Bible never admits to being male or female. When Moses asks for God's identity, he gets "I am who I am."
The book's experts are fiction and so is their expertise. Solomon's temple, for instance, was destroyed long before Mary Magdalene came along. We know little about it and certainly don't know what its columns looked like. It was the second temple, the one build by Herod the Great that she would have seen. The holy of holies was not under ground but rather stood at the center of temple mount. She couldn't have gotten in it much less under it, dead or alive. The Crusades were a silly business that brought back nothing of historical value except the knowledge of a Muslim culture more advanced than the European culture. The Crusaders were completely ignorant of the land they conquered. The local people neither new nor cared where the bones of Mary Magdalene might be. They did know they could sell the Crusaders anything with the right story. So the knights credulously or greedily brought back relics purported to be fragments of the cross, the hair of John the Baptist and so on. The grail may have had a forged artifact initially or may have just been a story brought back without the souvenir.
My expertise doesn't extend to all the areas the "experts" in the book claim, but if their errors in fact are consistent with the ones I can pick out without research, I presume that it is all fiction and should be taken as such.
It is a fun book that is irrelevant to the serious subjects of Christian faith, sexuality and hope for a better world.
My teenage son gave me a copy of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" for my birthday. This is a book that is apparently popular among the anti-Christian idiotarians.
It's not hard to see why the left wingers love Brown's book since it is simply bursting with the kind of silly conspiracy theories that get their motors running these days. Opus Dei, Priory of Sion, Knights of Templar, The Brotherhood, Holy Grail, you name it. Moreover, it's sneering attitude toward Christianity and especially toward the Catholic Church, would warm the heart of any Marxist.
As a mystery novel it's a pretty good read, and interesting and informative in its way. But, in addition, Brown's book is becoming the bible for Ya-Ya sisterhoods. This is because the book promotes the idea that modern western religion is part of a male conspiracy to keep women down by tossing out the Mother Goddess allegedly worshiped by early man and demonizing women.
This interpretation of history is, of course, a gross oversimplification, not to mention in many ways a distortion. But what else is new? Is any honest history being written anywhere anymore, let alone in a mystery novel? History must bow to the zeitgeist.
Goddess book clubs, goddess hiking troops and goddess support groups already abound. Any time three or more women gather these days, the goddess word is likely to bubble up.
...If you type in "goddess" on Amazon, 1,302 entries pop up, including diet books and tarot card guides, as well as scholarly works on reclaiming the sacred feminine, invocations and rituals. Google "goddess" and you get 2,430,000 entries, a review of which might lead us to reasonably conclude the following:
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the culture that made the feminist gynecological encyclopedia "Our Bodies, Ourselves" a coffee table book - followed by the riveting scene of women discovering themselves by squatting over mirrors in "Fried Green Tomatoes" - inevitably would morph into the self-absorbed, self-worshiping goddess movement.
Fast forwarding from "I am woman, hear me roar" to "I am goddess, back off Bubba," the goddess movement is a logical extension of the narcissistic self-esteem movement.
The central secret of the plot of Brown's book is taken from a book Holy Blood Holy Grail which promotes the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were "married" and that Mary was pregnant at the time of Jesus' cruxifician. Jesus' descendants, moreover, are still supposedly alive and protected as the Merovingians, an old French royal family.
However, this story is a hoax which was perpetrated by Pierre Plantard, a notorious French anti-semite and radical right winger, in the late 1950's. The purpose of this hoax was apparently self promotion since Plantard claimed to be the Merovingian pretender to the French throne.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Monday, July 28, 2003
In the Sunday book pages of the Strib was an article about the women of Afghanistan. It was discussing the new-found freedoms of women in the post-Taliban society, about girls queuing for school after years of oppression. Quote: “No matter what one's political misgivings about the war might be, the sight of those girls was a thrilling shock.”
That sentence stuck in my head, and made me think back to October 01, to all the discontent over the Afghan campaign. We've forgotten what that was like - the marches in Europe, the predictions of mass casualties, the accusations of empire-building, how it was all about (cue Twilight Zone theme) an oil pipeline, how it would become a quagmire, how it was a quagmire, how we should have used international law to bring OBL to justice. It was the dress rehearsal for Iraq. The same blind sputtering fury; the same protests with Bush = Hitler posters and giant mocking puppets; the same inability to accept that a byproduct of the campaign would be a freer society for the very people the protesters supposedly cared about.
Any mass executions at the Kabul soccer stadium recently? No?
No thanks to the people who purport to care, that's for sure. Not in their name, no.
[An atheist, regarding the existance of God:] There ain't no such thing, any the amount of time you spend "worshipping" and praying and sending money to him is a complete waste of your time and effort.
On the contrary, even if there is no God then the effort, time and money spend in devotion to God or Gods is not wasted. It fulfills an important human need, and all people need to acknowledge and have some respect for that demonstrably universal and immutable aspect of human nature, including the need for spirituality in their own lives.
Why must this aspect of human nature be acknowledged? Because if one form of its expression is stamped out or suppressed then it will just surface in another way, perhaps in a way that is more irrational and counterproductive.
One example of this is that liberals who say that they are atheists usually have an irrational quasi-religious political idealism that makes dialogue and compromise impossible, rendering society and political life more unstable, more prone to extremes.
Friday, July 25, 2003
But this Vietnam analogy, recently taken up by the global media after months of bleating by the anti-war, anti-Bush Left, starts to fall apart very quickly under scrutiny. The news that Saddam Hussein's two sons, the much-loathed Uday and Qusay, were killed in a firefight yesterday with US forces only further shows the bankruptcy of this already shoddy argument. Indeed, with 34 of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis dead or in US custody, the US can be said to be slowly but surely winning the mop-up phase of the war in Iraq.
Those who continue to try to play the quagmire card should look at, and recall, the facts. US involvement in Vietnam lasted a decade and cost more than 50,000 US lives. So far, it has been barely four months since US troops first crossed into Iraq, and since the end of major combat on May 2, just 33 US soldiers have been killed by the so-called "Iraqi resistance".
While every soldier's death is tragic (and it is touching to see so many on the Left suddenly concerned about the welfare of American men and women in uniform), it doesn't take a Stephen Hawking to figure out that these losses are nothing like those inflicted by the Vietcong.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Just a little sample of how some leftists think these days:
Doesn't a part of you wish that Queasy and Duh-day [Hussein] were alive? I'll admit they're scum and rightfully so, but anything that lands as even more humiliation on W's grotesque shrivelled face is that much the better.
It's sad, really, that as despicable as they are, Saddam's family seems to be the lesser of two evils when you compare them to the wretched little bastard occupying the White House and destroying America in the process...
Treasonous? Perhaps Ann Coulter was right all along. What is the Democratic candidate for the nomination going to have to say to appeal to scum like this?
After years of defending Clinton, liberals love the piquant irony of calling Bush a liar. For 50 years liberals have called Republicans idiots, fascists, anti-Semites, racists, crooks, shredders of the Constitution and masterminds of Salvadoran death squads. Only recently have they added the epithet "liar." Even noted ethicist Al Franken has switched from calling conservatives "fat" to calling them "liars."
This is virgin territory for Democrats -- they never before viewed lying as a negative. Their last president was called "an unusually good liar" by a sitting Democratic senator. Their last vice president couldn't say "pass the salt" without claiming to have invented salt. Having only just discovered the intriguing new concept of being offended by lies, the Democrats are having a jolly old time calling Bush a liar. But they can't quite grasp the concept of a lie as connoting something that is -- at a minimum -- untrue.
No, there is no chaos in Iraq. Things are going very well there, in fact. Here is a summary of the situation currently:
The entire south and north are impressively stable, and the center is getting better day-by-day. The public food distribution is up and running. There is no food crisis. I might point out we planned for a food crisis; fortunately, there isn't one. Hospitals nationwide are open. Doctors and nurses are at work. Medical supply convoys are escorted to and from the warehouses. We planned for a health crisis; there isn't one. Oil production has passed the 1 million barrels per day mark. We planned for the possibility of massive destruction of this resource of the Iraqi people; we didn't have to do it.
The school year has been salvaged. Schools nationwide have reopened and final exams are complete. There are local town councils in most major cities and major districts of Baghdad, and they are functioning free from Ba'athist influence.
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
It seems to take a certain willingness to engage in double-think, and a desire to put one's faith before evidence. "Faith" is just an elaborate form of wishing. If it helps people handle their spiritual lives I don't have a problem with it, but when it's used as a starting point for knowledge, or as a filter on what knowledge is true, right, or appropriate, I don't respect it at all.
You can't avoid the problem. All traditions of human knowledge start with pre-rational concepts, including science.
And before you go off on the "science is just another form of faith" argument: first, scientists who simply accept what they are told by the scientific community aren't scientists. Second, all science is founded on the principle of verification and prediction. If you can't verify somebody else's results, or predict the same results from past behavior, your theory is inadequate. Creationism supplies neither of those things, so what good is it?
Creationism is rapidly becoming the straw man of the atheists.
Let's consider a more relevant and important point. If you accept the idea that human beings have certain inalienable rights, then where did you get that concept? You can't get it from science, which is indifferent to the values behind such ideals. You can only get it from human traditions of knowledge that are not completely rational and which include an important element of faith.
No one doubts the importance of such things as engineering or the efficacy of science in systematizing them.
Neither does anyone doubt the importance of such things as ethics and morality, and science is of no use where they are concerned.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
We stopped down by the bridge
and looked at the space where they used to be.
I remembered I saw a piece of trash fall, but not like trash.
Straight down, turning slowly, and then there was a leg
with a skirt flapping,
the skin of the back of my neck tightened,
and she disappeared behind something.
It was pretty bad, must have been bad
for people to decide better to leave than to stay.
Maureen Dowd produced an especially offensive column regarding Clarence Thomas' dissent in the Michigan Law case decision by the Supreme Court.
So why, despite his racial blessings, does he come across as an angry, bitter, self-pitying victim?
The essence of libs' quandary--how could those precious little diverse peoples come to RESENT their rich, white, liberal patrons? Just how COULD THEY???
If you've been told your whole life that you've only made it to wherever you are because the Man LET you achieve it, why, I just can't understand why someone might be bitter. Gee, could you understand it? If, when you try to get free from under the thumb of the Man's patronage, you get smacked down by those same people for being "uppity" and not knowing your place, who could understand the resentment? Not MoDo.
"It's impossible not to be disgusted at someone who could benefit so much from affirmative action and then pull up the ladder after himself."
Liberals....disgusted their little tokens might want to break free of feeling beholden..... Who'dathunk it? I mean, you'd almost think that libs were NEVER interested in eliminating welfare or really equalizing people....they just want they political patronage paid back in kind.
I'm shocked, really. shocked.
They only have themselves to blame for this. It will be a worse defeat even than McGovern's in 1972.
DEMOCRATS are starting to realize upstart antiwar candidate Howard Dean could actually wind up as their 2004 nominee - thanks to the power of the Internet. That scares some of them silly. The New York-born Dean hits a raw nerve among frustrated Dems with the message summed up by his in-your-face TV ads in the early test state of Iowa: "The only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him."
Thursday, June 19, 2003
This from Porphyrogenitus:
One also has to pity the Democrats who are out there, flailing away, claiming that "this Administration is gutting Social Spending", when it enacted the largest increase in Federal education spending in history and is set to sign into law the biggest increase in Federal social spending since LBJ. They are clearly living in a romantic fantasy, a necessary (for them) delusion, dogmatically clung to like a wino clutching his last bottle, because all they have to offer to their constituencies anymore is fear. From the standpoint of ideas, the Democratic party is now an obsolescent curiosity, while the Republican Party is now, essentially, the party of the JFK tradition (not really the LBJ tradition; the Republican Party has not gone that far in embracing the welfare state). Ted Kennedy is claiming credit for the version that is going to pass, while Tom Daschle and his minions are crying about it. I mean, here's the Washington Times editorializing in favor of a Bill that has been stripped of it's most Libertarianite-Conservative provisions (or had them watered down to the point of cosmetic irrelevance) What does this mean?
Well, one thing it means is that, to a large degree, we can see why Democratic politicians are in near hysteria and trying to whip up the fervor of their base in a frenzied, almost maniacal fashion. What you're seeing there is panic: they're getting pressured and forced to the margins. But the most significant thing is that now America needs a (new) party of limited government. George W. Bush is completing the transformation of the Republican Party into the party of JFK's political legacy (as much as that will cause Democrats to wail and gnash their teeth): tax cuts to incentivize economic growth and prosperity, strong foreign policy and defense, and support for moderate "safety net" social spending programs and some (but not pervasive) regulation, generally activist government (but not Social Democracy).
In my opinion, Libertarianism goes way too far in the other direction all too often. But now that this is the Republican Party, there is room on the political spectrum for a party of limited government. This is not to say that there is room in the American political system for three major parties. Not at all.
And thus the hysteria of the Democrats.
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Since Canada seems to have legalized gay marriage, it seems that we will be under pressure in the US to do the same thing.
I have usually been pro-gay rights, but this intitiative has always puzzled me. Marriage has become so degraded as an institution that it hardly even seems worth the candle. The only things of any significance left of the institution of marriage are the division of property and the rights of children to support. The former right can be obtained in other ways, as can miscellaneous other rights associated with marriage, like better insurance rates, and the latter usually isn't an issue for gays and, in any case, is routinely enforced with or without marriage.
I think that gays will eventially get the right to marry in the US. But when they do it won't, as they seem to hope, signal increased acceptance of gays as much as it will signal the further decline of the institution of marriage.
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Another piece of evidence to the effect that the doctrinaire left lost an important ally when Howell Raines stepped down as executive editor at the New York Times. You would never have seen this article in print if Raines were still around.
Even if you throw out all the tainted evidence, there was still what prosecutors call probable cause to believe that Saddam was harboring frightful weapons, and was bent on acquiring the most frightful weapons of all. The Clinton administration believed so. Two generations of U.N. inspectors believed so. It was not a Bush administration fabrication that Iraq had, and failed to account for, massive quantities of anthrax and VX nerve gas and other biological and chemical weapons. Saddam was under an international obligation to say where the poisons went, but did not.
The author has some critical things to say about the Bush administration and goes on to point out that American has a real problem concerning the reliablity of its intelligence services that needs to be addressed, a point that is buttressed by an editorial written earlier in the NY Times that was also balanced and insightful.
It's good to see criticism of the Administration that is not overtly anti-American, criticism that is written out of obvious concern for one's country and for one's fellow citizens, in the pages of the NY Times again. Now, if we can only get them to dump Krugman and MoDo.
Thursday, June 12, 2003
Ann Coulter pointed out that a fellow by the name of Greg Packer keeps turning up in articles published in the NY Times and other NY publications as a man on the street. He has been quoted over a hundred times in various publications on various topics. He was quoted for an article about Hillary Clinton's book signing: "I'm a big fan of Hillary and Bill's. I want to change her mind about running for president. I want to be part of her campaign.".
At first this conjured up images of reporters sitting around at home all day while dreaming up copy:
"Let's see what's in the old assignment bin." (Rumages through a stack of paper slips.) "Ah! A story on the Hillary book signing. Perfect."
(Starts typing on a laptop while leaning back on a couch.)
"Oh, and they had people going out the door and down the street...yeah, that's it...down the street." [tickatickaticka]
"Ok, I need some quotes." (Grabs the Rolodex) "Ok, no, no, no, ... oh yeah, here's one. Greg Packer, he'll be a good one."
(Grabs the phone and punches in a number) [ring ring ring]
"Greg! How's it hangin, man? Say, you weren't by any chance at the Hillary book signing today, were you? ... You were?... First in line? I need a quote from you on that.... No, needs to be something more enthusiastic..."
But then I realized this guy may very well have been at all these events, and he knew where the reporters were and tended to hang with them trying to get his utterances into print. Which tells me that the guy was probably telling the reporters what they wanted to hear, and that's why his quotes get published. It would be just another opportunity for reporters to launder their own views through a third party, which is what such quotes from unnamed and semi-anonymous or obscure sources are often about.
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Hot with happiness. Smiling with my good fortune.
But you were angry
It was not what you wanted.
When I touched your hand
You longed to leave
When I touched your thigh
You did not feel tenderness
I was alive with love and good feeling and caring.
but your feelings were different.
And for a long time
I didn’t know that.
Monday, June 09, 2003
When I said I could fix things
I meant I'd fix the squeek in the door
the light in the refigerator
the car battery
the filter in the fish tank
the boy's bicycles.
and the leak in the bathroom sink faucet.
I didn't mean that I could fix that feeling you got
When I didn't smile at you
I didn't hold you
I didn't hear you
and didn't look up at you when you came in.
A Bullet Works in This Way
The bullet, a slug of copper coated lead,
is affixed atop a cartidge containing powder,
and at the bottom is the primer
all fitting snugly in a chamber, locked by a bolt.
The firing pin strikes the primer
causing primer powder to flash into the cartridge
where powder is ignited
pushes the bullet down the barrel
that gives the bullet a spin
making it fly straight through the air
until it strikes
it tears through
expanding, tumbling, fragmenting
and momentum is expended
within the targeted object
whatever that may be.
One of the more ridiculous tropes coming from mulitculturalist covens is the idea that slavery in the US was unique in all the world and in all of history, and that only Western culture, with it's emphasis on hatred and oppression of people of color, could have come up with it. By the same token, racism was practically invented by the West as a means of supporting the institution of slavery.
However, racism is nothing but tribalism with colors, and as such it has been a part of the human experience since time began. Slavery also has existed since pre-history. There is nothing especially different and unique about slavery in the West.
What is unique about the West is not slavery, which has been found everywhere throughout time, but the abolition of slavery.
In all of recorded history it was St. Patrick who, on the basis of Christian ideals, was the first person to speak out against slavery. (St. Patrick himself was captured and made a slave by the Irish. As such he was forced to tend sheep in the wilderness and was not even given food, clothes, or shelter by his masters. He escaped but later returned to minister to the Irish.) This was about 400 AD. It was centuries before anyone else took up the cause of abolition of slavery, and this was exclusively in the Western world.
Even today it is only in the West that slavery is strongly suppressed. Slavery still exists in various forms in all parts of the world, but especially in the Middle East and Africa where it is institutionalized and practiced openly. There are more people enslaved today, right now, all over the world than were ever enslaved in America. And we are not talking about "white" slavery, either, but slavery that is as cruel and degrading as any.
Slavery has been practiced by almost every race and ethnic class at one time or another against whomever was convenient. My own ancestors, the poor pitiful denizens of Central Europe, in Moravia (Czechoslovakia) were enslaved going back to the dawn of history. They were first known to be enslaved by the Romans and then later by the Germanic tribes, then, when my family fled to America in the 1800's, by the Austrian Empire.
It was the traditions of humanity, justice, and morality in the West the finally brought this tradition of slavery to an end there. No other culture has ever developed such a tradition of abolition of slavery, and if slavery is ever finally eradicated from the earth it will be because Western culture has triumphed over all others.
If not for the West and Western traditions of justice and morality the world would not even know that slavery and racism/tribalism are fundamentally wrong.
It is the very tradition of morality and ethics that brought about the abolition of slavery that the left is now working hard to subvert. It is the very tradition of tribalism that became manifest as racism that the left is now attempting to promote through identity and ethnic politics to achieve their own ends, ends that have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with gaining more power for themselves.
Recently a progressive friend bemoaned the lack of acceptance of science in the country. "What hope do we have of solving our problems when over half of the people reject Darwin?"
By Darwin, of course, he meant science in general. However, I hesitate to accept the figure of greater than 50%. The proportion of believers who would maintain that Darwin's theories must be false because they don't agree with scripture is small, in my experience. But I suppose it depends on what one means by "rejecting Darwinism."
Some would argue that those who don't accept the idea that the theory of evolution has been proven beyond all doubt have rejected Darwinism. Darwin himself didn't go that far.
Many religious people accept the idea that Darwin's theory is a useful theory that provides a model on which to hang a wide variety of observations about the biological world, but they would balk at saying that the theory has been "proven." There are still some pretty big gaps in the fossel record, and it is not out of the question that some future discovery will mandate that the theory of evolution be modified or supplanted by some other theory. Some scientists with no religious inclinations would also balk at saying that Darwin's theories have been proven, and
But the people, particulary those not that well versed in science, who make a political issue out of the theory of evolution would not be happy with that degree of reservation, and might accuse such people of "rejecting Darwinism."
No doubt some of Newton's more fervent supporters held critics of his theories in contempt right up until Einstein's ideas concerning space and gravity were demonstrated to be a more accurate model of the universe. This is because they didn't really understand either Newton or Einstein. For example, Einstein always took it for granted that his theory was incomplete and might be supplanted by some other theory in the future. In fact, he was working on that theory himself right up till the end of his life.
The real rift is not between those who would reject Darwin and those who don't, but between those who have embraced leftist political principles and a secular humanist world view, which includes scientism, a quasi-religious belief in the ability of science to determine all truth, and those who are able to embrace other human spiritual traditions, such as organized religions, while recognising that there are limits to what we can know through science.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
"I bet you in the Pentagon the military planning assumes 5,000 to 10,000 American casualties and at least 100,000 to 250,000 civilian casualties in downtown Baghdad. All on CNN." - Gary Hart, Denver Post, March 30, 2001
"The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we cannot win. "We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable. "Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost." - Scott Ritter, South African TV.
"Iraqis, very clearly, do not want to be 'liberated,' even many who had long opposed Saddam's brutal regime. To the contrary, the US-British invasion appears to have ignited genuine national resistance among 17 million Arab Iraqis, just as the 1941 German invasion of the USSR rallied Russians and Ukrainians behind Stalin's hated regime. ... The nasty, bloody urban warfare the Americans and Brits sought to avoid at all costs is now confronting them." - Eric Margolis, ForeignCorrespondent.com
"These are the last days of relative calm before we start bombing and massacring hundreds of thousands of people and in so doing enter into what many believe will a very long, drawn-out, insanely expensive, volatile, destabilizing, completely unwinnable war against a cheap thug of an opponent who has negligible military might and zero capacity to actually harm the U.S. in any substantive way. U-S-A! U-S-A! This will not be Desert Storm. This will not be quick and painless. This will be 3,000 guided missiles launched on the first day of the war, 10 times that of Desert Storm, turning Iraq into an instant wasteland." - Mark Morford, Sfgate, March 5
Conventional Wisdom Watch, by Newsweek. A down-arrow for Dick Cheney: "Tells 'Meet the Press' just before war, 'We will be greeted as liberators.' An arrogant blunder for the ages." Nope, Newsweek. Yours was the "arrogant blunder for the ages." And on April 7!
"In Baghdad the coalition forces confront a city apparently determined on resistance. They should remember Napoleon in Moscow, Hitler in Stalingrad, the Americans in Mogadishu and the Russians at Grozny. Hostile cities have ways of making life ghastly for aggressors. They are not like countryside. They seldom capitulate, least of all when their backs are to the wall. It took two years after the American withdrawal from Vietnam for Saigon to fall to the Vietcong. Kabul was ceded to the warlords only when the Taleban drove out of town. In the desert, armies fight armies. In cities, armies fight cities. The Iraqis were not stupid. They listened to Western strategists musing about how a desert battle would be a pushover. Things would get 'difficult' only if Saddam played the cad and drew the Americans into Baghdad. Why should he do otherwise?" - Simon Jenkins, the Times of London, in an article called - yes! - "Baghdad Will Be Near Impossible to Conquer," March 28
"Is Wolfowitz really so ignorant of history as to believe the Iraqis would welcome us as 'their hoped-for liberators'?" - Eric Alterman, The Nation.
The liberal elite dreams of American failure, and they claim to find it wherever they look:
American and European intellectual elites were not moved to action when 182,000 Kurds - a people who trace their history back more than 3,000 years - were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein.
The chattering classes hardly flinched when Saddam drained the wetlands of southern Iraq, destroying the environment of the Marsh Arabs and, with it, a 5,000-year-old way of life.
But now they've got their dander up: Iraq's antiquities have been vandalized.
That the Iraq National Museum was looted is, of course, a tragedy. But isn't it curious that the same people who now insist that U.S. Marines should have used lethal force to protect cuneiform tablets were, just a few weeks ago, arguing that only non-military actions were appropriate to stop Saddam's looting of billions of dollars worth of oil wealth - not to mention his mass murders of ancient peoples?
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Clinton is famously vexed by the fact that he had no opportunity to become a "great president." He's especially unhappy that it was that boob, Bush, who got to be president when a really big problem in the form of 9/11 came up. But, in fact, Clinton had chances to be great, but he passed them all up in order to remain popular.
Clinton could have responded to terrorism when the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993 or after the embassy bombings, but rather than unleash the righteous fury of the arsenal of democracy, Clinton delivered a "proportionate response" attacking two of bin Laden's assets, because bin Laden attacked two of ours.
Bill Clinton believed he could will events into being because he knew more than everybody else. He believed he could manage Osama bin Laden and Arafat and North Korea — and history itself. Tit-for-tat, bribes, endless memos-of-understanding and treaties, and, most of all, talk, talk, talk: When you look back you can see that Bill Clinton wasn't the first black president or the first feminist president so much as he was the first French president.
Of course, Clinton would have taken a ton of flak, at least at first, for doing anything really substancial about these attacks, and his popularity might have hit the bottom. The Europeans, instead of admiring him, would have hated his guts. The Republicans, or at least some of the Republicans, would have been all over him. Hollywood stars, instead of campaigning for him, would be writing songs and making videos that trashed him. He might not have been re-elected if his efforts failed. But it would have been the right thing to do, even if only he and his closest supporters knew it.
When you're terrified of rocking the boat, it's difficult to achieve greatness. When you sweep all the nation's problems under the rug so the next guy has to deal with them, you stack the deck for the next guy to become a great president — if for no other reason than that you've let problems fester into crises and hence greatness will be thrust upon him.
(Quotes in italics are from Jonah Goldberg at NRO).
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Adolph Hitler came to power within what he and his followers called the National Socialist Party of Germany. Or, at least, they called it a socialist party. Many socialist scholars in the US and elsewhere insist that it was authoritarian, not socialist.
But, in fact, the National Socialist Party followed the same natural history that most other socialist movements follow. It ascended with the help of popular support to grasp power, then used that power to wipe out all opposition to their policy using whatever extralegal or paramilitary means were needed. As usual, one powerful leader was left in charge.
They felt that this ruthless grasping of power was warranted because it was done in the service of a great utopian socialist ideal that Hitler and the National Socialist Party had for the German people. All means were justified in the pursuit of that ideal, including the invasion of neighboring countries and the elimination of undesirable peoples.
Looking back on it now, Hitler’s idea for utopia seems pretty silly -- something akin to a Teutonic dreamland, where blond Germanic youths would test their athletic skills all day long in the nude in pastoral bliss while nubile young blond Germanic maidens cooked sauerkraut undisturbed by want or care. (All of the socialist utopias of that era, including Marx's utopian vision, were strongly pastoral in character and assumed that everyone would be happy with living on a farm and working all day for the rest of their lives. Perhaps this was nostalgia in reaction to industrialization.) But, silly or not, Hitler and his followers were deadly serious about it. Hitler even made extensive architectural drawings of what the communities of the New Germany were going to look like.
The policy of the National Socialist Party was typically socialist, with centralization of control of the economy in the state. Property nominally remained private, but "private" corporations were under strict governmental control. Government control was extended over most aspects of ordinary citizen’s lives as well. As usual, the military and warfare was viewed only as a necessary evil that would vanish with the advent of the great expected utopian dream.
Saddam Hussein was educated in and rose to political power within the socialist Baath party. Or, at least, the Iraqis call it a socialist party. Many socialist scholars in the US insist that it is authoritarian, not socialist.
But, in fact, the Baath party and Hussein followed the same natural history that most other socialist parties that have risen to political power have followed. They ascend with the help of idealistic revolutionary people's movements to grasp power, then use that power to wipe out all opposition to their policy, often putting one all powerful leader in charge.
The policy of the Baath party has been a typically socialist one -- that of centralizing power and property in the state and extending control of the state over most aspects of the people's lives, including the distribution of food.
This policy has been in the service of a typically socialist utopian ideal for the future of the country and of the whole region, if not the world; i.e., that of Arab Nationalism. Arab utopia is a bit different from that of the Western world, but in one uncanny parallel with Hitler, Hussein's followers have taken to producing architectural drawings of ideal Islamic cities, where, for example, the men and women have separate quarters and public accommodations.
(How does this differ from a healthy concern with urban planning? Well, for one thing Hussein's followers assume that the cities will be totally wiped out and replaced, and they give themselves license to start over from scratch, like Hitler did. For another, there is the typically utopian assumption that human nature will undergo a transformation such that many of the things that are important to most people now no longer will be, such as sports and other "useless" pastimes, so they need not be incorporated into planning.)
Hussein's ultimate goal is to unite all Arabs in a single nation. To that end all action is justified, including the military conquest of Iraq's neighbors, the oppression of Iraq's own citizens, and whatever else they find to be expedient or necessary.
This whole thing this is strongly flavored by a potent ingredient, that of religion. Hussein and his followers strongly believe that Allah is on their side. Islam has always strongly endorsed warfare as a means of spreading their religion to the infidels and of purifying the land of the apostates (read: moderate Muslims).
Sunday, February 02, 2003
The deaths of seven astronauts with the destruction on re-entry of the Columbia weighs on my mind today. Of course, I grieve for the dead and feel sympathy for their loved ones. Of course, we should do all we can to prevent this from happening in the future.
But mainly I feel that this is the inevitable consequence of undertaking a dangerous endeavor. We should not be surprised that we have lost astronauts any more that we should be surprised by the loss of life in war.
If we wish to be worth something as a civilization and a culture, we should not eschew such endeavors.
Friday, January 31, 2003
Warning: This post was written to be provocative and may be offensive to some people.
As I have said previously, I favor abortion on demand not because of any bogus reasons concerning personal privacy or rights, but on utilitarian (Darwinian) grounds.
Which is to say, I refused to hide behind weasel words and concepts like "choice," when a fetus becomes a person, when life begins, and so forth. I feel no anxiety about helping women who choose to abort feel good about that choice by lying to them, telling them they are just ridding themselves of a lump of tissue. I think that we ought to be clear about the fact that when we perform an abortion we kill a child because the imperative to respect human life, whatever little is left of that imperative in our society, demands inclusiveness in the concept of "child", not exclusiveness or dismissal, if there is any doubt. The reality of it is that we have decided for a number of reasons that abortion is good and acceptable regardless of any other moral considerations.
What I mean by abortion being good in a utilitarian sense is that the people who abort their children purely for reasons of birth control tend to be those who ought not procreate, and this works for the good of society. That is, I mean that those whose personality and temperment is to kill their own children are those who are best eliminated from the gene pool. I don't mean by this that these people are of undesireable character because they choose to abort, but that they are of undesireable personality in general, and that personality leads to behaviors such as casual abortions and problems and difficulties in other spheres of life for others that we can all do without. In other words, it is no accident that the women who have had multiple abortions tend to be the selfish, self centered, sociopathic, blame shifting, narcissistic trouble makers amoung us. And, for that matter, so are the men who keep getting them pregnant.
Of course, this doesn't exclude the possiblity that there are a number of women who are perfectly nice, with good character, who need an abortion from time to time, it only means that the evolutionary pressure caused by abortion on demand weighs more on people with undesireable personality.
By contrast, Margaret Sanger, pioneer of the "Family Planning" movement, was quite frank in feeling that it was people of non-white races, the infirm, or people with subnormal intelligence that should be subjected to efforts to reduce fertility and the like. In her book, "Pivot of Civilization," involuntary birth control is clearly implied. However, with the revelations about Nazi atrocities during WWII, she quickly backpedaled and insisted that she only wanted people to have access to strictly voluntary birth control measures all along. She apparently reasoned that people in difficult circumstances caused by their own problems, such as being a member of a disadvantaged race, would choose to limit their fertility. As it turns out, she was right. Of course, this could be either good or bad, depending on your perspective.
Conyers, Rangel, Sharpton, et al. continue to miss the real story of racial disparity in casualty rates: the disproportionate numbers of black casualties in the war on the unborn. While Sharpton and the other Democratic presidential hopefuls celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade at NARAL's gala, the black community continued to be decimated by abortion rates that are nearly three times the rate of whites.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Bjorn Lomborg, author of the Skeptical Environmentalist, continues to get the Galileo treatment from the environmental community. Most recently he was smeared by a politically charged attack from a Danish scientific governmental committee. The committee's review included no specific citations of specific criticisms of the book, but it did cite popular publications like Time magazine at length.
I have personally done a point by point review of Lomborg's book and of the criticisms of the book I've been able to find. If you list the topics of fact in the book and the major conclusions that Lomborg makes, then go back and strike out all the topics of fact and conclusions contested by his critics, then at the end you find that 97% of Lomborg's book is not even touched by the critics. In the other 3% Lomborg is probably right, too.
I invite anyone who is seriously concerned about the environment to do the same analysis, because you are never going to get the truth from environmentalists.
(By the way, Galileo was not persecuted by the Church per se, but by his fellow scientists, who were jealous of him and resentful of his innovations such as using mathematics in physical sciences. These scientific enemies of Galileo used the Church to attack him. In the same way Lomborg's scientific enemies use the quasi-religion, the popular environmental movement, with its wigged out, drooling, druggified, moronic tree hugging zealots and its left leaning, luddite journalists, to attack Lomborg.)
I am Danish, liberal, vegetarian, a former member of Greenpeace; and I used to believe in the litany of our ever-deteriorating environment. You know, the doomsday message repeated by the media, as when Time magazine tells us that "everyone knows the planet is in bad shape." We're defiling our Earth, we're told. Our resources are running out. Our air and water are more and more polluted. The planet's species are becoming extinct, we're paving over nature, decimating the biosphere.
The problem is that this litany doesn't seem to be backed up by facts. When I set out to check it against the data from reliable sources -- the U.N., the World Bank, the OECD, etc. -- a different picture emerged. We're not running out of energy or natural resources. There is ever more food, and fewer people are starving. In 1900, the average life expectancy was 30 years; today it is 67. We have reduced poverty more in the past 50 years than we did in the preceding 500. Air pollution in the industrialized world has declined -- in London the air has never been cleaner since medieval times.
This information needs to reach a broader audience, because it concerns our basic priorities...
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
There are a lot of women who had abortions when they were young, who don't have children, and who can't have children now.
But then Margaret Sanger, founder of Family Planning, was a strong proponent of eugenics, who in her 1922 book "Pivot of Civilization" unabashedly called for the extirpation of "weeds .... overrunning the humnan garden"; for the segregation of "morons, misfits, and the maladjusted"; and for the sterilization of "genetically inferior races."
As Sanger writes of the utopia that her eugenics would bring about:
"Let us conceive for the moment at least, a world not burdened by the
weight of dependent and delinquent classes, a total population of
mature, intelligent, critical and expressive men and women. Instead
of the inert, exploitable, mentally passive class which now forms the
barren substratum of our civilization, try to imagine a population
active, resistant, passing individual and social lives of the most
contented and healthy sort. Would such men and women, liberated from
our endless, unceasing struggle against mass prejudice and inertia, be
deprived in any way of the stimulating zest of life? Would they sink
into a slough of complacency and fatuity?
"No! Life for them would be enriched, intensified and ennobled in a
fashion it is difficult for us in our spiritual and physical squalor
even to imagine. There would be a new renaissance of the arts and
sciences. Awakened at last to the proximity of the treasures of life
lying all about them, the children of that age would be inspired by a
spirit of adventure and romance that would indeed produce a
"Let us look forward to this great release of creative and constructive
energy, not as an idle, vacuous mirage, but as a promise which we, as
the whole human race, have it in our power, in the very conduct of our
lives from day to day, to transmute into a glorious reality. Let us
look forward to that era, perhaps not so distant as we believe, when
the great adventures in the enchanted realm of the arts and sciences
may no longer be the privilege of a gifted few, but the rightful
heritage of a race of genius..."
(M. Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization)
It is precisely the same utopian vision that Adolf Hitler advocated, pursued by peaceful means.
It did not work out exactly the way that Sanger thought it would. She wanted to rid the world of mental defectives, but in the end she succeeded in established policies that, in effect, encouraged women who belong to her sisterhood to eliminate themselves from the gene pool.
Monday, January 20, 2003
In the US there are no laws that define penalties against sedition, so in effect there is no point at which a dissident crosses over into sedition in this country, at least not sedition that is punishable. And I know of no dissidents that have been thrown in prison lately over their dissidence, per se.
However, critics of the administration and other dissidents still have to face their fellow citizens and may rightfully come under attack for the stances they take. If they suffer criticism for what they say it is not tantamount to denying them the right to speak out. Speech may be free, but it still has consequences.
The problem for anti-war dissidents is that their stance is unpopular. Most people don't agree with them, so they are getting a lot of criticism. So, among other things, they bring up the Bill of Rights and cry that they have the right to say what they are saying.
Of course, they do, but in saying so they are just using a debating tactic to deflect people from the main issue, which is what they are saying about American policy, and whether what they are saying is right. It is just a tactic especially because criticism against them does not even come close to actually putting them at any real risk or discomfort, much less actually restricting their rights.
What impresses me about most of the anti-war dissidents these days is that they usually don't come across as people who are happy with America but just have some differences on a few issues. No, they talk like people who despise America and all of its institutions and its people, who see America as totally evil in every respect, who automatically assume that America acts on the basest motives that can be imagined. It is literally enough to make one wonder, "Gee, if these people are so angry and unhappy with America, why don't they just leave?" Which is why one is often prompted to ask that very question.
There is anti-war dissent that suggests to me that the dissent is born out of concern for one's country and one's fellow citizens. An example might be to say that war is a very bad idea because of the risk to military men and women and because the country might end up in a quagmire that is costly and risky to American lives, wealth, and political capital. It is also reasonable to wonder if Hussein actually has or will have the kind of weapons capablity that justifies this action. I think that there is enough of this sort of criticism to make one wonder if we would be doing the right thing to attack Iraq.
An example of anti-war dissent that suggests to me that the dissent is born out of hatred for America would be to say that America does not have the moral authority to act because, in effect, America is so evil, or America is acting out of hypocrisy, or America is just trying to get at Iraqi oil, or America just wants to spread its evil imperialist capitalist rule all over the face of the earth.
Do the people who spew this sort of thing really think that many Americans will be convinced by what they are saying? I realize that there is always a certain element on college campuses and the like that is attracted to such thinking, but can't they see that saying these things is just going to make most people mad at them?
When you get behind the reasons for why America is so evil in the eyes of these people it usually gets down to all the things that America had to do to survive the cold war and otherwise insure national security. In recounting such events the dissents always portray the US as acting purely out of bad motives, as if the other side in the cold war didn't exist, as if America has no enemies, or as if the Soviet Union and its allies were only motivated by goodness and light. Their view of history is so strongly biased against the US that it makes their hatred for the US obvious.
Perhaps for some of these dissidents it is that in being so successful America refutes the leftist ideals they hold so dear. Perhaps for others America stands as a Judeochristian bulwark that threatens to forever stymie any spread of Islam except in a watered down, secularized form. Perhaps for still others America upholds values of human rights, freedom, and democracy that they find threatening.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Critics of the SAT and other standardized tests claim that the SAT does not test "real" ability and advocate various alternative ways to test ability.
These alternatives take various forms, but the thing that tends to tie them together is their low reliability, that is, the high variablity of test scores. Standard deviations of scores for these tests, in other words, tend to be high.
That fact alone allows their proponents to claim that these tests are "more fair" and less biased than standardized written tests.
How can this true? Because when the test is administered the examiners can norm the test and set a passing grade in the usual way. A certain percentage of the students will fail, but a student with marginal ability is more likely to make a passing score just by chance. This is especially true if he or she is able to retake the test or take a similar test one or more times after initially flunking. With repeated testing they are able to pass more often just by chance if the test score variablity is high. This is not possible, or is much more difficult, with a standardized exam.
(Of course, the examiners have failed in their primary duty, which is to provide the students and others with an accurate assesment of their ability. When it comes to important things like determining which medical students have an adequate knowledge of medicine, for example, this failure can get to be quite serious.)
In addition, just by chance the class ranking of students taking such tests tends to be different from those of standardized examinations. Ipso facto, these alternative exams are testing a "different kind of knowledge" according to their advocates. This enables some students who don't usually do well in standardized examinations to look better.
That there is no basis whatsoever in educational psychology for the idea that there are "different kinds of knowledge" does not phase them one bit.
The other fact about some of these alternative evaluation methods that endears them to egalitarian educational buffs is their subjectivity. Subjectivity provides examiners with enough wiggle room to insure that the "disadvantaged" students pass at a reasonable rate.
So, whenever one hear critics of the SAT or other standardized written exams talk about other evaluation methods that test "real" ability, or test "different kinds of knowledge" or the like, it should be apparent what the game is.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
...even if it is an attempt to remedy discrimination.
So said George W. Bush, thereby jumping in to the affirmative action case now before the Supreme Court.
What about "judging people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin," do advocates of the Michigan affirmative action in admissions program fail to understand?
In the Michigan program, students were ranked on a point scale. Getting a perfect 1600 on the SAT counted for 12 points, while just being black or hispanic counted for 20. Under this system blacks were 10 to 20 times more likely to gain admission than whites with the same grades and SAT scores. In other words, race in and of itself had become one the main factors in determining who got admitted, outranking even SAT scores or grades.
Bush pointed out that in Texas and Florida colleges have maintained diversity in the student body using other means that do not violate the constitution.
January 16, 2003 -- President Bush yesterday, in a brief but forceful speech to the nation, placed his administration in opposition to race-based admission quotas in higher education - and, presumably, in favor of a color-blind America.
A laudable goal, and one worth the acrimony the president's address quickly began to generate.
Saturday, January 04, 2003
Whenever the left has gained significant political power it has resulted in a totalitarian nightmare. The stuggle toward the impossible utopian dreams of the left cannot be effected against the desires of most people without the application of overwhelming state power, and the left always believes that any amount of sacrifice and oppression is justified in the attempt to bring those dreams about. Then the state inevitably becomes stuck as it stuggles futily to transform society. Later, the state becomes its own class interest as it sucks up more resources from the rest of society to perpetuate itself. The struggle toward the utopian dream for society is used cynically as a cover for the resulting oligarchy.
We can see this process of transformation away from democracy taking place in Venezuela now.
Government allies staged the march a day after the leftist president said he would consider imposing martial law to quell the five-week strike and halt escalating political violence.
Gunfire erupted Friday during an opposition march on the headquarters of the armed forces, Caracas Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno said. Two people died of gunshot wounds and at least 78 others were injured -- five of them by gunshots.
It was unclear who fired on the demonstrators, who were met by hundreds of Chavez supporters throwing rocks and bottles at security forces trying to keep the two sides apart.
"I am obligated to protect the people. I am obligated to protect public order," Chavez said. "If they force me to (decree martial law), I'd have to do it.
Associated Press -- 1/4/2003