Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A CONSPIRACY OF TYRANTS

This firsthand account of life in Castro's "paradise" is extremely informative (hat tip Sefania):
"Twenty years ago, when life wasn't so bad with the Soviet money pouring in, we still had ... paper, books and pens to write with, and the Russians sent food from the Eastern Bloc," Virginia tells me. "Oh, those plums from Poland! That all evaporated when the Soviets pulled out and then we had the years of famine. The kids today aren't blind. They see what their parents' lives consist of. I have to work like a dog to keep their interest from flagging in every class. I am not allowed to fail any student because it would make our system look bad. And even when they get a degree they will only ever earn $15 a month and have the same struggles as their parents."

There is a feeling in the air these days that I can't put my finger on -- tension, unease and sadness all at once. Three years ago, I saw hope on the faces in the streets of Havana. Now, I see none.

With the support of Chavez and Morales, Castro has been emboldened. He has sought to re-entrench the chasm between Cuban people and foreign visitors. In addition, he's announced a ban on all off-market commercial activities and satellite communication systems.

Young people have been hired as "social workers." They enter every Cuban home and inspect the number of electrical goods and determine the salary of the owner to see whether there is a discrepancy. Then they test any electrical fans. If the fan works, it is taken outside, smashed, and tossed into a truck. The person then receives a chit entitling them to buy a low-wattage Chinese fan for several weeks' pay.

The same routine occurred with light bulbs, with youth squads breaking up the good ones and replacing them with low-voltage Chinese versions. The stress from these personal assaults in one's home was run very high, especially among my elderly friends. People stood astonished on street corners as their goods were destroyed.


Read it all and you will get the flavor of a malignant and petty tyrant whose pervasive grandiosity and ubiquitous oppression intrudes even into the most minor aspects of life. This is a country that would have faltered and collapsed decades ago if not for being artificially propped up by the Soviet Union as a socialist utopia (just like the Soviet Union was). Now, in order to tighten the chokehold and keep control of his destroyed country and impoverished people, the aging Fidel must resort to harsher and harsher rule. No one is allowed to be different or live better than anyone else. No one can receive gifts from outside without extorting large amounts of money. Cuban citizens are not allowed to even enter hotels where foreigners stay (no contamination by outside ideas); and nightly rants by Castro on the radio serve to keep everyone apprised on the status of the revolution and what they are supposed to think about every topic.

A paradise, indeed.

The author of the article is from Canada where, as in America, one can easily find the unrepentant remants of 20th century socialist/communist ideology. These foolish and delusional hangers-on have chosen to ignore over a hundred years of data from the various human "experiments" in this ideology; experiments that resulted in millions dead; in widespread human poverty and misery; and the deliberate and sadistic crushing of the human spirit.

They, like Castro, are emboldened by the colorful personalities of the new 21st century tyrants emerging like horribly infected insects from the swamp of misery that characterizes Latin America. They see in Chavez and Morales a new "democratic" face on their ideology; but this is just another mask that the totalitarians like to wear as their boots trample human dignity and freedom.

How anyone can keep a straight face anymore when the pathetic "comrades" of the West march in solidarity with everything they claim to be adamantly opposed to is beyond a rational person's capacity to understand. Spouting mottos for "peace", "justice", and decrying torture and oppression, even as they worship and support the very psychopaths whose every action gives testament to evil; they offer a unique lesson in the capacity for human self-delusion and the denial of reality and truth.

As for Casto and the other puppet-masters of Latin America--they present a clear and unambiguous portrait of pure, unadulterated human malevolence and thirst for power; and are welcomed warmly by tyrants and tyrant wannabees the world over.

ASH WEDNESDAY


Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. So it is appropriate, I guess that this week my neighborhood has had to have all its ash trees cut down. It has been like a mini-armageddon around here.

This draconian measure is a desperate attempt to halt the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. The Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) was discovered in Michigan in July 2002. It is a species of metallic wood boring beetle (Buprestidae) that attacks ash (Fraxinus), usually killing trees in one-three years.

We have known about this troublesome pest for several years now, but most of the trees in our neighborhood seemed quite robust. The front of our house has two beautiful ash trees--or, I should say had

I was sitting in my den working yesterday when I heard the unmistakable sound of large saws nearby. I went to my front door and was stunned to see county vehicles disposing of my two trees, which had just been cut down! Across the street in the park they had already removed about a half dozen trees and as I looked out the glass screen door of my front porch, it was like looking out over a vast, empty expanse.

Feeling a bit like Arthur Dent, I went running outside shouting at the men to stop, even though it was far too late already. The men were completely unsympathetic, noting that it had been in the paper that all ash trees were going to be cut down. This had been planned for at least a year, one of the supervisors informed me.

I reflexly looked up at the sky to see if the Vogon destructor ship had arrived yet to make way for some intergalactic freeway. Actually, I didn't, but it certainly seemed like I was in the middle of a Douglas Adams novel.

Although stressed ash trees are always more prone to borer attack, the evidence suggests that even healthy, well-maintained trees are also killed by the beetle. As far as I knew, all the trees in the neighborhood were either completely healthy or in the initial stages of infestation. As the EAB larvae feed on the bark, the initial damage to the tree appears as thinning and dieback in the upper canopy of the tree.

Today, I walked around the neighborhood to view the devastation. Most of the homes, like ours, had once had one or two of these beautiful trees in the front yard. They are all gone and their beuatiful leaves will no longer provide any shade when the summer heat arrives. It is a very different neighborhood now. You don't fully appreciate the "feel" of warmth and protection that trees provide, I guess, until they are no longer there. It feels vulnerable now; open and cold.

I suppose I imagined that since they had looked fine in the fall, our trees would be spared execution. I'm sure the detailed plans to cut them down were on display in the basement of one of the county offices of unknown address; or filed in a particularly inaccessible place for the appropriately legal time. I know that I have no excuse for not knowing what was going to happen...but I do wish that we had been notified at least a day or so in advance.

I would have liked to say goodbye.

A LIFELONG NON-LEARNING PROGRAM

It came to me suddenly reading several articles yesterday, how unrelenting is the left's cradle to grave assault on critical and independent thinking. Since that infamous decade of 60's when my generation was invited to "tune in, turn off and drop out" we have been encouraged to "tune in" to the mindless messages and worthless programs of the left; "turn off" our brains; and drop out of reality.

Here's a short sampling:

For the discerning child, who is dedicated to sharing her toys; and bringing peace and social justice to the world-- your correct political orientation is outlined in this book.

For the adolescent in the public schools, the gentle indoctrination of childhood will be helpfully augmented by conscientious teachers who only want what is best for you. This gives you another chance to have your brain washed in the proper neurochemicals, approved by the Committee on Universal Peace and Brotherhood.

And as an adult in college and beyond, you can participate in united for peace and justice and obtain further experience in mindless obedience to the collective. This is the stage where being designated a "victim" is passed off as social justice; and where you can work to ensure certain designated groups remain victims so that your own self-esteem can continue to grow by championing them.

By adulthood the brain will have been sufficiently anesthesized so that the gaping insistencies and endless hypocrisy isn't at all bothersome and leads to no serious clinical effects, except for the childish expectation that everyone will think and feel as you do.

It also helps to carefully nurture any tendency toward excessive narcissism in order to facilitate (1) an exaggerated self-esteem, where you don't actually have to to achieve anything to deserve anyone's admiration; (2) a belief that difficult goals can be accomplished without any real effort on your part except singing "Kumbayah"; and (3) a finely-honed sense of victimhood so that you have a ready-made excuse if you haven't achieved anything or made any effort in your life.

Monday, February 27, 2006

PTBS

Psychological Trauma Bulls**t Syndrome - where a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other bored mental health professional pretends that every single frustration, disappointment or annoyance experienced by a person is some kind of major psychologically traumatic event that threatens the very foundation of mental and physical health. This activity is generally undertaken by the professional for the purpose of providing the purported "sufferers" with some kind of alibi or excuse for reprehensible personal behavior.

Apparently, there is no cure.

Do You Need To Ask Why

...this story isn't making many headlines? We heard endless coverage of the aftermath of the recent mosque bombing and the possibility that Iraq was descending [finally] into civil war; but when unity breaks out there is... silence.

By now, you know the drill. Avoid or dance around any story that goes against the basic template that Iraq is a quagmire; or that disproves any deeply held beliefs of the left about George Bush and the War on Terror.

Deviation from the template is taboo.

NO INSTANT GRATIFICATION

In a time of fast food, instant success and continual demands for instant gratification of all sorts, it is perhaps best to ponder on two editorials out today. The first comes from Michael Barone, who I have always found to be thoughtful, careful, and comprehensive in his analyses; and who speaks of Bush's grand national security strategy:
But there is much evidence that Bush has made good on the multilateral diplomacy that the strategy called for. He has let Britain, France and Germany carry on negotiations with Iran; urged China, the only country with real leverage, to use it against North Korea; and worked with France in supporting the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon. And America is getting more cooperation from newly elected governments in Germany and Canada.

It may be argued that we aren't having much success stopping the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea. But the NSS didn't promise success everywhere, any more than it promised military action everywhere. It proposed instead to use American power where and when possible to further "the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity."

What Barone argues is that those who say Bush is deviating from his bold foreign policy strategy initiatives developed after 9/11, have not actually listened to what Bush has put forward as the various components of that strategy. It has always been much more than simply responding to immediate threats; acting militarily; or even unilaterally. Much focus (and anger) has been placed on those aspects, however, primarily because all represent ways to instantly gratify one's foreign policy aims.

But other policies and tactics have been set into motion at the same time; some of which may succeed or fail eventually, but which may not bear any fruit for several decades or more. In this latter category is the overall process of democratization of the Middle East, which critics are so sure is already a failure.

That brings us to the second article, an editorial in the WSJ:
In the matter of Middle East elections, the results of which we don't always like: Anyone out there have a better idea?

We ask amid some recent wringing of hands following elections for the Palestinian legislature, in which the terrorist group Hamas won an outright majority; elections in Iraq, where voters cast their ballots along sectarian lines, and a strong showing by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's parliamentary elections late last year.

"For some, the promotion of democracy promises an easy resolution to the many difficult problems we face," says Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde. "But I believe that great caution is warranted here." And from the man who once gave us the "end of history," we now have the demise of neoconservatism: "Promoting democracy and modernization in the Middle East," writes Francis Fukuyama in a new book, "is not a solution to the problem of jihadist terrorism; in all likelihood it will make the short-term problem worse."

The brilliant insight here is that democratic processes don't always lead to liberal outcomes. Actually, that's not an insight: The world has had fair warning on this score at least since Adolf Hitler came to power democratically in 1933. We can be thankful, however, that the experience of Nazism did not deter successive generations of Germans from persevering with the democratic experiment.

The article goes on to consider the arguments against the promotion of democracy in that portion of the world and points out:

Then there is the supposedly failed policy of the Bush Administration. In five years, it has brought four democratic governments to power in the Middle East: by force of arms in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through highly assertive diplomacy in Lebanon and Palestine. Mr. Fukuyama tells us that "by definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it."

Leaving aside the niggling examples of Japan and Germany, exactly how are we to know that country X does not want democracy, except democratically? Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese have all made their democratic preferences plain in successive recent elections. And with the arguable exception of the Palestinians (arguable because Fatah was as undemocratic as Hamas), they have voted to establish considerably more liberal regimes than what existed previously.

This is not to say democracy is a cure-all. It is also not to say that the peril these democracies face, from terrorist insurrection or ethnic or religious feuding, isn't grave. Nor, finally, is it to say that the "Hitler scenario" can be excluded in a democratizing Middle East; that possibility is always present, especially among nascent democracies.

Which brings us back to the desire for some sort of "instant" success in bringing forth peaceful democracies in a portion of the world not well-known for either peace or choice.

From the beginning (was it only 5 years ago?) the Democrats and the left have been hysterically screaming about quagmires and civil wars with their usual generalized defeatism; and more recently we have heard the growing uneasiness on the part of Republicans and neocons that the Bush policies are moving too slowly.

Both the excessive hysteria and the niggling uneasiness come from the same psychological source -- a need to have everything resolved by the 2006 elections; or at the latest by the 2008 elections. The Democrats would like Bush's policies to unambiguously fail; while the Republicans are hoping for unambiguous success.

Too bad both desires will be frustrated.

The kind of major shift in US foreign policy that Bush has initiated may actually take decades to play out; and the repercussions of what has happened in the last 5 years may ripple for half a century or more. That is to say, there will be no instant gratification and no instant and universal successful outcome or failure --i.e., the kind that can win votes and influence money flow in time for the 2006 elections; nor probably for the 2008 ones either.

We are new parents who uneasily hold the tiny crying infant in our large bumbling hands. As we look at this small creature we have created, we have many thoughts and fears.

We might anxiously wonder what the future will bring for him and for us? Will this child grow up to be a doctor? Or a mass murderer? We have no way of knowing at the moment, and can only commit ourselves to providing the nurture and care necessary for optimal personality development.

Initially, the task is messy and rather smelly; but at some point, that small infant will be fully capable of making his own decisions and going forward on his own. For a human infant, that happy day generally occurs somewhere in the teen years.

I have no idea how long it takes for a liberal democracy; but expecting it to mature in 3-5 years requires a excessive degree of fantasy and self-delusion.

Personally, I think we have done all that it is possible to do for the last few years to give the Middle East a chance to grow in freedom and prosperity. We don't have to be perfect parents in this. Winnicutt's concept of the "good enough" parent is applicable here. We are only human, after all. It is simply not possible to sieze every opportunity and optimize every intervention. We have also done quite a bit to ensure the best possible hope for our own future and the continuation of values and freedoms we hold dear. And, we have done amazingly well no matter what the skeptics say.

Life will certainly be interesting in the next 25 years as we watch what has been set into motion and as we deal with other more immediate treats and situations that arise.

And, if we refrain from the reflex need for instant gratification and the demand that everything be exactly as we wish it right now, this very minute--many of us may live to see a positive transformation in a part of the world that now breeds an implaccable enemy of freedom, individuality and humanity.

Does anyone out there have a better idea?

UPDATE: Roger Simon talks about the politics of the last 30 seconds.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

WHY MOMMY IS A DEMOCRAT MOONBAT


I totally agree with Gerard Vanderleun, Dr. Helen and neo-neocon about the this piece of cutesy propaganda worthy of the old Soviet Union in its cuddly oppressive heyday.

The platitudes served up in this book with such reckless abandon; along with the less-than-subtle "hidden" messages conveyed by the drawings that accompany the text, should more than adequately contribute to the ongoing destruction of our children's critical thinking capabilities by creating a painless shortcut to rational thought. If the Democrats are lucky, this shortcut will cancel out any self-assertive neuroelectrical impulse cascading toward a synapse within their tiny little brains.

And they will become happy happy Democrats.

It is a design project worthy of Lenin himself!

Go and take a look at some of the sample pages and after you have finished gagging, you might want to go read an excellent post from Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos. Here is an excerpt:

A while back, I wrote a post entitled Divorce American Style, discussing how the American political system historically bifurcated into two parties more or less mirroring the archetypal maternal and paternal spheres. As it evolved, the Republican party came to represent masculine virtues such as competition, maintaining strict rules (“law and order”), standards over compassion (i.e., not changing the rules for members of liberal victim groups), delayed gratification, and respect for the ways of the father--that is, conserving what had been handed down by previous generations of fathers, and not just assuming in our adolescent hubris that we know better than they.
[...]
The Democratic party, on the other hand, came to represent the realm of maternal nurturance--compassion over standards (i.e., racial quotas), idealization of the impulses (just as a mother is delighted in the instinctual play of her child), mercy over judgment (reduced prison sentences, criminal rights, etc.), cradle-to-grave welfare, a belief that we can seduce our enemies and do not have to defeat them with manly violence, and the notion that meaning, truth and values are all arbitrary and subject to change (which is true of the fluid world of emotions in general).

Bob's post is a gem, but for heaven's sake--whatever you do--don't let your kids read it! It might make those synapses start firing out of synch with the party line.

WAKE UP

Mark Steyn seems to agree with me that it is time for the West to, "Wake up!" and notice what is happening:
Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates. But just as telling is how swiftly the developed world has internalized an essentially Islamic perspective. In their pitiful coverage of the low-level intifada that's been going on in France for five years, the European press has been barely any less loopy than the Middle Eastern media.

What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they're now acting upon it. The signature act of the new age was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran: Even hostile states generally respect the convention that diplomatic missions are the sovereign territory of their respective countries. Tehran then advanced to claiming jurisdiction over the citizens of sovereign states and killing them -- as it did to Salman Rushdie's translators and publishers. Now in the cartoon jihad and other episodes, the restraints of Islamic law are being extended piecemeal to the advanced world, by intimidation and violence but also by the usual cooing promotion of a spurious multicultural "respect" by Bill Clinton, the United Church of Canada, European foreign ministers, etc.

The I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd have always spoken favorably of one-worldism. From the op-ed pages of Jutland newspapers to les banlieues of Paris, the Pan-Islamists are getting on with it.

I don't know about you, but none of the "one world" fantasies that I have ever had included me and my daughter wearing a burqha. Nor did they ever include substituting liberty for oppression or living in abject slavery to some religion's brutal and bloodthirsty god.
It is definitely time for the West -- particularly the left -- to wake up and get serious in dealing with this threat.

NO APPEASEMENT

NO SUBMISSION

CARNIVAL OF THE INSANITIES

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Time for the weekly insanity update, where the insane, the bizarre, the ridiculous, and the completely absurd are highlighted for all to see! This has been a week of rare idiocy (as always!). So, if you want to remain sane, the best thing is to poke some fun at the more egregious absurdities.

Send all entries for next week's carnival to Dr. Sanity by 8 pm ET on Saturday for Sunday's Carnival. Only one post entry weekly per blogger, please. Thanks for all the submissions. I try to use as many as possible! SO MANY INSANITIES! SO LITTLE TIME!

***FEEL FREE TO POST TRACKBACKS AND I WILL ADD THEM TO THE CARNIVAL****

1. Talk about cartoon insanity.... As for this, I can't read Arabic, but the cute little mushroom cloud exploding on the Star of David doesn't require much translation.

2. Groundbreaking research.

3. Hollywood taken over by politicians! McCain channels Streisand !

4. Absolutely potty in more ways than one. What a sitzpinkler!

5. More Brokeback jokes and videos. The fun on the range continues.

6. An address to the graduates of Stupid University. This video is evidence that whatever students are learning at the U, it does NOT involve using their brains.

7. Too bad this is only satire and will never happen in a million years. Certainly not in Ann Arbor.

8. The Marx and Engels' lost powerpoint slide presentation for The Communist Manifesto

9. Trivial journalist = trivial journalism.

10. Cultural Sensitivity 101 - required reading!

11. It can finally be revealed! Colonel Sanders was Danish.....

12. What will it be?Bikinis or Burkas ?

13. At last! Allah is finally able to use Yahoo !

14. Some really offensive Mohammed pictures. And even more offensive comments from a Barney look-alike. OK, I suggest we show a little respect now.

15. We should all help him keep his promise.

16. Good grief! They have Legos for everyone's tastes these days.

17. The inner light of universal benevolence? Give me a break.

18. This is a trick question: Which is harder to apply for? (A) Earmark application form (3 pages); or (B) Application to join Cub Scouts (7 pages)

19. The market on crazy is not cornered just yet! Definitely not. How's this for crazy: kill someone over a snowball fight?

20. A safe method to vent your frustrations! And it makes a very satisfying popping sound! (hat tip: OBH)

21. Why Mommy is A Democrat. A picture book for Manga babies perhaps?

22. She's messing with his brain, man. And he's losing that final synapse. What a sitzpinkler.

23. A monster cat ; and a cat piano!

24. But we shouldn't ever question their patriotism. Just their integrity.

25. Very very short movie reviews.

26. The anti-Rip van Winkle

27. Quail Hunting school? This guy should definitely attend.

28. Olympic nightmares!


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

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

A PURE AND PERFECT POISON

ShrinkWrapped has a great post up today that all should read. It commemorates the beginning of the end of communism, which was initiated by Nikita Khrushchev's "secret" speech and was accelerated by the Red Army marching into Budapest. Here is an excerpt:
What destroyed Communism was the revelation that the system was based on lies and compulsion. All the glorious revolutionary rhetoric proclaiming victory for the workers, and equality for all, was shown to be a lie. The people living in the "workers paradises" of Eastern Europe were being held in thrall, as hostages, by the Russia army; walls were built to keep people from fleeing. Few were clamoring to enter.

The analogy with Islamofascism is clear. It is a totalitarian system that depends on controlling the thinking of its subjects; truth is dangerous to such a system. The Imams who spread hate and deceit are the spiritual heirs of Stalin and Hitler, men who used lies to destroy people's ability to think. Their crimes did not only involve destroying their opponents; they also destroyed the ability of their allies and their countrymen to think and perceive.

Since Khrushchev's speech, communism was exposed to the world for the lie and deception it was. But, in the decades since that exposure, communism--indeed, all totalitarianistic systems including Islamofascism--have recruited a potent new ally in their attempts to control the minds of men.

These cults of tyranny cannot hope to remain viable in a world where human thought is free; therefore, the goal is nothing less than to undermine mankind's perception of reality itself.

If you can convince people that objective reality is an illusion; that A does not equal A; that black is white; and that good is bad; if you can make them accept that everything is subjective and relative; then you can breath new life into doctrines that by all objective measures and standards have led to the death and misery of millions of people. Through the manipulation of language, everything can be distorted, without the messy need to resort to facts, logic, or reason.

We see the results of this new alliance in the postmodern rhetoric and behavior that assaults us on a daily basis.

What matters is not truth or falsity--only the effectiveness of the language used. Lies, distortions, ad hominem attacks; attempts to silence opposing views--all are strategies that are perfectly satisfactory if they achieve the desired effect. Ideas and reason must make way for reification of feelings; and freedom is replaced by thought control.

The postmodern assault as it is used by the new totalitarians of the 21st century is a four-pronged attack to undermine
- Objective reality
- Reason and the rational debate of ideas
- Individual freedom and freedom of thought and speech
- Progress and capitalism

The strategies used are:
- The distortion of language and meaning to undermine the individual's perception of reality;
- The use of direct or threatened physical violence to suppress speech and individual freedom;
- Politically "correct" thought control and cultural relativism to undermine reason and rational debate;
- The promotion of environmental hysteria to undermine progress, industrialization and capitalism

These activities represent the most serious assault on reality, reason, and individual freedom since the twin beasts of communism and socialism rose up early in the 20th century. And, though seriously wounded, they are rising again in a new and more virulent form.

ShrinkWrapped correctly notes that the heirs of 20th century totalitarians have found refuge in the rigid medieval religion that is Islam. Wretchard, in commenting about the horrible murder of Ilan Halimi makes the following perceptive observation:

In a perverted variation on the theme of multiculturalism, Mr. Fofana may have embodied the fusion of murderous traditions, by combining gang warfare, primitive practices and radical Islamic ideology into one lethal cocktail which the unfortunate Mr. Halimi was forced to drink. Michael Crichton often makes the point that in complex systems like global society, unexpected combinations are to be expected. This is true not only of the mutation found in physical diseases but in memes as well. Ideas, no less than organisms, continuously transform themselves. Notions of good and evil, now derided as hopelessly old-fashioned, were the old bulwarks of mental sanitation. They permitted the public to possess a sense of outrage, a reflexive fear of things that call softly and menacingly out of dark places. They could bring out the village with torches and pitchforks against the Forces of Darkness.

Good and evil was later identified through the mechanism of free speech. But until recently the existence of right and wrong itself was unquestioned. Debate had closure; there were goals worth striving for; causes worth fighting for; and beauties worth dreaming of. Today the sense of right and it's inseparable companion Free Speech stand on the edge of illegitimacy. The light is about to go out from want of air: Ilan Halimi -- and other canaries -- have expired in the coal mine.

Radical Islamic ideology is itself an unexpected combination of several toxic memes that have merged in the last 30 years. One thread of this meme is Islam itself--a purportedly "peaceful" religion that is actually historically based on military conquest and coercion of belief through jihad-- entwined with the remnants of the totalitarian ideologies of the last century.

This is why there is an alliance between the totalitarians of the left-- who are the remaining outposts of communism and socialism that thrive in academic and "intellectual" circles in the West; and the Islamic fanatics of the world. Whether this alliance is a conscious or unconscious one (i.e., whether the specific component of the left actively and deliberately supports Islamic terrorism versus enabling and appeasing it) depends on the level of insight and personal depravity achieved by the true believer of today's left.

There are far too many women who see nothing wrong with Islam's suppression and infantilization of women and life under the burqa; but who scream in outrage if a scientific study suggests that there are real physiological differences between men and women. There are far too many Jews who overlook the pervasive anti-semitism of the groups they march in solidarity with. Much of this is a self-hatred that manifests itself in the suicidal and homicidal impulses that logically flow from the perverted postmodern view of the world; and part of it is the descent into emotionalism and hysteria that is encouraged by the rhetoric.

On that fateful day 50 years ago when Khrushchev actually admitted that the communist revolution was a lie, the goal of eliminating tyranny from the world became a real possibility. But the people of western civilizaiton--the primary champions of Reality; Reason and Freedom--were too quick to see the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism as some sort of final victory -- or the end of history.

But we now know that it was not. Though wounded, the beast survived and its offspring have now matured sufficiently to threaten us again. We have been celebrating prematurely. Ilan Halimi and all the other canaries in the coal mine lie murdered all around us. Human life and liberty are once again gravely threatened.

Those of us who refuse to close our eyes; who refuse to shut up; who refuse to be intimidated or to appease; who refuse to abandon reality, reason or freedom-- must once again call up the courage and will to defend our values and stand against the forces of tyranny.

Because, even as freedom began to light up areas of the world that had laid in the dark for generations, a new evil was coalescing that combined the virulence of communism and socialism with the toxicity of a medieval, inflexible, intolerant, and oppressive religion.

This union of totalitarian thought from both left and right was itself an unexpected combination of memes; but when you add to that lethal mix the rhetorical and political strategies of postmodernism, the result is a pure and perfect poison that threatens to destroy all human values; all human decency and all human civilization.

UPDATE: If you happen to requre further evidence of the unholy merging of mainstream leftist thought with fanatical Islam, then here is a recent article documenting the left's involvement in funding the Iraq insurgency and promoting the kind of death and mayhem so characteristic of their ideology. I'm sure that I will get plenty of email from outraged leftists who demand that I retract reality so they can go on believing they are loving and compassionate people. To them I simply say, WAKE UP.

UPDATE II: And more from the leftofascists of free speech:
Strangest of all is the scenario of such a person disliking an author for defending Western civilization against radical Islam — when one of the first things those poor, persecuted Islamists would do, if they ever (Allah forbid) came to power in the United States, is crush suspected homosexuals like him beneath walls.

Yet those most oppressed by political Islam continue to defend it, even (perhaps especially) in the wake of the Danish cartoon furor. I've heard that in Europe this phenomenon is now called the Copenhagen syndrome, and some of its arguments really are amazing.

For instance: "Freedom of speech is not absolute. It has to be in the service of something, like peace or social justice," a young British Muslim woman named Fareena Alam wrote in Britain's the Observer a couple of weeks ago. Although it's true that freedom of speech is not absolute — laws against libel and making violent threats are stronger in Britain than here — Alam has it exactly wrong. Free speech doesn't have to be in the service of anything but its own point of view. If it did, it wouldn't be free speech.

I saw this sort of thinking for myself up close earlier this month when I spoke at USC about media bias a few days after the first cartoon riots had broken out. A student wearing a hijab came up to me afterward scoffing at the notion that violent demonstrations in response to the offensive drawings were even all that violent.

"Oh, how many people have died?" she asked, screwing up her face in disbelief. At the time, the death total was four or five. By now it's more than 100.

It isn't only Muslim women who are out there defending political Islam, though. Another young woman in the USC audience, after announcing that her father had been held in five Nazi concentration camps so she knows about the Holocaust, segued into a long, rambling position statement about just how little we understand the Muslim world.

But the truth is, by now we understand the Muslim world all too well. For those who manage to remain perplexed, there are many helpful news photos of placards ("Behead Those Who Disrespect Islam," "Get Ready for the Real Holocaust"), often carried by religiously shrouded women, that can clear up their puzzlement.

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 incredible writing!

BEST COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

The "Happy Warrior" Is Weeping In His Grave Right Wing Nut House

Second Place

Team of Rivals Done With Mirrors

BEST NON-COUNCIL POSTS:

First Place

How Does the Modern World Look When You Have Done Nothing To Help Create It, and Innovation Is a Threat To Cherished Beliefs? Dinocrat

Second Place

Bring on the Fatwah Transterrestrial Musings

Be sure to check out all the winners over at the Watcher's site. Great reading!!

DON'T PANIC !

GM Roper has the answer to life, mortality, the universe and ... well, everything!

Glad you're feeling better, GM! Fight on!

Friday, February 24, 2006

GET THE LATEST OFFENSIVE CARTOON HERE!

Here is the latest cartoon outrage.

WHAT??? YOU ARE NOT OUTRAGED?

These people are.

Oh the insanity....

SPITTING ON THE DOCK OF DUBAI

(with apologies to Otis Redding)

Spitting on the U.A.E.
I'll be damned if I can see
How this country could be our friend
Diplomacy works; but business deals must end

Spitting on the dock of Dubai
Watching some Arab guy
I'm just spitting on the dock of Dubai
Send them home

I left my seat in Congress
Headed for the New York Port
I don't believe in racial profiling--
And this is nothing of the sort

So I'm just...
Spitting on the dock of Dubai
Watching some Arab guy
I'm just spitting on the dock of Dubai
Send them home

Arabs ain't ever gonna change
They will always be the same
That's why Iraq's a waste of time and money
Doin' business with these guys just ain't funny

Sitting here screwing this deal
All that matters is what I feel
Yes I support diversity
But not in homeland security

So I'm just...
Spitting on the dock of Dubai
Watching some Arab guy
I'm just spitting on the dock of Dubai
Send them home

CAN A FREE AND UNITED IRAQ ENDURE ?

Victor Davis Hanson strikes the right balance of caution and optimism about Iraq:

Who will win? The Americans I talked to this week in Iraq — in Baghdad, Balad, Kirkuk, and Taji — believe that a government will emerge that is seen as legitimate and will appear as authentic to the people. Soon, ten divisions of Iraqi soldiers, and over 100,000 police, should be able to crush the insurgency, with the help of a public tired of violence and assured that the future of Iraq is their own — not the Husseins’, the Americans’, or the terrorists’. The military has learned enough about the tactics of the enemy that it can lessen casualties, and nevertheless, through the use of Iraqi forces, secure more of the country with far less troops. Like it or not, the American presence in Iraq will not grow, and will probably lessen considerably in 2006, before reaching Korea-like levels and responsibilities in 2007.

The terrorists, whom I did not talk to, but whose bombs I heard, answer back that while they fear the Iraqization of their enemy and the progress of democracy, they can still kill enough Shiites, bomb enough mosques, and stop enough rebuilding to sink the country into sectarian war — or at least something like Lebanon of the 1980s or an Afghanistan under the Taliban.

It is an odd war, because the side that I think is losing garners all the press, whether by blowing up the great golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, or blowing up an American each day. Yet we hear nothing of the other side that is ever so slowly, shrewdly undermining the enemy.


As this article indicates, Iraqis --the reasonable shia and sunni--are stunned by all the violence.

As an American committed to supporting our country's efforts in helping Iraq become a thriving democracy in the Middle East, I am very saddened by events; but realize that the shia/sunni rift in Iraq has to be dealt with eventually. From all the I have read, it seems to me that attention must be forcused on restraining Al-Sadr, whose forces appear to be stoking the violence for a personal power grab on his part. Of course, he should have been taken care of earlier in his career, but was allowed to simmer and now boils over; just as Zarqawi and Al Qaeda were being marginalized by the democratic process. Al Qaeda's only hope was to facilitate a civil war, and with the help of opportunists like Sadr, they may well succeed.

Iraq is at a turning point, unquestionably. Something Zayed of Healing Iraq wrote yesterday resonates:

What kind of nation are we? What kind of nation kills its intellectuals and academics, its doctors and healers, its women and children, its clerics and preachers? What kind of nation blows up churches and mosques, hotels and schools, funerals and weddings? We have left nothing sacred. Yet we have the insolence to accuse others of offending us, of vilifying us. I announce today that we have proved ourselves worthy of that vilification. Ten years ago, I denounced religion and disavowed Islam. I do not want to be forced to disavow my country and nation today, but with every new day, I’m afraid I am getting closer to it.


The comment struck me because over a century ago, did we not hear something similar when an issue that had been ignored at our own country's founding finally boiled over and erupted into the most serious threat our own country has ever faced?

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
[...]
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


This, then is the choice that Iraqis face. It has come sooner than anyone would have wanted. In our own case, the issue of slavery was the impetus that was put off at the time of the founding to give breathing room for unity and liberty to grow. This may have been a poor choice--one that contradicted the very founding values of America as stated in their own Declaration of Independence--but there is every reason to believe that if it had not been put off, there would have been no United States at all. And slavery would have continued unabated anyway.

For Iraqis, the issue of religious differences, magnified by the brutal Saddam regime where the minority subjugated the majority for decades, has all too soon erupted--undoubtedly helped by those who wish the fledgling government of a united Iraq ill. Like the slavery issue for Americans, these essential Iraqi religious conflicts were not going to disappear forever with a democratic election. But there was hope that, for a while at least, religious differences, old wounds, and petty rivalries could be put aside for the common good; as Iraqis faced the more dangerous threats to their fledgling democracy--such as Zarqawi, Sadr and his militia--and dealt with them one by one.

What we witness today is the sad truth that Iraq is being forced to deal with the equivalent of 50+ years in our own democratic history after only 3 short years. Their purple revolution has hardly had time to get off the ground and now must squarely face the rift that has been there all along. And, even worse, they have enemies like Iran and Syria who are actively and gleefully fomenting the chaos for their own political ends. Can liberty and unity endure under such circumstances? Will it perish forever in Iraq as sectarian violence destroys all potential for a normal and free life for ordinary Iraqis?

I certainly can't answer that question. But I fervently wish all those Iraqis of goodwill who desperately desire peace, freedom and unity the best possible outcome. I know that America's troops will stand by to assist, but we cannot make this issue go away--only Iraqis themselves can by the actions they take now in response.

Whatever happens will undoubtedly be painful and will create new wounds, even as the violence seeks to extract vengeance for old ones. Such is life.

But, if Iraq can positively resolve this conflict, they will have truly earned their freedom; and will erect a beacon of liberty for the entire Middle East to see.

UPDATE: Bush: "A moment of choosing for the Iraqi people" (hat tip: The Corner)

UPDATE II: The Ugly American has more about what is really going on in Iraq; and links to this site from Iraq - 24 Steps to Liberty:

I was shocked today when I read the news in the foreign newspapers. No one emphasized the marvelous cooperation and solidarity between the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq yesterday after the bombing of one of the most respected and visited holy sites in Islam, the Askariyah shrine, which is in Samarra city north of Baghdad.
[...]
I was amazed how only the provocative and civil-war-style quotes were published today in the newspapers. Almost no newspaper showed how great, it appeared to us, the solidarity among Iraqis was yesterday. It is true that Sunni mosques were attacked by unknown men yesterday, and some Sunnis were killed. But that wasn’t the only thing happened as a reaction. Newspapers should have been neutral, as we were taught, and show both sides. Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Sabians, Turkumans, and others publicly condemned the attack, but no one wanted to show the truth. I am not saying there will be no riots in Iraq to react to the shrine attack. I am not saying there weren't mosques that were attacked yesterday and burned down. I am not saying that Shiites and Sunnis kissed and hugged after the attack yesterday. All what I am saying is that the news made Iraqis look like if they were fighting each other widely in the streets, which is not true.

If this Iraqi blogger is correct (and you should read all that he says, because he blogs from Baghdad and reports on the TV and media there) then we are far from getting full information on all that is really going on in Iraq right now. Why am I not surprised? How many more ways can the American media let us down and continue to spin things in the worse possible manner? Let me count the ways. Sigh.

UPDATE III: More news on the calls and demonstrations for Iraqi unity at PowerLine.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

MINORITY PARTY WAKE-UP POLL

John at Power Line discusses the latest Zogby poll that should give the Democratic Party leadership serious pause--but that is assuming quite a bit of rathional thinking on their part, which we haven't seen much evidence of over the past 5 1/2 years.
The Washington Times reports on a Zogby poll that suggests Democratic voters aren't happy with their Congressional leadership, but not for the reasons you would think if you lurk on left-wing web sites: "Democrat Voters Low On Enthusiasm":

By objecting to virtually every initiative and proposal of the Bush administration and congressional Republican majority, Democrats are undermining their party's chances of regaining the majority this fall, the John Zogby poll of 1,039 likely voters suggests.
While House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other visible Democrats in Washington pick fights with Republicans, the poll shows that 58 percent of rank-and-file Democratic voters say their leaders should "accept their lower position in Congress and work together with Republicans to craft the best legislation possible."


This is a poll of Democratic rank and file, who seem to have put the bitterness and unresolved anger at losing the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections behind them.

This is the core of the problem for the leadership--they haven't been willing to accept that they no longer call the shots in Washington (in other words, they are the minority party); continue to suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome; and desperately yearn for those good old days of yesteryear--if not before the 2000 election, then at least before 9/11/2001.

By listening to the lunatic left for too long, they have basically abandoned those traditional Democratic groups who have always stood by them through thick and thin, but who are not as awed by the bling-bling and the more bizarre elements that have crept into party power (see here).

Here's hoping that the Democratic leadership--who by and large live and die by polls--will get the late wake-up call and realize that those infamous chickens will come home to roost in ways they hadn't anticipated.

THE COWERING, SIMPERING MSM

Now this is a great editorial and as K-Lo at the Corner says, "it's a byline team you don't see everyday."

There was a time when the press was the strongest guardian of free expression in this democracy. Stories and celebrations of intrepid and courageous reporters are many within the press corps. Cases such as New York Times v. Sullivan in the 1960s were litigated so that the press could report on and examine public officials with the unfettered reporting a free people deserved. In the 1970s the Pentagon Papers case reaffirmed the proposition that issues of public importance were fully protected by the First Amendment.

The mass media that backed the plaintiffs in these cases understood that not only did a free press have a right to report on critical issues and people of the day but that citizens had a right to know about those issues and people. The mass media understood another thing: They had more than a right; they had a duty to report.
[...]
Since the war on terrorism began, the mainstream press has had no problem printing stories and pictures that challenged the administration and, in the view of some, compromised our war and peace efforts.

What has happened? To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists -- their threats more than their sensibilities. One did not see Catholics claiming the right to mayhem in the wake of the republished depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in cow dung, any more than one saw a rejuvenated Jewish Defense League take to the street or blow up an office when Ariel Sharon was depicted as Hitler or when the Israeli army was depicted as murdering the baby Jesus.

So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty.


This is today's cowering and simperimg MSM. Courageous in demanding it rights when no courage is required; and rationalizing, pandering wimps when integrity and conviction are needed. When intimidated by bullies, they cower; and their is no value that cannot be abandoned.

Thank you William Bennet and Alan Dershowitz for coming together and writing this. Read it all.

"ALL WE ARE BREAKING IS STONES"

Throughout history, Religions have not been particularly tolerant of each other. Destruction of other gods, in the name of yours is standard historical fare.

But we like to think that things are more civilized today; and while it is true that there is considerably more tolerance in the world--in spite of individual acts of perfidy; one religion in particular stands out in modern times as persisting in its long-term goal of systematically eradicating other religions--and even other sects of their own that are considered blasphemous, or if it serves their overall purpose of establishing a caliphate.

No religion is free from a tendency to regard itself as the "one true faith"; and most have had periods in history where they have been guilty of institutionalized hatred toward other religions.
But, having said that, today's fanatical Islamic jihadists are probably the most "equal opportunity" haters of other faiths. They have instituted the most restrictions and oppression toward other religions where they are dominant, yet casually demand that their beliefs be recognized everywhere on threat of violence. Their remarkable disdain and contempt for the religious beliefs of others stems from their delusion that their own religion has reached the "pinnacle" of religious evolution.

The following examples illustrate the "pinnacle" of religious evolution they have achieved :


ISLAMIC SHIA SHRINE DESTROYED BY AL QAEDA ISLAMIC FANATICS


Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.- Blaise Pascal

CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN NIGERIA DESTROYED BY ISLAMIC FANATICS

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein








STATUE OF BUDDHA DESTROYED BY THE TALIBAN ISLAMIC FANATICS

All we are breaking are stones - Afghan militia leader

One man's religion is another man's belly laugh. - Robert Heinlein













SYNAGOGUE WITH JOSEPH'S TOMB BURNED BY PALESTINIANS

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love. - Jonathan Swift





Whatever anyone thinks of religion, Thomas Jefferson said it best in a letter to a friend:

I never told my own religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

EXPLANATION FOR SUMMERS' SUBMISSION

Now, this makes perfect sense.
The New York Times notes that Summers knew he had to go when colleagues from the Clinton administration told him so.

The Times adds that Summers is thinking of advising a Democratic presidential campaign. There you have the explanation for Summers' appeasement. Summers is from the sane side of the Democratic Party (yes, there is one). These moderate Democrats want to bring the academy closer to the center of the country. But when push came to shove, the leftist faculty wouldn't play along.

That left Summers and his moderate Democrat backers on the board to choose between appeasement and a serious public battle. Ultimately, Summers and his allies backed down because they are part of the same national political coalition as the leftist faculty (which contributes heavily to the Democratic Party). Moderate Dems would be happy to reform the academy, but they don't have the stomach to treat leftist professors as open opponents. Only Republicans can do that. So in a way, we are seeing another iteration of the paralyzing split between DLC types and the fire-breathing base.
Kurtz' explanation is eerily similar to Gerard Vanderleun's summation of how the left (no need to even say the "extreme" left anymore--it's redundant) is taking over the Democratic Party, which I discussed here. The idea of Summer's advising a Democratic presidential candidate seems unbelievably appropriate somehow. Appropriate in that the Dems will likely look to people like Summers -- who can't even stand up to his own lunatic faculty--- to help them formulate foreign policy in the age of terrorism.

Also, Kurtz today also has an interesting piece up at NRO (I think I'm starting to like this man) where he asks the question, "What would it be like if Harvard’s faculty ran an entire country?", where he discusses Sweden's experience with the radical feminist agenda. Not very appetizing results, that's for sure.

Porcine Support for Free Speech !

From Cox and Forkum:

ANY STORM IN A PORT

I must say that this Port controversy is very interesting. It seems to be the one issue where Democrats and Republicans; Left and Right; even LGF and Kos agrree, with only a few exceptions.

This would seem to make a political decision about it a true no-brainer--if the political considerations were all that mattered. Those who read my blog know that I am not one of those who believe that Bush is stupid; so it is very interesting to me that he is choosing to use "nuclear" (i.e., veto) language over this. Over this?

I'm not sure what is really going on here, but I am sure that something important is behind the apparent intransigience of the President on this issue. Here is what he said:
Q Mr. President, leaders in Congress, including Senator Frist, have said that they'll take action to stop the port control shift if you don't reverse course on it. You've expressed your thoughts here, but what do you say to those in Congress who plan to take legislative action?
THE PRESIDENT: They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They ought to look at the facts, and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto.

Q Why is it so important to you, sir, that you take on this issue as a political fight? Clearly, there's bipartisan --

THE PRESIDENT: I don't view it as a political fight. So do you want to start your question over? I view it as a good policy.

Q Why is it -- clearly --

THE PRESIDENT: Are you talking about the energy issue?

Q No, I'm sorry, the ports issue.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q But there clearly are members of your own party who will go to the mat against you on this.

THE PRESIDENT: It's not a political issue.

Q Why are you -- to make this, to have this fight?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't view it as a fight. I view it as me saying to people what I think is right, the right policy.

Q What's the larger message that you're conveying by sticking to this UAE contract, by saying that you're not going to budge on this, or you don't want to change policy?

THE PRESIDENT: There is a process in place where we analyze -- where the government analyzes many, many business transactions, to make sure they meet national security concerns. And I'm sure if you -- careful review, this process yielded a result that said, yes, a deal should go forward.

One of my concerns, however, is mixed messages. And the message is, it's okay for a British company, but a Middle Eastern company -- maybe we ought not to deal the same way. It's a mixed message. You put interesting words in your question, but I just view -- my job is to do what I think is right for the country. I don't intend to have a fight. If there's a fight, there is one, but nor do I view this as a political issue.

Q I say it because you said you'd be willing to use the veto on it.

THE PRESIDENT: I would. That's one of the tools the President has to indicate to the legislative branch his intentions. A veto doesn't mean fight, or politics, it's just one of the tools I've got. I say veto, by the way, quite frequently in messages to Congress.


He could have done the easy thing and said that there would be a delay until everyone was satisfied that it was the correct decision. He could have rejected the decision entirely. From a political standpoint either one would have worked for him. So, I must conclude that we do not have all the facts about what this is really about.

The Anchoress conveys the confusion of the staunch supporters of Bush in the WOT (like myself):
I’d like to think this is just a big rope-a-dope, but quite honestly, I’m out of humor on this stuff. President Bush seems to be going out of his way to confound even his most staunch supporters. One looks at this and thinks - he’s bending over and giving the Democrats the belt with which to beat him. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

I don’t pretend to understand it, but I’m frankly growing weary of it, and Bush should pay attention to my weariness, because if even “I” am getting tired of having to defend some of the stuff coming out of his White House, then that may indicate that his base is utterly weary of it, too. If you really want to lose in ‘08, make sure you’ve got everyone completely exhausted from your presidency and “ready for a change - any change” and make way too sharp a left turn. Seems to me that even if this is the greatest, safest deal in the world, its appearance stinks to high heaven and it’s a miserable political situation to be in the middle of: do we send a message that any and all Arabs, no matter who they are, are untrustworthy and business/finanical lepers? Or do we do business with them and allow possibly the worst sort of political fallout to occur?

She's right, but I think I'm leaning more toward AJ Strata's perspective:
People need to contemplate why Bush and the DoD and others are defending this deal so hard. Like I said in my previous post, try and envision scenarios where this deal increases our security as well as risks it. Both forms of speculation are equally valid.
One final thought. Bush is not going to be running for public office again. His stand won't benefit Democrats in Congress particularly; primarily because Republicans in Congrees don't support him on this issue either.

There is, to put it succintly, bipartisan outrage.

So, isn't it interesting that the only major support for Bush on this issue is coming from John McCain, who really wants to be the next Republican nominee for president? If he is to be Bush's heir-apparent, I wonder if he might know something more than most?

I'm going to reserve judgment for a while and see what new information comes to light over the next couple of weeks. Like most people, I can imagine many scenarios which would prove this to be an incredibly bad decision, both in the political and buisness sense.

OTOH, I can think of a few scenarios where it might very well be in our national interest to go through with this deal....

UPDATE: The WSJ makes some interesting points.

UPDATE II: SNOOKERED! A "perfect storm". I feel vindicated in my hesitance to jump on the bandwagon, and will continue to wait and see how this plays out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

APPEASING TYRANTS IS A BAD IDEA

And if you needed any proof of this, you need look no further than Larry Summers, the hapless President of Harvard who has resigned. Stanley Kurtz has some thoughts:
I've been disappointed by Summers' repeated apologies for raising legitimate intellectual questions in a fair and respectful way. I consoled myself with the thought that, if Summers remained in place, he might ultimately do more for reform than he might have by standing up for principle. Now even this second-best consolation is gone, making it all the more obvious that Summers ought to have stood up to the Harvard's dictators from the start, even if it cost him his job. Now Summers must either remain silent, or hit back and implicitly acknowledge that all those apologies were bogus.


Summers abjectly apologized and fell all over himself backpedaling after making some perfectly harmless remarks which happend to mightily offend (to the point of causing a near-swooning episode) some of his female faculty. And for his herculean efforts to appease the eternal victims of academic feminism, Summers reaped only further scorn and rage, expressed in an angry offensive against his administration--not entirely dissimilar to the escalation of the more recent cartoon jihad.

In the history of academia, I don't think anyone has ever come closer to voluntary castration for the cause of radical feminism. And look where it got him.

As I have stated before, bullies --no matter what their gender or religion--only thrive on appeasement. The PC Feminists could have learned something from all this; it could have been the starting point of a self-analysis of where they had gone wrong and why they always feel put upon and victimized by life. It is possible that they could have grown and matured from the experience of having their childish tantrums dealt with appropriately for a change. But it will never happen on the PC campus, where free speech and diversity of ideas were sacrificed years ago.

Instead they have succeeded once again in having their sense of entitlement and aura of neverending victimhood enhanced. This will make them even more voracious for male blood.

Since they won't take responsibility for their own lives and choices, someone will have to pay for their inadequacy, after all.

Appeasing tyrants, as Kurtz notes and Summers now knows, is a really bad idea.

RELATED POSTS:
The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Left
The Girly Women of Today's Feminist Movement

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF "FREE SPEECH" THAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND?

Why is it necessary to make this man a "martyr" by jailing him for his paranoid preoccupations about the holocaust? Personally, I can't stand him and what he is pushing, but exactly what part of the term "free speech" is unclear to people?

Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty Monday to charges of denying the Holocaust and was sentenced to three years in prison after conceding he was wrong to say there were no Nazi gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Irving, handcuffed and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived in court carrying a copy of one of his most controversial books -- "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court before his sentencing.

He had faced up to 10 years in prison.


I completely agree with Wretchard who says:

These Holocaust Denial laws are the poorest defense of truth possible. They allow individuals like Irving, who have written bad history, to clothe themselves with the appearance of martyrdom. Galileo is supported by empirical evidence. Irving cannot even explain the photographs above. But laws establishing "official truth" create categories of the Unmentionable into which subjects like the Jihad, feminism, abortion and Global Warming -- all the assertions, half-truths and humbug of the world -- will presently seek refuge. The best defense of the truth of the holocaust is an uncompromising commitment to free speech.


I really don't want to feel sorry for pathetic people like Irving; I want to denouce his ideas and irrevocably refute them. I want to intellectually mock him and his ideas. I want to expose the truth about what he is saying and marginalize him in the realm of ideas. I might even want to mount a hostile campaign about his books or sue him for the damage that is caused by what he says. But I don't want to send him to prison for 10 years or even 10 minutes-- just for saying it.

Take a look at the mess the political correctness crowd has made for the world with its preoccupation about "hate" speech, which is just another PC euphemism for "official truth". Now we have supposedly "free" media, not publishing stupid cartoons out of so-called "sensitivity" to Islam. Well, people, where does it all stop? Let's take it to the logical conclusion as stated the other day by the outlet for "official truth" in Gaza:
"We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible."

No person who truly is committed to free speech can support this kind of insanity.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts on this issue-- "No Buts on Free Speech", in which he makes an important distinction between inappropriate and illegal:
Of course some speech is inappropriate. Even some political speech is innapropriate (you would think more conservatives who rightly despise Michael Moore would understand this). But inappropriate shouldn't mean illegal. And yet liberals -- and no shortage of conservatives -- consider criticism of inappropriate speech to be somehow an infringement of free speech rights

I concur.

Daryl Cagle, however, misses the point in my opinion, as he attempts to create a distinction between political cartoons and ordinary cartoons in the kind of PC doublespeak contortions that are so annoying and prevalent these days.

Cagle seems to be claiming that as a political cartoonist, he is a journalist and entitled to free speech protection. But regular cartoonists, or "illustrators" (e.g., the Danish cartoonists who were--gasp!--paid money for their work), are not. Cagle seems upset that now, because of those darn illustrators, some of his rights as a journalist might be impinged on because of the brouhaha. Read his piece and see what you think.

UPDATE II: Sigmund,Carl & Alfred disagree with me and say that Irving got off lightly for denying the truth. I respect SC&A greatly, and he makes a strong case, but in the end, if we punish everyone who is in denial about truth or reality, the courts would cease to function as instruments of the law providing legal justice, and simply become courts of divine justice. Humans are not gods.

Personally, I prefer to let reality be the final court for people like Irving and anyone who believes in what he says. As SC&A say, there are consequences to denying the truth--the real world sees to that-- and some of those consequences are far more costly than a short stay in a prison cell.

It is possible that I am being too absolutist (who me?) about this issue; but it seems to me to be a fundamental one where any compromise will lead to disaster.

UPDATE III: Neo weighs in in her usual thoughtful and researched manner:
The first thing I noticed is that Holocaust Denial itself is not a crime; it's the public pronouncement of it that is penalized. The speech itself is allowed; what is not allowed is to say it publicly in front of groups--that is, to preach it. It may seem a small distinction, but it's an interesting one.

The second thing I noticed was that, with the exception of Switzerland (and of course Israel, which represents an obvious special case), the countries involved have characteristics that Great Britain, the US, and Canada do not share: their experience of Nazism or of Nazi occupation in WWII.

To Germans and Austrians the danger of public promulgation of Holocaust denial may indeed (especially when the laws were first passed) have seemed like the danger of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Likewise--although to a lesser extant--to countries such as Poland, who have reason to know the Holocaust in a way that countries such as Britain and the US never can, Holocaust denial may seem a particular affront and a special danger. "He jests at scars that never felt a wound;" and so it is much easier for countries who have not experienced such a cataclysmic upheaval to be absolutist about protecting freedom of speech.


Read it all. This post and SC&A's would suggest to me that countries like Austria, Germany etc. who have these kind of laws are on a differnt kind of learning curve about this issue. DRJ, one of the commenters on this thread, put it this way:
I value free speech and I think the Austrian law is a mistake, but then I live in America where the Holocaust is generally viewed as evil genocide. It's my understanding that not all Austrians shared that view. Laws like this were and are Austria's way of dealing with lingering anti-Semitism.

I hope that Austrians will view the Irving case as a reason to rethink their laws on free speech but i'm not worried about David Irving's legal problems and I don't think this makes him a martyr.


This is all food for thought on this issue, and admittedly these comments and posts bring up issues that I had not considered in my original post, but are certainly worthy of consideration.

UPDATE IV: If you want yet another perspective, check out ShrinkWrapped, who likens David Irving to the abusive parent who denies ever abusing their child. The child abuse is heinous and the ongoing damage to the child from the denial compounds the damage.

My head hurts.

My Poster Gets A Facelift !

Jeremy at Who Knew? has taken the placard I made in response to a picket sign in NYC and done a fine photoshop job on it:

Much nicer! Thanks, Jeremy!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Springtime For Lefties in America

At American Digest, a fascinating essay by Gerard Vanderleun on the left's conquest of the Democratic Party:
If it were only the denizens of these fringe groups that supplied the ideological cannon fodder of the American Left, it would be a small matter to marginalize them since their very mindsets marginalize them from the square numbered "1." Indeed, just a few years ago, they could only exist within the rarified environment of on-campus humanities and ethnic-studies departments. Once removed from these hyperbaric chambers, their failure to thrive in the world outside -- absent a position in various media companies and Washington Wonk Tanks -- was assured. They were, if not really useful idiots, harmless idiots.

Sadly that is no longer the case. Recently a very large and significant American institution has stripped down to the buff and made itself freely available to the tender mercies and tough love of the American Left. Indeed, the capture of this group is the single significant achievement of the American Left in decades. With the elevation of Howard Dean, the canonization of Hillary Clinton, the deification of Ted Kennedy, the renovation of Nancy Peloisi, and the self-defenestration of Barbara Boxer, it is clear that the political base of the American Left has now migrated from the fringes of our political arena to the dead center of the Democratic Party. And it is there to stay.

Sigh. How true. Read it all and weep for the Party that was once relatively sane and at least used to love this country.

SPRINGTIME FOR LEFTIES IN AMERICA

The left was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
They needed desperately to restore
Their former glory

Where, oh where could they hide
All the hatred inside?
They looked around and then they found
The Party whose own soul had died...

SENATOR KENNEDY:
And now it's...
Springtime for Lefties in America !
Lefties are happy and gay!
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, we've got a Demorat's face!
Springtime for lefties and America
America can be ours once more!
Springtime for Lefties and America
Watch out, Bushies
We're going on tour!
Springtime for lefties and America...

DEMOCRATIC CHORUS:
Look, it's springtime

TEDDY KENNEDY:
Winter for Cheney and Bush

DEMOCRATIC CHORUS:
Springtime for lefties and America!

Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!
Springtime! Springtime!

HARRY REID:
Come on, lefties
Go into your dance!

JOHN KERRY:
I was born on the East Coast but I'm really from France.
Come take a gander and watch how we pander!

HILLARY CLINTON:
I once was his wife, now he's out of my life
I'll be queen one day if I watch what I say !

NANCY PELOSI:
Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Democratic party!


AND SO ON.....

Symbolic versus Literal

An excellent essay about the Mohammed cartoons by Ralph R. Reiland, the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University concludes with this:
At the Al-Omari mosque in Gaza, a cleric laid out the bottom line regarding the cartoons and retribution:

"We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible."


How appropriate.

Either symbolically cut off one's brain and stop thinking. Or they will literally do it for you.

Have no fear! The MSM prefers the symbolic to the literal any day.




This is just my little symbolic way of sticking it to the imam.

UPDATE: LGF has a link to a detailed slidshow of the cartoons of blasphemy.






(composite image from Michelle Malkin)

Jimmy Carter and the Eternal Victimhood of the Palestinians

Jimmy Carter says not to "punish" the Palestinians:

During this time of fluidity in the formation of the new government, it is important that Israel and the United States play positive roles. Any tacit or formal collusion between the two powers to disrupt the process by punishing the Palestinian people could be counterproductive and have devastating consequences.


It is interesting that he sees allowing the Palestinians to deal with the consequences of their behavior as some sort of "punishment" don't you think? He blithly discusses the "devastating consequences" of Israel or American actions, but I have yet to see him grapple with the "devastating consequences" of Hamas' charter. Or of suicide bombers. Or of the intent, stated repeatedly by the leaders of the Palestinians and approved of by the Palestinian people in the recent election, to destroy Israel.

Someone once said that Jimmy Carter was actually the first female president of the U.S. (I think it was Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos); and I have to say that I completely agree. He reminds me a lot of the pathetic mother in the movie Mean Girls who wants to be loved and accepted by her daughter's clique; so much so, that she is eager to enable and support the antisocial acting-out behavior of her daughter, as well as endure her contempt.

Carter is a wannabee despot herself himself, who admires and seeks the approval of practically every dictator in the world (it is possible that using the word "practically" is being overly cautious). I'm sure he lusts in his heart for their kind of brutish manliness but he simply comes across as a weak, insecure person who is deserving of complete contempt.

Of course, the Palestinians are not simply mean adolescent girls who will eventually grow up; nor is Carter merely an ineffective and irresponsible mother who probably missed the chance to ever fully mature. The former is an unrepentant terrorist organization that remains devoted to its stated goals of destroying Israel and the Jews; and the latter is a former US president and first-class enabler of tyranny.

Until the Palestinians have to deal with the consequences of their behavior, they will not mature as a people. Sending them to their room own country and giving them a chance to ponder some reality was a good idea only if they now must also take responsibility for their behavior.

Carter's--and the entire left's--obsession with the eternal victimhood cult of the Palestininas has been the single biggest psychological impediment toward peace in that region. Why should the Palestinians ever change? Or mature? Or deal honestly with Israel? They have every reason to believe that the Carters of the world will always let them off the hook--and bail them out--no matter what they do or how badly they behave.

THE LOGIC OF THE PARANOID

The paranoid person always takes himself seriously. It is rarely the case that such a person presents to a psychiatrist seeking help or complaining about their projections; because for the paranoid individual, his paranoid thinking and his projections explain so much about his life.

Is he poor? Someone has robbed him of what he is entitled to.
Is his genius not recognized? He has enemies that prevent him from achieving the success he knows should be his.
Has he made mistakes in his life? Someone has tricked him into acting a certain way.

The above mental gymnastics allow the paranoid person to externalize blame and avoid responsibility for his situation in life. It is always someone else's fault and not his.

In addition to externalizing blame for one's own pitiful situation in life, there is yet another advantage to paranoia and projection: the proper kind of distortion of reality can also reliably pump up self-esteem. True, it pumps it up at the expense of a great deal of fear sometimes; but nevertheless, it is comforting to know that someone appreciates your genius. Clearly if the CIA, FBI, aliens, Jews [fill in your favorite bogeyman here] are out to get you, you must be special and unique.

In short, paranoia and its little brother projection organize and distort reality in a way that makes it palatable; and, at the same time help the user to avoid recognizing some unpleasant truths about himself.

It also provides a rationale and justification (to the paranoid, at least) for acting out against those despicable enemies who stand in the way of being able to achieve wealth, respect, power, or whatever.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that only psychiatric patients who have a serious mental illness utilize these defenses. Paranoia is, indeed, a symptom of a mental illness; but both paranoia and projection are physiological states of the brain that can be achieved by otherwise "normal" people under the proper circumstances. The distortion of reality that occurs with the use of these defenses is always done to serve inner needs.

Under the proper circumstances, paranoia and projection may be resorted to by entire groups and nations in order to externalize blame and/or resolve some unacceptable national state (in order to counter overwhelming shame or humiliation, for example).

Here is one of many projections that the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East regularly resort to as they try to avoid dealing with the irrefutable evidence of their own backwardness: Avian Flu May Have Been Developed by Israel, to Damage Arabs' Genes

Israel and the Jews remain a favorite object onto which unacceptable feelings can be externalized.

This is not a mental illness, folks, that can be "cured" by mass quantities of antipsychotic medication in the water supply of these countries. This is a distortion of reality in order to meet the inner needs of a crumbling society that cannot psychologically sustain itself otherwise.

In other words, it is the psychological defense mechansism of projection being used to avoid taking responsibility for the feelings and/or behavior of an entire group of individuals. As such, these individuals are completely oblivious to how completely crazy and out of touch with reality their behavior really is.

But to those who are using such a defense, their behavior and rhetoric seem perfectly logical and internally consistent. It is, in fact, as impeccable as any reasoning can be--considering that it originates from distorted premises. Paranoia has been referred to as "the rational in the service of the irrational" for good reasons.

And, by that kind of "logic" it makes perfect sense to use the maximum force possible to destroy those who are responsible for creating a disease that is specific to Arab genes; or even, for that matter, to destroy those who create cartoons that mock and humiliate sacred beliefs.

Since the entire group identity becomes more and more fragile as painful reality closes in; the paranoid's response becomes more and more exaggerated in a desperate effort to sustain the delusions that make up the sense of self.

And, as long as they maintain those delusions, they do not have to deal with the sad state of their own society; their own religion; or their sad individual lives.

"KILL THE JEWS!" "BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM" --these slogans are merely the expressions of inescapable and contorted logic of the paranoid.