Friday, September 20, 2002

The depravity of Palestinians reaches new lows every day. Will the terrorist's apologists acknowledge the horror of attempting to poison a hospital water supply
Kim Du Toit suggests that we grant political asylum to Tony Martin who spent 5 years in prison in Britain for shooting a burgler who had broken into his house.

This poor guy is planning on going abroad for a vacation after his release, and according to his attorney:

"He would like to have a holiday for perhaps a month away from the pressure. I think his favorite place at the moment would be America, whether they would allow him in or not I do not know. He has had a lot of support from there."
...
Screw a visitor's visa. Why don't we grant the man political asylum? He's been unjustly imprisoned by a horrible judicial system, and he's clearly a good, productive citizen. He would be head and shoulders above any other asylum-seekers from, say, Yemen, to whom we've given shelter to during the past five years. At least we know he's not a part of some Muslim cell of sleeper agents.

Check out the Washington Post Interactive Guide on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In talking about the history of the Palestinian Arabs they write:

"Muslims entered Jerusalem and in 637 built a mosque where the Jewish temple may have stood: this became the al-Aqsa mosque."

May have stood??? Last time I checked, nobody but really committed Jew haters questioned the site of the Jewish temple. I love what they consider to be unbiased journalism.
Remember the German Justice minister who compared Bush to Hitler? In response she released a statement that said:

"I did not compare the persons Bush and Hitler, but the methods.. It is erroneous and inflammatory to imply that I compared a man who was democratically elected, the American President George W Bush, and the Nazi era."

Okay, I just have two things to say about this. Is comparing Bush's methods to those of Hitler any different than comparing the men themselves? I mean it is Hitler's methods that people find issue with. And obviously she doesn't know her German history. Hitler gained power through a democratic process, not through a coup or anything like that.
Excellent article by David Gelernter on the roots of European appeasment and the contrasts between WWI & II.

"The First World War seemed unimaginable but turned out to be human, all too human when compared with the Second, which was too big for the mind to grasp. As the Second World War and its aftermath fade, they reveal a "new world order" that is strangely familiar--amazingly like the Western world of the 1920s, with its love of self-determination and loathing of imperialism and war, its liberal Germany, shrunken Russia, and map of Europe crammed with small states, with America's indifference to Europe and Europe's disdain for America, with Europe's casual, endemic anti-Semitism, her politically, financially, and masochistically rewarding fascination with Muslim states who despise her, and her undertone of self-hatred and guilt.

During the decades following the Second World War, this world of Versailles seemed to be gone for good. It had begun to unravel in the 1930s. "The year 1929, the midpoint in the two decades between the wars, was an important watershed," writes Donald Kagan in his "On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace" (1995). "In October of that year Gustav Stresemann died and with him the politically careful, if determined, program of the peaceful revision of the Versailles settlement in Germany's favor. In the same month the Wall Street stock market crash gave impetus to a great depression that swept across the industrialized world, causing political shock waves of great significance in Europe."

Looking around today, we find ourselves in a nightmare house where the clocks all stopped on the eve of an unthinkable disaster. It is 1928 all over again."
(via OccamsToothbrush)
Sheldon Richman argues why corporate taxes should be repealed.

"...As has been wisely said, businesses don’t pay taxes. They collect them. A corporation is not an entity. It’s a relationship among large numbers of people. If you tax “it” you are really taxing those people. The people who pay the tax may be different from the ones you may think are paying it. We can’t say exactly who pays how much of the corporate tax, but we do know that it hits stockholders, employees, and consumers. Most advocates of the corporate tax probably don’t intend to hit the company’s employees and consumers. But they are paying. Since the profits taxed away can’t be invested in capital improvements that raise employee productivity, wages cannot climb. And since those profits can’t be invested in new, better, and cheaper products, consumers pay more for goods than they would otherwise. In both cases, the corporate tax is a real tax on people not usually thought of as its targets."
So CNN has turned down an ad by the American Jewish Committee that stated ""Israel is America's only real ally in the Middle East. Israel is a democracy that respects the rights of individuals and gives all citizens a right to vote. All people — Christians, Muslims and Jews enjoy freedom of religion, press and speech. In Israel, unlike other countries in the region, all people — Christians, Muslims and Jews — enjoy freedom of religion, press and speech." You can see the ad on www.ajc.org. God forbid someone actually buys time on CNN to counter the anti-Israel propaganda the network keeps spewing.
Jeff Jacoby argues that we should send some Marines to depose Mugabe.

For months the media have dutifully reported the bleak news out of Zimbabwe, which Mugabe has ruled since it became independent in 1980. Reporters have filed stories about the presidential election Mugabe stole in March, about his campaign to dispossess Zimbabwe's several thousand white farm owners, about the widening food crisis that is pushing millions into famine. The impression they convey is one of Third World despotism, corruption, and thuggishness - an all-too-familiar tableau.
...
To get a sense of how hideous life in Mugabe's Zimbabwe has become, consider that rape has become a favored means of political control. Thousands of Zimbabwean girls and women have been raped by policemen and members of the ''war veterans,'' gangs of armed Mugabe loyalists. An Australian newspaper reported recently on the treatment meted out to Dora, a 12-year-old whose father had made the mistake of voting for the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party.
...
Rape is not the only weapon in Mugabe's political arsenal.

Like Stalin in the 1930s, Mugabe is now using famine to defeat his opponents. The few thousand white farmers who grow most of Zimbabwe's food are being demonized in poisonously racist terms and forcibly evicted from their land. Their black employees are being thrown off the farms with them, often after savage beatings by Mugabe's thugs.
...
Millions of lives are at stake. The surest way to save those lives would be to force Mugabe from power. A detachment of Marines could do the job on its lunch break. But that would mean interfering in another country's ''internal affairs'' and is politically unthinkable. Perhaps we will think differently when the corpses begin to pile up.


A very good idea which would probably save millions of lives without much military cost, but politically untenable. The cries from the Left of US Imperialism would rise to a shrill pitch if we sent troops to depose the 'legitimate' government (despite the fact that the last election was fixed), while the Realpolitik Right would yell that we shouldn't be involved where there are no direct US interests. I can understand this view somewhat since, sad to say, we cannot evict every psychotic dictator determined to massacre large percentages of his countries population (Kim Jong-Il comes immediately to mind), but as Jacoby says at the end of his piece "Perhaps we will think differently when the corpses begin to pile up." (via Heretical Ideas)
Apparently in Canada, you aren't considered to be naked if you are wearing shoes. 7 men who marched naked in a gay pride parade and had been arrested for public indecency were let off the hook because they were wearing shoes. I wonder how that would fly in a relationship:

Girlfriend: I can't believe I caught you naked in bed with another woman!
Boyfriend: Oh we weren't naked, I had socks on.
Copy of bin Laden's 1998 declaration of war against the US.

On that basis, and in compliance with Allah's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah."


(via LGF)
UNITED NATIONS — Iraq is free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, Saddam Hussein told the United Nations in a speech read Thursday by his foreign minister.
...
"Our country is ready to receive any scientific experts, accompanied by politicians you choose to represent any one of your countries, to tell us which places and scientific installations they would wish to see, particularly those about which the American officials have been fabricating false stories, alleging that they contain prohibited materials or activities," Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told the world body, quoting the Iraqi president.


Well, I'm satisified. Let's send him a nice note to apologize for bothering him. (via TurkeyBlog)
Jane Galt has an interesting post on why the pundits assumptions of what Saddam will do in response to US or UN actions needs to be taken with large grains of salt.

"The other point is that you cannot count on knowing what calculations the other side is making. If you had put the choices Germany faced in front of almost any American citizen, they would probably have turned back at Poland. Certainly, they wouldn't have declared war on the USSR. Yet Hitler clearly didn't feel that way. Betting the farm on his "rationality" by, say, declaring war on Russia, would have crushed us.

So that's why I'm suspicious of upper-middle class professionals who say "Saddaam is rational, therefore he will choose to do X if we do Y". And you know this because of your extensive experience as an Iraqi dictator? His operating environment is different from yours. You do not know what he is thinking. So it is fundamentally dangerous to assume that you can predict how he will act."
Can sharks have a messiah? Apparently, a female shark who has not had contact with a male shark in 6 years, just gave birth.
Check out how one Harvard Professor responded to the speech by Summers which I mention in the blog below:

''I don't consider myself anti-Semitic at all, but I'm definitely hostile to the aggressive eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth policies of the current Israeli leadership,'' said Peter Ashton, a research professor of forestry.

Okay, so what that means is that this guy (who obviously likes trees more than people, who else becomes a professor of forestry?) believes that the Israelis should let themselves be killed and should not punish those who are trying to kill them. Sorry Mr. Ashton, but that does make you an anti-semite. You may not be pulling the trigger but you want to make it so the Israelis are helpless when somebody else is pulling it. The end is the same in both cases. This guy sounds like someone who would say "I don't hate Jews, some of my best friends are Jews." No real logical reason for this feeling of mine, just a hunch.
A short history of emoticons. :-)
Larry Summers, now President of Harvard, recently spoke out against anti-semitism in academic communities. Here are some key passages:

But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.

For example:


Hundreds of European academics have called for an end to support for Israeli researchers, though not for an end to support for researchers from any other nation.
Israeli scholars this past spring were forced off the board of an international literature journal.
At the same rallies where protesters, many of them university students, condemn the IMF and global capitalism and raise questions about globalization, it is becoming increasingly common to also lash out at Israel. Indeed, at the anti-IMF rallies last spring, chants were heard equating Hitler and Sharon.
Events to raise funds for organizations of questionable political provenance that in some cases were later found to support terrorism have been held by student organizations on this and other campuses with at least modest success and very little criticism.
And some here at Harvard and some at universities across the country have called for the University to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university’s endowment to be invested. I hasten to say the University has categorically rejected this suggestion.

We should always respect the academic freedom of everyone to take any position. We should also recall that academic freedom does not include freedom from criticism. The only antidote to dangerous ideas is strong alternatives vigorously advocated.



Good Krauthammer piece in the WaPo on the irrelevancy of the UN and the Democrats who fawn over it.

"The vice president, followed by the administration A Team and echoing the president, argues that we must remove from power an irrational dictator who has a history of aggression and mass murder, is driven by hatred of America and is developing weapons of mass destruction that could kill millions of Americans in a day. The Democrats respond with public skepticism, a raised eyebrow and the charge that the administration has yet to "make the case."

Then, on Sept. 12, the president goes to the United Nations and argues that this same dictator must be brought to heel to vindicate some Security Council resolutions and thus rescue the United Nations from irrelevance. The Democrats swoon. "Great speech," they say. "Why didn't you say that in the first place? Count us in."

When the case for war is made purely in terms of American national interest -- in terms of the safety, security and very lives of American citizens -- chins are pulled as the Democrats think it over. But when the case is the abstraction of being the good international citizen and strengthening the House of Kofi, the Democrats are ready to parachute into Baghdad."
It really is amazing how life and the Onion are being intertwined (thanks to Best of the Web for this one):

"I know my kids, and Shafal loves this country. He works in the day as a telemarketer and then at 5 p.m. he goes to college for computers. Everyone knows my son, and they say he's a nice guy."--Fatima Mosed, mother of suspected al Qaeda operative Shafal Mosed, quoted in the Buffalo News, Sept. 15

"In a chilling development, the CIA announced Monday that it has acquired a videotape showing suspected al-Qaeda operatives engaging in what appears to be telemarketing."--the Onion, Sept. 18
Here is a very pro-Osama piece from Robert Fisk. It's from 1993. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking to it.
This Tom Lehrer lyric seems apropos given recent German comments:

Once all the Germans were warlike and mean,
But that couldn't happen again.
We taught them a lesson in 1918
And they've hardly bothered us since then.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Here is a good piece by a former UK cabinet member which makes the point that a good way to fight terror is to legalize drugs.
In the one party state of California there is no chance that an investigation of bribery and extortion by a sitting Governor will ever occur. Gray Davis rules unchecked.
More anti-American madness from Germany. "Germans make the best Americans but they make awful Germans" Henry Miller. (courtesy Lucianne.com)
John's post below reminded me of an old Onion piece from 1998 on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms signing a trade agreement with the Food and Drug Administration:

In the deal, the FDA received 345,000 bottles of Jack Daniel's, a quarter-million cartons of Merit Ultra Lights and 27,000 guns, including 4,300 Smith & Wesson .38 snub-nosed revolvers, 2,500 Glock .380 ACP pistols, and 1,850 Colt Anaconda .44 Magnums.

In return, ATF officials were permitted to pick anything they liked from the federal fridge and national drug stash. They took 190,000 packs of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, 25,500 pints of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream, 7,200 bags of Cheetos, a half-ton of marijuana, and 300,000 kilos of pure, uncut Colombian cocaine.
So my brain is oozing out of my ears right now after reading a 40 page report on angiogenesis. I need a Guinness, is there anything it can't do?

ATF Agent Accused of Threatening Teens With Gun While Drunk

INDIANOLA, Iowa — The head of the Iowa office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was charged with public intoxication and was being investigated on allegations that he threatened some teenagers with a loaded gun. [more]

Did the dispute occur when he tried to buy some bootleg cartons of cigarettes? This is why the folks at the Onion have a harder time making stuff up, the real stuff is too funny by itself. (via Juan Gato)
Michael Eisner has finally and completely lost his mind. He has decided to develop a live-action "Snow White" which will be in the style of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." The project had been called, at one point, "Snow White and the Seven Shao Lin". Now, I love kung fu movies but Snow White??? The Brothers Grimm would be rolling in their graves. By the way, my favorite adaptation has to be "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" with Sigourney Weaver.
From MEMRI comes another example of the new Saudi tolerance:

In a recent article published in the Saudi state controlled daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Muhammad bin S'ad Al-Shwey'ir, a past advisor to former Saudi mufti Sheikh Abdallah bin Baz and editor-in-chief of the Islamic Research periodical published by the Islamic Clerics Association of Saudi Arabia, wrote that Jews use human blood for their holiday celebrations.(1) Al-Shwey'ir's article also incorporated several other antisemitic canards; among these are references to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and to the Nazi propaganda forgery of 1935 about a false speech given by Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention. The following are excerpts from the article:

Jews Use Human Blood for Rituals

"Christian Europe showed enmity toward the Jews when it transpired that their rabbis craftily hunt anyone walking alone, [tempting] him to enter their house of worship. Then they take his blood to use for baked goods for their holidays, as part of their ritual. Often this deed was uncovered even in the Arab and Islamic countries that protected them – as Ahmad Abd Al-Ghafur wrote, pointing out the events geographically and historically, in his book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, because anyone hunted by them disappears forever. When these incidents proliferated, the security apparatuses began to follow them, until they caught their rabbis committing the crime."

"Furthermore, they have played a significant role in toppling and corrupting many of the governments, to the point where this became known among the Arabs, the Germans, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and others."
Here is something interesting from Safire's piece today:

"At a meeting in the Axel Springer building in Hamburg on Aug. 27 with about 30 American friends of Germany, the defense minister who had been recently booted out of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's cabinet for financial irregularities was asked why Germany was so loudly opposed to President Bush's campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. Rudolf Scharping reported that he had answered that very question in a Schröder cabinet meeting: it was all about the Jews. Bush was motivated to overthrow Saddam by his need to curry favor with what Scharping called 'a powerful — perhaps overly powerful — Jewish lobby' in the coming U.S. elections. Jeb Bush needed their votes in Florida as George Pataki did in New York, and Congressional redistricting made Jewish votes central to control of Congress. Germany, the discredited minister said proudly to his discomfited audience, had rejected such pandering."

There is an old Jewish joke (as in one told by Jews) which goes like this: Two Jewish men are sitting on a park bench reading papers. One of them looks up and sees that his neighbor is reading an anti-semitic rag (the Guardian?) and asks his neighbor, "why in God's name are you reading such filth?" To which his neighbor replies, "well in your paper, Jews are constantly being forced to leave their homes and in some cases, being massacred. In your paper, the Jews are poor and pathetic. In my paper, on the other hand, we control everything, we control the press, finances, the armies and all the governments. It really makes me feel a lot better about myself."

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Cato also has an excellent (and long) piece on the history of the enactment of tax witholding. (via SafetyValve)

"Congress and the president learned, to their pleasure, what automobile salesmen had learned long before: that installment buyers could be induced to pay more because they looked not at the total debt but only at the monthly payments. And in this case there was, for government, the added psychological advantage that people were paying their taxes with not much resistance because they were paying with money they had never even seen.

As George Lent (1942) described it in the Journal of Political Economy, ``the taxpayer does not have the same consciousness of parting with his income to the government,'' making withholding ``the most `painless' method of meeting tax liabilities.'' The following section explores the extent to which government decisionmakers not only understood this result ex ante but also used other types of transaction-cost manipulation to achieve it when they instituted income tax withholding in 1943."
Explaining our northern neighbor's one party, undemocratic political system. Or,a nation slowly slipping into third world status.
A great Dave Barry piece on the 'War on Tobacco':

"Before we get to the latest wacky hijinks, let's review how the War On Tobacco works. The underlying principle, of course, is: Tobacco Is Bad. It kills many people, and it causes many others to smell like ashtrays in a poorly janitored bus station.

So a while ago, politicians from a bunch of states were scratching their heads, trying to figure out what to do about the tobacco problem. One option, of course, was to say: ''Hey, if people want to be stupid, it's none of our business.'' But of course that was out of the question. Politicians believe EVERYTHING is their business, which is why -- to pick one of many examples -- most states have elaborate regulations governing who may, and who may not, give manicures.

Another option was to simply make selling cigarettes illegal, just like other evil activities, such as selling heroin, or giving unlicensed manicures, or operating lotteries (except, of course, for lotteries operated by states). But the politicians immediately saw a major flaw with this approach: It did not provide any way for money to be funneled to politicians.

And so they went with option three, which was to file lawsuits against the tobacco companies. The underlying moral principle of these lawsuits was: ``You are knowingly selling a product that kills tens of thousands of our citizens each year. We want a piece of that action!''
...
So that's your update on the Wacky, Wonderful War On Tobacco. It is now essentially a partnership between politicians and tobacco companies to make money by selling cigarettes. It's only a matter of time before some shrewd state cuts out the middleman and starts funding the War On Tobacco by making cigarettes and selling them directly to the public (``Smoke New Jerseys -- They Taste As Great As Their Name!'').

No, wait, that would be completely insane.

I give them two years."
(via American Realpolitik)
Speaking of administration civil rights intrusions, here is a very good, if long, piece from Cato on the extensive damage done to civil rights by the Bush, er Clinton administration. If the Cato piece is too long for you, try this summary at NRO.
The causes of economic apartheid explained. Perhaps Mr. Mandela should read it.
Orson Scott Card argues that a free and unfettered press is absolutely essential especially during a war.

"It is vital to us -- and, dare I say it, to the world at large -- that we carry this war forward to victory. And yet, even though the press seems determined to prevent President Bush from building the public consensus essential to victory, I believe that in the long run, the balance should tilt toward freedom for even a biased press.

Because truth is the best defender of freedom. Our citizenry unites to fight a war only when we believe the war is right and necessary, and if our leadership seems to be trying to hide the truth from us, we no longer trust them and consensus becomes impossible.

Bitter and ugly truths should never wait for the press to discover them, and should never be hidden. We should hear our president and our other civilian and military leaders tell us straight out, with no effort to conceal.

Only then will they maintain our trust, so that they can ask us for further sacrifices and we'll believe they are needed.

And only then will the press be defanged, because they can't make an expose out of what the administration told us first.

The cost of a (relatively) free press that almost exclusively serves the domestic opposition is very high. But the cost of not having a free press is even higher. "
(via Heretical Ideas)
Looks like the President is going to send a resolution on Iraq to Congress. And it looks like it will get bi-partisan support. Check out this passage:

"Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle yesterday reversed course and said he and fellow Democrats are ready to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force against Hussein if he doesn't prove to the world he no longer has weapons of mass destruction."

That is pretty interesting wording. I mean, it is extremely difficult to prove a negative. Especially when you are talking about someone known as the "Butcher of Baghdad".
Looks like Canadians aren't able to keep secrets according to a recent poll, especially the English-speakers. Maybe that's the real reason we aren't involving them in the war.
Seems that there is further evidence of water in outer space.
Brad DeLong defends the pharmaceutical companies. (via Minuteman)
Boy, Meryl Yourish is going to be rolling in dough soon. Not only did she get contacted by a Nigerian bank officer about $53MM he was going to give her, but now she has won a Netherlands Sweepstake Lottery.
The Onion 'reports' on the true depths of Al-Qaedas depravity: Telemarketing.

WASHINGTON, DC—In a chilling development, the CIA announced Monday that it has acquired a videotape showing suspected al-Qaeda operatives engaging in what appears to be telemarketing.

"This video, obtained from a credible third-party source, features grainy footage of a group of men strongly believed to be al-Qaeda members making phone solicitations for vacation-home rentals, long-distance phone service, magazine subscriptions, and a vast array of other products and services," CIA Director George Tenet said at a press conference. "Many of these calls have occurred, unthinkably, during the dinner hour."
...
"I couldn't believe what I saw," said McNeill, who also discovered bomb-making instructions and detailed maps of U.S. landmarks in the cave. "On top of all the destruction these people had already unleashed, plans were underway to harass the American people with a merciless assault of offers for everything from discounts on home DSL lines to pre-approved, low-interest credit cards."

For all the evidence collected by the CIA, the "smoking gun" in the investigation may turn out to be an alleged Osama bin Laden motivational videotape, currently in the possession of CNN. The controversial tape, which has never aired on the cable network, is rumored to feature bin Laden urging his followers to think positive and believe in the quality of the product they are pitching, closing on the grim slogan "Smile And Dial."
(via Instapundit)
Check out Forbes Fictional Fifteen . Santa tops the list with a net worth of infinity. Don't tell Virginia.
While I've expressed concern for the threats to US Constitutional protections from the 'War on Terror' in previous posts (and here), this piece by Jeffrey Rosen in the WaPo argues that while the administration has tried to expand executive authority in dramatic ways, strong opposition in the US has actually made the end result far less egregious than it has been in Europe, which is usually held up as the model we should emulate:

"In the course of researching the state of liberty and security after 9/11, I've been especially struck by how restrained America's legal response appears when contrasted with that of our European allies. Although they weren't directly attacked, the countries of the European Union passed anti-terrorism measures during the past year that are far more sweeping than anything adopted in the United States. In October, France expanded the powers of the police to search private property without a warrant. Germany has engaged in religious profiling of suspected terrorists, a practice that was upheld in a court challenge. In Britain, which has become a kind of privacy dystopia, Parliament passed a sweeping anti-terrorism law in December that authorizes a central government authority to record and store all communications data generated by e-mail, Internet browsing or other electronic communications, and to make the data available to law enforcement without a court order. In May, the European Union authorized all of its members to pass similar laws requiring data retention.

The Bush administration has tried to emulate its European allies by expanding executive authority in similarly dramatic ways. It asserted that the president may designate citizens or aliens as enemy combatants and detain them indefinitely without judicial review. It claimed that the president may deport certain aliens based on secret hearings whose existence is withheld from the pressand the public. And it attempted to blur the legal lines that separate domestic law enforcement from foreign intelligence gathering, transforming the FBI into the equivalent of Britain's domestic security intelligence agency, MI5.

What distinguished America from Europe, however, is how quickly all three of these extreme positions met with opposition from the other two branches of government. In the case of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a 21-year-old American citizen seized on the battlefield in Afghanistan and now locked in the Navy brig in Norfolk, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit refused to embrace what it called the "sweeping proposition" of the Bush administration -- "namely that, with no meaningful judicial review, any American citizen alleged to be an enemy combatant could be detained indefinitely without charges or counsel on the government's say-so." Hamdi, who is being held without charge as an enemy combatant, is something of an accidental citizen -- his parents were Saudis who were working here for a Saudi company when he was born. But other countries have been even less solicitous of their citizens since 9/11. The new British anti-terrorism law (now under appeal) gives the home secretary unilateral power to designate as an "international terrorist" anyone whom he perceives as a "risk to national security," and to indefinitely detain the person without charge if the individual can't be deported.

American courts have also been aggressive in rebuffing the administration's effort to keep secret the names and deportation hearings of arrested aliens. In the months after 9/11, the government rounded up, arrested and jailed more than 1,000 non-citizens in America as part of its anti-terrorism investigation. Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to release the names, claiming implausibly that he was protecting their privacy. In August, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court in Washington rejected Ashcroft's interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act and the laws governing grand jury secrecy. She ordered Ashcroft to release the names, insisting that any need for secrecy could be established on a case-by-case basis."
(via OpinionJournal)
Breakfast with Douglas Adams

The scene: 5 yr old attempting to acrobatically shift from a chair to a counter 2ft away; 4 yr old providing commentary:

"Jordan! That is SO dangerous. That is SOOO DANGEROUS. You are going to fall. You are going to FALL on the FLOOR.

You are going to FALL on the FLOOR like a PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH."
Lileks is cutting in on Tony Adragna's territory. Read Lileks piece on Scott Ritter: Restaurant Inspector.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Rachel has a fine post on why the Federal government shouldn't be giving any money to the families of those killed on 9/11. I agree wholeheartedly, ditto for money to the airlines, insurance companies and everyone else lined up to the Federal trough. I gave money to multiple 9/11 charities after the event, but that was my choice, a distinction frequently forgotten when Congress turns on the largesse spigot.
Terrorists learn the real dangers of progress. Now that you can apparently get pizza delivered anywhere it is being used to track terrorists to their home base.
(link via Rottweiler who got it from LGF)
Good piece from Cato's Marian L. Tupy answering Mbeki's charge of 'global economic apartheid'.

" If, as Mbeki maintains, poor countries are victimized by global economic apartheid, why is the composition of this group of poor countries constantly changing? Why, for example, were the Asian Tigers able to succeed? The answer, of course, rests with the domestic economic policies that governments of under-developed countries pursue. Some are conducive to economic growth and some are not. Hong Kong, for example, compensated for its lack of natural resources by opening up to the world. Today, the Hong Kong economy is one of the freest in the world.

That is not to say that all is well with the current global economic arrangements. The developed countries are guilty of discriminating against foreign produce through protective tariffs and insistence on environmental and labor standards, which the poor countries cannot meet. The European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, for example, subsidizes European farmers, thereby pricing foreign produce out of the European market. The American "Farm Bill" has the same effect, though its scope is slightly more limited. That is wrong, but it is only a minor impediment to under-development.

As with the Asian economies, change must come from within. Even the wealthy Europeans prospered only after some profound domestic changes. Long before they acquired their colonies, the European nations grew rich. This was a result of domestically generated and domestically invested capital, which, in turn, resulted from the increase of the rule of law and greater respect for private property. In those days, foreign investment was minimal and foreign aid, which the African leaders clamor for as a solution to their economic predicaments, was non-existent.

Of course, admitting that is what Mbeki cannot do. To admit that socialist economic policies and poor governance have been responsible for the poverty on the African continent would amount to something unheard of among African leadership: self-criticism. It would also undermine the moral basis for the financial transfers that African leaders are now demanding from the West. It is in Mbeki's interest to perpetuate the myth of Africans as mere spectators in the world run in the interest of others. Worse, when the South African economy gets into trouble, Mbeki can stand up and say that it's someone else's fault. "

(via Freecon)
I think Nelson Mandela has lost his mind. First he says that the US is a threat to world peace. Then he refers to Iraq as black and Israel as white:

"Scott Ritter, a former United Nations arms inspector who is in Baghdad, has said that there is no evidence whatsoever of [development of weapons of] mass destruction. Neither Bush nor [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair has provided any evidence that such weapons exist. But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that. Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it is black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is white."

Last time I checked Arabs and Jews were both semitic people so its not at all a black vs. white issue. And even if there is a "double standard" the reason is clear, Israel has had nukes for 30 years and never used them. Can we really trust Saddam to do the same?
Senator Torricelli continues his long time support for terrorists and Marxists. He loudly supported Latin American Marxists in Nicaragua ( remember Daniel Ortega and his group of thugs?)and Guatemala. May he suffer the same fate as Cynthia McKinney.
According to this NY Daily News article, former President Clinton is seeking undergrad or graduate students with an interest in public service. (Is that what they call it nowadays?) They've got to be bright, dependable, professional, able to follow policies and procedures with good judgment and have a certain enthusiasm and adaptability. No gender was specified. ... Clinton's office said the internships are offered in communications, correspondence, domestic policy, foreign policy, scheduling and advance work. (I guess all the blowjob positions have already been filled).

(via Gene Expression)
Salman Rushdie redux. Another proof that Islam cannot exist in an open society.
Mark Steyn takes exception with political philosophy of Jean Cretin, er Chrétien:

"The Liberal Party of Canada hasn't had an original idea since Pierre Trudeau took his post-resignation vacation in Siberia, and M. Chrétien, whatever his efficacy as a small-time largesse-dispensing ward-heeler, has never troubled himself to form anything approaching a political philosophy. So, ask him what's to blame for September 11th, and he falls back on that old standby -- "global poverty," the growing "inequality" between rich and poor.

Let's spell it out: There's no such thing. The story of the last 30 years is the emergence of "a new world middle class," as Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martin calls them in his study The World Distribution Of Income. This class is made up of some 2.5 billion people in the developing world, whose standards of living now approach those of the West. That's to say, roughly half the people in the developing world are doing pretty well economically. As Virginia Postrel wrote in The New York Times recently, taking the world's population as a whole, in 1998 "the largest number of people earned about $8,000 -- a standard of living equivalent to Portugal's."

Why hasn't the Middle East shared in this economic growth? Because they're failed states run by kleptocrats who govern by clan and corruption and whose starting point is to exclude half the population -- the women -- from the economic life of the country. If M. Chrétien wants to give Paul Wells's salary to President Mubarak, that's up to him but it will have zero effect on either poverty or terrorism."
Live from Brussels wonders if the UN is obsolete:

"The main problem with the UN at the moment seems to be that most of the member states are not actually democracies. In effect, this means that any action aimed at improving human rights, stopping poverty, avoiding war, ending oppression etc. has to be approved by... dictators, tyrants, warmongers and oppressors. Is it any surprise that most of these efforts are doomed to failure? The most striking example of this is the appointment of Khadaffi as human rights commissioner. Talk about promoting the poacher to game-warden..."

I agree. I would also argue that they have constructed an uber-bureaucracy that would make it impossible to accomplish anything even if they had the will to. The place is filled with folks who are there for the champagne and cavier filled summits filled with sound and fury without substance. The EU seems to have based their system along the same lines.
It's rare to find such a dense concentration on outright lies, deceit and bullshit in one place, but the op-ed in the WaPo today by Turki al-Faisal, director of the Saudi General Intelligence Department from 1977 to 2001, manages to accomplish it. Let's look at some of the choice parts:


Then came Sept. 11. Without doubt that crime stands in history as one of the most heinous and dastardly ever. The perpetrators of that horrible act -- 15 of whom were from Saudi Arabia -- shocked and saddened the average Saudi citizen. The condemnation from my leadership was immediate and comprehensive. As a country that has suffered at the hands of terrorists for the past 40 years, we understood some of the sorrow and anguish Americans felt that day. For me, it was an especially calamitous event, as I had devoted all of my working life to combating such crimes. It also brought back the pain and outrage I felt when my father, the late King Faisal, was killed in a terrorist attack.

Unfortunately the comprehensive condemnation did not convince the Saudi authorities to cooperate with the US investigation.

From Cato

"Saudi Obstructionism

The Saudi leadership has proved wary of aiding the United States despite direct attacks on Americans. The 1996 bomb attack on the Khobar Towers barracks in Dharan killed 19 Americans and wounded another 372. It was the work of radical Islamists, who, like bin Laden, view Riyadh’s alliance with America as a defilement of holy lands.
However, U.S. efforts to investigate the bombing were hamstrung by the Saudis, who refused to turn over relevant information or to extradite any of the 13 Saudis indicted by
an American grand jury.

In the same year, the Saudis refused, despite U.S. urging, to take custody of bin Laden from Sudan. In 1998 bin Laden and several other extremist Muslim leaders issued
a manifesto calling for a holy war to drive the United States from Islamic lands. Even so, U.S. officials were unable “to get anything at all from King Fahd” to challenge bin Laden’s financial network, charges a new book by John O’Neill, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation official involved with counter-terrorism who died in the attack on the World Trade Center, where he was security chief.

Riyadh’s reluctance to risk popular displeasure by identifying with Washington continues, even after the deaths of several thousand Americans on September 11. Observes Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum: “In 1979 when a group of extremists took over the Mecca Mosque, the Saudi regime called in French troops, infidels to go into Mecca and take it over. [In] 1990, when Saddam Hussein threatened, they called us in and we protected them. Now it’s our turn to call. We’re the ones who lost 5,000 dead. We need them, they’ve got to be there.”

Privately, White House aides acknowledge that Saudi officials have not been as cooperative as hoped. Riyadh has refused to run “traces,” involving background investigations,
on its 15 citizens who committed the atrocities of September 11, supply passenger lists of those on flights to America, and block Riyadh has also pressed, luckily without great success, non-OPEC nations to cut oil production in an attempt to raise prices to buttress the cartel of which it is the leading member."



As director of general intelligence, I had for some time regarded Osama bin Laden as a key intelligence target. When he embraced terrorism in 1994, my government took the unprecedented step of stripping him of his Saudi citizenship. In 1996 the president of Sudan offered to hand him over to the kingdom if we agreed not to prosecute him. We turned down that offer; we wanted bin Laden to face trial. Around this time, at the instruction of the senior Saudi leadership, I shared all the intelligence we had collected on bin Laden and al Qaeda with the CIA. And in 1997 the Saudi minister of defense, Prince Sultan, established a joint intelligence committee with the United States to share information on terrorism in general and on bin Laden (and al Qaeda) in particular.

Yes, this is very plausible (see the Cato piece above). I'm sure the Sudanese were worried that the Saudi's might prosecute bin Laden that's why they wouldn't hand him over. Maybe they were afraid his rights might be violated, such upstanding sorts the Sudanese. And the Saudi's couldn't possibly agree not to prosecute him. But since he slipped out of the grasp of Saudi justice must be why they agreed to help finance his operations:

from Washington Institute:

"But there is much more to the links between the hijackers and the House of Saud than many are willing to admit. A Jan. 9 story in U.S. News & World Report, entitled "Princely Payments," provided a lead which few have followed up. Two unidentified Clinton administration officials told the magazine that two senior Saudi princes had been paying off Osama bin Laden since a 1995 bombing in Riyadh, which killed five American military advisers. A Saudi official was quoted as saying, "Where's the evidence? Nobody offers proof. There's no paper trail."

I followed the lead and quickly found U.S. and British officials to tell me the names of the two senior princes. They were using Saudi official money -- not their own -- to pay off bin Laden to cause trouble elsewhere but not in the kingdom. That is "the Saudi way." The amounts involved were "hundreds of millions of dollars," and it continued after Sept. 11. I asked a British official recently whether the payments had stopped. He said he hoped they had, but was not sure."



A year after Sept. 11, I look upon my country and see many changes. First, extremism is widely condemned. Even many of our most radical citizens have begun to advocate moderation. And our leadership -- both the secular and religious authorities -- has vocally admonished those who continue to support extremist ideas.

Examples of moderation from MEMRI

"In a recent article for the Saudi government-controlled daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Khalil Ibrahim Al-Sa'adat applauded the actions of 'Abd Al-Baset 'Oudeh, the Palestinian who detonated himself at a Passover 'Seder' in a Netanya hotel, and Ayat Al-Akhras, who carried out a suicide attack in a Jerusalem supermarket. Following are excerpts from the article:

Praising the Passover Bomber
"May Allah have mercy upon you, oh 'Abd Al-Baset 'Oudeh, mujaheed and martyr, the quiet hero who infiltrated so elegantly and spoke so gaily. You defended your religion, your homeland, and your people. You attached no importance to [any] Arab summit; you did not wait for international agreements; you did not follow television interviews; you did not pause because of dead Arab and international reactions that neither help nor hinder.""

Perhaps blowing up Jews is considered 'moderate' in Saudi Arabia.




Reforms are proceeding. Our press is increasingly open. There is frank criticism in our media of the government and social problems. In addition, our legal system is being reformed, and full legal representation of the accused has become mandatory. Police must now follow strict judicial procedures in issuing warrants, holding suspects and informing the next of kin when a suspect is held for questioning. Also, a top-level committee has been charged with reviewing and reforming our educational system. Private universities can now be established, in competition with government-sponsored education.

Here is Bob Arnot on the Saudi's open press:

"I LEFT JEDDAH on a Saudi Arabian Airways flight headed for the city of Riyadh and then on to Dubai. During a stopover in Riyadh, a Saudi official asked me to step off the airplane to talk with security. He told me I would be arrested if I did not comply. At the end of the gangway, nearly 40 men met me. Most wore traditional Saudi dress. The others were dressed in police uniforms. They identified themselves as “security” and asked for my videotapes. I told them I could not give them up. That began a five-hour standoff.

A Ministry of Information official said that if he could look at the one tape in my camera, I would be free to leave. He looked through the footage on my digital video camera and spied pictures I had filmed of a vehement anti-Arab e-mail received by the Arab News newspaper. One contained an animated cartoon of a man relieving himself on the Saudi flag. “This is a very serious offense,” said the official, a “capital offense.” "

And this from Arab Press Freedom Watch:

"Press Release: Saudi Editor Forced to Resign
2002-05-27

Saudi journalist Qinan Abdullah al-Ghamidi, editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily newspaper, Al-Watan, has been forced to resign. Saudi authorities suspended Al-Ghamidi from his work in early May and put him under house arrest until he agreed to submit his resignation from his post. Arab Press Freedom Watch is deeply concerned about the state of the media in Saudi Arabia and the deterioration in circumstances under which journalists are performing their duties. Saudi security authorities have been exerting severe pressure on journalists in the last few months in a bid to curb growing dissatisfaction among sections of the society and journalists in particular.

This is the second time in as many months that the Saudi authorities have removed disobedient Saudi editors from their posts. In late March Saudi journalist, Mohammed Mukhtar al-Fal, editor in chief of Al-Madina newspaper was sacked after his newspaper published a poem criticising Saudi judges. The poet himself was taken to prison and was released a few weeks later after being tortured."



We have begun to issue identity cards to women, in recognition of their rights under Islamic law. These include the freedom to conduct financial transactions and establish businesses, among other things. In addition, women's education has been transferred from the religious authorities to the Ministry of Education, the same department that is responsible for the education of men.

Ah, yes, that glorious center of feminism, Saudi Arabia, where women have the same freedoms as cattle or sheep.

from MEMRI

"Saudi Arabia recently announced its intention to issue, for the first time, identification cards for women. Previously, women were registered on their father or husbands' identification cards.

Also in Saudi Arabia, 24 women showed up at the parliament and insisted on taking part in the discussions. Their appeal was rejected, but, facing international pressure, the Parliament Chairman Sheik Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Jbeir explained that the parliament was not prepared for the presence of women in the building. He added that the parliament has allocated women "special seats including separate entry and exit, which prevent any contact between them and the MPs." Blocked by a wall, the women may watch the sessions, but are invisible to the MPs. These seats allow women's presence in the hall. Nevertheless, the Chairman stated "this does not mean that the council would discuss women's issues. Women will not take part in the discussions. They can only be guests and observers." In addition, Sheik bin Jbeir claimed that "Appointing women as parliament members is out of the question. Nobody even thinks about it, because the issues the parliament deals with are public matters under the responsibility of men.""

And I guess that these women weren't carrying their ID cards that day.
Quote of the Day (from Andrew Sullivan):

“He’s a good man but for one three-day weekend of terror.”

--Defense attorney Steven Feldman speaking on behalf of his client, David Westerfield, who had kidnapped and killed a 7 year old.
Dave Barry has a funny piece on the latest Florida election debacle:

THE PROBLEM: Voters had trouble understanding a balloting system that required them to punch holes in a piece of cardboard.

SOLUTION A: Use an even simpler system.

SOLUTION B: Use a more complicated system.

Pretty much any life form with a central nervous system, including a reasonably bright squid, would choose Solution A. So naturally our election officials went with Solution B. Yes. Having seen that South Florida voters -- people who have yet to figure out how an automobile turn signal works -- were baffled by pieces of cardboard, our leaders decided to confront them with . . . computers! And we all know how easy it is to figure out unfamiliar computer systems! That's why the expression ''As easy as figuring out an unfamiliar computer system'' is so common.
So is it just me or is there no longer much talk about a drought in New York? That didn't take long.
Kristof is now promoting censorship of certain books that may help terrorists make bombs and chemical weapons. Like censorship can ever stop information flow. Why is banning something the left's knee jerk response to a problem?
Finally somebody found a good use for Crapintoshes.

Monday, September 16, 2002

GOC translates Bush's UN speech.

Good day assholes.

Since I need an applause line, here's some money for UNICEF. I know you're gonna waste it, but I figgered if we gave you some money you'd think we really gave a shit about this worthless organization.

Since 1991 you assholes have passed numerous resolutions in regards to Iraq. I'll list 'em for ya but it ain't gonna do much good. It will just make y'all look stupid. Since Saddam Hussein has the same opinion of you dickheads as I do he has told you to go fuck yourselves and given you the finger.

We know he has chemical and biological weapons and is close to developing a nuke.

Here's your big chance to prove you're not just nattering nabobs of nothingness (borrowed part of the phrase from Spiro Agnew) and to actually prove that this organization is relevant.

Since I think you're just gonna talk a lot and say let's negotiate with Saddam, I'm going through the motions of actually pretending y'all might do sumpin'. That way I can tell the American people I tried to get the United Nations to actually do sumpin' but they're just worthless bogger eatin' moh-rons so fuck 'em, we're taking out Iraq anyway.

Thank you and blow me.
Here is a good piece on some of the artists' issues with the RIAA. Seems like selling 250,000 copies of a record can leave you $14,000 in the hole.
From Stratfor:

The United States has reserved 20 air transit corridors over the Atlantic Ocean, Portuguese weekly Expresso reported Sept. 14, citing air traffic control sources in the Azores islands. Several of the corridors access the air base at Lajes Field, where U.S. aircraft are based. The United States normally has four air corridors on reserve. Portuguese military sources cited by Expresso said Washington's move indicates a massive airlift of personnel and light military equipment likely will begin soon. Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz said the Bush administration has not asked the Portuguese government for permission to make expanded use of the Lajes air base.
Here is a good article in Scientific American on the GM fuel cell car design.
So in honor of Yom Kippur I just had a bacon cheeseburger (what, you expect me to fast and stand up in a synagogue all day?) which reminded me of this dialogue from the Simpsons:

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No!
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: Heh heh heh ... ooh ... yeah right, Lisa. A wonderful ... magical animal.

So when Hooters gets its own airline will their motto be: "Come Fly the Friendly Thighs".
Tim Blair also has a fine Fisk fisking.
Eric Raymond wonders exactly when the Left descended into empty self-parody.
William Burton has a Letter to the World:

"Hi, World, how's it going? Been a while. I know our current leader doesn't call you much, but we really do like you. In fact, we're a lot like you. Really. We've got Hindus, and Muslims, and Christians, and Jews, and people who believe in Body Thetans and the healing power of crystals. We've got Irish Buddhists, Japanese Baptists, and Jewish atheists who are trying to find a nice Jewish boy to settle down with. We've even got women who make a living travelling all over the place telling other women to stay home. All sorts of crazy shit. You'd love it over here. I know we told a lot of you to stay home, but you know we didn't mean it. Ya'll do most of the work around here anyway, except the stuff that involves typing (and that ain't really work).

I know that some of the stuff we've been doing hasn't been explained real well, so I thought I'd take a shot. Listen to me real good, now. We, the United States of America, don't want to kill you or anyone else, nor do we want to piss you or anyone else off (well, maybe France). We'd prefer that everyone just keep sending us their smartest students and hardest workers while buying our soft drinks and watching our action movies. However, we are going to defend ourselves against attack and take steps to keep ourselves from being attacked. We also reserve the right to stick up for people who are getting slaughtered for no good reason at all. Don't expect any different. Ever.

If we have to defend ourselves, people are going to die. Some of those people won't deserve it. That's just the nature of warfare. It's real hard to sort the good guys from the bad guys when the bad guys are trying to keep from being sorted. So if we end up killing someone who didn't deserve it or stationing troops near someone's holy place, we're genuinely not trying to be insensitive. We're trying to do the best we can in an imperfect world. Believe me, we don't like it when innocent people die. It's not our nature.

You might mention to your leaders that you don't want to get caught in any crossfire, so they need to make sure they don't kill any Americans ('cause if they do kill any of us, there's sure to be crossfire). If they seem intent on killing Americans anyway, you might try shooting your leaders in the head with an AK-47 or throwing them in prison. I know the Rumanians are awfully glad they shot theirs, and the Serbians don't seem too upset that theirs are in jail. I know you don't always have that option, and you may be stuck with the scumbags you've got. If so, our condolences. But your beef is with them, not with us. Getting all upset because we have troops in the desert miles and miles from anyplace you really care about or because we let women drive cars and hold jobs isn't going to make up for the fact that you can't find a decent job yourself. "

Follow the link to read the rest. (also via Instapundit)
Amazingly this is not the nuttiest idea to come from the left. Masturbate for Peace (via Instapundit)
Just in case you needed another reason to be pro-Israel, check out this piece in the Yale Herald on what it is like to be gay in Israel and what it is like to be gay in Arafatland (thanks to Andrew Sullivan for pointing this one out):

"It is not widely known that, along with its war against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is conducting a vicious campaign against its own homosexual population. The New Republic, in its Aug. 19 issue, exposed hideous human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority, which employs special police squads to capture men who have sex with each other. The lucky ones are forced to stand in sewage water up to their necks or lie in dark cells infested with insects; others are simply starved to death. These horrific crimes have motivated hundreds of Palestinian homosexuals to flee to Israel. To be sure, these people have not become Zionists. But at the end of day, they know that 'in Tel Aviv no one cares if you're gay,' as one Palestinian who fled to Israel said, while in Palestinian Gaza, 'the police will kill me, unless my father gets to me first.'"

...

"Every decent person must take a position. Do you stand with the Palestinian Authority and its totalitarian ethos that seeks to destroy Jews and homosexuals today and who knows what else tomorrow? Or do you stand with Israel—whose government you may or may not support—but whose people share our fundamental values of life and liberty? I put this question to my new Palestinian friend in that bar. He answered: 'Where you sit is where you stand, and I'm sitting in Tel Aviv.' It is inspiring to me—as a Jew, as an American, and as a gay man—to know that Palestinians are coming to the Jewish state for the freedom to live as God created them."


Sunday, September 15, 2002

Philosoblog has a good piece on Moral Equivalence. (via Silfay Hraka)

Envy (and guilt). I remember that when I was a child I sometimes envied people who were better than me. I sometimes wished them to be taken down a notch or two, so that I wouldn’t have to endure the indignity of being lesser any longer. Okay, you caught me; I still do this as an adult, from time to time, when I’m bested. I’m only human. The problem is that a deficit in moral character in this sort of situation can lead to real problems. Winners can drive losers mad. The excellent inadvertently put the mediocre through spasms of twee rage.


What does this have to do with moral equivalence? There is a dominant culture of excellence today. It produces people who lead good lives and who are not likely to take advantage of others. It acts as policeman to the world and throws its huge military weight around. Imagine living in an ivory tower defending a nutty, multiculturalist, socialist utopianism that has now been deemed of lesser value by most of your country. You watch the Big Man strutting around, with his wealth and his happy, judgmental, confident and proud demeanor - it’s enough to drive you mad with envy. Champion the cause of the poor! This will help alleviate your guilt for not being poor, and it will give you a chance for revenge against Big Man. You’ll be able suppress your feelings of envy and guilt if you take up the leftist cause without flinching, no matter what flaws someone might find in your reasoning. Find out Big Man’s sins; try to bring him down a notch or two. Didn’t his spy agency put an evil dictator into power Nicaragua or somewhere like that? Of course, the regime was better than the alternative, but still, that can score a point if you twist it hard enough. And didn’t Big Man make some pretty valueless mass entertainment and some ugly suburbs? Yes, Big Man isn’t so great, and you can put him in his place. If you squint your eyes and cock your head to the side, it almost looks as though his record is morally equivalent to that of every other culture. And surely his values are no better, either.


That’s the ticket! We’re all equal, so he’s wrong to strut around with such arrogant pride and to meddle in others’ affairs. And Big Man’s values derive from cultural contingencies, just as anyone else’s values do, so they have no better foundation. If there aren’t any reasons, then you don’t have to listen to any. Yes, that eases the pain of failure and gives you a chance for stunning success. Radical chic feels so much better than envy and guilt! Grab onto it for all your worth and let logic be damned! It’s either that or admit that you’re a loser. A society of people living bad lives? Blame Big Man, be he Israeli or American. After all, he’s no better than anyone else, but he hogs all the happiness to himself and shoots at the poor people when they try to take their fair share away from him. Put him in his place! By any means necessary, even violence. After all, he uses violence, too. What if you’re a successful, wealthy leftist (where “wealthy” means able to afford a house, a TV, and a car)? Well, you don’t give all your wealth to the poor, of course. You find an excuse to keep the wealth. But you find the idea of maintaining the moral standards according to which you are entitled to your wealth and success to be a guilt-ridden prospect. You’re not up to it. You therefore envy the Big Man, who is able to embrace his success with no excuses and with guilt-free gusto. Those healthy, confident, smiling, blonde fat cats in their expensive new cars! Damn them!!


Rottweiler also has a fine fisking of ... Robert Fisk!
Yet another reason why the EU and common currency are a bad idea. According to this article the new Euro coins have 320x the amount of allergy-inducing nickel than is allowed by EU nickel directive (yes, there is such a thing) and is causing rashes in sensitive people. The EU may have to ban the coins. (via Rottweiler)
Joanne Jacobs has a very good column various failures of the American education system. Firstly on some idiot just elected to the Des Moines school board who is arguing that high school diplomas shouldn't be witheld jfrom students ust because they can't read. Patch was also endorsed by the teachers union in his recent run.

"How can we take a bright kid that is having trouble reading and tell them, "You can't graduate?" Patch asked. "If they are doing well in other subjects, are we going to tell them they can't get a high school diploma?"

Yes.

If diplomas are withheld, "we could have a lot of future architects and doctors out there that aren't going to graduate," Patch said in an interview.

Um, isn't that a good thing? Who wants an illiterate doctor?


Why should we worry about students learning anything, as long as they feel good about themselves. We wouldn't want them to feel bad because they're printed-word-challenged. Mr. Patch doesn't seem concerned with how students managed to even get into high school without having learned to read. But what can we expect of a school system that is supposed to teach the three R's when as Dennis Miller has pointed out only one of the skills actually starts with 'R'.
Mark Steyn on sensitivity in the Telegraph (you may need to register).

"Pretty much anywhere you looked you could find media folk interviewing media folk about how courageous network reporters reacted to the news that fateful morning, how brave journalists battled to come up with an opening sentence. I switched over to the CBC in Canada, only to find it interviewing the New Yorker's heroic picture editor about how she'd coped with the trauma of having to commission a new cover.

And, of course, every local news show, every newspaper has its in-depth feature on how Muslims here have adjusted to the post-9/11 "backlash". This story is now as firmly ensconced in the news bulletins as the weather and the traffic update, though, to be frank, it lacks something of their drama.

Still, I for one never tire of seeing headscarved women in Midwestern towns giving interviews about how in the past year they can tell people are looking at them "differently". I expect the French, German and Belgian television shows are full of features about how European Jews have spent the past year coping with savage assaults, synagogue torchings, schoolbus burnings, etc.

They're not? My, you do surprise me. It's probably just as well. Best not to clog up the airwaves with a lot of whining Jews moaning about being attacked by Muslim gangs, lest it provoke another anti-Muslim "backlash", eh?"