Saturday, December 31, 2005

NEW YEAR'S EVE

Here's the best reason I can think of to be orbiting Earth on New Years Eve! An email from a friend, Jim Oberg, author of the book Pioneering Space; and with a website of the same name:

According to information from Russia's Mission Control Center,
the International Space Station on December 31 will enter and
depart from the year 2006 fifteen times before settling
permanently into the New Year. See http://mcc.rsa.ru/

The station's official on-board time is Greenwich, or
Eastern Standard Time + five hours. So it will be
'officially' the new year at 7 PM EST on Dec 31,
as it passes over the Indian Ocean. The crew,
however, will have been asleep for a few hours
by then.

They will already have been able to celebrate
an unofficial new year, several times in fact.

As the station circles Earth, it will pass over time zones
that have popped into the new year by passing local
midnight. On average it will take about 4 minutes to
traverse each ground-based time zone.

The first time this happens is at 6:14 AM EST (11:14 GMT)
when the station reaches the first ground-based time zone
to pass local midnight, the zone right to the west of the
international date line in the mid-Pacific. The station will
be passing near the Aleutians at that point.

It will continue to happen every time the station orbits Earth,
which takes about 98 minutes (referenced to a point on the
Earth's rotating surface -- in pure 'inertial space' a single
orbit takes about 92 minutes). Each time the station comes
around, one or even two more time zones will have passed
local midnight so the time overflying "2006-land" will get longer
and longer.

The LAST time the station moves from 2005 to 2006 will be over
the mid-Pacific just east of the date line, and that occurs at
5:08 AM EST on January 1. By the time it comes around again
the last time zone with local time still before midnight will have
'expired' and transitioned into 2006 as well.

Outer space forces its visitors to adjust to entirely new
patterns of time, divorced from earth-based astronomy-driven
time-givers. I wrote a chapter on this for my book 'Pioneering
Space' and would be happy to send it to anybody, or discuss
this theme as part of New Year's Eve commemoration.
Wow. And, talking about partying too much:


As you prepare for New Year's Eve, be very careful to considers the consequences of overindulgence !

The Carnival of the Insanities will be posted first thing in the morning (well maybe not the first thing) and thenI plan to take the rest of the day off from blogging. See you Monday--Have a safe and happy evening!

THINKING OUTSIDE THE IDEOLOGICAL BOX OF THE LEFT

Victor Davis Hanson suggests that we are being plagued by success:
Now the horror of 9/11 and the sight of the doomed diving into the street fade. Gone mostly are the flags on the cars, and the orange and red alerts. The Democrats and the Left, in their amnesia, and as beneficiaries of the very policies they suddenly abhor, now mention al Qaeda very little and Islamic fascism hardly at all.

Apparently due to the success of George Bush at keeping the United States secure, he, not Osama bin Laden, can now more often be the target of a relieved Left — deserving of assassination in an Alfred Knopf novel, an overseer of Nazi policies according to a U.S. senator, a buffoon, and rogue in the award-winning film of Michael Moore. Yes, because we did so well against the real enemies, we soon had the leisure to invent new imaginary ones in Bush/Cheney, Halliburton, the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft, and Scooter Libby.

Ah yes. We know what that is all about, don't we? We are not so much plagued by success as we are plagued by the psycholgoical displacement, denial , and self-delusion of the Left; and a public that is increasingly able to be manipulated by irrational hysteria and never-ending succession of "scandals" that rewrite history and distort the current reality .

Hanson wonders:
Why are we like children who damn their parents for not providing yet another new toy when the present one is neither paid for nor yet out of the wrapper?

One cause is the demise of history. The past is either not taught enough, or presented wrongly as a therapeutic exercise to excise our purported sins.

Either way the result is the same: a historically ignorant populace who knows nothing about past American wars and their disappointments — and has absolutely no frame of reference to make sense of the present other than its own mercurial emotional state in any given news cycle.

Few Americans remember that nearly 750 Americans were killed in a single day in a training exercise for D-Day, or that during the bloody American retreat back from the Yalu River in late 1950 thousands of our frozen dead were sent back stacked in trucks like firewood. Our grandparents in the recent past endured things that would make the present ordeal in Iraq seem almost pedestrian — and did all that with the result that a free Germany could now release terrorists or prosperous South Korean youth could damn the United States between their video games.


Once again, I am struck by the incredible failure of our current educational system to turn out rational, thinking adults with a modicum of knowledge about the world. This system's failures are not so much in the area of the sciences (contrary to what the brouhaha about Intelligent Design suggests; and contrary to the stem cell controversy); as much as they are in the humanities--history, language, art, philosophy.

In other words, those areas of the curriculum that are predominantly controlled by the pseudo-intellectuals of the Left, who scorn reason and embrace feelings. More and more we are seeing the terrible consequences of a lack of intellectual diversity in a K-12 educational system that promotes a false self-esteem and a cultural relativity that becomes the foundation for self-indulgence and emotionality instead of scholarship. By the time most of these kids get to the college level, they are ready to be subsumed into the intellectual conformity mandated by Leftist elites.

The last thing these "elites" want is someone who is able to reason or have independent thoughts; or able to put current events in historical perspective; or to (god forbid) think outside the ideological box of the Left.

Even those students who major in the sciences still passively absorb much of the ideological pap fed to them by the professors they are required to listen to in their non-science classes.

The "adolescents" that Hanson writes about are in truth the adults in our population who despite because of their successful negotiation of our modern multicultural and politically correct educational system, remain intellectually, pychologically and morally challenged. They surround themselves with others of like mind and never have to deal with real intellectual diversity.

In a recent post, Neo-neocon discusses what it is like to finally break free of the liberal bubble and have to deal with friends who are stunned at your transition to the "dark side".
It's easy to move through life in a liberal bubble if everyone around who disagrees is silent and invisible. The only way to change that is to challenge it by standing up, speaking out, and bursting the bubble. It's very difficult; but you may find, as I did, that most of your worthwhile relationships survive the blow, although many are never quite the same again.


You will find her entire essay very interesting. Especially now, as a new year approaches, thinking outside the ideological box of the Left--and opening one's eyes for a change-- could be an extremely illuminating experience.

Testamonials...Mostly

Thespis Journal, which provides links, commentary, and news on all things political and theatrical, has their list of 2005's Top 10 Bloggers. Dr. Sanity is proud and honored to be listed at #3 , and in the company of the other very fine blogs on the roll.

Many thanks.

Meanwhile, The Anchoress has this to say:
I’ve decided that my personal must-read blog every day really is Dr. Sanity. This is not to put down any other blogger - a glance at my blogroll is more than indication that I have lots of blogs I call “favorite” and I mean it. If they’re in my blogroll, I read them and like them. Indeed, some of the blogs in my blogroll I WISH I could imitate! But Dr. Sanity is prolific without being overwhelming, and always interesting, in an odd and edgy way.


Odd? Edgy? I wonder where she got those ideas? I'm sure I don't know what she is talking about! This is what my friends say about me...you can just imagine what some of my enemies say--and no, their remarks can't be reproduced here!

THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN !

This week's winners in the Watcher's Council are now posted at the Watcher of Weasels . Every week the Council nominates posts from the blogs of the Council members, and posts from around the blogsphere. The Council then votes to select the "Best" of all these posts. This week includes some of my favorite blogs!


BEST COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

Above Thy Deep and Dreamless Sleep… Gates of Vienna

Second Place

The Suicidal Pursuit of Perfection ShrinkWrapped

BEST NON-COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

The New, Updated, Alice In Wonderland Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred

Second Place

Political Entomology and Blue-Bellied Liberals One Cosmos

Be sure to check out all the winners in this last week of 2005 at the Watcher's Site. It makes for great reading in the New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Oh, Really?

Tigerhawk eviscerates the NY Times for it's non-stop wrongness when it comes to matters of finance (and he has the graphs to demonstrate it):
We have reached the end of the year, which naturally moves us to look at how the financial markets have done. Yes, it is once again time to remind our readers how wrong the New York Times has been.

On April 2, 2005, the Grey Lady complained at length about the Bush administration's economic policies, and declared "the dollar is heading down, no matter what." Oh, really?


Read it all, of course. Financial matters are hardly the only area of "wrongness" in which the paper of record indulges these days. They have been spectacularly wrong on the Iraq war; on matters of national security; and just about any other major issue (except possibly the Yankees).

Tigerhawk attributes the Times' consistent error-proneness to its inability to understand "complex systems" and he refernces a lecture that it happens I have just finished reading (hat tip: Larwyn), by Michael Crichton. Crichton's speech is primarily about how badly the environment is being managed by "environmentalists"; but his concluding idea is applicable to stock market predictions; unintended consequences of national security leaks; and even the management of a complex system like the war in Iraq and against terrorism in general:
Now, if we are to do better in this new century, what must we do differently? In a word, we must embrace complexity theory. We must understand complex systems.

We live in a world of complex systems. The environment is a complex system. The government is a complex system. Financial markets are complex systems. The human mind is a complex system---most minds, at least.

By a complex system I mean one in which the elements of the system interact among themselves, such that any modification we make to the system will produce results that we cannot predict in advance.

Furthermore, a complex system demonstrates sensitivity to initial conditions. You can get one result on one day, but the identical interaction the next day may yield a different result. We cannot know with certainty how the system will respond.

Third, when we interact with a complex system, we may provoke downstream consequences that emerge weeks or even years later. We must always be watchful for delayed and untoward consequences.

The science that underlies our understanding of complex systems is now thirty years old. A third of a century should be plenty of time for this knowledge and to filter down to everyday consciousness, but except for slogans—like the butterfly flapping its wings and causing a hurricane halfway around the world—not much has penetrated ordinary human thinking.

On the other hand, complexity theory has raced through the financial world. It has been briskly incorporated into medicine. But organizations that care about the environment do not seem to notice that their ministrations are deleterious in many cases. Lawmakers do not seem to notice when their laws have unexpected consequences, or make things worse. Governors and mayors and managers may manage their complex systems well or badly, but if they manage well, it is usually because they have an instinctive understanding of how to deal with complex systems. Most managers fail.

Why? Our human predisposition treat all systems as linear when they are not. A linear system is a rocket flying to Mars. Or a cannonball fired from a canon. Its behavior is quite easily described mathematically. A complex system is water gurgling over rocks, or air flowing over a bird’s wing. Here the mathematics are complicated, and in fact no understanding of these systems was possible until the widespread availability of computers.

One complex system that most people have dealt with is a child. If so, you've probably experienced that when you give the child an instruction, you can never be certain what response you will get. Especially if the child is a teenager. And similarly, you can’t be certain that an identical interaction on another day won’t lead to spectacularly different results.

If you have a teenager, or if you invest in the stock market, you know very well that a complex system cannot be controlled, it can only be managed. Because responses cannot be predicted, the system can only be observed and responded to. The system may resist attempts to change its state. It may show resiliency. Or fragility. Or both.

An important feature of complex systems is that we don’t know how they work. We don’t understand them except in a general way; we simply interact with them. Whenever we think we understand them, we learn we don’t. Sometimes spectacularly.


I urge you to read Crichton's entire argument, because it is extremely good. As I mentioned, he is primarily concerned with the deliberate manipulation and hysteria that underlies the modern environmental movement. However, the environment and financial markets are connected in an interesting way.

As Marxism's predictions about capitalism were repeatedly demonstrated in the real world to be bogus, the intellectuals of the Left have moved on to other arenas in which they could attack capitalism. Quoting from Stephen Hicks again (page 153-4; I'm telling you, this book is invaluable):
A second strategic change in Left strategy involved a more audacious change of ehtical standards. Traditionally, Marxist socialism had supposed that providing adequately for human needs was a basic test of a social system's morality. The achievement of wealth, accordingly, was a good thing since wealth brought with it a better nutrition, housing, healthcare, and leisure time. And so capitalism was held to be evil because Marxists believed that it denied most of its population the ability to enjoy the fruits of wealth.

But as it became clear that capitalism is very good at producing the wealth and delivering the fruits--and that socialism is very bad at it--two new variations on Left thought turned this argument on its head and began to condemn capitalism precisely for being so good at producing wealth.

One variation of this argument appeared in the increasingly popular writings of Herbert Marcuse....

Following Marx, Marcuse believed that the historical purpose of the proletariat was to be a revolutionay class. Its task was to over throw capitalism. But that supposed that capitalism would drive the proletariat into economic misery, which capitalism had failed to do.
[...]
By making the members of the proletariat wealthy enough to become comfortable, capitalism had created a captive class: The proletariat had become locked into the capitalist system, dependent on its goodies, and enslaved by the goal of climbing the economic ladder....
[...]
Capitalism's producing so much wealth, therefore, is bad: It is in direct defiance of the moral imperitive of historical progress toward socialism. It would be much better if the proletariat were in economic misery under capitalism, for then they would realize their oppression and then be psychologically primed to perform their historical mission.

The second variation was seen in the Left turn that rising concern with environmental issues took. As the Marxist movement splintered and mutated into new forms, Left intellectuals and activists began to look for new ways to attack capitalism. Environmental issues, alongside women's and minorities' issues, came to be seen as a new weapon in the arsenal against capitalism. (emphasis mine)

It seems clear that the remnants of the 20th century Marxist social disease are still infecting portions of this country--including the editors and many of the journalists of the NY Times--and other MSM outlets. They probably absorbed the infection without even conscious awareness, as they percolated through various esteemed academic institutions. These institutions represent a hidden residual of pathogenesis and are the reason that Marxism continues to exert itself virulently in our society.

Marx and his intellectual heirs are hopelessly linear; as is socialism and communism. Only capitalism and free markets have the ability to adapt to the complexity of human life and interactions and optimize human progress, freedom and happiness.

Some Good Things For The New Year

ShrinkWrapped has a round-up of all the things you can do to stay sane in 2006, including his own "Top 10" List. Here are two of them:
4) Decrease the amount of negative input. Cancel the New York Times. They seem to believe their job is to put as negative a spin as possible on every story that has George Bush attached to it and the only way to save this valuable institution is to put pressure on them that they might understand. Remember, even if they are right some of the time, they can't be right all the time. The best way to figure out when they are correct is by comparing their stories with those who disagree; to that end...

5) Read more blogs! My blog roll is a good place to start. As a bonus, check out how the same stories sound on the Daily kos or Atrios or the Democratic Underground; compare and contrast!
Read the rest to ensure a sane new year!

Meanwhile, The Anchoress has a list of predictions for 2006, including this one, which made me fall off my chair laughing:
11) Howard Dean will not be DNC chair by the end of the year. He will be replaced by affable eye candy of some sort, capable of bumper-sticker-speak. John Kerry will make all sorts of noises about running again for the WH, but at the last possible moment, he will declare himself uninterested due to his deep committment to the people of Massachusetts. A quick search through his Beacon Hill garbage will reveal a bloody horse’s head.

Read all 17 of them!

At One Cosmos, Gagdad Bob's alter ego has a terribly mean-spirited and horribly unfair, razor sharp comedy routine that stabs in the heart pokes fun at the left side of the political spectrum. But, they enjoy are used to being victims, so they should survive it.

On a more profound note, Sigmund, Carl and Alfred discuss the battle for your soul and offers a lot of interesting ideas to ponder in the new year.

All of the above should keep you occupied for a while--I'll be back later in the day after I finish a variety of projects that require my undiluted attention!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

CONTRADICTORY DISCOURSES

In looking through a vast number of editorial cartoons which I do on a regular basis, I was struck by the following three which seemed to me to illustrate very clearly what Stephen Hicks wrote about in Explaining Postmodernism. In this excellent and well-reasoned book, Hicks discusses a leftist strategy which he describes as "using contradictory discourses as political strategy". (page 184)


Using contradictory discourses as a political strategy

In postmodern discourse, truth is rejected explicitly and consisteny can be a rare phenomenon. Consider the following pairs of claims.
- On the one hand, all truth is relative; on the other hand, postmodernism tells it like it really is.
- On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad.
- Values are subjective--but sexism and racism are really evil
- Technology is bad and destructive--and it is unfair that some people have more technology than others.
- Tolerance is good and dominance is bad--but when postmodernists come to power, political correctness follows.

There is a common pattern here: Subjectivism and relativism in one breath, dogmatic absolutism in the next.

In other words--don't waste your time looking for any sense in the contradictory demands and rhetoric of the political postmodernists--better known as the Leftwing Democrats.






They are patriotic and support the military.








They have a plan to win by giving up.



And, when it comes to domestic energy policy--they demand that the oil and energy industry produce results; but demonize everything these industries do; and then make it impossible (or at least illegal) for them to be successful!


Need we even discuss issues like (gasp!) the so-called torture techniques (like not providing Korans)? Or, other types of intelligence gathering currently in the news? We insist--no WE DEMAND that we be kept safe from terrorists; but we will not allow even the most reasonable and sensible actions to ensure it.

There are so many other contradictory discourses that we are pummeled with on a daily basis, that it is a wonder we can function at all in the world of reality.

DON'T LET THEM BE MISUNDERSTOOD

Baby do you understand me now
If sometimes you see that I'm mad
Don't you know that no one alive can always be an angel?
When everything goes wrong I seem bad

Well I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood
- The Animals


Victor Davis Hanson explains how Hollywood is struggling to make sure we don't misunderstand the poor terrorists; and that we don't for a moment think that we are the good guys:

When terrorism goes to the movies in the post-Sept. 11 world, we might expect the plots, characters and themes to reflect some sort of believable reality. But in Hollywood, the politically correct impulse now overrides all else. Even the spectacular pyrotechnics, beautiful people and accomplished acting cannot hide it.

Instead, moviegoers can anticipate before the opening credits that those characters who work for the American government or are at war with terrorists will likely be portrayed as criminals, incompetents or people existing on the same moral plane as killers.


Read it all to appreciate exactly what kind of universe the elites of Hollywood are living in:

Actors, producers, screenwriters and directors of Southern California live in a bubble, where coast, climate and plentiful capital shield the film industry from the harsh world. In their good intentions, these tanned utopians can afford to dream away fascist killers and instead rail at Western bogeymen — even in the midst of a global war against Middle East jihadists who wish to trump what they wrought at the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

If Hollywood wants to know why attendance is down, it is not just the misdemeanor sin of warping reality, but the artistic felony that it does so in such a predictable manner.


The terrorists are really just some soul's whose intentions are good--just like you and me! I somehow manage to supress my deeply religious and sociopathic needs to blow myself up and kill people who don't agree with me. How about you?

JUST DESSERTS

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first"- attributed to Ernestine Ulmer, who, as far as I can tell, never did anything else except utter this oft-repeated phrase; so it is likely she never really existed.

Nevertheless, as 2005 draws to a close, this post is the grand finale of Dr. Sanity's "DESSERT TRILOGY"--which began with WMD and Death-By-Chocolate Cake; and continued with Axis of Evil Fruitcake .

Inspired by this story in the news (OK, I'm a few days too late; but the court was 25 years late), for the New Year, I am going to share with you in time for the New Year my family's three most favorite desserts!

Since justice is finally being done at home and abroad, I shall henceforth refer to these three exquisite examples of equity, fairness and just plain goodness--as the "Just Desserts". Enjoy and Happy New Year!

The Boo's Bread Pudding

5-6 C day old Challah bread cubes
4 C scalded milk
1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
1 C sugar
1/2 t salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 C raisins

Lemon Sauce
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 T cornstarch
1 C hot water
3 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x11 inch casserole with nonstick spray. In a large bowl combine bread cubes, 1 C sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in raisins. In another bowl, blend milk, melted butter, and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix together without turning bread mixture into mush. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Place casserole dish into a larger baking pan. Pour hot water into baking pan about 1/2 up the side of the casserole dish, creating a water bath. Bake for 45- 50 minutes. Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 C sugar, cornstarch, hot water, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cook on medium heat until bubbling and thickened. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Serve with bread pudding.

Norman's Ricotta Cheese Pie

Pastry
use 9 in. round layer cake pan. Sift together in a bowl:
2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1 C shortening (cut in with pastry blender until pieces are size of small peas. Sprinkle gradually over mixture, 1 t at a time
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1-2 Tbs cold water

Mix lightly with fork after each addition. Add only enough water to hold dough together. Mix until egg is thoroughly combined and blended.

Filling
Combine:
3 C ( 1 1/2 lbs) Ricotta cheese
1/4 C flour
2 T grated orange peel
2 T grated lemon peel
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t salt

Beat until foamy 4 eggs; add gradually 1 C sugar. Stir beaten eggs into Ricotta mix until blended and smooth. May add: 1 t cinnamon; 1/2 t cloves; 1/4 t nutmeg; or chopped walnuts. Pour into pastry. Bake at 350 degrees about 50-60 minutes (until pastry is golden brown). Cool on rack.

Pat's Apple Crunch Pie

Crumb Topping:
½ C plus 2 T flour
½ C packed light brown sugar
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 C) cold butter, cut in small pieces

Filling:
7 medium to large tart apples (about 3 ¼ lb., such as Granny Smith, Pippins or Greenings)
1 T lemon juice
½ C granulated sugar
3 T flour
½ t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Have ready a 9 inch pie plate and a cookie sheet. Place oven rack in lowest position in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line pie plate with pie crust. Flute or crimp edge. Crumb topping: Mix flour, sugars and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture forms moist coarse crumbs that clump together easily. Filling: Peel, half and core apples. Cut in 1/8 inch thick slices by hand. Put into a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to coat. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over apple slices; toss to coat. Layer apple slices in pie shell, mounding them higher in the center. Pat topping evenly over apples to form a top crust. Place pie on cookie sheet to catch drips. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes longer or until a skewer meets some resistance when center of pie is pierced (apples will continue to cook after pie is removed from oven) and topping is golden brown. If topping is browning too quickly, drape a piece of foil over pie. Cool pie completely on wire rack before serving.

FEMINISTS** TAKE NOTE, PLEASE

If your Marxist/Marcusian supposition that inequality of outcome is the key barometer that determines the presence or absence of oppression; then this should throw a philosophical monkey wrench into your belief system:

Either: (1) Men are clearly being "oppressed" by the educational and social system--and not women; or (2) Marx and Marcuse were abysmally wrong; their theories have now been conclusively disproved; and you need to check or abandon your premises; or, (3) Both of the previous statements are true and you are totally out of luck.

OTOH, if all your posturing victimhood and irrational rage were simply rhetorical devices used to disguise your true agenda of world socialist domination, then you would seem to be succeeding.

** by "feminist", I am referring to the hysterical leftist branch of a movement that once stood for equal opportunity for women; and now stands for nothing (see here or here for a more thorough explanation of this point)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE ?

This article from the MSM could qualify as the 8th wonder of the world this year for its fairness and balance:

On Nov. 20, the Tribune began an inquest: We set out to assess the Bush administration's arguments for war in Iraq. We have weighed each of those nine arguments against the findings of subsequent official investigations by the 9/11 Commission, the Senate Intelligence Committee and others. We predicted that this exercise would distress the smug and self-assured--those who have unquestioningly supported, or opposed, this war.

The matrix below summarizes findings from the resulting nine editorials. We have tried to bring order to a national debate that has flared for almost three years. Our intent was to help Tribune readers judge the case for war--based not on who shouts loudest, but on what actually was said and what happened.

The administration didn't advance its arguments with equal emphasis. Neither, though, did its case rely solely on Iraq's alleged illicit weapons. The other most prominent assertion in administration speeches and presentations was as accurate as the weapons argument was flawed: that Saddam Hussein had rejected 12 years of United Nations demands that he account for his stores of deadly weapons--and also stop exterminating innocents. Evaluating all nine arguments lets each of us decide which ones we now find persuasive or empty, and whether President Bush tried to mislead us.
[....]
After reassessing the administration's nine arguments for war, we do not see the conspiracy to mislead that many critics allege.


Read the entire case and the matrix that the Tribune sets up for its analysis. On several items, the Chicago Tribune concludes that the Administration may have "exaggerated" what information it had (based on what we know today); but most of the major points of its case for war were accurate.

I will leave it for history to decide whether Bush actually "exaggerated" (and they will base their determination on much more than on what we know today--while we are still embroiled in Iraq); or, whether he courageously decided to "connect the dots" that his predecessors had barely noticed, and in doing so, changed the course of history in a way decidedly disadvantageous to Islamofascism.

RightwingNuthouse has more.

MOONBATS OF THE YEAR !

Over at Little Green Footballs, nominations are open for the LGF Annual Robert Fisk Award for Idiotarian of the Year (Fiskie for short). Let us by all means call an idiotarian an idiotarian. There are so many worthy nominees, I hardly know where to begin.

But of course, that has never stopped me before....

So, to mock honor a few of my favorites, I have penned a short poem which can be sung to the tune of "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria" from the Sound of Moonbats Music)

HOW DO YOU PICK AN IDIOTARIAN?

How do you solve a puzzle like Dan Rather?
How do you catch a bug like Ramsey Clark?
How do you find a word that means Pelosi?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A lark!

Many a thing you’d like to say to Sheehan,
Articulating what Noam Chomsky just can't say;
And someday Howard Dean,
Played by Sean Penn on the screen,
Will silently and softly fade away.

Just when you think you’ve counted all the fruitcakes,
Just when you think you’ve locked them in the vault--
Kofi will tell all
With Matthews on Hardball
And claim that it was really Bush’s fault!

Oh, how do you cure an illness like Ward Churchill?
And what would you ever do with Mary Mapes?
Why would you ever listen to George Clooney
And other assorted leftist jackanapes?

Oh how do you solve a puzzle like Dan Rather?
How do you hold a moonbat in your hand?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin thinks that the NY Times and MSM should be added to the nominees and Dymphna has honored those entities with a special song, too. She claims she has caught the "Dr. Sanity Disease"! I regret to inform her it is terminal....

DEMOCRAT INSURGENTS, DEAD-ENDERS, AND TERRORIST-ENABLERS

AJ Strata is ready to fight the "battle for America"

Surprisingly, the liberals want a fight for the future of America over the issue of national security. In their world there is no war, simply crimes to fight in court. In their world we cannot monitor communications from people who are willing to die to kill as many of us as possible. We must protect the terrorists’ rights to plan and execute deadly attacks once they have crossed our borders.

The left is West Wing, the rest of want something like 24. The liberals are for the Gorelick Wall that ensures we will not be able to stop a future 9-11 attack, since they are desperate to pretend 9-11 changed nothing.

The NY Times is crowing about the results of their leaking of classified material and the fact we now will fight the future in the courts.

Defense lawyers in some of the country’s biggest terrorism cases say they plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the National Security Agency used illegal wiretaps against several dozen Muslim men tied to Al Qaeda.

The lawyers said in interviews that they wanted to learn whether the men were monitored by the agency and, if so, whether the government withheld critical information or misled judges and defense lawyers about how and why the men were singled out.

The NY Times is expecting to put terrorists back on the street again. And they seem giddy about it


AJ has been all over the story of the NSA leak and FISA (see here and here) and he has even theorized that the leaker may be the FISA Judge who "quit in protest" from the FISA court (did he really quit? Because he has been unusually quiet about it....).

ShrinkWrapped pursues the story from the psychological perspective and exposes the motives of both the Democrat opportunists as well as the "civil liberties absolutists" and their different quests:

The opportunistic Democrats need to hold onto their power; they need the fawning MSM elites to confirm their conviction that they are smarter and better than their opponents, and they are often willing to do anything to regain that power, even if it damages their country and harms other people.

The civil liberties absolutists, on the other hand, present a more complicated scenario. They are much more like my young female patient. They insist that the world should be the way they want it to be, and further, try to force others to collude with them in imagining the world is the way they wish. If they win one victory, they need to escalate; this is the logic of the pursuit of perfection. Thus, if the administration agrees to allow lawyers to visit inmates in Guantanamo, they cannot be satisfied, but then must escalate to demanding full rights of access to the American legal system. If they ever were to become successful at getting people to agree with them, their logic insists that the West effectively disarm; we must stop all NSA intercepts, stop monitoring Mosques and other locations, and maintain the inviolability of personal privacy from any government intrusion. Because their true demands are so extreme, they can only face marginalization by pressing their agenda; further, if they truly cared about civil liberties, they would find a way to compromise because the greatest risk to civil liberties would be posed by a second attack on the scale of 9/11 or worse. Were such an attack to occur, all notions of acceptable limits of governmental intrusion would be jettisoned, with the agreement of the vast majority of the American people. In either case, whether they win or lose the current argument, they ultimately must lose.


What is a reasonable person to make of this suicidal clash of perspectives? The Democrats and the Left have long since gone around the bend in demonstrating over and over again that they will do anything--even to the point of putting the entire nation at risk--to destroy Bush and get revenge on the Republicans. They have committed themselves to this goal above freedom; above reason; above the lives of their fellow Americans. For them, there is no compromise--there is only the destruction of their enemy -- Bush.

If only they could direct some of that fierce single-mindedness toward fighting the country's true enemy--you know, the ones that are trying to destroy America and western civilization? The ones that killed 3000 Americans on 9/11? The ones that DAILY state the goal of destroying America and the eradicating our culture by any means possible?

But that would require insight and a willingness to examine their own motivations--and the revelations that would result are unacceptable to their self-concept.

ShrinkWrapped's essay is an appeal to the more reasonable civil libertarians (of which I count myself) who have justifiable legal arguments regarding the potential loss of civil rights as we fight the war on terror. The pursuit of the kind of "perfection" in civil liberties is folly in a time of war. We have appropriate checks and balances and the powers to intrude on indivdidual rights ebb and flow from one branch to the other, depending on the nation's needs. Most of the time, it seems to me, that the legislative and judicial branches are the ones who are far too intrusive and blind to the civil rights implications of their actions.

It would be optimal if this hysteria were brought down to a reasonable level and discussed with the reality of the Islamofascists and their international collaborators in mind. The Democrats and the Left have long since abandoned reason and wholeheartedly embraced hysteria and self-delusion; but those of us who have our eyes open and our vision unimpaired clearly see the suicidal and self-destructive implications of adopting their talking points.

As AJ says, if it is a war they want, bring it on. We will just have to gird our [intellectual] loins and fight the insurgents, dead-enders and terrorist-enablers here at home. I hope that someday, when the Democratic leadership faces the consequences of their behavior and the complete irrelevance of their opportunistic ideology; that they come to appreciate how they were the authors of their own self-destruction.

Always assuming, of course, that they haven't dragged the rest of us down with them.

UPDATE: In case you have forgotten the attitude of the Islamic fanatics we are dealing with, Solomon2 gives us a revealing glimpse of these moral monsters and the casual indifference they display about killing those who don't believe as they do. You can ignore this kind of rhetoric and its call for mass murder only at your peril.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

MOST CLEVER POLITICAL PUN OF 2005

Adapted from Winston Churchill by Robert Godwin at One Cosmos and describing the peripatetic, plagiarizing professor, Ward Churchill:

"Never have so many owed so much to a faux Sioux."

OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF .... DEMOCRATS !

The Anchoress has a fascinating story about how her Democratic neighbor is starting to view the antics of her elected representatives in Congress.

This neighbor's angry opinions may represent some of the "unintended consequences" that the Dems are accruing on issues of national security.

I certainly hope some of them take time to read what the Anchoress' neighbor has to say; and to digest its implications. But, they probably won't, since they seem to be living in that same bubble they are always accusing Bush of being in.

Ask not for whom the bubble bursts--it bursts for thee.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT / CONFRONTATION OR APPEASEMENT

Michael Yon in his latest post discusses the differences and similarities between propaganda and truth and uses two media montages to demonstrate:



It’s interesting to compare these two montages. The first from an un-attributed source, perhaps even a work of propaganda, shows people at their best, braving terrorists to vote in Iraq, then dipping their fingers in the purple ink, and smiling with pride, strength and hope.

The second montage by MSNBC, linked below, conveys the ultra-violence of nature against man, the cruelty of man against man, and helps explain why we want the world to be more like the impression we are left with after the “propaganda” montage. And yet, as someone who was out there experiencing some of what was depicted in both slide shows, it’s important to add that both are accurate in what they portray, while each is confined in scope. The difference is subtle, perhaps purely rhetorical. But the consequent impact, and how it influences public opinion, is something closer to cataclysmic.


Go to Yon's site for links to the two different montages.

I have a theory about how and why propaganda and/or truth (or a combination of both) would have profound impact on people's behavior.

Let me first start by reminding everyone what the respective definitions of propaganda and truth are:

propaganda - 1 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
2 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

truth - 1 a archaic : FIDELITY, CONSTANCY b : sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2 a (1) : the state of being the case : FACT (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : ACTUALITY (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true c : the body of true statements and propositions
3 a : the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality

And second, let us review the way our bodies are hardwired to deal with danger. From a March, 2005 post:


Sigmund Freud's powerful book Civilization and its Discontents argued that human instincts are out of sync with modern civilization; that aggression and other instinctual needs were once absolutely necessary for survival in a dangerous world, but that today these archaic impulses impede our ability to live happily in the present day and age. Among other innovative ideas from this short, but important work, Freud posits that the same aggression that was once directed towards survival, in the modern era is frequently turned inward, to the Self, rather than outward toward the environment, and causes the psychological phenomenon of depression. In psychiatry we refer to this as "aggression turned inward".

Our brains and bodies were designed for the "fight or flight" response--when in danger or threatened in any way, we physiologically respond with a burst of adrenalin (a hormone more formally known as epinephrine, a catcholamine); and that compound initiates a series of biological reactions that prepare us to either run away from the danger or to stand and fight.

It can be argued that depression and its concomitant emotion despair can be conceptualized as the inability--particularly in modern times-- to be able to "run away" or "fight" in the traditional sense. How effective would it be for the individual, do you think, if--called on the carpet by his or her boss--that individual responded by decking the boss or screaming and running out of the room? Bereft of these behavioral options in civilized society, we are still confined to the physiological response that such scenarios engender. This leads us to the concept of "stress".


When we hear a story that is factual and true from which we perceive danger to ourselves or our loved ones, that true story stimulates the "fight or flight" response. So it was with 9/11. The nation was initially stunned by the images of the WTC towers attacked and then collapsing. As it became clearer what had happened, these images made a connection to people's hardwired responses. We saw a threat, and we began to respond to it in exactly the way we were programmed. Initially, the dominant response to this threat was to "fight"--but within days, we were also beginning to hear from a sizable number of the population whose intitial response was to run away from the danger and/or pretend it didnt' exist.

Whichever response was stimulated, both are the psychological and behavior strategies that are fundamental to our physiology. Both strategies have their uses, depending on the situation.

Now, let us consider for a moment some propaganda. As stated in the definition, propaganda seeks to deliberately use certain ideas, facts, or allegations to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause

The best and most effective manner to damage an opposing cause is also to tap into the basic hardwiring of human beings. If you can present facts or allegations with an appropriate slant that triggers the innate physiological signal for "DANGER! DANGER!", then your propaganda will be optimally effective and have profound effects on the way a situation is perceived by an individual.

Two examples:

-showing the "death count" in Iraq over and over again; emphasizing the number of soldiers killed and the number of bombs going off (even though such information may be entirely true) without also showing the deaths in the context of operational goals or strategy; or without also showing (or, deliberately ignoring) the positive and successful images

-discussing the "invasion of privacy" of a top-secret program during a war as if it were something entirely new in American history; or without any discussion of how the same strategy was used in previous administrations; previous wars--i.e., without putting it into any context except that your personally are in imminent danger of being monitored by the government

There are many more that could be used. But the two above are not examples of "truth" as we have defined it--they are both examples of propaganda, because they deliberately are slanting information in order to further a particular point of view and denigrate the opposition point of view. This is how most propaganda works. This is also why bad/frightening news tends to cause more of a response than good news ("if it bleeds, it ledes")

In fact, what is interesting to me is that certain parties are using propaganda--though they would vehemently deny it-- and a distortion of the truth (i.e., the truth that America is in danger) in order to futher only one particular political manifestation of the "fight or flight" paradigm. Specifically, the motivations of all of these propagandists are in the camp that counsels "flight" --better described as "immediate withdrawal" and/or continued appeasement of the danger. This strategy is often referred to as the pacifist or antiwar strategy.

Despite their objections to the propaganda from the other side (and that too, does exist), the fact remains that they are also using propaganda--and using it much more effectively than their political oppononents on the fight/confrontation side.

Whenever truth or propagandized truth is utilized for the opposite perspective (fight), it is roundly condemned and generates an extreme response from the "flight" side, who cry "no fair!" Case in point is that whenever people are reminded of 9/11 by the President, it is denounced as "warmongering." Or, more recently, the revelations that the military pays for their side of the story to come out in Iraq. Both are roundly denounced (and twisted into propaganda, I might add, by the Leftist/antiwar crowd who use this to claim that we are headed for a police state--something I would call "fearmongering"). This is how it has come to pass that only antiwar propaganda and pacifist "truth" are able to be headlines in our media.

Now, it is certainly true that propaganda can also be used to make people fear a nonexistent threat and to mount the drums of war. But what we are witnessing is propaganda being used to make people fear a nonexistent police state and to mount the drums of peace.

The former strategy was used effectively by the Germans in WWII; and the threat used was focused on the Jews as the source of all evil. This strategy is also used today by the Islamofascists who actively encourage war against Jews and other infidels. Again, the psycholgoical motivation of both these these scapegoating actions are to explain their own cultures' failures in the real world. It is propaganda because its intent is to deliberately foster a certain point of view (one that blames others instead of themselves).

The latter strategy is being used by the Democrats, the Left, and the antiwar crowd.

The choice of confrontation or appeasement is in essence a biological one. Fight or Flight is as old as humanity. The use of propaganda and/or the truth are strategies to mobilize one or the other response in a population of humans.

The issue isn't really propaganda vs. truth -- both sides use the two of them to justify behavior. The issue is fight or flight (biological imperative) with concomitant confrontation or appeasement (conscious choice).

Which will it be?

FAIR DEAL

A recent letter to the editor from the NY Post (hat tip: Hugh Hewitt)

I offer a proposal: The U.S. military will withdraw from Iraq, the Patriot Act will not be renewed and the United States will stop monitoring phone calls by potential terrorists.

In return, if there is another terrorist attack on the United States, the Democratic Party will disband and contribute all of its assets to the families of victims, all Democratic senators and congressmen will resign and The New York Times will contribute $1 trillion to the fund for the families.

Fair deal?

Richard Slawsky
Milford, CT



It is too bad that I don't hate the Democrats that much that I'd be willing to sacrifice innocent American lives just to demonstrate what a bunch of completely clueless and gutless dingbats they have evolved into in the last 50 years or so.

It is a tempting suggestion, though.

Monday, December 26, 2005

HOSTILE BEYOND REASON

William Kristol in The Weekly Standard:

No reasonable American, no decent human being, wants to send up a white flag in the war on terror. But leading spokesmen for American liberalism-hostile beyond reason to the Bush administration, and ready to believe the worst about American public servants-seem to have concluded that the terror threat is mostly imaginary. It is the threat to civil liberties from George W. Bush that is the real danger. These liberals recoil unthinkingly from the obvious fact that our national security requires policies that are a step (but only a careful step) removed from ACLU dogma.

On Monday, December 19, General Michael Hayden, former director of the National Security Agency and now deputy director of national intelligence, briefed journalists. The back--and--forth included this exchange:

Reporter: Have you identified armed enemy combatants, through this program, in the United States?

Gen. Hayden: This program has been successful in detecting and preventing attacks inside the United States.

Reporter: General Hayden, I know you're not going to talk about specifics about that, and you say it's been successful. But would it have been as successful-can you unequivocally say that something has been stopped or there was an imminent attack or you got information through this that you could not have gotten through going to the court?

Gen. Hayden: I can say unequivocally, all right, that we have got information through this program that would not otherwise have been available.

Kristol goes on to discuss the "fever swamp" into which American liberalism is descending.

A generation ago, Richard Hofstadter wrote compellingly about The Paranoid Style in American Politics; and he was primarily concerned with the conspiratorial fantasies of the Right side of the political spectrum. Our present political climate however, offers much support for those who suspect that paranoid strain has now infected the Left side with virulent case of the same illness.
Psychologically, it is very difficult to abandon paranoia once it is taken on by a particular group, since it--and the accompanying delusions that it generates-- serves the purpose of accounting for an unacceptable status quo. Without a scapegoat who is considered to be racially, sexually, physically, or intellectually inferior, onto which your own fears can be projected; it would be horrifying and untenable to look inside one's own heart and soul for the source of the fear.

This is the nature of projection and paranoia. The unacceptable thoughts or feelings are denied ("not owned") by the person experiencing them, and instead are projected onto another individual or--as in this case--a group. Thus, the person who originally had the offensive thought or feeling becomes the helpless victim of the evil "other" and they do not have to cope with the fact that the evil lies within themselves. This is the origin of almost all acts of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, etc. It is the source of most prejudice in the world; and certain prejudices that become socially acceptable--like the casual anti-semitism of the Middle East; or the causal anti-Republicanism adopted by the intellectual "elite" of this country.

Projection is never a good long-term psychological strategy--nor is it healthy--in an adult; and using such a defense mechanism represents a primitive attempt to shirk the responsibility for one's own feelings, thoughts, and actions. It causes and has caused much human misery, death, destruction and some of the most horrific acts that humans are capable of. When entire countries subscribe to a projected delusion (e.g., the "Jews" are to blame; the "Blacks" are the cause of all of our problems; "Republicans" are evil; Bush=Hitler) it can lead to genocide and other behaviors that are paranoid and psychotically delusional. Full-blown paranoia occurs when one's mind severs the connection with reality entirely.

In the most recent example of this sort of thinking on the Left, we have been subjected to the wild ravings of pundits who compare Bush's actions to protect American citizens after 9/11 and during what many consider to be WWIV to the actions of Hitler; or Apartheid, or (insert dictator's name here).

As Michael Barone calmly points out:

The New York Times' Christmas gift -- sorry, holiday gift -- to the nation's political dialogue was its Dec. 16 story reporting that the National Security Agency has been intercepting telephone conversations between terrorism suspects abroad and U.S. citizens or legal residents in the United States.

What the Times didn't bother telling its readers is that this practice is far from new and is entirely legal. Instead, the unspoken subtext of the story was that this was likely an illegal and certainly a very scary invasion of Americans' rights.

Let's put the issue very simply. The president has the power as commander in chief under the Constitution to intercept and monitor the communications of America's enemies. Indeed, it would be a very weird interpretation of the Constitution to say that the commander in chief could order U.S. forces to kill America's enemies but not to wiretap -- or, more likely these days, electronically intercept -- their communications. Presidents have asserted and exercised this power repeatedly and consistently over the last quarter-century

America has always had discussions about the balance of power within the three branches of government and always will. It is reasonable to have checks and balances; it is even reasonable and normal to expect that the balance will sometimes shift to the executive (in times of war, perhaps) or to the legislative (in times of peace) and even sometimes to the judiciary. This is a dynamic balance that is able to adjust to the historical circumstances and national requirements.
The hysteria and paranoia generated by the deeply hostile and inaccurate journalism of the NY Times and other media outlets--in addition to the possible leaking of national security information that is helpful to the enemy in a time of war--is deeply troubling, because it represents a newer, more lethal expression of paranoia in American politics by the Democrats and the Left.

Let us hope that the disease is not terminal--either for them, or for the rest of us.

THE MEME OF FOUR

ARGGGGGGGGH! I've been memed! GM Roper passed this on to me last night and I must respond or else be thought terribly rude. Which actually doesn't bother me much usually, but I like GM and would suffer guilt and angst if I ignored him.

Sigh. OK here goes.

Four jobs you’ve had in your life: Denny's waitress, lobbyist, flight surgeon, psychiatrist!

Four movies you could watch over and over: The first three Star Wars movies. The Lord of The Rings, Sense and Sensibility, Where Eagles Dare!

Four places you’ve lived: Los Angeles, California; Milwaukee Wisconsin; Houston, Texas; Ann Arbor, Michigan

Four TV shows you love to watch: Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Maverick, Bonanza (sorry, I don't watch many new TV shows)

Four places you’ve been on vacation: (Other than Paris; Rome; Madrid; London): Fresno,California; New York; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Vancouver,B.C.

Four websites you visit daily: Mugglenet; Washtenaw County; TCS Daily; and Townhall.com

Four of your favorite foods: Fajitas; Lasagna; General Tso's Chicken; and Apple Pie.

Four places you’d rather be: the beach; the mountains; the forest; the desert.

Four albums you can’t live without: Manhattan Transfer Christmas Album; Enya, Shepherd Moon; Loreena McKennitt, The Book of Secrets; Michael Franks, The Best of Michael Franks

And now, I pass the baton of the Meme of Four on to Dymphna at Gates of Vienna and Neighborhood of God--who I am sure will have more much more interesting answers!

Curse you, GM Roper!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

CARNIVAL OF THE INSANITIES - Special Christmas Edition

Time for the weekly insanity udate--SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION!!-- where the insane, the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the completely absurd are highlighted for all to see! This holiday season has generated probably the most unbelievable absurdities in history. Note to all bloggers! Those of you who sent in regular entries to the Carnival this week, will have them linked next week in the first Carnival of the Insanities for 2006. Entries for next week need to be into me by 8 pm ET on Saturday, New Year's Eve. Only one post entry per blogger, please. SO MANY INSANITIES! SO LITTLE TIME!
***NEW*** Feel free to add your own Christmas or Holiday insanities in Trackbacks to this post!

1. What ever happened to "good old Saint Nick"?

2. Santa condemned for 'profiling'! And to these guys, he's Satan! Gee, the big guy doesn't get a break either in secular or religious circles! Or from little kids anymore!

3. Yes, this would be a little disturbing for reasons I can't exactly pinpoint. But it gets an award anyway!

4. Some people are easily offended. Some people are wrongly offended. Some people are just plain offensive.

5. Hell yes, baby! Santa has come early! Sort of the anti-Fitzmas.

6. Be afraid; be very afraid. (hat tip:Perrero). He's very scary. And he's coming to town!

7. A...creative...Christmas lights display. And a blog devoted to the beauty-impaired displays. Didn't I say once there was a blog for everything?

8. The true Christmas spirit ?

9. Peace and Harmony. Goodwill toward men.

10. Lost in translation? And it doesn't translate into Hebrew, either!

11. Santa Clauses are coming to town. Forty of them! Don't forget, Virginia, Santa is a magical and cuddly man, not a fat, smelly slob!

12. A guide to dealing with family during Christmas. Very useful, sort of.

13. This should really help with jobs in the Christmas tourist industry there.

14. I learned a new word -- YOB !

15. A very merry un-Christmas to them (couldn't happen to a nicer, more patriotic bunch).

16. Disturbing Secrets. He sees you when you're sleeping.

16. Merry Christmas, President Bush. (Heh. Think of it as a lump of coal for the Democrats)

16. Sleep in heavenly peace. And thank you for your sacrifice.


Carnival of the Insanities can also be found at The Truth Laid Bear's √úberCarnival.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

From Our Family To Yours: Have A Joyous Christmas Filled with Warmth & Love!




*A special Christmas edition of the Carnival of the Insanities will be posted Christmas morning--otherwise, I will be back blogging on December 26th. See you all then!

Capitalism is Good For The Soul

One cannot escape noticing that the intellectual trend in the West is to continually bash capitalism, business, and free trade; while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of them. Especially at Christmastime.

Our academics rail against business. Our government constantly seeks to control it. Our youth are propagandized to death about its evils. Popular culture refrains from painting Islamofascists as the villians in movies out of political correctness, but does not hesitate to make big businessmen evil and grandiose. Religions are almost universal in denouncing the evils of money and spending it, even as they ask you to give them some.

One harmful result of this sorry situation is that there are few people--even among those who stalwartly defend the free market, who understand and appreciate the essential morality of capitalism.

The foundation of capitalism is human freedom in its most classical, liberal tradition.

Contrary to the many articles and books written about it through history by economists and scholars, capitalism's incredible production of wealth is only a side-effect that occurs when political freedom is present. It has been argued, and I agree, that both captialism and freedom themselves are prerequisites for moral behavior.

The moral case for capitalism is not taught at our universities, nor is it argued much in our culture; and certainly not in our churches. In fact it has been more or less universally accepted that systems such as communism and socialism are morally superior to capitalism--even though in practice such systems have led to the death and enslavement of millions, and to those unlucky enough not to die from them, they have led to the most horrible shrinking and wasting of the human soul. Not to mention the pathetic economic conditions of the people unfortunate enought to live in those countries have to deal with.

The truth is that not socialism, communism nor any kind of religious fundamentalism is even compatible with morality.

If one's actions are coerced by the state or religion or both; if human activity is legislated and regulated or ordained down to the last minute detail--particularly to the degree we see in other countries of the world (e.g., Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, etc.),then how can it be argued that one's arctions are moral? They are not voluntary, but coerced.

Morality, however, is a matter of choice, not mandate. One cannot hold a person responsible for actions that are coerced or forced from him. Morality can only exist when freedom of action exists. Moral actions in any field of human endeavor require freedom.

Conduct may only be thought of as moral or immoral when it is freely chosen by the individual. It is only then that the moral significance of the action can be assessed. It is only when we are free to act that we can exercise moral judgement.

Which brings us to a capitalist system. Only in a free economic system within a free political system is it possible to be moral, since true benevolence toward others, compassion, charity, and generosity cannot exist without freedom. Benevolence, generosity, charity, and compassion that are mandated by the state; or by a religion--on pain of death or other consequence; or by any regulations on behavior; or by force--are meaningless insofar as individual morality is concerned.

In a previous series of posts on Narcissism and Society, I stated:
We have seen that the development of a Cohesive Self is dependent on two separate, equal and parallel developmental lines that arise originally from the biological and psychological fusion of the Infant and Mother early in life. If each of these lines are not interrupted in their normal evolution the Infant will eventually become an Adult with both narcissistic poles adequately developed and be able to function in the world in a healthy way—both in his attitude toward his own physical and psychic self; and in his attitude toward other human beings.

In some ways, the rise of human civilization from the cave to the present day has resulted because of attempts through the Rule of Law and social controls to set limits on the unrestrained Grandiose Self. This is primarily due to the destructiveness of the Narcissistic Rage generally associated with that part of the Self.

Because of this, the Grandiose Self has received a bad reputation philosophically, morally, and politically. The natural development of Governments and Religions (which ultimately are an expression of the Idealized Parent Image/Omnipotent Other side of the Self)have all too often attempted to ruthlessly suppress the Grandiose Self--much to the detriment of the individual AND the success of the particular society or religion.

In fact, despite the obvious truth that governments, nations, and religions are in a much better position to wreak far more systemized misery and death on human populations, it is almost always the Grandiose Self that gets the blame. As Wretchard at The Belmont Club pointed out in a recent post, a review of the 20th century, for example, shows that all the "people's revolutions" supported by the Left and purportedly for the purpose of "freeing" large populations of people; resulted instead in enslaving them and increasing authoritarian rule.

Without a political or economic framework that is able to incorporate what we refer to as "human nature" into its calculations, all so-called "perfect" societies and ideologies will at best simply fail in the real world; and at worse cause untold human suffering. With the best of intentions (this is perhaps debatable), the social engineers of philosophy, political science, and economics have caused so much more slavery, misery and death on a grand scale--that the grandiose CEO's of the largest corporations can be considered mere pikers by comparison.

When we talk about the individual versus society; or the individual versus the state; or indeed any discussion of individual rights versus the rights of a group, we are also referring to the psychological tension between the two poles of the Self. Any political or economic system that expects to succeed in the real world will have to accommodate that tension, and find a way to optimally negotiate the needs of BOTH sides of the Self--that is, they will have to take into account human nature.

A perusal of any list of economic systems will demonstrate that ALMOST ALL OF THEM are relatively extreme expressions of the Idealized Parent Image/Omnipotent Object. Almost all emphasize the group, the community, the collective, the nation, the state, or god at the expense of the individual. Examples are numerous. Socialism and Communism; fascism and religious fundamentalism.

The major exception is Capitalism, where the individual and the individual's needs are emphasized over the the group.

All other economic systems besides capitalism routinely mouth moral platitudes about ending poverty; bringing justice etc. etc. But, the only economic system that is capable of doing just that is the one constantly accused of causing poverty and injustice--capitalism.

The WSJ put it thusly (from a previous post of mine):

Policy makers who pay lip service to fighting poverty would do well to grasp the link between economic freedom and prosperity. This year the Index finds that the freest economies have a per-capita income of $29,219, more than twice that of the "mostly free" at $12,839, and more than four times that of the "mostly unfree." Put simply, misery has a cure and its name is economic freedom.


The reason that systems such as socialism and communism don't work in the real world and are ultimately destructive of the individual self; and of the human soul, is that they remove moral action and judgement from the individual and place it in the collective. The individual is not permitted to make his/her own moral judgements, and must obey the mandates of the collective. This can only work when the individual is stripped of all freedom to act independently and fears reprisals for doing so.

Thus political freedom and economic freedom go hand in hand. Capitalism cannot exist for long inside an oppressive regime. Since it is more compatible with human nature than any other economic system, it will cause any totalitarian regime that permits it to some degree to last longer (China is a good example), but that can only be a temporary state. Without true political freedom, economic freedom cannot last and will either wither away slowly; or, alternatively cause individuals living under the oppression to demand more political freedom.

You can't be a "little bit" free because human nature will always demand more and more freedom once it has had a taste of it; until the despot who rules is finally deposed, or he totally crushes those who oppose him. In situations where the latter happens, you will always find the worse scenarios of poverty, oppression,misery, death, genocide and/or human degredation.

Likewise, true political freedom cannot last, and in the end is meaningless, where there is no economic freedom. Think for a minute about what money really is. Anti-capitalist intellectuals are rather fond of the phrase "money is the root of all evil", but, in truth, money is the most efficient method of allowing individuals to make moral judgements. The phrase "put your money where your mouth is" is actually a more meaningful insight for understanding the importance of money and its relationship to freedom.

This is, of course not to say that everyone will make good and/or moral decisions. Nor do all people necessarily spend or even earn their money wisely. They clearly don't. But that is neither here nor there. That is why political freedom demands a rule of law, and the protection of individual and property rights from other individuals and from the state.

Capitalism is good for the soul. It is the only system where the soul and the self can flourish, where individuals have a right to their own life and liberty, and can make the specific choices in the pursuit their own particular happiness. A system where every human exchange is a win-win situation.

So, this Christmas season, don't feel guilty about buying and giving gifts--either humble or extravagant-- for those you love. Don't agonize about the "reason for the season". Didn't the Three Wise Men bring riches to complement their adoration of the child? Didn't the little drummer boy sing his heart out? He gave the best within himself. And that is what capitalism and freedom together encourage.

AXIS OF FRUITCAKES

Now that there's an opening in the Axis of Evil--a career opportunity of limited potential, but nevertheless coveted by many--I think we have an outstanding applicant to fill it.


I suspect this news makes the two leaders above somewhat uneasy. Rand Simberg has some interesting thoughts on the topic.

But they can always turn to the third sociopathic member of this exclusive club of fruitcakes for help in plotting world domination...

And, just so you can keep up with the comings and goings of this club member, for your reading enjoyment, I refer you to this blog, dedicated to the "Dear Leader Comrade Generalissimo, brilliant statesman, political genius, and military commander." (hat tip: SC&A)

In honor of the three of them, today I am sharing my recipe for

"AXIS OF EVIL FRUITCAKE"

1 C sugar
1/2 C butter, melted
1 egg
pinch of salt
1 1/2 C applesauce
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
2 t baking soda
2 C flour
1 1/2 C golden raisins
1 C currants
1 C candied fruit mix for fruitcake
1 C pecans
1 C red candied cherries for fruitcake (one small container)
1 C candied pineapple chunks for fruitcake (1 small container)

Blend ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into 2 or 3 loaf pans (depending on the size of the pan) lined with wax paper. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool completely. Refrigerate for a day or two before serving. Can be frozen, too. Wrap well in foil and ziploc bags and store in the refrigerator or freezer. You can spike it with brandy, but the applesauce base keeps it moist. Enjoy.

Moral: Handled properly, a variety of candied fruits and nuts can be extremely delicious after they are all democratically mixed together and baked in an oven possessing a steady temperature.

Some Technical Help, Please?

I have received a few emails from readers who complain that sometimes my sidebar extends over the blog text area, preventing them from reading the post. I think this is just the browser that they are using and its interpretation of my template--but I don't know for sure. I understand their problem because sometimes--for just a moment when my blog is loading on AOL--I can see the sidebar extending over the text area; but then it readjusts and everything looks normal. This doesn't happen all the time and I suspect it is related to the continuously updating blogrolls I keep on the sidebar (the ones that only list blogs that have posted recently).

I have two technical questions: 1. Is this a correct analysis of the problem? and 2. is there anything I can do with my template; or the readers with problems can do; so that this doesn't happen?

Thanks for your help!!

THE NEW BENEDICT ARNOLDS?

AJ Strata was one of the first to speculate that so-called "protest" resignation of Judge Robertson from the FISA court may have really been because he was one of the leakers of the classified NSA program. He and others are now wondering if Jay Rockefeller's atypical silence may not also be suggestive:

We will know for sure if Robertson starts missing days on the bench on the DC circuit court - a position he has not resigned yet. But one he cannot retain while under investigation.
Mac Ranger believes this fits his scenario where an all of sudden very quiet Senator Rockefeller is also under investigation for leaking the NSA program. The NY Times story that leaked and damaged the surveillance program mentioned the good Senator by name. Guess he forgot to go on background.
Now Rush Limbaugh has joined the dance in looking at Judge Robertson as a possible modern day Benedict Arnold.


This is serious talk, folks. As Jack Kelly points out, after the extreme reaction we all witnessed to the supposed "outing" of Valerie Plame; the whining and wailing and gnashing of teeth about the critical nature of our intelligence capability and the seriousness of its compromise; we now have a situation where:

A grave crime was exposed Dec. 16th when New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau published a story revealing President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to listen in on conversations between al Qaida suspects abroad and people in the United States without first obtaining a warrant.

"We're seeing clearly now that (President) Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator," wrote Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. But the scandal was not the program Risen and Lichtblau wrote about. The scandal is that they wrote about it.


The Left has made a mountain out of Plame --a relative molehill in the great scheme of things--and now they are hoist on their own petard (how's that for mixing metaphors?). Not that I think that the disclosure of classified information in both cases should not be taken as a serious offense; but there was every reason in the Plame affair to believe that the person who actually compromised her was her own husband; while with the NSA dustup, we are dealing with a matter with consequences several orders of magnitude more serious for our national security.

The angry hysterics of the Left can reason it out--if they are capable of even the most rudimentary reasoning skills anymore. Whatever the statutory or constitutional precedent or legality of President Bush's actions--and I happen to think the legal evidence is decidedly in the President's favor--his actions follow a tradition of jockeying for power between the executive and legislative branches that has embroiled most administrations and most congresses since our nation was founded. It would be the President's inaction and lack of attention to these issues in after 9/11 that would be more worrisome.

OTOH, there can be no doubt that the release of information regarding a highly classified and active national security program that is tracking the enemy during a war is definitely illegal; not to mention irresponsible and treasonous. That such an action could possibly be justified as taken "for the good of the nation" is laughable. That the Left sees this as an indication of imminent "fascism" is hilarious, given that it is not different significantly from what previous presidents have done (and most of them did not even do it in a time of active war with military operations ongoing ).

There may be some cynical creatures out there (myself included) who have wondered if Valerie Plame was ever in any real danger because the supposed "secret" of her CIA involvement was made public several years after her covert status was ended. But even the most cynical person in our midst cannot help but conclude that in the NSA leak, we are talking about exposing possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent American lives to the risk of terrorist attacks that might have been prevented by this very program.

If Valerie Plame's position at the CIA was classified; and if was deliberately leaked for political purposes then whoever did it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The act of deliberatly and maliciously exposing a highly classified program (there is no "if" in this case) and the leaking of of highly classified information (again, no "if") during a time of war so that it aids and abets the enemy and puts American lives at risk--is usually referred to as "treason". Whoever conspired to do it should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

In 1780 Benedict Arnold formed a plot to surrender the fort at West Point, New York to the British. His name has gone down in American history as synonymous with the word "traitor".

Whoever leaked the NSA program (and I am certain that the person or persons will eventually be identified--and it may or may not be Rockefeller or Robertson-- and whoever willingly published that information in the media, is playing the same lethal game betrayal that Arnold engaged in; and I sincerely and earnestly hope they suffer the same historical consequences.

THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN -- AND DR. SANITY WINS !

This week's winners in the Watcher's Council are now posted at the Watcher of Weasels - AND DR. SANITY WINS!!!! Thank you very much to the Watcher's Council - There are some wonderful posts this week, and I'm honored that my post was selected.

Every week the Council nominates posts from the blogs of the Council members, and posts from around the blogsphere. The Council then votes to select the "Best" of all these posts.

Congratulations to all the other winners!

BEST COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

The Idiot's Guide To Victimhood -- Getting It and Keeping It Dr. Sanity

Second Place

Gender Warfare Without the Glass Ceilings Gates of Vienna

BEST NON-COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

Legal Analysis of the NSA Domestic Surveillance Program The Volokh Conspiracy

Second Place (a two-way tie!)

Planned Parenthood Boasts It Covered Up an 11-Year-Old's Rape The Dawn Patrol

December 15th 2005: A Day of (Cautious) Hope and Optimism The Belgravia Dispatch

Be sure to check out all the winners at the Watcher's Site. It makes for great Holiday Reading!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Here's Johnny !















From caveman to civilized being (or to put it another way: from Boston Red Soxer to NY Yankee)* !

This reminds me of a Biblical story for some reason....

It will be interesting to see how well his ego will fit into the new team; but it will at least make for an interesting year in baseball.

*I am an unrepentant Yankee fan.

UPDATE: I get the feeling that some people feel this way about it:

PSYCHBLOGGER TOUCH AND GO !

Dr. Sanity is going to do a few "touch and go's" around the mental health blogsphere and bring her readers some psychological wisdom from a few of the psychbloggers (not psychobloggers!) who live there.

Here we go!

First, check out Gaghdad Bob at One Cosmos for an intelligent psychological analysis of the bizarro world of the left. This man is pure brilliance! Be sure to buy his book.

Dr. Helen has some good advice for the American Psychological Association: stop advocation politically correct "diversity" and be more welcoming to a diversity of ideas.

ShrinkWrapped tackles "Moral Relativism and Enabling Evil" and looks at a new pedophile musical. (Maybe it is a scam similar to The Producers ?)

Holocaust denial is the topic over at Neo-neocon, as she brings her thoughtful analysis to the Nazi influences on the Middle East in the 1930's.

Assistant Village Idiot always has something interesting to say (even on other people's blogs)--just scroll down! And, BTW, I think he should be promoted to "Associate"!

Shrinkette covers the "The 12 Neuroses of Christmas" just in time for the holidays!

GM at GM's Corner issues Christmas...err...holiday....greetings to both his Democrat and Republican friends. 'Tis the season, and all that!

Sigmund, Carl & Alfred (who, technically isn't any of those three - but I like him anyway!) shares the secret of why he is adored by women and respected by men all over the world.

ENJOY! (And if I forgot anyone, let me know in the comments and I'll add you).