Saturday, September 30, 2006

Added to the Blogroll

Check out Perish the Thought.

Body count

A really indirect series of links brought me to this, which is the best place I found to get the gist and to find a link to the full translation.
"The Greatest Deception of Modern Times"

...Since 1948, the number of Muslims killed by the Americans and Israelis combined is still less than the number killed by the French. And the number of Muslims killed by the French, Israelis, and Americans combined is still less than the number killed by the Soviets/Russians. And the number of Muslims killed by the Soviets, Russians, French, Israelis, and Americans, combined, is still about 1/3 of the number of Muslims who have been killed by Muslim states.
We cannot measure justice by counting how many people have died at the hands of their enemies.

However, I'd suggest it is possible to measure something of moral significance by counting the number of
people who have died at the hands of their friends and family.

H/T Relapsed Catholic

Breaking news from Iraq

Fierce clashes in Baghdad; government imposes curfew.

Baghdad under curfew.

Check back with Iraq the Model for updates.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Modern "reason"

I highly commend to your attention a long and thought provoking article by Lee Harris at The Weekly Standard. Socrates or Muhammad?

Harris discusses Pope Benedict's recent speech wherein Benedict quoted the 14th century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Benedict's speech, titled "Faith, Reason, and the University," has been reported primarily because it provoked the usual fundamentalist Islamic suspects to riot, burn effigies, shoot nuns and hold up signs that represent a good overview of their personal regilious tenets, which can be summarized as; "if you call anything we do violent we'll kill you." The MSM thought it edifying to note that that the Pope didn't quite have a handle on the "PR thing." This is as fine as an example of decadent relativism as we would ever need.

Lee Harris somewhat illuminates the creation of the morality free zone which now spawns such thinking by more than somewhat reminding us of the history which resulted, briefly, in its opposite. Unlike the MSM, he examines what the Pope was actually talking about.

Harris argues that the quotation was far from gratuitous - that it illustrates a critical issue of our time; "the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general." Harris:
On September 12, Pope Benedict XVI delivered an astonishing speech at the Uni versity of Regensburg. Entitled "Faith, Reason, and the University," it has been widely discussed, but far less widely understood. The New York Times, for example, headlined its article on the Regensburg address, "The Pope Assails Secularism, with a Note on Jihad." The word "secularism" does not appear in the speech, nor does the pope assail or attack modernity or the Enlightenment. He states quite clearly that he is attempting "a critique of modern reason from within," and he notes that this project "has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly."

Benedict, in short, is not issuing a contemporary Syllabus of Errors. Instead, he is asking those in the West who "share the responsi bility for the right use of reason" to return to the kind of self-critical examination of their own beliefs that was the hallmark of ancient Greek thought at its best. The spirit that animates Benedict's address is not the spirit of Pius IX; it is the spirit of Socrates. Benedict is inviting all of us to ask ourselves, Do we really know what we are talking about when we talk about faith, reason, God, and community?

...Defenders of modern reason and modern science can simply shrug off his objection to their exclusion of God by saying, "Of course, the question of God cannot be answered by science. This was the whole point of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Science can neither prove, nor disprove God's existence. Furthermore, by bringing in the question of God, you have violated your own ground rules. You claimed to be offering a critique of modern reason from within, but by dragging God into the discussion, you are criticizing modern reason from the standpoint of a committed Christian. You are merely saying that modern reason excludes God; we who subscribe to the concept of modern reason are perfectly aware of this fact. Maybe it troubles you, as a Christian, but it doesn't bother us in the least."

Can Joseph Ratzinger, the critical thinker, answer this objection? Yes, he can, and he does. His answer is provided by his discussion of jihad. Contrary to what the New York Times reported, Ratzinger is not providing merely "a note on jihad" that has no real bearing on the central message of his address. According to his own words, the topic of jihad constitutes "the starting-point" for his reflection on faith and reason. Ratzinger uses the Islamic concept of jihad to elucidate his critique of modern reason from within.

Modern reason argues that questions of ethics, of religion, and of God are outside its compass. Because there is no scientific method by which such questions can be answered, modern reason cannot concern itself with them, nor should it try to. From the point of view of modern reason, all religious faiths are equally irrational, all systems of ethics equally unverifiable, all concepts of God equally beyond rational criticism. But if this is the case, then what can modern reason say when it is confronted by a God who commands that his followers should use violence and even the threat of death in order to convert unbelievers?

If modern reason cannot concern itself with the question of God, then it cannot argue that a God who commands jihad is better or worse than a God who commands us not to use violence to impose our religious views on others. To the modern atheist, both Gods are equally figments of the imagination, in which case it would be ludicrous to discuss their relative merits. The proponent of modern reason, therefore, could not possibly think of participating in a dialogue on whether Christianity or Islam is the more reasonable religion, since, for him, the very notion of a "reasonable religion" is a contradiction in terms.

..can modern reason hope to survive as reason at all if it insists on reducing the domain of reasonable inquiry to the sphere of scientific inquiry?
I think no. But scientific inquiry is a subset of reason, not the whole thing. How has "modern reason" been successful in equating the two? The answer is that relativity has moved from the realm of physics into the social "sciences" and politics. "Modern reason says that all ethical choices are subjective and beyond the scope of reason." Modern reason is therefore irrational, and the comparison of it with scientific principle is not quite on. Yes, we have many people who hold scientific degrees who practice not science, but secular religion. Yes, they are among the worst of the moral relativists. They no more deserve to call themselves scientists than modern reason should be called reason.
...modern reason, despite its claim that it can give no scientific advice about ethics and religion, must recognize that its own existence and survival demand both an ethical postulate and a religious postulate. The ethical postulate is: Do whatever is possible to create a community of reasonable men who abstain from violence, and who prefer to use reason. The religious postulate is: If you are given a choice between religions, always prefer the religion that is most conducive to creating a community of reasonable men, even if you don't believe in it yourself.
In any case, do read Harris' article. It ties into recent posts here regarding how fundamentalism is expressed by different religions. It is very, very good. I include a second link for your convenience.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Intelligent Design

I've compared Christian fundamentalism favorably with Fundamentalist Islam a couple of times lately, and that, combined with a conversation I had the other day regarding the GOP gubernatorial candidate here in Michigan, is today's somewhat twisted muse.

Even if he believes it, and I think he does, Dick DeVos did not have to say out loud that Intelligent Design needed to be taught in Michigan high school science classrooms. This probably cost him my vote. It is sort of a final straw. His commercial bashing big oil for high gas prices was the start of my disaffection. (I know, Jennifer did that too - and worse - but he's supposed to understand business.) I think I'll pass on that ballot choice.

But back to Intelligent Design. I have difficulty with this being represented as science because any theory which pleads from supernatural causes cannot, by definition, be falsifiable. Ultimately, you have to accept the explanation; "that's the way God made it."

It isn't just that no experiment has been suggested which could test this theory, it's that no experiment can possibly be proposed that could test this theory. I reject direct revelations from a Supreme Being. The available literature suggests those to be intensely private in common practice.

I am confused as to why, scientifically, the "theory" is even necessary. Surely God could have used the mechanism of natural selection if he wanted to? Why must Darwin be false? Intelligent Design is only necessary to accomodate the literal biblical account of creation.

A practical problem is giving other creation myths equal classroom standing. Like other religions, Voodoo has a creation myth; Danbhalah, the Serpent, and Aida-Wedo, the Rainbow, taught men and women how to procreate, and how to make blood sacrifices so they could become the spirit and obtain the wisdom of the Serpent. Polytheistic religions apparently will need their own special unit in our science classes.

In common with conspiracy theories, any objection is assumed to be proof that the theory is correct. Why did God plant all those fossils if the world is only 4,000 or 10,000 or 1,000,000 years old? To test our faith. Why does ontogeny (mostly, sort of) recapitulate phylogeny? To test the faith of those who took high school biology in the 60s.

Natural Selection is probably wrong in many particulars. Darwin thought so. It may even be wrong in fundamental ways. If so, we will find out because predictions made by the theory fail experimental test.

I would like to hear news of an experiment which could falsify Intelligent Design, or even a prediction based on it. Until there is a testable prediction, ID cannot qualify as science.

Monday, September 25, 2006


More on the point I was making yesterday regarding the differences between fundamentalist Christians and what increasingly looks to be mainstream Islam (scroll down or link here) from Clifford D. May at NRO
These protesters — and those who incite them — are not asking for mutual respect and equality. They are not saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of a religion.” They are saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of our religion.” They are not standing up for a principle. They are laying down the law. They are making it as clear as they can that they will not tolerate “infidels” criticizing Muslims. They also are making it clear that infidels should expect criticism — and much worse — from Muslims.
More on the point I have been making (here and here) about John McCain from Powerline. The "terrorist rights wing", indeed.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sustained unreality

Mark Steyn calls a book on al-Qaeda "A masterful new work"

It is also a masterful review:
The church dance that snowballed

A excerpt to entice you to read the whole thing:
Osama himself seems merely an extreme embodiment of larger globalized trends he's barely aware of. The praise the New York Times heaped on Wright for his portrayal of John O'Neill, the "driven, demon-ridden FBI agent who worked so frantically to stop Osama bin Laden, only to perish in the attack on the World Trade Center," suggested one of those artificially novelistic accounts too obviously aimed at getting a sale to Miramax. And most of the Wahhabist fellows over on the other side are too irrational for the psychological demands of fiction: it would surely be as unsatisfying as reading a detective novel where every character's insane.
Speaking of irrationality, I'm reminded of Sam Harris' recent writing in the LA Times:
I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.
Conflating liberal attitudes with religious demagoguery is a useful idea. Pushing it further is also interesting. Maybe it would help the left if they would substitute the words "Christian fundamentalists" wherever they read "Jihadi", or "Muslim fanatic." Maybe they'd start wondering why Christian fundamentalists aren't rioting over Madonna's gig on the cross and beheading Supreme Court Justices on video-tape, i.e., behaving irrationally en masse. Here's an example of where "Christ" and "Christian
fundamentalist" might replace "the prophet" and "Muslim:"
...we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy
One Liberal meme is that the religious right’s emphasis on faith over works is too rigid a principle. Imagining Christian fundamentalists actually acting like Muslim fundamentalists might at least get Liberals to see that a Jihdadi faith absolutely demands certain "works" - of which they are prime targets - and that the Muslim fundamentalists' insistence that church and state are one is the greater danger.

Harris again: correspondence with liberals has convinced me that liberalism has grown dangerously out of touch with the realities of our world — specifically with what devout Muslims actually believe about the West, about paradise and about the ultimate ascendance of their faith.

...A cult of death is forming in the Muslim world — for reasons that are perfectly explicable in terms of the Islamic doctrines of martyrdom and jihad. The truth is that we are not fighting a "war on terror." We are fighting a pestilential theology and a longing for paradise.
It is irrational not to recognize this.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Citgo is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hugo Chavez

Only today did I realize not everybody knows this, because Ed Morissey at the Captain's Quarters says he did not.

Photo(shop) credit GOP and the City

Speaking Truth to Idiots...

...several times in a few minutes.

We get hours of Cindy Sheehan video. Canada has Judith Budd.

If a North American Championship of Motherhood were to be conducted with those persons as contestants, we lose.

Not that we do not have mothers, fathers, uncles, daughters with equal courage and in equal pain, but we have not seen them like this. This "press conference" must have added to the pain, but Shane Keating's family wanted to show how much they loved and supported him.

Before you read the rest of this post, go back up and click the link to the video.

Amazing that this was on CBC. It's like CNN broadcasting a sympathetic story on a IDF soldier's mother. However, not satisfied to let this go as a family matter in which they had already intruded, a reporter feels compelled to ask, "Do you think the soldiers should come home?", as if he'd entirely missed what had been said. Probably he didn't even listen, and just had this on his to-do list:

"Note to self - ask mother of Canadian soldier just killed in Afghanistan who has just said that she fully supported her son, his mission, the right to self-determination of the Afghan people and Canada's commitment whether she wants the troops withdrawn. File under: Enhance career prospects in TO."

Thank you, Shane Keating. Thank you.

H/T Small Dead Animals

I have had occassion to thank SDA before on a similar story, about which I wrote here:
I think it above a 60% probability, that without cynical hacks in power, basic Western values could reassert themselves generally [in Canada]. Better odds than I'd give NYC, LA, Chicago and Miami combined. Those cities have equivalent population to Canada - and more apparently conservative residents on average.

Maybe Canada just needed to be presented with a challenge while someone with the courage to accept it was in a position to act without cynicism. Maybe not. We'll see.
I'm hoping maybe I underestimated the percentage of Canadians like Judith Budd, and that the probablity of Canada regaining a backbone is higher than 60%.

Canada is an ally much to be desired. Judith Budd just showed us why.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

6 year old girl dies in religion inspired arson...

Guess which religion?

Hint: it was collateral damage in an "honor" killing.

Paraphrasing Inigo Montoya: "They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Liberal Epiphany

Sam Harris, writing in the LA Times, may be mistakenly obsessed with the idea that the rise of jihadism has as much to do with Christians as it does with Islamists. I have yet to hear about Christians rioting over Madonna's cruci-fiction or the burning of the Pope in effigy, for example. No beheadings in Rome or in South Carlina have come to my attention. I'd say Harris is trying to salvage some of his earlier work after passing too near an epiphany, if he'll excuse my use of the term.

Whether he has every quacker in line or not, he presents some powerful criticisms of his fellow travellers. He's almost got it, and that is a hopeful thing. I present some extracts, but read the whole thing.
On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.

...This is not to say that we are at war with all Muslims. But we are absolutely at war with those who believe that death in defense of the faith is the highest possible good, that cartoonists should be killed for caricaturing the prophet and that any Muslim who loses his faith should be butchered for apostasy.

Unfortunately, such religious extremism is not as fringe a phenomenon as we might hope. Numerous studies have found that the most radicalized Muslims tend to have better-than-average educations and economic opportunities.
Why should their university educational system be any less radical than ours? Where do Juan Cole and Peter Singer and Ward Churchill come into sustained contact with impressionable rich kids? Imagine the equivalents in Iran. It's the religious fervor of those American "educators" Harris is missing. Harris thinks it has to do with G-d.

Here, he comes close to recognizing what it actually has to do with:
...At its most extreme, liberal denial has found expression in a growing subculture of conspiracy theorists who believe that the atrocities of 9/11 were orchestrated by our own government. A nationwide poll conducted by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University found that more than a third of Americans suspect that the federal government "assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East;" 16% believe that the twin towers collapsed not because fully-fueled passenger jets smashed into them but because agents of the Bush administration had secretly rigged them to explode.
Many of the people who believe this have been educated in American Universities, and 99% of the rest have been subjected to the tender mercies of the public school system. ... "It's a wonder they can think at all."
Such an astonishing eruption of masochistic unreason could well mark the decline of liberalism, if not the decline of Western civilization. There are books, films and conferences organized around this phantasmagoria, and they offer an unusually clear view of the debilitating dogma that lurks at the heart of liberalism: Western power is utterly malevolent, while the powerless people of the Earth can be counted on to embrace reason and tolerance, if only given sufficient economic opportunities.
Took you a long time to recognize this, Sam. Liberalism has been declining precipitously since WWII and dragging Western Civilization with it.

It isn't Christians, Sam, or any particular instance of a supreme being that has been preserving Western Civilization. It is, or was, an educational system informed by
judeo-christian values.

It's the values, stupid.
You guys wrecked that long ago. Maybe you'll come out for school choice next?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nonsense and Sensibility II

Ronald Coleman at Dean’s World (and also appearing at Likelihood of Confusion) commented on my post of Friday, Nonsense and Sensibility, wherein I criticized Senator John McCain for what I consider to be egomaniacal opposition to the President’s request for legislation defining the parameters for CIA interrogation of jihadi prisoners. Legislation, moreover, based on the “McCain amendment” to the 2006 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.

I said that McCain’s stance had three problems:
1) he does not recognize that had he been detained at Guantanamo [rather than the Hanoi Hilton] he would have found his treatment extremely benign in comparison, 2) the jihadis have demonstrated they don't give a rat's ass about non-humans (infidels and "apostates" of Islam) by the commission and broadcast of beheadings - primarily of civilians, a flagrant Geneva violation - and 3) North Vietnam was a signatory to the Geneva Conventions.

The first point shows that McCain's experience has robbed him of any sense of proportion on certain matters (parallel to how his involvement in the Keating scandal led him to campaign finance reform). The second point indicates that our troops cannot be protected in this war by merely asserting our sensibilities. The third brings into question why the Senator thinks Geneva would protect our troops even if we were fighting another nation-state.
Mr. Coleman addressed all three points. On the first he doesn’t
…have any doubt at all that Sen. McCain has no problem "recognizing" the difference between what we do at Guantanamo and what was done to him at the Hanoi Hilton. I don't see how that argument is relevant.
Perhaps “does not recognize” should have been “does not acknowledge.” I’ll admit that Senator McCain is mentally acute enough to distinguish between Gitmo and the Hanoi Hilton. I meant that he speaks and acts as though he can’t. In Today’s Wall Street Journal - OpinionJournal, I receive some support for that view and why it is relevant. I include Colin Powell’s quote to illustrate the main arguments against having some clear definition of what is permissible in interrogation of jihadi irregulars:
Geneva Contention
Does John McCain favor the CIA interrogations or not?

...Colin Powell put it most demagogically when he claimed the Bush Administration was trying to redefine Geneva and would lead others to "doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism" and "put our own troops at risk."

…Mr. McCain seems to want it both ways: On the one hand, he claims the Administration has all the legal rights it needs to maintain the CIA interrogation program. So he can deny responsibility if the program is shut down. On the other hand, he won't speak up and support such interrogations, and he continues to imply that the Administration favors "torture" and illegal behavior even as he knows the CIA is demanding no such thing.
Let’s also hear from the Senator himself:
``This is about the lives of American men and women who are serving our country," McCain said Thursday on CNN. ``It's very important, not because we have an election coming up, but because we have men and women who are serving in the military who need every protection we can provide them with."
…and, On TV yesterday, Senator McCain asked: "Are we going to be like the enemy?" Senator, we are not like the enemy and no one is proposing that we should be.

Whatever John McCain’s intellectual recognition of the differences between Gitmo and the Hanoi Hilton, he certainly talks as if he can’t distinguish “them from us.”

Ron sees my second and third points as redundant:
The second point and the third point are really the same point: Our actions and commitments do not have any effect on how our troops will be treated by the enemy. This presumes that McCain's only motivation is to protect American troops who may be, God forbid, mistreated because of some rhetorical or legalistic argument that, because of abuse of the bad guys by us, it is "okay" to abuse our guys.
On a macro level, Ron is right - these are the same points. We’ll come to the distinction in a minute. I don’t presume troop protection to be McCain’s only motivation. In fact, I discount it as a motivation entirely. But that’s what he says motivates him. McCain and Powell do propose publicly, if not seriously, the argument that we must avoid having a clear interpretation of Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions in order to protect our troops.

Ron also makes this point, which actually contains an answer to his conflation of my second and third points:
None of this means I share Sen. McCain's view on this issue. I am pretty sure I don't (I have not looked at in detail). But I think his point is a moral one: We must and should be better. I know which usual suspects will show up in the comments telling me what a sucker I am, but I think they're wrong. Not because it's a sign of weakness to be better, but because it's a sign of strength. And I cannot fathom a serious argument that John McCain does not understand that.
We must be better. Certainly. We need to be better without even having to think about it, so we need to define the rules. And having granted that, I'll ask the Senator to grant that we have already demonstrated that we are 1,000 percent better than the North Vietnamese and 100,000 percent better than the jihadis - and to stop implying otherwise.

So here's the question: Just how much better do we have to be than a handful of Belgian judges? Do we think that defining degrading treatment as lack of access to private toilets will restore confidence among the French as to “the moral basis of our fight against terrorism?”

Just how much better would Colin Powell have us be? This is a man whose moral authority evaporated when he played keep-away with Richard Armitage’s duplicity. If all he can do is utter these platitudes, the doubt here should be about the moral seriousness of the State Department.

The fact that our degree of difference from the North Vietnamese is less gigantic than our difference from the jihadis is why protecting our troops against Geneva signatories and against jihadi butchers are two different points. They are markers on the continuum of our “betterness.” Whatever we expect from the CIA, it is not what we expect from the World Court or from Amnesty International - whether they lump us with Vlad the Impaler and Pol Pot or not.

As to a serious argument that John McCain does not understand that being better is better, I have none. However, I do think him capable of demagoguing the issue by pretending he’s all that stands between Bush and the moral decay of Western Civilization. Now is the time to read that OpinionJournal link if you haven’t already.

Finally, Ron thinks my concern with McCain’s motivations is a non-starter, “I think he is making a mistake by focusing on John McCain's motivations.” Despite the potential for naked political motivation (McCain's, not mine), this may be true. John McCain may well be more honest than Keating, the Incumbent Protection Act and the Gang of 14 would lead one to believe. I might even buy McCain’s piety in opposing his own language being applied to Geneva as heartfelt rather than political, if it were not for his willingness to suspend the civil liberties of Americans to his own advantage. Perhaps the first transgression has clouded my judgment.

I do not think that anyone would deny the colossal arrogance of that, however, and until otherwise notified I will retain my suspicions about his motivations. Your mileage may vary.

And thanks for the motivation, Ron.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Prisoners of W

Some facts about the treatment of Gitmo prisoners were noted by this blog on Friday. James Taranto has some interesting data about the behavior of the detainees. You can read it all at the link:
War Inside the Wire
You can handle the truth about Guantanamo Bay.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

...Cells in Camp 1 were equipped with spring-operated faucets, and the detainees "managed to figure out how to take that apart and . . . pull the spring out. The spring, when it's fully stretched out, is probably a foot long, and it can be used as a weapon to jab someone in the neck or to jab someone in the eye.
The point here is not that the Jihadi prisoners would try to cause as much disruption as possible. They are expected to. The point is that they had running water with normal North American plumbing fixtures. Not your father's prisoner of war camp.
"Most of the detainees have lawyers," the admiral adds. "There are over 900 habeas lawyers representing less than 450 detainees," and the lawyers are free to visit their clients. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross "come down for almost a month at a time, four times a year, and then [for shorter periods] at other times, and they have unfettered access to any detainee they want to see, whenever they want to see them."
Our guys at the Hanoi Hilton got Jane Fonda; jihadi suspects get 900 lawyers.

None of this proves that some of these detainees are not being mistreated under Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions - whatever mistreated means. For example, the European courts consider the lack of a private toilet as "degrading" under that Geneva provision. If the Nannystate Hegemony has its way, the US will have to follow that rewrite interpretation of GCA III. We're not allowed to make any of our own interpretations.

While those who've been through any US military boot camp might have some sympathy for the idea that lack of a private toilet is degrading, I rather doubt they'd insist it apply to jihadists who might have knowledge that could prevent an atrocity on the scale of 9/11. US military personnel who have been "waterboarded" as training against enemy interrogation would probably have even less sympathy.

What would the North Vietnamese have done to their American prisoners if the Americans had been able to stage such riots?

The North Vietnamese treatment of POWs is an apt comparison because John McCain had that experience, and is now the balker-in-chief regarding specific definitions for teatment of jihadi prisoners. As the last link in this post will show you, there is more than a little irony in that.

The Nannystate Hegemony has approached this debate by attempting to redefine the meaning of the word "torture." There is nothing wrong with examining our consciences on this matter, but the hyperbole equating Gitmo with the Gulag has been the primary, specious tactic. Now a codified definition is required and the idea can't be called tyrannical often, or loudly, enough.

Also please read They Liked It When It Was McCain's Idea

Friday, September 15, 2006

Homophobic, mysogenist and sensitive

"Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul."
-Pope Benedict XVI

"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence." -Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam

They discourse, you decide.

Nonense and Sensibility

Senator John McCain was grievously tortured by the North Vietnamese during his long capitivity, so one can easily appreciate his desire for the enforcement of the Geneva Convention and also offer gratitude and respect for his service under arms. It can be seen why he wants to extend Geneva's protection to spies and terrorists: In order that they will treat our soldiers under its terms.

There are three problems with this latest spasm of McCain's aching self-regard: 1) he does not recognize that had he been detained at Guantanamo he would have found his treatment extremely benign in comparison, 2) the jihadis have demonstrated they don't give a rat's ass about non-humans (infidels and "apostates" of Islam) by the commision and broadcast of beheadings - primarily of civilians, a flagrant Geneva violation - and 3) North Vietnam was a signatory to the Geneva Conventions.

The first point shows that McCain's experience has robbed him of any sense of proportion on certain matters (parallel to how his involvement in the Keating scandal led him to campaign finance reform). The second point indicates that our troops cannot be protected in this war by merely asserting our sensibilities. The third brings into question why the Senator thinks Geneva would protect our troops even if we were fighting another nation-state. Together, these things are additional, if unneeded, reasons that he is not fit to be Commander in Chief - or even a Senator.

John, not everything is always about you.

Update: 7:19PM Perhaps Senator McCain didn't get this Sept-14 memo from the DOD.
Ten Facts about Guantanamo

1.The detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility include bin Laden’s bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers and facilitators, and other suspected terrorists.

2.More money is spent on meals for detainees than on the U.S. troops stationed there. Detainees are offered up to 4,200 calories a day. The average weight gain per detainee is 20 pounds.

3.The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day. Arrows point detainees toward the holy city of Mecca.

4.Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued.

5.The International Committee of the Red Cross visits detainees at the facility every few months. More than 20,000 messages between detainees and their families have been exchanged.

6.Recreation activities include basketball, volleyball, soccer, pingpong, and board games. High-top sneakers are provided.

7.Departing detainees receive a Koran, a jean jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries, and a pillow and blanket for the flight home.

8.Entertainment includes Arabic language TV shows, including World Cup soccer games. The library has 3,500 volumes available in 13 languages — the most requested book is “Harry Potter.”

9.Guantanamo is the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare. The Joint Task Force has hosted more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries.

10.In 2005, Amnesty International stated that “the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times.”
I'll add # 11. - Some detainees have been waterboarded, a practice applied to our own troops as training should they be captured.

H/T Dean's World

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Things you won't see corrected in the New York Times

The question here is why Wal-Mart gives any money to Liberal think tanks, much less 300 times more than they give to conservative think tanks.

See also Thomas Sowell, already referenced today for another purpose.

Loose Screws

Score: - Loose Change - Square root of zero. Reality - Infinity.

Popular Mechanics demolishes some popular 9/11 conspiracists.

Loose Change is a movie intending to prove that the government of the United States staged all of what happened on 9/11/01. The movie does demonstrate that while the overall conspiracy theory does demand destruction of the WTC by means other than flying airliners into them, this is not sufficient. You do have to cover all three death sites.

Two of the people behind that movie engage in a discussion with the authors of the Popular Mechanics book Debunking the 9/11 Myths.

Watch the "debate" here.

The mental stability of the Loose Change, ah... researcher, is the biggest unexplored question. One of his proof sources is Cynthia McKinney. Every time he makes a point he "bounces" in his chair. He calls reasonable people "liar" very often.

The most difficult thing to believe about such a "conspiracy" is that the same perpetrators who secretly planted thousands of pounds of explosives in the WTC, got hundreds of eyewitnesses to lie about seeing a plane hit the Pentagon, and faked the cell phone calls from Flight 93; left behind such overwhelming evidence of their plot. I've commented on this before: "
The perpetrators of these plots have to be incredibly stupid and incandescently brilliant simultaneously."

H/T for the video link to National Newswatch

Writing on unrelated topics today, Thomas Sowell and David Warren - in Cheap-Shot Journalism and Our Real Enemy is Within Us - respectively, give us some insight into how the Vineyards of Wrath have been prepared to nurture the seeds of irrationality... lo these many years.

...Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence.

The implications of having so many people so incapable of confronting opposing arguments with anything besides ad hominem responses reach far beyond Wal-Mart or think tanks. It is in fact the Achilles heel of this generation of our society and of Western civilization.
Our real enemy is within us, in the immense constituency of the half-educated narcissists pouring from our universities each year -- that glib, smug, liberal, and defeatist "victim culture" itself, that inhabits the academy, our media, our legal establishment, the bureaucratic class. The opinion leaders of our society, who live almost entirely off the avails of taxation, make their livelihoods biting the hands that feed them, and undermining the moral order on which our solidarity depends.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The masons of dementia

Read the whole thing.
Jonah Goldberg: Conspiracy Nation
Here's a question: How is a president willing - and able! - to bring down the World Trade Center, murdering nearly 3,000 Americans without inspiring a single whistle-blower or attracting a solitary eyewitness, somehow morally or logistically incapable of planting some exculpatory WMDs in Iraq?
A question asked here on September 6th.
...The masons of dementia build upon a bedrock of one absolute truth: Bad things happen, and someone must be responsible. Upon this bedrock they pile convenient and selective facts like bricks. Contradictory facts are clever lies. When Popular Mechanics debunked 9/11 hokum, the immediate response from conspiratorialists was "cover-up!" and "CIA front!" because in this perverted faith, denying the ultimate truth must be proof of a lie.

This rough beast slouches toward sedition because it assumes not that our leaders are knaves or even mere criminals, but that they are murderous Supermen with no loyalty to nation, decency or law. Our Constitution is a fraud, a charade for the rubes some of us naively call citizens.
Right. If they are still living in this country, as anything but actively fighting armed revolutionaries, they are poseurs of the lowest order.

Peter Singer and Ayn Rand

Peter Singer, Princeton University Professor of Bioethics, speaks out.
Would you kill a disabled baby? [asked by] KAREN MEADE, Dublin

[Singer:] Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole. Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman's right to have an abortion. One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the foetus and the newborn baby.
Well, he's right about one thing. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is whether the State has a responsibility to prevent murder.

This is the question upon which Objectivism founders. It purports to base its moral code on the intrinsic value of human life, but labels fetuses as "parasites." The failure to assert an inherent human sanctity precludes a moral code built on valuing human life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Things you have not seen in the Lansing State Journal

...or elsewhere in the writings of the PNB (parochial narcissist buffoons -Mark Steyn).

Newsbadger has some essential information about the GOP has tax cuts to the rich.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Much Ado About Something

Having watched the first three hours of the ABC movie that Democrats wanted quashed, I have a hypothesis. Would they raise this much of a stink solely because of the moderately critical scenes depicting the Clinton Players? Or was that a cover for a different and much larger reason?

This movie brings together, in a form that public-school-educated voters can understand, dramatizations of several of the major pre-9/11 attacks. And it depicts the Islamo-facists as bad guys.

This just won't do. Which is why Hollywood substituted "neo-nazis" for the Islamists in The Sum of All Fears. It is a big problem for some Democrats to have the enemy portrayed as the bad guys, when they are telling the voters day after day that we are the bad guys.

Never forget.

Update: 7:15PM More sites with worthwhile video reminders.
directly above from

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In today's LSJ

Check out For some, reason collapsed along with WTC's two towers

Update: 5:18PM According to some, a US government employee until 9-11-2001;

9/11 Hijacker Wael al-Shihri
A TV grab taken from a video produced by al-Qaeda-linked media group al-Sahab and broadcast by al-Jazeera news network on Thursday shows Wael al-Shihri, "one of the martyrs of the Manhattan Raid,'' delivering a speech at an undisclosed time and place in front of a background bearing the photos of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Thanks to Taipei Times

Friday, September 08, 2006

Somehow, these just belong together

California Legislature—2005–06 regular session
House Resolution No. 36

Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An experiment.

H/T Small Dead Animals

Plinking rats at long range

Dust My Broom has an excellent video of Canadian snipers in Afghanistan. 'You Tube' has ".50 cal" tags on it, but I wonder. The first shot in the video seems to throw a body 20 feet in the air.

Can a .50 caliber rifle do that given the relative umm, permeability, of a human body? That sucker had to absorb a LOT of energy, not just have a large bullet slowed slightly by passing through his head.

Whatever the weapon(s), here's an "Oustanding!" to the Canadian(s) behind it.

The You Tube presentation is a bit larger. Check it by clicking on the logo.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jane Galt wonders about the Freep

Very nice (long) disposition on some income comparisons published by our beloved Detroit Free Press.

Department of Potentially Truly Appalling Statistics

The explanation for this will be a doozy

I guess the 9/11 conspiracists will have an explanation for how and why Bin Ladin could/would have met with these non-existent hijackers?

Al-Jazeera Airs Pre-9/11 Bin Laden Tape
The video showed bin Laden sitting with his former lieutenant Mohammed Atef and Ramzi Binalshibh, another suspected planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

...Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in 2001. Binalshibh was captured four years ago in Pakistan and is currently in U.S. custody, and this week U.S. President George W. Bush announced plans to put him on military trial.

..The video included the last wills and testaments of hijackers Wail al-Shehri and Hamza al-Ghamdi.
Let me guess. The US had to kill Atef before he could support the conspiracy theories and deny Bin Ladin's claim that al-Qaeda planned and executed the terrorist acts of 9/11? And al-Shehri and al-Ghamdi were part of Bush's plot and that's why they gave their final wishes on this tape. No, no, wait! The video isn't pre-9/11, it was just made last week because Bin Laden is co-operating with Bush in the cover-up.

This theory would reconcile with Iran's position:
Iran says U.S., Israel ordered September 11 attacks
...if not with Bin Laden's.

Democrats Nominate 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist in Florida
...or the Democrats'.

But they're all in the good company they each deserve.

And I found out where they're getting this stuff.

Update: 7:53PM Dust My Broom has a link to video

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gag order

Tonight at midnight your freedom of speech will be taken down a notch. The organizations to which you contribute, or even just agree with, will be gagged politically by one of the most onerous provisions of the McCain-Feingold travesty. It could be the National Organization for Women or the National Rifle Association; The Sierra Club or National Right to Life - none of them can fund broadcast advertising that mentions the name of Congressional incumbents seeking re-election in November. At 24:00 that speech is officially banned. After the election, they can go back to advocating their causes.

The rule does not seem to apply to individuals with sufficient funds. George Soros, for example.

John McCain and George Bush presided over the hatching of this law with the able assistance of a Supreme Court that could not read the plain language of the Constitution. What part of "shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech" did SCOTUS not understand? Perception of penumbras of corruption emanated from their brainpans; which weren’t doing much else that day anyway.

Bloggers have been offered shelter under the umbrella of the "press exemption", which can be changed at the whim of the Federal Election Commission. I think publishing paid political advertising remains a violation, and I am available for a nominal fee. It should be high enough to challenge the law, however.

Ryan Sager has been at the forefront of reporting on this topic, and it is only fair we hear from him now:

The logic behind these restrictions is that ads about particular bills in Congress might really be "sham-issue advertising" - with the real aim of electing or defeating a candidate for office. And, therefore, the money used to buy those ads might really be an illegal and unregistered campaign contribution.

But the years since McCain-Feingold's passage have shown that, whatever supposed risk of corruption may lie in allowing issue ads to run unfettered, there's simply no way to regulate unwanted speech without restricting perfectly legitimate speech.

Plus, there's a tremendous arrogance in the idea of even trying to determine what speech is legitimate and what is unwanted. Who gets to decide? The answer is simple: Incumbents (a k a congressmen) do. And their only agenda is to hold onto what they've got: their incumbency.

Meanwhile, for two elections now (2004 and 2006), grass-roots groups will have gone without their basic constitutional right to criticize their government.

It's time for this farce to end, but, for now, there's no end in sight.

Pointless-headed intellectuals

Professors Steven Jones and A. K. Dewdney are leading figures in the Scholars for 9/11 Truth (the link to which you'll have to look up youself, they're not getting any traffic from TOC), a group of 75 scientists who are convinced that the World Trade Center was bombed by the US government and that there were no hijackers. Dr. Dewdney espouses an elaborate switching of planes for remotely piloted drones combined with murder of all the passengers on all 4 doomed 9/11 flights by a single F-16.

It took only one F-16 to kill them all because they'd all been rounded up and forced to get on UAL93. The voices of the passengers on cell-phones from that flight before it crashed in Pennsylvania were all faked. Etc.

This, frankly, is a theory Dr. Jones needs to justify the thermate bombs he proposes as the means of the Twin Towers' fall. Otherwise, there's nothing elaborate enough to call for his theory of a cover up. Once you've got thermate going for you, why do you need airliners at all? Because we all saw the drones from Dr. Dewdney's plot fly into the WTC. Gotta have an explanation for that, too.

These gentlemen have abandoned Occam's razor, along with their scientific credibility. Surely a simpler conspiracy, involving fewer participants, could have accomplished the same objective? If that, for example, was war with Iraq, why not plant evidence that Iraq was responsible for 9/11? Anyone who could put thousands of pounds of explosives into the WTC undetected could surely have done that convincingly - and with far less risk of exposure. The perpetrators of these plots have to be incredibly stupid and incandescently brilliant simultaneously.

Yet these Professors do not wonder why the plot they propose was so unnecessarily convoluted as to be laughable.

The good news is that since there are only 75 of them, the chances they are teaching your son or daughter is quite small. Worry more about the 1 in 6 Americans who believe their twaddle.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A thought

On a matter of principle I am reasonably confident that I would follow Thomas More, who is defined for me by the movie A Man for All Seasons. I recommend it highly.

One cannot be sure without the actual confrontation I think, but it does make me sad to see the Fox News reporters "converting" to Islam at gunpoint without much thought for the lesson. Which, by the way, is not about religion.

Monday, September 04, 2006

9/11 conspiracy debunking

Worth visiting.

National Institute of Standards and Technology
NIST and the World Trade Center

Popular Mechanics
9/11: Debunking The Myths

U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Information Programs
Identifying Misinformation

Update: 10-Sep 11:22AM. See also The explanation for this will be a doozy

Science tempers fears on climate change

THE world's top climate scientists have cut their worst-case forecast for global warming over the next 100 years.
You'd think that the Kyoto Treaty must be working, except that none of the signatories have met their goals of reducing carbon emissions. So how did we get a better worst-case forecast? "Better science."
A draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, obtained exclusively by The Weekend Australian, offers a more certain projection of climate change than the body's forecasts five years ago.

For the first time, scientists are confident enough to project a 3C rise on the average global daily temperature by the end of this century if no action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Draft Fourth Assessment Report says the temperature increase could be contained to 2C by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are held at current levels.

In 2001, the scientists predicted temperature rises of between 1.4C and 5.8C on current levels by 2100, but better science has led them to adjust this to a narrower band of between 2C and 4.5C.
It is strange that they are "confident enough" "for the first time" to predict a 3 degree temperature rise, when their new scenario admits it could be 2 degrees. Which one is the "more certain" part? The number they obviously just pulled out of their keisters is that the temperature increase could be contained to 2 dgrees if greenhouse gas emissions are flat.

This is better science?
Wake me when the science is "better" enough that the computer models they use in making these predictions can account for clouds.